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Look at the Birds

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Welcome back to my little corner of the blogosphere. It’s been awhile my friends and I have much to tell you. Something happened today that sparked my fingers to blog, so I’ll start right here, with this morning.

But first a little back story. Years ago when I first started attending church the father of one of our Sunday School member passed away. I didn’t know him very well at all. After his father’s funeral, he stood up in the front of the church and told a story. He said it was tradition to dig family members graves themselves. He and his family had dug the grave the day before the funeral. The morning of the funeral he went out to the grave to make sure everything was okay, he was understandably very sad. He asked God “I just need something, a little something.” Then he said “God put the birds in the trees for me.” Now it seemed like a great story, but being new to church, I did not understand the significance of that story. Later, during an anxiety ridden awful part of my life, I read Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds. They don’t play or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?” and the following verse “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” That was when I understood our friend’s story. The birds were put there to remind him that God is with him and he’s more valuable to Him than anything.

That story always stuck with me. Maybe because it was my first time hearing a story of God speaking to someone. Someone that I knew in real life. It wasn’t just a neat story on the internet. Flash forward three years. I had just returned from a doctor’s appointment that turned our world upside down. Carlee didn’t just have Autism (which was our hope) she had intractable epilepsy, irreversible brain damage, Cerebral Palsy, Rumination, and a Sensory Disorder. The dreams I had for my daughter went out the window. I gave myself one night to mourn. To grieve the loss of the daughter I’d always wanted. The next day I would get up, brush myself off and fight for her. I like to think I’ve done just that. Sure, there are still moments of grief, but I’ve turned into a fierce mama bear and fight with all my might for her. But that first night, I was a mess. I didn’t want to be around anyone or talk about it. I went to buy ingredients for pizza pasta¬† (my comfort food). There in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I heard the nearly deafening sound of birds. I could not see a single one, but the noise was so overwhelming that I stopped dead in my tracks. My friend’s story from a few years earlier popped into my head. I knew these birds were singing just for me, straight from God. He was telling me “I’ve got this, I’ve got her, this isn’t the end. Stop worrying.”

He was true to His promise. It wasn’t the end. I don’t have the little girl I’d dreamed of, but I’ve got the most amazing little girl. I’ve got a fighter and a lover. I get the privilege of fighting for her and defending her. I get to see her grow and change. I get to see her world bloom and watch her bloom right in front of my eyes. I get to see a living breathing miracle every day. And I always smile when I see birds, never forgetting God’s promise to me on that day.

So those two stories lead us to what happened today and what I had to get down into words the moment I got home. We’ve had our foster baby for 15 months. His Facebook nickname is Bluebird. He got it for a number of reasons. One, he had teeny little bird legs and bright blue eyes. Two, I have grown to love birds. Three, I had recently read the verse “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wing you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4. I thought it was a perfect verse for my Bluebird. It’s been 15 wonderful months that God has given us to raise and love this adorable little boy. We prayed he’d stay in our family. But we always prayed for God to have His will done and do what’s best for Bluebird. God’s will and my plan didn’t align this time. Bluebird is leaving our home in a few weeks. His new family is crazy amazing. I feel very very lucky that he’s going to such an awesome home. They are Christians and very family oriented. They have two younger sons, so he’ll still be surrounded by big brothers. The very best part is that both his new family and his mama are insisting we stay in Bluebird’s life. We’ve stayed involved in our other babies lives, but they aren’t local. Sweet Bluebird is only going to be 15 minutes away. We’ll get to see him often and watch him grow up. I couldn’t be more thankful for this whole situation. It’s truly the best I could have hoped for.

This morning I took him over to his family’s house for a day visit. As I was driving down the long dirt road to their home, I kept seeing birds diving in and out of the fields. I smiled to myself. Then, I turned the bend and came upon a field, out of the field flew hundreds of black birds. A huge cloud of them, straight from the field where they were hidden and into the air. Just for a moment, long enough for me to exclaim “Look at all the birds” and then back they went, hidden amongst the grass. The birds, placed right there for me to see. God’s promise for my Bluebird. He’s got this, He’s got him. It’s going to be okay.

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The Time I Got Sick

After taking care of my sick husband, low and behold, I got sick. This is my first illness since I started using essential oils. I asked my group and I came up with a solution that worked. I used a liquid vapor blend. I mixed RC with a salt packet for use in my neti pot and it was a miracle. I used copaiba in the neti pot for inflammation and pain. Basil on my ears and that worked really well to help that stuffy feeling. Eucalyptus along my jar line. After all is said and done, I was able to beat a sinus infection with no antibiotics and only one day in bed. I did use a few motrin when my headache got to bad, but the copaiba really helped with the pain too. All in all, the oils worked and well!

