I read this article recently and thought you might enjoy it too.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN FOSTER CARE
Here’s a snippet:
Yet, for all that we may be able to provide, God’s ability to be good to her in a difficult environment is far greater than any good we could offer her in a comfortable one. No amount of “good” we can give her can compare with the goodness of the sovereignty of God in her life, wherever she may end up living it. There are no guarantees in foster care, except one – God is sovereign in the life of this baby girl. He is good, and He will be good to her always, no matter where she lays her head at night.
Three years! Oh this age is fun! There is testing and yelling and sassy attitude (see Return of the Threenager. Run for your lives! or 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might Be Freaking Out). But there is also imaginative play, learning to draw people and spell words, real two-way conversations and ever increasing independence.
Ali Mae, I am so thankful that you were born and that you were placed in our family. It’s a joy and a privilege to be your mommy. It doesn’t seem possible but you continue to get more beautiful everyday, inside and out. You love people. You always have but it’s been so fun to see you interacting more and more with “friends,” AKA everyone you met. When we go to the playground or the pool or church, you’re always delighted to see other kids—even if they’re older than you—and you quickly go up and ask them “What’s your name?” and “What do you want to play?” I’ve never seen a toddler command an audience and organize activities quite like you. We’re often told by others how polite and considerate you are. You pick up on every nuance of conversation and social interaction. I’ve witnessed you seeking out the loaner and then pulling him into the group of kids with everyone else. You often ask me, “How was your work today?” or “How was your day?” and always listen intently to my response. I love to hear you communicate your thoughts, feelings, questions and discoveries so clearly. You’re always ready to learn and eager to try again when you make a mistake. When I apologize for letting you down or losing my temper, you’re quick to forgive and offer me another chance, too. “That’s OK. Just try again,” you say. You have an incredible memory. I do not so I’m learning to rely on you a lot. You remember names when both Daddy and I forget. You recognize where we are when we’re driving around town. You love trivia and memorizing all kinds of facts. You’re a foster sister and that’s a heavy, important job. This past year you’ve said goodbye to three foster siblings—Buzz, Bee and Firefly. Your heart is big. I know you’ve experience a lot of heartbreak in your three years but yet you’re always quick to love again. I think you’re an amazing person and I learn a lot from you. I’m so thankful that you’re my daughter. I can’t wait to discover what this next year will bring, one day at a time!
At 5 months old, our first hen started to lay eggs! Meringue the Rhode Island Red (dark brown one pictured below) is our first layer. She started on 7/7/14 while we were on vacation. We missed the thrill of finding the first one in the nest box but my mom collected them each day and saved them for us. They’re a bit small to start out so we waited until the 9th day when we had 8 eggs (before she laid the 9th) and we all enjoyed a wonderful fried egg breakfast. Meringue has laid a perfect, beautiful, small brown egg every day without fail for the past 17 days. It’s bizarre and wonderful to eat eggs that were collected from our own backyard. I joyfully discovered our first two-egg day, which was almost as exciting as the first egg. Sunny S.U. the Buff Orpington (gold one pictured below), my favorite hen, was our second layer starting on 7/19/14. I’m really proud of my chickens and I’m excited for the others to start laying, too. Within a month Poach and Custard (black and orange ones below), the Black Star and Production Red, should start laying. By the end of October we might be getting half a dozen eggs per day, which is good because our family can easily eat half a dozen eggs in one breakfast. The plan is to have plenty to share with friends and neighbors though.
The real reason I didn’t write any blog posts for 2 weeks is because we left for vacation a couple days after Firefly left and there was a lot to catch up on at home and work when we got back. Jason and I love to vacation in Naples, Florida. I think we’ve gone 4 times in the past 5 years. This was the first time Ali has been there, though. She’s been to the beach before but this time she was old enough to really enjoy it and play in the sand and water. She’s a little fish and the Gulf in South Florida is warm, clear and gentle. We stayed in Foxfire Country Club in a condo that happened to have a bunch of really cool mid-century modern teak furniture. The pool was warm and we usually had it all to ourselves. Ali did awesome on the 12-14 hour car ride both ways. She’s a pro traveler. We used our DVD player for the first time. On the way to Florida she watched Frozen 4.5 times! Once there we saw so much native wildlife, mostly found by or spotted by Jason. He caught 5 large 9-point starfish out in the ocean. He also found 2 live sand dollars. We released all of them after admiring them. We also saw dolphins, manatees, sting rays (I stepped on one that didn’t have a tail. Phew!) and tons of little lizards in the wild. We visited the Everglades Wonder Garden and saw captive alligators, parrots, macaws, turtles and tortoises, butterflies, flamingos and lots of other birds and reptiles. We ate so much good seafood, saw gorgeous sunsets and had lots of time to play and have fun together as a family of three. We had our vacation planned long before Firefly joined our family but God must have known that it’s timing would perfect for our family to escape the painful realities at home and reset.
