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To my fellow foster families…

I am the emotional one. The one with my heart on my sleeve and a lump in my throat.

I see you wrestling with the innocence you just lost. Wrestling with the knowledge that moms and dads who love children might not have the tools, the opportunity to give up everything you would give to parent a child.

I hear your hopeful words. I see the longing in your hearts. Some wrestling with infertility and trying to shake the deep unfairness of the idea that some can birth babies with no regard for stewarding their life. It is unfair! Grieve that truth. Do it for you and for the future babies in your arms.

I watch you silently resolve to bring the best of what you can. The popular sitcom This is Us had a message in the first few opening shows…  there is no lemon too sour that you cannot make some type of lemonade.  I see this when I stand before you at class. I feel this as I stand before you leading class. My lemon is why I’m in the room too. And you, you are the sweetest lemonade born from the sourest punch.

I want to wrap you in my arms and share all of my lessons with you. I want to tell you to change the world and save safe place for the deep disappointments that will come. They will come. But you will overcome those too.

I am so proud of all of you. Finding your way, claiming your story, sharing your heart. You bring joy to my heart. You are an encouragement.

You are ready.

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Exile

Butterfly

“Por eso se llama exillo. That is why they call it exile. You belong everywhere and nowhere at all.” ~ I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin

If ever there was a word that describes this torment inside of my heart it is exile. Except there are so many reasons why this word should not be mine. Like the obvious. I am not nor have I been in exile.

Yet as I remove the literal definition of exile and allow my brain to toss it around I identify with it. My heart lives in the memories of Zach and my heart lives in the promise of today, of tomorrow. My heart fiercely protects Iowa as my home state yet I simultaneously feel like Iowa not my home at all. I look casually over my shoulder and see clearly that it is grief that is the event that removed me from my home and placed me in a new home.

Exile. Belonging everywhere and nowhere. Living here… loving here… knowing Heaven is forever home.

Exile. You are a child and removed from your home and placed in the home of another. You belong everywhere and nowhere.

Suddenly the fog has lifted.

I see.

My children share this confusion with me. Fiercely loving each other and yet wrestling with the longing of home. The longing is authentic and real. It is hard. They miss the before while loving the now.

Just when I think we have so little in common I see how tightly bound we are. I see how carefully God planned this journey. How Zach was the catalyst into foster care for all the right reasons. For God’s reasons.

I stand a little taller. My doubts are not as truthful as they seem.

People often encourage me to not change the system. They are right. I won’t change the system. System are business functions that we need to keep order and move forward. They exist to corral the average. There is dysfunction as much as there is great success in systems. All systems.

But I will impact lives. I will honor my heart’s path of exile and honor the exiles I know and love.

To my foster children now and in the future… you will always belong in my everywhere and nowhere. You have changed my life, you have made it better. You.

Blue Skies In, Gray Skies Out

Slow and steady, deep breathes in and out.

Transition is happening. Today it washes over me like an ocean of sadness. When we met this little guy, God had turned our hearts upside down. Coming off a hard placement, a not so good fit, we were callous. We were hard of heart. Then this sweet gift crashed into our lives. A hand holding, tickle monster, loving kid. Together we spent the summer with him as part of us. Part of our crazy exploring crew.

And here we are. So eager to believe he was ours, to love him like our own and staring down this thing. The right thing. A relative placement. A sweet family that has broken down walls to prove they can and will do this for him.

Convictions run so deep. So sure. And it doesn’t take away the sting of my hot tears. It doesn’t matter the times I tell myself this is right, my heart grieves today.

I miss him.

The son that was only mine for a blink.

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