Friday, November 10, 2017


Sometimes, strength is gently
letting go of things and watching
them float away in the wind.   The Better Man Project

We've released two of our children - so many emotions.  But, it is a good thing.  It is a needed thing.  We pray they fly......float on down and be well.

And with this adjustment comes some peace, finding once again ourselves lost in the layers we've held to for our sanity and safe keeping.  Giving back 10 fold to the two yet in the home,  finding a joy within that can come out to play now, that was held so close.  Learning to laugh again so hard that it feels foreign and to know it is a good thing for it's return.

As I sat listening to the newest pianist play the keys in the house, a sense of contentment filled long it lasts, it floats away with every new challenge that rises, but I tasted my old friend and welcome it back.  I know it will return again.  It is still there, waiting as the waters rise and we go again.

Ah, life...swift and strong we move along.  Around and round we go....
We cling to the things
That make us bleed
Because we'd rather
Feel the pain
In the familiar
Than the peace
In the unknown.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Why must you flee
Why can't you stay
Why not try harder
To live a safe way?

Why must you flee
Why can't you pray
Why not live scripture
To help you to stay?

Why must you flee
Why can't you see
Why not let us help you
To healthier be?

Why must you flee
Why can't your pain heal
Why not give in
To a warm consistent meal?

Why must you flee
Why can't you breathe
Why not plant roots
To a love you won't grieve?

Why must you flee
Why can't staying help
Why not listen deeply
To a home you have felt?

Why must you flee
Why can't the running stop
Why not sit still
To a love you can't top?

Why must you flee?


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

May The Lord Keep You...

Our eldest daughter, embracing her “I’m 18 and you can’t control me” ran off with a guy she’d met on Snapchat but had never physically met – to live her life, hours away from us, dropping out of her senior year with only 2 months to go… run away once more….pursuing her life the way she thinks she wants, to a small town with a population of 400…..because he told her he had a ring….and to run is easier that to serve the ISS she received for cyberbullying a good friend of hers and finish school. Which only lasted one night then she ran again, next fix someplace else, on the run forever more......lost and lonely because she won't listen or accept or get the help she needs. 

Our parental pain is one of sadness like a loss you can’t ever find closure to.  This isn’t what we’d hoped or dreamed, but we did sign up for it.  My self pity goes like this:  I’ll no longer hear her laughter at my bad jokes, no companion to do those mother/daughter things, no winter formal or prom dress shopping, no choral concerts to attend, no graduation to dream and prepare, just a voided emptiness where once a high school senior existed.  No hugs. No too many things to list…. Many milestones not achieved from basics of drivers or a job – it just didn’t come together.

So, my husband who seems to be handling this better than me this time, reminded me we have unconventional children – things don’t often go as planned, their journey is unique from others, they don’t follow the common path. 

We have loved.  We have stood even through the worst of times and we stand still. 

Many suffer.  We suffer. While I want to understand, I don’t.  The face of mental illness is real – I see so many depressed children – as a society we don’t have the answers yet or the plans to help.  1 in 5 are affected by mental illness each year.  It is hard to get them to accept the help they need.  Especially when they are 18 and “in control” yet so out of control.

A close friend recently sent me this reminder - it had to be from the 90's and I loved her memory as it grounded me once again:   I remember years ago you and I were sitting on the bleachers at a softball game, and you told me you and Steve were looking into fostering to adopt.  You also told me that you were looking at it as a mission to help save some children from bad childhoods.  You said you knew you'd get children with problems but that was what went with fostering children.  You have certainly accomplished this mission in the older three and Sophia is still a work in progress.  Your kids have had a great childhood but they don't yet realize nor appreciate all that.  Most kids don't really appreciate a good childhood until they become parents.

She went on to give me needed advice:  When we first started coming a Pastor Abe preached a sermon on parents should not blame themselves if their grown children make decisions the parents didn't like because when the children become adults they are responsible for their own decisions. He said something like that and it made me think how we can tell the kids what's right and wrong but in the end they make their own decisions and they have to live with those decisions.  Parenting isn't easy and we can only do the best that we can.  You have been great parents and the kids have wonderful experiences to reflect back on.  We are praying for you and your family.  "With God nothing is impossible."  God's timing is never wrong.  We'll keep praying and expect great things!

So.  We journey on. We remain in our mission.  We wish her well and that she knows we will always be who we are, here for her as her adoptive parents only wanting the best for her….so…I lift up this blessing and prayer…

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Life is like a burning field

Life is like this burning field....
You can see the smoke, some of it is greater than the actual fire, 
creating drama for a small amount of a controlled burn.  
That is how I am feeling right now - we have SOO much drama creating SOO much smoke....when the fire is actually small and just a simple douse of good water could make a difference.  
But when you don't have the water, the fire burns out of control, 
moving quickly to consume all that is before it.

