Life Is Good

Life happened. It’s been filled with changes. We’ve had good and not so good experiences. And I keep thinking I need to get back to blogging again.

So, I looked today and saw that my last post was over a year ago!

One of my 2017 goals is to blog more faithfully. We shall see if this happens. I unfortunately have a habit of jumping into projects with both feet and then forgetting to follow through. Or maybe I’m too lazy to follow through! :/

I’ve always reacted to the overused “Life is Good” quote. The truth of the matter is that life here on earth is sometimes not good. People we love get sick, we face fears, we deal with overwhelming issues, we watch others hurting. But I like a song that says, “Life is good, ’cause God is. Life is good, ’cause I’m His!” That’s a quote I can agree with! And so even in those sicknesses, fears, overwhelming things, hurts…I can believe that because my God is good, life can be good too.

It’s been a year that I wouldn’t want to relive…but through it all, God’s been there. He’s carried us. He’s sent people to show us His love. He’s blessed us in so many small ways. He’s provided for all of our needs, plus some wants.

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Adoption Day!

 

In April, we were privileged to adopt our fourth child. She is a joy and delight and adds so much laughter to our home. I’m afraid she gets a little too much attention…hopefully she can grow up without being too spoiled! 🙂

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Our new house!

 

 

In June, we packed up the last of our belongings and began the trek to VA. I just never thought I’d be a southern girl. But here I am. Don’t ever tell God you won’t do something. Coming to the point of surrender to our move and new life is another story for another time. But surrender is sweet, and I am loving our new location, spring-like weather in February and all! Our house is old with lots of surprises. Some have been good…some have been “oh dear” moments. 🙂 I feel like I finally have things organized to the point that I can start to add some personal touches and that has been so much fun.

In October, I woke in ICU not remembering the two previous days. It was such an odd feeling. It has been a journey of faith for us as we wait for doctors to figure out why I had a seizure and what they should do. We are in good hands and know that God has a reason for everything. Not driving for six months has been a trial, but I’m counting down the last two months of that too…and we have had so many people who have helped out. Truly they are the hands and feet of Jesus to us!

So, I shall return to my Saturday projects. And we shall see if I reach my goals to meet you here more often! Then again, maybe it will be another year until I’m back! 🙂 Only time will tell…

No Second Best

Sixteen months ago we added to our family. Babies change things. Especially foster babies. Along with adjusting to a new little person, I went for two visits a week. So life happened, life was crazy busy, and an unexpected blogging hiatus happened too. Before we got Little C, my blogging was intermittent at best – non-existent at worst. 🙂 I didn’t realize it had been so long since I put my heart on here.

I try to pick something specific to be thankful for at each Thanksgiving. This year it is this…GOD HAS NO SECOND BEST!

For the first five years or so of marriage, I was sure that having a bio child was God’s best for us. If I just prayed enough, bargained with God enough, prayed Hannah’s prayer enough. Surely God knew we would do our best to raise our children for Him? But if that wouldn’t happen, we did have the option to adopt. However, that would be only the alternative, the second best, an option we’d turn to if all else failed. I had a talk with a friend also facing infertility and she assured me that she felt like adoption was God’s very best for them. I couldn’t understand. Children are a heritage from the Lord. Surely that meant “our own” children, not someone else’s.

Then God made us ready to pursue adoption – both ready at the same time. This hadn’t happened before. When I saw Bella for the first time with her black, untrusting eyes peeking out from under a pink hat and a shock of black curls…I knew. And five years later I still know. These children were MEANT for us. No, God doesn’t plan for birth parents to fail and sin, and it breaks His Father heart for a child to know rejection. But before the foundation of time, He knew. He knew the tears that would fall from our eyes as we experienced the pain of infertility. He knew that there were four precious children who would need the love we had to offer. He knew that He would bring us together in a beautiful picture of the visible Gospel. And He knew that my heart would change and I WOULD NO LONGER CHOOSE MY WAY ANYMORE, MY FIRST BEST AND SECOND BEST WOULD CHANGE PLACES. 

I am the mother of four children who are mine in every way that matters!

AND FOR THAT I’M THANKFUL!

