Wednesday, February 29, 2012

fun interruption

Tonight I am thankful for the stench that is lingering throughout our main living space.  If Babydoll hadn't pooped her panties moments before walking out the door to drive to the library in the rain after dinner while My Love is away, we would have made it there to find it closes early on Wednesday.  The fun interruption caused me to pause and think about a conversation I had with a friend earlier today about their unpredictable closing hours.  After all was cleaned up, I checked online and it was indeed already closed. 

Tonight I am thankful for poop.

What about you?

the courts, class two

Last night was class two for our training to become foster parents.  I continue to be amazed by how God is preparing us for something big.  I am learning a lot and am equally overwhelmed and excited by how vastly our lives will change.

Like I said before, there are all different reasons people have decided to be apart of this class with us.  Some are empty nesters, single women, married without children, and some have very specific situations they are pursuing (ie. fostering to adopt a niece).  People ask great questions from their own perspective and it is really helpful for focusing our minds on what God has called us to in the journey ahead.

Last night we learned about the court system.


There is a lot going on there.  I honestly wonder if social workers ever sleep.  I am thankful that their caseload is lower than several years ago.  It really seems like our county does a great job trying to prevent kids from entering the system in the first place.  They also stick to a timeline of how long a child can stay in foster care.  That is comforting.  Unfortunately I was the kid asking all the number questions.  They don't want to give numbers.  Numbers vary and really every case is different.  Knowing the numbers helps with expectations though.  Sitting in a room with many other excited families (and 75 other approved foster homes in the county), how often do kids enter the system?  Someone had to ask.  If most kids in our county return to birth parents OR are eventually placed with relatives (which is the more likely of the two) it will help our mental preparation process.  So I ask how many kids become adoptable.  I hear a general agreement across the room as the answer was given.  Numbers help.

By week two, I can see my mindset shifting to something more practical.  But how does one train their heart?  It will be helpful to focus on how God will use us, our home, and our family to provide a safe, loving place for a child to come and stay for however long he ordains.  Adoption may never be an option for the growth of our family but there will always be children living here.  Even if the child lives with us for a year.  Eighteen months.  Our minds and hearts need to be set on whatever God has laid before us.  It will be helpful to our current children too.  We can't be expecting forever with each placement.

I am thankful that the government can not so easily dissolve a person's parental rights.  I am thankful that a timeline is in place here to prevent that process from dragging out too long.  I am thankful that they look under every rock and behind every tree trying to find a relative who will take the child before they become adoptable.  A child will always want their family no matter how terrible they have been treated.  80% of foster children here enter the system due to abuse or neglect.  It wrenches my heart, but I am thankful that in some cases children can be reunited with birth relatives.  My heart ache is the least of the pain in this process.

So we are learning how to love.  Love like Christ loves the church.  To love without conditions, expectations.  And although this bodes well to the strengthening of a marriage and family, it also proves fruitful to prepare us for the road ahead.  There will be love showered on broken children.  There will be joy found in God's graces.  There will be laughter and smiles.  There will be miracles.  And that might just have to be enough.

Our application is complete.  We are ready to schedule a home study.  Things are moving forward and I am excited to see what comes next in the process.

Monday, February 27, 2012

feel that touch

   Seek sometimes not even to hear Me.  Seek a silence of spirit-understanding with Me.  Be not afraid.  All is well.  Dwell much on what I did, as well as what I said.  
   Remember, I "touched her hand, and the fever left her."  Not many words, just a moment's contact, and all fever left her.  She was well, whole, calm, able to arise and "minister unto them."  My touch is still a potent healer.  Just feel that touch.  Sense My Presence, and the fever of work and care and fear just melts into nothingness--and health, joy, peace, take its peace.

-The Two Listeners, God Calling

Saturday, February 25, 2012

moving forward

Thank you for your prayers.

I have been writing and talking to people about how Babydoll has been doing so much that I forgot that I haven't updated the blog yet.  Maybe my repetition with loved ones will allow for a concise explanation for you here.

