Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Didn't Know How to LOVE

What a downer title, I KNOW... 
Especially 2 flippin' days before Valentine's Day, right?  
I am completely undone tonight though.
 It feels like a tornado went through all the neatly organized rooms of my heart. 
Foster care isn't for the faint of heart. 
That's true on many levels...juggling schedules, mountains of paperwork, teaching and reteaching the most basic life skills like hygiene (for instance, my school-aged child didn't know how to wipe and dispose of the tp ten months ago - whaaaaaa???) but tonight I've experienced a new realm, if you will. 

I am familiar with the brokenness that just "IS" foster care. 
Once you join the first foster care FB group you can not escape it. 
Most every conversation with a case worker or DFCS staff leads to it as well 
(and major applause to them because they see, hear and experience far more!).  
When you feel like you've read or experienced all the scenarios, think again because as many people as there are in the world, there are that many ways of doing things. 
No two situations are the same! 

Let me first share a little history... 
in less than two months we have had 3 diagnosed cases of the flu, 2 strep, countless tummy issues and coughing like that's what all the cool kids do. 
Just prior to the start of this time, we added a brand, new, teeny, tiny baby to our crew. 
Put all this together for a slightly OCD, germaphobic Mama 
and just roll out the welcome mat for crazy Mama!  Hahaha! 
This past weekend FS8 suddenly started feeling bad, again. 
He has realized that he doesn't have to keep up the caregiver role 
and when he is sick his desire to be the one cared for 
has caused the pendulum to swing completely to the other side!  
In the middle of the night, he will run in our room, sobbing 
if he thinks he has a headache or may be getting sick. 
It's irrational and difficult because it's never been "anything" more than what it actually is - a little headache or a stuffy nose - but at the same time, he is wanting the care and attention so many sick kiddos get and he seems to have missed out on in his life. 

On to this past Monday - my sweet daughter had a headache at school and after a dose of meds felt much better so she stayed at school. 
Later that afternoon, she was a piping hot 103.7. 
I am a - let's pray, sleep, drink powerade & eat chicken noodle soup first
 kind of Mom, so that's we did. 
Then Tuesday afternoon, my fd6 hit 101 on the thermometer. Not our best week! 

Our foster babies didn't wash their hands much when they came to us. 
Not for meals and not even when they left the restroom, so needless to say, 
they are the ones that often contract sickness. 
So tonight, when I walked into what we've been calling the Sick Room 
to see one of the Littles sucking a thumb, I was completely undone. 
After all we've talked about and all the measures we take to stop the thumb-sucking 
and it's still happening here right in the middle of sick-city?!?!?! 

Movie time had to end and it was on to bed. 
My voice was stern. My brow furrowed. My tone was not chipper in the least. 
Once snug in bed, I went through all the reasons why thumb sucking equals a bad choice. All of which have been discussed weekly, some weeks, daily. 
Even the dentist said, do whatever you have to do to stop the thumb sucking. 
So it's not just a germ issue, but also a development issue for the mouth.
After my monologue, I asked if we could work together to figure out why it keeps happening, and this is where I broke. 
I asked why thumb-sucking started in the life before living with us and the sleepy, six-year old answer completely wrecked my world. 

"Because my _______ & _______ didn't know how to love me."  

It was stated rather matter-of-factly, but tore my heart nonetheless. 
My arms couldn't get around that little frame fast enough 
and my heart couldn't break more than it did. 

They didn't know how to love?? 
I know in this young age, really being able to grasp this is not likely but there is enough understanding to know that something was missing, and in a big way. 
How does a family make up for almost 5 years of not being loved in the right way? 
How do we make certain we are loving in the right way? 
These and so many other thoughts and questions filled my mind as tears filled my eyes. 

After a massive shift in the conversation, a smile crept across that tiny face 
and another hug to assure of love and value. 
Prayers for peace, healing & hope. 

As I left the room I made my way to the couch and just sat. Thinking. Praying. 
I was quickly reminded of these lyrics - 
"How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure"

How deep His love! I find solace in the fact that outside of the Father's love, we are all left longing for more. The only TRUE LOVE is found in Him and His love can surpass and heal ALL missed or just misplaced love in our lives. Broken can be made beautiful in Him! Although He gives us people to fulfill the need for companionship and human bond 
here on earth, our greatest need is Him. 

