Memorial Stones in Words: Daniel

by GfG on August 30, 2009 · 16 comments

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I’d love for you to share a story of when God stepped into your life and made Himself apparant to you. Click on the photo for details and the story behind this ‘blog carnival’. ALSO: treats for everyone who participates. I will give two days to post before giving ‘treats’.

A few nights ago I had quite an emotional dinner with my family.
We ran into this young man.

It caught me off guard, though it shouldn’t have. He’s always lived in the same town.

 

The thing is this: he lived in our home six years.
See…I was a teacher for the deaf in my previous life. I had three little boys in my class here. They were adorable. I loved them immediately. I invested in their lives. They would come spend the weekend with me and My Sweetie to get some language input and have a godly man influence their lives (My Sweetie signs). Only one of the boys had a good father figure (and even he was a bit iffy) and none of the parents signed. (I’m not lying and don’t even get me started on that soapbox!)
But… one of those little boys stole my heart from the get go. He was a little, skinny, brown faced boy with a smile too big for his face and a sweet spirit.
After learning I was to be a mother at the end of two years teaching here, I turned in my notice. I stayed home learning how to be a better homemaker and preparing to be a mother, but those boys were still in my life. I would visit them and substitute for their teacher and have them over and even go give ‘mom type lectures’ when necessary. As My Sweetie and I considered names for our baby, this boy’s name was in the running for two reasons: it’s a fabulous Biblical heritage and we loved this boy. We never felt a peace about it though. (In the end, it didn’t matter since HB is a girl!)
Then, when HB was seven weeks old, we got a call. A call that would rock my world. CPS was involved in the young man’s life… again. I had to call them several times in the two years he was my student. The home life was awful. Seriously. He was the oldest of four boys and their lives were heartbreaking. Real disaster loomed on the horizon. CPS was about to take him out of the home, put him in foster care, with the Texas School for the Deaf as mandatory, to try to make it safe and to see if taking the pressure related to having a child with special needs off the parents would help the others (Don’t get me started on their line of thinking, ‘k?). I wept.
My Sweetie and I talked. And we looked at each other. God stepped in. It was such an obvious decision. We practically didn’t have to say it out loud. It was written on each of our faces. It was felt in each of our hearts. Daniel had to come to us.
So, we called the case worker. She said, “I can’t talk about an open case, but I can listen.”
I pleaded our case. She said, “It’s been nice talking to you, GfG. This is all very interesting. Thanks for calling.”
A week later she called and asked if we were still serious. Then she said the words that changed our lives forever, “Can I come Thursday for a home visit?” I still thought it was all only a possibility until she said, “Ok, he could be here really soon. Wait for my call.”
Three days later, March 31, 1997, he came to live with us.
Daniel lived with us for six years. He was twelve years old. Everyone thought we were crazy. We weren’t. We were obedient. That’s all there was to it. We knew we were supposed to do it, so we did. We became his legal custodial parents nine months later (Don’t think that timeline was lost on me, it wasn’t.).
The first three years were a delight. Sure it was difficult at times going from being parents of one newborn, nine weeks old, to the parents of a newborn and an almost teenager who was deaf, but it wasn’t huge. We were surrounded by wonderful people. Seriously. Almost everyone in our world at that time signed. The people who didn’t, wanted to learn and learned the basics. Daniel had a YMCA basketball coach learn sign language just to communicate with our (foster) son. People blessed him with all kinds of things, too many to go into here right now. Let me just say, in those three years, God packed in all the love, support, kindness, compassion and genuine concern Daniel should have gotten in the first twelve. It often brought me to tears.
But another thing also brought me to tears, God placed on my heart this truth and this verse before Daniel had been with us even a year: You only have six years with him and I need you to remember this, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” Philippians 1:6. I figured out pretty quickly that Daniel wasn’t really our son. It just wasn’t meant to be. His heart was for his birth family and the life there (and the lack of rules/responsibilities… different soapbox, different day). I would start to feel overwhelmed at the amount of ‘things’ he needed to learn before he turned eighteen. He was sooooo far behind for a twelve year old. It would frighten me. That’s when God stepped in with this truth, making me feel sad and relieved all at the same time. Daniel really was going to leave when he turned eighteen, but he was only leaving our home. He wasn’t leaving God. God was in charge of Daniel and God would finish the work He started. I was to be obedient, that’s all.
So, I strove to be obedient. I wasn’t always. Naturally, I made mistakes. But, in all, My Sweetie and I loved, trained, and discipled this boy as best as we could.
The last three years were the hardest years of my life. If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a year, you know that comment is saying a lot. Seriously. Hardest years of my life. Daniel had issues we hadn’t known about, hadn’t been disclosed, and he didn’t fully understand, and they affected our smaller children. The only thing that got me through some of the days was the peace My Sweetie and I had in knowing God called us to this task. Without that, many days would have been very, very dark.
We learned a lot about God’s sovereignty, His ways, and His peace during those years.
While Daniel broke my husband’s heart the day Daniel told him he was leaving on his eighteenth birthday, I was prepared. God had told me six years earlier. When the biggest confirmation we could have ever gotten regarding Daniel’s leaving us “arrived”, My Sweetie and I looked at each other. It was like a step back in time. We wept. God had made it just as obvious as the looks on each other’s faces were six years earlier, but with something even more tangible than that (it’s a crazy long story… just trust me). I had started to let Daniel go months earlier in preparation, therefore I was able to comfort and help my dear, dear husband as he had to let go of a young man whom he had thought really wouldn’t leave.
We tried to stay in contact with Daniel, but he wasn’t interested. I know that sounds strange. I know that it might even sound like it means we didn’t really invest in him. That we must not have tied our heartstrings to him. But that’s not true. Daniel simply was already connected (and a bit brainwashed) by his birth family (I won’t go into all the things told to him on the court mandated visits during the six years he lived with us) and he heeded the call for a life of no rules and responsibilities. You could see the discomfort on his face when we tried to visit him. The contrast between our two worlds was just too much for him. We left him in God’s hands.
If God had not prepared me for both sides of the truth for that day in January, my faith would have been under some serious strain. But because God had made sure I knew that Daniel was both going to leave us and that Daniel was a work “being brought to completion” not by me or My Sweetie, but by God, we left Daniel in His hands without fear. Without regret. Without anguish. And without beating ourselves up over our lack of adequacy.
We’ve only seen him a handful of times in the last six years. Yes, he’s been gone now as long as he was with us. Hard for me to believe. For most of you, you never knew me as Daniel’s foster mother. But it affects me still. I learned a lot about being a mom from mothering him. I learned a lot about teenagers from mothering him. I learned a lot about myself from mothering him. I learned a lot about my Savior from mothering him.
I sit here weeping because Daniel is still a part of my mothering, but it’s not obvious to anyone anymore. At times it feels like I lost a part of myself and it’s just too awkward and too long of a story to bring up. Other times, it feels like it was a job. Sometimes it feels so long ago I can barely remember it. That may not make sense to you.
But when I saw him a few nights ago for the first time in years, my heart stopped and the tears sprang. For the first time since he left us, when I saw him, I cried. My heart responded to seeing him. We had a good visit, exchanging contact info.
I wonder if God has a new phase for us.
I wonder if Daniel has been brought back into our lives.
Maybe. Maybe not.
God will make it obvious.
As far as Daniel goes in our lives, He always has.

 

If you have a Memorial Stone in words you’d like to share, put your link in the comments section. If you’re not a blogger, but want to share one, email me and I’ll post it for you. Small prizes go out to everyone who posts a Memorial Stone this month!

If you’d like to read a bit more to this story, please read the post Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah August 30, 2009 at 12:23 am

Oh, honey. I know how much you love that boy. How hard that whole time was. Seeing ya'll smiling together—is good stuff.

Will never forget your husband calling to ask what time school started in the morning.

Love you more than you know!

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Grateful for Grace August 30, 2009 at 12:27 am

Sarah- Do you know how hard that story is to condense? I haven't even touched on your side of the story, or Chris', or my parents, or….
You were totally awesome during that time!

love you!

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Amy August 30, 2009 at 12:58 am

I just finished my Memorial In Stones, but it won't post until morning. I was thinking about you as I wrote mine, as mine tells how I started homeschooling. I remember you started homeschooling to homeschool Daniel. Then I check your site and here was more of that story! Isn't God so great?
What a beautiful story and that God prepared you from the start is so amazing. I am so glad you got to see Daniel. Hang on to your verse for him and see what God does in his life.
Thanks for these Memorial Stones. I truly love writing and reading them!

Amy http://insearchofnormal.blogspot.com/

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annetteq August 30, 2009 at 8:13 am

Wow. I knew Daniel for just a short portion of that time, and he was at my wedding (I'll try to scan the pics for you). What a beautiful kid he was! He was fiercely funny in a dry sort of way. I remember marveling at how he "fit" in your family. GFG you blessed him, planted a seed of hope and love and because of you and that super sweet hubby of yours, Daniel is a better man. He has more to give, more tools for love, and Christ lives in him. You absolutly made a difference.

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Best Life August 30, 2009 at 10:28 am

What a beautiful story. As you know, I have my own story about mothering someone else's child. It is an experience that changes you to the very core. I understand.

