Trapped.

In light of the bizarre impact Coronavirus has had on the entire world. I have been reflecting about how trapped, frustrated & helpless so many people feel. In a weird way, it’s really not a foreign feeling for Foster Parents. It’s a daily reality, now it just has the added “joy” of a virus to make it more complex and widespread for everyone else.

Something I have become more and more convinced of the longer we’ve remained in the Foster Care system is this — the system sworn to protect and cherish children, that system itself causes trauma.  It causes trauma for the children, the foster families, parents, everyone.  Let me clarify, it is different trauma (likely) than what caused the move into Foster Care initially — but trauma nonetheless.

My initial reaction is to blame the system, condemn it & use it as the scapegoat for my frustrations when they arise.  But the calmed down retrospective part of me knows that isn’t the answer.  That said, the system is flawed, broken, slow, bogged down, bloated & wastes money.  The system is not great.  But on the other side, the system is a result of the brokenness in the world that it was created to handle.  It (the system) is dealing with heartbreaking situations, problems & brokenness no one would ever want to wish upon their worst enemy.  And as a result, because every situation, child, family & case is different — there is this unnecessary, yet unavoidable, tension between common sense and following every protocol.

So I guess the point in writing this is to ask myself a question.  What is the Christlike response to feeling trapped, backed into a corner, helpless?  If we Christians want to redeem & restore the brokenness in the world, as we are called to do, what does that look like in a messy & frustrating system (that we may or may not agree with)?  What does it look like to not force our agenda, our will, our preferences — but to balance that with common sense and truly act in the BEST interest of others (including Foster Children)?

I keep asking myself this question because as a Foster Parent, I have never felt more powerless, hopeless and backed into a corner over the last few years.  Now before you panic and question my faith in God’s sovereignty and faithfulness — remember, feelings aren’t always truth.  Feelings can mislead, can be sinful & flawed.  But regardless, we are emotional beings, and feelings are unavoidable.  The trouble comes in how we react, how we process them and the actions we take.  I want to react well in the face of feeling powerless, pushed around & trapped.  I want to stand up with gracious boldness to face the uncertain, the unnecessary & the unfairness.

So, whether it’s questioning the brokenness of the system, or evaluating my response to the feeling of powerless waiting — what is the response that will help point to Christ, the response that can help restore brokenness, the response that minimizes the “trauma” of the Foster-world?  What is the response that helps redeem the ugly broken world that our kids have no choice in floating through?

What does it look like to exist in and simultaneously seek to redeem a broken world? I pray about this a lot — and tonight while watching/singing songs with the kids, we listened to an old favorite, and it reminded me of an important place to rest in. Below is part of the Andrew Peterson’s song, “Dancing in the Minefields”:

“At the end of all my faith, till the end of my days
When I forget my name, remind me.
‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man,
So there’s nothing left to fear.
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands,
Till the shadows disappear.
‘Cause He promised not to leave us,
And his promises are true.”

It’s curious, but this too reminds me that in this world we will be uncertain of much, there is plenty to fear, we can always find something in which to be anxious about — but that’s ok. We bear the light of the Son of Man (Jesus), and we won’t have every answer, but we can keep walking and trusting — because the promises ARE true.

p.s. nothing horrible has happened, please don’t panic — just processing the realities of Foster Care and seeing the weird emotional similarities to COVID world.  Even when life is beautiful, the kids are wonderful & life is full of blessing — Foster Care is hard & our goal in sharing our journey is to just share what families go through.  So no need to worry or panic 🙂

2 years.

Two years.

Two years ago you made me a Dad.

You weren’t what I was expecting. But, you were perfect. You are perfect. I was scared, excited, anxious, hopeful, joyful & broken. But you were there — and I loved you from the moment you came home. Your Mom and I still catch ourselves weeping, momentarily unaware that we love you so much, and we are overcome by the feeling. You are home. Because of you, my children, I have learned more deeply than ever before what it means to be home.

