Little victories

By 8am I was already contemplating how to run away and hide. It was a rough morning and typically a rough start just rolls into a very rough day. I was upset and I wanted to keep a child of mine in his room until he graduates from College. Yeah, it really was one of those mornings. I was so frustrated that I fell into his trap that goes straight to crazy town once again. So instead of allowing my head to explode all over and make a mess all over the walls and floors. Because who wants to clean that up? I went out for a swim alone, I swam until my arms nearly fell off and all my energy went into that instead of something that would have lead to nothing but more stress. I then went in and brought him in to me, perhaps if I am being honest closer than I wanted to at that moment. I held him and told him he can push, hit, and scream but this mama isn’t going anywhere. His faced showed he didn’t like to hear that, but I know his heart needed to hear it. Even when he pushes every dang button I have and most of these buttons I didn’t even know existed until his trauma hit me head in. He stretches me and pulls me to a point where somedays I feel like I am going to break. Thank goodness for friends, family and most importantly God who have really good shoulders, even when they might not all fully understand it. The severe complex trauma life is a completely different world. But somehow they are there at just the right moments and I am so thankful for it.
Did I win? No. But I didn’t fully lose the battle either, because I pulled him closer and held him when his primal instinct says to run and fight. It’s not easy, in fact it’s the opposite, times a million not easy. To write about it all, super easy, to live through it, freaking hard as hell. But folks, choosing love even when it’s the last thing on earth you want to chose will always produce a seed, even if only a tiny seed that you can’t see today. Those seeds, one day will grow and produce something more. So here is me praying for many more days of planting seeds of love and watching them bloom one day. If you are also in a really tough season, I want to pray for you. Because knowing that you have someone that is praying for this season of your life to pass or the ability to walk through it all still standing is something we ALL need.

Healing may look different for him

I struggle.
That sentence on its own is and could be the beginning and the end of this writing. It’s how I was feeling and wondering how to over come it all. I struggle with so much lately, well lately, might be an understatement, perhaps, more like the last 34 years, but who’s counting, right? I want to be open, transparent and vomit some of my heart on a few of you safe folks, with what I am going through, but in that lies the real struggle. Sharing my heart would mean, sharing my children’s lives, pains and exposing their brokenness and as a mom, I want to be the holder of their pains and that is hard to do sometimes, because holding on, means not letting go and I need to let go. I have three children with pretty big special needs, two of them have more obvious abilities, and one has an invisible illness. Mental illness, sucks, it’s hard, it’s invisible and devastating to walk through, but as a mom, to watch your child walk through or really be stuck in the depth of this illness is heart breaking and a level of frustration I can’t even begin to explain. It has brought me to my knees, rage, tears and back to joy and some times I go through each of those emotions in a single day. The amount of trauma some children have walked though or better yet barely survive through in order to have so many broken pieces is heart breaking for me to grasp and I thought I knew trauma. I mean doctors at one point in my life, labeled me with all the letters of the alphabets. Healing has mostly been attainable for me, but can or will healing always come? Will healing come to our small innocent children that never asked to be filled with all the inner turmoil they carry inside of them? What if healing looks different for them, what if it doesn’t come the way I beg God for? What will our lives look like, feel like and be, as the years past?
After the last while of asking God, “will this get better,” and feeling as though I am failing daily at parenting one of our kiddos. No, really, I mean failing for real, whether I really am or not, that’s how I feel so often. Recently while sitting in a doctor office for another one of my children, I started crying to the doctor about my fears, my failures and my heart to help one of my children win at life. This Dr. probably wanted to prescribe me some happy pills but honestly, it was what I needed, I needed to cry, vent and feel validated and then walk out knowing, my child will see healing one day. Maybe not how I want him too or maybe even better than I could have hoped for, but he will see healing, he will! I know this, because I know he will always know love, unconditional love, he will never again feel the pain of unthinkable abuse, neglect or the fear of not having Ben or I meet his basic every day needs. He will never have to question if he belongs, if he is wanted or how deeply he is being prayed for. His mind might not know how to trust all these thing just yet, but day by day, year by year, his heart will begin to see that he can trust and let his hyper vigilant little body relax in his momma’s arms that are so desperately waiting for such a chance.
I said I always wanted to be open and I do, I really do. Its been life giving to me to be more transparent. Adoption for us has been one of the most beautiful roads we have ever been on and yet, some of the deepest pains, lost dreams and many tears have entered into our lives over the last two years. Somehow, mental illness isn’t talked about as easy as other illnesses are. Maybe, it’s because it makes us feel weak or there was something we could have done differently, maybe we feel like we haven’t prayed hard enough for healing or maybe it’s just too damn painful to talk about but, we need to start talking about it, because it’s real and it’s stealing lives and breaking families apart and if I have breath in me, I will not let it win in our home. One day, maybe not for awhile, I will be able to say just how far he has come, how deep he loves and how big he trust, all while being wrapped up in my arms. There is always two sides of every story and every story has the beauty and heartbreak, sharing both is equally as healing and life giving.

