Little O

We have a new little face in our home again.

Two year old Little O came to stay with us last week.

As a foster family we never know when the phone might ring with a social worker on the other end asking if we are willing to care for a child.

Wednesday it was just going on lunch time when I grabbed the phone and saw the word “Unknown” flash up on my screen.  During school hours this means one of two things; the school or Children’s Aid.

As it is Christmas Break I had little doubt who it would be.

I smiled and took a deep breath before answering.

My heart sank when I heard his name.

I felt like crying as I listened to her explain what was once again occurring in Little O’s life.

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I pictured his face and the way he constantly asked for Grandma and “blankie” the last time he was with us.

I remembered the happy chattering but also the anxious tears.

We had said goodbye to him after one short week, hopeful that home could be a safe place for him with the extra supports and supervision put in place.

I had packed extra clothes, my phone number and my best wishes to his family, hoping we could support in whatever way necessary but I hadn’t heard from them.

Would we take him?

Poor little O.

Yes, of course we’d take him.

We’d love to take him.

I closed my eyes a brief moment, whispering gratitude that just a short week ago I had called our social worker to tell her we’d like to be available over Christmas.

There was no doubt in my mind the strong urge I’d felt then, was due to this very situation.

It is so much better when a reoccurring placement can happen in the same home.

After talking to the social worker to confirm that Little O was, indeed, coming today I spent the next few hours tidying up the house, preparing a bed, making a list of questions to ask the social worker and throwing in some laundry.

I have learned to do these things (when there’s time) so that I can spend the next couple days focusing on settling in the child without worrying about cleaning, laundry, etc.

It’s not essential, it just makes it easier for me to relax and focus on what’s important.

If I was preparing for a baby I’d also try to squeeze in a shower and nap.

By 3pm they are walking in the front door, and there is Little O.

Deja vu.

He is cuddled up close against his social worker’s shoulder and holding on to a blanket, though not one I recognize.

In a clear plastic garbage bag in the social worker’s hand I spy the precious “blankie” I remember from last time.

I get a hint of a smile from him as I kneel down in front of him and say hello.

When his questions become fixated on the special blankie the social worker quietly tells me it needs to be washed, thus the isolation in the plastic bag.

I take the bag in hand and tell him we’ll do that first so that blankie will be clean and dry by bedtime.

Reaching out for his small hand we go back the hall together to the laundry room while the social worker dashes out to get his belongings from the car.

She apologizes when she returns with just one small armload of belongings.

He’s come with almost nothing but the clothes on his back; a pair of green, fuzzy footed pajamas.

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I assure her we’ll be fine, as the last time he was here he and my son had worn the same clothes interchangeably.  I was quite sure they could do the same thing again.

She stayed for a few minutes; going over paperwork, giving me her contact information and settling him in.

While she was there my husband and children came bursting through the door, smiling and exclaiming excitedly.

Little O smiled and shied away briefly, but soon my daughter’s animated chatter was more than he could resist.

He took her hand and trotted off toward the toy room.

His social worker took the opportunity to slip away after a quick goodbye to Little O, who didn’t react , and then it was just us…the newly expanded version of our family.

Little O has settled in remarkably well.

He remembers us from a few months ago and has slipped easily back into routines.

He is sleeping well and slowly starting to eat; the first night he refused to eat any dinner or snacks which is not real uncommon for a child settling into a new home.

There have been some minor growing pains for us all as we adjust to a noisy, high energy two-year-old in our home, but its really been quite easy so far.

Mostly it’s doubling things I’m already doing with Karter.

Double the diaper changes,

naptimes,

snacks,

hugs.

My children often need extra attention when a new child enters our home, so it takes extra patience and grace for all…including myself.

A week in I am reminding myself to be patient with some chaos as we all adjust,

take extra time to pull my daughters close,

snuggle Karter when I get the chance,

and bump a few things off my to do list.

I am reminding myself that it’s ok to feel frustrated when things don’t run as smoothly as normal and not to panic when I get sneaking feelings of regret at our normal being disrupted once again.

I am slowly adjusting to a new volume level in our home.

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Little O is full of energy that comes pouring out in singing, laughter, and yelling across the house!

We had family Christmas celebrations with my parents and siblings on the weekend so Little O of course came with us.

I am so thankful for family who buys extra presents, sets an extra place at the table and finds extra room in their hearts for one more little boy.

Little O loved every moment of Christmas and was absolutely thrilled with his present.

He won us all over with his ecstatic cries of,

“Open presents!  Open presents!”

We don’t know how long Little O will be with us but we are praying we will love him the best that we can for as long as he is here with us.

We are praying we can be a part of healing for his family and that the social workers involved in Little O’s case will have wisdom to know what is best for him and his family.

We invite you to join us in praying for Little O and his family.

I love to pray the verses from Jeremiah 29:11 over the children in my care, particularly when I don’t know all the circumstances of their lives or what is all going on.

It helps my heart rest when I remember that God has good plans for them; plans for good and not for evil, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give a future and a hope.

These things I pray confidently, knowing that no matter what life may bring God has the ability to redeem brokenness and pain into something good.

We love you Little O!

XO

~AF

 

 

 

Emmanuel

Emmanuel.

God with us.

It’s the theme that keeps playing on the screen of my heart this Christmas.

I sit in church on Christmas Eve morning and feel the words seep into my soul.

God with us.

Emmanuel.

The manger scene on my bookshelf, set out at the beginning of Advent, sits as a quiet testament to the Truth of it.

A tiny baby is snuggled in the manger carved of porcelain, surrounded by witnesses of the glorious moment when the world was forever changed.

