Wednesday, September 3, 2014

God writes a good story .. we're officially done and waiting

The other weekend after texting my friend Sarah back and forth all morning after a series of crazy things she responded by saying "God writes a good story" and I laughed.. its so true.

The funny thing is I feel like we're just still in the forward and haven't even reached the first chapter.

I want to write this out so I can always come back and see it and remember it and most importantly so I can share it with our children .. but I also want to write out this story as it happens to share it with all of you. I understand that we are in the midst of it and our hearts are tender right now so we have more emotion invested in the story and I'm sure that will be clear as I write it out (today and I'm sure as we move forward too)

As you know, we had our final training August 16th to officially be certified as foster parents and have our name on the list of "open beds" who could bring children in to our home.

Our case worker let us know, about 2 weeks before it, the 8 hour course was happening and we had to be there. This course only happens every 3 months so if we couldn't make it we would be waiting another 3 months. (I know this probably doesn't make sense.. how could they only offer it every 3 months when there are children waiting for homes? It is because they don't have enough families willing become foster parents to offer it every month. So sad)

So, the bad news was, Freeland was already on call August 16th - the day of the training. He tried to change his call day and couldn't but thankfully his friend (and the other resident with him) graciously offered to cover his call during those 8 hours so we could both make it to the class.

I found a sitter and asked our friends down the street to help watch the kids for 8 hours while we were gone. Freeland had work covered.. the kids were covered.. we were good to go and by 4:00 that afternoon we would officially be done and ready.

Freeland still had to round Saturday morning at the hospital since he was the one on call so he was going to do that and meet me back at the house at 7:45 so we could leave once the sitter arrived. (bless her heart for coming so early to take care of the kids)

and then at 7:30 I got a text from Freeland that some things had come up and he was going to have to go in to surgery at 8:00 ... therefore he would probably be missing the training unless something changed in the next 15 minutes.

I got in the car and started driving towards the class. I texted my friends and told them the situation and that we had 10 minutes for something to change and to be praying. Its a 30 minute drive for me so the entire time I spent praying knowing that whatever happened was the Lords will... if Freeland didn't make it - we'd just wait another 3 months.

But I didn't want to wait another 3 months. I was balling crying.

Fifteen minutes went by and Freeland texted me that it wasn't going to happen. He was stuck at the hospital and couldn't leave. The surgery he had to do was going to take 2-3 hours and there was no way he could get out of it or get it covered so he couldn't make it. I sat there balling crying the rest of the drive. I couldn't believe that here we were thinking a child could be in our home any day now and instead it wouldn't be until November or December.

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As I pulled up to the building I had come to a peace about it (umm, I know, from balling crying to having a peace - that was fast. I cant explain it except that I feel like we're on a roller coaster).

I knew this wasn't a surprise to the Lord.. only to us. I knew if He wanted Freeland to be there - He could get him there. (the surgery could be canceled, the crazy stuff that came up could have been resolved, someone else could have stepped in.. etc.) I knew the Lords timing was perfect and His plan is always perfect .. and that the disappointment I felt was only because of my own expectations.. it wasn't a disappointment in the Lord. My friends had all sent me texts reminding me of these things and as I walked in the building my 'mourning' from the drive turned into dancing.  In my spirit I had a peace and just kept praying over the Lords plans. I started remembering how much joy there is in waiting. I started thinking about what the Lord could be up to by having us wait and felt a peace again.

Our class started and Freeland texted me that he was going in to the O.R. and the surgery was about to start... and that was that.

I even posted this onto Instagram (this is a variation of what I posted .. since 2 minutes later I deleted it):


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Right as I posted that and set my phone down I asked our instructor, just to clarify, when the next course would be and explained why my husband wasn't there. She told me it would actually be 4 months because they wouldn't offer it until December this time.

Sad.

and right then my phone started buzzing.

It was Freeland texting me saying "surgery is finished".

WHAT???

the 2-3 hour surgery was done that fast?

I jumped up and blurted out "wait! His surgery just finished.. if he left now can he still come to the training"?

You should know, this is not okay. You normally have a 15 minute window and if you are later than 15 minutes you can not come in to the building or and even if they did let you up to the class - you would never get credit for finishing the class. It was crazy that I even thought to ask knowing the answer was a big.fat.no since it had already been an hour.

