Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since Little Bear left our home. 2 weeks since I’ve heard his sweet laugh or seen his sweet smile. I miss him terribly. The crib is still set up in his old room and I find myself avoiding going in that room unless I have to. Sometimes I find my mind starting to drift toward thinking about him and I force myself to think about something else, afraid to really dwell on it, lest I fall apart. Yesterday I did just that. I was alone in the car and listening to Christmas music. The DJ had asked people to call in with their Christmas wishes. One lady called in and was hoping to be able to adopt their 3 foster children. That did it. I wept…and wept…and wept. I told God I was sad and that I wanted that little boy to be ours. I wanted to raise him, to take care of him, to love him forever. At least I get to do the loving him forever part.
Some days I think I’m moving on and at peace with it. That I’m truly trusting that God will take care of that little boy and that God’s plan is better than my own. The truth is, I’m not there yet. I’m not ready to face the grief. I just can’t let myself go there. If I avoid thinking about it the I won’t be sad. Sure, in my head, I know God has him in His sights. I know God made him and has a plan for him. I know all that LOGICALLY. But my heart doesn’t want to hear that just let. Sometimes “God has a plan for everything”, is not as comforting as we’d like it to be.
It also stinks because so few people understand. I don’t mean to sound like I’m fishing for comments, because I’m not. I don’t need pity. But it is hard going through this mostly alone. Hubby gets it, but we don’t really have time to talk about it and he didn’t get to be here when Little Bear left. I have a couple friends that are foster parents that get it. I have a close circle of amazing friends that get it as much as they can because we communicate daily in spite of being spread out around the country(ies). But most people, it seems, just don’t know what to say….so they don’t say anything. It’s like he died and no one is talking about him. Like he never existed. I’ve been on the other side – I’ve known foster parents that had kids moved out of their homes. I’ve known people that lost a child to death. I’m afraid I was guilty of doing the same thing. Of thinking it would be easier on the person if I didn’t bring it up at all when I didn’t know what to say.
But it’s not. And I pray I never make that mistake with someone else again. You don’t have to know what to say. Just saying something helps.
I WANT to talk about him. I want to remember him. I’m scared to, and I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or not, but I don’t want to forget.
Some members of my own family haven’t even asked about him, or how I’m doing since he was taken away. That hurts. BAD. My in-laws have been awesome though, so that helps a lot. I’ve also heard some people say that they guess it’s not that hard because we “knew what we were getting into” or we’ve “done this before”, as if that somehow that keeps the pain away. If you had warning that your child was going to die, would that make it easier when it happened?
I did have a friend come up to me at church Sunday. She took care of Little Bear in the nursery each week while I was at Bible study. She gave me a hug and told me how much they missed him. Words can’t express how much that meant to me. To know someone was thinking about him and he wasn’t forgotten.
I’ll never forget. Ever.
I am trusting God, and I have deep faith that God is in control of all of this. I really do. I’m not over it, but each and every day I am trying to surrender it all to my Savior! I am drawing closer to HIM thought this and for that, even if it means I hurt, I am thankful. I am thankful that He is there for me, and He understands when no one else does. He gets it. He gets me.
Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but HE is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.
This morning in my quiet time, I was reading Psalm 8. Verse 1 says,
“Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Reading that verse takes me back. Back to a time when I was searching for a relationship with God. A time when God was pulling me close to Him and holding on tight. A time when I needed the Lord desperately. When I was in high school, I went to the same church summer camp every year. A musical group called Acapella always performed a concert for us, and I looked forward to it every year. Their songs are still some of my all time favorites and I have many of them on my phone to listen to frequently.
I know other songs have been written from this Psalm, but this is one of my favorites!
As I continued reading, I came to verse 3 & 4 which say,
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” ~ Psalm 8:3-4
Just like the sign in the stars that He gave me a couple nights ago, the Lord is reminding me again that He is mindful of each and every one of us. He cares for each of us.
God knows just how to put us in our place, doesn’t He? It’s funny, ever since God called my husband to go back in the Army and take a family with him this time, I have been excited about building relationships with the other wives. I’ve thought about how nice it would be to get in there and maybe start a Bible study for the younger women, possibly mentoring some of them on marriage. I know I don’t know Army life yet, but I do know what it’s like to go through a lot of trials during a marriage. We’ve been through job loss, death in the family, infertility, bankruptcy, foster parenting kids that have suffered….all while God grew our marriage closer and closer to Him and to each other. I thought I’d be able to help some of the newly married wives with my experience. I grew up in the church, but it was only in the last decade that I really grew in my faith, so I assumed that many of the younger women would be where I was spiritually at that age.