We saw Sissy's pediatrician on Friday afternoon.  Because she is not sick and there was no infection to cause a fever, he believes that the vaccines she got a week before were the cause.  Not of the seizure, just the cause of the fever.  Don't get me started on how frustrated I am about all of  that.  Really.

In a nutshell, febrile seizures are benign and are not uncommon in children up to age five.  Studies show that kids who have them can grow up to live normal healthy lives with no problems with intelligence.  They are triggered by either an extremely high fever or a sudden rise in fever.  This last time her fever only read 100.5 whereas the first time three hours after Motrin it read 102.5.  (note: We have a working thermometer now.)  Sometimes you don't even know they have a fever until a seizure starts.  Her doctor can not tell us "she will always have seizures with fever" or "she will never have one again".  Obviously it was concerning that she had two so close together in time but not terribly alarming from their perspective.  There are things that would be cause for concern though.  Like more than one in a 24 hour period, a seizure lasting for an hour, etc.  We are not in that arena.  Her Dr. said often times children with epilepsy will show other signs (like with development) that their brains have been affected.  Babydoll is very smart and is learning and growing quickly.  All that to say, he still wants us to take her to the ER if it were to happen again and said she will probably need a full neurological work up after the third seizure to rule out anything else.  Um...this is not uncommon BUT be concerned if it happens ONE more time?  I think we need a new pediatrician.

There is so much more I could share but really it is better I don't vent in this forum.  The bottom line is Babydoll is doing well and we have been advised to aggressively treat fevers with Motrin/Tylenol at the first sign with the goal being preventing a sudden spike at all.  That can be easier said than done though as we read sometimes the seizure is the first evidence of the presence of a fever at all.

Many people have expressed concern and while I will admit we were anxious while she had a fever of any temperature this last time we choose not to continue thinking about it while she is well.  We know people are praying.  They are praying for us and with us and the Lord hears those prayers.  We are feeling them.  We KNOW our God IS Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals, and we trust he can see the big picture.  As I was reminded recently, he designed the whole picture. 

She is safe in His arms.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

not in the 80%

It was my turn to take the night shift.  

I was woken up at 1am by the same yelp sound I heard just seventeen days ago.  We were both calmer this time.  I heard her jolting in her bed from down the hall and immediately woke up My Love before even turning down the covers.  We went to her crib side.  This time she was on her back rather than her side and her eyes were noticeably open.  We were not in a panic.  Dare I say peaceful?  Once the seizure ended My Love wiped away the spit bubbles from her lips and she lie there limp with eyes closed now.  I brushed my teeth and then My Love helped get our Babydoll dressed in something cooler.  She was burning up.  And yet we still hadn't replaced the batteries in our thermometer.  When she gained consciousness/awareness, she cried and I gave her Motrin.  There were no cold symptoms in the days leading up to this episode.  Suddenly we realized she was not in the 80% of children who have had a febrile seizure and only experience one.  At her follow up appointment two weeks ago with her pediatrician, he told us to take her to the ER again the next time it happened.  Honestly I hoped that it wouldn't.  This time they only took her blood which took three needle sticks to retrieve.  Other than a slight pink color in her ear, there was no other infection.

Babydoll's fever lowered.  They released her and I got home just in time for My Love who was dressed in a suit to leave for work so he could drive three hours to give a very important briefing.   

Pray for our sweet Babydoll.  She has been a trooper but her patience had been pushed to her limit.  We are beginning to wonder if this is something we will always have to worry about with fevers.  At this point, I just want to learn how to handle it in the future because middle-of-the-night ER visits with no present infection is tiring all around.

God is good!  Even outside of the 80%.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

class one

God is good!

First off let me say that our first training class to become foster resource parents went great.

OK now let me back up.

