Terrible In-Between

We are just slightly over a month into this new adventure.  It’s mind-boggling to consider all the changes in such a short amount of time.

  • There are baby gates everywhere in our home
  • Thanks to baby-proofing — no one, including adults, can open any drawers in the kitchen
  • All door knobs are harder to open with kid-safe handles
  • We sleep very lightly thinking every noise is a kiddo waking up!
  • Dad has gotten to be a master of getting two kids loaded and unloaded into the truck for school
  • Mom is master of being two steps ahead of any possible kiddo meltdowns
  • Cookies & kid snacks are hidden in all bags, coats, car, etc…
  • There really is no such thing as ‘free time’ anymore… or staying up late!
  • And SO many more…

And every one of those changes is totally worth it.  Because these kids are a gift, a treasure to take care of and love well.  For now, whether forever or not, we are their family, their Mom & Dad, their home.

I am convinced, even after a month, it is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to really love kids the way they need to be loved without getting attached.  Kids need the reassurance & confidence of a home, family & unconditional love — and it’s difficult to give those things and keep the children at a safe distance where you (and the kids) don’t get attached.    You could give them a safe place, bed and food — but if they do not feel safe, supported, affirmed, loved & that they are home — it is lacking.  Kids need to know they are home.  But that means you AND the kids will get attached, because that is what home does to us — it draws us in & makes us safe — we want to abide & remain.

I say all of that (and it’s wordy…) because it is incredibly tough to live in the anguish & torment of a VERY unknown future.  Now of course we all know that nothing is guaranteed and each day is a gift — but rarely do we really live that way.  But with our kids future so full of uncertainty, we are faced with that terrible in-between every single day.  We don’t know if the kids will get to stay with us and we don’t know what their Mom’s future holds — but we do know they are a gift.  They are a gift from God, a treasure that we are to cherish & love as long as we can.  If that is for a short time (which is a painful thought) or if it is forever (hard for different reasons) — we promised to love those kids and raise them in the Lord for as long as the Lord had them in our home.  It is painful to consider the outcomes (for a lot of reasons), but we will lean on the Lord & trust His will — because we want to, and because honestly, we have no other choice.

There is a song, by Andrew Peterson, that you would do well to listen to — it’s called “You Can Always Come Home”.  It’s on one of the kids albums I have downloaded on my phone and it is excellent.  I can’t listen to the song & sing-along without tearing up.  Here’s a link to go listen (it’s a random video of someone’s kiddo, but the song is excellent:

You Can Always Come Home

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6 Days a Momma…

6 days ago we got our first placement call. I can honestly say that pure excitement took over and the logistical side fell to my husband. If you know us, that probably doesn’t surprise you. The response to our first placement call was a very loud yes. The Lord was so kind to us in how he wrote this part of our story as foster parents. It just felt (feels) right and I would say yes 10,000x’s over.

As I would imagine most placements go, the first few days are a whirlwind. There are times you aren’t sure which way is up, yet it’s so so sweet. As I reflect on my first 6 days a mom (although, arguably I have been ‘mom-ing’ 4th grade kids for 8 years now) I am humbled, and the last 6 words of Esther 4:14 ring through my mind…“for such a time as this.”

Being a foster mom was not in my plan. My husband was the first of us to approach the topic and I was apprehensive at best. The Lord softened my heart in a way that only He can, and I am grateful.

If I had said no my husband and I would have missed out on an opportunity to love these kids. To share our Hope with them. I believe that can be accomplished even when your kids are 2 under 2. God doesn’t need me to be the ‘savior’ to these kids that are coming from impossibly difficult situations. I don’t want to be. God’s the savior and His name stands without me speaking it — but do you know what is so special about all of this? God has invited us here. We are joining in His work. Not for His sake, but for ours.

Much the same as we have been invited to love these kids, God invited Esther to join Him in saving the Jewish nation. If Esther had refused, God would have still saved His people. If my husband and I had said no, God would still be putting people in place to love and save these babies, but we would have missed this opportunity. This is our opportunity…”for such a time as this.”

God’s providence the past 6 days has been sweet. His timing has not been a mistake. I can confidently say with such confidence (between yawns and cold coffee) that we are placed here, and the kids are placed here, now, and …”for such a time as this.”

So friends, enjoy the ride. There will be hot coffee later.

45 Hours Later

So I woke up Friday morning like normal. I let Beau the Border Collie outside & then gave him a cookie for going potty. I hopped in the shower quickly (and singing, of course) and in words I can’t quite explain, I was sort of ‘overcome’ with this feeling God was doing something, but didn’t know what. I finished up quick (still singing though) and got ready for work. Beau and I went outside to play catch & then I jumped in the truck to ‘brave’ the commute. Little did I know that Friday, February 9th, would be the day everything changed.

Friday mid-morning, we got a call. There are a lot of details why & soon when I can sit still for more than .8 minutes at a time, I will attempt to map out God’s providence (to the best of my current knowledge & liberty to share) — because it’s amazing.

But Friday, February 9th, 2018 is the day that we got a call. And much like anyone (but us) would have guessed, it was a call for a little boy & little girl. They are just 10 months old and 22 months old — and precious. We completely expected to get older kids since we were open to older sibling groups, but let me just tell you — they are here, they are little & everything has changed.

Seeing as we didn’t know what age to expect, we had very little baby stuff. In less than 24 hours we have almost everything important for now. We have a crib, we have blankets, we have clothes, dishes, changing stuff, diapers, bathtub toys, etc. — it is AWESOME. Our family, friends & church family have just come out of the woodwork to help prepare us & provide for us immediately, and in less than 24 hours. Which is such a blessing since we were trapped until we got car seats — which we have now & need to install!

The beautiful thing about this (and I have a list of beautiful things to share with you) but we were not prepared for this. We couldn’t be prepared for this. How can you wake up on a Friday morning, sing in the shower, and a few hours later you rush home to tidy up the house because 2 littles are coming to your home at 3:30? But it’s okay, because God is faithful. And in these circumstances He has proven over & over & over how faithful He is. He has provided for us through family & friends who listen to God’s prompting to help us. Thank you to those amazing people.

And furthermore, He humbles my heart to accept the help. Because we cannot do it on our own, we can’t! It’s totally overwhelming and good. Overwhelming because, well do I even need to explain why… 2 littles under 2, Friday morning we had 0 littles, much less any kids period — overwhelming. But it’s equally so good because God get the glory for showing up to provide all we need. God gets to humble my prideful heart to accept the help and love of people around us who care deeply. Friends & family get to be the hands and feet of Jesus — helping care for the least of these. God gets to remind me over and over again of His goodness & faithfulness — and I have probably teared up more times than I can count. And I don’t care, because it is worth it.

February 9th I woke up and went to work. February 9th I went to bed (sorta… let’s be honest… I was awake most of the night) as a father of 2 precious children.

The beauty of this new life along with the brokenness that caused it to be is often too much to bear. Thankfully there are 2 littles under the age of two in our formerly clean, decorated, non-kid proof Home. There isn’t much time to really dwell too much on that stuff — you’re chasing 2 littles!

I honestly have not spent much time thinking about Scripture the last 40+ hours, but right now the verse that comes to mind as I am writing is this one below. It’s one of the times in the Bible where Mary’s reaction is stated to all the things happening around her after Jesus came to her home:

“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19

It’s not super profound — but sometimes real life isn’t that profound at first glance… but it’s where we are right now — and have been for 45 hours. And we are going to keep treasuring these things in our hearts.

Timing & Waiting

I don’t know about you, but a lot of people in my life often speak a phrase, “well God’s timing is always perfect” or “God’s timing is best” or something like that.  Perhaps you haven’t ever heard that, maybe it’s just the circle and community in which I find myself.  But regardless, it’s something I hear frequently.

Just to clear the air, I must state it — I certainly agree!  It’s a simple statement, but it’s true — I have seen it in my life, and the lives of others.  Recently with this whole Foster Care journey, I think I am understanding that phrase in a fresh way.  Of course it is likely with a certain amount of providence that I am being allowed to “re-learn” this old adage, about “God’s perfect timing”.  That said, we are not terribly impatient to have our Foster Kid(s)/Placements in our home, but we definitely are eager — as anyone is on the cusp of a new adventure.  But I’ve seen anew how “perfect God’s timing is”.

We began our paperwork/home study process way back in August/September of 2017.  Potentially we could have been through with paperwork, Foster Classes, Home Study & preparations by early-mid December — but it didn’t work out that way.  We will sign our Final Home Study on this Thursday, 1/25/18.  Thankfully we truly haven’t been annoyed or felt like it was dragging out.  In all honesty, I believe both Clara & I have been mostly okay with however long it takes — we know that everything is about to change and whatever time period we wait, we probably needed the margin of time.

As it turns out, December was kind of a tough month.  If it weren’t enough chaos with the holidays & end of semester chores, we had a lot of major stuff happen.

