Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Emotions bubbling up...

Today I had the privelege of taking our little guest to visit his momma.  In all honesty, it didn't feel like a privilege at first and I argued with myself most of the day about going or not.  I had tons to do and wanted to reschedule and maybe sorta kinda would tell myself that I was already doing enough by watching her child, did I need to do transport 45 minutes one way and stay for a 3 hour visit too....yes, I know, it is ugly but true.  Remember, I lack a filter.  Turns out the little angel on my shoulder won today and I decided not to reschedule and off we went. 

We pulled up to a duplex with a broken window on the top floor.  Next to it is a vacant lot with weeds above my head.  It was in a rough area and for a minute I even chuckled to myself a-what-the- heck-am-I-doing-here-by-myself.

His momma is very sweet.  They were excited to see each other and affectionate and playful.  I took them to the arcade at Circle Center and they played almost the entire time, stopping only to eat some dinner.  I left for part of the time to just let them be together.  For many reasons the day brought up lots of emotions for me.  All of the visits and unknowns and everything we went through with our kids.  Maybe it was because I was in their old stomping grounds.  Maybe because the situation feels similar in someways....I don't know but it took me by surprise and I was glad to have a moment to myself to just try and process it all.  She is smart and funny and very easy to talk with.  There wasn't a single moment of awkwardness.  Felt like meeting up with a new friend.  I really liked her. 

She is a young momma that has had some tough breaks and a few bad choices and is working really hard to get her feet under her to make a good life for she and her son.  On the way to the car we were passing a group of young homeless people and one of the girls asked if that was "D" and said our little guys full name.  His momma hugged her old friend and introduced us and we all walked to the car together; me, momma, her sweet boy and the homeless lady.  I'm sure people passing were trying to figure it all out.  It was a sobering moment.  One of those moments when you wonder why my path has been what it is and why their story is so different. *sigh*  He didn't cry when we left which made it easier on all of us. 

Part of the day was filled with the crazy drama story of her family and I remembered again how different P&L's life was and how their mom wanted to break that cycle for them and the huge sacrifice she did to ensure that.  I am thankful.  Humbled and thankful and a wee bit sad. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

From 5 to 6.

I'm plumb tuckered out.  In a good way.  On Wednesday of this week we got a new placement from Safe Families that will be staying with us for a few weeks.  He is the sweetest most polite 5 year old.  You can tell his momma's done a great job. So we went from 5 to 6 and all is well.   I am again reminded of how easy it is....to open your home to a child.  I've been posting about it on Facebook and some have commented such kind words about how great we are to do this.  It makes me a bit uncomfortable, honestly.  We don't do this because we are so great or special in anyway.  We do it because God calls us all to care for the least of these and we just try to obey.  I often hear people say they don't know how I do it...The truth is, God does it.  I simply open myself up to His love for us and it comes oozing out to others.  I believe firmly that if God calls us to something, He equips us to handle it.  He gives us the energy, the funds, the love, the patience, the willingness, the courage.....that's what His holy spirit is all about it.  Thank goodness we don't have to depend on ourselves!! 

I share about our stories not to hear praise or get a pat on the back but to show how easy it really is.  To show that if we can do it.....a crazy, unorganized, totally run of the mill family....that anyone can do it.   And I wish we all would.  We don't have an extra room for these children.  One of ours simply sleeps on a mattress on the floor while they're here.  I'd rather that than this child be on a park bench with his momma.  We don't have extra money, God provides it.  Sometimes they don't have clothes.  My friend unknowingly dropped off his perfect size seconds before he arrived.  She was pulling out of the driveway while he was pulling in.  God, y'all.  All God.  Maybe it isn't Safe Families....maybe it's another step God is asking you to take.  My point is, that when we step out in Jesus' name, in faith, and DO what He is calling us to do, we have His power to call on.  He is our strength.

We are still human, sure.  Tonight I am so tired I fed my children fruity pebbles for dinner but the blessings we have gotten in just the few short days our friend has been with us are many.   I have been able to see my children welcome another child into our home and comfort and encourage and engage him.  I've seen this beautiful little guy go from screaming on the top stair of the pool to running around in it up to his neck and practice blowing bubbles all in one day.  I got to experience his first movie theater experience with him.  I have been able to comfort him when he cries for his momma and hear him tell me he loves me.  I have been blessed to watch my husband love on this little boy and show him an example I'm sure he has never seen before and it makes me fall in love with him even more.  I love to watch my sisters and parents and nieces and nephews welcome him in to the family as if he hasn't missed a day and pour out love on him.  It has given me a wonderful view of Jesus in action....through all those around me.  I promise you, when you step out of your comfort zone, God will knock your socks off.  Yes, having a safe family for her child to be with is blessing this mother, I'm sure.  And yes, this little guy feels loved to the tips of his toes and that is a very good thing.  But our family is blessed abundantly through this.  In amazing ways.  The most beautiful place in the world to be is used by our Heavenly Father.  It's addictive....smack dab in the center of His will for your life and being His hands and feet.  There is simply nothing greater. 

To whom much is given, much is expected.
God tells us when we give our lives away for Him, we find life.
In Matthew He tells us that when we welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and offer drink to the thirsty, we do it for Him.
God calls us to defend the widow and care for the fatherless.  He commands us to love our neighbor.

I am currently reading a book called Surrender: The Life-Changing Power of Doing God's Will by Fr. Larry Richards.  I read this last night and sat straight up in bed and woke Trevor up and read it to him.  Exactly!!  Exactly this!!

On average 24,000 children die everyday in this world because of poverty realted illnesses.  What are you going to do when you stand before God and He asks, 'How come in your lifetime 24,000 children died of starvation?  I gave you abundantly so that you can take care of them.  But you went and took care of yourself first.'  What are you going to do?  Look at Him and say, "Well, they weren't my kids."?  He'll say, "No!  They were mine."  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day

This afternoon I drove past the domestic violence shelter our children used to live in. It's a strange thing, thinking about the otherness of their stories. I literally let out a gasp as I saw it. And then the tears came...slowly. It wasn't a sense of sadness that overcame me. Sometimes when I think about their journey it is, but not today. Today I felt an overwhelming sense of God's love for them through the earthly father they have in Trevor. Images of him with them flooded over me and I was immeasurably grateful for the man I call mine.

When I was in high school dating one of my 'projects' my mom once told me that I may be able to live with someone's faults but I needed to remember that when I was choosing a partner in this life, I was also choosing a father for my children. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten. I chose well.

When I saw him with our firstborn I knew I had made the best choice of my life. He did diapers and bottles and baths and would just lay looking at her and talking to her and whispering to her. As she grew and the other two came along he would never tire of those daddy chores. He danced with them and flipped them and played and laughed and sang. He told when-I-was-young-in-Jamaica stories and guided and disciplined and loved them with a fierceness I had never seen from him. He prayed over them and with them and for them. He would read the Bible with them and teach them and take them to church. He would talk with them but most of all he just shows them. For those of you that know Trevor, you know he is my opposite in many ways. He is a man of quiet strength. He has shown them how to live their life by example. All of these qualities made me fall more in love with him.

Then three years ago, these two little wounded souls walked into our life. I knew then that he was the best man I would ever know. He nurtured and held and protected. He taught our son how to hug and that a real man's touch does't hurt but is helpful and gentle and kind. He taught our daughter that yes, she is ridiculous cute but that her value comes from much more than that. He was patient with me as the crazy new mother of five trying to find a way to mother these two beautiful children that had just been relinguished by the only mother they had ever known. He managed to reassure the originals that their was enough love in our hearts for all of them. He led us through it all...with his quiet strength, with his wisdom and grace and his complete dependence on our Heavenly Father.

He is the father of 5 and I think each of them would say they are his favorite. He is the kind of dad I pray for all children. He reads with them and helps with math homework. He helps get them in the jammies and then lets them go outside and play football before bed:) He encourages and disciplines and loves. He builds them up and believes in them and doesn't just tell them about the love of Jesus but shows it to them. He loves their momma...even when she is hard to love.

