Monday, October 20, 2014

I hardly ever know what I'm doing

My kids think I pooped in my panties, and I hardly ever know what I'm doing. It's been a rough day, folks. 

I wish those were exaggerations or lies, but both statements are very, very true. 

My children do very much believe that I pooped in my panties a little today. My daughter found a pair of panties soaking in one of the sinks in my bathroom. She was horrified and wanted to know what on earth was in my panties. My son, of course, knew exactly what it was....has to be poop. What else could it be? 

I really hope you're laughing and not completely grossed out, but this is life people. Sometimes you need to soak your panties, and sometimes your above mentioned children conclude that the reason you are soaking your panties is because you pooped a little. {For the record, I didn't poop.} 

"Mom, did you think it was just a toot?" questions the 5 year old. 

"Yes, baby. I thought it was just a toot." 

Things are not always what they appear. Very rarely are things the way they appear actually. The more years I spend on this crazy planet, the more I understand that. 

I really hardly ever know what I'm doing. I mean, does any parent really have any clue how to do this successfully? And not even in parenting or foster care, I very rarely ever know what I'm doing in business or life either. 

Really. Hardly ever am I sure that I'm doing the right thing. 

I've observed that many successful women operate in the same belief. They don't know what they're doing....they mostly just fake it until they make it. That phrase is popular because it's real. 

I was talking to a girl who I would absolutely love to have on my Scentsy team today. She reminds me of myself. 100%. She doesn't want to misstep. She wants to do it right if she decides to do it, but she has everything it takes to be a successful business owner. I was telling her that I really had no idea what I was doing when I started as a Scentsy consultant. I just always acted like I knew exactly what  I was doing. 

To be successful, you don't have to have all the answers, you just have to be willing to find them when they arise. It's really pretty simple. 

If we always waited to do things until we thought we were equipped or ready or fully qualified, we would never accomplish anything. I think that's why so many people sit back and wait for things to happen to them. Maybe when they lose 10 lbs or when they have more time or when they feel better about their circumstances....maybe then. 

What about now?

I fail everyday in so many areas of my life. I have no idea how to parent 3 kids and a foster baby. I have no clue how to be the best wife for my man. I don't know how to inspire other people or lead them to success. I really don't. But I do it all. Every day. Somehow, all those things happen. 

We can't just sit around waiting for things to be perfect. 

Perfection doesn't exist. 

Maybe today is the day. Maybe today is the day that you hit the gym for the 1st time in months or maybe today is the day you start a new business. Maybe today is the day you love your spouse the way he deserves to be loved. Why can't today be the day? 

You're never going to figure it out. I'm never going to figure it out, but that isn't stopping me. Get up and do it anyways. 

Whatever it is. You don't have to know what you're doing. I hardly ever know what I'm doing. But that doesn't stop me from charging the darkness or doing things that I think are bigger than me. Fake it until you become it. You can. 

And even if you have a day when your kids think you pooped in your panties, pretend you did (even if you didn't) because maybe that's easier than explaining the truth to a 5 and 7 year old.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

An overdue update on all these babies and us

There's a handsome guy living with us who celebrated his half  birthday this week. He's getting bigger everyday. And louder too. Baby A is quite comfortable around here now, and he's good about vocalizing that. 

The other littles living in my house are awesome. They each come with their challenges, but that's the fun of parenting isn't it? 

Addison is a big helper around the house (most of the time). She's also stubborn and sassy, which I'm actually glad about. She's going to be one amazing leader one day. 

Luke is learning so much in kindergarten. He comes home spelling new words everyday, and he's gone from being a shy little man to a guy with quite a lot to say. He can also be stubborn in a strong, silent way for which I am also grateful. 

And Wyatt.....well it's a good thing he's cute. With just a couple of weeks before his second birthday, he is giving me a run for my money. He's entertaining and funny and a true joy, but he's also learning how to stand his ground, how to use the word no, and how to raid the pantry and refrigerator without permission. 

And then there's us. 

