Monday, February 23, 2015

Anger is Ugly

How much of my idealized success and satisfaction in parenting comes from getting my own way?  If today was the measure, I would have fallen short of holiness, and my ego would have loomed large.  
By  7:30am four kids had outwardly defied my instructions.  We are talking flat out NO. Mind you, I was asking a child to change a sweatshirt covered in egg.  Eating breakfast is important to be healthy, but for one of my children that concept eludes her.  Every child needs a pair of shoes on before he can go to school, but shoes never seem to be where they are supposed to be.  Coats are necessary in sub-freezing weather despite what a preteen thinks.  Practically, everyone needs to be in the bus, in their own seat with a seatbelt on before we can go.  Somehow, my children did not think they needed to listen today.  
So maybe my ideals are not a fantasy.  
However, defeat creeps into my heart.  Anger bubbles and then erupts.  I don't want to be angry.  It looks ugly on me.  It is a lousy way to start a day, a new week.
I think God and I need to have a little chat.  
Please help me, Lord, to see my mom role as a gift from you.  Help me to ask for your help when sin raises its ugly head to strike.  Thank you that you have redeemed me.  Help me to love my kids unconditionally today and breath deeply when they choose their own way.  


Friday, February 20, 2015

Family Day 2015

They say wounds heal over time, that the hurt does not last.  Julia has been in heaven for over five years.  I miss her.  Granted, I am not crippled with her loss.  My heart does not feel searing pain.  But it still hurts to a degree.  Anyone who has lost a child would agree wholeheartedly. 
Today we celebrate our family.  Bryan and I parent together through both the days filled with giggles and smiles as well as the days filled with tears and screams.  Yes, screams.  
We have been doubly blessed with eight children to parent and love here on earth.  That can be overwhelming.  We have ones who steal, lie, and hurt.  Those same ones have the cutest smiles and greatest hugs.  We have kids who have had to grow up quickly.  Our family journey rides with many highs and lots of lows.  Yet, we celebrate family.
God has not promised us an easy road.  Lord knows, family for us does not follow the norm.  It has required sacrifice. It has breeded intense love.  It has forged faith.

Still today, despite being woken up at 5:30 to a child who is rummaging through all the bathroom drawers and cabinets and a child who lied yet again, I am choosing to celebrate and be thankful for the family whom God has chosen to provide in His own perfect way.  
Family is valuable.  Family is not perfection but growing and learning.  No matter the size, family is God-planned.  I celebrate God's planning in our family today.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Armed and Ready . . . or Not

I am battle fatigued.  Not that I am fighting with my family (though that does happen, daily), but I am fatigued from fighting for my family, for my marriage.  I am not giving in or giving up, but stating that fighting wears me out.  
This week I found myself figuratively reaching for my weapon as I walked into the bookstore.  This was a battle in which I knew I had to engage.   Now, this bookstore and cafe is my home away from home.  The barista knows my order for goodness sake. I have had conversations with many of the managers and workers over the years.  Yet, last night I found myself, my marriage, under attack the moment I walked in the door.  The display of the famed Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition almost made me gasp aloud.  Inwardly I seethed.  This was not a celebration of sports, but the degradation of women and the manipulation of men.  This is nothing new.  The magazine has touted this yearly edition for decades.  Still, this cover was pornographic, plain and simple.  
Bryan and I both shared the same thoughts.  He and I were both angry at such images placed strategically to catch your eye.  Mind you, this was not just one magazine I could turn over, but rather an entire stand with at least nine of the same cover.   Without warning, the ambush struck.  I was mad.
So what?  This is nothing new.  Books of similar content are placed on shelves around the store.  Advertisements push a sexual agenda constantly.  Today's music is filled with immorality.  50 Shades of Grey brought in millions this weekend at the theater. So why was I so bothered?  
Truthfully, I do not have to have an answer to why.  This agenda is wrong none-the-less.  There was no way I could bring my boys through the front door of this store.  Such blatant disregard of women and the family required a response.
Armed and ready, I walked from the cafe to find a manager to express my distaste and concern for the display.  Understanding my feelings, she did not fight back.  Sadly, her hands are often tied.  My response will most likely be unheard by one who can change it, but I needed to fight anyway.  The battle is continual and involves a battalion of soldiers who are willing to stand up to fight when the enemy rears its ugly head.  
I sit here today, again, and still the display is at the front door.  Nothing has changed.  
I am not defeated though, because my savior, who values us and celebrates marriage, has already won the war.  
I write this at the risk of looking only a few inches taller as I stand on my soapbox.  I fear a momentary emotional response dulled by repetition.  Friends, pornography is wrong.  It is dangerous.  This form of immorality WILL hurt you and your marriage.

