Ever feel like you say YES to something and then wonder just moments later what in the world you were thinking?
Like that one time I bought mom jeans – I went home and looked in the mirror and thought, “Yeaaaah, that was a mistake.”
But I never returned them. They just sat there on my shelf for weeks, staring at my diastasis recti going, “You know you want me.” So one day I tried them on again……and I didn’t hate them!
Eventually I went public with this statement and wore them to church. I figured this was the safest place to NOT get publicly ridiculed for doing so, and the response I got was astounding. For real, all the millennials cheered!
I felt so hip and cool and “un-mom-ish” I laughed in the face of such irony…..and I haven’t turned back since.
(I promise this somehow relates to foster care. Stick with me.)
Venturing into the strange and beautiful world of fostering felt a lot like buying that first pair of mom jeans: initially I thought it was a good idea, but then later I realized what a terrible mistake that would be. I mean, I could hardly keep my own three children clothed and wrangled — how in the world could I handle a fourth?!
But then I would watch a movie like Lion (of which you should NEVER do unless you want to adopt all the babies everywhere), and so I would take out my foster care application again.
And on and on it went for YEARS — this yes-no pendulum of wanting to foster but then quickly feeling like I was probably just a sad old mom in her mom jeans feeling sad because her kids were growing up too fast. How sad?!
But I knew it was more than that. I knew this, because it had happened to me.
I was never in “the system”, but I was abandoned, multiple times, so I know how it feels to have your things left on a doorstep, never knowing when that parent might show up again. And as terrible as those times were for me, God helped out in HUGE ways by bringing adults into my life who could stand in the gap for me.
These people scooped me up when I felt broken; they attended my teacher conferences, volleyball games, and steamed my dress at my wedding. They mothered me in many ways despite the fact that I wasn’t “theirs”, and their sacrifice changed my life.
So yes, my desire to foster was definitely more than trying on a new trend, but even still it took FIVE YEARS to get licensed!
And you would think that after all of that work and hemming and hawing I would feel secure in my decision (especially after our foster son was placed with us), but all I kept feeling was, “Yeaaaah, that was a mistake.”
Maybe this was because the week he arrived everyone got sick, forcing me to stay inside for 8 days straight during February in MN…..which is like the movie Misery people, even when you CAN leave your house!
Then our furnace died and our car broke down (boo); then some unexpected “foster care drama” came (SOB); and before I knew it, I was sleep deprived and bewildered, wondering how much coffee was safe enough to drink! (It’s 16 cups, in case you were wondering.)
But every time I wanted to quit, God would slap me in the face with some T.R.U.T.H.
The first time this happened I was folding a blanket someone had given Baby D. I was feeling so tired and alone – wondering where God was in all of this – and there, stitched right on the front of his blanket, was this verse:
And you guys, I just sat there on my bed and cried. Because I knew those words weren’t just for him, they were for me too!
So I stuck it out.
Then came a harder truth: about two weeks in the “foster care drama” REALLY revved up, and I was just so heartbroken over it all I wanted to be DONE. So I cried out to God (in my best three-year old voice):
This isn’t what I signed up for!
I don’t want to be here!!!
This isn’t MY mess to clean up!
Why aren’t you HELPING ME??!?!
And this is what he said to me:
When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:4)
Perfect and complete?? Sign . Me . Up!
Never before had I lived this out until fostering my son. Because while I knew parenting was a faith-tester, adding on Baby D brought things to a whole new level.
But sometimes JOY is a choice, right? And since I believe that God’s ways are always higher (Isaiah 55:9), I chose to trust him; so I clung to these verses like a life raft and kept pressing on.
Until little by little, I found myself loving my foster son.
His smiles started to melt my heart, and I became mesmerized by how much my daughters loved him too! And it was pretty clear that he loved us back as well…..especially me, by the way. I’m his favorite. (obviously)
Now three months later, I can safely say that some parts of this foster-mom job have gotten easier while some parts haven’t; but isn’t that just parenting in general, no matter how you stumble into it??
Anytime you love on someone else sacrificially it will always stretch you, always humble you, and always teach you the nature of God’s love.
So take heart, my friend, you may not feel equipped to do your job as “mom” but that’s a flat out lie. No mom is perfect (not even Heidi Klum), and no mom really looks good in mom jeans either (unless you ARE Heidi Klum). But that’s not the point, is it?
The point is that we’re consistently showing up for our kids, wearing whatever pants fit over that glorious mom-pooch of ours, because that’s what unapologetic love is! And when we do this, it brings a little bit of heaven down to earth too, making motherhood – in all its forms – the most fashionable calling of all.