Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Friday, November 30, 2012

Climbing up the hill..

You know, when you start feeling too cocky, something is sure to happen, to bring you back to your senses.

Even though we've had a few issues with Lovely, I thought for the most part that we were over the hump.

Boy, am I just foolish.

You all know how I was just almost to the point of panic, trying to find her some after school care, because there just isn't a middle school program (except for the pricey YMCA) in Norman, I was so relieved and thankful and overjoyed when my hero stepped up to the plate, and ALLOWED (by the goodness of his heart) Lovely into his elementary school program.  She has been fine, only a few incidents of bullying (which is a normal staple in this kid's life), but today, the teacher pulled me aside and told me that Lovely has been disrespectful and not minding any of the teachers, and in short, a pain in their behinds.

Uh Oh.

Lovely just got her first taste of discipline and a smidge touch of anger from her caretaker.  She didn't like it AT ALL.

I've been studying conflict resolution this semester and seriously, It couldn't come at a more perfect time.  I spelled out the problem, I basically gave her the road map of life as it WILL be, and told her there was no grey area in respect at her school, and she is in a zero tolerance zone.

Her caseworker calls this our "Honeymoon" period.  Where everyone is getting to know each other, and everyone is on their best behavior and loves each other, and is so tolerant of the other, etc.

Well, the freakin' honeymoon is OVER.

Now comes the reality of discipline and expectations, and rules.  I have to remind myself that these kids know one way, and that is violence.  The way they handle any conflict is with violence.  I just have to remember that.  And it's hard.  The way we handle conflict in my house is with sarcasm and a whole load of avoidance.

So, pray for me and pray for Lovely, because I think if she gets me in a headlock, she could take me, but I'm hoping I get a head start, because I can definitely out run her.

Prayers for peace and patience.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The secret....

The secret of having it believing you do.

This morning as I was doing my Morning 500 (aka kid drop off) the lovelies always beg for KLOVE for their morning cheer song.

Zig Zigler came on the radio, and my heart was sad that we lost such a wonderful, positive light yesterday.  I had the great opportunity to hear him, and he was just the most fascinating, uplifting motivator of our generation.

He was talking about gratitude, and how when it is absent, the heart isn't at peace.  It's only when you are gracious and thankful, that you can find real peace.

It's true.

I chased happiness for years.  I bought shoes, I bought music, I looked for happiness everywhere but where it was.  And I was NEVER content with what I had.  I wanted a different car, more clothes, a bigger house, a happier life, a cooler dog, the latest fashions....It was never enough.  And the more I bought, the less happy I was.    I searched all through life to find happiness in STUFF, and it only made me less satisfied.  I was never happy.

I went to church through all this.  I thought I was a good christian.  But I was just a church goer.  I wasn't a Jesus Freak.  It was only when I finally lost everything I thought was important, did I find out what REALLY was.

God.  Family.  Children.  Praying.  and most of ... satisfaction with what I had, and giving up the "need to have more".   It was so freeing, and WEIRD.

I have the least I have ever had in my adult life, as far as material wants, and I am the most at peace, and happy than I have ever been.  I am more generous, and sooooo grateful for all the little things that most people miss.

It's because of a little something that showed up and showed me that life is more than stuff, it's about love and faith.

And that....has made all the difference.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bad dreams and Good grades

Last night, Hallie & I were settling in when I heard a loud sound from the kids room, and what sounded like a cry. Hallie and I collided outside our doors in the hall, as we sprinted toward LB's room, and when I hit his door, LB was running out of the room crying and yelling.  I grabbed him and hugged him and he just punched at me.  I called his name, and when he looked at me, his eyes were dark black...the blackest I had ever seen them, and he was just freaked out.  "Don't touch me, leave me alone"...

As I pulled him in for hug and called his name over and over, he started crying, and my heart just broke in two.

What terrible things have these children endured to have this kind of trouble ?  We all cherish our children to the point of entitlement and generosity, and then there are these children, that are just thankful for new socks.

