Special needs momming is a full time job, and the business model is super complicated. I spent Tuesday at the psychologist with Ruckus, working on a round of updated evaluations. Wednesday I was in Atlanta again, from dawn to dusk for Mozart’s day with his health team. It was planned and well prepared for. The other four children had their needs well met in my absence.
Yet my little Cricket, whose sensitive heart struggles with anxiety and trust after losing his first family, woke today with a deep need for constant connection with me. And by that, I mean I spent my morning as a piece of furniture.
I set aside my mental to-do list to let him have his time, and be present. That’s a hard thing to do when tasks snowball and the weekend is coming with no free time to squeeze the laundry into.
I help him. We colored, snuggled, watched Mr. Rogers and Highway to Heaven, both in one day!! His joy was immense, and I loved it!
Still, that epic battle of “to Martha or to Mary” battled in the back of my head.
Because I still can’t get the knack of how to be still and know.
Now it’s after his bedtime. I have that mile long to-do list and a decision to make.
Be. Still. Know.
How much I know depends on the day and a thousand variables reliant on the actions and choices of several other people, both in and outside of my home and family.
What I KNOW is that this is complicated.
There are the days that my inner Martha spits the words back. Be STILL? When? How? Have you not seen? Even my to-do list has it’s OWN to-do lists. Have you not heard? There are people calling Mama in rapid succession from 5 different directions. How then, do I fit in being still?
Yet there are the times that a Mary spirit wells up within me. I kick off my shoes to ground myself on the earth He’s given and I throw agenda to the side, to watch children fly away with their imaginations and meld into the wonder of the life around me. We breath in fresh air and run in fields. We know how to BE.
I can never decide if this verse is meant to be a deep call to intimacy with my Maker, or a chastising of my flesh for being so easily consumed by what I have to do, seeing that I really do HAVE to do a huge amount of doing!
If asked, I could never decide who it’s for, my Martha or Mary, and I have finally decided it comes down to the day I’m having, every day.
And this is why.
We, the lovers of Christ, have a habit of remembering verses in small tidbits. We like small bites because then we can say that we ate today.
I’m learning to take the time to look them up and enjoy the pages of my Bible in fuller context.
Decision made. Those words have run through my head all day. Be. Still. Know.
I’m looking up the chapter.
Ladies…. this “be still and know” one is nestled smack in the middle of Psalm 46, and the rest of it is FULL of context that we all need.
Just look for yourself (below)! That little verse that has vexed me is so much better when I stand back and see it as part of this full work God inspired.
He is ever-present. God is within her, she will not fall. He makes wars cease.
He writes of refuge and fortresses, I think of hiding in the laundry room, folding, but also of blanket forts and reading nooks. The word mountain always conjures up laundry to me, however the streams and rivers call to mind his great wisdom in creating the coffee and the constant flow here in my kitchen. And also, chocolate. He lifts is voice? Did someone turn on The Fish radio station again?
The last two years I’ve been mostly gone from the internet publicly. My family needed safety and seclusion (for details on that, read THIS PREFACE and sign up for the list. So while, I can joke about the mom thoughts and snark this chapter brings up, my heart hears the promises it holds. Promise of protection and God’s faithfulness. We have been cocooned in tightly. Now it’s time to spread wings again.
After all this time, I know. It’s for all the days. Every one of them whether I feel the depth of stillness welling within my soul, or I’m grappling with stilling my struggle with self.
It’s there, every day.
He has us.
He is with us, we will not fall.
The least I can do is listen.
I can BE.
I can STILL.
I can KNOW.
It’s more than the verse. He gives us whole chapters, my friends.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
We thought it was an Amazon Delivery, of all things. I had just returned home from a long needed night out with a good friend, a fellow mom of many. My daughter and I bounded to the door, excited to see which of us got to open whatever it was.
My mom-friend-date had been fantastic. We ate, we laughed, we shared our prayers, our joys and struggles. We felt renewed and strengthened by our time together. We relaxed and enjoyed our truth.