Also, I used the oils on my husband. Poor guy was working 12-14 hour shifts outdoors and couldn’t stay home at all. I made him a sinus blend and an awake blend. He has seemed to become a believer as well.¬†Copaiba-Young-Living-Essential-Oil-250x250

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Welcome to the Roller Coaster

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Two years ago there were some foster kids in need. My friend was fighting tooth and nail to keep her kids safe. She hired a lawyer. We all wanted to help. Thus, a book was born.

Fourteen foster mothers got together and wrote our stories. Foster care is full of the highest highs and the lowest lows, sometimes in the same day (or the same hour). There are twists and turns and drops that make your stomach sick. It truly is a roller coaster. Two years later, those children my friend tried so hard to keep, have left. But, her story didn’t end and neither did ours.

Welcome to the Roller Coaster is a book born of love for a particular foster mother and her two kids. It turned into a labor of love for fourteen mothers. For some it was painful to write and others found it therapeutic. For myself, it stirred up many emotions both soul shattering and joyful. The authors are all anonymous, unless we choose to identify ourselves.

Fourteen mothers raising over 135 foster children. This book is a snapshot of some of those stories. If you’re interested in foster care or if you’ve ever thought about it, this book is for you. Foster care is hard and dirty and best and the hardest thing we’ve ever done. This book is full of all those truths.

The book is available for pre-order until December 14th. It is $14.99 plus shipping. Eventually, it will be available on Amazon and as an e-book. This is our first printing. Our hope is to have this book to you by Christmas (though it’s not a guarantee).

Come along and cry and laugh with us. Stand in line and get ready for the best roller coaster of your lives! You can order at http://welcometotherollercoaster.blogspot.com/

Essential Oils

I’ve dove deep into the world of essential oils. I’ve gone with the company Young Living. There was no major determination over the others. I just seemed to get more support from YL reps than the other companies. So here I am, with an arm full of oils.

I started, mainly, for Carlee. I kept hearing testimonies about the oils affects in kids with autism. Carlee does not officially have autism, she may not at all. You have to be developmentally 12 months before they can test for it. She’s not there yet. Her brain damage caused her delays. However, a lot of her delays mimic autism. So, I started there.

The results have been amazing. I’ve been using a blend of oils. She gets them twice a day on her forehead, upper neck, behind her ears, and on her feet. She seems to enjoy the massaging of her feet the best. She’s been making eye contact for up to thirty seconds. She’s playing with her toys with interest. Picking them up, looking at them, even pushing a few buttons. Her eyes just seem to have more life in them. She seems so much more comfortable in her own space.

She’s been gaining weight previous to the oils. Then one day, she decided she’d had enough of the feeding tube. She pulled it out while playing (with the balloon intact) we couldn’t get it back in. The doctors said to keep it out and see what happens. What happened was my daughter is free of a feeding tube. It isn’t going back in. Her weight gain is steady and she’s up to the 36th percentile, from the less than one percentile. She is thriving.

We’ve been using them as a family too. There’s been improvement in the ADD qualities in some of my children. We’ve used it for colds and coughs and fevers. They’ve been working well for sleeping and stress relief. There’s even a blend called Christmas Spirit that I can’t stop diffusing into the air.

If you’re interested in oils, let me know. I’m not a wealth of information, but I have resources to get answers. I’m not trying to be a salesman, but I cannot say enough great things about these oils.

Forgiveness

It’s been awhile (again). My poor neglected blog. Tonight, I’m thinking about forgiveness. It’s a cornerstone in the faith. Forgive as you have been forgiven. And all the jazz. There is little I don’t forgive. However, that little is growing. I want with all my heart to forgive Matthew’s birth mother, Carlee’s birth mother, and my ex-sister in-law. But, I can’t. They never personally wronged me. They hurt my kids. My nieces. I have no forgiveness in me for them. I hate that. Every time I think I’m getting close, there’s another hurt that makes itself known. There’s another news article my precious son will read one day. There’s another bout of seizures that makes my daughter cry. There’s another saying from my niece, words she shouldn’t have hear. I know forgiveness isn’t about them. It’s about letting it go in my own heart. Who cares if they try to make up for their actions, that’s not the point. The point is my own heart. The unforgiveness festering into bitterness. Wondering why they weren’t punished enough. I struggle with it a lot. I’m thankful that Carlee’s birth mother has found a mentor of sorts. Someone who doesn’t harbor the anger that I do. I’m so glad she has her in her life. She needs to see what went wrong and ways to fix it. She needs that motherlyish love. She won’t be getting it from me anytime soon. Matthew’s birth mother is in prison, where hopefully she’ll remain until he’s well into adulthood. But it will be long before adulthood that we’ll have to have a conversation. “Who gave birth to me?” and though he’s been here since he was 35 days old, there is a world of pain waiting. And I hate it. Pain from the woman who gave him life, the life she stole from his sister and brother, the family members that chose not to be in his life though they had the chance, and where he stands in the middle of those feelings. I don’t even know how to begin that conversation. A little at a time based on age, but the hurt it will cause him, even if he chooses to ignore it, to me that’s unforgivable. She’s going to cause my son pain. My sister-in-law allowing the worst thing to happen to a child, happen to my firstborn niece. Her neglect, her abuse, her verbal sewage. I’m furious on my nieces behalf. I don’t forgive her.

But I want to. I know it’s the “right” thing to do. I don’t know how.

Time Passes and Life Happens

Time passes and life happens and blogs get neglected. But, here I am typing away this morning. My sweet Carlee girl is making strides. She hasn’t been tubed fed in about two months!!! Everything she gets is by mouth, her food and her liquids. We put her on a high caloric diet. She’s become a different child. She just really enjoys her food and it makes her a happy child. She’s been eating lots of avocados, bananas, peanut butter, and whole milk yogurts. She’s begun eating small bits of ‘real’ food off our dinner plates. On Sunday we went out to a Mexican restaurant and she even crunch on some chips and didn’t choke. Her rumination has come along so nicely. She’s barely gagging anymore. We have noticed that when she does, it’s her way of saying she’s bored.

With Christmas around the corner, I’ve thankfully found a list of special needs toys on Amazon. Her catalog she gets makes me so mad. There are lots of things she’d enjoy, but they range from $200-$2000. Seriously, $95 for a Koosh Ball set in plastic. A $1.00 Koosh Ball. It’s sickening that they can charge that much. Most families can’t afford those prices and everything we buy for our children costs double or triple what it would for a typically developed child. They do this knowing we’ll have to go through insurance and they’ll get paid. It seems so unethical to me. With all that said, Amazon has been a God send. I’ve found about a dozen things, totally under $200. She’ll be a happy girl at Christmas. As long as I can wait until then.

We’ve begun co-op. I teach a preschool class and a movement class. Carlee seems to enjoy it. She’s not whining like last year. We push her near the table so she can see the kids and be involved. The kids in my class are just too sweet with her. They always talk to her when they come in, offer her things, and pick up her toys. I love their little hearts.

Carlee has 6 siblings that are younger than her. Twin brothers who are 2, twin sisters who are 1, and twin sister who are 2 months old. Her 1 year old sisters have joined our co-op and I got to meet them. It’s amazing to love on them, they are her full sisters. At a time, we thought we’d get them, but God had other plans. One of her sister, Sweetness, has some similar issues to Carlee. I’ve bonded so much with her, she reminds me of Carlee so much. She’s just the sweetest. She fell asleep on me last week and her mama said that she doesn’t do that with anyone. They are the cutest little girls and I’m so happy they found a loving home. And I’m thrilled that I get to cuddle with them once a week.

Our darling Bluebird is still with us. We don’t know how much longer, he might leave this month or not until next year. Foster Care is a tricky beast. He’s just a gem. Happy most of the time, but he can go from 0 to royally ticked off in about 2 seconds. I just love him.

The big boys are doing great. We’ve made some great progress in school. Sam is turning out to me a little math wiz. Shane is FINALLY reading for enjoyment and reading something besides Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He’s read the first Hunger Games and is starting The Maze Runner. I told him if he finishes the second Hunger Games, that I’d take him with me to see the third movie when it comes out. Jackson still prefers reading to writing. He’s a much easier kid if he’s allowed to type instead of write. I can’t figure out with me as their mother how much children aren’t devouring books. I’ve always loved to read and was hoping to pass that down to them. So far, not much luck. We’re reading The Giver together. They really like it. Jackson is really concerned what happens to people when they are ‘released’ and go ‘into the beyond’. Not looking forward to those chapters with him. They are all doing well in Scouts. Lots of camping trips and badge earnings. Matthew cannot wait to join them. He has been promoted to the preschool in Sunday School instead of the nursery. He came home and said “Jesus protects you.” He says it all the time. He doesn’t want to go into the classroom, but settles down quickly. He’s been in the nursery with two ladies since he was 2 months old. Mrs. Cindy came to community group last night and he ran up and hugged her so tightly. She’s been out because of surgery and he hasn’t seen her all summer. He calls the other lady, Lala, which is what her grandchildren call her. He’s claimed her.

