Monday, September 24, 2012

formula, the best milk and having faith

sometimes God leads christians to do things that make absolutely no sense.

a great example of this is in the bible.  God promises abraham that he will make a great nation through him, but doesn't give him a son.  not for years and years.  but at the right time (God's time, not abraham's) he does give him a son, isaac.  then some years later, God tells abraham to go sacrifice (ie kill) his only son, who is just a few years from being a man.  this makes absolutely no sense (humanly speaking) but abraham obeys, having faith that God will do something miraculous through it (he thinks that maybe God will end up resurrecting isaac from the dead).  as it turns out, as abraham raises his hand to kill his son, God stays his hand and tells him to sacrifice a provided lamb instead of his son.  this act of faith is not only exemplary to believers of all times, but also provides us with a great foretaste to the gospel, when God sacrifices His only son to save all who believe in him.

[as i write this i am getting tears and goosebumps thinking of the gospel implications of this action]

this week has been a similar experience for me, following God by faith in something that really doesn't make sense.  my trust (and only hope) is that God will make something beautiful of it, as he did with the sacrifice of isaac.

you see, we want to give littlest miss the best milk, because i am fortunate enough to be lactating right now (one of the reasons we wanted to get another little one while esther is still young).  the day that she came to us, i told the social worker (SW) our intentions and she didn't object so we proceeded with the best milk.  but a few days later she changed her mind and told us to give formula.  i tried to object (telling her that if they are truly in this for littlest miss' well-being they wouldn't want her on artificial milk which is associated with higher risk of SIDS, type II diabetes, obesity and cancer among other things), but the case was transferred to a different SW right at that time.  since then we are waiting for permission to give the best milk, and as of right now we have no idea if we will get permission and if we do how long it will take.

six months ago, i probably would have just broken the rules and given her breast milk anyways (its not like they can really know what i am feeding her.)  but recently God has been showing me the importance of submitting to the authority he has placed over me (see romans 13) and constantly reminding me that "the king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will"  (this is an important verse to remember for foster parents).  submitting to ungodly authority is an act of faith and submission to God himself, since he is the one who places governing authorities in our life.  i have also been reminded that when we think that God isn't acting and we take matters into our own hands, it often has disastrous results (see for example the story of sarah giving hagar to abraham when God didn't seem to be giving them their promised son.  thats a mistake that we are still feeling the consequences of, as ishmael was the father of the arab peoples).

furthermore, i had kind of a revelation the day that we had to switch to formula.  i realized that the same all-powerful God who wants us to submit to this rule can also easily make the formula as nutritious for her body as the best milk.  such a thing is easy for God!  and if i believe that God really loves her more than we do, why wouldn't he do this?  so i have been praying every time i have to give her formula that God will make it the same as breast milk in her body.

waiting for something so important as this is difficult.  maybe this is why God has given me the tangible example through esther of why waiting for a good thing can be a good thing.  some days this week my faith has been strong and other days very weak, but God is unchanging even as i constantly change.

but i am also thankful:
*that she got breast milk for the first week of life (in the hospital she got donated milk and she got it from me for several days before the SW changed her mind)

*that she is not starving.  many, many babies in the world do not have enough to eat whether that is breast milk or formula.  she has more than enough to keep her alive, and has never had to wait more than a few minutes for a meal (and thats only because of the logistical hassle of preparing a bottle!).

*that we are not paying for the formula.  i would be especially frustrated to pay so much money for such a low quality processed "food" for her.  until the best milk is approved, the california government will be wasting $155 per month on formula (in addition to the increased health care costs of a formula-fed baby, which averages about $2,000 more in the first year of life.  i am thankful that we don't pay for that either.)

*that cuddles, hugs and kisses and baby wearing are all allowed.  physical contact with a caregiver is associated with better outcomes for babies.  so even while she is being artificially fed, she is being truly loved in other ways.  at night, co-sleeping is not allowed for foster babies, but she sleeps within a few feet of us, which has been shown to regulate breathing and decrease the chance of SIDS.

Friday, September 21, 2012

from "i don't deserve this" to "actually, i don't deserve this"

the past few days i have been reminded about many of the things that frustrate me about the foster care system.  as a foster parent, you have few of the rights and decision making freedoms of a full parent, which can be difficult.  and in the midst of remembering these things that have frustrated me in the past are being brought up again, my heart has cried out to God "why are we doing this again?  we are good parents, we don't deserve to go through all of this!"

today i opened my favorite puritan prayer book and was totally convicted by the first lines:

"o Lord,
thou knowest my great unfitness for service,
                          my present deadness,
                          my inability to do anything for thy glory
                          my distressing coldness of heart"

and He immediately brought one of my favorite verses to mind:

"therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart" 2 corinthians 4:1

you see, my thought of not deserving the difficulties associated with foster parenting are very self-centered, thinking that i am so great and deserving of great things. actually, God is great, and i am rebellious and he is merciful to let me work with him for his glory, even when it is hard.

littlest one is God's mercy in our lives; we don't deserve her.

