Saturday, November 28, 2015

When it's time for the heart to move

I remember two years ago, someone asked me about my dreams, what I wanted to do with my life. I remember hesitating for a moment, and then answering with certainty, “I want to be a foster parent.”

I don't really remember why I said that, or really where that answer came from. But I just remember the dream was set in place, and there was no turning back. 

A few months later, a beautiful baby boy was admitted to Gentle Hands and would change my heart forever. He had been abandoned, and while I have seen many abandoned babies before, there was just something about him that had grabbed hold of me and would not let go. I offered to watch him for the night, and I did every night afterwards until he was adopted nine months later.

I have been the caregiver for various groups… toddlers, nursery age, teenage girls… and while I love those groups, my heart comes to life with the one on one. I love pouring out my heart and soul, serving and nurturing.

Someone also asked me why I thought God had brought that little boy into my life. In all honesty, I think he would have been just fine with any other caregiver, but I truly believe God allowed me to care for this little boy because my heart needed to shift. It needed to move from a place of “big sister”, a role I am quite comfortable with and wear with pride, to the place of “mom”.

I needed to make the choice to love unselfishly, to love completely, knowing fully well that love may never be reciprocated but will matter for eternity. I needed to practice loving and letting go.

Since that precious little boy, I have cared for a baby with severe pneumonia, helping him become healthy enough again to return home. Now, I find my arms filled with a beautiful baby girl who needs a safe place to grow while her mom gets back on her feet. These two little ones have been temporary and short-term, but I have loved being able to serve them and encourage their mothers in the process.

As I love these little ones, I know He is preparing my heart for what is to come. Will it be difficult? Absolutely. I expect nothing less. Will there be attachment issues, a possible history or abuse, possible medical needs, sleepless nights and maybe even hospital visits? All are a very real possibility.

And I struggle… what will this mean for me personally? Have I fully grasped the implications of what this will mean for my time, my life in general? Will this put my chances of marriage in jeopardy?  What if I fail miserably? What if I can’t do it?

I know those doubts. They are always near, stuffing themselves too closely like a scratchy wool sweater on a beautiful fall day.

But I also know my Shepherd. I know that He does not abandon. I know that He alone could have whispered this dream, this desire to my heart, and ever so gently He has been guiding me to this decision.

So, will it be difficult? Yes. But will there be many more moments of joy, discovery, little miracles, breakthrough? Absolutely. I cannot accept the good and refuse the bad. I also refuse to believe God will only ever provide bitter herbs and not sustain.

He has been leading this heart of mine to this decision, and He will restore my soul as He leads me to the next decision, and then the next. I will choose to trust.

My heart cannot help but look forward to the next few months. I am hoping to be approved for a boy, girl, or sibling group of two. I know my foster child/children will possibly be between 36 months and 6 years. I will accept a child with medical needs, attachment issues, developmental delays, and a history of abuse.

Some have asked if I will adopt. My heart has always been for adoption, and I will rejoice if that becomes part of my story one day. However, my focus right now is on fostering and preparing a child for a permanent family, whether that will be with me or with someone else. It will depend on the child and the circumstances.

My desire in fostering will be to provide a stable and loving home to a child who has experienced trauma and needs the one on one, focused attention of a loving parent. I have had the pleasure of being near some beautiful foster families that have served the children of Gentle Hands. The children in these families have thrived and grown under the care of their foster parents. By His grace, I will do the same.

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