It’s Enough

My heart was so heavy this morning as I thought about all the pain going on around me right now. None of these situations am I personally involved in, but I have experienced loss and grief and hope mingled with brokenness…

…A young mother (my mom) asked to give up her husband and raise four daughters without him.

…Two little boys battling cancer when no child should ever have to think about blood counts, chemo and brain tumors.

…A young man also fighting cancer instead of dreaming of graduation, a possible career and family.

…A class of seniors who have worked hard to make a trip to Grenada happen, the life of a classmate lost in a drowning accident when they should be making fun memories.

…A mother who will be required to give up her baby because of choices she has made. How is that I was born to a Mom who loved me and showed me how to live Godly by example, but this woman was not?

…Girls kidnapped because they want an education, abused children, wives betrayed by ungodly husbands, unwanted babies murdered before they take their first breaths while other mothers mourn their miscarried or stillborn child, mothers and fathers who pray for a wayward child but see no results…

I was questioning and praying and turned on the CD player. And this is the song I heard…

Great Physician, why the sickness?                                                                              Loving Father, why the orphan?                                                                                 Lifegiver, can’t you see the barren womb?                                                                          Good Shepherd, where’s the lost sheep?                                                                       Provider, why the hungry?                                                                                                       It seems there’s so much You could do.

But it’s enough for me to know that it’s under your control                                                      Though your higher ways I don’t understand.                                                                         I’m trusting not in what I see. By faith I believe.                                                                    It’s enough for me to know that You can.

God forbid my selfish questions.                                                                                   Please forgive my desperation.                                                                                            It’s not for me to know how and when.                                                                                    Your miracles are more than fables.                                                                                       I believe You’re still able!                                                                                                        And it’s enough just to know that you can.

It’s enough for me to know that it’s under your control                                                      Though your higher ways I don’t understand.                                                                         I’m trusting not in what I see. By faith I believe.                                                                    It’s enough for me to know that You can.                                                                                 Song by Daryl Petersheim, sung by Garment of Praise

And when my children found me in a heap of weepiness on the kitchen floor :/ I tried to explain that I’m homesick for Heaven, and tired of all the hurting and dying and crying. My precious children gathered around me, gave me hugs, Rylan prayed for me, and I felt loved and blessed. Then wise-beyond-her-years Bella asked if she should pray for the boy that drowned. I told her she could pray for his family and friends, but he didn’t need to be prayed for anymore because he was in Heaven. She gave me a “duh, Mom!” look and proceeded to pour out her little heart to her Daddy. “…And Jesus, I know they’re probably crying right now. But help them not to be sad because the boy isn’t sad anymore because he’s in Heaven!” I cried some more tears, but these were bittersweet.

So I’ll continue to live and love and laugh. And I’ll still be homesick for Heaven!

Forgive as you have been forgiven

I’ve been thinking I need to update here again, however, I want each post to be from my heart – not just something I conjure up to fill cyberspace.

Today I got another glimpse of why Jesus told us to become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…

I have a little boy who especially knows how to push buttons to make this mommy lose her cool. Yes, sometimes (more often than I wish) that happens. So, today I was at that place I wish I’d never go and needed to apologize for unkind words and (gulp, feeling vulnerable here) some discipline that took place in anger.

Big blue eyes looked into big brown ones full of tears as I said, “I’m so sorry Mommy got angry! I love you so much! Will you forgive me?” And the tears spilled over as he took my face in his hands and said, “Yes! I so glad you my mommy!”

And that’s how I want to forgive, because that’s how I’ve been forgiven

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Two years ago (before my blog existed) I wrote a piece on Facebook called When I Became a Foster Parent. It was some thoughts and feelings I was dealing with at the time. We have been blessed to adopt two children since then (and have another scheduled for the end of September!!!), but I’ll never forget those feelings. And I just might feel them again when (if God wills) we enter the merry-go-round of another foster case sometime. So here is a re-run of that, adapted and added to, continuing a “Confessions” theme…

When I became a foster parent, I didn’t know…

…that it would be one of the biggest time commitments I’ve ever made in my life,

…that falling in love with a child would not happen at first glance,

…that after years of wanting to be a mom, there would be moments when I’d wish for “everything like it used to be”,

