I can still remember the day like it was yesterday. It sits soo fresh in my mind and heart. I was working the day it finally came and no matter how much I prepared myself I was still terrified. After sitting through hours and hours of classes, mountains of paperwork, endless certifications and trainings we finally had our foster care license and we were waiting for that "perfect" child to say yes to. The call came August of 2013. We were told it was a teen girl and her newborn baby girl. In our world this was the perfect combination of fostering. We had asked specifically for teens since that is what our heart passion is and we had prayed and prayed for God to give us a newborn. Even if she wasn't our own we could still have her as part of our world. We said yes. I remember my mom coming and helping me decorate what would be their room. Ryan and I putting the crib together. Praying over that room every day until we she would come. A week or so later we got the call that they would not be coming. That she had run away and they wouldn't be needing our help any longer. I remember the emotional roller coaster that put us on. From that first moment I should have had an indication how this foster care journey would go.
I can also remember the day we got to say our second yes to our first child. I remember the case worker fumbling as I was asking questions, the awkward pauses so she could come up with (ie. make up) some kind of answer. She didn't even know how to spell this precious child's name. We were told she was a hard case, and she wouldn't stay with us long. We said yes anyways. We knew that God had called us to foster and we were going to do just that. No matter... what we were going to serve Him.
The day she came she was mad. She wouldn't speak (for the whole first week). She wouldn't make eye contact. She wouldn't answer any questions that you asked her. There are no foster care classes or trainings that could have prepared us for this. This girl before us was in turmoil. She had been taken from her family, separated from her sisters and was now placed with these wide eyed, white, talks too much, nervous, foster parents.
This was the beginning of our incredible journey. There have been times when my heart has been soo broken and at the end of myself where there is nothing but Jesus carrying us. There have been long nights where I just stood at the bottom of our townhouse stairs and just cried, walked the halls and just prayed. Fostering has taught me that there will be many first times saying yes. That very first time we said yes was the beginning of changing our lives forever. It has reminded me that Jesus says yes to us daily. No matter what we did the day before or the day before that. No matter how many times we fail....over and over. He says yes to us. He says yes to loving us, forgiving us, and letting us be His. That is exactly our purpose in loving on these beautiful foster kids that God has entrusted us with. Twenty-five kids later and we are still saying yes.
At the beginning of this year God gave us a vision for our family. A word to live by and a motto of sorts. The daily saying yes to serving Him. Our word is: Thrive. Our motto is: "To have a Christ centered family that brings glory to God through the way that we live! We want to be servants of grace who give more than we're given and love without second thought even when it may not be returned!" This has been our guiding, our purpose to live out. I smile thinking of all the doors God has opened so far for us to put this into practice.
That precious girl that came into our lives in August of 2013 stayed with us for a year and a half. She has now graduated high school, has a good job and is about to be a mama herself. The other day I got a friend request from her and my eyes and heart just welled with happy tears. It wasn't always good times. There are times where I failed miserably as her foster mama. Looking back now there are soo many things I would have done differently. But one thing I know is that she was a light in our lives. She will always be our first. She helped pave the way for us to open our hearts to soo many others. (Including her two sisters for a short time) She taught us how to love in a deeper way like Jesus. The way that He loves us expecting nothing in return. I am deeply grateful that we said yes to this beautiful and broken calling.