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The Long & Short of It: We are Becoming Parents

04/21/2011

You read that right the other day (if you made it all the way to the last line), Jason and I are becoming foster parents. I feel the need to explain why we’re doing this crazy thing. It’s not because we can’t have kids biologically or that we’re impatient with trying (though that might be a valid reason for some people.) It’s not because we want to adopt and becoming foster parents is an easier and cheaper way to do it (though it is definitely cheaper and in some ways might be easier.) Our reason is ultimately because God has called us to do this. He has put it heavily on our hearts the past few months and has made it clear that this is His plan for us. We probably will have kids biologically some day. We probably will adopt one day. But today, we are moving down the path of becoming foster parents.

Our pastor Lindell Cooley often says God can’t steer a parked car. Jason and I have talked about adoption occasionally over the last decade but this past year we started researching it and talking about it more. Through online exploration we found our way to foster care and I felt a new door creak open in my heart, revealing a passion God had been quietly working on for many years. We talked about it, prayed about it and took the first step of faith by calling around to the local foster care agencies to find out where we’d be a good fit and how to get started. The car moved into drive and God has been steering it ever since. It’s picking up momentum and we’re fully trusting Father that it’s going to be an exciting, amazing ride, and though scary at times, we know He is in control and lovingly directing us.

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Here’s how it works, in case you’re as unfamiliar with the foster care system as we were a few months ago. When child abuse or neglect is discovered kids are removed from their parents and taken into state custody. The state makes every effort to locate another family member or family friend who can care for the kids. If no family member can be found, the kids will be placed with foster parents who are licensed and trained by the state. The goal in almost all cases is for the kids to eventually be reunified with their birthparents. The birthparents are given an outline of the aspects of their lives that need to get in order over a certain timeline so they can get their kids back. There is a real ministry opportunity for foster parents to build relationships with birthparents to encourage them and cheer them on towards restoration of their family. A judge with the guidance of case workers and lawyers will determine if and when the kids can be returned to their birthparents. If the parents are unable or unwilling to comply with the courts, sometimes their parental rights are terminated. (Around 25% of the time.) At that point, the children become legally free to adopt and the state tries to find a permanent home for them. The foster parents are typically the first choice if they are willing to adopt because the kids already have formed healthy, loving attachments there.

Our plans are to open our home up to a child or sibling set of 2 (they try really hard to keep siblings together) up to age 5. We understand and support that the goal in most cases is for the kids to be reunified with their parents. However, if we are caring for any kids who become adoptable, we will likely adopt them. The state covers all costs for adoption and offers foster parents a daily stipend to assist with costs for child care (food, clothing, medical expenses, etc.) There is minimal monetary cost to us through this process but the potential emotional cost is high. We have 3 more weeks of training, then 30 days or so of home studies. We should be certified and can take our first placement by sometime in June.

The most common reason I hear for why someone says they could never be  foster parent is that it would hurt too much to fall in love with a child and then have to let him or her go. I know it’s true. It will hurt. It will probably tear our hearts out. It might just kill us. Maybe everyday. I’m pretty sure that’s God’s plan. Because the more we die, the more He can live in us and through us. These kids need the kind of unconditional love, acceptance, healing, restoration, patience, forgiveness and joy that we, in our human limitations, cannot offer. But God can. He is more than able to take care of His babies. He will take care of these dear little ones. He will take care of us. He will take care of you.

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How you can help:

Pray for us. We’ll take all the strength, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, energy, unity, etc. that God is willing to pour out.

Pray for the kids. There are approx. 9,000 kids in foster care in Tennessee right now. And probably many more who are in abusive situations that have not yet been reported. Pray for their safety and protection. Pray for their salvation. Pray that they would be moved to a better situation. Pray against fear, bitterness, lies from the enemy.

Pray for the parents. Pray for wisdom and good decisions, for restoration and salvation. Pray for humility to ask for help and resources to meet their needs and their kids needs.

Pray for more foster and adoptive parents. There are kids here in Tennessee and every state, babies not yet born all across the US, and children all around the world who need homes. I can’t wait for the day when there are waiting lists of foster parents in this country because there are more safe homes ready to accept children than there are hurting kids who need loving parents. I believe it will happen someday. I’ve heard a statistic that if 1 family out of every Christian church in the United States would foster children, there would be no more kids waiting for homes in this country.

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Will this affect my blog? Yes. How—I’m not sure yet. Even though my blog tagline is “musings on a life inspired by art, faith and family” I realize most of my posts are home related. Foster parenting weighs heavier on the faith and family side of things, however art is infused through every aspect of our lives and our home is our favorite canvas. For now, I’m planning on writing about our foster parenting journey at least once a week. We’re currently in the rapid-pace process of education and training, going to appointments, and filling out stacks of paperwork. We are also in hyper-nesting mode preparing our home with projects (like the chalkboard door, repainting the nightstand, finishing up the fence) and researching and shopping for kid stuff (like strollers, cribs, beds, car seats, toys). So I’ve got plenty of bloggy material, is what I’m saying. If you’d like to hear more or less about our foster parenting adventure, please let me know in the comment section below.

(Image above is from Petit Collage. I won a gift certificate for the shop from Design Mom last year and got this alphabet poster among other things.)

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Yard Sales and Estate Sales – It’s That Time of Year

04/20/2011

Jason and I love going to yard sales and estate sales to look for vintage goodies but since he’s been touring a lot the past 8 month or so, we haven’t been able to do it so much. Now that there is a “need” to start collecting kid stuff (read here if you’re confused) and not just fun mid-century collectibles, I’ve been hitting the sales with my mom and on my own. Here are just a few of my recent purchases.

Jeep umbrella stroller in great shape for only $5. My mom spotted this from the street and I’m quite excited about it.

A child size metal folding chair for $7.50. (Also, the full length mirror got rescued from my parents house before it was sent off to a friend’s yard sale. It was plastic “wood” so I spray painted it blue. ALSO, keep in mind the walls will be light gray.)

This cute little dear figurine (we have way to many knick knacks already but I couldn’t resist…) for $0.50:

I’m not sure why I haven’t taken a picture of any of my other purchases but I also go some light green Pottery Barn crib sheets, a black Infantino baby carrier, a plastic stacking ring toy, some wood puzzle boards, a tiny MCM casserole dish that I don’t know what to use for, and a vintage orange plastic Tupperware pitcher. I LOVE this time of year! Who wants to go thrifting with me?!


Painting Furniture – Nightstand Before & After

04/19/2011

We bought this little nightstand dresser 2 years ago at a yard sale. At the time we didn’t know where to put it. We can’t fit a nightstand like this in our bedroom and we already had end tables in our living room. It moved into the spare room to sit in waiting for our future kids. Over a year ago, Glidden was giving away free quarts of paint. I ordered Granny Apple green with this night stand in mind. Then, 2 weekends ago I FINALLY got around to standing and painting it. (It felt SO GOOD to get that of my to-do list after being on there for months.)

The top had a bunch of knicks and dings in it but look at the cute flowered contact paper inside the drawers! That stays.

The first order of business was to take off these hideous handles. Have you ever seen anything like this? It looks like it was hand-crafted by drunk termites.

After I got those suckers off, I filled the screw holes with wood filler. Here’s the part where I begin to just wing it. Jason usually does this kind of stuff and I just supervise. I followed the direction the tube and waiting for it to dry a bit, then sanded it. I started sanding the dresser top and the drawer fronts too. That got old really quick.

Thankfully, paint covers and fills most minor scratches. I did give the whole thing a rough sand so the paint would stick better and then wiped it clean with a damp cloth. The first coat of paint didn’t cover very well. I did my best not to have a bunch of drips (again, Jason usually does this kind of project. I am NOT a perfectionist!) I wasn’t concerned about our old patio table because it’s sagging and it’s going to be replaced this summer when we build a new one. I waited a few hours for the first coat to dry (while I went on to paint the chalkboard door). The second coat covered much better.

I let the nightstand rest and cure for a full week before I put anything on it. Even after that, I put a semi-heavy boom box on it and the next day it was stuck. Thankfully it didn’t leave a mark when I pulled it off. I wonder how much longer it needs to cure. Anyone? Or maybe it needs a clear coat?

I was going to buy new knobs but Jason reminded me that we had some in the tool box from IKEA years ago. (I can’t even remember what we used these for originally.) We had 4 so I decided to do 2 on each drawer. I’m very happy with how it turned out and pretty darn proud of myself for doing this all on my own. (Color is more accurate above… the flash here makes it look more yellowish than it is.)


Being Fruitful

04/18/2011

We haven’t planned many vegetables this year. Arugula. Romaine lettuce. Tomatoes. And tomatoes can technically be considered a fruit. But we have 3 strawberry plants, a black raspberry bush and a peach tree already established. This year we added 2 cherry trees and a pear (Black Tartarian Sweet Cherry and Stella Sweet Cherry to cross pollinate, and Keiffer Pear which is self-pollinating.) The new trees are pretty much just a twig with some leaves … we definitely won’t be getting any fruit from them this year.

