One day at a time

Two nights ago my brother and I were talking. He was asking me about the adoption process and where we were now that the other placement had fallen through. I was honestly pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. I felt pretty emotionally numb and just told him that we were back in the waiting phase. Which for me is really the hardest.  I honestly at that point felt a lack of interest in the whole thing.
Last night our case worker dropped by unannounced. She wanted to talk to us about a 2 year old boy who needed a foster-to-adopt home. He is still visiting with his birth mother, but DFCS is planning on petitioning the court to change the case plan to adoption.

We were a bit shell shocked and were probably looking at her with blank stares. We kind of hemmed and hawed, told her to give us a night to think about it and we would call her back. We talked about it. We decided that if we were going to pursue this we would have to think of it as a straight foster care placement. But we decided to go ahead and take the next step.

A conversation with our case worker this morning revealed the county who has custody of him wants to chose a family who will make the best match, since they anticipate this being an adoptive placement. Our home study will be submitted a long with 5-7 other home studies. If we are chosen then we will arrange a staffing with the county and make our final decision after the staffing.

So here we are again. Waiting.

I feel relatively calm. In many ways this sounds like an ideal match. But only God knows. If we get chosen, we take the next steps. If not, we go back to waiting again.

I am doing better this time at focusing on one day at a time. I have only briefly allowed my mind to consider what it would be like to have a 2 year old boy here. Then I put it out of my mind and moved on. I can’t control if we get picked or not, so I have to trust (again) that God has this whole thing mapped out.

Five Minute Friday: Wide

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Write for 5 minutes no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Link up to the community over with Lisa-Jo Baker and encourage other 5 Minute Friday writers.

This weeks prompt: Wide

Go

Arms wide. Hearts wide. Eyes wide.

All these things as we wait.

Living wide and open to what may come brings a sensitivity that I had not imagined. A feeling of being scraped along the edges. Or maybe gauged in the heart? A feeling that things are too bright or too loud or too meaningful or too fleeting.  Sometimes the sensitivity is good. A stirring of the heart. A deeper knowledge of God’s presence. A certain understanding of utter dependence on Him. Sometimes the sensitivity is not so good. Irritability. Impatience. Immobility.

Some days I just want to shut it all down. Shutter the windows of my soul. Fold up my arms and close up my heart. Focus my eyes on me and forget about the rest.

I sit in the midst of a class of antsy 3 and 4 year olds. Some of them are dirty. Some of them do not know how to eat at a table. Some of them cannot sit still no matter how hard they try. Some of them struggle to speak words. All of them craving love and attention, even if just for one hour a week.  One of them slowly positions himself at my side. He looks deep into my eyes, a question in his. Do I care about him? He rests his head in my lap. And I feel the doors of my heart opening wide again.

Stop

The practical side of love

I have tended toward the spiritual lately. Which is all fine and good. These past 2 weeks though I am re-learning the lesson that sometimes the nitty-gritty work of love involves self-discipline, scheduling, order. If only it were so easy as waking up in the morning and saying, “Today I will be loving!” and the rest of the day would follow full of sunshine and roses.

I am seeing more and more that the more chaotic the house feels, and the less organized I feel, the harder it is for me to be loving. It’s easier to be impatient and angry when I sleep too late and so resent the boys for waking me, when we don’t stick to our budget and money concerns are eating at me, when I don’t have a menu planned and dinner time rolls around with nothing to eat and kids hungry, when I am tripping over dirty laundry, or can’t find the soccer uniforms, or am trying to fix lunch around the dishes piled high on the counter.

I am fully aware of the messiness  of every day life. I in no way expect perfection from myself when it comes to housework. However, for me, a chaotic environment breeds chaotic emotions.

Starting last week I worked at getting back into a routine. Here is what that looks like for me. I set my alarm in order to wake and have time to exercise, read my Bible, and do some planning before the boys wake. It is hard for me to wake up early. I never really want to. I have to remind myself when the alarm goes off that if I start my day in quiet, with time to myself, the rest of the day seems to go better.

Exercise is important. I have noticed a huge change in my mood when I don’t get regular exercise. I am starting to see that exercise is a must, not simply and option.

I have made myself turn off the computer during the scheduled times when the boys need me; school time in the morning and play time in the afternoon. A screen is distracting and it makes me irritable to be interrupted, so it needs to be off.

I have started menu planning again. Regular grocery shopping and a clear menu plan makes those difficult afternoon hours much less stressful.

I am implementing a regular cleaning schedule again. There are projects that need to be done this fall. The house needs some organization. I am much more relaxed and patient when I am not worried about how I am going to fit in housework between our activities.

I am trying to go to bed at the same time every night. I need a regular 8 hours of sleep. I am coming to accept this about myself. As much as I would like to stay up late watching Netflix with my husband and surfing the internet, I know I will pay for it the next day. So a regular bedtime it is.

It’s not fancy. It doesn’t feel very glamorous. But for me, this is part of what it looks like to set a practical structure to encourage love in our family.

 

Five Minute Friday: Focus


Joining Lisa-Jo Baker for 5 Minute Friday. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Link back, and leave comments for other 5 Minute Friday writers.

Today’s Prompt: Focus

GO

I once read something that Corrie ten Boom wrote. I don’t remember the exact words, but the gist was that following God is like looking in a mirror. If you move your eyes off the mirror the picture is gone. Her point was that the only way we can be more Christ-like is by focusing on Christ. No amount of self-discipline or devotion is going to make you more Christ-like unless your vision is actually fixed on Christ. As soon as you move your eyes off of Christ the focus becomes something other than him.

