I can do it & you can too. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most common thing I hear as a foster parent is some version of, “I could never do that!” or “I would get too attached and just adopt them all.” 

For the first few months of foster care I was bitter about hearing these comments and wanted to respond with sass about how I DO have a heart and I get attached too.  I’ve let go of that bitterness these days, because I’m learning that people actually don’t think they can do this (as opposed to them just saying it). And it scares me because we NEED foster parents. So here’s the thing… You can do this. Want to know how I know? Because in the short time we’ve been fostering I’ve learned the following: 

1. We are so much stronger than we realize. I never knew my strength. In fact, I’ve always considered myself somewhat weak.. fragile, emotional, ready to fall apart at any moment. Dealing with anxiety for big parts of your life can do that to you. But guys, I am STRONG. So much stronger than I ever thought.. I’ve taken more risks in the last 6 months than ever before. And it MATTERS. So believe you can do it. Because you can. I realize I sound like a wanna be motivational speaker, but it’s the truth. I’ve spoken these words to my students the past two years, but never really practiced what I’ve preached. This year has been a game changer for sure. 

2. You’ll be making a difference, and that will be encouraging enough to keep you going. I can’t tell you how cool it is to think about how many stories we will be a part of through foster care. Whether it was a difficult situation or one that ended happily, we played a role in some way or another. To think of the lives we (hopefully) touched in some way and the ripple effect it may have in the future.. It’s a pretty cool feeling. 

3. There are worse things than goodbye. Now I know we haven’t had a foster for years and had to say goodbye. I know we haven’t experienced that feeling yet.. but I’m pretty confident that after healing and grieving I will feel the same way I do now. I still cry about little love. I still miss sweet pea. It’s still hard to think about. But let’s think about the bigger picture: these kids are (in most cases) going home or to family members that have stepped up to care for them. Yes, sometimes the system is broken and you cringe thinking about these kids going back to certain situations, but I have to (and truly do) believe that God has each one of these kiddos in His hand and that they end up exactly where they are supposed to be. When I think about how sad I am about our goodbyes, I remind myself: it could be worse. This is going to sound morbid, but it’s something I think about a lot: people die every day. Husbands lose their wives. Parents lose their children. Friends, brothers, sisters.. every day something tragic happens. And most people find a way to heal and move on. While yes, most foster children have gone through something traumatic, I still can’t help but feel a little relieved that at least when I’ve said goodbye I know they are going to someone who is fighting for them. If someone can heal from losing a loved one.. I can certainly heal from saying goodbye to a child that I may still see in the future. 

4. You will meet the most incredible people. Foster care is a community. It’s a support system. It’s people that are passionate and genuine about fighting for children to get what they need. They will be there for you! When you need to vent, when you need to cry, when you need to ask a million questions because you’re a new parent.. They’ll be there. Even at first, when they barely know you. It’s something really special. Just the other day I had a foster parent reach out about joining together for my dream of a foster care closet. How cool is that? The people will help you through. 

5. And last.. But really the only one that matters, the one that makes the other four possible: Jesus. Jesus has got this. And if you’re called to foster care.. go for it. People tell me all the time that we’re amazing. I can’t say it enough: we’re not. We are just trudging through what we feel called to. Just like someone that feels called to missions, or someone that feels called to be a police officer, or someone that feels called to be a stay at home mom. The thing is, I know deep down that all I need is Jesus. I like to think that if I was stripped of everything in this world I love, that I would still be okay. Because of Jesus. He is the only reason we can handle foster care. And He has given us everything I’ve mentioned above. 

So please.. don’t think you could never do it. I’m not saying that everyone is called to it – not at all! But don’t shut the door on something amazing. You never know what God is up to ūüėČ 

adventures in adventures. 

Life keeps getting crazier. Before the school year started, I told myself this year would be my #yearwithoutfear in my career. It’s been our class motto and I feel like I’ve really stuck to the goal of not being afraid so far. I’ve tried new things, spoken up, put myself out of my comfort zone, made new friends..the list could go on. The biggest part I think is that I haven’t been as fearful of what others think of me. I had a bad habit of that in the past and it really affected my happiness at work (and my attitude was probably affecting others happiness as well). This year I’m genuinely happy to be there most days because I’m excited about the new things I’m trying and learning. It’s been a really great year so far, even though it’s only been about six weeks. 