and since we have this ministry of foster parenting by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

esther's medicine and the problem of evil

because of her CH, esther has to take medicine every morning on an empty stomach, and she can't eat anything for a half hour after while the medicine absorbs.
she's such a big girl!  driving already.  makes my life easier.
esther, can you run to the store for me please? :)

when she used to wake for an early morning feed (like 3a-4a or so), this wasn't a huge issue, because she wasn't that hungry in the morning.  but a couple months ago, she stopped waking up for that feeding.  now in the morning, you can tell the first thing on her mind is MAMA MILK and not medicine.  this means that the 30 minute period is marked with on and off crying, while i watch the clock and count down the minutes until i can feed her.

its pretty painful to watch her cry (well, i'm not just watching her, but usually cuddling with her or singing to her).  but in the midst of it i have learned a very important lesson.

in esther's mind she wants mama milk NOW, and does not see any reason that i should withhold.  but as her mother, i have a better and higher understanding.  as much as i would like to give her milk to meet her immediate need, i know that her long term need is to have a healthy, growing body and brain, and without her meds, these things wont develop properly, and milk during her body's absorption time will interfere with that.

it has taught me a lesson about the problem of evil, the basic question of "how can God allow evil" (and/or withhold good)?  God is the christian's Heavenly Father.  we sometimes want certain temporal things, but God knows that withholding them is actually better for us in some way.  like esther can't understand the importance of her medicine right now, and just wants mama milk, we just want the things that will make us happy now, while God gives us what will make us happy and healthy in the long term.

furthermore, i am comforted by the fact that i know my heart is pained when esther wants mama milk but can't have it.  it makes me want to cuddle with her a lot and show her that i really care.  but i don't regret withholding it for 30 minutes.  in the same way, God comforts the christian in our time of pain, and sometimes he helps us see why he withholds those seemingly good things (though sometimes, like esther, we are too immature to understand this).

there are a lot of things that i have prayed for recently that God has withheld.  i'm sure when the 30 minutes are up, he will give them to me.  but right now he is concerned for deeper things than i am.  and i am glad that he would lovingly do that for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

she is here! she is perfect!

she is here!

she is dark and lovely (i'm still hoping esther will be our lightest skinned baby).

she is also small and squashy (just over 5lb).

she sleeps a lot (i love this stage).

i'm afraid of breaking her! (she's so little!)

she feels like a feather in the baby wrap.  i want to cuddle and hug her all day and night, especially knowing that she went for the past few days without many cuddles and hugs.

we are feeling more comfortable about the possibility of adoption, though things are always changing in the foster care system so we certainly don't know for sure.

what we do know is that we want her to delight in God's grace, and join His eternal family.

and it would be nice if she got to join our family too. :)  like the fa' eva eva kind of joining.

no matter what happens, we are grateful to God for his grace through her and we are honored to care for His precious little one.

PS less importantly, but still good news, MJ continues to perk up more and more and is eating and drinking more :)

one week. two adoptions?

on sunday, we adopted a new hen.  she is a few years old and didn't seem to get the best care in her previous home.  we are excited to have another layer, but are having to give her a lot of extra care right now as she adjusts (hand feeding and watering her, letting her sleep in our laundry room at night, keeping her quarantined for a few weeks from the divas, our nickname for our other 3 chickens).  she looked quite sickly the first day she came here, but is starting to perk up after just a few days with us, which is encouraging to see.

but more exciting than that, we got an unexpected call yesterday.  our foster agency called us about a latina baby.  it was unexpected because we were previously told that esther had to have her first round of vaccines (but we have learned thru our fostering experience thus far that they are often willing to bend rules if they trust you as a foster parent).  the decision had to be made fast but it was hard.  the birth mother seems to have little chance of getting things together to get her baby back, but birth dad is an unknown at this point.  so we are taking a step of faith and said yes.

baby girl is being discharged from the hospital today at noon, after which her social worker will drive her to our house.  will you take a minute to pray for her?  please pray that she will be healthy and strong.  moreover, pray that her heart would be tender toward God from a young age and that she will become a vibrant christian one day.  pray that we will trust God in this process and that if it is His will, that we could adopt her quickly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

nervous excitement to grow our family

i cant wait to have more babies in our home.  i have way too many kisses in me for just esther's forehead.  i have more room on my lap, more room in my arms.  i have more love to give to those that aren't being loved fully.  esther loves other babies/kids (you should see her face light up when she is around others!), and i am excited for her to have siblings.

sometimes i am excited to grow our family. but sometimes i am nervous.  esther has been such a blessing to us this past year, and selfishly i just want to keep the motherhood area of my life easy and manageable.  selfishly, i don't want to be forced to get vaccines for her (and future babies) that we don't feel comfortable with.  selfishly, i like sleeping at night (esther just started sleeping thru about a month ago!) and i like having free time when she naps.  selfishly, i like only having to do laundry every other day.  and i wonder if i can do it, handle one more (let alone the possibility of two more!) babies.

i think back to how life was a year and a half ago, and i know that taking in more kids will move us closer to that chaos (and fun!).

but i also know that "when christ calls a man, he bids him come and die" (penned by dietrich bonhoeffer).  moreover, i want to do lots of crazy things (like thisor this.) in my life that require complete and utter dependance on the grace of God for it to be possible.

i am nervous. i am excited.  i feel a happy dependence on God who will choose who and when will join our home in the near future, and give us the grace to love on them.

faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 1 thessalonians 5:24