Boy, was I wrong! See, up until a week or so ago, my experience with Army wives (other than 3 good friends of mine) was based on a message board I stumbled across one day and like a bad car wreck, I kept going back to stare at it and to read some of the “soap opera” style posts. Lots of drama, tons of complaining, husband bashing…on and on. No, I’m not going to post the name of that board.
THEN…this past week I followed a link and found Wives of Faith. A community of Army wives sharing their friendship and their faith in Christ. AWESOME! As I read through some of the posts, I got excited and could already tell I would learn a lot from these wives. They must be really experienced, probably in the Army a long time, married for decades to have built a faith this strong….right?
One post I read turned out to be written by a 22 year old. Twenty-Two. Wow. She’s starting a Bible study on the site. I can’t wait to follow along with her. I can tell that although she’s 14 years my junior, I will learn a lot from her.
God puts the right people in your life at just the right time, and He knew I needed this site, these ladies. I needed to realize that not only can I learn a lot about the Army from these young wives (that part I knew!), but I can also learn a lot about HIM.
You know who else I’ve discovered I can learn a lot from? Drug dealers, ex-cons, & people that literally live on the street. A couple dear friends of mine that have mentored me in discipleship for years also run a weekly Bible study for a bunch of women that, live in shelters, or in very low income apartments, or even on the street. They even go to the local jail to talk to these women. Several months ago, they held an overnight retreat for these ladies. They were picked up and taken to a retreat center where they got to spend the night (in a bed!), get fed great food, were given a change of clothes & shoes, and taught the Word of God. I was blessed to participate in that retreat as a helper, and oh what I learned!! I remember walking around the grounds while things had not quite started yet, and I came across a chapel where I heard singing. As I walked in, I saw several of these ladies – who had not a dime or change of clothes to their name – singing and praising God for all that He has done!
This upcoming weekend I have the chance to once again help with a retreat for these ladies. I cannot wait!! I know that while I am serving them, I will also glean so much from them. I know that God will not only speak though us to them, but also through them to us.
The Lord has really been speaking to my heart for a while about being bold, speaking for Him and not being afraid to share my story with others. To share His name and all that He has done. To share my faith openly and proudly. To see all of these young wives, and these ladies who had has some hard knocks doing just that is incredibly humbling to me. I hope that I can speak up for God as much as they do. I pray that I will be bold like them.
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” (Acts 4:29)
“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Cor 1:5)
I’ve been uncomfortable lately. Really uncomfortable. I’ve been tired, confused, weary, doubting. As a foster parent, I have seen a lot of hard things. I’ve been disappointed in parents, and in the system. I’ve seen children who have been neglected, abused, and forgotten. I’ve also seen moms who paid a hard price for making a bad choice. I’ve seen too much. Sometimes I think I’ve seen too much to continue. Really, I’ve seen too much not to.
Lately, I’ve been weary. Little Bear has not been sleeping well due to his reflux, but then he got a cold! He was up the majority of the night for several nights in a row. With Hubby gone, that means I take all the night shifts myself. Sometimes only sleeping 2 hours in a 7-8 hour period. I am not one of those Super Moms that thrives off 2-3 hours of sleep. My hormones get crazy if I don’t get my 8 hours. I was exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I had to swallow my pride and ask for help. I really don’t like that. I want to be able to do it all, but I can’t. I had to give in and let my parents watch him for a few nights. I had to let Hubby’s grandmother entertain him for 30 minutes while I caught a nap. I had to let Go. I had to let God take over.
Isn’t that the point?
I was never supposed to do it myself. I’m supposed to rely on HIM.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor 1:9)
He offered me help through my parents. I finally agreed to take it. After a couple nights of sleeping through the night, I felt much better! I feel like I can think clearly enough to make my own coffee. Little Bear is doing much better and sleeping much much more now! Now to just get rid of that middle-of-the-night waking he got used to, and get back to the sleeping-all-night that I was used to!
Please help me to see Little Bear through YOUR eyes, even in the middle of the night. Allow me to cherish those moments with him, Father, even if I’d rather be holding him during the day. Allow me to trust you to give me the rest I need rather than rushing back to bed and watching the clock. Help me to remember that what I do for the least of these, I do for you. Forgive my selfishness as I have been focusing on how this affects me. I want to love him as I do you. I want to care for him as if he were you. I need your strength, Father. I need your arms to carry me through this. In Jesus name, Amen.
Sometimes when it’s so hard, the thought crosses my mind and I wonder if we are supposed to continue on as foster parents. Maybe this is just “too” hard, I wonder. Then I read a post like this one by an amazing 17 year old girl, and I know….this isn’t about me. I continue to love and to give because I’m called to, not because it’s easy or convenient. I do this because right now at this moment, there is a little baby boy who needs my love. And I do love him. With all my heart. Sometimes that’s what makes this so hard. I’m relying on a broken, messed up system to determine what to do with this little boy’s life. I don’t know yet what’s going to happen in his future. I don’t know how long he’ll be in our family, but I know he’ll be in my heart forever.
