The Sound of Angels Singing…

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We are a fostering family.  We’ve been licensed for a little over a year and have had two sets of brothers placed in our home.  The set that we have now is more long-term than the first set.

The two-year old came to us completely non-verbal.  He was described to us as “the most unruly child they (the caseworkers related to the case) had seen in their careers.”  Of course, they didn’t say that when they brought him to us, but four days later upon their check-up visit.  That night we were told the above and that now “he is a totally different child.”

We (my family) never experienced any of the behaviors that they described.  Other than him not speaking, he was a normal two-year old.  He followed directions well… he played… he was fine… because he was safe and loved.

We taught him a few words in sign language to take the pressure off of him to speak and so we could communicate, even if it was very minimal.  We’ve had them for three and a half months now.  He has started speaking, little by little.  About a week ago, he said “thank you” for the first time.  It was imperfect, but it sounded like angels singing to me.  Please, thank you, and more were the first words we worked on… they were also the ones he would never say.  Since he spoke “thank you,” it’s as if the barrier has been broken.  Just in the past week his vocabulary has blossomed.

This morning, on the way to daycare, I heard ” I won doe peas” while he pointed at the McDonald’s.  Translated, that is “I want go please.”  Y’all, that is four words put together in a sentence!  I got all emotional… still am.

We are not perfect parents and we do not have perfect kids.  We don’t have college degrees or exciting careers.  What we do have is the love of Christ in us that works through us.  God has taken an imperfect family of four to love on some kids, even if just for a short time.  And, God has shown me his work…He has shown His grace… He has shown His love.

Some people tell us how proud they are of what we are doing, only to follow it with “I could never do that.”  Sometimes, I want to shake them and say “WHY NOT?!”  There are countless numbers of children in the state systems that just need a safe place to be.  Some may get reunited with their families and some may not.  There’s not a perfect answer most times, but the issue is if not you, then who?  If we as Christians can’t take in the children, who will?  What example are we setting by denying care to the least of these?

Now, I know that some just aren’t physically able.  But most of the time, I hear “I can’t love them in my home just for them to leave.”  Y’all, people come in and out of our lives all the time.  All the time!  Sometimes good-byes hurt more than others, but you move on.  God opens a space for someone else to come in your life.  It doesn’t stop you from loving people.

So, I come to you with this… you don’t have to be perfect… you don’t have to have the biggest house with 47 rooms… you don’t have to have lots of money… what you do need is love… and a willingness to take a step.  God will work through you… and in the process He will show you miracles.

If you know me, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about fostering.  If you don’t know me, find a foster parent and ask them questions.  If you don’t know any, call your local DCF office.  Don’t block God with excuses… let Him use you.

I will follow with… I you are not able to foster for whatever reason, you can still help.  Find a foster parent and help them.  You can always buy things for the children, or offer to babysit, or simply pray for the family and the children… while praying in simple, it is HUGE!

“The King will replay, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Danger – We Had an Intruder…

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Photo Jan 20, 1 11 20 PMI want to begin this by letting you know that I am about to admit one… no… the biggest failure as a parent that I have committed so far.  I have been totally shattered, and it’s something that could happen to any of you.  You are not immune!

My oldest son has been acting different lately.  Normally, he will just come up to me and say “I’m happy.”  Lately, he has been rude, disrespectful, grumpy, and withdrawn.  I could attribute this to a few things.  For instance, dad just came home after serving overseas for two years, he was cut from his baseball team, or he was having trouble in school.  Never once did I consider the true root of the problem.

A week ago, I caught my son texting his friends from his Kindle Fire at 11:00pm.  I took the device away.  The next morning, I told him he couldn’t have it for two days and that he would tell me his pass code.  He conveniently forgot it.  At that moment, my mommy senses were beeping.  After school and into the evening, he still couldn’t remember the pass code. Now, my mommy senses were shaking me by the throat.  My husband got involved and magically, my son remembered the pass code.

