By Desiree Mortensen
2016 was a wonderful year in my life. Many amazing and miraculous things occurred and I am forever changed as a result. My husband and I moved into a brand new home. My oldest daughter and her husband had a baby, thus making me a grandmother. And for two months, I was momma to a newborn baby boy.
"...for two months, I was momma to a newborn baby boy."
While we were in the throws of packing up all of our belongings to move from the home where we had raised our girls, I received a phone call telling me that our son had a baby brother who had just been born to our son's biological mother, and they had to find a home for him because he had been born with drugs in his system. They wanted to know if he could come to live with us.
Becoming a foster parent was a long journey for Andy and me. Many many discussions and tons of prayer and seeking advice from others, confirmed what we had been sensing God saying to us. He wanted us to be foster parents because of the children who were in need of homes. In the Scriptures God says that He is the Father to the fatherless, and that He places the lonely in families. We had raised two biological children, and it had been a wonderful privilege from the moment each of them were born. Both were grown and out of the house, and we loved the idea of an empty nest, but, not more than we loved the idea of living our lives in obedience to the Father in heaven who had adopted us into His family. When the case plan moved from reunification to adoption, we knew only one thing. This little boy needed a forever home and so, we proceeded with the paperwork and after having lived in four foster placements in 2 years and nine months, our little boy became Ignacio Trey Mortensen.
When I first listened to the circumstances being described to me, I will admit, I laughed. Not fun laughter, but, 'that is ludicrous' laughter. I was running late to take my son to basketball practice, and our home was a zoo with boxes everywhere because we were moving in just a few weeks. Though I laughed, I also knew I could not say no without talking to my husband and taking time to pray it through. We had not renewed our foster care license, we were considered 'one and done' and we didn't mind that title at all. I was quite certain that God would not ask us to bring a two day old baby with drugs in his system into our busy chaotic home, two weeks before our first granddaughter's due date. I was utterly certain my husband would say "Absolutely No".
But, God. His ways are different than ours, higher than ours, the Scriptures say. The ways of the Lord lead us places where we would absolutely never travel if He wasn't leading that way.
"His ways are different than ours, higher than ours..."
I remember many years ago, sitting in church, like I had many many times before. On this occasion, the person was talking about living on mission with God. He was talking about the kingdom of God, and how the citizens of that kingdom live their lives like Isaiah who, said to God, "here I am send me" when God asked the question, "who will go?"
That day, Many years ago I had told the Lord that wherever He wanted me to go, I would go, and whatever He told me to do, I would do it.
I was His disciple, a citizen of His kingdom, and I wanted to live for His glory.
I am prone to anxiety, and have had panic attacks that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Regardless, the promise I made to God that day in church, has always come back to me when I am faced with a decision. The strength to follow His voice has always followed my steps of obedience, and I am incredibly thankful for that.
Andy and I briefly discussed the phone call after Trey and I got home from his basketball practice. We both sort of shrugged it off that night, but, also said we would pray about it. We went to sleep, after offering a quick prayer for the baby and for wisdom. The next morning was more of the same rushing around and quick comments about "praying about it" before Andy headed to work for what was projected to be a very busy Friday. I was headed to Trey's school for a Mother's Day Program. Each mom was asked to leave our phones at the door when we entered, because our kids requested 'no distraction' time from us.
When I left the classroom two hours later there had been many missed calls and emails regarding the situation, and I found myself driving toward the hospital without really even thinking about it when I finished listening to the voicemail. The baby was being released that day, only two days after he was born, and they needed to know if we were going to take him, or if they needed to find another home for him as soon as possible.
When I arrived at the hospital, I went right in to see the woman who had given birth to my son. I had never met her before, but, after praying for her so many times with Trey, I felt as though we already knew one another.
Walking in to that hospital room that Friday before Mother's Day changed me. I sat on her bed with her and showed her pictures of the boy she had not seen in far too long, whom I had just left to enjoy recess at his school.
She cried and thanked me and asked me if I would take the baby home with me so he could be with his brother.
We prayed together and cried together and the Lord did a miracle in my heart. He replaced my stony heart, with a heart of compassion, even while I prayed for strength and courage for her to face the difficult days that she was walking into.
I told her of the Father who created her in His own image, and I told her that He desired for her to know Him in a personal special way.
I told her that she was beautiful, because she was made in the image of God and when I looked at her I saw that beauty. I told her of the everlasting love of the Father which is more satisfying than the love of any man on earth.
