December 22, 2015
Life is good. Simple and straightforward and, for the most part anyway, somewhat predictable.
And then there is that one moment when everything changes. That decisive moment when God asks you to believe in the impossible. To believe that miracles can happen. And in that moment, with terrified heart, and with trembling voice you utter the phrase that will reshape the course of the rest of your life: Yes, you say, I believe.
You know it will be hard, of course. It’s just that, you don’t know how hard it will be. How incredibly isolating. Friends and family members, your favorite people whom you trust and beside whom you live life . . . surely they will share your passion. Surely they will be thrilled to participate in this grand adventure with you.
November 15, 2015
He had been anticipating this special day for weeks, counting down the hours that had crept painfully slow. There were more presents under the tree than he could even count, and, oh, the thrill . . . many of them had his name on the tags! And now Christmas Day was here at last! He could barely contain his excitement!
He opened the first one, ripping into the paper, the bow flying off. It was a . . . a book? Well, that wasn’t exactly what he was expecting, but Ok, he thought. A book is good. I like to read. And still, there were many more gifts to open. One by one, he opened the packages. A skateboard. A basketball. A chess set. And with each present that he opened, his shoulders stooped just a little bit more, and each “thank you” became less and less enthusiastic. When the last gift had been opened, he looked around in utter disbelief, threw himself onto the floor in a heap, and wailed, “But I wanted an X-Box!”
Poor kid. He didn’t get the one gift he had hoped for. The one he had been envisioning. And all of the other gifts, by comparison, were inferior. It wasn’t that he was ungrateful. He just couldn’t help but feel disappointed and heart-broken. Let down. His dreams for the perfect gift had been dashed.
I get it. I’m just like my foster son on that Christmas morning long ago. My dreams were so big and my expectations were so high. I had prayed and hoped and anticipated the gift that the Lord was going to give me. I just knew that what He gave me would exceed my wildest expectations.1
He gave me a gift, alright. But it wasn’t the one I was expecting.
November 10, 2015
It was such a lovely evening, really. The gorgeous wreath on the door greeted me as I walked up the well-swept path, and the glow from the windows invited me to come inside. Delicate coffee cups stood at attention next to the folded linen napkins, waiting for the scrumptious chocolate dessert that would soon be served. The woman seated next to me admired the hand-crocheted doilies underneath the fresh-cut flower centerpiece. The conversation around the table was muted and polite, nice young ladies making small talk with each other.
I had thought that this was going to be a wonderful, relaxing evening, one I had looked forward to for weeks. It had been such a long, long time - years probably, since I had been able to find a babysitter, get away from the responsibilities at home, and make arrangements to attend a ladies Bible study.
I hadn't been there too long, however, before I began to feel
embarrassed and awkward, realizing that I didn’t really have much in common with these nice young ladies. I think most foster and adoptive mothers might feel the same way: How can we be nice, after all, when most days we are warriors, fighting a battle for a child’s health or wholeness or future? 1 Honestly, we don't want someone to invite us to a Bible study. What we really want is someone to come mop our floors or run errands or hold our foster babies while we take a nap. We feel so isolated sometimes, that we long for someone else to understand what it’s like to love the most vulnerable members of our community. 2
October 25, 2015
At one time I may have imagined that love at first sight was a preposterous idea, a result of the wishful thinking of hopeless romantics. But now that it has happened to me, I no longer doubt its possibility. She made a believer out of me.
From the moment I first met that girl, our spirits connected. It was almost like magic, the way she reached down deeply into my heart, tapping into emotions I didn’t realize I was capable of. A powerful sadness for her lost childhood and stolen innocence. A fierce desire to protect her. A pervasive sense that we belong together. She gave me the courage to say yes to something I had never thought possible: giving my heart to a teenage foster child. She taught me how to dream.
September 20, 2015
We are just finishing up the busy morning of errands, loading the back of the car with all of the items we had purchased. “Why don’t you take the cart back to the store entrance,” I suggest, “while I get the little ones buckled in.”