…that losing the child you love would be a cloud hanging over you at all times,

…that I would look at bio moms around me and be so jealous because no one has “presented as a resource” for their baby,

…that others would look at me and say, “You’re so amazing! I just couldn’t do it because I could never give a child back after I’ve bonded.” And on the outside I smile and say, “Thanks,” while inside I scream, “I’m not amazing! I can’t give back a child either! But we need more people committed to loving hurting children regardless of the hurt it might cause us because that’s what Jesus has asked us to do!” But I hold it in because they wouldn’t understand,

…that I can’t think “I’m finally through THAT stage” because I might have to start all over again with a different baby and hand all the progress over to someone else,

…that it would be so hard and awkward to relate to birth parents,

…that I would secretly be so overjoyed when “my” child wants me and not their birth mom,

…that I would feel guilty because of the above statement,

…that I would also feel guilty because I have their precious baby and they don’t (although it’s not my fault at all),

…that waiting for months (sometimes years) would be SO.HARD,

…that court days would always loom large on the horizon of your mind.

So, why am I still a foster mom?

Because when I became a foster parent, I also didn’t know…

…that coaxing a smile from a baby to whom I am a stranger would be so rewarding,

…that the moment I realize I have finally fallen in love would bring tears to my eyes,

…that it would make me so happy to know that there is a definite bond growing,

…that it would feel so good to hear my little girl say, “Mom”,

…that it would melt my heart to see their little faces light up when I walk in after one of their visits with bio parents,

…that even partial trust and friendship from a bio mom would be such a blessing,

…that we would feel so blessed to be just where God wants us touching the children’s lives He wants us to be touching,

…that every moment, smile, touch, giggle, hug, kiss, and milestone would feel so fragile and precious,

…that we would suddenly realize we’re not the ones changing lives as much as we are being changed by these special little people,

…that making the most of every teachable moment about God, their value and worth, and how much Jesus loves them would feel so urgent,

…that I would learn to pray so desperately for God’s best for a child because that’s the only prayer that makes sense,

…that it would be so good for me to have my eyes vividly opened to the needs of hurting, lonely, empty lives so close to where I live my sheltered life,

…that little brown arms around my neck and sparkling black eyes or big blue ones would make me feel so blessed to be their mom at least for now.

And a few additional thoughts we foster parents would like you to know…

“The idea of sainthood [of us foster parents] makes it impossible for ordinary people to do this – and the truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster parents. This also stinks because if we’re saints and angels, we can’t ever be jerks or human or need help, and that’s bad, because sometimes this is hard.” Sharon Astyk

Don’t ask questions and make comments (especially in front of the children) that you wouldn’t ask about biological children! From “I don’t understand why something can’t be done to stop these women from having children!” to “Are they your real children?” Not only does this hurt a child to hear these things, but I’ve come to really care about these children’s bio families. These women birthed the babies I love and care for. They are people just like you, without the training and tools and Jesus to make responsible choices! The answers I bite back nearly choke me sometimes! 🙂 And my responses to the comment and question above are (at least in my head)…”Are you implying that this child I love shouldn’t have been born?” and “Do they look fake to you?” (And yes, I’ve heard both of these more than once!)

While these children are with us, we love them entirely. They are our real children and my children’s real siblings. Blood doesn’t make a family! The same eye color, hair color, skin color doesn’t make us bond better. I see Jesus in my children’s eyes…that’s why I love them! Some of them may stay forever. Some of them may go and come back. Some of them may leave and we’ll never see them again. At Penn Valley we were challenged to remember that when a child leaves, they take a piece of us with them. And it hurts and we grieve. But with all the missing pieces in their lives, they need that piece far more than we do knowing the Healer of hurting hearts!

So have I convinced anyone to join me on the journey? It’s an incredible one! There could be children waiting for you! 🙂

Some of my thoughts here at the end were culled from a blog post I read a few months back. She came across a little stronger than I thought necessary with some of the things and I didn’t feel the need to use it in its entirety. She did have some good stuff if you wish to check it out…http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2013/03/12/what-foster-parents-wish-other-people-knew/.

