I have to share a song with you that has touched my heart. It has such emotion in the lyrics. So often we can relate to this song when we are in the trenches and don't see a light at the end of the tunnel.
This is Need You Now (How Many Times) By Plumb.
Hope you enjoy....
I was under no obligation to promote this video...just wanted to share something that moved me.
Life has been so mellow...finally! We have been in our new house for over a month now and we are pretty much moved in. I have been enjoying my kids and our routine.
Just the other day I found out that the Birth Mom to two of our kids is having another baby. My face sunk in sadness. It consumed my thoughts the night I found out and most of the next day. I vented some of my frustrations to a close friend....
I am disappointed in her decisions...I feel guilty like I have given her a false sense of what her kids go through because I am not more open about their struggles with her over the little communication we have. I am angry because this puts me in a position of saying no to a child. I am so sad for our kids and the fact that they will have another sibling.
Getting those feelings out helped a ton!
Today is Mother's Day. We hosted a big lunch and although crazy to get it all together we had a great time. I was given gifts and cards from my kids and my three daughters even put on a show for me with a song about Mother's Day that they made up. My heart is full.
Tucking my two older girls into bed we said our prayers. My four year old daughter prayed her usual prayer but then said something that struck me..." God thank you for letting me be born." She said it with such innocence. My mind was immediately pulled back to this new baby that is growing inside a womb.
I want to trust that God has a purpose for this baby and that some day he/she might say those same words to Him, " God, thank you for letting me be born." I know that God can use this for his glory. I don't know the future of this baby but I do know that God works in wonderful ways. I think back to how He has brought me closer to Him and try to hold onto the fact that He isn't done yet with this world.
I want to take this time to pray for this new life.......
Dear Jesus, I pray with all of my heart that this child that will be born will know you, Lord. If it is your will I would love for our little ones to be involved in this child's life and know him/her. I pray you use this child for your glory and keep it safe and healthy. Please be with the dear girl carrying this baby and help her keep it safe and healthy. Lord remind me that each child is a gift. I love you with all my heart and have seen you change my life to bring me closer to you and I pray you do the same for this family.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Finally our soon to be son got his BAHA! It is a loaner from hearing specialist but we are thrilled to have it. If it works for him then he can have one surgically implanted in his head in a few years. We went to our appt today and he was so upset about not being able to play with certain things in the office and he kept pulling it off his head and throwing it. Not good.
After a crazy day we were finishing dinner and I let the other kids try it out and let me tell you I tried it too and it is amazing how it works. It vibrates but as I plugged my ears and put it against my head I could hear the sounds in my inner ear, in my head basically. Since our little guy is Deaf in his left ear but has some hearing in his right ear it will send the sounds to his right ear and allow him to hear what is going on over on the left side of life.
So after he saw the other kids get excited about it he was eager to try it out too. He was in his high chair and let me put the headband on. As soon as he felt it vibrate and could hear his face lit up. I was in tears for him. He couldn't stop smiling and laughing. I wish I got it on video, I didn't know it would be that big of a difference for him.
So far he is wearing it and super happy to have it on his head. Praise God for this! Of course I am a lover of sign language and no issue with his Deafness but this tool is such a blessing for him!
His smile just melted my heart. I could see on his face that he was discovering this new way of hearing. He started making noises himself and digesting how it sounded. So cool to watch. What an amazing opportunity for him.
Had to share my excitement! Such a wonderful way to end our crazy day.
I have to share some pictures I took yesterday. We had so much fun and realized summer vacation is so close. My husband and I were driving the kids home after a family function and he turned to me and smiled this huge grin. He told me he was so thankful for our family. Who would have thought all those years ago that this was the plan for our life. That God wanted to bless us with five wonderful children to love. Our hearts were so happy on that drive home.
Last week I took my 3 year old son to his evaluation with Early Intervention. If he still qualified for services he could attend their preschool program. I was eager for him to get in and have the small classroom size and the extra attention to help him get ready for kindergarten. Although I had seen so much improvement in him recently and I didn't know if he would get the right scores needed. I thought maybe he would just barely make it in.
When we walked in the nice woman asked, "How is he doing?" My jerk response back was, "fine." But then I asked, "Well, what is that in reference too?" He is happy and healthy today but we are obviously here for a reason.
I anticipated how draining it was going to be for me. What else happens after talking about your child's needs and struggles for a few hours while trying to keep him happy and entertained as they test his development and of course he refuses to cooperate for most of it.
Sitting in the play room, waiting for the results, I could feel it. Tired. Ready to go home. I was just here doing this evaluation with our other daughter, Katie. She is the same age and we did the same tests. She has, on some levels, more severe needs and her results were how I expected them to be. With James, I made assumptions about his results and realize that was not smart.
As I get handed the paperwork I hear that he qualifies. Part of me is happy for him to continue to get the special services. We are in this program for a reason and we do have struggles with his development and behavior. Then I hear that his scores showed a greater need. More than I thought they would. He qualified in all 6 areas tested instead of just the 2 that were needed to be in the program.
I felt sad. It snuck up on me. I was trying to be an advocate for him but I am also his Mother and it is hard to hear that your child is behind. Why was this so hard for me?
