Sunday, March 17, 2013

Patience, Love, Charity, Humility..Oh my gosh, what are you kids doing now?

Patience, Love, Charity, Humility..Oh my gosh, what are you kids doing now?
Well, here we are at the beginning of another week. I haven't graded the papers I brought home. I need to finish prepping for my 2 weeks teaching World War II (I wish I could get the cliff notes on each area I am teaching). Sunday, is the day of rest for me. I don't do schoolwork, prep for lessons, actually I don't do much of anything except eat and clean up from the meals.
What I have been thinking about is patience, love, charity and humility. The love, charity (most of the time) and humility I think I am doing okay with. It is the patience that is tested way too often for my liking. Patience is the elusive element that is missing from my life.
Patience works well for a few minutes. It is one of those things. Boy, do my kids know how to push my buttons. I love those days where I am centered and they don't have any power over me. Those days are awesome and I have them more and more frequently.
Patience takes practice. Unfortunately, to practice you have to have opportunity. (sometimes, I wish it didn't work like that but it does). I get lots of chances to practice.
I am not ever trying to make myself sound better than others. (so please don't think that) My family is unlike other families. Even after years with us, my kids still struggle with hoarding (food, pencils, books, paper,clothes etc...). This is a concept most of you will never deal with in your home. How do you react when your child gets up in the middle of the night and eats 2 boxes of cake mix and frosting too? Patience, yeah okay. How about when they systematically take all the food in the cupboard and hide it in their backpacks and you are left without the needed items for tonight's dinner? Patience again, yeah I know. It is hard. Of course, I can understand the reasons behind it but when you have  a backpack full of cake mix mixed with water and in no container (that's right, just mixed in the backpack) then patience doesn't usually come to mind.
Now, I have only briefly talked about one single instance and only one child but, there are 5 that struggle with hoarding.
Then, you have the breaking things, putting holes in walls, writing with permanent marker in public places, ripping clothes on purpose, destroying beds, rooms etc...  One of these happens daily.
Don't forget the wetting that is continual and during the day and night.
This is just a small sample.
But, I wanted to talk about patience amidst this craziness.
I struggle sometimes with finding the right words and doing the right thing. One thing i don't struggle with is loving these children. Maybe that is where my patience will come. It will build over time. I am sure I am doing better than I was even last week.
These things come with time. We shouldn't look at this list and say, "I need to be perfect in all of this today." This is a process. A refinement, if you will.
We are being refined so we can become the person Heavenly Father needs us to be.
How do we become refined? Well, we have to be put in the refiner's fire. How does that occur? We have to be tried and challenged. We have to have the opportunity to improve.
I have faith patience will come. If we hold on and continue to behave in a pleasing way (does that mean we can't get mad? I sure hope not) No way, it means we try to do better every second. We look at the mistake we made and try to do better next time. We make small little improvements.
Change takes time. Never forget that! Change takes time.
It is a refinement process not an instantaneous one. So hang in there.
Know that you are not alone.
It is a process. Sometimes I feel like I am being refined way to fast. I am experiencing way to much practice time. But, the truth is, I am just not there yet. I am just not where I need to be (I am sure my husband wishes I would hurry up). And that is okay.
As long as I am working towards the goal.
Don't be hard on yourself. Don't be hard on others. We are all on this journey. We are at different levels but, we all have the same goal.
SO, patience, love, humility and charity...I say "Bring it!" I am ready to be refined and that is one of the first steps. We need to be willing to make those changes but, it takes time. Don't give up and don't give in. Stay the course.

Then, you too can come through the refiner's fire perfect in all aspects of your life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When is enough really enough?

I am writing again. I know, shocker right? I am actually avoiding some things I have to do and this is as good of a diversion as anything.

I have been wondering when enough is enough. I sometimes say, "I have had enough." or "I have taken on enough." but, I always end up taking on a little bit more and more. So, when I say "enough" what do I really mean?
I think it means, "I feel like I am overwhelmed and one more thing feels like it is going to break me." Have you ever had those kinds of feelings? Like you just couldn't take anymore?
I sure hope I am not alone in this.
I always draw strength from a spouse who is able to listen and not judge the stupidness that pours from my mouth. Sometimes, I just need to vent it out.
When I am feeling at my most overwhelmed the only way to find comfort is on my knees. Heavenly Father is willing to share the load with me. Too often we pray to take this burden from us. I think it is important to distinguish between the 2 sharing and taking. Heavenly Father can certainly take things from us. If He does than, when is our growth happening?
I am who I am today because He didn't take my trials away, He shared them with me. He eased my load when I thought I couldn't possibly do more.
He can do that for you too.
Many people ask, "How did you get so many children?" Let me assure you, this wasn't in our "master" plan. But, this was in our Master's plan for us. I have made no secret of this fact. I thought we were crazy adopting more children. Then, when we pray to know what to do, we would get the answer "you aren't done yet!" I am the first to admit it takes me some time to accept His will for me. It doesn't mean He will give me too much, it means He will stretch me and support me while I do His will.
That being said I often have cried in despair. "But, I can't take any more children."  Then, I feel the Holy Spirit touch me. I am then reminded, it isn't about you taking on more, it is about you being willing to do My will.
The bottom line is, we are His creation. Not just in the beginning. But, if we do His will He will continue to create the person He wants us to be. We are engraven upon His palms. He doesn't forget. It is us that forgets.
So, stretch yourself. It is painful, make no mistake. it is easier to be in the comfort of what we know. But, there is no fun in that! :) and more importantly no opportunity to grow and progress.

