Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A New Direction

As we have begun to get settled into our new home, I often find myself wandering from room to room looking for what needs to be changed here or what furniture should be moved there. One of my most favorite rooms is our new nursery, also known as Jack's room. When I first began decorating the nursery in my mind sometime after the first of the year, I was newly pregnant with our fourth baby. It was too soon in my pregnancy to know whether the little one inside of me would be another sister or a new baby brother, but of course I could not wait to find out the sex to begin decorating and purchasing items for the room, so I decided to go with a color scheme that would suit little boys and little girls.  I spent many hours on Pinterest and finally decided on what I wanted. Light tan walls with thick marshmallow stripes. A bright orange closet for housing favorite books and toys. A small white toddler bed for Jack, with polka dot bedding in orange, green, blue, red, and grey. Colorful Chinese party lanterns would hang above his bed for a burst of happy. We would keep his little black bookcase with the antique picture window hanging above it. I thought that maybe one day I would fill the slots of that window with some cheerful manners cards that I found on Etsy. The last piece of furniture to live in that room would be a small white crib, complete with a tan and white stripped sheet (to match the walls) and an orange crib skirt, perfect for housing a new brother or sister.

Because Boss is so super great, over the last several months, he has made Jack's room look exactly as I had envisioned in my head. It is happy, and bright, and cheerful, and every time I walk by the door I can't help but smile. The only thing missing of course, is the baby that I miscarried last February. Many times over the last several months as we worked on the house prior to moving in, I would stare at that crib and wonder what we should do with it. Should we get rid of it? Give it to someone else who was expecting a new baby? Or should we try again for another baby of our own? What was its purpose going to be in our new home? The purpose of the crib was something that I prayed about often. While the sadness over my miscarriage was gone, I felt no peace either way about what to do next.

When I first discovered I was pregnant with baby number four, I was elated. In all my life I have never felt as much joy as I did when I was carrying our fourth baby for those eight weeks. Being the Mama to four was a dream come true, and I thought for sure that once we were able to try again that I would want to. But that time came and went, and something held me back. Surprisingly it was not fear that held me back this time (for once in my life), but a lack of peace instead. I did not have peace about trying for another baby, no matter how much I thought that I wanted it. During my miscarriage I had asked God to give me 'new eyes' with which to see the world around me and my purpose in it, and somewhere along the way my vision for our empty white crib changed.

I actually remember the very first day that I knew what I wanted to do with our empty crib. I was walking around the beautiful campus of the children's home, and I was thinking about our upcoming move and what life would look like there. I pictured each room of our new home and tried to see in my mind our family living there. When I began picturing the nursery, the crib was there, only this time it was not empty. This time it held a little baby. A precious little foster baby. And when I pictured that, I smiled. That was exactly what I wanted to do with our little white crib, in our cheerful little nursery which I had carefully decorated to be suited for both baby boys and baby girls. I wanted to use our crib for babies (one at a time) to lay their heads in when they needed a place of comfort and safety in their lives, whether it be for a short season or a long one. I had long ago joked that I wanted to be a Baby Mama (a Mama to many babies), and I figured my new plan for our crib fit the Baby Mama bill pretty well. And most importantly, this new plan I was contemplating brought with it a huge amount of peace.

So we began to talk about fostering babies as a family. After a few discussions Boss, surprisingly, was on board, and so were the children, and we have continued to pray about it over the past few months. The first thing we ultimately decided on (as a family), was that we would not open up our home until the end of the summer when Boss heads back to work (yes, having a spouse who works in education and has summers off is AWESOME). This summer is for family fun, loving on our kids, and pouring everything that we have into both them and each other. But when the summer has come to an end, we will head off in our new direction.

I know some will think we are crazy. I have already gotten that response when I have told others about our new fostering decision, and I honestly expected that. After all, we just left behind a job where we cared for others and welcomed them into our family, so that we could focus more on our core unit of five. I kind of thought we were crazy for even discuusing it, too. But after much thought and prayer, what I realized, is that what we left behind was our crazy, busy, often hectic, hormonal teenager lifestyle. We did not leave behind our desire to love and serve others. Opening my home to children who don't have one is part of who I am. It is just going to look a bit different this time around.

This time around, we will be in our own home, not working as part of a group. This time around, my own children's birth order will not change (this was something that Emma expressed as being important to her). This time around, we will only take birth to two years (I was honestly shocked that there was a NEED for families who were willing to take infants in our area, as I figured all of those sweet ones would already be snatched up!), and this time around, we will only serve one child at a time (as opposed to five or six). And if we need to take breaks between placements? We can do that. And most importantly, along the way, we will continually be gaging our birth children's spirits to see how they are feeling about our ministry. Their opinions are super important to us, so we always include them in these types of choices we make that effect our entire family. So far, they are very happy and excited! In preparing for our move, I separated and washed all of our baby things 2T and under, and the girls helped me. We talked a lot about the little ones who might come our way and wear the tiny clothes we were folding. I am so proud of my children's open and caring hearts!

I will be honest here and say that sometimes I want to chicken out. Life on our own has been so stupendously nice, and sometimes I don't want it to end. On the mornings that I get to sleep in, I think about how I might have to soon get up with an infant, and I feel tired just thinking about it. But even after all of these months, the peace that I found when deciding to foster little ones has never wavered. It keeps me anchored in our decision. I kind of think that fostering is my love language to the world. Some people take care of the homeless, some volunteer, some teach Bible classes, some donate money, and me? I foster. It is my thing. It is our families thing. And while it might take on different shapes as our family grows, ages and changes over the years, I do believe that it will always be a part of who we are in one way or another. Our small way to make a difference in this great big world. A way we can say thank you to God, by sharing the love and the family that He blessed us with. Anything less than that doesn't feel right.

Sometimes, late at night after everyone else is asleep, I go into Jack's room and pray for the tiny ones who might sleep in that crib after Jack has outgrown it. I wonder what they will look like, and as hesitant as I sometimes feel, I can honestly say that I am so very excited! We will begin the process to transfer our license over here to our new home the week after next, and sometime in late summer/fall we hope to receive our first call. New directions can be scary, but I figure most beautiful and worthwhile things in life usually are. So I have decided to trump any and all fear with faith, because this is the story that He is writing for us, and I have peace that it  is going to be a good one.