Fighting is tiresome.  Lord, help me to fight a good fight.  Please show me when to come out of hiding and fight seriously for what you think is valuable and loved.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Surrender Part 2

We arrived at the courthouse curious as to what would transpire that day, but cautious that nothing would happen.  
Before the judge entered, a decision  was already being worked out.  God had indeed softened the hearts of the biological parents and given them peace to make the toughest decision of their lives.  
As testimony was given, it had become painfully obvious that these children would never be given back to their biological parents.  Anyone who has been entrenched in the foster/adopt system will attest that it is a heartwrenching experience for all involved.  We wanted these children in our home.  It was best for them.  We love them as our own.  Yet, to have them meant someone else had to lose their "rights" to them.  
Children are a gift.  I am so thankful that this mom chose life for these kids.  It would have been very easy to chose otherwise.  In the end, she was unable to provide for them herself.  As we sat down with her, she shared her heart and what she knew she had to do for her children.
Trying to keep it all together, she sat with us in a private room and told us she was now willing to have us be her kids' parents forever.  She wanted these four to be together forever without the risk of the state choosing otherwise.  What do you say to a mom whose heart is breaking?  I could not feel her pain, but I did feel sorry for her hurt.  
Both the bio mom and dad spent time with their lawyers and then stood before the judge to make their decision final.  Friend, that is not an easy thing, nor should it be.  There is a litany of questions presented to them to make sure that this is a personal decision they know is forever.  There was no going back.  
I will not forget their faces as the bio parents walked out of the courtroom.  Alone.  No longer rightful parents.  Oh my heart!  I still feel it as I write this a week later.  
It was all done before lunch.  Finished.  "Parental rights terminated."
We had asked God for this.  Many friends and family around the world were praying diligently for God's will be clear.  So then, why did I fell numb?  Was it the process of loss that reached deep into my heart?  I had a cordial relationship with this mom.   Now, my heart hurt even more for her. My prayer became more, "Lord, now that she is at the bottom, without anything, may she look up to you and realize you are all she needs."  

As we made the news public, FB exploded and we were thankful we had unlimited texting.  It was an exciting day to say the least.  We now saw a light at the end of this long tunnel.  April is the goal date for our adoption day where we will offically be a familly of ten.  

Surrender Part 1

Trial week arrived with little fanfare.  No butterflies swarming as in other hearings.  Some even doubted that we would truly, without a doubt, absolutely have a trial.  For the last 4 1/2 years we have appeared on multiple occasions only to be told things were postponed - again.  
But here we sat.  Bryan had brought work.  We were not invited into the courtroom, but rather we waited, available for any questions or discussions.
A last minute ditch mediation proved fruitless.  The biological mom was determined to take this all the way through trial.  I read her hurt.  I saw her insecurity.  I prayed for her heart.  She had no peace, but forward she marched.
The courtroom waiting area was unsually empty.  Quiet.  The only break in the trial was for an hour lunch.  I read some.  Did a few puzzles.  Made polite conversation with the other foster mom who had joined the wait.  
That morning, snow had been forcasted for the region.  Hardly a flake had fallen, but a superstorm was coming.  At least that is what they said.  In a flurry of panic, the state shut down and the schools closed.  In my converstation with God, I  questioned the timing.  Really, God?  I know you control all things.  Every.  Single.  Flake.  Don't you know what is at stake?  Don't you realize how long I have been waiting for this trial to happen?  Really?
The day ended around 3:30 for everyone to get home safely (the roads were simply wet).  The courts would be closed the next day.   It had been a long, emotional day for everyone.  As we dressed to leave, the bio dad stopped us.  His heart was beginning to soften.  He was beginning to see what was best for both him and his child.  As he cried, I reached over to give him a hug.  We all left wondering what would transpire now. It was completely out of our control, as all of this had been.
I know that hindsight is 20/20.  Still I had to chuckle at God's timing and cringe at my audacity.  Snow big enough to close everything, but not cripple for days was just what was needed.
I needed the day off, but I was just beginning to see that.  By 5:30 I was in bed sick, and I would stay down for the count until the next evening.  Kids' schools were all closed, and there was just enough white powder for them to play outside.  My big kids were all home, so they were able to do an over the top job of keeping things running smoothly.
And then there were the bio parents.  The trial that had been set on hold was brewing in their hearts.  God knew they needed to step back.  Take a realistic look.  Listen to truth.  Make a courageous choice.
By Wednesday, courts were back to normal.  We headed back to wait again.  Today would be different, though.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Time Warp

He threw the M&M's high into the air as we walked toward the dorm.  As he caught them in his mouth, he tallied more brownie points in the "impress your girlfriend" category.  I mean, really?  How does such a silly game make me smile?  It did.  Sometimes he used grapes.  Other times he used marshmallows. Whether he succeeded in catching them or not, he was winning my heart.  
I stood the other morning, folding mountains of laundry, watching from the family room at Bryan, now my husband of almost 25 years.  We now live in a house full of kids, not in individual dorms.  Though life has morped multiple times, Bryan still woos my heart.  
He stood back from the counter where he was making stacks of pancakes and threw the marshmallow into the air and caught it.  Cheers rose from the many littles who sat gazing, impressed.  He still had it.  
I had to smile.  We look a little different now.  Life has etched its pattern on our hearts, and dare I say faces.  Bryan still makes me smile.  He has not settled with simply marrying me 25 years ago.  He continues to win my heart.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr.

Today our country celebrates a man who chose to make a difference in his world, Martin Luther King Jr. He took a risk, a bold stand, an opportunity to use his God-given ability of eloquence to move others to make a change. 
We are schooling still today at home, but I took the time to sit with Maddie and my other fifth grader, who does not have school today, and enjoyed a Brain Pop movie online about this man.  As I sat between two beautiful children, one white and one black, I was reminded how truly blessed we are.  The conversation that followed was not always easy or comfortable but necessary.  We learned a bit about history, but more about people, about values, about change, about our family.
As we have two children in our home who are biracial, I anticipate many more conversations as these.  For today, I am thankful to have had the time to sit and talk, opening up more windows into my son’s life, and creating a pathway for more conversation.