Tag Archives: parenting

Brewing

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A lot has changed since I posted last. One of the biggest is my husband officially became the senior Pastor of our church. As crazy as it sounds, I am now a pastor’s wife! I will continue to post to this blog as I always have, but I have also started another blog specifically to share things God shows me on this new journey. It will center around the time I spend with God while I have my coffee in the mornings as well as other tidbits along the way. Here is part of my latest post to “Coffee with a Pastor’s Wife”. Click on the link at the end to be transported to the post itself! If you would like, follow my new blog as well! Thanks!

Brewing

There is nothing like the excitement of waiting for your first cup of coffee to brew in the morning. You gather all your ingredients and pour the water in, add ground coffee and push the button. Afterwards, the relief (and I do mean genuine relief) when it is ready! That’s how I feel about this post today. Like for a long time these things have been in my head waiting for the concept and content to be melded together, ready to pour into a cup to be shared with friends!!! My first few sips have been savored with thankfulness, I hope yours will bring encouragement to you as well!

When I was a new bride I read a book about love languages. I learned about how I express and receive love and how my husband does too. Later, as our kids came along I learned about theirs. It has been so helpful!! Through the years John and I have also had the opportunity to do different kinds of personality tests and have learned a lot about how each other operates. Learning about each other (and ourselves)that way has been a tremendous asset to our marriage!

Just this year I learned something about this topic that had never occurred to me. Maybe you have already figured this out, but if not, I feel it is important to know and to share. It took me 15 years to realize it. It came about because of a miscommunication I had with my husband that he never even knew about…Brewing

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Filed under miscellaneous

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This statement is meant to wrap into a neat little package the inevitable undesirable circumstances life brings and tie it up with a ribbon. To be identified, solved and put away. The ability to process information and file it away where it belongs is how we handle all things negative and positive: both to remember and to forget. What happens, though, when you are faced with information that just will not compute? Where do you file things that are so unimaginable that you will never forget and will never understand, or worse, are afraid to understand fearing it will leave a permanent stain?

How do you recover from pain that follows you the rest of you life? Dreams unrealized, expectations obliterated, illusions shattered by those who were supposed to shelter you, what do you do with these?

Sometimes it feels as if we must break them up into smaller pieces and file them in the places those pieces alone fit. However, doing that leaves fragments behind that don’t belong anywhere and are missing information that helped them remain tangible. Essentially leaving us right back where we started except now the information is scattered. The only hope we have of ever moving forward is for them to be kept together. A whole, a file containing all of the information. This means that when we remember, we remember it all. When we forget, we forget it all. It also means that we will never remember or forget for long.

When no amount of organizing or processing is effective we must add the file as a whole to “Miscellaneous”. We must allow our selves to explore the pain, to grieve, to savor the good refusing to believe that it wasn’t real. We must also allow ourselves to be broken so that we can begin to pick up the pieces. I am convinced, anything less will hold us back from healthy emotional connections and the continued genuine presentation of our selves. Bitterness and resolve are opposite sides of a coin. We must decide which side we are on. Pushing everything aside or breaking it apart will lead to bitterness and leave us with leftover pieces that will never be filed away. Wholeness comes with the strength gained from walking through the pain of being shattered and put back together better than we were before. A mirror once broken produces the best rainbows!

Baby H

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John 11:35 Jesus wept

Last summer, on my way home from target, I answered the phone.  It was our licensing counselor.  There was a baby girl, born five days before, that needed a place to go.  We said yes.  Three hours later I drove to the back of the office building to meet a case worker holding a tiny little baby wrapped in a hospital blanket wearing only a onesie that looked to be two sizes too big.  She handed her to me. Then Kaitlyn and I put her into a car seat. I signed papers and grabbed the hospital bag and a suitcase and we left.  Just like that our world changed forever again.

I don’t think that you ever get used to the feeling when a new child is handed over to you. The weight of the world is placed in your hands wrapped in a beautiful human gift.  You are excited and terrified.  Falling in love is easy. The case will have you feeling raw and like your insides are hanging outside your body with no protection.  You will fight hard for the child who can’t fight for themselves.  You love them as your own even knowing they aren’t. It’s how it goes. Every time it is the same, every time it is immensely different.

This time we had it on good authority that this baby wouldn’t be with us much longer than six weeks. She was supposed to go to her paternal grandmother and then very quickly back to the parents who loved her, wanted her, and were going to fight hard to be able to bring her home.Through the course of the next few months we soon realized that none of that would  happen.

Meanwhile she grew and developed and got fatter and fatter and cuter and cuter! We loved her and she loved us.  It was so much fun to dress her up and I carried her everywhere wrapped to my body. She was safe and warm and loved beyond measure on our side. On the other side of the case was feelings of abandonment and frustration with the way everything was being handled. We had very little say in any of it.  Being home and in our every day world was a sanctuary to bury ourselves in to rest after venturing over to the other side fighting hard for the protection and rights of this child we loved.

Three months in we began to believe that she would eventually be able to be ours forever.  Even though we knew things could change at any moment. They did.

We learned that her maternal grandparents had been searching for her, begging anyone that would listen to help them connect with her.  They would complete their home study and we would see what would happen.

We were encouraged to get to know them and to keep in contact with them during the process.  I was petrified.  As we began to get to know them, their love and care for her was glaringly evident.   We began falling in love with them too, just like we did with our Baby H.  We sent pictures and updates and facilitated visitations.  We formed quite a bond with them. Soon we were fighting for all of us not just the baby. Fighting for a chance to know she was safe. We knew she would be safe with them and loved and she would have everything she could possibly need.

She was seven months old the day I packed all the little things for her that she would be taking to her new forever home.  She looked up at me and smiled as I changed and dressed her.  For all she knew it was just another day.  I knew better. I fought tears all morning. I didn’t want to upset her. I was glad for the preparations that needed to be made. At least there was work to focus on.  Every snuggle and kiss meant more than ever before that morning.  My world was shattering, there would be no more sanctuary.  I dreaded coming home knowing she wouldn’t be there.

John asked to feed her before work that day. We just wanted to savor every precious moment we had left.  I’ll never forget him sitting there silent tears stealthily inching down his face as she reached up and grabbed his finger while he held her bottle for her.

Two hours later I handed her to her grandparents. After hugging all together and kissing her good bye I walked out of the DCF office empty handed. I sobbed all the way to the car and all the way home.  Memories flooding my mind from the past seven months. Pushing back the fear that she would feel abandoned by me and that she would need me and I wouldn’t be there for her. That I would never see her again.

“You signed up for this Rach….you have no right to hurt like this…suck it up and move on….you knew she wasn’t yours…this is your job…no one is going to feel sorry for you…you chose the foster parent life.”

Then I read John 11:35 Jesus wept. In that passage we learn about Jesus finally going to where Lazerous had lived and been sick. He came knowing Lazerous was dead.  He stood at the tomb and prepared to perform a miracle. Before he did so, he wept.  He wept for the pain of loosing a friend. He wept for the pain that his friends felt who had been left behind. He wept for the betrayal his inaction had caused Lazerous’ sisters to feel.  He wept.  HE WEPT? He knew that Lazerous’ death was temporary.  He knew it because he was God and he would be the one to raise him from the dead.  But in his love for his friends and in his humanness, he felt the pain that death caused and he didn’t want that for anyone, including himself.   When I read that I realized: we all make choices in life out of love for others and love for ourselves.  Just because I signed up to be a foster parent doesn’t take away the pain of saying goodbye. I didn’t weep because of the injustice of it all or out of surprise that my baby was taken from me.  I wept because I miss her. I wept because I would have given anything to be with her. I wept because of the pain I saw in her grandparents eyes as they watched their family be torn apart and the joy when she was brought home to them safely. I wept because she was mine and because she wasn’t. I wept for the pain in my husbands eyes when he held her that last time and for my children who would miss her too.  I wept. And it is ok because Jesus wept too.

Since then we have gotten updates and pictures from her grandparents. They let us know how she is. She is doing great!! Growing and so loved.  It is such a blessing!!

#beafosterparent #youcantdoit #icantdoit #Godcan

Shape-sorting

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Adoption is much more than I ever thought it could be.  Especially adoption from foster care.  Through the whole process, all I could think about was getting through the next hoop nessecary to make this baby safely ours forever.  We loved him, we wanted to make sure we could keep him safe.

