Saturday, December 29, 2012

Loving when you know it's temporary

'For what is seen is temporary....'

This Christmas was quite different from the Christmases we've had in the past. There were so many times when my emotions were so big that it would be nearly impossible to articulate them. I don't have the words to describe what it was like to hold Diego in my lap while we rode through Fantasy in Lights at Calloway Gardens or to watch all 6 of 'our' children tear into their presents or to hear Dora squeal with excitement over her very own set of "polish nails" or to dance with the whole family in the cleared out basement. To say my heart was full would be a gross understatement. It was a beautiful time, and at the same time, it was in a sense almost tragic because I knew that it would be the only time. I knew that this would be the only Christmas these two children would spend with us. Things are different when you know it's temporary. I think theres a part of me that loves harder and is more patient knowing that they will soon be gone. Theres a part of me that soaks up every single moment. I say things like, sure you can go outside and play in the rain or absolutely you can wear those leggings that don't exactly match your outfit or why not have one more [little] cookie. Because when the time is short, some things just do not matter.  
Should that not be the same with all of my children though? Even my bio ones? I'm not promised the rest of the day with *my* children and yet so many times I act as though I am. I'll put off sitting and playing trains because well, there will always be another chance to do so. I'll tell Rach that we'll paint our nails another day because well, there will always be another day. I'll make IZ go change clothes because well, we just can not possibly go to the park and Chickfila in an orange shirt and red shorts. 
No, I'm not advocating throwing out all rules or manners or sense of decorum or anything like that. I'm just beginning to see that maybe one of the reasons that God has placed Dora & Diego with us is to teach us or remind us that the future is most definitely not certain. We are not promised the rest of today, much less tomorrow. Our time with our children and our time here is so very short. And perhaps in view of that, there needs to be a shift in my parenting priorities. All that truly matters is His glory for His glory is the only thing that is promised to endure. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Good Day?

'If God is our greatest good, then what makes something good is whether it brings us more of God.'

Today has been (is continuing to be) one of "those" days, a day when I am living for bedtime. I know that really and truly I have no room to complain. Life could be a whole lot worse. What I am dealing with pales in comparison to most of the rest of the world's problems. But I'm whining right now. 

My day has been compromised of:

~ an Isaac tantrum to beat all tantrums. Seriously, he could have won tantrum of the year award. Crying, rolling on the floor, screaming, kicking the bunk bed at one point. What brought on this lovely display of sinful emotion? He did not want to wear the sweater that Rach had picked out for him. 

~ an all-around fussy Jojo. He's just well enough, after a bout with strep, to not be contagious, and he's in a foul mood. Nothing made him happy today except for sitting on my hip or sucking on a lollypop. Yes, I caved to bribing my child with candy. Don't judge me.

~ a breakdown by Diego over having to switch car seats. The seat belt in the one he had been using is really too small especially when he's all bundled up on a cold day like today. Jared is the seatbelt guru in our house, and he's at work. Jojo's seat is much easier to adjust so I moved Diego to that one and moved Jojo to Diego's. Diego was not a fan.

~ a stand-off between Diego and me at the library. It was time for us to leave, but Diego wanted to stay and play with the trains some more. No fear, I won the stand-off....just earned a frown of disapproval from the librarian. (A fellow mom in the corner however gave me a silent smile of congratulations.) 

~ another tantrum, this one by Jojo, who did not approve of me folding laundry. More rolling on the floor, crying, screaming. 

~ doling out some corporal punishment. Isaac decided to unbuckle his seat belt and climb out of his car seat to retrieve a toy he had dropped. I *hate* spankings. 

~ squabbles over who got more goldfish at snack time and who worked harder at cleaning the school room and who got to ride what scooter for how long and who got to choose the show at TV time and whether or not a car is red or orange and on and on and on until everyone lost their words while Mommy walked away and screamed into a pillow. 

You know, that kind of day. At one point, I started to think about a blog post I read last night. (Go read it ---> I started wondering, you know, that blog quoted the verse in Psalms that says, 'those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing.' I can think of quite a few 'good things' that I'm lacking at the moment, like peace and quiet, for instance, or obedient children, or a lowered blood pressure. 

Then again, if I did have those things today, I wouldn't have been crying out to God constantly for His grace and His patience and His long-suffering and His love to flow through my brokenness.  So I guess perhaps this truly has been (is) a good day after all. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

My heart is truly filled to overflowing....

'You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.'

I saw an internet meme making the rounds on Facebook a little while ago. I'll butcher it if I try to quote it. The gist of it was: 'you only think your boyfriend is is coming home to find your husband doing the dishes.' I'd like to one-up that little meme. Hot is hearing my very caucasian husband saying 'muy bueno' to our precious little Diego after brushing his teeth.  :-)

The time we have spent with Dora & Diego has been an absolute delight, truly a sweet, albeit chaotic, several days. My heart smiles every time I hear their little, heavily-accented voices excitedly yell, "DADDY!!!" when Jared comes home from work. I wish I could bottle that emotion and sell it. We'd make a fortune!

I know from experience that this fostering journey we are on is not always this joyful. There are some seriously messy and hard times, times that make me want to scream, times that make me wonder if we've made a huge mistake in saying yes. A day like that could be just around the could be today! I'm just so thankful that God sprinkles in these happy, heart-bursting times to encourage us to keep pressing on, to keep fighting the good fight. It IS worth it. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

For when I am weak...

'He never promised that the cross would not get heavy,
and the hill would not be hard to climb. 
He never offered our victories without fighting, 
but He said help would always come in time. 
So remember when you're standing in the valley of decision, 
and the adversary says give in, just hold on. 
My Lord will show up, yes!
 And He will take you through the fire again.'

'but He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'

Last night it got to me. It wasn't just the fact that we have six children to care for now in our home. (Although unless you're, say, the Duggars, I'd venture to say that that alone is enough to cause a bit of stress.)  All I could see in front of me was this looming mound of responsibilities and obligations that all had to be met. Nothing seemed to be 'optional.' And I just crumbled.

