Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Static and Court

I can't stand driving J. O.'s truck.  It's big and it smells like a boy.  However, the thing that annoys me the most is the fact that he has an electrical problem he won't fix, so anytime he turns on the blinker or radio it screeches and makes this horrible loud noise.  I am one of those people who can't stand static on the radio or really loud noises, so this drives me crazy.  I am always reminding him when he takes people in his truck to not use the blinker unless absolutely necessary and leave his radio off.  J. O.'s solution is just to turn the radio up so loud that you can barely hear the screeching, but I know it's there.  It literally drives me crazy.

Anyway, so yesterday I was in J. O.'s truck because he had taken my car to have it cleaned out (he can't stand it when it gets too cluttered) and our plan was to meet at court and then we would switch back.  Well, after the first court hearing when I showed up so flustered and mentally unprepared, I have a sort of ritual when I head to court.  I leave way earlier than necessary and I like to listen to music and pray/sing the whole way.  I don't talk on the phone, I don't channel surf on the radio, but I simply turn the radio on and try to get my mind in the right place.  Well, yesterday I wasn't thinking about J. O. and his radio situation.  I got in the truck, turned on the radio and immediately it started sounding like I had a dying cat in the car.  It was awful.  I felt myself getting flustered and tried to turn the radio up louder to drown out the sound but that was just worse.  It was then, I remembered something I heard a long time ago.  I was listening to a CD my MIL gave me and the speaker talked about how at one point in her life she decided she was only going to listen to Christian music in the car.  Nothing else.  Then, she decided that she was only going to listen to speakers or sermons in the car because that was even better than the music.  Nothing else.  Then, one day she realized the best thing would be to turn the radio off and simply talk to God during those moments alone in the car.  

As I thought about that, I turned off the radio and immediately my ears quit bleeding and peace filled me.  I quit being flustered because things weren't going exactly like normal and realized God was giving me that time to spend with Him.  It turns out I am so thankful I did.  Yesterday was just different on a lot of levels.  For one thing, we are not the only foster parents involved.  So, as we are sitting with the other foster parent, who happens to be the bio moms sister, it's just an odd situation.  The mom is across from us in the waiting room and you can cut the tension with a knife.  Not so much with us, but with the sisters.  Then we found out court was backed up by several hours.  Our hearing was at 1:30 and at 3:30 they announced they were breaking for lunch and at 4:00 would begin the afternoons hearings.  However, instead of this stressing me out because of the kids that needed picked up and taken places, it didn't.  I knew I had people who would step in and help out and parents that would come get them and get them ready for bed if necessary.  

What I have never done before though, is sit in the waiting room that long.  During that time I watched 2 young kids come in with handcuffs and shackles on and being escorted by a guard, 3 moms leave in tears and complete heartache on their face, a teenager sitting next to us constantly conferring with her lawyer on what she should say or do in front of the judge and so forth.  It was and is, so heartbreaking.

J. O. was with me this time as well.  He walked in prepared to not like the kids mom, but what happened is what always happens when you spend time around these parents.  He left broken for her.  At one point when she was on the stand and for all practical purposes she was wrong in every way, he just leaned over and whispered how bad he felt for her.  He said, "she's never had a 
mom tell her how to do this or help her out."  

She is a kid herself.  She is a product of the system and she is facing a complete uphill climb on her own.  I think what kills me even more though, is the fact that this is only completely unnatural for us.  For her, it's just a way of life.  This happens and this happens to people like her.  Everyone is out to get her and no one wants to offer any support.  I am not saying I disagree with what was done yesterday.  Not at all.  But I just hate that time and time again there is such incomplete rehabilitation for the mom (I would say dad too if I had ever seen one stick around).  They are beaten down, broken and sent out to do it again.  They have so much static that they can't see, hear or think clearly.  They have no one telling them that life is better with hope, grace and mercy and that every now and then you have to turn down all the trash and noise to hear it.

Friday, February 21, 2014


My name is Tamra and I am raising one of the most irresponsible kids on this planet.  Don't get me wrong…he is a good kid.  One of the best actually.  However, he is so irresponsible and that has been driving me crazy.

The other day I stopped in Barnes and Noble because I had a gift card to use and there were several books I wanted (yes, I still like good ol books you can pick up and hold).  I found one of the books and it was on parenting.  I would like to claim that I was reading it to give tips to someone else, but honestly it was for one of my bio kids and one of my bonus kids.  However, what I didn't expect to find was something on raising responsible kids.  What I read jumped out and grabbed me.  I realized Trey is simply a product of my doings.  He never leaves the house without being reminded to grab his backpack and coat, I remind him to "potty" before bed or long car trips, I dictate when he showers, etc. He isn't irresponsible simply because he can't do it, he is irresponsible simply because he has never had to do it.

That made me think…how often do I rely on someone else to do what I am unwilling to do or want to do?  How often do I sit back and think, "oh, if that is really important so and so will take care of it, or they will remind me again and then I might do it."  I mentioned in the last post I was feeling ragged because of my lack of saying no.  That's not what I am meaning here at all.  I am not talking about volunteering at school parties or being the mom who is everything to everyone, I am talking about rolling up your sleeves and stepping out in faith for something.  Maybe it's a cause you have been sitting on, or an opportunity with someone at work that you have ignored, but whatever it is, it's time to stop being irresponsible with our callings and do it.

I hear from so many people all the time that say what we are doing is great and that I am a wonderful person.  While that gesture is nice, it makes me feel so uncomfortable.  For one thing, I am not doing anything that is outside of each and every one of our callings.  No, it might not look the same as our family and it might not mean ever taking in a single foster child.  But that doesn't mean we aren't all called to support them.  You may not ever be called to do anything more than pray for families that do and that's a huge thing.

I wonder so many times what our kids will take away from this when they are adults.  Will they be foster parents?  Will they start some mission oversees or local that I can't even fathom?  I have no idea the impact this will have on them, but I do know this…..Trey may forget his coat and need reminded to go use the bathroom and yes, that may drive me crazy…..BUT….it's far more important to me that I raise a child who sees the bigger picture and the real reason we are all here.  I don't want to set an example of an irresponsible, lazy adult who creates and irresponsible, lazy child.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just Say No…..

One day, I am going to perfect the art of saying "NO."  I'm not going to say it in a mean way, or stomp my foot when I do it like a certain, stubborn child I know, but I'm going to learn to use it nonetheless.  I am going to learn to be good at a few things, instead of scattered in a million things.  I am going to learn to give all of myself to a few people, instead of a little bit to a ton of people.

Now, don't get me wrong….I am not one of those people who has to be the craftiest or the best.  Valentines boxes don't stress me out nor do Valentines treats or crafts.  I am perfectly fine letting my kids do what they want and being done.  Addison wanted sticker hearts on hers and truthfully she didn't really want to deal with doing that, so she just put a few and called it done.  Trey has the desire for a huge basketball goal but honestly, he doesn't have the skills to do it and nor do I, so right now it's got green paper on it. That kind of thing I am okay with.

However, the other day I heard someone say that one day we will realize we had it all wrong.  We will wish we spent more time with our family and less time at work, etc.  My first thought was "oh, I hope J. O. just heard that" and then I realized that was completely directed to me.  No, I don't have an 8-5 job this year, but oh my goodness I have turned into one of those people.  You know…one of those people who run ragged trying to do all the things they think they should.  I actually like being my kids room mom.  I actually don't mind organizing things for the class.  However, my problem is trying to fill in the gap when there are things left to be done.  It's not my job to fill in every blank line on the sign up sheet.  It's not my job to make sure there are 10 different toppings to choose from at the Ice Cream Party.  Honestly, these kids could care less.  It's me who cares.  It's me who worries people will think I didn't  do a good job.  It's me who has the "just say no" problem.

God called me to quit my job.  He did that for a reason.  One of the biggest was because we were going to enter a life filled with foster kids.  Another reason though was because our life was not going in a direction that was good for our family.  We were too busy and never together.  I ran home after work each day and the rat race started.  The problem is nothing has changed.  We are just as busy but with less income if you want to know the truth!

I hope to slowly learn the art of saying no.  Who knows….maybe next year I will be room mom but will not sign up to bring an item.  Crazy.  Or maybe, I won't feel the need to be on cafeteria duty (which I have backed away from) or maybe I won't attend all the field trips, or maybe I will truly limit my kids to one activity at a time, or maybe I will actually clean my house.

Lots of things I am going to hopefully do, but one thing I am not going to do is feel guilty for saying no.  We all have our limits.  I know sometimes as a "stay at home" mom I can try to rationalize doing it all because I have a strange guilt for saying no when I don't have a legitimate reason.  However, this is not at all how God intended for us to live.  Whether I work, stay home, work from home or whatever I do, I still have a feeling I am missing the bigger plan.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Small Sarcastic Rant…..

So, the other day there was an article circulating on Facebook called **@$* you don't say to a foster parent (that's the name if you want to look it up….I didn't bleep a curse word).  It was a really funny article and it just made me start thinking how people truly think nothing is off limits.  You just have to laugh.

Let me say, this is totally directed at the random strangers we meet out and about.  My close friends and even just acquaintances know I am a pretty open book when it comes to questions and curiosity.

1.)  Wow, you have a lot of kids.

This is what I call stating the obvious and completely unnecessary.  Actually, I don't really think 4 is that many kids but I am sure it's just because they are so young.  I'm just never sure how to respond to this.  Do I say "thank you?"  Do I say, "I know….please help??"  What are they expecting me to say?  Often, I just nod and say "I guess I do".

2.)  Look at her glasses!  Does she leave them on, Does she hate them, Does she have a hard time seeing (??), Don't you love the way she looks in them?

First of all, yes she is extremely cute in her little glasses.  However, pointing out that the glasses make her way cute indicates that I am thankful she has an hinderance with her eye?  I would much rather her not need them.  Also, I'm never sure how in depth these people want me to go in the check out line at Kroger.  Do they want a medical history as I know it?  Do they want, "why yes, she does well with them but every afternoon she hides them….sometimes in the toy box, sometimes in the diaper bag, sometimes in her dresser.  It's a pretty fun game of hide and seek.  Then they will get pretty smudged so three or four times a day we clean them really well…."  I mean, what do they want?

3.)  They are so lucky to have you.

This one is not annoying when spoken genuinely from friends or family who know the situation.  However, this is so annoying when spoken to the person I have just met at a restaurant.  While I am so thankful that God saw fit to allow us to love them for this season, I would not call this lucky.  They are in foster care.  This means, through no fault of their own, they are not allowed to be with their mom or family.  This means, when they are sick and need rocked, I am doing it the whole time thinking about the mom who is missing this experience.  This mean, while my bio children have the security they need, these children are still searching.

4.)  So you mean, they are like real sisters?  That's really neat!

This one just makes you sound slightly ignorant.  I'm sorry.  Yes, in a crazy turn of events, their mother had more than one child.  Mind blowing I know.

5.)  A personal favorite…..BUT, they are so cute!

You can tell me they are cute all day long.  I love to hear it.  It's not arrogant when I say "I know", because I had nothing to do with it (Christie Erwin said that once and it's oh so true).  They are cute, smart, funny, sassy, etc.  Shockingly….a lot like Trey and Addison.  I don't mind people telling me they are cute, however, when people say…BUT, they are cute, it makes me cringe.  This indicates that only "ugly" children come into foster care.  Only dirty, homely, poorly dressed children are out there wondering around.  It may also sound shocking, but I dress them!!  I am able to dress them however I want!  This means, they resemble your 2 and 10 mth old!  I have never been tempted to dress them in torn up trash bags just because they are in foster care.

6.)  And THE personal favorite…Aren't you going to miss them when they leave?

I have written a whole post on this issue but the people who say this immediately after finding out they are in foster care (which, by the way, we don't advertise but again…people are nosy) just kill me.  What do they want me to say?  "No, actually I can't wait" OR "Nah, I have no real feelings for them."  What kind of parent would I be if I wouldn't miss these girls when they leave.  Of course I will miss these girls.  I still miss baby B, however that's what makes me a good, God-called foster parent.  The ability to love other people's children as my own and then allow them to leave.  You know, kinda like our own kids are to us also?  These are all God's children and He is just entrusting them to us for a season.

Seriously, don't think I am just cranky and don't hesitate to ask questions or make comments.  It's just sometimes I think we forget these kids are just like our kids on the outside.  They have some internal fears and scars that our kids don't carry around, but the bottom line is, until we quit acting like fostering is some sort of crazy, odd, out there, grocery line conversation topic, we are never going to come together to care for these kids.