Are you doing what you wanted to do when you grew up?

Baseball_kidToday I have been thinking about what people’s lives are compared to what they wanted it to be as children.

When we are kids, we are always asked that question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  If you listen to children, you will usually hear things like cowboy, astronaut, doctor, sports athlete, or fireman.  Those are all wonderful career choices.  As children grow, however, those choices change.  Our likes and dislikes, as well as our aptitude in different skills dictate what we eventually do when we grow.  Even more than that, are the life circumstances during our early years that often decide what we eventually choose to do with our lives.

 

But the most important decision maker in my mind is God’s plan for our life, combined with our free will to choose or not choose that plan.

I started out wanting to be a professional baseball player.  I was an avid fan as a child.  I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could grab my glove and ball and go outside to play.  I knew all of the stats for my favorite players.  Being a Yankee fan, I knew every player on the team, the lineup, pitching rotation, and pretty much everything else that mattered about the team.  I just knew that eventually, I would be a Yankee too.

But life changed.

As I grew older, I realized that my skill level just wasn’t there.  Sure I could keep up with my team members in the league I played in.  And I was generally better than the average neighborhood kid.  But once I got to high school, I realized that my dreams of playing in the big leagues was just that – a dream.

So my interests changed.  They changed several times.  Eventually I ended up in my current career.  It is a career I absolutely love.  I am one of those people that love what they do.  I enjoy working.  And I believe it was God’s plan that I end up doing what I do.  I believe that throughout my life, he was shaping me, molding me, and making me into the man I am today.

But what about those people in the world that have fallen?

What about my little one’s mom?  I cannot imagine that when she was young, she wanted to grow up and have her children turned over to the state.  I am sure that as an innocent child, she wanted for herself a wonderful life, a wonderful upbringing, a wonderful career.  I am also convinced that God also wanted that for her.  I am even more convinced that God’s love has not changed, and that He continues to want that for her.

So today I wonder if it is God’s plan all along for some to fall?  Did God want my little one to be taken from her mom all along? No I don’t believe so.  I believe God want us to bear children, then protect them and keep them safe, raising them to honor Him.  I think it is our free will and the human race’s fall from grace that causes us to do things that do not honor Him.  We live in a fallen world, a world that contain great good, and also great evil. Because of the grace of God, my wife and I went one way, and my little one’s bio family another.

As our little one grows into a woman, I pray that her dream about what she wants to do when she grows up, combined with her free will, and God’s plan for her life, results in a positive and enriching life that honors God always.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

What are you doing now?

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Mommy and Daddy…

daddy's_hand

 

So as foster parents there is the inevitable dilemma.

What should our foster child call us?

Mommy and Daddy?

Should they call us by our names?

Is it even up to us?

 

Our little one has called us mommy and daddy since she got here.  Honestly we have not discouraged her, as doing so I think would cause even more confusion.  She is not old enough to understand why we would be discouraging her.  But I have to tell you at first it seemed odd.  Obviously not odd to this little innocent child.  Odd to the adults who know the circumstances.  I mean, how will the bio mom feel about that?  How will our little one react when she sees her bio mom again?

Just last night at dinner, we were sitting around at the table, and our little one pointed at me, and told my wife “That’s daddy!”.  I pointed at my wife and asked “Who’s that?” to which she answered “Mommy!”

After some thought, I realized the sense of comfort and safety those words must mean for her.  She is with mommy and daddy.  Mommy and daddy represent family to her.  They represent normalcy.  They represent love.  Isn’t that, in the end, what we are called to do for this little girl?  Aren’t we charged with bringing the joy and love of Christ to one who needs it the most?

Of course the answer is yes.  So for now, we will be her mommy and daddy.  One day, when she is older, she will understand the difference between our kind of mommy and daddy, and the bio mommy and daddy.  But this child has already experienced a trauma in her life  no child should ever experience.  Adding more trauma by trying to take away the only mommy and daddy she knows right now would not be in her best interests.

Besides, I can’t tell you it doesn’t feel good to be called daddy.  Sure, I know one day, she will be mad at me, and as most do, she will angrily take that title away from me as revenge.  It is part of growing up and for foster kids part of dealing with their circumstances.  And I will have to understand.

But right now, I am daddy.

And as George Strait says in his song, a dad’s love is “A love without end, Amen!”

Dealing with the well meaning questions…

BeachSo one of the inevitable issues we are dealing with as foster parents are the well meaning questions and comments from fiends and family.  I fostered two children years ago, so I am kind of used to the questions, but my wife isn’t.  Nevertheless, we seem to be handling it ok.  Of course, we are not offended by the questions.  They are normal.  People are curious and want to know more.  But it can lead to some awkward moments.

Some of the common ones are where our foster child came from and what the circumstances of her biological family are.  Since I knew we would be getting these question often, I made sure the wife and I discussed what our answers would be when the questions came up.  The main thing I wanted to do was to make sure we answered these questions in a way that not only respected our little one’s privacy, but also in a way that did not negatively speak of her biological family.

