Saturday, April 21, 2018

We wouldn't know the difference

Recently, (and in this blog that could be anything from this morning to last year :-)) I had one of those really special rare moments along the journey of motherhood:

I was enjoying a sweet Sunday afternoon nap, (don't judge, it's self care 101).  My sweet four year old came to "snuggle" with me.  Her version of snuggling and mine are very different.  Soon she was making silly noises and talking loudly.  I placed my hand over her mouth and she made one of those obnoxious sounds that can only be made by blowing, vibrations on a hand or from your backside.  Yep, in our house we call it "fart" noises :-) Which were followed by belly giggles and more of the same sounds, and repeat, for way longer than I would typically continue this silly behavior.  You know like when a little dog wants to play fetch the little rubber ball, long after the fun is gone for the person throwing the ball.  I laughed right out loud with her.  I don't laugh often enough and this wasn't lost on her.  She looked at me and said, "why are you laughing?" I said something like, "because you are silly and I like laughing with you." We laughed and giggled some more.  I looked deep into her little pixie face and her bright blue eyes, which meant being very close to that face, because I wasn't wearing my glasses.  This beautiful gift of a child.  This sassy, crazy, wild, child.  You see we didn't have to say yes.  She came to us a different way.

She reminds me of a song I heard many years ago at a woman's retreat, a song I have never heard again.  There was a line in the song talking about God's creation, "He could have made everything black and white and we would never known the difference."  Just as that song was being sung the sun set on the lake in one of those glorious sunsets with colors from deep violet, to mango, and pink blush.  The blue water of the lake only emphasized the beauty, every woman in the room was staring at the sunset, as that song ended.
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Here's the thing this little girl and most of my children were a choice we made.  But especially her.  We were fostering two of her siblings at the time, her birth mom became pregnant for her.  At first we were thinking of saying "no" to bringing home an infant when we were 47.  But we were told the other two children would need to go wherever the infant was placed.  We talked, we prayed, and we said, "yes."  In those moments when she is close to me and the belly giggles are abundant I look into that little face, and think "wow, I could have missed all this."  Truth is I wouldn't have missed her like you do a child you have loved and lost.  I would have gone on my way nearly every single day not knowing what I was missing, because ... well, you don't miss what you never had.  How precious that  God gave us color just for our pleasure, how precious this child and all of my children color my world, and their hand prints are all over my heart.  <3

This same feeling washes over me when I look up and see all seven of the children still at home stretched out on furniture and floor watching  an episode of "Andy Griffith" or a family movie.  I am filled with awe and gratefulness when our 16 year old sits next to me in the car and has to tuck his knees to fit into the seat, or he bends from his six foot plus height to hug me good night.  I am abundantly blessed.

Because this blog is all about the journey, I should also include a little more about the week before the cuddles and giggles with my four year old. This blog isn't called Chasing Wounded Hearts for nothing, it's our journey!! All these things happened in one week, yep seven days, seven kiddos, and a mom and dad who love them and each other,  so in no particular order:
  • Child off meds for three days
  • one child to ER for head injury - glued together
  • one child lost computer privileges at school for generating a document that could be called cyber bullying (he was naive and did not make most of the comments on the document, but)
  • homeschool ups and downs with one child
  • I had to re-certify part of our health insurance
  • Back door pulled off hinges
  • dishwasher broke - won't drain
  • my hormones are making me CRAZY!! menopause stinks
  • Strong willed four year old - is there any other kind?
  • telling three brothers their mom is trying to get custody of their 1/2 brother, the one they are in contact with and see at least every month
  • telling son his birth dad was recently in the hospital
  • baseball, t-ball and track practices
  • missing shoes and permission slips 
  • my own health issues
And some good things too:
  • Countless hugs & snuggles
  • laundry successes (see previous post)
  • laughter
  • coffee & conversations with my hubby
  • belly laughs and what we could have missed.   

LIFE IS ABUNDANT AND SOMETIMES HARD!


Aren't you glad God made sunsets, sunrises, rainbows, and seasons....Oh, Fall in all it's glorious color praises the Lord, and so can we!


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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My laundry is done!




Do you see those empty appliances?  That's how I know my laundry is done.  Yes, there is still dirty laundry in my house. I'm sure there are more than a few socks hiding under beds and in closets, but for this week my laundry is done!  I will not be thinking about it again until Sunday night (it is Tuesday morning).  Thanks to a wonderful book: 
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House's Dirty Little Secrets 
I tried something new.  Once a week laundry.  The first week, my husband and I worked like some people work on  a remodeling project.  We washed, dried, and folded laundry, every day for five days!!  The second week I did the same thing for 2 1/2 days.  This week I really could have been done Monday night, but I didn't want to fold the last load of laundry at 10 o'clock at night.  

