With Gladness

Each spring, Megan and I have the same conversation.  It goes something like this:

Megan, I need you to to start thinking about what you want to submit to the Writes of Spring writing contest at the library.

I don’t want to enter this year.

I didn’t ask you if you wanted to enter. It’s just a part of our homeschool and your education. All of my students enter.

Megan pokes out her bottom lip and whines, “Can’t I skip this year? I don’t know what to write about and I hate trying to come up with a topic. Besides, I won first place last year.  That means I should get a year off.

You tried all those excuses last year. They didn’t work then and they won’t work now.

Whhhhhyyyyyyy! It’s like torture. I hate it.

Why do you hate it so much, Megan? You’ve won first place three years running. You are a great writer.

I hate it because I have to come up with a topic that fits the categories and then I have to keep it to just 750 words. And once I”m done, then you and dad edit it and find all my mistakes. Once the mistakes are fixed, then I have to turn it in … and that is just the beginning of that long wait to find out if the judges liked it. GiGi! I can’t do it again! It’s too hard! Besides, I don’t want to be a writer. Please don’t make me!

Sorry, Megan. Even if you don’t like it, even if its hard, and even if you don’t want to be a writer, you still have to do it. It won’t kill you to enter again this year. No one ever died trying to write a 750-word essay or story. Besides, I’ll help you find a great topic. I’ll bet together we can come up with a fabulous idea.

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Megan is a good writer. She has won first place in the parish writing contest for the last four years and twice placed third in her age group at the state level. But she doesn’t want to write.

Why?

Well, she said has plenty of reasons. But mostly, it’s just not her idea. I’m forcing her to participate in an activity for school that she doesn’t want to be a part of. And if that isn’t reason enough, what I’m asking her to do isn’t an easy task. It’s hard and requires lots of work. Work she would rather not do.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about myself and how I am often the same way.

For a couple of years, Jon and I prayed diligently about a family ministry we could do together. I was thinking along the lines of serving in the kitchen of our local homeless diner once a month, or maybe taking a family”vacation” to do some sort of ministry.  We tried several avenues in our town. To my surprise, they all failed terribly.

“What is wrong?” I pondered. “Doesn’t God want us to serve Him?”

Then I thought maybe God might allow us to adopt. Orphan care has interested me since my college days. Several adoptive families are among my close friends and relatives.  So, Jon and I embarked on gathering information for what I just knew was our big ministry … but can you believe that door slammed shut as well?

“Fine,” I thought. “We’ll just wait and let God show us what He wants us to do.”

Interestingly enough, this was God started whispering and working in odd ways. Before I had time to blink, the craziest thing in the world was happening to my family. Something so illogical and spectacular that it could only be God at work. He called us into fostering.

Can I just pause right here and tell you that fostering was not anywhere close to my idea of a great family ministry? Not at all. This was not anywhere on my version of Paige’s Life Plan.

In fact, when we first started talking about it, I was so scared I could hardly believe I was even allowing myself to consider the idea.  Who wants to take in foster children? You work hard to love children who come with tons of baggage. And then just when you start to make headway, the kids go back. You don’t have anything to show for it in the end.  No thank you, Fostering is not exactly how I envisioned making a difference for God.

But God has a way of convincing you to do even those things you don’t want to do. Remember Jonah?

So Jon and I got all signed up. Before long, we were ready for our first placement. Barely two days passed by and we had a phone call, asking us to take in two foster toddlers. A boy and a girl. We took a deep breath and said yes, unsure of what to expect.

At first, getting two foster babies was exciting. It took about 3 hours for the excitement to wear off, and reality to set in. Fostering babies, as it turned out, was exactly what I was initially expecting … work.

Our foster babies came to us as neglected children with all sorts of emotional problems and delays. Screaming matches, hitting and pulling hair, biting, defiance of every sort. Day in and day out we deal with their negative behaviors, trying to teach them more about how to be loved and accept love from others and experience some of God’s love. Some days are better than others.

This morning started off as one of those other sort of days. I no more than put the two of them into the booster seats to eat their breakfast when they commenced to a screaming and screeching match against each other.  Soon, their antics included throwing food.

As I walked into the dining room to deal with the chaos, I sighed and thought, “And this is how you want me to serve you, Lord?”

“Yes. Only I want you to do it with a glad and grateful heart.”

OUCH! Not only did that small reprimand sting me, but it surprised me.  You see, I’d rather have a big writing ministry. Unlike my stepdaughter, I wish I had writing success … books to publish, a website/blog that drew thousands of readers each week, speaking opportunities, conferences to attend, etc. Seems to me that a writing ministry would be an amazing way to serve God.

Or why can’t I serve God by going on a short-term overseas mission trip? What about working with some larger ministry like a pro-life group or volunteering to feed the homeless? I have a lot of great ideas about how I think I could best serve God.

Instead, God has called me and my family to love two bad babies who desperately need to be loved unconditionally.

It’s a process, but I am learning to be grateful for my callings in this life … all of them.  Wife, mother, a homeschool teacher, writer (because I know God did call me to faithfully write for Him). Even foster mom.

Oddly enough, most of what God has asked me to do for Him won’t bring me personal fame or glory or recognition. It’s just hard work.

Even then, God wants me to do all those things with gladness. It’s not easy or fun all the time, but when I persevere and push through with a heart thankful for the chance to do anything for God, then I allow Him to get the glory and He blesses me with more opportunities to do His great works.

What has God asked you to do that you wish He hadn’t?

How have you learned to be grateful for even the hardest of God-given callings?

With a Thankful Heart-2

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Driving Lessons

“Not this way, GiGi! Go that way!”

My nearly three year old foster son continued to yell from his carseat in the back of my minivan. “You not listenin’ to me, GiGi. Not go this way. Go that way!” He pointed his chubby finger in the opposite direction.

Sweetie, I know this isn’t the way back home, but this is the way I have to go right now. I’m taking Nate to his class and in order to get there we have to drive this direction.” I tried to break the news to him gently, but I braced myself for the toddler tantrum I knew was about to ensue.

No!” he screamed. “I not wanna go this way. I wanna go that way!”  He began kicking his feet for added emphasis.

Five minutes later, the toddler rampage was still in full force with absolutely no sign of an end to the kicking and screaming. “Turn awound! Turn awound!” he yelled. “I told you not go this way!

Silently, I continued to drive on in the direction of Nathan’s class, trying hard to ignore all the commotion going on in the back of my minivan.  Instead, I was pondering the possible causes for this extreme tantrum. Normally my foster son loved car rides. So what was the problem today?

