Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Beyond being Tired--Obeying isn't about Me; It's about my Savior

Lord, I am SO tired.  Please, help me to not become weary!!

Those are the words that I poured out to God this morning as I crawled out of bed.  To be honest, I felt my other option was to sit & have a good hard cry in the corner of my bedroom before starting my day--but ain't nobody got time for that!  While I could have justified crying in the corner, even in my exhausted state I knew it was not the proper path to choose.

You see, for the past three (or is it four?) nights, our "little kids" haven't slept through the night.  They haven't gotten up just one time, but 2-4 times.  And to make things even more difficult, the 3 kids have managed to wake up at the same time or overlap every single time.  Mike and I tag team very well, but juggling a 2 year old, 9 month old, and 4 month old at 2:00am is no longer feeling comical.  We have truly entered, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" territory.

I love my life.  I enjoy having six kids in the house, and treasure how God led us down a path--and kid count--we never could've imagined.  And I love that God called us to be foster parents.  That He gave us a son who is 100% ours when we held no expectations for that to be our fostering outcome.  That God has given us 2 little girls who light up our home and solidify that our walk of faith meant saying "yes" when common sense told us fostering 2 babies sounded insane.

But sometimes?  When I'm tired?  And the tiredness leads to a weariness that affects me emotionally & spiritually? My life feels a little lonely.  And too hectic.  And I wonder why God chose me.  And, in the midst of my questions, my life takes an inward focus; I become absorbed in a pity party that's all about me.  After snapping at my 14 year old this morning simply due to my own selfishness, I realized I had to find a way to have quiet time in the Word--even though it wasn't what I really desired.

I pulled out my Bible, and began reading the same passage I have read all week--hoping that the words would 'stick' today.  And as I read, I remembered something:  I hadn't watched the sermon from church when we were out of town 2 weeks ago.  I thought of all the reasons I didn't have time to watch it this morning, but the following words pressed into my heart: weren't they the same reasons you'd had all week? Watch the sermon.

Because Mike is on staff at our church, I knew some of the general points of the sermon.  I knew Pastor Steve was sharing about the ministry connection our church is building within the foster care community (already a huge passion of mine).  And I knew a video of 2 of my favorite couples had been played telling of their foster care journey, a story of which I was already familiar.  But what I didn't expect was to be stirred by the passage that was presented out of Zechariah:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgements, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart"  Zechariah 7:9-10

And combined with the words spoken from the Bible, Steve added an element that hit close to home: it is an act of obedience to follow those verses.

Obedience. I can often fall into the foolishness of, "God, see how I'm serving you?  I'm exhausted, Lord, but I know you want me to serve in this way!  Do you see me?  Look here at what I'm doing for you!"  

Obedience.  It means I'm looking not how I am serving God, but how He expects me to obey His commands.

Obedience.  For me?  The fatherless Zechariah mentions?  They are living IN my home.  I needed to realize that obeying God's call differs from the selfish view that I simply serve out of my "own" kindness.

I finished watching the sermon, and found I was sitting up straighter.  I wasn't slumped in defeat, but embracing the job God said to complete.  And my current desire?  To complete that call to obedience; in my heart, in my actions, and in my attitude.  And it's so much easier to accomplish when I don't make it about me, but I see my whole journey as a way to obey my Savior.

To view Pastor Steve McGinnis's message, click on the following link:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How I Describe the Kids {biological, adopted & foster} who Live in my House

If you are a foster parent, it can be tricky to describe your family as well as your kid count.  Throw in the dynamics of short term placements, long term placements with a return home goal, or long term placements that are heading towards you (or someone else) adopting that child, and you may find yourself attempting various ways & terms to describe your family.

A couple of years ago (after bumbling myself through the best way to describe how we sometimes had "extra" kids and a couple weeks later would have only "our" kids), I came up with a phrase that has worked beautifully in describing all the kids in our household at any given time.  If you are a foster parent, have foster siblings, or know a foster family, please feel free to use, share, and modify my phrase to best describe your family!

We currently have 6 children.  Four are officially ours.