I feel like a new woman!  I feel a huge burden has lifted off my shoulders.  If you don't understand my excitement then chances are you don't struggle with laundry and you can stop reading right now, because you won't "get it."

I have struggled with laundry all my life!  Adding other people and their laundry/clothing needs to my routine .... well, lets just say it has never been pretty.  I did laundry everyday! But it was never done, and people did not necessarily have clean socks and underwear when they needed them.  This always made me feel like a terrible mom.
The laundry was never done, but constantly in motion.  There were always piles of dirty laundry on my kitchen floor ('cause that's where my washer and dryer live.), there were always piles of clean folded laundry and baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded in my dining room.  Dirty laundry was in every bedroom and in the bathroom hamper.  Occasionally, baskets of laundry made it to the living room couch or floor or both.  That laundry reminded me every day that I wasn't keeping up.  More mornings than I want to think about my children and I would be pawing through baskets of clean laundry to find socks, or a uniform shirt, or.... I have maintained a large laundry basket full of mismatched socks, for way too long, because I might find the matching socks, and because I never seemed to want to match them.  With the help of a sweet friend we mated socks for an entire afternoon during the five day renovation project called "laundry." I'm giving our new system a couple more weeks and any mismatched socks that remain are going in the trash.  Freedom!  I feel free to do this because I now know that all (most) of the dirty laundry has been washed, and my family has enough socks in their drawers already.  

I'm also excited about this new system because now it is Tuesday.  Without the pressure of rebooting laundry or moving it from place to place I can address other areas in my home, like the piles of never ending paper.  I am free for another 5 - 6 days to do other things.  Bake, food prep, clean out a drawer in the kitchen, whatever my happy little heart sees a need to do.  

I finally see how I can start to sort through my kiddos clothing and eliminate the truly unneeded.  Before they may actually have needed 20 pairs of underwear, but now that seems unnecessary and borderline ridiculous.  I now have a good idea how many pairs of jeans they actually own.  Freedom!!

Yep, I'm almost giddy about this new laundry system, which was probably very close to what our grandmother's did.  I am also excited, because God has been showing me for a few weeks now, that I am to "occupy the land" he has given me.  I am doing my own little study of the first few chapters of Deuteronomy, because that's where God has me right now, and I'm seeing time after time when the Lord said, "obey" and "occupy" the land.  For me it boils down to Owning My Own Life and taking control of it, embracing it...don't be afraid of it...do it the way God shows me.  

There is so much freedom in following God's ways, and in embracing our own lives.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

We have to live the life we have

We recently took a family vacation.  Our family is definitely large, but our children can also only handle so much.  There were many struggles. Most of the disappointments were because I had expectations that didn't fit our family.  To continually stay in the moment and enjoy my family and make memories for my family I had one recurring thought.  "We have to live the life we have"  This is who we are and we can't pretend to be something we are not.  Every day is different.
It would seem there is a book written for every situation you might face.  What ever your family or personal struggle might be there's a book for it.  If you are struggling with gratitude you can read "One Thousand Gifts" by Anne VosKamp.  If you are struggling with loving in the face of fear, I highly recommend "Keep Your Love On" by Danny Silk.  There are books on parenting, marriage, homeschooling, housekeeping, spiritual growth, weight loss, exercise, and on and on the list goes.  The problem with so many of these books is that when you finish reading them you can compare your life to the books.  I walk away from so many of these books with a a "To Do" list that leaves me feeling inadequate and sometimes a failure when I cannot Do the "To Do's".