Perhaps he was hungry? No. I fed him a snack just before we left the house.

Was he sleepy?  Surely not. He took a two-hour nap after lunch.

Maybe he was getting sick?

But before I had time to consider this possibility, the screaming toddler stopped to take a breath. In that brief moment, my son Nathan spoke up.  “Hey, K* … Are you crying because you want to drive the car?”

The crying stopped almost instantly, replaced by small hiccupy breaths and little snuffles.  K gazed at Nathan as if he wasn’t quite sure what to say.

Well, did you know you have to have a driver’s license if you want to drive a car?”  Nathan had successfully captured his foster brother’s complete attention, bringing the tantrum to a standstill, at least for the moment.

“It’s a rule,”  Nathan continued.  “And if you don’t follow the rule, a policeman might stop you and take you to jail. Do you have a driver’s license?

K continued to stare at Nate, still not answering but obviously interested in what his older brother was saying.

“You have to be sixteen years old to get a driver’s license. Are you sixteen?”

I two.”  K held up two fat fingers.

Yeah. You’re two. I’m thirteen. Neither of us is old enough to have a driver’s license.  Do you know how old Gigi is?

K beamed as he answered, “GiGi WAS forty-two. Her had a birfday. Now GiGi forty-tree.

(This line of questioning was actually a brilliant play on Nate’s part. One of our foster son’s favorite games to play is answer questions about the people in our house … age, eye color, gender, and so forth.  And he usually wins! It’s hard to trip this kid up!)

That’s right. GiGi is forty-three. She is old enough to have a driver’s license. Someday you and I will be big and we can have a driver’s license, too.  Then we can drive whichever way we want to go. But today, GiGi is driving and she gets to decide which road to take. And that’s okay because she always knows how to go back home. We just have to let her do the driving while we sit back and enjoy the ride. Ok, buddy?

Ok, Nate,” he said.

And just like that, the toddler fit was over.

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If everything comes your way, you are driving in the wrong lane. ~Author Unknown

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Earlier this week, my oldest son got his driving permit.

As we walked out of the DMV and across the parking lot to our car, Joel held out his hand.

At first, I wasn’t sure what he was wanting. I was fairly positive he wasn’t asking to hold my hand. He hasn’t done that in years. For a second I thought maybe he was attempting to give me a high five. But I quickly realized that’s not quite his style either.

Then, in what has perhaps been the most surreal moment in all of my years of parenting, it dawned on me. My son wants the keys to the car.

For a second, I seriously considered telling him no. After all, I cherish my life and I wasn’t sure I was ready to risk it all on a ride with a brand-new driver, even if the driver was my son.

Quickly though, I realized saying no in this situation wasn’t a good option. All I could do was suck it up, say a prayer, and place the keys in his outstretched hand.

Twenty-five minutes later, we pulled in our drive, and for the first time since he had started the ignition nearly half an hour earlier, I was able to take a deep breath. Joel had driven me home, and I had lived. He hadn’t killed me, or anyone else for that matter. The car was still intact. There was much to be thankful for.

In fact, as I reflected on our drive home, I more realized he had done a spectacular job of driving. By the time I walked through the door and laid my purse on the kitchen counter, I was practically glowing with pride.

Maybe,” I thought, “I could get used to this. It might be nice to be chauffeured around town.

Two minutes later, I felt a wave of nausea. Joel is the first of my five teens to start driving. “Oh, no,” I groaned, putting my head in my hands. “This is only the beginning! Pretty soon, all the kids will be getting permits followed by a real driver’s license. It will be just one after the other after the other. I might not ever drive again for the next half dozen years!

And just like that, I’m no longer in control of my own car!

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Last night, I lay in bed thinking about how hard it was to let Joel drive me home.

He did great. He wasn’t speeding or driving too slow. He stayed in his lane, never came close to hitting anything, and obeyed all the traffic rules. I had absolutely no reason to feel scared.

And yet, I kept wanting to grab hold of the wheel. At times the urge was so strong that I had to actually sit on my hands!

Why?

Well, I’ll tell you. Joel was now in the driver’s seat; I was just a passenger.  And quite frankly, I didn’t like finding myself not being the one in control.

And if you stop to think about it, that’s a pretty silly reason, especially since the goal of parenting is to take the infant you are given and help that child grow into an adult who is completely capable of being in control of his or her own life.

Whether I like it or not, I’ve been preparing for this day all of my son’s life, starting with letting the two-year old version of my boy choose between wearing the blue shirt or the red shirt, all the way until Thursday afternoon when I relinquished the car keys in his hands. The reality of just how close this boy was to manhood and how very little control I had left in his life was somewhat overwhelming.

The more I pondered these sobering thoughts, the more I realized idea of being control was the likely cause of little K’s mysterious tantrum as well. He loves to choose for himself … which song to sing, which book to read, which snack to eat.  I suppose in his toddler mind if he could pick between two shirts to wear on Wednesday morning, why couldn’t he choose which direction to travel on Wednesday afternoon?

And then, I felt a tugging in my heart, the familiar urging of the Holy Spirit for me to take these thoughts a little deeper. There was more to this than just toddler boys who want to be in control of the car and teen boys who have actually grown big enough to take control of the car.  There was also me and my own desires to be in control left to consider.

But am I in charge? Really?

No, it’s just an illusion that I’m in control of my life, too. Yet, I buy that lie hook, line and sinker nearly every day, believing this is my life and somehow I’m completely in charge of the way things go.

But deep down in the very pit of my being, I know that I’m not in control of my life … not anymore than I am in control of the car when my teenaged son is driving.

So, if I’m not in control, then who is? And this is an answer we all know as well, whether or not we want to admit it.

God. All throughout the Bible, we are told God, who created everything from nothing, is in charge. He gives us life (Job 12:10), works all things together for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), and promises to never leave us (Matthew 28:20).

And just in case we don’t get it, there is this verse to consider:

Now in putting everything in subjection to Him, He left nothing outside His control.  ~ Hebrews 2:8

There is nothing, not one thing, that is outside of His control.

And for me, that means when toddlers throw fits or teenagers grow old enough to drive, when the dog dies or the tile on the bathroom wall starts to crumble and fall to the floor, when someone you love hurts your feelings or the doctor says he can’t cure you, when there’s no money in the bank to pay the bills or you find yourself lost as a goose and you can’t figure out which road to take to get back home …

In other words, in every situation of my life, all I need to do is just take a deep breath.

