Christmas · Giving · simple · Uncategorized

Simple Christmas

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This Christmas season hasn’t at all been what I had hoped it would be.  It started out well (at least what I typically define as “well”) but for some reason after we returned home from visiting family in Illinois for Thanksgiving I just could not for the life of me get my act together.

I decorated for Christmas before we left for Illinois, because I knew I would be tired when we got home, and I worked on Christmas cards during our drive there, because let’s be honest….what is there really to do when one is stuck in a car driving for 12 hours?

I’ve worked so hard to simplify Christmas from year’s past.  To lower expectations.  To not overschedule and overcommercialize, and yet this year I realized that despite how little we choose to do every year for Christmas, my expectations of what I thought Christmas should be still weren’t simple at all.  They were just that…expectations.

We arrived back home on December 2nd from Illinois, and Dave finally had a chance to put up the Christmas lights on December 14th.  I told him to forget it, because it was a lot of work for only a few weeks, but he said “No, I like seeing them when I get home.”  So up they went anyway.  It took me until the 3rd week of advent to even get our advent wreath lit.  We were gone for the first Sunday in advent and the 2nd I was just still too exhausted from travel, so last week we did 3 in 1, and you know what….that’s ok.

Our family advent devotions have been sporadic at best, and I always like to bake Christmas cookies because well….it’s tradition, and it’s something we “should” do right??  Or is it?  Traditions are good things, but they shouldn’t turn into expectations or more pressure on ourselves.  I couldn’t bring myself to let the kids mix the dough with me for the cookies because honestly….the 3 of them together all at one time is still really really hard.  They fight, and bicker, and battle for control, and it rarely ends up “good” so I ended up making the dough myself, and decided we could bake them and decorate them together.  I mixed up the dough early Sunday morning thinking I might bake 1 batch with the kids that afternoon…..that’s when child #1 got sick so I let it go….then child #2 was coughing…and I knew that no children would be touching these cookies, but I needed to make them soon or the dough would go bad so finally I just did it myself.

But I realized part of what I love about the tradition of baking cookies is doing it together and now it was just me making cookies and leaving my kids out.

The cookies are all baked now, but I haven’t frosted the cut outs because I can’t bring myself to do without the kids….because in the middle of all of that child #3 got sick and I honestly don’t even know when the coughing will stop to allow them to participate or I may just end up doing it on my own.

I was almost in tears yesterday morning as I took the 2 girls to the doctor and 1 of them was diagnosed with Strep, the other finally had her fever break after being home from school for 3 days, and now just when I thought I could catch a break, another one gets to stay home from school.

I spent the day yesterday deep cleaning, disinfecting, and let’s be honest…lathering myself in a vat of hand sanitizer to hopefully prevent myself from catching whatever the kids had.

Anyway, I digress….I have just been feeling like a failure as a mom this Christmas.  The same lie I struggle with all the time…”You’re not enough….”

And I struggle to combat those lies with truth as I compare myself to what everyone else accomplishes at Christmas time….

An HGTV Christmas decorated house…

All the festivals and tree lightings one can fit into their schedule during the month of December….

We don’t have an elf on the shelf or counter or whatever the heck they are called…

No one believes in Santa anymore in our house which quite honestly is a relief.  I never really knew how to handle the Santa thing anyway, and honestly, my kids would probably tell you that this Christmas has been just as magical as any other.  They don’t place expectations on Christmas like I do….or can I saw “we?”  I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that struggles with this…

However when I look around me at what we did get to do I realize we still did a lot, and it’s good, and it’s ok, and it’s just enough….

We did get to decorate the tree

The kids did get to eat some of the cookies.

They got to buy presents for each other wrap and start wrapping them.

They got to play in the snow

We did get to drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie

And light the advent wreath (even if it was starting on week 3).

Every year we place a Giving Manger at the base of the tree that Dave built when Abby was a baby.  We then place pieces of straw in the manger when we catch each other doing random acts of kindness, and this year our manager for baby Jesus still sits empty because life has been so full and chaotic that it’s just honestly been really hard to think about one more thing….

But isn’t that the same type of manger that Jesus was born into?  An empty one?

And so despite my best efforts in the past few years to simplify our Christmas, this year I was humbled to realize that our Christmas was still way more than God ever meant for it to be.