Confessions of Infertility

This post has been sitting on a shelf in my mind for a long time. Most of the time, I’m OK with our infertility journey. We knew when we got married that we’d probably never have bio children. And we would be missing out on the joy we receive from our three beautiful children God has given us through the foster care system. Still there are moments when it hurts not to be pregnant, when it seems every last woman I know is, when I’m so tired of fearing “announcements,” when conversations get stuck on pregnancy and birth-related things, when I mourn that I’ll never hold in my arms the result of our love, when I know I’ll not get to see what a little “Sheldon” or “Twylene” looks like. And the reason I’ve not written this before is because it’s painful. Unless you’ve walked this journey, you cannot understand (but thanks for trying.) (And if you start reading this, please read to the disclaimers at the bottom so you know I’m not whining or asking for pity or complaining!) 🙂

I spend a refreshing morning about every 6 weeks with a group of ladies who are infertile, but are also moms (or hoping to be) through adoption/foster care. Much of our conversation centers on things like, “What does his case look like?” or “Have you heard anything from your agency yet?” or “It really looks like they’re moving her to an aunt’s care,” or “My patience is wearing out!” or “We got an adoption date!” Sometimes we still discuss the pain of a barren womb and the latest thing someone has said to us that left us speechless at some people’s insensitivity. Sometimes we ask advice about a non-supportive family member, and sometimes we rejoice at the miracle of a changed attitude. We discuss racial issues and our fear of attachment disorders. Sometimes we laugh, but sometimes there are tears. It’s a safe place to vent and it’s just such a blessing!

Some of the following content comes from our talks with these or other women, some comes from my own experience. Some of these things I feel less now that I am an adoptive mom, some of them still rear their heads at times, some of them are feelings others have shared…

  1. Please don’t tell me that you understand just how I feel because you “tried for six (or nine or even twelve) months” before you got pregnant. Most of us would be delighted to only have that many disappointing months instead of six or nine or even twelve years!
  2. Sometimes it doesn’t make me feel better when you tell me about so-and-so who is pregnant after waiting eight years. It’s one more person that no longer understands and it sometimes makes me question why God blessed them and not me.
  3. I try very hard to rejoice with every woman who announces a pregnancy, but sometimes I go home and cry in my husband’s arms wondering why God asked us to walk this hard road. If I leave the room quickly while everyone else is rejoicing, it might be because I need to get rid of a few tears, have a mini pity-party, get my emotions in line, and wait for the hubbub to die down so I can act normal. I will be happy for you eventually, sometimes it just takes a little time.
  4. Please don’t expect me to do extra things because “I have no children so what on earth do I have to do?”. We have a joke in our ladies’ group that all childless women must do is sit around eating bon-bons and reading novels. 🙂 We do have a life even though we don’t have children! And sometimes we’re just as busy as you with your house-full (although it’s a very different kind of busy.)
  5. Sometimes I question whether I wasn’t given bio children because God knew I’d be a horrible mom. Then my husband gently reminds me that there would be way fewer children in this world if that was God’s way of deciding who had babies.
  6. Very few times am I included in lists, prayers, etc…families, older people, children, youth. Where am I? Are we a family – just the two of us? (Single people get missed here too, by the way.)
  7. Sometimes things that people say or do hurt us, then we feel guilty for feeling hurt since we know they didn’t mean it. Most of us don’t mean to be over-sensitive, but we might have just had two friends and a family member tell us their “exciting news” and we’re having a hard time.
  8. It is VERY kind of you to tell me privately that you are pregnant. I have time to process everything instead of being in a crowd of people to watch me run crying from the room (or try to think of happy things to say when I’d rather run crying from the room.)
  9. Sometimes you can remind me how blessed I am to have extra time with my husband, time to pursue my hobbies, time to sleep in or go to bed late. It reminds me that there are blessings in this stage of my life. But…
  10. Please don’t complain or whine about how loud your children are, how naughty they are, how you never have time for yourself. We’d give a lot to have one or more “naughty ones” of our own. It’s like complaining to a starving person how much you need to lose weight.
  11. Mother’s Day is one of the hardest days of the year for many of us! Some of my friends don’t even go to church because it’s just too painful. If you see a childless woman on this day, you can gently remind her that a mother by definition is someone who gives and/or nurtures life. She can do this every day, whether or not her body’s ever gone through the actual baby process.
  12. If I seem to be obsessed with a pet, it’s because that pet fills the mothering need in a very small way. Hey, at least the house isn’t completely empty when I walk in the door, and someone(thing) loves me just because I’m me!
  13. Some people say things that are insensitive (Whether they mean it that way or not, doesn’t really change the way it makes us feel. And I’ve had little experience with this because our families and friends are very supportive. Most of these come from the experiences of ladies I know.) Here are some examples:
  • “If you just wouldn’t stress out so much about getting pregnant maybe it would just happen!” or another classic, “You need to just relax.” One lady in my infertility group said that the next time one of her friends moans about getting pregnant too easily she’s going to say, “You just need more stress in your life, or maybe you need to be a bit more tense!” 🙂
  • “Oh, you should start the adoption process and then you’d get pregnant. It happens all the time.” Well actually it doesn’t…statistics aren’t very high in favor of that statement.
  • “Maybe you just don’t know how to ‘do it.'” Excuse me?? This one doesn’t even deserve any comeback!
  • “Maybe when you reach ‘change of life’ you will suddenly have a few children.” You may have little or no idea why this couple has infertility issues (and they might not even know!) so this is really a pointless thing to say.

