You’ll always be my baby.

“I may not always be your mama…but you’ll always be my baby.”

I said those words without thinking to our baby as I fed him tonight…and wept.

He has never in his life known another mama. I’m it. When the toddlers yell for mama, a part of me wonders if they have memories of their first mom. But not the baby. When he is looking for mama he’s looking for me.

But that probably won’t always be the case. Someday, our babies will go home to biological family, and quite possibly call some one else mama. It’s likely this baby will never have a memory of me.

But this mama. She will never forget.

I will never forget his chubby fingers or the way he sings loudly every time music plays. I’ll never forget that it took for-stinkin-ever to get him to sleep in anything but the rock n play. I’ll never forget how he snuggles his face into my chest when he’s ready for bed or how his face lights up when he hears my voice.

I’ll never forget how brother has to drum on everything or how sister needs to be carried around. I’ll will always smile when I think of our silly meal times or watch a video of their sweet toddler prayers.

These babies will always be mine, even when I am no longer theirs.

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I promise to…

If your words won’t work

And your body hurts

I will carry you.

 

When you get confused

When everything is new

I will remind you.

 

When visits are bad

Or you miss your dad

I will hold you.

 

When your brain is scared

And you’re heart is sad

I will sit with you.

 

Because it’s all too much

And you’re much too young

I will protect you.

 

I promise to carry and hold, remind and protect, and sit and be with you. Because, my babies, that is what Jesus does for me.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

Normalcy is long gone…

Big foster care days make my heart long for normalcy. For me, my marriage, my children. They make my stomach ache and my mind race. I lose sleep and dream of normal.

Because meeting in a room with strangers to decide every day details and big life decisions about my children is not what I believed my life would be. It doesn’t feel normal. It honestly doesn’t even feel good.

But God didn’t call me to stay where I feel good. He never promised that mission work would feel fun or nice or cozy. Advocating for these children is the hardest, most demanding, and sometimes most defeating thing I’ve ever done. When I become sure of anything is when everything changes. It doesn’t matter if I scream or whisper, plans continue to change. So I will rest today in the knowledge that God already knows the outcome. He loves my children more than I could fathom and he wants them to know Him.

I will continue to do that hard things because that is where I am called to be. I’m coming to terms with the new normal of our lives and letting God change my thoughts and my desires. I cannot unknow or unsee the things I’ve seen and the children I’ve loved so the only thing left is action.

Pray for us. For big and small changes. For our new normal. And for rest.

A letter to my baby in the middle of the night…

Sweet Baby,

Tonight my Fitbit recorded 4,218 steps. All of these steps were taken in the 8ft it takes to cross your nursery floor. However, it did not record the amount of times I rocked you back and forth, or how my voice started to go hoarse from my shushing, or how your hand wrapped up a clump of my hair and perfectly comforted you.

There is no record of my prayers to Jesus to bring peace to your little body. Or how I let tears slip from my eyes because your breathing was the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard. It’s not recorded how in the moments you finally fell asleep I debated putting you down or letting you snuggle in a little longer.

You see, my sweet baby, there will be a time when I no longer walk this 8 foot stretch with you at all hours of the night. There will come a time when my home is no longer your home. I am sure when that time comes there will be tears for both of us once again.

So yes, I may be sleep deprived, and you may need all of me. But you better believe that in the still of the night. When your cries have become sighs, and your tears have been dried. That we will rock and pray and snuggle a little longer.

With all of my love,

Mama

Trauma is tricky.

Trauma is tricky. It is unpredictable and rude. It shines through without mercy. It effects all who are in its reach.

Loving children with trauma sometimes is almost unbearable.

We work so hard to build a routine to avoid trauma triggers, but despite our best efforts, sometimes it is simply unavoidable. Even as we prepare…we try to wish it away. We use our happiest voices and our biggest smiles and brace ourselves for the inevitable meltdown. And my heart breaks time and time again.

Oh how I wish we lived in a world where my children didn’t have to experience trauma triggers almost daily. Where everyday tasks like dressing and bathing and going outside didn’t bring big feelings to my small people. But this is our world, and together we will navigate it.

Today I responded with words of sweet encouragement as my toddler was truly frightened without warning. I wore earplugs as we did bath time. I laid on the floor and cried as I prayed for peace for a little body.

Foster care isn’t glamorous. Most of the time it is hard to see progress. We have two steps forward and nine steps back. But we will keep smiling and hugging, reading books and praying, because they are worth it. Our love may not cure the trauma, but every day I will try a little bit more.

Christmas Treasured in my Heart.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

I believe this is one of the most beautiful parts of the Christmas story. Mary, a teenage virgin mother, just gave birth to the Messiah. Around her are animals and visitors worshiping her little baby, it smells weird, it’s loud, and maybe she was a little overwhelmed (she just gave birth in a barn for goodness sakes). But I imagine Mary sitting back and taking it all in, treasuring and pondering in her heart, and my spirit is filled.

This was my first Christmas as a mother. And as I watched my sweet children decorate cookies, open presents, and wonder at Christmas lights I started to understand a sliver of the emotions Mary must have felt. Amongst the hustle and busyness and flu that hit all five of us there was a peace and pondering in my heart. I had so much joy watching others love on my babies. We loved sharing the magic and excitement and singing happy birthday to Jesus.

Baby got to experience his first Christmas with more snuggles and tissue paper than he could ever want. Sister opened a baby doll that cries until you give it a bottle and has yet to set her down. And brother carried enough excitement in his face for the whole family. It was a Christmas of navigating big feelings and needing many breaks. Our babies each needed a little extra love and Chris and I were exhausted by day’s end. It was wonderful.

We may not have next Christmas together…but I’m taking a page from Mary’s book and treasuring every moment in my heart.

For every today.

Tomorrow isn’t promised.

This short quote is true for every living being. But it is so much more prevalent in the foster care world. Everything we do with our children could be our last. Our last vacation, our last holiday, our last bedtime routine.

For us, we head into the Christmas week knowing it is possible we may be childless for Christmas. The reality is that we have a court date a few days before, and court could go many different ways. Which makes this Christmas unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. It makes me want to make every activity we do “extra” magical, because we may not actually get Christmas, or I may never know how another Christmas is for them for the rest of their lives. But it also makes it harder to get fully in the spirit because heartache may be right around the corner.

Most days, our lives look exactly like any family with multiple small children. We change approximately 25 diapers, fill 492693 milk cups, and snuggle bad dreams away. But some days we are reminded of why we are here, why our children are here, and how broken our world can be. These days I take a hot baths and remind myself that Jesus is bigger than our broken system and hurting world. I cling to the truth of scripture and ask for more grace to get through the next day.

If you’ve encountered me in person, and asked about our case, you probably heard me respond with “We will love them hard for as long they are ours”…or something along those lines. While I’m saying it to you, I’m also saying it to me. Because we don’t know if we will have tomorrow…but we will love them as hard as we can for as many today’s as we have.