A few minutes later I pull the car around to the front of the store where she stands waiting, and as she settles into the seat beside me, she pretends to be getting into a taxi. “If you would be so kind,” she says in a fake British accent, “please take me to the corner of 5th and High Street.”
I laugh at her sense of humor, and then ask, “Have you been to London?” I cringe inwardly for being so insensitive. What a stupid question to ask! Of course she has never been to London! What foster child has ever been to London?
“No,” she responds with a sigh, her shoulders drooping slightly. “I haven’t been anywhere. I’ve never even been on an airplane.” I am humbled, reminded yet again of her painful childhood, a childhood that was spent, not traveling the world, but just trying to survive.
In an effort to lighten her spirit, I ask, “So if you could travel, where would you want to go?”
“Paris”, she answered instantly, the light in her eyes returning. “I’ve always wanted to go to Paris!”
“Paris is beautiful,” I agree. “I do hope you get to go there some day. If they offer French classes at your school, you should take them.”
“No, I probably won’t,” she mumbles. “I probably won’t ever get to travel anyway. I probably won’t do anything.”
Alarmed at this attitude of defeat from someone so young, I ask, “What do you mean? You have your whole life before you. You can do anything you want. You can be anything you want!”
She stares at me as if I am speaking a foreign language. As if she has never heard such nonsense before. “Not really,” she says. “I’ll probably just end up like my mother.”
My heart breaks for her. Where are the people who were supposed to encourage her to follow her dreams? Why hasn’t she been told that the world is full of opportunities and possibilities for young ladies like her?
September 11, 2015
Would you be willing to care for a teenager for a little while?
If someone had asked me that question a few months ago, I would have said, No way! The sweet, little innocent babies? Of course! The medically fragile ones or the ones with special needs? I will consider it, depending on the season of our life and what is happening in our family. The older ones? Sorry, I’m just not comfortable with having a troubled teen in my home.
That would have been my response a few months ago. This, however, is today. You just never know when an ordinary day and a simple prayer can open your heart. When a chance encounter will form an unlikely bond. When God will give you the opportunity, and then the courage, to say yes.
September 7, 2015
I am just sitting down to feed the baby, her eyes getting heavier with each sway of the rocking chair, when the phone interrupts my peaceful moment with it’s shrill ring. A phone call in our home usually means something important is about to happen . . . a new placement, an update on our children’s case, a new or rescheduled appointment, someone who needs something from me. Whoever it is will just have to wait, I think to myself. That’s why we have voice mail. I’ll listen to the message in a few minutes, after this sweet thing is asleep.
I must admit that this is one of my favorite times of the day, a brief respite of quiet and calm, when loving her is the only thing on my mind. Oh, how precious she is to me! She has this habit of looking at me with her deep brown eyes, as if she is looking into my heart, begging me to love her. Everything about her is miraculous and beautiful and breathtaking. She frequently touches my mouth, as if to say, I don’t just want to hear your words; I want to feel them. She snuggles up to my neck in that sweet place that children know how to find, and there is nothing else I would rather be doing. Nowhere else I would rather be. I feel like the luckiest person in the world; every day I get to experience the joy, the sheer pleasure, of loving her.
August 8, 2015
The violent storm crashed through our home, causing it to be barely recognizable. Overturned chairs, black dirt from an upended plant, a shattered lamp, and ugly dents in the wall were left in its aftermath. I simply stood in the middle of the room staring at the chaos, powerless to move, unable to process what had just happened.
This was not the first time such a wild tempest had destroyed our otherwise peaceful home, but oh, dear God, please let it be the last! I love this little girl with all of my heart, but I truly don’t know how much more I can take!
With increasing frequency over the past year or so, her usual sweet, sunny disposition would unexpectedly turn dark and sinister with very little warning. I rarely saw it coming. We would be in the parking lot after a pleasant shopping trip, and suddenly she would be shrieking and flailing, refusing to get into the car. Or we would be the front yard of a friend’s house, when her enthusiasm for a play date would abruptly morph into wailing and thrashing, refusing to get out of the car.
