Monday, January 28, 2013

We Built A City

Sort of.

More of a country road. 

But anyway. I had to share in case anyone else needs a way to keep the kids busy for an hour so you can get some laundry done. Or so you can catch up on your tv recordings. Either one.

I made a road with white tape, and then we set up dollhouses along the side. So the girls each lived in their own homes and had "parties" at each others houses for fun.

The school bus even comes by and picks up the children :)...

I don't know why we haven't done this before because it was a total hit. And I can use all the activities I can get around here. Because if I let them get too bored, I am on the edge by 5pm, my friends. THE EDGE.

Going to try to keep some sanity around here by doing some more fun things like this. Anything is better than playdoh, yes?

For real, try it, you'll be glad you did!

Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Love Wins

Can I just say real quick that I promise warm and fuzzy posts are coming soon? Maybe about Target, or Chickfila, or how I've started freezer cooking...I know, I'm growing up so fast.

But right now I want to write this down so I can remind myself tonight, and tomorrow, and next week, and next month. Love wins.

I mentioned on Facebook that we've been having a really hard time with A, which has been consuming a lot of my time. It's something that I've never experienced, and it is something that should never plague a 3yr old. It's also something that has made me feel like handing my phone number out to anyone and everyone who has ever taken in a hurting child so they can help me be a good mom to her. Even people on the internet. Any takers :)??? As a little 3yr old, her age is already working against her. Because you can tell her everything is ok, but she knows and remembers that things aren't always ok, even when people tell you they are.

And she's scared. Of basically everything.

They have lived their entire lives knowing that love doesn't always stay. It shows up, it breaks down, and it goes away. That's the ugly truth.

As we see the anxiety rise, and I don't feel like I am completely maxed out from the meltdowns, I try to rock this baby and tell her that we are here and that she is loved. I see her fear and can't help but feel that we are dealing with one specific thing: darkness vs. light.

I'm sorry if that sounds "out there". But the more I deal with this little girl, the more I see that we are in the middle of a battle. For so long the enemy was able to have a grip on their lives, and for so long they lived in a dark spot. As a friend reminded me, "the enemy is prowling around those girls because he no longer has full access to them. But victory is won, so claim the victory!" Don't ya just love friends who boldly speak the truth in your life?? So as a result, I have never felt the urgency to constantly pray over a child like I do A - as she struggles we continue to ask Jesus for healing and peace. And the more we pray, the more we see His love pouring out over this whole situation.

Love wins.

Now honestly, I've had some ugly moments. I'm not proud of some of the thoughts in my head, or the things that have come out of my mouth sometimes when Eric and I stand in the living room at 2am with her as she cries. I'm not proud of how easily I could give up sometimes. Pushing through and having to CHOOSE to love through the ugly is one of the hardest things I think I've ever had to do.

But I am being constantly reminded that love heals.

I won't go into boring details, and by "boring details" I mean "make-you-completely-crazy-and-angry-at-the-system details", but there is a very distant family member asking for a home study so they can take the girls. Does that make me super comfortable? Nope. Do I think it's best? Not at the moment. But is it what we signed up for? Apparently. That is all probably months away though, and who knows if or when it will come to pass. I know He is already there waiting to help us face whatever comes, and show us what is best for us and for them.

We let C start into Awana with our other girls a couple weeks ago. She has never really been in church until she came here, and she really didn't have an understanding of much at all. But the other morning she was eating breakfast and said, "Guess what, mom!? God so loved the world! He really did!". Made me smile, she was so excited that she memorized just a tiny part. Makes this all so worth it.

If they have to leave at some point, at least they will take a little bit of Jesus with them :).

I feel them becoming part of us, but the more I talk to the caseworker, the more I see the possibility of them staying slipping further and further away. Which again, is part of fostering. So we'll just take all of this new stuff one day at a time, ask Jesus to bring light into the dark, ask for anyone and everyone to pray for our sweet A, and somehow still laugh together at this crazy season after bedtime.

Fostering has already been one of the most refining times in my life. Having the opportunity to love them and help them heal is without a doubt grace in my own life, even when it's HARD.

