Thursday, October 19, 2017

Even When: A Foster Care Manifesto

I will be faithful with what is in front of me, even when I cannot see the finish line.

I will give up my need for control, even when nothing ever feels sure again.

I will surrender the need to know every detail before I show up.

I will move intentionally through my day as to not miss a moment where His grace might leak through.

I will move closer when I want to push away.

I will be lay things down at the feet of the Father instead of carrying them around like a badge of burden.

Even if I never see good come from this, if I never glimpse redemption this side of heaven- I will remain.

I will embrace the chaos because that is where I am needed.

I will be a bridge and not an island.

Even when the storm is relentless and wreaks destruction all around me, I will hide myself in the only place I know that brings peace.

Even when things don't go as planned and my heart aches for justice- I will remain.

I will count all as a gift because there is treasure hidden to find if I am willing to dig.

I will submit to a continual death of myself in order to gain life in full.

Even when I cannot see any hope-  I will remain.

I will trust, even when.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why I Share My Story

I do not have anything figured out.
I’m learning as I get older I actually know less and less. And I’m okay with that. 

I am no where further along in my journey of faith than most.

To be honest, most of the time I feel like I’m on my hands and knees trudging through the hard stuff because the weight of everything keeps me from being able to carry it and move forward otherwise.

 BreƱe Brown says “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do”

The reason I share my journey is not so others might feel sorry for when things get hard, or feel I’ve somehow attained a level of faith you’ve yet to taste. It’s because I want to be honest about where God is taking me and that the journey is hard and not without causality. 

I want you to know it’s okay to doubt God. It’s okay to doubt where you find yourself and it’s okay to wrestle with the hard things in the life and the bottom line is I want to point you to Jesus.

Why do we foster kids?
Because Jesus.

Why do we give to others?
Because Jesus.

Why do we choose a lifestyle that looks different than one commonly accepted in culture?
Because Jesus.

I only want my life to point to Him.
I’m not going to get it right all the time.
I’m not going to love living sacrifically with my finances, my belongings and my love all the time.

My heart truly desires to have people see, that I hope to lead my life in such a way that people might ask about who Jesus is.

My story isn’t better than yours.
My heart isn’t better than yours.

I am a broken person who has accepted the grace given by Jesus and because of this I am compelled to share that grace with others- it drives everything I do. Whether that be foster care, partnering with women globally in business, mentoring teen moms, working with students, teaching my kids their world is bigger than they realize.

If you’re limping along and feel like you can barely hold your life together, let alone help someone else out. That’s okay. That’s where Grace meets you where you’re at and your story won’t look like my story- it shouldn’t.

Don’t be afraid to tell your story because it’s different. Your story matters.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Birthday Sunshine- A Letter to my Foster Daughter on her 3rd Birthday

It's your Birthday today Sunshine. 

You entered this world three whole years ago but I've only known of your existence for four months.

I didn't hold you and smell your newborn self. I know from paperwork they induced your arrival a few days prior to your due date because your cord was around your neck. You were just three whole pounds but full term and perfectly healthy- see my sweet, you've been a fighter since day one.

I didn't see your first steps or hear your first words. I don't know what your first foods were or if you liked to be held facing out or in. Were you swaddled or rocked to sleep? These things I do not know like your Mama does. She knows every part of you in a way I never will and you loves you so very much. I know she wishes she was with you today, that hers was the first face you saw this morning and her voice was the first to whisper you Happy Birthday. I'm sorry you are not with them but we are thankful you are with us. 
The love everyone feels for you is not
less because they are not with you. Love is timeless and has no boundaries or rules.

This is most likely the only Birthday you will spend with our family so I am taking a lot of pictures. I don't want this to be a "missing Birthday" for you. I don't want you to wonder what happened on this day when you are grown. I want you to know how special we made it because you are special to us. 

You were placed here for a reason, you have big important things to do with your life and while we may not be there to witness them all, know we are cheering for you.

There are big moments ahead of you, yet I cannot promise all good days. There will be days where you have to be braver than should be expected and I want you to know that wherever you go, our love goes with you. 

We gabe you the nickname Sunshine on your first day here and today we celebrate with rainbows because those are a symbol of God's promise. There may be stormy days ahead but there is always light and hope to follow. 

Remember that even though you are a fighter and so very strong- there is someone who is fighting on your behalf and will be your strength when you have none.

Happy Birthday Sunshine- I love you

Mommy Krystle 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Four Months

Sunshine* showed me a picture she had made with her parents at a visit. It was a leaf rubbing and on the bottom it said "Sunshine*, Mommy and Daddy"

She said, "I color with Mom and Dad. I have two Daddies and two Mommies"

It's been four months since I watched a two year old, quiet, docile, curly-haired blonde walk into the CPS office unaware of the events that would unfold before her.

She hardly said a word the first few days, the shock and confusion left her voiceless except for at bedtime when she would cry unless we laid down next to her while she fell asleep.

After 30 days with us she spent the next month with a family member who we were told would be getting guardianship of her and we may not actually see her again. 
Of course, nothing goes as planned within this framework, there are too many moving parts as with any system, and as things would have it not only would she return to us but that plan of guardianship would fall through and we would have her indefinitely.

The "30-60 days maximum" became a no end in sight and we scrambled for childcare with my impending return of work and the school year. We made room adjustments, found more clothing and toys and shoes and adjusted upcoming plans for trips. 

The quiet and docile little girl found her voice, and we began to see the effects of her trauma in full display. It got hard. Really really hard and our entire family has been living in this weird limbo ever since. Knowing this isn't forever but not knowing how long it will be has brought about new conversations and adjustments and a new mindset. Not all bad, just more work. 

We've gotten better at parenting her unique needs, we've carved out once a month respite weekends and we've maximized the time with our three boys as much as possible. Things are possibly better, but possibly we are just getting used to this new normal. 

She loves us dearly and we love her.
She had a little routine where she asks us our names (she knows them well) and we say them again and she says "I lub you" It's as if she's reassuring herself we are still here, we are still Mommy Krystle and Daddy Trevor and she loves us.
She knows all of our nighttime songs, and requests her favorites. She's learned to calm herself and apologize when she's done or said something unkind. She loves to help and folding towels is her favorite. She loves my parents and gets so excited when she sees them out the window. "Sloaney" is incredibly patient with her putting blankets on top and being bossed around.
She hates to be changed and will run from you nearly every time. She sleeps amazingly well even though she still hates to go to bed. 
She will curl up into my lap and tell me she loves me and then tell herself that Mommy Krystle loves her and takes care of her.

No matter how hard this is, I will break in a million pieces when she leaves because I have been her Mommy. I have done the middle of the night rocking and feeding and clothing and caring for and you can't help but attach.
She has been a part of us and because I don't do things half way, she will remain a part of me forever.

I am desperate to see her family get this right and never be in this situation again. I pray daily for health and safety and reunification and new life for them together!

 I am hopeful that the best will be done for this little girl long term. I am thankful for the people who understand this unique situation and offer helpful encouragement and I'm thankful for those who have no idea what we are going through and show up anyway.

She is not unique. There are hundreds of children like her in our area and yours. They need a safe place to get angry, to act out and mourn and heal while their family does their best to reunite with them. 

Studies show that after every visit with a family member the child grieves after and he grief hey feel is as if they just experienced the death of their parent.
 Every. Single. Time. 
Those are massive emotions for anyone let alone a child. We are committed to walking her through those devastating moments, the confusing days and unknowns that lie ahead.

Because we love her, because she was not placed in our home accidentally. Because we took her in when it wasn't convenient and we will stay the course when it gets harder.

Because she is worth it a thousand times over. Because I have been loved in my hard moments- I will choose to love others in theirs.