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.

Cherish?

I have always heard it said in movies, read it in books & online in blog articles, I’ve heard probably 50+ people say it since the kids first came home to us, “be sure and cherish these years, they are the best, you’ll blink and they’ll be gone…“. I totally believe this, and I know it’s important. And if you’re anything like me, you’re waiting for the ….but….?

This is hard for me, I’m naturally inclined to be a planner — shoot, even the Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”, and being a good Eagle Scout — that is definitely part of my life now (just ask my wife, it’s obnoxious 🤣). But being prepared isn’t always easy. And being hyper prepared probably makes it even harder to slow down, rest & cherish the moments and memories being made.

But slowing down enough to even rest & reflect on what I would love to cherish is hard! Our kids are toddlers after all, and there are two of them, 2 and a half and 1 and a half (and soon it will be 3!) — slowing down with those precious little people is not a feat easily done! I am still learning (nearly 9 months later) how to possibly find margin enough to rest. And in the moments I find a little rest, I struggle to remember to think back and cherish this whirlwind — because usually if I sit that still, I fall asleep 🙂

So back to that ‘…but…’ — I struggle with the cherishing. I guess this is my online confession. I want to cherish these moments, I want to enjoy everything, I want to smile & laugh more than think about all that has to be done — but it is hard. I let the ‘Eagle Scout’ in me take over & start to think about what we will do when we outgrow 1.5 Bathrooms, what happens when (not if) we need to have 2 vehicles that fit 5 of us? How can I possibly keep up with my ‘jungle yard’ and be a good Dad & Husband? You get the idea… I could go on and on. But these thoughts/concerns/plans consume me. And arguably, they might be helping to strip away my joy.

Because what makes this even harder, I can’t really make any plans — because our kids aren’t our kids yet. And I know, all children are God’s, and we absolutely view them as a blessing from God to steward, love & care for. But we aren’t their legal Mommy & Daddy yet. That fact alone makes so much of this planning nearly impossible. I know you could say none of us can know what God has for us later, and that is certainly accurate — but this is more real to us than ever before (in this situation). We have no idea what our future will hold, have our precious 3 found their forever home? We don’t know — and it’s brutal hard. It’s probably why I try TOO hard to plan out what I can in the future, because I can’t protect my kids & plan for their future yet the way a Birth Dad can.

But for now, I must learn to cherish. I want to be a good, consistent, loving, gentle father — and I am understanding more and more each day how vital “cherishing every moment” is to being that Dad.

More importantly, I think I need to remember how important it is to trust God, if He brought us into this new adventure, He has been overly faithful so far — knowing that, I need to surrender and be faithful to let Him guide me onward.

Deep breath. Yes.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

— Matt. 11:28-30

Protector

We are long overdue for a Maloy Family post… lots of chaos lately! But a thought struck  me this week that I needed to sit down and get out of me (and share with you).

We have had our share of ups and downs in our 6 months of being Foster Parents, and we have certainly had more than our share of blessings.  That said, I will be honest — we would absolutely love to adopt our kids.  We cannot imagine life without them now, even though everything has changed so drastically.  But adoption for us is not a certainty. There are a lot of details we cannot share — but suffice it to say, there are many hoops to jump through and we need to allow the system to handle it appropriately, and if the opportunity comes, we will certainly adopt.

But, this is hard.  We kiss our kids goodnight, tuck them in, and then check on them half a dozen times before we hit the sack — and there is no promise that they’ll be there in a year, or even a month.  That’s just the reality of Foster Care.  It is hard.

I give all this “vague” backstory to tell you this — it is hard for me as a Dad.  I want to protect my family, I want to protect my kids.  I believe Dads/Husbands/Men are called to protect and sacrifice for those around them.  I would do everything in my ability to make this happen for my family, my wife, and my children.  But with my kids, it’s very difficult to guarantee I can protect them forever.  I may not be able to protect them from whatever the outcome is in their particular case.  I hope it’s in their best interest, and I hope that means adoption with us — but there is NO guarantee I can protect them from what could happen in the future.

Now this is not an ominous blog post, and this is not a soapbox about the Foster Care System — this is simply me, a Foster Dad, sharing my heart about the struggle I have each day (especially when I am reminded of the uncertainty of my fatherhood), and the difficulty in not being able to protect my kids from whatever uncertainty may come in their lives.