(Unfinished side of the fence…) From left to right the arrows point to: cherry, peach, pear, cherry.

From the other end of the yard:

Our peach tree. Last year we had pests. The year before mold. We think we’ve solved both problems and we have really high hopes this year!


Phone Photo Friday

04/15/2011


A Room in My Heart

04/14/2011

Written originally on 3-17-11

I love how God communicates to his children. Sometimes He uses metaphors to bring revelation—sudden, clear understanding—to a complicated situation.

I read every comment that’s posted on my blog. Sometimes a new commenter catches my attention and I see a link posted back to his or her blog. Usually they are other similar home blogs. A few months ago I got a comment from my now BF (blog friend, hehe) K. Her blog name piqued my interest so I clicked on it. When I finally had the courage to write K an email a few weeks later, after spending hours reading her family’s story, I told her that finding her blog felt like God was opening a new door in my heart.

It’s become more and more clear that God is leading Jason and I into a new phase of our lives, a new adventure that will be exciting, difficult, wonderful, horrible and more important that anything we’ve ever done. I’ve been looking for God’s confirmation and guidance. This morning (3-17-11) He gave me a vision of what’s behind that door.

My God is a creator, a builder, an artist. It’s no surprise that He made his children also to be designers and inventors. And it’s also no surprise that He would use mid-century modern interior design—my hobby, (my specialty?), to speak to me about what He’s doing in my life right now. The current state of my heart is a result of nearly 27 years of building, designing, rearranging, decorating, spring cleaning and upgrading all done by the Master Designer. There are many different rooms, different dimensions that are purposeful and together form a unique house unlike any other. My heart.

Behind the newly discovered door is a room. The room was formed when I was a child. Back then it was just an empty shell. The structure was there but I had no idea what it’s purpose would be. Had I opened this door too soon I wouldn’t have made any sense of it; it wasn’t ready yet. In recent years, God has started filling that room up with furniture. He’s a collector. Some of the pieces in the room are vintage, sturdy, time-tested and reliable. Some of the pieces are new, never-used, and in perfect condition. The Master Designer pulls all the artful pieces together into one cohesive room, a space with a specific purpose, a beautiful mix of old and new.

When I cracked opened this door a few weeks ago and peaked into the room (figuratively…follow me?), my heart leapt! Where had this room come from? I hadn’t known it was here! My Father, who delights in giving good gifts to His children and who conceals matters for the joy of His kids finding them, had created a surprise for me. A dramatic room reveal. And yet, stepping into the room, I started to remember bits from my past. Yes, I remember when this room was built. I remember the time that piece was added, and that one. Yet, I had been completely oblivious to the beautifully designed space my Father was making in my heart.

This place in my heart is not for me, though. God has some specific people planned for it. I don’t know them yet but I long for them. Did you know you could miss someone you’ve never met? I long for them to fill this lovely room with their energy and joy. I, just like my Father, look forward to revealing this beautiful room to my future children. I long to see the delight on their faces when they discover what has already been created specifically for them, a place that no one can take from them, a place that’s safe and bright, a mix of past and present, a place to grow.

Jason and I also have a physical equivalent of this room in our house. It’s purpose is not clearly defined yet. It was an office, a guest room and now it’s a storage room. We call it the spare room. But, we have plans for this room. Design ideas. A mix of old and new. A safe, relaxing, functional and creative space for some littlies we only dream about.

Have I confused the heck out of you yet? Here’s the B&W:
Jason and I are becoming certified as foster parents!


5 Gallons

04/13/2011

Guess who took advantage of Sherwin Williams’s 40% off sale last weekend?

You guessed it … We’re about to repaint the whole house. Almost. Master bedroom. Spare room. Living room. Kitchen. Dining Room.

In my unprofessional opinion, Sherwin Williams has the best color palettes of any paint brand. (Plus the Color Visualizer on their website is pretty cool.) We typically use Behr paint because it’s a bit cheaper but great quality. But 40%? That’s a good deal on some good paint.

In case anyone is wondering, it took us less than 30 minutes to decide on the 3 colors for those 5 rooms because we already knew what we wanted. White for the bedroom. Light gray for the spare room. White with a yellow-green accent wall for the living room – kitchen – dining room. After having NO white walls in the house for more than 4 years, we’re ready to go back to the basics.