Jared found me in a ball on the floor, crying, praying, and pleading for God's grace. Let me take this opportunity to brag on my husband for a minute. God has showered his grace and mercy upon this man and is forming him into such an incredible, godly husband and father. He is my rock. He is so faithful to lead and protect our family. Anyway, so Jared found me in this borderline panicked state and immediately prayed and reminded me of God's love for us and His gracious sovereignty over our situation. Then, he said that he would take a half day from work today to help get everything done. SO thankful for him! And for his employers that are so gracious and supportive of what God is doing in our family. 

Today is another family court day....a bit unusual that we would have a second one in such a short time, but again Dora & Diego's case is a bit different. 

I just have to share a story from last night. This was our family leaving the church playground: Jared was carrying a screaming Diego; he does not handle any kind of transition really well at all. I was carrying Jojo and 2 diaper bags and had IZ by the hand who was also screaming. He had scraped his foot on the slide. The 3 older children were running ahead of us, racing to the van and acting like hyped up children who had just left a playground. Who should walk out of the church at the same time but our pastor? Ah well... authenticity and transparency are what we're after, right? Pastor David had a good laugh, especially when Jared said, "are you sure you don't want 6?" Then he wished us an awesome night. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hola Amigos!

'And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,'

Dora (6) and her little brother, Diego(2 1/2) came to us Thursday night. They have truly been an absolute joy! 

Diego speaks no English, although he has picked up a couple of words already since he's been with us...yay and Jojo. I think he may have tried to say Noah in the car earlier today....Noah was the first to get a smile out of him. Dora speaks enough English to meet us halfway. It has been lots of fun! She has had more than a few giggles at our attempts to use what little Spanish we know. 

Surprisingly, even though there are two of them, the house is still calmer and quieter than when Princess Petunia was with us. I don't think I realized just how much energy that little girl had! 

I don't think that Dora and Diego will be with us for very long....their case is a little different. I honestly think that the language/cultural barrier played a role in their being brought into care. As far as we know, there was no history of bad choices with mom...the children are obviously loved and cared for. We'll see though. If there is one thing we've learned in all of this, situations can change at a moment's notice. We'll just love them like crazy while they're here and trust for His moment-by-moment grace. 

*sweet moments* 
Family Worship time the past couple of nights have been so very precious. Listening to Rach & Noah jump in and share the gospel with Dora & Diego blesses my soul. Jared was telling the story of when Jesus was arrested, and Noah turned to Dora and said, 
"yeah, He just put the man's ear back on! He can do anything...He really can!"
Yes and Amen!

Friday, November 9, 2012

It's Time....

'I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord,
    the praises of the Lord,
according to all that the Lord has granted us,
    and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love'

Princess Petunia's new foster mom contacted me for the first time on Wednesday!!!! I was so very excited. She, Mama S, was given my contact information the night Princess Petunia left us, but after almost 3 weeks, I had pretty much given up any hope of hearing from her. But she called!!!! We spoke for a while; she had some questions about PP's behavior and the problems that we had while she was with us. We also began to compare notes about the case. And then, near the end of our conversation, Mama S offered to meet for ice cream or play dates in the park! I couldn't help it; I just cried. She was just so encouraging and comforting. While I didn't ask her outright, I got the sense that she is a believer. What a tremendous blessing! We're all just so excited about the opportunity we have to maintain a real relationship with Princess Petunia and her new Mama S. Rachel helped me put a memory book together for PP that we'll take to her at our first playdate. 

More exciting news-----
We asked DHR to take the hold off our home! When PP left, I wasn't sure how long it would be before I'd feel ready again. The hurt was just so great. This past Sunday, Pastor David finished his sermon series on Revelation, and so much of what he shared challenged and encouraged my heart....

See the Christ in all His glory; TRUST, love, and fear Jesus more..
See your life in proper perspective, as God sees your life:
Refuse complacency, not waning in our want for God.
Jesus possesses and protects you. You are in the grip of God's good and gracious governance.
Hasten the coming of Christ by taking risks to engage this world with the gospel.

I just felt God telling me that it was time to get back in the game. He's bigger than my feelings, and He is faithful to provide all we need. I told Jared as we were walking out to the parking lot that that day was the first time I had wanted to take on another child. His response was, 'oh good! i was planning to ask you about that on the way home.' It was, to me, immediate confirmation, that yes, it's time. 
Sooooooo, we're back to where we started back way back in May....waiting on a phone call.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

this I do know...

'who has held the oceans in his hands? who has numbered every grain of sand? Kings and nations tremble at his voice. All creation rises to rejoice'

'A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench'

'now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen'

This is so very, very hard. There isn't a whole lot in this life that we can know for sure. There was no way for us to know that this would be Princess Petunia's story. Probably a good thing too because I'm not sure we would have signed up for something like this. There is no way for us to know how long we'll be here in this horrid place of grieving and questioning. 

But Praise God that there are some mighty, mighty truths that we do know for sure, even though we may not feel them right now....

Our Father has the power to bind Satan and cast him into the pit of hell, and one day soon He will do it.
Our Father has the power to make death but a footnote and a pathway to an even greater life. 
Our Father has the power to make all things shout to His glory.
Our Father knows everything  about our lives and orchestrates all things in our lives for our ultimate good. He is good and does good. 
Our Father loves us and will not leave us. He is with us even 'to the end of the age.' 
Our Father's Word does not return to Him void, but accomplishes His purposes. (one of our prayers for Princess Petunia)

One day we may more fully understand why all these things have happened, but until then, we will trust and pray for the strength to continue to trust. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You give and take away....

'The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord'

'My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name'

'Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord, O my soul...'

We had to say good-bye to our Princess Petunia suddenly this past weekend. Some terrible events in her past were brought to light for the first time, which made it unwise to continue her care in a home with other children, especially ones that are her age and younger. Dealing with this sudden and unexpected change has been hard to accept, but I keep thinking on some things that my precious sister-in-law shared with me this morning:

"situations like this are perfect breeding grounds for doubt and second-guessing.  when we're faced with decisions, all we have is the foresight God gives us to make those decisions...and His will will never be compromised....Christians are no more sheltered from this evil world than the world itself...but we do have a Savior Who has overcome this world...not going to one day overcome it...that victory is complete....your ultimate faith is in that victory...not in your own ability to shelter yourself from sin...but in God's ability to heal from sin and hurt come what may....God can heal and i don't believe He allows anything to happen that cannot be made to glorify Him...even such evil."

