On December 31, my husband and became officially licensed as foster parents. On January 13, a social worker delivered two children to our home for long-term foster care: a five-year-old boy and his five-month-old sister. So, in a moment, my husband and I became parents of two. I became a mommy, for all intents and purposes. They are not necessarily going to be ours permanently, but for at least six months or so, we are the only parents they have.
My world has gotten decidedly smaller in the past seven weeks, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t miss jetting off to this big city or that for work. I’ll take packing lunches, walking to and from school, trips to the YMCA, wiping two additional behinds, art projects with paint and pasta and string, appreciating the wonder of tiny flowers through the eyes of a five-year-old, decorating cupcakes, figuring out how to keep most of the water inside the bathtub during bath time each night, comforting a teething baby, making and washing SO VERY MANY bottles, doing SO VERY MANY loads of laundry each week, cooking every night, figuring out effective discipline techniques, and all of the other seemingly mundane but utterly gratifying aspects of my new season and role. I am very fortunate to be on this journey with a husband who shares my sense of calling and commitment to this role as foster parents and who makes it even more fun with his made-up nicknames and songs and midnight diaper changes and feedings. This is a good time in our home.
This is also a very eye-opening time for me as a woman who has been writing Bible studies and leading Bible study groups for over a decade. I have “known” that it is tough for moms with young kids at home to find/make time for meaningful engagement with scripture. But until now, I have not truly KNOWN that challenge fully. I have every intention of making Bible study a priority in this new season. I just haven’t figured out yet how to make that happen.
Maybe finally writing this post is a step in the right direction. When it comes to writing, I have been paralyzed these past seven weeks. I have not even been able to write in my own journal, let alone craft the articles I’ve been asked to write for two different publications about my new journey as a foster mom. But this week, the proverbial clouds have seemed to part and the sun has been peeking over the horizon. I am settling into a rhythm that is starting to feel normal.
Meanwhile, I have had God’s word flowing through my days in beautiful ways. Like the ravens God sent to feed Elijah in preparation for a drought, God has sent “ravens” to me in this season, delivering apples of gold at just the right moment. A word my pastor preached from the pulpit a few weeks ago that pierced my heart like an arrow… a passage from the behavioral specialist recommended by the state agency, who turned out to be a devout Christian and offered to pray for me… a verse a man from church felt led to pray over me… a passage emailed to me by a woman I don’t know, but who has been praying for me because I am speaking at a conference she is affiliated with… the list goes on. These verses and phrases have been like links in a chain that have been holding me up through some of the challenging moments (sleeplessness, behavior issues, juggling all of my new responsibilities, dealing with paperwork and a really packed calendar of meetings, emotional reality that these kids we have fallen in love with are not ours and may go away in a few months, etc.) I have been fed and nourished by these words of encouragement, and I pray they keep coming!
But I have also realized something pretty profound: this season is why I do Bible study.
This season is why making Bible study a priority in our lives is so very important.
Because there will be seasons when you cannot be “in the Word” much, and if your silos have not been being filled regularly for years, when the drought comes and you really need a word from God, you have nothing to draw from.
If you spend year after year after year studying and reading a meditating on the scriptures, then, when you have a season like this, where you are ill or you have a new baby or a life event has taken every ounce of your attention and energy (a sick parent or child, for example), you have a rich stockpile of scripture in your heart to help sustain you and guide (and guard!) your perspective.
I can’t tell you how many nights I have stood in my living room with an infant hanging from my body in a Baby Bjorn, gently rocking from side to side as I whisper scriptures I have memorized into her ear.
I can’t tell you how often I begin to feel weary or my patience begins wearing thin, and then I remember a passage that is just right for that moment, and I am instantly refreshed for the next leg of the journey.
I can’t tell you how much meditating on the kingdom mandate to be ambassadors of hope has guided and guarded my perspective during this uncertain season of parenting children who are not mine. Arms open wide to receive these kiddos and give them the fullness of God’s parent-heart toward them, with hands open wide, holding loosely to my dreams for them, offering them up to God day by day and moment by moment.
This is when the rubber meets the road. This is where we discover whether studying the Bible really matters.
Because it does. It. Does. Matter.
I don’t know what season you’re in right now, but let me say this: if you are in a season where it is at all possible, I hope you are making Bible study a priority in your life. I don’t say this as a means of guilt or shame, but rather as an appeal from friend to friend: don’t neglect the scriptures. Don’t treat the Bible as a nice add-on when there’s nothing on TV. Don’t rely on a Sunday morning sermon to fill you up. Keep your Bible handy, open it daily, and soak it in. Let it color your days, inform your thoughts, instruct your tongue and form your dreams.
Because a season will come when you can’t, and that will be the season when you will need it the most.
So get it now.
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The other night I reached for my Bible and it was covered in baby powder. I had to laugh. As my mom predicted, I don’t finish a hot cup of coffee these days—one day, I reheated my coffee a record seven times before giving up and dumping it out! No coffee stains on my Bible lately, but I do occasionally spill baby powder on it, because I am keeping it handy—alongside the diaper-changing paraphernalia that must be handy at all times.
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I started writing this post this morning, before either child was awake. The baby woke up just as I was coming to the end of it, and since I began writing this earlier today, I have fed two children breakfast, changed three diapers, gotten a little boy ready for school, packed a school lunch, bundled both children up to drop him off for kindergarten, spoken with another foster parent who will be keeping them tonight so my husband and I can go out for dinner, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, reheated a cup of coffee four times, and made a doctor’s appointment for my baby this afternoon, because she has had a cough for five days now and it’s not getting any better. As I finish this post, I am standing in front of my kitchen counter, swaying from side to side as I type, because there is a baby sleeping in the Baby Bjorn hanging from my body.
It’s not even 10 AM.
This is my life now. And while I’m not able to sit down as regularly to read, highlight, and journal about the Bible, my days are flooded by God’s word (often during bedtime books time, as we read from the Jesus Storybook Bible or the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, two of our son’s favorites). The ravens are coming with nourishing morsels, and I am feeling shored up and full.
And I’m glad you’re with me here. I have a feeling many of you reading have a thing or two to teach me about growing in faith as I grow as a mom. I have a feeling some of you might have a scripture passage to offer me in this season. I welcome that.
I’m in a new season now, and there will be more meditations coming soon.
But I might have to write them from the kitchen counter, with a lukewarm cup of coffee by my side 🙂