That Christmas comes despite all the decorations, cards, cookies, and presents….babies come when they are ready, and new life is born into this word simply.  Jesus was born into absolute nothingness….a stable where his bed was a manger, and his mother was an engaged young virgin, and his earthly father was a carpenter, and that was good enough for a King.

There are still some things left that I would like to do before Christmas and over the kids break….

  • Driving around looking at Christmas lights with hot chocolate and Dunkin Donuts munchkins or Christmas cookies
  • Wrapping presents
  • Daily advent readings
  • A few more presents to buy
  • Making a Gingerbread House with the kids
  • Time for the kids to get together with friends since it’s so hard to do during the school year.

 

But I’m choosing to give myself grace.  To remind myself that I tried, and it just didn’t all work out this year, and that’s ok.  I’m not sure if I am going to get through this whole list….some presents may end up “wrapped” in a grocery bag, but even that’s ok, because God never intended for us to put all these expectations on ourselves when we were in the midst of celebrating his son’s birthday.  No, God wanted, and still wants us to just receive this precious gift…to not do anything else in return, other than accept what a beautiful gift of selfless love that Jesus birth was.  Quite honestly there is nothing else more beautiful in all the world than the fact that God sent His one and only Son to live a life here, and ultimately sacrifice His life for us, because of how much He loves us.

 

Blessings,

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Christmas · Foster Care/Adoption · Giving · Uncategorized

Christmas Giving and Dirty Hands

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(Image Credit)

This week when I was running some errands and listening to the radio in the car, I heard the radio host talking about giving at Christmas time.  Often times I tune out a lot of the talking portions from hosts on the radio and listen more intently to music, but the subject piqued my interest so I paused to listen for a moment.

As he went on he was talking about really considering what we are “giving” to this year at Christmas, and if the cause was something good to give to or not.  Typically in past years I probably would have nodded in agreement, and in this particular moment it wasn’t that I disagreed with the host, but that I wished he would have talked about giving at an even deeper level.

You see, this time every year despite who we are, our religious affiliations, or our political stance, almost everyone I know seems to be more readily giving or willing to give during the Christmas season.  Which is absolutely beautiful, and I love that part of Christmas, but this particular message made me stop to pause and reflect more deeply for a moment past how much more quickly I press “buy” on my amazon account, grab my checkbook to write to a needy cause, or say “yes” when at the grocery store to donate dollars to a local food bank this time of year….I realize how often my “giving” comes in the form of my finances, and a box checked on my checklist than an event deeper sacrifice that comes from giving of my time, and choosing to get my hands dirty.

Getting our “hands dirty” goes way beyond giving of our finances.  Getting our hands dirty means willingly being obedient to whatever God leads us to do despite whether it inconveniences us or not….

  • Turning around when we see the homeless man, and grabbing a few groceries for him or a sandwich at the nearest fast food restaurant even if it means we just got back from the store and have to go back again
  • Showing up at a friends house who is struggling with postpartum depression with coffee, a smile, and a listening ear.  Maybe help fold laundry or do dishes if it’s needed and she seems ok with it.
  • Go on a mission trip
  • Help at a food bank or serve meals at a shelter
  • Get involved in organizations like Big Brother Big Sister, Boys and Girls Clubs, or youth groups and give kids positive role models to look up to.
  • Bring groceries to a family in need
  • Help a widow or struggling family with home projects that they don’t have the knowledge or resources to be able to complete on their own
  • Foster/Adopt a child

I could go on, and on….there are endless opportunities surrounding us in our own communities of ways we can serve others by getting our hands dirty, and these needs don’t just exist at Christmas…they exist all year round.

In this journey of foster care we often get praised for the work we are doing, and the encouragement is so helpful especially on the hard days, but even we must still remember that yes, we maybe currently fostering, but our own checklist isn’t “done.”  This maybe something that God wants us to focus our energy and attention on most right now in this moment, but if we open our eyes and our hearts to really listen he often times gives us more assignments even in the midst of busy-ness, and if we don’t stop to pause and reflect, we may miss it….we miss HIS best yes.

I pray that this season reminds us most of what God sent His son to us for….

He was the Servant King, and His life is a reflection of what He desires for us to become.

So much hope was wrapped up in swaddling cloths in a manger that first Christmas.  A king who would be far different from any other king who ever lived.    A baby, born in the image of God who chose to sacrifice His life for us, and get His own hands dirty that we too could live.

 

Blessings,

 

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Foster Care/Adoption · Uncategorized

Juvenile Court

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Photo Credit: www.weisspaarz.com.

Today, I attended our foster child’s first court date.  I honestly had no idea what to expect, or what would occur.  I can’t remember the legal term they used, but basically this hearing was to transfer legal guardianship of our foster child to the county within which we will serve as the resource family for her.  I wasn’t sure who all would be there- birth parents?  Family?  I didn’t know if I would meet any of them, or if there would be an uncomfortable confrontation.

Every case is different.  In our case the most uncomfortable part of the day was the wait- court was running behind so we sat waiting at the court house for almost an hour before our names were finally called.

To protect the privacy of our specific foster child’s case I am not going to share any of those details, but more so about the experience as a whole at Juvenile Court with a foster child.

Sitting in the waiting room was interesting.  The room was filled with people- children, birth parents, foster parents, a couple that I’m guessing was a kinship relationship because they looked to be grandparents age holding a baby.  There was a room filled with social workers who worked for the county representing each of the people sitting in the waiting room.  Attorneys, and security guards were also in the mix.  Our social worker from our foster agency was there for support for me.

I tend to be a very intuitive person.  I can feel emotions from other people across a room in a very heavy way, and I find it hard to sometimes shake off these feelings.  One family came out of the court room after obviously hearing bad news- mom was in almost hysterical tears, her kids running after her, dad (or whom I presumed was dad) was spouting off lots of angry words and eventually had to be removed to go outside.  A father and teenage daughter sat off to one side, and entered the waiting area in somewhat good spirits, but eventually I saw tears and muffled arguing from the daughter, and the rest of their interaction was spent on opposite ends of the couch with backs turned to one another.

When it was our turn to go into the court room, our girl started to get clingy which I have learned is one of her coping mechanisms for when she is anxious or scared.  She started to walk really slowing with me, and was very hesitant to enter the court room.  I had to remind myself that this is the first time she has ever even been in a court room like this unlike a foster child who has been in care for quite sometime and this is now their norm.  Which is another sad story in and of itself…up until about a month ago my kids had never even seen in the inside of a court room because this is not most kids norm…it shouldn’t be any kids norm.  We were only in one at the time because we attended our friends adoption hearing.

As I led her toward the judge, and the large group of people waiting at the front of the room, they were all very encouraging to her, and gave her some candy which seemed to win her over.  As I sat down, I saw her turn to look at me…to make sure I was still there….how can I already be her constant…her source of comfort after only 9 days with me….it’s just messed up.  No one from her family was present.

We were dismissed from the courtroom very shortly after entering.  I was grateful for this….I really didn’t want her to hear all the details, or have to think about all the weighted adult things they were going to talk about.  My social worker came out shortly after to brief me on their discussion.  I didn’t really find out anything new.  There is another date next week we are to attend that will discuss all the details- what the birth parents have to do to regain custody, our role, her progress in our home, etc.  That meeting is called a “Full Disclosure Meeting.” (for anyone here who is trying to educate themselves on the process-  part of my hopes in sharing this is to bring some light to things that are rarely discussed about foster care to make it not seem so scary, since there are so many unknowns to a new foster parent).

As I sat and spoke with my social worker the tears came….the heaviness of the whole thing just came crashing down….not a single person from our foster child’s family showing up, the upset parents in the waiting room whose children ran out after them crying, the broken communication between the dad and teenage daughter….a bunch of kids forced to be in a room that they shouldn’t even know exists due to adults bad choices that they now have to have consequences from for things they didn’t even do.

One of the things I am very grateful for that came out of today is more empathy.

Empathy for these kids who need security, and safe places to be…to have a stable life instead of living in limbo and being in constant fight or flight.

Empathy for our foster child as we try to figure out how to attach to a child backwards than our own biological children…it’s no easy task, and in many ways feels like loving out of duty before actual feelings of love come, but today….today brought more compassion to fight for her.

Fight for her right to just be a kid, and not have the knowledge of grown up problems in a 7 year olds body.

Fight to help her have a voice that she has always deserved to have even if she wasn’t given one before.

This bible verse from Proverbs 31 kept going through my head all day:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.”

