Celebrating, Capturing & Remembering Life's Special moments
I've been working on moving over to a new site and trying to transfer all my blog content from my "ministry" and "life" blogs to the new site. Sadly weebly does not have an easy solution for this, which means a lot of copy and paste and uploading all the picture over again. I'm moving so that I can dedicate annasilverthorn.com entirely to my photography business, while expanding and having more fun with a blog about all my other life adventures.
This is where I am moving to: fullylovingfullyliving.weebly.com
It truly does feel moving! Packing things up, unpacking them, uploading them, redecorating and dreaming of new possibilities, changing addresses and oh, so many other similarities.
I hope you'll join me there!
Waiting is hard. This is a kind of waiting I have never done before. I feel like I am literally waiting for our world to be turned upside down. I am anticipating a chaos of good and bad, of love and enormous challenges. In some ways I feel like I am bracing myself. Yet there is really no reason to be living any differently. We continue about our normal days. In the back of my mind ever present is the knowledge that any time, any day, could be tomorrow or maybe next month the word could come. We could become parents at the drop of a hat. Parents to a dear, sweet child. Parents to a dear, sweet, hurt, traumatized child. A child that will most certainly rock our world.
The bedroom is ready. Our hearts are ready. Ready and waiting.
Sometimes I stay awake at night and can't sleep thinking of what could be, what might be and how I could, should or might respond. I imagine snuggles, and fun outings, I imagine otherworldly tantrums and messes as well. I'm not expecting it to be easy, but still look forward to parenthood with all my heart. Sometimes when I can't sleep I go and sit in the kid's room. I sit and I pray for the kids that will someday sleep there. I sit and pray for the wisdom and love I will need.
I wait. I pray. I wait.

I got an email from a dear friend the other day asking if there was anything we needed as we wait for kids to be placed in our home through the foster care system. I've been asked this kind of question several times over the course of our preparations this year and have not known exactly how to reply.
We are licensed for 2 children ages 8 and under, boys or girls. That's a pretty wide developmental range where kid stuff is concerned. Add to that the fact that we live in a small apartment (seriously, 770 sq ft). We don't have space to stock pile clothes, toys and get ready for every age possibility in that range. Even if everything inside me screams to be fully prepared when I pass the children's/baby section at our local Target.
Therefore, it is hard to say what "stuff" we might need, because in reality we don't have room for "stuff". We also want to leave plenty of space to accommodate any belongings that a child may bring to our home. Here are some ideas I've thought of ways that a person CAN show support to a foster parent to be with and without "stuff". These are things that have meant a lot to us.
1.Get fingerprinted and background checked
Probably not the first thing you would expect on this list is it? This is HUGE though. I am assuming that if you are looking for a way to support a foster parent to be, you are probably interested in supporting them once they have kids too. There are strict requirements regarding the care of children in foster care, and one of them is the qualifications of babysitters. A babysitter who will care for a child in the foster care system must be 21 years old and have completed the county background check and this includes being fingerprinted (in the state of Minnesota).
Most parents would understand why having potential babysitters lined up is important, and with these additional requirements it is especially crucial.
If David and I need a break, we can't just call up a friendly teenage girl from youth group, or even take up on an offer to drop the kids at another parent's house. If there is a conflict with work, a court hearing or any other unforeseen circumstance we need to have our potential babysitting "network" ready and background checked.
From the beginning we have had 2 people who have showed incredible support and enthusiasm about our journey into foster care, and it means so much to me that they have asked for the paperwork to in essence become "official supporters".
If you want to take this a huge step further, go through the foster care licensing process so that you could potentially provide respite care if the foster parent needed a few nights away for some reason.

2. Prayer
Prayers go a long way, and the decision and process of becoming foster parents for those who follow Jesus is sure to be one bathed in loads and loads of prayer. There is so much to weigh and consider. Prayer support is probably one of the biggest ways you can support a foster parent to be. Go ahead and ask them frequently how you can be praying.

3. Affirmation and verbalizing support
If you are praying, let the foster parent know! If you think what they are doing is neat, let them know. Verbal affirmation and encouragement helps a lot as you are considering a pretty big life change. It also lets a foster parent to be get a feel for who is supportive of their decision to foster kids, and who they might be able to go to for further support once kids are placed in their home.

4. Readiness to jump in when children are upon placed
A placement can happen at the drop of a hat. It is hard to be prepared, and it will probably turn most people's lives upside down. Be ready to jump in with support once a placement is made, and don't just give support in the first few weeks, keep it up.
In our foster training meetings we were informed that there is often a "honeymoon" period with a newly placed child. A time where they are fairly well behaved whether it is because they are in shock, relieved to be out of a dangerous situation or any other myriad reasons. There will come the time however, when that will be over and the child will test limits, test love, and start to act out. While the first few days will be hectic even with or without behavior problems, the long haul may get really intense. Be there to offer support as needed along the way. Check in and ask how they are doing and if there are any ways you can help. In the beginning the new foster parent may be in just as much shock as the kids, and may need some time to figure out what it is they really do need.