It just kills my heart.

I talked him back in to his room, him sobbing over something so dark in his mind, I couldn't see it, and I laid my hand on his head and prayed over him.  He fell back to sleep, and when I talked to him this morning, he didn't remember a thing.

Are you kidding me?????   I think I'm going to have to take up kickboxing to relieve inner anger.  What in the world?  After getting to know this little ray of sunshine, he is so engraved in my heart, I can't even imagine anything EVER happening to him, that I wouldn't take a bullet for.  It's just that powerful.

His teacher called me last night and told me he had the most perfect penmanship she has ever seen in 3rd grade, and what a joy he was to have in class.  (duh).

I looked him and his sister up on my parent portal from their schools, and imagine my delight and surprise when their grades reflected ALL A'S!   Every.single.stinking.class.even.English.

That's just good teachers.  I take no credit.  I do make LB slow down and speak in full sentences (he liked to word bomb you to get his point across, and I'd just sit there and smile at him trying to figure out what in the world of america he was saying), and to his credit, he has really started comprehending what he is trying to say and spit out.

He can't speak TH...he says  "D", so Thunder is Dunder....and tonight, Lacey took Grammie to see the "Dunder" and I'm still snickering over his.... "Ooh, dey going to DUNDER up, Lolly"....

This roller coaster is overwhelming at times, and heartbreaking, and oh, so very awesome.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

For God So Loved the World

I have been resonating with John 3:16 lately.  It's been my go-to verse for my whole life.  It was the first scripture I memorized, and I've quoted it my whole life, and never fully understood the power of the words until recently.

I remember when I was 6 and my brother was 9 and we were spending the summer with my grandma and grandpa, being road warriors in their trailer, while mom finished up her schooling, we were both homesick as mules.  Brian was going to run away, and find his way back to Shawnee, America, and I remember passionately crying to him saying, "But Bubba, GOD SO LOVED the world, That he GAVE HIS only begotten SON, that whosoever BELIEVETH in HIM, should NOT PERISH, but have EVERLASTING life!"  in my best preacher, going straight to heaven voice.   He looked at me and said,  "WHAT?"  seeing how that had nothing in the world to do with his plight at the moment...but for the sake of this memory, I've been passionate about this verse my whole life.

Dameon Aranda sings this at church and sorry, Phil Wickham, but he blows you out of the water.  This Ziyu Lu character that makes these videos is worth a you tube google.  He has some great videos of some of my favorite songs with powerful verses, and I'm seriously impressed with him.  or her.  (Pardon)

But I love this verse.  I'm still buzzing from the service at Lifechurch this week  If you want to be blown away by some powerful words....

Steven Furtick- Because of You  Go watch this.   WOW.

He doesn't understand why we aren't passionate about telling people about Christ.  I'm hear to tell you, John 3:16 is where it is AT.    (And I don't even care if that participle is dangling)

People don't understand that it's easy as John 3:16.

And it's as hard as John 3:16.

God Loved us SO much.  That he sent his ONLY son.  (think about your precious child).  That WHOEVER believes in Him.... (not ignores Him, not ho hums about it, not hit and misses about Him, but truly BELIEVES in Him).....will NOT perish, but have everlasting life.  

I don't know about you, but after losing some of the people I love the most in this world to death....I want to make sure I don't perish, and that I have everlasting life...with them....and with a father who loves me more than I can even comprehend.   That's exciting stuff.

So how do I do that?  I seek Him.  I think on Him everyday.  I yearn for a relationship with God.  I seek Godly friends.  I listen to worship songs on the radio.  I write blogs about God in my head, all day.  I try to shine Love where there is none.... and that is hard to do.   Have you ever tried to keep a candle lit outside in a windstorm?  That's trying to be a light in a sinful world.

But GOD SO LOVED THIS WORLD, that He willingly and knowingly sent his ONLY BELOVED son, to die on a cross for us hopeless sinners.