May God give me strength to continue to speak for her, that which she cannot speak herself!
Blessings,
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Uncategorized

Forgotten

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This morning I had a moment of just feeling FORGOTTEN….I know that’s not true, but it is how I feel sometimes in this waiting.
The questions start to come..
“God are you in this? If so then why the stillness? Why this long of a wait?”
I’ve been here before.  Many times in this journey towards adoption, or at other times in my life I’ve been here, and every time I find myself questioning. I am reminded of His faithfulness. He gives me peace to be still in the waiting.
The circumstances may not change, but my heart posture does. The questions and the desire for control turn into trust in His sovereignty, and faithfulness when I fully lean into Him.
He has not forgotten us just the same as He has not forgotten the barren woman, nor the single mother.  He has not forgotten the woman who just received a hard diagnosis or the one who just found out her husband has been having an affair….no He HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOU!
As I was praying over this this morning I opened my bible to a page that was actually bookmarked, and a verse that I had underlined before stared back at me….
“Yet Jerusalem says, ‘The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.’  ‘Never!  Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?  But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
Isaiah 49:14-15
His word is true, never changing, and here he promises HE WILL NOT FORGET ME!
I haven’t had the heart to remove the notes and presents Abigail left from us from our foster girl’s room yet, because the truth is, in my heart…it’s still her room right now. I know it won’t be, and I know some other little girl someday will bring so much joy to us, and this will all make sense, but today is not my someday, and for now they are vivid reminders of what I thought would be.
These reminders also help me to remember to pray for a sweet 6 year old girl who is trying to adjust to her new family and has been through so much.
To know that I can pray for her by name even if I never see the results of that…I know it matters, and I pray God uses her story mightily!
He has not forgotten me even if His answers don’t match my plans.
I can trust His plans because I know He is good, and I have seen His faithfulness in my life and so many others.
No friend He has not forgotten you either.  Trust Him in the waiting!  Trust that His plan is good, and focus your heart on His faithfulness.
For His word says:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9
Keep on waiting even when the stillness and quiet feels deafening….His plans are good, and worth waiting for!
Blessings,
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Foster Care/Adoption · Infertility · Life

When Dreams Die

As many of you know by now, we received a phone call about 3 weeks ago about a little 6 year old girl who needed to be placed into a more permanent foster home, and that it most likely would end up in adoption due to rights of the parents leading towards termination.

We said “yes!”  Remember when I talked about “When Yes’s Become No’s?”  At this point I was still guarded with my “yes,” because our social worker from our foster agency then had to contact the county caseworker overseeing our case and tell her about us.  The county then reviewed our profile (basically a large document with a ton of information about us….basically our entire life story for them to read and make sure that we our family is a good fit to take on a foster child).  After reading our profile they had one question for us and that was to confirm that we indeed were interested in pursing adoption for this child.  I said “yes!” (possibly shouted it lol) and we found out early the next week that we were the chosen family for this child.

The county’s next question was “When can they take her?!”  I said “we can be ready now if that’s what she needs,” and so I was sent into a tailspin of preparing her room, sorting through Abbie’s old clothes that would be about the size a 6 year old would need, friends dropped off car seats, and set up a meal train for her arrival.  I even bought her goodies for an Easter basket since Easter was only a few days later in case she arrived before hand.

Her room had become somewhat of a catch all zone in the past few years of waiting.  It typically serves as our guest room, and we did get it ready 2 years ago when we first finished our licensing requirements.  Then it sat empty, and then we had guests so we ended up putting the Queen bed back in there, and figured we would switch the beds once we officially had a placement.  So in my mind I always knew it was her room, but there was no sense leaving it empty when it wasn’t being used.

When our “yes” officially became the county’s “yes” we were excited to get things ready.  I made the bed.  I moved the dollhouse into her room, and barbies too.  I made plans in my head that once she arrived we would make a trip to pick out her favorite paint color, and decorations for her new room.  About 2 1/2 years ago, Abbie picked out a present for her someday “sister” and stashed it away in her room, and I was brought to tears when she brought the gifts out completely on her own, and left her this note….

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I think that was the first time I cried after hearing the county’s “yes.”  Prior to that I felt numb.  Wanting to still hold my breath, not trusting for real if she would actually be here, but when Abbie wrote that, I knew that regardless of what happened, whether she was here in our home or not, that this child deserved to be loved, and wanted, cried for and prayed over regardless of what happened, and so like any “expectant” mother….dreams were beginning to form.  Plans were being made.  My mind was already weaving this new child into the tapestry of our days, and the dynamic of our lives.