Through the raw, undignified labor of childbirth God came to us.

On that first Christmas night he found His home in a barn, the breath and body heat of animals filling the air with a sweet, musty odour.

The gentle movements of cattle rustling in the straw were the backdrop to one young woman’s delivery.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, for there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:7

Just like that, God entered the world He had created and sought out the hearts of humanity as He always does.

A young woman and her humble husband,

shepherds working in the fields nearby,

the townspeople of a small town in Judah called  Bethlehem,

the king of a mighty empire,

an elderly woman and man in the temple in Jerusalem,

men from the far east.

God here with us for one purpose;

to redeem the brokenness and seek out the hearts of His beloved creation.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Suddenly, there was hope.

I look back over the past year and it’s those words that ring in my ears.

“God with us.”

He was,

he is,

and he will be.

Steadfast love.

“Never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”                               -The Jesus Storybook Bible

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I watch my children’s eyes as my husband walks them through the Christmas story, the porcelain figures in their hands as we recount the events of that first celebration of Jesus’ birth over 2000 years ago.

I see it’s like a story to them.

They don’t understand yet, but someday they will see it;

this Emmanuel feeling…God with us.

So much humility and gratitude in the realization.

God here with us in the mess of our lives,

delighting in our little acts of worship to Him.

We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and blow out the candle.

My daughter wonders how many cand

les should really be there, and her brow furrows in concentration as I try to explain that there was never a beginning.

I peel back the wrappings on the large wooden plaque and I see a map of the world painted on the rough wooden slabs.

My husband smiles at my delight and I study the span of it.

We point out to the children where we are and where their aunt is, clear across the expanse of the map in Australia.

This one world that seems so huge to us, but is such a tiny dot in the eye of that one God who entered into it.

Emmanuel.

One of my favourite Christmas songs com

es on and I close my eyes and take a moment to settle in it.

God Is With Us

The skies don’t seem to be as dark as usual
The stars seem brighter than they’ve been before
Deep within I feel my soul a stirring
As though my hope has been restored
The shepherds say they’ve heard the voice of angels
Confirming rumors spread across the land
That a child protected well from Herod’s anger
Is our father’s son, and the son of man

Love is raining down on the world tonight
There’s a presence here I can tell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel

He’s the savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts he will dwell

God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel

I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
That peace on earth is not so out of reach
If we can find grace, mercy and forgiveness
He has come to save, he is all of these

You’re the savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts you will dwell

You are in us, you are for us

You are with us,

Emmanuel

~Casting Crowns

It’s true.

Emmanuel means He has come down here to us.

God is in us.

He is for us.

He is the hope we can hang our heartstrings on and know, without a doubt, that He will be able to hold the weight of all of us and our world.

~AF

 

 

 

Let it Snow

It’s snowing outside! 🙂

First snowfall of the season on October 31.

This girl is happy.

In fact…this morning has been just about perfect.  My husband didn’t have to leave for work until 9:00, so we slept in.

Woke up to big, beautiful flakes of snow falling outside the window,

the girls happily playing downstairs by the fire,

and a warm kiss beside me.

Ah.

Fluffy slippers,

all of us meandering through breakfast and morning routines together

and then rushing the girls out the door at the last minute because…surprise…we’re late!

Checked out the Christmas sales starting in the flyers,

lit some candles,

and turned on the Christmas songs

all as the flurries continued to fall.

My daughters prayed for snow, so they were delighted to bundle up in their winter coats, mittens and hats this morning and go out into the cold.

What about you?

Are you ready for the Christmas season creeping up on us?  What do you love about the next two months?  Don’t tell me what you hate, because those are all listed off thousands of times every year and we really don’t need to review those! 🙂

Some side notes…

We’re heading out tonight on our “alternative to Halloween” activity…collecting food for the local food bank.

We’ll walk the streets with all the ghosts, princesses, zombies and fairies until we’re too cold,

our wagon is full of canned soup

or Daddy shuts us down,

and then we’ll go warm up with some pizza!

It’s an early to bed night here since tomorrow is a BIG day.  We’re going to go visit the girls’ foster families for the very first time since placement four months ago.  I’m excited, but nervous and trying to prepare for the emotional disruptions next week is likely to bring.  It’s 2 steps forward and 1.9 steps backward as we stumble through this maze called attachment together.

To be honest, I’ve been having a rough few weeks.  It’s just such hard work some days, and the stakes are so high.  So much depends on me and half the time I don’t have a clue what’s really going on.  Our mornings are shaky at best, and one wrong move on my part can send us all spiralling into anxiety, fear, anger and power struggles.  I try to do it on my own too often.  I let myself fall into the easy, muddy ruts that bring us all down.

Too tired.

Too grumpy.

Too overwhelmed.

Too busy.

But good friends and God reminded me this week that I am called to so much more than this.  There is a power available for me if I will only submit my heart to the path it takes to get there.  I must be willing to let go of my irritation, my pride, my fear and my frown.  One step in front of the other, I can choose to be the kind of woman He longs for me to be.  Not perfect, but eager to serve.  Not superwoman, but flexible and cheerful even when mittens are lost and the night was too short.  Three quarters of the battle is won when I kick that big stubborn will of mine into gear!  I know better than to let myself off the hook too easily because I know just how much I can really change with a positive attitude and a heart ready to bow to the Spirit’s gentle nudges.  That decision on Wednesday made the last half of this week so much better than the first!

It’s still snowing! 🙂  Better pull out those layers for tonight.

Cheers!

AF