music for your weekend

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thanks to my sisters, I have now been listening to this album for two weeks straight. I know you’ve probably heard this song, but the whole album is really great – music to listen to while the sun shines…it’s fun. (ha. see what I did there?) Enjoy…


the best parenting advice I ever received

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Texas sunshine warmed the kitchen table where we sat with our egg salad sandwiches. I was barely an adult, newly married with only dreams of someday-family; she had salt and pepper hair with a house full of teenagers. She told me of her middle son, the one with the strained relationship, whom they prayed and cried over, how he always came into their room when he was little, wanting to snuggle up in their bed. How he was often scared, and she would soothe bad dreams, but always sent him on his way. She told me it was one of her biggest regrets in parenting. Why wouldn’t they let him curl up in bed with them for awhile? What was more important than providing security and safety to their little boy when he needed it most?

This story impacted my parenting more than other other encouragement or advice I’ve ever received. I didn’t decide right then how I was going to parent; I didn’t even know when we would have children. All I know is every detail from that story, that lunch burned into my heart so I couldn’t forget it.

I didn’t forget it with my first sweet baby, I remember it still every time we parent new life, and we spend hours rocking, cradling, bouncing, singing until they fall asleep. I didn’t forget that story when my eldest did not sleep all the way through the night for eight years. I remember it now when my daughter wakes with nightmares and wants to crawl into bed for awhile until she feels safe again.

I am reminded more so than ever when my youngest son doesn’t ever come to us when he needs us in the night. He lies and deals with fears, hunger, sadness all on his own. Never crying out for us, never asking us to help reassure him and make him secure. His inability to reach for us in the middle of the night reminds me of my responsibility to my children, even as young babies. The responsibility I have to teach them that when they cry, I will come. When they hurt, I will help heal. When they’re hungry, I will feed them. When they’re scared, I am the one that provides them with safety and security.

I have to remind myself with frequency: this is a season. They will be children for too brief a time, and then it will be too late to build attachment and security in them. I get bogged down in my own desires and perceived needs, but let’s be honest, what does it hurt me to provide that for them, even in the middle of the night? I don’t need uninterrupted sleep more than my children need their mama to make them feel safe. What harm is it causing me to allow them to snuggle up in our bed occasionally? I’ve never once met or heard of a teenager sleeping in bed with their parents; this is just a stage. One during which I can provide something important and secure. I don’t need a ‘sacred marriage bed’ more than my children need us to give them security and love at a critical time in their lives when they need it most. (Side note: have you met people who practice a family bed? They often have several children. I’m thinking they’re doing okay when it comes to that sacred part of marriage.)

That day’s conversation, the one that that beautiful woman probably doesn’t even remember, taught me the most valuable parenting lesson I’ve ever received: I will never regret giving myself to my children in love. I will never regret sacrificing so that they can be loved, safe, healthy, secure. I am not going to be regretful of the time I spent holding them while they crying, snuggling with them when they were scared, sharing my bed with them sometimes when they needed it most.

What I will regret? I will regret every time I said no for my own convenience. I will regret every time that I did not lay down my own pride and my own selfishness for the sake of the little ones that God has entrusted to my care. I will regret every minute that I deemed myself more important than others, especially if those others are my children.

So, tonight, if my babies cry, I won’t just go to them; I will bring them to me. I will snuggle them. I will pray with them. I will lift them into our warm, cozy bed, holding them tight in my arms until they feel safe and secure. I will be the tangible presence of Jesus to my children. And I will breathe thankful blessings towards that mama who shared her story with me all those years ago.

crowned with love and compassion

Monday, March 26, 2012

This morning we sat strangely long in a mall parking lot, waiting for the store to open. The children in the back with their Timbits and DVD playing, me in the front with my Bible open, completing my Bible study. We had dropped the baby off for a visit with his mom and dad and were killing time for a couple hours. My favorite Psalm was the Scripture of the day:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103:1-5

Maybe some days I could’ve read this without much impact, but today, while stressed out with medical issues with a couple of my children, with a baby who needs to be safe yet still belongs with his own family, with the stress of the morning weighing down my shoulders, all I could focus on was my promised crown of love and compassion. I envisioned them resting on my head. Heavy with the weight of a hand of blessing. I felt the mercy drip from that crown down my face, filling my entire body with peace. What if we could just see the truth of God’s promises? Really see them? Would we feel differently? Would we behave differently? This morning, both were true for me. I felt that anointing on my head. I was satisfied. I was renewed. It turned my whole day around.

