The Joy of Arrival

For me, becoming a mom has been a lot like getting to California. There was a decade of heart ache, disappointment, betrayal, loss, and grief before I arrived. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe your own journey hasn’t been all that smooth.

Still I arrived. And when I did instead of becoming easier life got a whole lot harder. I was finally living the call of God on my life. My mind knew that. But my spirit and soul were struggling. Some days were good. But most weren’t. I carried on. What else could I do?

I knew the pain from the journey to motherhood was holding me back from the joy of arrival. In the whirlwind of everyday life, there was never a good time to work through all that old stuff.

Being here in California, childfree, the Lord has my attention in a way that’s not possible at home. He’s taken full advantage of that opportunity. In the midst of jetlag, worry, and the residue of a complicated journey to our destination, the Lord has been unburdening me. We’ve revisited some key moments of heartache. His truth reframes them so when they hang on the wall of my life there isn’t the same pain.

Doing this sooner would have been better. I get that. I’m resisting the burden of guilt for not encountering Him ages ago. I could have. He’s always there – waiting. I should have. It would have made the past while much more life giving for my girls and me. I know. At least it’s done now.

There’s something about being here in California, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. There’s a freedom in not having the role of caregiver lingering around me. Even when my kids are asleep, with a babysitter, or in their class at church there’s a realization that at any moment I could be called upon to meet their needs – be their mom. That reality kept me from diving fully into healing my heart. It’s not a good reason. But it’s reality.

I won’t bore you with the details of how my heart got hurt along the way. It wasn’t one particular incident but a lot of big ones all put together. During worship at church on Sunday, Father God brought each to mind. He pointed out the pain I was still carrying and the lies I’d come to believe. Graciously, He spoke truth. Sometimes simple things like, “People make choices. Not always the right ones. But they make them.” He let me off the hook for some really bad choices people in my life had made. I let go of the shame I’d been carrying because their choices made me feel like I wasn’t all that loveable. If I was they would have chosen to build me up instead of tear me down. The cross came between me and those choices breaking the power of them in my life. That doesn’t change the fact that those were really bad choices people made that affected my life negatively. But it does release me from the pain of those choices. I still live in the reality of them. But I don’t have the carry the burden in my spirit and soul. I can move forward unhindered.

It’s amazing what the Lord can do when we take time to encounter Him. Getting here has been hard. But I’m glad I’m here – in California and in my life. I’m glad I pursued the call of God on my life. Being a mom was the dream He birthed in me 27yrs ago. It’s right that I’m here. It’s time to start living in the joy of arrival.

this is how we roll - fancy dresses while biking

this is how we roll – fancy dresses while biking

Not What I Expected

Tonight I asked 6yr old Sloane* to sweep the kitchen. It’s a chore she’s been dreaming of since she arrived three years ago. But actually doing it

spunky Sloane

spunky Sloane

didn’t hold her interest for long. After running upstairs to deal with another situation, I came down to find only half the room done. Sloane had moved on to something else.

I called her back and said, “You only swept half the kitchen.”

“Yeah,” she answered, “I didn’t know what you were expecting.”

“I was expecting it all to be done.”

“Well, that’s not what I was planning on.”

This exchange sums up my life in ways I can’t begin to explain. As mentioned in my last post (March Madness), we had a 3yr old foster boy with us for the past ten days. The social worker and his foster mom described him as very shy and withdrawn. I worried how he’d fare in my boisterous household. Turns out he was anything but quiet. He dominated the atmosphere of our home. In a negative way he changed everything. For the first time I was at a loss. I had no idea how to curb all the behaviours. Most importantly – for me – I had no idea how to get him to sleep. He simply wouldn’t most nights. His foster mom said bedtime was easy. It was not so for me.

We muddled through then something shifted on Thursday. After another difficult visit with a foster mom friend, things got better. A comment she made changed my perspective. “He’s too young to have that scary look.” There were moments the look in his eyes struck terror in both of us. It was frightening.

I must admit I’m not always objective. Once I had a 13yr old pregnant foster child staying with me. Doing her laundry I was at first appalled by the lacy lingerie. Then I remembered, someone had bought this for her. Probably it was her mother who obviously wasn’t doing a very good job watching over her.

With everything thrown at foster parents sometimes you, or at least I, forget the kids are the victims. They didn’t choose this. Eric*, the visiting 3yr old, didn’t invite that level of anger into his heart. Someone else put it there. So I started praying it off. His temper tantrums became less prevalent. Joy began overtaking him. There were still trials – especially when we went to visit another friend of mine. Like Sloane, social settings seem to be a challenge for Eric.

In our final days together, he followed me around saying, “What are you doing mom?” I’d tell him and he’d chatter away. Apparently he doesn’t talk much at his regular foster home. “Every once in a while he’ll sing and I love hearing it because he’s happy,” the foster mom said when dropping him off. He sang, laughed, and smiled lots. In the end he was very happy.

Nothing about him was what I expected. But, in my case, life rarely is what I expected.

those eyes

those eyes

He left a few hours ago. I kind of miss him. Maybe we could have made more progress had we been together longer. I don’t know. But at least, in the midst of all the anger and chaos, I found his heart. Praying as he’s loved and cared for at his regular foster home, Eric continues to move past the inherited anger fighting to keep him. Praying he finds the courage to love.

*name changed