Before moving to our new home, our amazing friend M mentioned several times that her friend was a children's minister at a Baptist church in the area we would be relocating too.  I met her friend and their family at one two of M's children's birthday parties and knew of their story.  She and her husband adopted a sibling group of three from Ethiopia and their oldest boy was best friends with M's adopted son from Ethiopia.  That is right, people.  God moved these children from the same orphanage where they were best friends in the same small town in an African country to the same area in the USA.  Isn't he amazing?  Needless to say, I have heard several stories about this family over the past year.  We decided to visit another church once moving here which quickly became our church home so we never had a chance to visit the church M's friend goes to.

Her name came up again once we started this journey.  M mentioned that her friend had a great working relationship with the social services in our county and did many workshops through their church to encourage foster parenting and adoption within their church body.  Since I was already in touch with her friend's contact on my own I didn't make any connections.

Fast forward.  

Are you lost yet?

God moves fast.

Of the two dozen people who were in attendance last night, HALF of them (I'm talking six families) came from M's friend's church.  Seriously.  Once the first couple mentioned it, couple after couple openly repeated that they went to that church.  That is right, people.  Over the next couple of months we will be growing a support system with other Christian families.  I wanted to cry right there.

The dynamics of the group were surprising.  Four families were empty-nesters.  Two couples were young with no children.  A few mentioned previously adopting.  Some were current foster parents.  And one guy (and his wife who was not present) had adopted a sibling set in California four years again when they recently got a phone call saying the birth mother of their children had another child and asked if they wanted it.  He was going through the process in our state to foster that baby until they could adopt it so their children could be with their sibling.  There were several single woman.  Some who only wanted to foster teenagers.

It was eye-opening.  It seems God calls all kinds of people to do all kinds of thing for his glory.

The class was very informative in a helpful and overwhelming kind of way.  We both came away from the first class even more excited about the journey ahead and open to whatever God has in store for us.

We were able to turn in our application last night.  The instructor said she will be able to start processing paperwork within the week.  Finger prints are next week.  Then soon will be the home study (which we heard--from others who have gone through the process elsewhere--was super invasive but learned yesterday might actually be harmless).  When that is completed, we should be able to qualify to receive a placement call BEFORE the end of our training.  That would be interesting.  I guess technically we could bring a lap child (with approval) on our family vacation to see relatives...

We learned some helpful statistics last night that will help direct our prayers for what God might be preparing for us.  There are more foster homes in our county than there are children who need homes (which is a good thing!).  The average length of stay is 12 months.  The percentage of kids in the age range we were hoping for is very low, like 2%.  God might have other plans for us.  We will just have to wait and see.

I will admit I was getting anxious about leaving the kids yesterday afternoon for the training class.  Brother actually cried after nap not wanting me to leave him.  That is SO not his temperament.  I bribed him with left over peanut butter cake to eat with my friend (who ended up bringing her daughter) and he quickly got over his tears in a jiffy.  Maybe he was still waking up?  In any case I needed him to be strong for his sister because I was more worried about leaving Babydoll.  We have gone out before but it has usually been after putting her down to bed.  I am not sure a sitter has ever put her to bed.  I gave Brother the one responsibility of singing her night-night song to her.  He obliged.  I have no idea why I was so anxious about it.  I totally trust my friend.  I guess I just didn't want my Bundles to give her a hard time.  Breathe.  Of course everything went fine.

Well God was faithful to send texts from THREE of my favorite J friends in the hour before my class.  I felt their prayers and appreciated their encouragement.  Thanks girls of California, Tennessee and Florida.  You are gifts in my life!  Not to mention the sweet card I got in the mailbox from one of those J's just before my friend arrived to watch the kids.  And the drawing and letter from our sponsored child in Nicaragua that came in the same pile of mail.

God is more than enough, people.

One class down, seven more to go!  We are doing this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

head up

Today is the beginning of the first step in our journey into foster parenting.  It is hard to believe that the very idea only came into our minds a few months ago.  Since then there has been much prayer and discussion about what will start today.  Our training classes will be every Tuesday night for the next eight weeks.  My friend will be coming to watch the kids while we take the classes and we are so grateful that God brought her back into our lives during this time.  Good things, people.  He is going to do all kinds of good things.

