Friday, January 29, 2016

A Parting

Monday we bid our LuLu farewell. It was not at all how I expected things to go. I had imagined the move from our home would be to her permanent placement, but the story took a different turn when we realized our family could not meet her needs.

Disappointment, humility, regret, relief, consolation...all of these emotions swirled during the week we knew her move was imminent.

And then these words from Isaiah lept off the page and pierced my heart: "Do not fear I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen
you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

 The message of "do not fear" is familiar...but I read anew the words DO NOT BE DISMAYED.

I truly love that little girl. I’ve rocked her when she was sick, held her close when she was afraid, prayed with and for her, advocated for her needs and ultimately released her with open hands to the chapter God has next for her. I had a God ordained role for a season, but I am not her Savior--or her forever Mama--I was called to love fiercely and then to let go.

As I emptied her closet, cleaned out under her bed, vacated the cabinet dubbed her “special place” and packed all her earthly possessions into four plastic tubs, I wondered where her story goes from here—and if our family will have any more involvement in it. We are open to an ongoing relationship--but it is out of our hands at this point.

 Even the timing was not at all how I would have planned it....she left our home 12 hours before my husband and I left the country for a long planned anniversary trip. We were not there to pick up the pieces with her siblings or with our own bio kids. I am on a beach far, far away with my husband as the dust settles back at home--and the control freak in me continues to suffer a slow and agonizing death.

 The moment of parting is a fear of every foster parent. How do you send off a child you have loved as one of your own? I am still a bit bewildered by the prevailing sense of peace and love that surrounded the parting. It truly cannot be explained apart from God. She left with a beaming smile--thrilled that her next placement would mean being reunited with another sibling. No one shed a single tear. I honestly think she left feeling celebrated and loved.

As she was preparing to leave, Parker said "Wait! I wanted to write her a letter." He dashed inside and returned in a couple of minutes with a yellow sticky note that melted me and reminded me how God is powerfully using this season in all of our hearts.
There was no time to ponder or catch our breath--we had a youth basketball game, last minute packing and final arrangements to insure the rest of the brood was settled and secure for our time away.

And now I sit, feeling a bit of whiplash, staring at an expansive ocean and a beach full of tiny grains of sand. I am reminded that our God is SO much bigger than we can comprehend. He has given us the gift of rest--time to reflect and reconnect before we return home to reengage.

Our party of eight is now only a party of seven which still promises to be full of its own challenges, joys, twists and turns. As we trust God's larger plan, we claim it is well with our souls.


Ginny W. said...

Dearest Jennifer,

I understand completely your heart in this matter. My parents went through the very same situation when I was in college after taking in a nine year old foster daughter with a horrific past - heavy "baggage" arriving with her. I remember the day my parents had to make the hard decision, and them having the exact emotions barreling thru their hearts and minds. The Lord ministered to them similarly and He was faithful to bring peace and comfort. He is always faithful!!

Please say the words He said to you, out loud, as many times as needed..."Do Not Be Dismayed!"

Your entire family planted ETERNAL seeds of God's unconditional Love and Spirit into that child. Those sacrificial deeds, seeds, words, and showing her a true reflection of Jesus by merely living your lives the way you do....IT will NOT return void. It will follow her all of her days and will bear fruit and assist in accomplishing His PROMISED plan for her life. All has been tattooed on and in her heart! It goes where she goes. AMEN. (Is.55:11, Jer.29:1)

It is well with her Heavenly Father who holds her. You follow His lead and let it be well in the most inner parts of you and yours. Be Held.

Sending love, gratitude, and prayers for my friend. <3

Ginny Wilson

p.s. Happy Anniversary to an amazing couple!!!

Jennifer said...

You gave LuLu lots of incredible gifts! Praying that the transition is easy for all of you. Enjoy your vacation celebrating your anniversary and know all this will be here for you to ponder upon your return! Have fun!!

Keri said...

Oh my goodness. As usual, I don't really have much of substance to say in response to your moving posts about foster care (which is why I typically don't comment - why add empty words?). But this one touched me in so many ways, I had to at least acknowledge to you that I read it and was moved by it. And Parker's note?? Instant tears. What a precious gift he has given this little girl with his written words of encouragement and exhortation. I pray that she reads the note often over the coming years and takes every word of it to heart.

Denise Ross said...

Love this verse, and hadn't noticed the 'do not be dismayed' so much beotre, us it really emphasises the promise.
You all gave Lulu a gift, an everlasting gift. I'm touched by Parkers note. I'm sure Lulu will treasure his note and the time she had with your family.
God is so good in imparting his peace and strength and joy to us when He knows we need it most.
Enjoy your time away celebrating your anniversary with Ryland. I learn so much from your posts, lessons I can apply to my own life even though we are on different paths. I love too how you share your heart so openly. Because often the points you make and the thoughts and feelings you are having are similar to mine. I never feel alone, but a part of a sisterhood belonging to Christ and that we are walking together hand in hand toward home. God Bless.

Carrie Leary said...

We are forever grateful to the foster parents of 2 of our daughters. They are a sibling group of 4 and went to two different homes. The ones I'm speaking of loved our girls (and still do) in the most amazing way, sacrificially declining to adopt them because 1) they wanted them to be reunited with their sisters, 2) they wanted to give them more distance from their bio family (the foster parents were loosely related to the bio's) and 3) they felt that was what God was leading them to do. Similar to your care for your sweet Lulu, their care for our girls was paramount in healing and redeeming their previous experiences. They are still very much in our lives and love all four of our girls deeply. When I hear or we sing at church "Never once did I ever walk alone..." (I forget who sings that) it breaks me every time (even now) because I am reminded that they, even when they were suffering at the hands of their biological parents or in questionable situations, have never been outside the protective hand of our good God, like you are being used to be his hands of protection over the children in your care. Sorry for rambling, I really just wanted to encourage you to press on at this hard task you are about. On behalf of my children, I encourage you keep trusting the one true Father as you navigate this with and for your family. And please, enjoy that beautiful beach and respite. :)