Monday, December 30, 2013

How things are going…..

To say we have completely settled in as a family of 6 would probably be a lie.  We got the girls a week before Christmas so nothing has been normal or a regular schedule.  'Anna's' daycare has been closed the whole time school has been out and "A's" daycare has been on a limited schedule.  I have yet to see what it will be like getting 2 kids to AB, one child down Hwy 10 and one child to Colonel Glenn.  I have a feeling we will all be on a stricter routine at that point.  Luckily 'Anna's' daycare is in the process of trying to run a van to pick her up in the mornings so if that goes through it will be a huge blessing.  The afternoon pick up however, might be a different story!

The girls however, have adjusted so well.  'Anna' was here so often that she never broke stride.  The baby took a bit longer but now is on a better routine and loves having big sis with her.  The other day she just sat in the floor and watched her while laughing as hard as she could.

We got the girls on Tuesday the 17th and that day Addison came home sick with the stomach bug.  Trey woke up with it Wednesday morning but had a very mild version.  It hit me Thursday morning and I was down for the count. J. O. had to do drop off and pick up for everyone, not to mention handling a baby who was still all out of sorts.  If there is one thing I have learned, it's that every time you do anything with "fatherless" kids Satan uses whatever he can to get in.  I was sick in bed thinking we had made a huge mistake.  I couldn't handle 4 kids and I was officially going to become that crazy lady people whisper about.  You know the one who is running around like a wild woman.  Yeah, that was going to be me (and probably still is).  Addison wasn't adjusting well and even told us to take 'Anna' home at one point.

When I finally started feeling better I realized that God must have something huge in store for all of us with these girls.  Satan was working overtime that first week to make me doubt every decision we had made.  J.O. was exhausted, I was still weak, the kids were cranky, the baby was scared and that left an almost 2 year old running the house.  However, as I realized this and knew what was happening, things changed.  That's not to say I woke up last week and everything was rainbows and Sunshine.  Not at all.  I've already had several paperwork issues, Addison is still slowly adjusting and so forth.  However, I can't help but think of when we got B.  Trey had a terrible stomach bug that lasted for days when we got him and then B pretty much cried the first few nights all night.  I was overwhelmed, exhausted and wanting to go back to normal.  However, I wouldn't trade the time we had with him for anything.

I sent my mom a pic last Sunday of all 3 girls dressed up and ready for church.  She just wrote back how blessed I was to have these babies and I couldn't agree more!  I wish you could all see the faces with these sweet names.  It's not the image of foster care you usually imagine.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Not the life I planned…...

This is one of those posts that people probably read and realize I am still a very selfish human being.

There are lots of days I would LOVE to go back to our old "normal".  There I said it.  I always said I would only have 2 kids and I would work.  I wanted 2 kids because lets face it….when you add more than 2 you become outnumbered.  You also have to add a chair to most breakfast tables.  It's quite annoying.  Most tables come built for 4 and if you want to add a 5th chair you have to make the thing become ginormous and who has room for that in a 'breakfast' area??  

Seriously, these were the reasons I had.  I also planned to work when the kids became older because to me, that's perfect.  You can get out of the house and they can go to school or childcare and you can justify ordering out because you are too tired to cook.  When you have been at home all day (all be-it just as busy) there is really no excuse in most peoples eyes for not having dinner made.  Now, don't get me wrong…I worked full time last year and it's no gravy train.  In fact, I didn't really like working full time.  I never felt caught up, I always felt rushed and I hated it when a child got sick.  However, I always thought I would work part time.

Then we started fostering.  It's been great.  Seriously, I have felt all along we were doing exactly what God has called our family to do.  We had strict guidelines….birth-1year and only 1 child at a time.  They needed to be relatively healthy and a good sleeper would be a plus.  I was willing to foster, but on my terms.

And these guidelines worked out great at first.  Baby B was a true blessing and we loved having him with us.  We knew we had him for a purpose and had a wonderful experience with his caseworker, DHS and everyone.  There were several 'bumps' along the way with his case so it also prepared us to expect the unexpected.  It was during this time we met 'A' and knew she had come into our life for a purpose as well.  We weren't really sure what that was but we knew we were supposed to help with her.  We had her and baby B together at several points and always managed, but it was hectic.  

When B left, we had several weeks just the 4 of us again.  It was nice, peaceful and a quiet calm. We knew that a break was just what we needed and took full advantage.  It was during Thanksgiving break and the kids and I stayed in our pajamas as much as possible.  

Then court with 'A' and her aunt happened.  It wouldn't be productive (or fair to the family) to give any details, but today we will be getting 'A' (23 mths) and her baby sister who is 9 mths old.  We will be their full time foster family.  To be honest, I have faced this with a lot of resistance.  I mean, we have 'A' all the time anyway so that won't be a big change.  2 under 2, full time, will be.  

I would be lying if I didn't say that sometimes I reminisce about the good ol days.  The days of 2 kids, a dog and a breakfast table that fits without an extra leaf.  However, once again I can't help but think how much we limit God when we put limits on what we will let Him do.  This won't be easy.  Nothing worth doing ever is.  This may not be the life I planned, but thankfully it is the one that God is allowing me to lead.  I can't wait to see how God works in our family through toddler 'A' and baby 'A'.

I may need to think of some new initials.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

The air up there…..

If you have read this blog for any period of time or just know me at all in person, you know I'm not the bravest person.  I run early in the morning and although I love the stillness of the morning and the fellowship with friends, I am constantly on guard.  There is a reason I run faster when we get to an unlit place.  I mean, I'm no speed demon, but I figure if someone is lurking it may deter them a bit if I at least look halfway fast.  

When J.O. and I met I knew he loved to be on the go.  I mean, I lost count how many times him and a few guys would hop a flight to Vegas for a long weekend.  Or he would head to Colorado with friends or just go away somewhere over breaks and weekends.  Me on the other hand, not so much.  For one thing I like to plan.  Then I like to rationalize.  Do we really need to spend the money, where will kids stay (even though both parents are local and willing), I don't really have time, and etc, etc.  However, the underlying reason is usually because I HATE to fly.  Like HATE it.  I used to not be this way. Growing up, we flew several times and I was fine.  However, now I am much older and wiser.  It's just not natural for a huge piece of metal to soar through the sky with all these people and luggage weighing it down.  Not to mention, you know people aren't obeying the in flight electronics rule.  I mean, I think they should really physically check that your cell phone is on airplane mode.  I would volunteer to help.

However, knowing who I married, I agree to fly and travel.  We don't go often at all but when we do it's tons of fun.  This Thursday we left and we left with heavy hearts for our little girl we get quite often.  We knew there were going to be some changes coming up with her and the siblings, and just left with uncertainty of whether we would see her again.  I literally was walking to the plane when the caseworker called me and we chatted.  It was just on my mind.

The worst part of flying for me is take off.  To me, if something is going to go wrong it's going to happen then.  Engine deciding to stop, plane not getting air and so forth.  As we took off I had my eyes closed and as we were climbing it was very turbulent.  The weather had already started moving in and it was cloudy and rainy.  It took awhile to get above all the thick clouds and it was just bumpy and extremely unsettling.  However, all of the sudden we got above the clouds and the sun was shining very brightly.  There were blue skies surrounding us and the ride was very smooth.

At that point I couldn't help but think how often I live in the turbulent clouds.  Walking on that plane I wasn't giving 'A' over and praying God's will be done.  I was coming up with every scenario possible to have my will done.  I was very unsettled and just in a very rough place.  But when I got above the clouds and saw the peace and the calm sun, I realized this is where I need to live.  I need to live in the peace and assurance that once again, whatever God can do, is so much better than what I can attempt to make happen.  

Sure, I can let my desire for this little girl be known, but after that I can't try to force hands.  I am going to try daily to decide to live above the clouds and rain, and let the peace and assurance that can only come from God being in control take over.

Monday, December 2, 2013

First of all, I normally don't write things like this but just had this on my mind today.  It's more for me than anyone.

Today has been one of those days where I have had a lot of things and people on my heart.  I have been thinking a lot of B today and wondering how he is doing, I have been thinking of the toddler that we get (and her siblings) because they are heading to court tomorrow, I have been thinking of the friend we made when we started this journey and the baby they are fighting for and so forth.

I started thinking….we have only been doing this since May and every situation we have encountered has been drastic.  There were so many turns with B's situation that literally made us all go "huh???", there have been so many things with "Anna's" situation that make you go "seriously???" and it just seems like everyone I meet lately has a different story.  Now, don't get me wrong…if you keep up with anyone on Facebook associated with fostering and adopting there are great things happening.  There are kids being adopted, there are tons of people rallying together to make sure all these children have presents to open Christmas morning.  I mean, just this morning I was buying some shoes for a child our Sunday School class "adopted" for the holidays and the very young salesman told me that their shoe drive alone gives shoes to 60 or 70 kids in LR.  To me, that's pretty awesome.

