November 1st

IMG_5531

Thursday, November 1 will always be a special day for me.

Autumn arrives late to the South. It’s only been in the last week where the trees have started to change color and the air has begun to have that indescribable smell of crisp apples. As nature around us welcomes in a new season, internally in our home and hearts, JJ and I officially received word that our lives are about to change forever. Any day now we could receive a placement.

Since finding out that we were officially approved by the state, my emotions have been all over the place. Upon reading the email, I was ecstatic and filled with a Christmas morning type of energy. Then, my old frenemies, fear and anxiety, invited themselves to have a seat at the table. This is really going to happen any day now. Can you do this? Will you be enough for them? What if you end up being just another adult, another caregiver that “fails” them?

For the past two nights I haven’t been able to sleep. It’s my phone that will ring if our agency has a placement for us. Part of me is praying that we receive a call. Another part of me prays we never need to be used. The day these kids arrive in our home will not be a blessed day for them. The day they walk through our door means the life they once knew has shattered to pieces. JJ and I were never what they expected. The only reason we get to be in their lives is because everything went wrong in their little worlds. They will not think of themselves as “fortunate” or “lucky” to be with us, nor should we or others expect them to feel this way. No matter how bad things are at home, most children love their family and can’t imagine ever being taken away from their parents, siblings, and/or extended family.

As we walked around our local downtown area last night, every time I passed a child, I said a silent prayer for the kids God has in mind for us to love and serve. I prayed that if they were hungry and hadn’t eaten since lunch that day that God would comfort them and provide food for them to eat. I prayed that if they saw something horrible that they will never forget, that as painful and traumatic as that moment was that God frees them from framing their present and future around that event. I prayed that if they felt unseen and forgotten that God would find a way to show them that they are known and treasured, and He has a rescue plan in place for them and their entire family. I also said a prayer over JJ and myself that we let go of any expectations we have for our future in foster care and that we completely trust God with whatever He has in mind.

Guys, that last prayer is a hard prayer for me to pray, and one that doesn’t leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. God’s plans can hurt and wreck us. They can leave us broken and cast down for a season. Key word there is for a season (Side note: most seasons don’t actually last a literal season. They can be shorter or seem to go on forever. Just an FYI.). God has our best in mind, but sometimes His best makes us feel at our worst. I know I feel that way at times, and I know our kids will feel that way when they are worried about and missing their parents. We filled out paperwork and completed home studies to be called foster parents, but our kids were never asked or consulted with before being granted the title of foster children.

While we couldn’t be more excited to love on these kids, this journey into parenthood is different than the one we planned for ourselves. I don’t know when we will receive our first call, or who will be part of our first placement.  I don’t know if we will ever get to adopt any of the kids we fall in love with, or if we will be able to stay in their lives once they return to their birth family. I don’t know how long it will take for them to love and trust us. I don’t fully know yet how hard it will be to fully show love to my kids’ birth family when they still don’t get that their actions and lack of actions hurt their kids.

I don’t have the slightest clue of what our future looks like, but God does.

He’s got this.

Welcome to the Baby Suite!

IMG_1935

Before: This is what our nursery looked like before it became a nursery.

Thank to you every single person that has reached out to us after we announced our journey into foster care! Whether you have sent us a message encouraging us that we can do this, donated or let us borrow your gently used baby/kid items, or generously blessed us by buying something off our Amazon wish list, you have been an integral part of our team and we sincerely can’t thank you enough. Though, we will continue to try to show our immense gratitude 🙂

This whole foster care adventure has already stretched me in so many ways…and we don’t even have kids yet! JJ and I finished our last home study in late September. Woohoo! That means no more paperwork…for now! As of now we are just waiting for official approval to arrive from the state of Georgia.

We finished painting the room that will be our nursery over the summer and decided to go with a travel/explore theme featuring hot air balloons. Since we don’t know what genders and what ages we will be hosting in our home, we wanted to use a cute unisex theme that both girls and boys would enjoy. To say we are in love with our nursery is a narcissistic understatement. When we step into that room, I feel like George Banks seeing the finished baby suite for the first time in Father of the Bride 2 (I love Chip and Joanna Gaines, but Franc’s baby suite is original goals.)

IMG_5419

After: Now this room is ready to welcome babies and toddlers 🙂

Most of the big-ticket items (cribs, changing table/dresser, curtains, etc.) in this room came together because of the generosity of viewers like you…I mean family and friends. Sorry, I am sounding like a PBS pledge drive, so I couldn’t resist. Seriously, we can’t say thank you enough for showing up for us and the kids we get the privilege of loving on in the days to come.

IMG_5416

I hope I still find this as cute as I do right now when I’m changing a smelly diaper on it.

JJ built the bookstand/toy cubby. He did such a great job (of course!), and he used some leftover paint from when we painted the living room last year. The color goes perfectly with the other colors in the room, so we saved money and kept our aesthetic! We purchased the “wall words” from At Home, and the floating hot air balloon JJ bought me years ago for Christmas on Amazon. If you are ever looking for adorable collector versions of classic children’s books like Madeline or The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Barnes and Noble sells beautiful editions for very reasonable prices. They usually range from $10-$20, and they are some of my favorite books. We went to Target for the crib sheets, and at $9.99 each I forever will love Tar-jay.

IMG_5414

Some of this stuff is new, some of it we have repurposed for the nursery. You can make a really sweet space without breaking the bank.

Many of the books, toys, and stuffed animals I had already purchased a long time ago…as in years in some case. Since we have gotten married, I have bought kid’s stuff without JJ’s knowledge (he always found out…obviously…but only after I already bought the items haha). He would always tease me and be like, “Why are you buying stuff for children we don’t even have yet?” I would tell him a lot of women do this, especially for special one-of-a-kind items they don’t want to miss out on when the time comes (This is true, right? Or is this a lie I am using to justify my purchases to myself?).

IMG_5410

Hard to believe that soon these cribs will have precious little ones in them.

Like I’ve said before, I really don’t believe anything is random. God has always known JJ and I would pursue foster care even before we put pen to paper. Even if most women don’t buy things they don’t need for children they don’t have, I can say with confidence that God was practically preparing us for the things we would someday need to have within a very short timeframe.

As our nursery patiently waits for the babies and toddlers that will rest their eyes and dream dreams within its walls, I sit here praying. I am lifting up a prayer of gratitude that JJ and I get to do this, a prayer of praise for the people that have shown up to be the hands and feet of Jesus to us and our future kids, and a prayer of wild, hope-filled wishes for our growing family.

The best is yet to come.