It had been a mere thirty-four hours since I sat in a courtroom and heard the judge’s decision. The parental rights of the boys’ biological family were officially terminated, and they were legally made orphans by the court. The judge looked across the courtroom at me and, in front of all involved, declared us their pre-adoptive home. He said it out loud. It was real. I walked alone to my car. Feelings of joy and love flooded me, while the aching, writhing pain for the loss that was involved still gripped at my heart. Yes, we gained sons. But the hope of another family just died in there, right in front of my eyes. Not because of me, but it happened all the same. All hope for them is gone. I hadn’t expected to cry. We had known for months that the case was headed this way. We all knew this was the day. But the moment I buckled myself in and stopped to exhale in the seclusion of my car, the rolling waves of reality tumbled to the forefront and took over. I sobbed and wailed, emotions filled the air to a bursting level that no physical body could contain and stay poised and composed. Certainly not mine, anyway.
I wrecked myself, right there in the parking lot.
They will be our sons! But they lost their first mom forever, today. They will take our name! They will lose the one they have known. They will always be brothers and sisters with ours! They may never know those who share their blood.
These are not small things. If they are now my sons, I am the mom who will have to walk through the future with them, and the struggle with these things will come. I can not protect them from it. I cannot undo their loss. There is no escaping or pretending that they didn’t lose as much as they won today. For thirty-four hours there was joy and hope and rest. Fourteen months we had supported any plan of reunification with biological family, unwaveringly. We prayed and hoped for the best of God’s plan and submitted to it fully, knowing that the loss of them in our lives may come. I never considered that as pressure. I was never afraid. But when that focus was lifted and we were now given the right to focus on them being ours, I felt like a new mom. It’s hard to explain how the release of it overcame me. Consider this. We had parented these boys with as much love as any DNA could have offered, from day one. We never made a distinction in our care for them, other than to doggedly offer love and support to their first family as well. But to be told that, after 408 days of parenting them as someone else’s children, we would now parent them as our own. It was a slight shift, made in a few sentences and the short sound of a gavel’s fall.
Huge change. The future stretched before us with immeasurable possibilities. It felt as exhilarating and joyous as the first day of life with each of our biological children, just as powerful. It was a glorious, staggering reality.
For thirty-four hours.
The following night I went out with a fellow warrior-mom, as I said. I came home to the younger children in bed and my husband and teenager in a deep discussion on the couch. A home of peace and calm. All was well. The sound of the dishwasher running was so soothing. I remember that.
Our actual kitchen. I can hear the dishwash running, just looking at it.
I sat down to join them, in the depths of debate. There was a plate of cookies. It was about 10pm.
It wasn’t Amazon at the door.
To be continued.
Regular bloggedy things will commence soon, but what you just read is the preface of something unique. For details on this simple tale, what it’s about and where it’s going, ya gotta sign up for the mailing list.
I was not sure if more than five people would read that last post. For someone who hasn’t read what I have put out over the past, I am aware that it doesn’t make sense. That it may not seem like a big deal or need to be said. For me, it did.
Also, I felt strange and awkward all day like someone who passes gas in a room full of people and then has the audacity to raise their hand and claim it. Yeah. I did that.
Then they stand there bashfully waiting to see who will gawk and head out the door and who will give the high-fives.
So, if you are reading. ((high-five)).
I meant to write that blog post months ago. In fact, we had a plan for me to stop taking births last December and prepare for adding foster children to our home. In the plan was freedom and time to write again. I stopped taking births, for the most part, but then life happened and after all these years of waiting and preparing….
Children didn’t happen last winter.
It wasn’t God’s timing, even if we had planned it with Him in mind, which we did. It wasn’t going to happen on our timeline.
What stinks is everyone and their sister’s best friend and cousin asking how things are going. No, it doesn’t bother me that they ask. It’s being told one more time,
It’s ok, honey… All in God’s timing…
It feels so dismissive, doesn’t it? There is nothing left to say once someone has played the “God’s Timing Card”. As if nothing else matters and nothing else can change this.
That’s because nothing else does and… we can’t change this. We really can’t.
These are not the words I’ve wanted to hear. In the past I must admit that I have felt good about my ability to adapt to this “God’s Timing” business. I have practice. Patience may not come naturally to me but I’ve had serious learning sessions.