We walk a difficult path, we childless women. We are told as little girls and older how great a mommy we’d be, the Bible has few examples of infertility and all those (except David’s wife Michal) received a biological child at some point, we are wired to mother, it’s something that can define us if we allow it to. But it doesn’t have to! God has given grace to be content here, now, where we’re planted!

Disclaimer #1 This post isn’t to make you feel like you must walk on eggshells around us or never talk about pregnancy and childbirth or like we are waiting to weep at any slip of your tongue! It’s just a glimpse into one of the difficult paths God calls some of His daughters to walk.

Disclaimer #2 I recognize that there are other difficult things people face…an unfaithful husband, abuse, wayward children, miscarriage, death, chronic illness…this is written from a place I’ve been, not from any of these scenarios.

Disclaimer #3 I know that I can be just as insensitive to your issues as you are to mine, simply because I’ve never walked your path. Please tell me how I can be more sensitive…I want to learn too!

What My Sisters Have Taught Me

As I thought about yesterday’s “gifts in someone older than you,” I thought of my three older sisters. I am blessed to have three who are/were Godly examples. Here is something I’ve learned from each of them…

Suzette – I remember her saying, “If you only do in life what you feel like doing, nothing would ever get done.” I have always admired her dedication to her family, her motivation and her ambition. She gets so much done in a day, but also finds time to invest in the lives of her family. I am also challenged by the way she invests time in missionary ladies’ lives…keeping in touch, praying, just letting them know they’re not forgotten.

Lynnae – When I was fresh out of high school, 18 years old, I lived with her family for three months as a “maid.” We laughed, cried, made so many good memories and I treasure them! One thing I’ll never forget is the time she took with her children. They were more important than anything else in her day. I want to be that kind of mother. She lived well, fully…then she died well too, faith-filled to the very end. Can’t wait for Heaven!

Gerrene – There are eight years between us and we fought, oh, how. we. fought! Then magically one day (maybe when I finally grew up :)) we clicked. One of the things I admire about her is the patience and understanding she gives their special-needs daughter. I think she carries a burden heavier than any of us really understand, and God trusted her to take care of an extra-special child. It’s a gift given to the few who are worthy. She does it cheerfully and we rarely hear her vent (although if she needs that we’d listen! :)) Her reward in Heaven will be great!

There’s nothing quite like a sister and I was blessed with three!

And today’s Gifts in Fabric…

  • my cheery new Ikea apron (how I love that store!)
  • the ribbons and fibers I use as I catch up my children’s life books (that we’re supposed to do when they’re foster children. Ahem. Two are adopted and one almost…yes, I’m a little delayed.) I love to scrapbook!
  • the overflowing closets, drawers, and totes full of clothing. We are blessed!