We are so very thankful for our time with Princess Petunia. We know that there is so much that God will do with even this sad chapter. We are grieving with hope and clinging to our Heavenly Father who makes all things, even horrible sad things, new.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How can you want that?

I was texting a foster momma friend earlier this morning with this momentary rant: 

"[Sometimes I get so tired of] hearing 'I just want to go home' or 'I just want my mom.' My mind is screaming, 'how can you want that insane crazy drama over this stability? How can you want her [extreme] selfishness over our sacrifice?' UGH!!!!"

In the middle of my ranting and railing, God struck my heart with the convicting thought that He might just be crying out the same thing to me. 

I know the analogy may not be perfect, but bear with me....

Just as our little Princess Petunia simply can not see the danger and chaos that abounded and still abounds in her 'real home,' I can become blinded to the danger and chaos of the reality of sin in my life. As adults, Jared and I can clearly see how drugs and domestic violence pose a real threat to PP's future. She, however, only sees her mom and her brothers and her bed and her toys. She can't see the true big picture of what her life was like and the things that so desperately need to change.

I am the same exact way. We've been studying Revelation over the past several weeks in church. Revelation is filled with strikingly vivid portraits of the true destructive nature of sin and Satan as well as his ultimate destiny. I read this Word and hear it taught Sunday after Sunday, and yet, how many times daily do I still yearn for the momentary, fleeting nature of sin's 'comforts' and ignore the big true picture? It is SO easy at times to just cave and not press on. How can I want that? 

It is in moments like this morning, when God gently shows me that while He may be using Jared and me to minister to and teach our sweet little Princess Petunia, He is also using her to minister to and teach us. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

what about your own children

'Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.'

While talking with my mother-in-law recently about the path God is leading our family on, I was struck again by the simple fact that He is leading our family. This is not just something He's doing in and through me and Jared, but also in and through Rach and Noah and Isaac and little Jojo as well. We're all in this thing together. As my mother-in-law said, God has called all of you to this ministry. 

It is only natural that people express concern for our children, and anyone else's children who become foster parents. And the concern is valid. Sad, scary, messy things come with the territory. Fostering is most definitely not a Walt Disney, Hallmark kind of world. 

But I am glad that this is part of our children's normal. I'm thankful, even, that it is normal for them to have 'friends' come and stay with us for a while so they can be safe while their mommies and daddies learn to make better choices. I'm glad that our children have opportunities daily at their tender ages to give of themselves out of love for another who most likely will not be able to repay them. I'm glad that they have such a beautiful picture of God's redemptive work right in front of them, that they grow up knowing no different. 

Watching God use my children to welcome and love Princess Petunia is one of the sweetest, most encouraging and motivating parts of this whole crazy story. I will never forget seeing a scared, teary-eyed little girl break into a huge smile and giggle when Isaac marched up to the door that first night and announced, "I'm cute." 

Jared and I  pray that we are making wise choices along the way. We do consider our children's ages and needs before we say yes. We do regularly check with each of them to see if we need to address any concerns they might have. More than anything, however, we trust that God, who loves our children more than we ever could, will continue to lead their little lives just as He leads ours. And we pray that He might use this Fostering to draw each of their hearts to Himself. And that He might use them to minister to each child that comes into our home. Who knows? One of our children just might end up being the means God uses to save one of these precious friends. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

'I want it to be all over'

'and though my heart may fail, you will my portion be'

*quick update*

We decided not to take Champ, which was really tough. I'm so thankful for Jared's ability to think logically (and wisely) through situations while not getting caught up in the emotions of the moment. I'd have a house full of chaos and be a frazzled mess without him. We found out yesterday that there is a family member who wants Champ, so that's a praise!

*Princess Petunia*

Wow. Yesterday afternoon was very emotional for our little princess. Mom made some seriously unwise decisions at their last visit, and Sabrina came by the house to talk to PP about it. She had already spoken with Champ and WildMan (PP's little brother) earlier in the week. Princess Petunia seemed to be having some problems remembering all that had happened while talking to Sabrina, even though she had described in detail all that went on to Jared and me. 

Later, after Sabrina left, Princess Petunia and I began to have a little chat about the importance of being completely truthful with Sabrina, that she wants to help her & her brothers just as much as Daddy and I do. It turned out to be an eye-opening, light-coming-on conversation.....for me. 

I, for the first time, truly saw the turmoil that is going on inside our little Princess' heart. On the one hand, she knows what the truth is, and she knows that the things that went on at her "real house" were not safe and not good. On the other hand, she feels an intense loyalty to her mom and wants to protect her from 'going to jail.' This sweet little 8 year old girl is living with a crazy amount of pressure, a pressure that I'm not even sure I could handle.  Her greatest source of anxiety should be what clothes to wear to school or what book to read or what to do with her afternoon after school...not whether to obey her mom and lie to her SW or to obey us (and our heavenly Father) and tell the truth. 

Our GPS instructors told us about this kind of thing during our classes; I know they did. I remember discussing it. And there was probably some kind of small group role-playing activity as well. But truly, until I saw the emotions on PP's face and the tears in her little eyes, I know I did not grasp the enormity of her situation. It's as though all the words finally had eyes I could look into and a heart that I fiercely wanted to protect. 

You'd think that it wouldn't take 3 and a half months for this to sink in, but I guess there's just a big difference between getting it and really "getting it."  It's just so easy to focus on the minutiae of our life together: school and homework and playdates and gymnastics lessons and church, etc. It's easy to forget her reality while she's busy playing house or riding her bike or doing cartwheels through the den. But I do praise God that He has granted Princess Petunia time to just be a little girl, and I am humbled that He has chosen us (at least for now) to be her safe place. 

*prayer request* We have a pretty important court date coming up on the 15th. The judge should be making a decision on relative resources. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The hard part...

'Oh joy that seekest me through pain, 
I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain.
That morn shall tearless be'

We said good-bye to Mini-Man last week, last Wednesday to be exact. Part of me is still grieving, and I wonder if there will always be a small ache inside whenever something brings him to mind. Probably so. It is tough to think about for very long, and I'm not really ready to devote an entire blog post to him yet. Maybe when the tears can be kept at bay longer....

