Let’s Go Over

Give me faith to trust what you say

That you’re good and your love is great.

I stroke Little One’s curls and drink in the lingering aroma of babyhood.

I may be weak, but your Spirit is strong in me.

My flesh may fail.  My God you never will.

It’s not our normal lullaby.

That one is all about Love.

But these are the words that come on the harder nights.

When teeth are coming in or dreams are scary

Or who-knows-what-else makes sleep elusive.

I sing it for Little One.

Because, friends, even the “best” foster care stories come with loss.

Big, scary loss.

And, my eyes suddenly cloudy, my voice cracking,

I realize that I sing it for myself too.

I talk a good game.

I do.

And I am scared.

Scared of loving and losing.

Scared of not being enough to raise two little humans from hard places.

***

Let’s go over to the other side, Jesus says to his disciples after a long day of loving people well (Mark 4:35-41).

The disciples’ obedience is tangible.

Jesus invites them over.  They hop onto the boat.

You know the rest of the story.

A furious squall.

A sleeping Jesus.

A word that calms the storm.

But I’m stopped in my tracks by the reality this morning that the disciples were right where Jesus asked them to be.

Their faith wasn’t tested because they were being disobedient.

If they had stayed on shore, they may well have missed the furious squall altogether.

But they didn’t.

Because they followed Jesus onto the boat.

***

My “call” to foster care was inescapable.

I pleaded to be done.

Jesus told me “one thing.”

And here I am holding another Little One who will only quiet to my song.

Let this be a heart exhale, friends.

If you too are scared.

If you are facing a furious squall.

It doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place.

It may well be because you followed Jesus onto the boat.

Let’s go over together.

Advertisements

On Perspective

I leave the bread on the grocery store counter knowing that I have another loaf in my stuffed freezer at home and plenty of room in my budget to buy as much bread as I want.  But also knowing that if I were in another situation, my baby would have no bread this week.

This is a post I’ve been putting off writing.

But it’s important.

It’s something I need to share.

Here’s the background:

I am a single mama.  Even with two dependents, though, I don’t come vaguely close to falling below any official poverty line.

I am a college-educated, white-collar professional.  And yes, I’m gonna go there.

I’m also white.

In other words, I’m not used to anybody scrutinizing my every move.

Here’s the rest of the background:

All kids in foster care qualify for certain government benefits automatically.

No matter the socio-economic class of their foster families, they are still technically in the state’s custody.

And so they get free meals at school.  Free medical care.  Stuff like that.

Until they are five (and in school to get those free meals), they get a certain amount of food per month through a government subsidy program.

When Little One was going through ridiculous amounts of formula, this benefit actually saved me a good deal of cash.  Now that we get “big people” food, the actual monetary savings is not that much.

More than once, I’ve thought about forgetting the whole thing.

But Little One deserves that food as much as anybody.  Right?

And so I try to contain my mortification as I go in search of the exact items specified on the paper check (seriously, who uses paper checks anymore?  Is this a purposeful othering, or is it just my paranoia?)

I’ve scouted out the stores that indicate approved food on their shelves because locating the exact items allowed requires more mental energy than my masters-educated brain can muster with a toddler in tow.

I find myself avoiding eye contact with strangers as I locate the specified items.  I never shop at the grocery store near my work.  Or the one where I do my “normal” weekly shopping.

Only once have I run into someone that I know on one of these trips.  Do you want to know the truth?  I tried to scoot into another aisle to avoid any interaction with her while holding the folder with the subsidy information.

Do you want to know the rest of the truth?  She is a very nice person and I am quite certain (in retrospect) that she would not think badly of me at all.  And she might even drop off a bag of groceries anonymously at my door if she thought I needed them.

Which I don’t.  But still…

Then there is the dreadful checkout process.

All items must be sorted by what is indicated on each check.  This means that if I buy diapers or something else that is not covered, one trip can require four separate transactions.

What makes my face flush as customer after customer behind me chooses a different line because we are taking so long?

The withering glares are not just in my head, right?  I’m pretty sure they are not.