But what about the parents of these kids?  What is going wrong?  Why is every situation drastic?  Why do these parents lose their kids and have absolutely no one there to support them.  Yes, in a lot of situations they have made some terrible choices and are facing very real consequences, but like I've mentioned before…B's mom is a victim of an endless cycle with no one to help her get out.

It got me thinking….we, as Christians, claim to have something these people need….and we do….we have the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  However, why do they not want what we have?  Is it because we have become so legalistic in the way we present it they want nothing to do with it?  Is it a problem that we spend more time inwardly judging and criticizing someone because they use X-mas instead of Christmas that we can't see past our own noses?  I mean, if someone writes that they must be anti-Christ right?  Why else would they write that?  Never mind the real thing the X means.  We don't care about that.  Or the clerk that tells us Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  We are too busy spouting back Merry Christmas in a way to let her know WE still celebrate CHRISTmas to consider that she's one of the people who has been at work since Black Thursday and makes minimum wage.  She goes home to 3 kids and can barely pay rent and all she can remember is some Christian who turned her nose down at her for saying Happy Holidays.  I mean, aren't we in the holiday season?

I am not saying we shouldn't stand up for what we believe in.  On the contrary.  I had someone tell me over the weekend that she literally had no one.  She feels in this fight by herself and she's trying as hard as she can to make ends meet.  She knows I am a Christian because I am open about it with her, but she wants nothing to do with church.

Just makes me sad because I want everyone to have what I have.  I literally couldn't survive without the unending love, grace, mercy and HOPE I receive every day.  Maybe sometimes, we (I) should strive to be more hands and feet and less mouth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

J.O.'s perspective

First of all, let me clarify.  This is not a post written by J.O.  There are so many reasons for that but the main one is because I'm not even sure he knows I still blog.  He doesn't really get those know, like facebook and stuff like that.  He doesn't understand the whole concept of writing like you are talking to people and then he's always way too curious about who is even reading it.  Lets be honest....I understand that it's usually just my mom and MIL (thanks guys) but I like to pretend it's more.  When he starts questioning it, then I just become way too self conscious about it.  He also doesn't understand reading other people's blogs that you don't know.  One day, I was looking at cute pics on a blog and reading all about their day and he walked up behind me and asked who that was.  I quickly answered..."oh you know, so and so".  He said, "who?"  It was then, I realized, I only "knew" them in blog land so I tried to save face but he just walked away confused.  I feel quite certain he went upstairs to run a check on my SS number or something.  I mean, I did kinda sound stalkerish.

Anyway....I thought it would be good to give J.O.'s perspective but from my point of view.  Make sense?  I highly doubt it but here it goes.....

When we first brought B home, J.O. didn't say much at all.  In fact, he didn't really talk for a couple of days.  Looking back now he was overwhelmed, confused, and wondering if we had done the right thing.  I remember we were standing at the kitchen sink a few days later and he finally started talking.  He told me it was just much different getting a phone call and having a baby within 30 minutes and he just didn't have that natural attachment that I had.  He just assured me he needed a bit to adjust.  And he did.  It was much slower than I adjusted but I slowly saw the bond forming.  He would take a little longer than necessary to rock him to sleep at night, he would go in and comfort him in the middle of the night, he would take him outside when he was fussy and walk around with him.  When B started smiling, he would only smile at J.O. and he loved that.  They quickly formed a bond and when he left he was babbling 'dadadadada' plain as day.

When we found out B was going to start visiting family, I wanted to talk about it to a fault.  It's what I do.  However, J.O. doesn't respond this way.  This makes it difficult, because I sometimes don't want to open up to anyone but him.  It makes for a lot of one sided conversations.  Anyway, we knew he was going, and the week leading up to it J.O. was really wanting to fix the situation.  This is how he handles things.  He has always had success at school, work, etc and so he just thinks he can think of a solution and make it better.  However, we all know it doesn't work that way with DHS.  This made it hard for J.O.   He didn't want B to enter the life we knew he would enter.  The first weekend he went, J.O. really struggled Friday night.  He was worried about his safety and needs being met and just worried that we weren't there to take care of him.  However, by Sunday he was okay.  He felt no news was good news and that things would be okay.  J.O. adjusts much quicker than I do.

When the time came for B to leave, J.O. once again was very quiet.  He didn't say much but wanted me to know how much he would miss him.  He felt a peace (like I did) that B was leaving all along and that this is what we were preparing him to do.  He made the comment that, "we knew all along he was leaving" and for that it closed the book for him.  I'm just not as able to do that.

Right now, J.O. still knows we are doing the right thing.  The reality is, J.O. will probably be the only "dad" B will ever have.  The toddler we have on the weekends doesn't have a dad in her life either and he doesn't take that lightly.  He realizes that his job is almost more important than mine in some ways.  These kids have women in their life (although unstable) but the missing equation is a dad.  The toddler listens to J.O. so much better than me and she looks to him for everything.  They are longing for that father figure and for a time, J.O. is able to step in and play that role.

Friday, November 22, 2013

We've got so much, so much, so much....

Today was a busy day.  This morning Trey had his Thanksgiving Feast (brunch) at 9:00am and I knew that sometime after that B's caseworker would be coming to move him.  The program started with the kids singing a song that went basically like this....
"We've got so much, so much, so much to be thankful for."  They would list their family, friends, God, etc.  It was a super cute song, but standing there listening to that in the cafeteria with the day looming over me was almost too much.

However, that little song spoke volumes to me about B and his life.  We have so much to be thankful for in the span of time we have had him.  We saw his first smile, heard his first laugh, heard his first babbles, learned quickly his love for water, his dislove of sleeping at night, his frustration at it being a minute too late when he wanted his bottle, his love of Addison and all things Addison related and so forth and so forth.

We also have so much to be thankful for in the way God's hand has just been visible all over his life.  The intervening when B needed somewhere safe to go, the foster family that took him for the first month and gave him excellent care until he came to us, the family that cared enough to work hard at getting him back with relatives, the caseworker that has 30 kids but when she was at our house she played with B like he was her only one, the family and friends that came together with no questions and loved him like he was born into our family.

Watching his caseworker drive off today was the hardest thing I have done to date.  Not because I thought B would stay with us forever.  No, in fact it was the opposite.  God clearly spoke to me several months ago and told me plain as day that B wasn't mine.  However, as I watched them drive off I have the very natural, normal emotions of sadness and also an extreme burden for these children who are in foster care.  I am so burdened for those who don't have a family weeping at the thought of them leaving.  They've never had anyone care about them that much.

A lot of you have asked, so I thought I would answer your question.....we are of course planning to continue to open our homes to these sweet children.  We are going to make sure B is settled and then J.O. and I have a getaway planned in 2 weeks.  After that, we plan to pray and seek God's will for the next child who enters our home and that could make for an interesting Christmas.  One thing I have learned and been reminded of constantly today....God never makes mistakes and God's plan is always perfect.  For that we have so much, so much, so much, to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The vacations not over......

I have mentioned before that I am doing the Gideon Bible study at church right now.  What I might not have mentioned is that I am getting a double dose.  On Tuesday mornings I help lead the discussion with a group, and on Wednesday night, I attend and learn from another teacher.  The best part about it is, we are one week ahead on Wednesday night so I look really smart when I head to class on Tuesday.  I'm not sure those ladies have figured out my secret.

Anyway, yesterday we finished up our Tuesday class.  Part of the day that I discussed started with the example of her children (Priscilla Shirer) on vacation.  They go to a camp each year and one of her boys spends the entire time worrying about when they are going to have to leave.  He can't enjoy the time together because he is constantly worrying about it being almost time to go.  This is so much like Trey when we head to the beach each year.  He wakes up every morning asking when we have to leave, how many days are left, and when it comes to Friday he is so bummed that it's our last day, he can't even enjoy it.

We found out last night that everything is now in place for B's relative to receive temporary custody.  However, we are not going to move him until Friday because that is what works the best for everyone. I immediately started thinking...okay, 2 1/2 more days with him.  We will be able to hang out together on Wednesday but I need to run errands, I need to go get this, this and this for him to take, I need to figure out how to handle Friday morning with him at school and so forth.  I felt like Trey...the countdown was on.

Then, one of my friends, who I also learn from on Tuesday mornings, reminded me that the vacations not over.  I don't need to focus on the few days we have left together but make the most of it.  I need to finish strong and be thankful for the time we have had B.  It's going to be odd not going to pick him up on Monday.  It's going to be quiet next week without a crying baby to hold while I cook dinner.  It's going to be hard when Addison realizes the finality of the situation.

But until then...the vacations not over.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Feeling left out....

Once again, it's been a bit, but for what it's worth I thought about blogging several times and to me, that counts.

