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6/21/07

more big news...

Almost 9 months ago I wrote about our first week caring for our first foster-daughter, Gracie. There are times when that seems more like 9 lifetimes ago. And there are other times it seems like 9 minutes ago. I'm finding that as an adult life goes by at lightspeed. When you have kids, it's more like ludicrous speed. On the other hand, our life has changed so much in the short time since we first met Gracie that it's hard to believe it's been less than a year that we've known her. Her existence, and our love for her, is now such an essential part of our history and our very existence, that it's almost hard to conceive of a time in our life before she was a part of it.

Three and a half weeks ago, Gracie returned to the full-time custody and care of her mother. This is the goal of foster care. We are glad for it. We are confident that Gracie's mom can provide a loving home for her. We are proud of how far her mom has come and how hard she has worked to attain stability in her life for her own sake and the sake of her daughters. She has fought hard against the demons in her own life largely for the love that she has for her daughters. We are grateful that God has blessed this situaiton and allowed for much healing, repentance, restoration, and reconciliation to take place. We are praying that He will continue to work such blessings in Gracie's life with her mom and sister (and in ours.) This is the goal of foster care. We are glad for it.

And we are devastated. As daunting as it is to drive home from the hospital with a baby in the back seat, it is indescribable to drive to your daughter's new home without you. Suzanne and I shed many many tears that weekend. And it was right that we did so. Our sadness does not diminish the good things that are true about this situation. Our sadness does not indicate any less trust in God's sovereignty and providence in this situation. In a fallen world, grief for a proper cause does not indicate a weakness in one's humanity but rather the fullness, and image-of-God-bearing-ness of it. Jesus wept with grief at the death of His friend. He cried out in anguish on the cross. That does not mean He did not trust in the coming resurrection. It does not mean that He did not recognize the goodness of the salvation He was achieving for His people.

I say all that because I want people to know that dealing with the brokenness of this world is not a black and white issue of trusting God or not. Suzanne and I are learning what it means to grieve as those who have hope. Do not add the burden of guilt to your grief by believing that your grief itself is wrong or a lack of faith. But do not grieve as those who have no hope.

Anyway, it helps that we will be able to continue to be a part of Gracie's life. We were able to develop a good relationship with her mom. And she has told us that we are welcome to visit Gracie any time we like. In fact, she has made us Gracie's "godparents." What a blessing! We pray that the Lord will allow this continued relationship to be a way to minister the Gospel of Christ not only to Gracie, but also to her mom and sister.


Well, in other news...we are beginning a whole new adventure. Yesterday at 5:30 p.m. Suzanne got a call at work from a caseworker who had a potential foster-care placement. By 7:15 p.m. we were driving home with a beautiful 13-month old girl in the back seat. Her name is Leah (2 syllables: Lee-uh). She was very quiet at first, reticent about us. It wasn't long, though, after a meal and a bath, that she was running around our house, chasing our dogs, playing with us and laughing the big laugh that she has. What fun she is! We are very excited for this new chance to share our lives and love with Leah. We are nervous and excited to see how the Holy Spirit ministers the Gospel in this situation.

In no way do we think we can continue in this ministry in our own power. Through our previous experience, we know that only by the Lord's provision can we even hope to remain faithful in this calling. We only persevered as Gracie's parents by the supply of God's grace, and His ministry to us through our church community, friends, family, other team members on the case, and surely a whole host of people and things that we didn't even recognize. Likewise, we are again at God's mercy to be parents to Leah. Please pray to Him for us, that He would indeed be merciful and cause His gospel to transform and bring healing to this situation. If anything, there is more brokenness in Leah's and her family's story than there was in Gracie's. Yet, He who did not spare His only Son, but gave Him up for us, will He not freely give us all things as well? He will according to His will. What more could we hope for?

6 comments:

Renae said...

Thank you, Nick, and Suzanne, for sharing this part of your life on your blog... we rarely run into one another these days, so I'm glad I can keep up with you a bit this way.

I am so grateful on your behalf that God is working in and through you as you seek Him through foster-parenthood. What an amazing road you've been on so far! I'll pray that God gives you comfort in your grief and joy in Gracie & her birth-mom's reconciliation. And that God continues to sustain you both and Leah on your new journey.

Praise Him!

W Sofield said...

So glad to hear all of this.

I wish we could be there to mourn and celebrate; cry and laugh with you both.

Megan said...

Nick and Suzanne - I'm so grateful for you in sharing your heart here. That Sunday when I didn't realize that Gracie had gone back to be with her mom I bumbled over my response when you told me and said something really dumb that I didn't mean to say because in my heart - I knew what a sad, sad, heartwrenching thing (yet also good) that was, but couldn't come up with anything sensitive in those ten seconds of time.

I kicked myself all the way home. I could have simply stopped with and "I'm sorry." Yet I also know that is the goal of what you are doing here and I can't tell you how much I admire that. Truly, that is parenting for the child's sake and not for the parent's sake. It's so not about you, but only about them and man, what a heart that takes.

I can't wait to meet little Leah. Why don't you all come over for dinner and bring her swimsuit? The girls would love to play with her in the kiddie pool in the backyard!

What are you doing tonight???

:)

nickg said...

Thanks, friends, for your loving, supportive words.

Willy,
I tried to include you in an e-mail announcement, but it got bounced back to me. Does your address at the hospital still work? (Maybe your filter sent it back because it was a mass mailing.)

Megan,
I don't remember what you said other than I felt like you were one more friend being caring and supportive. So, no worries! I've actually felt bad that Suzanne and I haven't communicated very well about Gracie's return to her mom, so friends have been had to hear the news in situations in which they have no time to know how to respond.

As for tonight, thanks for the offer Megan, but we have (free) Cardinals tickets with some other folks from our foster care agency, so we're going to take Leah to her first (as far as we know) Cardinals' game and my first game (finally) at the new stadium.

Suzanne said...

Megan,

Please don't kick yourself. We haven't known how to talk about this very well yet and we certainly don't expect other people to know either! We would love to get together with you and your girls. Tonight we're actually going to the cardinals game (free ticket night for foster families! Yeah!) I just bought Leah an adorable little cardinal baseball overall set (with matching bow, of course) and she will be joining in on the fun. Any tips on how to attend a sporting event with a toddler? I have the feeling we may be in over our heads on this one!

Megan said...

Sweet! I want to see pictures! Well, maybe next week we can get together. As far as toddlers at the game... lots and lots and lots of snacks! :) I've never actually taken one this young (#4 was closer to two when she went to her first game two years ago), but the principle applied then - we gave her her own bottle of Coke (okay, so that was baaaddd parenting) and all you can eat popcorn, popped at home before the game - they are so good about letting you bring in your own drinks and snacks so long as they are in plastic and soft containers (which I'm sure you knew already).

Have fun!

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."