After a great start to the year, I wondered why I was letting my #yearwithoutfear only be a career thing. Why couldn’t it be in every aspect of my life? So about a month ago, I started seeing a personal trainer. I could go into deep backstory of body issues and struggles and the reason why this needed to happen – but I’ll spare you. My point is, I did something that I had been afraid of. I’m working hard and I’m not letting my fears stop me. I’ve been pretty successful with it so far and it’s just another step in the right direction for me. (Edit: I kept wondering if I would include this in my post – I realized I didn’t want to because I was afraid I would be judged. You know what that is? Fear. And it’s dumb. So I’m being transparent in the hope that I make my point and also have some accountability to continue being successful!)

All of this excitement, joy at work & home, and strength I’ve found to push myself has really made me dream again. And I’m talking the big dreams: buying a bigger house so that we can take in more foster children, starting a program like a “closet” for foster parents in the area that need supplies when they get a new placement, and the biggest dream of partnering with churches to provide resources and programs for teens in foster care. I’ve always been a dreamer – but with these dreams, at this time, something feels different. I want to make them happen.

With all that being said… these dreams clearly cost time, energy, and money. I feel passionately about foster care and our call to this ministry. I’ve decided to begin  selling Stella and Dot part time in order to make some extra money and try to make some of these dreams become a reality. Realistically, I’ll most likely be starting with the idea of a foster care closet. I want to build up enough of a closet that we would be able to provide clothes and other necessities to foster parents in the area that receive new placements.

 There are lots of reasons that I chose Stella and Dot as my side job, but all of those details will be for another blog post. Did I ever think I would be taking on another job to chase dreams like this?Absolutely not! Will I fail at selling jewelry? Possibly. Right now, I’m taking everything one month at a time. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, oh well. At least I didn’t let fear stop me from trying. 

We’re in a good place where this is low pressure on me. Any money I make is extra, and can be put toward any one of our dreams. I don’t have any sort of stress over having to make a certain amount of money or work a certain amount of hours. It can be whatever I’m comfortable with. So with no pressure I’m fueled mostly by the excitement that I may be able to bring one of these dreams to life after this #yearwithoutfear ! 

Taking a break from placements has been good. Husband is still working hard (but finally slowing down), and I really do feel like I’ve had time to rest and be productive in other aspects of my life (i.e. Housework..). With that said, I’m thrilled to be watching my friends little buddy in a week or so, and eager to be back on the call list. 

For our next placement, we will only receive calls for children that are newborns through age 2. We were originally taking calls up to age 4. This is a temporary change, but one that we feel is best for our family right now. 

I think that’s all I have to update! As always, thanks for reading ūüôā oh and if any of you are interested in free jewelry by hosting a party.. feel free to reach out ūüėČ 

Last night, we got some unexpected news. We found out that our sweet pea would be leaving us. All week long we were told the opposite Рto plan for a longer stay. I had spent lots of time researching day cares, calling people, and finally visiting a daycare center we had settled on. She was going to start on Monday and she was SO excited! I told multiple people we thought we would have her longer than we had little love (which was around six weeks).

Last night was also my birthday celebration, since my husband was working tonight. He was amazing and made a delicious dinner and dessert (homemade peanut butter banana ice cream!) and sweet pea had painted me a precious canvas that says “You are¬†Loved.” It was the sweetest. Unfortunately the news of sweet pea leaving and then the realization that I need to buy a new phone and new washing machine this week was a bit of a bummer on the special night. I was sad, confused, angry.. some many negative emotions. I’m disappointed in myself for how I handled it, but I’m going to give myself some grace and be okay with being a human.

This morning, I had a much more positive outlook on it all. The people in my life made the day incredible. I only worked a half day – because I had a meeting with an attorney for sweet pea, but while I was there my teammates and my students made sure I was loved. My favorite card was handmade by a student and said, “I’ve seen you for sixteen days, but your meaning to me I can’t explain!” followed by a cute note. I died. When I got home the house was decked out with decorations courtesy of our awesome babysitter and sweet pea (who has been celebrating my birthday for about three days now). I had the entire afternoon to laugh and play with sweet pea. We eventually packed her up (we got a call saying it was official), had dinner, bath time, and I just tucked her in for the last time. She is sad to leave us – she keeps asking if she can take Daisy or if our families can just all live together.¬†There were a few tears but she is mostly¬†excited, which does help my heart out a little.

After sweet pea leaves.. we are taking a break. In training they told us that a lot of foster parents take a month of in between placements. I told my husband immediately that I didn’t think we would do that. I was wrong. Sweet pea was hard on my heart. I adore her and would keep her in our home forever if that’s what she needed.. but it was tough. I feel like I’ve been pouring out everything I’ve got for the last 17 days with her.. and not really taking the time to build myself back up. I’ve been in a good place overall but it was definitely taking a lot to stay in that place. I want to say I was strong the entire time and didn’t let the things she said get to me because I understood where it came from (I would think – she’s four! I shouldn’t be upset about this!).. but some days it was really hard to hear what she had to say about me. I know it wasn’t personal. I know it stemmed from trauma and loss and so much more. I know I shouldn’t have been upset.. but again, I am human.We made a lot of progress.. and we are sad to say goodbye. Especially because we’ve been on a high..and know that it would most likely only go up from here. But! It’s foster care. This is what we signed up for, this is what we are called to. Now I can only hope and pray that we made some sort of difference in her life. I hope she knows how loved she is. Anyway, I never thought we would take a break because I was scared a break would mean we’re done. Well.. I think I need to give us some more credit than that. We are NOT done. We are just going to take some time to heal and rest and refresh. We have some house things we need to take care of: I want to do another deep clean of everything, we need to buy some appliances, we need to sort all of the toys and clothes we’ve been accumulating. And don’t even get me started on our lawn. I don’t think we’ve touched it since BEFORE little love – other than the occasional mowing. It’s bad. So we are going to catch up on life for the next few weeks.

It’ll be three weeks that we take off. The third week in October we are doing respite for friends of ours. Respite is basically for foster parents that need a break and/or are going out of town and need someone to watch their foster children. Our friends are going on a mission trip to Ethiopia – how cool is that?! Part of my heart is there! So we will be watching their precious ten month old foster son and I cannot wait to have my first taste of what being a boy mom is like. We will watch him for a week, and then go back on the list to get our next foster placement! I think the timing is good. I have a couple of trips happening that we can get past before taking in another placement, and my husband’s work is about to hire so they will get into a new routine and schedule so his hours will be better. This time is going to be good for us and hopefully help get us ready for whatever comes next.

I can’t end the post without saying that I am amazed with the timing of sweet peas departure. Little love left on the first day of school – a day full of love and excitement. Now sweet pea is leaving right after my birthday – another day full of love and excitement. Guys, God is taking care of my heart. I don’t know why that shocks me, but I think it’s pretty cool.

I think that’s all for now!

Isaiah 40:31

“..But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

This is the bible verse that my mind keeps going to. And it is ringing true in my life every. single. day. My faith has been what’s keeping me going these days¬†– not just keeping me going, but allowing me to really love life. If I just list¬†everything that’s happened, everything we’ve done or have to do, or how many times things have changed for us.. I think that I should be having some sort of break down. It’s just been a LOT. But because of how incredible¬†the Lord is & the support of our friends & family.. we are still feeling good. Really good.

I think sweet pea will be staying with us for a while. We still don’t have a length of time or a date or anything like that, but it’s looking like the chances of her leaving us any day now are pretty slim. But you never know with foster care. We are excited to have her with us longer, but of course heart broken for her and her family. Saying she misses them is an understatement, it’s something we talk about and work through every day. However, she is adjusting. Finally finally finally. She is happier and seems to be enjoying our company 10x more than when she first came to our home. She has even warmed up to me! Most of the time anyway. There are still moments where we struggle and honestly I know it’s just because I’m filling in a role that she does not want to be filled right now. I can’t blame her for her reaction and feelings about it all. But most days are good now, and we have had some really great times as a new little family.