And this I believe..... do you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Up and Down

My world is a roller coaster.  And not the Judge Roy Scream, either.

I'm talking Titan, all the way baby.

I remember watching Parenthood, the movie, and the grandma telling Steve Martin, that she loved going to the fair, and riding the roller coaster...that yes, the merry go round, was safe, but the roller coaster, turned you up and over and inside out.... and Mary Steenburgen so mad at him, and telling him that his grandmother was brilliant, and him looking out the window and saying, "If she's so brilliant, why is she getting in the neighbor's car?"

Even in a brilliant moment, you are on the cusp of being a dork.  At least, I am.

I was dressed in my best today, and hit my hose on my bag walking in and walked around with a runner in the top of my hose ALL day.  Cool.

I have to set a mini-office up everytime I have an appointment and make a sale (which, praise the Lord, I'm 3 for 3), but seriously, have to set up EVERYTHING, and I'll be danged if I don't ALWAYS forget a cord, or paper, or the sign dealy.... brilliance with just a bit of dork thrown in.

Lovely is having some serious issues.  Even though seems to be settling in and doesn't give me much problem in some things, we have a major issue going, and I don't feel at liberty to discuss it on here.  Which is weird, because I bare my soul, but this is private and weird, and I just hope that I can help her though this and get it resolved.  I've never dealt with this particular issue, and it's way out of my scope of expertise... not that I have any...I've just be super lucky.

But then on the flip side of that crap factory (used the word), there is my cell phone ringing and LB's teacher on the phone, praising him, and telling me how he loves me and Hallie and talks about us, and wrote a 2 page story on Thanksgiving, and that most of the kids were only able to write 2 sentences.  I told her it was a big deal to him.... She said, "I can tell".  So LB is doing fantastic.

I woke up in a cold sweat over Big Sis last night.  She is 17 and basically on her own, and if someone has any ideas for me on how to help this sweet girl, and get her motivated into getting into college for 4 years and living in a dorm and having a chance at a normal life...I am all ears.   I talked to my placement officer for a long time today, and she gave me some suggestions.  If anyone knows a high school counselor that has all the answers for college entrance and a bit of knowledge of the foster care system....get in touch with me.  She has her GED, and went to Job Corps and got her CNA, but is too young to work as a CNA.  (Mom lied to get her in the program, isn't that special?)

I'm down tonight people, maybe even on the border of a crap factory.  I know I'm helping these kids, but I am overwhelmed with the problems with Lovely.

I imagine that God looks down on me, and gets a bit overwhelmed himself, at all the stunts I carry out in a day.  I know He will never give up on me, no matter WHAT I do, so who am I to give up on this kid?  Who else could do this?  Who else WOULD?

One day at a time.   One day at a time......  Prayers are coveted......

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crap Factories and Gratitude

Have I mentioned one thousand times how much I love my church?  Well, in case you didn't know.  I love my church.

I especially love Steven Furtick, the young, enthusiastic senior pastor at Elevation Church.  He was our guest speaker today, and boy, does he rock my socks off.

He talked to us about how we ask and ask and ask for God to do things for us, and how we have it all wrong.  So many people (including myself) will go to God with a list of  "Things I need".  Then, if we don't get everything we ask for, we feel "slighted" by God.  He encouraged us to look at scripture and see that the bible tells us to "Enter his gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts".  Before we can even START to give him our list, you need to thank him for everything He has done for us.  If we are in a sad time, or a dark place, and don't have things to be happy about, just thank Him for sending His son and for giving you life.

I remember when we were in the hospital with Laynie for the first time.  She was so ill, and countless people had told us that she shouldn't be alive, with a hemoglobin at 1.6.  There was no reason she should have survived that.  That was a dark time.  We were terrified and broken.