Recently, I read a wonderful book.  This lovely mom raised her kids with candle light, lovely music, tea, and cookies.  I knew I couldn't pull that off even on the best of days.  But I really believed I could pick my children up from school on a Friday, buy some munchkins at the coffee shop, make hot chocolate and just put a pause on our busyness for a few minutes once a week.  I had visions of pleasant conversation (loud but pleasant).  As soon as I picked up my children from school, the fighting and bickering began. Fights over seats, and placement of backpacks.  All the silly unrelenting sibling bickering, continued through the drive thru, and then all the way home. When we got home everyone forgot how to put away lunches and backpacks, and the bickering continued while the water heated on the stove top.  Finally, we got all the children to the table, we filled cups with powdered hot cocoa mix, added the piping hot water, and a little milk to cool the beverage for the little ones...I skipped the music, because it was loud enough.  I stepped from the room and rushed back to screams from our littlest child.  She had poured her hot chocolate down the front of herself.  I stripped off her clothes quickly rushed her into the bathroom to cool her skin with cold water.  All this excitement lead to a call to the doctor's office and some quick decision making about the seriousness of her burn and the best course of treatment.  The pause I longed for would have to wait for another day....
I can learn to accept the limits as I did on that vacation or I can embrace the disappointment and frustration.  Honestly, I struggle....I do both, but I tend to end the day frustrated and disappointed that we can't have a "normal" life.  But I am realizing that I am as much a part of the problem as my kiddos.  I have to remind myself all day long that this is "Our Life," it does not look like anyone else's.

It is now Spring Break, but that is just what the calendar calls it.  It is cold and windy, and this morning we have snow.  We have been struggling for over two weeks to get a prescription filled, so one of our wounded hearts is struggling with EVERYTHING.  There have been blanket forts, and donuts, and a couple creative boys made wind sails for their scooters...they worked too! But there have also been more fights than I can count:  fights over blankets, bowls, seats, TV shows, toys, books, toaster use, tape, etc, etc, etc,   Arguing, and back talk,  I have been doing a lot of yelling. :-(
We even went to a Science Center.  One of my kids (the one off his meds)  took off and ran through the Science Center when he found out it was time to leave.  It took 20 mins to corral all our kiddos.

Life is hard, my wounded hearts struggle, I am the biggest wounded heart of all, but we do things!  Hopefully, we make memories, and at the end of the day they sleep!!    I know that  two or three of my kiddos will fall apart when we go to the Science Center, but we go.  Our trip is over an hour, so I hope and pray that they sleep or at least decompress on the trip home, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  I Expect it, so it doesn't frustrate me.  I prepare for it, the long drive, snacks, coffee for me, an audio tape in the tape player, etc.  I am prepared for the fall out, and it does not unnerve me.  Now if I can get to the place where I am prepared for cold Spring breaks, loud bouncy boys stuck inside (although I have also kicked them all outside, too), fights over pillows, cups, and chores... I will be better able to accept "our normal" and approach it with grace and more patience, less yelling.
It's our journey, good days, hard days, and it won't always be this way.

Blessings on your journey, where ever you are in this season of life.





Saturday, February 17, 2018

What are you doing Presidents week?

Someone posted the question on facebook.  What are you doing over break week? and don't say work.
Calendar Concept royalty-free stock photo

My first thought was:  I will cook 27 meals for 7 - 9 people, and at least 18 snacks; I will take the dog out, I will let the dog in, at least 63 times; I will settle more arguments than I can count over who pours the milk, picks the TV show, clothing items, etc. etc; I will clean spills and take toys away from the dog and children who are fighting; I will listen to whining and fighting; I will clean up puppy prints from the mud, and even more mud tracked in by the feet of seven kiddos, some little feet some much larger than mine.  I will fold mountains of laundry and remind the owners to put them away. 

Then I thought:  I can't post that on social media.  I need to say something more face book worthy, something like:  I will read lots of books and snuggle with my littles; we will take a day to do something fun with some friends (probably the Science Center); we will bake some yummy snacks, we will sleep late(r); we will not go to therapy appointments, counseling appointments, school activities; we will just be together; if I'm feeling really brave we will play some board games; we may stay up later and watch more of the Olympics; we will watch movies and eat popcorn;  we will stay in our jammies longer; we will linger over our meals; we will sing loud and off key, we will dance and we will laugh!!

The truth is both of these responses are 100% true.  We will do all of these things, and perhaps more.  Why is my first response all the hard things?  Why doesn't the second thought come first?  Why don't they tumble together like our lives really do?  It's not that I'm a negative person, but somehow lately I am counting the wrong things.  I'm counting appointments, meals, baskets of laundry, etc.  I'm not counting my blessings.  Those same things can be blessings - we get to eat 27 meals in the next nine days!! We are so blessed to live in this country and have so much yummy food available and affordable for us. 

I hope this week brings lots of good things and I pray that life and God will continue to remind me to look for the blessings. 

Philippians 4:8 NLT "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." 

Excellence can come in the mundane and small.  I tend to look for it in the grand and extraordinary, but an excellent cup of coffee, a perfectly formed bud, a clean kitchen, aren't they all excellent!!

