When my friend Molly suggested this crazy adventure, driving around the U.S. and dating a man in every state, I thought, why not? Nothing was tying me down. I didn't have a husband or kids to consult or take care of, and even if I didn't find the man of my dreams, I would have one heck of an adventure, seeing the country.
About a month later, I read a book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. It felt like a validation. The basic premise of the book is that your life is a story and you are the main character, so if you're not happy with how your story is playing out, then maybe you should get up off the couch and do something about it. I did. Twenty-seven states later, I'm writing a book like I always said I would, meeting fascinating people from all walks of life, and seeing the country I've lived in for thirty-five years but had only partially explored.
This fall Donald Miller is hosting a seminar in Portland called Living a Better Story, and of course I want to go. There's a Vimeo video that this site won't let me post (it only supports YouTube for some reason) where Don talks about what will be happening that weekend. Click here to check it out . . .
They're also gifting one blogger with a free trip to the seminar, and of course I'm hoping it will be me. Why do I want to go? Because I'm already thinking about the next adventure in my life and how to make it happen. I'm expecting the whirlwind dating tour to end around Thanksgiving time, and then it'll be time to tackle something new:
I want to be a foster parent for refugee children.
I first learned about the need last spring at my church in Colorado. These kids have literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death and come out on the other side . . . alone. They are declared refugees and are flown to the U.S. where they become part of the foster care system.
Having volunteered at orphanages in different developing countries, I have a real soft spot in my heart for children who are unloved. I went to an introduction class before I left Colorado to find out more information on how to begin the process, which made me feel all the more strongly that something amazing could come from this.
Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, "The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done....The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
This is where God is calling me.
It won't be without challenges. I'm well aware of how hard it will be, both for the kids and for me. I wouldn't want to take in just one. I think having other "siblings" would help each kid feel like others understand what they've been through. If I find the man of my dreams in one of the twenty-three remaining states, I'm not sure how he'll feel about this. And if I don't, I'll be taking on single parenting, which I said I'd never do, but in this case, I feel like one parent is better than none, since currently these kids have no one to love them. There's also the small issue of settling down, which means choosing a place to live and moving into a house instead of living out of my car as I drive around the country. I'll need to find a 9-5 job to put food on the table. My social life will go from nights out dancing with the girls to soccer games and parent-teacher conferences. I'll deal with 2AM soothings after nightmares stemming from real-life experiences, counseling sessions where I'll hear things that will rip my heart out, and cultural experiences that will make me feel like an outsider but will help the kids stay connected to their roots.
What do I hope to get out of this seminar? Affirmation. Encouragement. I want to hear that it will be worth it. I want to talk to other people who are following their callings and finding that the joy is worth the struggle.
Being a foster parent to refugee children will not be easy. It will be the hardest thing I've ever done. But I don't want my life to be easy. I want my life to mean something, and for me that means doing things that aren't about me.