Even our family vacation to a magical kingdom, which should have been a dream come true, ended in disaster. About 10 minutes after entering the gate, the storm hit. A fierce, raging storm that unleashed its fury indiscriminately onto everyone and everything in its path. As I dragged a screaming, kicking, biting, flailing, hyperventilating child through the crowds of “perfect” families, I could feel their scornful accusing stares and could imagine their question: What kind of mother would let her child act like that? I could almost hear their exhales of relief as they must have been thinking, I’m glad that’s not MY child! Never in my life had I felt such shame.
And never in my life had I felt so helpless. How is it possible for a smart, competent, college-educated adult to be completely incapable of controlling a child’s tantrums? How could her erratic, hysterical behavior continue to be such a mystery to me?
July 29, 2015
We’ve all heard the terrifying statistics: In our world today, there are an estimated 150 million orphaned children. These children face more than just loneliness. They face a future without hope. They face increased risk of disease, trafficking, malnutrition, and death.
In fact, right now, at this moment, in the 3 seconds that it took us to read those statistics, 3 children have died. That means that three children are now facing an eternity separated from God, because there was no one to tell them about Jesus. No one to tell them the good news of salvation and forgiveness at the cross. No one to show them the love of God.
It’s time for us to wake up! It’s time for us to take our responsibility seriously to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) While we are sitting comfortably in our pews listening to nice sermons, while we are hosting nice brunches with the ladies in our church, while we are attending our nice Bible studies and printing our nice brochures and listening to our nice songs, we are completely neglecting God’s purpose for His followers: to take the good news to the people, including the children, who are lost and dying without Him.
What are we waiting for? He didn’t say, Go after you are happily married. Go when your children are grown. Go when your career is established and when you have your house paid off and when your retirement package is secure. He doesn’t even say, Go when you have more free time or when you feel better equipped or when you feel more qualified. He simply says, Go. It’s a command we have ignored for far too long.
July 18, 2015
“I loved you like there was no tomorrow.
And then one day there wasn’t.” - unknown
The image, the haunting, nagging image, is forever etched in my mind. The image of the white county-issue car, the social worker in the driver’s seat, the top of the baby seat just visible through the back window, heading down my driveway, the brake lights getting smaller with each turn of the wheels. One of my most beloved treasures, the little one I adore to the very center of my marrow, is leaving.
I know that it is only for the day, for a little while. I know that she will return later this afternoon, and I will once again hug her close and squeeze her chubby thighs and tickle her round tummy that jiggles when she laughs. But for the next few hours there is a hollowness in my heart, a void that only she is able to fill. For the next few hours, in a dark foreshadowing of what may indeed become real when the judge bangs the gavel for the last time, my arms are empty.
The image, the haunting, nagging image, is forever etched in my mind. The image of the clear hospital bassinet, the wires snaking into it from the machines against the wall, the top of my baby’s head just visible underneath the blankets. I am walking away from my beloved treasure, the little one I adore to the very center of my marrow, unsure of when I will see my baby again.
I know that it is only temporary, for a little while. I know that I will see my child next week, or maybe the week after that, and will once again kiss her round cheeks and feel those tiny fingers wrapped tightly around mine. But for the next few days, or maybe weeks, there is a hollowness in my heart, a void that only this baby is able to fill. For now, with a frightening foreboding of what the future might hold, my arms are empty.
June 25, 2015
She hears the front door squeak open, and she tenses, involuntarily bracing herself for . . . she is not quite sure what. Whenever he comes home, everything changes.
When she is alone, she can almost relax, almost imagine a life full of peace and serenity and calm. In the quiet moments, she can remember a time when there was silly laughter and deep joy and infinite hope for the future. But those days are behind them now, and her home is, instead, filled with frequent strife and familiar bickering. There is a tension that lives here now, a tension that she can almost feel.
She never knows which one will walk through the front door at the end of the day: Happy Him or Angry Him. The him who smiles and asks about her day, or the him who snarls and immediately starts belittling and criticizing her flaws. The him who wants to chat and engage, or the him who is sullen, angry and withdrawn.