Ready for the photo overload?
I love fireworks and all things summer which makes Independence Day one of my favorite holidays. It was a bit bittersweet with Firefly just leaving the day before but we had a fun time nonetheless. Ali said as we were walking away, “I wasn’t scared at all! Just a little bit scared.” For the record, she was pretty scared but she did great and stuck it out with Grandpa, Grandma, Jason and me.
It’s been two weeks and I feel like I should have something really profound to say by now. But I don’t. Little firefly left us on July 3. I happened to have scheduled a vacation day that day. My mom and I took the kids to the zoo in the morning. We got back home for lunch and I tried to soak up every last minute I could with our sweet baby boy. Knowing he was slipping through my fingers, I felt like documenting every moment, trying to stop time. His new baby smell… How I wish I could have bottled it up somehow.
His belongings ready for his case worker to arrive.
Ali joined in the documenting.
I sure do miss the little guy. He was such a blessing to have at our home. I’m really thankful we were able to care for him his first 4 weeks out of the NICU. We worked really hard to feed him his high calorie formula around the clock, keep him healthy and shower him with plenty of love and prayer. It was very hard to let go after being so protective over him but in the end we had no choice but to let go and trust. I’m still praying daily for his health, provision and protection. I will forever love our tiny Firefly boy.
We found out after court on Monday that Firefly will likely be returning to his biological parents tomorrow. I don’t feel confident that it’s the best thing for him. With our last two placements (Buzz and Bee) it was much easier to let go, knowing they’d be going back to good care. I just feel like there are a lot of unknowns this time plus he’s still so small and vulnerable. It’s completely out of our hands. Would you pray with us that Firefly’s safety is a top priority for all involved, that he gets good care and lots of love? He’s gained almost 3 pounds in his 4 weeks with us but he’s still just 6 weeks old and not quite to his due date. I’m really thankful that we could be there for him from his release from the NICU until now. I think we gave him a good strong start in life. We sure do love this little guy and all three of us are going to miss him a ton. I’m wavering between sadness, anger, peace, wondering what’s next for our family, and fear for his safety.
I’ve been singing this song nonstop. Pain is no measure of His faithfulness…
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we’ll be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” — Francis Chan from Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
(You’re welcome to share, pin, use this graphic but please keep the tiny watermark in the corner that credits the creator of the graphic.)
Could you pray for our little Firefly today? He has a hearing this afternoon that will determine whether he stays in foster care for now or goes home to his biological parents. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for the magistrate, and peace and patience for his parents.
Firefly turned 1 month old last week! Baby boy is eating well and growing fast (though still tiny and still not to his due date). Around the start of his 4th week he discovered his voice and started experimenting with crying. He doesn’t cry much, thankfully. He’s a very peaceful and pleasant baby. In fact, around the start of his 4th week he also started smiling! It’s not terribly uncommon for babies to smile at 4 weeks but with him being so premature, I’m especially surprised and impressed. The first time he did it I was saying, “Do you know how loved you are!” He’s now smiling quite often when he hears our voices or tickle his chin(s) and of course, the reflex smiles too. He likes to be swaddled. He’s doing well with tummy time. I’m doing just a couple minutes at a time so he can get used to the position but since he falls asleep quickly, he doesn’t stay on his belly too long. He often rolls onto his side to sleep and loves to have his hands up by his face.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned previously that Firefly is half-Hispanic, however he looks like he could be Jason’s biological son with reddish blond hair and very fair skin. We lovingly call him our little red-headed Mexican. Our daughter is also half-Hispanic so that’s kind of fun. I’m wondering if that played some part in him getting placed with us; perhaps we came up in their system as a match because we have another Hispanic child. But, as mentioned, they look nothing alike. Alianna is completely smitten with him (just like us) and is being an awesome big sister. She loves to pet his head and snuggle up next to him. She talks to him and kisses his cheeks and he smiles.
The Brachiosaurus is one of Jason’s Definitely Dinosaurs from his childhood collection, for scale. I’m hoping I can use it to show his growth every month.
We celebrated BIG last anniversary with a trip to Naples and Key West for 10 days, including snorkeling in a coral reef—the highlight of the trip. Father’s Day, our anniversary, my (30th!) birthday all fall within 5 days of each other. Combine that with newborn baby induced sleep-depravation and schedule-juggling and… This year I ordered a bird feeder. To celebrate our 11 years of blissful matrimony, we have a Brome 1015 Squirrel Buster Classic hanging outside our living room window. (Using this bracket.) It really is a gift to both of us, our whole family, as we’ve already been seeing lots of birds frequenting the feeder and we can see it from the dining room table and from the living room (where I’ve been sitting a lot to feed Firefly.)
It’s pretty cool how this works. It has a spring mechanism that closes up all the feed openings if a squirrel-weight animal clings to it. But for bird-weight animals, there are several openings for seeds. The birds are dropping a lot on the ground, though, so the squirrels are still happy.