I remember not being able to stand in the room and watch them find a vein to give our baby blood, and as Lacey and I stood in the hallway outside her room, we started singing,

"Savior, he can move the mountains... Our God is mighty to Save.. He is mighty to save....
Forever, Author of Salvation, He rose and conquered the grave....He conquered the grave".....

And we had a mini worship in the hallway.  We could have been saying, "GOD WHY OH WHY is our baby about to die?   WHY OH WHY didn't you intercede sooner?"   Could have walked down that road, but instead, we looked up, we opened our hearts and we praised His holy presence.

And He heard us.  And He blessed her, and we took our girl home.  For 9 more gifted months.

Instead of taking the perspective of Why?, we chose to have the perspective of "We believe..." and it changed everything about the walk.

He went on to talk about how people feel entitlement, that they accept all the benefits of life as "Normal", instead of a "gift".   I loved when he said,  "If you only show up to church once every five weeks and feel like God should hear you?"  it made me tingle.    When your sense of entitlement is high.....your sense of gratitude is oh so very low.

He showed a clip of Oprah Winfrey telling her audience they had been selected to be on her "Favorite Things" Show..... It was pandemonium and crazy.   He said, "If people get that excited about "stuff", shouldn't you feel that way EVERYTIME you walk into your FATHER's HOUSE?"     YES, I should feel that excited.... and the entire audience proceeded to have an Oprah Winfrey moment.    It was glorious.

He ended with the statement..... Grateful People can  FIND a blessing.....ENLARGE a blessing....or CREATE a almost every situation....

He said that there are those people though, that suck the joy right out of everything and can FIND a  problem, ENLARGE a problem,  or CREATE a problem, that wasn't even there, in almost every situation, and he called those kind of people......wait for it....

Crap factories.

Knowing my love of the word, "Crap", you know this just jacked my world into another realm.  I leaned over to Lacey, and said,  "If I call you and start worrying about ANYTHING, just tell me that I am being a CRAP FACTORY".

Enter his gates with Thanksgiving in YOUR heart, gratitude for life on your lips, and an excitement to share your light with everyone...


It doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hurting Healing

I posted on my facebook about this being the first year I felt like I would be able to put my Christmas stuff up since Laynie died.  Said something about how healing is weird and unexpected.

Lacey replied, that "We'll never heal, we just get used to it".

Boy, is that so right.

Today would be Austin's 17th birthday.  He had every bit of his life in front of him.  He was just getting started.  Little did we know that our Christmas getaway to his house last year, would be our last Christmas with him.

The Gaffney's were our "Getaway" from the pain we felt at all our loss over the past year.  Who knew that this year, we would all be experiencing it again?  

I have no words of comfort for his family, as they walk their steps of grief.  It is a numbing, painful process, and the best and worst thing you can do is to just let them walk through it.  I have a hard time making sense of it, and I hurt all kinds of pain for his mom and dad, sister and brother and sis in law, ..whom I love as much as you can love someone.  

I read back on some of my old stuff, when I was in the middle of the grief and I want to share it here... because it still fits....

by Hope for Laynie on Friday, December 24, 2010 at 8:26am ·
I imagined Christmas being tough this year.  No money for me to spend on presents, no Laynie to share the magic of the lights, the music, the tree.  Walking past the toys and little girl clothes in the stores and pausing to look, then stoically moving on, picturing a little bald sweetheart, sitting in Jesus' lap, just talking His ear off.  It got me through.

So, we chose to go to church on Christmas Eve Eve.  We listened to the incredible music of Trent Austin and his wonderful worship set at the Edmond campus of Lifechurch.  I remembered Laynie's face, and her wonder of church.  She loved church.  Church loved her.  We listened to Craig's message, and let it soak into our hearts, our souls, and we remembered that worship doesn't happen just at church.  Worship can happen wherever you are.  And if you are in bad times, "worship forward".   Don't dwell on the bad stuff you are mired in.... Think about the happier times to come, and let that be your cause for worship.   That resonates with me, because I could be mired to my eyeballs right now, with worries and doubts.  But I'm not.  I know God has a plan for me that will really knock my socks off.  I'm just saving  my fork.   (Grandma takes the plate at christmas, you are already stuffed to the gills with good food, and she whispers in your ear "save your fork"...and you know the best is yet to come.....DESSERT) .....  God's whispering in my ear right now  "Save your fork"... and I'm excited.  THRILLED.  Overwhelmed with peace.  It's pretty unbelieveable. 

