Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heavy and Hopeful Hearts

I'm sitting the in driveway right now, watching my 3 little men race their cars around and around. Every once in a while, they will stop to switch vehicles. It's a precious and comforting ending to one of the hardest days our family has had. Today, we said goodbye to our sweet Little Miss.

People often ask how we deal with watching our little ones leave our home to go back to be with their families. This is our first experience having a child leave our home, so I wanted to be sure to write about it. Her leaving has left our hearts heavy. There is a piece missing in our family. I imagine how we feel is like going to hear an orchestra play, only to find out that the flute section is missing. The music may still sound beautiful, but there is something noticeably absent.

When I tried to picture what this day would look like, I pictured lots of crying. I have most definitely cried, but it hasn't been the torrent I expected. Maybe it's because we knew this day was coming. Maybe it's because I've cried so much over the last few weeks. Maybe it's because we're still a little numb. I don't know. I do know that God is still good, He has a plan, and that we don't regret loving our little girl. I would do it all over again.

In the hours since we gave our last kisses, I already miss the sound of her giggles and coos. I catch myself looking for her rolling around on the playroom rug. It's the little things that get to me most- the last bottle in the dishwasher, pink things still scattered around the house, sounds that remind me of her. I suppose when you love deeply, you grieve deeply.

It's very true that the world doesn't stop when you're hurting. That has really irked me in the past. Now, though, I'm glad. My big boys have told me they're sad and miss their sister, but they don't let those feelings keep them from riding their bikes, saying "I love you," or devouring their dinner. Sweet moments of being a wife and mom are still sweet. I wish so much that she could be here to star in and share those moments, but I have to trust that God's plan for her is bigger, sweeter, and more perfect than the ones I would make for her. That hope (even when I don't really feel it), is what keeps us going. It's what gives us strength and peace to keep loving on hurting kids and making a safe home for them. It's what enables us to lay our family on the altar. We know that His ways are higher and better than ours.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's been a roller coaster ride over the past few days. I've cried, had trouble sleeping, and experienced sweet joy.

Court was set for 9 am this morning. I kept checking my phone for a text or call to find out how things went. Finally, about 11:30, I learned that we don't have to say goodbye to our precious little one today. Apparently, the judge did not have the all the information she wanted and decided not to rule today. The case will be reviewed again next week. We are so thankful that God has answered our prayer that the judge would have every piece of truth before she made her decision. We know this means more waiting, but we gladly keep waiting if it means we can treasure more snuggles, smiles, and precious moments with our littlest one.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Packing List

Chad will tell you that one of my least favorite things to do in the whole world is to pack. Whether it's for a short trip or packing up our whole house before we move, I really don't like packing. I don't want to choose before hand what I'm going to wear, and I almost always forget something (diapers, shoes, etc.) I feel overwhelmed at the thought of cramming all the "essentials" into one or two bags. If they sold Mary Poppins bags on Etsy, I would buy one.

Today, I started another packing list. I've made 2 over the last week and half for family trips, but this one is much different. It is without a doubt the hardest packing list I've ever made. I pulled down my yellow legal notepad and started listing all the things I need to send with our baby girl when she leaves this week. It breaks my heart to even type that.

We've known from the day she came that she was mostly likely going to be reunited with her family. I've spent the past 6 months praying and hoping that she would be able to stay. I even had a dream a month or so ago that her family gave her to me to raise. I've wondered so many times where the line is between hope and denial. I think I've crossed back and forth over it. We learned a few weeks ago that there was a 99.9% chance that she would be leaving on the 14th, and since then I've felt pretty numb about it. Maybe numb isn't the right word. I thought maybe it was peace, but I'm not sure about that either. I've cried, prayed, and talked about it with Chad, friends and family. I think we're at a point of acceptance. That does not mean we are ok with what's happening. We know there really isn't anything else we can do. We have to trust that God knows His plans for this precious baby, and that His plans are far better than the ones we can make for her. I struggle so much with that. It's like there's a constant war waging in my heart.

We went to see my family this past weekend, because my extended family had never met our little girl. She delighted everyone. My parents are keeping the big boys for a week, and Chad and I had to tell them that their baby wouldn't be at our house when the come home. They had to say goodbye. My parents, sister, and extended family also had to say goodbye. I am so thankful that her little heart doesn't hurt like mine does.

I've been suddenly overcome by all the "lasts" of this week- our last weekend as a family of 6, the last time we'll have lunch with Daddy, and the last time I'll fold some of her tiny clothes. Some people would say it's because I got too attached or because this is our first foster baby to leave, but it's more than that. It's even more than the emotional bond we have from spending so many days in the hospital. God brought her to me when I needed some help seeing joy in life. He has used her to help me smile when missing my sister made me want to cry. Not for one second do I regret loving her. I tell her every day that wherever she is, I will love her.

