Trust. Surrender. Handing it all over… and not taking it back. This. This is the crux of my biggest struggle in my Christian walk. I have control issues. I have timing issues. (In other words…I am a big contributor to our “instant gratification” society.) But […]
Sometimes it’s hard to soak the beauty all in…how it catches in my throat just like that big ol’ lump because, yes, I’m a cry baby. And sometimes life just does that. Makes you cry. I cry for the sad…and the hopeless…the helpless and the […]
“Listen to me.”
She looks at me steady, and the compassion and understanding in her gaze about undo me.
“You just keep on loving these kids. You cannot afford to pull away. If they go back, you and James, your kids. You WILL heal. You will. But if you don’t attach fully to them, teach them how to attach, they won’t heal. They won’t.”
Each word of truth cuts deeper and deeper til I feel like the dull ache inside of me is growing to meet these sharper, more desperate pains.
Her words are truth, but just a few of her words echo back to me, “if they go back…if they go back…if. they. go. back.”
So here I am wrestling with God tonight. Tears not falling because the ache is too deep to find vent in tears. And I know what I’m really fighting is the giant of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of a verdict coming that I don’t want to hear. Fear that stems from the helplessness of waiting on a judge to make a ruling that will change lives. Fear that turns to anger. Fear that means that I am
His whispers fall on deaf ears because I am an angry child wanting my own way. Immediately. I want the happy story, and I absolutely do not want to wait for it.
It feels like I’ve spent this whole Christian walk refusing to fully surrender. My wants, my desires, my way.
And how is it that I can want Him to be the author of my story…but won’t let Him write the words?
Do I forget that He is also writing the stories of these children, filling in the ugly gaps with brushstrokes of love…an amazing therapist, a dedicated social worker, an engaged teacher…the unlikely home of our family. The strokes of our love for them penned in the brightest hues.
And I angrily defy Him to take that away. Because I want Him to author the story…but only if He uses the words of my choosing.
Because you see….without meaning to, I find that I’m expecting.
Expecting God to deliver my desires.
Expecting God to make this easy.
Expecting others to understand.
Expecting to mother two new children.
But instead of 9 months of checkups and a belly growing and feeling tiny kicks, little heartbeats are already beating outside my body. But they are waiting for their mama just the same.
And instead of this belly stretching out, my heart expands and contorts to fit this new love. To make room for these new bodies waiting for me.
There won’t be 9 months of impatiently waiting to meet these little ones…but there will be months and months of waiting and court and lawyers. Lawyers who don’t always see the little faces they are supposed to be fighting for.
I’ll strain muscles and have stretch marks but they’ll be in my heart. New wrinkles will line my face and tears wet my pillow at night.
And in the end? I could lose these kids. Though, I’ll never compare it to the trauma of losing a child you held inside you, something in me will hemorrhage and die if these children aren’t delivered to my arms.
You see…I broke my own rules. I’m expecting.
So this is why my heartache grows with every person I’m afraid doesn’t “get” it or says “well, kinda comes with the territory” or “this is why I could never do that. I’d get too attached.”
I’m attached. With every child that enters my home, I’ll be attached. But this time, we made a small leap. We went from “attached” to “expecting.”
Because they gave them the name “foster” …. but we are expecting…because we want to give them a new name.
And so tonight…God and I will wrestle. And I know He will win…I wouldn’t want it any other way. C.S. Lewis sums up my aching heart perfectly:
“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
As I wearily type these last few words…and the ugly cry comes closer and closer to the surface, I remember that as I’m fighting so hard for these children…
God simply wants this child to lay down her sword and come lay at His feet awhile.
“Kids aren’t afraid of the dark,” she explains. “They’re afraid of what’s in it.” A familiar sadness wells up. Because I don’t know what’s in their dark. What do they fear when the lights go out? What shadows loom at them? Someone’s convinced him there are […]
Most Treasured Boy, Did you know you were that? Treasured? Oh, sweet boy. You. Are. Amazing. You sing songs of love and hope every time you open your eyes and climb sleepily down your bunk bed ladder. Yes, every time you exhale, it’s a song. […]
His voice rasps out the words. I’ve never heard him sing, and I can’t understand the lyrics. But my eyes well up because the love and tenderness are unmistakable.
“I’ve been singing to Grandma,” he tells me, his eyes fixed someplace past me, the sweet blue somewhat faded, unfocused. He squeezes my hand.
“We’ve had a good life.”
I hate how their words so often sound a long, lingering good-bye. His words have twinges of fear and urgency. Hers are spoken with a quiet gentleness that just wants someone to remember. To know her stories, her life, her people.
And I breathe thanks to our Father that He gave me this gift of time.
“Preach me a sermon, honey. I need one of those today.”
I smile because I know these words are coming. My heart swells because he’s asking me to point him to God, though time and time again, I tell him he can go straight to the Source himself.
“I just feel better when you’re doing the preaching,” he’ll just tell me. He’s asking me to pray for him, pray with him. And this. This is answered prayer to me.
So we bow our heads together, his stubbly cheek pressed next to mine. He grasps my hand with his own. Blue lines zigzag over his work worn hands, the skin once so tough, now paper thin and fragile. And I pray, stumbling over my words, holding tears at bay. Because this time is precious.
“Grandpa,” I say nervously, “Can I read to you?”