I'm going to finish here with something that 12 year old Hallie shared with me, when we were riding in the car the other day.   "Mom, my friends thinks it's sad because Laynie died so young.  When people don't know her story and you tell them she was 2 1/2, they get all sad and say "Oh, she was so young."...what they don't realize is she lived a WHOLE LIFE with us.  We got her for so long, we lived a LIFE with her".    And we did.   We expected to have her a week.  When we had her a month, we gave thanks and praise.   When we had her 6 months, we sang thanks and praise.  When we sang her 1 year happy birthday song to her, Lacey & I cried because we never dreamed it.  Then her 2nd birthday.  Then NINE months past when she should have by all rights, died...she lived on.  We hadn't told her story.. we hadn't had a blood drive, we hadn't been bold in our faith.   So we had her 9 more wonderful, incredible, picture filled months.  Pictures that we can look to, and pour over, and never forget, a special little angel sent from God himself to teach us all.   She is experiencing heaven first hand people, and I hear her precious little voice in my ear telling me to  "Save your fork, Lolly..... the best is yet to come"...   

Merry Christmas, friends and loves... Jesus IS truly the reason for the season.   God bless you all through the holidays.

I still feel that way.  I'm telling you, whatever pain you are feeling, whatever trial you are going through, to just "Save Your Fork"......the best is yet to come.....  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanks for the giving

I have always taken Thanksgiving for granted.  Plenty of food, lots of laughs, games, pie, tv, and family.  It's a given.

I've lived a sheltered life.

This year, I hosted my lovelies, and in addition, I invited the 17 year old sister (going forward Big Sis), and 3 year old baby brother, (going forward BB).  Also found out that our caseworker doesn't have family here either, so just for giggles, we invited her too.

I didn't tell Big Sis, and the Lovelies that BB was coming, so when the doorbell rang at 11:30 and there stood BB with our caseworker....Chaos abounded.

Time to eat, I had been carrying stuff from my house to mom's house, and cooking and cutting and peeling and preparing (Even though Mom's house ALWAYS smells better) and finally it was time for lunch.

Lovely offered the prayer (she NEVER eats a meal without praying first, it's very humbling for me), and as Big sister fixed her plate, she was spooning dressing, and she looked over her shoulder and said, "This is first time we ever have a family Thanksgiving.  We have people bring food in a box (?), but never got to eat a meal as a family."    Well, just knock me over.  BB ate his weight in turkey and ham, and potatoes, and LB ate everything on his plate like a trooper.  Lovely never has trouble eating, and I just had to get her to use a fork, and all was good at the table.

There are times when I am so overwhelmed by the decision to foster.  If I project too far out, and think about a month from now, or how my life will look next summer, I get overwhelmed to the point of panic.  So, I eat this elephant one tiny bite at a time.

I think in all things this should be the way I handle life.  When I started my classes at OU, I printed off the syllabus and was so overwhelmed at the class as a whole, I almost dropped.  Then instead of viewing the class as an 8 week trial, I took it as an assignment to assignment basis.  I quit looking at the TOTAL, and looked at the parts.  The parts are easy.  One at a time,  not worrying about next week's task, just handling the matter at has worked out, and I can do each piece with excellence, instead of worrying about the whole thing.

Same thing with these kids.  If I look at the whole's too big, too complex.  Instead, I look at the kids and just take it one step at a time.  Sure, I look at big things, like doctors and dentists and things that have to be taken care of, but for the emotional issues, and the anger issues....we handle those as they come.  And I'm not so overwhelmed by the "Whole"  that I can't take care of the "Part".