And then hand the keys back to God.

He’s already got the wheel!

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The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”  ~ Isaiah 14:24

*K is our foster son. Legally I cannot share his name or image here, though I’d love to show you his adorable brown eyes and mischievous grin.

Another Rainy Day

It was raining yesterday when the white DCFS van pulled into the driveway. It all felt so strangely familiar as I took hold of two toddlers … only this time, instead of being met with scared, blank eyes, that sweet toddler boy saw me and a big smile lit up his face.

“GiGi!” He stretched out his arms to me, and as I pulled him close, he melted into my arms.

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It was also raining on September 12th. I remember because that was the day I first met the tiny duo that rocked my world.

I will never forget how the rain fell as if it would never stop as the white DCFS van pulled up in our my driveway. My sister-in-law held an umbrella over my head, as I reached in and pulled out a plump baby girl with big blue eyes. A social worker followed behind us, clutching her older brother tight to protect him against the rain.

For five months, those two kiddos were a part of our family. And then just as quickly as they arrived, our precious babies left.

That was three months ago.

All spring my phone has remained strangely quiet. I had only two calls from the DCFS, and neither placement worked out in our favor. Honestly, I was glad for the reprieve. My attention was needed elsewhere …  A rental property that I own (located several hours from my actual home) needed some extensive work, my grandfather passed away, and my son had major surgery.

Yet, it was also a season in which Jon and I often discussed our decision to be foster parents. Is this still what we felt called to do? Was it worth the cost to our family? We agreed that we felt called by God to do this work and that we should keep our home open to children who needed a loving home. And so we waited …

Yesterday about lunchtime the call came through. Two children in need of a home … two year old boy and his one year old sister. The same sibling set we took in last fall and loved on for five months.

Would we take them back?

Of course. How could we possibly say no?

Only this time Jon and I said yes to the call knowing the cost involved. We know the commitment will require more of us than we thing we possibly have to give, and yet somehow we always find we have enough.

We already know the bittersweetness of being foster parents. The is an immense blessing that comes from loving these tiny sweethearts, and yet the fact remains that these are someone else’s babies. The only reason we get to love them is because something horrid happened in their lives in the first place. It’s a reality we can’t escape.

Jon and I know that chances are great these babies won’t be with us forever.  It could be weeks or months, but probably we will have to give them back. And yet, until we do, we love them just as if they are our own children. To do anything less would be wrong, even though in our humanness we have a desire to cushion our own hearts from the possibility of pain associated with losing someone we love.

This time it would be different. This time we aren’t naive. This time we know exactly what saying yes means … and still it is the only answer we have.

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Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.      ~James 1:27

Return: An Unexpected Weekend Guest

Last Thursday I got a surprise phone call from our former foster care worker. “Would you please consider taking in K. for a few days?” she asked. “There’s situation where his mother needs some help in caring for him and we thought about asking your family first.”

Would I? You bet! I didn’t even have to stop and think twice.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one elated about K’s return. My entire family was excited about the opportunity to spend a few days loving on our favorite two year old once again. It has been a little over two months since Mr. K and his baby sister left our care, and while we weren’t expecting to see him again, we quickly began to prepared for his sudden return into our home.

Nathan and Megan eagerly pulled out some of the old toys he loved most, while Julia went on a search until she found his favorite Barney DVD. Maddie pulled out the board books and put them into a box on the lowest shelf in the room. Joel got the booster seat set up at the dining table. Meanwhile, I made a quick trip to the story to buy goldfish crackers and popsicles and o-way-hoes (bananas) because I knew exactly what this little guy likes to eat. It didn’t take us long to get everything prepared and ready for K’s return to our home.

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K. opening the big dump truck on his birthday. It quickly became his favorite toy. Our entire family was sad that he wasn’t allowed to take it with him when he left us.

 

Friday morning, the social worker showed up with K. in tow. Initially, he was a little confused, but it didn’t take long before he warmed right back up. Soon he was happily playing with the big dump truck and the train tracks. Later in the afternoon, the bigger kids eagerly took turns watching him play outside. K had everyone’s complete attention and delighted in lots of walks around the block and pushes in the swing.

K. had been at our home less than two hours when he grabbed my hand and walked me over to where I used to keep a hidden stash of lollipops and other tiny treasures. He pointed up to the box high up on the shelf, flashed me his biggest smile, and said, “pwease?”  Immediately I felt myself grinning back at him, amazed at his fantastic memory. But as soon as I remembered that the box was totally empty, I felt awful. How could I have forgotten to replenished my box of surprises?

We had such a fun few days, going to the park to play and taking K. to church with our family.  But now all the excitement has come to an end. This morning, little K. returns back to his mother. Our five-day visit is over and I’m sad to see him go once again. Chances are he won’t be returning to our home …

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But I can hope that perhaps one day he will return to visit again.

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Behold, I am coming soon. ~Revelation 22:12

I am anticipating another return … the return of Jesus Christ to collect His bride. The Bible teaches that no one knows the day or hour of his coming. But just because we aren’t expecting it, doesn’t make the chances any less likely.

You see, I may not be able to count on K. returning back to my home. I love the little guy, but I have to accept the fact that when he walks out of my door today he might not ever return to me.

But it’s not that way with the return of Christ. His return is 100% guaranteed.

Though I may not know the day or the hour, I can be prepared … by choosing to grow in my personal relationship with Jesus through daily prayer and studying His word, by forming encouraging relationships with other Christ-followers, by choosing to live my life in a way that honors Christ.

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. ~Matthew 24:44

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BaptistGirlConfession

This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

Restoration

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I had never really seen the likes of it … dog feces smeared over the wood floors, evidence of roaches littering the bottoms of every kitchen cabinet and drawer, holes in the walls, mold in the bathroom, thick layers of dirt and grime and dust coated everything with a surface.

My husband and children had just spent the weekend helping me clean up my North Louisiana rent home. We carted out piles upon piles of trash, raked up two years worth of leaves, swept and mopped and scoured every surface we could easily reach. And still at the end of those two days of hard work, there was still so very much more to do.

The bathroom leak had been fixed, but now came the work of ripping out all of the molded sheetrock and putting up new. There were several broken ceiling fans and light fixtures which needed to be replaced. One room had several large holes in the walls, which meant I needed to get new paneling. Throughout the remainder of the house, the walls and trim desperately need new paint. And then there was the question of the roof.  Did it leak as my former tenant indicated, even though I couldn’t see physical evidence of the leaks? If so, could it be patched, or was I looking at the expense of a brand-new roof?

