Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Onto the Crashing Waves We Go

There are times when God decides that it is time for us (Mark and I) to put our money where our mouth is. Time to really show Him and the world that we do trust Him with everything in our lives. That time is now for us. And it is NOT comfortable. In this particular situation in which we are going through, we are obedient followers (not willing followers) and we know that this will take months for us to complete this journey.

We are officially out of the boat, walking on water towards Him. The waves of doubt, fear and trepidation are all around us. Every now and then we get hit really hard with one of these waves and get knocked over. We struggle to get up and sometimes we fail to get up successfully in a rapid manner. We feel the prayer of others cheering us on. We are very wet and sometimes very cold. At times, we are walking on the water hand in hand. But after a wave knocks one or both of us down, it is a struggle to find each other, pull ourselves up and continue hand in hand. We have forgotten more than once to look for God’s hand to pull us up. We have also forgotten to look at Him and have started to sink. But thankfully, the reminder cheers and guidance of our spiritual advisors and prayer warriors show us the way to His hands.

As we take this journey across the water, we are relying on our faith to get us through. The spiritual attacks to us individually and as a couple are very difficult battles. These attacks at times also include our children. The more we journey, the worse it gets. Satan does not want us to be successful in our journey and is making it very difficult for us. We are already exhausted from the battles, but we press on. We seek God’s will in this journey, obedient to His direction.

While we desire to be transparent in our lives, this journey is one that requires us to walk obediently, with our mouths crying out only to God and to our spiritual advisors. We may withdraw at times from our normal routines in an attempt to protect others from the residual damage of being under attack or our weary state. We have a common goal; we will NOT allow Satan to use us or defeat us.

If you are currently out of the boat, here are some things that we have found to help us stay focused on Him:

1. Be VERY purposeful in your daily quiet time. Do not allow anything to interfere with it.
2. Pray without ceasing. In our busy lives, it is difficult to stay focused on having a prayer-filled life. Yet, God gives us so many opportunities to pray, even if just for a short moment. Below are just some small examples of these opportunities
a. When you wash your hands (this will also ensure that you are washing sufficiently to prevent illness)
b. When you are gathering everything you need to start you day (when I’m walking out to my car and putting my son and briefcase in it)
c. Walking from one place to another
d. Before you eat (and not the Thank you for this food prayer)
e. When you’re fixing a meal
3. Pick a verse that you may have already memorized or is easily memorized that helps you remember that you are not it in alone that you can recite when needed (Psalm 23 and Jeremiah 29:11-13 are mine).
4. Confide in your spiritual advisor about your struggles; be specific with areas in which you are in need of encouragement/prayer.
5. Enlist prayer warriors to pray for you (we have huge group of warriors! Thank you!)
6. Find an inspiring song, one that reminds you of God’s greatness that you can play or remember when you are discouraged; our current one is Our God by Chris Tomlin – “If our God is for us, then who can stand against? Our God is greater, our God is stronger…”

God is definitely growing us through our journey and while it is painful and exhausting, we know that as long as we seek Him, He’s got us covered. He has no desire to see us harmed, but we will suffer the consequences if we choose to not follow Him. We choose to follow Him.

We are thankful for our spiritual advisors who are doing everything that they can to help us with our battle armor and for going into battle with us at times. We are also thankful for our prayer warriors, and while they do not know our specific circumstances, they are praying for us.

We look forward to the results of this journey. There is no turning back and our eyes remain focused on prize; Him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Transparency --> Trusting God

Many years, a dear friend challenged me out of my comfort zone. We were in the beginning stages of building what would become an awesome friendship when she presented the challenge. Allow others to get to know me. Yikes! I thought that I was fairly easy to get to know. I found out otherwise from her. It was at that moment that I realized that not only was I shy, but also private. I realize that I could share how wonderful God was and all the things that He was to me if I wasn't willing to be transparent with others?

So, I began to take baby steps towards transparency. Over the years, it has gotten a little easier. As sinners, we are full of pride and it is difficult to show others all of our faults. I am definitely not a perfect person, but I do struggle (even now) with letting others know my faults. God knows them all and there are a lot of them. I have discovered over time that there are a lot of people out there just like me (they have faults too!).

Through my being transparent in several areas of my life, I have had the privilege of sharing with others what God has done in my life. Both Mark and I have made our struggle with infertility very public, as well as our struggles and triumphs in building the family that God has desired for us. In more private arenas, we share our struggles and triumphs as a married couple. (Whoever thinks that marriage doesn't take work, will be in for a rude awakening when they realize the exact opposite). God has truly done miraculous things in my life. He gives me strength when I just feel like I can't take it any more (life can be slightly stressful at times). He reminds me of His expectations for me (Proverbs 31). He shows me what I Corinthians 13 really means through His word and in other Christians, my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I said in an earlier post, He keeps me safe.

Now, more recently, through this blogs, I attempt to be transparent with those of you who are reading them. It is not my desire to gain any attention to our family, our struggles or anything else. It is just a desire to be transparent and to share with you what God is doing in my life and my family's. It is my desire through my transparency to demonstrate God's love and His unfailing love for us, as well as provide encouragement to you. Remember, God is good. All the time!

Friday, October 22, 2010

God's plan, not always ours

Today was the "red file staffing" with CPS in which they picked a forever family for a 21 month old little boy from three potential families. We were one of those potential families. We were not picked to be his forever family.