I remember the morning you came — I was taking a shower, like normal — and singing in the shower, which I can’t do now (because you’ll wake up). And for whatever reason, the song I was singing caused me to tear up — now I know — my heart was being broken because you were coming home. And I needed to be broken of pride, self-confidence & perhaps self-reliance. God (in His infinite wisdom & providence) knew you were coming home, for the first time. And God knew that it would be the most wonderful & challenging season of life thus far. And any attempt to lean on my own wisdom, knowledge, cunning & pride would be my downfall —

Certainly I was in over my head. Which is why I believe God was preparing my heart that morning. Knowing that I MUST lean on God to be a good Dad, to lead our home well, to take on the seemingly crazy challenge of a baby & a toddler, only to have another baby come within a few months. To deal with the unexpected, terrifying & beautiful things to come.

But now we are here — 2 years later. You make me crazy, I am tired, money is less, house is a disaster — and I love every single moment. Every crazy night, unexplainable meltdown, cleaning food all over the floor, stepping on cars in the dark — worth it.

There is an Andrew Peterson song, Family Man (I’ve mentioned it before), and he has a line that goes, “And I don’t remember anymore, who I even was before…” — it’s simple, but it sums up the last 2 years. And I love it.

Prayer Need —

To our Family & Friends — we have a sincere prayer need.

Clara & I hold our cards pretty close, trying not to over-share the perils we have experienced in “Foster World” and generally seek to share the blessings. We don’t want family & friends to panic, knowing we can’t and don’t want to share every detail. Likewise, it’s never been helpful to dwell on the negative.

That said, we truly need prayer. There is so much uncertainty in the plan for our kids to be home with us forever. It is agonizing to feel as though we are closer, and then in one text message, phone call or sentence — everything changes again. Hope seems crushed and the timeline becomes more and more elusive.

We live in a sort of “in-between” place. We live between the black and white — in the many obnoxious and ever changing shades of gray. It plays itself out in many ways, and when we speak of the beautiful life we have, we truly mean that. But with the same breath, we sense the fragility of our beautiful life with our children. So really we live life like this list below:

  • We are concerned, but we know God is faithful.
  • We are exhausted, but we rest in every morning’s new mercies.
  • We want kids adopted, and we know God is growing us in the waiting.
  • We live in constant chaos & uncertainty, but God is good.
  • We are terrified, yet confident in God’s providence.
  • We are anxious, and hopeful.
  • We are frustrated, but we are content.
  • We are not okay, but we ARE okay.
  • We want this to be over, but trust in God’s timing.
  • We weep without knowing exactly why, and we laugh with full joy.
  • We are doubters, but God is ALWAYS good.

We live this weird in-between life — it’s painful and beautiful in the same breath.

There are many great songs by Andrew Peterson, but one that always comes to mind is a recent song, “Always Good”. You should really listen to the whole song, because the few lines I will copy over will not have the full effect:

  • “Somehow this sorrow is shaping my heart like it should”
  • “Well it’s so hard to know what You’re doing. Why won’t You tell it all plain?”
  • “So maybe the answer surrounds us. But we don’t have eyes to see”
  • “This heartache is moving me closer than joy ever could”
  • “As we try to believe what is not meant to be understood”
  • “Will You help us to trust Your intentions for us are still good?”

To be fair, that’s a majority of the song… but it always comes back around to “You’re Always Good”. And in the midst of the fear, the frustration, the impatience, the laughter, the joy & the sorrow — we need reminders like that. Because honestly, we lack the words to process our emotions and thoughts sometimes.

So we humbly ask, please pray for our little family. We tend to shy away from asking for prayer so we don’t cause undue concern in our community (so many of you graciously care about our kids with all your hearts) — but we are long overdue in asking for our family and friends to pray boldly for our children to be officially home. If you can, please pray for us.

Open Letter to my Children on Father’s Day Weekend

Dear Kids —

I hope you know how much your Dad loves you. The three of you make up 3/5 of the top five things I think about each day, and 99.9% of the time — it is paired with a smile. But never forget, your Dad loves you exactly as you are, forever.

This is my second Father’s Day being a Dad, of course I didn’t expect to go from 0 to 3 in 7 months, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love our story, I love the chaos, I love the giggles & the laughter, and I love the imperfections of everything. You are what makes our story perfect.