Observing the symptoms ~ Treating with love

 

There is a different kind of love story developing in this journey of ours, that I never expected. When someone goes into fostering, they know there will be children to love, most with severely broken hearts, but at least for me, I didn’t go in thinking God was going to push me and by push, I mean hands on my back, as my stiff legs and feet are dug deep in the dirt kind of push, to love the biological parents to all the children that we will be blessed enough to love on. Often these parents are the ones that have broken the children we are tirelessly trying to help mend back together, often these parents are angry, broken, filled with bitterness and yet I know they each love their children to the absolute best they know how, even if that looks different to how we may give love. God from the day we brought our first little one home, spoke directly to my heart, asking me to love the bio parents, even when almost every fiber of my being wanted to scream at them, lash out at them, or simply wished I wouldn’t have to deal with this side of the story. God spoke, he pushed, he showed, he led and day after day, struggle after struggle I continue to see glimpses of His promises shining through. Then there are set back and I want to quit, to not walk in love, to just be raw, real and say everything that my heart wants to scream. That’s about the time God slips his sweet, gentle, kind, yet firm voice back into my raging heart and whispers how these parents have their own broken story, their own heartaches and their own need for love and understanding. I think it was Oprah Winfrey that said, “The greatest human need is to hear someone say, “ I hear you and I see you.” They need some control, some love and some grace thrown their way just as the rest of us do. They need to see Jesus in us, as desperately as these babies also do and at times that is a hard pill to swallow, because if I am completely honest, they scare me, they have the power to break my heart as deeply as their own hearts are breaking right now, two sets of parents that love the same child to the absolute fullest each knows how. There has been days in this short eight month journey of ours so far that I have genuinely fought with God, saying he couldn’t possible know what he is asking of me. To love the sweet victims, even when they bring ragging fits, broken screams and terrified hearts in to our home has felt like first nature to me, but loving the ones that caused the pain, that is hard, that isn’t natural, but the more I observe the symptoms, the more I see how to treat them, with a large heaping dose of love. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. If ever I have needed to pray for love, peace and understanding it’s now, because one day these children will need this part of their story and my heart needs too know that I have preserved the integrity and love of their ever after. I think this part of the story is were I want to close my eyes to and fast forward, scared of what I may see and what He may ask of me. I guess I just need to keep asking for a little more understanding, a little more grace and a lot more love, because the days I have, have made all the difference in the world. How many of you have been asked to love someone, to sit with them in their brokenness, even when it doesn’t feel natural. Have you started? It’s hard and it sucks at times, but you just might see what I am slowly and often reluctantly learning