I took his Kindle and began looking the texting program he has, Kik.  Mostly, innocent stuff, just wasn’t happy about kids texting at 10:30pm – 11:00pm.  I mean aren’t children supposed to be asleep at that hour?!  Anyway, I went through every conversation and ending up finding my son using some bad language.  He was talking to a few girls, saying some very disrespectful words.  I was shocked!  I mean, truly shocked!  My husband went to talk to him about it.  I stayed behind to continue my investigation.

Some one had sent him a link to a picture.  I clicked on it and up popped a picture of Justin Bieber.  Harmless.  However, by doing that, it opened the internet access app… this is when my world came crumbling down.  I found porn sites… hard-core… and not just one.  The screen that came up had six different boxes of videos to click on.  The still images made me want to vomit.  I couldn’t bring myself to hit play.  I proceeded to check the “history” where I found about 10-15 other links.  Just the names of the links disturbed me in ways I can’t explain.

When my husband returned from his talk, I showed him my latest discovery.  We were both dumbfounded.  I spent the next few hours scouring that device.  I didn’t find anything else, but what I had already found was more than enough.  I wiped the device out, setting it back to the factory defaults.  The parental controls on a Kindle just plain suck.  On an iPod, you can set different levels (i.e. G, PG, etc.); on a Kindle you either allow web access or you don’t.  Basically, I can no longer “allow,” access but by not allowing, the device is useless to him.

I talked to my son the next day.  I was sobbing.  I mean I have failed him.  He has seen something that no person (in my opinion) should see, much less a ten-year old child.  He can’t un-see the images that he saw… ever.  He has been visually raped… and it happened on my watch.  I can not begin to tell you the despair I feel over that fact.

Anyway, I still had to find out how these images came to be.  Was he searching for them?  Did someone send him a link?  His response (and it seemed pretty genuine) was that it was a pop-up that came from Pandora.  Pandora is a music website/app.  Now, understand that I myself have Pandora and have never seen such trash pop up on my phone.  I asked him what the heck he was listening to because it obviously wasn’t Christian music.  I didn’t really wait for an answer.

I’m still not 100% positive how these sites came to be on the Kindle, but I clicked on every link that someone sent him and none of them went to anything bad.  I couldn’t find anything that he searched for like that.  This leads me to believe that he may be telling the truth.  If so, I can’t believe that something so seemingly innocent has brought such awful things into my home.

I’m sharing this with you because if it can happen to us, it can happen to you.  And, once it happens, it’s too late.  I urge you to set parental controls on your children’s devices.  I had them set on the iPod, but not the Kindle.  Look at your child’s devices daily, weekly, whatever… don’t assume that they would never do such a thing.  They may not have a choice… it may pop up by itself.  If you don’t know how to or what to check, ask another parent.  Talk to your child if you notice a difference in their behavior, I guarantee there is a reason.  Might not be this reason, but I guarantee there is a reason.  Be proactive because the consequences are totally devastating.

I encourage you to share this with your friends.

“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.  It hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.” Psalm 101:3

Cut Yourself Some Slack…

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TournamentThis past weekend was a doozy!  To sum it up quickly… two cities… ten baseball games… two championships!  It was craziness, but good craziness.

On Sunday, I was talking to a dad from my older son’s team.  We were talking about the game… the championship game and it was getting intense.  Anyway, he quietly says “I want you to know that I’m proud of you.”  He went on talking about how I’ve handled everything while my husband has been away.

In this moment, my brain split two ways…

#1 most men don’t say things like that out loud. It really touched me that he actually said it… and it was sincere.  Encouragement seems to come in moments when I need it most.

#2 I immediately, interrupted his praise, with “thank you, but…” I rattled on about how I don’t do “this” very well.  Things aren’t as easy as it may look to some.

Monday morning, I talked with a dear friend about what fantastic mothers we are.  [sarcasm]  We shared our lack of patience, our children’s bad behavior, and our direct contributions as mothers to our children’s misbehavior.  It’s hard realizing that some things my boys do that drive me insane are things that I’ve taught them.  Everyday I feel like a failure.  Everyday is harder that the last.  Everyday just keeps flying by.

I was looking at Facebook Monday night.  A friend had posted a video.  I clicked on it only to realize that God had put it in my path that day for a reason.  (Click the link to view.)