She listened and she cried and we prayed and when I left that hospital room, I loved her.
"We love because He first loved us."
I have no explanation to offer, but, my heart was filled with love for the baby before he even was placed in my arms. Looking back, it is as if I can see the words written over us, like a banner. "His banner over me is love"
We love because He has first loved us. It is a verse from the Bible, a verse I have heard a million times, but, never did I realize its significance until I began to try to make sense of the events that began for me in that nursery.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God demonstrates His own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
God is love. (1 John 4:8)
He had lavished His love on me, and I have sopped it all up like a sponge. I have love being loved by God. I have needed His Love, it rescued me from the pit that I formerly dwelled in, and it gave me the ability to stand firm, and to grow and to thrive as the years have gone by.
His love has enabled me to love my son, even when I did not really understand so many things about him. The way that I had been loved enabled me to love him intentionally, and to love him sacrificially and to love him continually. As an act of worship for my Father in heaven who loved me that way, in spite of myself.
So, as I held the baby in my arms, I loved him. It oozed out of me without any effort on my part. He was beautiful, and, beside the fact that he did suffer from tremors, he was perfect.
A few hours flew by, so, I left the nursery and walked outside and called my husband. When I explained where I was he told me to let them know that we could bring the baby home for the weekend to give them time to find a more permanent placement for him.
I got in my car and called my daughters and went to Target to get diapers and formula and a car seat, then rushed back to the hospital and to the baby who had stolen a large chunk of my heart.
What we thought would be the weekend, turned into two months.
God used the time with the baby to teach me so much about Him and the love He has for His children. He is faithful to give you everything you need to do what He asks you to do. His grace is enough, and experiencing the grace He gives is one of the biggest blessings of a believers life.
When Jesus talks about being His disciple, He is very clear about the fact that it will cost you everything. He says, deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.
"...deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me. "
Deny yourself the comfort level that you have grown accustomed to, deny yourself the ease of life as you have known it, deny yourself of the money you've accumulated, deny yourself of your leisure activities, pick up your cross, the very thing that may well be used by God Himself to kill all of the remnants of your old nature, to be replaced by the nature of Jesus Christ.
I was blessed by my husband's willingness to add to our chaos and bring the little man home, I was blessed by my daughter's attitude about it too.
I was absolutely floored by the response of Trey. We weren't going to tell him that they were biological brothers, and on the first night home, it didn't seem like we would need to worry about it because the house was filled with people and lots of things going on, and he hardly seemed to notice the baby at all.
Until the next morning. I had put the baby into his car seat and I looked over and saw Trey crouched down talking to the baby. He said, "it's ok little baby, no one will hurt you here, no hurting, just love"
When we decided we could tell him they were brothers, it took a few minutes to register, and then we saw the biggest smile, and his statement will forever be etched in my memory. With much expression he said, "you saw my mommy,??? did you tell her about Jesus Momma???"
He was thrilled to hear that, in fact, I had seen his mommy and that I had told her about Jesus, and the love He has for her. That He sees her and He is aware of her circumstances and that He cares and that He has a remedy for her, that He IS the Remedy. For her and for me and for her babies too.
The biggest blessing of this period of my life is that God has answered my prayers and I have begun to feel broken-hearted over things that break His heart. Throughout the scriptures, it is clear that our Father cares about the orphan, the widow, the marginalized, the oppressed. He says that true religion, is seen as His disciples care for the the "least of these." He says that they will know we are Christians by our love.
All that He has required of me is that I would love others the way that He has loved me.
When the time came that the baby needed to move from our home, all of the emotions I experienced threatened to consume me. Trusting Christ with my sadness was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.
Trusting God with the baby I love, in a government system that is not just broken, but, seemingly quite corrupt, still remains one of the most difficult things that God has asked me to endure.
Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted that the relationships that the Lord has given to me as a result of saying yes when He invited us in to the lives of Ignacio Trey and his baby brother. The friendship that has formed between me and their biological mother is priceless to me. It has been my greatest pleasure to help her to get into a rehab program, to see her get sober, and to see her place her trust in Christ. Trey's excitement about all of us being family in heaven is "exceedingly, abundantly more than I could have ever asked or imagined" (Ephesians 3:20)
It just so happens that as we give up ourselves to Him, He gives us all we need, and He also gives us so much more, to Him be glory!