This past weekend was a first for us in a long time.  It was just the 4 of us.  B was with his family and 'Anna' didn't stay with us because we drove up for the football game Saturday.  We had planned to spend the night in Fayetteville Saturday night, but the game was ugly and we just kinda wanted to get home to our bed and have the day Sunday with the kids.

I learned something else this weekend.  Before we started fostering I always assumed my kids would feel left out and we would need to make some special time just the 4 of us.  While of course I agree that it's important that we spend time with them, I realized they in no way feel "shorted" because we have had other kids around.  In fact, all day Sunday they kept asking about B and when we would get Anna again.  I realized that what kid doesn't love extra kids running (or laying) around their house?

There were so many small worries we had before fostering that now seem so trivial.  Our kids are in no way slighted because we can't always jump in the car last minute and go see a movie, and eating out is just not worth it.  However, they are getting such a glimpse of what it's all about.  I mean, my kids are 4 and 7 and they understand that there are kids out there without a family.  They understand that sometimes choices that these parents make, mean they are not able to be with their kids anymore.  Because of this, their friends are also learning a ton as well.  They care for these kids like they are their own brother or sister, but they have an understanding that I think we lack:  Things don't always turn out the way we think they should.

One day, Trey asked me why B couldn't be with his mom and I was explaining it in terms he could understand and he got quiet.  A few minutes later he told me he knew why he was going with the family member and I asked why.  He said, it's because B has been in church and we've been praying for him, so now he has to go tell his mom about Jesus so she can make better choices one day too.

Trey, at 7, realized something that I had not even been able to consider because of my own selfish desires.  Hopefully one day, we will see this very thing come true.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I wrote this yesterday, so some dates are off but better late than never with posting.....

You know, sometimes I feel like all I do is stand up and confess areas I am lacking or learning things in.  Anyone else feel that way?  I feel like I start over constantly (going to clean tomorrow, not going to get mad at the kids tomorrow, not going to grab 13 handfuls of m & ms before bed....tomorrow) and so forth.  Seriously, am I the only one?

We got B home yesterday and it was everything I expected it to be x10.  I am not going to share any details but it was rough.  I found myself doing extra cuddling, wolfing down dinner while standing up holding him, doing several baths to comfort him, and not losing my patience when he cried as soon as I laid him down.

Then, my two kids acted like 7 and 4 year olds and what do I do?  I lose my patience.....I send them to their rooms, I told them to quit playing so loud and so forth and so forth.  This morning before school they both were sent to their rooms on the way to the car for basically getting on my nerves.  I will admit it.  My patience was absolutely nil with them.  I had a perfectly good excuse though....I was emotionally worn out from B's situation.

Then it hit me.  I am missing an opportunity to do exactly for my kids what God does for us.  We are studying Gideon right now in Bible Study and our last lesson was on God's patience.  No matter how many times Gideon asked for a sign, God answered with loving patience.  He understood his fear and knew exactly what he needed.  Instead, my kids are seeing a mom lose patience with them at the drop of a hat and not offering them the mercy and grace that we are extended every day.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not talking about ignoring behavior that needs punished or overlooking things because I just don't want to deal with it.  I'm talking about yelling at them to clean up the living room because they have simply taken all the pillows off the couch to do "gymnastics."  Seriously, that hurts nothing.

I decided this morning while spending time with Addison on a field trip that my new resolve is to give my kids the grace they deserve.  She is 4 1/2 years old and instead of spending time wishing she wasn't so clingy, wasn't so defiant, didn't make me stand by her in line everywhere, I am going to be so grateful that I am able to spend this time with her.  I am grateful that right now, although I have been called to help take care of kids in bad situations, it also means I can spend a little more time with my own kids.  I am going to be thankful that even though I wear God's patience thin on a daily basis, He isn't blasting everyone else because of it.

Basically, I am not going to be aggravated that B is facing a situation unlike anything my kids will ever know.  I am not going to focus on the fact that his opportunities in life will look very unlike my own kids.  Instead, I am once again, not going to put limits on what God can do.  I am going to be thankful for the lessons I am learning through B and trust in the One who knows his future.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I could never let them leave......

One of the things said to me most often when I talk about fostering is, "I could never do that because I could never let them leave."  To be honest, I haven't really known how to respond to this and so I've never said much or answered when people say that.  Maybe I've just never known how I will handle it either so I didn't feel I should answer.  Plus, I know it sounds so strange to most, but that was the last thing on my mind when we considered fostering.

This weekend was strange.  It was our first weekend without B since May (except for a random night here and there with grandparents) and I wasn't sure how any of us would handle it.  We weren't completely confident in the situation he was going to, and we weren't sure he would be taken care of the way he was used to.  Friday was the hardest for J.O. but yesterday and today have been the hardest for me.  I am ready to get him back, check on him and hold him and rock him.  I am ready to talk to his family and see if I can hear the love in their voice that everyone has for B the minute they spend any time with him.  Yes, I am even ready to stay up with him tonight when he is trying to settle down and sleep.  I am just ready to get him.

But.....I am also already emotionally preparing for him to do this again Friday.  Then, we will go through this again the following Monday, and so forth and so forth.  I will most likely have the random break downs throughout the weekend again, and once again I will be comforted by the fact that God will give me the strength to let B go.

I am still not 100% sure how to respond when people say they could never foster because they could never let the child go but I do know this.....we put way too many limitations on our God.  The God who wakes you up every morning, brings children into your life, provides you with a home and running water, is more than able to carry you through having a child transition out of your home.  He puts people in your direct path to help carry you and sustain you, and so what if it's hard every now and then?  My discomfort is far less important than the comfort B has had for 5 months.  My heartache with seeing him leave, is nothing compared to him not having someone smile at him and change his diaper each morning when he wakes up.  It's's hard on me, J. O. and the kids.  But, I am thankful for a peace that can only come from God and a cause that's worthy of the pain.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Range of emotions.....

Today was a day I had been anticipating and dreading for awhile.  We had B's review hearing this morning and court dates are always exhausting.  The waiting room is filled with children away from parents, parents away from their children and kids who are actually there for juvenile court.  It's also a place where overworked and tired attorneys and caseworkers are gathered trying to figure out what's in the best interest of these children.  In's not a place that screams fun and excitement.

Like I said, we had B's hearing today and I knew a relative had come forward for placement and that was okay.  However, I just wasn't prepared for how fast it looks like it's going to happen.  There are still some concerns but I am just trusting that it will work out the way it's supposed to.  I am just praying that if this isn't the permanent solution we will know right away and B can get settled. 

I think the toughest thing for us will be the back and forth emotions over the next month as we transition.  I am battling the feelings of wanting to control it and hoping the situation turns out differently, but then I am also feeling guilty because this allows him to be around his family.  It's so hard for me to selfishly stand back and truly pray that God's best plan for his life will prevail. 

His attorney today asked me if I had been fostering long.  I said no, that B was my first.  She said, "oh, I really hoped you had been doing this awhile so that you were prepared for things like this."  You could tell she wanted to ask if I would do this again but just didn't.

The truth is I am continually overwhelmed at the call God has placed on our family's life for this.  I had a peace during court today that could only be from God and that's because of the countless people that told me they were praying for me.  When the attorney came over to check on me I was shocked I was able to keep it together.  This next month will be awful and confusing for the kids and I don't even want to think about it when he actually goes home, but we will continue to foster.  We will continue to bring in kids that will most likely stay with us for a time and leave our home.  God's plan is not for the state to be raising our kids, and seeing that today firsthand makes me more determined than ever. 

Hebrews 13:8

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I'm not sure about you but don't you love those sermons or Bible Study messages that were written for other people?  Surely you know what I mean...those times where the preacher is talking and you are really hoping "so and so" is at church today?  Or you sit up straighter and pretend to take notes so maybe your husband (or wife) will wonder what's so important and listen?  Or even those verses you come across in the Bible and you think..."oh man, how can I bring this up in conversation with "so and so" because they REALLY need to hear this."  Surely I am not the only one??

However, I have to say that the most humbling experience is when God uses our children to teach us a lesson.  Wednesday nights after church is always hectic when we get home.  J.O. leaves early with B and brings him home for a bath, bottle and bed (or the 3b's as we so lazily say), then I wait on Trey and Addison to finish up and we head home.  Now, I have yet to figure out what they feed the kids on Wednesday nights (they try to disguise the snack to resemble goldfish but I am on to them).  They leave church so hyper, happy and wound up that I have a hard time getting them settled down.  I am not complaining because to me this is a sign of how much fun they have had, but the second we get in the car I have to start saying, "remember, no yelling once we get in the house because B is going to bed" or "please don't sing that amazing song you just learned at the top of your lungs once we get in the house because B is in bed" and so forth.