Brian has been traveling this month. He took his annual hunting trip and brought home an elk that filled our freezer full of good meat. Now he's in Vegas for his best friend's bachelor party for the weekend. 

I have been here. Adjusting. Attempting to survive life as a single mom of four. (It was only a week, but it was challenging!) There are all the normal mom and wife and business owner things and then there are all the foster care things. And there is this heaviness that won't seem to leave. 

The past few weeks has left me feeling like I'm pretty crappy at all the roles I currently hold. I've allowed the devil to lie to me over and over again. 

I'm not good enough. 

I don't have anything meaningful to say. 

I don't have time to workout. 

I don't have the time or energy to effectively lead. 

Date my husband? What is that? 

Lies, lies, lies. But it's easy to let them creep in and let them begin to settle into our hearts as truth. 

I know that allowing this baby into our lives has changed things. Of course he has. He's a new life and a new little love that we have to give time, energy, attention, and love to. He's changed everything. That's what babies do. 

But I haven't allowed myself the time to be still, to study, to remember what we're doing here anyways. 

I have let myself stop writing. I have let myself stop running. I have let myself stop studying God's word, and I'm a wreck because of it.

All the things that keep me healthy and normal and functioning have gone to the wayside. How does one let that happen? How could I have let all those things go? Those things matter so much. 

But I did. And I have. And I need to get back to a place where I feel like me again. 

It's slowly happening. We're adjusting to Baby A. We're adjusting to a new schedule and new responsibilities. 

And I'm re-evaluating everything. I'm re-evaluating my time and money and resources. I need to work smarter, not harder. I need to question everything. Every hour. Every minute. Every responsibility. Every Yes. 

I need to be intentional again. So it's coming. I'm coming. I'm on my way back. I'm allowing myself some grace in the midst of the mess of life, and I'm on my way back to a place where things make sense to me again. I'll be there soon. 

Oh and I'm taking a photography class because it feels good and sometimes we should do things that feel good. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Would you pray for us?

I ate chocolate cake and a bowl of grape nuts for dinner, and now it's 11:30 pm and I'm sitting in my office attempting to catch up on work un-done this week. 

That worn feeling hasn't left. I still feel heavy and burdened from the weight of these babes. Specifically the newest addition. 

The foster mom who has Baby A's brother called today to tell me that our social worker called her on Friday asking if they (she and her husband) had seriously considered taking Baby A, because if they weren't willing to take him, the boys were going to be moved and moved soon. 

It's almost been a month. Four weeks of this baby's life have been spent with us, and they want to put them together. Baby A and his brother are both thriving where they are. Why move them? 

This is the part of foster care that is so incredibly hard. It's the reason we almost said no to him....I knew this would happen. I'm honestly a little irritated that our agency took the case and said they could place boys when they knew that they did not have a single family that would or could take them both. 

So, because of that, the boys were split up. And now it's complicated. We love Baby A. His brother's foster family loves him, and DHS policy says they need to be together. 

I understand the sibling bond. I do. I would want my kids together. But in the same breath, these boys are happy, healthy, thriving. And they are both with families who are willing and anxious to work with bio mom towards reunification. And we're committed to doing life together so these boys will continue to have a bond while they're in care. How does it make sense to move them? 

My heart is just heavy. This part is hard. I don't believe it's in the best interest of either of the boys for them to be moved at this point, but no one else seems to care. Policy is policy. Individual circumstances apparently don't matter. 

And I'm beginning to wonder where our advocate is. No one is standing on our side watching the way we love these boys. No one is fighting for what's best for the boys except for us. 

Maybe I'm being selfish because I want him here. But I don't think I am. I can see the way he responds to my voice. I watch him turn his head when I walk in a room. Why would we continue to break bonds that this baby has established? That's where the system is broken. Let us love him. Let us love his brother and his brother's foster family. Let us do what we can to help this momma gain the knowledge and skills she needs to get her babies back. We want to be a part of that process. We are willing to do the work. 

My heart's heavy. That's all. I want it to be different than it is. 

And at the end of the day, I will choose to trust that the Lord knows the end of the story and that He will guide the decisions of every person involved whether they stay or whether they go. 

