Thursday, January 31, 2013

The February Funk

As we turn the calendar to a fresh page, the word "February" brings about an aching in my ever broken heart. Each year I think it will get easier and yet each year my heart sinks with the turning of that page. I suppose once you experience such profound loss it is normal to struggle with dates and months and yet the guilt that goes along with those feelings is often just as difficult. I wanted to be able to sit here and write a post about how the Lord redeemed our February as we will be celebrating our sweet Jacob's first birthday next week, and partly, that is true.

The Lord has blessed us and carried us through the Februaries prior to this one and I anticipate He will do the same this year...last year at this time on the other side of the country our son was preparing to enter this world and we had no idea of the miracle that was about to happen. I sometimes cry for the fact that I wasn't there when Jacob was born. We met when he was three months old and he spent those first three months in a hospital without me. I try not to dwell there though because that is not where the story ends. The Lord worked a magnificent story out last February, one that brought us a new son, the most adorable, sweet and spunky little man and I am so grateful and I cannot wait to celebrate him this year.

I guess the thing is that though we are grateful, though the Lord has worked so much redemption into our story, it just doesn't negate the loss. It gives us more reasons to rejoice, it reminds us of the fact that in Him we have hope, but it doesn't undo what's been done. Once again we are sorrowful yet rejoicing.

My mother's birthday is just two days after Jacob's. I am sure that it is no coincidence that our Father wove our story so that in each of the months we've experienced great loss, we've also experienced great joy and blessing. Isaac and Ben were born just a year and a week apart. This year has been really hard on me regarding my mother, as I have turned an age she never saw and I see the 9 year old I could have been in Luke, I am reminded that I never really got to be a nine year old, I was forced to grow up and fast, I lived the rest of my life without someone to call "mom" and I have a feeling that is always going to hurt. Therapy has been good for me.

February 22, 2008 we got to meet our sweet Asher, the boy for whom this blog was started. That same day he left Howard's arms for his Heavenly Father's and while that day was the most magnificent God filled, love laced day I have ever known, I can't help but wonder what my little five year old would look like. I wonder what the dynamics of this house would be like with a THIRD fiery red haired blessing. My arms literally ache to hold him just once more and know what kind of cake he'd pick.

For the past few weeks, Hope has been asking more about Asher as her brothers brim with excitement as his birthday approaches because we usually do something very fun as a family. The boys speak of Isaac and Asher frequently and we have a picture of each of them at home, but Hope never really paid much attention to any of it until very recently. She's had a lot of questions that I haven't been prepared to answer. Her little three year old mind is trying to wrap itself around death, something my 34 year old mind still struggles with. She asks hard questions about God, life, death and fairness, wide eyed and I just don't have the answers. We've tried hard to answer her questions honestly and directly without scaring her, yet there is so much loss, she is struggling.

A recent conversation with our sweet girl: Hope: Mom, are you going to die tomorrow? Me: Well we never know when we are going to die, but God tells us we don't need to worry about it sweetie, I will always be with you and as far as I know, I will be here to kiss you when you wake up. Hope: Ok, but your mom died when you were a kid right? Me: Yes, but that was different. I am not going to die like she did. Hope: That is good, but what about me? Am I going to get to grow up to be a mom? Me: I sure hope so! You are going to be a great mom someday! Hope: Well Will I get to be four or will I die like my brother did? Me: You will not die like your brother did. He was made differently than you. His body was only made to live a short time, you will not die like your brother did. Hope: I wish I could have him here. I never got to know him

Each night since, before she can fall asleep, she asks me if she is going to die tomorrow. Obviously none of us know what tomorrow holds, and I am at a loss for what to tell her. My heart breaks that my kids know such heartache and know death so intimately, and yet I've seen such compassion in them stemming from it. I tell her that I know that everything is going to be okay and stroke her hair as she falls asleep. She is just now realizing a little of what death means and she just doesn't understand and I think she is beginning to grieve the brother who came before her. We are thinking of taking her to "The Caring Place". I am at a loss, we do mention the boys but I guess I never imagined they'd be something she'd have to grieve since she came after them, but I guess I was wrong.

