Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We are nesting again...

I’m a planner.  You likely wouldn’t assume this about me if you spent the day in my home and felt the level of disorganization going on that I have felt recently, but, I am a planner.  In my two pregnancies I managed to “nest” almost the entire duration.  There were needs to anticipate, closets to organize, things to label, walls to be washed & laundry room floors that needed to be mopped….again and again.

I’m nesting again.  Only, I’m not pregnant…..but we are expecting a child/children.

When I was in the 6th grade, my parents opened up their home and took in 3 of our relatives for a short time.  I’ve always admired that my mom willingly took on three more children (pre-teens/teens at that!) when she already had 3 pre-teen/teens to raise.  I shared my bedroom and my parent’s attention.  And while I’m sure we all fought…often…I have really fond memories from that year. 

Fast forward to about five years ago when I started working at a private foster care agency in their admissions department….where I also met my husband.  For 2 ½ years I spent every day calling foster homes in search of placement for children that were brand new to custody or just in need of a new foster home.  It was always a mixture of somber and wonderful feelings all at the same time.  Here I was working to locate placements for children out of their home---and at the same time talking with some wonderful foster families who willingly took extra children into their home.

My husband and I have known that foster care and (possibly) adoption would be a part of our future families...before we were even a family. For my husband, he would have been ready the day after we said "I do," but while I wanted to do this---I needed to make the choice to do this. I always would say things like "someday we want to do foster care/adopt/help kids in need...when our kids are older/out of the home/less need...when we have more money/a bigger home/a larger car/a set schedule"

 A new job has allowed for a little extra money in the budget, but the other “when we_______’s” are still there.  So why now?  Because I believe that Jesus was serious when He told us to love our neighbors, care for orphans (even temporary ones), to love others….and all that stuff on mercy/justice/and grace…..you get the idea.  We have an extra bedroom and space in both our home and heart to do this.  And while we could wait for a bigger home/more money/when our kids are older….I think we’d be missing the point.  I think we’re all called to care about children in foster care & orphans….this is the way we feel led to “answer” this call in our lives.

We are about halfway through our training and we anticipate receiving our license as early as mid-September!  In the meantime, we are “nesting”.  We are purging our closets (& our hearts), praying, anticipating needs, stalking every thrift store in a 30- mile radius to find really nice furniture & misc supplies and purchasing loads of school supplies at cheap prices….in the event we take in a child in October and all of a sudden notebooks that were .17 in July are about $100 more than that.  We are preparing our home to pass an inspection…which means fixing that silly handrail on the steps that lead to our garage, locking up all of our medicines and cleaning supplies & finding a way to store our ammunition separate from our guns.  (kidding, no guns in this home!!)

Some people I’m sure think we are a little crazy…I feel a little crazy!  But I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would rather be dubbed “crazy” than “complacent.”

 Please don’t get the wrong idea about these children!  They are not damaged….they are fearfully and wonderfully made.  And while some of them may be coming from the terrible situations you hear on the news---I’d say many of them just need a temporary place to stay while their parents receive some support to get things back on track.  We want to be that temporary place of shelter….and that support that encourages both sides.  Also, please know that we don’t consider ourselves special…quite the opposite actually.  We merely feel like we are taking a step of obedience.

I share this with all of you because we would love it if you would pray with us, for us & for the potential children and families we will have the privilege of working with.  I’d also like to share some of our “anticipated needs” in the event that you might have a “friend of a friend of a friend who is trying to sell her kitchen table”----I’ve been camping out at consignment stores like it’s my job and have managed to take care of some of these items---but it can’t hurt to spread the word!

Our needed wishlist:

-our most pressing need is for a minivan.  Our car can hold maybe one more person?  But certainly not if that person is needing to occupy a carseat.  Our SUV is paid off and we have been on the hunt for a reasonably priced minivan that can get us all from point a to point b…reliably. 

-twin beds, dressers (you know, the type of furniture you would need if a child 0-18 came to live with you) We have the usual baby items---and an extra crib at our disposal.

-sheet sets & bedding items (those spiderman sheets your son is no longer interested in?  maybe we might have use for them!) 

