It's that time of year

It's harvest time again.  Actually it's been harvest time for about 6 weeks now.  
Other years I've been more involved and had many lovely pictures to share. 
This year my hands are full at home and I've been too lazy to venture out to the fields to capture the process on camera.  

Cece and I did go on a little field trip one morning a couple weeks ago.  It was fun to go for a ride in the combine with Daddy and have her all to ourselves.  Just Mom, Dad, and our little farm girl.  She soaked it up.  

I snapped a few pics on my phone which is why they are such poor quality.  You get the jist of it though.

Daddy's girl. 

This fall has brought some changes to our family dynamic.  For the first time ever I have three children in public school.  My oldest is still homeschooling but the boys all get on the bus.

I wish I could tell you I'm all torn up about it.
I'm honestly trying not to sound giddy.
Bottom line is it's working out very well for all involved.  Change always involves some hard choices and a bunch of self doubt, but now that we're committed I couldn't be happier with the arrangement.  The only form of education we're loyal too is doing what we think is best for each child, each year.  Next year we will reevaluate and take it from there.

One huge down side of not homeschooling everyone is a loss of freedom to travel.
In years to come we may decide public school cramps our style too much...but for now the scales have leaned in it's favor.

6 wks into harvest time and I'm about ready to see the end of it.  The kids are missing their Daddy and I'm missing having a husband.  Such is farm life though.  

After my last post candidly describing how it feels to say goodbye to a foster baby I want to briefly update you on how the Lord is working.  Obviously I can't say anything about the situation itself but I can say that I have felt a complete and astonishing amount of peace since then.  Thankyou for praying dear friends.  I can't explain this strange sense of serenity any other way.  It defies circumstance and my own depth of loss...it makes no logical sense at all.  I have absolute confidence that God is good, He loves this little girl, and he's got this.  I can totally rest in that..even when we say goodbye. 


when the brave face cracks.

When the kids are finally in bed and the house is quiet.

I can stop pretending and assuring.
I can stop being brave and strong for them.

All I am then is wrecked.

All day I try to patch the breached damn with platitudes, positive perspectives, and head knowledge, but at night it bursts.   The torrents rush out.  The brave face crumbles.

During the day I can recite for you all the reasons why I am supportive of first families and long for redemption, healing, and reunification for foster kids. I preach to myself the gospel of sacrifice and of a God who is good and sovereign.  I can tell you of a Father who knows each hair on her head, and who sees even a sparrow fall.  I know there is a bigger story being written and I play only a small role.  I am aware that this is all part of the gritty world of foster parenting.  In my head I know these things.  Even in my heart they are deeply rooted.  I know this child is not legally or biologically mine. I have no delusions regarding that fact.

In a previous post I said "I'll let you know when that day comes" regarding how it feels to let go of a dearly loved foster baby, a baby who so seamlessly became a part of our family, and who was as sweet as she could be.
I'm not sure if words can adequately describe how it feels but this is my attempt.  Full disclosure and brutal honesty.

Torment.  Anguish.  Torture.

These are words that come to mind. Maybe that sounds like a heavy dose of hyperbole but if it is then, at this moment, I'm living in that exaggerated state.

It feels like being told that you must give away your baby.  A baby you can't even bear to leave with a babysitter without that maternal longing to return her to your arms.  You must give her to strangers and simply walk away.  You must do what is absolutely unnatural for a mother to do.  You wonder if they will know how to comfort her when she cries, or if they know that she is ticklish under her ears.  You wonder how she will spend her days.  You wonder if she will be safe, if she will be well loved.

It feels like being told your baby will die shortly after he is born.  The death of a dream.  The expectation of horror. Knowing you will have to figure out how to let go after such a short time, and walk away with aching empty arms.  You wonder how you will continue to breathe.

It feels like looking up at an ultrasound screen and seeing a silent heart.  A sudden awareness of all you will miss and all the experiences that will never be.

It feels like staring into the perfect face of a sleeping baby and suddenly realizing that you won't see her first teeth come in, or see those adorable toothy smiles. You won't be there to watch her learn to crawl, or take her first steps, or say her first words.  For the first time in your life you wish you could have the privilege of potty training or scrubbing her art work off of the walls.

It feels like staring into an empty cradle where a baby once slept.

It feels like being pushed under a wave and tumbling around in water.  You struggle to find footing, and you forget which way is up.  Your chest burns and your head aches, craving something that is essential but elusive.

Of course, in my head I know that this is all part of the "job".  This is what we signed up for.  We knew we would fill a role for however long a child needed us. I knew it would be hard because we've done this before.

I prepped myself and our kids as much as possible before our placement, with the reminder that '"this will be temporary".

This case was a bit different than we expected though, it blew out of the water all my best laid heart preparation.   

I knew there would be no protecting my heart with this one.

I remember that moment of stomach dropping fear knowing the storm that could come and choosing to walk into it, while at the same time praying that this cup would be taken.

My "this is only temporary" resolve crumbled when I saw a fragile little girl laying alone in a hospital room filled with other tiny babies being doted on by Mommies and Daddies.  She slept quietly in a hospital bassinet in the back of a room filled with babies being taught how to nurse, and receiving skin to skin "kangaroo care".  She was like a little Roo without a Kanga.  I knew then that I could be that Mama to her.  I have been.  For 5 months she has been nestled and carried next to my heart in a "baby wrap".  There was simply a vacancy that needed to be filled.

