So it’s seriously been like 6 months since I shared anything here. Good grief! For a person who can say about a million words a day you would think I could find more time to write, but alas…life happens, and this got pushed to the back burner 🙂 And for the sake of giving a picture update, here is one of the 4 of us taken at a wedding reception in Illinois a few weeks ago:
In all honesty, though a lot of life did happen in those 6 months. I made some big life decisions that changed a lot of things. I started off the end of last year planning to teach a few community ed courses at our local community college in hopes of that turning into starting a veterinary assistant program there. The initial conversations that I had with the college were had with that being understood, but as we moved into the spring semester, the courses already 3/4 prepared as I readied myself, the conversations started to change, and it became clear to me that this wasn’t the direction the college was headed, and if it was it was going to be a 10 year plan to get there….that did not line up with my timeline at all.
I’d been there before- trying to work odds and ends jobs to make ends meet while trying to stay home with the kids, but honestly Dave and I were both tiring of that lifestyle. We both knew my season of being home on a limited income could only last so long, and I was ready to take the next step, but I just wasn’t sure to where or to do what. For the past year I had been working from home in a job that paid decent, but was not working with my schedule of being a mom as much as I had hoped. In efforts to find better balance, and higher pay I pursued the teaching option, but that obviously wasn’t going to work either. So we prayed, and brainstormed a lot. We have talked about me pursuing other careers for years, but the timing didn’t seem right, and honestly I was afraid of change, and if I am being really honest…afraid of failure. I have pursued a lot of niche hobbies, and careers over my adult life, because honestly I didn’t really know who in the heck I was when I left home. I went to Vet Tech school because I love animals, but had no idea that being a vet tech is not a living wage, or of the high physical demands and stress of the job. Once I became a mom, most of my priorities changed. I didn’t mind working, but work seemed to get the best of my time, and I came home to give my family leftovers. Me becoming a mom was honestly the first step in really finding me. My whole life I had set my goals based off of what others accomplished, and what I was given praise for, but had never taken into consideration what my real passions and talents were or what direction God was leading me in. The more experiences I had in different jobs the more I discovered what I loved and hated, and what my heart really desired.
The list of changes was long guys….like seriously…really long….
Initially I returned to school to get my undergrad and hopefully teach biology. When I realized that wasn’t for me I took a real estate class, but my heart wasn’t in it so I never even tried very hard to pass the exam. I sold Mary Kay, but quickly gave up because I hate selling things like that. Once we moved to the Chicago suburbs I had to quit my vet tech job (which I had been doing full time while pursuing all of those things), and I did some work in veterinary academia which I really enjoyed but alas as I mentioned before, pursuing that just wasn’t working out. I became a doula for a season, but after attending 3 births that I was at for over 24 hours, while having a nursing baby I knew I could not do that anymore. I loved birth work, but I need more structure than that, and 3AM wake up calls was too much. I worked for a non profit women’s ministry for awhile, and I loved my work in women’s ministry….still do honestly, and from my work there, and attending a speaking and writing conference back in 2011 I really felt God revealing to me a big piece of my heart- that I love working in women’s ministry. The company I worked for then closed down last year so I needed to find something else to do. I knew I wanted to work from home so I became a virtual assistant, but the work was just not a good fit (as I mentioned before). So that leads us to this past January. I felt stuck. We both wanted me to have more income, but how….how to find balance with that in a way that works for us. I couldn’t fathom working in an office again. I love working from home far too much, but my current job was making me feel like I had to be “on” all the time, because of the type of work it was, and tied down for certain hours that made me feel like I couldn’t leave my home. We prayed, and talked about this a lot, and ultimately decided to have me pursue real estate again. This time I was actually excited about it though. We honestly had continued talking about this career path for years after I initially considered it. I had gone through so much in all of my other career experiences that I realized what I really valued in my work, and that was to find a job that was flexible, with good work life balance, good pay, something I could do from home, and if possible that I could be my own boss
During all of this I kept labeling myself as “flighty” expecting others to think all of my choices were ridiculous, and perhaps some or many did, but honestly it ultimately didn’t matter. What mattered was my journey that God was taking me on to reveal His plan for me. It was Him revealing parts of me that He wanted control of, and helping me see passions and purpose that I didn’t see before
Of course we have had discouraging comments, but I have had many more encouraging ones. Ultimately there are always going to be people who disapprove of something which is why I have to let go of one of my biggest struggles- people pleasing, and work only to please the Lord. His way and His plan for my life are ultimately what matters. Each of our lives is so different from others and that’s why comparison can be so bad for us to do….His plan for me, isn’t your plan, and it shouldn’t be, because He has uniquely designed a plan and purpose for you!
I recently was in contact with a person that I could just tell had some judgemental thoughts about all of those changes, and this time actually verbalized all of those thoughts outloud to me…. for most of us that is one of our worst fears, someone saying outloud to our face our own deep seeded insecurities, but this time when I heard them, though it stung a bit, I realized I had grown enough to realize what was being said didn’t matter. Someone’s perception of me doesn’t matter. What God asks me to do, and my obedience to that is what matters. There are people who have had not very nice things to say to us about foster care, but that doesn’t mean we should drop everything just to make one person happy, it’s about trusting God with all the pieces of your story. To know that He knows His plan, and purpose even when it doesn’t make any sense to us.
