Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I wanted to introduce both the girls separately because for the past year they have been "the girls."

Meet Annalise Blair Norman

Annalise is 2 and will be turning 3 on January 25.  We met Anna for the first time last year, on July 17, and she walked into our house with the strongest personality I had ever met.  She called me "Ma" immediately and wouldn't let anyone else get near me.  She is so outgoing and bubbly and was born a fighter.  However, it's been amazing to watch over the last year as she has also reverted into that baby role as well.  She loves to be rocked, cuddled, held, and hugged and would still drink out of a bottle and take a pacifier if possible.  And some days it just may be possible around here. :)  She started out her little life as a fighter and now relishes in the "baby" role.  She LOVES her big sister, has a bond with Grace that is unexplainable and looks at Trey as another parent figure a lot of times.  We joke, that when she walked in we knew we were in trouble!  The first weekend we had her, I knew somehow, someway she would always impact our life.  I had no idea at the time she had siblings but I committed to a life of at least praying for this sweet baby on July 17, 2013.

Meet Grace Abigail Norman
Grace is night and day different from her sister (except for her temper).  She is 1 1/2 and will be 2 on March 28.  She came to us at 9 1/2 mths old and was a tough cookie to crack.  Whereas Anna had a very outgoing personality, Grace was very reserved.  The night she was brought to us, she was scared and nervous and I remember seeing a look in her eyes, that 9 months old shouldn't have.  She had formed her early bond with birth mom and then aunt and didn't want too much to do with me.  She was happiest alone in her bed and would sit for hours on the floor playing alone.  She was fine if I held her, but fine if I didn't.  She lived for the weekends she spent with her aunt and cried when I got her back.  It was rough honestly.  At one point, it looked like she was going to go back with her aunt and Anna would stay with us, and I told J. O. I guess that's why God was guarding my heart with her.  To be honest, we simply hadn't bonded like people would think.  Then, one day I walked into daycare and she squealed and kicked and screamed and was thrilled to see me.  It was almost like that day it changed.  However on the flip side, she bonded with J. O. immediately.  She laid on him a lot and cried for him when I had her.  Even though, her and I are now VERY close, she is still a major daddy's girl!  Grace is still reserved and doesn't let too many people in.  She's hard to get a smile out of, and you have to win her affection and trust.  However, after you do, she is the sweetest and most precious little girl.  

We can't wait to see what big things God has in store for them!  We are so blessed God chose us to be their forever family!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Adoption Eve.....

Well, it's here.  Our Adoption Eve.  Our adoption is scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30 and we couldn't be more ready.  However, today, I have been amazed at the emotions I am feeling.  I am a ball of nerves and I can't figure out why!  It's kinda like that feeling when you are about to bring a baby home from the hospital and you can't remember if you have gotten it all done?  Only, my babies have been here since Dec 17th, 2013.  There isn't a crib to assemble, a carseat to check, baby bag to pack.  No, we are meeting at the courthouse and signing papers, taking pics, flooding Facebook and coming home.

But, I am nervous.  Don't misunderstand me.  I am not nervous about adopting our girls.  They have been our girls from the minute God decided to entrust them to us.  However, what I am anxious about is exactly what God tells us NOT to be anxious about.

I'm nervous about:

The hearing (what if it's canceled, moved or running too late and we can't make brunch....I like to eat).
The mixture of families that will be there because of sibling hearing.
The baby books I haven't purchased and the newborn pics I won't have to go in them once I do.
The rooms that are not decorated or completed and the guilt I have from that.
The feeling that I should have some super cute book on hand to read as the girls get older to help them understand how they came into our family?

You see the difference??

Our lives forever changed when every single detail was worked out for us to be able to adopt the girls.  There were so many roadblocks that we could've faced that never even surfaced.  I read other scenarios and wonder how ours turned out the way it did.

The truth is, God has it all.  Big, small, important, seemingly not-important.  He has this.  I may not have some fancy sign to take pictures with tomorrow at court, or some amazing baby book, or a room that looks like I have been preparing for this day for years (and I am not knocking you people who do...I'm just not there)....

But what I do have, is a God who has once again gone before me.  Tomorrow is not a surprise to Him and tomorrow our lives will forever change.  We will be coming home with our own personal version of twins and that is worth celebrating!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Less Fortunate.......Less Deserving?

I love this time of year.  I love the decorations, the traditions and I even love the craziness of having the kids home for 2 weeks.  I also love helping out with gift and toy drives for kids who need it!  We started picking an angel tree child when Trey was young and we would try to pick out a child close to his age so he could help us.  I loved doing that, but I didn't fully understand what I was doing.  For instance, I wanted the list to have things I thought they should want/need.  I totally understood buying shirts and pants and would have lots of sympathy for those lists that said underwear and coats.  I got that.  I could do that.

Then, we moved to Pulaski County, started fostering and our church began to do a gift drive alongside DCFS last year.  I was able to talk with the caseworker and understand their lists a little more.  For instance, some of these kids have no idea what a wish list is??  Even further they have no idea what to list.  They may put clothes or they may know that everyone in their class has an iPod, except them, so they put that.  They may put very basic, very generic items because the thought of a stranger actually buying them things they would want, well that's too much to consider.  What people don't realize is that the caseworker will sometimes add fun items for the child because the child would never do that.

Last year, we thought we might get both girls sometime in December but we weren't sure because they were looking for a different placement.  Then, 8 days before Christmas, they both moved in with us.  There wasn't a 9 month prep period to prepare for a new child around Christmas, but yet Christmas was going on.  Now, thankfully, I would've been able to buy presents for the girls to open at Christmas or my family and friends would've stepped in, but they didn't have to!  Churches around LR had done that for me.  When the girls were dropped off, their caseworker came loaded with gifts.  I could focus more on the terrified 9 month old and less on presents.

Now here is where I think we sometimes have a hard time....imagine my delight when all these boxes weren't filled with diapers and wipes.  Several boxes were filled with clothes (and for that I was grateful) but there were also dolls, and infant toys, and a huge Lalaloopsy doll house that made my jaw drop!!  Sometimes I think we look at these lists and we think...."seriously, this child had the audacity to ask for an iPod or Nintendo and they can't even afford clothes?"  It's in that moment we get all self righteous all the while buying an X-Box for our bio kids.  I am so thankful people took the time last year to buy a 9 month old and 1 year old baby dolls, huge ride on toys, doll house and other items Addison would've loved as well!!  It made it less awkward for them to open some fun items (along with necessities of course) while Trey and Addison were opening their fun items as well.  And the reality is, my girls wouldn't have known, but imagine a 12 year old in a foster home??

As someone on both sides of the gift list....buying and receiving.....just be sensitive.  Buy things they need but don't be a scrooge when it comes to those things every kid would love as well.  Sometimes we think less fortunate means less deserving and that's not true at all.  My girls deserved everything they got last year and then some.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Break our hearts for what breaks yours.....

I feel I need a disclaimer on this post (never good huh)....I am not a huge animal person.  There I said it.  We have a dog that I enjoy, but she isn't my pride and joy.  Quite honestly, most of the times we are about to walk out the door for a weekend away and one of us says...."oh crud, what about Bella?"  Now, don't get me wrong, I will be sad when Bella "passes" (J.O. won't let me say dies), but I will be the ones consoling J. O. and the kids.  Truth here people.

I will also say, I do realize I am in the minority.  Animals have taken on people status and often dress and eat better than I do.

And that's what has me thinking about this.  There is nothing that people love more than a good animal story.  You know what I mean...if you are "friends" with the news stations on Facebook you have undoubtedly seen the animal stories that are shared and liked thousands of times.  Just a few weeks ago, Good Morning America put a story up about an orphaned animal that was taken in by someone and raised.  I didn't read the story, but from the amount of likes and shares it received, it was no doubt a fan favorite.

And why not?  That story made us feel good.  An animal was abandoned and someone saw the need and responded.  Fairy tale.  Pay attention to your major news stories on Facebook.  I am not talking about local news sources, but national.  They are either about Ebola or animals.

Truthfully, these stories make me kinda sad.  We are a society that loves our animal stories, but won't share pictures of kids looking for families or the harsh reality of foster care.  We are a society that wants to hear all the feel good messages the world has to offer, but we won't share what is going on right under our noses.

This morning, there was a story I shared on FB and it was not a feel good story at all.  In fact, it was pretty morbid and I debated sharing it because it was a hard truth.  It was about a boy who had languished in the system since early childhood and was murdered over a petty argument at age 18.  Never adopted, never in a stable foster home, picture undoubtedly never shared tons of times.

I might be in the minority by saying this, but I actually think God is working big in the hearts of people in Pulaski County and surrounding areas.  I am surrounded by a community of friends who foster and look like I do.  What does that mean?  That means, they are young busy moms just like me and you.  Then, I also have extended family who help and love Anna and Abby like their own and have from day one.  They attend fundraisers and help raise awareness.  Then, I also have a church family who will get involved and are hungry to learn more.

God is moving in Pulaski County on behalf of these kids.  I love the song that says, "Break my heart for what breaks yours."  What breaks God's heart are children living outside of a family, the poor, the homeless, the widows, and so much more.

While, I agree that animals are fun and cute, let's pray that our society would be so burdened when they see a foster care story.  Or an orphans face.  Or when they read about a teenager never giving up hope they will be adopted one day.  Lets pray that their story is shared nationally and will receive just as much attention as the dog who dressed up for Halloween.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What's Next.....

It has been awhile since I blogged.  I would love to give some great excuse but the truth is, I just haven't had anything to really write about.

I have had a lot of people ask me what we plan to do after the adoption.  They want to know if we still plan to foster or not.  The truth is, I am not sure what we plan to do at all.  I know right now, we have our hands full.  We have 4 demanding children that take a lot of our time.  I know that right now, if we brought another child into our home we would not be able to handle it.  I also know there are amazing moms out there who think 4 kids is child's play, but I am not one of them.  Just reality around this house.

To be honest, I haven't handled this reality of the unknown future with fostering too well.  I love the girls so much, but I have to admit, I've been unsure why God is taking us down the adoption road.  You can't know our story and deny it was 100% orchestrated.  But, it's not the story I had mapped out for us. 

Our story was going to go more like this....We would get tons of kids in and out of our house, we would take all their pictures, record the dates we had them, and 10 years from now look back on all the little lives we had influenced.  The reality of our story is more like this......we have been open for 1 1/2 years and have had two placements.  Baby B and the girls.  Two.  Far cry from the tons in my head.

So what is our plan?  What do we plan to do?  Our resource worker asked me that again today and I just said I don't know?  We were undoubtedly brought down this path for the girls and their family but what is next?  I just don't know.

So that's why I haven't blogged.  That's why I haven't had much to say.  There have been no court dates, no visits with mom, nothing to really share and put down on paper.  And that scares me....not because I have this desire to blog daily about drama.  Not at all.  But it's because God so pointedly changed my path mid walk and I am just simply confused on where to go next.  How will I be used in the future to continue to help these children?  Respite? Emergency Care?  I really don't know.  

However, I could have never imagined that this time last year, on the eve of my birthday and the first weekend baby B spent with his relatives, that we would be where we are.  That we would be working with an adoption specialist instead of a caseworker, that we would be discussing with our resource worker our plans after the adoption is final, that we would be looking at doing respite after only having two placements, and so forth and so forth.

But what I do know is that God promises, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us"  Ephesians 3:20

For that I am grateful.  I know that even though I have no idea what my next step is, that it will be exceedingly and abundantly better than anything I could have planned.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Siblings and separation....

Siblings and the fact that they are often separated in foster care has been so heavy on my mind lately.

I think most people know the girls have an older brother and even though Anna came into care first, when her siblings entered, they merged the cases together.  When the siblings came into care, they were all placed together for a short time, but due to circumstances and honestly a request, the girls were moved.  We were asked to take the 2 and we said yes.

We NEVER intended to foster siblings.  One at a time.  However, if there is one thing that is more heartbreaking than a child losing his/her parent(s), that is losing their sibling(s) as well.  I truly think that siblings should remain together from day one.  Not from termination hearing date, or at the permanency placement hearing but from day one.  What does that mean?  That would mean not only more foster parents, but a different demographic of foster parents as well.  For instance, a lot of the foster homes open right now have young children.  And while we are happy to step up to the plate, DHS has some guidelines (and rightfully so) on how many children under a certain age we can take.

We need more homes that have older children, empty nesters, or no children who are able to take sibling groups.  We need more homes that are eligible to take big sibling groups from the moment of removal.  Instead of them languishing in separate homes when the goal is for them to be adopted together, they need to be together from the start.  Am I grateful God is allowing doors to open to begin the adoption process with the girls?  Yes, because I love these girls so much but there is still a huge sense of loss that is following them.  Their brother doesn't need removed from his situation for reasons that really aren't relevant, and the place he is currently living is not a place for all 3.  However, the situation for so many other children is so different.  These girls see their brother.  We have a relationship with their aunt that we will continue.  But, there is still a burden over this.  Almost a guilt if that makes sense.

What's the solution?  What's the answer?  The answer is first and foremost more help for these mothers.  We need intervention before they continue to have 3, 4, 5, 6 children that they are not able to care for.  Then, we need waiting homes simply to take big sibling groups.  Not just adoptive homes waiting, but foster homes.  If there could be open foster homes to take big siblings groups, the transition and wait for an adoptive home would be so much easier because they would be waiting together.  And, once again, the goal at first is always reunification.  Staying together from day one would be so much easier on all involved with that goal.

Again, is every situation black and white?  No.  Ours is so gray it's almost crazy.  Should children be moved after 2 years with their foster parent if that family is willing and able to adopt?  No, I personally don't think so.  However, the front end is what makes me the most sad.  We have got to quit working backwards and help these kids from day one stay together and when it's possible, make the first placement the last.

 It's a problem that is definitely worth praying for.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Being a Grace Based Parent

When Trey was a baby, my in laws sent J. O. and I to a Weekend to Remember conference one year for Christmas.  We went to San Antonio and had such a great time.  One of our speakers was someone I had never heard of, but I loved what he talked about.  His name was Tim Kimmel and he wrote a book that I snatched up titled, Grace Based Parenting.

I loved it.  I was only going to parent this way and follow all these concepts.  After all, isn't that how God parents us?  Doesn't He extend new grace and mercies to us each day?  Well, for awhile this worked fine and I really tried to stick with these ideas.  Then, Addison came along and I found myself being less understanding and more dictatorish.  She knows exactly how to get under my skin and push all the right buttons.  However, we eventually figured out what discipline worked, didn't work and only spent minimal time crying with each other.  

When we started the foster care journey, I would read about friends who would tell of behaviors their child or toddler would do and I didn't really understand.  They would talk about rage, tantrums, food problems etc and quite honestly I blew it off.  I even thought...."that child came into care a toddler or baby, these problems aren't because of that??"  Then, I started working on a committee and we held a conference last year that I attended.  Oh my goodness.  My thinking could not have been more wrong.  I quickly realized that all of these children are coming from hard places regardless of the age they came into care.  Baby B went home from the hospital with a great family but he experienced loss the second he was removed from his birth mom.  He actually experienced loss in the womb, when he didn't received the proper care and nutrition our bio children receive.  

Right now, we have 2 girls that came into care in two very different ways.  One of them has come from a hard place because she has lost her birth parents and already moved families in this short time in her life.  Another one has come from a much different, more colorful hard place.  She was young when she came into care, but her experiences for the first year of her life started shaping and molding a child that looks very different from my bio kids and even her bio sister.  On the outside and in public, you wouldn't know this.  It's what makes people on the outside have such a hard time understanding.  

Yesterday morning I had a chance to visit with a friend for a few moments before heading to Bible Study.  This friend more than understands because she is walking all of this 3 years ahead of us.  We were talking, and she mentioned being a grace based parent.  She was simply talking about her own life and her own parenting, but God used those 3 words to hit me smack in the face.  I was not being grace based at all.  I was determined that with enough rules and boundaries she would eventually start towing the line.  I mean, it worked for Addison it would surely work for her right?

No.  Not at all.  Last night, she was in the bathtub and something set her off so she literally screamed at the top of her lungs over and over.  Now, before anyone jumps in and starts saying...."oh yeah, been there done that.  Typical 2 year old behavior"....just stop.  Yes, screaming and throwing fits are very typical 2 year old behavior.  The way it's handled is what is different.  There is no logic.  There is no scolding.  There is no...."listen to yourself....stop that before you go to your room....and so forth and so forth."  There is grace.  And love.  And mercy.  You acknowledge she is overwhelmed, you see if she wants to be held, you simply sit by her and let her scream, or you walk away so you can keep your composure.

I am so guilty of thinking that enough love will erase all bad memories (repressed or not).  I am guilty of thinking she will act the same as her sister or my bio kids.  I am guilty of letting people tell me how to parent her.  I am guilty of completely losing my cool and not making the right choices with her.  But, thankfully even when that happens I am so glad I have new grace extended to me daily and I don't have to live with that guilt.  I am praying so many things for these kids, all of them.  Some of them truly need more than what we can offer at home.  Some of them need therapeutic homes, therapy, counseling, etc.  The guilt can be stifling.  

I am praying I can successfully parent the ones I have.  I am praying for understanding.  I am praying for wisdom, patience, grace, mercy, knowledge.  You name it.  I was a difficult child and I think my mom would attest to that.  The irony is, I don't have much patience when my children disobey.  However, I love how much I am being taught through her.  If God can use ME.  Be patient with ME.  Stick with me through the college years, I can extend grace to a toddler who has been through more in her 2 1/2 short years than I ever have.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Knowing my role..

Last week, I was talking to someone who works for the state, and through our conversation she realized we never started our foster care journey to adopt.  She was surprised and said it was almost a general consensus around there that most of us who begin this process want to adopt.  It made me think how skewed I must let my role become sometimes.

I am a foster parent.  I am still a foster parent at this very moment.  Even though, we have two children in our home who are available for adoption does not mean that has happened.  I still have to ask permission to cut their hair (or maybe I don't, but I just do), I still can't pack up and leave the state with them, I cannot post any pictures with them in it.  Does that seem petty and irritating to me?  Some days it does and that's because I am allowing my role to be skewed.

When we began fostering I gave little thought to the bio parents.  Crazy I know.  I was so focused on the children we would receive and how that would go.  When we had B and school started back, I quickly realized he had visits smack dab in the middle of a school day and it interfered with pick up time for Addison.  I was irritated.  It would work out so much better if he had visits at the beginning of the day when he was more awake, happy and then I could get kids home, settled and napped.  Not to mention on Tuesday when I was going to start doing Bible Study, it wouldn't work at all.  Then, at the very first visit I had the opportunity to meet his mom and things changed for me.  I realized this wasn't about me and my needs or convenience at all.  I was normally able to keep my complaining in check until the weekend visits started.  Oh goodness.  Irritating once again.  I mean, they didn't stick to our schedule, they didn't feed him when I wanted and so forth and so forth.  Somewhere again, I lost my role.  I forgot what I was called to do.  J.O. was usually quick to remind me and then I would be grounded again.  We always had the talk that YES....we are definitely an advocate for the child during this time, but it's not about us.  I firmly believe that you should be in contact with your ad litem and truly be a voice for the child if you see behaviors or delays that need addressing.  But at the end of the day, you are called to love this child, care for this child and support reasonable reunification efforts.  Even if you don't understand it.

I can say with 100% honesty, that I wish our current situation would have been different from the beginning. I wish the bio mom would've had the strength and support she needed to get help.  The few times I was able to be around her, I felt such a draw to her.  She loved seeing pics of her girls and really had a deep desire for them to come home.  She just didn't know how to get there.

We are in a holding pattern right now.  We are waiting on things to get in motion and waiting on other things to be finalized.  We are waiting on papers, documents, hearings, etc.  I would love to say patience is my strong suit but its not.  I would love to say I have had a glowing attitude through all the waiting we have previously endured but I have not.  However, I am determined to continue my role with these girls until the day (hopefully) you can see their faces.  That may mean some inconvenient visits, permission for things we deem silly and so much more.  One thing I do know with certainty is this....Our journey started as a foster care ONLY journey and I would have never dreamed a year and a half later we would be on this path.  However, I am thankful for a God who has gone before me and is seeing fit to slowly mold our story and plan, into His story and plan.

Friday, August 22, 2014

God is in the details.....

I have told the story how we got the girls as a placement before, but it bears repeating sometimes.  Last July, I wrote in my journal that I felt God was calling us to take a toddler.  I literally wrote that I wasn't sure what it meant and that J.O. would never agree.  We had B at the time and sleep was rare, if ever.  A few weeks later, I saw a respite request for a toddler on a FB page we are on, and it just jumped out at me.  It was for a Wed-Fri and it stated that she went to a daycare during the day.  Another CALL family had actually planned to keep her but something had come up and she couldn't. Enter us.

I picked Anna up on July 17th, 2013 and she just stole our hearts.  I walked in her daycare and she came right to me and then cried the whole way home.  She was scared but immediately attached to me.  She called me 'ma' and wouldn't let Trey or Addy touch me.  We took her back Friday and I immediately told J.O., I had to continue to see her.  We started getting her weekends and then when her siblings came into care at the beginning of August, we started getting her more and more to help out.  We totally fell in love with her and honestly I felt she was ours, but there were 2 other siblings I had never even met.

That schedule continued and one day I was driving to B's court hearing in October.  Anna was with her aunt, but the aunt had indicated she wasn't sure how long she would be able to keep her.  On the way to that court hearing, I just prayed for answers.  I wanted direction with B and direction with Anna.  That hearing is when we found out B would be transitioning to family over the next month and we started getting Anna more and more.

After B left, we planned a little vacation and when we were leaving we found out the siblings would be moving.  We made our desire known to have Anna, but also knew they needed to stay together if possible.  When we got home from NY on Dec 7th, we drove straight to the aunts house in the ice and got Anna.  We were keeping her until the caseworker had a placement.  During the next few days, the aunt decided it was best if the older brother stayed with her and we agreed to take Abby and Anna.  We knew it would be a huge adjustment and wasn't sure what was going to happen.  They were placed at our house December 17th, 2013.

Abby took so much longer to adjust to us.  There was a period of time that it was a possible she may go back with her aunt, and there were lots of times I wondered if that wasn't what was best.  She didn't seem to really bond with me.  Then, one day several months ago it changed.  She chose me over other people and started screaming mama whenever I was around.  She is still way more reserved than Anna, but that's just her personality.  It was then, J.O. and I wondered if we could possibly adopt both, but we still didn't think it would work out.

Through so many different details and series of events, we found out today, that we are starting the process to adopt.  Nothing is final with DHS until the ink is dry, but we know that once again, God is in the details.  Is there still loss for the girls in this story?  Absolutely.  In reality, this is the best possible solution for all, but there is still loss.  It is still a harsh reality that our family is being formed, because another family broke apart.  However, the girls have a story with God written all over it and one day, I hope they will be able to understand that.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Every. Single. Time.

When we started the journey to fostering, I found a verse that I decided I was going to cling to.  It was Proverbs 3: 5-6 and I was going to obey all of it and not just some of it.  What most people don't realize when they hear someone has started fostering, is that the process actually began for them a long time ago.  The conviction process for me began the summer of 2012.  I knew God was working on me in some way but didn't know how.  I went on a mission trip that summer with my church thinking that would help settle me (and it did a bit) and my MIL strongly encouraged me to start journaling.  So, I picked up a journal with lots of pages to last me awhile and decided to save it for times I really needed to get things out.  It has different verses printed on the bottom and I did my first entry June 17, 2012.

What I soon realized (without realizing it at first) was every time I was in turmoil and decided to journal that Proverbs 3: 5-6 was at the bottom.  Every. Single. Time.  To prove that I am not being dramatic I am going to list these times for you.

July 31, 2012- My entry was about school being about to start and I had no peace about heading full time.  I prayed for direction.

October 25, 2012- J.O. and I turned in our paperwork to begin the fostering process.

March 6, 2013- Tough place spiritually and knowing what to do next.

May 9, 2013-  Pure anxiety about talking in church on Mothers Day (where I closed with this verse)

June 20, 2013-  Found out baby B wasn't going with who we thought he was.  Changed the whole case.

August 8, 2013-  First day of school for Trey and my very first time since pre-k not working at his school.

November 11, 2013-  I wrote that I didn't want to journal because I was confused about what to do with Anna or what would happen but felt I should.  This verse was at the bottom.

March 12, 2013-  Simply started this entry with "everytime Lord...everytime"  It was about our court hearing and we found out goal in the case was changed.

Today- Was in my bathroom about to dry my hair and I felt led to journal.  I didn't want to...I'm cranky, anxious and really just sick and tired of a lot of things but decided to.  Sat down and even mumbled "this is ridiculous...no way that verse is at the bottom of the page."  But it was.

We have a staffing today at 3:00.  I'm guardedly optimistic a direction will be put in place for their future.  I am guardedly hopeful that Anna, Abby and B will get the permanency they need especially after a year and a half of this for Anna.  I am hopeful that today, these children will be a priority and their needs will come first.

But, what I do know, is that once again no matter the outcome, I have been told time and time again to
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

I think I will be most upset if we leave today with no direction once again.  However, that is a part of trusting the complete verse and not just the parts that fit my needs.  I will acknowledge that He will direct our paths and I will not lean on what I think should happen with my limited understanding.  I will also be grateful, that no matter what, God cares enough for me to remind me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Make me uncomfortable.....

This little girl is a picture of my something hard.  Those who know the girls, know that she is actually the easier of the two, but she still represents what I never thought I could do.

A little over a year ago, I read where one of my friends asked God to help her be uncomfortable.  I will be honest...I read that and thought "more power to you sister, but I am good."  I continued to think about this though and realized I felt convicted to pray the same way.  So I did and time went by without too much changing.  We had baby B at the time and Anna most weekends, so I really figured that was my something hard because Anna knows how to keep you on your toes.  After B left, I knew there was something more for us to do.  I still thought about praying for God to make me uncomfortable often, but I just wasn't sure what it meant.

Fast forward a month and we were asked to take 2 of the 3 siblings.  After we said yes, I hit panic mode for a bit.  Seriously 2 more full time??  We were fine with that on some weekends but all the time?  Plus, I had seen this baby once before.  How would she sleep, how would she react to the new environment?  How would we continue to go and do like we are accustomed to with 2 small kids?

The night they were dropped off was so hard for me.  I remember sitting in a chair in our front room and just crying while she slept.  I felt so bad.  She was scared when I laid her down and wondering who these strange people were and the different smells.  Anna was upstairs asleep but also very confused about why her sister had come with her.  I had never felt so helpless and confused.  I also had thoughts of "what have I done....wonder if this was a huge mistake."

I will be honest...it took Abby a lot longer to settle in and adjust here than it ever took Anna.  Anna walked in on day one and took over the house.  Abby didn't.  She fussed with me, she honestly didn't seem to bond with me quickly.  She was fine if I didn't pick her up or see her for a bit.  Looking back now, she was 8 mths old when she first met me/us.  Why did I expect her to be so excited that this new and amazing family had decided to take her in?  Baby or not, she had formed all her early attachments somewhere else and needed lots of time to adjust.  She is still not a bubbly child who likes to feed an adults ego by smiling and laughing at them.  She is fine sitting alone and playing by herself and if you get too close she will most likely hit you if the mood strikes.

But, watching her the other day it finally clicked.  She was my "something hard and uncomfortable."  She made me realize how good it can be when you allow yourself to be put outside your comfort zone and not just pray reactively but expectantly.  Watching the two girls together is something that everyone should see.  There is a bond they have that is almost unexplainable.  Trey and Addison can't imagine being apart so they don't act as if it's a possibility.  Taking siblings is something I NEVER thought I would do.  However, I am so glad that one day over a year ago I was convicted to pray to be uncomfortable.  If I hadn't, I wouldn't have spent the last 7 1/2 months with a quiet, hot tempered, smart, feisty, funny, little girl.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Joy Stealer....

I don't think anyone would deny that Satan loves to try to steal our joy.  He loves nothing more than to come in and make us doubt ourselves, feel inadequate or play on our own insecurities.  He loves it best however, when he can use us to steal the joy from others.

Yesterday was a cruddy day.  There were things from DHS that at one point I had assumed we would face, and there were other things as well.  I thought a lot last night about how we react to things and how much to fight back and so forth and I realized the fight I had going on within myself was a bit different.  Sure, I could be mad and hold grudges and stomp my feet and curse DHS and so forth.  OR....I could decide not to be a vessel for Satan to use.  I could decide not to be used to be someone else's joy stealer.

Now, I am not talking about one of those people who makes a big public pronouncement that I am cleansing myself of toxic people on FB and if you made the cut congrats.  No, quite the opposite.  That's what Satan wants is opposition.  Discourse, strife, backbiting, gossiping, so forth.  So instead, I will decide what is worth fighting for and go from there.  I know with the girls, things are going to get ugly before they get better and my job is to be their advocate right now.  For me that means, standing up for what I believe is best and then trusting God to chart their path.  In other areas, it may mean standing down and not being in the middle of things.  Backing away and being heard less.  Very hard for me to do.

The truth is that Satan can only steal our joy if we allow him.  We have been blessed with some great people from the state and I know we were given our ad litem specifically because of the obstacles we would face.  We have been able to work with the other family involved and get along with no real issues and even help out along the way.  I could've allowed yesterday to skew my view, perception and I could've gotten pretty nasty with people who are used to having people yell and curse at them on a daily basis.  They probably wouldn't have even thought twice.  Instead, I am now grateful yesterday happened.  I realized that I was heading down a path of complacency.  I was so reliant on what I 'just knew' was going to happen that I hadn't sat down and given it to God in a long time.  I had also headed down a path I needed stopped with my own attitude of getting caught up in things and not handling them in a Christian manner.

Don't let Satan steal your joy, but even more than that, don't be used by Satan as a vessel to steal others.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Out of sight, out of mind....

It has seriously been awhile since I have posted anything.  This summer will go in the books as one of the busiest summers we have ever had.  We have had the opportunity to go to the lake quite a bit, take a short family trip and then J. O. and I just took a cruise.  Now, we have one more getaway and school starts!!  Woah!

This last trip was different than anything we have ever done.  I know cruises are not unusual trips, but we have just never been on one.  We have gone on vacations together before, but mostly to places where you go, go, go the whole time.  This time it was like a beach trip just the two of us, but so much more relaxing.  I have never before laid around and done absolutely nothing for that amount of time.  By Sunday night, I was itching to get back.  I needed normal.  Up until then though, I was great.  I can lay in a chair and read a book like the best of them.  I also wouldn't normally eat my weight in ice cream, but hey, if they are going to keep it out at all hours what's a girl to do?

It's also the first time, I have truly been without a phone.  It worked until we went to sleep Thursday night but then it was off.  We didn't have any service until Saturday when we hit Mexico and that was very limited.  At first it was hard to get used to, but honesty after awhile it was nice.  I figured if it was a true emergency our family could contact the ship, but it was nice escaping the day to day things.

However, it also made me realize how easy it is to unplug yourself and not be involved in hard things.  Not sure if that makes sense, but it's amazing how quickly you remove yourself from what's going on around you.  When I was on the ship without the reminder of Facebook, I was removed from what my friends fostering were dealing with.  Seriously, on Thursday I got a text from a friend about their case and a call before we boarded the ship and I was burdened about the craziness of it all.  Then, when I started relaxing and turned my phone off, it magically went away too.

Except that it didn't.  It showed me how quickly we can forget about the fight that is going on around us.  It also helped me understand a little better how people can so easily turn their back on this and act like it's not real.  I got online today and caught up on several things and once again realized how much is going on around us daily and I don't want to be removed from it.  I want to be reminded.  I want to help.  I want to pray for my friends.  I was in the dark for a few days, and admittedly it was nice and relaxing, but sadly this is where so many people are living.  In the dark.  I promise, once you get out of the shadows for a few days you won't be able to go back.  Get plugged in.  Reach out to a friend who is fostering or adopting.  Get plugged in at church or community group.  Just ask them to help you understand better what's going on.  I am convinced the first step to not ignoring it any longer, is acknowledging it's there.  Being unplugged for a few days is amazing.  Living in the dark and denial is not.

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 know....my 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 mean....one 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......

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Sometimes it seems like there is an ocean in front of me.  Surely, someone else can relate.  It's such a beautiful scene to look at and so peaceful to stand in front of, but you can't see the end.  You can't tell which way it's coming from, where it's going, or when it will run out.

I feel like that all the time right now with the girls.  They are such a blessing and so much fun, but where is the end?  What is the answer and when will we have some direction?  On the days where they seem to be too much to handle, I feel I am drowning.  Then, at other times, the thought of them leaving makes me feel like I am under the water looking up and I can't speak or breathe.  I haven't been on this journey long, but the situation we are in seems so out of the ordinary.  There are seriously so many different directions this could take.  We have scenarios that seem completely far fetched, but there are days I start to wonder.  What is the future for these girls and their brother?  What is the best plan?  How did we even get here?

This week I have had the beach on my mind.  One of my closest friends is there enjoying a relaxing week with her family, and my sis and bro in law just moved there for a year.  They are definitely in my happy place.  My absolute favorite time at the beach is first thing in the morning when I sit on the balcony and just listen to the ocean and watch the waves crash.  Normally, the kids are still waking up and watching tv so it is quiet and calm.  This is where I long to be.  This is what I want for these siblings.  I want peace and calm and a security about their future.  I want them settled and having a reassurance that no matter what, they are loved and cared for.  I want things for these girls that most people simply take for granted knowing they will have.

I want the ocean for them.  I want the peace, security, calm, beauty, and awe that I see every time I sit on the balcony, but I just can't help but feel right now we are in the middle of a storm.  Please pray for these kids and especially as we head to court in less than a month.  Pray for the workers and the court system who will be working 'hopefully' together to decide the outcome.  They need clarity and wisdom and I don't envy the job they have before them.  One thing I do know, we are promised a hope and future and thankfully we aren't walking (or swimming) alone.

Hillsong United
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throw Back Thursday on the Blog.....

I normally don't do "TBT" because frankly I just can't keep up with all of it, but the other day I was looking back through my blog and came upon this.  Oh how my life has changed since 2009.  I am not downplaying going to Wal-Mart or anywhere with 2 young kids for that matter, but it's funny to me how stressed out this day probably really did make me.  It's a good reminder to look back and laugh and as Addison and Anna sing ALL. THE. TIME.....Let it go......

(I'm also thankful I no longer shop at Wal-Mart unless I'm desperate.....)


It seems like I always have a lot to say about Wal-Mart! Maybe it's because most of my life is spent there. I would normally never go to Wal-Mart with both of them (for big shopping trips) but today I was desperate. I usually go on Wednesdays when I only have Addison or Saturdays when they are both at home with J. O. However, today I needed things that we couldn't go without so I loaded them both up and hoped for the best. They are usually very well behaved when we get out and shop but I knew today would be much harder since it would take awhile. Even I wasn't prepared though for the way both of them would act! It started in the parking lot when a 1980s van about rammed me so he could get a parking spot that was a milliliter (don't even know if that's a real measurement) closer to the door than another one. I never saw the person but I would guess this person doesn't do too much walking. Then, when we got in the shopping cart, I wouldn't let Addison have my keys so she started throwing her head around and banging it on the metal shopping cart. By this point people were obviously looking because it's not every day you see an infant banging their head on metal and acting unfazed. She was also letting out little screams/growls to show me how mad she was. I ignored that and pressed on. Then Trey kept "accidentally" throwing things out on the floor and telling me his friend "Edgar" was doing it so I couldn't get on to him. 
After that I was letting Addison chew on an empty bottle of Tylenol because the rubber top feels good on her gums, and a woman proceeded to stop me and ask me if I knew she was chewing on it. I almost said "Yes, I'm hoping she will drink enough and pass out in the cart so I can finish." But instead I just said, "Oh, thanks for letting me know." and waited until she was out of sight and gave it back. 
We made it a little bit longer and then Trey (Edgar) kept mashing things up and Addison was pitching another fit because I wouldn't open ALL the food in the aisles and let her have some, so I picked up a few necessities and left immediately. Needless to say, it was a great time. Now I get to go back tonight and finish.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Is Motherhood So Hard.....

I read and shared an article on Facebook last week that really stuck with me.  It was a pretty long article and so I skimmed some of it, but the point of it was why is motherhood so hard.  This lady had 4 kids and home schools and just couldn't figure out why everyone seemed so shocked when she told them.  Her question was....why does it have to be so hard?

She made the point that her kids don't have to be constantly entertained or in every activity and after homeschooling and chores are done, then the afternoon is just relaxing time.  As I read through this, I realized that yes, I have allowed motherhood to be super hectic and crazy.  I have gotten to the point that a lot of the days, I make it to the end of the day with the feeling that I have simply survived.  Yes, I will be the first to admit that this year I allowed our kids to be involved in too many activities.  So much so, that we couldn't even finish Boy Scouts because we started baseball and softball and it overlapped.

The other night Trey's practice was rained out so I told him to go ahead and take a shower because after gymnastics we were done for the night.  He jumped up and down and cheered.  It made me think of my days after school growing up.  For the most part, I came home and made myself the same snack every afternoon (brownie with melted peanut butter on top...stinking high school metabolism) and then sometimes did homework (back then we really didn't have any because of study hall) but for the most part I watched tv until dinner.  I relaxed.  My sister relaxed.  It was nice.  I was involved with what I wanted to be involved with, but I was a homebody.  Now, I feel bad if my kids get left out of something that they are eligible to do.

I realized after reading this, that a lot of the time, I am the one who makes things so hard.  I am the one who sets a crazy weeknight schedule for our family and a fast pace to keep up with.  It's hard and it's not easy.

However, I don't think simply cutting out activities makes parenting easy.  I don't think simply sitting down at 3:00 every afternoon and telling your kids you are off duty until dinner makes it easy.  Does it make it more manageable?  Sure.  But easy...no.  Our society is so fast paced and we want everything convenient.  We want everything offered in a drive through and if we have to wait....well, don't get me started.  We have become a society of if it's hard, then don't do it.

Parenting is hard.  That's why there are so many parents out there who are not making it.  That's why there are so many grandparents out there who wish they had do overs.  Kids are not self sufficient little beings that are going to simply allow you to go off duty at 3:00 every afternoon.  Can they learn to be independent and give you a few minutes of rest?  Absolutely, but the reality is they depend and rely on us.  We are who they want in time of need.  Even if that time of need is to simply walk upstairs for the 50th time to pull another dress up gown down, or reach a book on the top shelf, or make them their umpteenth snack.  They need us.

Last night, Addison hit her eye on the ledge in our shower and we had to make a trip to the after hours clinic.  As they were cleaning it and gluing it back together, I was beside her in the bed and 2 nurses were holding her down while the doctor worked.  She was screaming and kept yelling, "I want mommy" over and over again.  I was right beside her the whole time holding her and hugging her but in her moment of distress she couldn't feel that.  I hugged her tighter and told her I was right there.  It was hard to watch.  I was tired and she was tired and it was a hard parenting moment.  But I was there.

I don't always "do" parenting well.  There are days when I would rather lay around all day instead of doing anything productive.  There are days our schedule is so full, I can hardly see straight and I go to bed feeling so guilty.  There are days I wonder if my children are ever going to be responsible, productive members of society.  But there is never a day that I expect it to be easy.  It's those days, that we have to fill ourselves and surround ourselves with people that will keep us going and remember those moms who never had any encouragement and simply quit.  Motherhood doesn't have to be about impossible schedules, but it's definitely about getting rid of the notion that every day should be easy.

Friday, May 9, 2014

This Mothers Day.....

Last year on Mothers Day I spoke at church about what God was doing in our life.  It was pre baby B, pre 'Anna' and pre 'Abby'.  It was pre mom #1 who didn't even realize I was a foster parent to her child because she was so mentally ill and no one cared enough to commit her.  It was pre mom #2 who desperately wanted a second chance but didn't know any other way but to lie, run, and make terrible decisions.  It was before so many new friends entered my life on this journey and so many old ones came back in my life.  It was before I got texts about kids being rocked in a hospital rocking chair waiting to be released.  It was before I attended conferences, brunches, lunches, etc with rooms full of moms that might cry if you simply ask them what's new.  It was before I went to walks with tons of people and none of the families were of the same race.  Basically it was before I thought of Mothers Day as anything other than my own personal experience.  Which, to be honest, is so far from what real life is like it's not even funny.

My mom raised me completely different than most of these kids have been raised.  However, that stems from her being raised by a mother and father in a completely different manner as well.  Like I said, Mothers Day has always been a day I recognize my mom.  My sister and I usually split a present and in the past I have cooked lunch for her and we hang out and that's about it.  It's not that I don't appreciate or recognize my mom, but I just had no other life experiences to compare it to.

The past year makes me realize that Mothers Day is also a difficult day.  It's a day where 2 little girls will call me mommy and mama and in reality, at this present time, who their mom will be is up in the air.  Yes, I am mom 'for right now'....but my role is limited.  They have a mom who has been defeated and given up and is no longer around.  On Sunday, when I am giving my mom a card and eating a good lunch, my sister is doing the same, J. O. is doing the same and most likely you are either doing the same or thinking about your mom who was amazing, think about these girls.  Think about 'Anna' who goes up to strangers and her teachers at school and pats my leg and says...."mommy" over and over until someone says "yes I know..."  At 2 she is trying to validate the fact that in her world, I am her mommy.  Think about the children in group homes or shelters who have no one to even call mom.  Think about these moms that are on the other end of the spectrum and away from their children.  Yes, it's most likely because of mistakes they have made, but you can't tell me they aren't longing for them.  On Sunday, my children will celebrate me, our church will recognize Mothers, the world in general will recognize that the world is a better place because of Moms.  And we will have 2 kids in our home who aren't sure who their forever mom will be.  Pray for all these kids this Mothers Day!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Foster Care Awareness Month....

I am terrible at math.  Seriously, it's not something I am just saying......it's the truth.  My major in college was largely decided on how many math classes were involved and it's how I quickly weeded out Psychology.  Statistics of Psychology will forever reside as the class that handed me my only C ever on a report card my whole educational career.  K-College.  That C will forever stay with me.  Ugh.  Still annoys me.

Anyway, so May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I love how there is information being passed around to help inform people about foster care.  A lot of the information shared are the statistics as well.  While, I think it is very important to know the statistics and see what these kids are facing, I am not going to lay those out there.  Mostly because statistics don't speak to me.  They speak to my husband and that's why we are a great team.  What speaks to me is the emotional side of fostering and that's what I am going to share.

When we first decided to foster there was no big party from friends or family rejoicing our decision.  Nor did we expect one.  Instead, we got a lot of questions and some hesitation.  Don't let that change nor affect your decision!  This is your decision and people just need time to warm up to the idea.  There is also a time and a place to share your decision.  I am a firm believer that you shouldn't share what you are thinking with everyone right at first.  J. O. and I made the decision to move forward in October and didn't share with anyone until end of January when we were about to attend PRIDE training.  Not out of fear or embarrassment but simply because we weren't strong enough to handle the objections yet (and they will come...trust me).  We needed to be at a place where we knew, without a doubt, we were doing what God had called our family to do and people could either support it or not.  Lucky for us our support system was huge.

Once you begin fostering, be prepared for nothing to go as planned.  I am a planner and this one is harder for me, but you have to be okay with being a part of a team.  Even if you don't care for some of the team members, you have to be open to working with them.  The hardest thing for me to remember sometimes is that I am the "middle mom".  Just because I don't like that visits are during nap time, or that they are on Tuesday (don't they know we have gymnastics and it's a late day??), or that they come home with food I would never feed them.....I am mom for the time being.  My goal is to work together with people that I might not agree with or even like (gasp!)  Don't get me wrong, I am a voice for the child, but you have to go into this knowing your role and have semi realistic expectations.

Another thing that will take some getting used to is that you may actually find yourself defending these bio moms and dads to all the people out there who will immediately start bashing them.  Your heart will break for these parents and the situations that each and every one of them will have been in.  You will find yourself hanging around outside of DHS after a staffing to talk to the mom and hand her pictures of her kids.  You will find yourself whipping out your phone in the courtroom elevator to show her the latest pic of her baby and your heart will break when someone shows you a text from her asking if that lady (me) will adopt her kids.  They have no hope and no way out.  You may also find yourself entangled and in a relationship with some members of the family as well.  We have a very entwined life right now with a family member of the girls.  Do I like it all of the time?  No!  Why??  Because she is soooo different than me and that makes me uncomfortable.  However, I firmly believe we are in her life for a very specific reason.

There is a huge need for foster parents.  The numbers will tell you that and it's just a fact.  However, it's way more than numbers.  It's the faces and stories that come along with the numbers.  It's the way our children have a different view of the world now.  Is it always easy??  NO!  Will your kids automatically adjust and be so glad they have a toddler sharing their toys?? NO!  Just ask Addison.  But just last week she asked me if I thought the baby would be here on her 2nd birthday because she wanted to see what she was like at age 2.  I told her I had no idea and Addison immediately responded....well, I'm going to pray she will be and if you pray about it, God will answer it.  Now, Addison might not get the answer she wants, but she is learning through these kids, that you pray and God will hear that prayer regardless.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Staying in my lane….

Apparently the week we were in Disney World, the video I missed in Bible Study had some discussion about staying in your own lane.  Beth Moore gave an example of a special needs child who won a medal for a race that he came in last place for.  When the mom asked how he won she was told that he was the only child who stayed in his lane.  Then Beth Moore went on to discuss how we often tend to veer out of our lanes at times and into other peoples.

Well, as I read through that, I honestly didn't think too much about it.  I've got my lane down pat and pretty much don't need to get into yours or anyone else's.  And then God smiled at me and my ignorance.  I realized, I am often like a football player who is bobbing and weaving all over the place.  A couple of months ago J. O. and I were praying about something that I realize looking back was totally from me and not from God.  I was praying about this because quite honestly I figured if "so and so could do it…so could I."  I was looking at other people and what they were doing and trying to figure out a way to get over to the lane they were in.  I thought my situation should look more like theirs.

How often do we do that?  Jobs, marriages, hobbies, etc.  I have realized that the times I am completely overwhelmed and feeling insecure is because I am trying to do what everyone is doing and not just what God has called me to do.  I can get so bogged down with what the future holds for our family and what it will look like.  However, in those moments instead of praying about it and realizing we are right where we are supposed to be, I start comparing lanes.   Well, so and so has 2 bio kids and 4 foster kids and she seems to be doing great.  I need to shape up and start doing more of what she does because in reality I am not doing much at all.  Or, I should really get involved with that hobby.  So and so does that and loves it and it looks like a lot of fun.  And so forth and so forth.  

I can become so overwhelmed by looking all around me and what everyone else is doing that I completely lose my focus.  It goes back to the fact that everyone has a special talent or gift and sometimes it hurts our pride to realize that might not be ours.  Right now I just need to focus on the lane that God has me in, and even if it seems like everyone around me is moving forward and passing me by, I am right where I need to be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In over my head…..

I have, once again, not sat down at the computer in what feels like forever.  We just got back from Disney World and while we had an absolute blast there is nothing relaxing about that trip.  There is little time to really check email, texts, etc.  We left the room early in the am and didn't return home most nights until bedtime.

Now that I am back, I must admit I am in another one of my wonderful funks.  I mean, if you only know me through this blog (which, who am I kidding is very few) then you probably think I am a very whiny person.  I promise I am not, but it just seems like every now and then I become this way.  We had an amazing time on our trip.  It was tiring but great.  I had so much fun spending time with J.O, Trey and Addison and our extended family.  On date night, I laughed so hard I had no eye makeup left on by the time we headed back.  It was fabulous.  However, I found myself upset that I wasn't more ready to come back and jump back into the life we left behind.  You know, the one filled with a 1 year old and 2 year old?

Don't get me wrong….I missed these girls a ton.  Walking in and hearing 'Anna' run to us screaming and jumping was great.  BUT….there have been moments since we got home that are hectic and crazy and I am longing for the week I spent not telling someone not to throw their food, sit down in your highchair, not having to give 2 babies baths, not having to listen to a 1 year old who has decided crying is her new language.  Seriously, she went from easiest baby alive to fussy, fussy, fussy.  I realize how this makes me sound but it's just the truth!!  Life was busy and tiring last week but oh so easy.  And of course a bit magical.

And then of course I was brought back to what I know and believe.  God didn't call us to live a comfortable, easy life.  Why in the world do we, as Christians, think we are here for our own ease and pleasure?  J.O. and I right now are having a tough time in some areas.  There are some work things, family issues with the girls and it seems like every afternoon from 4:00-bedtime is complete and utter chaos.  However, when we were walking around Disney World Trey was constantly pointing out things 'Anna' would love.  At one point, someone asked Addy who she was buying for and she said…my sister for right now  (We didn't explain it…it's more fun that way).  No matter where we go or how far removed we are from the daily routine, they are still thinking of them.

I still have absolutely no doubt our family is doing exactly what we are called to do, but I will admit that the devil has been working overtime to make me think I am in over my head.  He is planting fears about the future, fears about finances, fears about staying the path we are on and so forth.  I have to remember that God is not a God of chaos.  He is a God of order.  What God has called us to do, He will continue to see us through.  But I refuse to act like it's always going to be sunshine and roses and magical.

Monday, March 31, 2014


I am a terrible sitter.  Seriously….I have a hard time sitting down and doing nothing.  If you watch my kids talk on the phone, they pace, because that's what I do.  I cannot sit down and talk on the phone.  Now don't get me wrong, I can lay in bed and catch up on tv shows like the best of them, but during the daylight hours it is very rare for me to actually sit down and do nothing.

Our sermon series right now at church is titled "Sit, Walk, Stand."  When I first heard the name of it I didn't think too much about it but halfway through the first sermon I thought I was going to have a very hard time with this.  This isn't right.  We are made to go and do.  Not sit.  It just didn't really resonate well with me.  Now, I am not a new Christian.  I was saved when I was 9 years old and grew up in church.  However, sometimes it still takes me a while to realize that the reason I am uncomfortable is because God is talking directly to me.

I know a lot of my friends have very special gifts that I don't have.  Some of them know exactly when to show up on my doorstep with a pan of brownies, some of them know when to text me at the exact time I need it, some of them (like my mom) know how to put words on paper and mail me letters when I need it.  However, I have always thought one of the things I was good at was doing.  If there is a need in the classroom, I will do it.  If there is something that needs organized, I don't mind sending out emails.  If J. O. is having a potluck at work, I will sign up.  I want to be involved.  In the middle of it.  Needed.  In charge.  In control.

Saturday my phone rang while I was at a birthday party.  I recognized the number and decided it was best to wait until I was home to talk.  I got home and called the person back and just like I expected it was news I really wasn't wanting to hear.  Not because it was bad news, but because we are now facing an outcome that might not look like what we want it to look like with the girls.  We have been told things would most likely move in a certain direction on the siblings case, and we have been guarded against that, until last week when it looked like it really might happen.  However, Saturday we found out, once again, things are totally up in the air once more.

I came home Saturday, laid the girls down, J. O. was outside working, the house was quiet and I actually sat.  I went in our unused room of the house and simply sat.  I talked out loud, I rationalized, and right about the time I started trying to work things out on my own, I remembered something we had just talked about in Bible study.  It was about Martha and Mary and the way they reacted when Lazarus died.  When Jesus came in Martha was thrilled He was there, but in her mind she was already working out plan B.  Jesus, however, was still on plan A.  I was reminded that God is still working Plan A in these children's' life.  I was quick to start making alternative plans in my head and try to figure out plan B, C, and D, but that's not how this works.  God has a plan for me and for these siblings.  His plan for me is to sit and His plan for the siblings is Plan A.