It’s Been Awhile

It’s been almost a year since I last posted and I feel like I should be making a confession.  So here goes…forgive me readers for I have fallen short on blogging.  Life has been rather interesting since I last wrote, but thankfully things are getting back to normal if there even is such a thing.

As I wrote before, our dream of a farm full of fibery animals just didn’t happen.  No farm, no land, no country living.  We are smack dab in town but that hasn’t stopped us.  We are now “urban farmers” or at least trying to be.  So join us, if you will, in this new phase of our lives as continue to raise our children and watch some fly from the nest, raise backyard chickens, garden the best way we can, spin, weave, and grow with God.

The Desires of Our Hearts…

God’s word says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4.  Ahhhhh, yay I get whatever I want, right?  Quite frankly, that is the attitude I take on often.  Yup, if I am just a good girl and pray and read my bible, then God will give me whatever my little ole heart desires.  BUZZZZZZZ…..wrong answer. It seems like time and time again, the things that I think I want don’t come to fruition and I get all bummed out and jealous of those who have want I want.  How many times do I have to cry out about my desire to have a baby?  Yes, I have children and I love them.  But, I’ve never had a BABY!  Every time I thought we were close, either I’d miscarry or the adoption would fall through.  I’d really like to make a decent living doing what I love; weaving.  But I don’t. I really want a garden and some fibery animals, but things keep happening from making this desire a reality.  So, does that mean God’s word isn’t true?  Absolutely not.  Read the following

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil

or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:1-7

Trust in, wait for, and take delight in the Lord.  Very key words.  Sometimes the answer is going to be no and sometimes the answer is going to be not right now.

You see, I don’t have a baby and probably never will.  I realize that.  However, if I stop and think about it, if I would have had the baby I so desired, then we wouldn’t have adopted 5 children, wouldn’t have fostered 22 children, and we wouldn’t have fulfilled God’s plan for our family.  How being a part of those children’s lives has made my heart sing.  If I made a living off of weaving, then I wouldn’t have had time to weave the prayer shawls that I have woven over the years.  I, and the recipients, would have missed God’s blessing  in that.  And what a joy it has been to my soul.  I still want a garden and fibery animals and a farm, but God, I believe is saying the following to me. “Not right now.  I have other plans and other work for you to do and it may be somewhere else then where you want to be.  But trust me, be patient with me, delight in just me and I will give you the desires of your heart.”

I am learning that what I think might be the desire of my heart really isn’t.  The true delight of my heart is to please God.  To walk in His ways. To make Him happy.  To worship Him.  To love Him.  TO SERVE HIM.  I think what starts out as the desire of our heart changes over time to conform to His plan.

I don’t know where that leaves me for tomorrow other then continuing to learn to trust, obey, follow, and be patient.

Back In The Saddle Again.

The sound of loom clanking as one shaft opens and one closes is music to my ears.  The rhythmic back and forth of the shuttle flying left to right calms my fears.  Running my hands over newly woven cloth brings a sigh of satisfaction.  Mixing and blending colors paints rainbows in my mind and colors my life.  I am a weaver.

I haven’t been able to weave for the past few months.  Packing up, moving across country, unpacking, and changes in our entire life made it near impossible to get to the loom.  Once the looms where uncrated and yarns unpacked, I still couldn’t weave.  I couldn’t figure out what to make, what colors to use, what fibers to pick.  I was frozen.  I had no muse.  I had weaver’s block, I guess.  A friend in another state told me that she could hear it in my tone of  email that I was stressed and needed to weave.  So, I forced myself to prepare a warp.  I still was blocked.  I couldn’t see a project in my mind.  But I made myself go through the motions.  I just picked random colors.  After all, if it was a total bust, I could over dye the cloth, or use it for towels, or something.  I wound my warp, I put it on the loom, and I wove.  Withing minutes, joy flowed back into my fingers.  I felt it move through my body.  That’s when I remembered how much I love to weave. I have spent much time in prayer at my loom.  I can spend time with my God and feel His presence.  I know, I can hear some of you now, “You can be with God anywhere”, you say.  Yes, you can.  I’ve felt Him on the mountain top (seriously, I’ve been on Mt Rainier, I have felt God there), I have felt him in the valley (yup been to the Grand Canyon) felt him in the desert (lived in one for 5 years) and the list goes on.  But the times spent at the loom are our special time together.  Yesterday was a wonderful time.  Ahhhh, I’ve missed it but how I loved the peace that washed over me.

