Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Productivity and ..... Seeing the big picture

Lately, my family has been very...busy. We have finalized an adoption of our third (and I'm now convinced final) child, we have sold our home and moved into a mobile home on rented property. I have accompanied our teens to church camp. Next week my husband will help bring the kids. 

There's one thing in particular that has captured everyone's attention. A lot of people seem to be focused on the fact that we sold a "real" house to buy and live in a mobile home. They don't understand it. It's counterproductive to what we are taught is the end goal in our society. "Powerful,handsome, successful, happy", we chant to ourselves before we rush out the door in an effort to somehow make that chant come true for us. We need a bigger house. We need a nicer car. We need designer clothes. We need the "freedom" that comes from being an entrepreneur and able to take in limitless amounts of cash with minimal effort. 

In the past couple of years God has truly been the Potter in my life. One day during one of those shaping sessions, I was trotting (can't REALLY call it running) through an affluent neighborhood looking at all of the extravagantly lovely homes and daydreaming about "one day". One day when we can afford to give our family all of this... The Holy Spirit spoke to me (in that way He has) and asked me to look closely. What would I give them? Four beautiful walls to shut us in from the ones we should be broken for? Holy as I am, I immediately presented my side of the argument. I mean, if we were able to have a home such as this just THINK of all the foster children we could take in! Then God slapped me in the face with it. I was doing myself a service and disguising it as charity, because again it made me look golden. 

Am I saying the 'haves' have it all wrong? No. I'm saying that we really have to examine ourselves. God wants to grant us the desires of our hearts...when they line up with HIS will and plan for us. We are so easily swayed and so shortsighted. We have to be careful of our motives. To chase after Jesus isn't to better our selves and look out for us. Jesus himself was the epitome of self sacrifice. When we run hard after the heart of God it doesn't always make sense to the naked eye, but oh the experiences we will have, the difference we will make and the true happiness there is to be found. 

For some, running hard after God looks like leaving everything behind to go into the mission field. For others, it looks like being our own boss to free up time and money to donate to worthy causes. And for others still having a heart like God's looks an awful lot like selling your house and buying a mobile home so that you have your resources freed up for what's next...even when it's not clear what it is. 

And you know what's funny? When I gave up what I thought I wanted and surrendered to what God has in store for us, He blessed me. Not only with the peace and contentment that just confirms I'm where I need to be, but He granted me the soaking tub that all tired Mamas dream of. Because He loves me. Because He wants nothing but the best for me. Not just here and now, but for eternity. 

I have a long way to go, and maybe that's why God hasn't revealed the next part of His plan just yet. He knows I might faint. But here and now I'm learning to surrender. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

716 days

A lot can happen in 716 days. 716 days ago, my phone rang. The lady on the other end asked me if I was ready for another baby. (We had just sent our last foster baby back to his mom the month before). I told her my husband and I would pray and get back to her. We called her back and said yes. 

I ran to the hospital to meet a two day old baby who would not eat. The nurses asked me to try and give him a bottle. He was so lethargic, the only milk he drank was what dripped from the nipple as I held it in his mouth. The nurse took him away to put a tube down his nose, through which to feed him. He is having drug withdrawal symptoms they said. He needs to be in the NICU. My heart broke for him and I began to pray for this little boy who had yet to receive a name from his parents. He was just "baby boy". 

I prayed fervently for "Baby Boy" for days. I called the NICU for updates. Then, one day, I told God "he is a PERSON. He needs a name. Please God give me a name to call out to you." I found the name Ezekiel, which means "God strengthens". This baby had lost a whole pound due to his withdrawal symptoms. He still was not eating. He needed God to strengthen him. And so I prayed for "Ezekiel". 

Immediately, his condition improved. He began taking feedings by mouth. His symptoms began to fade. And then they called me one day. "His parents have named him. He has a relative that will take him. We don't need you after all." I was disappointed, but I thought that maybe God wanted me in his life just long enough to have someone interceding for him. "That's that," I thought. 

My phone rang. "That relative can't handle him. Do you still want him?" And so I rushed to the hospital once more. And this time I didn't leave without him in my arms. It's a strange sensation. Leaving a hospital with someone else's baby cradled in your arms. Or it felt like someone else's baby then. I kept waiting for a nurse to chase me down and tell me there had been a mistake; that I couldn't actually take home a baby that didn't belong to me. We made it to my car, however, and drove away. Me and a baby boy in a pink car seat. 