Something we decided is that sweet pea will be starting daycare! I am getting the paperwork and everything set up this week,so she will start the 26th. Husband has been working a lot of hours lately, and I think I said in my last post that even though it’s a lot it’s really good. However, finding childcare for many more hours than usual has started to get difficult. My sister has been such a blessing but is starting a new job¬†so I have spent hours today trying to figure out this week – and I’m still working out a few parts of it! Anyway she will be in daycare three or four days a week, and I think it will be really good for her. She wants to be around children and we want her to be learning. She is definitely at an age that she would benefit from this – so I truly believe this is how it was supposed to happen. When we first decided to pursue foster care we weren’t sure that we would want to foster if we ever got to a place where we needed to put our children in daycare. I don’t know why we thought that. It seems ridiculous to me now. We can still make a difference in the lives of children even if they spend time outside of our home. It may even make more of a difference.

It’s crazy to think about how our lives will never be the same. And how much has changed in such a short amount of time. My 25th birthday is this week.. and I was thinking about how on my 24th birthday, foster care wasn’t even a thought in our minds. I mean, we had talked about fostering after we had biological children and they had grown up. But it wasn’t something we were ever considering seriously.. and in less than a year we’ve already gone through the entire process of getting licensed AND we’ve had two precious girls in our home. Crazy. I’m thankful for it and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One of my favorite parts of this whole thing is seeing how many people have come together to help us love these kids. With prayer, clothing, encouragement, babysitting, play dates, the list goes on. All of it is making a difference -in sweet peas life, little loves life, in our lives, and I like to think in the lives of others around us. Community is seriously a special thing. God created us to do life together – and I don’t think I really appreciated what that looked like until we needed a community to lean on.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

our purpose. 

Okay. I’m ready to write about feelings! I’ve spent the past few days tying to wrap my head around our new life and routine and all the craziness that comes with it. 

Guys. Life is HARD. I only fostered AND worked for three days with little love. And those were three days without students. Totally different ballgame. I am TIRED. My husband is TIRED. He’s been working insane hours and has taken on a LOT of responsibility at the restaurant. There’s so much good about it, but it’s been tough. So with us both working and getting the call for sweet pea, we knew it would be hard. Some are probably reading this thinking we don’t have the time it takes to take in a foster child. We had the same thoughts. I had doubts and worries and fears. But we feel called to this, and that is that. When the call came, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. Well I should say I didn’t hesitate. The woman on the phone had to stop and say, “Wait, do you need to call your husband?” Oh yeah… Sorry babe. He said yes too though! Don’t worry ūüôā 

Our time with sweet pea has not come as easily and naturally as our time with little love did. She’s older and much more aware of what’s going on. She’s confused and sad and missing family and she knows how to say that. It’s been TOUGH to say the least but God is getting us through it. The first few days were filled with many many tears and moments that broke our hearts. Now we get some tears, but many more laughs and smiles. She’s warmed up to people: wanting my husband whenever something hurts, falling asleep on my dads lap, asking to go to the movies with my mom. Notice how I’m not in the equation yet. Not even close. I’m still “that girl” or “her.”  She’s very open and honest about how she feels about me. Basically she wants nothing to do with me unless I’m the only option. But it’s okay.. our days always end with singing JJ Heller together and “I love you’s” galore. 

Welcoming sweet pea into our home was exactly what I needed to finally feel some sort of closure with little love. I’m not sure if that will make sense, but my heart is so full thinking that we played a role in little loves life and now we get to do the same for sweet pea. I miss her and I am horrible about not comparing them but I think it’s okay. I feel a peace about our first goodbye that I did not feel until sweet pea was here. And with this peace, I feel like I can reach out and try to see little love soon. I was worried before because I didn’t know how my heart would handle seeing her for a few hours and saying goodbye again. But I think I’m ready. Not trying to get my hopes up (they could easily say no), but I’m in a good place! 

I’m actually in more than a good place.. I’ve found myself feeling like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Living out my purpose. I’m in such a sweet spot with teaching, embracing our fostering journey, loving seeing my husband in his new role as a father… the list could go on. Life is hard & crazy & tiring. But I’m learning and growing and changing and it is sweet. I’m content… And I’m almost never content. It feels good. 

It’s taken a village of people to find our sweet spot. And I’m not even talking about fostering specifically. I feel like we lean on our village in almost every aspect of our lives. I couldn’t appreciate it more. My sister has bent over backwards to watch sweet pea until we figure out more permanent plans (and if she is staying). My coworkers have helped me build her an entire wardrobe. Our friends & family have offered encouragement, support, & prayers. 

