Mother Of Four

This post was written two weeks ago.  A lot has happened since then, but it is still part of our journey, so I think it’s important to still post it….

September 12, 2017  It’s time for some honesty. I have said before that I want to always inspire others to consider taking in a kiddo who needs a family – especially those teens!

My first teen has been a dream. Connecting has been easy, fun has been easy, and parenting has been easy.

My second teen is a total sweetheart. She asked if she could call me mom after only a few days. She has said thank you a hundred times, she loves hugs, and even complies when consequences have to be handed out.

But for some reason, this time around is emotional for me. Some of it is that my husband is in a season of travel, so I’m alone. Another aspect is that every moment of our day is crammed full. I have three kids in soccer with practices and games overlapping. I have one who is also in a coding club before school and music after school. I have another who is in dance after school, has some failing grades, is trying to find a job. We have appointments and court dates during the day, and I’m at the kids school helping in class, teaching music, and having lunch.

It’s a full life. It’s a good life. But I’m learning that I can only handle so much. And now that I’m trying to figure out how to make sure everyone gets the socializing they want, and keep healthy food in them, and transport them places, it’s just too much.

Today I asked for help. I have often heard about depression settling in when a new kiddo enters the family, much the same as postpartum can settle on a mom with a new baby. I sat in a doctor’s office and cried my makeup off.  But she talked through everything with me. Gave me some information and some temporary medication. It’s okay that I need some help. It’s ok because what I’m feeling without help is not okay. I can’t eat, I’m nauseated, I even yelled at my boys and broke down in tears in front of one of them, effectively freaking him out!

But in that moment, I was able to call a friend who prayed powerfully over us. I was able to talk to my husband for the first time in a few days. We got to connect. Each friend who has spoken truth into my life has left something in my fuel tank that fills it up just a little.

Galatians 6:9: “So don’t get tired of doing good.  Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” -Kate

Picture that oxygen mask on the airplane. You need to put yours on first…yoga and exercise, or a big cup of coffee.” -Karen

It is so clear that God has called you to this life. You are amazing with teens!” -Stefanie

You inspire me over and over when I watch you parent all four of your kids.” -Tiffany

I love you so much. When I saw what you were feeling in your heart, I knew I wanted to be on this journey with you.” – Kylee

Just walking and talking with Kamie was a full hour filled with encouragement.

I want to walk this journey with you.” -Angela

You’ve got this! Nothing is impossible through Christ and you are posturing yourself as a servant to the orphan – it’s true religion! I love how invested you are. You aren’t doing this alone. Self-capability is like self-righteousness. It doesn’t exist. We are meant to lean on and draw from our great God every minute. ” -Gina

The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I won’t let him do that to me or my family!

So, if God is calling you to this, it might be easy! We had that experience. And it might be hard! We get to have that experience too. But doing nothing has no purpose!

I’m thankful that I get to be mom to four amazing kids! And that is my honesty post for the day.

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Sewing…

I have been wrestling with this post for a while now.  It’s one that I feel is important to share, but I really haven’t been able to figure out…how.

We had to say goodbye to our second teen last week.  Things changed quickly – over the course of just a couple of days – but the effect on the family was intense.  I know just about everyone would agree that protecting my littles comes first, but protecting the other teen who has been placed in my care is also a priority.

I knew when taking in this sweet 16 year old, that some very clear boundaries would need to be established if there was a chance of success.  All of the trouble she had found herself in up to the point I met her had been connected to a cell phone.  So most of the boundaries were in place to protect her from the phone causing problems in our home, at school, and at other events.  I was able to sit down with her and give her a copy of the boundaries that would be in place, as well as the consequences if any of the boundaries were not respected.  We made sure the consequences were short so there would be lots of chances to learn from any mistakes made – fully expecting there to be some, and there were.  We gave her a day to read them, consider them, and sign her agreement.  And she did!  I was so hopeful!

For the first 3 weeks, consequences were provided in a calm manner, and she accepted them calmly.  And then she didn’t.  Chaos ensued.  She knew and was reminded several times that she was wanted and desired by our family, and the choice would always be hers to remain a part of the family, or decide not to.  By her choices, she told us what she wanted and we had to make the terrible decision to say goodbye.