My heart grieved for all his parents were missing. Babies grow so swiftly, and they were missing it! Every week I would bring him to a cold, impersonal office to visit these people to whom he was supposed to belong. They would coo and ooh and aah over him, but they did not know him really. They didn't understand that he was fussing because he was unaccustomed to being cradled on that side since I'm left handed. They didn't know that he loved baths and hated to be burped. How is he theirs? 

I tried to hold myself apart. I really did. I did my best to be hands off when he was with his family; giving them the chance to bond with him. He's theirs after all. But babies are so intoxicating. I fell in love anyway. I prepared myself for the eventual heartache of having to return him to his rightful family. I even prayed for them to get better so they could all be reunited, and I meant it! But they didn't get better. And my heart broke for him. 

He grew into a happy baby in those 716 days. He reached for me when I tried to give him to his parents at those weekly visits. He didn't know these people. I could tell it was getting to them when his mother tossed him into my arms; so annoyed was she that we had to end the visit early because he wouldn't stop crying for me. "He's spoiled. You should put him in day care." I cried that day. Not for me, but for him. "It's not his fault that you're a stranger to him," I wanted to scream! Instead, I muttered something apologetic about him being tired, and I bundled up my baby and left. 

Yes, that's when it started. He was MY baby. Not theirs. But I didn't dare say it out loud. His relative (who decided not to take him) asked to house him over the holidays. I reluctantly agreed. A drug exposed baby is a difficult undertaking and I was tired. I sent him to their home, outwardly hoping they would get a taste of what it feels like to be whole and that it would motivate them. Inwardly, I was terrified it would work. 

The holidays were over and I went to pick him up at a meeting spot we had arranged. They drove up and the baby was buckled into the car seat, but the car seat was not buckled into the car. The baby, seat and all, was lying on his side. I was livid. How dare they be so careless and endanger MY baby! There it was again. Not my baby. Their baby. No, MY baby. It didn't matter. The holiday together changed nothing. I talked to his parents. I encouraged them. I prayed for them, but that downward spiral is something only Jesus can fix and only from the inside out. So I prayed for them. I still do. 

The time came when everyone involved had to come to face the fact that this child (and his siblings) need stability, security and a loving, safe home. It seemed highly unlikely that his parents would ever be able to provide these basic things for their children. So the court made the difficult decision to terminate the parents' rights to their children thus making them free for adoption. We were asked if we would consider adopting. Just try and take this child away from me! Just. You. Try. 

A lot can change in 716 days. Despite my efforts to prevent it, my heart had been expecting. 716 days ago, my heart became pregnant with hope. Today it gave birth. The most difficult pregnancy I have ever experienced has finally come to fruition and produced a SON. His name is Ezekiel and he is with his rightful family. 716 days ago I met a baby. Today, by the grace of God, he is MY baby. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Here I Am

I'm re-discovering a lot about myself lately. Things I knew about myself, but I forgot. Like, I am not a distance runner, but I'm exhilarated by speed. I am inherently lazy and, if I do not exercise self discipline, I will never exercise again. (I have not had self discipline for quite some time now.)

 I miss knitting. I miss writing. I miss leisure reading. I like junk food and don't have any self control where it's concerned. I miss feeling good about my food choices. I want to learn French. 

Where did all that stuff go? Where did I go? Well, I brought my daughter to dance class. I brought my son to soccer practice. I brought my foster child to visit his biological family. I home schooled. I led a home school co-op. I ran a home. There wasn't time for all that other stuff. 

Or was there? What about all those minutes wasted on social media? What about those minutes "surfing" the net? 

What about all those grocery shopping trips where I could have bought good food, but I bought what was "cheapest" instead? What about all that ice cream I ate after all those bedtimes? Junk food eaten while staring at a screen. 

My life is full of choices. I made them. When I made the wrong ones I lost pieces of me. My hobbies, my dreams, my health (to some extent). I've been grumbling about being overly busy. About not having time for what makes me smile. Have I even tried? Have I made choices that will allow me to do what I love? To participate in what interests me? To make me a better me? Have I? 

The beauty of life is that every moment is a choice. You make choices right up until the moment you leave this earth. Our choices affect who we are now and who we are for eternity. We just have to be mindful of making the right choices. 

So here I am. On the precipice of more choices. Big ones. Little ones. Every day ones. Life altering ones. Here I am. Where will I go? 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homestead sitting....and Shenanigans

I keep saying, " I'm going to write a blog post," then I never get to it. Look! I started. Beware. My week has been eventful. This may get long. 