I bought the kids a bunk bed.   I had two twin beds that I needed to move (my house runneth over with spare parts of beds, etc), so I ran an ad on craigslist to recoup my money on the new bunk bed.... and with everything, I put on Craigslist...I got immediate interest.

I love how God sends validation of your work.  I have invaluable Facebook support from friends that encourage me daily.   It keeps me going.

But, when God sends's overwhelming.

This gorgeous eye candy of about 35 steps out of his truck (Yes, I can appreciate handsome men, I'm not dead), and starts helping me move the pieces of the bed frames he has bought.  He notices all the clothes in my garage (It is ridiculous), and I share with him that I am a foster mom, and we just bought a bunk bed, and those clothes are for other foster parents and that I'm not sure how to proceed.

He stops in his tracks and looks me over from head to toe  (Hmm).  I can tell he is processing, and then he looks me square in the eye and says, "Because of people like you, I am who I am today."  He goes on, "I was in several group homes, and was horribly abused in them, and it was finally when I got placed in my foster mom and dad's home, that I had a chance to become who I am.   I have 5 kids of my own today, and it's because someone opened their home to me, and gave me a life".

Well, slap me on the face and call me Nancy.

I hugged him (which didn't hurt my feelings), and I told him, 'You aren't going to pay me for those beds", and he said, "I wish I could pay you more".   We finally compromised and agreed to the amount I had asked, and with a final hug...we parted ways.

I'm nothing special.  This is something everyone reading this could do.  We should all become givers and help with these foster kids that haven't had family meals, and felt family and need someone to invest in them and give them a sense of who they can be.

It just takes you saying Yes.

It will rock your world in all kinds of ways.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Small boy children and misplaced Printers

I donate a ton of stuff to the local Outreach Thrift Store, mainly because they have a donation box right across the street.

Blame it on the show, Hoarders.  I use that particular box a ton.   You won't find me buried in my house, under walmart sacks and empty cheeto bags.   No sir.

This past Sunday, I had worked through some stuff and had several bags in the garage to take to the handy dandy bin.  All nice and neat in sacks.  Ready to go. No sweat.

I stuck it all in the back of my SUV and didn't think another thing about it.

Oh yes, I noticed the box in the back with my brand new, never been opened, work printer in there, but I knew it was for work...wouldn't everyone?

You have to understand how crazy it is at my house.  There are extra mouths, extra hairbrushes, extra underwear, homework to be done every second, second languages being spoken, new routines being made, you get the point??  In other words, things are madness.  But in a fun way.

I do everything fast.  Lightning speed.   So, when I remembered the bags of goodies in the back, I rolled up to our handy dandy bin and told the kids, "Unload the back".....With happy shouts, they did just that.

Oopsy, my bad.

I totally forgot that I had a work printer in there with all the donate treasures.

I didn't think about it until this morning, when I went to open the box to see what I needed to make that puppy work.

Wasn't there.


What the....

Then I remembered, like a Vietnam flashback, all the happy voices, throwing that crap in the bin on Sunday. OH NO!

As I raced over to it, I'm thinking that a certain 7 year old Vietnamese boy would probably let me ease him down by his ankles into the bin and fish that puppy out of there.  I asked him, and he was on board, "I DO that for YOU, LOLLY!"   with Lovely worriedly chiming in, "I'll get my mom to give you money and we'll buy a new one".....  geez.   I get there and assess the deposit "In" door.  It has a slant, and I'm thinking while the small boy will go in, it might be just a bit tricky unloading him after the snag of said printer.

He was still willling.  "I do it for you, Lolly!  I WANT to!"   He's my guy.

"Nope, buddy... I'd get you down there and couldn't get you out, and then I'd have to call the thrift store and say, "Hey, could you send someone over to open the door of the bin, to let my small boy out of the drop box for donations??  I totally didn't mean to give you the whole boy".   He laughed and laughed.

I'm pretty sure DHS would frown on that.

So, I took him to school and waited until the thrift store opened, and told them my dilemma.  The drop box dude went over, and totally found it and gave it back to me.   That's how great this world is.  I am so thankful today.

I think LB's going to be a bit disappointed I got it back without him having the adventure of hanging by his feet.  He was totally up for that.

We are here to entertain.  :) .

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mondays and A's

I officially started my job last Friday.  I didn't get much accomplished except to get acclimated and to eat the fantastic Thanksgiving meal they had for their employees.

It was great.

I had major palpitations over the weekend, vacillating between panic and hyperventilation, over the new commission job.  I would panic, then pray, calm.   Take back the wheel, and PANIC, Pray...calm.  It was muy exhausting.

How many times do you do that?  Give it up to God, then decide you haven't dwelled on it enough, and take it back and dwell on it some more?

I am soooo guilty of that.  And boy, did I run with the ball this weekend, worry, and panic, worry and panic. So I got to work, and started right in, calling and getting no where.

Hello, sales and Thanksgiving week.  Great timing.

Then at 4:00, a 95 year old woman walked into the funeral home and bought a funeral from me.  She was about as delightful as it gets in this world.  She was a retired piano teacher, and think about when she went to college, as a 95 year old, and she went to 3 states and got her masters degree.

She was a rock star.  She was beautiful, organized, sharp as a tack, and just a little dim in the eyes.  But she captivated me, and made me remember why I LOVE to write prearranged funerals.  Because it's the right thing to do for your family.  It's the final love note you can give them.

We visited, and she said, "Well, I can just TRUST you, can't I?  You aren't going to steer me wrong, or give me anything I don't need, are you?"  And I told her, "No, ma'am, I am not.  You are in good hands with me."  With that said, she declared,  "I believe I am".


Do you see how good God is?  I may only make about a quarter on that sale, but I made a million dollars in why I do what I do.

I can show God's love and goodness and care, in every single visit I make, to every single family.

And there is not enough money in the world to be more important that that.

And my lovelies, proudly showed me A's on their homework and papers from school tonight.  I'm thinking, from their over the top excitement, that this isn't a very everyday thing for them, so we had a major celebration, like eating Lucky Charms without milk, kind of celebration.  It was huge.

Change can be a very scary thing.  But if you just hand God the wheel, trust Him in all things, and do your VERY VERY best at everything you do, you will not Fail.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Layers of Pain

On the way to church, listening to my little lovelies in the backseat chattering like chipmunks, I drifted off into thinking.

I was sharing with mom the other night, about how I feel a shelter for foster children would be.  I told her to imagine 95 Lovelies, all angry, all scared, piled in one place.

Put 5-6 adults in there, most of them grossly underpaid, some of them not the best choice for the job, but due to the money in the position, it's really all that will take the job.

Throw them in a mix, and you have the Foster care shelter that my lovelies were in.

I think of the layers of pain that the children have to suffer, and I wanted to look at that.

The first layer, that you immediately see, is the lack of clothes for your foster child.  My lovelies had a box, with their name on it, with a jacket that they had worn that day in it.  Lovely had a huge tshirt and too big shoes.  Her hair was out of control and she was just a mess.   LB had a girls shirt on, and too big windpants...but his shoes were new.    That's the first clothes of their own.

The second layer, is the scared, uncertain child that is in a home so foreign to them, they don't even know how to comprehend what is happening.   You all remember the  Storm before the Calm, Lovely's first 24 hours with me.  It might have been a bit more intense with her, because under that scared and uncertainty was a warrior, who was on a mission to protect her little brother, and everything was out of her control.

The third layer, is the anger.  Anger at the parents, anger at the situation, anger at their new caregiver.  A deep, hurtful anger, that rears its ugly little head every now and then, usually, when you least expect it.