I tried to marry a guy at nineteen. We had our future planned. I didn’t marry him until we had two years apart, not even knowing if we would speak again. We were married at twenty-three. He still is everything I needed. No way did I understand what I thought I did when we were younger. The timing was better than mine.
I tried to have a natural birth once, twice, even an third and fourth time. That first baby was breech with her feet down and would not budge. The second time all was well and only VBAC was discussed, until a car accident that injured my back. Permanently. That next time I was pregnant for almost forty-three weeks. My last, I labored for forty-three hours, fourteen of that on pit. Still, all 4 of those kids were c-sections.
I was the one who wanted homebirths. I was up for having 8-10 children. Surrender makes us whole and changes who we are. I would never be who I am if I hadn’t handed the timing of my other children, and all expectation over to Him. He knew better and His timing prepared me to serve and encourage other mothers. I could share my story of surrender and how amazing and powerful letting go can be. His plan was what I needed.
We bought a house that was practically unlivable. The plan was to fix it up and flip it to make a profit… to move to a farm with many babies. Then Dave Ramsey happened to us. He hit our budget like a wrecking ball and we have never been the same. We are ten and a half years out and still building this house bit by bit. With cash.
We’re so close. I’m going to share about that soon. I can’t imagine having done this any other way, now that we are this far in. I am blown away by the tiny provisions that have kept us present and open with this house project. We truly are Making Room For More.
We attended a church for eight years. In fact, we moved into the city and bought this little hovel to be a part of the building team to start it. We were invested. The last four years of that, I knew we didn’t belong there. We love the people. We still visit and hold them dear. But I knew to my core that we were not where God wanted us. I tried to leave. I begged my husband to leave. I had to wait for him to feel it, too. It took four long years. Four.
The thing is that we never would have ended up where we are, if we had left when I asked to. I felt anger and frustration, and that is what made me want to leave. I didn’t understand that was God asking me to look for more and that it wasn’t about the situations as much as His plan to make me uncomfortable so I would give up on looking at people and search for the bottom line of finding Him. We joked about trying any and all kinds of denominations, in hopes of finding what He really wanted. If I went back all those years and told myself that it would be Catholic… I would have side-eyed myself and ran away. For realz. That took time. I am thankful for those years. We are where we are called to be.
I’ve done surrender in so many ways, with a heaping serving of Extreme Patience Makeover. I have felt like a veteran of this “all in God’s timing” business. I thought I had it down. Heck, I even thought I had reached a point of enjoyingthe unpredictability of it all. I was all for it.
I was wrong. I’m still learning it. Still growing. Because in this case, I don’t like it.
We had expected to be ready and approved over the last winter for adopting through DFCS. At least we had hoped to be. The reality is that we have gone about this in such a different way than most foster families would. Our big plans and preparation are what have dictated this longer timeline.
It’s the house. Again.
You see, we started with a 2 bedroom/1 bath bungalow of 1150 square feet. We have added 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, an office, a laundry room, a reading nook and a storage room. It’s substantial. It totals 1350 square feet in addition to the original house.
Why does this matter? That’s not about the adoption…
But it is.
The addition is new construct. For us to be approved to home foster children or adoptive children, we have to have a Certificate of Occupancy from the city. See, that would not have been a big of a deal if we had simply been renovating a home. Oops.
That is why you may know people who have done this and did it quickly. That is why our process may look confusing, long and drawn out from the outside looking in. Even dramatically so.
Yes. I am aware that I can be dramatic. Especially about this.
Once we have that approval, we are likely to have children within weeks, even days. It’s just getting that little piece of paper, and that requires passing every inspection, even the big final one. It even excavating/landscaping the back yard. Really.
I have friends who have listened to me rage about this. I do’t know how they put up with me. I try not to, but I feel the pout and whine come on like an expectant mama who just wants that wait over and to feel the baby in her arms. I haven’t been doing the patience as well as I should.
Thankfully, I have good friends. They are so gracious.
Ultimately, we really are not that far off track. I should be thrilled. And I am. Really I am. God’s timing seems to be about a year after what we pictured. That doesn’t sound that bad, right? Yet it has been an up and down year of releasing our plans and trusting him, only to pick up the timeline again and forge forward with everything we have. And I mean everything.