Every single night when I tuck you in, and we pray together (and pray for all the cute stuff you think of and long list of people you love) — I ask God to help me be a good Dad, and thank Him for letting me be your Dad and ask God every night to let me be your Daddy forever. Even though right now when I ask God to let me be your Daddy forever, I am thinking about how we long to adopt you and make it official forever — I will always want to be your Daddy, your safe place, your biggest encourager, your home. And that will not change once a piece of paper legally says I am your Daddy.

Children, I also want you to know this. You were not my Plan B. You weren’t the backup plan. You weren’t a side thought. You weren’t our last resort. You are God’s perfect plan. Some day we will tell you the story and all the threads we can now later see that God was weaving together for the perfect time — but God so clearly brought you here. It wasn’t conventional, but it’s beautiful. Your Daddy (and Mommy) love you more than you could know. God prepared our hearts at the right time when he knew you’d be ready to come home to us. And thank God for that. But never for a moment believe that you weren’t the plan. You were God’s plan, and you were my plan. Your Dad loves you more than he can convey.

Looking back on my life and honestly thinking, I have a lot to be thankful for & proud of. But when it comes right down to it — none of that big worldly stuff, or accomplishments, mean anything to me when I compare it to you. All that “stuff” pales in comparison. Watching you grow, helping to raise you in The Lord, is literally the best and most amazing, humbling, thing I have ever been allowed to be a part of. Getting to be your Dad is the best. Everything else could be stripped away — but being able to love you each day and help you discover the world brings me more joy than I ever thought possible.

There are so many other things I would love to say to you, but we’ll leave it here. I love each of you (all three) in your quirky and beautiful ways. I will always thank God I get to be your Dad. But this weekend, on Father’s Day — thank YOU for letting me be your Dad.

Love Always,

Your Dad

Foster Mom? Super Mom.

Something happens occasionally in Foster Parent life that is just weird. You’re not totally regarded as a “real parent”.

(Small disclaimer before you panic & worry you said something wrong today — haha NO! All is well, fret not.)

But every once in awhile, yet probably too often, small passing comments are made (very innocently I am sure) that imply the idea, “well you’re not a real parent…” — again, innocent, not meant to be harsh or condescending — it just strikes in an odd way. And the unfortunate part of it is, those are the very comments the Enemy (Satan) uses to rattle Foster Parents and make them feel less worthy, less valuable, less like “real parents”.

The plain simple truth is — that’s of course not true, especially for Foster Moms. And their hearts are certainly the ones that dearly need that constant assurance of their wonderful sacrifice, particularly when there isn’t as much certainty in their children’s futures. Something that most moms don’t have to worry about.

Reality is, Foster Moms are amazing. They give the love, the nurturing, the family & the home that children need. They give themselves to their children without the comfort of knowing if their kids will stay forever. And that is amazing. Foster Moms certainly shouldn’t be considered just Foster Moms, they are super-Moms.

And that’s what my kids Mom (my wife) is like. She is a super-Mom. She loves and protects and nurtures and adores our wild brood of kiddos with her whole heart. Even when unintentionally “tough to hear” comments come, even when the Enemy makes her feel less valuable & important — she gives her heart to our kids. And that makes her just as much a Mom regardless of the “legal status” of our kids. She loves her kids no matter what life throws at us. And thank God for her.

Here’s the honest truth. Foster Care is messy, and people don’t always know what to say, and that’s okay! Honestly sometimes we don’t know what to say either. This is where grace comes in. Thank God, literally.

We Foster Parents are blessed, blessed to be a blessing. And I have come to think that sharing our story is part of the attempt to bless others with all we’ve been blessed with through our precious kids. I am just beyond grateful my wife blesses me and the kids day after day after day.

Thoughts at 33

On the eve of my 33rd Birthday, a lot of thoughts have come to mind. I wonder if 33 is hitting me with a little more gravity and weight than 30 did. I guess time will tell.

