By Carmen Howard
They don't have my last name nor my eyes or my smile; but what they do have is my heart.
I prayed, "Lord, I want be a momma."
He said, "I want you to be unconventional."
I asked, "What does that mean?"
He said, "You'll see. Just trust me."
Who knew that in the journey of trust mixed with an unshakeable hard-wired desire in me as a woman to be a mom, there would be buckets of tears and countless wet pillows and puffy-eyed mornings to match. Who knew I would venture into territories of vulnerability that exposed flaws and faults in me that caused me at times to want to walk away sad because of their countless numbers. Who knew God uses our deepest desires to propel us into greater freedom. Who knew He was willing to risk us walking away in the midst of all this so that if the risk paid off, He would truly get the glory he deserves out of it!
I didn't know and I'm glad I didn't. I'm thankful I prayed such a naive prayer. I'm grateful the Lord blinded me from what would come if I chose the unconventional route of foster care to become a new mother -- the grief, the sorrow, the emotional strain of the foster journey while learning to be a protector, a nurturer, a teacher and more.
I chose the path because he compelled me to. He knew what He was doing even though I had no clue. I have learned to be thankful for the things that seem the hardest. I am fortunate and named a daughter when He opens up old wounds with new ones and allows the newly found grief to bubble up attitudes and fears that make me wonder if I'm even saved.
You see, when the smoke clears from the struggle, the "me" that was supposed to be is standing on the rubble. Yes, standing. Braver and stronger than before. Harder to crack, but softer to mold. Like bones, you know? If a bone breaks, it heals stronger and can resist giving way under the same pressure it once did.
When I asked to be a mom, I had no idea that God birthed a desire for me to fulfill His. Although my journey isn't over and the circumstances around me haven't changed much, He is changing me. And that makes all the difference.
Carmen Howard grew up in northeast Alabama and moved to Kansas City in 2006 with her husband Jeremy to be a part of World Revival Church. They currently have four foster children in there home and have fostered seven during the three and a half years they have been licensed.