My household is all sleeping. Everyone is tucked snuggly into their beds. My mind is too active to sleep right now. We are still reading Harry Potter, so it has to be a Harry Potter thought I guess. I need a pensive (in the book Dumbledore and Professor Snape show Harry a place to "dump" their thoughts when there are too many or they need a way to examine them). So tonight, I need a pensive and this is a good place for it.
I have a few opportunities to trust God even more right now. One I am ready to talk about. First, let me write in a way I have previously held back.
Recently, I was able to be near a baby. It has been a really long time since I have been close to a baby and especially for longer than just in passing. She was truly beautiful! But it brought up so much hurt I could barely hold it in. Mark was there and as he sought out eye contact with me, I knew he knew and I saw tears of his own welling up, then we quickly broke eyes.
As we were in the car talking on the way home. He asked about it. I was able to talk to him in a way that I have previously been unable to put into words. He let me talk and talk and I sobbed and ugly cried. The tears helped release emotion that was pent up without my knowing it.
At the heart of what I shared with him is this. I know not everyone likes children. I get that. But I do. Being with children is one of my favorite things in the world! It always has been from the time I was a young girl. That innate desire to nurture and mother and enjoy their little worlds has been an integral part of me for as long as I can remember. As a couple, we really enjoy being parents. There are for sure challenges and each child has stretched up in different ways, but overall, we really enjoy what we do. I get that, again, not everyone feels the same way as we do about being parents. But we love it!
Of all the ways that I could be limited, to be unable to freely welcome children into our home is one of the most challenging I personally could be faced with! To bear children and rear them is righteousness and love is one of my greatest desires. We have been greatly blessed with FOUR children! That is more than many couples are able to have. Still we feel able and willing to welcome more.
We have actively searched out and tried everything we could medically, holistically, and spiritually to have biological children. We were guided every step of the way to make changes with each pregnancy and to keep trying! I told Mark in the recent conversation that part of me feels guilty that "technically" we can have our own children. Here I am throwing my hat into the ring with other couples who are hoping to adopt, yet we are very capable of getting pregnant. We might have gotten to the bottom of things with Shipton's pregnancy. That combination of everything we were doing might have meant that the bleeding during his pregnancy was only the miscarriage of his twin and not because of blood clots or placenta problems. But what if it wasn't? What if we didn't get to the bottom of it? Can we risk one more pregnancy? I am the mother to four children already who need me. Can I honestly try again knowing full well that if we didn't get to the bottom, my life is again on the line? After having tried so many times can I ethically try again, knowing that if we didn't get to the bottom we will easily conceive only to miscarry again or have problems part-way into the pregnancy? The thought of knowingly doing that to a baby is awful.
And what about mentally/emotionally? Even if everything went just fine, I think I would be a wreck the entire time. Up until Shipton's pregnancy I felt hopeful that we just needed to keep trying and we would get to the bottom of things. I have watched literal miracles before my very eyes. I have watched God change impossible circumstances. I was so sure that He would heal my body and guide us to a resolution. I was so sure of it! We were confident all would be well during Shipton's pregnancy. Technically they were, but not in the way I was expecting. I was expecting it meant that we would figure out the problem for sure and be able to have a firm resolution to move forward with future pregnancies. He arrived safely. But without knowing the details of what happened with my body. His pregnancy shattered what little hope I had left. For the first time, we have felt at peace that we could close this door.
As these waves of grieve have peeked their heads over recent months, it has lead to ugly thoughts and questions. Why would God allow this? Am I not righteous enough? Am I not worthy to be a mother? Surely that must have been the reason why I have been so cursed...so he could put a cap on the number of children he would allow to come to such a crazy, dysfunctional mom. I can see clearly through that most days, and fortunately I have enough experience with God to know He loves me. He loves me. That one thought has been one I have relied very heavily upon on those days of battling the demons in my head. And I have enough experience with recognizing Satan and his minions to catch their attempts relatively quickly. But still, these thoughts have come with the realizations that this just might be it for my opportunities to mother in this life.
My patriarchal blessing says basically that even though I will have painful and difficult experiences, they will always be overcome and the next day will be better than the days I struggle. The morning after the baby trigger, I expected to wake up my bright and cheery normal self. As I opened my eyes to my alarm, I knew I wasn't. I got up any way and wrote in my journal and prayed. I opened the scriptures and I kid you not, this is what I read:
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me" (John 14:1). In that very instant all of the sadness, confusion, hurt, and deeply rooted pain melted away. In that instant, I knew God was talking to ME. It was just what I needed to shake off the chains. I have had enough experience with Jesus Christ to know that He can carry ANYTHING for me. He can carry any burden. He can lighten any load. He can strengthen me in any capacity. I believe in God. I needed to believe in Christ too. In that moment I was reminded of that...that even though I didn't yet know how, I knew He could help me with this trial and burden as well. I read the entire chapter and although I have read this countless times before, that morning, I swear it was written for me personally. I prayed in gratitude again. As I sat up to tune in for my yoga, I kid you not, the sun at that very instant popped up from behind the mountains. Although my eyes were closed, it was so bright and warm on my eyes that it was as if they were opened. I could FEEL the light of the sun, which was so perfect because at that very moment I also felt the light of the Son.
