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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Life

Family: The Making of Us

Since moving here 3 years ago, God has provided for us in more ways than I can count.  We left behind both sides of our family which was incredibly difficult, but we also trusted God’s plan and knew that He was asking us to step out in faith and move here.  We had no idea what He had for us here other than a job for Dave.

Moving across town is a pain in the butt, moving across the country is in an entire league of its own.  Transferring licenses, transporting cars, flights, negotiating on houses almost 1000 miles away, finding new doctors, dentists, pediatricians, hairdressers, registering kids for school…it can be overwhelming.  At times I let myself grow anxious in the process, and other times I found myself just submitting to the inevitable that these things had to be done, so why make it harder by being scared of these changes.

At the very top of my list upon arrival here was finding a church home.  I knew if we could make it here and plug in somewhere immediately that we would be ok.  The very same weekend Dave, and I flew out here to find a home, we also visited a church at the top of our list, Faith Church.  I had done a lot of research online, and narrowed my list of churches down to my top 2 or 3. Our #1 choice was where we visited that weekend.  We just didn’t want to move here, and drag the kids from church to church, new transition upon new transition, and bring even more chaos into their lives than they were already experiencing.

We laugh now because after we left church that day, I asked Dave as we were walking through the parking lot “well, what did you think?”  His response “good enough for me!”  And so technically it was in that now hilarious moment that we decided this church would be home, however, a little tip for anyone looking for a church home, I wouldn’t recommend choosing one solely based on how you feel after 1 visit.  Please understand there was a lot of prayer, and research of the churches values, belief system, etc going on prior to this moment that ultimately led us to make that decision 🙂

Our first goal after finding our church home, was to find friends so that we could start to build our own family here.  We immediately started plugging ourselves in.  We attended Sunday school which ultimately led to finding a small group, and I regularly attended MOPS and bible study during the week.  I met many lovely women this way.  I chose to be vulnerable even when I didn’t feel like it, because I knew building up walls wouldn’t build authentic friendships.

After I started developing close friendships, I started focusing on another desire of my heart….grandparents.  I grew up close to one set of grandparents whom I honestly saw almost daily.  My grandpa and my dad farmed together so my grandpa was at our house pretty much every day, and they were frequent fliers at our school programs, and we attended the same church so they were at all of our church events too.  A small part of me always hoped that my kids would have that same presence in their lives…that their grandparents would be around to watch baseball games, and band concerts.  That dream honestly started dying the moment we moved away from central IL to the Chicago suburbs though, before we ever moved here.  Even living 2 hours away makes it harder to spend time together than living down the street like we used to.  It was something I had to mourn, and if I am honest, still makes me sad, but I also know without a doubt in my mind, that this is where we are supposed to be so I can wallow in my own self-pity, or we can choose to make the most of our circumstances and make new kinds of memories, and squeeze every ounce of quality time out of the moments we do get with our parents.

That being said, let me get back to my point….moving here meant no more regular contact with the kids grandparents.  I so deeply wanted others to love and cheer on our kids like we do.  It’s hard to do that when you aren’t blood relatives.  Our friendships here have become deep friendships, but our friends also have young families so I know they would bend over backwards for us, but I also know they have immediate needs to take care of with their own children too.  I began praying almost from the moment we moved here for some sort of grandparent like relationship to develop.  I had no idea what that might look like, and I knew it might never happen, but I decided to ask God anyway, and I trusted Him even if the prayer was never answered.  In my mind I imagined this being maybe a person who was already a grandparent in the opposite situation as us, where their adult children lived far away and thus their grandkids were far away, and they rarely got to see them like our parents now with our kids.  As I got to know more women, and mentor moms at MOPS, I started asking all of them not just to consider being in that role in our lives, but more so if they knew anyone who might fit that role in our lives.  I started asking in the Fall of 2015…..nothing came from that.  No one could really think of anyone to connect us too, but I also wasn’t discouraged either.

Fast forward 2 years, to the Fall of 2017.  I was still praying, but not discouraged, just waiting on God to see if anything would turn into a deeper role with our kids.  Our church did a sermon series that fall on Adoption.  Within the series they revealed a plan to help support families in foster care and adoption, as well as how we as a church can serve in a role to adopt our town and fill needs there, and adopt a people group that we can focus our resources on making a bigger difference.  I came away from that series so encouraged that something God had already called us too, and a fear of ours as to how we were going to be supported in that process was literally being answered before our eyes….when we moved here a friend of mine who has adopted encouraged us find a church with an adoption program because she knew it was on our hearts.  Our church didn’t have one, but we felt peace that this is where we needed to be.  So again, in faith, we trusted God, and chose this as our church home.  So seeing all of this come to light….was like a huge hug from God saying “I’ve got you!  I know your EVERY need, and I know EVERY detail!  Trust me!”

Only about a month later, right before Christmas 2017 I was approached by our Kids Ministry Director and she said “I have kind of an odd question for you?”  I approached her kind of warily.  I had no idea what she wanted to talk to me about.  She went onto say “Someone told me that you have been looking for someone to serve as adopted grandparents to your kids?”  Of course  I said “yes” and she went onto tell me that a couple from the church had approached some of the leadership about having this desire on their hearts to be adoptive grandparents.  She asked if we would be open to meeting them.  Of course a million thoughts ran through my mind….do they have their clearances? (Yes actually they work at the church and all staff are required to have clearances).  What if we don’t hit it off? (every friendship I have ever had has been genuine, not a setup blind date!)  So I agreed to set up a time for Dave, the kids, and I to meet them during church hours in a commonplace.  It was January/February 2018 when we met them.  We instantly hit it off with them, and set up a time to do dinner with them at our house (the entire church staff which I trust a lot knew them well so we knew it was safe.  We had a great time with them that night!

We all stepped into this new relationship with uncertainty, but complete transparency of expectations, fears, etc.  As we got to know them more they shared their story with us.  Their story is one of much heartache and pain.  After years of struggling with infertility, and a miscarriage, they finally got pregnant with their daughter Emily only to have her contract viral cardiomyopathy when she was 3.5 months old which required a heart transplant.  Then when Emily was just 17 she was diagnosed with cancer and died when she was 18.  They told us that the day they lost Emily they lost so much more than just their one and only child.  They lost all of their hopes and dreams of ever having a son in law, and grandchildren, and all the joys that come with having those things in your life.

So here was a couple without any grandchildren or a chance of ever having grandchildren at all, showing up, and saying “we will be your kids grandparents.”  Are you serious God?  How in the world our God can take something so broken, and make it beautiful, I am just in awe of.  His goodness continues to amaze me.

Though my heart did deeply desire adopted grandparents for the kids, I knew that prayer may never get answered, but the fact that it did….I am so humbled by.  Our God is so good to know the deepest needs and desires of all of His children.  He honestly hit it out of the park, and gave me more than I even asked for or expected.  They come to birthday parties, soccer games, watch kids for me when I need to work, etc.  AND they live in our neighborhood!!!  I can literally walk to their house!  Seriously…only God can work out and piece together all the details like that!

Here is a picture of all of us together between Easter Services at church this past spring:

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We have worked hard as a group to find a balance to respect the relationship our kids have with their blood grandparents, and now these grandparents.  We chose to have them call them (once they were comfortable with it) different grandparent names to preserve and respect the importance of the relationships they already have with my parents and Dave’s parents.  So they kids call them, Oma and Opa which means Grandma and Grandpa in German.  Initially, I think all of us were in a dazed and confused “is this really real state?”  We were waiting for the blessing to be taken away, and now they feel like family.  They have proven themselves trustworthy, and safe, and they are a huge part of our lives here.

They have been a part of our church for a long time.  The people who connected us knew their story, and walked with them through Emily’s death, and the darkest parts of their lives, and so to see them receive such a ridiculous blessing after so much darkness…was just a true joy for people to be a part of.  Many have described to me what it’s been like watching them since they have gotten to know us, and they say “it’s like a huge cloud has been lifted, and they have found joy once again.”

Not only are they good to our kids, but they are so good to us.  In true parent fashion, they have stepped in even to help parent us when our own parents are so far away….showing up with tools we need, helping with a house project, always having a full table of food when we come over, taking the kids so we can have a date night, and so many more.  I tear up now just thinking about it….you truly don’t realize how much you take for granted until your family isn’t down the street anymore.  Our family can never be replaced, but it’s so nice to have a hug from someone when your own mom and dad are 850 miles away.

Just this morning I was reading in the book of John, and in Chapter 1 vs 4 and 5 it says this:

“His life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.”

I love that so much!  He. Is. Light!  And He shines despite the darkness!!

I pray that this is an encouragement to you today.  That you would never give up hope despite your circumstances.  Oma and Opa (or as Dave and I call them, Rick and Cindy 🙂 have walked through one of my worst nightmares, and to see light continue to shine, hope in God still present, and God providing for each of us…..no matter what we face today, we don’t ever have to give up hope because we have Him!

 

Blessings,

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P.S. If you don’t know who Ellie Holcomb is, I love this song by her called “We’ve Got This Hope.”  Take a listen!

 

 

Foster Care/Adoption · Life

My Random Whereabouts and Updates

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:

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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)

 

Blessings,

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