A gift to each other

This last year has been so hard at times for me. It’s been filled with many new hurdles, some really big days, many new scary diagnosis, tons of doctors, therapist and maybe I have even lost a little of myself along the way. I miss my head phones and my running shoes so much some days, I miss my husband sometimes when life is so crazy that finding silent time alone seems nearly impossible. I often need to go get ‘milk’ three minutes after Ben gets home from work. For some reason the four walls around any grocery store can bring me such serenity and peace. Funny I know, but for some reasons, us moms can recharge a tired soul with a 30 min trip to grab some random, not really needed grocery item. Being a Mother is so hard, you are raising little adults, that you really really want to grow up to be amazing adults, that do really awesome things. I want more than anything all my kids to grow up to love Jesus so much that the world can not hinder them from what He has in store. I want my boys to be men like their daddy, and my girls to be a tender yet strong world changer. I want to love Ben so much that he never questions if he is appreciated in every way, shape and form and somehow through it all have three healthy, gluten , dairy, egg and taste free meals on the table each day.
That’s a lot for a women to carry. Raise great, God loving adults, love a man completely and somehow keep the home running perfectly all while wearing heels. Now none of these things are put on me by others but I would gather most of us women carry the same strong convictions and set our bars so high we often feel like we can not measure up. What if  we all give ourself the okay, to be okay, with not always being okay. What if we are honest and say Mother hood is not always awesome, worth it, absolutely, but not always awesome. What if we stop comparing out chapter one to someone else chapter 8 or 16. What if we stop for a moment, let the 42 loads of laundry wait, the dishes pile up, let our kids leave the house in whatever crazy, mismatched stained outfit they pulled out of the bottom of the, ‘maybe it’s clean, maybe it’s dirty, pile of questionable clothes’ and enjoy the day and the looks from the others that are doing it perfect, obviously. I was asked by a person this week if I would still do it all again and my answer without question is, YES!! I wouldn’t change our home, kids, or life for any other. They are mine and I am theirs and that is a beautiful place to be. Somehow each day when I just know I am failing completely, I have 8 kids that are clueless to that thought and they just see what each of us saw in our own moms as children, perfect people.
To each of you ladies that think you are failing and yet if you really look into those little eyes staring back at you, I dare you to tell me that they don’t say the complete opposite of that, because they do. You are doing so much better than you think and your kids hugs, cards, smiles, burnt breakfast in bed or simple cuddles are proof of that today! Happy Mother’s Day to all of you! Thanks for walking this road before, with and after me. You guys are awesome.

It’s Official

Finally, we get to formally introduce our son to you all and I am so stinking excited about that.
This little boy is our perfect ending and today he is officially a Martin. He is the boy who I saw in my dreams prior to fostering, even prior to being a mother myself, I dreamed about him, and to some of you, I even talked about him. He is someone my heart knew well before I ever held him in my arms.
Little man has spent the last 428 days changing us, teaching us, and breaking down walls in our hearts that we didn’t even know were there. I love that he is our perfect ending to this chapter and forever, he is part of every chapter here after.
Every adoption start from a piece of brokenness and his story is nothing different, his life was full of it. BUT God…

67

dad

He turns beauty from ashes and daily we see this truth unfolding.
Our family is perfectly, completely in love with him and BEYOND humbled and thankful for this day. If you haven’t met him yet, you really should. He is something very special!
……and a little child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

Are you done yet?