It creates a smoke fog so dense, in driving through it you can't see to the other side.
I drove hoping to find my way safely, scared by the lack of vision and fear of someone coming behind me too quickly or in front of me too slowly.  
The smell of the smoke filling my vehicle with lingering effects.

Lately, this is our life - we are going through the smoke, hoping to find the clearing - but 
the smoke keeps coming.  
Running away daughter (yes again), my Mom has cancer, 
son struggling in college, 
the list keeps growing like the flames of life.

Someday this smoke WILL clear.

So I drive with the guidance of God. Knowing He knows my path.
He will lead me on to the clearing....
For this I wait.

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:14

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Boat of Life

I recently read this:  “No one puts their children in a boat unless is it safer than the land they are on.”  It moved my mind to push past the many times I wonder why refugees brave the waters in overloaded boats to die horrible drowning deaths on a gamble to make it to a new land…..that phrase gives me new understanding.
As we’ve struggled with our foster children we’ve adopted in these teenager years, I ponder that phrase as I see it in their eyes and lives.  Recently our daughter ran off to live with her birth mother.  6 weeks later she returned angry at her birth mother and refusing to speak to her.  During this time so much happened, but at one point my husband and I were able to sit with her birth mother, talk and share stories and see our shared daughter’s baby/early childhood pictures and realize we ALL loved her the same.  But she was too alike to her birth mother to be able to live with her and hearing her birth mother say “she needs you because you are stricter” was the same as she needs structure….rules….our kind of love.  What a HUGE sacrifice this lady made….she recognized something many birth parents aren’t able to grasp.
While I dream that one day she will accept her birth mother and talk to her again, and be OK with TWO Mom’s….this journey has taken me outside of my comfort zone as we continue to deal with her lack of self esteem and ability to recognize true wholesome love from us and her birth mother.  The journey isn’t over.  The running isn’t done….I pray it will be….but I can’t control it and have released her to God to watch her when life is too hard and running is all she knows to do.  No matter how unsafe the boat is – she believes her land is less safe so she gets in that boat and runs to a near drowning before coming back. It is so horrifying to watch!

I hurt for her pain.  I hurt that she didn’t get the relief she wanted after 8 years of yearning for her biological family  that the search arrived and she burned those bridges hard as she let loose of 8 years of anger that raged in her being against these people she has blood ties to.  She looked into the face of her birth mother who was a mirror of herself with only fog around the edges to make her look different and couldn’t deal with the reality of her own life.  Acceptance. She still feels lost no matter how many life jackets we throw her.

We journey on – sometimes when the stress is high and my sight fogs over the purpose of this journey we chose, I pray that God will bring us to the new land together and we journey on in that hope.
Pray for us.  That is the life jacket we need from you!  Pray we find new land.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Does One Begin Again....and Again....?

How do we begin again?  We aren't the same parents.  She isn't the same child.  Through some rapid happenings of a missing "child" who is by number not a child, but inside still very much one....we moved quickly to her returning home.  It wasn't an easy journey to get here, and the mixed emotions are everywhere for all involved.  
What God showed us is wrapped up nicely in my husband's poem:

Face of God

Just beyond our ideas
Of right and wrong, there is a field
It's on the edge of kindness
And courage. Like a magnet
It draws the seeker
Like a moth to the light.
It gathers each of us
Like the hen gathers her chicks.
A matrix, where all belong
And all begin to fit
Into the face of God.
When all are gathered
When God pulls us all together
We walk without fear
We live in truth.
Don't be afraid or alone
Come to the field
To the field just beyond
Our ideas of right and wrong
Comfort awaits those that mourn
Comfort in the face of God
Where all belong.
Where all are worthy
Where all are enough.
...don't wait
...complete the face of God.

cc~Steve Belknap~Author

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Poem of Grief

As we move through the 7 stages of grief over the “running away” of our adoptive daughter, I’ll share a few reflections and thoughts.  While I’m “stuck” mostly in the anger phase, I go back and forth between a few others as well.  For those of you that don’t know them, they are:

1.      Shock and Denial (we are way past this one)
2.      Pain and Guilt (pain, yes, guilt – no we’ve done our best!).
3.      Anger and Bargaining (I’m in Anger – no bargaining here.)
4.      Depression, reflection, (my husband has suffered the most in this area)
5.      The Upward Turn (I think we are close in this)
6.      Reconstruction & Working through it. (We’ve made gains here!)
7.      Acceptance and Love (I’m at acceptance but like to go back to anger too much).
So my husband shared with me some poetry he’s written as a part of his grieving process.  They showed me his intense pain in this process that is so different from my walk of processing this.  I’ll share one with you. 