 

THE WEAVER

author unknown

My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

What About The Children Here….part 2

I’ve talked about how hard it has been to be a foster parent to our babies, but what about the older kids?  Oh my, where to begin.  This world is hard enough to deal with as a rational adult, but can you imagine having your entire world turned upside down day after day after day?  When I think of childhood, it should be filled with happy memories, carefree times, lots of playing, and dreaming along with the “normal” growing pains of trying to find yourself, where you fit in, what your talents are, what your boundaries are, and so forth.

But for kids in foster care, what put them in that position was a slow ride into a pit of darkness.  Can you imagine being 5 years old and being found by a neighbor going through his trash so you could get some food scraps to feed yourself and your siblings?  What about being so afraid to sleep because daddy likes to visit your room at night?  Or how about not knowing where you were going to sleep that night because you’re family has moved 20 times in the last 40 days?

Kids that suffer these abuses live in a very out of control situation and they’ve learned at an early age that they simply can’t trust adults.  Their early lessons of love mean getting smacked, beaten, abused, verbally berated, starved, abandoned.  They learn that they can only trust themselves, and that they are the only ones that will ever take care of them. They have been raised in chaos, and chaos is all they know.

Even after years of living in a safe, stable, loving environment the children still don’t trust or feel safe.  Their brains have become hardwired to protect and look out for themselves and not let anyone in.  Therapy, love, commitment, and security only go so far.  What happened when they were younger lasts decades (if not an entire lifetime) and is extremely difficult  for them to overcome.

As I said before, being a foster parent is tough.  Being a kid in this situation is tough.  Being a social worker is tough.  Not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent, no one wants to be one of the kids in these situations, and social work in grueling.  But you can help in other ways.

*Become a mentor. Do you have a special skill (leather craft, artist, seamstress, etc) or a hobby (knitting, fishing, hunting, etc)?  Spend time being a big brother or sister (or aunt or uncle) to a child in need.  Teach them a skill or hobby that will last a lifetime and help them feel like they are worth it.  Contact your local social services or a foster parent you know to obtain permission first.

*Become a tutor.  A lot of the kids in these situations find themselves behind in school.  The very act of being in survival mode makes learning 2+2 completely irrelevant.  Teachers can only do so much so tutors are so incredibly helpful.  Contact your local school to see if there is a way you can help.

*Volunteer at your local children’s shelter.  You may not think there is one around you (and there may not be) but we were shocked to find out that nearly every place we lived had one.  They do generally have a paid staff, but the kids always loved it when other people came to play with them.

*Become a CASA volunteer. CASA workers are Court Appointed Special Advocates.  They are trained advocates appointed by a judge, who fight for the rights of the children.  A CASA worker may be asked to appear in court to tell the child’s side of the story, may be asked to talk to medical professionals to let them know what is happening with a child.  A CASA worker bridges the gap between foster parent, school officials, attorneys, doctors, you name it.

*Become a respite care provider.  Sometimes foster parents just need a night out or have family emergencies that need to be dealt with out of the state and can’t always bring their foster kids with them without all kinds of special permissions, or sometimes not at all.  But, foster kids need to be in the care of state approved adults, so respite care is often called on.  It might be for a date night or a weekend, but helping out this way relieves a lot of stress that can build up in a foster family.

The above ideas take time.  You may be required to submit to background checks, finger printing, or even special training.  If that’s something that isn’t something you can do right now here are a few other ways to help.