With the adoption of four of our kiddos only weeks away we hear, “are you guys done, now” A LOT?  I mean we get it, we understand what people are asking, we do have eight children after all. I always stumble with my words when asked that question face to face. Actually, come to think about it, I stumble with most my words when in person, hence, why I probably love to write. When writing I can back space, erase, start over and edit until I say it how I know my heart feels. Now I just need to learn how to edit when it comes to grammar and this whole writing thing will work out great. Well, back to the question, the short answer is, yes and no. Is that short enough? We are not bringing in any more kiddos into our home today, at least not that we know about. Our van is full, our house is full and our hands are too. So, I guess the answer is, we are done, today. The other answer is longer, filled with much more emotion and a few more words.
When you wake up in the morning or lay in bed at night, do you feel a sense of overwhelming thankfulness? We do, the days, even the real hard ones, and yes, there are very hard days with parenting kids through trauma, we still lay our heads down at night and look at each other with such gratitude for God trusting us to be part of this. Have you found your niche in this world, calling, your heart’s beat, the thing that has made you better, closer and more grounded as an individual and family? We have, and we all absolutely love it. We love the kids, the craziness that a large family brings. Ben and I have grown closer together and farther from the things that do not matter and for me personally I think I have grown more in this past year than all my years combined and by the amount of grey hairs I have, I am thinking that’s a lot of years. There are days we are exhausted and bed time can’t come fast enough, but we felt that way with three kids. We are as busy as we have ever been and yet, better for it. Neither of us feel ready to say we are done, there are so many kids in our own back yard that do not care one tiny bit if they will have their own room, summers filled with fancy vacations or the best pair of Nike shoes, they just want a family, love and a safe place they can drop the heavy load of mess sitting on their shoulders and still be loved. We don’t do it perfectly but that’s not what they need either. For years, this has been a dream, I didn’t know how it would look, but I knew I wanted to play a part in loving kids in foster care and I still do with all of me. Will we adopt more children, foster more of these sweet kiddos or will our home just be a place of respite for tired burnt out foster parents? All valid questions that only God knows right now, because all of these questions we honestly do not know the answer to. We just know we love this ministry God has let us be part of and today there is no word we have gotten that says, stop, turn around, this is not working for you and your family, but when we do we will know and listen. Today, we are full, we are content and we are so very thankful for the eight children that call us Mom and Dad and there are no plans under our sleeves that we are not sharing. We have faithful, loving people in our lives that we confide in and we know are praying for us, and many of them have and are walking these same steps along side us and without them this journey would be much harder, so to each of you, thank you for walking this with us, step by step and loving us and the children that have stayed a day or the ones that will stay forever with us, without hesitation. There is not a thank-you that is big enough for faithful prayers and fearless committed love that we get daily from you.th

YES

Eleven years ago if you would have told me, we would have more than one child I would have said, NEVER. After Shaley was born I was a mess, as a mom, wife and women, I was one giant walking mess. I remember clearly the moment I told Ben I only wanted one child and his response was, “I have always wanted six children,” in which I quickly responded, “ well, I think you married the wrong person.” After Shaley was just over a year old, the postpartum started to lift and I started taking care of myself more, slowly life came back in to me and we tried for our second child, who was such a perfect and happy baby, so having baby number three was an easy choice to make. We made a permanent choice to not have any more biological children when our youngest was ten months old. We said we have always wanted to adopt, so if we felt led to have ONE more child we would go that route.
Now we sit here one week away from being the parents of eight children. We will soon be our own sports team, our already giant grocery bill is about to explode on a whole new level. I am sure our Costco membership will pay for itself in the first month. My washer and dryer are about to be put to the test of a none stop work load. Our kids will always have plenty of children to play with even if they are fighting with one, they will still have more than a half dozen other siblings to play with. I will have plenty of little guys to take me on mother/son dates. All of you that are moms to boys understand what a boy does to a momma’s heart and what this will mean to me. Ben will have more than he ever dreamed of in hunting buddies. When there is just too much testosterone running wild in the house I will have two girls to sneak away with for pedicures, and I am sure Ben is grateful there are only two sweet girls in his life that he will have to scare the boys away from, trust me, he has long been preparing for that first boy that we all know will one day show up at our door, but knowing Shaley he will be one awesome boy that her daddy will love. I am so excited for our boys to move in, nervous, yes! I have this nagging feeling like I should spend this next week sleeping and watching Netflix, because life is about to get crazy up in here. We will have one week to adjust and then school starts and life gets a tiny bit more simple for me in the day time but the mornings and nights are a whole new kind of crazy, I am sure.
If you would have asked me a year ago when we started this journey, if we would ever consider bringing five more children into our home, I would have laughed at you and said that isn’t even possible, is it? But if you asked me that same question today, I would tell you, we can’t wait to see what God is about to do with our family and we are so thankful he chose the children he did to be part of our lives. Are we ready, probably not even close, but that’s okay. We have the best family and friends anyone could ask for, and the one thing we are sure of is, this is all part of His plan and all we were asked to do is say yes, so we did.