As I stood and looked around my, I saw the fragmented beauty of what once was. But the charming old home that I had bought for myself just five years earlier was no long charming or beautiful.  My brother, who had come by to help for a couple of hours, shook his head in disbelief and said, “Well, Paige … this definitely isn’t the home you left 4 years ago, is it?”  Sadly, all I could do was nod my head in agreement.

Hours later, I stood on the front lawn with Jon next to me, holding my hand. I sighed, but he leaned in and said,  “Maybe, with a little hard work, together we can get this old home back to its former glory. I know it will be time and money … but I think if we just take it one step at a time, we will be able to take care of each thing that needs to be done.”

I smiled at him, for the first time feeling that all wasn’t lost. Even through the discouragement, I knew deep down that the old home could become like new again.

This house could be restored.

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It’s been almost a month since they left us. I still miss their sweet little smiles, their precious hugs and kisses, the way their chubby hands felt in mine. I miss rocking and singing and reading books.

I knew from the beginning that being a foster parent would require me to love children as my own and then be willing to give them back to their parents. After all, that is (at least initially)  the ultimate goal for every foster child.

But knowing isn’t quite the same thing as experiencing.

I didn’t know how it would feel to buckle their car seats for the last time knowing this was our goodbye. How could I have prepared myself for the tears  that streamed down my cheeks as I washed the last of the baby bottles, sobbing because that sweet little girl who wouldn’t be snuggling with me at night any more? For two weeks after they left, I kept coming across stray baby socks, chunky legos and matchbox cars, evidence that two small people who used to live with us don’t live here anymore. Every time it made me cry.

It’s been hard on my heart, and yet if I am fully truthful then I must also say that there is lots of  joy and hope in my heart for those two precious children. They are back with their mama. Isn’t that where every child wants to be? Held in their mother’s arms? Loved by the parent who brought them into this world?

God called me and my family out, asked us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We learned to love children who weren’t ours as if they were our very own, and then in the end we had to give them back with nothing left but the memories. But oh, what a privilege to be witness what came as a result!

A family has been restored.

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Me and my dad, Easter 1973

Not quite six months ago, my father died. Unexpectedly. On my birthday. I’ve not nearly gotten over it yet. Most days, I wonder if I ever will.

It’s been a surreal sort of experience, learning to go throughout my days without talking to my dad. I used to pick up the phone without thinking. I wanted to talk to him, tell him something funny one of the kids said or ask for some advice. I would be halfway through dialing before I would remember that he no longer was around to answer phone calls.

Other times the phone would ring, and I would answer expecting to hear his voice on the other end of the line. Of course, it always turned out to be someone else and I would spend about half of that conversation trying not to cry because I wasn’t talking with my father.

Once I was at my home church and thought I saw my father walking at the other end of the hallway, his back to me. I raced ahead without thinking, only to feel surprised when it turned out to be my uncle. While I was glad to give him a hug, I wished it had been my dad instead.

I celebrate my first birthday while Papaw celebrates his 50th ... the first of many birthdays we have celebrated together.
I celebrate my first birthday while Papaw celebrates his 50th … the first of many birthdays we  celebrated together.

Just last week, my grandfather passed away. Now not only is my father gone, but my father’s father as well. Though it wasn’t nearly the shock of my father’s passing as my grandfather was ninety-one and had been ill for most of the last six weeks of his life, his death has left a what feels like a large raw, ragged hole in my heart.

Two patriarchs gone in less than six months. The two deaths feel so entangled, I am not sure I even know how to process through the grief.

At my grandfather’s funeral, it felt all too familiar. Weren’t we just here, reading the cards attached to the flower arrangements, accepting casseroles and cakes from well-meaning church members, and receiving condolences from a long line of friends at the church?  Now we must do this again?

Tears ran down my cheeks as I watched the photo slide show during the visitation for my grandfather, yet I wasn’t sure who the tears were for … Daddy or Papaw.

Maybe the tears were mostly for me.

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And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ~1 Peter 5:10

Until the last six months, I never thought about Heaven much at all.

If I am truthful, I must admit that actually going to Heaven is something I have never really anticipated.  I’ve always expected that some day in the future I will go there and see it for myself, mainly because it is what God promises will happen when I die as a result of putting my faith in Him. But I haven’t really ever spent time looking forward to that day.

Furthermore, lately I’ve realized that for most of my life my thoughts about Heaven have frequently conflicted with Biblical teachings.

I’ve always imagined Heaven as this great white expanse, trimmed in a rich gold. Pristine, quiet, and ethereal. Everyone there wears a white robe and a completely serene expression upon their face. As Heaven knows no anger, no tears, no worry, no sickness, it is a place of complete peace. But I also came to realize that I also never imagined heaven being a place of joy or laughter or even of love. Just eternal rest from this current earthly life.

No wonder I wasn’t eager to think about it or to anticipate going there myself! If dying means never laughing or feeling excitement again, then why would I care about Heaven?

Of course, since Dad’s death, I’ve thought quite a bit more about Heaven. I’ve never doubted that my father (and now grandfather) is now experiencing Heaven, but I have wondered if the things I miss most about them are still a part of them. Oh, I hope so! I miss their laughter, story-telling, and curious minds. How I would love, just one more time, to hear my father and grandfather engaged in one of their friendly Biblical debates, as they happily studied their Sunday school lesson together. I can’t tell you how many Sunday lunches I spent listening to them discuss exactly who Melchizedek was and the mysteries surrounding his priesthood. Are these parts of them buried in the grave?

And what of other things about this earthly life that I enjoy now. I know this planet is a flawed place to live, so far from perfection, but there is still so much to love about the world God created. Beautiful sunsets. Stars against a dark night sky.  Cool breezes. The kiss of warm sunshine against my skin on a spring day. Brilliant fall leaves. Laughing with a friend. Hugs from my family. Chocolate. So many things I cherish about life … When this life is over, must these end as well?

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But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”  ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Not long ago, Jon had a dream about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. In his dream, he was this large banquet hall where huge tables, covered in white clothes, were filled with large platters of delicious food. The smell was intoxicating. As Jon sat down to eat, he noticed a group of dancers enter the hall, performing an intricate dance to this amazing music. Jon said he started to dance along.  Next there were singers. Again, Jon knew the words to all the songs and enjoyed clapping and dancing and singing.  Then later on, he noticed several groups of people, each one seemed to be captivated by an engaging story-teller. Jon said it was the most wonderful party he had ever attended, and that when he woke up he was actually sad that it had to end.