“Why sure, honey, I’d like that,” he pats my hand. Always reassuring me.
I open the bright pages of The Jesus Storybook Bible and offer a silent prayer. I breathe deep and begin reading with trembling words.
And I watch the words wrap themselves around Grandpa. His shoulders relax, and he closes his eyes as he listens, nodding once in a while. Grandma leans in and listens too, humoring my whim. I pray the beauty of the words be a soothing balm to restless, tired hearts.
He claps when I’m done the first night. The next time, he expects it and settles in sooner.
And my joy overflows.
I see the Word doing the same thing to these littles of mine. The four I’ve born and raised so far, they’ve heard the words. Maybe we’ve even grown too complacent with the beauty and majesty of this love letter written to us. But these two just come to us…the ones who are mine by heart…but not by blood…these two show us a different perspective. Their life parallels the love affair of mankind with their Creator. They’ve lived the brokenness caused by sin and rebellion. They’ve been abandoned and forgotten. They’ve come full circle and been fostered and had parents say “we want you. No matter what’s happened or what will happen, we want you.” And they live the uncertainty…the insecurity…that says, nope I’ve got to earn this love.
I know it is by our consistent, though imperfect love, that we will point them to the One who loves perfectly. The one who loves freely.
I wonder how it is that I am so lucky to be able to share this Jesus story with these broken littles in my home…and these beautiful aged souls nearing home.
And I feel this forever love wrap its way around my heart, holding all the tender, broken places sweetly. So I open the pages of a simple, wonderful, colorful children’s Bible – and I share the forever love.
The fits. The tantrums. The meltdowns. Eardrum piercing screams…from rage…from fear…from plain. old. confusion. Little fists swinging. Marks from little teeth. Which brings me to the sweat. Oh. Holy. Disgusting. The sweat. Rivulets racing down my face…my back…my knees. My knees, people. I know it’s […]
“She’s my mom, too!” The familiar refrain floats to my weary ears. I walk around the corner, where Joy, my three year old, grins up at me and then looks over at her two year old foster sister, words sweet as honey on her […]
He turned, agitated and glanced over at Grandma’s chair.
“I need to give Grandma a kiss,” he said as he began to heave his large frame out of the chair. I grasped his arm and helped him as he wearily tipped back into his chair. And sighed. He didn’t even look at me as he uttered the words:
“Go give your Grandma a kiss for me,” he said, resignation evident in his words.
I swallowed hard as I stood up and went over to lay a kiss on Grandma’s cool cheek. She winked at me, and shook her head, a small smile gracing her beautiful, wrinkled features.
Sitting heavily back in my chair, I grasped Grandpa’s hand as he drifted off to sleep. I studied his weathered hands, saw how they shook more than they used to. Once he was snoring softly, I eased my hand from his grasp and quietly stood up…learned maneuvers from four children and twelve years of putting kids down for bed. I slipped into the chair next to Grandma and grasped her hand as I asked questions about “the old days.” How she loves to sit and paint word pictures of days gone by. More and more she speaks of growing up and speaks words of longing for her hardworking mother. Her last words stuck in my head long after I turned my van out of the care center parking lot.
“I’d always thought I’d write a book some day.”
I imagined her blue lined hands with their crooked fingers penning a story. Oh but hadn’t they already, really? I think of the way those hands dipped in and out of hot, soapy dishwater and how they grasped garden tools. I think of the way they tucked us into covers, tirelessly coming back in through the night to make sure the blankets were still secure around us. I think of the way they hold on to Grandpa as he leans in, perilously I might add, for a kiss. I always kiss her goodnight, he tells me every single day. Haven’t they weaved a tale of love and beauty in the mundane, ordinary living? Haven’t they always been telling a story of loving well?
My other grandfather, he too expresses a fervent need to write down history as he nears home. To tell what he did, why he mattered. I wonder if he knows that he already told his story in a thousand dusty footprints leading to a barn and his beloved horses. How the story of oatmeal cookie crumbs fill pages in my own children’s life stories.
And don’t we all want that? To tell our story? As we said ‘yes’ to a unique calling recently, I knew my life would be full. Beyond full. And as I looked forward in anticipation, my heart quietly grieved for the loss of time. Time I could type in these words of mine. As if life hasn’t really happened unless I get it down in ink. And it’s true…it’s been weeks since I’ve had time to write a full sentence. But maybe…maybe in this every day, ordinary living, I’m penning a story anyway…even when my keyboard goes untouched for days.
Maybe I’m telling a story of love and redemption every time I tuck in kids who quietly, tentatively call me ‘mama’. Maybe I’m penning in words of trust and hope every time I stop and breathe and respond with quiet, calm words at irrational behavior. I guess it could be true as I blend together a family, I could be writing teaching words of patience…failure….and sweet grace. Maybe every stroke of a forehead, every weary arm from shouldering toddlers, every dish prepared and load of laundry done is painting a story all on their own.
Maybe the life I’m living tells a greater story to one or two than thousands of my words written between two covers.
Yes, couldn’t my story be penned in the pages of these littles’ souls? Couldn’t I tell people a story by loving them well? Ah, Father, help me make it a worthy tale.
The week after Holy week. It’s been gray and cloudy but the sky refuses to let loose. There’s a stillness that unsettles me in the busyness of this every-day living. Good Friday was somber, and Easter was sunny and glorious with beautifully dressed little girls […]