So 2012 began with Dwayne underemployed, but working with good friends at a restaurant filled with other Believers. He was encouraged in that regard. I started teaching two sections of Comp I at Pulaski Tech and was also teaching one class at University of Phoenix. U of P's classes only last 6 weeks, but after that 6 weeks was over, I knew I couldn't keep doing all of that and effectively homeschool. No sir.
We got a big snow!
I loved teaching at Pulaski Tech. I was in my element. I had freedom to teach the material how I wanted to teach it and my students were excited to learn. It was awesome. We were steady praying for God to open a new door for Dwayne at work.
We had also been praying since we moved in to our new house about adoption. We knew in our hearts God was not done building our family. "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127: 3-5). If you remember, it was already on our hearts to adopt before we got married. We really believed that God had always intended for this to happen, we just didn't think it would come by force. But God in His sovereignty knows maybe I needed the hysterectomy to put us in a humble enough position to be willing to adopt and not just keep having our own biological children. So...I began doing a ton of research. International adoption. Local adoption. Fostering. State adoption. And the more I looked and the more I prayed, the more we believed for both financial and spiritual reasons that we needed to adopt from the state foster care system. So we decided to go to a CALL information meeting. While there, we realized with full gravity that the Lord didn't just want us to adopt. He wanted us to foster. There is a great need for foster parents. I had no idea how I was going to do that because I think all the same things as you friend: how will I love a child that's not my own? How will I love a child and then give a child back to their family? How can I embrace that kind of hurt and junk and pain? No clue. But God. I just knew it would come from Him, no matter what. So we jumped in with both feet, filling out paperwork, going to training, getting background checks, etc.
I only blogged about 15 times during 2012 (starting here, if you're interested) and I realized that so many things weren't talked about. When Dwayne was underemployed, we were being judged by a lot of people in the Body and it was excruciating But then God began to use the Body to provide for us. I remember one day when we were behind on all of our bills and were afraid our house was about to go into foreclosure, Dwayne got a phone call from someone at church. He went up to the church and was handed an envelope and inside was a check for over $2000. Dwayne was like, "Uhh, no this can't be right. Someone put too many zeroes or something." And the person said, "No. This is for you." And we got caught up on bills that day. And then he got the job at Dillard's. This was big. No one knew exactly how bad things were for us and yet God did and through one or many, brought provision.
We have been judged so many times over the years by the Body, and this is a post for another day, but can I just say that that is the reason people leave the church? I can't imagine what Jesus thinks when He looks down on us and sees us wounding each other. Why do we kick people when they're down? Why do we heap more condemnation on someone that is already broken and beaten? I'll never understand that. God help me do better than that. Help Your Body do better.
So Jehovah Jireh provided, in His way. In His time. His ways are higher and though valleys are hard and dark, He is working for our good in it, producing character and faith. I do see that. I don't like it, but I see it.
At the zoo
Alaya graduates from Kindergarten
We took our first ever beach trip, just the four of us.
We finished our foster training and on July 2nd I got the call I had been waiting for for a long time. A baby was born just two days prior, a girl, and they needed a foster home for her. Maybe during the month of November I will tell her birth story and life story, and also her brothers. Stay tuned. Here is my post toward the end of that year.
I took fall pictures of our family
So Cayle had just turned 8, Alaya was 6 and I was homeschooling 2nd and 1st grade. I was still teaching two classes at Pulaski Tech and Dwayne was working at Dillard's. We were, however, in the throes of the world of foster care and court and all kinds of things we had never dealt with before. Our baby girl...well, I was her Mama and she my baby in every way that mattered. I dealt with a very real fear of the unknown, but had to keep surrendering her to God.
In February, I had the shock of my life when my family threw a surprise 30th birthday party for me. They invited my old "crew" from my NWJH days and it blessed me more than I can say. 30 was a big year for me because it was my fifth year post cancer. I had a lot to celebrate.
The crappiest picture ever, but it was a party and my friends were there. :)
Me and my blurry homegirl Carrie
In the spring, my youngest brother Travis married his fiance Audra, and Cayle and Alaya were once again ring bearer and flower girl.
Then, Dwayne and I had planned to take a cruise to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. And then decided we couldn't leave the kids with my family because of too much stress between my parents and my mom's ongoing drug struggle. So we decided to bring them along. We wanted to go alone, but we couldn't find a way to work it out. We left our sweet baby girl with my precious friend Melissa for the week. And, aside from a major bout of sickness for Alaya and I, we had a blast.
After a hard year in the foster care system, our baby girl turned 1 and the court decided that it was not in the children's best interest to be returned to their parents. We were hopeful that this would solidify us as her parents, but that did not happen exactly as we expected. We got more than we bargained for. And better. Because remember those arrows? Yes, God has made our quiver full of five.
Also, when we realized our family would be expanding again, we decided that I could not continue teaching. I already felt like I was constantly choosing either college students or homeschool, and I didn't want to divide my time like that. I knew our little boys were going to need more from me than that, so I resigned my position at Pulaski Tech.
The little boys moved in the week of my sister's wedding, in which I was the matron of honor. We got integrated into big family life REAL quick. And this was the final wedding of my siblings, yes and thank you, and probably Cayle and Alaya's last stint as ring bearer and flower girl.
Then I decided to chop 10 inches of my hair off and donate it. It felt goooood!
After a very short period of time, we realized we needed to move. 1200 square feet of house with three bedrooms and two dogs was not working. In the fall we also found out that our church was planting a new campus in Conway and that appealed to us. Housing is more affordable in Conway, we liked the idea of something new, and also we would be creating distance between us and our new kids' biological family, which was a safety concern for us.
So we decided to put our house on the market, FSBO.
So, at the end of the year we were adjusting to life as a family of 7 and waiting patiently to see if our house would sell.
I had the intention of lumping 2014 into this post, but I just had the realization that I would rather give it it's own post as part of my reflection over this whole #write31days process. So tomorrow, lovies. I'm going to think my deep, profound thoughts about this year until then.
**Here is me anticipating crossing the finish line!**