The minute he walks in, the part of her brain that senses danger is activated, and every muscle, every sense is instantly on high-alert. Are those light-hearted footsteps she hears striding down the hall, meaning that he is ready to interact with her? Or can she hear a hostile purpose in those shoes, meaning that someone somewhere in his day may have upset him somehow, and now he is ready to take out his frustration on her? Or perhaps, could it be that she hears a slight shuffle, the defeated trudge that will send him and his dark mood straight to his room, barely even noticing her?
He rounds the corner to where she is standing, and one look at the expression on his face tells her everything she needs to know. It’s Happy Him. At least for the moment. She exhales the breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding, and allows herself a smile in his direction. He grins and greets her with, “Hey, Mom! I’m starving! What can I eat?” Her son is home.
June 13, 2015
The day I had been dreading is finally here. The day that no mother should ever have to experience. They day I say goodbye to this precious child I hold in my arms. He is the temporary treasure that the Lord had entrusted to me to love and protect and nurture a year and half ago. I knew he would not be with me forever. I knew that my role, this chapter in his life, would some day be over. But knowing it does not make it any easier. The heart does not always listen to the facts; it opens wide and gives itself away, knowing the whole time that doing so will cause it to some day break. But it courageously extends its arms anyway, undeterred by the inevitable.
The sign on the door says, “Welcome Home!” which makes a little piece inside of me cringe. “Home.” They can call it a home. They can pretend it’s a home. But can it really be a home if no family lives there? Of course the staff are all professionals, skilled and thoroughly equipped to meet his every need. Nurses, a nutritionist, a physical therapist and a case manager. Someone to take him to all of his doctors’ appointments and someone else to give him a bath and wash his beautiful curly hair. I am so thankful that there are places like this for children like him. Places where he will be able to grow and thrive and reach his fullest potential.
But still, it grieves me that he will now have a rotating cast of professionals caring for him. That he will no longer have a mother. Has that sweet face received its last kiss? Will anyone ever hold him in their arms and rock him to sleep? Will he ever know what the words “I love you” mean?
Is this what the story is all about? Where it all ends? What about the happy ending? Stories are supposed to leaving you feeling good when they end. They are supposed to have meaning. They are supposed to include love and family and home. What kind of story is this one, anyway?
May 19, 2015
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard
– Psalm 40:1
We see their sweet faces when we open our e-mail, or when we visit the website of waiting children, or when someone posts their pictures on social media. They are the children who, after spending much of their childhood in the unpredictable, unstable foster care system, are looking for permanency, a family of their own.1 They are the children in orphanages on the other side of the world who have never known what it means to have parents, who pray every night for a family who will love them.2 Or perhaps most tragic of all, they are the children who were adopted, who thought that they were going to live happily ever after, but who are now in need of a new adoptive home.3
We see their pictures, their eyes filled, understandably, with deep sadness, or, inexplicably, with steadfast hope. Those eyes fill our tender hearts with deep compassion, and we can’t help but respond. . .
“Aww! She is so cute!”
“Look at those beautiful curls!”
“I just love that face!”
“I would bring them all home if I could.”
We cry at the injustice of it all, the unfairness that some children want for nothing, while others have nothing they want. It’s almost as if we can hear their cries, their pleas to be rescued from their plight – their lonely, precarious, frightening circumstances.
May 10, 2015
But Jesus called the children to Him and said,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
- Luke 18:16
I almost didn’t come to church today. If you had even an inkling of how difficult it is to get children with special needs out the door in the morning, you would understand my hesitancy to come. However, my soul’s hunger for spiritual food, along with my thirst for fellowship and encouragement, or at least a little adult conversation, compels me to pull it together. Timing the g-tube feeding so that it finishes before we need to leave. Drawing up all the right doses of medication. Getting spaghetti-like arms and legs into a dress shirt and pants, praying the whole time that he doesn’t choose this moment to vomit (pretty much a daily occurrence). Making sure all of the emergency supplies and medical equipment are packed. (Never again will I complain about packing “just” a diaper bag!) Folding up the wheelchair and loading it into the car, making sure there are enough seats for the rest of the family. Getting the other kids and myself dressed and fed. By the time we are ready to leave, I have already worked up a sweat and feel like I have put in a full days’ work.