It is really hard.  But it has taught me (again) the deep importance in surrender.  That I must trust this to God.  I cannot manipulate, control or change the situation.  I can simply love and protect my kids each day and surrender the worry of the future to God.  It’s a very unsettling and very peaceful place to be. 

Family Man

In a few days it will have been 5 months since our little kiddos came to our home. It’s funny because I can barely remember life before February 9th — and it’s okay.

Everything about our lives has changed in the last 5 months — our morning routine is totally different, we get up way earlier, go to bed way earlier, there are cheerios all over the house, we listen to a lot more kid music, we have random dance parties, we all stand and look out the front storm door a lot more to see what’s happening in the cul-de-sac, we have new fresh outlook on the importance of favorite teddy bears and giraffes, we also calm down fussy moments, anticipate possible meltdowns, and pray that naptime and bedtime come easy — but every little bit of this new life is totally worth it.

I could list all the things I (we) have given up, sacrifices that have been made, stressful moments and nerve-wracking changes — but truth be told, it doesn’t matter. My life has changed, our lives have all changed — and it’s good. It’s so much better than I would have expected.  To be blunt, we know it’s because God has been faithful just like He promises to be.  He called us to be Foster Parents, to love His kids in our home that didn’t have a home — why in the world would He not be there with us to remind us of the big picture, of His goodness, and of the love we have for these kids.  It’s foolish, but how often we all forget to abide in Christ, trust God & rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and prepare us.  We try so often to do things in our own strength.  If nothing else, this process & the last 5 months, have been a concentrated dose of forced “STOP TRYING IN YOUR OWN POWER” — after all, Paul reminded us of this in 2 Corinthians:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV

I definitely continue to pray that I will be content in my weaknesses, and in the certain calamities to come.  When it’s hard to let go and trust — I need to more quickly ask God to help me trust, if nothing else for the sake of my kids, who deserve a Dad who is willing to admit his weakness and trust The Lord to love them and grow them well.

For a LOT of reasons, the Andrew Peterson song, Family Man, is really resonating with me this days.  I always liked this song, it is on one of my favorite albums, but I never LOVED the song.  But the last couple weeks it’s been stuck in my head & heart.  I’ll post a link to listen to it (Click for Song/Video: Family Man by Andrew Peterson), and the lyrics below — but there are a few lines that I truly identify with — they are in red below.

Family Man — Andrew Peterson, from Love & Thunder

I am a family man
I traded in my Mustang for a minivan
This is not what I was headed for when I began
This was not my plan, I am a family man

But everything I had to lose
Came back a thousand times in you
And you fill me up with love, fill me up with love
And you help me stand ’cause I am a family man

And life is good, that’s something I always knew
But I just never understood
If you’d asked me then you know I’d say I never would
Settle down in a neighborhood, I never thought I could

But I don’t remember anymore
Who I even was before
You filled me up with love
Filled me up with love, and you help me stand

So come on with the thunder clouds
Let the cold wind rail against us, let the rain come down
We can build a roof above us with the love we’ve found
We can stand our ground, so let the rain come down

Because love binds up what breaks in two
So keep my heart so close to you
And I’ll fill you up with love, fill you up with love
And I’ll help you stand ’cause I am a family man

I’m saving my vacation time for Disneyland
This is not what I was headed for when I began
This was not my plan, it’s so much better than

Haha, ironically half of the song is in red now — hopefully you just read the whole thing.  Everything about that song is so true.  First of all, there are lines that just resonate around in my mind & heart over and over — phrases like, “But I don’t remember anymore, who I even was before”, and “I traded in my mustang for a minivan” (which is ironic because we are minivan shopping and the 4Runner will go).  More deeply, I see a man who is learning to surrender and trust God’s love, but then by the end of the song he is passing along the love God has shown him to his children.  Maybe I love this song so much more now because it’s become a prayer of sorts — almost an affirmation of how perfect the beautiful chaos is that came so quickly into our lives 5 months ago.

I’ll leave you with this line from the song, “And life is good, that’s something I always knew, but I just never understood”.  Amen.