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Struggling, Juggling & Balancing

It is so hard to believe how much time has passed since I have last updated.  So much has changed and so much has happened.  So, again, forgive the longer than normal post!

A little over two months ago our lives changed so much.  We were blessed with two beautiful little girls and they have become the center of our world.  From the moment they entered our home, we knew that they were a perfect fit in our family.

It is hard when you are fostering to share the experiences during this journey and honestly, probably one of the top two reasons I have not updated.  The biggest reason I haven’t updated is obviously a matter of finding time.  From the moment we wake up in the morning, we hit the ground running.  Work, school, daycare, after school activities, visits, visitors to the home, appointments, church, weekend family fun and whatever else we can squeeze in completely consumes our days.  Not only do we put very two tired children to bed each night, but we often find ourselves collapsing into bed ourselves!

We absolutely love this busy life and sometimes we long for that sense of normalcy, but we understood what we were getting ourselves into before we completed our certification and before we took in our first placement.  Sometimes juggling it all seems like a daunting task, but at the end of the day, it has been worth every step.  No, not easy, and definitely not perfect, but definitely worth it.  Of course, nothing can really prepare you for this journey, except the actual journey!

It is hard to admit sometimes that we struggle, but the reality is, if anyone in life tells you they don’t struggle, it’s a lie!  Sorry, I know that’s harsh, but we all have struggles in this world.  The Bible even tells us that we will have struggles in this world in John 16:33, but it is the ending of that scripture I love the most because God tells us to take heart, because HE has overcome the world!  Every struggle is different and while some have commonplace, they are unique because they are ours.  So what is it, I am struggling with?  I have personally struggled in many areas lately.  I have shared my cancer journey to some extent, and yes, I am so blessed and I know it, but there is a fear that grips me and often times is an underlying issue to my frustration or need to control things.  I am learning to recognize those fears and take ownership of what I do when I feel the need to “control” situations.  My husband has also started to recognize it when it happens, and he will pull me aside and give me the reassurance that I need so very much.  Being three weeks away from the one year, five day protocol has been stressful.  We have also been dealing with our own fertility and how that looks a year after treatment.  Honestly, I am very confused… I am fulfilled with the life we have as foster parents and the possibilities that it holds, but long for a baby and to know that experience.  I also think that if we do not find out definitively, we will always question the “what if” in our lives.  I know that at my age there are additional risks involved, which leads me to question whether or not we should pursue it any further.  My husband is extremely supportive of whatever I truly wish to do and has said that he is fulfilled as well in this journey we are on.  I am choosing (daily) to lay it at the master’s feet and to let Him be the guide!  So do we struggle… absolutely!  Those two things in and of itself are stressful, then you add in work stress, the foster care journey and other day-to-day stressors and well, you have a perfect storm!  I am thankful that we both have a strong commitment to each other and our family.  I am also thankful that we are open and willing to admit that yes, we have things we need to work at and NO our marriage is not perfect.  After all, no marriage is perfect.  The difference is, we came to a point where we realized that we either address the things we really need to work on or we risk the consequences of sweeping things under the carpet.  We are both fully committed to our faith, our marriage, the children in our care, our families, our careers and to caring for others.  For this, I am so thankful.  I hesitate in saying we struggle, but the reality is, we all have struggles.  Some of us put on a smile and lock the world out and others let it all out.  We are so not complaining, rather sharing because we know we are not alone and our struggles pale in comparison to others, but they are ours and we recognize the need to simply address them!  I am also thankful that God is at the center of it all and we know that through Him ALL things are possible!  I am thankful that the struggles we do have are all things we can and are willing to work on… so the work continues because there will always be things to work on in life and having a willingness to work on them is more than half the battle.

In the midst of the “struggle” there is a need to juggle everything.  It is kind of funny, so far, this has been the easy part.  We are so very blessed with our agency and all involved with the children.  They understand that we made a commitment to these children and that we are attempting to minimize any further “trauma” in their lives and allow them to simply be kids!  Our oldest is old enough to be involved in various activities and we felt that allowing her to choose two of them was a good thing for her.  So each week, two nights a week, we run to those activities.  She loves them and the smile on her face makes it so worth it.  We also wanted her involved in activities for a number of reasons.  We want her to have positive interactions and relationships with kids her own age, we want her enriched, to learn responsibility, to simply be a kid!  The youngest is a little too young for activities, but she is very active as well.  A typical week in our home usually involves a couple of visitors to the home (there are six people that need to visit on a monthly basis and one that usually visits before a court hearing) at different times, activities, and a visit with their biological parent.  Add into that nightly homework, and nightly routines and you have a pretty busy week.  Once in a while we get a week with a free night, but most weeks this is typical.  Along with the juggling of schedules, comes balancing everything for the sake of the children.

Balancing is often the most difficult part, how do you keep the calm in your home when there is so much going on.  Yes, the children are used to visits, visitors, activities and other things that go on in our home, but I often think about what is going on in their little heads.  While all of this may seem normal in their world, the reality is, it stirs up emotions!  So we have chosen to structure our home differently to meet their needs.  First and foremost we reinforce that they are safe and loved in our home.  We always make it a point to show the children that we have wonderful (which we do) and positive relationships with all involved!  We always try to honor their biological parent and reassure them that we are all on the same team!  We also reassure them that we will always honor their biological parent… no matter what!  On nights when visits occur we have extra cuddle time and family time which usually involves singing children’s songs and other activities that create a sense of calm.  When issues arise with the children, whether it is a feeling of guilt, missing their toys, or confusion about something that happened, we try to balance it with the honesty they deserve and the protection they so very much need at this age.  We find ourselves attempting to heal the hurts and teaching them what love truly means, that our hands are for hugging and helping, not for hurting.  While the girls are extremely well behaved, there are still issues to address.  We have found that a token economy helps them in making good choices.  We balance that with just allowing them to be kids.  It is hard to just re-direct the children when they bring up touchy situations, but we do a lot of listening, a lot of consoling and a lot of reassuring.  I will say that we are blessed. It is not a nightly occurrence and happens at the most once every couple of weeks.  Yes, there are moments in between as they begin to make sense of their world, but we attempt to balance everything for their emotional health.  After all, they are children and they should be about the business of being children… nothing more!

Our oldest will often ask before bed, so what is tomorrow?   She is learning to question us as to what is coming up because we don’t always tell her everything that is coming her way.  The reason for that is, she will focus on that event throughout the school day and not her academics.  We would rather be vague and allow her to be set up for as much success as possible at school.  It may not be perfect, but it truly works in our home and it also diminishes the anxiety that some situations present.  We do not tell them when visits are because then it makes for an emotional and much unfocused day at school.  Rather when the social worker shows up to pick her up from school, she is excited and there is only a short wait to see her biological parent.

At the end of the day, we both feel strongly that God has placed us on this journey for a reason.  Much like He has promised us hope and a future in Jeremiah 29:11, we are committed to providing the same hope and future to these children.  We believe strongly that God has placed these two blessings in our home for a reason and for His divine purpose.  We believe that as they grow and mature in our home that He is making the mess their message and that someday they will testify to the goodness in their lives… for HIS glory!  Yes, God warned us that in this life we will have troubles… but in His goodness and mercy and grace, He finished it by telling us to take heart because HE has overcome the world!

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”