April 25, 2015
From the very second you were created, in that moment when they came together in the darkness in the place where they thought no one would see them, when they were madly in love with one another – from that very first moment of your life when you were just the size of a poppy seed, He knew you.
He knew you when they found out that you were growing inside that most secret place, when you were just the size of an apple seed. He knew how they would react when they found out. It may have been an unplanned surprising shock to them, but it was never a surprise to Him. Even then He was the One who was writing your story. His timing, His Hand forming your heart and stomach and intricate digestive system, crafted every detail with perfect precision.
When you were about the size of a green olive, He was sculpting your facial features, shaping those tiny ears and that little nose that are uniquely yours. Your heartbeat was strong enough to be heard on the doctor’s machines.
April 15, 2015
. . . And you live happily ever after. The end.
The last piece of paper has been given the last stamp of approval, and at last the painful wait is over. The child you have been dreaming of and praying for all these months is finally home! Friends are celebrating this glorious and unforgettable event with you. You are surrounded with shouts of “Congratulations!” and well wishes. There are welcome-home parties and showers of gifts and friends bringing meals and your extended family coming to visit. It is a joyous time indeed!
This is the one thing you have longed for more than anything. This is what you have been preparing for and planning for. Your dream has finally come true! Your family finally feels complete.
Where, then, is the happily ever after? How is it possible for you to feel so sad and overwhelmed? Where do these tears keep coming from? These inexplicable emotions add guilt and shame to the confusing mix.
Of course you cannot possibly say a word to anyone about this. Who would understand why you are so downcast about a child that should make you so happy? Who would understand why you would cry when your prayers have finally been answered? Who would understand your overwhelming emotions when you barely understand them yourself?
April 6, 2015
Sometimes, all it takes is one friend to make a difference. One friend to shape your life in a significant way. One friend who stands beside you when you venture with uncertainty into unfamiliar waters. One friend who reminds you every day that “with God all things are possible.”
The Lord knows that sometimes you need one friend who is altogether different from you. One friend who, because she is a little bit eccentric and unconventional, and even a little wild and kind of scary, when you meet her in a room full of strangers, you never would have predicted would be the one friend with whom your heart would bond so closely.
March 29, 2015
Honestly? Are you insane? Why would you do such a thing?
The questions were prompted by the recent addition of a new foster child into our home. A decision that my husband and I did not make lightly. A decision that headed us in the direction that we felt the Lord was leading us. It was an act of obedience and surrender to what we believe to be His will for our family. And now the questions from well-intentioned friends and family members are hurtful and unsupportive. They remind me, once again, that being a foster parent can be a lonely, isolating, misunderstood path.
Honestly, I don’t know why it is so difficult to understand why we would “do such a thing.” When God’s Word says to “care for the orphan,” we believe that it is a command, not a suggestion for a select few who have nothing better to do with their time and energy. There are many, many ways to care for orphaned and vulnerable children – as many different ways as there are talents and personalities and resources – and welcoming foster children into our family is the way that we are able to obey God’s command. It is our way of using our talents and personalities and resources to make a difference in the lives of fatherless children. It is our calling.
Do you question our sanity because Foster Care has such a negative connotation? Because the government-run system has such a notorious reputation for being broken and ineffective? Is it because of your misconception that it is the fault of the children themselves that they are placed in foster care? That they are “bad?” Is it because the children only stay temporarily, instead of becoming a permanent part of their foster families?
Perhaps it’s time to question your perspective, and to challenge you to look at Foster Care through a different lens . . .
March 23, 2015
Honestly?! Are you insane? Why would you do such a thing?
The questions sting and they momentarily dampen my enthusiasm, but they are not altogether unexpected. Not everyone is a huge fan of me and my family and our long-term ministry as foster parents. It does seem insane. For those who do not have the passion to provide a safe and loving home for a vulnerable child, it does defy comprehension. What can I say?