We're also coming up on a crossroads with our Princess Petunia. (Her school picture proof came back today, and it is SO very cute! SO wish I could post it!) Her older brother, Champ, is ready to be moved to a traditional foster home from his therapeutic home. The 'roundtable', whoever they are, are pretty adament that he be placed with one of his siblings. So much so that their plan is to move all 3 to a new home should neither we nor little brother's foster family agree to take him. Tough, tough situation. Jared and I have been talking with multiple SWs to try and gather as much information as we can about Champ. We've also been praying for wisdom to know what we should do. There is a process we could go through to try and keep Princess Petunia with us even if we decide that we can not take Champ....not sure of those details however. Our SW has asked if we might take Champ for this weekend as a trial run, to see how things would go. We have to make that decision by the morning. 

So many hard things converging at one time...tough, tough, tough. Praise God that He is sovereign over all, and that even though we may be at a complete loss, He knows the end from the beginning. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trusting for His Grace

'Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face'

I spoke with Faneisha, Mini-Man's SW this morning. Her meeting with his aunt on Monday afternoon went really well. Aunt doesn't have a close relationship with Mom or Grandmom, is older and settled, has a good job teaching school, and is willing to take care of Mini-Man. SO, DHR is moving to place Mini-Man with her. Faneisha's supervisor wants her to file a petition with the judge to have him placed in Aunt's custody. We're not sure of the timing. Faneisha told me that it typically takes 2 weeks to process petitions, and that the judge likes to hear such petitions before the court date. (Mini-Man's court date is December 5th) 

What does that all mean for us? Basically, we know for sure now that our time with Mini-Man is temporary and likely to end really soon. I'm still trying to process all my emotions. It is so very true what they tell us in our training classes...foster parents are asked to do an incredibly difficult task. We're asked to love and care for the children as our own, all the while preparing to return them to their family. So far, Jared and I have  just been doing the caring and loving part....this will be our first time to return one. I'm not looking forward to this part of the journey. And yes, that is a huge understatement. A better description would be that part of me is already kicking and screaming. 

How can you pray for us? Pray that we (all of us, even the kids) would trust God for his grace to walk through this difficult path. He has been faithful to carry us thus far, and we *know* He is not going to leave us alone here. Pray that the judge will place Mini-Man with the best home for him. Faneisha said that Grandmom has also filed a petition for custody. This would not be a good plan. Pray for Mini-Man's Aunt, that God would even now be working in her heart. Pray that above all, we would remember that 
you are good and do good ~ Psalm 119:68'

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Updates on the kiddos...

*Princess Petunia*

PP is doing really well. She's about to begin her 5th wk of school at CH Elementary, and still without her Adderall! She was having a little trouble at first focusing during rug time. PP said it because she was bored and knew everything already. :-) Her teacher and I came up with a sticker reward system which has really helped. She's working hard to earn that all-important kids' cup at Doodles! The special education teacher at CHE said that they would do a re-evaluation of her "disabilities" in a few weeks. At least from what we can see so far, this evaluation will look MUCH different than the original one. 

She and Noah are getting along much better. I think it really helps them to have that time at school apart. She's taking gymnastics each week and absolutely loving it! Her teacher said that she's really impressed and asked if PP had ever taken lessons before. PP has memorized 3 chapters (Psalm 1, 23, & 100) during family worship time, and is working on part of John 3. 

Her SW is working to complete home studies for 8 or 9 relative resources by the middle of next month. We're assuming that out of that many relatives/friends, at least one will check out. Rach will have the hardest time when(if) PP leaves us. 


At his last doctor's appt on Wednesday, he was up to 6 lbs 14 oz! He's eating every 3 hours during the day and waking up just once between 930 pm and 6 am to eat! He's having a little tummy trouble. At first, we were thinking that it might be reflux, but the pediatrician seems to think its constipation. She gave us some medicine to help his little system clear itself out, nice right? The girls got a huge kick out of watching Jared & I give it to him. Fun times at the Wingard house this afternoon. ;) 

I met with his worker on Friday. Mom continues to be uncooperative with DHR; she didn't show for her first visit with MM this past Tuesday. :(  Mini-Man does have an Aunt who has expressed some interest in taking care of him. She's single, has no children and does not want any children. Aunt did say that "she wasn't sure how long she'd be able to care for him." This raised some red flags for MM's SW. She's meeting with the Aunt on Monday at 430. I told the SW that Jared and I are very open to keeping MM long-term, so we'll just have to see how things play out. We're trusting that should Mini-Man (or Princess Petunia) end up leaving us, God will give us the grace to work through it. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

You know what I'm thankful for?

'count your many blessings, see what GOD has done'

'For this reason, I kneel before the Father'

1. JeffCo Social Workers ~ As much as Jared and I may gripe about 'the system', the more I see of the process and these birth parents, the more I admire the people who choose to make this their life's work. So many people say to us, "I don't see how you do what you do." (The answer is truly, we don't, by the way. God does it all.) I found myself saying the same thing to Mini-Man's worker yesterday. As foster parents, our main focus is taking care of the children. Tough? Perhaps. But the SWs handle the messier end of the deal. They are the ones who have to deal with birth parent drama and scheduling home visits and birth parent drama and writing reports and birth parent drama and on and on. And thus far, in our experience, they do their job exceedingly well. Much love to Tara, Demetia, Sabrina, Faneisha, Tandra, Matthew, and all the incredible workers that we will have the pleasure to work with in the future.

2. Desiring God Ministries' iPhone app ~ I can not express just how much listening to the Word preached during those middle of the night feedings has strengthened my heart and encouraged me to press on. Losing sleep loses some of its sting when I'm having truth spoken to my heart. Too, its never too early to implant God's Word in little hearts. Sometimes I think Mini-Man may be focusing on John Piper's voice....then again, it could just be the sleep-deprivation haze. :)

3. My beautiful, precious, sweet friends and family ~ These sweet gifts from the Father have encouraged me more than I could possibly say. From meals, to prayers, to diapers, to clothes, to providentially-timed emails, to smiles & laughs....Jared & I are so very blessed to have all of them. 