We love you all. Saying thank you never seems like it could be enough, so please know that we are a part of YOUR village as well. And are here if you need anything. 

Oh! I’m editing this because I have to say: Daisy has been such a blessing! Sweet pea loved Daisy from the start, and the comfort the Daisy provides her is unreal. All day long she hugs and kisses our sweet pup. They fall asleep together on a related basis. It’s amazing to me what a dog can do for people emotionally. 

an update! 

I’m not ready for a full update, but here’s what’s goin’ on:

  • We got a placement! 12 days after we said goodbye to little love and only 6 days of being back on the call list. 
  • She is a year older than little love, almost exactly. This means she understands a LOT more, and is totally aware of the fact that she’s at a strangers house and that it’s not normal. 
  • She is sassy! And it cracks me up. She’s very kind and very talkative, but every now and then gives a little tude. Don’t we all. 
  • We don’t know how long she will be with us, but will get an update today. 
  • She came with very few things (opposite of little love). This means we get to go shopping! And also that we are willing to take clothing donations if we find out she will be staying. 
  • She is struggling with being here, and it’s heartbreaking.
  • I got a call around 2ish yesterday about her potentially coming to our home. At 4:00, I got a call saying it was definite. At 5:00, she was here. Fast.
  • I’m open to Facebook and blog name suggestions. I’m thinking sweet pea. After little love left I had multiple people tell me they hated that I called her that. Here’s the thing: I can’t call my foster children by their names or even their initial. I also refuse to say “my foster” over and over because they are so much more than that. If I’m going to share our story, I’m going to have to use cutesy code names. #sorrynotsorry 
  • I had a feeling we would get a call this week, but thought it would be for a baby boy! 

Please pray through this transition with us! It’s a big one now that I’m back at work & hubby is working new hours. 

autopilot. 

Tomorrow marks one week since we said our first goodbye in foster care. I’ve started typing at least five times this week, but couldn’t think of anything to say. The truth is, I don’t know how I’m feeling. I am 100% in autopilot right now. I’ve found myself working long hours and focusing most my energy on work and my students. I haven’t had time to process. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. 

Part of me was hoping I would have this big epiphany or some moment of clarity where everything just made sense to me. I think I’ve been holding out to post until that moment. Tonight I’ve been letting myself think about it. That moment or epiphany has yet to come, and who knows if it will. I decided I don’t need some big lesson or words of wisdom to write a blog post. I want this to be real. So here are the facts: 

  • Little love left the same day my students started. The differences in the highs and lows of that day are too much to put into words. But I’m thankful for it. 
  • She left into one of the best situations we could hope for, and with the suggestion that we may be able to see her again. I wish I could share the backstory to make everyone realize how amazing that is. God is good. 
  • I cried like a baby for a solid two hours before going to work. Saying goodbye to a sleeping child was hard. Coming home to an empty house was harder. 
  • I think of little love everyday. We love that little girl and she changed our world completely when she made us parents. We will always miss her, but we’re unbelievably happy for her family. 

I don’t have an update on when/if we will see her. I don’t have any advice to foster parents saying goodbye. I honestly don’t feel like I did it right. One minute I was a toddler mom and now I’m not. It all seems just as crazy as when she first came to us. 

Even with my emotions of last Thursday and my lack of emotions since then, I am so thankful for this calling. It’s a beautiful one. We are learning and growing and changing because of this crazy thing God told us to do. 

My husband and I didn’t call our home worker right away to get back on the list for a placement. I told myself I would and that I didn’t want a break – but each day I kept “forgetting.” With that said, we are going back on the list tomorrow. Our home worker called today. I know you all probably think I’m crazy. Here I am typing about how I’ve thrown myself into autopilot and haven’t completely processed our goodbye. Maybe I am crazy, but I just can’t shake this feeling that we need to be open. That we are needed on that list. Whether it’s tomorrow, a week from now, or a month from now.. God will bring another child into our lives that will rock our worlds forever..again. And maybe that will be exactly what I need to finally process and have that epiphany I’ve been waiting for. 

I know this blog is all over the place. But it’s me. Thanks for reading!