* Donate to your local shelter or social services office.  Call and ask their needs.  I know that we’ve benefited from people donating toys.  Foster kids still have birthdays and celebrate other holidays as well.  One child we brought in had a birthday the very day we got her.  Because the lateness of the day, I didn’t have time to go get her presents and make sure she had a proper celebration, but because of the generosity of others, toys were provided to the shelter and all we had to do was wrap them up and then have our party after dinner.  Another time we brought in a little boy who was very large for his age.  The clothes we had on hand didn’t fit.  Because a church group got together and made boxes of love, I was able to get one of these boxes that had 3 days of clothing in there in his size. Perfect.  Foster kids often leave their homes on an emergency basis and older kids don’t have the ability to get school supplies.  So maybe paper, pencils, and spirals are needed.  Again contact your local agency and find out what their needs are.

*Send a foster mom or dad or a social worker out for a spa treatment or some other special pampering event.  We like to feel special too sometimes.

*Don’t automatically assume that the parent dealing with a screaming child in “stuff-mart” is a bad parent.  They might be dealing with a foster child that they just picked up or one they’ve had awhile and that child is putting on a show.  Offer an encouraging smile to the parent, a pat on the back (if even from a distance), or just know that they might be dealing something far greater then you can imagine.

*Pray.  Lift up the foster parents, the kids, and their workers to God.  We need them to continue working on behalf of the children here.

What About The Children Here?

I am so glad the holiday season is behind us if for nothing else, then perhaps I can stop seeing the commercials for the ASPCA or UNICEF. Ok, now don’t get all agitated with me thinking I don’t love kids and animals. I do! I truly do. If my house is any indication, you’d know. All our animals were shelter animals and with 5 kids (and the desire for more) I think that’s a statement in itself.

Here’s what I don’t like about these commercials: Heart wrenching as they are showing sad puppies that have been abused or showing the distended bellies of hungry children in a foreign country….WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN HERE? It’s estimated that more than half a million kids are in foster care in the United States*. By far, not all those kids are in foster homes. A lot of these kids are in shelters or group homes. A lot of these kids “age out” of the system and hit the streets without a loving family to nurture them, support them, or be their safety net if they make a wrong choice. A lot of these kids are born drug addicted and have been listed “failure to thrive”. A lot of these kids have issues of severe neglect and abuse. A lot of these kids have behavioral issues. A lot of these kids just want to be loved and accepted. A lot of these kids, although they don’t realize it, want boundaries and security and someone else to take care of them instead of them taking care of themselves.

Yes, it’s true, that there are kids in foster care that do get adopted. Our own family story includes adoption from foster care. I have several friends who have adopted from foster care. But the reality is, a lot more kids don’t get adopted. Babies with no issues are far more easily adopted out then say a 9 year old with lots of behavioral issues. I get that. I understand that. I live that. So, what are we teaching these children? That they aren’t worth it? Hey, they see those cute puppy dog commercials too and see people ooohhing and aahhhing over the plight of the abused dog and sending money. Or they hear the stories of people driving hours to rescue a dog from euthanasia. But while that 9 year old is sitting in a group home hearing about the rescue of the dog….who is working with that 9 year old telling him/her that they are worth it too? Have we just sent them a message that they aren’t? Have we just told them that their life is meaningless? This is the future generation and we are teaching them that they aren’t worthy enough to be treated like a dog.

I understand that not everyone can be a foster parent. It’s hard work. Believe me I know. There are joys unspeakable and sorrows unimaginable. We’ve fostered 22 children over the years. For the record, only 4 (2 sibling groups) went right back home to their birth families. The others went on to continue in foster care for extended periods of time. I know what it’s like to become attached to a child and not want to ever let them go.

I know what it’s like to bring a newborn home straight from the hospital that’s been born drug addicted. I’ve seen the pain that baby goes through as the poisons are released from their small bodies, screaming and crying through the day and night, while I am powerless to do anything except pray over them in their crib or hold them and rock them while in a darkened room because light was too much for their eyes to handle.

I know what it’s like to have a 5 month old in my arms that had a broken leg and only got one bottle a day, and was so neglected that he had already mentally “checked out.” I know what it’s like to hold that baby, gently forcing positive eye contact, while feeding several bottles throughout the day and night, feeling the weight slowly build up on his little bones, and seeing a smile finally creep back into his eyes while he playfully interacts with me or my hubby.