I’ll be honest, it’s hard not to feel failure.  I know that I did the best I could for this sweet, kind, helpful girl.  I also know our family cannot operate in total chaos.  But that doesn’t make it feel much better.  And this is foster care.  You truly never know what is going to happen.  I guess that’s parenting in general, at times.

So now our role is to pray.  We will never forget this member of our family.  We pray God protects her.  We pray for healing in her heart and ours.  I get to teach my boys during something that is difficult.  I have always preferred a bit of difficulty in their lives, and the opportunity to learn from it, than a life of complete ease and leisure.  We can do hard things.  We can because God has called us to this journey, and we have him to cover us in His perfect peace.  When P cries because he misses her and is worried about her, I get to speak truth into his tender heart.  God has given me an incredible privilege with the life he has called me to.

As I sat outside in the sun the day after we said goodbye, I looked down at the shorts my 17 year old asked me to sew, and I realized how incredibly blessed I am to have her in my life.  She has changed me.  And by having her here, and doing simple tasks for her, I get to love her deeply and I’m honored.  There is redemption in sewing…literally and figuratively.

And one final, but important thing.  Our foster care agency, Koinonia Family Services, has been nothing short of incredible.  Their support was unwavering through this whole process, and continues to be as we move forward.

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Kids Actually LIKE Love and Logic?

Today, my nine year old said, “Mom, you’re like a master at Love and Logic” and I said, “Thanks Buddy!”  I asked him, “Do you like Love and Logic?” He responded, “Mmmm…yeah” with a shrug.  I said, “Oh good, why?” and he said, “It’s really good for parents.”  My husband said, “But not good for kids?” and he said, “For kids and grownups!  Because someday I can teach my own kids Love and Logic, and they can teach their kids and they can teach their kids!”

Not only did this thrill me, and make me feel like a wonderful parent for the first time this week, it told me something even more important: Kids who experience Love and Logic on a regular basis actually see the good in it!

If you’d like to hear a quick little audio blip on how to handle the many situations where it is hard to find a logical consequence, here it is!  Dr. Jim Fay:  Energy Drain

 

 

Babies + Love and Logic?

I got to hang out with my favorite 10 month old yesterday – and that’s saying a lot because I’m not a baby person.  Something amazing happened!  He crawled toward the stairs and when he got there, I said, “Uh Oh!” – Love and Logic style.  Guess what he did?  He stopped!  He put his face down on the bottom step, had a little internal struggle, and sat back down.  Then he crawled toward the door stopper that is broken if it gets touched.  I said, “Uh Oh!” and he sat back and stared at it for a minute, and crawled away.  I was loading the dishwasher, and he was having a blast moving the bottom drawer back and forth and then I saw that leg lift and the little knee start to go toward the door, and I said, “Uh Oh!” and he put his leg back on the floor where it belongs.

When his mom got back I asked her if she had been using Love and Logic with him and she said yes!  I didn’t discover the beauty of Love and Logic until my youngest was 2, so this was so much fun to experience!!!

If you have a baby, and you want to teach him early to listen to your instructions, Love and Logic: Magic for Early Childhood is where it’s at!!  Perfect for ages 8 months to 6 years old.

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When Foster Care Means Saying “No”

I’ve tried to write this post several times and it’s just really hard to put my heart down on paper.  It doesn’t sound right.  It’s less raw than I feel, which takes away from the truth of it all.  I can’t give all the info, which also changes the story. I write about this because I want to always be an encouragement to anyone who may consider opening their heart and home to kids who don’t know how it feels to be in a stable, loving family.  I also want to give the whole picture.  It’s heart-breaking, and raw and real…so I’ll do my best.

This week has been incredibly emotional.  We were presented with a possible placement in addition to Smiley, so we got excited, sold the queen bed, bought a bunk bed, and started imagining life as a family of six.  We visited a few times with the young lady and I started falling in love.  As time went by, some red flags went up and by yesterday, we were making calls to tell the social workers that we couldn’t take this girl.

It’s one thing to see behaviors on paper and easily say, “no”, but it is a completely different thing to have a hopeful face staring at you when you close your eyes, and know that the answer has to be no.  The children who are already in my care have to be protected.  Not from all hurt or heartbreak, but definitely from irreparable damage.

But this girl is not hopeless!  While it isn’t my responsibility to make sure she is taken care of, it is the deep desire in my heart to make sure she is taken care of.  As my wise husband and wise father reminded me, our young boys are too young to be exposed to things that we can’t reverse.  As my dear friend reminded me, when I step in to parent a child who needs a lot of time an energy, it means stepping away from all of the other places I’m having influence.  Cameron and I look forward to the day when we can hear about a child who needs us and our boys are off in college, and we can say, “Yes!”  And it hurts deep down inside to realized that now is not that time.

I finally realized the truth in this, got up the courage to call the person in charge of the shelter, and then I saw that I had a voicemail waiting for me.  It was a social worker saying what a difference our visits had made in the way this sweet young girl was viewing life.  There’s joy when she wakes up in the morning, ready for school.  There’s excitement where before, there was only melancholy.  She’s telling everyone about our family…and I just lost it.  I want to save everyone!  I want to pour deeply from the well that is filled with all the love that Jesus has given me.  And when that time is not now, it’s devastating.  I don’t want her to walk through life with no one.  I don’t want her to be in a bio family who is encouraging behavior that is damaging to a 12 year old.

I have cried so many tears over the last 3 days.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to think of her without it hurting, but I did get to have a meal with her.  I did get to answer some questions she had.  I did get to ask her if I could still be a part of her life, and when she hugged me and said “yes”, my heart did a little bit more breaking.

If you think of it, please pray for M.  She needs to know how much Jesus loves her and that he views her as worthy of so much more than she’s been getting from people.

May is National Foster Care Month.  Focus On the Family’s recent broadcast tells a beautiful story of how much Foster Care matters.  There are more ways to get involved with Foster Care than simply dropping off coats at Sleep Train, or eating a Wendy’s.  If you’d like to know more, please contact me.  I’ll give you some ideas and put you in touch with the right people.

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One Year Birthday!

When you have a baby and it’s their first birthday, it’s so hard to believe.  What’s hard to believe is two-fold though.  First, you can’t believe it’s already been a whole year!  At the same time, you can’t believe it’s only been a year because you feel like your child has always been a part of the family.

With foster care and adoption, it feels the same way – at least to me it does.  I can’t believe it’s been over a year already – and yet, I can’t believe it’s only been one year.  We didn’t know we would get this much time with Smiley when we said “yes”.  And what a blessing she has been.

It’s hard to “celebrate” for the simple fact that a child being in foster care is nothing to celebrate.  But at the same time, we want to acknowledge the blessing she has been in our life.  We do celebrate the person she is, because that is definitely something worth celebrating.

Smiley is the kind of girl who doesn’t like her chores, but does them when asked.  She is the kind of girl who drops everything when Owen slams his hand in the door, so she can sit next to him and tell him stories of her scars while I hold him and wipe his tears.  She is the kind of girl who argues to the death with Peyton and then sits down to help him understand his math homework.  Kylee is the kind of girl who asks me if we can go through the drive-through to buy four egg mcmuffins and hand them out to the homeless man we both smiled and waved at as we came off the freeway – and then when I pull out my wallet to pay, insists on paying for it herself.  She has the biggest heart you can imagine.  My life is better because she is in it.
Foster Care is hard.  I want to be her only mom and keep her for myself.  I want my very own daughter.  But this journey is not about me, and as God teaches me how to live freely in that, I’m thankful for the growth, even though it hurts sometimes.
Our journey doesn’t end here.  Smiley says put for now.  When this smiley bird flies the nest, our family will always be viewed as “five” until we are blessed with another and then it grows to six.  Who knows what the future holds, but never have I ever wished we didn’t start this journey.
I pray others will consider opening their heart and their home!