I admit it. I am very risk averse. Kinda boring.
I weigh every pro and con and over analyze every opportunity until, most of the time, I rationalize myself out of saying “YES”. It’s safer to stick with “no” or “not now, maybe later.” I can’t fail if I don’t attempt; I can’t lose if I never had…problem solved. It’s wise to play it safe, right?!
But when God tells you to “sign up”, how do you argue with Him?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Stick with me as I backpedal a bit to begin to tell you our story. For the purposes of this particular blog, I will begin with Dec/Jan 2017 (but God has written much of this story WAY before then as I look back and see all He has done in my life-more to unfold in future blogs).
Jan 2017 my maternity leave was wrapping up with my second baby & I felt SO much unease about returning to my job as a pediatric oncology RN. I had a 2 year old and a newborn & I felt called to stay home full time with them. But this was my DREAM job, something I spent 4 years working hard for in college & 6.5 years mastering in the field. And what would my identity be without being “a pediatric oncology nurse”? What would my family think…my coworkers…my boss…my friends? Was it smart to walk away from my nursing career to be a stay at home mom?
I mulled over my pros and cons list for weeks and ultimately went back to work. Safer. But the gnawing feeling of unease continued and one day I could not ignore it any longer and I quit. I walked away from my dream job (well I gave them my notice of course). Now what? I prayed more during that phase of my life than I ever had before. “God, show me your will for my life.” I surrendered my plans, what I felt the world wanted of me, and stopped trying to prove myself worthy. You see, my self-worth was totally wrapped up in what I did rather than in who I am.
A friend had invited me to a women’s bible study at a local church & I now had no excuse not to go (no work schedule to work around on Thursday evenings anymore). So I went. Thank you Stacey! That bible study lit a flame inside me that I could not, would not, put out. My perspective on everything changed. The 8 week study ended and I wanted more. So I started a Women’s Bible Study in our neighborhood and about 12 women joined me in working through 4 bible study sessions (about 7-8 weeks each) over the course of the next year. Study #3 began in Oct 2017…”What Happens When Women Say YES to God”, by Lysa TerKeurst. I started praying this prayer from the study daily:
“God, I want to see You.
God, I want to hear You.
God, I want to know You.
God, I want to follow hard after You.
And even before I know what I will face, I say YES to You.”
What I learned is you better be real serious when you pray a prayer like that…HE WILL RESPOND and I already said “YES.” Hang on tight!
So about November began this constant, rather out of the blue, nudging on my heart (God) to open our home to foster kiddos. Initially I talked myself out of it…’we have 2 young kids already and some days just the 2 of them overwhelm me… how will it affect them to have my love/attention pulled in more directions and to be exposed to brokenness?… I cannot do this if my husband is not 100 % on board and God I know he is not… God, how about in like 5 or 10 years when they are a bit older?’ I was not willing to risk.
Enter PARALYSIS. Fear of the unknown and lack of faith. It has kept me from living, truly living. Procrastinating as a defense mechanism. Stuck in a rut of fear & unable to grow or move.
But the constant nudging only intensified and foster care was about all I could think about. Driving around I saw physical SIGNS posted everywhere I went: “Foster Parents Needed” and a phone number. I parked our car in a Target parking lot and in a gap between 2 bushes where we parked was a sign staked in the ground. We walked in Target and my daughter insisted on walking around holding my hand (older brother was at preschool so I let her) & she led me to a man and a little girl probably about 18 mo old…we made small talk and the man offered up that she was his foster daughter and how far she has come since entering their home. My daughter’s detour around Target’s Dollar spot & a divine appointment nearly missed. How often do I miss His appointments I wonder? Too busy, too distracted, too self-absorbed.
Reading the Bible I randomly opened and pretty quickly got to James 1:27- “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” OKAY, OKAY…
Driving to the library one day in early December 2017, we passed another sign on the side of the road. This one was for a particular agency and I noted in my head the agency name. We parked in the library parking lot and my kids were happily listening to Christmas music in their car seats in the back (a rarity!), so we sat a few minutes. Maybe I will just google…no harm in that…so i typed in the agency name and started reading about what the process is like to become certified. You know, for future reference later in life… Then from the back seat ‘E’, my then newly 3 yr old, screamed “SIGN UP!”
And then,.. just giggling…
I ask him, “What did you say?”
Goosebumps covered my skin. I have never heard a Christmas song with the lyrics “sign up” … and he had never used those words together before. Our day went on as usual and that evening our family was going to O’Charley’s (kids eat FREE!) for dinner. I told Bryan, my husband, what ‘E’, our 3 yr old, had said earlier in the day (fully expecting him to say yeah maybe some day…) and he said, “Well then we better sign up.” So now I had my 3 year old saying “sign up” AND my once unsure husband sure.
I wish I could say I went home and signed up. That I had that kind of faith. But instead I decided I would pray about it some more & wait and see…
Our 3 year old boy had been particularly difficult during this time and huge waves of doubt about my ability to foster love to more children overwhelmed me. However, God was generous in his constant clarity. SIGN after SIGN after SIGN. And then the final sign, a literal one, placed at the entrance of our neighborhood: “Foster or Adopt” and a phone number of the KY Cabinet. I actually stopped and took a picture of the sign, kind of laughing, and sent it to my husband and a couple friends who knew the dilemma going on in my mind. Someone said He may as well put one in my front yard next! I actually called the number from the sign and hung up a few times, a few different days. FEAR.
Until February, when I finally got the courage to officially sign my husband and myself up for classes, emailing the required information to the woman in charge of setting that up…at 10 PM on 2/12/18- about 3.5 months after God put it on my heart. Delayed obedience but I presume better than further procrastination or disobedience. Then, a huge blessing in my mind: the sign disappeared! The next AM while driving to the grocery the sign that had been there at the entrance of our neighborhood for weeks was gone. Confirmation.
God knew I needed it.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd