Sunday, April 24, 2016

One.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon. I'd spent that morning at Target, nervously pacing the aisles looking for anything and everything that might ease the heartache of a certain four-year-old little girl and her two-year-old brother who would be walking through our front door in a few short hours. A friend joined me for coffee after my jumbled Target trip, which was a welcomed moment of calm in a day that felt uncontrollably chaotic. I came home and baked cookies, hoping the smell (and taste!) of warm chocolate chips would comfort a couple of scared and broken hearts, and then I put on the bravest smile I could muster when the social worker rang our doorbell.

On that sunny afternoon of April 24th, 2015, our family of three became five, and all of our lives drastically changed.

Today marks one year since that Friday, and I simply cannot believe how far we've come in such a relatively short amount of time. (And, if I can be frank, I would have never imagined I'd be saying that one year later.) You may remember from this post that those first few days (and weeks, and months) as a family of five were some of the hardest, darkest, most agonizing days I've walked through. There were so many days I wanted to give up. There were (and still are!) days I was certain I wouldn't make it to bedtime with my sanity intact. Heck, there were lots of days I wasn't sure if I could keep it together until breakfast. Parenting children from incredibly traumatic backgrounds is a grueling, exhausting, frustrating, complicated job.

But you know what? We now have Year One under our belts, and I'd say "yes" to them all over again.

Among all the heartache, all the frustrations, and all the exhaustion, the Lord has graciously grown mercy and compassion and LOVE in our hearts. It didn't happen overnight, and we have a long and winding road ahead of us still, but I can look back over the past year and see our family growing closer to the heart of Jesus, and closer to each other. How awesome is that?!

Personally, my faith grows in the tension between grief and grace, and I've solidly lived in that space for a year now. I love Jesus more now than I did on the morning of April 24, 2015, and I'm certain I'll love him even more than this on April 24, 2017. Being a foster mama has given me such an intimate perspective on just how much he loves me (us! you!), and it's that love that propels me to love these children (even when I don't want to).

This work he has called us to is so, so hard, but so, so worth it.

Those scared four-and-two-year-olds are now silly, confident, brave five-and-three-year-olds. The Lord is doing a mighty work in healing their broken hearts, but just as Ethan's heart will always have scars, theirs will too. Each day, Jeramie and I wake up with the task of pointing all three of our broken-hearted children to Jesus, who loves them and cares for them more than we ever will. Some days it seems grace is nowhere to be found in our home, and then there are days Ethan can communicate that we love our littles because God first loved us. But even on the days we make an even bigger mess of each other's hearts, there is grace and forgiveness and love. So much love.

So, today, we celebrate that love. Just as Jeramie and I celebrate becoming a family of two on our wedding anniversary, then a family of three on Ethan's birthday, April 24th is now for celebrating our "birthday" as a family of five. This love was not natural, like falling in love with Jeramie was, and it didn't grow from the depths of my womb, but it's love all the same.

Happy birthday to us!

 Glory to God for stretching and healing our hearts, strengthening us for the battle, and showering grace and mercy on us along the way! He is so good, and we are so thankful.


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