Breathe

I’m about to bring a child into my home. In a few months, I will be a foster parent.

I was doing really well until I had my interview with the foster care agency. In the days leading up to it, I practiced answering all the questions I thought they would ask me. I was ready.

They didn’t ask me any of the questions I thought up. They asked me questions about my childhood and my family. Usually, I’m a master at saying the right thing. But I couldn’t put forth my best. Each question became more invasive and I struggled to answer them.

I have this wall that comes up with people. I put up a big front. I’m always positive. When I do talk about painful things, I turn them optimistic every time. I don’t let people in. For example, I have been in a community group for over a year and I think I have had maybe two vulnerable moments. Realizing that this week has been a huge conviction in my heart.

Because when you have your guard up, you cheat yourself and others out of an authentic relationship with you.

In my last post, I talked about my first love. He was the first person I ever let my guard down with. I remember how afraid I was of him. I avoided him in public settings and pushed away any feelings I had for him. But when we were alone, I told him my deepest secrets and hidden dreams. I fell in love with him. I was never the same after that. Once you have a taste of emotional intimacy, you won’t settle for anything else. I went from dating around to wanting commitment.

He changed the direction my life was headed in and for that, I will always be grateful.

I’ve been having flashbacks to that time in my life. There’s a guy in my life that scares the crap out of me. I feel unsettled when we’re talking. I can feel the wall come up when I’m around him. Everything I’m feeling right now is reminiscent of that time in my life with that other guy. I was sitting in my car, waiting to go into a meeting when it hit me:

Fear is the proof we’re on to something important.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think that I’ll end up with this guy. For as much as my guard is up, so is his. Seriously, talking to him feels like we’re bumping matching walls into each other. It’s like I’m having a conversation with him and I hit the wall. But the same thing happens when he talks to me.

No, I don’t think the fear is pointing me to him. I think it’s pointing me to something much deeper. I’m about to welcome a child into my life. This whole “guardedness” has got to stop. Whether I love this child for five days or two years, they need all of me. A whole parent, especially because I’m doing this alone.

So I’m going to try this new thing where I let people in. We’ll see what happens.

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We will be the faithful

When I was a little girl, all I dreamed about was being a mother. I dreamed about caring for a child. As someone with a disability, I was often surrounded by other children with disabilities. More often than not, these children were in the foster care system or had been adopted. So as a little girl, my dreams of my child always involved adopting a child. As a teen, I often dreamed of being this woman. I saw her in my head all the time.

This woman was a mother to many, adopting children but also fostering dozens of other children. I wanted to be that woman.

Weirdly for my personality (if you know me, I can be quite the blabber-mouth), I didn’t tell anyone of my dreams. With my disability, I thought no one would give me a child and you throw in mental illness, forget about it.

It stayed in the back of my mind for years. Honestly, I think that’s a big part of why I wanted to get married so bad. I thought if I had someone by my side, I could foster children. I never said it out loud but I actively looked for men that seemed like the type that could love children that weren’t their own. I was waiting until marriage for my life to start.

And then about two weeks ago, I was sitting in my living room, reflecting on all the men I had cared for, obsessed over and prayed for and I was just so exhausted.  How much of my life had been squandered away because I had placed all my hopes and dreams on men who never gave me a second thought.

It was one of those a-ha moments, where you look at your life and question the direction your life has been going. What the heck am I doing? I sat on the couch, questioning everything. It was in this moment I made the decision to move on with my life, to walk away from this striving for fulfillment.

If you’ve read my blog for any given amount of time, you know I have prayed for, yearned, sought after and questioned my dream of working in full-time ministry. What if my ministry had been right in front of me the whole time and I had not received it because I was too busy chasing what I thought would be my saving grace?

Could I walk away from everything I thought I needed and move forward without fear towards something bigger than myself? What if the life God has in store for me is bigger than marriage?

There are few times in my life where I have prayed and God has answered my prayers swiftly. I asked God for answers and provision. While I don’t believe this is always true in every situation, this time I needed God to open the doors with ease. Resistance meant to me that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve spent most of my life living in resistance, persevering through some pretty heavy deserts. Somehow, I knew that I needed God to make this easy, as easy as becoming a foster parent could be (sarcasm added here).

For the first time in my life, I’m watching the pieces come together with ease. Practical and emotional needs are being met and I have never been more calm than I am right now.