  • We gutted and rehabbed the hall bathroom that we’d been putting off
    • Thankfully a husband of a great couple in our Foster Class is a contractor and was willing to guide and teach me how to rehab the bathroom alongside him, so not only did I get to save money by helping, I learned a lot of things I hadn’t really done myself before.
    • All that to say, in our 1.5 bathroom house… we were without our main bathroom for a little over a week… it’s perfect now!
  • My grandfather passed away — right in the middle of the bathroom remodel.  Naturally for any family that is a major blow — and we needed time to spend with family and mourn and work through that (which naturally will continue for awhile).
  • We did NOT have our kid room ready at all.  Who knew (we didn’t…) it just takes time to order bunk beds, pick up mattresses, find good kids bedding, paint furniture, rearrange your entire home & organize all the toys and books given by friends/family.
  • I ended up with the Flu & also had a ton of changes at work.
  • And a ton of other little details that are seemingly unimportant until they are added into the collective list of December/early January ‘chaos’.

It has actually been a tremendous blessing to NOT be licensed until the end of January… because we NEEDED that time to deal with a lot of change, prepare physical accommodations, make major house repairs & emotionally work through a lot.  God knew we needed more time, God knew things were coming down the pike that would require more physical, emotional & financial strain than we needed to have with new kids in our home.  I can’t imagine how extra hard it would have been for kids to come into our home in the midst of all that ‘chaos’.  I am so thankful that God’s timing is perfect, that His timing is best — because had the timing been my choice, my preference, we would have not been prepared, we would have struggled greatly.

Now there is no promise we will not still struggle, and the strain emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. could (and probably will) still be incredible.  But thank The Lord, we have some of those things behind us.  We are a little more prepared than we were.  And thankfully God used this season of life to help remind us that His timing is good — and that He is trustworthy, that He is faithful.

 

 

Excitement

I (Clara) read something today that stopped me in my tracks.

As excited as you are to be foster parents, the kids aren’t excited to be a foster kid.

I’m learning through the wisdom of others, that it can’t be my personal excitement that drives my desire to be a foster parent. Jesus drives my desire, because without Jesus, I’m confident I’d fall flat. My personal excitement can’t carry me very far. The unfortunate reality is that the only reason I am even able to be a foster parent is because some absolutely awful event has happened to get us here. There is brokenness in the midst of this all, and where there is brokenness there is heartache and there is pain.

No one is excited about heartache and pain. No one desires heartache and pain. Through it all we do desire good to rise out of the bad. We do desire beauty to rise from the ashes.

Through Jesus’s strength we will walk along side a kid or two…or more! And it will be challenging. It will require us to do whatever it takes to bring healing to the situation, and I’m confident it won’t be easy and it won’t always be fun, but there are days that will.

So, instead of being excited, I want to choose to celebrate this season. I want to celebrate that we have the ability to open our home to a child and offer them something they may not have experience in a while…or ever…and that is the love of Jesus.

He offers His love so freely to us, and so as we are wrapped so tightly in His love, we will share that with whatever kiddo He sends our way.

Because of His love for us, and because we can share that love with these children, we will celebrate.

In light of a heavier topic, we thought we would include a few pictures of the kid room. At least how it stands right now. 🙂

Expecting

Foster Care & Adoption are interesting scenarios — especially in the world we live today.  We generally like to know what to expect, when to expect it and then of course any other details we can gather.  We are not typically fans of the unknown.  Sure we like to go on vacation and ‘see new things’ or go have an ‘adventure’ — but those are short lived ‘unknowns’, we settle back into the ‘normal’ when we’re ready.  Major life shifts, like having a baby or getting married are permanent changes, you cannot click the undo button (without more major permanent change).  In most scenarios however, we have time to prepare, process & ready ourselves for those permanent changes like having a baby or getting married — they are rarely immediate.  We have time to ‘expect’ the coming changes.

Foster Care is a very different scenario — not better or worse — just different.  We had dinner last week with a lovely family of 8 who was also in our Foster Class (long story, but they are Mom & Dad pros!).  In our conversation with them we were struck with a beautiful thought I have been mulling on for nearly a week — that we (Clara & I) are indeed ‘expecting’.  It’s an exciting thought — but one that usually is not associated with Foster Care.  That said, we were talking about how excited we were, how we know nothing about the kids (ages, numbers, gender, anything) who will be coming to our home soon — and how exciting that is!  It is of course the exciting/anxious/nervous/thrilled feeling… you know what I mean.  The indescribable emotion of anticipation in the total unknown!  We had not thought about it like that prior to last week, but we are expecting — and it looks totally different than the normal ‘pre-kid’ expecting.