-clothing (this is one obviously can’t be worked with ahead of time)

-a kitchen table  (ours currently seats 3, we are on the hunt for a table that will seat at least 6)

-books, games, puzzles (items that span various age ranges)

-advice.  I KNOW there will be points where we have a child and I’m all of a sudden “oh my stars, what on earth do teenagers like to read/eat/watch?” or “I all of a sudden have a child who is totally into twilight---someone give me cliff notes, stat!”  be prepared J

Sunday, July 22, 2012


"Where have I substituted the American Dream for God's Kingdom?"--Jen Hatmaker, "7"

A little over two years ago my husband and I packed our belongings and moved into our cozy "new" home. At 1200 sq feet, it looks and sounds smaller than most homes in our area.  But looks can be deceiving and as you step inside you'll quickly notice there is more space than what that curb appeal first led you to believe.  There are three bedrooms (4 if you count the finished attic space that we've filled with our junk in the past two years).  There is a garage that isn't big enough to accomodate a car, but it holds our oversized chest freezer & ride-on toys quite nicely.  There is no basement, no over-sized laundry room, no walk-in closets that should be bedrooms themselves & no "extra" storage.  The grass is dead because we're in a drought and I refuse to spend money watering my lawn when I'm being asked to conserve water.

Two years ago there was PLENTY of space for us.  When all the boxes had landed we couldn't believe how much space we had!  (You should know we were moving from an 800 sq foot apartment at the time and had just one child).  Things feel a little cramped these days with the addition of another child and enough children's clothes to outfit an entire village filling up our attic.  This leads me to wanting more.  more storage.  more bedrooms.  more space.  And as a result, more stuff to fill all that extra space.

It is a vicious cycle.  It's gross. 

What happens when I have more?  If the past serves as a good indicator...I'll probably just want more.

I live in a country that tells me by certain standards (and federal poverty guidelines) that I am "somewhat poor".  The sickening part is that I actually believe it.  And in the meantime I can load my children into our SUV and drive to the doctor where they will receive the proper immunizations.  We'll head to the store where I will be able to purchase food to cook for dinner that night.  We will enter our home that is cooled to a nice 72 degrees and has indoor plumbing.  We'll drink water straight from the tap because it's safe & bathe our children in warm water.  We'll go to our individual bedrooms at the end of the night after watching TV and we'll sleep in wonderfully comfortable beds....with the only real danger of going through life so unaware that we don't recognize just how rich we are.

We've been slowly taking steps in our lives to make intentional changes, to take intentional steps on how we live & how we love others.  Last weekend we loaded up 7 trashbags full of our adult-sized clothes and dropped them off at a local thrift store.  This was HUGE....and yet it barefully scratched the surface at the same time.  We're in the process of "making room" in our home for some things I'll share later (no, not pregnant!) & there is no choice but to reduce.  After appreciating the fact that our home had a master bedroom with two closets for the past two years, we simply decided we didn't need our own closets full of clothing & shoes, most of which probably were not worn that often anyway.  So we reduced.  we combined. 

Right now we live in this "in-between."  We want so desperately to rebel against these lies we are told day after day & engage in a radically different lifestyle.  One that is content to live in a 1200 sq ft home & still fill it up with the wonderful sound of children.  We want to reduce, reduce, reduce so that there is actually room in our heart and in our home for the Gospel to truly take hold of our hearts and really bear fruit in our lives. 

Purging our closets is symbolic to the deeper purging we must do in our hearts on a continual basis.  What thoughts, attitudes, actions or behaviors are not of the Lord?  Purge them.  Where am I substituting my attitude of "I'm owed this for all my___________"  Purge it.  Where have I allowed anger and resentment to clog the communication lines in a relationship?  Where has discontentment robbed me from recognizing what God desires for me right now? Where am I allowing selfishness to keep me from loving others the way Jesus instructed us to do?  Where am I allowing my own thoughts to water down the message and instruction of the Gospel?  Where have I become so blind in my "first world problems", that I fail to see real problems all around me?  Purge, purge, purge it all.....

"I have simply said, "Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk & more of You and Your Kingdom."  I will reduce, so He can increase."-Jen Hatmaker, "7"


*****side note---I wrote this post last weekend and continued to digest all of these thoughts.  There's a balancing act we all must carefully walk & figure out when less is more....and when it truly is just not enough.  We are making some radical changes in our lives in which having a larger space/more bedrooms/etc could be of great value---and not just for pure consumption.  There are other times when I want that "new, bigger, more expensive" item....just because.  I want to recognize need vs want and teach my kids the proper relationship as well.  I want to model behavior that teaches responsible spending---and that just because I can afford something, doesn't mean I need it.  It's a tight-rope walk that I haven't even come close to mastering.  I'm not even sure most days I know HOW.  But I'm open to the discussion of it---to the continual analysis of my heart in relationship to material items, my home & my bank acocunt.  All I can pray for is a teachable spirit.*****