Crowned with love and compassion.
Even in a JCPenney parking lot.


818. hearty oats with a hint of brown sugar
819. steaming mugs of early morning coffee
820. the brief quiet between the big kids' bus time and the littles' breakfast
821. a 1st grader's morning journal
822. a 4-year-old's story time
823. the bossiest 2-year-old ever
824. 5 little babies in the middle of my living room floor
825. the fact that those 5 babies, from 3 months to 15 months are all in the same size clothes
826. diaper bag dreams
827. precious time with my youngest son
828. waiting room conversations
829. hopes and prayers for medical answers where there seem to be none, knowing God has it under control
830. my husband's faithful prayers
831. feeling the Spirit's guidance drowning out the human worries
832. artisan pizzas, movie night with the girls
833. the gift of all-access - my library card
834. piles of books awaiting my time, promising answers and encouragement
835. getting lost in a good story
836. a God who is stronger
837. a God who is risen
838. man-dates on a Sunday afternoon

sunday [6]

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Foster-Care-Reimbursement-R“You hear about children falling through the cracks in the system. Let me tell you something, there is no system,
there are only people.
Children don’t fall through cracks, they fall through fingers.”
– Marc Parent

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

random friday

Friday, March 23, 2012

1) I changed a couple things on the blog, and now almost all of my comments have disappeared. Where did they go? Why did they go away? I wish I were more tech-savvy. I wish there were a way to retrieve all the past comments. I find it irritating, to say the least.

2) I’m pretty sad that The Walking Dead is done for the season. The husband and I really enjoy relaxing on a Sunday evening to the visual delight and sweet, sweet sounds of screaming, dying zombies. I’m desperately trying to resist the urge to troll the comic geeks’ blogs for clues and answers as to what’s going to happen. I just want to be a TV show fan and enjoy it as it comes to me. Dear husband does not share this view and has already looked up some stuff. I thought we’d have to stop watching because there were so many episodes this season where nothing happened. Fortunately, much to my grateful relief, Dale is no longer a part of the show. And then, Shane and Rick? FINALLY. The suspension of logic required to watch the show was beginning to irritate me. Side note regarding this season’s final scene: we had to downgrade our cable package because cable is freaking expensive, so now we get AMC (fortunately), but not in HD. I thought that shot might have been a castle. When I found out it was a maximum security prison, I was relieved. That makes WAY more sense than a castle. Stupid standard def TV.

3) I promise this list will not be solely about TV, but the upside to The Walking Dead being over is that Mad Men starts. Thank goodness. I have missed me some misogynistic, alcoholic, nicotine-laden 1960s. Further observation: AMC puts out the best shows on television. Don’t get me started on Breaking Bad.

4) A couple days ago, my son was in the waiting room to get an XRAY, plopped himself down beside this very elderly woman, and then proceeded to talk her ear off. He points to a middle-aged man in a ball cap on the other side of the room, and says, “Is that your dad?” With no hesitation or hint of humor, she says, “Nope. Is it yours?” He says, “Nope. My dad doesn’t wear a hat.” As if this is the most normal conversation in the world.

5) It’s raining and promises to be less than 70 degrees for the next few days. I am delighted. DELIGHTED. 85 is too hot for March.

6) Baby D starts visits with his parents today. We’ve never done visits with a baby this small, and I’m eager to see how it all falls out once we get going.

