Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Sadly, not because of what it represents, but because the anticipation of Christmas can begin.
There was this moment when I was eight or nine years old, and all I had wanted for Christmas was an American Girl doll. Kirsten.
Sure enough, I got that pioneer blond girl, and the morning after, my dad had taken down the tree, and I sat with my doll and thought, That was it?
Obviously, my young heart had missed the purpose of the carols, the gifts, the manger. Somehow in all the busyness, I had missed the point of singing "Happy Birthday, Jesus."
I remember thinking about that moment last year after Baby M left. She had been gone about three weeks, I walked to the mailbox, and found our last stipend check in the mail.
"Payment for services rendered to ....."
(*My views and opinions on stipend checks for foster care and adoption are an entirely other post).
When I saw it, I sat in the driveway and wept. For a moment, I felt like I had missed it again. I heard the whisper, That was it? Six months of days, and nights, and tears, and songs, and cheers summed up by "services rendered."
That day came again yesterday, but I haven't opened the envelope. I know what it is and the name it says I served.
I know that's not what 15 months equates to.
It humbles and amazes me what God has done, is doing through the blog, our story - no, His story in us.
I've said it before, and I'll say it a million times more. We are not amazing. We've simply followed God to the space He's called us to fill, and said Yes.
Since J has left, I've heard the comment, "That's why I could never be a foster parent. I couldn't let them go," more in the last month than I probably have in the last year.
I haven't been as gracious this time around. My simple response is, Neither can I. That's why I have Jesus.
I don't mean that in a prideful or preachy way, but the reality is saying goodbye to Little Guy has kicked us in the gut good. But does that mean we shy away from a chance to be the incarnation of Christ to a family, aching for the truth?
The reality is, our suburban subculture is one of the few places on earth where we have the choice of choosing sacrifice. We are both cursed and blessed with the opportunity to contain ourselves in an Americanized bubble of comfort and order. That's not real life.
Jamie and I both would say that quite possibly one of the greatest gifts fostering has given us - aside from our children - is the immersion into a culture we do not understand or know. A world where there is not certainty of the next meal or 1,000 items of clothes or toys to choose from for your entertainment. I suppose it's our version of going across the world internationally to meet our child. I can only imagine on even a grander scale how that marks your world.
When that happens...when you look a Momma in the eye who is crying out for help for her children's future, when you hold the hand of a Daddy who is trying to make ends meet, when you cradle a child through the night who is screaming for the only family she knows...I'm not sure there's the luxury of saying, I could never...
It may not be foster parenting. For some of my friends it's adoption, urban ministry, addiction recovery, international missions, but for all of them, the top has been blown off and I could never no longer exists in their vocabulary. And the reality is, those friends help me bless the name of Jesus.
We've lied ourselves into thinking we have the right to look the other way because our lives that are filled with laundry to do, activities to plan, and events to attend, and we simply can't handle the interruption or pain of mess...Isn't the immersion into the Gospel mess?
Our time is not our own. Our spouses and children are not our own. Our homes, clothes, and beds are not our own. Our finances, churches and calendars are not our own. And when we barricade our walls to what we feel we can responsibly contain in our lives, there's little room left for the uncontainable Glory of the Gospel.
So, yea, I'm a bit edgy these days. But in love, know you've been warned if you say you could never do ________________. Because we serve a God that nothing is impossible for. We serve a Lord who is greater than our hearts. We serve a Savior who begins to shatter the darkness where we feel we have reached an end. We serve a Father who makes beauty from our mess.
I'm getting to live it, and I can never go back.