Heaven? A party that never ends? 

Now that sounds like something to get excited about!

I’ve been reading Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, which is perhaps the most definitive book about the subject (after the Bible, of course). In his book, Alcorn writes,

“Satan need not convince us that Heaven doesn’t exist. He need only convince us that Heaven is a boring, unearthly existence.”

This particular quote resonated deeply with me, obviously because it was so true of my own beliefs regarding Heaven. My imaginings of Heaven aren’t accurate at all, for it is far from being a place of mundane existence.

Earth is just a prelude to heaven. So magnificent sunsets, majestic mountains, delicious meals in the company of friends, the joy of laughter … all of these things are just a delightful preview of what is to come.

God declared His original creation as “good.” His plan all along has been to redeem and restore it.

Religion professor Albert Wolters writes, “God hangs on to his fallen original creation and salvages it. He refuses to abandon the work of His hands—in fact, He sacrifices His own Son to save His original project. Humankind, which has botched its original mandate and the whole creation along with it, is given another chance in Christ; we are reinstated as God’s managers on earth. The original good creation is to be restored.”

Restoration.

It’s not just for old houses or dysfunctional families or broken relationships.

It’s for all of Creation. For me. For you.

All it takes is trusting Jesus Christ to redeem us from our sinful selves. And when we do, we can anticipate the day we die, knowing we will be restored to all we were originally created to be, perfect in every way. We will not be sent to some place of eternal rest, but rather will be reinstated on a new earth, as real and as physical as the first, but without all the sin and shame and sorrow and sickness.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away …  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”   ~from Revelation 21

The Greatest Gift

It was raining the day they came to live with us.  

 I hadn’t been given much time to prepare for their arrival, perhaps an hour’s notice at most. I suppose that in the end it didn’t matter all that much, as I didn’t have a clue how to prepare to welcome them to my home in the first place.

When the white government mini-van pulled up in our driveway, my sister-in-law, who had unexpectedly dropped by and gotten caught up in the afternoon’s drama, held an umbrella over my head as I reached into the vehicle to pull out a chubby nine-month old baby girl. As I carried that sweet little one into my home, her big blue eyes gazed up at me with what I can only describe as a rather dull expression. No fear. No curiosity. No spark. Only a blank stare.

Days, maybe weeks, later, I noticed she had a dimple, so tiny and sweet, that flashed across her left cheek with every baby giggle.

But that day, there wasn’t any laughter.

Her big brother, if you could call him that for he was as tiny as she was chubby, walked into our home and immediately found the small collection of toys arranged on the living room rug. He busied himself with the cars, not seeming to notice there was anyone else in the house.

As I signed the stack of paperwork, accepting the responsibility of caring for these two children, I wondered what would happen when the social workers left our home.  Soon enough, I discovered the answer to that question. Nothing. No crying. No fretting. No indications of concern.  In fact, these little ones didn’t seem to realize they had been left alone with strangers.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting to happen in those first hours. Certainly not smiles or laughter, but definitely not this uneasy calm either. But then I had never been around neglected children, which explains why …

This was also a day without tears.

The days turned into weeks, and slowly our two foster babies began to meld into our family. We read for hours on end, The Little Engine that CouldChicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, and Goodnight Moon. We sang all the songs toddlers love: If You’re Happy and You Know ItThe Itsty-Bitsy Spider, and Jesus Loves Me. We even taught them which little piggy says, “wee, wee, wee” all the way home.

As the weeks turned into months, we celebrated their birthdays, applauded first steps, and marveled over first words. When the oldest began to recognize colors, we proudly bragged to our friends about how smart and intelligent our foster son was. There were harder lessons to be learned, such as the importance of using a spoon, how to pet a dog without pulling on its ears, and that during the clean-up song everyone must pick up the toys. At mealtime, we taught them how to fold their small hands and say grace over their food; at bedtime, we tucked them into their cribs with kisses and prayers.

As the months went by, the two babies began to change.  A sparkle came to their eyes. Curiosity returned. They began to act like children who mattered, because they did.

No longer neglected, now they were loved.

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But some days, maybe most days, I didn’t feel like loving them.

These babies weren’t like other babies who had been lavished with love and attention and nurturing since birth. Instead, they came to our home, bringing with them an emotional baggage for which I was not prepared. My days consisted of dealing with their bad behaviors. Throwing food. Screaming matches. Biting. Pulling hair. Clawing skin.

Initially, I had wanted to foster needy children so that I could share the love of Jesus with children who might not ever taste of love. My fostering dreams were nothing more than a golden haze of envisioning how I would be God’s light in the darkness.

I didn’t realize the darkness could be so dark.

The bitter truth quickly became clear. I really didn’t know how to love these babies who struggled to accept and respond to my efforts. The more I struggled, the more I fell to my knees, begging God for help and mercy.

Being a foster mom was mostly a humbling lesson in learning to truly love others. I suppose I had expected I would learn a lot about love through the process of being a foster mother, but I was banking on more of the familiar warm, fuzzy, feel-good sort of love.

Instead, God showed me a love that hurts and stings. And while He taught me more about love than I ever knew before, what I learned was that true love has very little to do with how I feel and everything to do with how I treat the other person.

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Last Friday, our foster babies left us.

Once again, I didn’t have much notice. Less than 24 hours to get ready for them to leave my home.  Just like I didn’t know how to plan for their arrival, I had no idea how to prepare for their departure.

I put all of their tiny clothes into suitcases, along with the four toys they were each allotted to carry on to their next destination. I dressed them in their nicest outfits, so that they would look all clean and shiny for their momma.

While we waited for the social worker to arrive, we sat together in the big rocker, reading board books and singing songs. I wiggled their smallest piggies, and together we laughed as we chanted, “Wee, wee, wee … all the way home!”

This was a day of giggles and laughter.

As the white government van pulled into my driveway, drops of rain began to sprinkle over the lawn. The time had come, and though I thought my heart might burst apart, I gently buckled them into car seats for the last time and kissed their tiny faces. The chubby baby girl, now almost 15 months old, reached out for me and cried.

It was also a day for tears.

And though I still grieve the loss, I already know that if I am given another chance, I’ll choose to do it all again … for love, as much as it sometimes hurts, is the greatest gift we can ever choose to give.