So, that is pretty much where we are...grateful that the Lord HAS brought such healing to our home, the happy days FAR outweigh the sad and I am very much enjoying being home and teaching them and enjoying them each and every day. We are blessed beyond what we deserve and we are SO excited to celebrate our little Jacob! His new birth certificate came in the mail just this week and seeing his name and our names listed as his parents was so surreal! We are SO very grateful. We can't wait to spend the 10th just celebrating and honoring the strong, special and amazing kid he is! Stay tuned for an "All About Jacob" post as I can't wait to share the progress he's made and all the cool things he is doing.

We will pray and cling to each other and God for some of the hard days, we will celebrate "Love Day" and I will have jury duty, doctor appointments, and birth mom visits with foster baby, I wish I could shelter our sweet kids from what it is to feel loss, but it is reality and I want them to always be able to express how they feel and talk to us so we will spend lots of time talking and hugging. We will be sad and we will cry and we will laugh until we cry. We will do many fun things and learn a lot together. We mourn the loss of my mom, their grandmother, and our son and their brother, but we will rejoice in the family the Lord has given us to enjoy here on earth and look forward to the day we are all together again. I am so very grateful we can cry out to God and grieve while praising Him that we can grieve with HOPE! I know we are going to be okay because I know the Lord's plans for us are GOOD! Sorrowful, yet ALWAYS rejoicing. February...a month of bittersweet! Praying for the strength to roll with all of it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's Hard

We took respite for the first time this past weekend. We love our little foster girl like our own and we hadn't even thought of using the respite days we get each month. We were then nudged to take them to give us a break so we don't burn out. A wise and seasoned foster mom (who also wanted to get a baby fix as she is our respite provider)advised us that it would be wise to take the respite and just reconnect as a family unit. Though we love our sweet girl like she is ours...the truth is that she isn't and that it is more than possible that she'll leave us in the coming months.

We took a mini family vacation and I have to tell you I could not believe how much easier things were with only one baby. ;) We had a great time and yet I kept panicking because I had that sneaking feeling that someone was missing. She did great and we came home recharged from our fun time at the science center.

As I reflect, all I can say is that this foster care stuff, it is hard. It is hard to love with abandon knowing full well it is likely your heart will be broken. It is hard to pour your whole self out onto five small children all day every day. It is exhausting to tend to two sweet babies who NEED to know that someone WILL repsond when they cry who do not sleep through the night. I could continue to give you a laundry list of all the reasons why it is hard and tiring. Life WOULD be easier if we turned a blind eye and just did what was comfortable.

The thing is, our life is so rich. It is so hard but it is so very blessed. God provides every resource, money, patience, time, etc. that we need and we see His hand clearly each and every day. Loving a child that is not ours that likely never will be ours, who we will not get to see grow is a risk and it is a risk worth taking...because I look into her sweet face and I know she is worth it. Loving another without thinking about how you will benefit or be hurt is a gift. While things are hard, tiring and exhausting...I have never felt so at peace in knowing I am right where God wants me.

Sometimes much like the Laura Story song playing on this blog, I think for my hard head, a thousand sleepless nights is really what it takes for me to know He is there. Living at the end of my own rope has taught me to lean hard on Him and expect that he will come through. So while I think it IS important for us to take a break now and then and really focus hard on the children that ARE ours, it is also important to keep on keepin' on. We are seeing our kids grow and flourish through the struggles we encounter and we just stand in awe.

I haven't had much time to blog lately as I've been a little busy with our crew, that is where we are though...We've begun using Amanda Bennett Unit Studies for our school curriculum and we are loving getting to do the majority of our work together, we are exploring recipes and using healthy whole foods as much as possible and we are excited to celebrate Jacob's first birthday next month! It will be a bittersweet month for sure as we celebrate his first birthday and Asher's fifth. This life is always a dance...between chaos and calm, grief and joy, struggle and peace and we are just learning to move with it and be grateful even in the hard times. Easier said than done, isn't it?