As we waited for the news from the county of the actual date of her arrival, I kept in contact with our social worker who periodically gave me updates as she had them.  Initially I found out that the county was closed on Good Friday so she would not be coming prior to Easter at that point.  I expected the Monday after Easter then because that is originally when they said she would be placed.  Monday came and went.  Nothing.  I knew her brothers were being placed in their permanent foster home the following Friday.  Still I heard nothing.  I checked in with our social worker at that point because she was with her brothers when they were placed and she did give me an update that the county told her the little girl was doing really well in her temporary home, and that they reported already in a short time seeing lots of progress and that she was really a very loving, sweet girl.

Two days later, on May 1st, I received a call from our social worker as I was driving Alex home from preschool.  I’m sure that was honestly a dreaded phone call for her.  She knew we were making plans.  She knew our hopes were high, and that this child was already so wanted, and loved by us.  I can’t remember entirely what she said.  Most of her words were a blur, but I do remember the obvious conclusion of what was being said “She is no longer coming.”

I think I said two words to our social worker in the context of that conversation.  One was “Ok” and the other  was a very choked up “bye.”   She was encouraging in that she said that the county really liked our profile, and that they were very excited about our family, and would definitely be keeping us in mind for another placement.  Since this technically was the first time the county had ever even looked at our profile because all of the other times we said “yes” by the time our social worker responded to them they had already found another family which means that they most likely never even knew a thing about us.  Now they do which is great, but also we aren’t the only family they are looking at…they look at hundreds so while we are fresh in their minds this week…as time goes on, probably not so much.

That afternoon I was of course sad.  Dave was shocked when I called him.  He didn’t even think that them changing their minds was an option at this point.  I just honestly wanted to be left alone.  It’s how I process, and I knew in due time I would want to process with people, but in that moment I just couldn’t.  I needed to just be.  My heart just hurt, and though I would never ever compare my grief to another person, for a moment I wondered if this was a tiny glimpse of what it felt like to struggle with infertility and miscarriage.  Though this baby didn’t grow inside of me, the love for our future child has been growing for years.  We prayed about potentially adopting even before we ever had biological children so this desire has been growing now for over 10 years, and there was definite growth in my heart of a deeper love for her as I learned her name, her race, and her story.  I imagined what her sweet face looked like after being told she was Caucasian and Hispanic.  I envisioned her having a mop of dark curls and fitting in with our current curly haired ratio of 3:1 (sorry Dave!  Though her skin would surely not even be close as white as the rest of us!)  But this love…these dreams for her, for a child that I finally let my guard down for, and allowed more love to grow since my “yes” was met with a “yes” from the county…that dream was now gone.  At least for this child.  Not for any child ever, but for this specific child that I prayed for, longed for, and already loved so much….the dreams I had that I thought were God’s plan were suddenly gone as quickly as they started with a phone call, they ended with a phone call as well.

The day after our news I woke in a much better place sadness wise.  I really and truly was happy for her.  I’m so glad she doesn’t have to transition to yet again another home.  I’m grateful that her respite (temporary foster care) family fell in love with her and she with them, and could finally have a forever family, but Day 2 brought more anger in my grieving process….it wasn’t the loss of specifically her that I was mourning, it was the death of this specific dream, these plans, and my expectations that was really what I was wrestling with.  “God what are you doing?  I know this is a good desire, but why this waiting?  Why all the yes’s turned to no’s?  Why this false hope only to have to lay it down once more?

I’ve cried a fair amount of tears this week, and I really appreciate all the love and encouragement many of you have shown me.  As with all grief there are triggers that I didn’t expect.  Evidence of a love already growing much deeper than I anticipated even before her arrival.  Like when I walked downstairs in our storage room in the basement and saw her Easter basket still sitting there, or the clothes I sorted out for her, and her room…I can’t touch that yet, nor do I really plan to for awhile.  Events beginning to happen in our lives that I thought she would be here for and she’s not…there’s an empty spot in our car that I thought would be full, or a vacancy on the sidelines at Abbie and Alex’s soccer games, or the mother daughter pajama party at church on Friday…I thought I would have another with me that night…..

I didn’t expect any of those triggers, but they are there.  Reminders of the plans I thought we had that no longer will be.