Every person in the class stared responding "let him come. Tell him the answer was yes and just to get in the car and start driving.. come on .. let him come... " and then the instructor responded and said "okay, tell him to start driving and I will go work out the details" I explained that he was still 30 minutes away so it would take even longer for him to get here.. she was fine with that and went to let the man who was in charge know.

WHAT???

YOU GUYS. I cant even explain that. It may not make complete sense to you .. but THAT WAS A MIRACLE. let me try to break this down:

-Freeland's 2 - 3 hour surgery is done in 30 minutes. (the patient was okay! No worries)
-his attending tells him not only to go and try to make it to the class.. but that he (the attending) will close the surgery for him so that he can make it. (THIS IS UNHEARD OF) Freeland said okay, still thinking at the time it was impossible for him to make it but he would try since the attending was offering.
-I somehow take the risk to ask if after an hour he can still come to the class
-the instructor and entire 'system' says yes that he can come.. and they will meet him at security and work out all the details.
-Freeland makes it to the class ridiculously late when normally there are no exceptions to get into the building.. much less the training.. if its more than 15 minutes after the class starts. (I'm not sure if its this way in all counties - but in ours its that way)

so many details... all just worked out... right then and there. An hour and a half later Freeland was sitting next to me finishing his training.

I deleted that instagram post (2 minutes after I posted it) and replaced it with this later that day:

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And by 4:00 that afternoon we were both done and done with all our certifications and training and home study and the whole shebang.

Freeland & I were crying on and off the entire day. I don't always realize how tender my heart is in this season because it doesn't feel that way day in and day out. Until I realize that I'm crying off and on during conversations with Freeland .. and he is doing the same. So I realize this entire post may seem like "big deal it worked out and he made it. you could have just written that at the last minute he made it" but we see it as much more than that. I understand that a huge reason why we see it as more than that is because our hearts are so tender right now and also because we're in the middle of all this so our eyes are opened to whats happening.

And just to add cherries to the top .. I also got this text from my friend on Sunday:

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How amazing is that? I mean. I just love all of this. I love how people around us are joining in to this story. I love how the Lord just keeps surprising us. I love how even when it feels like there are so many things not working out - in the end - it works out. (this isn't the first hiccup we have had. Add it to the ever growing list of stories I could share)

So that was 2 weeks ago. Here is a new update.

We finished all the work. Got assigned our new resource manager (case worker) and she came to our house this last week for a final visit and to add our names to the list of waiting families. When she showed up she explained that all the sudden, after 9 months of doing this, our drivers license's were going to be an issue. We still have our Pennsylvania ones and they wanted us to have Ohio ones. This makes sense. Except I had a long lengthy conversation about it 6 months ago with our case worker during our home study and it wasn't an issue. We were surprised. Again. But it was obviously fine and we were happy to update them.

And update them we did. Within 24 hours Freeland had his updated and after loosing mine for a few minutes and driving around town to find it - I was up at the DMV updating mine.

And what do you know - RIGHT THEN AND THERE WE GOT A PHONE CALL.

A 3 day old child was needing placement.

I'm not joking. Is your heart racing? Mine was! And my dear dear dear friend Camille was with me and hers was too.

But here I am writing this .. and there is not a child in our home. Did I say this was a roller coaster? Ha. seriously. By the time I got home the child had actually already been placed with someone else. It was totally fine. I really truly want whatever the Lord has for us and if it wasn't that I truly believe that child is in the home that best fits his needs. It was of course exciting.. I mean the timing of everything was just a little too perfect. ha. So once I stepped back down from cloud nine.. it was fine.

And that leaves us here.. we are officially *still* waiting. The Ohio Drivers Licenses we're updated in the system on Tuesday (august 26th) and as of that moment we were cleared to be added to the list of families who have an open bed in their home to take in foster kids.

I carry my phone everywhere. Ive never answered so many phone calls before in my life. I normally ignore numbers I don't know and wait for voicemails. Not anymore. I feel like I'm waiting to go in to labor and I have no idea when its coming. Although there are days I forget we're waiting and then there are days I feel like I'm just sitting and watching my phone too!