When you see me in person I should warn you that I will be wearing my brave face. It isn't very thick or strong, and it may crack on occasion but I will do my best to keep it in place. When I see you I will hold back the torrent, and I will stifle the wail.  My spirit will be keening as a mother losing a child but I will pretend I don't hear it.  Simply because I must. Please forgive me if I avoid eye contact, and make meaningless small talk. This is me boarding up the windows and surviving the screaming wind and pounding rain.

There is no rest for the weary other than in the One who is my Sabbath.
That is where I will find my joy and comfort, even when my feet keep moving, my hands keep reaching, my heart keeps breaking, and my spirit keeps trusting.

I will continue undaunted,
simply because there is more life to live.

It's not about me. I'm not the point.

There are more babies lying alone and there are more children forgotten.

The paradox of fostering.  It hurts like the pit of hell, and yet you know you would do it all again.

Soli Deo Gloria,


In the Dust

I expected to get a phone call this week.  It came this morning.

In my heart I knew what was coming, but yet I still held onto the glimmer of hope that somehow my fierce love and sheer strength of will would be enough to change what might happen.

We are beginning the "transition" of Baby Annie into her new home.  We are actually very thankful for a sensitive, competent, and kind case worker who understands that fostering involves real families, actual children, and real grief.  I am thankful for our five months with her.  I will always treasure the days that I got to be her Mommy.  We trust that God is good and that He goes ahead of her and goes with her.  Even though I feel like my heart is being gauged out with a spoon, I do have a sense of peace.  This isn't an unjust, or horrible move...it's what is supposed to happen.  That doesn't change the reality that we really love this little girl and will miss her terribly.

I don't have many words right now to process the emotions.
Right now I'm just trying to inhale and exhale.

Today also happens to be Elijah's 8th birthday....which is feeling less than festive at the moment.  I need to put on my brave face and not let the sadness overwhelm what is a happy celebration.  The timing isn't super awesome.

Thankyou for following along on our journey through foster parenting and for praying for our family as we feel the full depth of what we are called to.  This will hit some of my kids hard I'm afraid, please pray for their tender hearts.

I suspect I will find my words eventually, but for now I'm just resting in the One who doesn't need words to know my heart, and I can use the words of others to excavate Truth.

"In the psalms, God has given the church a language which allows it to express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship." Carl Trueman

There is a time to weep.  There is a time to wear the sackcloth, lay down in the ashes, and to just let brokenness be what it is. Even when we have to keep putting one foot in front of the other...and decorate a birthday cake.

"Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need"


Summer Summary

I have definitely not been good at keeping up with this little blog.  So much good intention, so little time and brain function to accomplish it. After posting so little for so long it's hard to even know where to begin.  It feels a bit overwhelming to jump back in.  I really want to capture our memories though...because goodness knows this is the only place my memories are safe.  My sleep deprived brain is leaky.

This is our summer at a glance.
Over all it was a cool, wet summer.  Everything is so unusually lush and green on the Prairie this year.  The mosquitoes and weeds in my yard particularly loved the damp weather.  We did get a few weeks of summer weather before our first frost hit a few days ago.  I'm hoping for an extra nice fall.  I'm so very not ready for the cold to return.

We prefer the summer.   

Cece was my little berry picker.  Our raspberry bushes produced a decent little crop this year.  

We did some camping with friends...in the cold and rain.

                                                               Note the winter hat and coats in June.

Some backyard play time. 

We camped with friends at Cypress Hills.  It was wet and cold..but pretty.

we celebrated being Canadian.

We celebrated 11 years of Roman.

My sister in law Brook and her son came up from Seattle for a few weeks again this year. 
We went to Arlington Beach Family camp as one huge family of 10. 

                                                                 I turned 37.
                                I really did think that getting old would take longer than it has.

We celebrated Baby Annie's three month birthday,

and her fourth.
When a future with her is uncertain and time is precious we are reminded to celebrate the little things in life,

like our daughter officially becoming a teen.

and no she didn't know what that was on the front of her shirt...

Aili will soon be taller than me.
Kids growing up also happened a lot faster than I thought it would.

Speaking of growing up.
Look at this big kid on his way to school!
This picture makes my heart skip a beat. 
Only a couple years ago he was merely existing, classified as bed-ridden, and hidden away alone in an institution.  
Here he is standing tall all on his own, a big smile on his face and getting an education.
Parenting this boy has it's share of challenges but when I stop to see how far he's come it puts all those small irritations into perspective.  Little by little his heart is healing and he is gaining confidence and security.  A year ago he never would have tolerated leaving my side and being taken away on a school bus.  It would have been sheer terror for him.  Now he trusts and understands so much more. It's been a big step for him but he's doing really well.  I'm excited for him. 

We are now in the middle of Harvest season on the farm...aka single parenting season.  I keep thinking "next season" will be slower....but I'm starting to realize that with six kids there is no "not busy" season.  There's just a fluctuation between hectic busy and chaotic busy.

It's good busy though.
I love my life.

Soli Deo Gloria,