The application is completed.  There will be an upcoming home study.  After our family vacation to see relatives this spring, we will be coming home to a new chapter for our lives.  I expect we will not receive our first placement call until May (when we return).  Until then, we will remain in prayer and hope to learn a lot about the process through these training classes.

Pray for us.

I can't help but think about an experience I had with Bundle Boy this week.  After getting a new bike for his birthday, he learned how to ride the bad boy with training wheels around the block while we walked the dog.  He fell off of it at some point and is now terrified to ride it.

His fear has been debilitating.  I will admit my patience has been limited and my understanding of his anxiety has been lacking.  But I am stubborn.  This weekend I made him get back on his bike (with a helmet, training wheels, my hand holding on, and his full knowledge of how to pedal and brake) and he was stuck in a panic between each revolution of the pedals.  It has been frustrating.  No amount of encouraging words or reminding of his days riding like the wind faster than I could run would break his fear.  We prayed on the completely level sidewalk asking God to take his fear and give him courage to trust him with what seemed scary.  He was still crippled.  It took him about 30 minutes to "ride" his bike to the corner and back.  It wasn't exactly enjoyable for either of us.  But he did it.

From the outside, my encouraging words turned to frustration.  I have never seen him like this.  I was helpless to take his anxious thoughts and replace them with any semblance of confidence.

Then I noticed something.  As he was holding on with a death grip hunched over the bike, I realized his head was facing down.  He was focusing on the pedals and ground below him.  He was putting his faith in his ability to ride the bike and keep himself from falling off.  I told him to raise his head.  To look up at the road before him so he could see where he was going. Suddenly he was pedaling "faster".  We were actually going somewhere now. 

We got back to our driveway and he asked if he could get off now.  We had made some progress but he was definitely done for the day.  He spoke with all pride about how he had ridden his bike when from my perspective he was no where near riding it the way he once had.  It was baby steps forward none the less.  

So we ride on raising our heads keeping our eyes on what God is doing on the path before us.  We are choosing not to put all our focus and faith in our own capabilities because frankly history tells us we will crash.  We have to trust.  

We pray for the little ones that will come stay with us for a time.  I hope we remember that if their fears become debilitating we won't put too much faith in our ability to give encouraging words or reminders of all the things keeping them safe.


It seems all we will need to do is tell them to lift their eyes up.  To trust the One who casts out all fear so that he may give them the strength to ride like the wind all on their own.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

praying for

I don't exactly know what to say.  There isn't much to share.  Life is happening.  Since Babydoll's seizure scare, reality has settled in.  It took a few days for everyone to catch up on sleep and for the girls to kick the cold symptoms.  Then there was housework and laundry and parenting and a marriage to focus on.  

After reading through two of the books on my end table about foster care (one informative and one memoir), my mind has been redirected to normal life stuff.  In some ways, God has been good to let us focus on the chapter ahead during times the past few months in order to spur conversation and prepare our lives for the changes.  And then other times (like now), he has protected us from being consumed with too much on our mental plates.  I have been putting together a more structured home preschool schedule for Brother lately.  With the busyness that will come around here this spring, now seemed as good a time as any to set down a predictable routine for my human firstborn.  He is thriving once again and frankly so am I.

On the other hand, I was having lunch with a friend yesterday.  She will be watching the kids during our foster parenting classes over the next eight weeks.  It seemed appropriate to talk about logistics for her Tuesday nights with Babydoll and Bundle since our first class is in SIX days.

Suddenly it feels weird to focus on normal life stuff.  How did the 21st of February already sneak up on us like that?