Oh, I’m so so glad that God is in control! That He knew what the plan was for this little boy before he was even conceived.
So, I continue to wait. To trust. To hope. And to love.
As written (and copied with permission) by Max Lucado:
We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.
But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.
There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)
We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.
And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.
Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.
And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.
Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.
And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.
But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.
We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Disaster has done what discussion could not. Doctrinal fences have fallen. Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.
And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.
Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.
And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you’ve used her to heal a hurting world.
Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
Through Christ, Amen.
As written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 14, 2001. Permission to copy not only granted but encouraged.
“How do I know if it’s God talking to me, or if it’s Satan talking to me, or if it’s ME talking to me?”
Really? She’s 6. I was over 30 before I attempted to address that question for myself. She is so incredibly deep, it’s amazing.
I struggled with how to answer her appropriately. I didn’t want to blow off such an important question with too childish of an answer, but then again, she IS a child.
Here is the bottom line of what I told her:
1) The more you talk to God, the more you’ll recognize His voice. Just like you recognize the voice when your spouse, mom, or best friend call you on the phone without them having to introduce themselves each time.
2) Compare what you are being told against the Bible. God is never going to tell you to do something that goes against what He tells us in His Word. So if you hear “go kick that girl because she has on a blue dress and your favorite color is pink” – that’s not from God. God would not tell you to kick anyone.
3) It’s ok to ask God to clarify things for you. He wants you to understand Him, and He isn’t going to be offended if you are TRYING to understand, but are having trouble. Tell Him you need help, and He will help you.
I am, all too often. But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to step out of our comfort zone and follow HIM. No matter what.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
It’s scary sometimes to think “Where will I go?”, “What will I eat?”, “What kind of house would I live in?”, “What would I have to give up or do without?”, “What will THEY think?”.
God’s word tells us not to be anxious about these things. To let HIM be our PROVIDER! One of my favorite group of verses is Matthew 6:25-37 (click to read) where He reminds us that we do not need to worry.
What is God calling you to do? Something that seems impossible? Something that seems HUGE to you and way out of your comfort zone? Something that makes you think “No way! That’s crazy!” No matter how big it seems to you, it is small in the hands of God. He’s got it covered!
I wonder how Noah felt when he was told to build a huge ark…especially considering it had never rained before.
What about Gideon when his army got cut down from 32,000 to 300?
Or Joshua, who was told to use marching, trumpets, and yelling to knock down the Jericho walls?
Think about little David, a young teenager, who was called by God to kill a GIANT with just a stone and a slingshot?
God calls us to do uncomfortable things! Things that require us to depend totally on HIM for our strength, courage, provisions.
Because HE did big things for us!! His onlySon came to earth, suffered and died for our sins! He was born in a stable and placed in an animal’s feeding trough for his bed. He never lived in a palace, or even had his own home. He didn’t travel around in the fanciest of chariots. He was uncomfortable…for US!
This past Saturday night, just before Bug went to bed, I was rocking her in the rocking chair. I feel so incredibly blessed that she still lets me do this from time to time, even at 5 (and a half!).
Suddenly, she burst into tears! She said “I don’t want to grow up. I want to stay a kid forever.” I assured her that she had tons of time to enjoy being a kid, and when it was time for her to be a grownup, she would WANT to be a grownup! She was worried about outgrowing her bunk bed (a twin!), so I told her about how I slept on a bed that size until I was a much older grownup and it fit just fine.
Then the conversation got around to us moving (ahhh! the real worry!). We know that about a year from now our family will be moving. We don’t know where yet. Most of the time, Emily is super excited about it. God blessed her with an amazing sense of adventure and curiosity. She wants to visit more countries and states than I think I even knew existed at her age.
However, this time, she was bawling. She was scared and worried about the move. I held her close and told her she could ask me anything. That Daddy and I had both moved many, many times in our life, so we could tell her all about it. She’s moved before, but she was too young to remember it. Now, she’s starting to process the concept of moving, and trying to figure it all out. See, she’s a detail person and a planner. That’s who she is. So, rather than focusing on the adventure of it, right now she was focused on the little details.
What was she worried about? Well, here were a couple of her questions.
* What if my new bedroom doesn’t have a window? I assured her that her bedroom, would in fact, have a window! She loves to look out her bedroom window!
* What if we are driving to our new home and we have to stop, but we can’t sleep in the van….where will we sleep? Obviously she had forgotten the many times we’ve slept in a hotel room on the way to a destination! I reminded her of the hotel stops when we went to Florida this past year, and that settled her mind.