Last night was no exception.  They had a blast and were talking nonstop, playing, hitting, screaming, you name it.  When we pulled into the garage, they jumped out of the car and neither one wanted to shut the car door.  They both get out on the same side and technically Addison gets out last and should have done it, but she thought it was Trey's turn for some reason.  They stood there arguing as I was carrying in books, crafts, etc and I just said, "someone please close the door."  Like the good kids they are, they continued to argue and Addison decided she didn't care if it was ever shut and ran in.  I put the stuff down and went back outside and told Trey not to worry about it, since he wasn't willing to do it, I would.  Well that got him.  He started crying and said he would, he wanted to, etc.

I sat down with him and told him there was a difference in doing something because he had to and doing something because he was willing.  I told him that I understood Addison should have closed the door but she wasn't willing to help.  Then, I explained that he should have seen me with my hands full and realized he was fully capable and able to shut the door and help out. 

Then I felt the urge to quickly move back before lightening struck me.  I walked off and realized that God was talking to me that entire conversation.  It made me wonder how willing He really thinks I am.  Sure, I will usually end up doing what He asks but is it because I am willing or because I feel like I have to?  How many times have I stood there arguing, debating, watching from the sidelines what needed to be done, but was simply unwilling to move.  We talked last night about not going back to the places God has called us away from and for me I'm going to have to work on being a willing and cheerful servant. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Plan is Better.....

I realize I haven't been as good about blogging lately and I would love to have some really good excuse that makes me sound very important, but the reality of it is I'm still not sure I have a "back to school" routine.  As soon as the kids went back to school we were out of our house for awhile and as crazy as it sounds I am just now settling.  Surely by March I will have it down right?

Several of you have asked about B lately so I thought I would fill you in on him the best I can.  Just so you know, this past week I have really gotten his life planned out for him.  I have decided the best route DHS should take, I have decided where he should be placed permanently and I have his future literally planned in the palm of my hand.  I have been working on this plan in my mind for several weeks so don't be scared.  It's truly well thought out and the best thing ever for B.  This past week has been slightly aggravating though because I seem to be the only one who knows this plan and is willing to stick to it. 

So...imagine my surprise Tuesday when I met with his caseworker for awhile and what I thought should happen doesn't seem to be taking shape.  Wait....slow down lady.  I've got this.  This doesn't sound too good for B in the long run so you really need to listen to what I'm saying.  You really need to put this sweet baby up for adoption and let some nice family swoop in and love him.  That's what I think should happen. 

You would think by now I would've immediately seen what I had been doing and take a step back and turn this (once again) over to God but I didn't.  I stewed on this all day and night Tuesday and Wednesday morning I just had a pit in my stomach.  What is going to happen in B's case??  Why can't it happen the way I think it should?  What is the role you want me to play God?  Is it different than I originally thought? 

I had the opportunity to come home yesterday from taking Addison to school, put B down for a nap and just be at home.  Now, granted I was cleaning but I was alone and it was quiet.  Wonder when the last time it was that I was alone and quiet?  Certainly not often enough lately.  I used to wouldn't share this for all to read but I really have no secrets anymore....God took me to B's crib and I literally laid on the floor and cried.  Not because of what may happen at court but because I realized God cares more than I could ever imagine and He has his future all mapped out and it's greater than I could ever plan. 

Then..some really awesome things happened.  First, my stomach quit hurting because I stopped trying to control a situation that I have no control over anyway, and then God cared enough to put me on the heart of a friend.  I had the opportunity to sub yesterday afternoon and as I was putting a child in his car, his mom told me I had been brought to her mind to pray for that day.  Of course, she assumed it was because I was having to sub in her son's class but I knew why.  It's so humbling that God cares enough about me that, even in my disobedience, He still sees fit to use other people to lift me up. 

You would think that I would eventually learn but unfortunately I don't.  I will continue to have to realize over and over again that God sees the big picture and I can't.  I can either truly learn to praise Him through the circumstances and trust in His plan or I can continue to return to this place of despair. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pick Me

I originally wrote this for something else but decided it was still on my heart so I am going to just copy and paste it here.  Sometimes, I think life can seem like so much for so many different reasons but we have to remember that each and every one of us has been chosen for a specific purpose.  We have to boldly step forward in faith and not be afraid of what God is hand picking us to do. 

Growing up I remember vividly the days of P.E. class where the teacher would divide us into two groups, each with a captain, and they would take turns picking kids for their team. I would always hold my breath and pray I would be picked first or at least one of the first few. However, thanks to minimal (okay zero) athletic ability I was generally one of the last students left to be picked. I would eventually get over it and move on but I never could quite shake the feeling of wanting to be picked first.

The other day I was having an overwhelming day with fostering and just thought why me? Why did you pick me God? That made me think….gone are the days of standing up front big and tall wanting to be the most needed member on the team. Now, it seems like we are content to stand behind everyone else and silently yell out, “Pick them God! Pick them!” We have so many seemingly valid reasons too. At least I did. I am not qualified, that would be way too hard, my husband would never agree to this and on and on and on. As I was having a tough day and thinking, “God, I am completely overwhelmed. There are way too many kids and way too few of me.” I was reminded of His promise that He will never leave nor forsake me. For some reason God has seen fit to pick me. He is entrusting these children to me for a time period and a season and for a girl who spent her childhood years wanting to be picked it’s something I don’t take lightly.

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I can't make this stuff up.....

First of all this is posted from my phone so I'm not sure what it will look like or how many mistakes it will have but oh well.  The way things are going around my house I can't be sure when I will have my computer back.  So, you guys might remember the leak we had in our house that messed up our front office. Or, you actually may not since it has been so long ago. Basically, the whole room had to be gutted and we were told it wouldn't take too much time to fix. Well, as of today I have walls that are built again but no paint, trim, or molding.  That's not the major issue though...the major deal is the floors.  They had to put new hardwoods down and they were going to have to stain them. For those of you who have been in my house you know that my floors are different colors. We have one floor in the living room and the rest of our downstairs wood is another color. I thought since we were staining our office floors already it would be a perfect time to do the whole house.  Boy was I wrong.

We packed up and moved out last Thursday because once they start staining you can't walk on the floors. We were promised we could return Sunday. Looking back now that was always unrealistic because of drying time but we didn't know better.  Then everytime we checked on them Friday and Saturday not much progress was happening. We still believed their lies that they were about to get started because they always had believable excuses. Then on Sunday, my dad and I came by and no one was working and the two rooms they had stained looked awful!! I mean even I could see it.  We called our subcontractor and he acted surprised and assured us he would go by. Then he agreed it looked bad and told us he was bringing a new crew in on Monday and things would go much smoother. We gave him the benefit of the doubt and Monday a new crew did show up that seemed to know a lot more of what they were talking about.  They promised us they would not leave Monday until the stain was applied and perfect. So....imagine my surprise when I opened the door Tuesday and once again only one room was complete. This time, I didn't care about any excuses and we kindly (or not) told the subcontractor to pack up and leave.  We also found out the reason the first guy was fired was because he hung out at our house all night drinking. Awesome. I'm sure the neighbors are having a neighborhood meeting about us as I write this.

Needless to say we hired a very highly recommended stainer to come in this morning and already the professionalism is amazingly different. He gave us a realistic timeline (next Tuesday!!!) to be back home and has been on time so far today. Two major pluses.

Unfortunately we still have to deal with these contractors (not the floor guys!) to have our room finished because its already paid through insurance but other than that they will never step foot in our house again (its still up for debate whether or not I will).  I will put some pics on Facebook of the dust mess they have left us to deal with. They didn't cover ANYTHING before they sanded so my refrigerator, cabinets, furniture, lights, appliances everything has about 3 inches of dust on them. The new guy walked in today and said, well I can assure you we won't make a mess anything worse than this one.

So there you have it....pity party.....maybe. The truth....unfortunately. We have named this little project the flush heard round the world after the little girl and the flush that started it all.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Very Bitter

If you were around me at all when we were deciding to foster you know that one of my biggest reservations was the issue of sleep.  I knew I could adjust to a baby during the day but nighttime was what I was most afraid of.  I pride myself on the fact that I now have 2 kids who go to bed at night and generally leave me alone until the morning.  I mean, of course they have their rough nights here and there but for the most part they go to bed between 7:30 (Addy) and 8:00 (Trey) and we talk again in the morning.  Now, we didn't get to this spot without some bumps.  They were both terrible sleepers until they were a year old and when Trey graduated to a bed he would often bounce in our room at 5:00 ready to start his day.  However, I am proud to say that now we are good. 

Then entered little B.  I wasn't worried about colic, crankiness, spitting up, reflux....I was worried about getting a bad sleeper.  So that's exactly what I got!  I'm not saying the other things wouldn't have been miserable but you can ask J.O...I like my sleep at night.  I am not a napper.  Not because I don't want to, but just because I can't.  I have to be in my room, it has to be dark, and it has to be nighttime for me to fall asleep.  Addison can fall asleep anywhere and I envy that!  That being said, when it's time for bed I just want to sleep.  I knew having an infant would require some sleepless nights at first but I had honestly forgotten about the time period of crying for no reason in the middle of the night.  My kids really didn't do this too bad.  They woke up often but a quick paci or pat usually got them back down.  They might cry but only for a short bit.  B can cry for around 3 hours without giving it up.  He is also at the stage where he immediately flips to his back when he gets mad so then he screams louder.  You can flip him back to his belly numerous times but the second you do..he has flipped again.

