Blessed …. is that even possible?

I have definitely been in the spot in our journey where I question God frequently, “Am I blessed?” , “If this is blessed I would hate to see cursed!!”, and “why have you chosen me for this blessing, I would have rather been blessed with a curse”.

I know….as a Christian this is not the way to be in a relationship with my Savior. However, if I am honest, and that is what God has called us to be, this is exactly how it has felt!! As I work to control my response to the child that has cleaned the bathroom, however her shirt is shoved behind the toilet with stool hidden in it, or I am going over the same three questions that are to be answered on the less than two pages of information for the last five hours hearing from my child that the answer is not in the reading when the answers are italicized!

How can this be the blessed life we are promised as Christians??? How do I continue to choose this life when it is so overwhelming on a daily basis?

The answer is so simple, that often I over look it’s massive meaning!!! The answer is in the sexually abused child asking dad for a hug because she is anxious for the first time since coming into your home over six months ago. The answer is in the 18 year old that has been so neglected that he has had to dig for food for his blind mother and himself in the dumpster handling the shortage Covid 19 has caused without hoarding food or panicking when the answer is simply we don’t have the food items we routinely have.

We continue, even in chaos, to choose to live this life (because it is SO MUCH more than a job) for these simple little changes in the lives of these children. It doesn’t seem like much, but to change a child’s perspective about the life they live is very important and empowering their future.

Pastor Will preached this week on Colossians 1:12 and in this we are given the inheritance of the SAINTS….. I know when I hear the word Saint I instantly think that I am so far away from being a saint that there is no way I will make it in this life time…. but Paul reminds us that we are all ready a Saint! We need to reach out and take that role!!

You know what is even crazier than thinking I should be a Saint? It is that by CHOOSING to live this life I am following after Jesus which has made me a Saint already! Let that sink in…..we are already Saints.

By being God’s chosen to inherit the inheritance of the Saints we are welcomed into the Kingdom of Light. We know as Christians that we have to go to the source of the light to be in the pureness of heaven.

I often think that these children have been dwelling in the deepest parts of the darkness. The transition into our homes for these kids are like walking out of a movie theater right into the brightness of day light. It hurts our eyes and our heads, it is disorienting, it is often scary, and absolutely overwhelming!

We are the BLESSED CHOSEN SAINTS that receive the privilege of walking with these children as they move out of the Kingdom of Darkness and with our guidance and support they might just become a Saint in the Kingdom of Light! Now that is a true blessing!

Hot Topic …. Covid 19

As though the life of a foster/adoptive parent isn’t chaotic or stressful enough let’s add a little Covid 19 into the mix!!

Now here we are held captive in our home with the seven kids that God has brought into our lives!! Oh, as if being in constant contact hasn’t been hard enough, lets add a little excitment to our routine. Why don’t we cancel school for the rest of the year, and instead, have parents work with their kids at home. Um, who’s bright idea was this!!! I feel beaten, chewed up, spit out, and ran over by a lawn mower.

Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is amazing when your child is inquisitive and has a little inkling of self-motivation. Our current kiddos instead have been spoon feed for years and they just can’t do any work on their own, oh except for plagiarism. That they have down pat!! Now we are trying to teach a curriculum that is made from a teacher that only has one grade level to teach. Currently we are teaching 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and my senior that doesn’t really need much more than a prodding to get into his class.

As I told our supervisor at our licensing agency, I would never chose to homeschool and provide therapeutic parenting at the same time for everyone!! However, I have learned my kids strengths and weaknesses overall.

God has blessed us in this period of our family journey in that we are all healthy, we have all we need, and some how He has allowed our family to begin to meld into a true family unit! We have been working on this for a few years, however, currently we feel way more united than we have before.

That being said, being cooped up in a house 24/7 with all of these kiddos is also enough to make me loose my mind!! Doing everything from making meals to folding laundry is pushing me too far!!

How are we to practice self care when we can barely get a chance to shower each week let alone get time to perform self care? I have been looking for ways to get some self care done in the mist of chaos!

How are you all working on self care while social distancing? I love drawing, blogging, and vinyl work with my cricut. While working with vinyl means taking a lot out and getting all the girls excited to participate, which encase you haven’t figured out is so not self care, instead it makes me more stressed out!!!

But I have found that I can draw while the kids work on school work, while they are playing, and while I am waiting for dinner to cook. This has left me with a lot of little doodles and a sense of peace in the chaos!! Anyone else have any suggestions on self care in our current uncharted situation?

I would love to hear from you all on how you are managing with social distancing and our kids!! We are not alone (all though it definitely feels like it!!) I could use some tips and tricks during this chaos on how to make self care a priority for me and some self care activities that I can do cooped up at home!!

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

When Mom is pushed into a meltdown!

I know I haven’t posted much lately, however I have personally been drowning in the foster/adoption realm!

I truly feel like a hypocrite for even writing this down as I feel as though the behaviors, hearts, and entitlement of our kiddos is swallowing me as though I am stuck in quicksand!

We spend every moment of our lives on supporting, building up, and protecting our children that have already endured more than any one human being should encounter let alone a child! HOWEVER, what have I done to deserve all this heartache, anxiety, hatred, and frustration.

I have worked very hard to follow God, no matter how hard it is, and to be an example for them through my responses to their issues or behaviors. I lost it last night sobbing and ranting about how ungrateful, uncaring, and unaware they are of their choices and their affects on those around them.

I know this is about the LEAST therapeutic, loving, and caring act I have made in years, however I could not take any more. I feel as though I am living in an abusive relationship that would warrant anonymous removal for safety reasons if it was a boyfriend or husband, however because it is my children that once again “you chose this life when you decided to adopt them” there is no way out!

How or why are we expected to live like prisoners or as Ray puts it jail wardens for our children to keep them safe, to keep their routines in place allowing them to feel in control, and continually repeating expectations or using roleplaying to allow them to learn. Who ever made the statement “repeating the same thing over and over expecting different outcomes” has never had a traumatized child who receives therapies that state “stay the course”. We have stayed the course so long that we have paced ourselves into a ravine that no one can escape!

I have spent the last 5 months thinking that there has to be more to this life, journey, calling, than to continue to live in this abusive relationship in which there is literally no way out! And to top it off I have had the nerve to write post telling others about this life and working to laugh it off, praying it would encourage someone who is pacing in their own ravine.

As I sat on the freezing garage floor sobbing after storming out of the house I cried out to God asking why? Why are we working so hard to follow him when it feels as though you are just one of their expendable pieces that no matter what I do I will never make up or repair the hurt and trauma they have experienced resulting in an inability to be grateful for anything. I pleaded with God to show me why we are to continue giving of ourselves, to children that their only thought if we suddenly died would be great who is going to feed me now!

In my logical brain, I know that we have made an impact. However, in my emotional brain I feel as though no one care, not these children, not the therapist that work with us, not our licensing agency, not the caseworks, none of them. NOT A SINGLE ONE!

How do we continue to do this work when we are stuck in unhealthy relationships?

Then it hit me! Who really loves their JOB! There are thousands of memes out there in which people complain about their jobs, there coworkers and their dreams of walking away. Here I am loosing my mind over this same point!

NEWS FLASH***** I am human******!!!!!!!

I have made the choice to continue to do my job and to continue to work for them, however I have also made the decision to make myself a priority! Not sure what that looks like. However, I have to learn what that looks like! My job is not done. Although, if I could turn in my notice I would and then climb under my rock until forever. I know this is still my job and I still have to work.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year…

Or is it? I know in our home the holiday season is one of the hardest seasons we face! As a matter of fact we call it “freakout season” when it is just Ray and I talking.

Why you ask? Everyone of our adopted children struggle with so much during this season.

First, they struggle with their feelings of excitement, happiness, and expectations. So often the amazing members of their team feel guilty for what these children go through while in the system, so at the holidays they find so many ways to get funding to get these children their biggest desires (apart from reunification). Once they are adopted this disappears!

Second, no matter how much their lives have improved on a day to day basis and how stable their lives are now, they still worry about their biological family. The holidays are a time to focus on family and making memories or following traditions and while they are in a loving family they still worry about where their mother and father are, as well as if they are safe.

In our family traditions are a huge part of the holidays, however as we have blended the four families together we have worked hard to honor the traditions of each family! What does this look like? Jumping through hoops that are on fire while wearing clothes soaked in gasoline! Often we attempt to create new traditions as a whole …. which has resulted in even more activities.

Most families would find this a blessing, however when you have children who have experienced trauma, have autism, have cognitive delays, or PTSD changes in routine are triggers for “big behaviors”.

So now we are left working to provide these children with the best holiday season we can while helping them to manage their emotions, concerns, and frustrations!

Ray and I are well aware of just how stressful this season is to navigate through and we just want you all to know you are not alone, your are doing good (even when you feel you are not), and you are making a positive impact in these children’s lives, even when they are unable to voice or show it!

With all this being said, we want you to know that we are here for you! If you need suggestions on how to handle specific situations, reach out to us. If you just need to vent your frustrations, we are here to listen. We are always praying over your families, however if you need specific areas prayed over let us know. Over all we are saying that God has brought us to this point to be a mentor or partner in your journey and we are willing to walk through the holidays, the hard days, the hurtles, the blessings, the joys, and celebrations with you!

Our parting words on this post are … you will survive this season. You will be changed, you will be frustrated, however you will also be blessed beyond measure for walking alongside these special children, so don’t give up!

This years Christmas tree decorated by a child who has experienced multiple traumatic events and was able to focus her 8 year old brain on something that she loves for almost an entire day. What a great way to loose yourself in joy right? (And since everything on the tree is none breakable it was stress free for us as well!)

Working at their speed

Recently I wrote about our 14 year old son Jon and how he has been maturing recently. Well this child that can’t stand heat, physical activity that is not competitive, and until this last May would run into pine trees and curbs while riding his bike, just completed his first ever mountain bike race!

What?????? Yes Jon (after practicing with the team for the last 5 months) came in 40th out of 44 racers!