I have just recently spent a week giving my mom a much needed break. About a year ago (when mom remarried) she and her new love bought a beautiful house and acreage. They plan to have a farming venture, but as of now it's a rather large homestead. They've been working hard clearing places for pasture here and planting the world's largest kitchen garden there. 

So I get a call one day asking me to house/animal sit so they can turn a business trip into a mini vacation/1st anniversary trip. Excuse me? Go stay in the pretty 100+ year old house and tend some cute animals? Don't mind if I do!!!

Here's the animal count thus far on "Good-O" Farm: 2 cats, 2 goats, 9 chickens and their 2 dogs plus my one makes 3 of the canine variety. Not really all that much to care for. Perfect to give this bayou girl a taste of what she hopes will one day be her life! Yay! 

So I pack my truck full of my one dog, two kids and one infant foster child (along with all the things they require) and we're off to play on the farm! The farm is too far away for my big, strapping, extremely helpful husband to be able to come and help. He's got to be able to get to and from work. But that's okay. I mean sure with a baby it can be pretty tiring but how hard can it be? This is the part where my mother starts laughing maniacally. 

We are on our 4th week of school with the new curriculum and loving it. I'm not about to lose steam now. So that means school comes to the farm too. All of it. Did I mention we're using a literature based curriculum this year? "Literature based" is exactly what it sounds like. Books galore. I have one suitcase that's just books. Just. Books. 

We leave my daughter's dance class and get to the farm just in time to feed and lock up the animals before dark. Mom left instructions. Pop suggests I wash and wax the John Deere. He's funny, that guy.

The chickens go to the coop all by themselves around dark so I just have to get the goats fed and into their enclosure where they'll be safe from the wild animals. I'd hate to have a T-Rex nom my parents' goats. The goats are brush clearing goats so they're set up in a portable pen that consists of a large outer area where they're roaming and eating whatever strikes their goat fancy and a smaller inner area that's more secure where they bed down at night. Four text messages and a phone call later, I have finally figured out how to get INTO the goat enclosure. Now to outwit them and get them bedded down. This takes more time than I'm comfortable admitting.....I go inside and spend half the night shushing excited children and dogs.

And the evening and the morning were the first day. 

I get up early the next morning because my mother's enormous hound mix has her sloppy hound lips on me. She wants out. Why I don't know because she AND her tiny dachshund mix housemate have relieved themselves all over the hundred year old wood floors. Fabulous. I let them out, clean the mess and start the day. 

After school we are out and about with the dogs (mine on leash because he thinks chickens taste like, well, chicken) when I see goats bounding and playing freely OUTSIDE their enclosure. This is not good. I start "herding" the goats back toward the fence. They start butting the dogs who, of course, must give chase. 

The hound mix who, again, is huge (at least 80 pounds) tries to dodge the goat. She slams into my knee and pops the knee cap out. I go down and concentrate on not screaming because children. I assess the damage and realize the knee cap is back where it should be so, while I'll be in pain for a while there's no need for a doctor. Meanwhile my son, who is smarter than me because he's home educated, has taken the "work smarter, not harder" approach. He remembers the goats love pecan leaves so he gets a large stick full of them and lures the animals peacefully and quietly back to the safety of their enclosure. I am proud of his quick thinking and chagrined that I didn't think of it first. To this day I have no clue how those goats escaped. 

The evening and the morning were the second day. 

I started separating the dogs at night so I can sleep. Only took me one whole sleepless night of chasing dogs with a broom to think of it. 

This day, though, day three? This is the day I wanted to laugh and cry all at once because the level of shenanigans is absolutely absurd. 

So now I have a bum knee, in a stiff brace, in a century old house. My bed is upstairs. I could sleep downstairs, but alll the children are upstairs. Including the baby. Up and down I go. Steep, tiny stairs. I go to take a shower. This house was built before bathrooms. At some point the previous owners decided to bring it into the modern age by adding a bathroom/laundry room/why is the hot water heater right there? 

There is no tub. There is a minuscule shower stall that, if I were 6 pounds heavier I might have to wash half of me at a time. It reminds me of the showers I used when we owned a camper as a kid. There is no way possible to shave your legs in this shower. My mom does hers at the sink. Bum knee = hairy legs. Guess I'm wearing jeans. 

I'm ready to take the kids out to one of the little country stores. I have the spare key my mother left me in my hand when I shut the door . At some point between then and when I got to my vehicle, the key magically vanishes. This house eats things. I'm also missing a DVD player remote and 2.5 socks. 

We return from the store with nothing we need but some nice treats. I also had to purchase more pacifiers for the baby. The house didn't eat them but the dogs did. Three in as many days. 