So, the last few nights have been some of those fun nights and I have laid in bed very bitter.  I think all these wonderful thoughts of how we are trying so hard to do something good and so we should be rewarded with sleep.  Yes, I know that makes me a super selfish person but you would be surprised your thoughts when you're so tired.  I was thinking more thoughts along these lines when God brought to mind the Experiencing God study we completed last spring at church.  One of the authors talked about how his son went through a spell of not being able to sleep and he was so aggravated.  He would ask God every night why he wasn't being allowed to sleep and so forth.  Then, one night a friend called him because she knew he would be awake and he talked her out of committing suicide. 

As I was laying in bed thinking this I became so convicted.  How much time have I wasted over the past week being bitter and mumbling and groaning?  How petty have I sounded complaining over and over again about my lack of sleep?  Instead of laying in bed awake wishing B was asleep, or wishing he wasn't crying so loud, or wishing he wasn't so stubborn, I am going to commit to praying.  Don't get me wrong..I've been praying but my prayers have been "Please help this baby fall asleep," "Please help this baby give it up," "Please help me fall in such a deep sleep I don't hear him" (honesty here).  But now I want to pray for people I know, pray for his situation, pray for all the kids who are in foster care and anything else that comes to mind.  God is keeping me awake for a reason and I am determined not to miss the reason completely.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Past....

Do you know those people who haven't changed since high school?  You know, the ones who still look the same physically and act the exact same as well?  I however, am not one of those people.  Unfortuntaely for me there are people who probably remember me one way in high school, one way in college, and friends who know only the me now. 

I went out to dinner the other night with some college friends (and 2 high school + college friends) and started thinking about this.  A couple of girls said they read my blog and we actually started talking about how different I am now then when they knew me in college.  You see, in college, life was a party (sorry mom).  I knew my reason for being there was to finish school but I also enjoyed the ride along the way.  I was more worried about what I was wearing that night to whatever sorority function we had or fraternity house we might visit than what people saw in me.  I did visit the University Church some but only when I wasn't too tired.  The conditions had to be just right...early night in, no test to cram for, and clean clothes.  Any little excuse could keep me away.  Sad but true.

That got me thinking...I remember growing up and adults telling me "don't make the same mistakes I did", "actions speak louder than words", etc...  I remember thinking that all these adults turned out okay so it will be fine for me too.  Everyone needs to live their life and have a good time....

However, now I have so many regrets.  There are so many times that I hate the fact that people who only knew me in college have such a different view of me.  It's part of the reason that it's so hard for me to take praise on here for what we are doing.  A part of me just thinks...if only you knew the real me!!  That's when I have to be grateful for a loving and forgiving God.  One who doesn't remember my past sin because it's been forgotten.  When I start to beat myself up about things I have done in the past I can't help but think how happy that makes the devil.

We all have a past.  Some more colorful than others but a past nevertheless.  It's what we learn and do with our past that matters.  I hope my kids make better choices than I did in their college years but if they don't, I hope they learn from their mistakes and figure out how to move past them.  I have absolutely no doubt that my past allows people who knew me then (and who know me now) to understand that God is truly working through an extremely ordinary, sinful person. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Guilt....

I had this written out a week ago to post but that's when our leak happened and everything with B so my posts changed.  This one is actually perfect for right now but some of the time frame is different...if that makes any sense! :)

Time?  Where does it go and how does it have the ability to make us feel so guilty?  I have never been in the position I am in now and so this post may seem weird to some people but with school approaching I still have "summer guilt." 

Last summer I was heading into a new grade so I spent a lot of the summer planning, buying, thinking and being stressed.  Then, when school started I was upset because I felt like I never really had a break and the kids didn't have the summer they deserve.  The summer before that I was preparing to start at AB so it was much of the same, the summer before that I was finishing school and starting a job in Cabot so much of the get my drift.  This summer however, was going to be different.  There was no classroom prep so we were going to do all the fun things you see people on pinterest doing.  I made a short little list on my phone and got ready to check things off.  Only, not much of anything has been checked off.  These are simple things people...I'm talking about things like taking the kids to eat yogurt.  The most ambitious thing on there was to make a pine cone bird feeder for the back yard.  However, I'm not even sure I can find pine cones this time of year??  Needless to say, the summer of the stay-at-home mom looked much like the summer of the teaching mom just with less teaching.  Make sense?

That got me thinking...when does it slow down?  Does it ever slow down?  Most people would say no but why?  This morning Rachel and I were talking on our run about the summers we had growing up (yes, that officially makes us old) and they were restful, quiet and LONG.  Now, I feel like they are spent running errands, cleaning, working (whether at home or out of the home), appointments and so forth.  You blink and it's gone.

On top of "summer guilt", I also have a new type of guilt....a guilt watching all my friends return to work and I'm not.  It's hard to explain or understand.  Then, I started thinking....I have started inventing new kinds of guilt in my head!!  Instead of resting in being where the Lord has me in this season of my life, I am finding ways to be uneasy.  The fact is, yes the summer has flown by but in reality my kids have had an excellent summer and have loved it.  Yes, my friends are returning to work and I have a mixture of emotions but we are all right where God wants us. 

Yesterday morning in Sunday School we talked about the verse in Ecclesiastes about time..."For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven......"  (3:1-8).  I may not have made bird feeders with my kids this summer (and seriously...I do realize this is probably a fall activity) but there is a time for every matter under Heaven.  I'm not sure if that speaks to anyone else but it definitely spoke to me. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


First of all I know every post has been about things we are dealing with lately at home but it really just seems to be where we are right now!  I truly can't make this stuff up.  However, this one is more about how God takes things that seem so bad and works it all for good.

Yesterday we got the work started to fix the damage from our water leak.  It turned out to be a much bigger deal than I anticipated because the front room that was affected was pretty contaminated with lots of sewer water.  They had to rip down the ceiling, walls and take out the floor so it's basically rebuilding a room from scratch.  I honestly have been completely okay with that.  I'm too indecisive to ever build a house so maybe this is God's way of letting me "build" a room. (I'm already trying to decide whether to paint it the same color as my whole house or change it up??  So many decisions....)

Anyway, that was going on and it was loud and dusty but overall not a big deal.  Then we got a call from B's caseworker and his mom had made a claim that may or may not be true.  However, it was a major claim and it could majorly affect B.  So, I had to take B yesterday afternoon to have a test run and I was in such turmoil yesterday I could hardly stand it.  The test was supposed to take 24-48 hours and I just wasn't sure I could make it until Thursday afternoon.  I tried to tell the "sweet" lady at the lab that we needed it sooner but she just growled at me and I was close to tears anyway so I got quiet.  All afternoon I played scenario after scenario over and over in my head and just had no peace. 

Then J.O. came home and although he was nervous he just said, "I can't imagine God would have brought us this far only to take us down this path."  I decided to quit thinking so negative and start claiming that promise.  I changed my prayer to a complete prayer of acknowledgment that God is in control and the outcome would be favorable.  I then focused on praying for early test results.  I prayed that by some miracle I would know before DHS came out at 3:00 so that I could focus on that visit while they were there.  I prayed that a nurse would call me and not the doctor so I would know immediately it was okay. 

This morning I was still nervous but I had such a better peace that everything would be okay.  I knew that the same God who brought us B was still in control today.  I just wanted those results quickly!! 

Well wouldn't you know my phone rang about 1:45 and when I answered it was a nurse at the clinic.  Relief flooded over me and we got the results we wanted to hear.  Everything was going to be just fine.  I called B's caseworker and as I was talking to her I realized why God allowed this to happen.  I can't really say much but it's very clear to me that my discomfort from 10:15 Tuesday morning until 1:45 Wednesday afternoon was for a much bigger picture than I could have ever seen. 

I will be honest...this one really shook me and had me yelling "enough".  I didn't handle this well at all at first and I'm ashamed at the lack of faith I had that God would see it through.  However, I am thankful that once again, God saw us through and never gave up on me.  He cared enough to send me a phone call at 1:45 when in reality I still shouldn't know.  He cares enough about B to help him hopefully be settled sooner.  When I hung up the phone (I was in my car) the song, "Our God is greater, Our God is stronger" was playing on the radio and I just lost it.  It's so hard for me to grasp sometimes how much He truly cares. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


This is totally not the blog post I had planned to write today but happens. 

Today, I truly can't help but be thankful.  Now, to be 100% honest that was not the thought going through my mind this morning as sewer water was running through my ceiling and filling my downstairs room, but now that I have thought about it, I am.

I am thankful I know longer look for random "signs" that I am doing the right thing.  In the past I would have taken a broken air conditioner, broken washing machine (twice) and a minor flood (ha!) all within a month of school starting back as a sign that I had totally made the wrong decision.  I would be sending out applications as we speak and looking for part time work because this would surely mean God had other plans for me right?  Today, I am thankful I can know without a shadow of a doubt that we are so smack dab in the middle of God's plan for our lives that Satan is ticked.  He is trying to trip us up every step of the way and thankfully God allowed me to be so awakened to the reality of spiritual warfare that I now recognize this.

I am also thankful this happened today and not tomorrow or Wednesday.  DHS licensing is coming out Wednesday and they are the real deal!  They have the power to keep us licensed as foster parents or not.  One of the requirements is working toilets!!  I am so thankful we now have 2 days to repair the toilet and my dad is able to come replace it tomorrow night!

I know there are so many bigger things happening besides appliances breaking and water leaks.  However, in my life these are things Satan is using to keep us on our toes.  I put in one of my previous posts that I can only imagine that things will get worse the closer it gets to school starting and I would say today definitely qualified!  At one point J.O. and I just looked at each other and laughed as we were covered in dirty water and trying to haul the heaviest rug known to man to the curb.

I will say this, however....I am grateful for a God who brings blessings during the storm but at any time I could take a very boring week!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just the Truth....

First of all 2 blog posts in 2 days...someone write it down because it won't happen again....I also hope this post isn't offensive.  It's just something I feel strongly about.

I feel like a lot of times my posts can be all about the challenges associated with fostering.  I would never want to sugar coat what it's all about but I would also never want to discourage someone from fostering or getting involved in respite care because I make it sound so hard.

The reality is that anything worth doing is going to be challenging.  We are so focused on what's quick and easy that we sometimes forget that.  Take for instance something small like learning to ride a bike with no training wheels.  This did not come easy for Trey.  He was blessed with his mothers athletic ability so he was not one that simply hopped on a bike and took off.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  And I do mean a lot of blood and tears.  However, the other night we were riding bikes and he said he loves the way the wind hits him and he can just go so fast and ride anywhere.  He would be lying if he told you he got it the first try and it wasn't challenging.  Same with parenting.  Good grief it's hard.  There are days when Addison is throwing her 30th temper tantrum (yes she's 4) and I just want to run away.  Or days when Trey is being such a smart mouth 7 year old that I want to ship him to boarding school.  But I don't.  I think any parent would say that parenting is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things out there.

Fostering is a challenge for sure.  But I face lots of challenges every not eating a whole batch of cookies when they are sitting out.  See my point?  The reward however is far greater.  Hearing Addison explain to people why we have B or hearing Trey tell people "yeah, he's my brother for a little while" let's me know they get it.  Today we were given permission to pick up the little girl we kept for a few nights last week and take her to church every Sunday morning.  To me that makes last week worth every sleepless minute.  Now, most Sunday mornings, she will be loved on by some of the greatest people I know. 

If nothing in your life is hard then you may be doing a whole lot of nothing. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Long Week....

This week has been a long week.  There is really no other way to say it.  Several weeks ago I was writing in my journal and just had the feeling I needed to pray about taking another child for a bit.  I really wasn't sure what it meant and didn't even know if it would be now, in several months or what.  I simply wrote in my journal....child ?, toddler ?, J.O. would never agree right now....Then I wrote....but I will do whatever you ask and I will pray about it.  (Seriously, if anyone ever got ahold of my journal they would be convinced a crazy person wrote it.)

So fast forward to last week and I found out about a lady who was seriously needing some respite care for her 17mth old she had.  It was only for 3 days and she attended a daycare so it wouldn't be that tough.  I wasn't sure why but I felt so convicted to reach out to this lady and so I did and we agreed to do the respite for her.  Oh. My.  I was not prepared for the little girl who would greet me at daycare.  She was the cutest thing I had ever seen and just reached out her arms to me and hopped in my car.  However, her story is heartbreaking.  She is the true picture of a lot of children in foster care.  They are in desperate need of stability and they need it yesterday.  After a day of this little girl being here she was following me around the house and crying if I picked up B or Addison because she wanted me to hold her.  She would call me mama (because that word doesn't mean what our kids know it means) and she would cling to J.O. when he would get home from work.  It was such a different situation than B because thankfully B never entered that world.  He is not being passed around from house to house and he has a stable home right now.  He's not worried about crying for hours on end at night (trust me) because he knows someone will take care of him.  This little girl has had no such assurance.  She slept in our bedroom in a pack n play and she moaned and cried in her sleep off and on all night.  All of our hearts just broke for her and what she has been through.

This week has been one of those weeks full of emotional ups and downs.  I was driving to my moms yesterday and just had to laugh...within a 2 month period I suddenly went from 2 to 3 to 4 kids.....even if for just 3 days.  It was tough.  It was tough trying to feed B without her having a meltdown at my feet.  It was tough because I was overwhelmed at the thought of how many kids are out there and how few homes there are.  But then on the other hand I was grateful.  I was grateful that I listened to God calling me to take a toddler for a few days because we will never be the same after having her at our house.  We have a name and a face to pray for that needs some very real prayers.  I am grateful because our kids learned a lot from being around this little girl and the situation she is facing.  I am grateful because once again God sustained me on very little sleep and the patience (sometimes) to deal with the kids during the day.

We all have long weeks.  Work, family, friends, kids, etc. can continually wear us out.  However, last night when I was leaving my grandmothers she told me she would be praying for me because she figured I needed it.  I agreed for sure, but I also told her that on my worst day it still wouldn't be as bad as what this little girl has gone through and if she can laugh and play then I figure I can too.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spiritual Warfare...

My dear friend Rachel's husband, Brian, just got back a few weeks ago from a mission trip to Africa.  After the group returned Brian shared one Sunday about spiritual warfare and how before he went on this trip he really didn't put a ton of thought into it.  As I listened to him speak I realized this was spot on with my thinking.  I generally don't put a lot of thought into tough mornings and the fact that the devil might be trying to trip me up to start my day.  I generally just chalk it up to a good ol case of bad luck.  One morning when we were running, Rachel and I stumbled upon a man who needed help.  We had to stop and call 911 and were running pretty late.  Then when she got home it was one thing after another when she was trying to get out of the house and make it on time to VBS.  When she got to church she remembered that the plan of salvation was being shared with everyone and the devil was in turmoil trying to trip everyone up and bring the mood down.  She texed me this when she realized what was going on and I will be honest....I agreed 100%, but I still didn't put much stock into it.  However, as I deepen my walk and work on strengthening my relationship with Christ I am learning how much of a real thing this is and how serious you have to take it.

The first court date B had started at 1:15.  My mother in law was coming to my house to watch the kids and for the first time in forever ran into multiple lane closures on the way.  She got to my house at 1:05.  I was beyond stressed out.  Then, I tried to call his caseworker multiple times to warn her I was running late only to find out she had taken off due to an emergency and I had no-one else's number.  On the way to court my phone GPS took me to a dead end and J.O. was in a meeting.  I somehow found the court (with frantic phone calls to whoever would answer the phone at DHS) and showed up at 1:20.  The judge was 10 minutes late so it worked out but I was BESIDE myself when I showed up.  Definitely not how I imagined entering.  I had planned to pray the whole way there and have my heart guarded and ready.  Looking back now I recognize it for what it was...the devil was at battle.

Tuesday I went to church for a Bible Study.  The door I normally enter was locked and so I grabbed my keys to unlock it.  Only, I didn't have a key anymore because I no longer work there.  I walked around to the front door and walked in to see several of my dear teacher friends there working and I had no idea they would be there.  Why didn't they call me?  Oh yeah, I no longer work there.  Then, I went upstairs to pay some bills for school and it was more than I thought...wait, don't I get a discount??  No, I no longer work there.  I entered Bible Study in a FOUL mood.  I was really ready to walk back out and go home.  However, I stayed and really figured I would get nothing out of it (the devil was probably pretty happy I thought that) and imagine my surprise when I related to the speaker who was my grandmothers age!  She talked about being called out of her comfort zone and how tough it was!  I left feeling so uplifted!

In the meantime, my new washing machine broke (up to 2 weeks to fix) and our downstairs unit froze and needed 2 lbs of Freon.  I did not handle it well today.  For one thing, I felt awful because I had asked my sweet friend Heather to wash a "hand wash only" dress for me (I had no clue) and she stressed she had ruined it.  Totally my fault but I felt terrible because she then hand washed it and worked on it forever.  I also reverted back to stressing about all things financial and wondering how in the world we will make it.  I was about ready to throw in the towel when I get a text from Rachel asking if she could drop off some clothes and a stroller I am borrowing.  When I get the items she also hands me a bag of cookies and a sweet note about the devil being at work.  It was like someone hit me on the forehead and said "duh".  Why is it so hard for me to recognize?  I become so focused on how hard it is for us right now and don't realize there is always someone out there working against us.  The devil is truly at work and I need to recognize it.

Spiritual warfare is a very real thing and something we have to work hard to guard our hearts against.  I can only imagine he is going to step it up two-fold in the next 3 weeks when some of my best friends return to work and I wonder why I'm not.  Then I will look at sweet B and tell the devil he will not win. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Not Knowing....

For the most part being a foster parent really isn't that odd or out of the ordinary to me.  I mean, yes it took some time to become adjusted but I think that was mostly because within a few hours notice I had added a child to our family....and a newborn at that.  I know some people will always wonder how you do it and get attached to the child and then let them go or even open your home to children and the families that come along with them.  For me, the issue from the start, was the thought of starting over when we were in such an easy stage with our kids but hey...God generally doesn't care about what keeps you comfortable. 

However, I had something happen last week that really made me stop and think that this just wasn't right.  I took B to his 2 month well-child appointment on Friday and it was so different from the start.  I have never taken him to the doctor before (except one run to a Saturday clinic to confirm a cold) and I had certainly never taken him to a well-child visit.  You generally answer a lot of questions and fill out a lot of paperwork so the doctor will know all he/she needs to know about your child.  Well, as we were walking back to the appointment the nurse asked me what shots he had and if I had his record.  I hesitated and told her I didn't have that but I thought all he had received was the one shot in the hospital.  I explained that he was a foster child and I just wasn't sure.  Then what I noticed next was she didn't ask me anymore of the typical questions you would receive.  Questions like his background, how he was at birth, etc.  Nothing.  I know this is the same sometimes when you adopt a child but I had just simply never experienced it.  I felt helpless sitting there with a child that I knew so little about to tell the nurses.  I can tell you everything from 4 wks to now but there are things missing that I can't stand. 

When I got home I was googling and reading about what a 10 week old should be doing (don't forget!) and the first thing I read was they will start to be able to pick out mom or dads face in a group.  I think it just hit me at that point.  Mom should be here.  He should be picking her face out of the crowd and not mine but the fact is I am mom right now.  It won't be easy if/when he goes home.  It won't be easy thinking about him looking around for me but I can rest assured that although I won't know what happened from his birth I can be the best "mom" to him right now.  That's truly all I can do. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Waving the white flag....

So, I was talking to one of my best friends, Amy yesterday and I was just tired.  Like very tired.  And she asked me how it was going and instead of just saying my standard answer I actually said the truth....that I was tired and I wasn't sure how much longer I could go on being so tired.  Then, I immediately started backtracking and saying that I wasn't trying to complain and it wasn't more than I could handle etc., etc.  She just said, "Well, nothing is going to be perfect all the time.  It's okay to be tired." 

That got me thinking.  I, in no way, have the perfect life..nor do I THINK I have the perfect life but I think sometimes I can try so hard not to complain, ask for help, or want to seem like a whiny baby that I can somehow put off the perception that I am trying to make people think everything is going smoothly all the time.  I mean, goodness....isn't that what social media does for us at our finest?  On our blogs, facebook pages, twitter, instagram, or whatever else is out there that I don't know about, we only post good things 99% of the time.  When is the last time you posted the first "selfie" you took?  I mean, I will be honest...the pics I take of myself always include a child but generally you are seeing take 50.  The first 25 give me too many chins and the last 25 usually make my arm look like it could reach through the phone and tackle someone.  It's a very delicate situation to get that perfect picture and then post it for all to see.

Same with our "status updates".  Beth Moore talks about this in one of her Bible studies.  First of all the very title of "status update" makes us all feel so important.  I mean, lets be honest...if it was titled, "another thing I am doing or my kids just did" it wouldn't be nearly as appealing.  Don't get me wrong, I am the best of the best at clogging up a news feed.  I love facebook and think it's a great tool but somewhere along the way I think we become so set on putting on our gameface and trying to make ourselves look so "good" that we miss the point. 

That brings me back to my original thought.  I am still not trying to complain and I am still going to preface this by saying although my life is far from perfect, I am blessed beyond measure.  However, I am going to lay this out there to make it a little more real:

1)  I am tired.  Not just tired like my kids got up a few times to go to the bathroom and I couldn't go back to sleep...but seriously tired.  I even got to the point last night where I laid in bed when B was crying and cried myself and asked God why he didn't want me to sleep...ever...I tend to be dramatic when I am tired as well.
2.)  It's hard looking at B and knowing what he is facing and wondering why God saw fit to give my kids such a plush life and B is facing such hardships.  Again, rationally I know that we aren't promised an easy life but it's still tough. 
3.)  Trey was at camp all week this week and more than once I thought about the fact that if we didn't have baby B, Addison and I could be doing a lot more things and I would be relaxing.  Isn't that terrible??  However, it's simply the truth.

All that to say this.....I will never get on here and just complain away because it's really not my nature (except sometimes late at night to J.O.).  Especially now that we are fostering and I see such a glimpse of real life that's going on all around us.  I realize how blessed I am and even though I may be tired I have a husband who will walk along beside me and he is just as tired as I am.  However, I would never want to only put the highlights on here and pretend that life is gravy and I am doing a great job at it when in reality it's tough and I am failing a lot. 

Who knows...maybe one day on Facebook I will even put a "selfie" that shows more than one of my chins...but I highly doubt it. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013


This is most likely going to be a random, all over the place post but it's so hard sometimes to get down what I mean.  However, I do plan to try!

For the past week or so I have had this unsettled feeling.  Not unsettled like unhappy or discontented.....not at all!!  In fact, things couldn't be going better around here.  We are adjusting to life with 3 kids right now, my body has adjusted to getting around 4-5 hours a sleep at night (I'm not just saying's amazing how that works and we truly adjust), the kids are loving being out of school and attending summer activities.  It's all going really great.  I just haven't been able to shake the feeling that I am missing something.

I was sitting down reading my journal a couple of days ago and realized I started journaling almost exactly one year ago from this date.  I started journaling when we went to New York for a mission trip because it was the start of me realizing God was wanting me to do something different in my life.  As I was reading over my journal it hit me...when was the last time I sat in my rocking chair (other than to feed/rock the baby) and truly journaled, prayed and studied?  The sad reality is we have adjusted great to having the baby but I have totally allowed the other areas in my life to start fading away in the last 3 weeks.  Sure, I can rationalize it....I am tired, the first few days were rough, I went from regular schedule to none, etc.  However, what I realized is when life gets busy that is the first thing that goes.  Sad huh?  I was still trying my hardest to get up and run (not happening a ton), I was still making time to fit all the kids activities in, but I was not making this time a priority.  As soon as I would lay B down I would scurry off to do laundry, pick up the kitchen, or if it had been a sleepless night I would lay down too.  But one thing I have found is that when I get out of my regular time with God I begin to feel so unsettled. 

As I was feeling this way and sitting down to take the time to read and journal I realized how much we miss when we get away from our relationship with God.  I'm not talking about anything drastic here either...I'm talking about letting the day go by without really spending time with Him.  I am good about praying throughout my day but I mean, truly sitting down (even for 5-10 mins) and having some quiet time.

Of course as I thought of this my thoughts went to B who is having such a hard time getting "settled" to go to sleep.  Trey fought sleep so I am used to babies who don't want to give it up but he fights it so differently.  Trey would simply not close his eyes and then finally fall asleep after an hour of us patting him to sleep (huge first time parent mistake because we created a monster who needed patted to sleep until the age of 2).  B is different though...he will grunt and moan and twist to keep himself awake and then as soon as he gives it up he literally takes a breath and I can feel him relax in my arms.  It hit me the other day how I do this as well!  I will literally fight and grunt and moan and run away from things simply because I don't want to sit down and give in.  Then I will feel so unsettled and have to realize I need to come back to my relationship with Christ.  When I do that it's literally a huge sigh of relief and I can relax.  This is probably such a basic concept to most but I am learning how stubborn and hard headed I really am.  I love how sometimes I think we are the ones helping B and in reality God is using him to show me new things in my own Christian walk. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Being Judgemental

Lots of things have been on my mind this week.  Last week was our first full week with baby B and also my first experience in juvenile court.  It was nothing like I thought.  I really thought I would be outside the courtroom and not be a part of what was going on but that wasn't the case at all.  I was in the room and listening to all the proceedings.  However, what I think I was least prepared for was seeing B's parents.  I walked up and they were sitting on a bench waiting on court to start and I just wanted to cry and run away.  Not because I didn't want him being with his parents because I think he needs to see them, but because I wasn't prepared for the rough reality he is facing when he does go home to them.  This is the part of the "other world" that is right next door to us all that we have conveniently removed ourself from.  These are the people on the street begging for money, the people we walk away from in a store because they are so different than we are, they are literally the people we pass everyday and silently make a judgement about them without even knowing where they come from.