It seems so simple and obvious. Yet for me it was a revolutionary concept.

I am a rule-follower. Give me the guidelines and parameters of how to do something so I know exactly how to perform and what to expect. But I was so frustrated in my attempts to be more loving. The harder I tried to be more loving, the more frustrated, irritable, and hopeless I felt.

The short devotional by Corrie ten Boom showed me where my focus was. Even in my attempts to be more loving, the focus was on me. I am sinful and selfish and unable to keep God’s law. Seeing more and more of the depth and beauty of God’s unconditional love for me through Christ made the love flow naturally out of me. I see it in my kids too. When they feel unconditionally loved, they act loving.

The past few weeks my focus has been off. I have been distant from my husband. Easily irritated with my children. Quick to anger and frustration. I am trying to buckle down and change some habits through sheer force of will. Self-discipline is good, but without my focus on Christ it is all about me and destined to fail.

“If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” -Amy Charmichael

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” – Jesus, John 15:4

Stop

 

 

Adoption & Mr Toads Wild Ride

The process of adoption is often referred to as a roller coaster ride. In a way that is accurate. In our last experience I did feel my emotion’s rising and plunging like a roller coaster. That feeling of excitement and adrenaline, mixed with a healthy dose of fear, that came with the initial referral. The lighting fast up, down, all-around of reviewing records, meeting the kids, hearing about the case, imagining the future. Then the final plunge and sudden stop when everything fell apart. The shaky sensation of trying to get your land legs back when the ride is done. Mentally trying to prepare for the next roller coaster to come.

The other day though I realized that the adoption process is also like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. You know, the ride that jerks you around from one scene to the next with no warning or preparation. There isn’t really an up and down but quick shifts in scenery and circumstance that leave you with a bit of whiplash.

The reason I thought this is because a message popped up on my Facebook a few days ago. A friend had a friend who is pregnant, DFCS is involved and the baby will be removed from her at birth. The question, would we consider adopting the baby?

That was the only information I had. Two quick lines popping up on Facebook and my whole life felt jerked and whipped around from the scene we had been in to a completely different one.

Of course we are open to more information. I am awaiting a phone call that will give us more information and then we will proceed (or not), cautiously from there. But – we had never considered adopting an infant. The nature of adopting through the foster care system is that it is extremely rare to adopt an infant. We knew that. We aren’t really baby people. We like sleeping through the night. I like that my kids are out of diapers and we are beyond planning our schedule around 2 naps a day. We don’t have anything for an infant in our house. We honestly had no desire to adopt an infant. In our training class we were asked to draw our “ideal” child. I drew a brother and sister, between the ages of 2-6, with dark hair and eyes. So the idea of an infant was not in our heads. At all. So you can imagine the whiplash. The jerking from imagining our family adding one to two toddlers or elementary school aged children to imagining our family adding an infant.

But here we are. A few quick lines on my computer screen and the possibility of an infant being added to our family.

I feel much more calm this time than I did last time. I have next to no information. I have no idea how this whole thing is going to pan out. But interestingly enough I have not been thinking about it that much. I guess our last experience taught me more about taking one day at a time. Right now, I have the information I have. There is no need for me to get all caught up in imagining what could be. In our last experience I lost a lot of sleep and was basically unable to think about anything else. My mind is not racing the same way this time as it did last time. There is just too little information and too many variables. It could be that my friend doesn’t get any more information and this whole thing fizzles. It could be that we get more information, decide to pursue and still the whole thing fizzles. It could be that we get more information, decide to pursue, and end up adopting the baby. I have no idea. And right now I am surprisingly calm about the whole thing.

Although I will say that today as I was cleaning out the boys summer clothes I was not sure if I should hang on to the 4T clothes, just in case. But if we got an infant I wouldn’t need them… Mr Toad’s Wild Ride indeed.

Be Still

This was my early birthday gift to myself. I rarely buy myself anything. And after a recent foray into the word of simplification and minimization I don’t just buy accessories anymore. Yet when I saw this pop up on the Etsy Adopt Shoppe it just spoke to me. It has a comforting weightiness. I feel its weight around my neck and I finger it often. I don’t think the tear drop shape is a coincidence.

Being still does not come naturally to me. I want to fix. I want to plan. I want to iron out details. I want to rage and cry and question. I want to command and demand. I want to talk through every minute possibility. I want to forge ahead. I absolutely do not want to wait.

As we wait (again) for a referral I have to remind myself to be still.

As I grieve the loss of 2 children I still hold in my heart I have to remind myself to be still.

As I wonder and wait and worry I have to constantly remind myself to be still.

As I am tempted to take my emotional agitation out on my 2 boys I have to remind myself to be still.

This is the work of faith, the growing and building of the muscles of trust in my sovereign God.  Like the disciples who were in the boat with Jesus in the middle of the storm my knee jerk reaction is to fret and cry out, “Jesus! Do you not see what is going on here?! Do you not see that I am perishing?!” I forget the power of my Jesus. I take my eyes off of him and see only the waves and the wind. I forget that this Jesus, who can speak and control the elements, loves me. His words to the disciples sear my heart too, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

So I wear this trinket around my neck. When the fear and doubt begin to rise I finger it. I know I can be still because my God has every step mapped out and His love for me is more than I can even imagine.