I love seeing the picture of you with Daniel. What a lovely way to end you Memorial Stones this month. Lisa~

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Beach August 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Awwww sweety I have heard you speak of Daniel and his affect on you and your families life several times. I was so moved reading this….love ya dear, I will pray that nothing but more good things come from this encounter!!!!
Hugs, :) Heather S.

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MikeandCharlsie August 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Wow I can't believe I didn't know so much of that! What an incredible experience. I love reading about how God has moved in your life!Love you!!!

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Renee August 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Thank you so much for sharing! What a testimony to obedience to God! Praying for Daniel as God completes the good work He started in him…

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chili pepper August 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Grace,

Every month I want to write here and every month the end comes and I miss it somehow!

What a beautiful story of your walk in obedience. My heart fell and soared along with your remembrance as I recalled our foster baby that changed our hearts and lives so long ago…both when she came and when we lost her.

As you say, it was such a part of us and helped formed the parents we are today as well as strengthened our walk with him and yet it is so far in our past that most of our children don't even know the name of our Abbey. The people that held and played with her at church have forgotten that she ever existed. But if I were to see her today, I would be afraid of the emotions. We gave her so much of our hearts, parts that our own children don't even know. Like God made a special place just for her, in the beginning when He formed us.

Thanks for sharing.

Kat

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Jan August 31, 2009 at 5:42 am

Wow…beautfiul. My heart is too full of joy and sadness to comment. Know I love you, your bubby, and Daniel.

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TexasHeather August 31, 2009 at 6:06 am

GfG, that story is beautiful; I had no idea. Praying with you as God continues to work the good work in Daniel.

I posted my memorial stone story over on my blog, here:
http://texasheather-familyblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/memorial-stones-hugs.html

I still don't want any goodies, though :)

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Grateful for Grace August 31, 2009 at 11:29 am

Jan's submission:
My mother died when I was 20. It was very unexpected…and it created a deep and abiding fear that silently wove itself into the very fiber of my life. Unintentionally, my heart set a new course, "Never relax…never enjoy life too much or those you love will be taken from you…always, always, always be on watch for the worst to happen."

Enter life. Enter Chuck. Enter an operation that goes unexpectedly awry. Enter 15 months of being "on watch" for Chuck's survival. The conversation of Chuck's possible death was never discussed between me and God. It would not happen. End of discussion. I would NEVER let Chuck go. NEVER. Chuck would live and I would go first. That had been my plan from the moment I loved him. I knew that my heart would not survive losing him. Thus, I had set in my heart and mind that God would take me first. He would, He would, He would.

In His sweet timing, God allowed me time. He allowed me time to fight…against Chuck's obvious declines and against that germ within my spirit that refused to accept that I could endure life without him. God waited.

In the end, it was not the end of Chuck's life that scared me so. It was the end of my life with Chuck. It was the end of the joy he brought…the comfort…the security of knowing my place in this world. It was the end of me.

For the rest of my life, I will stand in awe of what God did in me in the moments when it was time for Chuck to go. Chuck's death was the most precious moment I've ever experienced. In the midst of my heart breaking…of willingly opening my hands to God and saying, "He is yours," God whispered peace to me. For the first time ever in my life I knew. I knew God would catch me…that He would lovingly provide for me…that my life would be beautiful. I knew. And I could let go.

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Autumn and Haley August 31, 2009 at 11:51 pm

What an awesome opportunity! next month I'll participate!

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Little Apple September 1, 2009 at 8:02 am

Thanks for sharing. I arrived at the tail end of Daniel's time with you all and always why I never saw him around anymore. That is heart breaking. I had a foster child for a few months (not nearly the same) but I can only imagine the compounded emotions.

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Faithful September 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I know your love and devotion for him, and we think about him often. I pray often that whatever he is going through God is walking him through in a way that will bring him to Christ.
Sometimes, when looking back at pictures, I think of what a great man he was with you, and how he changed so much when he left you.
I'm glad you shared that with everyone to show what devotion you have to God when it comes to his callings. I know there is SO MUCH more you were unable to tell here, but I hope that others will understand that you went through so much with him and he touched so many lives as he began his journey into manhood with you all and all those around him.
I know I will never, ever forget him.

Megan

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cajungal01 September 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I love you. I do. And I have always admired you and your amazing husband. I have always stood in awe at the two of you.

And I was amazed at y'all then.

You two were THE perfect parents for Daniel and it was an amazing ministry, not just to Daniel but to all of us that had the honor of witnessing it. Your love for him was true, deep, and strong. God's timing was perfect and I KNOW that He called y'all to that decision to change Daniel's life forever. I am glad you saw him and glad that it was a good (albeit emotional) visit. I feel certain that as God pulled at your heart that night, He pulled on Daniel's too. Whatever it may mean, God's timing is perfect and I am so glad for that.

I love y'all!
:0)

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