The Awakening

Don’t worry about the title, I’m not going to talk about Star Wars. I’m talking about myself (shocker). Throughout my foster care journey I’ve stood in front of two child abusers, a murderer/child abuser, and a wife beater. I stood to help the children in my care. I stood shaking sometimes, but still I stood. There have been circumstances in my personal life where I’ve not had ground to stand. To be there for those closest to me. I had to stay silent and seethe in anger only to myself.

Life happens and now I have a voice for those two. The first few days I was scared. I was nervous. I was anxious. Then I realized, this is what I’d prayed for. To keep them safe, to let their voices be heard. To be their voice. Suddenly, late one night, a force awoke in me that I didn’t know existed. God had kept this small portion of my spirit tucked away until it was needed. Now is the time it’s needed and the force has been released. Gone is the anxiety, the nervousness, and being afraid. In the mirror is a woman I don’t recognize, but I’m quickly growing to love. A small town wife and mother, finally given a voice. A fierceness to protect my family and all those who dwell in my home. A platform to speak and be heard. All these have been awakening in me.

This is the right thing to do. This is what I was created for. To be a wife and mother with no regrets. What my husband and I are doing, it matters. It matters to hearts of two small children. It matters to my kids. It matters to my family.

The timing was always God’s. I can see that now. Now it’s my time to roar. And those standing against my God’s will are going to be deaf by the end of this.

I went to Women of Faith five years ago. The wonderful woman leading our trip had put a post card with a verse on it for me. I’ve saved it in my wallet all these years. I’d forgotten about it. I saw it today and this was the verse. Psalm 37:4-6

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

I have assurance the my cause, their cause, will shine like the noonday sun. This whole experience has awaken my faith in a whole new way. I’m seeking God and seeing His signs, hearing His voice, and trusting in Him. This was the catalyst that threw me into His arms. This is the catalyst that released the new me. And I know it will be good.

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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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.

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!

My 4 Year Old

My baby lady turned four on Sunday. There was no big party, no princess gowns, no bounce house, and no glitter. But she’s here. Long after ‘they’ said she wouldn’t be. She ate her cupcake and enjoyed it, even after ‘they’ said she’d never eat again. She locked eyes with everyone, after ‘they’ said she might never do that. She ripped open her presents (with the help of her brother) and looked at them all and picked her favorite. Even though ‘they’ said she might never play with toys appropriately. She smiled, even though ‘they’ said she might not because of the brain damage. She’s going to show up every single one of ‘them’. My baby girl has improved so much in the last year she’s doesn’t even resemble the child she was. Does she do things that a four year old does? No, of course not. Does she do things a six month old does? Not anymore, she’s moved on. She was stuck so long at 0-3 months development. She’s progressed to about 9-12 months. It’s progress and it’s slow and you may not see it, but we do. And she does. So we spend Sunday celebrating our beautiful daughter. Our purple in a sea of blue. Our living breathing miracle. Our 4 year old. 10385285_10152290244228882_8688481818152742140_n

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My family. Carlee’s namesake and my best friend came to visit.

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Randomness

Life moves on and so do we. Time is quickly escaping us. And here we are already in July. Carlee’s 4th birthday is at the end of the week. I cannot believe she is four already. She came to us shortly before her second birthday. Last year on her birthday, it was four days before her surgery. Seeing the pictures of that day, I can honestly say that that surgery saved her life. When I see how thin she was, how her hair had fallen out, and the life was out of her eyes, it makes me so sad. It makes me angry that my girl had to suffer so long. That foster care wouldn’t give her the quality of life she needed. That she had to languish in waiting. Until the day I got adoption papers in the mail, and three weeks later, after eighteen months of begging, she had a date. Things have been up and down over the last year with her health. However, as of now, we’re in a peak. We’re starting to work with communication devices and sign language.

We’re in the midst of summer. My girl is loving the heat. She has a hard time with cold due to her slow circulation. She’s always layered up, even indoors, even in the summer. However, once outside she flourishes. She’s running and playing and making grass angels. Two years ago, she’d scream if the grass touched her feet. She hated texture of any kind. To see her throw herself down in the grass and move her arms and legs. Well, it’s just amazing.

My big kids are doing well. We’re getting a lot of use out of the pool. Shane just got back from a week of Boy Scout camp. Jackson will head off for his last year of Cub Scout camp later this month. Sam just “flew-up” to a Bear. Matthew wants nothing more than to be a Cub Scout. His favorite thing to wear is his brother’s old scout shirts. Sweet Bluebird is learning to sign as well, but he’s well on his way to talking as well.

We’re nearly done with the school year. Just have to finish up some testing. I really dislike this time of year. Testing is so bias and shows very little of what they learned. Well, it’s what we do. And it will be over soon.

Summer and Anderson Day

Summertime summertime sum sum summertime. It’s here. Old Man Winter finally accepted defeat and the sun is shining like it means it. We’ve been busy reclaiming our backyard. A year after we moved in, the lot behind us sold and they built a house, taking down every last tree. So we moved our lives out front. The trees we planted now hide our yard a bit, so we’re moving on back. I have begged for a pool for years and this Mother’s Day, that what I got. We’ve made into our little sanctuary. We have the pool with some decking and we’re redoing the back patio. I’m loving it. The kids are outside more, everyone is happy and tired by the end of the day. It’s been a lot of work, and there’s some more to go, but we’re having a blast already!

We hit off the season with a celebration. We celebrated that one year anniversary of Carlee’s adoption. We didn’t do much on her actual adoption day, because she was so sick. This year my girl was the center of attention and even got to eat some s’mores. We had a s’mores party! Our dear friends came in droves, we had about 70 people here to love on our girl! I have to say, it was a hit!

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