I am Verruca Salt. I want it NOW!!
It’s not that I just want my way, and I see these children and something for ME. It’s not a selfish need for another baby. It’s that, just like a woman who is growing a baby… I am expecting.
In August of 2012 I had a earth shaking realization, a moment that hit my like a Crossfiter’s biggest kettlebell and settled with a vice grip on my heart that still remains.
I was sitting with Lil Bit playing and dreaming of her as a big sister and what that would look like. That is when it happened.
I did the math.
As I held my three year old, I realized that if we were looking at welcoming a newborn and 2-3 year old in 2 years… Now mattered.
Suddenly reality ran through my veins like an earthquake. Thunder and lighting, racing pulse. Eyes wide open.
My. Child. Could. Already. Be. Born.
My heart almost exploded and the room spun around me. It was all at once as thrilling and as terrifying as seeing two lines after peeing on a stick. It was real. Once I knew it, I could not undo it. A fierceness came over me that moves me forward. The whole family feels the empty space of where those children will be.
My prayers changed. I pray for our children differently. Feverishly. I hold my breath on holidays wondering if they have been born, if someone said “I love you” today. And if they are somewhere, who is holding them? Is anyone? It’s cold out, are they warm? Are they hungry?
And the one that really gets to my mama heart,
Is someone hurting them?
This is hard.
It is one thing to be waiting on a baby who is safe and sound in my uterus. Now, I have no idea. In all reality, considering the statistical odds… our children are not likely to be safe and sound. We can’t do anything for them, but get this house done.
We have chosen not to go through lists of children available for adoption. There will be no adoption books to look at, and our family won’t make a cute display of ourselves to show. It is a completely different process. We don’t get to choose.
We will prepare our home to treat children like gold. Like the royalty they are, as precious little souls with potential for greatness.
We will get a call and have only hours to pray, decide and prepare. We will take who we are given. We will fill the need.
But in doing that, we will be opening our arms to children who are hurt. They almost HAVE to be hurt to end up in the broken system that we have chosen to go through. The system that will bring them to us. They will be removed from their natural parents. They won’t have a choice. Those parents may not have a choice.
What keeps me up at night, scheming for ways to get this house done faster, is knowing that pain and hurt will happen, for them to actually make it to our home. Pain, rejection, confusion. Abuse. We can’t save them from that. We just have to wait to catch them when they fall into our open arms.
And it rips at me heart, but only in a way that keeps me bringing it back to God and begging him to get with the plan and hurry up. But he won’t and I know that is best. He knows that it’s best. I need to get with HIS plan.
There is some incredible good in the last year of unexpected waiting. Now that I’ve put away my pouting, I’m aware that we needed this.
Two years ago we were completely focused on the adoption aspect of this. Now our hearts have shifted to openness for fostering to be the main goal, always with the hope that adoption is welcome. That is a huge shift.
We are prepared to lose these children.
Do you want to know why?
I realized that they could be alive. They were having a life that I was not a part of and I could not be there for them. Do you know what that means?
It’s not about me. It’s not my story. The story belongs to these children.
It. Is. Their. Story.
So what will it feel like if we have children who are returned to their biological families after six months… after a year… what will we do?
We will cry. We will ache. We will thank God that we got to be a part of their story, because someone was going to be.
If their story was that they would go back, it’s not about us. That is out of our control. If they were going to have that six months or a year somewhere, anywhere… it could have been with a different family. And it could have been horrible. Maybe they will be returned to an environment that is still tragic. Maybe their future will still hold abuse that we cannot protect them from.
They still had that time. All we have is that time. We can’t control their story. We can only present ourselves as available for them and hold an openness to loving on all terms.
Short term or long term. We are wide open for that.
These are the things we have learned, that we have processed through in this extra time. We’ve wrestled and prayed. We’ve waited. We’ve built a home and we are almost there.
We can now predict to have children in three to six months.
And it is safe to assume that they are alive now. Someone is.
So please don’t wait. Pray with me. Pray for them now.
And pray for all the others. The ones who won’t fit into our home.
Pray that we get this together and ready for them. Pray that we will be strong and open when the call comes for children to be at our door in a few hours.
Because, that’s all going to happen.
In God’s timing…
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