If you know me, you know my life revolves around plans. Being a teacher, my daily life is planned out weeks in advance. I have very carefully planned out my personal life, too. Mike and I were married while I was on winter break in college. Nine months later I got pregnant. Nine months later I had Levi two weeks after the spring semester ended. Nine months later I got pregnant with Luke. Nine months later he was born the day after I graduated from college. Mike got a little nervous about baby #3, so 11 months later we got pregnant. Nine months later Grace was born. I wanted to be a stay-home mom until Grace started school. I started to work on the day Grace started Kindergarten. I like a good plan.
Then enter the world of foster care. It’s messing with my mind.
Call #1 Can you take a 6 month old? We go buckle in the infant carrier.
Call #2 How about her 2 year old sister too just for tonight? We buckle in the other carseat.
Call #1 They actually found another foster family to take both of the girls. Their case worker will come pick them both up today. We pack up all their things. And then we get snowed in. And our dryer breaks. Mike works on it enough that we can get a few more months out of it.
Call #2 Do you think you could keep them both until Friday?
We pack them up again. Call #1 I haven’t heard from the case worker yet, but I am coming at 2:00 to meet them, visit with you guys, and get some paperwork done.
Call #2 Can you keep them until Monday? I wish we could keep them forever.
We pack them up again. I take them to daycare and leave all their things for the SW to pick up. Call from daycare- They haven’t been picked up yet. I go to daycare to get them. I put all their stuff back in my car. They are picked up at my house Monday evening. They drive away as the 2 year old is screaming, “I want you, Grace!”
Can you take a three year old tomorrow? I meet a friend to pick up a booster seat that night. I will need to leave right after work the next day.
Mike works through lunch, so he can leave early. We get someone to take the big kids to church, so we can go pick her up. Something happened at court. Can you pick her up Friday afternoon? Mike and I go out to eat instead.
Mike is off work. He changes the convertible baby bed to a toddler bed. I leave work a few minutes early. I pick him up. We head to Birmingham. Call #1 We don’t know what the court has decided yet. But Mike and I continue driving so they won’t be waiting on us to get there when a decision is made. As we get off the interstate we get a call. Call #2 She will not be going into care. Mike and I grab a doughnut and coffee and head back home.
Call #1 Something happened can you still take her? The case worker will be there at 4:15. The kids and I do a mad dash to clean the house. 4:15 comes and goes. Mike comes home. We debate starting dinner. Do we want to be eating when they come in? 5:00 We decide they can watch us eat. Call #2 Something happened at court. It will reconvene Thursday. We will bring her to you at 4:15.
They finally bring THE DIVA. She has our hearts immediately.
Our washing machine floods our laundry room. Mike knocks the back screen door off getting the washer outside.
My awesome mother-in-law buys The Diva a complete new wardrobe which she sings about all the way home.
The Diva and I argue about wearing her church dress to daycare. “But it’s sooooo pretty!” We choose a super cute shirt and blue jeans instead, a headband, earrings, and new shoes. This gal is going to give me that girly experience I failed to squeeze out of Grace. Yay! She eats dinner in a Strasburg Lace dress which we can wash in our new washer and dryer.
I leave the best dressed Diva at daycare. She’s happier today but still nervous. I cup her face in my hands and promise her I am coming back. I will not leave her here. I will come back. Call #1 The Diva is being picked up from daycare to be moved to a relative’s care. They aren’t able to wait until you get out of school and can say goodbye or pack up her things. Later that night Call #2 Are you ready for a new placement…..or do you need some time to rest? There’s a 1 year old and a 3 year old. They will come Thursday.
Mike changes the toddler bed back to a baby bed. I get a message that says we need to be prepared for a long term placement. Perhaps even as long as two years. We do some serious praying and talking to each of the kids.
Our worker waits in our living room with us. About the time she shows us a picture of one of the girls….Call #1- Just wanted to let you know that the girls went to family. I tell my worker, “I’m Okay. Call me tomorrow if you need us.” I fully expect her call.
Call #1 Can you take an 18 month old Monday?
Mike hauls off the old washer and dryer and backdoor. Later that evening, the boys’ closest shelving falls to the ground.
Do you feel my confusion? frustrations?
Why would God choose a ministry for us that goes so very against our nature?
Because it’s not about us.
It’s for His glory not ours.
I’ve been pretty amazed with my sweet husband. He reminded me that we felt God calling us to love on kids and help families as they are being restored. He said, “It doesn’t matter if they are here 30 minutes or 3 years. While they are here they are not being abused, molested, or neglected. While they are here they will be fed, warm, and loved on. We don’t need some great master plan. We just do what we know we are supposed to do….with no timeframe. And Jesus says it is just like we are doing it for Him.”
So, I’ll try to wake up each morning and not plan my day. I’ll surrender it to Him instead….to whatever He has for me this day. I’ll let Him do the planning. And I’ll try to go with it, but it won’t be easy for this planner. I don’t like giving up control…………..ugh, hard to admit this, but it’s what my actions reflect….I don’t believe God has a better plan than me. Lord, forgive me and draw me closer.
It’s okay if I can’t adapt and be all flexible and accommodating to this crazy life of fostering. Instead of looking like I can handle this….I’ll find joy in knowing He will get me through it.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
Mandy Snider is a Christian, wife, mother, teacher and new foster mom. She and her husband Mike have 3 biological children ages 14, 13, and 11. They also have a 15 year-old boy who lives with them as they “do life” with his family. They just said goodbye to their first placement through DHR, a one year-old little girl. They live in Hayden, Alabama. They long to see more people in their area step up to the call of foster care. They have experienced God in a mighty way this past year through the ministry of foster care and as they began opening their hearts to love the people around them better. They are flawed, sinful, and selfish. Yet, God is at work to use them and change them anyway. You can follow their story at www.fostercaretheendofme.blogspot.com.