So stay tuned. It could happen fast or we could be waiting for a long time. Some case workers told us it would happen within days and others said it would happen more within 30 days. It just depends on the case loads they have which is an ebb & flow as you can imagine. We have a trip we planned mid September so that may cause another hiccup. But we trust it will all work out. I, of course, little miss over sharer-novel writer-cant make short blog updates- will be posting it as we go!

Now.. go grab another coffee .. or glass of wine .. if you made it through this whole thing!

stay tuned.

Friday, August 29, 2014

fear and joy and another sweet word from the Lord

First of all, the giveaway ended and a winner was selected! I'm sooo excited to share:

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DANIELLE HARTLAND!!! YOU WON!! This is especially exciting because they just announced that they are adopting and I will be working with her to have Noonday as a part of their fundraising! I was so surprised and thought "oh no, this is going to seem like I rigged the votes! Ha"

I will email you Danielle! So exciting!


So, I mentioned that the Lord gave me another promise in my last post so I wanted to share that now.

I have another story to share with you too. I will post that tomorrow. But I wanted to share this one first. Also, I wanted to say that I wouldn't be being honest if I didn't say, even though its easy to share all of this, I still have a ton of insecurities posting and sharing our stories a long the way. Insecurities like - the mean world of the Internet is going to rip my thoughts and heart to shreds and analyze and critic everything I write. Or that one day I will look back and read this and ache with the ignorance and innocence I wrote these things with. Or that 'its just easy for me to write out all this hope I have because it hasn't been crushed yet' or I'm not jaded or bitter yet ..  It feels easy to share them since we aren't in a season of pain or mourning or trials but my hope is that if there is ever a season that I am - I can shout from the rooftops just the same - how good our gracious and loving Father is.

I don't mean to make it sound hard to share. I just mean that in the back of my head I always question how its coming off and I digress ...

Last week Freeland & I were laying in bed talking about everything that was happening and how all the sudden we were at this point in our journey where a child could come in to our home really soon. It feels similar to when you're pregnant and think "oh my gosh - wait this is actually about to happen - I should do something like pick out bedding or finally put the car seat in the car". I sat and shared with Freeland how I felt like there was some disconnect in my heart and I was realizing that I was believing lies and operating (in some areas) out of fear.

Occasionally it sinks in the reality of what we have said yes to. The reality that we are choosing to say yes to our comfortable lives possibly becoming really messy and no longer comfortable. The reality that we could get hurt and the reality that we will have no control over what happens. All things that don't cause me to change my answer .. but it does happen where I remember those things and have a choice to believe God is good enough or live in fear.

So Freeland & I were talking about all that and I shared how I started seeing areas in my heart where I was afraid my heart wasn't ready or that I wasn't going to love this child right when I saw them. I realize this isnt true and that I'm not disconnected .. really I just have no idea what to expect. (not that I want to idealize or put an expectation on what I'm supposed to feel right when I meet every child who comes in to our home.. I digress)

Anyway, I kept thinking how it is hard when you have no idea what age or gender child is about to come in to your home. How do you prepare your heart and connect and love a child that you have no idea who they are? You just get a phone call and all the sudden "surprise! its a 2 year old boy!" (which the surprise, I'm sure will be really fun too!) So somehow in my heart I was thinking .. if I at least had a picture or an idea if it was a girl or boy I could connect "more".

Freeland pointed out a lot of things and helped me see where all that (probably normal) crazy was coming from. We talked for awhile and I worked through it. I know it will happen. I know my heart is tender and ready. I know the Lord is the one softening my heart and preparing it - and I can sense that - I guess I just had some other idea of what it would look/feel like. Realizing why and where I am at helped me realize I'm in the right place and not to believe some lie that because I feel one way or the other, its because I'm in the wrong place or need to do more. Not sure if that makes sense .. but there it is.

(side note: I do have a feeling of who the child will be that is placed in our home! So - seriously, all this is ridiculous and all over the place)

Overall, this isn't where my heart was, but I had realized over the last few weeks that I had the reoccurring thoughts and deep in my heart there was still some random fear. Not a ton of fear - but it was there. I sat and continue to share those with Freeland. I also shared how I realized I kept having this other reoccurring thought too. I kept looking at Chapel and realizing how much joy she brought to our family and thinking:

"how could another child bring this much joy.. what if I don't feel the same amount of joy again" 

I have to stop and clarify: this thought is not because we're adopting. Ive had this thought every time we have had a child .. "what if I don't love them the same .. what if its harder to parent them or connect or what if they act this way or that way and its not the same or what if its not what I expect or what if something is wrong" so please know this was not a fear over loving an adopted child or that adopting wouldn't bring us the same joy. Its just a fear that plays out with each child we have in our family.