Dad giving him his final pep talk before he heads out!

I know that doesn’t sound like he killed it, however you have to remember that due to his Autism Jon started dead last. He was set to take off with the sweep at the very end of his heat. That means that he managed to get ahead of 4 racers in his one lap.

Once Jon crossed the finish line and saw his coach he crumbled!!! If any of you have experience with Autistic children you can vividly hear and see what I mean by crumble! Jon was screaming, taking his shirt off, falling to his knees and just plan looking like a mess, however he had reached his goal! As his team family came around him and praised him, cooled him off with cool towels, and surrounding this child at a fragile moment by all the love he could take in, I was taken aback.

Jon and Ozzy after everyone finished and started to recover!

This child had pushed so hard to reach this goal. Jon had faithfully made it to each and every practice and really pushed himself out of his autistic shell.

For not only Jon, but for our family, this was a major goal that after months of practicing and working on grades, skills, keeping equipment up (again many family members chuckle because autism interferes with upkeep of just about anything), and being present for every social interaction the team had we finally reached the goal of completing a race. I know that even for his siblings that race it was just one more race, but for Jon this is purely the start of a great adventure.

The next day Jon cheered his older brother through his final high school race. Scott was very excited that he was able to pass the torch from him to Jon. Scott was excited to improve his personal time by close to 10 minutes. That was huge for Scott!

Last staging as a senior! No pep talk needed!

This was a huge weekend for our family as you can guess! Not only did these two events occur, but it also signified the end of the crazy mountain biking season. It is crazy to think that the season was over, however the down time is needed! We need to relax, CLEAN OUR HOUSE, and return to church to fill our cups! It is so need let me tell you!

A New Addition

So as if we are not crazy enough at home we are picked up an 8 week old Bluetick Coonhound about a month ago! We have been excited and stressed all at the same time.

We have learned over the years just how therapeutic a dog is for our kids and since our 12 year old Beagle passed away a few weeks ago, we have had kids arguing and shoving over our Basset Hound! Over the years we have learned that hounds are great with kids that have traumatic histories. Hounds have their short burst of energy and excitment, followed by their passed out sleeping periods. This is great for our kiddos because they will curl up with our hounds while the hound dozes off. We can watch our kids match their breathing and slowly relax from head to toe.

As our family has worked to move on after the loss of our beloved Miley we have pondered what to do for the kids. I found our next baby through craigslist and we are excited to have her in our home!

One of the major challenges with having foster and adoptive children with traumatic backgrounds is that we have to keep the new addition secret as our kids will struggle with their excitement. This life event lead to complete overwhelming excitement from our kids.

What does this look like, screaming, verbally lashing out, physically lashing out, fighting about the puppy, and yes even phyiscal signs of stress such as full body hives and vomiting.

I am sure this sounds odd to many parents as they can’t imagine the good news of a new pet causing such a response, however we have to remember that these children are stuck in the fight or flight state and so often they are already handling all the emotions they can so adding on something as exciting as a new puppy will push them over the edge.

This is how we have to live our lives! It is crazy and fearful and tiring! It is super stressfull and anxiety causing at times. A great example of this is when someone cancels appointments or our plans have to change due to other children’s issues. These events are enough to put some of our children in crisis states and as the parent it is always disheartening that we know as soon as we hear of the change and instantly go into preparation mode in which we have to manage the crisis we are walking into.

After we have calmed the storm we turn to our puppies to help calm us down too! Back to our new addition it is has been an adventure, but one we really needed in our lives!

Wholeness is the Goal!

As I continue to recover from my surgery and the chaos of school starting, mountain biking, Special Olympics golf, and rehearsals for Narnia coming this November, I find myself searching for stable ground.

I have to tell you that one of my biggest challenges of this calling has been Jon. We have had a relationship that is unlike any other in the home. It was clear to anyone that spent time with Jon that he had issues when he first walked into our home 6/6/2008 (Yes he moved in on D Day. That should have been a clue!). Jon has had 5 hour long meltdowns in which he would just scream and NOTHING stopped it, he would rip off his finger and toe nails, and eating was not his strong suite. We had to work on swallowing which resulted in Jon gagging on everything that entered his throat (which he was great at cheeking everything from grapes to spaghetti).

As Jon grew so did his behaviors, one of his new past times was head butting mom (only mom)! I have had pieces of my jaw that he had chipped slowly work their way out, which is very painful, endured my metal glass frame slicing my nose open (I only wear plastic now!), and many oh so many meltdowns when I would get home from work, however we are FINALLY getting to the point where he respects and reminds the other children that I deserve respect!

As I have been a fly on the wall during recovery, I have been blessed to watch Jon and how he has been interacting with everyone in the family. Boy, let me tell you he has truly blessed me. Yeah we still have meltdowns and arguments , however they are reasonable.

I have also seen how he has changed from being a child that struggles with impulse control to a young man that is trying to standup for his mom!

While I watch our family from the sidelines it is clear that even when we feel that we are throwing our seeds on dry stones, instead of furtle ground, we are actually planting seeds that are growing SLOWLY towards wholenses.