It all started when…
It was sometime around the spring of 1998 just before we were to say, “I do.” We were north-bound at the base of the grade on Hwy 101 in the eucalyptus trees on our way to Paso for one reason or another. Sitting ever so close to that handsome, kind cowboy with a mustache and cowboy hat driving his red and black Chevy (a sin I was willing to forgive) truck.
The radio was on. It was always on and they were doing the little 60-second recap of the news at the bottom of the hour. The newscaster had just told of a sad story about a family of boys who lost, for whatever reason, their parents and were in need of a forever home. I looked at Mark and said, “I could see one day just opening our home to a group of siblings.” I just let that hang there. Without so much as a hesitation he quickly replied, “Yes.” That was that.
Seventeen years later we were four bio kids deep and the days were long, the days of littles at my feet. But somehow, the years passed so quickly that when we came up for air (mind you, our youngest was 3 at this time) we were no closer to opening our home to children in crisis. Oh, we still would both agree, but we were not taking any steps forward in this area.
It took close friends in our kitchen that year to ask the honest question, “Why not?” The list of ‘why nots’ were long, and yet they felt so silly to even admit out loud. Because, when I reflect on the real ‘why’ it was all rooted in fear and a lack of willingness to surrender. In the seventeen years of marriage it had always been pretty easy to come up with the ‘why it wasn’t the right time’ but they were excuses and we knew it. I knew it.
I began to ask the question of us, “What if? What if we just believed this was the right next step, regardless of all the scary, possible “what if’s?” What if we just put our faith in our Captain, who has asked His people to care for the orphans, and just took the one next step to becoming a family that could welcome a child - or two or three - in need? And then, what if we then took the next step?
That was six years ago! Six years ago in June that we received our foster family certification. Four years ago in June that we were certified on a Tuesday and received a phone call for our first placement of 18 month old twins on a Friday.
In June we also will celebrate twenty-four years of marriage. In this time we have moved around a bit but the farm feels like it has always been. Though there was not a farm for either of us to come home to after college we both knew we wanted, even craved, a life in agriculture. Knowing that lives can be restored through hard work and watching new life begin we have always landed as a family in an area that allowed for us to farm on even the smallest scale.
Fostering or adopting a child isn’t for everyone. We fully recognize this but we also want to bring light the idea that we can all do something. That helping those in your community may look a lot more like the idea you have about helping those abroad. It doesn’t always have to be “boots on the ground” to be effective. We’d welcome the chance to share a few ideas on how we might jump into the community around us and surround them with the social and emotional capital it takes to restore families. And since we are not promised tomorrow helping one family at a time, taking the next right step is sometimes all we can do. Even if it just means loving them for today.
The pigs, cattle, chickens, horses, the farm is a bi product of a life we want to share with those who find their way to us if even for a day. Quick short story, we got a call in the middle of the night. It had to have been about 1 am. The conversation literally between Mark and I as we were blurry eyed and talking to the social worker on the other line about us taking this little boy for who knows how long went something like this,
Mark: “I’m exhausted. Jessie (the sweetest 2 year old you’ve ever met) just left.” He was sad. We were all still sad.
Me: “Me too.” quiet for a few seconds “but what if we’d have said no to taking Jessie? We’d have missed meeting that little guy and I feel like we are the ones who would have missed out.”
Mark: “yep, me too. Tell the social worker we say, ‘yes.’”
I got on the phone, told them we definitely had a home for him. He arrived around 2:30 am. We moved kids around in the middle of the night so we had the right bed situation for him and we all busied ourselves for his arrival. When he arrived, I washed him, the kids found clothes for his little body and then we tucked him into bed. We stood outside his door wondering if he’d sleep. At 6:30 am I got a text that family had been found and he was to go home at 8 am, could I bring him to the office? Only a few short hours that’s all he needed. A safe warm bed for a few short hours and so this is where we love for today.
We love the farm. We love it all and we love sharing it with others especially those in need. We’re far from having this all figured out and we learn daily that we ourselves are in need of grace. Pastures and pastures of grace.