Loren and I were strolling IKEA picking out small gifts for our boys. It was our first date in awhile, just me and him, when we got The Phone Call.
"We have two baby boys needing a family, a home through the holidays; are you up for it? We know it's a lot, but we are coming up short."
My adrenaline picked up and Loren looked nervous but we both nodded, knowing we couldn't say no when we had a perfectly warm home, an entire spare room, and a community full of everything we would need.
Is there ever really a "good" time to say yes to brokenness? What I do know is it's always a good time to say yes to loving others, especially at the expense of comfort. And this is the journey of love He's been nudging us into.
It's 8 pm on a Monday evening when they join our family.
Nothing came with them but the clothes on their bodies, 4 toys, some diapers, and an old Mickey Mouse bag.
Our community rallied with car seats and pack n plays and formula while I did a quick run to Safeway for whole milk and bananas. Safeway gift cards arrived in my inbox, Paypal donations too, extra Christmas gifts shipped, and a giant Target run full of warm jackets and matching outfits. And I won't forget the pizza.
Community is what makes our world go round and one of the main reasons we knew we could say yes.
Sitting criss-cross apple sauce with the new (8 month) baby of the family in my lap while Loren played with the 18 month toddler who was terrified of me, we chatted with their caseworker about the ins and outs of what she knew.
We had said yes to them four total times in the previous week, and after a few other homes, they finally landed in ours. I had been praying for them for days, wondering if we'd ever meet them, and suddenly here they were silently sitting in our laps.
We laid them in their cribs and they fell asleep far too easily, and I begged God to protect them and bring them peace in ways the broken system or willing parents like myself can't.
The ache in my soul pulsed through my whole body as the weight of their tiny lives settled into our hearts and homes.
I softly ran my fingers over their faces, whispering to them of love and grace, dreading hearing any well-intended, "They're so lucky to be with you."
They are the farthest thing from lucky or blessed to be with us. They are not even two years young and have been ripped from all they know...and their whole existence from in utero has been one of trauma. Luck is the last thing I'd say was theirs.
It's the eager prayers in the face of brokenness where I hear His silent response say "My heart is broken too."
This was not His plan for us or for them, this thing called foster care. Or even adoption. When He set the world into motion and created the earth in its perfection, piecing together flesh and blood, life....He didn't intend for the brokenness that came.
He didn't want it. He didn't plan it. It wasn't what He created for.
But we chose and continue to choose what isn't good for us, (sub)consciously certain He is withholding something better than what He offers and gives and intends...so the earth is depraved. Our humanity is broken and families are imperfect and until He comes again, our whole lives are infused with loss and brokenness.
We knew choosing foster care meant choosing more brokenness. We knew saying yes to vulnerable children meant bearing the weight of co-suffering.
But that isnt what He does for us every moment of every day? The Cross is a painful, tragic picture of suffering and grace, brokenness colliding with redemption. I don't know what their redemption story is. I only know I must have hope for them when they don't even know they need it.
And you know what else? Co-suffering and deep empathy is what transforms me in unexpected ways. When I'm deep in the trenches—feeling the weight of pain and trauma—it's there I see Jesus the most clearly. Trenches look differently and our hards vary, but it's in those depths where the fire refines us incredibly.
It was in the ugliness of brokenness, the depravity of humanity, the darkest night...that the Kingdom of Heaven broke through to earth.
But just because Heaven broken in through the suffering, didn't mean the suffering was magically erased. Jesus rose from the dead, but He bore scars from His crucifixion. Scars. Marks of trauma and brokenness and suffering etched into His perfected, risen body.
I don't know what these boys's story will be. I don't know how their days and trauma will unravel. But what I do know is that it is my honor to hold space for them in our home and heart, even if just for a time. It's always an honor to bear another's burden, especially when we are bearing for the vulnerable.
We are officially a foster family, certified for ages 0-2. When we began our classes and started our home study, we didn't know how it would unfold. We still have no idea.
All we know is that we are saying yes to some of the most vulnerable humans in our city. We are saying yes to opening our home and our hearts, with the great prayer of being a piece of a bridge between brokenness and some bits of hope for their tender lives. Something I've learned is that hope isn't always cute or shiny in the way we'd like to imagine.
We are no heroes or super people, we simply said yes and this is our journey.
It's after ten p.m. and we have four little boys asleep upstairs, ages: 23 months, 18 months, 18 months, and 8 months. Virtual triplets + an 8 month old.
Baby T and Toddler M won't be with us for long, though we do get to share Christmas with them — we are their short term emergency stay until their longer term resource is available in January. But until we transition them out of our family, they will very much be my boys to serve and feed and soothe and teach how to share.
What an unforgettable Christmas.
Four kids under two years old. Full quiver.
What a broken blessing.
Mini excerpt from my Facebook post:
We exist in the tension of two advents...the King first came as a newborn refugee, innocent and helpless, the most vulnerable in society. I'd like to believe I would have been welcoming Him, a vulnerable family with a baby seeking refuge, into my home and heart and society.
Now we await His next arrival, we wait and anticipate, not knowing exactly what to expect of that day, but are confident it's worth hoping for.
Christmas is coming and it is a broken, pain-filled joy to care for some of the most vulnerable in our society. And I will pray in hope for them, anticipating the fierce yet humble King Jesus will make them whole one day, healing all the brokenness permeating their little, vulnerable lives.
They are far from lucky to be in our home.
Welcome to the Brenner Buds crew, Baby T and Toddler M
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends. It's a joy to be on this journey, a blessing to have you as our community.