Thursday, October 25, 2012

this I do know...

'who has held the oceans in his hands? who has numbered every grain of sand? Kings and nations tremble at his voice. All creation rises to rejoice'

'A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench'

'now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen'

This is so very, very hard. There isn't a whole lot in this life that we can know for sure. There was no way for us to know that this would be Princess Petunia's story. Probably a good thing too because I'm not sure we would have signed up for something like this. There is no way for us to know how long we'll be here in this horrid place of grieving and questioning. 

But Praise God that there are some mighty, mighty truths that we do know for sure, even though we may not feel them right now....

Our Father has the power to bind Satan and cast him into the pit of hell, and one day soon He will do it.
Our Father has the power to make death but a footnote and a pathway to an even greater life. 
Our Father has the power to make all things shout to His glory.
Our Father knows everything  about our lives and orchestrates all things in our lives for our ultimate good. He is good and does good. 
Our Father loves us and will not leave us. He is with us even 'to the end of the age.' 
Our Father's Word does not return to Him void, but accomplishes His purposes. (one of our prayers for Princess Petunia)

One day we may more fully understand why all these things have happened, but until then, we will trust and pray for the strength to continue to trust. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You give and take away....

'The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord'

'My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name'

'Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord, O my soul...'

We had to say good-bye to our Princess Petunia suddenly this past weekend. Some terrible events in her past were brought to light for the first time, which made it unwise to continue her care in a home with other children, especially ones that are her age and younger. Dealing with this sudden and unexpected change has been hard to accept, but I keep thinking on some things that my precious sister-in-law shared with me this morning:

"situations like this are perfect breeding grounds for doubt and second-guessing.  when we're faced with decisions, all we have is the foresight God gives us to make those decisions...and His will will never be compromised....Christians are no more sheltered from this evil world than the world itself...but we do have a Savior Who has overcome this world...not going to one day overcome it...that victory is complete....your ultimate faith is in that victory...not in your own ability to shelter yourself from sin...but in God's ability to heal from sin and hurt come what may....God can heal and i don't believe He allows anything to happen that cannot be made to glorify Him...even such evil."

We are so very thankful for our time with Princess Petunia. We know that there is so much that God will do with even this sad chapter. We are grieving with hope and clinging to our Heavenly Father who makes all things, even horrible sad things, new.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How can you want that?

I was texting a foster momma friend earlier this morning with this momentary rant: 

"[Sometimes I get so tired of] hearing 'I just want to go home' or 'I just want my mom.' My mind is screaming, 'how can you want that insane crazy drama over this stability? How can you want her [extreme] selfishness over our sacrifice?' UGH!!!!"

In the middle of my ranting and railing, God struck my heart with the convicting thought that He might just be crying out the same thing to me. 

I know the analogy may not be perfect, but bear with me....

Just as our little Princess Petunia simply can not see the danger and chaos that abounded and still abounds in her 'real home,' I can become blinded to the danger and chaos of the reality of sin in my life. As adults, Jared and I can clearly see how drugs and domestic violence pose a real threat to PP's future. She, however, only sees her mom and her brothers and her bed and her toys. She can't see the true big picture of what her life was like and the things that so desperately need to change.

I am the same exact way. We've been studying Revelation over the past several weeks in church. Revelation is filled with strikingly vivid portraits of the true destructive nature of sin and Satan as well as his ultimate destiny. I read this Word and hear it taught Sunday after Sunday, and yet, how many times daily do I still yearn for the momentary, fleeting nature of sin's 'comforts' and ignore the big true picture? It is SO easy at times to just cave and not press on. How can I want that? 

It is in moments like this morning, when God gently shows me that while He may be using Jared and me to minister to and teach our sweet little Princess Petunia, He is also using her to minister to and teach us. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

what about your own children

'Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.'

While talking with my mother-in-law recently about the path God is leading our family on, I was struck again by the simple fact that He is leading our family. This is not just something He's doing in and through me and Jared, but also in and through Rach and Noah and Isaac and little Jojo as well. We're all in this thing together. As my mother-in-law said, God has called all of you to this ministry. 

It is only natural that people express concern for our children, and anyone else's children who become foster parents. And the concern is valid. Sad, scary, messy things come with the territory. Fostering is most definitely not a Walt Disney, Hallmark kind of world. 

But I am glad that this is part of our children's normal. I'm thankful, even, that it is normal for them to have 'friends' come and stay with us for a while so they can be safe while their mommies and daddies learn to make better choices. I'm glad that our children have opportunities daily at their tender ages to give of themselves out of love for another who most likely will not be able to repay them. I'm glad that they have such a beautiful picture of God's redemptive work right in front of them, that they grow up knowing no different. 

Watching God use my children to welcome and love Princess Petunia is one of the sweetest, most encouraging and motivating parts of this whole crazy story. I will never forget seeing a scared, teary-eyed little girl break into a huge smile and giggle when Isaac marched up to the door that first night and announced, "I'm cute." 

Jared and I  pray that we are making wise choices along the way. We do consider our children's ages and needs before we say yes. We do regularly check with each of them to see if we need to address any concerns they might have. More than anything, however, we trust that God, who loves our children more than we ever could, will continue to lead their little lives just as He leads ours. And we pray that He might use this Fostering to draw each of their hearts to Himself. And that He might use them to minister to each child that comes into our home. Who knows? One of our children just might end up being the means God uses to save one of these precious friends. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

'I want it to be all over'

'and though my heart may fail, you will my portion be'

*quick update*

We decided not to take Champ, which was really tough. I'm so thankful for Jared's ability to think logically (and wisely) through situations while not getting caught up in the emotions of the moment. I'd have a house full of chaos and be a frazzled mess without him. We found out yesterday that there is a family member who wants Champ, so that's a praise!

*Princess Petunia*

Wow. Yesterday afternoon was very emotional for our little princess. Mom made some seriously unwise decisions at their last visit, and Sabrina came by the house to talk to PP about it. She had already spoken with Champ and WildMan (PP's little brother) earlier in the week. Princess Petunia seemed to be having some problems remembering all that had happened while talking to Sabrina, even though she had described in detail all that went on to Jared and me. 

Later, after Sabrina left, Princess Petunia and I began to have a little chat about the importance of being completely truthful with Sabrina, that she wants to help her & her brothers just as much as Daddy and I do. It turned out to be an eye-opening, light-coming-on conversation.....for me. 

I, for the first time, truly saw the turmoil that is going on inside our little Princess' heart. On the one hand, she knows what the truth is, and she knows that the things that went on at her "real house" were not safe and not good. On the other hand, she feels an intense loyalty to her mom and wants to protect her from 'going to jail.' This sweet little 8 year old girl is living with a crazy amount of pressure, a pressure that I'm not even sure I could handle.  Her greatest source of anxiety should be what clothes to wear to school or what book to read or what to do with her afternoon after school...not whether to obey her mom and lie to her SW or to obey us (and our heavenly Father) and tell the truth. 

Our GPS instructors told us about this kind of thing during our classes; I know they did. I remember discussing it. And there was probably some kind of small group role-playing activity as well. But truly, until I saw the emotions on PP's face and the tears in her little eyes, I know I did not grasp the enormity of her situation. It's as though all the words finally had eyes I could look into and a heart that I fiercely wanted to protect. 

You'd think that it wouldn't take 3 and a half months for this to sink in, but I guess there's just a big difference between getting it and really "getting it."  It's just so easy to focus on the minutiae of our life together: school and homework and playdates and gymnastics lessons and church, etc. It's easy to forget her reality while she's busy playing house or riding her bike or doing cartwheels through the den. But I do praise God that He has granted Princess Petunia time to just be a little girl, and I am humbled that He has chosen us (at least for now) to be her safe place. 

*prayer request* We have a pretty important court date coming up on the 15th. The judge should be making a decision on relative resources. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The hard part...

'Oh joy that seekest me through pain, 
I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain.
That morn shall tearless be'

We said good-bye to Mini-Man last week, last Wednesday to be exact. Part of me is still grieving, and I wonder if there will always be a small ache inside whenever something brings him to mind. Probably so. It is tough to think about for very long, and I'm not really ready to devote an entire blog post to him yet. Maybe when the tears can be kept at bay longer....

We're also coming up on a crossroads with our Princess Petunia. (Her school picture proof came back today, and it is SO very cute! SO wish I could post it!) Her older brother, Champ, is ready to be moved to a traditional foster home from his therapeutic home. The 'roundtable', whoever they are, are pretty adament that he be placed with one of his siblings. So much so that their plan is to move all 3 to a new home should neither we nor little brother's foster family agree to take him. Tough, tough situation. Jared and I have been talking with multiple SWs to try and gather as much information as we can about Champ. We've also been praying for wisdom to know what we should do. There is a process we could go through to try and keep Princess Petunia with us even if we decide that we can not take Champ....not sure of those details however. Our SW has asked if we might take Champ for this weekend as a trial run, to see how things would go. We have to make that decision by the morning. 

So many hard things converging at one time...tough, tough, tough. Praise God that He is sovereign over all, and that even though we may be at a complete loss, He knows the end from the beginning.