We love them. He loves them more. And His love wins, no matter what happens.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Plan A

"I didn't do anything awful. I know it seems like I'm horrible but I'm really not."

I looked at her in the parking lot of childrens services and tried to think of a good response for C & A's biological mother. I really don't think shes awful, I just think she makes awful choices. We landed there to see her unexpectedly a week ago, she's been completely absent so when we got the call that she surfaced for a visit I was surprised.

"I know...I's ok...really, everything is going to be ok." It's all I could get out even though I was trying to form something more profound, and even though there has been several times over the past month that I've wanted to grab this chick by the shoulders and shake her.

It was finally real, she was finally in front of me, and it finally sank in that they are not mine...right now they are hers. (His really, but you know what I mean.)

All the valid points and accusations I had tucked in my greater than thou pocket disappeared.

For some reason in that moment all the frustration faded and all I felt was sadness. Sadness when she turned around to barely kiss them and C started crying. Sadness when I watched a broken woman walk away without a care. And sadness when I had to pull the car over and get in the back and hold a 5yr old as she grieved over what felt like another abandonment after months of not seeing her.

I am a attached mother. I love the kids in my home with all my being and I would do anything to protect them. That includes the ones I birthed and the ones I didn't.

Back in the day I said we were in this journey to foster and hopefully at some point be blessed to keep one (or two). But it turns out that I don't think I know how to foster without getting attached. Without loving them like my own. Without thinking of the possible future and them being taken from the first family they've ever really known.

I don't know how to put my mothering heart in neutral and just take it a day at a time.

It's funny to me how in the beginning I was buying baby blankets, washing Lincoln's carseat, and preparing to bond with a little one. I really envisioned us taking in a baby. I said we wanted what He wanted, but in my mind I was already planning our future. I wanted the transition to be smooth, I wanted that bonding to be natural, and I wanted our bio girls to ooh and ahh over a tiny little love just like they did with their brother. But instead, we got a rocky case with 2 little loves that need a family.

I am beyond thankful for how He pursues us with His perfect plan. For how He kept whispering that day that we needed to say yes to these little girls.

Will they only stay for months? Will they stay for good? I don't know. But you know what? Worrying about all of it is exhausting. We may very well love and have to let go. That's all part of it and He is teaching me to let go of my controlling ways. I have to trust Him. 

We are on Plan A, even though at times it has felt like an alternate route. I keep reminding myself that there is no Plan B with the Lord, just one perfect plan. There is no back-up plan waiting in case His doesn't come through just right. His sovereign Plan A is already perfect, even when its a surprise :).

I often feel like we are in the middle of a crazy and unstable season. But what we're really in the middle of is a broken situation, with a broken family, and broken lives, in a broken world. We all need Jesus so badly.

I can't tell you that I am completely sympathetic with the woman who birthed C & A, or that the idea of them going back to family doesn't make my stomach hurt a little. But what I can tell you is that I see something in this whole situation that reminds me of what we ALL need in our own lives...grace, love, and redemption.

So today we are trying to love big, leave the details to Him, and know that He will prepare our hearts for whatever is on His agenda. Today, we are still on Plan A.

Friday, January 11, 2013

30 Seconds

The play area after I have spent all afternoon organizing...

the play area approximately 30 seconds after the children descend upon it...

Why are there noodles and kick boards out? And where did they even come from? And you know that we will NEVER find all the memory cards now...or the box for that matter.

Seriously, I'm starting to think one of you are dropping toys in the windows when I'm not looking :).

I tell ya, when it comes to unraveling a room, my little loves have mad skills.

Sigh, cleaning is overrated anyway, right?? Good thing it's Friday! Happy weekend, all!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back In The Saddle

We are getting back in to the swing of things after a long winter break.

And by long I mean crazy. And unexpected. And surreal. And INSANE.

But we are all still here and everyone seems to still be ok, so that means something is going right...right? Just say I'm right, ok? Lie to me if you have to, sister.

I am adjusting to our new (not) normal. I've been thinking of new ways to keep up with the laundry and housework and such with 8 kids. Because even though we only added 2 more, it feels like we went from 6 to 12. I don't know why, but it does. Eric surprised me last week with these bad boys...

