I haven't written much in the last month. Between normal life stuff and intentionally doing a whole lot of nothing, the blog has been a little neglected.
After the girls left, our schedule went from almost a point of insane overcommitment to being completely wide open. I had taken a break from serving at church, the kids weren't in any extra-curricular activities...it was really strange to have unbounded time again. You don't realize how much free time you actually have with "just" two young kids until you've had a house full of 4 young kids, 2 with demanding emotional needs. You know what they say -- it's all relative. At first, I felt guilty about it. I felt like I should be making better use of my time by jumping back in to serving, or planning fun activities for the kids, or doing more for my friends, and on and on and on. But then I realized it was okay to take some time to rest and lick our wounds a little. To just be.
It also helped that our Disney World vacation fell in this same period. That place was absolutely amazing. Talk about feeling like you are in a magical place. It was a much needed distraction and break from the real world and was just what our little family needed to regroup and make new, fun memories together. A solid week with Rick around free from the stresses of work (well, almost) was probably the best part for all 4 of us. Rick and I had been planning and keeping it a secret for over 7 months. The kids were completely surprised and we all had such a great time together. Sweet memories I will cherish forever. I'll try to post more about the trip and some pictures soon.
As far as the fostering front goes, God has been answering some big prayers. I honestly wasn't sure if I would ever feel ready again. I mean, I thought I would feel ready, but then I wouldn't feel ready. If that makes any sense. Between the heartache and disappointment of losing the girls to realizing firsthand how demanding and stressful the experience is, what I was instead feeling was really discouraged. Rick was in the same boat. After going to court and witnessing how truly broken the system is (or at least was in this particular situation), he was angry. We discussed our options and really had no idea what we thought we should do between fostering again, shifting to straight adoption, only doing short-term respite care, and pulling the plug completely and going back to our old/new again normal. The hardest part for us was that we didn't feel like God was giving us an answer one way or another. And then it occurred to us that maybe God wanted us to rest, too. And so we did, and stopped feeling guilty about it. It's hard to hear from Him when you don't take time to listen.
And then one night we were talking about it again and things just started becoming clear. We began feeling like God's call for us is to continue on the fostering journey. With no expectations or strings attached; just a willingness to serve God by serving kids, whether we get to keep them forever or not. Losing the girls was really hard. But now that we're on this side of the experience, we can easily say that we would have made the exact same decision to welcome them into our family even though it didn't end they way we had hoped.
It was a huge relief to finally have some clarity and direction, but we were still unsure about the time-frame. If you were to ask Harrison & Harper, they would say today. And even Rick was ready before I was. He wanted to bring kids into our home before Christmas so we could help them feel loved through the holidays. I still remember how wide my eyes got when he said that because it seemed like the worst possible time to add chaos into our life. How selfish is that? I was worried about adding more to our plate and altering our plans and Christmas traditions instead of thinking about children without a family...at CHRISTMAS...yikes. Talk about convicting. I'm glad I'm married to someone with some sense to remind me that it's not about Christmas shopping and baking cookies and getting stuff done and having the perfect Christmas morning with our little family. What an opportunity to show our kids what Christmas is really all about. You know, a dude named Jesus Christ.
So our plan is to open our home back up for placements on December 22 and offer respite care in the meantime. Rick surprised me last month with an early Christmas present. One of his business accounts was running a promotion on flights the weekend before Christmas and he called Tienna and arranged for me to fly up to Oklahoma. It will be my first visit to get to spend one-on-one time with my dad in over 10 years. And I am beyond excited to meet my brand new "niece" Lynnox! (And see her parents, too, of course ;) Anyway, I have the best husband in the world and am so thankful he a) is extremely thoughtful, b) took it upon himself to arrange everything (he called my girlfriend behind my back! and he's so not a planner by nature!), c) and is taking off work to hang out with the kids to give me a long weekend. I fly back in on December 21, so we will be ready to welcome kids into our home as soon as the next day if there is a placement that fits our age range.
It's nice to feel this passion again. It's confirmation that God has truly put it on our hearts because we now know exactly what we're getting ourselves into, and yet we are still excited about it! Either that, or we are completely insane. HA.