We stood before the judge and with our hands raised we promised to love, protect, and take care of him for the rest of his life and ours as if he was naturally born to us.  That is huge to me!  

Now that it is all over, the ramifications of the choices we made along the way are sinking in. Also the anger that I pushed back throughout the entire process is rearing it’s ugly head.  Now it is bigger.  Not only am I angry that all the things these kids went through happened to them, but now it’s anger that this was done to MY kid.  I am angry that he wasn’t protected and that he will have to live with the reprocussions of this pain for life.  

I began to panic about what all this will mean to him someday.  Will he understand why things were done? Will he be angry with us? Will he be angry at her?  Will he believe the facts of the case? If he does, will he feel hurt at what transpired to bring him to us?  How can we ever truly fill the void in his little heart?  
No, we won’t.  We can’t.  That is not a mommy and daddy shaped hole.  If we try to fill that void for him we only reinforce what Satan will already be working on, which is attempting to make him believe he needs something from his past to return or be accounted for, to make him whole.  This isn’t  a bio family shaped hole, or an answer shaped hole–it is a God shaped hole.  

While needing answers is valid, some answers can be skewed. Years and time can make deep wounds heal faster when the perceived medicine is given. What if in 20 years he believes lies that undermine all we told him his whole life? 

God has reiterated to me that our job in his life is not to help him get what he needs to fill the void or to keep his options open. Our job is to point him always to the only one who can safely fill that void for him. God may choose to use others, us included, to help him, but we have to teach him how to see people as instruments in his life. Either used by God or not.  All experiences in our lives good and bad right and wrong , our sin or others’ sin, as a giant neon sign pointing us back to Christ. 

“…she laughs at the things to come.”It’s not with sarcasm or blind carelessness a woman of God does this. It is with the knowledge that the one we depend on is worthy of our trust and our future is secure no matter what.  We must walk in truth.  We must rely on the Holy Spirit (the only one who knows he mind of God) who intercedes for us to impart wisdom in our circumstances based on the facts that we have.  

We are not the Shape sorter or the shape identifiers. We are all framework, filled with different shaped holes, waiting for God to put the pieces together.  

Beating the odds

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I am the kind of person who tends to be rebellious.  I don’t buck the system in the typical ways though.  I like order. I love organization, though you would never know it to look into ANY of my spaces at the moment. I appreciate rules and regulations if for no other reason then it keeps others in line while I dance across the line and do what I want.  I like to know where my boundaries are so I can push them as much as is comfortable for me, then run back to safety whenever I want.  One of my biggest motivations in life is prooving someone wrong when they warn me not to do something, or tell me I can’t.  I like to be the one that beat the odds.

This can be a matter, usually is, of pride with me.  I tend to think I can take something that I view as a mess and fix it like no one else has been able to fix it.  I like to be prepared when no one else is, in ways that no one else thought of.  I don’t like needing help,but I want to be surrounded by people who will help me.  My pride says “You can do it better. You can delegate this and this and orchestrate this.  Everyone will see that you did it good” those are the times I end up hurting others and looking up at those I looked down on, before I fell.

Sometimes this is a matter of believing in something and wanting it to succeed.  Sometimes it is about believing in someone that no one else believes in.  Sometimes it is about caring and trying and hope.  Sometimes it is about wanting to be used by God in a unique way in someone’s life.  Those are the times I risk getting hurt. 

Being teachable is an important life skill. When others, more qualified, or in a position of authority tell me what I should do, I usually listen.  The times I don’t are when I feel like I have a vision for where I want to go, and I don’t see how doing it their way can get me there.  I realize that if I do it my way and it succeeds then I have beaten the odds.  It is a temptation too great.  

One example I experienced in the last few months is my journey with Owen’s birth mother.  She is the woman who gave him life. This is not to be taken lightly. SHE.CHOSE.LIFE.  In the world in which we live the choice to abort or sustain a pregnancy is so freely given.  In her situation she could have easily chosen not to continue.  Instead she chose to give her best shot at parenting him.  Although the circumstances and choices that followed resulted in him being removed from her custody, the fact that she tried is a monumental thing.  I will be forever grateful to her for that.  