Last time she did this, she was concerned because she “would never get to go to the zoo again!”, but was fine once I showed her that there are zoos in or near most cities, and that she would definitely get to go to the zoo again!
She was also curious about having a yard to play in, and since I don’t know if we’ll be in a house or apartment at first, I couldn’t promise that. But once I told her that apartments have swimming pools, she said she wanted us to live there!
Our sweet girl is not a big fan of change. She likes to plan ahead and know what’s going to happen….exactly how it’s going to happen. So this first move will be challenging for us. We’ll have to give her lots of details, without giving her ones she doesn’t need to know at her age.
As she was worrying about whether or not her bedroom would have a window, I was reminded of Christ in Matthew 6:25-39. He tells us not to worry because he will take care of us, even more than he does the birds and the flowers. He’s already in the details. He sees the big picture, when we only see what’s right in front of us.
Just the same, I can worry about where we are going to be stationed, what our house will look like, if it will have a microwave built in, whether I’ll have a bathtub or just a shower…..Or I can just relax, take it as it comes, and trust that God has it all planned out for us.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
The other day my daughter was practicing riding her bike. She was working on her turns and making figure eights without turning too much and falling over. I told her “Practice makes perfect!”, and she told me “No it doesn’t, Mommy! No one is perfect except God.”
How right she is!
If only practice made perfect, then maybe I could have hopes of being a perfect mother one day, but alas, it doesn’t….and I can’t. Lately, I find myself making mistake after mistake after mistake. I lose my temper, or get upset about something I shouldn’t, and I end up having to go once again and apologize to my 5 year old for getting too mad, or yelling, or not listening well enough. It’s humbling. Even more humbling when she practically interrupts me to quickly say, “it’s ok Mommy, I forgive you!”.
I am finding that the more that I acknowledge that God is growing me in an area, the more I struggle with it. Also, I and realizing that I tend to be harder on Emily in the areas that I myself need the most work in.
For just one example – she gets upset because she’s not getting her way about something and gets grumpy with me. DUH, right? She’s a kid! But when she does this, I get upset with her because she’s upset, instead of just letting her be upset. I accuse her of being selfish and getting upset just because she doesn’t get her way. Wait – aren’t *I* upset because I’m not getting MY way? I’m not getting a nice, perfectly obedient child every minute of the day, so I get upset because it’s inconvenient for me to stop and discipline her, or teach her at this very moment. Now who is being selfish? I’m expecting her to have adult level behavior for issues that took me years as an adult to learn….and that I’m still learning. Why are my expectations so high (too high) of her sometimes?
I’ve often heard saying, “When you point a finger at someone, there are 3 more fingers pointing right back at yourself”. Try it, you’ll see. No really…stop and try it. Point at something or someone. See those 3 folded fingers? They are pointing right back at YOU!
I find that SO often when I am saying something to Emily out of frustration or anger, it’s like God was saying them to ME instead. “You need to get in control.”, “You need to listen to me”, “You aren’t paying attention to what I’m saying.”, “Are you thinking of yourself or others?”, “Are you being a blessing to others right now?”.
So, I’ll keep practicing. Every day for the rest of my life. I’ll never be perfect, but I do hope to become more and more Christ-like. In the meantime, I surrender all to Him!
“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” ~ Proverbs 21:21
The Bible tells us that unless we become like a child, we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matt 18:3
I learn so much from my little girl each day! God uses her to teach me about His character, and the qualities He wants in each of us. I find that I do much better when I strive to be more like her, than when I focus on trying to make her more like me.
Yesterday, I talked to Bug about her play kitchen she’s had since she was 2. She played with it for a couple years and thoroughly enjoyed it! However, now it just sits in our kitchen taking up space and she never plays with it anymore. Her interests have taken her elsewhere, and she prefers to help Mommy cook in the real kitchen than to pretend to cook in a pretend kitchen.
So, I gave her some choices.
1) She could move it outside and see if she played with it outside differently. 2) She could sell it and use the money to buy something else. 3) She could give it away.
She chose option #4 – “I want to sell it and give all the money to God because helping other people is more important than toys.”
Why is it that my first (sinful) reaction in my mind is “Are you sure?? You don’t want the money for something else? You could tithe on it, but then buy something else, you know. “ Thankfully my brain-to-mouth filter was turned on, and I didn’t say any of that out loud. Instead, I told her how proud I was of her choice and of her generosity.
Right now, I’m spending my quiet time in Psalm 119. This morning, I picked up where I left off yesterday and read verses 36-37,
“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
We don’t need to raise our kids to be grownups who seek to “have it all”. We need to cherish our children, and look to them as examples of what God wants us to be like.