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Daring To Care

Planting Seeds

The first of February means it’s time for things to start getting ready in the garden.  Soil needs to be turned, seedlings started, layouts planned, irrigation systems checked and rebuilt, and countless other items that go along with gardening.  

Where I live, our gardens are in raised beds or in containers because of the soil conditions here, but more and more there is a trend for gardens to be in nontraditional locations.  “Ask This Old House” featured a rooftop garden at a mall just this past Saturday.  New York City has turned an abandoned raised freight train line into a public park called “The High Line.” Even the local hospital has set aside land which people can rent to garden.

Learning to garden, raising your own food, at least part of it, should be a requirement for all people.  We are blessed to live with the luxuries we have today but it would take much for what seems like a never ending supply at the corner market to dry up and many Americans to be left starving and confused. 

But gardening isn’t only about feeding the body.  We need to learn the trade so that we can also learn to feed our minds, our souls, and our spirits as well.  Raising a garden takes things many Americans don’t seem to have much of anymore, time, patience, and a bit of caring. 

We ate very much an instant gratification society.  This was never more apparent than when our two year old couldn’t figure out why it was taking so long for the little dirt pods to expand and hydrate so we could plant some seeds into them.  It was a good lesson, though he’s really too young to understand, that to do something properly, it takes more time to prepare for an action than it often does to to complete the action itself.

And yet gardening does more than give us food.  Gardening teaches us patience, resourcefulness, respect, tenderness and caring.  I am going to garden with and around my foster kids, because they need some of all this in their lives.  

Plus, when you let them pick and establish their own gardens, kids get to see the fruits of working the soil and caring for the plants.  They get to enjoy berries that are a little sweeter, corn that is juicer, and salads that are more crisp because they picked this things earlier that day and then helped make them into a meal.  

And whether or not they stay with us for a lifetime or just a season, they’ll leave with a bit of knowledge that will help them get through those hard times.  For we aren’t just giving them their food, we are teaching them to grow and cultivate it as well. 

The Lifestyle Of Caring

Caring for others, whether is be a sick parent or child, a friend who’s recovering from surgery, a patient, or foster children is not something you simply do.  The act of caring becomes a lifestyle.  During the season of caring, be it a few days while someone has the flu or a lifetime of taking in the lost and hurting children of our world, your world revolves around the person or persons your being cared for.

As a foster parent, you go in knowing that there will be changed in your house.  many first time foster parents are couples of haven’t had children at all, some have children but want to do more, and of course there’s the rare few idiots who do it for the money they get. No matter the history or circumstances around the decision to care for fosters, the change in your life happens more drastically than it does for anyone who’s carried a child from conception to birth.  Often times you get a few hours notice that the children are coming and many times your still trying to put the crib or bed together when the children get there.

Then there’s the changes in schedule. Children, especially toddlers don’t give a flying leap of faith that you like to sleep till 7am…nope they are ready to go at 5:30am and you’d better be too.

Doesn’t sound much different from normal parenting huh? Well throw in case workers, CASA visits, court dates, on going training, visitations, counselors, Dr appointments, therapies, night terrors, separation anxiety, paperwork on EVERYTHING and trying to find the balance of your own attachment and life flips upside down.  A year ago we had both planned to continue our careers and simply add the kids to the mix, today in a stay at home dad trying to remember why anything else was ever normal.

It has taken some time, but I truly believe that God has had this planned all along.  He knows the best thing an injured and hurting child could have is the love and compassion we can give and the history of where I came from to get here has been God preparing me for this mission. 

Is this lifestyle the expected one? Is it normal? No, but then again neither are the things that brought our children to our doorstep.  This is a God-made lifestyle, and I only hope I’m able to keep my focus on Him as he uses me to complete the task of healing His children. 

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