What we are praying for?
*the kids will do well at home on the evenings we are away
*that my friend will be blessed (and not overwhelmed) during her time with our kids
*that our classes will be informative and helpful
*for the other couples in attendance
*for the relationships of support we will make with those other couples over the next few months
*that we will become prepared and equipped to whatever God wills
*that My Love and I will be on the same page every step of the way

Not to mention...
*for the children who will come stay with us-- I often pray that God would protect their minds/bodies and reassure them in moments of peace that he is preparing a safe/loving place for them!
*that Babydoll and Bundle Boy will be prepared for any sudden additions
*that My Love and I would be open to adoption in His timing
*for our trip to visit family RIGHT AFTER our classes end
*God's timing for our first placement call
*continued growth/strengthening in our marriage relationship
*that we wouldn't put God in a box and be open to whatever he has planned for how to use us

And who can forget...
*the building of new friendships in our neighborhood
*the investing in the the old friendships that our out of daily sight
*getting involved in our new church body
*maintaining our home for God's glory and making it available to be used by him at a moment's notice
*speaking the name of Jesus in every conversation and in keeping it the focus of every thought that crosses our minds
*dying to self in our marriage as we learn to do it God's way

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

safe in his arms

I was thinking about this post when I heard a song playing through Pandora yesterday.  Safe by Phil Wickham.  The chorus really spoke to me.

You're not alone
You will be safe in His arms
You will be safe in His arms
'Cause the hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made
He will be with You always
When everything is falling apart
You will be safe in His arms

But not because I don't feel safe.  It seemed like the very words I would likely sing to a foster child before they transition out of our home.  So much about our future is out of our control.  So much of our present is out of our control.  It is time I start singing this song to remind me of the promises He made.  We will be safe in His arms.  We are not alone.

After the Super Bowl on Sunday night, I put Babydoll down with a fever and growing cough.  I gave her Motrin around 9pm and was woken up after midnight by a yelping sound.  I stood outside the Bundles' bedroom doors and then entered her room when I realized the sound came from there.  I came in to find my 22 month old Baby Girl shaking in her bed, fists tight having a seizure.  It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

It finally stopped after about a minute but she was completely out of it with eyes closed for several minutes later.  My Love and I felt utterly helpless.  We didn't know what to do.  We called our ER which is 30 miles away and they advised us to take her to the closest one to our home.  My Love took her and I stayed home with Brother so we didn't have to scare him.  I kissed my baby goodbye wondering with a tiny bit of reality that I might not see her again.  It was terrible.  We had no idea what was going on. 

After they left, I prayed.  Speaking out loud through tears to the Lord acknowledging that Babydoll was in fact His and that I would choose to trust Him with whatever happens to her.  Peace washed over me.

I called my Mom because I still have the luxury of doing that.  She lives three hours behind us time-zone wise so it wasn't too late there.  I cried.  She prayed.  Then I text J in Florida.  Then a couple texts rolled in from sisters that I assumed my Mom had contacted.  One was vacationing with her family in Hawaii.  We were all praying.

I was up until 3:30am before I finally fell asleep.  My Love was texting and calling when he could and I was relaying updates to waiting loved ones when I knew they were still awake too.

After a battery of tests, My Love finally came home with Babydoll in his arms at 6am.  We were all exhausted.  I had slept 2 1/2 hrs and they had slept none.  Brother came bounding in the room at 6:45am to start his well rested day completely unaware of the drama the night before.

I have been thinking a lot about everything since then.  Sissy is doing better now.  Still snotty and coughing but the fever is gone.  Apparently a sudden spike in temperature is not uncommon to trigger a seizure.  It was scary though.  But I guess now we know in case it happens again.  Anyway my thoughts have been on going.

Do I really trust God with my children?  Will I fully trust Him with the children he temporarily puts in my care?  Do I truly believe that they are "safe in His arms"?

There is nothing like knowing you are completely helpless to make you realize it is actually a sweet place to be.  You have to trust.  There is nothing you can do.  Why do I waste my time doing anything on my own?  Why do I think I am enough for anyone?  In in the most ideal circumstances, I can not promise complete safety in my arms.  God can!

