It was a brand new year. We had just completed the holidays as a family of seven. We had five children, aged 6 and under. We were full. Not a stuffed and bloated kind of full. A satisfied, hearts brimming, happy kind of full.
Our house was full.
Our van was full.
Our lives were full.
Then…my phone rang…
It was a Monday morning. It was the first day back at school for the oldest two and my schedule had just righted itself again.
The caller ID said “DCS”…
She apologized as soon as I had finished my greeting. She knew that what she was calling about was something we had not considered. Ever. She was desperate. And she was making calls.
“…seven different children…no homes…would you be willing to at least listen to their situations and consider?”
Yes. My answer was “yes.” How could it have been “no?”
As she began to speak, my heart began to sink. There were so many needs. So many children. I was listening to situations that we literally could not facilitate. Siblings that needed their own rooms. A teenage mother with her two young toddlers. They would need their own space as well. She needed to learn to be a mother. A special needs child who’s special care could not be conducted in our two story, quirky old home.
Tears were forming in my eyes as I listened. Why was it there were no homes? She was calling us. Our family. Technically, the courts had already decided our home was full enough. Five children was the limit. Plus we had enough little, little ones, I knew they were hesitant to place with us again just yet.
Seven children…with no home for this new year.
I tuned back in as she began describing the last situation. I remember every sentence that she said to me. A life described in 30 seconds. 30 seconds that completely captured my heart. But, even as my heart was captured, I tried to guard it. We had decided not to interrupt birth order. Our oldest was to be our oldest. This child was 9. I knew our family’s stance on this was strong. We had thought long and hard and already made our decision. In addition to that, she was describing some definite potential problems. This wouldn’t be an easy transition for our family. But her last sentence completely destroyed the guard I was busy setting up.
“We technically made the removal after he had already left for school. When he gets out of school this afternoon, we have no place for him to go.”
I stayed very formal on the phone. I told her what she already knew – that these were situations we had already agreed we weren’t prepared for – but said that I would double check with my husband. She thanked me for listening and said she understood if our answer was “no.”
I didn’t call my husband right away. That was a first. Usually I immediately dialed his number, eager to hear him say the “yes” I knew was waiting there. This time I was expecting a “no.” It was what we had decided. We had very good reasons. I wasn’t upset, but my heart was compromised. I turned around and knelt at the dining room chair I had just been sitting on. I cried. I poured out my heart. I prayed individually for each of the precious lives I had just heard about. And, I gave them all to Him. The One with whom they would be the most secure.
Hubby was coming home for lunch that day, so I didn’t call him. I waited. My heart was still being tugged and I wanted to be able to fully communicate that – while that was true – I was still happily willing to stay with the plan we had already formed.
He came home.
I shared the phone call.
He didn’t say “no.”
I think he was just as surprised as I was! Both of our hearts were undeniably tugged in the same direction. Pulled in the direction of a really scary “yes.”
We called the caseworker back. We gathered more information. We called a few others who had entered similar situations with other children before us. Wise and bold believers who passionately lived out their faith. We prayed together.
We said “yes.”
Just a few hours later, my husband walked in the door with his hand protectively on the shoulder of one of the cutest boys I had ever seen. All fear and worry disappeared and my heart completely melted. Looking at my husband’s face, I knew he was experiencing the same thing.
We walked through the plan we had set up:
We sat down on the couch with him to briefly explain our home and the people in it.
Then my husband took him on a tour while I sobbed in the kitchen. (The tears that he had rapidly blinked away while we talked had completely broken my heart.)
We ate dinner together as a family for the first time.
Then my husband took him on a trip to Walmart for clothes to wear the next day and some other basics. They also came home with a lot of really cool “boy” toys since our house still hadn’t recovered from the pink and purple explosion that beginning with three daughters had caused.
They worked through his homework together.
They went over the next day’s schedule.
Basically, we kept him up until he was exhausted. We knew there would be no chance of sleep any other way.
Then, my husband started a routine that would last for the next several months. He sat on the end of the newly made bed and turned to the first page of the Jesus Storybook Bible. And he began to read. I hid around the corner and listened to the whole story. I listened to my husband pray. He turned off the lights, closed the door, and then we sat there in the hallway and listened as the sobbing tears began. Tears that had been held inside all evening. Tears from a heart that was broken and confused.
We cried, we prayed, and we didn’t really sleep that night. Our lives had just radically been changed. We knew that, even aware as we were of the changes, we truly didn’t know the half of what was yet to come. But the changes we saw were in store for us paled in comparison to the changes that young life had experienced in the span of a single school day.
We knew we were called. We knew God would provide. We knew we were as ready as we could be.
And so we rested, on a mattress in a room that wasn’t really a room yet. Exhausted and yet fulfilled. Minds full with the wonder of the day we had just experienced.
The day that seven became eight.