This blog started exactly four years ago today and exactly four years ago we also finalized our adoption.
It all happened on the very same day.
In January we will celebrate five years (FIVE?!?) since our oldest three kids first came to live with us. After years of pain, God restored our deepest heartaches and changed our story in a BIG way (you can watch that story here.) I think back to that very first year when we went from having two small children and then instantly jumped ahead to five. It was the hardest most rewarding year of my life. Since then we've had years of diapers and potty training...lessons on sharing and lessons on keeping your hands to yourself and lessons on grace and patience...lots and LOTS of patience.
And what once only seemed like a glimpse of hope off in the distance, the day that all of the kids would ALL be in school, well...it suddenly came. For the past three months we have officially had a K, 2nd, 2nd, 4th & 6th grader...that's a lot of parent-teacher conferences coming up next week!
Bottom line...our family has felt 100% complete since the very first day that we became a family of seven. I have absolutely zero desire to expand our family any larger...zero desire to have another baby...zero desire to do any additional laundry.
I've told my parents numerous times that it is up to my other three siblings to give them more grandchildren. We are sailing towards the finish line (in marathon form with lots of hurdles along the way) as we watch these 5 growing kids continue to grow and become all that God has created them to be. We may or may not be able to quote in less than one second how many more years we have until our youngest graduates from high school. Sure he just started kindergarten.
As I began to glimpse the reality of an empty house with 6 hours a day all to myself, I remember clearly the night some new friends came over to hangout. One of them commented that she had thought that we had six kids. I laughed and said, "Don't give me any more kids than I already have." Of course the next comment made by a friend was that maybe that meant that we should adopt more kids. I smiled politely and thought to myself, Why do the people who have already adopted have to be the ones who adopt all of the children in the world. (Clearly this isn't accurate but it can sometimes feel like that.) I quickly responded with a smile and a wink and said, "We are done. Why don't you three adopt!?!"
We are DONE!
For the past three months I have been adjusting to this new pace of life. I've gone from a season of doing everything I could to scrape together 1-2 hours of precious alone time each week, when the kids were home 24/7, to now sitting in a clean house that actually stays clean for a WHOLE six hours every single weekday. I know, I know...I had begun to think that that would never be possible post life with kids.
It turns out that there was more than one silver lining.
But here is what I also found.
With lots of time I constantly think about one person...ME.
After almost eight years of being a mom I knew that taking care of myself wasn't a bad thing. I've been able to find new rhythms of waking up before the kids get up to walk for an hour and making time to spend time with God before the day gets going and other things that as a mom with five small children at home seemed very difficult to do before.
I knew that slowing down and actually having time to manage things at home (without the stress of always feeling like I was four steps behind) wasn't a bad thing. It is just that after three months of thinking about how to make your life even better and how to keep your clean house even cleaner, I've felt absolutely miserable.
Recently Sam came home from a luncheon where he heard Bishop Aaron Charles Blake Sr. share about some of his family's journey into foster care. Sam's eyes filled with tears as he re-told parts of the story to me. Bishop Aaron asked why do we have pastors at church and a worship leader at church and a hospitality coordinator at church but we don't have an orphan care worker? The very next day I was attending the conference where that same man would be sharing once again. As he shared, along with many others, I fought back the tears as my eyes welled up over and over and over again.
And that is where I was reminded again of the verse in James 1:27 that says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..."
And that is when I knew that my warm and comfortable life wasn't the life that "I" wanted at all.
I want to spend my life pouring into the "least of these."
I want to spend every last ounce of my life pouring out God's love to a broken world.
I want to reach the end of my life and know that
of the gifts and talents that God has given me.
At the end of my life, I want to be 100% spent.
I came home from that conference and talked to Sam. I told him that we still have room. That we still have room to squeeze more children around our dining room table and that we still have beds that are empty and could be filled. And that maybe over the past four years God has been stretching us and expanding us and knew that we would find more room.
So if I can stop crying and finish up this post...
Today as we celebrate four years since our adoption was finalized and four years since this blog was birthed, we are also asking God, "What next?" We don't know if opening up our home to more kids means foster care, or foster-to-adopt, or adoption or...
But today we are simply stepping out of the boat and doing two things. We are opening up our hearts to God and asking for His direction and we are opening up google and typing in our county and the words "foster care." And with the information that we find we are going to call and ask the person on the other end what the next step is to re-apply for our foster care license again and that's where we are going to start.
They say once the adoption bug bites you it's hard to make it stop. I don't quite agree. I'd say that once God breaks your heart for the hurting and lonely children in the world who want nothing more than to be loved and belong to a family...well, it is hard not to find room to fit in as many kids as you can.
I want to thank you guys for being on this journey with us. Perhaps you are in a similar place where you feel God tugging on your heart in this area but you haven't quite felt sure how to start.
Let's do this together.
I'll go first.
But after I call, I'm handing the phone to you next.