*Cute conversation*
Jared donned his Cam  Newton jersey for the first AU game of the season, and our sweet children said....
"Newton...Hey, just like Sir Isaac Newton!" ~ Rach
"Yeah! Maybe they are in the same family!" ~ Noah
"I don't think so buddy..." ~ Jared
"Cam is dark-skinned and Sir Isaac was not." ~ Me
"So? God can put dark-skinned and light-skinned people in the same family." ~ Rach
"yeah, He put Mini-Man in ours!" ~ Noah

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Sense of 'Normalcy'...finally

'for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace'

'I have a shelter in the storm
When constant winds would break me
For in my weakness, I have learned
Your strength will not forsake me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
The One who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven'

Wow. I had forgotten how difficult sleep-deprivation can be. Coffee is one of my absolute closest friends these days. Mini-man has finally learned the difference between day and night, waking just once to eat between 10 pm and 7 am. He went to the doctor today for his one month check up and weighed in at a whopping 6 lbs and 14 oz! He's gained over a pound and a half since he's been with us! We're seeing his sweet little eyes more and more each day, and he's becoming more and more aware of his surroundings. A friend said today that he has a very intense, studious expression, which I remember many people saying about Rach when she was an infant. SO precious! 

I was looking over my planner tonight and started to become overwhelmed by all the meetings with SWs and Dr appointments and sports practices and birthday parties, etc scheduled for the next week and a half. I thought, man, I'm going to look back on this period in our lives and wonder how in the world we did all of this. It is crazy how much can be packed into just a short amount of time. 

Only. By. His. Grace. In and of ourselves, we could not and would not be doing this. Going through this life on my own strength leaves me in the fetal position on the bathroom floor crying and screaming into a pillow. I had one of those moments just a couple of nights ago, and even in the midst of my railing at God and His plan, which right then was for Mini-Man to be crying for an entire hour in the middle of the night, even then God's grace was holding me fast. He keeps us from breaking. He keeps us from giving in to our frustration and anger when all that is in us wants to just quit. 

Earlier today, even while I was describing Mini-Man's situation to some of Jared's co-workers, God showed me that we are called to extend that same grace to Mini-man's mom. I'm still struggling mightily with that. I mean, seriously? Her foolish choices led him to this place, and she still is not cooperating with DHR, did not even show up for her visit this week. Mini-man is such a beautiful, precious little one, and she is wasting her opportunity to love on him, to cuddle with him during the night, to look into his big brown eyes while he takes his bottle.  How can I possibly show grace in the face of such utter and complete selfishness?

And the answer comes....because God has shown me grace in the face of my most heinous sin. This is not about me. This is about HIM. HIM! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One Week Later

'For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find'

We've made it a whole week as a family of 8! Mini-Man joined us a week ago yesterday afternoon. Jared and I are a little sleep-deprived, so things are still kind of blur at the moment, but we're making it! God is so gracious and so good! 

There was a moment when we thought that things just were not going to work. It was Friday morning. Mini-man had been with us for 4 days, and the nights were truly just hard. He was noisy...not really crying the whole time, mainly just grunting and not settling down or sleeping soundly at all. Jared was coming off his second night of baby duty, and his quote was, "I'm done. We can not function like this." He and I sat down at the kitchen counter and had a long, honest chat. We came up with a set of goals, things that needed to happen before he went back to work. I actually wrote them down. Most of the goals had to do with Mini-Man's sleeping and eating, things that were truly out of our hands. I mean, we can't make the baby sleep or take a bottle in less than an hour. That was a tough conversation for me to have. I knew Jared was right; we were really struggling. At the same time, though, I just truly believed that God wanted Mini-Man in our family for longer than just 4 days. He had been so faithful up to this point. Jared and I looked over the list and agreed that we'd call DHR on Tuesday (today) if things weren't getting better. 

Would you believe that that very night Mini-Man slept soundly from 10-ish to 4:30, waking only to eat around 1:30? He did the same thing the next night and the next. He continues to do so, and in fact is now stretching his nights til 5:00. He's also taking his bottles in 30 mins or less. I remember lying there in bed Friday night, well Saturday morning, singing praises in my heart so overcome with the fact that God hears us and sees us. It was yet another confirmation that yes, Mini-Man is here with us by God's sovereign design.

And oh, God was gracious enough to let me and a sweet friend see Mini-Man's first smile this morning in our co-op's parking lot. I know some folks say that all smiles at this stage are just gas. I choose to disagree. :-) 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

'Faithfulness none can deny'

'The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes'

Thought about taking a break from blogging tonight, but I just have been seriously overwhelmed to the point of tears by the faithfulness and grace of our great God in the last 24 hours. Baby C isn't even here yet, and he already seems to have worked his little way in our hearts.  

Pastor David has been walking through Revelation the last few weeks, and today he was preaching from chapters 4 and 5. It is no accident that the day before Baby C joins us, and our life enters a new level of craziness that the sermon is an absolutely mind-blowing majestic picture of God. Go find it on the Brook Hills website. Now. And be truly, truly encouraged by the overwhelming glory of our amazing God. 

We have received so many offers of food, diapers, clothes. Just this afternoon, Jared's grandmother called to tell us that her church's nursery is replacing all their cribs and giving the old ones away, which are still in really good condition. This too is no accident. 

Baby C, you are truly already a blessing and I just pray that God would enable us to be the mommy & daddy He's called us to be for you for as long as He wills you to be in our family.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

We must be crazy...

'In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.'

'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.....ponder anew, what the Almighty can do, if with his love he befriend thee.'

I mean, really,  we just have to be insane. There can be no other explanation for what we've said yes to, right? 

I was sitting in car pool Friday afternoon when the call came. Demetia (another one of our training SWs) called to ask if we had room in our home for a newborn. My immediate answer was no. Jojo is still in the crib, and DHR says babies must have a crib, no pack-and-plays, so no.  Besides, Jared and I had already babies! I texted Jared to let him know that I had just said no to a newborn. But God obviously had other plans because within the next hour and a half, I called Demetia back to say, yes, we'd love to have him! 

The kids are beyond excited. Noah's quote: "I get to have a dark-skinned baby brother? Thats so cool!" They went through all the baby clothes this morning and set up the bassinet. They've already decided that Noah (& Isaac) can help with Jojo, and Rach & PP can help with Baby C. 

There are times when I am right where the kids are. Jared brought back a new swaddle blanket from Wal*Mart today with a 'brown baby' on the package, and I just wanted to leave the house right that minute to go to the hospital and bring Baby C home. There are also times when I feel like Jared & I are about to take a running leap off a cliff. 

From the outside looking in, we do seem absolutely crazy. Who does this, right? Who opens themselves up to this kind of daily madness? All I can say is that we serve and are loved by an incredible, mighty God who has given us all we need for life and godliness. He grants us grace for each moment. He's leading us on this journey. Jared & I just say yes, and He gives us the strength to carry on. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seeing the beauty in the brokenness

'hallelujah, He has saved me. sin and death shall reign no more. Christ has made a way for sinners. Hallelujah, what a savior'

Such an emotional rollercoaster day today. I have cried out to the Lord both in bitter despair and in utter joy. By the time supper rolled around, I was done. Bless my sweet husband's heart; he was left to do all the bed-prep by himself. It was just one of those days where I just needed to walk away for a bit, curl up on the bed with my book, pretend to read it for a few minutes and then just cry until it was all out. We tend to call that 'having a moment' in our house. :) 

Anyway, so as a result of all that crazy emotion, I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts, yet there are so many that I feel are worth sharing. Most center around three precious PP quotes so here goes....

"Mom! I've gone two whole days at school without my medicine!" 
~ This came out of the blue as the girls were having their after-school snack yesterday afternoon. Princess Petunia just lit up as she said it, and then I just hugged the stuffing out of her and choked back tears. Before coming to us, PP had been labeled ADHD and had been prescribed Adderall during the school year. She was convinced that she had to have her medicine in order to do well in class. Aside from being a very energetic little girl, we have not seen any true signs of ADHD  in Princess Petunia. We're convinced that any ADHD-type behavior was due to her environment and not a result of any lack of ability. We are praying that this reality will be evident to her teachers at school as well.

"Mom, I'm scared to go to sleep by myself because we practiced the lock down drill at school today." 
~ I'm going to spare you the angry rant that I shared with Jared. Suffice to say that I was none-too-happy about the lack of age-appropriate explanation of the need for such a drill that Princess Petunia was given at school. Given her situation and background, the 'lockdown drill' has been pretty traumatic. She still talks about it, and I can tell that despite all the assurances from Jared & me and the prayers, there is still that residual fear in her heart. 

"Mom! I prayed on the playground that God would help my stomach ache to go away b/c I wanted to go to gymnastics after school. I knew that if I came home, I wouldn't be able to go. And He helped me!" 
~ Ever since we watched the US Women's Gymnastics team compete in the Olympics, PP has talked about wanting to take gymnastics. She has so much energy and natural athletic ability that gymnastics really is a good fit for her. We signed her up for classes, and when I told her that she was to start today, she flung her arms around me and screamed! It is just so sweet to see her starting to rely on the Lord in a real way. And even sweeter still to see our great God answer the prayers of our little miss Princess Petunia.

Friday, August 17, 2012

HE is God

'I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and I am God. Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work , and who can turn it back?'

Isn't it SO good to know that we serve the one, living, and true God? There is none other besides Him. He created all things. He formed us and planned our lives, every single moment, from before time began. He created time! He ordains history. He is God. He showers His spirit down among His people. He makes us dwell with Him. He cares for us. As Princess Petunia loves to sing (loudly), 

He's my rock, my sword, my shield. He's my hub in the middle of the wheel. He's the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star. I don't care what people may say; I'm getting down on my knees to pray. And I'm gonna wait, wait right here til Jesus comes. 

Love to all Rock-the-Blockers! :-) 

And if our Abba Father God can cause our sweet Princess Petunia to sing His praises in the midst of all of her confusion and pain and loss, surely, surely, He can take my spoiled, selfish heart and make it break forth in song to Him. 

Princess Petunia is finally fully registered for school! Can I just say that getting her registered for CH Elem was more of an ordeal than getting our other children into Excelsior? Layers upon layers of paperwork and multiple visits to the school office, whew! We're still not completely finished, because we're waiting for her records from her old school to be transferred. When that happens, we'll begin another fun and exciting series of meetings concerning her IEP. Grace for the moment, right? Please be in prayer for us about these. PP's mom claims she is ADHD and needs Adderoll for school. We've seen no evidence of this during her months with us. She is definitely an energetic, busy child but has the ability to calm down, focus on and complete tasks. We're convinced that her 'ADHD' was due to her environment and not reflective of any real disability (or need or whatever the current politically correct term.)  My concern is that simply based on her background and situation, we are in for many, many discussions with the school. Maybe not. Maybe the teachers and counselors will simply agree with us. Who knows? Pray that we would reflect Christ in these meetings, whatever happens. 

We have a play date tonight with PP's brother R and his foster family!!! Princess Petunia is beyond excited and so are we! It turns out that R's foster mom was in our GPS training class and my CPR/first aid class....what a sweet gift from God! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Preaching to myself....

'12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'

Today was one of those days when I absolutely can not wait for Princess Petunia's school to start. Her first day is August 20th. Just one more week, but at this moment, it seems like forever. Today was a day when she just seemed to push every single one of my buttons. Being that today was also a Sunday when we spent several hours at Brook Hills, I couldn't shut myself in the closet and scream into a pillow as often as I would have liked. (Love to my new friend, Catie!) I did finally walk away from a load of laundry and put myself in timeout when PP hit and kicked the floor after losing a game of UNO. She was doing so in "fun" and not out of temper, but still, Jojo was asleep and as I said earlier, today was one of those days. 

These kind of days can be really discouraging. 

I keep trying to put things in perspective. I remember how I felt with each pregnancy, how excited I was about the new little life that God was bringing into our family. I had these beautiful, Hallmark pictures in my mind of how things were going to go with the new baby. I'd think about how cuddly and sweet the child would be, and how there'd be nothing but love and smiles all the time. Any tears would only be an overflow of happiness. And then reality showed up and blew away my perfect plans. The baby wouldn't nap, or the baby would poop all over me or the baby would scream for an hour for no apparent reason. On those days, it's pretty difficult to be happy about having a baby. 