Now we don’t have children yet, we have not tried to have children by birth yet — so my knowledge is limited to watching family and friends go through the 9 months of anticipation for their newborn baby — which is beautiful!  It’s a joy to watch them get excited, shop for baby stuff, be blessed by family and friends with support and prayer, and wait with eager expectation.  Of course there are some unknowns, and a variety of things can happen unexpectedly — but by and large we know what is to be expected at the end of a generally consistent amount of time.  A beautiful baby!

We are expecting, but don’t have much of a time frame, knowledge of how many kids, their ages, their health, their background, etc.  It’s all up in the air.  And it’s been really good (something I can certainly attribute to a great deal of prayer from friends and family).  It’s been really good because it’s caused us to lean into Trust — trusting God that He called us to this, and He is preparing us.  It’s helped us to surrender and not hold onto trying to ‘figure everything out’.  We can’t!  We can only wait in eager expectation.

Whether it’s a direct result of that trust or not, I have slowly and steadily seen my wife flourish and grow.  She is becoming a Mom, even though we have no idea what to expect.  Watching her enthusiasm for decorating the ‘kid bedroom’, shopping for bunk beds, mattresses, bedding — sorting through toys and stuffed animals given by friends — is amazing.  The transformation, in a relatively short amount of time is so beautiful.  She is quickly growing into a Mother — one who eagerly is expecting a child (or children) in her home.  I have even seen my priorities shift dramatically — when in the position to spend money on a new ‘toy’, I quickly realized it was time to set that phase aside and choose to make a ‘Dad’ decision — and say no to the purchase that is non-essential, because the kids we are expecting are so much more important.  In some ways slowly, and in other ways quickly — Clara & myself are being given the mind and heart of parents.

So in all of that — we have grown to be very ‘content/anxious’ with our period of ‘expectation’, which thank God, because it’s an expectation that may not have a sense of finality.  And depending on whether kids come and go or stay, we could be in a period of expectation for a long season.  I suspect God will teach us more than we can fathom through it all.

My Grandfather’s Eulogy

My notes from my Grandfather’s Eulogy today, I am exceedingly proud to be his grandson.

Charles Fred Maloy – Family Thoughts/Eulogy

  • I am going to begin with 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
    • “16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
  • Grandpa lived his life HOPING in the FUTURE GLORY of Christ; he’s there now.
    • Psalm 71:14-18Grandpa had this passage (and the others) underlined in his Bible
      • “But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness

And of Your salvation all day long; For I do not know the sum of them.

I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone.

O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.

And even when I am old and gray O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.”

  • My Grandfather was clearly a special man.  I truly see him as a Patriarch of our quite large family — in a lot of ways I compare him in my mind to Abraham.  Both men of great faith, who loved their families and were continually blessed in life, but used their blessing to bless others even more.  Anyone in their sphere of influence was as good as family.  Likewise, their families (mine & Abraham’s) revered and honored them, like we are today.  And the stories (and laughter) we have shared over the years, will become a beautiful memory of the man we love, the Patriarch of our clan, our family.  Here are some of those memories & stories.
    • First my Uncle Len will share his thoughts.  Uncle Len was Grandpa’s Brother, Business Partner, Cohort in Crime, and Best Friend.
    • INSERT Family Thoughts (pages below)
  • Something personally on my mind since last week as I wrestle through emotions & theological thoughts, has been this:
    • Jesus Wept.  In the Gospel of John, we see the story of Lazarus, Mary & Martha, in the times surrounding Lazarus’ death – when Jesus arrived at their home, he Wept — even though Jesus had the full knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven, he himself was the Gospel, the Way, the Truth & the Life — even in light of all that, Jesus wept.  Jesus wept because someone he loved was dead, and Jesus wept because people he loved were in grief and mourning.
      • Jesus was moved with profound sorrow at the death of his friend and at the grief that his other friends had suffered. In addition, this sorrow was mixed with anger at the evil of death.  Jesus’ example shows me that heartfelt mourning in the face of death does not indicate lack of faith, but honest sorrow at the reality of suffering and death.
      • We follow the lead of Jesus with our sorrow — but in our sorrow, we can cling to the hope, and the promise that death will not win, and our (Husband, Father, Grandfather, Uncle, Brother and friend) was not consumed permanently by death — through Jesus, Grandpa has had defeated death — and is now in Heaven with his Lord & Savior.
      • We have sorrow, we weep, and we lament the death of someone so dear to us.  But we know, the sting, the permanence of death is no more.  Because Fred Maloy, my grandpa, is with Christ.  Death does not have the victory here.
  • Romans 8:18 & 37-39
    • “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
    • “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • I wanted to end with an old Puritan Prayer –
    • “Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales may ruffle the calm surface of my soul… by thee all heaven is poured into my heart, but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love… O that I may love thee as thou lovest me, that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord, that I may reflect the image of heaven’s first-born.”  – Need of Jesus, Valley of Vision