Would you pray for our babies? We would so greatly appreciate it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meeting Mom

I have to admit. I over thought what I should wear to meet Baby A's bio mom. 

Should I go with my daily uniform of skinny jeans, a v-neck tee, and flats or should I go more casual? (yes, the before mentioned is dressing up for me....don't judge me, I work from home. I can wear what I want.) 

I seriously thought about these things. 

I went with workout clothes because I really did have every intent to go run, but it didn't actually happen. (Don't judge me again.) 

I wonder if she thought about what she should wear, about what she should say, about how she should react. Did she consider those things? 

Was she as nervous to meet us as I was to meet her? 

My heart raced as I carried this tiny baby that I have come to love across a rainy parking lot into a DHS building. As I made my way thru the metal detector, I couldn't help but wonder if she was on the other side of the glass in the waiting area. Was she here? Would she show? 

I hoped she would. Please be here. What will I think if you don't show?

We made our way thru security with Baby A still sleeping peacefully in his carrier, and as I got my wits about me, I saw the worker come around the corner with mom right behind her. 

Hi. It's great to finally meet you. My name is Allison. He is so wonderful. 

We shook hands, and my heart stopped racing as quickly as it had started. 

She is just a person. Just a person with no resources, no support, and no one to help when she needed it most. Any of us could have been her. I can't judge her. I can't be mad at her. I can't even blame her. 

What I can do is commit to loving her the way I love her baby. 

At the end of the day it's not DHS's job to make sure these families get back together. It's the job of the church. 

I could care less about DHS's policies and regulations and "plans" (although I will follow them), what I care about is giving this young momma hope and the resources she needs to get back on her feet. She needs people in her life who will love her not because of her past but because of her future. 

That future is unwritten at the moment, and yes, she will have to do the work necessary to get her babies back, but we signed up to help re-write stories. That's what foster care is really about. 

It's about breaking the chains of generational poverty and generational abuse and generational drug use. It's about providing resources and hope to people who have none. It's about charging the darkness in pursuit of life change. 

I promise I'm not overly optimistic. I made that mistake last time. I thought I could help our bio momma change. In reality, I was the one who needed changing. 

I'm not that naive now. I know that only she and Christ can make that change. But I can support her. I can believe in her. I can give her hope in a situation that may seem hopeless. 

I can pray for her, with her, over her, and I can love her baby while she can't. 

That's what I'm called to do, and that's exactly what we'll do. 

I know that Christ can make beautiful things from dust. And I expect nothing less. Lord, give us something beautiful out of this dust. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When being worn is a gift

I know I haven't been writing a lot lately. 

Here's the deal. I'm usually a very positive and uplifting person. I can see the good in most situations and for the most part, I believe in people. 

But lately I have felt worn. Incredibly worn. 

The lyrics from the Tenth Avenue North song titled Worn are exactly how I've felt lately. 

If you've never heard it, listen to it now. 

But I'm not surprised that I feel this way. I believe that there is more to this world than what we can see. I believe that there always has been and always will be a spiritual battle to be fought, and we are often in the midst of that battle.

When life is easy and comfortable, the devil usually leaves you alone. Why would he bother with mediocre. He's after people willing to charge the darkness in the name of Christ.

Doing hard things. Doing things you feel called to. Stepping out in faith to walk outside your comfort zone.....those are the things that tick the devil off.

And that's where those feelings of heaviness come from. The little daily attacks on my mind, body, spirit, and household, I'm over them.

I am changing though.

Once again, the Lord is using a circumstance like foster care to make me different and new. And change is hard, but ridding myself of selfish desires, that's good. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer.

This heaviness....this feeling of being worn, even before the day begins is a gift. It reminds me that we were not made for this world. This is not where we end up.

The lack of comfort I feel in my day-to-day life makes me yearn for heaven, and that is the greatest gift of all. I know I'm not done here, but to understand that this is not our resting place is a gift, and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Loving him

I whispered the words "I love you" to him for the first time a few days ago. 

I don't know how it happened. It just came out. 