So, I’m going to try to give myself a little more slack.  I realize that I am not perfect, but I’m going to try to focus on the good instead of the bad.  It might be hard because some days… well… you get my drift.  But, maybe I can find a moment when I did something good and realize that I am doing “this” ok.

Maybe you can cut yourself some slack, too…

“God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

 

 

Depression…

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GrassThis is what I did today.  It’s not all I did today, but tackling my backyard, armed only with a mower, was significant!  I haven’t written in a while.  Mostly because I’ve been in a funk.  I think I’m starting to come out of it… hope so anyway.

To most that know me this may come as a surprise.  I’m seen where I need to be seen… always with a smile… always trying to encourage others… all the while fighting off depression as well as I can.  I get the boys out the door in the morning and crawl back into my bed.  Somehow, spending another hour with the covers pulled over my head comforts me… yet at the same time draws me further in to my funk.

I think that most people see my world as under control, happy, and a place where everything gets done.  Outwardly, I guess that’s true.  The world that I see is filled with disrespectful children, failing grades, uncertainty of what my husband’s next orders will be, and weeds overtaking the back yard.  I’m getting all the tasks done, but I feel like the big picture is spiraling into chaos.

Today, I tackled the one thing that I could… the backyard.  (Yes, I mowed the front yard, too.  The backyard is the beast that is hidden behind the fence.)  Something about being in the sun and smelling the combination of grass and gasoline made me happy.  I was so hot and tired, but as I looked behind me and saw what I had accomplished I pressed forward.

I’m not saying that all is right in my world now that the grass is cut, but at least I did it.  I don’t know how to conquer the disrespectful children or failing grades, but today I feel like I am above it rather than being swallowed by it.  To me, that is huge.

I don’t know if anyone else battles with these feelings?  I assume so.  Depression is such a silent disease.  We put on our outward masks because we don’t want to admit what is going on inside.  When we do that, we just make it worse.  So, in my forever attempt at transparency, I hope that you realize that you are not alone.

Now… all this being said… mom, I’m ok.  I’m not going off the deep end.  I love you… I know you love me.  I am ok. 🙂

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart? I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Skittles…

I volunteer in the boys’ classrooms once a week. Dylan’s class (3rd grade) has matured past making turkeys out of construction paper and “kid stuff” in general. Carson’s class (1st grade) however is in its prime. I sat there today cutting, folding, stapling, and hole-punching construction paper into books. I know this took much skill and this is why she asked me to do this task! 😉 Anyway, while I work, I observe.

Carson’s teacher rewards good behavior, returned papers, etc. with a Skittle. Mind you, one Skittle would only leave me wanting more, but these 1st graders seem content. I notice that these kids work for these Skittles and most of the time, they only get one. All that effort for one measly Skittle?!

It makes me think that while the Bible says we should not do good deeds to receive praise from man, it’s still nice to hear. God loves our praise and we are made from his image therefore, I think we need it, too. Now, I’m not saying that you must make an effort to “attaboy” everything, but I think we all need a Skittle every now and then.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Trials and Time Limits…

I haven’t written in a while. So many topics have been running through my head, but I haven’t had the time to sit and type them out. God has shown me His power these past few weeks. I’ve tried to not stress or worry and God has rewarded that by answering my prayers in His time. I was reminded during the sermon last night that God doesn’t wear a watch. His time is infinite and we want to put limits on it. Even though it might not be our time, He always comes through at the right time!

I’ve been busy trying to keep everything going by myself. These past few weeks pale in comparison to two years, but we’ve made it so far. I’ve neglected some things, forgot some, too! I’m learning to forgive myself and allowing myself to be human… I feel like I’ve let some friends down while others have picked me up.

At times when I really thought I could go no more or handle one more problem, God has showed His love for me through some wonderful people. Sometimes, the smallest acts of kindness are HUGE.

I still have bunches of things going on… and I think Satan is trying to destroy a few or a least testing my faith. But, I have faith that God will work it all out…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

God waited until the tooth fairy had $2.00 TWICE before both front teeth came out!

Dylan made the Honor Roll for the 1st 9 weeks of 3rd grade!