Are you part of a big family? If so what are some of the best parts for you with living with a lot of other people that love you like crazy.  I can’t wait to hear all the positives that come from a house full of people.yes-2jlm7ae

Big things are still to come

On December 14th 2014 we brought into our home the oldest brother of a little girl that was in our home at the time. She ended up only staying about four months with us, until reuniting with her birth father. The little guy stayed for a short time longer until DCS placed him in another foster home that had his two brothers. The goal is always to keep siblings together if at all a possibility. We were pretty sad with him leaving but God allowed something that is very uncommon in the Foster care world, HE allowed this little guy to keep in touch with us and still come over for sleep overs, all because he asked his case worker, who saw past the red tape and saw what was most important, keeping relationships in tact, because it mattered to him, so it mattered to her. How awesome! Well, fast forward several months later, we got a call a few weeks ago saying this little guys case is going into adoption and would we be willing to adopt him. There was no hesitation at all, the answer was YES. The question that came next, is where it all got crazy real, what about his brothers? I was sitting in my car dropping my daughter off at her cousins when I got this call. I sat there for a moment and said, we just can’t right now with having the three little ones (one with very high needs) it would surely be too much. She understood and we went on with the thought of just adopting him. As life was challenging the next few weeks with caring for one of our littles that demanding so much of our time, energy and love we nearly couldn’t think of much more than that. We were in a constant state of alert, and the fight to help this child start to heal from the past life of hell they lived. We saw great steps of progress and great steps backwards also, but daily, a tiny, very tiny crack in this child’s shell was coming off, but we questioned if we could continue this fight that we were on and do so well with our other children much longer? Then we got a call last week that this child of ours would be reuniting with a family friend. Was this an answered cry? Or a million steps backwards for this precious child? It was now out of our hands, so we prayed and asked God to walk before and with this sweet child, always. We breathed, we rested and we enjoyed ourselves for a whole two days lol and then our little guy called and asked for another sleep over and we of course said yes and this time also brought one of his brothers for this sleepover. We had a great time and this is where we started talking, praying and gasping for air. Could we bring maybe just one of his brothers in? I mean they are sweet and we know them and if we love our guy so much how could we not love an extension of him? Then we talk to folks, ask for prayer and we observe what the dynamic would look like with a house FULL of crazy kids, as they all played and ran a muck this weekend in our home. The more we talked to folks, the more we prayed, the more we simply thought, the more we came to the same conclusion, we can’t separate these three boys and there is a real reason God kept them in our lives even after leaving our home. We had our church pray over us Sunday night and Monday morning I woke up around 5 am and kind of felt under qualified for such a giant life long task. So I talked a lot to God that morning laying in our bed, I asked Him could we really do this and do it without completely failing all our kids? Would there be enough of us for all of them? Then at about 5:40 am that same morning I received a text, from a sweet lady named Lynn from our church and she wrote, “Honestly, I feel that it will be just as overwhelming at times, as what you’ve been through recently. But I see you and Ben as giants, filed to the brim with love that good wants to overflow into these children he is bringing into your house. I know He sees your trembling heart, how could HE not? He has placed you into a loving caring community, not by accident. Have you ever heard of Buck Brannaham? He was raised by a couple that took in over 40 abused children. He was one of them. Check him out on FB. (He trains horses now using some of the techniques he learned from his adopted parents.) I think HE wants to stretch you further and HE is asking you to accept the challenge like queen Ester. You and Ben are here for such a time as this.” …..

….You see that big pause? Yea, that is what I did. I just stopped and thought, really God, you think we can do this? So after talking to Ben we sent a email to the boys case worker saying, we would like to be considered to adopt all three brothers. It’s not official and there are a few steps that have to be approved for it first, but if it is really God saying yes, then noting will stop it. If it’s not truly his will nothing can force it. Pray with us and we know it is a lot but we also know God, he is so much more than a lot.
So perhaps if He sees fit we will be parents to 8 beautiful children. How crazy, awesome and big fat scary our lives have changed in just under a year.

