Community: What We Didn’t Know We Needed Most

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A lifeline from our community during a recent illness.

On Valentine’s Day 2017 my beautiful wife and myself headed out for the evening. The two boys in the backseat indicated that it wasn’t for a romantic date. As we turned off the rural highway onto a long gravel road, we held hands in silence, not knowing that we’d find something spectacular at the end of the driveway.

 

In late 2016, God called us quickly away from our church home of many years. The transition was swift and painful. Starting over was hard, but we knew from years of ministry that we needed to get plugged-in. We decided to join a small group. It happened to be on a farm just outside town.

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Be Kind To Yourself

Yeah, ok, it’s been 8 months since I last wrote a blog. I have grand plans of relaunching this thing ya’ll. But, this came to mind and I thought to write about it.

I’ve said before that one of the biggest lies in the world is that kids are resilient, that they’ll just bounce back. It’s worth repeating. Children are sponges. They absorb it all.

From the outside, you can’t readily see the things that are bothering them. They find all of the nooks and all of the crannies and place their doubts, fears, worries and inner demons carefully out of sight.

Once in a while you’ll get a glimpse. A this will happen or a that will occur. They’ll allow a peek into these spaces. It’s one of the saddest things imaginable. You feel powerless. In the midst of a thousand happy things, you’re at the whim of intangibles tucked away in nooks and crannies.

But sometimes, something cuts through. They score a goal at soccer. A friend invites them to their house. They learn to multiply a fraction. Okay, that hasn’t happened yet. This week it was a song.

Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite artists. A few weeks ago, a familiar song hit me with new meaning.

You got all that emotion that’s heaving like an ocean
And you’re drowning in a deep, dark well

Those lines smacked me in the head. This is my child. This is his reality. It’s as if this is written directly to him (we have all boys).

When the voices in your mind are anything but kind

I wasn’t there for the first few years of his life, I know it was horrible. Probably way worse than we could imagine. Young children only know the experiences around them. Those times have spoken darkness into his life for years — doubt, disbelief and denial.

Trust me, it doesn’t disappear when your child finds safety. That’s when the real clean up begins. The only thing that works is love. Love wrapped in faith, love wrapped in therapy, love wrapped in discipline and even medicine. Love comes in many forms.

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He made your precious heart

This lines helped him open up a bit to my wife. He shared things tucked in those nooks and crannies. If only for a moment, he let her see inside. The facade, the one he’s carefully crafted for years, came off for just a moment.

Foster care is messy. Adoption is intense. Cleaning up the mess that others create in our children is not pretty. But, seeing a glimpse of what’s possible is everything. This week, we caught a glimpse. And it was glorious.

Oh, the song. It’s “Be Kind to Yourself.”

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Why We Fight

Why do we fight? Why turn our lives upside down for a child we barely know? Why do my wife and I spend days apart? What is the point, if the court’s point is reunification? Why put our other children through this? Why bother especially since the child is so young they won’t remember.

 

These questions and more have been bouncing around in my mind the past few days as our lives took a curveball last week. Our youngest foster child was admitted to the ICU at one of the big hospitals in the area. My wife has been camping out bedside since the middle of last week.

 

Then, our second youngest developed the stomach flu and decided to make that known during our VBS family meal (sorry folks!) exiling our family for a few days to not risk contamination. Thankfully, it was a quick bug and we’re about ready to reemerge into the world.

 

I imagine the people around us asking these questions. And maybe more pointed ones. Sometimes, I hesitate to say anything, because I dread a question I’m expected to answer. I know I won’t be eloquent and I may not be the most polished. There’s even a high probability of snark.

 

We fight because it’s what we signed up to do. You don’t only play a game while you’re ahead. You don’t encourage your kids when everything is sunny and bright. You fight for them because they need someone to fight for them. If we don’t, who will? The social worker can’t be there 24/7. We don’t have a Guardian at Litem yet. The biological parents only view him as a prize.

 

No, it’s not easy. It’s been very challenging for my wife and I to be separated, as if some freak southern ice storm prevented us from reaching each other. It’s been challenging on our kids to only see mom on face time or to have to endure dad’s cooking and meal planning.

 

It doesn’t matter if the child comes home this week, or next or the week after. We’ll be there for them. It doesn’t matter if the day the child returns to us one day and into the arms of the bio parents the next. (That is a very real possibility in this case). We have committed to loving this child as long as he is with us. And right now, he’s with us in the hospital.

 

I also fear the questions because I fear asking for help. Honest moment: we came from a culture that taught that asking for help was a sign of weakness, a sign of a lack of faith or of self-seeking attention. We’re now in a place where there’s a spirit of sacrificial giving- and it’s been wonderful, but yet very hard to accept. And some really gracious saints have walked with us through this difficult week.

 

But make no mistake, we aren’t saints to be placed on a pedestal. We’re called to do the things in life that so many others are called to do. Some have a passionate desire for the homeless, the defenseless, the elderly, the whales, the imprisoned We simply serve the orphans.

 

We’re grateful for those that have stepped in our messy trench this week and come alongside. We hope to do the same for you one day. But even if not, no matter the cost, we’ll continue to fight for the ones that need it. It’s simply what we do.

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Lessons from the Gallery

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everyone should spend a day in family court. Not participating, but observing. I did today. Unintentionally. The case for one of our kiddos was up for review in a distant county. And, in this court, you are luck of the draw. Arrive at 8, stay till your case is called. Even if that’s the end of the day. And today, it was. Continue reading

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Painful Conversations

I don’t often dip my toes in political waters. First, I never want anyone to correlate my personal thoughts for any organization that I represent and to be clear, that’s what these are… personal. Second, there are too many voices in the political landscape of our nation. I don’t often have anything constructive to add.

But when it comes to the separation of families, I do. Continue reading

Posted in Family, Issues, Trauma | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment