I've been struggling with "finding my voice" in real life. To share my story, contribute to a conversation, to say much of anything. I will humbly admit that the enemy has had me firmly in his grip, whispering in my ear constantly. You're not good enough, no one cares what you have to say, you don't have anything meaningful to contribute, just be quiet. I've been able to speak from behind the computer screen, but not in real life. Until yesterday.
We have been going through a sermon series at church, titled Transformation. It has gone along with many of us going through Financial Peace University as well. As we progressed through this series, we were asked to share our own stories of transformation - how the sermon series and FPU were impacting us. Still, I kept quiet. Fortunately, my husband did not. He saw that we had something worth saying and shared it. Our pastor and friend asked if we would like to speak on it yesterday. At first, it was just going to be about FPU and foster care/adoption. Then it morphed into speaking about Harper as well. Hans asked us if we would be willing to tell what led us to where we are now. Instant panic. I told Steve I would just stand there, and he could do the talking.
But then I realized that I had to do it. I needed to tell this story and to face that fear of speaking. The level of anxiety that comes with speaking in public, is for me, higher than anything else I can think of. Heart palpitations, and the inability to calm myself, despite prayer, trying to focus on something else, nothing works. I did pray, a lot, that God would give me the strength to do this, and that He would be glorified through our story, and I believe that those prayers were answered. Thank you to everyone who was there yesterday and thanked us for sharing our story, and for everyone who wasn't there and saw the video on facebook and commented or thanked us in person for sharing.
As far as our foster care certification goes, we have completed our classes, turned in all of our paperwork, been fingerprinted, and had our home safety inspection. We will have one more interview in our home at the beginning of May, and hopefully certification will be official shortly after that. When we initially started down this path, we thought that we would only take children that were younger than Joey, for many reasons. God has told us differently. He had been "nudging" me for a while about being open to older kids, but I was nervous to bring it up with Steve. When I finally did, he said he had been feeling the same nudge. I will be honest, I am terrified of how to handle having a child that is older than the one I have now, especially a teenager. But the teenagers are probably the age group that needs a home the most. Very few people want to foster them, much less adopt them. They have too much baggage, are too difficult. I don't know what the Lord has for us as far as children. If they will come to us as babies or toddlers, or as school aged or middle school aged, or high school age. But I do know that I trust Him, and He will help us to love any child that comes into our home the best that we can.
Another aspect of foster care that we have been struggling with is how many are we willing to foster. We have a five bedroom home, so we have three bedrooms available. We put the crib up in one of them, so we could accept a baby, and the other two rooms have regular beds. We would not be able to take any more than three, due to the size of the bedrooms (each foster child must have 75sq ft of space, and if a room is to be shared, there must be an additional 55sq ft of space), and the cars we currently have. My initial thought was that we could take one or two, at the most, and keep one of the bedrooms available for guests (my parents come to visit a couple times a year, and my sister comes once a year, too). Is that the way God would want us to use the house He provided for us? To hold back one room for ourselves? I am struggling with that one. A lot. My flesh says it's ridiculous to not have a bed readily available for our out-of-town family. Most of the time, more like all of the time, my flesh is wrong. Of course, all of this is hypothetical, because at least one of the children would have to be old enough to ride in the front seat of our cars, and one would have to be young enough to still be in a crib. There is just so much to think about, and I am probably thinking too much, as usual.
One of the sermons during our Transformation series was about hospitality and home idolatry. My favorite line from the sermon was, "We've turned our homes into a sanctuary from the world instead of a sanctuary for the world". Wow. So much to think about and challenge myself on. You can read more about that sermon here. This was super long, so if you read until the end, you get a gold star!