One fellow customer even comes up to me in the parking lot afterwards, telling me all of the reasons that she was in a hurry and had to switch lines.  What do you even do with that?

I’ve done these shopping trips at lots of different stores.  And I’ve finally decided that I will only go back to one of them.

Because the truth is I’ve had unpleasant interactions with store staff at all of the other ones.

Including today.

Today the cashier tells me that the bread I’ve chosen is not the right brand.

Oh, I smile.  It’s Saturday and Little One is well rested and none of us are hungry, so I am feeling less annoyed with the whole process than usual.

I let her know that I double checked the item against the tag that indicated that it was allowed.  I kindly suggest that she have someone take down the tag so that others don’t have this same problem.

I am really, truly trying to be kind.

She says nothing.  She will not even make eye contact.

No worries, I say, still trying to muster cordiality.  Little ears are listening.  Always.

I leave the bread on the grocery store counter.

I go home and feed my babies plenty.

I take a loaf of bread out of the freezer to thaw for tomorrow’s breakfast.

I go online and give my (strongly worded) opinion which my receipt indicates that this company values.

I write a blog post about the unfairness of it all.

All of this gives me pause.

It reminds me that if I had been born into a different situation, if I had made different choices, my life could have turned out so much differently.

My babies could be hungry tonight.

There is no neat way to wrap this post up.

There is no tidy resolution.

Just maybe the resolve to be a little kinder, a little more willing to see the good in other people, a little slower to judge.

So friends, if you can, do me a favor.  Don’t rush by.  Just make eye contact.  And smile.  And wait the extra two minutes in line.

What Are These?

bread

Forty years they wandered and every morning there was enough

What is it?

They asked of this bread from heaven.

Manna.

It is enough.

Exhausted from a long day of ministry, Jesus looked on the crowd and felt compassion.

A little boy with his humble offering

Five barley loaves.  Two fish.

Here it is, his disciple said

But what are these for so many people? (John 6:9)

What are these?

They asked this Bread from heaven.

Manna went bad after just one day.

But today there are leftovers.  Twelve baskets of leftovers.

Enough.

No, more than enough.

I’ve felt it this week.  Maybe you have too.

I’ve walked into situations where the need is too great.

My offering is too small.

Not enough, I mumble, eyes downcast.

It’s just not enough.

I’m right, you know.

I could parcel and divide my five loaves a thousand different ways and it would never be enough.

What are these measly gifts in the face of such need?

What are these?

I ask the Bread of heaven.

Holding out my outrageously insufficient offering.

They are not enough.

This I know.

But this Manna from heaven?

He is enough.

No, more than enough.

So much more than enough.

Meet Love

I believe in prayer.

I’ve seen situations change because of it.

More often, I’ve seen myself change because of it.

Most often, regardless of the outcome, I find something there, in those moments of quiet connection, that keeps me coming back, ravenously wanting more.

This journey with Little One has made me acutely aware of my own need to know that I am not alone.

And so I’ve called in the prayer reinforcements.

People in my life who don’t just say, “I’ll pray for you” to be nice.

People I’ve seen ravenously wanting more.

I like to give them specific requests—mostly, I guess, because I like when people give me specific requests.  It gives me some words to start.

And also because I believe that God cares about the details of our lives (not necessarily in a micro-managy way, but at least in a sit down and stay a while and don’t worry because you’re not boring me way).

And so, over the past week, I have flooded these sweet friends with specific requests.

Dates and times and details and minutiae.

Things that matter to me.  That worry my mama-heart.

They are so patient and kind with me.

They text and message and e-mail and, I know, hold Little One and I before the Father.

One of those sweet messages held these words:

Praying in the love of God for all…

In the frenzy of my day, I missed the word “in” while I was reading it, and all day, I mulled it over

Praying the love of God for all.

Because, really, isn’t that what we need?

All of us.

Bogged down in our dates and times and details and minutiae.

Worry, meet Love.

Frustration, meet Love.

Uncertainty, meet Love.

Exhaustion, meet Love.

Sit at his feet for just a minute longer.  Dare to look into his eyes and glimpse no condemnation.

No boredom.

Just Love.

God’s love for it all.