Or the one that had cigarette burns on her head. Or the one……you understand where I am going with that. Yes, I know how hard it is. I know how hard it is to pour my heart and soul into these babies and children for weeks and months, only to have my heart ripped out by the ringing of the phone and the words “it’s time for ‘Little Susie’ to move.”

But then I think of that baby that was labeled failure to thrive who could stare right through you and wouldn’t smile, coo, react to anything and after a month was giggling and finally learning to crawl. I think of the baby who couldn’t sleep because there was so much toxins in it’s small frail body and the pain was too much, but after 4 days of no sleep, some of the effects started to ebb away. Yes, it’s hard to be a foster parent.

But can you imagine how hard it is to be the child in this situation. I talked about some of the babies above. But what about the older kids?

(This post is listed in several parts.  Please visit again to read more of the story.)

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* National Foster Care Month Website Stats

Seasons of Change

I know I haven’t been around much lately.  As many of you are aware, not only did we change seasons of the year, our family changed seasons in our life.  Lots of changes in a short period of time.  I would like to think that in the past I was much more  adaptable to change.  But this move, for some reason, has me spinning.  Not a laid back sitting at my spinning wheel with some scrumptious fiber kind of spinning.  More like spinning in a tizzy.  An emotional whirlwind.

 

With moves in the past, boxes would already be unpacked, things organized, and put away.  We are a week in our new home and there are still boxes in some rooms and things still not put away.  Granted, this time around we moved over a huge holiday season and there was no rush for the Mr. to report to work like yesterday.  But still, this lack of umph has me far more concerned then the boxes that still need to be unpacked.

 

There have been a lot of emotional changes, family changes, not to mention work changes that have thrown me off my game.  But I hope to be back playing again real soon.  I don’t want to whine, but I do covet your prayers from G-d above to help make this transition go smoother.

 

If I don’t make it back here before the weekend, I wish you a very Happy New Year.

Talking with God

I used to have a standing appointment with God.  Every morning I’d stand in the kitchen and gaze out my little window towards the east and see the sun rise and talk with God and start my day.  In recent months, I’ve sort of forgotten about those appointments.  Instead I have kept the blinds closed until the sun was fully out.  I’ve put God in a box to take out whenever I wanted to “play” with Him.  I’ve pulled Him out when it was convenient for me.  I’ve gotten lax in my prayers and my appointments with God.  He gently reminded me of that last week.  He called my name and asked me if I would meet him for coffee this morning and watch the sunrise with him.  I almost forgot what it was like to sip on a warm cup of coffee and just listen to God speak through the beauty of His creation.

(picture taken this morning using low level light setting)

Seeing the streaks of sun coming through the trees was such a sight to behold.  Even though it was 38 degrees outside, I opened the sliding glass door and listened to the sounds waking up around me.  Birds chirping, squirrels running around chattering to each other, ducks quacking on the lake below the tree line.  What a great way to start the day.

Thank you, God, for always having time to visit with me.  Thank you for reminding me that you made it all.  Thank you for loving me enough to remind me that you are still there.

The Night The Lights Went Out…

We quickly discovered that winter here means loss of power.  We lost power several times last winter and while prepared, we weren’t as prepared as we could have been.  We don’t have a generator to plug the house into like our neighbors do, but then again, I guess we don’t have the insatiable need for power either.  Yes, lights are good, yes warmth is good, yes being able to cook is good.  But then again, we had flashlights, extra blankets along with other heat sources, and the ability to cook outside.  But, I took it an extra step this week and got some oil lamps.  I will be purchasing a few more in the weeks to come.

As the days are growing shorter at a rapid clip, dinner time is now at sunset.  The past couple of nights we’ve lit the lamps and used that as our source of internal light.  It’s been cozy.

It’s also been amazing how peaceful the house has feels in the glow of the steady light.  Youngest daughter says it’s just like “Little House on the Prairie” and as long we don’t start making them trek to an outhouse she is just fine with it.  Funny….one of the houses we are interested in perhaps buying someday has an outhouse.

 Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm…makes me wonder.