What random happenings are going on with you?

food, food, food (part 2)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Here’s where we delve into the practical part of the food issue. You can read the first overview here. I shared how frustrated all these food issues makes me, so what are we doing to try and ease our children’s pain and issues?

These are some strategies that work for us:

  • Snack bags – The kids help me make up a snack mix, usually with mostly ‘healthy’ ingredients. A typical mix for us is animal crackers, goldfish, cheerios, dried fruit, and nuts. We then pre-place the mix in small portions into snack bags. Typically I will place the bag beside the child’s bed after they are asleep at night. It doesn’t work for us to send them to bed with the bag right off because they’ll eat it, and then have nothing for when they wake up hungry and anxious. Some mornings the snack hasn’t even been touched. It’s just enough to know that it’s there.
  • Fruit baskets – Fruit is available most of the day in our home. I do cut them off after awhile because, well, the fiber. I don’t have the energy or stomach fortitude to deal with multiple GI issues because my kids have eaten way, way too much fruit.
  • Therapeutic feeding – One of the exercises we do involves me feeding the kids snacks. They aren’t allowed to touch any part of the bag, of the snack. I place it into their mouths like baby birds. This is an intimate exercise - huge trust is needed for the child to comply. It reinforces the fact that the parent is the one who provides food for children. This is key for kids who come from places where that didn’t happen.
  • Regular snacks and meals – I try my best to keep blood sugar leveled off. Regular mealtimes; lots of little healthy snacks. The kids behave better, they have less anxiety, they’re more calm and more secure when this happens.
  • Food Stuffing – Small bites. One bite at a time. It seems simple, yet it is something that our kids have had to be taught and reminded of continually. Small bites. One bite at a time.
  • Pica and other food safety issues – We’ve tried to deal with this rather matter-of-factly. We don’t punish; we talk about safety. We state firm boundaries, but always in a safety context. It’s hard to explain why it’s not safe to eat some stranger’s leftovers or why we don’t eat food out of the trash or why we can’t eat an entire container of gummy vitamins. We just do the best we can in simple terms, but always with the repetitive “It’s our job to take care of you. We don’t want you to be hurt or sick. We want you to be safe.”
  • Night wanderings – In our house, food is the cause 99% of the time with this issue. We have a child that is awake most of the time while the rest of us are sleeping. He wanders about, gets into things, makes peanut butter sandwiches, who knows what else. It became a safety issue when we realized that medicine and other non-food items were being ingested. Since we can’t trust that all he’ll do is get out the peanut butter, and since he doesn’t awaken us to tell us he needs something, we had to take a safety measure. We got a simple contact door chime; so if the door is opened, we wake up to hear the chime. We can get up, ask him what he needs, and help him with it. Right now it’s for safety, but I hope that it will eventually lead to a habit of trusting us, even in the middle of the night, to care for him. If he’s hungry, he can tell us. If he’s scared, he can tell us. No matter what, he can come and wake us up and tell us.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of remedies and practices. These are just a few things that we’ve implemented here that seems to be helping. I can’t count how many times I’ve used the phrase, “There is always enough food here.” It’s sometimes just exhausting to parent children with food issues, and I hope this post can be of help to some of you. This website, Adoption Nutrition, is an invaluable resource for adoptive parents, whether domestic or international. I have referred to it many times over the past couple years.

If you’re not an adoptive or foster parent yet, I hope this has given you a little glimpse of some of the food issues that you may come up against if you start into this life. If you are an adoptive or foster parent, how you are dealing with food issues in your house? We would love new ideas!

already written

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I live with a nagging, unshakeable fear that I’m going to screw all of this up. This fear isn’t incapacitating; it doesn’t drive my life - it’s more of an undercurrent in my spirit. That little part of me that just doesn’t believe, doesn’t trust. I feel competent most of the time; about half the time I even feel like I’m living pretty well. Like I’m succeeding, like I’m in step with Him the way I long to be, like I’m truly fulfilling who I’m supposed to be, where I’m supposed to be. But then there’s the other times. The ones where, when this insistency pokes through, I feel like I’m just a few steps away from utter failure and destruction. I fear this whole thing I’m doing, this part I’m playing in God’s great big Story – maybe I won’t be able to actually do it long-term. Maybe I’ll completely fall off the wagon. Maybe my story won’t read too well when it’s all said and done.


Then I read this truth:
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139:16
God already knows. He knows whether or not I flub this whole living thing. He knows those choices I’m bound to make in the future that don’t completely honor Him. He knows all of it. Every single day of my life. He knew it before I was even born. And He loves me. It’s hard to get my head around sometimes.
This isn’t just for me, you know. Somewhere, somehow your whole story is already written out and finished too. If God knows it, if He knows the end already, and He still loves you today…I don’t know about you, but I usually can trust that He loves me today. I only doubt that He’ll love me in the future in some mysterious place where I screw all things up…if He still loves you today, knowing all that He knows…

That’s a promise we can live with. That’s a truth that can shape a life. Our stories – they don’t end so badly after all. We might screw this all up or we might spend every waking moment for the rest of our lives worshiping and following our Savior. (I’m voting for the 2nd.) Either way, this all ends with God loving us.


No matter who we are.
No matter what we’ve done.

He loves us…



He loves you.


Not because of what you do.
Because of who you are in Him.
Because of who He is.

a thankful Monday

Monday, March 19, 2012

'Summer' photo (c) 2003, SLPTWRK - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The days are stretching longer; it’s unseasonably, uncomfortably warm, but the children are enjoying the outdoors. Baby toes in green grass, chubby toddler and skinny little-girl bare legs sprawling across the trampoline, big-boy bike rides around the lake ALONE, and grubby little four-year-old fingers fill my days. Bright blue skies and fluffy white cloud promise of lazy summer afternoons ahead.

I have some unresolved anger grief over the non-existent winter, but God brings spring flowers and bright days, continual reminders of His goodness. His truth shapes my life – He loves me. He loves me. And oh, is He so very, very good…

797. beginning a new working relationship
798. kind, respectful, and thorough case workers
799. committed service providers
800. being a part of a pretty great county for children
801. dribbling basketballs on the sidewalk
802. "I wike him Mama" from my baby who isn't much of a baby anymore
803. successful procedures
804. knowing the Holy Spirit's voice
805. being rooted in the Word
806. sleeping babies
807. bags and bags of clothing leaving our home
808. readying a visit bag for a baby missing his mama
809. how love doesn't divide, always grows
810. children playing outside
811. an uncomfortably small, completely full home
812. watching my children enjoy their basketball games
813. the pride on my son's face after their team played their best game of the season
814. a blessed evening of ministry with just the ladies
815. happy Sunday mornings
816. easy Sunday afternoons
817. relaxing Sunday evenings, after the kids are in bed, just the two of us

sunday [5]

Sunday, March 18, 2012

beauty for ashes


Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people-free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Ephesians 1:3-12

food, food, food

Thursday, March 15, 2012

'kinderen & burgers.jpg' photo (c) 2006, Martijn van Exel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

There is little in this whole fostering/adoption/therapeutic parenting conglomeration that makes me feel crazier and more inadequate than the food issues. Imagine those moments where you want to pull out your hair and then cry and then laugh and then cry again, and you’ll kind of get the picture. My Brenden’s therapist says it’s because it’s so tangible and makes you wonder if you’re doing the right things, if you’ve done enough, etc.

When you start training to be a foster parent, one of the issues that is talked about with frequency is food hoarding. It doesn’t sound that bad when you talk about it in class, and frankly, there were barely any other food issues discussed at all - when in fact children from hard places are more susceptible to a variety of food-related issues. Food hoarding might be the most visible, but it’s definitely not the only problem we’ve dealt with in our family.

Just when I think we’re about over it, the food stuff raises its ugly head again. In our family, it’s not just one child either. Here are some of things we now deal with on a weekly, sometimes daily basis – hoarding, pica, excessive eating, pocketing food in cheeks, sneaking food, constant “hunger”, and nighttime wanderings – usually involving one of the prior activities.

Kids coming from hard places have food issues for a variety of reasons. There is a ton of research and information on this topic (here and here are places to see a bit of it), but this post is really just about our anecdotal experience. Our kids’ issues tend to stem from deprivation - the fact that they did not have enough food, didn’t eat the right kinds of food, were denied food as punishment, and just plain weren’t fed and spent a lot of time hungry. Imagine yourself as a small child and think about how this would deeply affect your relationship with food. It’s a little messed up. Another huge part of the food issue is control. It’s really the same as it is for people with eating disorders – the need for control in their lives manifests itself as a food issue. My children can completely control their own food situation. I can’t make them eat. I can’t prevent them from eating, either. I also can’t completely control what they eat. They are in virtually complete control of what they put in their bodies.

I’ll share some of the practical ways we deal with this topic next week, but one of the biggest things that we just continue to focus on is the reinforcement that our children are safe. They are loved. They are here forever. It is our job to take care of them, and we will. We can’t change their past, but bit by bit we can begin to rewrite their future.

for daughters

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Remember when you were in elementary school and the boys would tease and pull your hair? And what did your mama or the teachers tell you? “It’s just because he likes you!” I caught myself saying that to one of my children the other day, which brought to mind this post:
You Didn't Thank Me For Punching You in the Face - Views from the Couch

I’m just thinking through what I’m teaching my daughters. I absolutely believe the little boys sometimes just don’t know what to do with their feelings, and they act aggressively. But this post made me think: is it good to teach my little girls that that’s ok? Is it good to, even unintentionally, sow little seeds into their brains that might eventually cause them to think that abuse, be it physical, sexual, or emotional, is an indication of love?

This might be a little past when it would have been culturally timely, but I’ve just been stewing over it for awhile. Raising my daughters fills me with much more trepidation than when I think about bringing up my boys. Even today, there aren’t a ton of places for them to look for positive messages about girls. Or maybe it’s just that the negative overshadows the positive. Clearly not even young entertainers are being taught good, safe messages about abuse:
Chris Brown And Rihanna Are Making Music Again - And Sending A Dangerous Message - My Brown Baby

I believe in forgiveness. I want to model that for my daughters, but I don’t want them to think that forgiveness means reentering a terrible situation. That it means that what happened was ok. Abuse is not love. When it comes to dating relationships, I don’t believe that you should ever allow an abuser back into your life. How do I teach my daughters healthy boundaries? I’ve met abused women; while I don’t understand it fully, I have seen what it can do to a woman’s psyche. How do I keep my daughters from ever entering that cycle?

No answers here yet. Just a commitment to continue to pour love and affection into my daughters’ lives. Both from me and their dad. A commitment to teach them healthy and accurate identity. Filling up their little lives with affirmation for them as women.

Dear sweet, sweet daughters of mine: You are loved. You are valuable. You are beautiful. I pray that I do this whole parenting thing right, but if I don’t, that doesn’t change who you are. That doesn’t change whose you are. You, precious girls, are women of God, holy and dearly loved. Worth enough for the God of the Universe to humble himself and enter our world. Worth enough for Him to die so you wouldn’t have to. You are worth everything. You were created just the way you are for a great and glorious purpose. Never settle for less.

all things for good

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dreary rain fills our skies, my feet are chilled from walking through endless puddles in the doctor’s parking lot, and the time change has wrecked havoc on the children’s sleeping schedules. I just can’t stop being happy over the baby-shaped gift we got last week. After two days of grieving, he’s decided we’re ok. He laughs and smiles and babbles at toys. He hugs his soft blanket tight like it’s his favorite thing. He looks at his graham crackers like he has never seen a more delightful snack in the whole entire world. He nuzzles close and likes to rub noses. He sleeps all night and naps well too.