Since the day that I met her we have been in regular contact.  There have been ups and downs and times when I wanted to pull my hair out and times when I am sure she did too.

Through it all the recommendation across the board from the people in charge of this case was: cut all contact.  However, my personal dealings with her were pleasant and I felt I could give her a chance.  I had a fantasy of us growing old still texting away. I knew there were hard decisions to be made and boundaries put into place.  I just felt that even if all her bridges were burned with everyone else, I could be the one to build something special with her.  Truth is, it meant a lot to me to have her in our lives.  I just wanted it to be on my terms. 

It doesn’t work that way. You cannot control other people.  You can reach out to them, set boundaries in your relationships, but you cannot control what they can and cannot do or will or will not do.  In the end all you have left is a partnership or nothing.

I’m not sure what we will end up with at the end, but I do know this is a situation where I need to put aside all pride, put aside my desire to beat the odds and prove the authority wrong.  I have to take into consideration they could be right.  I have to decide where my boundaries are and take the responsibly to guard them. If the choice is made by the other person to breach them, there needs to be a plan B.  This is where we are.  Some things are cut and dried, others have to have the flexibility to change, expand, and shrink over time to accommodate needs of all parties.  “Do your best to be at peace with all men!” “Pride goes before a fall” be yea kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake as forgiven you”.  Sometimes we have to do things for the sake of others.  My son takes priority and should be my only motivation outside of Christ. Now I need to figure out how to do that.  Maybe God will beat the odds through me! Maybe I will discover that the odds I thought needed to be beat are different from the ones God is going to beat with me. I may never know.  So here I go, pursuing a dream.  We will see where God directs the chase. 

Bathing in the Jordan River

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I waited with them, the little one on my lap, my nine year old in the chair, and Jalah with her nose to the door anxiously anticipating the arrival of her sisters and brothers who she hasn’t seen in weeks. They were separated from their family and taken one by one from her all day long before she got to me.  She was so excited to see them!  When they burst through the door the reunion joy exploded as they all hugged each other and talking at once began to attempt to fill each other in on their time apart. The baby lunged for his brother and just snuggled him in relief.  It was clear, no matter their ages that they had worried about each other and their love was evident.  The limited visit lasted just over an hour and a half before the time came to say goodbye.  I have never witnessed anything ,in real life, that traumatic and heartbreaking.  First, the hugging and sobbing and picture taking, followed by begging across the parking lot for just a little more time. When we finally were strapped into the car Jalah’s greaf had given way to anger and despair and she screamed for her mother and kicked and threw herself back against the seat.  She didn’t even see her mother, but the trauma of being separated from her siblings again brings it all back to the surface.  

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed absolutely hopeless and the only viable option you are given does not make sense, seems complety distainful, or just absolutely out of the question?  This is where these kids are.  This is where we, as foster parents, are.  It seems ludacris to continue in this system where kids are separated from parents who have neglected, abused, or sat back and watched as someone else did this to them. Then for us to take them in against their will and begin to help, then rip the bandaide off with visits just when they are beginning to heal.  We are pouring everything into these kids who don’t even want us.  I don’t know how to reconcile this in my mind.  It is an impossible situation. 

I woke up this morning thinking about this and immediately my mind wandered to the story of Naman in the bible.  He was wealthy, respected, married, and served.  Then he was stricken with lepperousy.  Everything he knew and loved was probably going to be taken from him. The only help that came his way was the advice from the prophet of God to dip into the dirty Jordan river seven times.  Not the solution he was looking for.

This was not what I signed up for when the overwhelming desire to grow our family came upon us. When we began to follow the Lord on this journey, I didn’t see this coming.  Now that it is here, so many times I look forward with fear to the future and what we are doing now just seems barbaric.  What they have gone through, what we are doing for them, what we are doing to ourselves in order to be there for them seems insane.  An aquaintence of mine, when she found out what we were doing, asked me why we would do that to ourselves.  I didn’t know how to respond.  Now I do.

We are bathing in the Jordan. It doesn’t make sense–unless you know God’s hand and call on your life.  It is barbaric–unless you can see the value of rescuing these kids whether they see it as a rescue or not.  