If I look for it my children and husband do things all the time that are praiseworthy.  When a big brother reads a story at bedtime to a sleepy (possibly even a bit whiny) little sister, Praise worthy! Excellent!! When a little boy cleans up the dogs muddy foot prints without being asked!  Praise worthy! When a small child puts her clothes in the laundry basket instead of the floor.  Praise worthy!  When a struggling reader sounds out a hard word.  Praise worthy!  When a thoughtful husband replaces your windshield wipers without saying a word (at least not until two weeks later when I still hadn't figured out why they were working so much better ;-) ) Praise worthy! Excellent!  When the same husband gets up with the kiddos and lets me get an extra hour of sleep on an ordinary Saturday. Praise Worthy!! 

My final thought: when I think on those things that are excellent and praise worthy, my strength to do the next thing returns.  My spirits lift, and the sun shines warmly on my soul.  My soul is refreshed!! Excellent!! 




Thursday, February 1, 2018

Resiliency, conditioned response, or survival??

           I started this blog to journal our journey.  This entry to the blog may not be for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.  It is sadly our normal, and that's what prompted me to write this post.

           One of our wounded hearts has been acting out in a somewhat unusual way.  Unusual, because most families will never deal with this and if they do I suspect it would be with a toddler.  Our dear child has been experimenting with fecal matter, their own.  Removing it from their body and smearing it around our bathrooms.  This behavior has continued over the past six months or so.  It has varying degrees of frequency and intensity.  We have been working with all the professionals to help our child.  Currently the belief about this behavior is that our child is self soothing anxiety by doing this.  This child is very anxious and this makes sense.  When you do not have a foundation of being comforted when you are anxious, when needs go unmet and neglect is your 'normal' you do not learn healthy ways to cope with your emotions.

           I actually don't want this to be about this child's behavior but about our/my response to it.  This morning before taking my shower I went through a little routine.  First, I checked the toilet area, then the floor mat, then the towels and wash clothes I was going to use.  What was I checking for?  Fecal matter or smell.  At first finding these things, would make me angry, frustrated, even a feeling of violation.  This most private moment was often ruined by another person's mess!!  I was especially thrown into a mood when I went into this private space to enjoy a nice warm bath.  As the mother of nine, seven still at home, and many levels of trauma and need, baths are a sacred and special thing I get to do just for me.  Whenever, I would find the bathroom a mess and have to clean it and attempt to eliminate the odors before soaking in the tub....well, my mood was less than compassionate for my struggling child.


Lavender, Soap, Towels, Beauty, Bathroom

           Today I noticed something.  This little routine had become my normal.  After. just about half a year I had learned to cope and expect this behavior.  I had a plan for it and was prepared for it.  You might be thinking, "not me, I could never get used to that in MY bathroom!"  But here's the thing you don't know what you can endure until you have to, and our kiddos have endured a great deal. They have figured out ways to deal with the impossible, the crazy, the unimaginable.  Our kids may have endured years of unusual situations from their living conditions, treatment from other people, including trusted adults.  They have adapted their very routines to unbelievable situations.

         Our family has adapted to this behavior.  Most of us check the bathroom thoroughly, some of us have taken to hiding our towels in our bedrooms.  In just six months our thinking has been reprogrammed to  adapt.  Most of our kiddos spent years adapting to their normal.

         You see when a child comes into foster care they cannot just click a switch and changed their learned behaviors, their perceived reality.  There are deep, deep lessons learned in their hearts and minds about what to expect.  If they never had enough food they will believe they never will.  If they had to take care of certain expectations at school by themselves, they will believe they still must.  They can't simply trust that all that has changed and they are safe and those things will be taken care of now by someone else.

           The children we've adopted have all come with eating issues.  Mostly they would eat, and eat until nothing was left at every meal.  After, a few weeks to a month their stomachs were reprogrammed to know that another meal or snack would soon be coming.  Their minds...I think took a lot longer and most of them are still preoccupied with food. Sometimes I feel like a food vending machine, :-) "Mom, what's for snack, lunch, breakfast, dinner, dessert, etc."

Hygiene, Cleaner, Hygienic, Wash

           Here's the thing in just over six months my family has come to expect, plan for, and even adapt to something I never would have thought possible, and it has made me keenly aware of how deeply my children and many, many, many just like them have adapted to horrible things in their past.  It has renewed awareness and compassion and a desire to fight harder for all of my children.