I still don't understand completely why this is something I have been called to bear. I don't understand why it also effects Mark. But I know God loves me. I know He knows. And that is enough for me.
He seeks after all the tender places of our hearts. So WHY NOT this? If this is still one of the most tender places in my heart, why should I not be surprised? He doesn't just want part of me, He wants it all. My whole heart. My whole devotion. My whole everything. This is one more opportunity to hand it all over to Him...reserving nothing.
This leads perfectly into what we are ready to publicly announce. I have been self conscious and worried about other peoples' reactions. I am finally comfortable and confident enough as I know that not everyone will understand. That is just fine. You might remember that about 18 months ago we said we were going to be foster parents. We got part-way through our license and I freaked out. It reminds me of our pregnancy with Sennika. I was so excited and Mark was pretty nervous. Than just about over-night when I was about 7 months pregnant we traded. Mark was suddenly excited about it and I was scared. I didn't know how to care for a newborn! What was I thinking?! I literally went to the library and checked out a stack of books. As I began reading, I chilled out and realized I had learned what I needed to know between helping my mom with her babies and through nursing school. The rest could only be learned by hands-on-parenting experiences. That is what happened with foster care. I was all for it and Mark dragged his feet. Then part-way through, I freaked out and he was completely ready to move forward.
My three concerns were 1. We had a child who needed some extra attention. I needed to make sure he was good before I could commit to other children. That is a long story for another time, but he is much more secure now. Even so much that people who knew him before make comments about the different kid he is now. 2. How can I possibly foster with reunification in mind? How can I love a child as if he/she was my own, but then know full well he/she isn't? How could I send a child back home after loving them like that? 3. If a child is in foster care it means they have been through things that no child should have to go through. Am I ready for what that would mean for me and our family? Can we give that to another child or children without losing too much with the children we already have?
The answers to 2 & 3 have not come as directly as my 1 worry. When we were offered that little girl in South America a few months back, it really started some things in motion for us. It is the first real child we have ever been offered (the first was a scam). For the first time it wasn't just some abstract, vague idea that we wanted to adopt. There was a real, actual child who needed a home. That was a new level of scary, particularly for Mark. We talked and talked and prayed and prayed. We had one weekend in particular that was a difficult one for us both as we tried to communicate our thoughts and feelings. Although it all worked out for the little girl, it opened up the opportunity for us to really look at things in a way we previously hadn't without a real opportunity before us. We had to almost go back to ground zero because of it.
We established YES we really were serious about adopting. Whew! Now what? My preference as the nurturer is that for many children who are adopted, just the adoption alone is plenty for them to work through. I didn't want to create "extra work,"again, recognizing we already have four children we are always first and foremost committed to. The thought of going through an agency for a baby with ideally an open adoption would be my very first choice. Private adoption would be my second because even though it is less expensive, it would require me doing more of the ground work we would be paying the agency to do for us to help us connect and match with a birth family. My very last choice would be foster care. I was worried, again, of the burden it would place on me and the other children having a child or children who may have extra needs. Can we give that? Mark was the exact opposite in his order. As the provider, 20-60k is overwhelming. I get that! The less expensive, the less stress on him as he is working so hard to rebuild after the un and underemployment. As we are trying to build our future again, that is a chunk to be setback. So we prayed and I prayed. And we did our best to find our common ground. What can we give? Where can it come from to make this work?
And you know what? I was shocked how peaceful the foster care idea felt. I had run from it in fear, but I hadn't fully taken those fears to God. So although I don't have a direct answer to my worries of what it will be like if/when we have to send a child back home or what life will be like for me as a mom to more children who likely will have some special needs or what that will mean to our biological children, it feels okay. I can trust that if I follow God, we will have everything we need. And that is all I need right now.