He tells them he loves them and shows them affection and coaches and cheers and is with them. He will watch the movie about the princess and throw the football when a game he wants to watch is on. He takes his role as father seriously. He lets the example of our Heavenly Father lead him.

The smartest thing I ever did was choose a man that loves Jesus more than He loves me.

So as I drove past the domestic violence shelter today, I knew the pain that place holds within it's walls and I knew that my children would never  have to face that kind of pain again.  Because theirs is a story of redemption.  Theirs is a story of healing.  Theirs is a story of a man that wanted to be their daddy and has become that in every way.  Theirs is the story of a father that loves them fiercely.  So I kept on driving with tears trickling down my face and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and a prayer for the children within those walls that need a loving father in their life. 

When I think of the brokeness of this world and how for so many that pain starts at the hands of a man they call dad, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the father my children have. I am overwhelmed at the love our Heavenly Father has for them through him. I am overwhelmed that this man is mine.

Happy Father's Day, Trevor. Thank you is not enough.

Monday, June 11, 2012

When I grow up....

It has always been hard for me to say what I want to be when I grow up. When I was young I wanted to be Harriet Tubman. And a mom. Seriously. Then I just wanted to help people. I majored in education, nursing, and social work before getting my degree in Sociology. It doesn't help that I found ADD medication later in life:) I am finally realizing it wasn't lack of motivation or drive...it wasn't even my uncanny ability to get off track at the first shiney object that passes by....it is the fact that I measure success differently and always have. The people I admire, look up to, want to be like...aren't necessarily successful in a monetary way or even have careers that others hold in esteem. They are women who love Jesus and the love they have for him oozes out onto all of those around them. Why haven't I ever heard a young child say that when asked what they want to be when they grow up?!? Maybe it's just too wordy:) I have always just wanted to be at peace and love like Jesus. Is that too simple?! For many of us it is. But it works for me. Yesterday at our neighborhood pool I ran into my friend from church. She lives in the neighborhood too and she is what I want to be when I grow up. Not her exactly, like her only me. She loves like Jesus. I have watched this friend serve her family, her church family and her community. I have watched her selflessly give to others for years. I have watched her do it with joy and humility. The past year I watched her battle cancer. Face it head on with unwavering faith and grace. I watched her as she was an example for others of being in Christ in the good and the bad. I watched her fight cancer and win. She is truly one of the most beautiful women I know. Yesterday at our pool, she was with a woman and four small children. Looking at them from afar you might have thought it was her daughter and grandkids or a long lost friend. She doesn't have daughters so I wondered who this might be. She came over to visit with us. The young family with her was a lady and her children that she has invested in from our food panty that she plays a huge role in....even through the cancer.... They don't get the opportunity to swim from the trailer park neighborhood in the most affluent county in the state of Indiana so she brought them with her. Of course, she did, because she is Jesus with skin on. She bought them snacks from the concessions stand and she held onto the children as she taught them how to swim in the pool and she laughed and visited with their momma as she enjoyed watching her children swim and play. She brought her friend to the pool yesterday. Not because they have so much in common or grew up together. She brought her friend to the pool because she loves freely. She loves all. She invests in the lives of others and doesn't judge them for how or why they got to this place in their life but she loves them where they are at and she loves like Jesus. Huge and big and freely. My friend loves like Jesus. I want to be like her when I grow up. Next year I turn 40, I better figure it out quick. There are real heros around. Real everyday role models for our children to look up too. They don't always earn 6 figures or play sports or even hold a job at all. They may not make a dime. They are real everyday flawed people who try like heck to love others. Who love others when they are tired and it's not easy. They love others when they have a day to themselves and could be anywhere they want to be. They love in the good and the bad. They love like Jesus. And when we talk with our children about what they want to be when they grow up, you can bet your sweet seat that Mrs. Kim's name will come up.