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Monday, November 25, 2013

Xbox 360

~"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing.  Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim."~Vicki Harrison
This little boy, this delight to my heart, his JOY that overflows from within, inspires me daily.  Yes, he can frustrate me daily, but oh the triumph, the testimony of his little life!  How great is our God!!!  HE spared Luke's life as a tiny babe.  HE brought Luke to us forming a relationship with wonderful friends, bridging two families forever together!
Last week Luke asked Mark and I for an Xbox 360.  He had come up with this whole elaborate plan of selling our Wii for $500 dollars and buying an Xbox for $200 and keeping the other $300 dollars.  Mark and I laughed and smiled.  Our little entrepreneur.  When I questioned him about why, he simply stated he had played one before and he really likes the controller.  He tried to persuade me that the Xbox 360 would get played with so much more than the Wii and the Nintendo 64 (yes we still have one of those). How cute is that?  His mind is always thinking...ALWAYS!  

Bella and I found ourselves at the mall this afternoon.  I don't know if it was the Christmas decor, the busy hum of the mall, the smell of Starbucks coffee or what it was that triggered such strong emotions in me.  But I found myself in the middle of the upper level of the mall sobbing, wondering where my dad was?  10 years gone and I still find myself thinking I see him in a crowd of people.  My dad LOVED, LOVED Christmas and shopping and blessing others.  My heart grieves still now that he hasn't met Luke or Grace or Bella.  I feel like my kids have been cheated and it breaks my heart.  My dad would have been an amazing grandpa to them.  

So after I stopped blubbering into my sleeve in the middle of the mall, I went into Game Stop to ask the employees all about this Xbox 360.  To be honest, I had two employees actually laughing at one of my ridiculous questions.  Growing up, my dad loved new technology and we always had a computer and the latest gaming system and whatever new cell phone had come out.  Remember the brick cell phone? Yes we had one!  I can remember him waiting in line for hours to purchase the greatest new gaming system that came out.  We had a Nintendo the first year it was out as well as all the ones that followed.  I can't help but think if my dad was here, he would be out hunting for the best deal on an XBox 360 for his grandson who requested one.  My dad would have loved that...

So as an extension of my dad, I am trying to fill in that gap.  I called the "expert" today...a.k.a. Uncle D, my bro.  He has the love of new technology just like Dad.  He had some great advice.  So I am going to work on making a 10 year old boys' wish come true this Christmas because I know that my Dad would have.   

Christmas time is a difficult time for those that have lost loved ones.  Certain times of year, smells, weather, season of year, sounds can trigger memories and grief.  I know that during the holiday season I struggle a lot more with my grief surrounding my dad's death.  Grief really truly does come in waves and can often catch you off guard.  If you know of someone that has lost a loved one, an encouraging word can go a long way.  Just having someone acknowledge your grief/loss speaks so much to that person.  I always appreciate anyone that acknowledges the loss of my dad or has a kind word to say about him.  It is reassuring to me that he lives on in the hearts of those that cared about him.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chasing Paper to Love Without Limits

It's been awhile...ok a long while. :)  And while I have not written about our life lately, it has been speeding by at a force so great I can barely hang on.  There have been school events, work events, church events, new business opportunities, a vacation, fall activities and Halloween to name a few. And of course many pictures to document above events.  But...what is really on my heart, what I want to write about tonight, is my thoughts about being a foster mom.

Ten years ago, all the extra bedrooms in our home were empty.  There were no little ones running underfoot, no toothless grins, highchairs or sippy cups.  No babies rolling around on the floor, or even the promise of a baby-to-be.  Ten years ago I had 2 pregnancies and 2 miscarriages under my belt.  The whole world was pregnant (or so it seemed), and I was left empty, barren and longing desperately to be a mommy.

Ten years ago, the world of foster care entered our life.  I was introduced to the Department of Children and Family Services.  We jumped through every hoop and were licensed in March and Luke came to live with us in April.  We remained foster parents until March 2013, at which point we let our license expire.  We did not renew it (like we had done every three years in the past).  We thought we were finished with the great big world of foster care.

And then it began in the summer, as little whispers into my soul.  A situation, or a person or an article would catch me off guard.  A child in a waiting room at therapy, a foster care friend, just little things...just whispers that said "I'm not done with you yet."  I pushed the thoughts away, as having let our license expire would require a GREAT amount of work to become re-licensed.  The whispers became louder, and FINALLY I surrendered. So....last month we began chasing paper.

And.we.are.still.chasing.paper!!! If you have ever wondered "What is it like to become a foster parent?your life goes under a microscope.  Applications, personal questions, marriage certificates, kids immunization records, training, training and more training.  First aid and CPR classes.  Medical check ups, and TB tests, fire escape plans, daycare plans, policy agreements, background checks and finger prints, reference letters and interviews finally followed by a home inspection.

After being a foster parent for nearly ten years, I know what we are signing up for.  I.REALLY.DO.  I am signing up to feel HURT, PAIN and INJUSTICE.  I am signing up to FIGHT, ADVOCATE and LOVE.  I am CHOOSING to love without limits and attach to little people without the promise of forever or even just tomorrow. 

Today I walked into the Division of Children and Family Services for the first time in over a year.  It is like time has stood still in the building.  Same chairs, same mural on the wall, same visitation rooms.  I took Bella to the restroom and when we walked out we past a visitation room (not in use) so she saw the toys and such.  "I want to play in there mama."  To which I quietly replied, "no Bella B, you really don't."  Luke said good-bye to his birth parents in a visitation room down that hallway.  I remember listening to Grace scream at 13 months old, when she had one of her visits in a room down the hall.  Many of our foster children played in the various visitation rooms down the hall.

I thought a lot about not sharing this journey until it was complete, but I don't want to live in fear.  I struggle with what people think of me.  I need to be free of those thoughts.  I realize that you can look at our life and think wow...they already have a lot going...why would they choose to do that?  And I get it...I really do! But sometimes God calls us to things even though they don't make conventional sense.  I read a quote this week that said, "God doesn't call us to be READY, He calls us to FOLLOW HIM."  So it may look really messy, I don't have all the answers, and I understand it doesn't make sense, but it doesn't matter.  This is just ME following HIM.  I never want to get to a place in my life where I don't allow room for HIM to move, for HIM to speak, for HIM to challenge me to greater things.  I don't want to live a life where I put limitations on God. I go...walking back hand-in-hand with Mark to the trenches of a hurting, dark world.  Choosing to go, choosing to love, choosing to FOLLOW HIM.

So if you are so inclined...I invite you to follow us back to the world of foster care on a new journey as we have FAITH to touch the lives of children of Clark County.  I am ALWAYS amazed at the mountains God moves, and I love watching HIM perform miracles in the hearts of many.  I won't is a BROKEN system, with flaws and unfairness and injustice.  BUT, I have living testimonies of my two sleeping miracles that came through the system and were redeemed from orphans to son and daughter, I have FAITH in an almighty God for protection, favor and I am expecting to witness more miracles and mountains moved!

" Love is about risk.  If we can control it and manage it and manufacturer

 it, then it's something else, but if it's really LOVE, it's a little scary around the edges."  ~Shauna Niequist~

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