And the evening and the morning were the third day. 

By day four, I wake up thinking what else could possibly happen?! Then my dog nearly eats a chicken. I hear panicked clucking and turn around to see that one of the old girls got just a little too close. I command the dog to release. Miraculously, he does. The chicken is indignant and missing a snoutful of feathers but otherwise okay. She lives to lay another day. 

I learned a lot about working a homestead this week. Even though I only did half the stuff my mom does day to day. I learned I want no dog bigger than me. I learned I could take or leave having goats. I learned I want a tub in my house...and I DON'T want stairs. 

I learned precisely when the fireflies come out to play. I learned that hands on work brings my children satisfaction and joy. 

And I learned I'm yearning for a simpler life even more than I realized. One day, in God's time, in His way we will have our little homestead. And I still won't wash and wax the John Deere.....

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I haven't written a post in a long time! I've been so busy with finishing up the school year and having a foster placement AND deciding now would be a good time to paint the house! I had to squeeze in the time for this one though. Why?

Thirty. Yep. I turned 30 yesterday. When you have a birthday, in general, it sets you reflecting upon your life. At least it always does me, and thirty is one of those birthdays where everyone reminds you it's a landmark. Some people have an existential crisis when they turn 30. I am not some people.

Turning thirty didn't fill me with dread or send me on a soul searching 'what have I done with my life' journey. I slid into 30 quietly. Surrounded by my family and friends who care for me. So the only epiphany I had this year was that I am healthy(er), doing what I was made to do, happy and (most of all) joyful. 

Happiness happens, but JOY comes from deep within your soul, a place only God can reach, regardless of circumstance. At 30 I am blessed to know both and blessed to know the difference. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Hidden Trigger...

I explained a couple of posts ago, that I have recently gone gluten free at the suggestion of a natural health specialist. My plan was to wait and see if I had any tummy troubles for a few months; then to add gluten back in and see if I noticed a difference. Frankly, I didn't expect to notice any changes other than the bloating in my belly. 

Well.....I'm impatient so after one month gluten free and ZERO tummy troubles I couldn't help myself. I tried some wheat bread. Not a lot. Just a slice. I wanted to see what happened. Also, I've been on a broth fast for a few days and broth does magnificently in my belly so I knew there was nothing else that could possibly be a trigger. 

I ate the bread. I got tummy trouble. Not a lot, mind you, just a little. Not nearly as horrible as the time I ate coconut flour (oh my gosh) and flaxseed (double oh my gosh!) But I DID get a bit of a bellyache. 

Frankly, I am stunned. I really thought gluten wasn't contributing to my problems, but the way I've felt this past month along with my belly's reaction when I ate it doesn't lie. My body has a problem with gluten. Veddy intewesting...

I have also made another change recently. I got off "the pill". It was something I felt I should do long ago, but I was deceived into believing it was good for me when it was really masking my body's first cries for help. 

I have been told by doctors for the past few years that the pill will not make you keep weight on. I've been off of it for two weeks and I've lost three pounds...when I've been the exact same weight for months...might be just coincidence. I may get stuck and stay stuck here in a little while. Only time will tell. 

I went two whole weeks without running. I ran for the first time on Monday. My body literally thought it was the first time. Of course it probably didn't help that it was a little chilly and raining but ugh! My body kept screaming "why why why why?!" And now all the things are sore. All of them. Like I've never run before. That wasn't fun, but at the same time I was proud of myself for not quitting when I really wanted to. And oh I really wanted to. Sweet Caroline, has my husband corrupted me?! Am I slowly turning into a runner? Nah.....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Change Does The Body Good

Change. Some of us shrink from it, run from it, despise it. Others try to change themselves to be something they are not. Still others try to change the people around them into what they believe is ideal.

Change. It hurts. Sometimes someone we love gently, lovingly points out the need for change in our lives. We don't want to change though because change isn't ever comfortable. So we ignore the wisdom offered to us. We run from what we know should be. Only to eventually realize we have no choice but to change. And now it's gonna REALLY hurt. Why don't we just listen the first time? Pride? Stubbornness? Fear of the unknown? A little of all three? Who knows, but here we are on the cliff we've run ourselves to. All it takes is the courage to step into the unknown.  

This week I will make a change. I will have my All In moment with God. A change I've known was better for my body and my life, but I lacked the courage to make it because it means closing a door and never looking back. The door won't be just closed. The house I'm coming from will be burned to the ground.  It's hard. It's scary. And it's gonna hurt. But I've never been more sure of anything in my life. So here I go.