The Elijah era...In all honesty I haven't had much time to reminisce about those days in the last 2 years. So today I'm taking a trip down memory lane. Our first houseguest, sweet Elijah... that boy was a rare breed for sure. He had been dealt a series of hard circumstances all throughout his young life and somehow managed to come out on the other side his sweet, innocent self. When we trained to become foster parents, I'm almost positive we were given every worst case scenario imaginable. For instance, it is possible for a child to act out by urinating in the vents of your home making your entire house reek when the heat or air kicks on. There was talk of poop smearing, fire starting, bio parents gone crazy, violent behaviors, etc.. My worst fear was that a parent of one of our foster children would hunt me down and kill me. That really was something that entered my mind frequently, I must have seen it in a lifetime movie somewhere along the way. I expressed this fear to our instructors and if I remember right, I think they giggled a little. It was unwarranted and looking back it was a whole lot of silly. Anyway, I guess they tell you all the bad stuff so when someone like Elijah comes along you're pleasantly surprised and you don't take it for granted. Elijah wasn't actually a foster child, he came to us through another program called Safe Families. There are ALOT of differences between Safe Families and foster care, but given that he was with us for 4 months, it's basically the same idea. It was our status as foster parents that presented us with the opportunity to care for him.
Our situation was very unique...Elijah was one of JT's students. The organization placing him found out about us and thought the transition would be easier because Elijah would be moving in with someone he knew. Elijah's popularity got a little boost when the other kids at school found out what was going on. Students were asking JT if they could move in with us too, some kids didn't believe Elijah and came to ask JT for verification of his story. My favorite things about being the mother of a 10 year old include but are not limited to: homework help in the evening, his 1st ever baseball season...AND he made the all-star travel team afterward, going on bike rides together, listening to the house shake when he was playing nerf basketball in his room, and last but not least rocking out to Taylor Swift's 'Forever and Always' in our Saturn Vue on the way home from school...dance moves included. I love how he never knew the words but shouted something... anything at the top of his lungs anyway. I love how he smiled almost constantly and never cared what anyone thought of him. JT would take him to the middle school track practices and let him run with big kids, he never came close to winning a race but gave his all each time and cheesed with every stride he took.
Elijah gave us a gift...he gave us 4 straight months of focusing on someone besides ourselves. When he walked into our home, sadness left. There was no time, and no reason to sit and sulk. We had a child to take care of, and he kept us busy:) Okay, looking back "busy" may be a bit of an exaggeration. He fed himself, dressed himself, bathed himself, used the bathroom, etc.. He did have quite a few activities he was involved in, but driving him to them and then sitting and watching hardly defines busy. In those days, "inconvenience" was rearranging our dinner schedule, and sometimes getting to bed a little late after a baseball game. Now days, I don't get to eat or use the bathroom when I want. I guess it's all in perspective.
Elijah gave us our first experience as parents. There were a few challenges, but they were minor when compared to what we were prepared for in our training days:) Leaving gum in your pocket and melting it to the inside of the clothes dryer is in no way comparable to urinating in the vents. He was our sweet angel and God sent him to us when we needed him. He was there through the "Julie experience" and made healing much easier than it would have been without him. We couldn't feel sorry for ourselves when we had another person to take care of, and I think it's natural to mask the pain around a child. We felt like he shouldn't know how much we were hurting, and the desire to protect him from our pain protected us a little too. Loving Elijah also allowed us to love his mother. In May of 2009, another couple in our life group welcomed her into their home to help her get on her feet. We all worked together and helped her find a car and apartment (in our town:) before Elijah left to go back with her at the end of the month. In that time, I really felt what it meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I LOVE our life group.
So about that popsicle in my fridge...it's been there for over 2 years now. Elijah brought it home one night after a baseball game. He left it here when he moved out and I can't throw it away OR let anyone else have it. I'm really hoping he'll come back and get it one of these days, we've done a pretty good job of keeping in touch. When I open the freezer and see the giant popsicle, I think about him...I've grown fond of the red icy treat. I also have a picture of Elijah on the wall and above it hangs the words "What you are is God's gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God." This reminds me on a regular basis that our lives are not about us, but about loving others. There are so many ways to love and give the world a little taste of Jesus in this crazy life. Foster parenting is a full time ministry and I'm positive that if intentions are pure, the blessings poured on the parents outnumber the blessings for the child.
We were sad to see the Elijah era end, God opened our eyes to a lot while he was with us. When God has a plan, He'll use any avenue to complete it, and He took us down a crazy road that resembled a roller coaster. More details to come;) Thanks for reading about it! Oh..and I literally just got off the phone with Elijah's mom, I really wanted her approval before I posted this...she LOVED it:)
Crazy Mama Crook