My husband and I have been thinking and praying about taking another “placement” for a few months, and in our human perspective of things, we thought that an elementary-aged child would fit perfectly into our family. However, when we received “the call” and heard the story of the precious newborn in need of a temporary family, we knew almost immediately that we would say yes. That she was the one whom the Lord was asking us to love.
March 7, 2015
As each child’s face flashes across the large screen in the front of the auditorium, each picture more adorable than the one before, everyone in the congregation oohs and ahhs. The picture of little girl with the pink bow, the bow that attempts to contain her blond curls. The photo of the sleeping baby boy wrapped in a hand-knitted blanket. The image of the twins lying end to end like two peas in a pod. Someone from the tech team had added a beautiful soundtrack to the slideshow – a sweet song about children being treasured gifts from the Lord. It is so stirring and tender, that a few people here this Sunday have to brush away a tear or two. There are few creatures more precious than an innocent child. Few people more proud than a new parent. Few moments more solemn than when a parent stands in front of the Church and dedicates that child to the Lord.
When the slideshow ends, the new parents bring their children forward for the dedication ceremony. These sweet children in real life are even more adorable than their pictures! Families make their way towards the front of the auditorium. Grandparents sneak into the aisles to snap pictures. Others in the audience crane their heads to get a better look. The children themselves are oblivious to the significance of the occasion. They are just content to be held in their parents’ arms.
February 25, 2015
“Hellooooooo?” I raced through the door and called out to my roommate, so anxious to share my news that I could barely contain my excitement. I had just experienced the most magical night of my entire life, and I could not wait to tell her about it. Sure, it had only been six weeks since this wonderful man had come into my life, but time and logic are irrelevant when you are in love. When he had asked me to marry him earlier that night, I did not hesitate before answering. I knew, I just knew that he was the man of my dreams. He was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I threw myself across my roommate’s bed and declared dramatically, “He is the one!”
At our wedding reception a few months later, when the best man gave his speech, he looked me straight in the eye and half-jokingly warned, “I hope you are ready for an adventure.” He had no way of knowing, of course, could never have predicted what an adventure it would turn out to be! And through it all, through the times when my heart felt like it would explode with joy, and through the times when my whole world was rocked to its core and I did not know how life could possibly continue, he is the one who has been with me every step of the way.
February 19, 2015
We board the cruise ship, my daughter and I, full of excitement and anticipation for the journey ahead.1 When I saw the advertisement just a few weeks ago for an island getaway, and when my husband offered us the use of his frequent-flyer miles to get to the port, how could I pass up the opportunity? This is the first time being away from my special-needs foster child in over a year, and I am greatly looking forward to the respite. To a chance to recharge and rejuvenate, returning home at the end of the trip with renewed joy and resolve. Caribbean, here we come!
January 30, 2015
“No, Mommy! Please! No!” His desperate screams fill my ears and I have to turn my head away so that he won’t see the tears that threaten to leak out of the corners of my eyes. So that he won’t know how much his helplessness and vulnerability break my heart. Oh, how I long to rescue him from this pain! To protect him from this terrifying situation that causes him this out-of-control panic. Instead, I hold him even tighter, pinning his arms so that he can’t move. He may believe at this moment that I am the worst parent in the world by subjecting him to this agony, but I know that this is what he needs in order to be healthy.
“Sh, it’s okay,” I keep whispering into his ear. “I’m here, Sweetheart. I’m right here. Just squeeze my hand. Sh.” I continue to hold him securely while he continues his frantic cries. He is unable to hear my words of comfort. The roar of fear has caused his ears to be deaf to my voice. He is so blinded by terror that my face, the room we’re in, everything becomes fuzzy and out of focus.
I pray silently, Please, God, let this be over soon! The phlebotomist patiently attempts a third and then a fourth time to locate a good vein, to draw enough blood to fill 10 – yes 10! – vials to be sent to the lab for testing. With each passing minute, with each painful stab of the needle, with each piercing scream, it gets increasingly difficult to watch.