I am time and time again humbled and tonight is the greatest humbling moment yet, that God would allow us to meet these little ones in their broken places and love them. 
Before our first placement began I read a quote that I took as our motto and how true it is...
" We don't strut into their stories with capes on our shoulders, we crawl into them with the Cross on our backs." (jasonjohnsonblog.com)

I think this quote could be applied to many situations. 
In what situation could you trade in your cape for a cross? 
How many of your relationships are struggling or strained because you desire to be loved in a way that must come from the Father first?
All of our fulfillment and deepest love should come from God, first.
The spouse, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends are just bonus blessings, 
He blesses us with and when we keep it in that order, we can feel whole & complete. 
Not receiving love in the way we desire from another human can no doubt be hurtful, but James 1:4 says, "So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
Those things in the line above, they come from God and God alone! 


#thesehardthingsareworthit #whitakerkrew

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What.A.Year!!

Happy New Year!  I literally CAN NOT BELIEVE it is 2020?! 

My New Year's Eve festivities would not make most folks' wish list, but I'm perfectly fine with them... Overseeing 5 little people make their own pizza, making bottles and snuggling a 6th little one, the washer & dryer spinning all night, suds in the sink & dishwasher and getting an update that my favorite guy is heading back home after leading worship at a New Year's Eve service... these are a few of the things that made up my "wild night"!  


It's weird how we often get in auto-pilot with our answers or conversations. Mark & I were talking about this happening and I even heard the same scenario play out with our kiddos, that folks make such cliche comments about the ending year and we in turn answer in the same way. In our case, on more than one occasion it was said, yeah, it was a good year. Umm, reality check?! We had a tough year. In fact, I'd definitely say it has been one of the toughest years of our 14+ years together and most certainly the toughest year of our kiddo's lives. Most everything about 2019 feels like a struggle. Like a constantly dripping faucet or a cold wind that cuts right through you and doesn't seem to let up. In many ways it feels like a punch in the gut, and we seemed to get hit again each time after finally pushing ourselves back to standing. From health, to ministry to family life and so much in between...it's been tough!


I'm a complete romanticist. I want everything to always end well. To be peaceful and complete. To be wrapped in a bow and not just the curling ribbon kind of bow, I'm talking about wide, wired ribbon that makes a statement, kind of bow. Haha!  There are a number of things in my life that aren't wrapped in a perfect bow as the calendar flips to 2020 and time marches along and if I let it, it can really be unsettling. But then I look back to remind myself of God at work in our lives through some incredibly emotional and bleak moments of the past 365 days. In fact, I see how He carried me through so many of these days and even when I was walking on my own, I was never alone. He was there. In every moment I thought I had it figured out, as well as those that terrified me to think of a second ahead of where I was at that instant. 


God has specifically shown Himself to be Jehovah Rapha & Jehovah Jireh to our family throughout 2019! And as we walk into this new year, Jehovah Nissi is who we're leaning on. He has given strength that was literally un-human. He brought life back into Mark's body when things looked dim. He provided when we welcomed His little ones into our home as well as when resources have been stretched thin and so many times in between. He gave prophetic words over our children even as they walked through deep places of confusion & worry.  He filled us over and over again and continues to fill us with hope in His plan that can not be sent off course by any type of opposition! 


2019 - foster care, school struggles, lung cancer, 100% blockages, hip replacement, no place for you, too much blood loss, I'll always be your Mommy, sternal wound infection, not out of the woods, tantrums, new higher payment, home health, drug baby, bills, new normal, what next? - a few of the words and phrases we wrestled with throughout the past year.   

Romans 5:3 - We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials for we know that they help us develop endurance. - Isaiah 43:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run  and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. 

The year of 2019 was a year of immense spiritual warfare. Warfare brings scars, loss and pain, but it brings growth like nothing else can, tenacity, friendships, opportunities & new plans for the future when the landscape around has changed from the battle at hand. My humanity hopes for a year of peace & calm you know the Silent Night kind of atmosphere...of course I always kind of laugh inside at that song...what first night with a new baby is ever silent? (or any of the nights for the following weeks...haha!) Don't get technical on me - I know what the song is implying, but my thoughts here are - "Silent Night" literally or just figuratively, either way, I'm trusting that the lessons learned, doors that have closed, trials we've walked through, mistakes we've had to acknowledge & victories we've been able to sing praises over, will ultimately, propel us into every, single thing He has purposed for 2020 and that these experiences will never be wasted, but will be used for His glory for as long as possible!  Happy New Year, Friends!!  

Didn't Know How to LOVE

What a downer title, I KNOW...  Especially 2 flippin' days before Valentine's Day, right?   I am completely undone tonight thou...