I have this thing about doing things well. I’m not perfect.. in fact I’m super unorganized, forgetful, constantly flustered, and about a million other things.. but I like to be the best I can be. 

I try to be the best teacher I can be.  The best wife I can be. The best friend I can be. The best mother I can be. You get the picture. Honestly, I think we all try that. Or at least we pretend to try. But man.. After these past ten days, I am totally failing miserably. 

With twins in the picture, I’m struggling to keep up with work. I’m lashing out at my husband and my parents because I’m exhausted. I don’t see my friends as often. I am not as patient with my students. I think I wouldn’t feel as down about it all if I knew I was at least doing one thing really well. Like, if I thought I was being a really amazing parent to these two babies, it would be okay that I was struggling in other areas of my life. But unfortunately, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything with great success. Don’t get me wrong.. in general I think I’m a pretty decent teacher, a good wife, a loyal friend, etc. But today, right now, I feel like I’m just holding on. 

I wasn’t willing to admit it. For whatever reason, I have it in my head that because I chose to be a foster parent, I can’t always be honest about how it’s going. As if, because we chose to say yes to these babies, we can’t struggle. It wasn’t until my mother in law told me it’s okay to not be okay the other day. I really got to thinking about it. Yes, we chose foster care. Yes, we said yes to twin infants in the midst of our crazy lives. But people choose things every day. And they struggle! If I chose to have a child biologically, I could still be very honest about how it was going. I don’t know why I have it in my head that I have to be okay and I have to hide some of what we’re going through. 

Real talk: these have been some of the hardest days of our lives. Every single aspect of our lives changed dramatically when we said yes. And we are still adjusting. I love these babies so much.. we just found out we will have them at least a week longer than expected and I teared up with joy. We would say yes again tomorrow. But. It’s hard and we are struggling. And I had to decide that it’s okay. I am living day to day right now, maybe even moment to moment. Honestly if I think past a day it all gets a little overwhelming. 

God doesn’t always call us to things that come easy to us or things that would be convenient for our lives. Right now, He’s got me in a place where all I can do is desperately lean on Him. There is absolutely NO way we could do foster care without our faith. And if at the end of it all, if God uses these babies and sleepless nights and hundreds of loads of laundry and the constant smell of spit up to bring us closer to Him.. I’ll be thankful. And I think I’ll finally understand that Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness..

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just the four of us. 

the four of us. I can’t get over it. Right now, I’m using my phone to type this. I have one baby sleeping in my arms, and another one sleeping right next to me. Our world has been flipped upside down this week.. And it is the hardest, best thing I’ve ever been a part of. In an effort to finish this post before the babies wake (and let’s face it, I have no idea how long that will be), here are the highlights: 

  • We got a call last week asking if we were willing to take in two babies. We said yes. 
  • We feel a little crazy, but we have a lot of trust in our God. 
  • I thought I knew what tired was. I spent the past two and a half months waking up at 3:30 AM to get to my trainer, work all day, and then do whatever activity I had after school. Exhaustion seemed to be a part of my life already. Man.. I was wrong. There is no tired like this tired. We are adjusting but realistically know it might get worse before it gets better, seeing as we’ve only been parents of two for less than a week. 
  • We are content being foster parents. These babies have made people curious as to when we will have biological babies. Not yet. We are happy with this complicated, heartbreaking, incredible life we are living. Of course they make me want to have a baby to snuggle 24/7, but hey, right now I have two ­čśë 
  • My husband rocks. I knew that, but it’s been reiterated again and again these past five days. I can’t get over how many people were shocked when I told them he was home with the girls the past two days. Everyone responded with something along the lines of, “Wow! That’s impressive!” or “My husband/boyfriend would be way too scared to do that!” So. My husband is a rockstar. And I’m thankful. 
  • Babies have a lot of stuff. My house is a disaster zone. I don’t know how to do ANYTHING at home that doesn’t involve diapers or bottles or rockers or onesies. We have apparently forgotten how to remember grown up things like taking out the trash or keeping up with the mail or grocery shopping for anything other than baby items. But despite all that, my heart is full. 
  • I took a break this week from my early morning workouts (okay all workouts.. let’s face it). But this whole “I don’t always eat because I forget and then hours pass and then I fall asleep” diet is working pretty well. 
  • My feelings change by the hour. Happy. Terrified. Encouraged. Supported. Lonely. Overwhelmed. Grateful. Honored. Thinking of saying goodbye to these babies already crushes my heart. I am so in love with them. Thinking about not saying goodbye to these babies crushes my heart even more. A momma somewhere is missing out on precious moments with her children. And I’m cheering for her – completely – to get them back. And yet I feel like I’m stealing from her. Stealing the joy of her babies, the moments that she’s missing. But I so badly wish I could tell her that we are FOR her.