But the greatest of these is love. ~1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

Better than February

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I woke up this morning feeling discouraged. It all started when I happened to remember that today is January 27th.  Much to my dismay, there are still four more days to go in this month. As I shuffled to the kitchen to start my morning coffee, there was but one thought in my weary brain:

Will January ever end? 

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Honestly, I don’t know why this particular month has seemed to drag by so very slowly. But it has, with one long day following another.

The two toddlers have been snotty-nosed, cranky and into everything that’s not tied down.  And if I’m not dealing with toddler tantrums, then it’s teenager angst. I can’t tell you which one is worse. Honestly, they are both bad.

January just also happens to be the month for our recertification as foster parents. It’s only slightly less harrowing than getting certified the first go around.  Together, Jon and I had to complete 15 hours of online training. Excuse me, but I’m so busy chasing our duel tornadoes (aka the foster babies) that I hardly have time to do anything else. Finding 15 hours to complete training is like asking me to find a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, I somehow managed to find them, so that particular stressor is finally behind me.

I haven’t been to church in 3 long weeks. Sickish toddlers kept me away two Sundays. The other Sunday I was out thanks to a two year old boy’s first science experiment involving a bottle of Zantac (that he somehow managed to open in spite of the child safety cap) and some kitchen cleaner. Concerned that he may have ingested some of the concoction, I stayed home and kept in close contact with a kind lady from the Poison Control Center.  Thankfully, no symptoms other than hyperactivity were noticed and calamity was once again avoided.

Then there is my house, the one which is once again for rent or for sale.  I could probably write an entire  blog post about that, but I won’t. It’s suffice to say that my current situation is nothing short of baffling. Changing renters should be simple enough. One renter moves out. Another one moves in. And yet this time around it has been anything but simple. I have never before had anyone threaten me to never contact them again, much less a person who was living on my property. <SIGH> Well, I have now. It happened this January.  And I didn’t even realize there was a problem between me and my former renter.

All month long it has been one thing after another. To me, it seems that …

January has become my prison. 

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Last Friday, my sister had her baby. Sweet little Mallory Piper was born via C-section at about 8 am on January 23rd, weighing in at 7 lbs 15 oz.  She is perfectly healthy with the most adorable chubby cheeks.  And I can hardly wait until I get to meet her in person.

In a way, it seems unreal that Mallory is already here.

Perhaps you can remember when we were picking names and debating on genders right here on my blog late last summer? It really wasn’t all that long ago, and yet it almost feels like a lifetime has happened between then and now.

One thing about grief is you never know what will blindside you. For example, I never anticipated my niece’s birth to bring up an entire host of intense emotions. But then again, I never anticipated my father wouldn’t be around to see the birth of this granddaughter.

I remember his delight as he announced to me what my sister had already told me, that he would be getting a new grandchild. While I cannot remember if he predicted this baby would be a boy or a girl, I do know he was tickled pink when Brooke announced she was expecting another daughter. And I certainly recall how he adamantly insisted that no grandchild of his would ever be named Hazel because a long time ago he had a mean teacher name Hazel and he had never liked the name since.

Now Mallory is with us, but my dad isn’t … and that leaves me with a strange lump in my throat that mingles with the joy and excitement of being an aunt again. As much as I already adore and love that sweet baby girl, her arrival makes me miss my father’s presence a little more. I definitely wasn’t prepared to experience these feelings along with my niece’s birth.

But truthfully, I wasn’t prepared at all for January 2015.

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Ask my children and they will tell you that I am often reminding them not to wish their lives away.

Enjoy being thirteen,” I tell my middle girl. “I know there are so many things you want to do … drive a car, go on a date,  You will be Sweet Sixteen you know it. But thirteen will never come around again.”  (Of course, I don’t tell her that very few are the number of adults who would actually voluntarily live through being 13 again.  She’ll discover that soon enough on her own.)

I know Geometry is a pain in the rear, but instead of wishing you could go back to elementary school, focus on the good things about being in the 10th grade.”  (Of course, the high school sophomore doesn’t want to heed that advice. It’s much easier to moan and complain.)

But lately, I haven’t been able to take my own advice either.

I’m stuck in the middle of January, and I can’t get out.

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Paige, Lately God has put you on my heart, and I’ve been praying for you.  What I’d really like to do is something that would help and encourage you. Can I take the two little ones one day this week? My girls and I would enjoy spending time with them and giving you a bit of a break.

I thought I was surely hearing things.

It was Sunday afternoon. Just that morning, while the rest of my family worshipped at church, I sat at home with two small children and prayed, “God, I just need a break. I’m weary and worn and I can’t go on much longer.

Now my friend had called me out of the blue, with an offer so sweet it felt as welcome as drops of water on parched, dry lips.

All month long I’ve felt alone in the trenches, forgotten in the battle, desperate for some piece of encouragement. Day after day I get up, put on a brave face and continue to soldier forward into the fray that has become my daily life … aching for February, and hoping that with it will come a blessed relief to my soul.

But here was my relief.  And it came while it was still January.

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The God of the Bible has many names, and one of my favorites has always been El Roi, which is translated as “God Who Sees.”

I might have felt alone, but God always saw me. He didn’t forget about me, and my little life currently filled with so much stress.

And while I desperately desired nothing more than a new month on the calendar as a hope of getting some peace restored, God sent someone to minister to me right in the middle of the longest, driest month of my life.

When my January wouldn’t end, God gave me something better than February.

He gave me a friend.

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Yes, it’s still January and all my troubles are still here. But I have been reminded that I am not alone … and today, my friend ministered to my heart, bringing to me a taste of God’s peace and love right in the middle of winter in my soul.

I am thankful for friends who do such nice things in the middle of January. I am grateful to be loved by a God who sees me and loves me and cares about my heart.

And both of these things are better than anything February might bring.

Two are better than one … For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  ~ Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

Thank you, Lauren … you’ll never know how very much today was needed. I’m grateful for a friend like you.

Christmas Lights

He had been in our home less than half an hour when our new little foster son began to request for us to turn lights on.  His chubby toddler hands would point up to the fixture, while in a sweet but insistent voice he would say, “Light? On?”

Before bedtime on that very first night, Jon was in the dining room changing out a burned out bulb in order to please the 22 month old boy who loved lights.

Even now, three months into this foster parenting gig, our family’s favorite two year old is still fascinated with light.

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Christmas is a season of light. It seems that everywhere you look, trees and houses are lit up with hundreds upon hundreds of tiny, twinkling lights. Trees glittering through window panes. Colored lights outlining rooftops while white lights make the bushes sparkle.

