This image greeted me this morning as I scrolled through Instagram.
My initial thought was "I like that idea. I would like to be more adventurous, and say 'yes' more."
Then I smiled.
I was reminded of the past year, and the adventures I have welcomed with open arms.
It was this time last year, that my husband, Brian and I were discussing the possibility of adoption.
But, before I tell that part of the story, I have to set it up.
In 2013, I approached Brian about the possibility of starting the adoption process. This was not a new discussion. It's one we had dreamed about for many years. We had no idea of the timing, but we knew the plight of the orphan was on our hearts.
At that time, we had 4 kids under 7, and Brian wisely said, "I can't think about it right now...I just don't think the time is right."
I chose to honor that request. I prayed for God's timing, and let it go.
For about a year, Brian and I didn't breathe a word about our desires to help children in need.
Then, the day came, when my sweet husband came home from the office, armed with a determined look, and a letter from the Department of Health and Welfare, and said, "I'm ready to move forward."
With shock, I stuttered and stammered around... When you truly let something go, it's a surprise to see it come back to you!
At that time we had no idea how we would begin the process. We just started searching for the path we knew God was leading us down.
Without getting into all the specifics (I could write a short book about God's answers to prayer), we determined that we would forego the adoption plan for awhile, and focus on fostering local children in need.
We jumped in wholeheartedly...taking the 27 hours of PRIDE training, and opening our home to inspection and what feels like intrusion. (It's not easy having some of those questions asked!)
And, here we are.
One respite case, and two placements later.
You want to talk about adventures?
I've had them this year.
In fact, I fell in love early this fall.
I fell hard for a blue-eyed, four year old who joined our family for about a month.
He gave great hugs, and talked in grown-up sentences.
His laugh was contagious, and his smile melted our hearts.
We thought we would break down the first time we heard him pray these words, "Please let us be a family forever."
After the first couple of days, we didn't know how we would tell him good-bye.
And yet, we had to.
Tears formed in my eyes, and a lump grew in my throat when I received the call from his case worker. He was leaving our family to return to his.
I may never see him again.
I held him for a long time before his worker arrived.
I didn't want him to see the tears in my eyes.
I told him he was welcome to visit us anytime, and that we would love him forever.
"You'll love me forever, right?" he asked repeatedly.
"Yes, " I assured him. "Forever and ever."
As I buckled him in his car seat, I struggled to keep it together.
I held his hands in mine.
Placing a kiss on each of his palms, I promised him that those kind of kisses don't wipe off, and whenever he needs one, he can place his hand on his cheek.
His eyes mirrored the sadness I knew was in mine.
We were saying good-bye, and it was heartbreaking.
How does even a temporary "Momma" say good-bye?
There is no way I can explain the way he so quickly became part of us.
Maybe that's not the way foster care is supposed to work, but I don't think we could have done it any other way.
How can you give them the attachment they so desperately need, without your heart breaking when the time comes to part ways?
I don't know.
We obviously haven't figured that out.
We continue to care for our other "adventure."
A 15-month old bundle of energy adds life and growth opportunities to our home every day.
We deal with multiple visits a week, tantrums due to frustration, interrupted nights, and emotional ups and downs.
And yet, I know how hard it's going to be to say farewell.
I am working so hard to promote attachment, because it's so good for him.
He needs to attach to people. He needs to know how to form these important bonds.
And yet, I know that the same amount of love and compassion that goes into forming this attachment will need to be ready for our family when we break this attachment.
The wound will be there again, barely healed over from the last good-bye.
And, we will let another piece of our heart go out the door, and into the unknown.
This is a strange kind of adventure.
I'll admit I've wondered if I'm up to the task.
We've admittedly wished that our simple life would return to us.
And yet, when my foster baby reaches over and pats my arm with a smile and a loving twinkle in his eyes, I am reminded of a simple truth.
Love is the greatest adventure.
Loving well, when you know you are guaranteed to feel tremendous pain, has got to be the scariest adventure.
We don't know what the future holds.
We don't know how we will endure the pain that comes with hard good-byes.
But, this I do know.
We love, because Christ Jesus first loved us.
If He could live a life for us... If He could give that life for us, then I will give my life.
Open my home for the ones who need help.
Give my hands to the ones who need healing.
Give my life for the ones who need love.
And, sometimes that will mean giving my life for the children I brought into this world.
They need a Mom who is devoted to them as much as she is devoted to other adventures.
As I balance this delicate give-and-take of mothering two types of children, I am looking to my Father for guidance.
I pray the Lord's prayer often, and the line that cuts me to the core every time is this:
"Your Kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven."
His will may not always come with feelings of comfort and calm.
I do believe, this however...
His plan is an adventure I don't want to miss.