My first thoughts

I am the queen of distractions, of busyness and filling my free but often fleeting moments with pointless web browsing, TV channel flipping or doing anything but being still and silent. Am I the only person that has a hard time being still? I don’t mean being lazy. I can do lazy, I can do pointless things but being still and silent in His presence is hard, so hard for me actually. I try to get up before my crew to read the word, to wake up and be prepared to face the day, but often I wake and find myself first checking my phone, emails, Facebook, text and my list of appointments for the day. First, that is typically what my first is. My first thoughts are aimless, pointless and add no real value to my life or favor to my day. So, why do I do it. Why is sitting in a quite personal conversation with Jesus so hard for me somedays? My intentions are always good, really they are. I wake up with the heart to seek, to be, to learn and to be better than the day before, but distractions are every where, my mind being my biggest distraction. I finally sit down and open my bible to start reading and then I hear a conversation in my mind that goes something like this, ‘oh that coconut water downstairs sounds so good, should I take a quick shower before the kids wake up? I wonder what time I should leave to make it to the appointment I have down town? Oh yea, I am reading, where was I again.” Am I the only one like this? Do any of you find your brain just doesn’t do well with one task at a time? I am often texting, cooking, doing dishes and fixing a tantrum, all at once. Why? Why can’t I do one thing, at one time and do it really well. Some of it, I think is the gift of multi tasking but more of it is the gift of distraction and stress. My life is hectic enough and full of plenty of stuff to do. I need to simplify what I can, take away more of what doesn’t really matter, let go of the need to have things always okay and done. I need my savior and time with him each day, to be the best mom, wife and friend I can be. I need what he has for me each day and I don’t want to spend more of my days walking around as a half filled up cup of water!
Do you have distractions in your life, things that are keeping you from a close relationship with Jesus or maybe just genuine good relationships in your life? Let’s change these things together.M

Be carful what you ask for…

Standing in God’s will looks different for each of us, depending on where He places us. Ben and I are in a season full of blessings and love, but also sleepless nights, crazy tantrums and a open house full of social workers and therapist. We feel so called and yet somedays so inadequate to withstand the calling placed within our hearts. As I am up so often every night comforting our baby that because of her start in this world, sleep has never been a big part of her life, another that is often up crying for reason that right now only God knows why, and an immune system that seems to have forgotten how to work, I question if I am enough for these children, if my body can keep this up. If others not walking this path would even understand if I talked to them about it. We are normal folks, we love sleep, lazy days, date nights and all those simple things, but this season is different for us, it’s hard at times and I find it can be a lonely road because, talking with most people I find myself wanting to explain so much in hopes that they will see a glimpse of the reality in which I am describing.
Last night after I tucked in one of our littles who is a sweet, bossy and very independent little person, I found God working on my heart to see her as He see her and to have the kind of patients for her as He has for me. This was a few hours before I walked into her room and found her not wanting to sleep but, instead wanting to play. “Funny God, I get it. I wanted more patience, so you gave me a beautiful opportunity at 1:30 in the morning to practice using this gift I asked for.” This was all while we were still up with a very fussy baby that didn’t want to sleep, which isn’t unusual at all but after the patience test, i had to laugh in order to not cry. Shortly later I found myself laying in bed with our beautiful 9 month old princess, who was breathing very heavy while squirming with what seemed like pain on my chest. I hummed softly in her ear and that’s when she did it, when she reminded me how crazy love is, she laid her arm across me and patted my chest until she finally feel asleep early this morning. Even though I was dead tired, I laid there in that exhausted moment and thanked God for this kind of love and humbleness in my life. I don’t always like the dirty parts, but I will never be caught saying, that I don’t love this season because, Ben and I, even though today are completely dead tired, have still caught moments of looking in each other’s eyes and both saying the same thing with a look, “we are so thankful for all of these children that are teaching us more about love and getting out of our own wants than any other thing has ever done. Oh, and that we should take turns getting a nap in today.” 😉
I was guiltily once upon a time of thinking people that were walking this path were just being to hard, to strict and that all they had to do was give a little more love. Love does win and it will cover a multitude of sins, but it isn’t all that is needed in putting very broken children back together. They are fragile, they have sharp pieces of glass that can cut and hurt us all over them. They are younger mentally then their age and yet know so much more then their tiny amount of years should know. I was wrong for thinking I got it, I was wrong for doing anything more then being a good friend with two open ears. I was wrong to say, love is all you need. We need patience, endurance, Jesus and a few good friend that even if they don’t get it, understand enough of what a phone call or text of encouragement will do for a very tired soul. Thank you to my few that some days are what God uses to carry us through. ❤