There is no way I could ever pack all of our memories into a box to send with her. She is too precious and has meant to much to us to even try. Nevertheless, I have started a packing list because I want her to go home with what she needs, and I don't mean just clothes and things like that. I mean I want her to know without a doubt that Jesus loves her. That truth is the greatest thing we could ever send with her.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Broken Umbrella

When it rains, it pours. And I feel like I'm standing in the downpour with a broken umbrella.

Over the last 2 months, I've learned something about grief. It's sneaky. It creeps in unnoticed and suddenly appears out of nowhere. There have been so many times I've wanted to call my sister to share an inside joke or to talk about a favorite memory. Not being able to share things with her has been harder in ways that I didn't expect. I wish so much I could call her in heaven so she could tell me all about it.

I'm typing this post from the hospital. Little Miss was admitted over the weekend, and we're currently starting night number 3. I'm not going to lie, it's been terrible. I don't particularly like being in hospitals, and I hate that our family is separated. It's weighing on everyone. It's hard that love alone can't make a precious baby feel better or comfort boys when mommy's not there. If life was a wrestling match, Chad and I have considered tapping out more than once.

In all the stress, exhaustion, fear, and frustration, I am trying to cling to the hope that I have a great Helper and nothing that is going on in my family escapes His attention. When I say "try," I mean that. It is a big struggle for me. Despite over 20 years of knowing God's truth, my faith is shakng. I'm asking questions and having doubts that I haven't had before. I am ready to find my footing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Special Birthday

It's interesting to me how I remember and celebrate certain dates. I like to celebrate my half birthday, the anniversary or my first date with Chad, and today is another very special date for me.

Twenty one years ago, in the living room of my childhood home, my older sister and I made the biggest and best decision of our lives. We accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That seems like such Christianese, but that's how my six-year-old heart understood it. I knew I was lost and destined for eternity separated from God, and I knew that my only hope was to cling to Jesus and the price He paid for me. Some might doubt that a child can really understand enough to make a such a decision. I admit that I have questioned that same thing, but I have come to the conclusion time and time again that my decision to lean on Christ for salvation was real and genuine.

I mentioned before that I share this special day with my older sister. I miss her so much today! Whether we were close or far apart, sharing this day knit our hearts together in a special way. It is such a blessing to me that I was there when she became a believer, and I was there when she left this world to run into the arms of Jesus. I know that she is celebrating in heaven and that one day I will be there with her. She always got to do things first, and so I like to think she's scouting everything out for me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Life on the Outside

After 25 hours spent inside CMC, I was able to get away for a while today. It was so wonderful to feel the sun, breathe fresh air and eat food not purchased in the cafeteria. My girlhood best friend, who I haven't seen in about 10 years, picked me up and treated me to lunch (yes, Mexican food) and a little shopping. I was amazed at how we fell into our old roles and seemed to pick up where we left off. So much is changed in our lives in the last decade (college, marriage, careers and kiddos), but our personalities still mesh like they did when we spent our days playing with Barbies or American Girl dolls.

I was so blessed to spend my evening with another precious friend and my sweet little girl. It's amazing how a hospital room can transform into a place where lives, hearts, and dreams are shared. Real friendship is doing life with one another, and Jane and I have certainly done that. She's seen me transform from a recent college grad to a wife and now to a mommy. She has the gifl of loving and encouraging others and bringing joy and refreshment to a downtrodden heart. Our talks of God's love, the love we have for our men, and mommyhood served as a great reminder that the world keeps spinning and God is still working, eventhough my life seems like it's at a standstill.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For Such a Time as This

Today was my first full day in Dallas with Little Miss after being flown here yesterday morning. It was a whirlwind morning. By 11, we had ridden in an ambulance and flown in a helicopter. It's so hard to see a little one sick, especially when she struggles to breathe. I was overwhelmingly relieved to see her get some help. Though much of the experience was intense, I had a sense of calm- calm because I know that God is in control and calm because we have been through a similar experience with Jack. In fact, at one point, I looked at Chad and said, "Same song, second verse." I believe that God uses our experiences to prepare us for things later on down the road. This has most certainly been true in this case. Almost 4 years ago, we spent 3 weeks in the NICU with newborn Jack because his preemie lungs weren't quite strong enough to work on their own. Then, 2 months ago, I watched my sister struggle to breathe in her final days in the ICU. It's not that I'm comfortable with IVs or cannulas or the thought of intubation; I have just seen them work and provide comfort for people I love. I am so thankful that God prepared us to be there for our sweet little girl by guiding us through Jack's first weeks and Christie's death. We believe that this might be why God brought Little Miss into our family, even if it is for a season. It is a joy to love her and take care of her. I did promise her that our next girls' trip would look much different.