I really am ok though.  I really am happy for her.  I’m not much of a wallower.  I am more of an “It is what it is” type of person so I tend to focus more on “Ok what’s next…if not this, than what?”  So my sad moments are fleeting, and far less in number than they were on Day 1, but it is still a loss none the less, and grief is a part of loss.

Have you have ever experienced the death of a dream or your plans?  Shattered expectations?  This isn’t the first time that’s it happened to me, nor will it be the last, but each time it happens doesn’t hurt any less than the time before.  The only thing that is different now than when I was much younger is that I have had the gift of time on my side to see how faithful God is even after our plans are shattered.  I have come to know full well that He is good all the time even when my circumstances don’t feel good or favorable to what I wanted…He is good, and worthy of my praise.

My desire to control, and plan wants what it wants, but even in the middle of grief, in the midst of broken dreams, and changed plans…God is always working.  God is always good.  His plans are much greater than mine.

Psalm 55: 8-9

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

My devotions this week have been rooted in a theme of “Faith and Trust…”

 

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”

Matthew 17:20

 

“When I am afraid I put my trust in you.”

Psalm 56:3

 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1

One of my closest friends and greatest prayer warriors reminded me this week of something that brought me to tears.  She has faithfully been praying periodically for every single child they have ever received a call about.  Our list of kids has been added to her list as well and in total that list has 29 children on it.  Some we know the names and ages of, some we don’t, but she reminded me this week of how much of an honor it is that we get to pray for these kids.  That if nothing else….kids that may have never had a single prayer uttered for them in their life…now have people praying for them.  I’m humbled to think of the impact that could bring in each of their lives, and our girl….the one we thought was God’s “yes,” had so many people praying for her that I am just in awe that God would be gracious enough to provide her respite home parents with a change of heart to welcome her home for forever.

And so whats next for us?  We press on.  We wait, because for whatever reason THIS wasn’t God’s plan even if we thought it was, and someday it will make sense, and we will understand.  Possibly not on this side of eternity, but it doesn’t matter…We are to be faithful even in the waiting.  Even when the dream gets shattered.  Even when our expectations don’t get met, because He is faithful, and good, and worthy of all of my praise.

 

Blessings,

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Life

Confessions of a People Pleaser

Ya’ll I had a break through moment yesterday, and I wanted to share it with all of you in case it helps encourage someone else.

I want to talk for a minute about codependency.

Websters dictionary defines codependency as:

“A psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)
Or the broader definition dependence on the needs of or control by another”

Codependency.  A term not foreign to me.  It’s something that I have had to process with some relationships with others in my past, and acknowledging that their behavior was codependent.  Recognizing this was HUGE for me.  It allowed me to start to set proper boundaries in these relationships so that I didn’t lose myself within them.

When I first started recognizing this I thought codependency was just people being manipulative and controlling, but lately I have been really struggling with somethings in my life.  Some situations where it actually becomes so consuming and debilitating to me if  things aren’t fixed in a way that meets other peoples expectations and that they ultimately end up happy.  Newsflash….not all things in life will make everyone happy.

As I dug deeper I started to realize that codependency is multifaceted.  There is another side….the people pleasing side.  Where we ourselves cannot be happy if others aren’t happy.

Without realizing it, I’ve been carrying around a weight of feeling like I’m solely responsible for some people’s happiness. Not all, just some.

Without realizing it my self worth has become dependent on some people being happy with me or with my performance instead of just being  rooted and content in a solid foundation of who God created me to be.

I say “yes” when I really mean “no.”  I’ve gotten so much better at this over the years, but I still struggle.  In fear of disappointing or hurting someone I will sometimes say yes, when really I want to say no, or I am afraid confrontation so I back down.

When I spent some time in self reflection to try to figure out the source of when this all started it was definitely in childhood.  How do you undo close to 35 years of people pleasing behaviors?  It seems impossible, but yet God says “nothing is impossible with Him.”

I can name off pivotal moments in my childhood that defined steps taking in this direction of people pleasing codependency.