We had a big day on Sunday. Johnny was ordained as a Deacon in church. It’s amazing to me that six years ago, we’d never been in church as a family, and now he’s a Deacon. I’m so proud of him.

I leave this Friday for a foster care retreat. I couldn’t be more excited. It’s in Pennsylvania. It’s so nice to be with my foster mama friends in person! We get two days together to share and rage and pray together. I cannot wait!!! Until next time, my friends, have a beautiful fall!

Today, I rage.

She came to me a broken little 20 month old. After over two years of healing and hoping and helping. She’s still broken. She still cries out from the pain of her seizures. She still chokes on her own puke that she brings up without knowing she can stop it. She has a hole in her stomach to receive food. Her ears don’t hear correctly. She deals with a disease that’s meant to be given to adults who have unprotected sex. Not to an innocent child. She still doesn’t speak. She still falls and stumbles and bruises her head. She still can’t play without mouthing the toy. She has zero self care goals met.

Most days, I can deal with this. Most days I see all progress she’s made and I know she’s a miracle. Most days, I focus on the good. Today is not that day. Today is the day I cry and I rage. I rage at the fact that NONE of this had to happen. She could have been a completely normal child. Today is the day I rage. She’s aging out of nursery, but we surely can’t put her in children’s church. We keep her home. Or only keep her in Sunday School. People offer to keep her for me and it’s wonderful. But she’s my daughter and I understand what caring for her entails. She’s too much when there’s a class full of kids. She needs one on one attention. And I don’t want to hear murmuring about the “four year old still in the nursery”.

Today I rage. She has a cousin just four months older than her and they can’t play together. I get so insanely jealous seeing pictures of my niece playing dolls and tea party. Will Carlee ever do that? I flipped through a catalog of American Dolls and I would give anything to take to get one. For her to understand what they are. For her to wait impatiently to get her first one. Hell, I’d buy her every damn doll in that place if she knew. Forget Dave Ramsey, I’d bust out a credit card and get her whatever she wanted. If she knew.

Today, I rage. I get online and all my sad feelings spew. All my anger. Later today, I’ll feel guilty for posting this, for feeling this way. Right now, I’m too pissed to feel guilty. Today, I watched her have seizure after seizure. See her cry. See her suck her fingers until they bleed, because that’s all the can comfort her. I watch her on her tip toes because her ankle muscles have tighten to much for her to walk flat. Can we get into a doctor? Nope. They won’t let me have the casting that was recommended by her therapist who knows her. No, they want to do braces, as if she could understand that. “Maybe surgery when she’s eight” because why make her life any easier than it needs to be. We’ll just let her lose all range so you can cut later. What’s the big deal with another surgery?

Today, I rage. I rage at her birth mother. The child who did this to her. I could forgive, I could, she was young, much too young. But she’s gone on to have FOUR more children since Carlee’s birth. And she’s pregnant with two more. They all suffer, they all have issues. Some more than others. Thankfully, they are being cared for and loved on and healed in their new homes. She just keeps doing this. She just keeps stealing childhoods from her own children. I can pray and hope for a normal life for Carlee. For dolls and and dress up and prom and graduation and a wedding. If I listen to the doctors. She’ll have none of that stuff. Of course, I believe in a God much wiser than those doctors. But, today, I’m drowning in their diagnoses. And it’s all her fault. The pain she’s caused the child she gave birth too. It’s her fault. She packed her bags at eighteen and LEFT. She abandoned her child. She didn’t want to deal with the medical mess she made. So she just went on to have two more. And then two more. And now two more. 7 kids in 4 years. My beautiful friend can’t get pregnant. She gets to have seven kids. At least she doesn’t get to raise any of them.

Did you miss the part where SHE WALKED OUT. In all the time that I’ve had Carlee, since April of 2012, she’s never seen her. Never even tried. She messaged me last Christmas “Will I ever be able to see her again? I love seeing the pictures” I had mercy for her. I set up a visit at her family’s home. So she could see the daughter she walked out on. She said she was coming. She didn’t. No call, no text, just never showed up. That was the last time I heard from her.

Do I feel badly blasting her? No, not right now. I pray the day will come when Carlee will understand what a treasure she is, that she was adopted in love, that she will ask me about her. I’ll be kinder then. I wouldn’t want to hurt her with the harsh truth. I already have to deal with that one day with Matthew. But today, I vent. I want her to feel what Carlee has to live with. I want her understand what she’s doing to these babies. But, she won’t. And I can’t make her. So I write here. I scream here. I cry here. I rage here.

Then I wipe off my face and go back into my world with a smile. I’d give anything to make her whole. Even if that meant I’d never met her. I’d do it. But she isn’t whole and we were given the responsibility and the joy of raising her. That makes me heart smile.