5. Stuff, if you must... but could you keep it at your place?
I know that stuff can be a huge blessing, and if you have kids who have outgrown said stuff, it is an easy way to pitch in.
Here is my idea of how you can support with stuff without overtaking a foster parent to be's home:
Fill a bin with a few things that you think are essential to the age group/gender that the foster parent-to-be may be providing care for. Label it, and store it somewhere safe that you will remember at your place. Let the foster parent-to-be know that you have stuff for such and such age and gender if the need arises. Below are a few ideas for such a bin. If you are a parent, you would know what items might help any specific age:
  • Clothing
  • Age appropriate toys
  • Age appropriate school supplies
  • Age appropriate books
  • Please, oh please only clean items in good condition.
This last suggestion is specific to our situation with limited space. It may very well be different for a foster parent to be who has lots of closets and storage space. Asking is the best way to find out!

While you are thinking along this vein listen to this podcast that I ran across the other day. It goes through some ideas of what to give or not give foster or adoptive parents as they prepare for kids. I think the presenters bring up some really good points.

Look what came in the mail yesterday! We're all official and on paper. We could be parents of  one or two kids under age 8 anytime, any day now.

Over the weekend I got the chance to relive some fun college memories with some of my very best friends. It was one friend's Birthday and she traveled all the way from Omaha to come spend her weekend with those of us who live here in frigid Minnesota. We ate out, had a sleep over, and hung out at the Mall of America all day Saturday. Definitely not a typical weekend for me, but fun to switch things up and catch up with friends. My friends are really cool and having grown up in several countries the world over, I can always expect a delicious food adventure (and LOTS of wonderful tea). A few of these pictures (make that several) were taken with my point and shoot mostly for memory sake, so please forgive the quality!

We stopped for Asian food at a little place on eat street in Minneapolis. I love that we used spoons, forks and chopsticks to devour this feast. Hot Jasmine tea was perfect on a REALLY cold evening.
We stopped at another cozy place for tea and dessert...

 I had to snap this picture while waiting for our tea.

Tea, chick flicks and a fireplace after a chilly evening in Uptown. Ahhh, a perfectly wonderful girls night.

Because my friends are awesome (and it seems they have all been baristas at some point or another) this beautiful latte was whipped up for me at breakfast, yum!

Then of course we couldn't be at the Mall of America without some bubble tea. My friend introduced me to a new place, and a couple my friends engaged a some Taiwanese people in conversation in Mandarin I believe. Wrong hemisphere for me to be able to identify the specific language being spoken, but pretty cool nonetheless.
Did you notice a pattern? Yeah, my friends are tea (and coffee) obsessed and they have been slowly turning me into a tea nut as well ever since college. This time of year tea is so wonderfully cozy!

Whether my dear college friends are close by enough to share some tea, or enjoying their tea a good 24 hour flight across the world, tea always makes me think of them and cozy, deep, heartfelt, third culture kid laments when we were in college. Funny how those third culture kid (TCK) laments are so easy to identify with no matter the cultures they are from. We share the bond of not belonging and never quite knowing where to call home. I daresay, heaven is an especially sweet concept for us TCKs, and being together gives us a picture of finally belonging in our un-belonging-ness. If that makes any sense at all.

Throughout the day I tried to imagine what it would have been like to have a toddler along. Yeah, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't have worked too well. There are phases and seasons of life, and while I long for the days of having kids, it was fun to fully enjoy and be present in this phase (and relive a little bit of a previous time). Knowing that kids could be placed into our lives any day, I am trying to relish the child-free moments. Even though I can barely wait for those child full moments to begin!

Yesterday was a wonderful, busy day. In the morning I went to a women's Bible study at church, then went out with a friend to buy a Birthday present for another friend who is coming to visit from another state this weekend. I went out to lunch with David, and then we had a nice looong walk at the Arboretum. By the time we got home I was quite worn out and took a 2 hour nap!

When I woke up around 6:00 p.m. I checked my email and there was a message about a potential placement in our age range. The email said to call if interested, so I called, only to find that someone else had received the placement. Our licensor informed me that email would be the primary form of communication about placements. I had figured that a placement would warrant a phone call, and was satisfied keeping my phone nearby and frequently checking for missed calls. Apparently email makes for a faster way to communicate with several families at once when an urgent placement is needed. Sigh. I was disappointed that on the one day I wasn't checking my email throughout the day I missed out. I generally check email several times a day.

The funny thing is that in most cases I so much prefer email. I hate phones, but I've been pretty anxiously awaiting this phone call. Such is life I suppose. I made sure to set up the email I get foster care info on to my cell phone last night, this way I will not miss out again and can keep on checking for placements on my phone. :)

Thus the wait continues. At least I know they haven't forgotten us!
I used to think Minnesotan small talk was so shallow. Sorry! Even as a kid, I was confused when my cousins or grandparents would use up precious seconds if not minutes of our long distance calls talking about the temperature, the snow or how many shades of green they could see in their backyard. Then when we finally got around to using email, the weather stories continued, and I just didn't get it.

That was back when I lived in Bogota, Colombia where the temperature was mild and spring like ALL year long. There was "rainy" season, and not as rainy season, but even that did not provide much variation if any. Then as a teen I moved to the Dominican Republic where the temperatures varied just a little bit more. The "winter" lows would possibly reach the mid 70s. The summer highs of 80s and 90s mixed with stifling humidity would occasionally merit a friendly complaint from a neighbor as you sat on your front porch rockers trying to catch any whiff of a breeze.

Then I came to live in Minnesota in college. The weather here truly is a novelty and you never quite know what to expect the following day. While perhaps overseas the big news was a political riot or the latest government fraud. In Minnesota the snow, heat, rain or ice and their effects tend to be the most riveting event. Here government corruption doesn't put a city at a standstill or cancel school, instead the weather does. Here the latest political terrorist group doesn't issue threats, instead the windchill threatens frost bite to any exposed skin.

Here I find myself having lived in Minnesota for about 6 straight winters, and I finally understand! The weather IS fascinating, intriguing and always unexpected. Beautiful, and terrible and sometimes downright dangerous. It helps you measure time and see the progress of a year gone by, with each winter I find myself just a little bit more Minnesotan, and the weather has become a staple in my small talk.

Here is my Minnesotan weather update:
Yesterday it snowed. It iced. It got really, really white. In the morning it hadn't started yet, then picked up during church. The short drive home was slippery, but we made it all in one piece and enjoyed a wonderful quiet evening watching the snowfall from our cozy apartment living room. Truly a visual treat delivered straight from heaven.
I've started reading the book "Love Does" by Bob Goff. I have a feeling it is going to be one of those super inspiring books with lots of quotes worth quoting. :) Here's one I'd like to remember:

Fully loving and fully living are not only synonymous, but the kind of life that Jesus invited us to be a part of.
-Bob Goff (Love Does, p. 16)
Makes me think of some words Jesus said:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
-Jesus (John 10:10 NIV)
Just so happens this is also the week of Valentine's day, and I realized that the Beth Moore Bible study I signed up to do is also on the topic of love. So you may or may not be reading an awful lot about love coming from me over the next few weeks. An area that I need to grow in, you probably need to grow in and no one will ever be done growing in. Love is one of those wonderful themes and practices that knows no limits.
Here's to a week of fully living and loving!
I am so very exhausted right now. It is a wonderful, satisfying kind of exhausted. The exhaustion that comes from hard work and a full week. We had our Awana Grand Prix at church today, which is a pretty big event. Afterwards about 150 people ate their fill of pizza, cookies and lemonade. It went so smoothly, and most everyone was happy (except for a very few kids who didn't win and have yet to learn about being good sports).
I got to serve pizza alongside a woman I super admire and who has inspired me in the whole foster parenting thing. Her and her husband have been foster parents for over 25 years, and specialize in teenagers. She was excited to hear we were finally licensed and asked if we could do respite for them this summer when they go on a trip to Spain. How fun! It is neat to realize that not only can we now have kids placed in our home now, but we can be a support to some really amazing people and give them a WELL deserved break. Teenagers aren't the age group we are considering, but for this couple we would most definitely bend a little.
This week at church they put in a new sound system, and we got all new (to us) office furniture installed (absolutely free). My church office has now been separated into two so that there is room for the new youth pastor coming in March.
Despite the busyness, this week I have felt thankful. Thankful for my job. Thankful that I get to play a part in loving and supporting families. Thankful for the amazing staff and volunteers I get to work with. Thankful for this special calling to foster care. Thankful for a husband who never ceases to amaze me with his kindness, sweetness and skills.
Here are the week's highlights (note, I have also been sick with a disgusting cold all week):
Monday: Cleaned the apartment thoroughly
Tuesday: Got our foster care license. Car seat training in the evening.
Wednesday: Work at church in the midst of construction and chaos. David texts me saying he got promoted at work (hooray!) Awana in the evening.
Thursday: Work in the middle of chaos again. Supper with a few church staff at the new associate pastor's house in the evening.
Friday: Work amidst paint fumes, self cleaning oven fumes and an already foggy brain. Grand Prix set up in the evening.
Saturday: Grand Prix Awana derby in the morning. Please oh please let me have a quiet evening!
Sunday: Church, IF the expected blizzard doesn't reach epic record proportions. I gotta admit, I won't be too disappointed if church is cancelled tomorrow, but in Minnesota you never get your hopes up about anything being closed for the weather even if half the population ends up buried in the ditch. Family lunch at our pace.

I'm ready for one looong nap!

We are LICENSED foster parents! Woohoo! We could potentially have children placed with us today or tomorrow if such a need arose. Pretty awesome!