965 Days.

Parenting is hard. Literally just saying those 3 words will get 95% of people (made up statistic, just in case) to shout a hardy, “yep” or “amen”. It is because it’s true. Parenting is hard.

That said, as a Foster Parent you are confronted with so many challenging scenarios that you tend to forget how tough being a “normal” parent can be. I will spare you the icky details. Nevertheless Foster Parenting confronts you with some realities that all parents face, yet they are often magnified by Foster Care.

An example — So little is truly certain for anyone in life. We aren’t promised tomorrow, we can’t be sure a loved one won’t fall ill, we cannot predict the outcome of jobs, education, etc. We strive in life to reduce risk to the best of our ability. But so little is truly certain. Foster Care magnifies this to a level I’d never previously experienced. I can get a text/email/call from a caseworker, court officer, etc., (even one I know and trust) and still my heart skips. Because you literally never know what new thing you may find out. Often it’s nothing, yet sometimes everything changes again. Then you’re faced with the only option, soldier on. Naturally this is not different than any parent, it’s just tremendous how much this is in. your. face. every. moment.

So before you assume all doom and gloom, there is light and beauty in this. It has forced surrender in my life. It has forced me to trust God more deeply. I have no other option. I have really been wrestling with this lately (my apologies if someone has caught me deep in thought lately and I seemed frazzled). And as I have wrestled with this I remembered something I prayed for, daily, for probably years. I (foolishly, kidding. sort of…) prayed that God would give me big faith. I prayed God would make me “steadfast”, unshakable, resolute, unhesitating. I wanted to be a man who would not be swayed easily. I wanted to trust God more completely. I wanted to surrender with absolute certainty, over and over each day. I wanted to really learn to “Abide in Christ”. I hope you are seeing where this is going. I am certainly a long way from where I’d hoped I’d be by now, but I see glimpses of this. I see moments where God has grown me deeply. This journey, the 965 days that my beautiful children have been in our home, has wrecked me. It has wrecked me repeatedly. And thank God it has. I still want to be “in control” and “over-prepared” too much. I need to be wrecked.

These 965 days have humbled me, daily humbled me. I remember I don’t have it all together. I can’t save as much money as I’d like. I don’t have the energy I wish I did. I can’t sit and rest 1/4 of as much as I’d like. I have obligations. I have responsibilities. I have dreams. I have hopes. And because these 965 days have broken me over and over — I can see more of the incredible story God is unfolding and how He is showing His grace, His mercy & His love. And thank God that He keeps destroying the parts of me that war against Truth, war against Beauty, and war against restoration.

A good friend, who since has moved away and I don’t get to catch up with him as often as I wish I could, told me something many years ago. We were in a deep discussion about some very difficult circumstances and somehow I brought up the idea of “fight or flight”. I told him that I wasn’t 100% sure, but I liked to think I was of the “fight” camp. He quietly asked why, I made my poorly thought out case, and he replied with, “no”. He told me he thought there was a third option. He believed there were those who neither ran (took flight), nor fought (fight), but a third group who was able to stand resolute, unwavering & steadfast in the midst of turmoil & trouble. He very kindly told me that he believed me to be one of those rare folks in the third category, who stood fast, no deep desire to fight or flee. In my foolish pride, I quickly dismissed his words as too kind, and didn’t really make much of it. But over the years, that conversation has come to mind a couple times. And tonight while sitting on the back porch praying about tomorrow and thinking back over the past 965 days, that conversation with my friend came to mind. And I realized the gravity of his compliment. I still don’t feel worthy of such an accolade, but I am coming to realize his wisdom. I am not someone who needlessly fights, and I am certainly not someone who flees from trouble. Foster Care has shown me the truth in what he said to me that night. Thank God that my friend saw that in me, and thank God that He blessed me with that trait. And thankfully God has reminded me of that conversation a few times when I needed to hear it again.

I suppose I shared that story with you about my good friend & his kind words somewhat out of “processing” it myself and realizing it more deeply tonight than before. And out of thankfulness that God saw fit to use Clara and I to love these kids. I am thankful God used us to stand steadfast for them.

I am probably rambling and need to wrap it up… brevity is something I love, and fail at miserably. I have found myself telling the story of what God is unfolding before us more often lately in conversations. That in our kids lives, they have experienced brokenness and the effects of sin and evil that I wish never had to be part of their story. But for all the potential hurt, pain, sadness & brokenness in the world (and there is plenty more) — God is making something amazing, beautiful and sacred. God is redeeming the brokenness in their lives, giving them a home, a Mom & Dad who love them beyond measure, a family, a safe place to thrive and flourish, a place to belong. Their story, is a story of incredible beauty. Beauty that my words just don’t do justice.

It’s beautiful because it is the Gospel. It is the story of our brokenness too. And a tangible embodiment of the love God has for us. And how God is redeeming and restoring the lives of those who love Him.

There is so much brokenness in the world. There is so much to be in doubt of, fear of, frustration over, you name it. But there is even more hope. And thank God for that.

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