But isn't that what I was supposed to do? Love him? 

Yes. That's exactly what I am supposed to do. 

But loving him makes this sticky and complicated and hard. The best and hardest thing about foster care is the love. 

He is perfectly perfect. The situation is anything but perfect. It's so far from perfect, it literally hurts. 

It is so hard for me to write right now. 

I feel like I'm harboring anger and resentment and so many other things. 

I'm happy. I really am, but there are moments when I feel so heavy. I don't know how else to explain it. 

I feel worn on the inside. 

This baby is simply amazing. And it's so hard to think about the possibility of him leaving. We were supposed to meet with mom on Monday, but no one could get a hold of her, so we had a sibling visit instead. 

I'm so grateful that he's not older. I'm so grateful that I don't have to explain to him why his momma didn't show up to see him. 

I don't know why she didn't show. I want to believe there was a reason. I do. It's just hard to believe that. 

But I have to remember that this is a world I have never been a part of. This momma had no one to list on her "important people" sheet. It's a piece of paper that DHS uses to determine if there is anyone kin to the children who would be willing and able to take the children or support mom as she works her plan. She had no one to list. 

That makes my heart hurt. 

How do you raise a 2 year old and a baby with no resources and no help? 

I couldn't do it. 

I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had any support when Addy and Luke were little. I don't know what I would do now if I didn't have the help I have. 

That saying "it takes a village to raise a child"'s true. It takes an entire village, and if you don't have one person to write down, oh goodness. 

This whole process is incredibly complicated. There are so many people involved and so much waiting that has to happen. 

Right now, I would love for you to pray over our sweet baby and his brother. DHS is going to attempt to get them placed together, and while I understand the sibling bond, I also understand what happens when littles get moved over and over again. One placement is enough. They are both happy and thriving, and we both want to keep them where they are. 

We are committed to getting together weekly to let the boys be together in addition to their visits with mom, and we are committed to working with mom towards reunification. 

Ultimately, I know none of this is up to me. Whatever happens with Baby A, I will choose to trust the Lord's plan. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The struggle is real

This gets harder everyday. Foster care brings both it's joys and challenges. 

It keeps getting harder mostly because I know that Baby A could move at any point in time, and we fall a little more in love with him everyday. 

He is one of two littles, so there is always the chance that he will be placed in a home where he can be together with his brother. The sibling bond is a strong and important bond that DHS attempts to keep intact. We are grateful that Baby A's brother was placed with another family in our agency. We picked the boys up at the same time, so we were able to establish a relationship, and have talked almost everyday since the boys have been placed. It's been great to have another amazing family to share this journey with. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be the boys 1st visit with mom. 

I'll be honest, I'm a wreck. 

I know this is what we signed up for, and we believe in the system, but no one knows anything about mom. I have no idea if she's even asked about the boys. 

That, and I have been falling in love with this baby for the past 3 weeks. He fits easily into our family. We all love Baby A, and we love having him here. 

It's a different feeling than I had with our 1st placement. I loved Shade and Ryleigh, but there was always something that reminded me that they were not mine and weren't supposed to be mine. I don't even know how to explain that, but it's what we knew in our souls. And those thoughts were right. Those babies would be reunited with mom in the best case scenario. 

The system can work. I've seen it happen. But I also know that bio parents have to be willing to work for their babies. That's what it takes every time. Effort. The willingness to change behaviors. The willingness to learn new skills. 

And I have no clue yet if our bio momma is going to have that drive. Sometimes you can't tell at first. Sometimes you know instantly. 

I have to remind myself everyday that our goal is reunification. That's what foster care is about. It's an attempt to break what are often generational behaviors to help change lives for the better. 

And it's our job to fight and advocate for this baby. No one else really will. The case worker is supposed to be the case worker for the mom and the boys, but she's really mom's case worker. Her goal is to get everyone back together no matter what. 

Our goal is to make sure this baby boy and his brother are always kept at the forefront of everyone's minds. They're why we're all in this beautiful mess in the 1st place. 

In a phrase written by a fellow foster mom, the struggle is real