So when I started this process of getting my real estate license, it was the beginning of March. I chose an online program because I knew it would fit best around our lives right now, but ultimately it also meant far more hours of studying. I pushed myself, and when I say pushed myself, I mean that I pushed myself really hard. I was still working my other job, had family visit during that time for 2 weeks, and ended my course work by the end of April. Almost every free moment I had was spent studying. I studied to take my state and national exams mid May, and passed the first time! Seriously guys I broke down sobbing in the bathroom of the testing center afterwards. I was so happy to finally be done, and know how hard I pushed myself to get there!
Now I tend to be a workaholic, and have to watch myself because I can become so driven that I lose sight of my priorities, but my drive during this seemed to be fueled by something else. Never in a million years did I think that Dave would ever be ok with me quitting my job before I had another job lined up, but we sat down towards the end of April and talked, and he told me that it was ok for me to quit. He could see how hard I was working towards getting my real estate license, and had no doubt in his mind that I wouldn’t be able to pass even though I was doubting myself the entire time! I also had this inner gut feeling that I wasn’t sure whether it was a God thing or not, but I was sensing God was trying to clear our time to be more available for foster care. I knew my other job was much harder to balance than we had originally hoped, and a more flexible schedule with real estate would help provide that balance. So I was beyond motivated to finish, not just because I wanted to be done, but because I felt like God had something waiting for us.
So almost as soon as I finished I brought it up to David. Here we are almost looking at a year now since we went on the foster care list, and still no placement. When we originally went on the list we told them we would only take placements from our county (the visitation center for birth centers is 5 minutes from us!) so we felt like that was a huge answer to prayer….we don’t have any blood relatives here to help us out so we knew driving far out of our county into another could mean 45 minutes to an hour long trip 1 way, and we knew this would mostly be on me. We knew that was something we couldn’t do so we waited….I think in all in the last year we got 5 or 6 calls all from out of our county until finally I told the social workers we only wanted calls from our county. Since that last call I have literally gotten 0 calls about potential placements, which basically means in a years time I have never received a phone call about a placement in our county for the age range and gender we want. We obviously don’t want to bite off more than we can chew in taking a placement, but the reality is, we had become really comfortable with just being comfortable. Taking a placement means being open to how it may disrupt our family, our lives, our schedules, and we want to control it, but we can’t. We felt safe in taking on only what we knew we could handle, but we were forgetting about trusting that God would be our strength in doing this, and submitting to how He specifically wants to grow us in this process. So we prayed, and honestly we weren’t on the same page. I was trying to be open to whether or not this push to open up the cases we take on to be from another county was just me being impatient and tired of waiting, or if it was a God thing. In the middle of June our case worker had to do our annual home study to make sure our file was up to date, and while she was here she basically told us “if you want to get an actual placement, then you need to loosen up your criteria a bit.” We would never choose to do something because someone pressured us into it, but I left that meeting realizing how much control we were trying to have over this, and how much we weren’t just letting God be God. Regardless, it gave us more to discuss, and last week on our loooonggg drive to Illinois and back we had plenty of time to talk, and we both decided it was time to open up our placement search to the county next to us as well. I checked the GPS- it’s 23 minutes to the visitation center instead of 5, but that is much better than 45 min to an hour one way. I think we can handle that. It seems ridiculous that that small of a decision could that long to make, but 23 minutes one way turns into almost an hour of travel time, and of course once there I can’t just leave….I have to wait for the visit to be over because if I drove home it would be time to turn around and come back again so it honestly it turns into much longer time committment. If the visit is 1 hour or 2 it can be a 3 hour comittment once a week or twice a week if that is the situation that our placement has…it is much bigger than just a 23 minute drive. We were just trying to wrap our brains around how to fit that into Dave’s work, my work, kids activities, and our family activities, and didn’t want to stretch ourselves too thin, but we feel confident in this, this will be a stretch for us. It will not come without struggle. We will have to sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice worth pursuing.
During the weeks that Dave and I weren’t entirely on the same page a lot of discussions took place, and one in particular stands out in my mind as we were discussing if this lull in time for this particular pursuit meant something different. What if it meant we were supposed to do something else in orphan care? Perhaps not foster, or maybe not adopt at all, and I can honestly say my heart broke at the thought. This child that I have prayed for, for so long….I just started weeping. Our family doesn’t feel complete yet, and though we may not know all the steps that God wants us to take to orchestrate that, or what twists and turns He may have in store, I am confident that we are pursuing Him the best we know how, and though that sometimes involves wrong steps, and reevaluating…I know He is faithful, and will continue to lead us as we keep pressing into Him.
So today, I contacted our social worker to ask her to update our file to take on cases from one of our neighboring counties as well, as well as being open to counties even farther away with children in our age group whose cases are moving into termination of parental rights meaning they will be finding permanent homes for these children to move towards adoption. I’m feeling a little nervous now to be honest. Knowing that we most likely will get more calls now, and a much greater possibility of one of the children from these calls being placed with us. So it’s scary- I feel very comfortable in this place where I am at right now. We both do, and for as much as I like my comfort, I know that much growth and ultimately joy can come in the harder places God walks through with us.
So if you think of it please pray- for our hearts and home to be open to whatever child God wants to place with us, and for us to not be afraid for the Lord says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid! Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!” (Joshua 1:9)