So I pray over my children today and the many that I will hold in my arms in the future.  May they know that they are not alone.  That even when everything is falling apart, they are safe in His arms.  He will be with them always.

personal note: praying for you AD4!!

Monday, February 6, 2012


1.up and on; upward so as to get or be on an elevated position on or into complete or approximate contact with 

Tonight I am waiting UPON the LORD.  And it is a very sweet place to be.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

preparing for joy

Have you prepared for JOY?

That was the question posed to me in a text a couple of weeks ago from my dear, far-away friend JH.

I had to pause and think about it.  I guess I just knew there would eventually be positives in the process of becoming a foster parent but it seemed easier to prepare myself for the unknown pain and heartache.  Am I equally preparing for the JOY?  Perhaps JOY like I have never known in Him?!

Later that same friend continued her thoughts in an email.

"Jesus endured the cross for the JOY set before him.  Is preparing for JOY the same as always being ready for His return and our ultimate, true JOY in total sanctification and the forever presence of God?  Of course eucharisteo :) pops into my head too - grace, thanksgiving, JOY.  A good reminder to me to give thanks in all things." 

I am learning to abide in Christ while wearing the full armor of God so I may prepare for JOY.  My head is spinning, people.

So I reached for my Bible concordance tonight to soak up what God has to say about His JOY.

"...for the JOY of the LORD is your strength." -Neh. 8:10

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but JOY comes with the morning." -Psalm 30:5b

"For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for JOY." -Psalm 92:4

"For you shall go out in JOY and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." -Isaiah 55:12

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take JOY in the God of my salvation." -Hab. 3:17-18

"So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great JOY, and ran to tell the disciples." -Matt. 28:8

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my JOY may be in you, and that your JOY may be full." -John 15:9-11

"Truly, truly, I say to you, "you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.  You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into JOY.  When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for JOY that a human being has been born into the world.  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will be able to take your JOY from you." -John 16:20-22

"May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." -Romans 15:13 (personal note: JP, God repeated this one to me in your note to me this week.  Thank you for being obedient to Him by sharing it with me.  <3)

"Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -James 1:2-4

"And we are writing these things so that our JOY may be complete." -1 John 1:4

OK so maybe that last one was a little out of context but I do believe all that I share here will be evidence of the JOY that comes from this journey.  Keep praying for us.  God is doing amazing things.

Friday, February 3, 2012

grace in potty training

Recently I have felt like my mind is turning radical.  I tend to see the most trivial situations as having spiritual value.  I don't know if that is biblical or not but I do believe God is Sovereign.  Every detail of our lives has been planned for his purpose.  Just because I haven't thought about it until now doesn't mean some mundane things haven't had heavenly significance all along.

Take Babydoll's recent milestone for example.  What if God chose for our second child to potty train before turning two not because she is extraordinarily intelligent (because lets face it most children learn how to do it eventually and the when is really NOT important, people) but because He knew that would be one less thing I would have to manage after taking in our first foster child?

Oh how He loves me.  He thinks of things I don't.  He plans for everything.

Today I feel loved by God because before the foundations of the world he wove a 21 month old potty trained child into the fabric of my family.  He knows what is around the bend and perhaps trying to potty train a toddler in the midst of all of that would have been too much for us.

He is cool like that.

note: God's grace is overwhelming even in potty training (and she is also extraordinarily intelligent!) ;)

i want to live

I have a few things to write about but I have either been distracted by something important or I have been distracting myself with pointless things.  I am waiting for a clear head to write.  One can hope anyway.  Sometimes the words come in songs though.  I know I post lots of YouTube videos here.  I don't do it (just) because I like the music.  I post them because on that day that particular song is saying the words I can't seem to put together into sentences on my own.  So here is another one.  We have a busy weekend ahead but I hope I can stop distracting myself long enough to publish more of my own thoughts.  Although they are disjointed and mostly brief ideas, they have been coming often.  We are in a good place around here.  My heart is full and thankful and overwhelmed by God's love.  I want to live like that.