I’m broken-hearted that he has to be in our home, but I am happy that we can provide a safe place while his family works on things they need to get together. I’m just so thankful that our children can have this kind of a baby for the first placement after our adoption finalization. And there’s just the most special gift surrounding this new one and my precious four-year-old. Privacy concerns prevent me from sharing specifics, but it was just such an obvious drop of grace in this whole situation. I knew the minute they told us that this was exactly the right thing for us to do, both for this baby and for our family.

God works all things, ALL things for our good.
What a gift this little baby is to our family right now…


776. a cozy home, filled with warmth and laughter
777. inhaling the steam from a hot cup of tea
778. clearing out the old to make room for the new
779. a husband who searches for opportunities to serve
780. making plans, dreaming big
781. sitting together after a long day
782. a long-awaited call
783. a surprise gift
784. grace-drops for my youngest son
785. snuggling a precious baby
786. bright blue eyes
787. soothing grieving cries
788. breathing Jesus over a small burdened soul
789. long naptimes
790. shopping trips with the littlest
791. burning lungs, tired legs, a little girl who doesn't stop talking even during a run
792.
smiles first thing in the morning
793. loving my husband more and more and more
794. folded laundry
795. the joy found in a single graham cracker
796. giggles and playtime



sunday [4]

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Behold, such a community we teach:
Those who are born of God…show mercy and love
as much as they can.
No one among them is allowed to beg.
They take to heart the needs of the saints.
They entertain those in distress.
They take the stranger into their houses.
They comfort the afflicted, assist the needy, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, do not turn their face from the poor…

Menno Simons

fostering–a love letter

Friday, March 9, 2012

Exhaustion sets in early. Arms unused to the weight of nine-months-old ache. Bright blue baby eyes search for familiarity, terrified. Pudgy hands grasp tight, clinging to anything to avoid being put down, alone. Our hearts have forgotten the emotional weight of those first nights with a new hurting child. The burden of clouded history and uncertain future falls heavy.

So we enter this sacred dance of loving. I hold tense baby heaviness until the sobs subside. I murmur sweet songs of Jesus to soothe frightened grief. Hold him close, roll him into bed, careful to keep the blanket tight so he doesn’t know he’s lying alone. Meanwhile, you soothe unsettled children. Breathing words of love, reassurances of permanency, praise and pride for being willing to go to this hard place. Showers, teeth brushed, bedtime prayers. We move close in the hallway, exchanging places, trading children. You hold the boys close while they drift to sleep; I hold toddler hands through the crib, gazing into dark brown eyes, singing yet one more lullaby. Kisses, hugs, even more prayers, finally tiny hearts are all at rest.

Reconnection after the bedtime hours, remembering early days of years past. How it’s always this way: the exhaustion, the fear, the certainty, the deep of it all. You go to bed early, promising the pre-dawn shift. I stay up late, finishing mundane tasks, numbing the worries with long-loved re-runs. 

I remember a moment last week. One where I was at a loss, trying to explain our children’s prayers, knowing that we were all feeling the ache of an empty bed. That’s when she says, this person who is contradiction in our lives – intricately woven into our story, yet distant, who doesn’t even share our faith buzzwords, she says, “Some people are just called.” And I knew it was true. We all feel it. We all know it, even the children. Sometimes I feel guilty; it wasn’t their choice. Then I remember the nights where I walk by bedrooms, see our children on their knees beside small ones’ beds, praying for their safety, for their future. We all choose this.

When it’s hard, and it is always hard, we rest in that. When we worry, wonder how our littles will cope, wonder where we will put yet one more child in our cozy home, we know. This is exactly where we’re supposed to be, exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. The holiness of these days shines through the frustration, the anger, the struggles. You look at me across the front seat of the car, your hand grasps mine tight, and I know this is the most we’ve ever loved. This is the best we’ve ever loved.

In a house full up, in a budget with little room for alone time, in a family where maintaining safety and security for our hurting children is the most important work we do, I love you more. Weekly date nights, anniversary getaways, worry-free babysitting, more living space, more budget space, all of that focusing on one another and our future – those aren’t the real things that build a marriage. It’s this. This looking outward together. This giving of our lives to something more than us, together.