When I received the call from our adoption agency this afternoon that a decision had been made and that it wasn't us, I pouted. I pouted for about ten seconds. I called Mark and let him know and he asked me if I was okay and I said "No". I said "No" because I was mystified at my reaction. I wasn't sad or relieved. I just was. Then it hit me. Nothing had changed within me. I was at peace. I thought yesterday that today I would be anxious about the meeting, but I went about my day, watching Suzy get her honor roll certificate and perfect attendance certificate, holding a meeting with my hopefully future replacement (a topic for another blog later on this weekend, I think), solving work problems, etc. without feeling any anxiety. I was simply relying on God, knowing that His will would be done in this situation.

So, this little boy wasn't the next new Eley. The CPS case worker who held this meeting told our adoption agency that she really liked our family and that she may have a potential match for us in another case. Hmmm. I told the adoption agency to just continue as always and if they heard of any other children that they think would be a good fit for our family to let us know. So, we wait. Praising and serving Him.

I asked Mark a few minutes ago what he thought about my reaction to the news today, or my lack thereof. He remarked that it was very telling, that obviously I was trusting God that this was the right decision.I have been a Christian for most of my life and it saddens me to say this, but I feel like I am now just beginning to get it what it really means to rely on God for my every need and even my desires. I pray that I do not forget this. King David reminds us of God's protector over us and the comfort He provides us in Psalm 23. I cling to these words, especially on days like today.

Right now, my house is full of children, only 4 out of the 6 are mine. There is lots of laughter, giggling, squealing, along with some snoring from a stuffy nosed 4 year old. Music to my ears. God is good. All the time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's the little things = making the difference

There are times when, as fost-adopt parents, we wonder if we are really having a positive impact on our children. They sometimes fight us every step of the way. But then, we get a glimpse of affirmation. It may be a little thing, but we recognize it and we grab it and display it so that they can realize it too.

We are so proud! Congratulations to Jessica for getting her learner's permit! So proud of Suzy for making honor roll for the first time! And to the child who is currently suffering from "good child sickness" (her quote)' well' mom and dad hope you suffer from this the rest of your teen years!

God is so faithful!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When is enough, enough?

It was brought to our attention this week that as a couple, we look absolutely crazy at times to the outside world. We thought that everyone in our lives knew that we were still licensed for foster care and available as a home for children needing a home. So, when we announced last week that we were being considered as potential parents for a little boy, they were shocked. So, to all those that we shocked, it was not our intent.

As a couple, we feel that God has placed a desire in our hearts to take kids out of the foster care and help them live up to their full potential. We desire to give them all of the skills that they need to be successful life. We desire to raise them according to God's instructions and pray that they choose to live life according to the scriptures. It is ultimately their choice when they reach adulthood as to whether they choose to remain a part of our family, or find their biological family members and return to them.

The question was asked, isn't four children enough? The answer to this we leave up to God.

We had prayed long and hard for a few months after TJ's adoption was final, as we knew that our foster care license expires in November, 2010, as to whether or not we were going to let it lapse or renew it. We were inactive at the adoption agency from the time of TJ's placement until August (once a child is placed for adoption, you are no longer active for new placements, until the adoption of that placement is final and you then state that you are willing to take a new placement), which is when we decided to go ahead and apply for a renewal and activate our current open beds (we are licensed for 2 children, 1 boy and 1 girl, ages 0-10). We have an empty bed in TJ's room and one in Jessica' room.

One major consideration is the amount of time that TJ's behavioral issues take. He currently receives in-home therapy. We recently had a horrible episode with him that was attributed to a medication change. He is currently stable and has been released for the next three months from the psychiatrist, unless he has another manic episode. This is a huge blessing.

To be perfectly transparent, we had not thought about our next placement once we had activated our beds. We know that it is in God's hands and we continue to live, one day at a time (our motto). We know that since we already have four children, depending on the CPS case manager, we may never be picked again to have another placement. Our adoption agency can advocate for us, but they have really don't have any pull. It is really out of ours and the adoption agency's hand. So we know that it is in God's hands.

(Just a side note - every other time that we have been picked as a potential placement for a child(ren), we speak with our current children to see what concerns that they would have. That is definitely one thing with our children - they do NOT say what we want to hear. They are very vocal about their (dis)satisfaction with us and living situation at any given moment. And we have said "no" numerous times to a potential placement, based on whether or not we could handle it as a family).

Are there days that we think wow, how did we make it through? How much more can we take? Absolutely! But then, one way or another, God reminds us that we have Him, and as long as we seek Him, He is always there.

Besides God as the ultimate support system, we have a huge support system in place, which we continue to add. We have counselors (for us and our kids), behavioral specialists, hotline phone numbers, doctors, specialists, other experienced foster families, and other specialists. There is no way that we can meet our children's special needs without them, as we are not educated to handle every issue that they have been exposed to. We are grateful for our network of experts, and for all of the prayers of our friends and family. We also have respite care available to us and that is something that we are going to utilize at least once a month to allow us time to be together as a couple just focus on us.

So, where do we go from here? We wait to hear if CPS feels that we are best fit for this little boy that they are looking for a forever family for. If we are, then we will transition him into our family with the assistance of TJ's therapist. Our steps will be cautious, as this placement could temporarily upset TJ's progress. (Another side note - this child is not a substance exposed child and currently has no behavioral issues - that will definitely be a switch for us!).

If we are not chosen, then we will continue as normal (well, what is normal for us), which is one day at a time. There have been several times that we haven't been chosen as the best fit for a placement, so this process is very familiar to us and there will be a few hours of disappointment for the entire family, but we process through it together and press on. We know that it is in God's hands.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for a welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

One song that I find encouraging during these "waiting" times, is "While I'm Waiting", which I first heard in the movie, Fireproof.

While I'm Waiting
John Waller
The Blessing

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy, no
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait