Saturday, September 8, 2018

Through Darkness...

     Have you ever had to navigate your way through a strange dark room at night? I remember being a little kid and spending the night at someone else's house, and inevitably I'd have to use the restroom after dark while my friend (my ally) would be soundly sleeping. Without turning on the lights, I would begin creeping my way across the room slowly and quietly while my arms were extended to try to feel my way through the darkness. At the same time, my mind would try to map out what it looked like prior to the pitch, and my poor eyes would strive to adjust amidst the shadows. There was a goal set to accomplish, and it had to be done.

  Sometimes, and recently, life unexpectedly turns the lights off on you. Will you press forward, being willing to trip and stumble while reaching for the goal?  If your map comes from the Lord in the form of faith and his word, choose to keep stepping; do not panic and freeze. Call to him, and he will answer you; he will guide you. You might get aggravated and demand for those lights to turn back on so that you can see! Even though that won't happen in your timing, eventually the dawn breaks.

     We've all heard that joy comes in the morning, and it's absolutely true. It's not until you look back on that lit room to discover all of the obstacles that you overcame and dodged. You realize how much worse it could have been, and you can see where you had the most difficulty. But, it's behind you, and you leaned from it. The darkness doesn't stop coming, but we can get use to making our way through it, even when it's a brand new place of faith.


Monday, September 3, 2018

We ARE Different

       When you jump back onto a blog ten years later, a lot of things change. For us, the most obvious change has been the number of people in our family. For those who don't know, our family essentially doubled when we began our journey of foster care several years ago. Before your instinctive responses kick in, "Oh, that's amazing," "I could never do that," "You guys are saints," let me assure you might be right! Did I just say that? I sure did. There is something that sets families apart who are knee deep in foster care, sacrifice.

     Are you still sure that you want to keep reading? I've been told more than once that I'm too blunt sometimes, but here is where it gets interesting.

     Most folks don't start out their early adulthood wanting to do much for other people. They're usually interested in building their life an family. Sure, they stop once in a while to help others, as long as it doesn't require too much sacrifice or growth, within their own bubble. Foster care is the complete opposite of that. The bubble has to readjust every time a new child comes into your home, and we all know that growth hurts. Foster care hurts you (if you're doing it right). Whether a part of the system or not, the vast majority of people outright judge you for your choices, responses and even sacrifices.

     Sacrifice Number One: People.
          When people do not understand something, they usually judge it to see where their opinion might fall. Then, they usually become an expert on their own opinions, right? We expect those judgments and opinions to come from those whom do not know us, but you'll begin to hear and see responses from friends and family, too! Lets also not forget the people within the system. The majority are understanding and supportive, but once in a while you come across those who have forgotten or just never had it (the understanding of what a foster parent is, why we do it & the sacrifices made to continue).  In turn, the foster family will put distance between themselves and those people to preserve themselves. Instead, we might cling to our own, families who foster or keep a selected few close to us to keep us sane and focused.

     Sacrifice Number Two: Places.
          Let us begin with the obvious, most families who foster have children who don't match them. People will notice this, and they begin to ask questions. It's not the questions that bother me, for sure. It is the comments after the questions that can scrape at my nerves. If one must count the number of children in a group, do so quietly without pointing. Is that even possible? How is it that most people function on a daily basis of being able to count closed mouthed without fingers or expression when it comes to mundane items, but as soon as one must count humans they become animated and verbal? But, let me focus back onto places, pardon my rabbit hole. Where do I even begin: restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, the movies, and many other places that require a lot of money or room, these places are a given, because even average sized families don't frequent them often. It's not that we never go, we just show up with coupons in hand or perhaps at a group rate discount, or when kids eat free!  But, do you know one of the places where we must be quite selective: churches and places of worship. Is that surprising? Childcare for our a-typical children, rooms full of well meaning conversationalists, and sermons stacked full of doing more for others when you're almost tapped out from the week prior are just a few pieces to the puzzle we must consider when choosing where our safe places will be. Does this make us unapproachable? Not at all, and you don't even have to offer to babysit! Just talk with us like any other family there, and steer clear of the story of that one foster child you heard of growing up that was bipolar and burned a house down on your block.

     Sacrifice Number Three. Things.
            Most people will sacrifice things if they have any children, anyway. However, when you become a seasoned foster parent, you will realize how keeping up appearances becomes obsolete. Therefore, your desire to get things and keep them pristine will either dissolve into acceptance or become a distant memory of who you once were. I keep telling myself that we'll have or do that later on in life. Our massive van will be messy as quick meals will be eaten there as we rush to support another during a life event or practice.We'll get around to painting the crayon marks, holes in the wall and scuffed doors someday, and one day my couch won't be stained, and bedrooms will be carefully designed and fresh. For now, we're living in a home and making memories.  We are parenting children through their trauma, and things are just things! I told my child (while his 8 year old roommate was destroying the bedroom during a tantrum of anger at life) that anything that breaks, we'll fix or buy another. For the things that we truly care about, aren't really things at all!

      Sacrifice Number Four and Five: Time and Money.
          See prior paragraphs. Parenting takes both of these things, and when you are parenting multiple children that have suffered loss and trauma, it takes even more of these things. So, if you begin your journey without a large flowing income from your own fortune 500, you won't be ending it with it, either.

     This is the part where I'm supposed to wrap everything up in a pretty bow and state something like the sacrifices are all worth it. Not that the statement isn't true, but sometimes there isn't a happy ending. Sometimes, you question if it was or is all worth it (especially when there is zero recognition or thank you's & you get dumped on more of your fair share of the time!). But for some reason, a lot of us keep going (even when discouraged by others to do so). This has become who we are, and we are OK with it. We set aside the glitter of our society, the trappings of promise of fulfillment and enticement of comparison of others. So, ya, maybe we're different, and maybe you couldn't do it. That's OK. We'll do it for you, but maybe extend some encouragement from time to time and hold the judgment. Perhaps, throw a gift card our way for a night out or a grocery store run? Maybe, that's how you can be different from everyone else.



Sunday, September 2, 2018

TEN Years?!

The other day, I had a notification in my email inbox asking me if I'd still like to moderate comments on a blog (a blog that I had honestly forgotten that even existed!). Intrigued, I spent a few good hours trying to figure out old email addresses and passwords that would allow me to access this blog, once again!

Time warp, man, that doesn't even cover what it was like to relive these posts as I read through them! Since I've posted, I have gained FIVE children (and a dog, cat and two goldfish -may they rest in peace-). We became foster parents; we've moved THREE times, and we've had more hurdles and memories that have pushed us to this point on our journey together as a family. 

I look back, and I laugh at what my children said and did (yes, I laugh at when my daughter got into trouble & threw fits!). Also, I cringe a little about how much I complained about things that I should have never taken for granted, but I give myself some grace because I remember how hard some of those days really were on me. 

The growth that is evident in me is actually quite outstanding, and I never would have been able to experience this revelation if it weren't for those moments that I sat down to my virtual therapist to lay out my thoughts, frustrations, memories and moments. 

Here's to another ten years of writing and documenting real life, reflections and making more memories! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's been so long!

Where do I even begin? It has been so long since I've sat down to update this blog...Here is my best attempt:

Two of my kids had birthdays in August. They're growing so fast, and I love them more and more each day.

My youngest has started preschool. He loves it. I love it, and he's a super cutie!

We're still in the process of becoming a foster family in our community. Our fingerprints (everyone's fingerprints) have been held up & we're waiting for those to come back to become officially licensed.

I went to a conference for worship leaders. I loved it. It was so amazing to be in a room full of musicians, praising God through song and sound. I also got to hear Matt Chandler deliver an awesome message one evening that I'll always remember.

That's pretty much what has been going on since my last visit.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Over

Summer is over and the school year has begun!

There were tears (only from me the night before, but still), excitement (lets see how long this lasts) and anticipation floating around our house this morning. I awoke to three children up, two dressed and their teeth all brushed (before they got to brush twice this morning).

My Little Big Guy headed off to his classroom with ease, and we headed to the Kindergarten class room for my Little Lovely. She is as tough as nails, and she's hasn't cried about me leaving since she was eighteen months old. However, when she got to her quiet classroom, I saw the face. She wanted to be brave so badly. I know those eyes (the "I want to cry so much right now, but I just won't" eyes). This caught me so off guard, but I reassured her with a smile and a, "I'll see you soon, sweetie. Have a good day!". She gave me a tiny pitiful wave, and I headed back to the car. I heart broke, but now I needed to put on my brave face for my Little Guy who was heading home with me (not to mention that I didn't want the be that parent lingering in the hall with misty eyes).

I can't wait to pick them up to hear about their day at school. This house is just too quiet!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three Weeks To Go

Well, our family vacation is over. It was wonderful, and now it's back to reality. In three short weeks, school will start back up for the kids. We'll have to slow down for school zones. Life will turn back into a whirlwind of calendars, scheduling, homework and projects. Seriously, ever year I think about going back to homeschooling my kids again, and I would if I ever saw anything that effected their academics or behavior at home. So far, the teachers and school has been great.

And with school fresh in your mind now, let me say that we went back to school shopping for supplies this evening. Now, if that doesn't slap you in the face that school is around the corner then nothing will!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Still Summer

What have we been doing lately? Well, it's summer break, and we've been doing a whole lot of nothing (as it should be). We've been laying low for a week or so before busy sets in. Soon we'll be running to vacation Bible school, basketball camps and vacation spots.

I still haven't heard a child say that they're bored, yet (this may be a record for us).

Stephen and I are continuing to take classes on domestic adoption and we have seven (I think) classes left. We end right when school picks up again, so the adults don't get a break this year (shocking). We're enjoying this new date night of sorts. Before class, we grab some dinner and head in to the class a little early. We pick our table and eat while others file in. Any time is quality time, right?

So summer, so far you've been good to us, and we appreciate it. Thanks for not slapping us with sunburns and boredom...we really do love having you around, and we wish that you could stay longer!