Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Get it Right

Six baskets of laundry cluttered my bedroom floor.  I have walked past them for days.  It is ridiculous.  My husband hasn't said a word, but surely he would like to walk through our bedroom without sidestepping through the obstacle course.  

The problem is, I've had a sickie.  My sweet ten-year-old spiked a 103 degree temp on Monday and, though the antibiotics are helping, she is still quite puny.  And this one, when she is puny, stays close to her mama.

Which, in turn, makes her mama very happy.  It also means I got very little done in the way of housework.  (And by housework I mean keeping it sanitary and somewhat un-scary to the unsuspecting, unannounced visitor!)

Today she seemed to be feeling better.  The kids spent the afternoon outside in the (hallelujah!) sunshine and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could get to that laundry.   I checked my phone and stopped.  All over the internet, posts about Kara Tippetts circulated and I clicked on a link.  Immediately I remembered reading her letter to Brittany Maynard back in the Fall, begging Brittany to reconsider her decision to end her life because she was dying of brain cancer. Kara, too, was dying.  But Kara had found beauty and grace in suffering, and she wanted Brittany and others like her to find the same.

Kara went home to Jesus on the 22nd.  I never met her, never read her blog, but I felt so sad.  She had four young children.  She was only 38 years old.


She wanted time.  Oh, she loved Jesus.  She knew what awaited her immediately upon leaving her cancer-ridden body, but still she wanted time.  Her husband and children are young.  She knew her death would mean suffering for them as well.  

What mama, what wife, doesn't want to prevent suffering in the lives of our families?

But God called her home and I saw the title of her book for the first time...The Hardest Peace.
My first thought was, "I have to read this book."  So I ordered it.

Then I walked out of my room full of clothes in baskets and back outside with my kids and their friends.  I looked at my daughter who had been sick all week, now smiling and enjoying the sunny day, and invited her to sit in the chairs on the deck with me. We sat and talked and sat some more...for over an hour.  I did not touch laundry.  I enjoyed the sounds of laughter, the sight of pursed lips blowing bubbles, the giggles of little girls who passed around the puppy, and the boyish yells from atop the dirt piles with rakes in their hands like weapons.  It was good.

I didn't miss it.

And I am grateful that I waited until they were all in bed to tackle the laundry.  

(Yep, it was still there hours later.  Isn't that amazing?)

Today I got it right.  Too many days I don't.  Too many times I tell my kids to wait, just a second, maybe later because the responsibilities of motherhood press hard upon me and I forget that motherhood means being a mother first...that all the laundry and dishes are there because I am a mother.  Their mother.  They need ME more than they need clean clothes put away neatly in their drawers.

I want to get it right more often.  I want to keep in my mind the possibility that my departure from this world may not come with a warning.  Kara's did, and that is a huge blessing because she got to prepare for the end.  But aren't we all terminal?  Aren't we all one day closer to eternity than we were yesterday?  Shouldn't we all be living as if we had a diagnosis because, in truth, we do?  

If I did that, there are a lot of things that I imagine would be very different in how I live each day.  If I did that it would be a game changer for me and my family.

Without the strength of the Holy Spirit coursing through  my veins, though, it will never happen.  So I will turn to Him, trusting Him to help me get it right.  Day by day, moment by moment, I pray I will love my family well, love them hard and loud and love them joyfully.  I pray Jesus in me will be irresistable to them.  I pray I will get it right, and that God will cover the times when I don't.

Until then, I have a box of tissues and a little girl who is sleeping with mama just one more night.  Just one more.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Book Review! "What's a Foster Family?"

A few months ago, my brother and his family embarked on the journey of fostering.   It has been an incredible experience to watch them walk this joyful, difficult, sometimes heartbreaking path.  It has blessed all of us immensely.  Every child God has brought to them is instantly loved to pieces by our entire family. So far, three precious babies have filled their arms and our hearts and it has put a face on the children of foster care in a way that hit home more deeply than any other encounter I have ever had with these special children.
These little ones are some of God's most vulnerable, dear to His heart.  

The families who welcome foster children into their lives are truly angels on earth, willing to attach and love hard all the while knowing that goodbye will likely come all to soon.  My brother and sister-in-law have walked the path of letting go with such grace, determining to trust God and keep loving even when it hurts. Their three daughters joyfully embrace their foster brothers and sisters and it is because of them that I volunteered to review this book.

I was privileged to receive an advance copy to review and I'm so glad to have the opportunity to help spread the word about it!

foster care, Anne Garboczi Evans, Helen Cochrane, babies, adoption, parenting, book, review

"What's a Foster Family?" by Anne Garboczi Evans (Illustrated by Helen Cochrane) is a sweet book written for the author's son as they prepared to become foster parents for the first time.  It is brightly and simply illustrated and the book's plain, clear language would make it very suitable to be read to a preschooler.  It chronicles the journey of a little boy named Alex whose family decides to become foster parents.  Though the words are few, they are powerful, clearly portraying the uncertainty, jealousy, fear, compassion, love, and grief that children experience when a new child is suddenly brought into their family.  

I wish it had been around when my brother began their journey because I would have most definitely bought it for my nieces!  So often our kids, no matter how much we tell them what to expect, feel blindsided by the difficulties adoption and foster care can bring.  A book like this, that can be read over and over, will be valuable to help solidify the truth in their little minds that, yes, this is going to be hard.  Yes, you may not like the new kids but you just might grow to love them.  And yes, you will probably be sad when they leave...and that is ok.  For, in the words of my amazing sister-in-law...

"If we don't get 'too attached' then we have not done our job."


Now go buy this book!  Here are the links...

If you live in the U.S.-click here.

If you live in the U.K.-click here.

And if you need another reason to foster or encourage those who are, just read the following facts about Foster Care worldwide:

Fast Facts about Foster Care in the United States: There are 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. Over 100,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, but each year over 20,000 will age out without ever being adopted. Thirty-one percent of the children in foster care were under the age of 3 when they first entered care. The average stay in foster care until a child re-unifies with family or is adopted is twenty-two months.

Fast Facts about Foster Care in the U.K.: Almost 70,000 children are in care. Twenty-three percent of the children are 4 and under. If a looked-after child is not able to return home, the average time he/she is in care until being adopted is 18 months. Five thousand children a year are adopted from care. But 6,000 children a year age out of the system without ever reunifying or being adopted.

Fast Facts about Foster Care in Canada: About 80,000 children are in care in Canada.Thirty-thousand of these children are in need of an adoptive home. While there aren't great national statistics on the children in foster care, experts estimate that several thousand Canadian foster children age out every year without ever reunifying or being adopted.

Fast Facts about Foster Care in Australia: There are about 40,000 children in foster care in Australia. About 3,000 foster children age out every year without ever reunifying or being adopted.

If the CHURCH does not take care of these sweet souls, who will?  If you are not called to foster, then find out how you can support and encourage those who are!