Having a foster child is very much the same. Of course, I didn't give birth to Princess Petunia, but God did place her in our family. I had much the same beautiful, Hallmark pictures in my mind of how life would be with her here. I'd think about how we all would spend every minute of every day loving each other and smiling and being thankful for this opportunity. Oh I might have given lip service to the fact that we'd have some rough days. But really, if I'm going to be really honest, I mostly thought only of the good. Then we have days like these when PP just will not stop picking on Noah or PP 'forgets' to not pick Jojo up when he's happily playing or PP has her default settings set on loud and obnoxiously silly. On these kind of days, it's tough to be happy about having a foster child. 

But it's funny, even on these kind of days, just as with all of those difficult baby days,  I can sincerely say that I love having Princess Petunia in our family. Only God can grant that kind of grace. He's the one leading and sustaining me through this difficult day, and 'He is good and does good.' He is in the midst of our little family, and He is holding our family in his hand. He is so much bigger than this light and momentary trial, and He is working it all together for our good and His glory. I may not feel this right now, but I know it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soooo, we have an ISP set...

'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'

Sabrina came by the house this morning for our bi-weekly visit/meeting. This one was packed with pertinent information. The most important being that we have an ISP scheduled! It's set for August 30th, which you may remember is also the date of our family court hearing. Sabrina is 99% certain that the Judge will keep Princess Petunia in our home, at least through October. Obviously, Mom will not be happy during our ISP having just learned that her children won't be coming home, at least not on that day. It's tough for me to feel any sympathy for Mom though because while she has had her packet of requirements for reunification, she has not yet met any of them.  That is unfathomable to me. I simply cannot imagine having the list of things that I needed to do in order to get my children back home and not working like crazy to get it all accomplished. I need to stop before I say something that I'll need to repent of later. ;)

Moving on, since we now know that PP will most likely be with us for at least another 3 months, we're going to work on getting her involved in some extra-curricular activities....gymnastics most likely. She has been enthralled with the women's & men's olympic gymnastic competitions. She certainly has the energy and fearlessness necessary! 

Being here another 3 months also means that she'll be celebrating her birthday here with us, which is another sweet and sad thing. We'll have to throw a big ole party! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"I hope I'm here and I hope I'm not"

“I, I am he who comforts you;
    who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
    of the son of man who is made like grass,
13 and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,
   who stretched out the heavens
    and laid the foundations of the earth,"

We were sitting at the supper table last night, and out of the blue, Princess Petunia says, 'If I'm not here when Jojo gets big, you have to tell him how we used to play on the bed together, ok? I mean, I hope I'm here and I hope I'm not.' Then she threw up her hands in confusion. It was sweet and sad at the same time as so many, many things about our little situation are. It was also a milestone. Princess Petunia has talked of going home a few times, and every time previously, there's really been no hint of regret. She might have mentioned missing Jojo (who wouldn't? ;) ) but never really said anything about the rest of us. Then last night, she expressed a desire to be with us. I guess that means that we are truly bonding even more with her and she with us. 

In other news, Princess Petunia has mentioned a couple of times that she feels sorry for her younger brother R because he doesn't have any other children in his foster home. Supposedly theres a newborn as well, but I guess that doesn't count. ;) Jared and I have been talking about contacting R's foster parents to schedule a playdate. I've asked Sabrina if that would be okay, so hopefully after our meeting with her on Thursday, we'll be able to do that. 

We're 3 weeks away from our court date, still no ISP scheduled. Is it possible that PP & her brothers will be sent home without even having an ISP? We may just find out....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thoughts from my Rocking Chair

'...To Him who LOVES us...'

*yes, I know I used this verse (or part of a verse) yesterday, but I'm still rolling it around in my mind...HE loves US!*

I was rocking Jojo to sleep at nap time today. I love that time. Rocking a baby has got to be one of the sweetest, most restful things God has given us mommies the privilege of doing. I do some of my best thinking while rocking my babies, then and in the shower. :) Anyway, I was rocking Jojo today, and God brought this thought to my mind: He is stronger than this broken world, and He is sovereign over it. Nothing is going to happen in my day that takes Him by surprise and that He won't strengthen me to handle. These and all the other lessons God is teaching me right now aren't unique to fostering. Fostering is merely the avenue in our lives through which He has chosen to break us and mold us further into His image. 

Our lives right now are hard, but its a good hard if that makes any sense. And selfishly, I want to continue to foster after PP's case is resolved (whenever that may be) if only to be able to stay in this place where I am constantly aware that I am solely dependent upon the grace of God to get through each moment.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A little catching up to do...

'...To him who LOVES us...'

'and though my heart may fail, you will my portion be'

So we've had a couple of meetings in the past couple of weeks. Our CASA, Nikki, came out to the house last week and talked with Jared & me about everything related to Princess Petunia. She tried to talk with PP as well, but as it was past supper time, that didn't go very well. :)  The most significant thing to come from that meeting was that Nikki was going to really try and push for an ISP. I've done a little research and found that by law, we were supposed to have had an ISP within 72 hours of Princess Petunia coming into care. We're now less than 4 wks from our court date and still have yet to have one scheduled. Just a tad frustrating.

Our new SW, Pam, also came to the house last week. Pam is the SW assigned to Jared and me; Princess Petunia has one also, Sabrina. As I tell the kids, we're just meeting all kinds of new friends. Pam basically just did a walk-through of the house and got me to sign a few papers saying, 'no, we won't spank PP' and 'yes, I know about our respite care policy.' She also was going to try and push for our ISP. 

Jared and I decided to not fight the homeschool/public school battle. (We're going to put all our energy into PP's new IEP to hopefully keep her from being labeled ADHD). I have been asking about getting Princess Petunia registered for school for the past few weeks, and finally just decided to see if I could get that accomplished on my own. After a call to the school and central office, I was able to get her in! Hoorah! We'll just need to get all the paperwork turned back into the registrar tomorrow.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Anchor for the Soul

'...we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.' 