My struggle with weight and self image issues…

-A classmate saying something about how “old fashioned my clothes were”

-Having a boy give me the nickname of “Heifer” in junior high.  Do you know what a heifer is?  A heifer is a young female cow who has not had a calf yet.  A cow guys…..he called me a cow, and the name stuck….for several years.  It came about because of a missions project we were working on at church called Heifer International and somehow out of that I received the nickname of Heifer.  I was a little overweight for sure at that point in my life, but definitely not obese, but alas kids can be cruel and I became the target. I remember we went to the park one day for Sunday School and I happened to sit on a swing that was half broken without me knowing, and I ended up breaking it entirely….you can bet the nickname Heifer at least in my mind took on deeply rooted value inside me that day.   I actually later became friends with some of the guys from my sunday school class, even went to high school dances with a few of them so eventually it became ok, but the lie was still rooted there, inside of me.

One of the saddest parts of this story to me is that it happened at church.  Church should be a safe place, but I know I’m not the only one who has been hurt in a church.  That’s not the only time I’ve experienced hurt from people in church either.  It’s helped as I’ve grown and matured to remember that only Jesus is perfect.  Church is made up of a bunch of imperfect people.

I also somewhere along the line started behaving in a very legalistic way.  I received praise when I performed a certain way or did what I was told so my behavior became very fear and performance based in order to hear the praise and affection of others.

But here is the thing….I must not forget that I get to choose my path of whether I will stay enslaved to those lies or move forward in freedom.  I get to choose the direction of which I will go after hearing or experiencing things like this.  As a child…I had no idea.  I was just surviving.  It’s ok to claim those moments for what they were.  It’s ok to give them a name, and acknowledge how hard and awful those things were, but I don’t have to remain a victim.  Those moments don’t get to take away my own power and authority over my life.  I serve a greater God who is bigger than all of those things, who can absolutely heal, and bring new life from brokenness.

I often times lack brave.

I lack confidence.

I fear deeply what others will think of me or if I will be good enough for them

But the truth is God has made me capable.  He has made me strong.  He has made me beautiful.  He has given me freedom to not have to live in constant fear, guilt, or shame anymore.

Realizing all of this was a huge moment for me yesterday.  I researched a bunch of books, and made a trip to the library today, and to my own library (ahem books of unpacked boxes still 3 years later 🙂  of several titles I read years ago that I knew might help me start to process and break free from the people pleasing codependency issues I have struggled with my whole life.

There maybe some therapy that’s necessary.

I’ve already cried a lot of tears, and I’m sure more are to come.

But for now I start here….with a stack of books, support and encouragement from my closest people, and I let God start to chisel away at these parts of me that I so desperately want to be healed from.

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One of the most eye opening parts for me was realizing how hard it is for me to really grasp, and actually belief the depth of Christ’s love for me.  Even now as I type these words I am tearing up knowing how easy it is for me to be the first to jump in and encourage another with scripture and truth of God’s love for another struggling person, but when it’s me….my head knows it but my heart struggles to actually believe it.

Part of this journey will be me working on just that….replacing the lies with God’s truth of how much I really mean to Him and the depth of His love for me.

It’s not going to be an easy journey, but it IS a necessary one.  If you are reading this for the first time, and realizing that you too struggle with the same…feel free to send me a msg or comment!  I’m cheering you on too friend!  We are in this together!  Or maybe you have had your own journey of healing from the struggle of people pleasing-  I would love to hear your tips, or book recommendations of things that have helped you so please share!

Blessings,

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Foster Care/Adoption · Life · parenting

Foster Placements: When “Yes” Turns Into “No”

20-1-20

I’ve been pretty quiet about foster care lately.  We have actually had several phone calls from caseworkers lately that were cases we could say “yes!” to, and we did.  Which honestly felt great to actually be saying “yes,” to something because for awhile it felt like every case we received a phone call about were cases we had to say “no” to.

Only problem is, when you say “yes” in foster care it still doesn’t mean a child is going to show up at your house that afternoon.  It just means you are saying “yes, we are willing to take this child in,” but what you don’t understand when you aren’t walking the road of foster care, is that many other agencies are all reaching out to their own foster families who could be a match for this particular child at the same time our agency was calling us.  So it really becomes a race against the clock….whichever agency finds a family that matches this child’s description, and gets that family to say “yes” wins.  Well….not really wins, but from my seat as a spectator that is what it often times feels like.

The first few times we said “yes,” my heart was beating faster.  I was waiting in anticipation to hear back from our caseworker.  I was envisioning what our supper table would look like that night with one extra face sitting around it.  I was wondering how hard the first few weeks might be.  How much sleep will I lose?  Juggling around schedules in my head of how we would make this next season work, and right about the time when I was coming to a place of peace with it all, I would get a phone call back from our caseworker saying “The county chose another family.”

It kind of feels like a big punch to the gut.

So I would mentally shut the door in my brain to knowing that child was no longer a possibility for being a part of our family, and would pray for trust in God’s timing for the child He had chosen for us.

Until the next call…then I did it all over again.

Two weeks ago our caseworker reached out about a child we will call “L” (for privacy purposes), whose parents rights had been terminated so she was legally free for adoption.  I started sobbing when I received the email with information about “L.”  The ups and downs of foster care are no joke, and a huge part of the hardness in it all are ALL the unknowns that as a foster parents we have absolutely no control over.  One day the county rules for increased visitations for a child that has been placed with you, and you know how hard the shorter visits have been for this child, let alone increasing the length of time and frequency, but you are at the mercy of the county to have to follow the rules, and do what they say even if your instinct as a parent would choose something completely different for them.  To know that “L’s” parental rights had been terminated meant that it would be a much shorter road to get from point A to point Z to actually adopt her.  That’s one of the reasons why I was sobbing….the thought of potentially not having to go through all of that was relieving.  The other reason why was because this time I had a picture of her, and a name….often times when you receive phone calls for placements you don’t even get a name before you say “yes.”  They tell you age, gender, and pertinent information, but very few details before they are placed with you.  I saw her sweet face, and now not only did I envision another person around our dinner table, and in a bed in our home, but she had a name, and I knew what she looked like!

We said “yes” to submitting our profile to “L’s” caseworker, and even though I knew better by this point, I got my hopes up, only to find out within hours that her caseworker didn’t think our family would be a good fit due to our biological children being so young, and the attention she would probably need.  I literally had just told a few of my closest friends, and then worked up the guts to tell the girls in my bible study, only to find out minutes afterward that our answer had come quickly….

“L” would not be joining our family.

That time it felt like a much larger punch to the gut.

You see, my heart breaks a little bit each time our “yes” turns into a “no.”  Knowing that more often than not, the “no” is probably coming, makes it really hard to want to tell anyone.  When I was talking with one of my foster friends about this she empathized and said she knew how much it hurt, but she encouraged me to still share, even though it’s hard, because it helps people on the outside looking in understand more the emotional roller coaster that this can sometimes feel like.  It helps me lean on others for strength when I don’t have it, and helps them know how to more specifically pray for us in this process.

Last Thursday when I was traveling to Chicago, I received an email from our caseworker about another little girl whom we will call “R.”  Her current foster family is unable to adopt her, and they are looking for a family to permanently place her with before terminating parental rights.   So though “R’s” case is not as far along as “L’s,” the situation is very similar.  There would still be hard things if she was placed with us, but not as long and drawn out as a placement can be when they are placed with us from day 1.  We said “yes” to “R,” and have not heard anything yet.  It could be days, or months before we do.

I’m much more guarded this time, after realizing that even saying “yes” to these types of cases, doesn’t mean anything until the county says it does.

Through all the waiting, though it can be tiresome, and emotionally exhausting, each time what makes me pick myself back up is thinking of these poor, sweet faces, and all that they have lost, and all that is broken in their families in a way that God never intended them to broken, and I’m over here with 2 healthy, biological children who get to grow up in a stable, Christ centered home, and I’m sad that “our family doesn’t feel complete yet.”

My gain will be because of their loss.

Our family’s wholeness will be because of their family’s brokenness.

Perspective.

And I know it’s ok for me to be sad.  It’s ok to wrestle with God on these feelings of control, and timing.  I don’t have to numb myself to that.  It’s ok to mourn that, however it’s not good to stay there forever.  My hope is, and always will be in the wholeness that Jesus brings to each of our lives, not in my biological children, or future children.  Only in Jesus.

You see, before Jesus died on the cross, He had a moment with God where He asked Him to “Take this cup from me,” but then went on to say “Yet not what I will, but what you will” Mark 14:36.  Jesus knew how excruciating the next days of His life would be, but He trusted His Father despite the hard that was to come.

Whether God places a child with us who has had parental rights terminated and is nearing adoption, or if we will get a placement who is just starting their foster journey….we trust that our God is good, and has a bigger plan than we can see despite the pain that it takes to get there.

Take a listen- this a great reminder of where our hope really lies: Cornerstone- Hillsong

 

Blessings,

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