You see, there is one thing you realize in all of this, and that is how fragile we humans are.  We could answer the question by disparaging the family, and talk about how great we are and how bad they are because their child was taken away.  But if we did that, how would we – as Christians – be behaving?  Would we be acting in a Christ-like manner, as one who loves their God and loves their neighbor?  I think not.

The fact is that as we learn more about our little one’s family, we are humbled.  We realize that we are all sinners.  We realize that “except but for the grace of God go I”.  We are sad for our little one’s family.  We are sad for her.   We can only imagine what it is like for us to be ripped from the arms of our mom or dad, and be handed into the arms of strangers, and then told “Go to a pool party and have fun!”

Then we are amazed if the child is not happy (Luckily our little one had a blast at the pool party).

There is another thing that we find of the utmost importance.

We don’t know how long this child of God will be with us.  Her family could get things straightened out and the family could be re-united.  Then again, maybe she will be with us for a long time.  We just don’t know right now.  But our absolute number one priority is her future, her well being, and her soul.  So the last thing we want is to not allow her to have a choice in how her family is portrayed to the world.  It is her family.  So when the time comes, she will know where she came from, and what the circumstances were.  Then she can decide how those facts are shared with the world.

Until then, know that she is a beautiful child of God, and that is what is most important to know about her.

Two Children, same result…

slide

Yesterday was our first “play date” with my wife’s friend and her son.

So we had an outing at Chik-fi-la, which has a playground.   Our little one apparently had never been to Chik-fi-la.  She was a little shy at first.  She ate all of her chicken, most of her fries, and about a quarter of a chocolate chip cookie.  She ate more than her play date partner, who was more interested in going to the playground.  Our child was not really aware yet there was such a thing waiting for her.

When we got to the playground, again there was some hesitation.  However, her new found friend was eager to “help”.

“C’mon!  Let’s climb up!”

It took all of two minutes for both children to be in playground heaven.  I loved watching their pure joy as they climbed up, then down the slide over and over.

Then it came.

It was time to go.

First our play date partner’s turn.

“C”mon, just once more!”, mommy ordered.

“No mommy, two more!”

He got his two more, then the bad news  that it was time to go, and the tears started.  He was devastated, and mommy was there to console him. Our bundle of joy saw what was coming, and quickly escaped to climb some more.  Daddy was going to have to be smart about this one. I waited for her to go down the slide again, and was waiting to pick her up at the bottom.  This was not going to be pretty, and sure enough, the complaints came.  With tears running down her face, she yelled “NO!!!!!!!” Our mistake was to not have a sippy cup of milk for the ride home, which would have eased the heartache and suffering.

We learned some things about this adventure.  First, our little one needs more play dates.  She needs to continue to learn to associate with others her age.  We also learned that her behavior closely resembles however her play date partner is behaving.  When he was ok, she was ok.  When he blew up, she did too. The most interesting thing was learned was this.  Here we had two children with completely different backgrounds, life experiences, family lives, but in the end – the same result.

In the end, they are kids, and will behave as such.

One step forward, two steps back…

crying

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

–James 1:2-4

 

We are learning every day about our precious child of God, this foster child we have been blessed with.  We had been progressing with her pretty steadily.  However, a couple of days ago, she met with her bio family.

All seemed to have gone well according to the case worker.  However, that night, she couldn’t sleep.  She awoke at 1 AM and was awake for about 3 hours before falling back to sleep.  We can only imagine what she was thinking.  Maybe she thought when she saw her bio family that she was going home with them.  We were not able to be with her during the visit so we don’t know for sure, but we know it could not have been easy to leave her family again.  She probably thought it was all happening again, that separation that these foster kids deal with over and over again.

My heart breaks for this precious child, and I feel helpless.

The last couple of days have been hard at day care drop off.  As we get closer to the door, she starts to grab on tighter to my neck, wrapping her little legs around me to prevent me from putting her down.  Inevitably, when I finally set her down, the tears flow.  As much as I want to grab her tight and take her home, I simply tell her I will be back later, and walk away quickly.  I can see her through the window as her care taker picks her up to console her.

Again heartbreaking, even if it is necessary.

I know the impact we are having on her.  I see the progress she is making.  I see how much she smiles and dances when we are together.  In her smile, I see the work of Jesus.  She really is our Lord in bottle for me, pure joy that comes from the love He emanating from Him through us.

But sometimes I simply don’t understand why she needs to go through this.  I know there is a plan, a holy one that one day I will realize.  But right now, I just want to protect her from this world,  a world that can be cruel and uncaring, and one she does not deserve.

For now, I will lean on this verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

–Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Afternoon Traditions

 

This song is becoming somewhat of a new tradition on afternoons after daycare.

I don’t announce it per se.  I just start playing it.  Our little one now knows the song, so when it starts, she will get a big smile on her face, turn towards me, and starts to slowly move her shoulders.  Before you know it, we are dancing in the living room again.

Yes I think this will become a new tradition in our household.