Last week I put my three kids back in public school.
Yesterday I had to carry my five year-old to the bus stop because he was crying and didn’t want to go to school. Last night I held my eight year-old as tears finally broke through the anger in his heart and he lamented that he misses spending time with his family and that school is hard and boring. And then my ten year-old daughter (who was the most excited about the change) admitted that she prefers homeschooling over public school. And my mother’s heart is breaking over the decision we made.
On December 5 we welcomed back the two foster children that had been placed with us back in May. These two children, a five year-old boy and a ten month-old baby girl (Jack and Jill), again needed a safe haven because the family they were placed with could no longer care for them.
We didn’t say yes blindly. We knew what we were getting ourselves into because we had weathered the storm when they first came. It took us several days to make a decision and when we finally did, we felt certain peace that this was what God would have us do. Even though we didn’t have a vehicle that would fit all of us. Even though we still had our seven month-old foster baby. Even though we were homeschooling our children. Even though we knew life would get very, very hard.
I cannot believe that we survived Christmas.
If it had not been for the generosity of people from our church family bringing us meals and watching our kids and giving all kinds of donations, I honestly do not know what we would have done. We were even able to purchase a suburban because of a generous gift from dear friends of ours.
But despite all the blessings, life with six children (which included two babies) was too much for me. I had to let go somewhere. For everyone’s sanity and the health of our marriage and our family, Jason almost begged me to put the kids back in school.
I absolutely love homeschooling and all that that involves. The freedom of our schedules, the ability to choose the curriculum I teach my children, the time we spend together, our coop that we are a part of. I didn’t want to let go of this part of my life. But we couldn’t see any way around it. Where we are, the only options for restoring our sanity were either to place all kids in public school or choose to disrupt the foster placement. When it came down to it, I knew that public school was what we needed to do.
This morning I met my sister-in-law in the parking lot of HEB so Addie and Jeremiah could spend the night with their cousins. She looked at me and asked, “Are you in over your head?”
She had no idea. I was drowning really. Desperate for air.
“I feel like my life has been hijacked,” I replied sullenly, “and I want it back.”
I wanted life back to the way it was a year ago. Before we started fostering. When we were just us. Homeschooling and gardening, rested and excited about life.
I went back home with the four littlest kids, the twin babies and twin five year-olds. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down on the couch while Jill crawled around, trying to put everything into her mouth. I looked at my Bible and dreaded picking it up because I knew I was reading in the gospel of Matthew. And I didn’t want to hear Jesus’ words today. I was mad at him really. He had called me to this. Well, I had asked him for this too. I had told him that I would do whatever he wanted me to do. And this. This was hard! And I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted it easier.
I suddenly found myself opening my Bible (and accidentally spilling coffee over the pages of the book of Matthew). I found my place in chapter 10 and began to read of Jesus sending out his twelve disciples to go into the towns of Israel to heal people and cast out demons.
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37-38
And then, there it was jumping out of the page, confronting my angry heart:
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 10:39
I scribbled in the margin the date, 01-10-15 and these words, “He has hijacked my life. I’m not so happy about it now.”
But as I have had all day to chew on those words from the one who bled all his blood, who chose to lose his life for my sake, I wonder what kind of life I’m hoping for anyways. Fostering is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is the hardest thing my kids have ever done. Sometimes I wonder if I am destroying them. If our whole foundation is being shattered by the infiltration of broken children into our own broken lives.
But maybe we are all losing our lives for the sake of Christ. Maybe we are losing ourselves for the good of others so that we may find the life that is truly worth living.
This is the prayer of my heart.