We have been waiting for the classes to be in Brigham again to shave extra travel time off (AKA away from the kiddos). They start in a few weeks and this time we get to go together as a couple. almost 40 hours of training. Pretty awesome stuff! Then if all goes well and we still feel to proceed, we will start the paperwork and get our home study done. Just because we get a license doesn't necessarily mean we will have a placement the next day, so we will just have to wait and see what/when things happen. Last time we only wanted a baby or toddler. This time we are open to a sibling group. Maybe even 3. As long as at least one is a girl, we should be good to go (we don't think Senn could handle any more brother, temporary or not. SERIOUSLY!) :) We will keep you posted as there is any updates (that we want to talk about). :)
Here is the exciting thing. What if after all we have been through, we are actually really good at begin foster parents? What if we can be parents to these children for however short or long they are ours and we are able to love and parent them as few others can? What if because of trauma and triggers having been something we have addressed thoroughly in our own lives, we can actually absorb the consequences to this decision with ease (What if it doesn't stir up very much of our own "stuff" as parents because we have already sorted through the major parts of it and know what to do as things arise?)? What if because we understand trauma and triggers we are able to parent these children in ways that few understand? AND what if we find out that we totally love it?! Even if we have to take time between placements or decide to only do respite care, what if this is the most perfect fit for us? And we would never know any of that unless we take this first step of trust. I am ready now and I'm grateful God has been patient with me.
FYI we aren't ready to take our adoption blog down yet. If we were offered a baby, we would seriously consider any offer! Private adoption may still be how we get our daughter, but for now, foster care is the right direction regardless of how things unfold in the end.
These are the details of my life. This is what I have been working through and battling with. But what about YOU? What are you up against right now? Even though you may have all the children you want (and maybe even then some) is God seeking after a tender place in your heart? Is there something you are fighting against or holding onto that He wants you to place on His altar? Doe He want you to trust Him even more and can you see that opportunity before you right now, whatever form that may be taking for you? I'm not sure the best way to challenge you because it may be a time of peace for you, a valley between mountains. You decide what is the best way to act on what I have shared tonight, but act, "even" if it's "just" a heartfelt prayer to God.
The very morning that I wrote about God speaking to me as I had poured out my broken heart to Him happened to be a Sunday. One of the speakers in Sacrament meeting shared this and I felt like, again, it was JUST.FOR.ME. If you aren't aware, John 14 is all about peace, and not just any kind, but the special kind that only the Savior can give us.
"Many years ago I heard a story that impressed me. I share it with you today as I endeavor for a few minutes to direct your thinking toward the important word peace. A beautiful little blind girl was sitting on the lap of her father in a crowded compartment in a train. A friend seated nearby said to the father, “Let me give you a little rest,” and he reached over and took the little girl on his lap.
"A few moments later the father said to her, 'Do you know who is holding you?'
'No,' she replied, 'but you do.'
"Some might be inclined to say, 'What a perfect trust this child had in her father.' Others may say, 'What a wonderful example of love.' And still others might say, 'What an example of faith.' To me it indicates a beautiful blending of all of these principles, which brought a priceless inner peace to the child. She knew she was safe because she knew her father knew who was holding her. Affection, respect, and care over the years had placed in this little girl’s heart a peace that surpasseth all understanding. She was at peace because she knew and trusted her father.
"We plead for peace in our prayers and thoughts. Where is peace? Can we ever enjoy this great gift while wars, rumors of wars, discord, evil, and contention swirl all around us? The answer is yes. Just as the little blind girl sat on the stranger’s lap with perfect contentment because her father knew him, so we can learn to know our Father and find inner peace as we live his principles.
"It is very significant that when Jesus came forth from the tomb and appeared to his disciples, his first greeting was, 'Peace be unto you.' (Luke 24:36.) Peace—not passion, not personal possessions, not personal accomplishments nor happiness—is one of the greatest blessings a man can receive. Our trust and our relationship with our Heavenly Father should be one similar to that of the little blind girl and her earthly father. When sorrow, tragedy, and heartbreaks occur in our lives, wouldn’t it be comforting if when the whisperings of God say, 'Do you know why this has happened to you?' we could have the peace of mind to answer 'No, but you do.'
"Certainly peace is the opposite of fear. Peace is a blessing that comes to those who trust in God. It is established through individual righteousness. True personal peace comes about through eternal vigilance and constant righteous efforts. No man can be at peace who is untrue to his better self. No man can have lasting peace who is living a lie. Peace can never come to the transgressor of the law. Commitment to God’s laws is the basis for peace. Peace is something we earn. It is not a gift. Rather, it is a possession earned by those who love God and work to achieve the blessings of peace. It is not a written document. It is something that must come from within." The rest of the talk is HERE if you want to go check it out.
THIS blogpost is phenomenal too. It goes hand-in-hand with what I shared was at the roots of why this has bothered me. "Am I not righteous, worthy, or good enough?" Truly with Christ, I have enough. I am enough. Being blessed with a dozen more children wouldn't change that. I can have peace right now regardless of what is or isn't happening in my life. I can have peace because of Jesus Christ.