Foster care has totally wrecked me. I will never be the same. 

moving forward.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated. I started posting multiple times, but I could never quite figure out what I wanted to say.

Life has been good lately. Really good. But I’ve realized these past few weeks that God has been healing me, when I didn’t even know I needed healing. That’s another subject for another time. I’m working through some things and processing and trying to figure out when/how to share it all.

Here is what’s been happening the past month or so:

  1. I posted a blog about my dream of opening a foster care closet as a way to support our community. A friend from church saw my blog post and shared it with another woman she knows that has a similar dream. Fast forward to today: we’ve met, talked, prayed, and are moving forward with this dream with a ministry we are calling the Village through a nonprofit in Baltimore City. MANY more details – and a video! – to come soon. For now, if you have any questions or you have any clothes or supplies you may want to donate, please let me know! God has been incredible with this. The timing, the connections, how fast it is happening.. it’s pretty amazing. I’m loving every second and can’t wait to see this dream come alive. This also leads me to..
  2. Starting my Stella and Dot business! The purpose of this business for now is to make some money that I can use toward the Village. I’ve had a pretty good start and people have been really supportive so far! It’s interesting selling jewelry.. not something I ever pictured, but it’s fun to do something different and to connect with women I have not talked with in a while. If you want to host an online or in person party, please contact me! The parties are laid back and fun and your friends get a chance to support something that I think is pretty great ­čÖé
  3. We watched my friends precious foster son for a week! It was our first taste of respite care (a great way to get involved if you do not feel you can be a foster parent at this time) and also our first time with a boy. It was a wonderful week and I fell in love with the age and the idea of being a boy mom. It made me desperately want a baby in our house as soon as he left but..
  4. My husband is starting a new job! I am not going to post specific details on here, but he will be transitioning to a new position so we were going to wait a little while before we officially went back on the call list for a new placement. However, it’s been a few weeks since we made that decision, things have calmed down a little, and…
  5. We are going back on the list tomorrow! The thought of a child not having a place to call home on Thanksgiving was seriously bringing us down, and we decided to go back on the list to just see if we get a call before then. We may not though, because we’ve been hearing that there just aren’t a lot of kids coming into care right now, which is a great thing! We have changed our minds AGAIN and are opening our house to a child between the ages 0 and 6. This is a big jump for us as we may be welcoming our first school age child into our home. I’m surprising myself these days because I didn’t think I would recover emotionally from our last placement this quickly. I thought I would need a younger placement in between.. but like I said, there has been healing lately and I know that God is giving us the tools and skills we need to be successful in this journey.
  6. I am working harder than ever to get healthy. There have been LOTS of ups and downs – which is why I don’t talk a lot about it on social media. I’m afraid to fail and to let people see it, but I’m forcing myself to get over that. I feel better than I have in a long time and I’m taking it one day at a time. The days are long but I have much more energy than I used to – which has made everything else in my life a lot easier.

Whew. I think that’s it. It’s been a crazy but amazing month. My favorite part by far has been the extra time I’ve gotten to spend with my husband. I couldn’t be doing any of the things I mentioned above without his love and support!

Thanks again for reading and being a part of this crazy life we live!

 

 

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 ­čśë 

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 ­čÖé oh and if any of you are interested in free jewelry by hosting a party.. feel free to reach out ­čśë 

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 – to plan for a longer stay. I had spent lots of time┬áresearching 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┬áLoved.” 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.┬áThere were a few tears but she is mostly┬áexcited, 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┬á– not just keeping me going, but allowing me to really love life. If I just list┬áeverything 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┬áthe 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┬áso 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!