Poem of Grief:  08-15

Hope once walked by my side
Never too far away
Sometimes laughing so hard
She begins to snort
Barely able to stop
Then snorts again
Until my eyes begin to leak
Then hope walked out
Not saying goodbye
Just left
Now in place of hope
An imaginary friend is there
Each place I used to see hope
I now see Despair
Despair is a close friend too
But she doesn’t snort
And she doesn’t laugh
I think She colors
My days blue
And sends me waves
Of anxiety
Then holds my hand
An’ makes my eyes leak too.
So, my friends and strangers – please pray as we still walk through these waters of reflection.  This death like experience is one that is taking time to overcome as we work to bid this relationship and loved one farewell.  

We continue to embrace life around us, the common thread of hope has emerged – we have hope and faith.  As long as there is hope, there is life.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dropping off a piece of my heart....

Dropping of a piece of my heart…
Sunday evening we moved my middle son into college.  He is the first one to move away “properly” and first one to pursue an education after High School with a career in mind.  So proud of him on many levels, but – I didn’t anticipate my heart ache quite so much.  We have had a LOT of loss to say the least this past year, decade, whatever…

So, watching my grown up son move off – hit home in the heart zone.  While he isn’t terribly far – he isn’t right down the stairs, I can’t holler to get up, get a morning or evening hug as often either.  This is his time – his new path and journey and I’m so glad he has chosen the college he did and the path he is on.  He’s had his share of challenges, but when he wants something – he works so hard for it.  He’ll have some tough days and weeks ahead – he knows I’m only a phone call away.  I’m trusting God with this “child” who is a young man, that He will watch over him and keep him safe.

I’m hoping as the laundry piles up, that he might feel the urge to come home….that once in awhile he’ll miss his old folks called Mom & Dad.  But I’m also hoping he’ll embrace his new community with joy and vigor – making the best memories of college and making the best of friends as well.

How quickly we’ve gone from 4 to 2.  Grief with acceptance still overwhelms us on our daughter who has run off and doesn’t want anything to do with us.  However, we rise again – God has gently poked at our hearts to re-license for foster care.  I’m saying “Whoa God, we need a break – like a big one.”  But the nagging is there as He gently prods us.  We are looking into the classes we’ll have to take because of the years between our license – I think they could actually be healthy for us to re-take as a way to reconcile our foster to adopt journey – especially these rough waters we’ve been navigating.  So….who knows what or who the future will bring.  We are God’s tools – being open to him gives us peace and comfort as we trust His will for us – because, really, He is in control….not us. 

Putty in his hands….we surrender all.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Revolving Door

That is us today.  Our 18 year old daughter, (despite us giving her bio father and full sister into her life), had a huge desire to find her birth mother – so she planned and schemed behind our backs, despite everyone warning her not to – she up and left us with a lousy note to me only after 8 years of being adopted to live with her bio mom.  So, we are back at loss, pain, anger and grief.  This one hit my husband hard – it hasn’t even been a year since he lost both his parents and this feels like a death again to him / us - loss.  My best friend sees my pain too – but I just handle it different but feel angry mostly with my grief. All the “why’s” flooding my mind – Why didn’t you wait until you’d graduated High School – only 1 more year to go? Why aren’t we enough for you?  Why does this bio mom deserve another chance knowing what you know and have been told? Why do you always run away from your problems – every. single. time. ?  Just why? 

Then, our 20 year old came back and moved home.  Doing better – committed to finding a job and getting his life back on track.  This warms my heart and gives me joy.  We are committed to helping him, not enabling him.  Revolving door of life.

In our many deep talks, my husband of 34 years and I realize the journey with adopted children is not for the weak of stomach.  That God knew he needed our strength for this journey.  We hope and pray the seeds we’ve planted will be enough or at least something they will look at and recognize – we did our best.  We aren’t perfect, but we did what we could given the challenges and tasks at hand.

Oh, the guilt and “what if’s” exist – but with the support around us, we see that we can’t go down that path – our mission was to do this and love and let them go…..if they come back they still are not ours – they are God’s.  We’ve raised them in a Christian home showing them right from wrong and hoping those messages stick.  Setting examples for life that we hope they’ll “get” as they mature and get out on their own.

So – I believe in the power of prayer – I’ve said it often  - please pray for them all and us.  This journey is not an easy one, the road is bumpy and full of fallen trees blocking our path – but we hike on…

C if you are reading this – know we’ve always loved you – good times and bad and we miss you, grieve for you and hope you find the happiness you are looking for.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mission Field of Life continues….

Trials abound – stress continues.  I have NO fingernails….yes I’m a nail biter! 
One son had a bad longboard accident – trip to ER, fractures and sprains and lots of scabs and swelling/bruising.  He’ll be OK – he is healing, it could have been worse.  In the throes of it, honesty as to how the accident happened was a little evasive and when the truth came out – a nice grounding was applied.  I understand accidents happen – I just don’t accept lies. 

