Monday, June 30, 2014


Saturday we had family pictures taken and the process of getting ready for those pictures was quite painful.  Our morning looked/sounded a lot like this.......

Addison:  Constantly complaining of how she looked, what she had to wear, how her hair was fixed, the fact that I wouldn't let her wear makeup, she was not going to smile, only way she would go is if we just took one picture, etc.  Constantly asking for food, chocolate, cookies, etc

Trey:  Hanging out in his undies on the couch while being told repeatedly to get dressed.  Then realizing the reason he wasn't getting dressed was because ALL of his shorts were in the washing  machine.  Dry his shorts slightly and then tell him to suck it up and pretend they are swim trunks.

Me:  Stressing over my hair and the fact that it's not my favorite right now, not sure what pants to wear, if I wear jeggings will people call me one of those people who wears tights for pants, what if I accidentally turn to my bad side, etc.....

J. O.:  Oblivious to it all.  At one point he gives Addison a bowl of milk and Cheerios and she promptly spills it down her dress.  He sees nothing wrong.

Little girls:  Fussing, whining, but unfortunately there was no time to care.

Then, we met Maddie and we threatened our kids within every inch of their life.  Smile and act happy or I will spank you.  Yes, yes I did say that.  The camera came out and this is what we got.....

One. Big. Happy. Family.

In church, this month we are talking about veneers and how we love to paint the best picture possible to everyone around us.  Now, I honestly try very hard to be real but I know I still struggle.  I am a sarcastic person by nature, so most of my posts on Facebook have no problem showing real life.  But, how often do we paint this glorious picture and then the first opportunity we have, we complain to any and everyone who will listen.

For instance, and I will call myself out,....if you saw my glorious, happy picture of the 4 of us sitting on the couch waiting on Girl Meets World to start, we looked cute and happy.  And I like to think we are.  However, you know what happened as soon as I clicked the button on the phone and snapped the photo?  J. O. went back to his section of the couch, I told the kids they were killing me to please scoot over, and meltdown city ensued and we pushed record on the tv and put everyone to bed before the show started.  Real life.

Fostering is so much of the same way.  I feel like we, as foster parents, feel the need to be so driven to the call that we never want to complain.  We don't want to make it sound too hard or too realistic, because we may keep someone from doing it.  We want to shoulder the burden on our own because that's what we are called to do.  However, that's not the way it should be.  That's not real.  If you could peel away the top layer of our veneer it would say vulnerable, scared, and anxious.  It would say guilt at not being able to take another child, it would say pain when a friend calls and is so tired and weary and you just want to be able to help.  It would say overwhelmed and tired.

But it would also say blessed.  It would say grateful.  It would say amazed at how we ourselves are learning so much from these precious children.  It would say worth it and we would mean it Every. Single. Time.

Life isn't perfect and won't be this side of Heaven.  It's actually promised to be hard.  However, the most important thing is to have a purpose and glorify God while doing it.  And trust me, it doesn't have to look perfect.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Foster Dads....

J. O. and I have a joke that every day is Father's Day.  I really don't say that to be rude or not give men enough credit, but their role is just different.  For instance, J. O. can leave the house and go to work and simply think about work all day.  He isn't sitting at his desk working while thinking about what to cook for dinner, or if the uniform was washed before tonight's game, when the kids dentist appointment will be and so forth.  I am not saying his job isn't hard nor unimportant.  His work is honestly a vital part of why we are able to do what we do.  He works very hard and is good at his job and is an absolutely amazing dad.  However, for the most part he is able to go to work and then come home with little thought of what has happened inside of the home if that makes any sense.

However, I have come to realize that in the role of foster parent he is seriously an unsung hero.  I believe with all my heart that most, if not all, women have a desire for every child to have a family.  You can't be a mom and not feel that emotional pull when you see pictures on Facebook of children without a forever home.  You can't be female and not desire to hold and comfort all of these children. Women are hardwired to feel for these children and then want to act.  Men just aren't.  Typically, women feel the call to begin fostering and slowly begin the process of bringing their husband alongside of them.  J.O. and I have handled most of this process differently.  I react on my emotions and he is practical (like the fact that we can't adopt sibling groups of 15) or that we can't take every child we get a phone call or text to take, or that when kids leave it's hard, but it's just a part of it.  He is the practical side to my emotion.

There are not a whole lot of men out there in these kids lives.  In fact, in our very small situation, there is not one single male present.  The extended family member doesn't have have a husband or dad present, and 2 of the siblings spent minimal time around a dad when they were very little, but it wasn't a positive experience.  When we first got Anna, she called everyone "ma".  Seriously, everyone.  All she knew is that women took care of you and they were called some version of ma.  There was no emotional attachment to the word and it wasn't person specific.  I was ma, her aunt was ma, women on the street were ma, etc.  It was huge for us the day she started calling my mom, Nana and me, Mommy. She got it.  She understood the difference.

Our girls are learning what it means to have a dad for this time period as well.  J. O. is always telling Addison how pretty she looks and Addison loves to get his approval.  When she gets dressed and she is feeling particularly cute, the first thing she does is walk up to J. O. and stand there.  She knows what's coming.  He takes her hand and twirls her around to see the full outfit and then gives her a hug and tells her how cute she looks.  Anna has now learned to do this exact same thing.  I get her dressed every morning for school and the very first thing she does is walk straight to where J. O. is sitting.  The first time she did it, we were confused.  She was just standing there and smiling and we couldn't figure out why.  He told her she looked so pretty for school and she started beaming and did a twirl.  Now, it's an every day thing.  She doesn't ever do this for me.  Just him.

Abby is not a cuddler.  She's extremely emotionless 99% of the time.  However, when J.O. walks in the door from work she starts screaming "J" at the top of her lungs and waits on him to come give her a hug.  She has come to rely on him being there and his affection.

In a lot of ways, J. O. has a much harder job than I do.  The women and kids we come in contact with expect him to let them down.  They expect men to walk away from them and abandon them.  They expect men to be a continual disappointment even though they are constantly seeking their attention.  They can't fathom the concept of a Heavenly Father loving them unconditionally, because they have never received anything positive from an earthly father or man.

Moms are typically the force that makes the family work, but men, are some of the major heroes of foster care.  They simply smile and sigh when they found out you've taken a baby "until DHS can find him a home" (yeah right), they understand the need to talk hours on end after a court hearing (even when there is nothing left to talk about), they laugh quietly and nod when another foster dad says "no, we are never going to adopt", they listen to you agonize over ever single detail in the case and so forth and so forth.  They lead by example and they show these kids what a true dad looks like, if only for a little while.  Maybe one day these children will understand the concept of unconditional love and mercy just a little more because of what they received by a foster dad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Time.....

I am a hurry up type of person.  I am generally ready early (not always early to arrive...but ready), I eat quick, I go places quick, I rush through tasks, I can be from the kitchen to the car in .2 seconds (and it drives me crazy that no one else can be), I can stop for a bathroom break on a long car drive in a mere 2 or 3 minutes.  I am a quick moving person...I would write fast but that would be a total lie.  I am slow in anything physical, but quick in nature. There's a difference.  Trust me.

I was blessed with one kid of each.  Addison can be dressed and ready in the blink of an eye.  She can seriously come down from waking up, dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed and ready for the day.  She takes after me.  It doesn't take her long to get around and walk out of the door.  Then, there's the first born.  Oh.  My.  Word.  He is S...L...O...W...  It takes him forever to eat, bathe, dress, brush his teeth, do his homework, go to the restroom, breathe....etc...  He is just a slow person.  It drives me crazy.  Like seriously.  I am breaking out in hives thinking of it.

I had a plan today for court.  And I will be honest, I was told some things would be finalized that weren't.  However, I had a time frame in my head and plan ready to play out.  We would get direction on Abby and the path that we would take moving forward with all 3.  We would leave there knowing what would happen and I was already mentally packing and drinking (totally kidding) if necessary.

And then.....nothing happened the way I thought it should.  Nothing happened the way I was told it would.  And it irritated me.  I sat there thinking, "okay, when are they going to move on to the issue at hand.  When are they going to let me know what will happen with the baby?"  I was mentally rushing this judge in my head and constantly glancing at the caseworker to see if she was about to get to it.  Come on now...anytime.....Let's get this life game plan laid out.  I am sick of being in limbo.  I am sick of being in the middle of this.

Then it hit me.  Several things actually.  Like one brick after another.  First of all, I was sitting in a hearing where a mother was losing her rights to these kids for good.  Forever.  And worst of all.....they didn't even allow her to have the proverbial "goodbye" visit.  Was it the right decision?  Absolutely.  But in that moment did I stop to think of the magnitude it will have on the kids?  No.  I was too worried about myself and you timing.  Then, they terminated on the father because he had not once shown up.  Not once had he fought for his girls.  All the while, I was looking around thinking..."okay, we know what's going to happen here, let's get to it already and talk about the baby."

And then the judge did a recap of the case.  Beginning to end.  I heard about our sweet toddler who we have had off and on since July '13 and the exact conditions that brought her into care and I cringed through some of it.  I was devastated for her.  I seriously thought of the love she has for everyone she meets and wondered how this will change her forever.  Especially as she gets older and questions what happened.

It was only when I got home and I was talking to my dear friend and I told her that although I was super irritated for no answers, I was so grateful for God's provision once again.  We are being given the gift of time.  How much bigger must God's plan be?  How much more does He have in store for these girls in the next few months while we wait?  Yes, they deserve answers.  Yes, they deserve to have a secure and solid plan and I will continue to be the voice that fights for that.  It is still a broken system and these siblings deserve more than to be in limbo.  BUT....once again, I am grateful I am not in charge.  I am grateful that yesterday I was reminded by a girl who is much wiser than me....."all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16   I am grateful that God's timing is not my own and He never gets in a hurry.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Money where my mouth is.....

I really try hard not to be a "talker" but I know I can be.  You know what I of those people that talks a big game but when it comes down to it, is mostly fluff and nothing more.  I have said on here a million times, that what God calls you to do, He will also equip you to do it.  One of my most read posts (and that's not saying a ton) is the one about letting foster children go.  So many people do not understand how we could ever let these kids go and I have always responded with....of course it's hard, but God and friends will enable you to say goodbye.

Well, we are going to court Tuesday and there is the possibility that if the judge agrees with DHS the baby will be heading back to family.  There are so many other things that could still happen which will mean they both leave eventually, but this is just what we are facing on the short term.

So, I am going to be honest.  This is where rubber meets the road.  This is where I will tell you all day long that God will equip you, but I have to ask myself do I really believe that.  If the baby leaves and the toddler stays, do I truly believe that God will get me through.  If I get a call that all of the siblings will be moving soon to a placement for all 3 (recently a 4th) do I believe that.  When I am putting Anna to bed and she is saying her prayer and it goes like this...Me:  "Thank you God for Anna" Anna:  "....and mommy, J, Abby, Addison, Trey, RaRa, Mollie, NayNay, B...." and I realize that she may lose every single person she just prayed for, do I still believe it?  When I have been gone for 3 days and Abby comes to me as fast as she can and hugs me all night do I still believe it?  When God hasn't woken me up in the middle of the night and told me to let them go like he did when we had baby B, do I still believe it?  Do I still feel I can tell people that God will equip those He calls and that the mark of a good foster parent is one who has a hard time with goodbyes?


I believe that God has put these girls in my life and for some reason they ran in and stole all of our hearts.  I believe that God has Abby with us, if for no other reason, than the fact that we have gotten her hearing tested and tubes put in.  I believe God is teaching me that not every child looks and acts like mine.  I believe that God is writing these girls stories and for a time period we are a huge part of it.

I know if one or both of these girls leave it will be hard.  It will stink.  It will be heartbreaking.  I will be at home thinking of a toddler, that in a very confused voice, pointed to me one day and asked "Mommy??" and I said yes.  I will be thinking of the baby who might be separated from her sister and of all the things my sister and I did together growing up.  I will be thinking of so many things and so many are just too personal to share.

But this chapter isn't over yet.  I have no clarity or peace about anything that is coming up.  Until then, we will press on.  We will love unconditionally, we will rock and say prayers at night, we will kiss and hug and comfort when they are sick, we will help our bio children understand that these girls need us right now.....we will pray.  And if they leave, we will lean on the rock of our salvation.  We will rely on His grace and mercy and the friends He has placed in our path.  We will continue to tell people that you don't NOT foster because it's too hard to let them go.  We will be a testimony to the fact that we would have rather loved and let go, than to have never loved at all.  The thought of them NOT being in our life just because one day they might leave is something I can't even imagine.  That's what is too hard for me......