And this hope we have is not in ourselves or anything that we could possibly do or say, no matter how noble or insightful. It's not in our efforts to please men or God. It's not in how others might view us or what they may say about us or to us. It's not in anything in this passing vapor of a life. Our hope is in the eternal, Sovereign Creator God. He alone is mighty. He alone is mighty. He alone rules the nations. And one day He's coming back for us in all power and splendor. This is our hope. He is our hope. And this hope truly does spring eternal. 

*another definition*
CASA ~ Court Appointed Special Advocate

We have a meeting with Princess Petunia's CASA, Nikki, this evening. She's coming to the house to meet and talk with Jared & me and Princess Petunia. After she has a chance to meet with all the children and foster parents, she'll set up a meeting with Mom and I'm assuming will prepare some kind of report. 

From what I can gather, CASA was appointed by the judge in PP's case, as in most cases,  for a '2nd opinion' and to make sure that PP and her brothers don't fall through the cracks. Nikki is only assigned to PP and her brothers; that is the sum of her caseload, as opposed to our SW who, like most SWs, has a crazy over-loaded caseload. Nikki will also see this case through to the end and will be, as her supervisor put it, the one constant person that PP will work with. Never mind that Princess Petunia has been in care for over 8 weeks now...Nikki has a lot of catching up to do. :) 

Anyway, so we'll see what, if anything, we can learn about our situation through this meeting. Nikki's supervisor mentioned that one thing they were concerned about in our particular case was the lack of time that PP spends with her brothers. She sees them every other week at the visits with Mom, but I guess CASA feels they should spend more time together. Not sure exactly how or if that will play out, especially with school starting back soon. 

~Prayer request update~
PRAISE! Princess Petunia is telling us the truth! Most of the time, anyway. :) 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Leaky Dishwashers and Surprise Gift Baskets

'He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.'

Jared and I were talking tonight about how hard parenting Princess Petunia is right now. He described it well; it is a marathon just like parenting our own biological children, except that in this marathon, we more than likely won't see the finish line. Perhaps a better track and field analogy (I'm SO ready for the Olympics!) would be the relay. We're just running this leg of the race for PP's mom. And odds are, she'll be the one finishing the race. We're toiling during this season, and she'll be the one to see the fruit. 

I felt so convicted earlier this evening during church. God revealed to my heart that one big reason why I'm finding parenting Princess Petunia so hard just might be because it is exposing the sin in my own heart: selfishness, idolatrous desire for comfort, discontentment. And who enjoys that, right? It's not any fun to realize that your life just might not be about you. ;)  It's not any fun to remember that we're not called to be comfortable or (gasp!) happy, but to be holy and Christ-like. 

Our afternoon was a little snapshot of what our fostering journey has been thus far. The girls were having a tea party, and I told them that I would join them as soon as I finished the dishes. I loaded the dishwasher, started it, and sent a couple of texts. As I put the phone down and began heading out of the kitchen, I heard what sounded like water dripping onto the tile floor. After an inward groan (which soon became an audible shriek), I turned around and sure enough, there was water dripping from the bottom of our two-month-old dishwasher. I yelled for the girls to bring towels, and the three of us started frantically trying to maintain the leak while I called Jared who thankfully was only a few minutes from the house. He told me how to shut the water off to the house as that seemed to be the only way to stop the dishwasher from trying to fill itself and the entire kitchen with water. When he came home, he walked in the front door holding a basket filled with random toys and stuffed animals that he said he found sitting on our front porch. I just had to smile. 

So much of our lives look just like this afternoon. Some crazy, dramatic frustration or complication occurs out of nowhere. We all frantically work together to try and stop the madness, and then sometimes, we find a seemingly random blessing waiting for us when we least expect it. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

This is tough...

'to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. amen'

There's just no other way to describe it. Foster parenting is tough. I feel as though we are on a continuous roller coaster, lots of ups and downs with very few straightaways. Just yesterday, we went from Princess Petunia pushing Noah off the swing because 'he was in her way' to her suggesting that we take cups of cold water to the policemen that were having to work in the hot sun in a matter of an hour. My mommy heart can barely keep up with the crazy range of emotions that each new day brings. Right now, I'm struggling with the call to discipline/teach Princess Petunia the way we do our own children. I find my 'momma bear' fighting to come out whenever she intentionally does something to frustrate or antagonize Noah (or Isaac, but mainly Noah). I find myself on my knees pleading for the same grace and mercy and patience that come (more) easily when Noah does the same things. I have to ask myself, now if the roles were reversed, how would I discipline my own child? That's not easy. 

I told a friend of mine that I feel overwhelmed pretty much all the time with something new and/or different to feel overwhelmed by every day. Yes, this is tough....BUT PRAISE GOD  we are not drowning.

   'we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.'

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to not waste the waiting

'that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light'

There is a lot of waiting involved in this fostering process, a LOT. We waited through our classes, which were very necessary and helpful by the way (Love to Tara!). We waited through the approval process. We waited through the switch from adoption to fostering. During this waiting, things were out of our control. We were waiting on other people to further our fostering journey. This was and still is very hard for me, very, very hard. I remember writing a journal entry a few months ago....

'so we [Jared & I] joked that we've been given another month of waiting (in DHR time.) I don't want to waste it. I feel like we have a treasure trove of wisdom and experience [all around us] and I want to tap into it.'

And so, I began to search for any books, podcasts, websites, etc that I could find that might encourage, inspire, inform us on the world of foster parenting.  This search is still ongoing but these are some of what I have found helpful so far:

One Hundred Children by Ms Judyth Y Foley
   Interesting read by a seasoned foster parent. She shares 'case studies' of every child that she welcomed into her home.

The Lost Boy...a foster child's search for the love of a family by Dave Pelzer

Loving Someone Else's Child by Angela Hunt

Growing up in the Care of Strangers by Waln K Brown & John R Seita
  'The experiences, insights, and recommendations of 11 former foster kids

There is an Urgency by Gregrhi Arawn Love
   *important note* This is a very powerful book, and one reason it is so powerful is because it is very raw. The author is brutally honest when describing his childhood. There is much language and at least one very intense, very graphic description of sexual abuse.  

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself
by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert
   I just started this one but it comes very highly recommended! :)
  I love this podcast by a believing couple who foster children. Great insights and wise advice. And most episodes that I've listened to are less than 30 mins, perfect for listening while doing dishes or other such chores.