After I left court I was so torn.  I was torn between not wanting B to have to grow up in this reality and sickened by the fact that because of life circumstances these people haven't had all the opportunities I have had.  This mom is not a drug addict or alcoholic, she is a poverty stricken woman who is a child of the system herself.  She has no help, no support and no seeming way out.  It is such a different reality than I grew up in.  My biggest concern growing up was whether or not my mom was making my favorite dinner or what kind of car I would get when I turned 16. 

As I have thought so much about what rough reality he is facing I am constantly being reminded of why we are doing this.  The prayers that are literally covering this precious baby right now blow me away.  The kindness and support our church has shown us is almost unimaginable.  And the way I am constantly being reminded of not to judge others makes me realize I have so far to go.  In our service Sunday we had someone talk about the fact that people in poverty (or homeless) need relationships and to see Christ through us and not just "things" thrown at them. 

When I first met his parents I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I wasn't even able to talk to them but I am thankful I now have a face and a specific situation to pray for.  I saw his mom again at his visit on Friday and this time I was able to help her take B and show her some things on how to care for him.  My hope and my prayer is that she will see that I am not just someone who is taking care of her child while she can't but that I also care about her as a person.  I have no idea how long we will have him but I hope it's long enough to accomplish this. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Strange Feelings....

The time has arrived.  We have our first foster baby and I have to say the feelings are somewhat different than what I thought they would be.  Now, don't get me wrong...I knew I would love the baby because it's natural to bond to a child you are caring for but I didn't realize I would have such mixed feelings.  More on that in a minute. 

It is so cool how everything worked out.  I told J.O. that I wouldn't mind a week or so off of school before we received our first child but I truly didn't feel that would happen.  He thought it would of course because J.O. tends to deny things until they hit him in the face.  More on his issues in a different post.....Just Kidding.  Anyway, the last week of school (Tuesday to be exact) I received a text from someone we had met in training asking if we could maybe help them out and take a baby they had been caring for since birth.  Due to some circumstances they just needed some relief for awhile.  I told her we would but we had to open our home first.  We tried to get that done Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday but just never could get in touch with anyone.  Finally, Thursday we got a call saying we were open and we could take the little baby.  The original day we had planned to open anyway.  Funny how sometimes we can try to take things into our own hands and it doesn't work that way.

We got him home about 4:00 on Thursday and it hit me...we were caring for someone else's child.  That's when the emotions became different than what I had ever considered.  My motherly instincts kicked in and I immediately felt attached to this child and had feelings for him but at the same time I had such sadness.  I hadn't counted on this part while I was caring for the child, only when he/she left.  It makes me so sad to think that HIS parents are missing out on the sweetest time in his life.  We've had him 4 days and already we notice so many funny/sweet things about the fact that he thinks he may perish if he doesn't eat the second he gets a tiny bit hungry...or the fact that he started smiling yesterday and will only smile at     
J. O. 

Friday I went upstairs and was rocking him to sleep and just had a moment because it's so hard for me to imagine a world where parents choose not to take care of their children.  I'm not talking about parents that make the choice of adoption because of circumstances, but I am talking about parents who make choices that they know will mean they can't have their own child.  I'm sure as time goes on I will understand that they are a part of my ministry too but right now I am just so torn...torn between being so happy for the short time we will spend with this precious baby and then being so angry for the people who are missing this sweet time out of choice. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sheer Terror....

Yes, I realize this title is probably a bit dramatic but hey, why not.  Last week was Mothers Day and it was fabulous.  I got up early to go meet Rachel for a run like I do most Sundays (Heather was out of town) and when I got home the kids were waiting with my gifts.  They were so excited and I have to admit one of my gifts made me cry from laughing so hard.  It may or may not have been a Justin Timberlake CD.  A girl has to hold on to a few guilty pleasures right??

Anyway, several weeks ago Rachel and I went to meet with our associate pastor about promoting the Walk for the Waiting.  Literally, that's the only reason we went.  However, imagine my surprise when we sat down and he told us he was planning a different type of Mother's Day service and wanted to talk about some of the local orphans.  He is starting a new series and the first one was based on the Dr. Seuss book (not really written by him) "Are you my Mother?"  He wanted to have an "expert" in the field talk and then a personal experience from our own church.  I got so excited and told him that would be a really great idea.  Then I just sat there and realized he was staring at me.  Now let me just say, my first degree is Communications so I have done my fair share of speeches and I was actually okay at it.  However, in my adult life fear grips me like crazy at random times if I think I may have to talk.  I mean, there have been times I am so nervous in Chapel at school at the thought of being called on to pray.  Completely crazy I know, but still. 

So...I realized Jonathan was staring at me and waiting for me to respond.  The very unfortunate thing that happened next was I remembered what we had just studied in Experiencing God.  We learned that if God has done something big in your life it's disobedience not to share.  It's our job to tell others.  With that in mind I told him I would do it and then just planned to walk very slowly in front of a bus sometime between now and then.  Totally kidding...I wasn't that scared....maybe. 

Let me just say that the 2 weeks went by so extremely fast.  I mean, I don't think I have ever experienced time move so quickly.  I think the worst part though was sitting through the morning service waiting to be called to come up.  I would get so nervous and then calm down, then I would want to run and then it would be okay.  This continued for 40 minutes until I went forward to share.  I have to say though that when you are doing something that is from God and you know 100% that you are supposed to share your testimony it will happen.  The day before I had prayed that God would give me the words to "wrap" up my testimony because I just couldn't figure out how to end it.  Not an hour later I came across something I had written down and realized it was a verse God wanted me to use for some reason.  When I stood up front I was still nervous for sure.  But I wasn't that hyperventilating nervous that makes you sound more like you are crying than talking.  It all came out correct and there were even moments that I felt kinda calm.....well, as long as I was standing on one leg.  For some reason my right leg chose that moment to spasm and I looked pretty ridiculous. 

All that to say this...I am not signing up for any conferences anytime soon but I think it's pretty amazing when God puts something in front of you that is such a "God thing".  If you would have told me a year ago I would be speaking in front of our church I would have called you crazy.  However, there are lots of things I am doing now I wouldn't have pictured myself doing a year ago!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Birthday Perspective

 Field Trip to JumpZone on his birthday!  How perfect!

Friends are good.  Birthdays are fabulous.  Birthday parties are great. 

Birthdays around our house are a big deal.  There are generally several days worth of celebrating that goes on and lots of cake that gets consumed.  Our kids have some sort of celebration each year on their birthday.  This year Addison had her first ever party that wasn't at our house.  She had her new school friends and we had it our church's recreation area.  It was perfect.  We have had a mixture of big parties before and several smaller ones at the house.  However, last years birthday party for Trey just about did me in.  It was huge.  He had started Kindergarten and with that comes a whole new group of friends.  He was friends with pretty much all the kids and wanted them all at his party.  He also wanted it on a certain football field where the Razorbacks play and unfortunately he heard from another friend this was possible.  Before I knew it, we had rented a football field and planned to feed everyone chicken nuggets and chips.  How did this happen?  Then the amount of presents he received was unheard of.  I left the party feeling a huge pit in my stomach.  Why did one child need so many things?  How did a 6 year old go about having such a huge party?  Little did I know God was already working on my heart and convicting me about getting caught up with my surroundings.  He was giving me a glimpse of what was to come if it kept going this way....a child who thought anything could be delivered just because you want it.

Now, don't get me wrong...I am not saying that my kids aren't spoiled rotten because they are.  We are so blessed and are thankful that we can do things for them and I truly think that is okay.  However, my number one desire for them is to have a grateful and humble heart.  This year we told Trey he could have 3 friends spend the night and we would go to Playtime Pizza and play.  They had a blast.  They ran around and played and then came home and played swords, battle, etc.  This morning he was laying in bed with us (because he woke up WAY earlier than the other boys) and I asked him what his favorite part was.  He told me playing.  I said, at playtime pizza?  He said no...playing at the house.  I told J.O. later that really put things in perspective for me.  This is the first year we haven't had tons of presents running out our ears from a party, the first year I haven't worried myself sick over decorations and party favors and the first year I am not physically exhausted after a birthday celebration.  Now don't get me wrong, there will still be parties down the road and places rented and people invited.  However, today I also have a burden thinking about the kids who wake up with no one cuddling them in bed and giving them the DS game they have longed for or kids who don't even have someone who really cares it's their birthday.  I am hopeful that after our kids spend some time around these children that they too will have this burden.  I hope they will see that just because you can doesn't mean you should.  I hope in the sometimes protected world of private school that they will be a light and I pray that I will keep sight of this as well.  I will be the first to admit that as a mom I get as caught up as the kids and have a desire to keep up with the next.  Praying that I will keep a "birthday perspective" for years to come!