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.