I knew the answer to my question. But I realized I was still having that same thought here and there. Its not a fear that I was believing or consumed by .. I just acknowledge that it kept popping its ugly head up here and there and shared it with Freeland. We talked about it and talked about how we wanted to spend the rest of the week praying through those things.

I went to bed thinking about JOY and committing the week to praying over the fears and lies I knew I was tempted to think. I went to bed telling Freeland I just wanted/needed to root myself in truth and I knew the Lord would graciously cover those lies with His truth and His promises. As I fell asleep I knew the underlying thing was joy.

I went to bed and had no idea He would speak truth to those in the middle of the night though!

At midnight I woke up to Wylder crying. I went in to check on him and calmed him down (because he was so upset that he wasn't tucked in.. serious stuff) and came back to bed. I grabbed my phone so I could see what time it was (please don't be 5:00 in the morning and I only have 1 more hour of sleep!) I saw I had a message on facebook and that it was from a sweet girl I knew back when I was in high school .. and she was much much much younger. It started with her introducing herself so I was so curious! (she was young enough that when I knew her.. she didn't remember me.. which makes the story, I believe, that much sweeter)

With her permission, here is what she wrote:

I know this is very very random, especially since we don't know each other. But I was just about to fall asleep and literally out of no where The Lord put you on my heart. ?!?!! I saw a picture of you just with your children and being fulfilled as a mother. So since it was so out of the blue I prayed for you. That The Lord would just pour excellence over you as a mother and cover you with His riches.
Then I saw another picture of you holding one of your babies. It was one that you haven't had. As you held this baby in your arms, it brought you so much joy! You were belly laughing and really really happy.
I wanted to share this with you! Because it was about you. You can just take it for yourself however you'd like!
Hope all is well with you - God bless you and keep you!

UMMM.

You guys. I mean. First, she sent that not realizing I know her (and love her and her sweet family!) and obviously not knowing what was going on and clearly she had no idea the conversation I just had with Freeland. It was only a few hours prior to this that I spoke out loud for the first time the fears I had were centered around joy.

How sweet is that yall?

I share all that to share the testimony of how sweet the Lord is. He didn't have to do that. So many times its looked so differently (I'm so thankful there is no formula to Him) but I just sat weeping right when I read it. It spoke to me in such a more profound way than I can explain.. since it was the Lord speaking that over me, through her, I just crumbled as I read it. I woke up Freeland and told him and He immediately started praying over her and thanking the Lord for His word and her obedience and boldness to share it.

It is another promise I'm holding on to in the midst of this.. a picture of Joy to cling to as we walk into an unknown territory of life with 4 kids and life that now will involve case workers and city employee's coming in and out of our home as they please! A life that we will have very little control over.

The thing the Lord keeps reminding me in this season (through our journey of becoming foster parents and other areas too) is that I keep wanting to put my hope in myself but I cant. My hope is in Him. This entire post was so focused on how "I" cant or what if "I" do this or that. The Lord so graciously keeps reminding me to put my hope in Him. Its a sweet place to be.

The day of our last final training is another story I cant wait to share. I have it all written out and will post it tomorrow. I'm thankful to share our journey and write out all the different ways the Lord is intervening along the way. (there are so many different ones I could write.)

Freeland & I, if you know us in real life, are an open book and probably over share too much (cough, cough, Freeland) we probably blurt things out too often and are way too opinionated and process out loud when we shouldn't.. we argue in front of people at times too (gulp. its true. and its awkward) Thanks to all of you who continually extend us grace as we grow. All that to say, I think sharing my life on our blog for everyone on the interwebs to read seems normal somehow and doesn't freak me out (seriously, I've been blogging since we were engaged - in a sense.. our entire marriage is on this blog.) Thanks for always trucking a long with us through our wedding, our moves, our family growing and mostly -us- growing over the last 8 years!