In its most basic form, those words properly describe my kids without needing to give any additional details.  Because sometimes, the basic info is the most appropriate or--truth be told--all I desire to share.

Here is how I add extra info in various layers if I want to provide more information:

We currently have 6 children.  Four are officially ours.  
  • Kaitlin is 14.
  • Connor is 12.
  • Kylie is 10.
  • And Charlie is 2.
  • We also have two foster daughters; K who is 9 months, and B who is 4 months.
Sometimes I give the kids' names as well as their ages, and sometimes I don't (I'm not typing the babies' names here, but will say them when I use this scenario).  When I'm getting to know someone on a more personal level, I will share the fact that Charlie is adopted.  But I never provide that as primary information.

Because Mike is part of the pastoral staff at our church, every few months we host a First Connections lunch after service so newcomers can learn not just info about the church, but also get to know the pastors, directors, and their families a little bit better.  It was during those lunches that I honed in on the best way to describe our family to an audience.  Charlie was a baby, and it was so neat how his description changed every few months.

Flashback to the journey of Charlie (leaving out the big kids as their info remained consistent):
  1. And Charlie, who we are fostering, is 2 months.
  2. And our foster son Charlie is 7 months, and we just began his adoption process.
  3. And Charlie is 14 months, and we will complete his adoption out of foster care this fall.
  4. And Charlie is 18 months, and last week went from being our foster son to becoming our son!
I don't know what the future holds for our baby girls, but I know a couple of things:  I wholeheartedly love & claim them while they are living with us, and I enjoy sharing that we are foster parents in a way that doesn't 'dismiss' the girls from being an important part of our family.  May you find the same complete, individual way to describe your own household!  ~LeAnne

Thursday, January 1, 2015

{About} The Man I Married

I once dated a 'nice Christian guy' who shared these lovely words:
If I ever cheat on you, it's because my dad cheated on my mom.

I wish I could say I said "see ya!" right then & there.  Honestly, I still can't believe I didn't react at all.  He was attending college an hour east of home, and I was attending school 2 1/2 hours west of home.  By that point in time, I couldn't see our relationship lasting forever anyway.  It was merely a relationship of convenience.

A month or so later, I decided we were truly done--but, you'll never hear me call him a liar!

Then there was the next guy I dated. The one I would would marry.  His parents hadn't had a good relationship, either--he had never witnessed them particularly liking each other, let alone being in love.  And you know what he said to me?
I really like you.  And I want to date only you.

And as our relationship deepened and the topic of marriage was starting to near, he said:
I'm getting married once. For life. For love. If there's a chance we won't have that, we can't get married.

And I'll never forget the night we sat on my parents' deck, and with tears in his eyes & a quiver in his voice he whispered:
I just want to be a good dad.

It will be 19 years ago this month that the conversations with Mike began.  The conversations in which our relationship grew and deepened.  When I gained a more serious view of marriage--not just because I wanted to marry Mike, but because he took wisdom and insight from his parents' failed marriage and shared with me (a girl whose parents were still married to each other) that commitment isn't something to take for granted.

And over the years, Mike has gotten it right, time & time again.  He not only loves me unconditionally, but continues to be my best friend.  He doesn't waste time pouring into appearances--instead, he puts the effort into relationships with his wife, kids, and friends.  We rarely look 'perfect'--and that is exactly Mike's goal.

Today, I look at Mike's role as daddy, and tears well up in my eyes as I see all his fears were for naught.  From attending nearly every kids activity, to coaching when his schedule allows, to driving kids to doctor appointments & movie theaters, he has fully embraced his role as we parent together.  Right now we are entering unknown territory--2 kids in jr high who need to start being guided in making right choices and with whom he discusses what does it mean to 'like someone'?  We have a 2 year old who needs to start potty training, a foster daughter who will most likely become our little girl within the next year, another foster baby who we cherish as our own but will most likely return to her birth mom, and a 10 year old daughter who needs to not get lost in the midst of it all.  For every dynamic, he is there.

Mike, thank you for putting God first and me and the kids immediately after.  I can't imagine a better example of who our girls need to fall for and who our boys need to model.  I love you! ~LeAnne