Another child lost her cell phone – sexting emails, in appropriate male contacting – just take it away.  A cycle we’ve repeated and tried to gain trust with that just doesn’t happen.  I’m thinking flip phone. 

Eldest moved out in anger again – don’t know where he is exactly.  We have contact minimally, he’s walked away from his job and support – hanging with sketchy people, doing drugs and living in the moment.  The city detective stopped by looking for him – I can honestly say I don’t know where he is, he won’t tell me where he is staying.  I worry about one of three calls I may get:  1) he is arrested (then I’ll at least know where he is and that he is getting three meals a day and not doing drugs! 2) he is dead or 3) hurt and in the hospital.    Trying to get him to go to a half-way house – but he hasn’t hit bottom yet….so we wait and pray.  Not the life we’d hoped for this guy at all.  Makes me incredibly sad and heart broken. 

I didn’t think life would turn this way for our adopted kiddos – we continue to be true to ourselves as parents and followers of Christ – hoping that our life example may still be seen and heard in their hearts.  Their brokenness doesn’t come only from their adoption stories, it remains in themselves to find their way as lost souls – I believe all teens out there struggle with so much more than their parents even begin to know, whether adopted or not.  The world of evil pulls constantly at our youth.  This is the fork in the road that so many have to choose and for my kiddos – that choice doesn’t come easy it seems.  We’ve raised them right.  They know right from wrong.  Choice and free will are what they have. 

I’ve been listening to some good CD’s on parenting again as I commute – often my daughter says her low self-esteem is my fault.  One thing I’ve learned is that self-esteem comes from the person achieving and accomplishing tasks that builds THEIR esteem, and no amount of flattery or praise will give them esteem – they make it through their accomplishments.  Like when a 4-year-old ties their shoes, we praise them – they’ve accomplished an age appropriate task and take pride and grow esteem from this.  But if I’d praise a 14-year-old the same way for tying shoes, it wouldn’t have the same effect.  It is from them achieving success in their hard tasks of life – rising up to do it, that they grow that esteem.  Encouragement to DO those tasks and steps is what we as parents do in the cheering on to get them to not give up…. sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.  Having more open conversations about what has been happening in our home continues – even the 9-year-old whose ears are large – it is learning from the mistakes and successes of each kiddo in the house. 

Looking forward to vacation to come yet – time to restore my soul in places I love…. looking ahead to the good, surviving the trenches of life.  I remain optimistic, despite some serious sadness.  But God it in control, so while I’ve chewed off all my fingernails in stress – I know He guides us and has that master plan that I believe will still be victorious over sin.  I believe.  I have hope. I choose to find joy in the trenches of life.  Thankful always for a great partner in life who we’ll celebrate 34 years of marriage in July, God knew we needed each other for this mission field of life we continue on.

Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”  (NIV)  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Soul Weary

I am weary. Soul weary.

The struggles just continue.  I told my son the other day, that God was telling him, like Jonah, to go to Nineveh and he just refused to listen and was being swallowed by the whale of life – throwing him up on the shores of sin over and over – but he still refuses to go to Nineveh.

I repeat – I am weary, soul weary. 
These struggles are real.  For all the “find joy in everything” people who exasperate me with their happy joy bubbling selves, I wonder if the trials they experience relate more like a broken fingernail or wrong paint color than to teenager underage drinking, verbal abuse, domestic battery, porn – the dirty laundry list is long….and painful.  However, I to realize my trial list is nothing compared to those with debilitating health challenges, cancer, death and many other things that make mine look like a broken fingernail!

I rise, I restore my broken soul with agony only a parent’s heart can hold and pray to God “why did you save my children through the foster system, only to create these hard times that pull them back to the very life they were saved from……is it destiny for them?  Why?”  It feels cruel.  It feels like I failed as a parent.  Soul weary.

A friend mentioned my “tough love” and I felt bad that she viewed me as a tough love Mom.  But then I remind myself, she hasn’t walked this walk.  I will NOT enable my children. They need to own it, we have given grace, mercy and forgiveness – we do it every day…..natural consequences and parental discipline is needed more today and I see more children being rude to adults and their parents than ever.  I’ve noticed with my kiddos, that after a big “err” of their ways / choices, that when we lay it out for them, they willingly accept it and seem HAPPY, yes I said HAPPY that we laid down the law.  It is that wall that remains constant for them – the reminder we do care, we will apply punishment for actions and we remain strong in trying to guide them back on the right path.

My son waited 5 days before he asked me to sit down that he had something to tell me.  I sat down, bracing for what was coming…..he shared he got a speeding ticket.  He was so relieved – yes he lost keys for a while, but he understood.  We filed for diversion, it was his first ticket – he told me how scared he was when he got pulled over and he’d hoped he’d only get a warning.  He wasn’t lucky and a whopping $$$ ticket was awarded to him.  But he finally told me and I could see the relief in his face. 

So, while some days the weary overtakes – the soul is weary while the world around me judges.  United with my husband, we soldier on.  Never knowing what our next challenge will be – I have a recurring nightmare of losing a child.  I’ve had it for years and it is always the same child.  Fear and worry can overtake your dreams too.  I know the sun shines on the other side of the thunder clouds and I take myself to a happy beach far away some days.  Then I pull up my socks, my faith and my hope and say, there will be a day that joy comes more than the trials we are facing.  Faith carries me on.

My soul needs a spa day – the kind where everything falls into place and the tapestry of life is complete with joy and fulfillment.  I have to accept that I am living a life I’d never imagined or expected. This is my calling and my journey, despite my doubts, denials, and fears.  As much as I struggle to know why God allows these hardships in my life, His purpose and ways are beyond my limited understanding and I trust Him still.  My trials draw me closer to Him for comfort and hope in which I can ultimately serve Him.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Still sliding...

Oh the drama.
Still sliding out of school.....all of is C.R.A.Z.Y.
the stuff happening and conversations with our kiddos.
It will end soon and a slower, relaxed, fun
summer pace is what I'm looking forward to.
Pray it comes.
Meanwhile, I shared this with my children as a reminder.
If they could live this, we'd all be OK.  
Just be the nice kid.

Be the nice kid.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Domestic Violence - not what you think...

Domestic Violence – the purple ribbon.  
Married over 33 years, survived infertility, cancer, domestic violence.  If you, like me think that happens to OTHER people, and usually the husband beating the wife, classic alcohol or drugs involved.  Let me share a nasty secret with you – we’ve been living with it in our home for 8 years from a child of ours.

When we adopted after 16 years of infertility, so happy for two boys, then 10 years later we added two girls, an infant and 10-year-old.  We knew the going would be rougher with the older daughter, given her past.  Our ideals of “love conquers all” have been dashed, but it hasn’t stopped us from trying to stop the train either.  Mental health supports up the ying yang, church connections, positive mentors, medication, psych testing, love, grace, 70x7 – we’ve done it all – reading books, listening to parenting CD’s….you name it, we’ve battled this demon of violence to the point we have seriously lost the ability to parent this child.  Manipulative, controlling, unwilling to obey the simplest of parenting requests like “brush your teeth please.” Nothing.  UNLESS she is in the mood.  Moods.  We are controlled by them.  And victimized by violence with anger.  It sets off at any time, unknown to us what tiny thing is the tipping point.

Scars on our bodies to show the pain we’ve endured, silently feeling like failure parents. Verbal abuse abounds on us emotionally as well.  Unable to find any discipline that works - time outs used, doors off for slamming, consequences for actions – some natural, some applied when we are able, lost privileges….   Nothing has beat this demon.  Christian boarding school – only to be expelled for – guess what – violence to staff.  This was a turning point for me as I realized it wasn’t just me.  I took on so much blame for not being a good enough Mom.  This time, it wasn’t me being physically hurt – yet emotionally saddened that she continues to harm others besides us – worry for her future relationships, children… do you stop a moving train?

Studies on RAD, lower brain stem rage, PTSD, we know it – but it doesn’t stop it.  She’s had 10 years of therapy – she knows WHAT to do, but if you don’t use it – what good is it?  The skills knowledge is there for her, she knows it – but refuses to use it when needed.

So, welcome 18.  She’d been told what would come if she continued with her ways.  A hurt adult, chairs thrown, pictures smashed and knocked over furniture,….the 911 call that changed her future came.  Jail time.  Bond.  72hrs away.  Felony or Misdemeanor still to be determined….court date.

We’ve always had a safety plan for the other children to get them away when the violence comes.  We try to get away, often trapped or having to intervene to get the others safely away from harm. They know what to do – where to go.  The boys get so angry at her and want to “get” involved, we’ve remained adamant it doesn’t and can’t involve them – get away, keep the little one safe. Our youngest cries and doesn’t understand and this last time cried when she knew she was coming home and wanted to sleep in our room to feel safe.  For one of my sons, I see the quiet way he deals with his anger, getting back in unhealthy ways we’ve had to counsel as well.  It isn’t easy on the other children either.  They too are victims.  It is hard for us as parents who are still trying to make a difference!

It hurts when people say to me how they just don’t see this in her – she is such a sweet nice girl, they “can’t imagine”, implying we are liars and she doesn’t act that way with them…..walk in my shoes people. It isn’t just us – we’ve learned this.  History speaks for itself. She won’t just show these demons to anyone.  It is like two or more different people live inside her….

So, we are committed to seeing her through school. One more year after this one.  She is in this hard time of spring with year end which causes her such instability.  She is confused and doesn’t know what she wants to do.  One day she is running away, the next day she talks of future events with us.  We never know…..but one day, she will fly on her own and we will restore peace…one day, I pray her demon of violence leaves her and this last jail stay will be her only jail stay.  One day. So, pray with me.  I’m so tired of this journey, but I’m committed despite feeling hopeless and wanting to give up like everyone in her past did….I find my courage and go again…praying this time, the violence stays away longer, and longer until it is no more.  

Idealistic to the end.  John 1:5

Friday, March 10, 2017

Reading. The Struggle is Real.

LD. Learning Disabled.  The label. The problem:  Reading.  She is SOOO smart, sensitive, caring and bright.  But READING is her most difficult task.  I must admit, this one gets me, I ache when I read with her – listening to her dissect EACH word, struggling so hard.  I die on the inside because I just want to help, but I know I can’t….giving her the words is the “cheat” she looks for me to do….I have to bite my tongue and NOT give in to the easiness of doing that.  She must learn on her own – how to break apart the word, and say EACH syllable separately to bring the word together.  It can happen quickly or agonizingly take minutes which feels like foever.  She can know it on one page and struggle with it a few sentences down…..the struggle is real.  This journey she must take, but sometimes I wish it was a little more fair and that she could read with fluency like she wants to soo bad. 

We’ve completed months of vision therapy, it has helped, but the corner isn’t turned completely – so we work on and on. 

So, doing nothing to help her is the hardest thing I have to do as a parent.  I sit there, and bite my tongue to not give in to telling her the words.  This, is our reading world with this precious child of God, created by Him – beautifully 9 and 3rd grade….

I pray for the patience to keep pushing the right amount – to wait and watch, hoping for that day she can sit and read a chapter book to herself like she sees her big sister doing…..and know that her love for books can be attained by her reading to herself.  Her night time ritual is Daddy reading chapter books to her – she demands it, waits for him if he is late….it is a ritual she has had for years.  Then I swoop in, read a short devotional to her and get all the cuddle, snuggle, tucking done… baby, my little girl is growing up…..but the ritual stays the same.  We've read to her since she was a baby....daily.

So, pray with me – lift her up as we work and work on the reading piece in her life.  The teacher / para support is awesome at school and we’ll hire the summer tutor again as well – time, practice and patience as it comes slowly…..God’s timing – always perfect, right?

Monday, January 30, 2017

My Bestie

My bestie....

She and I have lunch every week as much as possible.  She is my venting partner in life - I vent joys and sorrows as does she and we are THERE for each other, in the good times and bad.  God blessed me greatly when he placed Dawn in my life as a dear friend.  We "get" each other and accept each other for our limitations.  I'm almost 5' 11" and she is very short.  We go together like total opposites - but the glue of friendship holds us strong.  We do have many things in common too - and over 33 years of friendship allows for much laughter and tears.

I couldn't be prouder of her and her accomplishments.  Here is the latest that has hit the local papers:

She sums up so much of what society is missing - we need more of this mentality:  "Growing up, being a different person, I've learned that you don't judge the book by its cover."

Her words rang true even more so this past weekend.  I shared with her as her article in the news hits the local towns this very lesson hit home for me this weekend.

My eldest son, intentionally drove his first car, a gift from us to use - super hard and blew the engine, then boasted to his friends about all the way he drove it.  In our parental outrage, we didn't let him drive any of our other vehicles and said that was it - buy your own vehicle.  Long story - lots happened as he pulled away from church, made poor choices in his life.....until God returned him back into our nest and informed us despite him being 19 we aren't done with him yet.  So, the often rude, cussing young man came home and we began helping him, encouraging him to get / keep and find work, save money and not spend it all (ongoing) and that we'd help him buy/find a vehicle he'd use until he paid us for it.  So, learning a lot of grace and give/take, we found a mini-van that he amazingly wanted, loaded, older, hadn't moved much in 6 months.  I sent him off on Saturday to have the tires checked due to a low front passenger side tire.  On his way back home, the vehicle's steering quit and he pulled into a parking lot as it died.  "Great" - he thought I'd be angry at him - wrecking another yet vehicle that he promised he'd be nice to this time.   I was busy doing the 100 plus things I save for weekends, moving my mountains on a schedule to get it done....and he calls, telling me of the vehicle woes, not impressed but he needed my help so baking bread and laundry had to wait..  I headed out to him - 20 minutes away, expecting we'd have to get the vehicle towed, thinking of costs we don't need at this time in expensive repairs - my son was worried I was going to yell at him (yes, I do yell from time to time!).  But I was calm - he thought he knew what part was needed, I told him to use his smart phone smartly and find the part and it's cost.

I picked him up, he showed me the serpentine belt that was ruined, we headed to an automotive shop, found the part, rented the tool we'd need and returned to the vehicle which was parked in front of a Hooka Lounge, no less.  Turns out through Anthony's social snap chatting, his friend's Dad was at that very lounge.  He came out and introduced himself and said he could help us get the new belt on.

He is an army mechanic, had worked on many vans like the broken one at a dealership and knew just what to do.  It wasn't an easy job by far.  The motor was quite tightly placed, the man got dirty, cut his hand and told my son how to help him get the new belt on.  45 minutes later, the job was done and he'd literally saved us 100's of $.  I was so humbled by his help, he didn't have to do this.  He was a kind man and when I tried to give him money, he simply asked that we pay it forward.  Wow, it could have been so easy to judge this man from his appearance - but the kindness that poured from his soul, mouth and eyes amazed and humbled me. We talked and got to know each other a little in those 45 minutes. I learned about a caring man who's daughter was my son's friend and that in itself was enough for him to help us.  He told me some of his life.  I listened amazed.

As we all got going and I drove home, I prayed to God thanking him for this stranger who took time to help us.  That we shouldn't judge books by their covers and everyone around us is created by God and loved by Him - this example was that very reminder that sometimes we get so busy in life we forget or don't take the time for people near and around us.  It is hard to verbalize the exchange that took place in all this for me.  With all the recent media bashing, hate, crime in our area and worldwide - kindness prevailed right in front of me. We don't have too far to look for good around us - the reminder that it is there!

My son kept saying over and over he thought I'd be mad at him.  I told him over and over I was proud of him for knowing how to stop, find the part and the help.  His resources amazed me....and I was not angry at all.  A growing time for both of us.

The good Samaritan lived out before us.  I'm always more of the one to help the others - so this was humbling to be the one on the roadside needing the help.  A perspective needed to grow.

So - pay it forward folks.  Pay it forward....I know I will.

Friday, January 27, 2017

First Gotcha Day of 2017

4 adopted kiddos - 3 Gotcha Days.  This week we celebrated the first one in January with the youngest.  A time to reflect on what adoption means, how it has affected our family.
Soph was especially sensitive to it and it gives us opportunity to talk freely.  She thinks we should adopt more kiddos after the teens all leave so she won't be lonely.  Love her big heart!
Special moments - special times!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Mother's Rant on Awards

OK – getting this rant down in ink.    
 Back in good old preschool, as a newly adopted Mom of two rambunctious boys with definite health concerns, learning disabilities and more -  we entered our first realm of Pre-School.  My kiddos loved preschool – it was a learning time, but it seriously stressed them out too – (as did ALL of their schooling!). I loved to see them learn new things and be excited about the papers they brought home – they blossomed as they did enjoy singing and PE activites, the other stuff was hard for them.  The teacher was new, green and energetic – we loved her and were so happy for the opportunity close to home.  Some kids thrive in school, get freaked out if they get B’s instead of A’s and are destined for honor roll and every other award at awards banquets etc.

My kids aren’t these kids.  All 4 adopted kiddos I love deeply – but they aren’t National Honor Roll kids. 

It started for me when at the end of my eldest son’s 1st preschool year – an award was given out with great grandeur called the “Apple of My Eye” award by the teacher.  Clearly as a parent you’d beam if your child received this award – I mean, to have a child singled out in such a way indicates they are superior to every other child only screams “successful child coming through” and “Teachers Pet” all the way!  While maybe jealousy played a part of my feelings – wonder and shock also entered as I realized the school system was already stereotyping children into the “preferred” category by adults through awards. At age 4 the kids don’t understand the significance of these moments.  Like getting better insurance rates for good credit, these kids are the Golden Children riding through the system from Pre-School to High School shining in awards. Their future is pre-determined with expectations.

This continued with best reading awards, best attendance, and so on – clear to High School with Awards ceremonies with meals and watching the SAME people go up countless times receiving every award possible.  Citizenship Awards (which at least looks at the character of the person for kindness and other attributes not measured by the IQ level is sometimes the only award I hold my breath on).  Once in a while a child of mine might get some award, which I’d do my part to be there to watch – despite the pain/proud mixture I’d feel.

As I’ve pondered all this, coming from a Canadian education system that didn’t quite have this level of “preferred students” held up on pedestals, a part of me is unhappy with this system in the USA that I continue to observe.  Yes, I’m very proud of my kids when they do well – and can get sucked into the “proud parent” moments with awards and publication.  I mean – it feeds an ego of parenting we all hold and who wouldn’t feel proud of their child for achieving something they get recognized for? We are naturally wired this way. We’d be guilted into feeling like bad parents if we didn’t feel this way.