This is our life’s work.
This is sacred.
This is love.

bless the Lord, oh my soul

Monday, March 5, 2012

I went to sleep still uneasy over a few events this past week, and I woke up to a stress-inducing email. My house is way more cluttered than I prefer on a Monday morning. I have an awkwardly scheduled day ahead, and, and, and….

God is speaking quiet to my soul. The grace of a single wintry day in this season of too-warm and rain and no snow days at all this year. He says, “Rest. Calm. Listen.”

 

Hearing the voice of God today:

755. gray skies that bring needed sinus relief
756. neighborhoods united in the midst of chaos
757. the love of my husband in spite of my imperfections
758. normally scheduled days
759. children at play
760. the after-school debriefing
761.
the brief time spent with two precious children, 3 years ago
762. following Jesus into the hard places, even when it still hurts us years later
763. the grace of a phone call, bending our knees, calling us to prayer, because there's nothing else we can do
764. a new month, a new shape on our gift banner
765. smiling children, asking, "how was your day Mama?"
766. secretly wondering if they mean it, or if they've learned the norms of polite social conversation at a very young age
767. snowdrops blooming in the tree line
768. daffodils peeking up their leaves
769. Green Eggs and Ham
770. children speaking "Seussically"
771. bright green asparagus and red-skinned potatoes
772. family dinner time
773. how the Holy Spirit guides separate people to the same goal
774. a spectacular drum fill
775. a new song, speaking life all day long

sunday [3]

Sunday, March 4, 2012

'Water bottles' photo (c) 2008, Quinn Dombrowski - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.

RESV – Richard E. Stearns Version of Matthew 25:44-46

broken families, broken hearts

Thursday, March 1, 2012

There are some days where I wish that caring for the ‘orphan’ wasn’t so overwhelmingly difficult. Days like today where I’ve spent most of the day in tears. Where we finally get a placement call after many fervent prayers, but it’s not at all the placement call we wanted. It’s the one where they know we have to say no, but they want to ask anyway: would we take back a previous placement?

I can’t even explain the sadness that grips my heart tonight. These children that we loved, that we were family with for three whole months…they’re yet again let down by their parents, left to the system to be cared for safely and appropriately. We can’t take them. We don’t have the space. Not in the wealthy American sense, but in the absolute literal sense. We’re only licensed for one more child, and although we know they would push the limits if we were willing, we literally do not have the bed space for two more elementary age children.  This took the decision out of our hands, which was probably for the best. Even if we had the space, we should still have said no. It wouldn’t be best for our family, and as a result, it wouldn’t be best for these two children either. Even knowing all that doesn’t make it easier or take away the guilt. We still hurt deeply for them. We still feel righteous anger towards their parents for their inability to make lasting change, towards the systems that can’t offer the right kind or right amount of assistance, towards the entire culture of our city that makes it virtually impossible for anyone to break the cycle of neglect, abuse, addiction, and poverty.

This whole situation definitely highlights a deficiency in the system. No matter how much of ourselves we pour into these children, they still return to their family system of origin. Most of the parental supports that are in place while the children are in foster care (by necessity) decrease dramatically once the children are returned home. Someone needs to be on that end of it. Supporting families, helping them succeed long-term. I would love to someday be a part of changing a family rather than just caring for the children.

There are a few programs out there that work a little more holistically than your average DJFS is able to. Safe Families is one of them. They allow parents to make positive choices on behalf of their children, keeping them out of the system. Their children are safe and cared for, and the parents are offered assistance to get their stuff in line. Unlike with traditional foster care, families often become the extended family and support that the original families need to stabilize. This program has, as far as I know, not yet come to our state, and I am hopeful it will soon. I’d love to see the effects it may have on the system here. Check it out:

 

Katie Couric Safe Families for Children Follow-up Report from John Norton on Vimeo.

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