I think so often with the different foster kids and now some of the kids we adopted I haven't felt the typical unfounded guilt that comes with parents who have children with special needs. I know their needs have come from some of the specifics of their stories and births and I haven't felt emotion attached to their needs. Maybe frustration or helplessness but I think today was the first time I felt a lot of sadness. I didn't see it coming really. I have always spent so much time fighting for the kids and being professional about their situations. Today I was able to hold it together but on the drive home I couldn't help but call (with my bluetooth of course) my Mom and cry.
Hearing your child has a communication disorder and that he will take with him to kindergarten made my heart sink. I know that today was just a snapshot in time and I of course don't think he will be ruined if he has these needs but I was so sad for him today. Sad that he has had to work so hard to keep up. Sad that the drugs he was exposed to did damage to his body and makes it hard for him to regulate himself. Sad, while I watched him play with the trucks and I listened to his results and signed paperwork allowing him to be in the program.
I could see how drained he was after the appointment. His anxiety has improved the last few months but I don't blame him after working so hard to get through this appointment. He fell asleep on the way home and was wiped the rest of the afternoon. I was too. It was a lot to digest.
I found myself struggling with being sad and at the same time trying to keep my eyes on Jesus. I wanted to keep faith in Him. I wanted to give my emotions to Him and trust my son with Him.
I was talking to my husband that night and telling him how hard it is not to put my kids in a box when all I do is talk to these therapists about them being in the box.
At the same time I long to keep perspective. My son is only 3 years old. He has a life ahead of him. I think today I was more shocked by my reaction. I tend to keep the emotion in and didn't expect to be so upset about it today. There are people who hear worse news than this every day. I am thankful for him to get services and help him continue to make progress.
So as I still digest our plans for therapy I pray that God will remind me that my hope is in Him. I want to be hope for my children and not get stuck over these results or future results and struggles. They are hard to hear but I want to remember that they are a starting point. I can't wait to see what God does with each of my kids and their lives. They are His creations and I am blessed to help them along each day. I hope to remember that I am their cheerleader and can show them how to live outside the box.
As we walked down the busy street to my daughter's school carnival I found myself soaking in the night. It was our first day of real sunshine and fresh air after a long winter. Finally it was starting to feel like spring. Holding hands and pushing the umbrella stroller we embraced the evening.
My daughter is in kindergarten and we are in the first years of what I call, "setting the tone." We are building relationships, people are learning about our family and it either becomes a deal breaker or not an issue at all. I admit that I wanted it to go well. It was our fist school function with all of us attending. I wanted a night out with our family where we could have fun and enjoy the party and go home feeling refreshed. As a stay at home Mom I am always up for a social event to get recharged.
There were long lines at the ice cream truck, games in the gym, a book fair in the library and clowns passing out animal balloons. The noise of the crowd was a blessing. If our kids got fussy over something it was drowned into the background of all the chatting. They all did great, we were able to visit with some parents we were getting to know better and our daughter introduced us to her classmates. Even our son James, with his anxiety, walked up and hugged the Clifford the Big Red Dog at the book fair. It felt good to be out, everyone enjoyed meeting our kids and we were having a good time. I took a deep breath and let myself enjoy the evening.
Toward the end of the night we were waiting to see if we won the silent auction item we bid on and ran into our daughter's teacher. She met our kids, who she had heard so much about and our little 3 year old Katie eagerly wanted to be picked up as she does with any new person we meet. Mrs. M picked her up and seemed comfortable holding her. We continued to chat about the event and soon Katie wanted to be put down. It is almost like she tests people out with being held and then she is fine to stand and visit. She is little enough that it comes across as still age appropriate.
Suddenly I look down and see Katie bent over on the ground licking the top of Mrs. M's black shiny shoe. I was mortified inside. I grabbed her right away and handed her to my husband and apologized. I think I tried to explain her behavior but stumbled over my words. "I am so sorry, she just um...she just...." Thankfully Mrs. M knew some about Katie and it didn't seem to bother her. We departed and finished the evening.
I couldn't get it out of my head. I wasn't super embarrassed, well I was, but I kept feeling shock over the situation. I didn't see that coming, she has never licked someone's shoe before. Even as I write that I want to laugh and cry at the same time. Not tears for myself but more sad about the realization that maybe I have been living with blinders on.
Friends and family try to remind us of ways our kids who have special needs are just like other kids. Maybe to try to provide comfort to us, or maybe to make it easier for themselves. Yes, our kids are great kids and they have a lot of behaviors that are on track for their age. But in the midst of trying to ease the awkward moments for those around me I think I have tried to candy coat things for myself as well. So much so that I was shocked when this happened. I didn't know how to respond. I anticipated meltdowns after standing in line too long. I was prepared to leave early if we needed to. I had a plan, we could enjoy the evening and before it escalated too much we could go home.
I am sad to think that I have been acting this way all this time. Was I at fault for hoping we could have an evening out with no hiccups? Licking the shoe isn't what bothers me so bad. I think I am bothered more at myself. I am sad that I wanted to pretend things were going to be a certain way. I had expectations for my kids. We all do though don't we? As parents? It doesn't mean I love them any less when they fail to follow through, but maybe I am at fault for having them in the first place. I don't know.
So here I digest where I am at as a parent. Will I ever be the parent who has tough skin and doesn't care if we are embarrassed out in public? I used to be the teenager who could dance around with my friends in a public place and not care but somewhere along the line I have put these expectations on myself and my family.
How often do we say at the end of a party, "that went well." Because everyone met our expectations. There were no fights, mishaps, big blunders that we think ruin an event.
I am in conflict because I know this isn't where I want to be but it is how I have been living. I think I am more embarrassed with myself. Realizing I need to be in a place where I can remove myself from the expectations I have on my children and even the expectations I have for myself as a parent.
Yes, I could learn from this and next time bring Katie a "Chewy" to help her get through the night with oral stimulation. I could have had her wear her vest to give her more security but I know that I will never be one step ahead of the new behaviors that will come. The moments will happen when I am reminded that I need to let go of my expectations and just love my children and enjoy life.
I am inspired by a story my husband heard at a Men's retreat about a man speaking about his son who had Downs Syndrome. He had spent so much time, as we all do, dreaming about all of the milestones he would witness with his child but after parenting him, he learned to just love his son and not dwell on where he was in life. The thing that stuck with me about the story is that he said it was so freeing to just love him unconditionally and rather based on what he would do or accomplish. This is how God loves us, not based on our behavior but just because he loves us.
So often we can get wrapped up in the expectations of our children or for our family and most of all of ourselves. But if we keep our focus on just loving each other like Christ loves us, maybe we will lose sight of those assumptions we have about how life will play out.
I adore each of my children. I am so blessed to be their mom and I pray that God will teach me to keep my sight on Him and not worry about the little things in life.
Many of you may have read my recent article "The Busy Life" published in Fostering Families Today magazine March/April 2013. In the article I gave some tips to help get through the busy routine of being a Foster Parent. Here are some more helpful tools that could help you as you fight the battle with the calendar.
Finding someone you can trade babysitting with is a wonderful blessing. If you can find a parent or caregiver you could exchange with, you could both take advantage of the help. This is also a great idea for a much needed day off. Maybe a day to run errands without a handful of little ones tagging along. Or a morning to just sit in the quiet.
I have a close friend who had 4 kids of her own and would exchange babysitting all day with another friend who had 4 kids. So once a week they would have 8 kids all day while the other one got a free day to do what they needed. Then they would switch. Trading time without having to fit money into your budget for childcare is a great way to get some much needed time and help out a fellow caregiver.
Everyone has their own style when it comes to routine. Embrace yours and make it work for you. Think about how you want to run your errands and make it important on your calendar. If you like doing a lot all in one day and get it over with then block out the time for you to do that, with nothing else that day. Or if you like just one or two things each day then you can set the best time to do that. I have learned the hard way that I need to have a mellow day at home after a busy day of obligations. If I have too many busy days in a row I will get overwhelmed. If I schedule a big shopping day with the hope of doing some freezer cooking, well, I better have time the next day to get it done or it won't happen. There is no right or wrong way to work your calendar just think about what would fit your family the best.
When to Say No:
We could fill our days with every invite and every obligation we are approached with but then we will lose time for ourselves and our family. It is so easy to say yes right on the spot. If we have an empty square on the calendar than why wouldn't we fill it, especially if it is something fun. However, as the day approaches we feel the guilt and stress that we now have another obligation when we really just need a day off at home. It is hard to say no, we often feel the need to have an excuse. The reality is that we need to take care of ourselves too.
After too many months of having no day off, not one, I felt the stress changing who I was. I didn't have anytime for myself or just to enjoy my family at home. I hated the idea of missing out on the latest gathering more and more I was putting myself on the back burner. After one month of having obligations, extra work days, parties, birthdays, appointments and anything else I said yes to I realized I had only 2 days in the whole month of being at home. I was behind on laundry and we were eating out all of the time because I was too tired to cook and I felt exhausted. So my husband and I decided to gaurd our calendar the next month and not book up our weekends and limit our week activities. What a breath of fresh air. I noticed a huge difference! I try to remember the words, "When you say yes to everyone else, you are saying no to yourself."
We can often get a long list of homework from our children's therapists. It can be easy to feel guilt for not doing every ounce of each of the recommended activities. I absolutely think they are important and if they can fit in our schedule they should be a priority. There is a reason for homework and can greatly improve our child's behavior. However, if there are too many items, try to break them up. Focus on one for a few weeks then move to another. Create a specific time each day to try to accomplish these tasks. This will help keep it consistent for the child and help remind you to work on them.
I would love to hear other tips you have learned along the way. The important thing to remember is that we will get busy, but we can always start fresh tomorrow. If we listen to what our body needs, what our family needs, we can make a schedule that works for us. We need to remember to guard our time without rushing to please those around us at the expense of our sanity. I hope these tips help!
I have had a few moments over the last few months when I have been able to see how much the therapists that help my kids are huge blessings. So often it is easy to feel bombarded with the schedule and the work and then the homework for afterward. But once in a while, in the midst of the routine realize how thankful I am for each of these people. Here are just a few tidbits, for what they are worth, of reminders that I am not alone in my parenting.
Leaving Katie's sensory therapy appointment I felt so encouraged. After a quick conversation on our way out the door, I am touched by the words her OT Therapist spoke. We have both been surprised to see Katie and her progress. Her OT lady melted my heart when she told me what a good job I was doing and how much progress she had made since being back in my home. It really is those little words that help get us through the hard times and help us keep going. Driving home I really reflected on how far we have come. There was a point about 2 years ago when I was in tears at a physicians office begging for answers, for help. I was at the end of my rope and felt like I was failing Katie. I had tried everything. We had so much stress in our home and I didn't know what to do. I am amazed at how many doctors just let me leave with no offer of help or advice.
Just the other day I had been really struggling with the anger that came from my youngest. He is only 1 and a half years old and has had the power to make me forget all of my parenting tools before. I found myself feeling like I didn't know what to do. I had tried it all and nothing was working. I felt like I was failing him and my family. Robert always gets comments for being the happiest little boy. And he is. But those moments of frustration send him through the roof. There is no middle, he goes from 1-10 in a matter of seconds. I confessed my frustrations to one of our therapists that makes home visits. I was so thankful for her supporting words and advice. She reminded me that it isn't the parenting styles but rather this behavior is a result of how his body was wired as a result of his his birth and exposure in the womb. She gave me some new techniques to try and I felt such relief.
The PT that comes to our house has been working with my 3 little kids most of their life. He has seen my on our bad days and good days. He knows them and there is comfort in that. I don't have to explain their behavior to someone new each time. Sometimes just watching him play with them gives me inspiration to try something new when I feel like I have been in a rut. There have been a handful of visits when I hear the most simple instruction or advice and yet I have had my head so buried in the busy schedule that I overlooked it.
These therapists have become our family. So often I joke that I see them more than my friends. We are busy with appointments right now but the reality is that we need them. The kids need this help to get them going, that jump start on an already hard life.
On days when I feel like I am doubting myself as a parent I love that I can word vomit on these people and they will support me in a way that I didn't know I needed.
So, Thank You to all of the people who have spent their time helping my children.
I have to conclude that we found a house. Not the one I mentioned before but a house provided by the Lord none the less. We almost dismissed it because of the pictures online. It made it look smaller inside.
Last weekend we had two open houses to look at, one that I loved and one that my husband loved. We thought for sure we would pick one of these homes to put an offer on. As we pulled up to the first house we saw that nobody was there even though it was just minutes after they were supposed to open. I have a bad habit of being early but still, I expected them to be on time. Sadly they weren't and on the way we saw a sign for another open house so we decided to turn around and go check it out.
As soon as we pulled in front of the house I realized this was the one my agent sent me the pics to. Well, either way, it doesn't hurt to look. I ran inside while my husband sat in the car with the kids. This was our routine. With 5 kids little kids, house hunting can get a little crazy with having to find babysitters. So we would take turns going through the house.
I was pleasantly surprised as I walked inside and saw how open it was. Much bigger than I thought. I was the only one looking so I could take my time and was able to chat with the woman showing the house. I could really take a minute to picture our family in this house. After my husband looked he felt the same way.
We left chatting about all the things we loved about it but had an appt to see another house. The one I loved. Once inside I was sadly disappointed and realized the neighborhood wasn't something I was interested in driving by every day.
I have to say it is so hard to think about our needs, wants and then give it up to God. I was constantly asking myself with each house we looked at...Am I being to picky? Am I settling? Is this the house we can have holidays at? Could we stay here and have our grandkids over in this house? What would it look like to have 5 teenagers running around? It was exhausting. I wanted so desperately for God to just say "Here, this is the house."
We asked our realtors to drive over to the open house and see this one we loved so much. That was our second trip in a matter of just an hour or so. :) After we left I knew we were going to make an offer. Both my spouse an I loved it and we felt it, this was the one.
Since we had been looking at so many houses all with good and bad things about them we decided we needed a list. This list was our Criteria List. One one side it had our needs. We needed a backyard for the kids to play in, an open floor plan for our youngest son and his hearing loss, enough bedrooms that Katie can have her own room because of her sleeping problems. These were things we were praying for. On the other side we listed our wants, the things we hoped for or could obtain with the house. We wanted to stay in the same school district. I wanted a soaking tub to retreat to after a long day. We wanted to be near a park or school for playing. The list went on.
This house had just about everything on the list...all of our needs and most of our wants. Anyway...our offer went through and we could not be more happy. Again I find that when I take things to the Lord and wait on His perfect timing I am much more satisfied than I would be if I rushed out and picked out something for myself.
This house hunting journey has been exhausting and tiring but I have been blessed with so many things. New friends/neighbors at our current home we are renting, we were able to sell our house in this crazy market and now God provided a house before the market climbs upward in price. More importantly, we have a roof over our heads, friends and family have stepped up to help us through meals, packing, and babysitting.
I am content, truly happy knowing that this must be exactly where God wants us to be. We almost over looked this house but God had the perfect day for us to drive by and showed it to us right at the perfect moment.
I have been thinking about the idea that we all spend so much time looking to the future. We fantasize about what is ahead, the possibilities. Maybe it is a bigger house, a new job, someday having a child, the list could go on. Why do we spend so much time thinking about the stuff that isn't the here and the now? Is it a way to drowned out our life when it is too much to handle?
Whatever the reason is we are missing out. We are going through life wasting our days. I have learned that if we are always looking ahead we will never get there. We will never get to the point where we find joy in our days. We will not be satisfied.
It is a bad habit to have, never enjoying the now. We often don't realize we are doing it.
Today the littles were down for naps, my 4-year-old daughter was playing in the living room while I sat at the counter catching up on emails, making appointments, and filling up my days.
Mia, has a passion about cooking. Of any kind. It was a quiet day at home and she wanted to bake. I had no idea what was in the pantry but we had a look and found a gluten-free cookie mix, my favorite brand. Mia lit up with excitement about all the hard work we were about to do. :)
The TV was off, piano music playing through out the house. Oh and the peaceful smooth keys that played melted my heart. They helped me take a deep breath and smile as I hopped Mia onto the counter ready for baking. Watching her crack the egg into the bowl I wished I had my camera to remember the moment. She is such a dear to me. I can't wait to see if she ends up being a baker when she grows up. She loves every aspect of cooking. She loves to create!
Mixing our ingredients into the bowl and forming our cookies I thought about how glad I was that we were baking today. I could have put it off another day because of all of our obligations. I could have given her a movie to watch and she would have been content. But this day, we lived and breathed together and talked and I feel much more full of life than I would have if I kept at my work.
I crave life and when it gets to busy and mundane it might not be that I need to dream about what could be but count what blessings I have right here and now. I have enough, I have been given much and I adore my life. God will take care of the tomorrows to come. He didn't create us to plan for the future and spend our days consumed with it. But rather He gave us mornings. Each morning we get to wake up and take on the day that is given. We get to spend it in so many different ways. What a gift that we get to create our living each day. Today I made cookies with Mia. There is so much joy in that. There is joy even in the days I hold my children when they are sick, or sad. I am being shaped even in the hard days when we struggle to be happy and let the weight of our stress get us down.
I think we have this mentality much like the new phrase on Pinterest, "pin now, read later." We have the mindset that we need to gather so much stuff like we are saving it for a rainy day. But we never stop. We never stop and live in the rainy days.
Today I find myself thinking about what life would be like if we slowed down, way down. As we look for a house I am tempted to make my husband happy and buy a house with a lot of land and let the kids play. Let them roam in an innocent environment. Grow our food in a big garden and spend our time soaking in the little things. The family moments. Away from the schedule, the busy life and the looking ahead. Who knows where God wants us but I do know that I don't need to wait until we buy our house I can do this idea right here, right now. Today I can make cookies and play. I can watch my daughter as she holds the warm cookies we just baked and takes her first bite and enjoy our time together. I can choose to be fully in the moment.
God really has given us an abundant of blessings. We often don't see most of them because our eyes are fixed ahead. It is my prayer today to watch out for the joy in today. And only tomorrow will I look for the joy that it will bring.
We got a second email asking if we were interested in the lot near by that we had an offer on before. The realtor was asking our realtor if we want to move forward, letting us know they were going to be picking out cabinets and colors soon and we might want to have input on it if we were going to make an offer. Wow, that would normally be such a temptation for me. To have a house that is brand new and I got to pick the details out is really an appealing offer. Why am I not running for it? Both my husband and I love the floor plan and the location. There is nothing wrong with the idea of moving there.
It must be leading from the Lord that we are not eager to take them up on their offer. We have our eye on a bank owned home. It needs new carpet through out almost the whole house and new paint inside and out. Why would we be drawn to this house? The bones and the space is everything we have prayed for. It has 3700 sq ft and an open floor plan and the bedroom space we need for our kids. Even our own realtor was surprised we wanted it over the other house after walking through.
I found myself surprised that I am at a place in life when I wouldn't run for the brand new, the easy answer, the here and now option. How did I get to a place where I am fine waiting to see the complicated answer play out? It is a bank owned home, we were told we would have to make an even lower offer in order to qualify, we would have to paint and put money into carpet and there is the possibility the inspection will show more damage than we can see. Why am I so drawn to this house?
I was trying to think back to the moment I changed how I made my decisions. We have made a lot of big decisions waiting on the Lord in the last few years but I am still surprised that I handle these things differently than I used to.
Last year I very much wanted to go to school in the evenings for something I always wanted to do but didn't need to do for money, it could help but it would be a part time thing. Life had calmed down a bit at home, we had our three kids at the time and I was eager to find something that was mine. Something I did, I dreamt about it, researched it, and prayed of course. I got the support of my husband and family and everything would work out schedule and money wise. I almost paid a deposit for the program but then wanted to wait. I told them I would bring the application back later that week. I never went back. It was the first time I can remember where I could have had everything I wanted but I didn't feel like it was really what the Lord wanted me to do. It didn't make sense from the outside. Some could say that He provided it all to work out but I felt convicted and decided to walk away. If this would have happened years ago I would have just ran right into the program without looking back. I was sad about my decision but felt calm. I had no replacing want or direction but just felt like I needed to wait.
This was three months before we found out about Katie moving back in and decided to adopt her and her brother.
If I was in the program and the need for them to find a home, our home, I wouldn't have been able to make that choice. I couldn't have seen what was going to happen but I asked for direction from the Lord and I got it. No reason, no explanation but He put on my heart the right choice. Of course when Katie moved in it was a hard and prayerful choice to make to decide to adopt both her and her brother. But I do remember during that time my husband telling me that I didn't need to fear about the little things that if this was what God wanted He would provide for us the right house, the support and things we needed for our family.
So it is with that I can confidently say that if this bank owned house that fits our needs is the right house for us it will work out. God will hold it for us for when we are ready to make an offer. It is complicated and people from the outside looking in have warned us about the possibilities of it not working out and how hard the road may be. Yes, I am aware that this may not be God's will for our family but we will pursue it, and not walk away, until the door is closed. We adore this house but if it is not for us we will be eager to see what else God has in store for us.
Thinking about how I make my decisions now verses when I used to make them I can really see a difference. I have always struggled with my decision making in the past, questioning my outcome and wondering who's will I had in mine. What joy I have now knowing that I am able to say with confidence that I am waiting on the Lord and letting Him lead me.
God knows the desires on my heart but his answer is always way more creative than I could have found on my own. What would have happened if I went into that program and we didn't adopt these kids, yes I am sure my life would have been fine, but I would have missed out on some amazing moments, my life is full and I am happy and love each my children.
I can't wait to be able to say "God provided this home for us," with all of my heart. He knows the exact home for our family. We want His will and not our own.
We of course have the pleasure of seeing God provide the perfect place for us to rent while we wait. It wasn't an option to rent an apartment in our daughter's school district, there were hardly any available. The houses for rent all had a, very large, one year lease added to them. We knew we would would move before then. So we found a town home to rent outside of her school district and I was planning to drive her every day so she could finish the year at her school. But then we had the pressure of being settled in our new house before the new school year started. We had less than a month to be out of our current home when the sale was final and we decided to check again. We called a handful of places, only one returned my call. We are now able to rent a home very close to our daughter's school and with out a year lease! With no lease really, we have been open about our situation and even still were able to reach an agreement with our new landlord. God has opened doors in His perfect timing. Because we have this place and there is no pressure on time to move out, we will already be in the right school district, we can wait on this bank owned house and let it play out. We don't have to settle and take the easy option.
Praise God for His direction. I am more content through this process than I could ever be if I was trying to figure this out on my own.
We feel like we have been tempted to take a different direction. Not only with this new house we could have close by but we have struggled with knowing which city to stay in. We have a nearby city we have ties to and miss living out there. We were approached by a friend saying an old house we used to rent out there is available. It wouldn't be our own home but we could rent for a cheaper rent and use the opportunity to pay off college debt and then be able to afford a house in that neighborhood. All of my friends are out there and I have, over the last 2 years, moaned and groaned over the fact that I miss my active life out there. I have secretly, well maybe not so secret to my husband, begged to move back out there. And here we are now with the possibility of going back to the life I have missed and I don't feel it in my heart. It has been what I have hoped for and now I don't know that I want it.
God is directing me and I am so excited to see what He provides because it will be more fulfilling than just my own hopes and dreams. He knows the hopes I have for our family and He will give them to us in His perfect time.
So, here I wait on this adventure. Wait for direction, our next move. The waiting is hard but keeping our eye on the goal helps. We want God to provide the perfect home for our kids, we have specific needs for our next home and we know He will provide!
Last night my husband and I were laying in bed reflecting back on how we got to this point. Our house has a buyer and we will most likely move at the end of this month. We are planning to rent so we can search for the perfect house that fits our large family. We don't want to outgrow another house.
It all started with a post card we got in the mail about 6 months ago. It doesn't happen often but we noticed a post card in our junk mail advertising a house for sale nearby. It was more than we thought we could afford but we fell in love with the pictures and just had to look inside. So we contacted our realtor and walked through. Oh and it was amazing. We knew we weren't ready to buy yet but started talking about our plan for the near future. Eventually this house sold. But looking back on things this house got the process started for us.
Over the next few months we looked around at houses and started praying and talking about what we need to look for. We have kids with specific needs which will require a specific house.
We found another dream home. We obsessed over the pictures online and after we couldn't take it anymore we walked through. Oh it was amazing. This house prompted us to start talking to a lender and see exactly what we would qualify for and what our timeline was. Just as we figured everything out this house had another offer. :( But as we reflect this house got us to find out our lender information and get our numbers in order. We weren't exactly ready to buy but we knew of a few loose ends we needed to clear up and we would then continue to shop around.
It is hard to look at houses of course and not be ready to buy. We found another house close by that wasn't built yet. But the floor plans were more than we could have hoped for. We had learned from the previous houses that they weren't exactly what we needed. They were amazing but we have more specific needs for long term. We were thankful that God shut those doors and now we could pursue this new house. We made an offer on this new house that was to be built but with a very close counter offer we had to say no to some of their requests that were too risky for us. It was hard to do because we loved this floor plan and the idea of being able to pick out the interior was very appealing. We realized with this house that it is too hard to make an offer contingent on selling our house. So we decided to put our energy into selling our home first knowing we might have to rent if we didn't find a house right away.
We make the bold move and get our house ready for the market. It took less than one month busy with house showings for us to get great offer. People thought we were crazy for selling our house before we knew which house we wanted to buy. It has been so clear with each step that God has been guiding us through this process. Our hearts are eager for God's direction.
So here we are with our house near closing. God has provided the exact amount from our house that we need for a handful of moving needs. We have researched a place to rent and found the best option available to us. We would have some sacrifices but we were willing to move to this new place. It is only temporary and even though it is out of our daughter's school district we were able to keep her where she is if I drive her every day.
While we prepare to move into a rental town home we have our eye on a different house. And I know I have said this with every house before but this house is amazing. It is a large bank owned home and so far it fits our needs perfectly. It has an open floor plan which we want for our son who is deaf/hard of hearing. It has enough bedrooms for our children which is a big need since we have some children who have sleeping issues and need their own space, one of the main reasons we started looking for a new home. We would not out grow this house and it is in the school district we are currently in and hope to stay in. Only because it is bank owned it is now in our price range. It does need from what we have seen new carpet and new paint, everywhere. But those things don't worry me, they are cosmetic.
Of course we recently asked our realtor if we could walk through. We fell in love even more. This house just fits us, it fits our family. I am still praying for God's will. That night after seeing the house in person we found out from our lender that because the taxes are so high on this house it is out of our price range. We would have to offer a much lower amount which isn't typically expected to go through.
So after reflecting on all of this my husband and I see that God has provided what we need up until this point. We are madly in love with possible house and still hope to buy it so we can provide more space for our children, but first we seek God's will. We take comfort in knowing that He already knows which house we will get and when we will get it. I think it is because we have seen him provide so much for us before in this journey of foster care and giving us what we need in His perfect timing that we can be confident and wait. Right now we are not able to make an offer, we have some money coming soon for our down payment and we have to wait 2 months before we can make a move. This house has been on the market for a long time and even though it is hard to sit and wait we know that nothing is going to happen with out God allowing it to happen. If is is meant to be our home it will be waiting for us.
I know if this house falls through that it is because there is a better one for us. God knows our needs more than we do.
So here I sit and wait and dream of where we will be. I am thankful for our first home He provided. It is hard to say good bye to this home we have put our lives in, our memories, but it is just a house and our home will be where ever we go.
I spent the morning in a daze. I thought I would be fine but I was an emotional zombie. I knew I was supposed to be running through the house getting everyone dressed, packing the diaper bag and boxing up the cupcakes but instead I sat at my desk watching the slideshow of our sweet boy over and over. Soaking up the words and the pictures.
Thankfully my husband stepped up and got almost everything ready as we were rushing to head out the door to the court house. I was blessed with emails, online posts and phone calls that I couldn't answer with sweet messages.
I cried tears of joy on this day. James is loved by so many.
I could hardly believe this day was here. We made it to the court house on time, surrounded by our family members. It was better than I could have imagined. I have to say the Judge did an amazing job that day. She let the kids sit in her chair and really enjoy being in the court room. She had a selection of small toys they got to pick out and we had cupcakes to celebrate. This is one celebration I will never forget. God's piece to our puzzle was put in place this day.
Our love for James has not changed, we have felt in our hearts he is our son for so long. But I am so happy it is offical! He is mine. I have spent the last year and a half being his foster mom with little rights to him. Now I am his Mother and he is my son. We get to say out loud what we have felt in our hearts. It feels great!!
I can hardly believe that in one week we will go to court to finalize our adoption with our son! I can hardly find the words to share how excited I am. During this last year and a half I have been so eager for this day to come and even though we had him in our home I wanted desperately for it to be official.
I find now that I am still just as eager but with a different heart. Not so much to claim him as my own but with the joy of God's will being shown. Our family has been shaped in a way that I would have never dreamed but I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I feel so blessed to have these 5 kids in my home to take care of. We keep going day by day and soon we will have Katie and Robert be official as well.
Praise God for this amazing life I have been blessed with. I am so thankful for a changed heart, one that is eager for His will and not my own.
Not too long ago we went out to dinner with all of the kids to celebrate some good news. It was an old fashioned burger place with picnic tables outside. Perfect for our large group, we used all three of their high chairs and put them at the ends of the table. :)
We were eating dinner kind of early and it was pretty quiet outside. Then this woman came and sat down at a table close to us with three teenage girls. From the moment she laid eyes on us she had a look of disgust on her face. She wasn't hiding it either.
Now I am normally really open to people who are curious about our family. I don't mind the occasional question or comment. I get am used to people looking and trying to figure out if they are all ours or what we are doing with these five kids so young.
This lady was not this typical person. She was obviously staring with a scowl on her face and allowing her daughters to "playfully" make faces at my kids. I was getting irritated and uncomfortable but tried really hard to enjoy our night out as a family. At one point the woman couldn't help herself and said, "You sure have your hands full." I replied with a smile and said, "Yes, I do...full of good things."
She wasn't happy with my response, it didn't satisfy her. She asked if our girls were twins I let her know that they are not but close in age. Again I was trying to avoid her very obvious stares and focus only at our table.
Moments like this are hard because I am tempted to start stressing about what her problem was. I shouldn't even concern myself but I started worrying about my kids' behavior...the funny thing was everyone was happy. We had a wonderful dinner, everyone ate and did great with no meltdowns.
As she walked by to throw things in the garbage she turned her head and glared at our kids. We minded our own business....I was very tempted to make an issue out of it but we were celebrating and I didn't want to draw attention in front of the kids.
There will be moments like this again. It is frustrating and am sure I let it bother me too much. Later that night I was still stewing about the whole thing. But as I prayed about what had happened I realized that I am setting an example for my kids. I can teach them to choose to fight every battle and let other people make them angry or I can teach them that we can't control how other people feel but I do have control over how I feel and live my life.
Sitting at my dining room table with Katie's Early Intervention team we discussed her file and made new goals for the next 6 months. Her speech pathologist and physical therapist went over each category and we discussed how she had improved and talked about areas of struggle.
My husband took the other kids to the park so we could sit and go over all the paperwork. I was able to enjoy a cup of tea and have adult conversation, which is always welcomed. As I shared some of our struggles involving food and eating I was encouraged by what I heard. Katie has special needs, some of the source is still unclear. Either way she does not swallow as she should and eating can be a problem.
It is easy for me to get frustrated about her rejecting meals as we sit at the table for dinner night after night. I am well aware of her struggles but I think I forget to look at it from an objective point of view. She isn't just rejecting food like a typical two year old would. She hasn't learned how to chomp down on certain foods. So even hearing the therapist mention something as simple as "mechanical soft" when she refers to her dietary needs, jerks a response from me. Of course! I knew she did better with softer foods, such as pasta, mashed potatoes, applesauce, etc...but when I put a label on it I was able to really get the correct perspective. I was encouraged to give Katie a few bites of a new texture of food but not overwhelm her and keep her meal mostly mechanical soft.
I used to work in an assisted living facility in the kitchen so that type of language is nothing new to me but I hadn't connected it specifically to Katie. Her speech Pathologist is a wonderful woman and a wealth of information. I am so appreciative for her perspective, even when something as simple as giving me a label to remember about her dietary needs.
Through out our meeting both of Katie's therapist's were encouraged to see how well she was doing in some areas and ready to tackle the struggles. When we were talking about what we were working on another reminder really stuck with me after they left. A special needs child typically needs to be taught something 200 times before they would get it but Katie needs to be taught 1500 times to learn something. I know this might sound awful to someone but even though it is just a vague description to give an idea about where she is at, it really did help. I need to keep this perspective so I don't lose hope. It is easy to get frustrated when repeating the same thing over and over, day after day. But I was so excited by this idea that at some point she will catch on, it may not be at the age we typically think she should but she will get there.
I am so thankful for this team who comes into my home and works with Katie, and our other two boys for that matter. We go about our days and work on our therapies between visits but it is so easy to get bogged down with the trials. I don't know why this meeting more than others left me with such hope. I think I just was thankful to be reminded I shouldn't put my own expectations on Katie but rather work with where she is at and not get upset if she is stuck in a struggle longer than she should be.
Tonight our sweet one-year-old foster son woke up only an hour after I put him down for bed. All day today he had been chewing on things and sporting the ever-so-fun runny nose. I imagine he is teething or starting a cold. He is normally so wiggly and all over the place that we don't get to cuddle much. Although he seems to have a love for my husbands lap during a movie.
We have been hoping to adopt him along with his 2 year old sister who is in our home. I have been eager to bond with him since he only just started spending more time in our home while he is still in another foster home.
I have been dreading this new fall and all the time we spend being sick. In fact I have to say that I HATE illness. I have had a big fear of it most of my life and well with five kids in our home it is bound to show its face for a good chunk of the year.
However, tonight as I sat in my chair rocking this sweet boy back to sleep I thought about how this was a good time for us to bond. I smelled his freshly bathed hair and rubbed his back over his full bodies pajamas. I got to stare into his face and watch him fall asleep. I didn't realize how much I missed this baby stage.
This little guy depends on me to take care of him. How lucky I am that God has placed me in charge of this sweet child. What a gift. So I try not to stress about all that comes with being sick but rather that this is what I prayed for, children to take care of, especially in these moments. I found myself holding him even though he was fast asleep and I could have laid him back down.
Thank you Jesus for giving me the responsibility to take care of this child. You know best and I am so eager to see your plan unfold. Amen.
God has been showing me that my dreams and plans for my life have been limited. I am sad to admit that I had longed for the cookie-cutter life. I wanted to live in the cookie-cutter house and have the cookie-cutter family and maybe I thought I should even live the cookie-cutter spiritual life.
As I finish writing my book I see that this idea of living in this cookie-cutter mentality isn't quite fitting with where I am heading. I have become fascinated with knowledge that living outside the shaped life can be so fulfilling and more adventurous than I ever thought.
Doing some research I stumbled upon a definition for cookie-cutter....marked by lack of originality or distinction.
I am blown away that I was once striving for that! Do I think that is all God wants for my life? Just to blend in with the world? The word "lack" really struck me. Why would God want me to lack anything? Why did I think that was appealing?
Over the last few years God has been taking me out of the life I thought I was supposed to have and I have seen that He has so much more for me. I am still amazed that it is often hard for me to let go of the little things I thought should be. As much as I have taken leaps in the right direction I still hold onto this thought that I know better than God.
Reference for definition found on http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cookie-cutter