Back to our children, we trust that He will make up for our shortcomings. (Trust me, there is alot of short comings to make up for) Sometimes, I am able to do 90% of the work and some days on 20%. I definitely try my best but sometimes it is not very good. He makes up for the rest.
So, be bold! Be brave! Believe !  Trust! Growth is hard but so worth the effort.

Smile when life is hard. There is still joy to be found. Find it!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

peace, love, acceptance and chocolate

It has not been a secret that life can hard. Certainly there is joy to be had. There are moments that we will never forget. There are memories that are imprinted on our minds that carry us through all of trials and struggles.

Life as a foster parent is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. It is also one of the most heartbreaking thing I have ever done.

We have had 63 children bless  our home in about 9 years time. Obviously, many of them have gone home or they have moved to a different foster family for a variety of reasons. There is only one child we have said wasn't a good fit for our family. This was after 2 full years of intense struggles. 

There is never a day when we don't think about these little ones. I can't name every little one but, their face is engraven upon my heart and in my mind.

That being said, "our newest little ones", have been in our home for 13 months now. Mom and Dad just couldn't pull it together. Sad, right? It really is. I feel for these parents and the loss of their little ones. I NEVER take a placement hoping I will get to adopt them. I take a placement hoping that I can influence parents and children to change their lives. I take a little one so I can protect them and love all over them. :) 

These little ones quickly become a part of your life. They always feel like "my" children, from day one. They call us mom and dad. They do everything with us. We change diapers, comfort throughout long nights, take care of them when they are sick, bathe them, feed them and everything else you do for your own children. It doesn't take long for them to fit in your family. 
These particular little ones were 2, 1 and 3 months when they came. Now they are 3, 2 and 17 months and they have been joined by a newborn sibling who is currently 9 weeks old. I am fully supportive of them being with their parents. People often think that is not the case and the state and foster parents just want to take kids away. That couldn't be farther from the truth, for my family.
Anyway, on court day, the judge announced they are moving towards adoption. The mom was understandably upset. We feel her pain. However, what happened next is on the phone was their Native American tribe. This was the 2nd time in 13 months they had been by phone for a court date. They announced they were going to take the children. Now, we knew this could happen. But, I am not sure how this is beneficial to the children. They will leave our home (not transition out) but just leave one day and move to a place where they don't know anyone. Sad right? But, this is the name of the game.
What people can't understand is the feelings that we as the foster family experience. Our feelings are often brushed aside. Everyone is concerned about the bio parents and the children but, sometimes it seems that our feelings are a "casualty of war". At this point, we and the children have bonded. Our children call the children their brothers and sisters. I know we can't take into account everyone involved but, at what point is removing them really in their best interest.
What people don't understand is this is harder than you think. This tears you apart and you grieve as you would for the loss of a child. This time they are pulling the band aid off slowly and the kids are here until the oral arguments in April. Few people know what it is like to see children everyday that they know they are going to lose and never see again in this earthly life.
I know you can say, "well you knew this could happen when you took the kids". You are right I did. But, I can't turn off the emotion and love that come with it. I would rather suffer than be a robot taking kids and not caring about them.
I draw peace and comfort through my knowledge of Heavenly Father's plan for us. I truly believe we experience what we need too. I know He doesn't give us anything we can't handle. I know the many truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't imagine His pain when He loses one of his precious little ones. But, if it is even a 1/16 of what I am feeling...
When we are struggling, we turn to many things to find peace. We cling to anything that gives us hope and comfort. The trick is to not be deceived by those things that bring us temporary comfort and those things that will bring us eternal comfort. You need to always strive to know that Heavenly Father loves you and loves them. He will make things right in the end. The little ones will know eventually, that we loved them unconditionally and that they left because of other peoples choices and not ours. We will see them again one day and our eyes will be opened to the understanding of why this happened. 
Until then, we will continue to pray for them and love them. We will grieve and our hearts will ache daily and eventually the pain will lessen a little at a time for them and us. Hopefully, the love and safety we were able to provide for them will allow them to have a healthier start in their lives. 
Please don't discount the pain we are experiencing. It is heartfelt and overwhelming. Sometimes when I am putting the little one to bed, she clings to me and her left leg slowly kicks against my stomach and the tears flow freely down my face. This is my baby and she will think that I am the one who abandoned her. The heartache is so intense I almost can't swallow.
But, then I remind myself for the 8,000 time. The Lord has a plan for us. He understands our pain and theirs. He will bring us comfort if we rely on the strength of His arm. Finally, in the end everything will be corrected. Love and healing will happen for all involved. 
Until that time....bye my littles until we meet again my sweet babies. Mommy and Daddy will always love you.