        I hope this brings new awareness to what it is like to live with someone with a history of trauma.  They do not think the same as you do.  They need your compassion far more than your advice.  Love them, pray for them, help them to heal. 



Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Are You Down?

Why Are You Down?

Just popping in to share a video. 
 Since this blog is all about the journey...
This is a message God put on my heart and allowed me to share at my home church. 

It is a big part of both my journey and my heart. 



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Enough

I have decided on my "word" for 2018.

Enough

2 Peter 1:3 "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

This word has been coming to my mind in different forms over several months.  As it rolls over in my mind, I find it "right" for this season of my life.  It isn't "enough" like "I've had enough!" My kids have heard it used that way many, many times, but more: enough - sufficient.  

It first came to me in response to a prayer text sent to many people close to me, a request for wisdom.  One response stated, "you have all the wisdom you need." Truth.  I needed courage to use the wisdom I had.  This is not to say I have all the wisdom I will ever need, can there ever be too much wisdom?  This person simply knew the situation and knew I had the wisdom I needed for that moment.  "you have all you need" sounds a lot like 2 Peter 1:3 He has given us everything we need....hmmm, ponder, ponder.

Most recently, I was ready to click on a link to take me to a home planner for 2018.  It promised to make my routines work, my productivity to soar, and all my clutter to disappear by years end (or something like that).  It would definitely be the answer to all my organization needs.  I would be efficient, productive, healthy, and happy if I just purchased and used this planner.  Just as I was ready to click the link a still small voice said, "you don't need another planner, you have everything you need."  The voice was right, He always is...
I have purchased and downloaded so many of these books, eBooks, planners, organizers, bullet journals, etc. etc.  Bottom line they usually don't work for as long as it takes me to set them up.  Oh, I've learned a thing or two from them, but nothing sticks with me for long.  Someone else's system doesn't work for me.  Maybe in another post I'll share the things that do work for me, but the truth was I have enough knowledge, what I lack is implementation and consistancy, sigh.

Image may contain: plant, candles, fire and indoor


So the word enough - everything you need, continues to wander around in my head.  I am not a minimalist and I don't think I want to be one.  I like pretty things and a cozy home.  But how many cozy fleece throws are enough?  How many scented candles in a home where I can only light them occasionally, because so many of my kiddos with impulse control issues.  I love them, and I enjoy lighting them when my kiddos are in school or tucked away in bed.  But how many do I need?  How many are enough?  Anyone who knows me knows I love a pair of cute shoes or boots, but how many is enough?  

I want my home to be clean and tidy, but what about clean enough?  Isn't it enough to be safe and be able to find the things we need when we need them?  Is it enough if dishes are clean from a tasty meal and garbage is out side each night?  What is enough for me and my family?  And speaking of meals, I like pretty dishes, but if they stay in the hutch for decoration or special occasions are they being used enough?  Maybe everyday snacks served on a pretty platter is a special occasion?  What makes a meal special and tasty?  Is it enough that it is filling, and mostly healthy?  

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I could continue with many questions in my mind: how many pairs of sock per person is enough? How many pairs of jeans?  How many sheet sets? How many towels?  The truth is there isn't a magic number.  I will spend 2018 trying to figure out what is right for me and my family.  

 1 Peter 1:3  "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

The second part of the that verse tells the one thing I need more of in 2018, and the rest of my life.  "knowledge of him".  God has given us (me) everything I need for a godly (good) life, through knowledge of him.... I can listen to that voice, I can know him more, and I can experience the peace of enough.  Enough is not scarcity thinking it breathes peace and abundance into the everyday.  

As I homeschool my daughter who struggles to learn, I am enough; the curriculum is enough; her pace is enough.  No more long hours on the computer trying to improve and add to the curriculum.  If she is learning and making progress that is enough. 

Every effort of my husband is enough, a blessing.  Every time we see a little progress in a child, it is enough.  At the end of every single day, when we've given our best, it is enough.  No need to lay awake replaying the mistakes or missed opportunities of the day, nope, I gave it my all and it is enough. 

I don't need to read 20 blogs a week and try to implement someone else's great idea into my world.  This is my life and I have everything I need to live it well.  This doesn't mean I stop reading, and learning, it just means that not everything that works for others is needed for me to be enough.  I am enough.  

By now you are probably tired of my word for the year, but I want to say it one more time:

You my friend are enough!! If you have Christ, you too have everything you need!

Happy New Year
2018