When I recently saw another post of a teacher having a special lunch with kids that got the “Best behavior” status….it brought forth some thoughts on what we are doing – I know positive reinforcement and all that is important, I in no way want to discount that -  but I’m worried too about the message this sends to those kids who can’t attain this status. 

So here is my
Buts list….

But what about the child that just can’t sit still and get recognition for good behavior?
But what about the child that is bullied by others because they can’t read or do math like the others so they act out and then get labeled the one that isn’t kind to others when the bullies are the “stars” of the class and get away with it.
But what about the child that has the lower IQ, is ADD or Autistic or has a Learning Disability that these awards just aren’t in the cards for their life unless they have a brain transplant!
But what about the child who is smart, but has NO parental support and a dysfunctional home with abuse on the home front that doesn’t get to achieve their full potential.
But what about the child whose single parent is doing all they can, but can’t keep up with all the emails, posts and expectations the school puts of parents to be that great parent support when they can barely get their work done to pay bills, do laundry and cook let alone sit down with their child at night to help them – feeling exhausted and pulled at in every direction with all their kids -  yet it costs their child.
But what about the child who simply is mediocre – will do their best and remain “average” all their life.

Why do we do this to our children today?  These kiddos know who is smart, who isn’t, who is kind, who does drugs, who has allergies, who has one parent or two or none……

We label and expect these kids to live up to standards that aren’t achievable by all, only recognizing the few that attain statuses created by adults.  I’d like to see the children create the awards….and see what they can come up with.  Maybe it would look very different.  We don’t want our children to judge others, but the current system does just that and teaches that.  It is no different then picking up a teen magazine with “perfect” girls in in.  Do you know that 3 minutes after looking at a teen magazine girls have strong feelings of depression?  Even though they know photoshop has created these images, it still moves them to feel depressed.

I don’t have all the answers – but I know that many children won’t reach award status in their lives, but Jesus loves us all the same.  In a world needing a little more Jesus action– we need to find more acceptance of the different types out there…..including those battling drugs, cancer, poverty… find ways to say we all don’t have to be the same. To say if mediocre is your best today – we’ll accept that, we are OK with that.

Just please don’t make my children feel any less for what they are….created and loved by God.  Each one unique, each one struggling against all odds, each one deeply loved by a Mama Bear who hurts when they are hurt, who is their greatest advocate, who can be proud of their C’s. I simply want them to know they matter, they are loved, they are important and their presence on this earth makes a difference no matter if they get an award or not!

There….I’ve got that off my chest. 

PS:  I’m married to a National Honor Roll man, Citizenship Award man, Suma Cum Laude honor man, Salutatorian man…..and I’m proud of him too.  These awards don’t define him though – his life by example does!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ice Ice

2017 started rough - a dying cousin passed away.  Living 1000 miles from my homeland, I've missed many funerals, weddings, gatherings and family time which is the result of loving my Kansas man!  But I also pick and choose - so this time, when my beloved cousin who was like a little brother to me in many ways, passed on to be with Jesus.
I had to go North.
I took two (half) of the kiddos and we hit the road hard - winter travel when you head to Canada isn't a given and I knew that we would navigate ice and snow.  We safely made it up, only on the day of the funeral a whopping blizzard arrived - I was thinking "I didn't drive 1000 miles to miss going to this funeral!"  Luckily I was staying only 6 miles from the church and was able to make it.  Highways were closed, schools cancelled - but I made it and am glad I was able to be there for the celebration of his life.  Sadly my brother who grew up with my cousin, was further away and couldn't make it - neither could my own Mom as the highways she'd travel were closed.  

I was so grateful to hear how my cousin touched soo many and loved Jesus soo much - his life, like my past brother's was a testimony of faith! At age 44 leaving behind a loving wife and two younger daughters, my heart ached for them all.  We've experienced so much loss lately - and it doesn't stop.  I realize as I continue to age, the losses will continue too - and I view the youth as I once was, not fully getting it - funerals aren't just for the old - they happen to younger people too.  But the reality as I look at loved ones and friends - more funerals will come.  They are the passage of life we all experience at one time or another.

We returned home in a rush - trying to beat the oncoming ice storm forecast for our area.  God kept us safe and I happily spent many hours inside, watching rain / ice form and doing my piles of laundry!

Time is a healer - I'm embracing my time, healing as I can and taking it all one day at a time.
Remembering to pay it forward in the world we live in - when I think I have it tough, I simply look around and there is always someone who is having a harder time.  Giving love and kindness to those around me.  Being true to myself.  Riding the parenting train through these teen years - learning grace, forgiveness and toughing it all out.
Peace - my goal is more inner peace for 2017.  To let go of the things I can't change, accept what is and continue to hold to my morals despite the world around me.

Peace....find beauty in everyday things and cherish them.  May you too!

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