Measuring Up

A toddler sits besides me in a chair clipped on to our large family kitchen table. He’s a baby I didn’t birth and he certainly appears that way. He’s got a story riddled with pain and trauma and transition. His little heart holds enough grief most of us would never want to know. I held him in a newborn nursery while his mother couldn’t, but he doesn’t know that yet.

And this is our normal.

My youngest children fight to hold a new toddler that is carried in by a case worker after dinner one night. The child has fallen asleep on the long ride to our home after being removed from a situation deemed unsafe by law enforcement. My kids want to snuggle her and they whisper “you’re safe.”  I jot their compassion on the pad of my heart as the moment slips away.

This is our normal.

My oldest son scoots under his covers and asks me when a new foster baby is coming. I tell him I don’t know-we never do. I take a minute to dig into his thoughts and ask him if he wants to keep taking in fosters. He reassures me as he recounts the the names of kids we’ve loved in the past. My daughter is listening in and she joins the conversation as we all sit together recalling funny moments. Even the kids I struggled to like surface with fond memories from my children.

This is our normal.

I’m putting away laundry and sorting through sizes of clothes that don’t fit the current kids in our home. I grab little garments and neatly pack them away until we need them again. Then I survey the rooms and fast-forward to the next placement as I think about how we could rearrange the beds to fit another crib in the corner or a trundle under the bunkbed. I sift through toys we don’t need and things that are just taking up space. I wonder how many more will sleep under our roof before the end of the year.

This is our normal.

I answer the door as a new case worker stands with her clipboard on my front porch. I welcome her in and introduce myself. We talk about the new kid and what his case carries. He needs referrals and therapy. I can tell she’s taking in his behavior and making notes as we converse. She needs to see where he sleeps and asks how he’s adjusting. We set up visitations and her next visit to our home. She comes every twenty-five days so I pencil her in on my already full calendar.

This is our normal.

And our normal now is different than the life we used to live.

Sometimes its chaotic and stressful and full of fear. Mess upon mess meets me at every turn. I occasionally think about the life I could be living when I measure our family’s appearance by someone else’s stick. There are things we just can’t do because of the amount of change that weighs on the shoulders of my kids. And there are things we say no to because of our shear numbers. And sometimes I look longingly at the ways others do it and I feel unstable and unsteady.

But then I remember who I really measure myself against.

Jesus quietly whispers to my soul that he is my standard. I flip through the pages of my bible and learn about the flawed friends that walked by his side so long ago. I hear the commands of the King and I trust that his ruler is the only one I need to use.  I can let the comparison of this world paralyze my mind and freeze my feet or I can let go of the measuring tape that holds no value.

And when I do, I find the freedom to keep saying yes even when it looks different than the world.

I’ll keep opening my arms to the broken babies that are handed off to me in the middle of the night. I will stay on my knees for the addicted mom that will never hold her baby as her own again. I will continue opening my door to case workers who become friends in this fight for precious lives. I will surrender my life and my desires for comfort because it’s building a solid foundation for my kids to stand on.

And I’ll keep measuring myself against the truth of God’s word. I’ll be found walking with trembling knees down this rocky road of desperation because I’m not living by the standards of this world. And that is a path I’m completely convinced is okay continuing on.


  1. Carly | 21st Sep 16

    Thank you for your post. I’m about to make the call to say yes to another little one that needs our love. We are still healing from the departure of our last foster child. Thank you for the encouragement to step forward again!

  2. Nicole H | 24th Oct 16

    Thank you for this. We’ve been fostering for 3 years, with 3 kids of our own. We definitely look different than most other families. We’re on our 4th long term placement. Because there are 5 kids living in my house, each with different needs, I often have to say “no” to extracurricular activities, outings, and other commitments. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the appointments, therapy, meetings, and other things that fill our calendar, not to mention cleaning the house. Thank you for reminding me that I don’t need to measure up to anyone else except Jesus.

    • Kristy Sutton | 5th Nov 16

      YES! Nicole-you are enough with Jesus.

      thank you for your yes!

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