Bathing in the Jordan was not the solution to Naman’s problem.  Overcoming the uncomfortable nature of someone of his “stature” getting into that water was not the point.  The point was submission without understanding.  The point was trusting God,not self, and acting against the fear and disgust.  Choosing to move forward and trust God for the result.  And look what happend–Naman’s health was restored. But it didn’t happen after the first dunk or the second or the third. It happened when his obedience was complete.  Then came the miracle and the healing.  

I don’t know how many times God has asked us to “dunk”. I feel like I spent a good deal under the water just today.  But I am choosing to keep on “dunking” until the healing comes and we know the end result.  For me, my husband, and children (how ever many God gives us or for how long) 

It’s like this

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You dream about the day you meet your little ones.  You gather as many clothes and diapers and baby things as you can, you buy crib sheets and diaper bags, and you prepare as much as you can. You have in your mind that these kids will come to you in neat little,slightly damaged,packages and you will be the answer to all their problems.  It isn’t like that.  You know that there will be bumps in the road and you do all the classes and the training.  The simulations of “what would you do in this situation, and study the stories of kids in care and you analyze what they need and what you would do for them.  It isn’t like that. That is like a scripted sitcom where the stories reveal plot lines that are easily solved via loving parenting and creative solutions.  It.isnt.like.that

It’s like this: you think you know what you want and God takes you on a roller coaster ride and brings you everything you ever wanted in a package that is in a million pieces and you know immediately that you can never EVER put it back together whole and like new. You also don’t know what to do for your family who has suddenly lost everything they have ever known and been given more than they dreamed…but it doesn’t look like it.  

You hit the ground running and you start feeling like things are falling through the cracks because you can’t seem to organize your thoughts long enough to remember what you probably forgot.

You sit by the bedside of the one who needs you most and feel guilty that you aren’t with your little girl and haven’t spent much time at her bedside in the past year and now the new kid is taking the small amount of time she had with you to begin with. Then you see the tears coming down silently while the new one watches a slide show of her mom and brothers and sisters on repeat till she falls asleep. Because no matter how much you care for her and how much fun you had that day and how great she is doing, you are not her mom, and all she really wants is her family back together.  But that family may never be put back together and you have signed on for the long hual no matter what.  You mourn the loss with her while encouraging her that her Mama loves her and wishes she could be with her too.  You stay strong until you can finally leave her then you fall apart while you clean up the things you could’nt clean during the extremely busy day you had.  

It’s like this: you worry every day that you are short changing the kids who are watching you deal with an unruly child in ways that you never dealt with them. They wonder which way is right–so do you.

You struggle to find time with the two that have been with you since before they were born.  Those who carry a part of you with them always, and wonder if that part is worth it to them in the end.  Will they be bitter? Will they be resentful?
You knew it wouldn’t be like one big happy family right away, but you were pretty sure it would be like having friends stay the night or go on vacation–it isn’t.  There is no instant, just add water or toys or books or fun, friendships.  It is like two foreign countries merging suddenly after one of them has spent years in war.  Trust must be built and friendships grow very slowly.  

You realize very quickly that you are in way over your head.  You sit by her bed and she tells you terrible heart wrenching things about her previous life and you see the effects it has had on her and it scares you to death. You don’t know if you can handle it.  You don’t know if you can really give her what she needs, let alone care for the others at the same time. But you already told her she could stay and you already want her to.  

So you sit by her bed every night listening and waiting for her to fall asleep while she tells you all she wants is to go home to the people who abused her and watched her be abused by others while they did nothing, instead of staying in your home full of real love.  You do bed time routines and pack lunch boxes and deal with violent tantrums all while juggling your house and the family of your own-including her and her brother.  You try to find room In your heart for the monsters who did this to a precious little girl that will likely be scarred for the rest of her life. Scars that they don’t have to see played out every day like you do.  Knowing that a judge at any time could say they have to go back to that life.  

Then they look at you and smile or say “I love you” back and somehow it is all worth it. These children who have no attachment to you (even the baby after a week of being his primary caretaker. ). The ice begins to melt and the light shines through the darkness and the first rays of hope warm your heart and home and you pray God’s protection and blessing over this new family he created and you know all you can do is trust that he will provide.  

This is what it is like.  Just in case you were wondering.