I am finding myself more and more often struck with how beautiful life is, and then lamenting how frequently I forget that beauty. Perhaps it’s the massive shifts life has had the last 5 years, in particular the last year. Maybe it’s becoming a father that has caused a renewed retrospective on the past few years & introspective on priorities here & now. But regardless, I am oddly finding myself in a curious place in my mind and thoughts. Hopefully this brings me some clarity & maybe encourages others — or freaks them out… you never can tell with the ‘ol internet 😉.

There is so much talk in articles and in books about intentional living. There have been things on social media for years talking about ‘minimizing’ or ‘streamlining’ your life. I have read some of these items occasionally, but not a ton. But I am seeing the need, and the value in considering these things as life has moved forward. Much like the old adage, “if you don’t control your money, it will control you”, I know if I fail to cherish my time — it will be lost.

So perhaps this is a confession, or a sharing of my thoughts to give myself some pretend accountability — but I am most certainly putting these thoughts down to help me process and think it all through.

I don’t have the luxury of floating in life, the luxury of not taking my thoughts captive, taking my time captive — and using it for the things I find the most value in. And perhaps I should take that a step farther — the things I find the most value in that will help my family to grow in The Lord. And I think the tough reality is, if there are certain life-giving things, things I find value in — it means saying no to things that suck life, don’t give value to my family. Haha, aside from things like taxes or mowing the yard…

Things we value & give life to us:

  • Being healthy & focusing on it
  • More social. Less media.
  • Being able to laugh, a lot
  • Taking time to find joy in all the little stuff
  • Writing more (personal and letters)
  • Making time to be a home full of music
  • Spending time exploring and enjoying creation
  • Planting a garden for the kids to learn & building a chicken house for them to enjoy & help (specifically BIG chickens…)
  • Reading books together as a family
  • Slowing down enough to love those around us, teaching the kids to serve & love

I totally get that everyone has different things they find value in, no judgement — it’s definitely subjective to the person. And I want to have the margin in my life to cherish my wife, raise my children in a fun, relaxed & loving home and to live a life that brings life to others. And now that 33 has hit — something has triggered in my more deeply than it has before, it’s time for a new era of intentional living around the Maloy home. God-willing, it’ll be great.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

We have been quiet on here for a long while. I think partially because we don’t feel we have anything worthwhile or wise to share — or we have so much churning inside us that we have a hard time decompressing long enough to make sense of it. I suppose that lack of time is partly the blessing/burden of Foster Care and part is probably the blessing/burden of 3 kids 2 & under. Foster Care alone or having 3 littles is enough to exhaust you emotionally, physically & spiritually — but combining both just seems unreal at times. To be fair, most times are wonderful — but it doesn’t negate the struggles entirely.

There is so much uncertainty in our lives, uncertainty that we cannot try to manipulate and move in the direction we know is best. There is a lot of injustice in the Foster Care System too — and contradictions, even that completely blow off normal common sense. But that is the “system” — and we as Foster Parents lack the ability to influence the process in ways that common sense would deem totally appropriate. Alas, we are left between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. And some days it hits us hard.

That said, when comforting and tucking in our precious, brave, sweet little Goose for bed tonight & praying with her while holding her in my arms & rocking her back and forth — a simple reminder (we can safely assume divinely inspired) came to mind. In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9, there is a story about a father who comes to Jesus asking desperately for healing for his child. The father is at his end, he has no more cards to play, no tricks he can pull, no influence he can wield to get what he wants — he is desperate. Just like I feel at times, more often than not. The story goes on to the plea the father makes to Jesus — the father asks Jesus, IF HE CAN, to please heal his child. Jesus (we can assume) calmly replies, “If I can? Anything is possible to he who believes”. The man quickly blurts out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”, and Jesus proceeds to heal the child.

I am thankful for being reminded of that story (which is incidentally one of my all time favorites — short as it is). I am thankful because it is how I feel many days, especially today. I am desperate, I am at my end, I lack the influence, the tricks & cards — I have nothing. I MUST rely on my Heavenly Father to intervene — and I do believe, but God, help my unbelief. I will falter on my own, I will stumble — I will not be strong of faith, I will lose hope, I will not believe without His help.

And oh how I want hope — oh how I want to believe. Lord, help my unbelief.

p.s. nothing is changing as far as we know — just hard days to walk through with littles that don’t always understand.