Sometimes, I think we put life on hold for things God never promised us. But Scripture says Seek my kingdom first and these things will be added to you. I realized I needed to repent of this heart that had been seeking everything else first before being obedient.

So I’m moving forward with what God has asked of me, following a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl. And that’s pretty exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering Emily

I remember the Sunday before I moved here.

I had just lost my job and my home and was moving forward into the unknown, this small ounce of faith I had left carrying my weakened state.

For months, I had struggled financially. I had seen God provide in some big ways but overall, it had been a particularly rough season.

Publically, I told everyone what God had been speaking into my life. The job and life He promised me. And with each job rejection, the people around me doubted what I was sure God had promised.

So suddenly, I was a girl without a home, without a job and still God was consistent. This was my game changer. There was nothing to be joyful about.

And yet, that Sunday, I felt God saying now was the time to worship. Now was the time to give thanks.

So I did. Through tears, I thanked God for every little detail I could think of. The good, the bad and the ugly. I knew, despite my fears, that this season was ending in my life and I wanted to finish better than I had started.

And while everyone seemed to doubt the promises I spoke of (many people encouraged me to aim lower, which I did in spite of God saying no), everything He had spoken into my life came true. Not a stone was left unturned.

I wasn’t planning on writing about this season in my life. I was doing really well, was happy, trusting in the things God has been speaking into my heart and then I got the phone call.

My dad had died.

It didn’t hit me at first. He had cancer, so it wasn’t a surprise and we weren’t close. In fact, we weren’t even speaking to each other at the time of his death. I had been so angry at him. He was the first man to ever break my heart.

The sadness comes in waves, the twinge of regret that a part of me wishes I had been more forgiving. And the worst part is that no one expects you to grieve an absentee father. It’s like you’re not allowed to be sad. So mostly, I cry quietly to myself and don’t talk about it.

It’s that Sunday again, all over, with God telling me that this season in my life is ending and for the love of everything that is holy, give thanks for every little thing I can think of. So I did, giving praise through all the sadness because I know hope’s on the other side.

Nothing is ever wasted

One of my favorite prose pieces is “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros. In the piece, she proposes this idea that we are not merely the age we are but a collection of the ages we have been. We experience the ages we have been in response to situations we are in

I am 27.

I recently went home for Thanksgiving. It was my first holiday with my family. I expected flash backs and hurt feelings over past memories but that didn’t happen.

I kept having flashbacks to being 19.

I’ve felt 19 on numerous occasions over the last year. I’m not really sure why. I think it has to do with that time in my life feeling so new, ready to embark on a fresh adventure.

 “Tonight feels like the last night of camp. 19, bare feet in wet grass. The sky red with a light breeze. I remember how sweaty I was, my cotton shirt clinging to my back. My hair a greasy mess. I had never felt better. I had spent my last $25 on this treasured Bible that I could carry around everywhere. $22 and some change if I remember correctly. And in that moment, when everything was silent and peaceful, I wasn’t thinking about what 7 years later would look like. I was only thinking about what it would look like when it was over. What redemption would look like.

Tonight, my only emotion is a memory.”

Redemption 7 years later didn’t look like what I thought it’d look like. It was different. I didn’t get married this year or end up where I had wanted to be. What I got was so much better.

I got my health back. Because of medical treatment, I get to have a future. A real one, full of plans and dreams. All with a fully-functioning brain and a heart for Jesus.

For 7 years, I weathered storms of illogical thinking, hallucinations and erratic behavior. I made plans I could never finish, dated men I could never commit to and talked faster than a Gilmore Girl.

Redemption didn’t come the way I thought it would. Instead of a knight in shining armor, it came in the form of a hospital gown and proper medication.

I remember being 19. I remember having my whole adulthood before my eyes and the wild uncertainty that I experienced with elated joy.

Wistfully, I regret the time I lost because I was sick. It would have made my life easier had I had been diagnosed earlier. But God ultimately allows what will bring Him the most glory. Somehow, this mess of a life that I’ve endured is not wasted time.

So as I move forward with making plans, forming commitments and nestling into God’s promises, I’m grateful for the future I get to have. I get to finish my undergrad, go to law school (hopefully) and learn to love this messy life God gave me. I’m grateful for the way things didn’t turn out.

Nothing is ever wasted.