At Christmas, there is nothing more lovely than a tree lit up with lots of lights. Normally, I relish in decorating our family’s Christmas tree. I love to cover it in lots and lots of lights, and then fill it from top to bottom with hundreds of ornaments. Finally, I wrap the entire tree is sparkly gold ribbon before adding our star to the very top.

Yet, as much as I love the process and result of tree decorating, this year I decided NOT to decorate a tree. It wasn’t easy to come to such a conclusion, but after a two hour attempt to keep our two toddlers from completely destroying my mother’s Christmas tree, … well, I realized it would not be a fun Christmas season if I had to spend every waking moment trying to keep myself between the tree and the toddlers.

At first, I tried to come up with a solution that would still enable me to have my cake and eat it too … or, rather in this case,  have my tree and decorate it too. Someone suggested surrounding the tree with baby gates. I considered it, but then realized it would cost me a small fortune for something I really didn’t want to have after Christmas.

I also contemplated putting the tree up in a more out of the way location in our house. However, our home has a relatively open floor plan. The only out of the way locations available were bedrooms, bathrooms and Jon’s home office. None of those options felt like a good place to put the family Christmas tree.

In the end, it seemed as if there were only two options. Put up a Christmas tree and then spend the entire season constantly guarding it from an attack launched by two small children. Or forego the Christmas tree this year and find other ways to decorate our home.

But if I thought I was disappointed about having a year with no Christmas tree, I should realized the magnitude of the reaction I was about to get from my five teens and tweens.  When I first broke the news, a few took the news rather well, but there were a couple that stared at me in stunned silence before beginning to beg and plead with me to change my mind. When I wouldn’t, I received several glares that could kill had there be any super powers involved. Fortunately for me,  I am raising humans and not super heroes.

My kids are fortunate too, for I am not a mean old Grinch … though they might occasionally beg to differ with me on that point. Still, I never intended NOT to decorate our home for the Christmas season. I just determined that a typical Christmas tree should not be part of this year’s holiday decor.

So instead of focusing on my tree, I decorated the doorways with garlands and decked out the walls.

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My banner that drapes across the kitchen. It says “Joyeux Noel.” I figure consider I that I live in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country, I at least ought to include a little French in our Christmas decor.

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I set up displays of  nativity sets on every solid surface out of reach of little fat fingers.

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The stockings were even hung. Not over a chimney, which we don’t have anyway, or in their usual place along the living room shelves. Rather, the stockings found a place to hang over the living room windows. I liked the way they looked, nine stockings hanging in a row.

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In the end, there was tree to decorate after all. Last weekend, I found a mini-tree on sale for less than $10, so I got it to put on the ledge above the kitchen sink. It just so happens that it can be seen from the living room as well, which makes this small tree the perfect place to display each person’s new ornament for 2014.

Look and see if you can spot the:

(1) Eiffel Tower for Julia who has been collecting them since her summer trip to Paris;  (2) A plane for Joel to remind him of his first trip overseas;  (3)  A Rubik’s cub for Nate who figured out the key to solving them; (4) A sparkly owl for Meg;   (5) A glittery snow fox for Maddie; (6) Two reindeer with the initials K and C  for the foster babies;  (7) a turquoise and brown cross for Jon;  (8) and a cow bell which represents my wedding anniversary to Jon … it was tied to the back of our getaway car at our wedding which will be 4 years ago on Dec. 31st.

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But my favorite ornament on this year’s tiny tree is the one I bought just for me!

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While I take all the credit for decorating the inside of our home, Jon always takes care of making the outside look merry and bright. This year Megan helped decorate the front yard, stringing lights all around and placing a simple reindeer on the front lawn. As always, they did a fantastic job!

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But even though I loved the welcoming look, what I really wished was that we had a little extra money to buy a wreath to hang on the front door. (True fact: When you have seven kids, there is never any extra money.) Imagine my surprise when the very next day my sweet friend Korin gave me a beautiful fresh wreath that she made just for me to hang on my front door.

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The perfect finishing touch!

We may not have a tree this year, but the signs of Christmas are all around the house, and I am praying daily for signs of Christmas growing in our hearts as well …  the Christmas spirit of generosity and of love and of humble worship.

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Three months ago a tiny little boy and his baby sister came to live with us. And from the very beginning, the lights in our home fascinated him.

This Christmas, we have a blessed opportunity to share the wonders of the season with two innocent children. It may be the only chance we have to share Christmas with them. So we will drive that sweet boy up and down the streets after dark, showing him the city all lit up for Christmas. We will bake cookies and open gifts and bask in the glow of Christmas excitement.  And through it all, I will hold out hope that on some future day these precious kids will see the pictures and know how much fun our family had sharing this Christmas with them.

But more than anything else, I pray for our little ones’ hearts to be captivated by the Light of this World, the Holy Infant of Bethlehem who came to save us from our sins. We may not have a big Christmas tree and the presents we open may be relatively few, but oh how I hope even at their tender ages they will see the light of His love living in us, and because of that they will long to know Him more.

Because really … that’s what Christmas is all about.

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Behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” ~Matthew 2:2

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  ~John 8:12

Birthdays on earth

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This past week we celebrated … cake, ice cream, presents hidden inside bags overflowing with bright tissue paper. It was our foster son’s 2nd birthday and we delighted in singing the birthday song with him all week long.

Lil’ Man was mostly confused by all the birthday commotion. The morning of his birthday, I tried to put pin a little birthday ribbon on his shirt so that the rest of the world would know it was his birthday, too. He promptly ripped it off. I attempted to reattach the ribbon several more times, only to get the same result. In the end, I was just glad he didn’t tear up his shirt.

Later in the day, I baked a simple cake and put a couple of matchbox cars on the top along with his #2 candle. As soon as he saw the cake on the counter, he demanded that I give him the cars. When I refused, he threw a royal tantrum.

And after dinner, when we lit the candle and sang the birthday song with lots of gusto, our favorite toddler looked around at us with this expression that seemed to say, “You people have lost your minds! Just cut the cake and let’s eat!”

Even the presents seemed to cause Lil’ Man some confusion. We gave him the first gift and he sat there looking at us, unsure of what he should do next. Even after we showed him how to tear the paper, he seemed a bit unsure about ripping something up. I suppose we have made it clear that most things are not meant to be torn apart! Thankfully, once the gifts were revealed, our sweet boy was elated with them … so much so that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to play with the toys or eat his cake and ice cream.

 He ended up choosing cake over playing. What a smart boy!

