Saturday, September 06, 2014

I Corinthians 13 - Foster Parents' Version

“If I feed and clothe and bathe and tuck in my foster kids with stories, hugs and kisses, but do not love them, I am only going through the motions.  If I take them to school and help them with homework and attend parent-teacher conferences but have not love for them, I am nothing.  If I play games with them and go to team meetings and rearrange my schedule around them but do not love them, I fail.” ~ A Foster Parents’ Paraphrase of I Corinthians 13:1-3

I felt like today was a good day for me in loving my foster kids.  I invested heavily.  The problem is that the day after days like today I often don’t even want to talk to them — I just want a break, and they’re ready for Intense Attention Part Two!  And really, this applies to relationships of every sort.  Sometimes loving comes easily and is a pure joy, but honestly, sometimes it can be draining!

Love is so much more than an emotion, I know that.  Love is action.  It’s doing what’s best for others.  But it’s also more than just action.  Love is attitude.  It’s doing what’s best for others even if it’s hard or tiring or not your most favoritest thing to do, and not begrudging them for it, and doing it with joy, again and again every day.  And that kind of love is beyond mere human capability — at least this human’s capability.  

And I wonder if (and hope that) there’s a little bit of love even in self-preservation.  If I cannot love these children well tomorrow if I don’t take at least a little bit of time for myself today, isn’t having a cup of tea right now really the most loving thing to do, long term, even if they’re pouting because I won’t play yet another game with them?

And then I think of Jesus who gave so selflessly, his all, his very life!  And I think that maybe that cup of tea could wait until after they go to bed.  It’s a conflicting feeling, wanting tea and wanting to be holy.  Not that they’re mutually exclusive.  You know what I mean.

But even Jesus had to eat, and even Jesus went away to lonely places away from the crowds.  And in those times he prayed and he spent time with those who were close to him, those who were maybe a little easier to love.  And his strength was restored to love and love and love some more.  So perhaps now really is the time for tea, tea and prayer and restoration.

Yes, I think that’s exactly what time it is.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

To Do This Summer

School’s wrapped up for another year (to resume in June thanks to some crazy mom/teacher who thinks it’s a good idea to keep learning year-round), and the sensation is conflicting.  A break sounds absolutely wonderful; the “school’s out to do” list is daunting; and I crave to write something but am agonizing word by word over the pointlessness of the lines appearing before my eyes.

I’ve got some summer goals (not so big on New Year’s resolutions, but shorter term goals are less formidable):

1 - Beef up my juggling skills.  Yes, real juggling with three balls.  (I know, this is so important, right?  Life-changing really, and the first thing that comes to mind when I think “What do I need/want to do this summer?”)

2 - Gotta clean up my schooling supplies that are in mad disarray in the pantry, on my bedroom floor, on the bookshelf, all over the counter.  Some days having a “classroom” sounds really nice.  

3 - Wash my walls.  They’re yucky.  My sons are such dirty creatures and they touch everything… with their hands and feet.  I’ll employ their help on this one.  Maybe if we tackle (scrub, scour, wipe, wash, cleanse, hose down, disinfect) the house section by section we’ll get it done before the end of August without having to pull any all-nighters.

4 - Think of some way to keep these boys busy… besides our light load of summer school and heavy load of wall washing.  Seriously, I’ve got a 12-year-old who has taken to loafing.  He lays in the recliner, then wanders the kitchen and opens the fridge, then sits down on the couch and sighs.  I send him out to empty the compost bucket or wash windows or some other mundane productive task but I need a list (a long list) to keep him occupied now.  Times like this I wish we lived closer to some of our dear ranching friends — I’m sure they could find something for idle hands to do in summer!

5 - And of course the yard and garden always offer something “to do”… at least they will when it stops snowing with regularity.

6 - Blog.  Hone this dwindling writing skill of mine.  Grasp onto inspired ideas and articulate them with eloquence and wisdom.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


It’s been a fabulous week so far.

We’ve done school.  We’ve done chores.  I’ve gone grocery shopping.  It’s been very mundane.

I almost feel guilty feeling this wonderful… the week our foster children left the house.

I cannot explain why we are foster parents except to say that it’s God’s fault.  It was never our plan.  But it was His, and so we do it, and it’s been good.  I can definitely say we’ve grown in grace, patience, love, compassion and negotiating skills.  During the last two and a half years, we’ve had between one and four extra kids in our home all but two months.

Mostly it’s been… easy is the wrong word… manageable is the wrong word… fine?  Fine.  Mostly it’s been fine.  The last two kiddos were more draining than some others, but even with them, it was fine.  There have been highlights and struggles, but when does parenting not have highlights and struggles?

So since Monday afternoon — a whole 48 hours — we’ve been foster-child free.  And I feel like someone added an extra two hours to the day, erased half my to do list, and infused me with a mega-dose of some magic stress-reducing, energy-amping drug.  

Wade and I have been talking about taking a couple month break from doing foster care.  We’ve been feeling drained.  Tired.  In need of a rest.  But I had no idea just how drained I was.  It’s not just the extra time and effort of walking kids to school, making sure homework gets done, overseeing chores and doing an extra load of laundry that’s been exhausting us.  It’s investing passionately in the hearts and heads of kids who maybe we don’t always make you feel much like investing in them… in kids who’ve been taught or trained or picked up as survival skills things like lying, sneaking or bossing.  It’s wearying.

But now we’re on a break.  And it feels so good.  And I almost feel guilty about it.  But I think God knew we needed this respite, however long it turns out to be.  And when He decides to open our home to more kids, we’ll (hopefully) be ready to love, give, invest, and have the energy to do it with gusto.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Christmas Break Resolutions

I don't do New Year's Resolutions, but this year I did have two Christmas/New Years break goals (did you know two-week goals are a lot easier to follow through on than 52-week goals?): play lots of games with all my kiddos and purge some atrociously cluttered areas of the house.  Yea for success on both counts -- woohoo!

This year's break was a full two weeks long (including the weekend on either end, we actually had 16 days off) so there was lots of time for play and work (in that order).  The kids and I engaged in many games of Sorry, Hands Down, Feed the Kitty, Connect Four, Mancala, Doodle Dice, Stratego and the Bean Game, and I assisted in the building of several Lego structures.  And the tupperware cupboard and sewing/crafting/storing room are also navigable again.  It was a very good break.

In the morning school and schedules begin again (except only sorta, since the public school is cancelled due to extreme cold).  And that's a good thing too (the routine, not school being cancelled.  That's actually kind of a pain, because it's awkward teaching some of my kids at home with my other kids running around).  With a (somewhat) decluttered house and kids whose game/attention/love-banks are full, I feel ready to start 2014 with gusto.