 

Family Memories & Lessons Learned from our Dad & Grandpa:
— from perspective of others (not all me)
(so many of these could have a scriptural reference in the notes…)

Lessons we learned from our Dad & Grandfather:

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit
    • From a young age he had the desire to earn and create opportunities
      • Paper boy, car hop, odd jobs in stores
    • He hitched a ride to college and graduated from University of Missouri
    • 50 year career with State Farm – he LOVED to go to work every day (whether he worked or not…)
  • Positive Thinking
    • We nicknamed him Zig Zigler because he was ALWAYS positive. Zest for life!
    • Things were never a problem, always possibilities
    • He never criticized or spoke negatively
    • He was a man who was always able to calm tempers in a meeting that was quickly going downhill
  • Inclusive
    • He loved many many people, and rooted for them all – no strangers
    • Treated everyone as family, biologically or otherwise
    • Hospitable, everyone was always welcome at a meal
    • Always up for a conversation with Scott about Mizzou or SLU basketball
    • A good sport at Grandparent’s Day doing crafts that involved lots of gluing and cutting & playing Trivia against other grandparents!
    • Being a grandfather to other kids who didn’t have a grandparent on Grandparents’ Day.
    • Grandpa was always there to hug & kiss – and always told us how much he loved us. He was always there for us when we needed him.
    • Grandpa had 15 grandchildren – although I suspect many more would consider him to be their grandfather, father, brother, uncle, etc – but in all that Grandpa actually only had one child by birth, along with one grandchild, but many more through adoption and marriage – however, to all 15 grandchildren, he was truly 100% their grandfather. If nothing else, this speaks to his character, the patriarch of our family.
  • Fun
    • Never was a man MORE ready for a trip to Ted Drewes… always.
    • You never knew when grandpa would randomly break out into song
    • He definitely loved to “sightsee” while driving – lots of quality time in the car J slow driving!
    • Spending time going to the movies, the Butterfly House, The Fox, The Circus, Sky Zone and FroYo just to name a few.
    • An avid & faithful fan of all the kids sporting events including early morning soccer games, & late night basketball games even graduations, piano recitals, plays, & musicals!
    • Loved sharing stories of his childhood and growing up. His stories were just amazing!
    • He made everything from watching movies, playing football on the beach, playing chess, and just talking more fun — just because it was with him.
    • We loved making goofy faces at the cameras on Space Mountain at Disney
    • Grandpa & Honey always joked that each year they had an Anniversary they we celebrating 10 years of marriage, so they recently celebrated their 120th Anniversary… guess we better call the New York Times to go ahead and get that article going J — in all seriousness however, they filled those years with more memories than some people do in a whole lifetime.
  • Christ First
    • He lived by example and not just words. He reminded us that our Christian lives should be joyful, not just a daily set of rules.  He completely embodied the Fruits of the Spirit (loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and demonstrated self control).
    • On Christmas Eve – Christmas Story was ALWAYS read from Luke before doing anything else.
    • Generous to a fault! Always giving thankfully to the Church, and gave above that to many missions, missionaries, camps and support groups…
    • He was always in prayer for us: he prayed each morning for us, he prayed before he saw us, he prayed while we were together, and he prayed for us when we left him.
    • Grandpa actually preached at Concord before Dr. Werner was called to be the Pastor. Folks talked about for weeks how worked up he got, and how they’d never seen Fred so fired up!  He preached about the importance of a Godly Pastor to preach the gospel, to build a church for his family to know Christ and grow in the Word of the Lord.  He was beyond passionate about his family truly knowing Jesus…
    • Gathering the family in a circle during a holiday holding hands and expressing his gratitude for the love of his family & pointing us to Jesus as the giver of life & only hope for our salvation.  Grandpa always shared the Gospel, spoke of the Gospel and wanted to give family and friends every opportunity for the hope & joy he had in life.
    • Grandpa gave me a Bible when I graduated HS, he wrote in the front to read John 4 often, which was the story of the Samaritan woman at the well – he wrote, read John 4, it teaches us how to love. Then Grandpa and I got to go Samaria, to Jacob’s Well years later where John 4 takes place…
    • He has touched so many lives & in so many ways it would take a lifetime to recount them all… But we can say that his life was an endless colorful story of love, tragedy & adversity – yet his love of God only made him stronger. He has been our angel here on earth.  And God has called him home for even greater things.  Dad would want us to carry on the love of Jesus to everyone, just as he did.