I knew when our little foster baby had his organ transplant four years ago that it would mean life-long concerns about his health.1 I knew when we adopted him two years ago that it would mean a life-long commitment to his care. That it would mean sacrificing countless hours, summoning boundless energy, and experiencing immense inconvenience.
What I didn’t know, what I never could have planned, was the indescribable love in my heart for this resilient child. The unimaginable heartbreak of watching him endure repeated medical tests. The fierce protectiveness that I feel for him every time we step foot into this place.
And I didn’t know how significantly the medical trauma of his early years would affect him.2 That it would cause him to have such ongoing fear. That every time he has a medical procedure, even a minor one, he is re-traumatized, and the healing has to start all over again.
Normally, getting your blood drawn should not be such a traumatic event. It shouldn’t be such a major ordeal every single time! One would think that after being subjected to various medical procedures hundreds of times over the past six years, that he would get used to it. What is he so afraid of? Why doesn’t he just remain calm and hold still? He knows it’s going to be over in a few minutes. Why isn’t he brave enough to fight this fear?
Finally, mercifully, the needle comes out, the band-aid goes on, and I reassure him once again that I am here, and that he is safe. And he is safe . . . until next time.
January 25, 2015
THE PATH OF DEATH
Never in her life had she been so terrified. So paralyzed by fear that even the simple task of breathing in and out seemed suddenly so difficult that it required her undivided attention. Her ears barely registered the bird singing in the branch overhead or the cars speeding by on the busy street nearby. The weeds in the cracks of the sidewalk went unnoticed. All she could see was the little white building with a faded pink sign that included the words “woman” and “choice.” She asked herself, How on earth did a good girl like me end up at a place like this?
The story wasn’t supposed to happen this way. She had thought for sure that it was a romantic love story that would end in happily ever after. Her beloved had given her true love’s kiss, and had assured her of his commitment. He was going to carry her off into the sunset. Into a future bright and full of promise.
But the promises had been shattered, right along with her heart. Her true love was gone, leaving her with a houseful of small children to raise alone. Adding another one to the mess simply was not an option.
So here she was, walking towards the little white building with the faded pink sign, scarcely able to believe that it was really happening. That her story was going to end in death – not only the death of the heartbeat growing inside her, but also the death of her innocence and naiveté. The death of a dream.
January 12, 2015
Through blurry eyes I pour coffee into my extra-large mug, watching the brown liquid fill to the top, hoping wearily that the caffeine it contains will do its job quickly this morning. I did not sleep well last night – again. My precious child sleeping in the room down the hall kept coughing at irregular intervals; his weakened lungs have been fighting germs for several weeks now, germs that refuse to give up and go away. As much as I would love to cuddle with him on the couch today, nursing him back to health, I simply do not have the time for such luxuries.
My other little guy, my foster child, has once again managed to fill my calendar today with appointments - appointments which will require the majority of my energy and attention. I should tell myself to continue pressing on and not give up, knowing that I am being obedient to what the Lord has asked me to do. But still, it is difficult not to get discouraged. It is impossible not to be exhausted.
As I quickly check my e-mail inbox before the busy day begins, one particular notification suddenly catches my attention. It practically jumps off the computer screen and into my lap: 75% off an island getaway. On this cold January day, under the cloud of sleep-deprivation, with the kitchen clock ticking rapidly towards the incessant demands on my time today, a vacation in the sun sounds absolutely heavenly!
I do feel a momentary twinge of guilt that if I take this trip, it will mean that my husband will need to stay with the children, holding down the fort here at home. However – true confessions here – we have been taking separate vacations for years. He takes a few weeks every fall to go hunting with a buddy in the Northwest. I take a child or two with me on various trips to visit extended family on the West Coast, or to see the sights in some faraway city. We love to travel . . . just not together.
It is not because we do not love each other passionately. We do! It is not because we need to take a break from each other. How I long to spend more time with him! The one reason we cannot enjoy vacationing together, the one obstacle that keeps us apart is, sadly, a simple one: we do not know one person who is able to care for our foster children while we are gone.