Just Keep Swimming


There is always something magical to me about a new year. A fresh start, a reset, this beautiful opportunity to start something you have been dreaming about. My original thought was to share a post on reducing clutter or something snazzy, but to be honest I am no expert in that area. I do hope to steward what I have been given with more intentionality this year. I hope to see past the “have nots” and admire what I do have. If you ask my son what our new style is he will respond “clean”! That tells me we haven’t always embraced clean. So while I hope you tackle your clutter and embrace our mantra of clean, more importantly I wish to challenge ideas that may have grown hard in your heart.            In 2015 my husband and I picked up the packet to become foster parents. I won’t bore you with the endless list of how we arrived at that decision. Long story short, we believed we could do more…We could love more. We were slow to move on the process and before we knew it it was 2016. Hit fast forward and November 4th 2016 we received a call for a 5 1/2 pound newborn little girl. The moment we signed placement papers and the cps agent drove off was one of the scariest moments of my life. Here I stood with someone else’s baby and I was in charge of keeping her safe until that someone else could take her back. I was emotionally spent and looking back, that was only the beginning. 
       There are a lot of things no training class could prepare me for. They forgot to mention how painful bridging with the biological family would be. How you will see abuse and neglect and yet you still fight for healthy bonding. I wasn’t expecting how exposed I would feel. How painful it would be to let people into my life on such an intimate level. Don’t get me wrong I have, and will continue to, champion for loving the unlovely, but I got a quick punch in the gut on this one. This was different. These were my children, their children.. our children. I don’t remember seeing a handbook on what this should look like, but I felt like I was failing everyday at it. I also didn’t expect to feel so incompetent. I had babies that I birthed who were thriving I could foster, right? What I soon learned is that while I had parented babies I had never parented babies who had experienced trauma. That knowledge changed the ballgame completely for me. 
      Foster care has made me feel angry. It has made me want to scream and cry and flail and throw myself on the ground. It has made me question my sanity. Why would I ever subject my house to this system? It has made me want to puke. Court date after court date with no movement. It has made me discount myself. How am I doing anything of importance? Why am I trying? It has made me question myself more than ever. I question my parenting as caseworker after caseworker comes in and out of my home looking at the way I run my household. It has made me want to run away. It has made me want to give up. It has actually made me say is this worth it? Is what we are doing with these beautiful babies worth it? Can I keep going when I have absolutely nothing else to give? Can I continue to hold this wonderful little human who screams for hours at the top of her lungs? Can I allow her to hold onto my leg and call me mommy when I know one day she might be moved? Can I do this to myself? Can I do this to her? Can I emotionally survive the roller coaster I am experiencing? Do I really want to do this? 
      This is just a small glimpse of what I feel and have felt like over this past year. Then today, while driving with my husband I saw ivy growing up the sides of rocky hills right off the side of the road. I looked at those vines with tears in my eyes and something about this journey clicked. 
      I signed up for this. I said “here I am, use me”. Sure I can say that when things are great. I can say that when we are winning and my kids behavior is on point. I am thankful then, but what about when it’s not? That is when you have to fight. When I remember it is my choice. I am not a victim. I do not have to just endure. That is my hope, today for you as you read these words. Maybe there has been an area of opportunity coming to your mind. Maybe there is something you have been waiting to do, maybe it is fostering, maybe it is job, I have no idea. But I Hope you feel connected to something. Then I hope you see the difficulties. I hope you feelall the why nots. You may have heard all the reasons of why you can’t and why you won’t. I hope you heard your own whining up front. And now I hope you still say yes. I pray you step into that thing and you don’t just tip toe you leap. You take off that cover of fear and you run into the unknown. Foster care has made me want to do a lot of things, but you know what? We haven’t quit. We haven’t given in and we have fought. You can too. There isn’t anyone in this world who came by something the hard way that doesn’t have a story to tell. I am counting on that. 
      If I haven’t lost you yet, thank you. I am pretty sure I have lost myself ( what’s new?). In the midst of the crazy we always have excuses. There is never a perfect place when everything makes sense. There is never a perfect place when everyone behaves the way you think they should. But there is this beautiful place where you lean so intently into grace that everything else becomes.. fun. I don’t look back on the life of my 5 year old and remember the nights she cried, I remember the joy.  I know one day my emotion will be a distant memory and what will be important is the love I gave when I thought I had none to give. The times we said yes when fear screamed no. Say yes this year! Do something that makes you lean into grace in a way that is both beautiful and terrifying. 
     This year I will steward what I have been given with a deeper value and intentionality. I will say no more to the unnecessary and yes to the things that make me healthy. The things that grow regardless of the rocks. The things that keep reaching for the sky, no matter the terrain. As for me and my house, we will grow.