Who I Am…The New Me

For the last 15  years I have been defined by very specific titles.  First, I was an Army wife then later, a home schooling mom.  Everything I did was centered around those roles.  I ironed uniforms, I attended Army functions, I went to and led Army affiliated bible studies.  I stood by my husband as he left for schools, temporary assignments, and deployments.  I home schooled our children in three different states, countless addresses, more then our share of interruptions, emergencies, melt downs, and amazingly joyous moments.  Trips to the vet became incredible learning experiences.  A doctor appointment was easier to schedule because we could make it anytime during the day.  A simple trip to the grocery store became a day of discovery as we tried a new fruit and studied it and its origins for a week.  So many opportunities to learn and share.

Today has been a very bittersweet day for me.  Today all of my children left the house while it was still dark to wait for a bus that would take them to their new schools.  Today was my very first “first day of school” for all of my children outside of my teaching them.  Today I prayed over my children, touching each one of them and praying very specifically for them, and then hugging them as they left.  Today, my role changed.   I am no longer a home schooling mom.  As of today, I am just mom.

Even my role as Army wife is changing.  My dearest is preparing to leave the Army and retire from military service.  As he transitions into civilian life, so too must I transition as well. Will I be a farmer’s wife?  A teacher’s wife?  Will I simply be “his” wife? Will this be a time for me to spread my wings and redefine myself, or continue on my course?

So many questions.  So many options. I hope you will join me on this journey to find out who I am.  My question for those who wish to answer is simply….what role defines who you are?

Birthday Thoughts

As I walked the aisles of the famed “Stuff-mart” early this morning by myself (a very rare occasion indeed) I had time to reflect on some things.  When I checked out, a young mother was in front of me with two children.  One child was an engaging young toddler with huge dancing eyes and a smile that would knock your socks off.  The mother looked a bit harried, as most moms of youngsters do.  I somehow felt the need to impart “mature” advice to her.  I simply smiled at her baby and then at her and told her to enjoy those precious baby years as much as she could because the babies grow up so fast and before you know it, time is up.  Perhaps it was the hitch in my voice, but the mother looked at me, cocked her head to the side, and very solemnly said she would. Her baby reached for me and shattered my tender heart to pieces.

You see, eight years ago, we celebrated his 1st birthday with us.  Like all new parents, we had dreams and goals and expectations for his future.  How differently things have turned out.  If anyone  would have told me that we would be dealing with an oppositionally defiant autistic child, part of me I would have laughed in their face.  The other part would have run away as fast I could. “They” told us he had ADD/ADHD.  “They” told us that if we just loved him, everything would be ok.  “They” lied.

Mothering this child has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, yet one of the most rewarding.  Who would have thought that I needed to learn special holds to protect him and me?  Who would have thought there would have been rages and screaming fits that lasted for hours?  Who would have thought that during his screaming how much he hated me, sometimes I just didn’t like him so much either? Who would have thought he would destroy just about everything he was given.  Who would have thought there was so much anger inside?  Who would have thought that there was such a tender spot inside a broken heart?  Who would have thought that babies and animals would flock to him?  Who would have thought that he was so shy and insecure?  Who would have thought that he could be so funny?  Who indeed?

There have been times over the last 8 years I wanted to quit.  In fact, I think a couple of times, I did.  But the next morning we both dragged ourselves out of bed and started all over again.  There were times that I dreamt about today.  This day when we could set him free.  There were times I dreaded this day when he could walk away and I couldn’t do a thing about it.  There were times I cried myself to sleep worrying about his future and what he would become.  But he’s come so far.  It’s a struggle everyday for him.  He’s learning to deal with the things that slow him down (but don’t stop him).  He’s decided to take a few things seriously and try his best to succeed.  It’s going to be a hard road, but looking at the roads he’s already travelled, I know he can do this. He’s blossoming into the person he was meant to be.  Someone who can set the world on fire.

He doesn’t remember his past and I can’t help him with it because I wasn’t there.  He didn’t want a mom but he got one. He doesn’t know his future will be, but I long to be there.

Happy 18th birthday my “first born adopted” son.  I love you.