I don't think I've ever been more attracted to him. 

It's like he gave me my very own laundromat! These were my late Christmas, early anniversary, birthday, and "any other event that calls for a present" gift. Instead of updating our rings or going on a 10yr anniversary trip next month, we got a church van and a washer & dryer.

We're so romantic. 

I had an unexpected meeting with the girls biological mom on Friday that rocked me a little. And as much as I want to share about it all, I'm just not ready. It's messy, and annoying, and sad, and good, and SO many other emotions that I can't seem to make any sense of. I'm confused but also clear on the fact that He is working here.

Now, He may be working the most on me and my lack of faith and one of a kind control issues, but can we save that for another post? Yes? Great.

In the meantime, look at a cute picture of my girls... 

Sigh, I love them.

We've embraced the snow and loved every second of it. Well, except for the fact that they only have to pee after I get ALL the snow clothes on. By the time I get all the clothes on I am basically sweating - so taking them back off goes down in my book as a full blown workout.

Anyway. Does this all sound like rambling yet? Well, 8 kids make you ramble. For reals.

I'm off for now. Going to lay out some food for the crockpot tomorrow. I am making and freezing some of our favorite Cream Cheese Chicken Chili. The kids love it and I love having some frozen meals for busy nights (which is basically every night right now). You should try it, I promise you'll love it!

Hope you're having a great week, friends!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Here's To Him

Here's to a new year with new mercies, and grace, and redemption.

Here is to understanding His plan, and accepting it when we don't.

Here is to loving these 2 fearlessly without worrying about the future...

Yea, if only not worrying was that easy. Loving them is (usually) easy, my friends. Dealing with their past and an unknown future is the hard part.

I have sat down a few times to tell you about life here, only to stare at the screen begging the words to type themselves. Because truthfully, I'm having trouble even sorting through it myself. The short answer is this: It's a day to day thing. They are dealing with a ton and it's been hard on everyone. We placed 2 girls in the middle of our brood with a lot of issues to deal with and that is never going to be easy. I have to remind myself that they didn't ask for this and that we need to shove past the hard moments and love them with all we have. They deserve a relentless love that never leaves, and that's why we are holding on tight.

As much as I want to paint this beautiful picture for you, I can't. Because when you come here you are going to get real life, and at the moment, it's not always pretty. We are (of course) in a unique foster situation. Our court date that would bring some kind of judgement isn't till October. As in, almost a year from now. A YEAR. A year of breaking down walls, and making this their home, and bringing beauty out of the darkness. A year of healing that could lead to a court date of pain.

Everyone deals with things differently, and maybe you'd have tougher skin, but right now I don't. Right now I feel like I'm carrying a weight on my shoulders that weighs a million pounds.

I know that today they are not ours completely. And I know that they can leave as quickly as they came. But the fear of pushing through the road ahead only to have them taken next October nearly takes my breath away. Seriously.

And I know, you don't have to tell me, this is what foster care looks like. But that fact doesn't make it easy.

There are giggles and smiles and hugs. And there are hard behaviors and attachment issues and problems that are way bigger than my mothering skills.

But He is here. And they are worth it.

In some moments, the only joy you have is knowing that you are exactly where He wants you. And we are, exactly where He's been leading us this past year. So there is joy.

They are absolutely beautiful, friends. They are the pick-up-and-squeeze-them-tight kind of cute.

I wish I could show you all the pictures I've taken. I wish I could sit and spill all the details as I cry with you over coffee. I wish these girls could have had a sheltered upbringing like mine. I wish their eyes could have been shielded and I wish I could remove every memory that is haunting them.

But I can't. That is His job, He will bring healing here. He is the only one that can restore what was broken. I'm just the middle man.

This is where we are. We are all still adjusting to our new bundles of joy. We still have one foot in the honeymoon stage and we are still learning about our new normal. If you can call it normal :). We are thankful that out of hundreds of homes in our county, He chose us for these specific gifts.

So Here's to Him. To wholly focusing on Him and His plans for this life that we live inside these 4 walls.

Grace, grace, grace. It's all grace.