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I’ve always enjoyed birthdays, whether it was my own or someone’s that I love. Even before I became a mother, I enjoyed birthday parties for little people. Once I had children of my own, nothing brought me more pleasure than to plan a party, mostly simple ones but some more elaborate.

In fact, I loved birthday celebrations so much that in years gone by I used to even allow celebrations of halfie-birthdays, complete with half a cake, Blue Bell ice cream in half chocolate and half vanilla, and a special rendition of the Halfie Birthday song (sung to the same tune as the regular birthday song, the only difference being that  each “happy”  is replaced with the word “halfie.”

However, now that I have seven children, it’s much too complicated to try to keep up with regular birthdays and halfie-birthdays. So, for simplification purposes, I had put that tradition to rest. It has been two years since I made that decision, and I’m not sure all of my children have forgiven me yet.

Of all the reasons I love having a big family, perhaps my favorite is getting to celebrate birthdays more often. Nine times each year we get to sing the birthday song and eat cake and ice cream after dinner. In fact, in the month of November alone, our family celebrates three birthdays! I already mentioned Lil’ Man’s birthday this past week. Our foster daughter will be turning one the day before Thanksgiving and our son Nathan will celebrate his 13th birthday on Thanksgiving Day.

 Can you imagine the sugar rush of eating birthday cake and pumpkin pie on the same day … oh my!

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Today is my dad’s birthday. Well, it would have been his birthday today. I think, if I have done the math correctly, he would have turned 67 years old.

Sometimes, after a loved one has passed on, people will (in an effort to comfort you) say something like, “Just think .. this year they are having the best birthday celebration up in heaven!”

While it’s a nice thought … honestly, I’m just not sure about the accuracy of that at all.

I don’t think my dad is in heaven celebrating in some private party with Jesus or even blowing out candles on some sort of heavenly cake as departed loved ones stand around and watch. And I certainly don’t think he has even once contemplated how those of us still on earth are remembering him today.

 In fact, I don’t suppose birthdays matter all that much up in heaven anyway.

Seeing as we will be completely focused on worshipping God, I don’t see how anyone’s birthday (our own included) will even enter into our thoughts. (Well, maybe we will think about Jesus’ birthday. That might be appropriate … besides, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we got to celebrate that in heaven? Talk about a party to remember!)

But right now, I’m not in heaven. I’m here on planet earth … where birthdays do matter, and for the most part people who live in my culture choose to celebrate birthdays with cake and ice cream, parties and presents.

All day I have thought about my dad, missing him so much that tears have fallen several times. It saddens me that I can’t be with him on his special day, buy him a silly card, or wrap up some tiny trinket of a gift. And it’s not just this year that my kids can’t call him and sing the birthday song, as they listen to his laughter in the background. Never again will I be able to enjoy a piece of cake with him, or tell him how much he blessed me.

It’s been a hard day. Truthfully, most days during the past two months have been hard. I suppose that was to be expected. Grief isn’t an easy or quick process, and as these holidays approach I know deep down there are going to be many more hard days yet to come before the tears don’t fall as easily and the sting of the pain begins to ebb away.

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My blog has been quiet these past two months. Part of that was just busyness. I’ve been adjusting to adding those two sweet foster babies to my home, adjusting to sleepless nights again. I had forgotten so much about little ones. Everything seems to take longer these days. I haven’t had nearly as much time to sit and write.

But more than that, I didn’t want my blog to become a grief blog. And yet, this is where I am in life at this time. It’s a season of grief. Just like the fall leaves are beginning to color the landscape of Cajun Country, the dull gray of grief seems to cloud over all my days, both the good and the bad. So like the black armbands worn a hundred years ago or more, I shut down my blog and entered into a time of mourning.

Over the past week, as I’ve celebrated the first birthday since my dad died on my 42nd birthday, I’ve thought over and over that the time to end my silence was over. My grief isn’t over. Far from it! But my heart is ready to process and share, and the only way I’ve ever known to do that is to write it all down.

Before my foster babies came to live in my home and before my dad died, I had a goal of publishing blog posts 3 times a week. I doubt I can make that happen with my current schedule. So I am setting a new goal of one new blog post a week, and more as God lays them on my heart and gives me time to write.

Meanwhile, please know I have missed my writing and blogging community so very much. I am eager to try to catch up, and I am thankful for the promises of God who has said He will be near to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18) and will turn my mourning into dancing (Ps. 30:11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First 24 … and then some

It’s been a little over 24 hours since two precious babies were dropped off at my home … our first placement as a foster family.

I can’t give out names or identifying details about the children left in our charge, but I can say that we are loving on a set of siblings. A little boy with blond hair and big brown eyes who is not quite two years old and his baby sister (age nine months) with the most adorable round face, big blue eyes and a smile to melt your heart. For the purposes of my blog, I’ll refer to them as “Lil’ Man” and “Cutie-Pie.”

As cute as these two are (and they are oh-so cute), it’s been a wild, chaotic, stressful night and day around here.

I had forgotten all about babies!  I know I’ve mothered three from infancy on, but I have apparently grown rusty on all things baby.  Jon and I realized that our schedule just hasn’t been thrown a curve ball … our schedule has been thrown out the window! We are now marching to the beat of two tiny people, who eat and sleep and even take baths on a schedule.

Cutie Pie arrived with a nasty cold and cough. Is there anything worse than a baby with a rattly chest?! My momma’s heart wants to just rush her off to the doctor, but we don’t even have a pediatrician yet. And she’s since is fever-free and mostly content to play, I figure our over-the-counter medications can keep things under control until Monday morning.

Lil’ Man is busy, fascinated by everything electronic or highly breakable, and extremely LOUD. He’s definitely a normal almost two-year old. His speech is very garbled, but we can hear him mimicking us from time to time. So far the only time he is quiet is when he is sleeping or watching Barney … Good old Barney is still entertaining to toddlers  and irritating adults all these years later!

The five big kids in the house are delighted to help. Tonight there was actually a small bru-ha-ha over who would get to bath the babies. These two are not in need of loving hands to hold them, play with them, feed, them, rock them, or sing “The Itsty-Bitsy Spider” for the 50th time in a row.

So if you are wondering how we are doing … well, it’s just like any other house with two babies under two.

Thanks for the prayers and words of encouragement. We are completely dependent on prayer right now, and trusting that God will continue to help us find our footing in this exciting time.

Now, I’m off to start another load of laundry! It’s amazing how much laundry two little people can create!