Children in Foster Care, Forgotten Fridays, Foster ParentingSep. 8, 2017

Forgotten Friday | A Mess

Feeling sick all day, along with a rainy evening, meant one thing in my book: grits and eggs for supper. The family gone to church, I decided to cook some up just for me. I put the grits in the microwave (I know, they’re better on the stove…ain’t nobody got time for that) and moved on to beat the eggs. I thought to check the grits 27 seconds too late. They had bubbled over into a sticky, gritty mess. In my clean microwave. And if there is one thing I HATE to clean, it’s the microwave. .

Argh. What a mess.

A deep cleaner I am not, but I do prefer the house in order. Toys put away, dishes in the dishwasher, counter tops cleared, and clothes where they belong. (As if that ever happens all at once.) On more than one occasion I’ve planted the children in front of the t.v. to keep them from destroying my freshly (somewhat) tidied home. A cup of coffee, occupied children, and an ordered environment. A girl could get used to that. For a whole 20 minutes.

While attempting to undo the damage done to my microwave, the thought struck me that this grits problem wasn’t the only mess I had been dealing with lately. Ever since we welcomed a new family member, it seemed our life was being taken over by messiness.

There were the typical messes that comes with any newborn. Poopy diapers. Spit up. Baby wipes and burp cloths strewn here and there. Bouncy seats and butt paste and swaddle blankets and suction bulbs and tiny socks and why is all this stuff necessary?! I look around and think, “Will I ever dig out of this hole?” Who would have thought that just one extra tiny person would cause such a jump in the messiness factor. Sometimes I can roll with it, reminding myself that this season is more for loving than for cleaning. But the longer I have to literally kick my way to my bed the harder that perspective is to maintain.

But there is also a new kind of mess I’ve been introduced to since this baby boy joined our crew. The mess that comes with foster care. No way around it, there is nothing neat or tidy or orderly about being a foster parent. Nearly every aspect of this venture comes with complications and is riddled with chaos.

Take, for example, my weekly schedule. What used to be streamlined and somewhat normal now includes multiple trips to the social worker’s office, doctor visits, court dates, visitations with birth mom, and appointments with the social security office. I’ve never been in so many government buildings in my life and I’m getting a first hand education on how the child protective service system works. And it is messy! (Amen?) A simple change in baby formula can constitute 6 emails, two phone calls and a visit to the pediatrician. I can no longer cross state lines without written documentation and my babysitters require fingerprinting.

Even doing “normal”community activities has changed to something interesting. We never know when we might bump into our foster son’s birth family. It just so happens that our oldest son plays on the same ball team as our foster son’s cousin! Now that’s messy, folks. And makes for an interesting bleacher experience.

The way I feel about this darling boy’s birth mother is messy too. I see her love for him and it makes me ache. I want her to meet Jesus and get her life on track and know the joy of raising her own son. But I also want to keep him under my own protective roof where I know the kind of care and love he will receive. One minute I’m rooting for her, and the next I’m looking at her through jaded and doubtful eyes. What a mess.

Nope. Nothing tidy about foster care. Not my future, not my calendar, and certainly not my emotions. Some days it’s just plain yuck. But when I consider the mess we entered when we chose to do this, I think about Another who willingly walked into one, too.

It was no mess-free world our Savior embraced. No uncluttered lives He chose to save. He left perfection for chaos. An eternity of ease for a span of time that promised heartache and pain. As the Creator he must have craved order, this world set right the way it was intended. Sin had made a mess of things. Of relationships and priorities and desires. Which is why he came. He walked through our mess with us, to us, undeterred by what it cost him. And His great sacrifice made things right.

Jesus loved me enough to take me in, mess and all. To love like He loved means embracing this little one. Mess and all.

[Originally posted on www.ourthrivelife.com.]

Beth Lawrence

Beth is Mama Bird to the four chicks in her nest–two bio children, one adoptive daughter, and one foster son–and Wife Supreme to one good-looking pastor. She’s quick to say that nothing in life has ever refined or challenged her more than fostering, and is passionate about sharing what she is learning with others. She loves writing at www.justbethlawrence.com.

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