The next layer, is the problem that got them in your home in the first place... the bio parents.  Once they settle into the new home, they start to feel bad and dishonorable to their parents by being comfortable in their new home.  At least that's how it works with Lovely.  She has to re-assert her mom's superiority of anything I'm doing, all the time.  It's like, she can't just like me for me, she has to make sure I remember she has a mom that can do no wrong.

It's exhausting.

But then, once you peel all those layers, there is the child.  A bright little sunshine child, that just wants someone to take care of them, and let them be kids, and love them, and protect them.

That's when you know you have made headway, when you finally see that layer emerge.

But don't kid yourself....those layers are always there, waiting to wrap themselves around the kids like a bad cloud.  It's a non-stop, on edge, juggling act.

It's exhausting, and oh, so very rewarding.

LB settled in in 24 hours.  He hasn't asked about bio parents, particularly act like he misses them, and I think that he would seriously live with us for the rest of his life.  (As long as I let Hallie's b/f, Wyatt, come over every weekend to play with him....even when he was coughing so hard last night in his deepest sleep, he asked for Wyatt in his delirium.....clearly, Wyatt has made a mark.)  He has been so sick, coming from the shelter with some bug that got all 3 of the children in the house.   It's just been awesome.  (sarcasm abounds)

Mom reminded me of the old Vicks on the bottom of the feet with socks trick, and I have to tell you, the little boy finally got some good rest last night.  Totally, 100% WORKED.   I kid you not.

I guess if we were all honest, we all have layers.  Walls we build to protect our hearts, our lives, our families. We all hide parts of our selves, and cover pain with sharp words, and anger.  The beautiful thing is...we are all foster children in God's eyes.  He is the ultimate foster home.  He gives us shelter, he nurses our pain, he protects us when we need protection.  We just have to be children and start to peel our layers, so he can get to the heart of your heart, and become your safe haven.

    Everyone should have one.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Conflict and Reaction

My college course this 8 weeks is "Conflict Resolution".  Pretty handy subject to be taking about right now.  Seeing how I can relate Every Single Life Experience of late into a journal form and turn it in.

I have an A so far.  Not bragging, (ok, maybe a LITTLE, an A, an A!)  just stating fact.  This conflict stuff at my house is what I'd call perfect timing.

The big difference is me.

5 years ago, I couldn't have done any of this.  None of it.  I couldn't handle conflict.  Avoided it like the plague.  OR, worse, If I found myself in conflict, I'd jump in with both feet and battle til the cows come home, especially if I thought I was right.

Conflict is a daily part of life.  I've never handled it correctly.  I've avoided and blown up.  Avoided and blown up.  Pretty healthy.

But ever since I've gotten older, or even better, ever since I've become intimately acquainted with God, I feel like I am able to handle conflict on a better, deeper level.

God put me in a bunch of tough situations in the last 5 years, and He refined me by fire.  I've learned it's not my job to BE MAD, or REACT, or GET EVEN, it's my job to simply get through it, in tact, with the other person's feeling in tact, and feel ok when it's over.

That's a tough road to walk when you've not lived that way, or been taught that way.

I want to be different.  I long to be able to look at an antagonizer in the face, and say, "Yes, your opinion is important, but it is different from mine. And that's ok, we don't have to be at odds because of it".

Wouldn't life be far easier?  

This class has taught me to be calm, and assess.  Really understand what the other person is trying to say, and mainly, take a deep breath, and figure out what is the most important thing about to happen.  

Life is about being intentional....and that includes conflict.  

Fight fair, not for blood.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bullies, Sneezing and Indian Curiosity

It's been a crazy week.

Everyone is sick.  Everyone is coughing.  Everyone is settling in.

It's been a good week.

It's also been crazy, as we have introduced volleyball in the mix, and we have to drive to 63rd and Santa Fe for practice (zoinks) at break-neck speeds, after zooming to pick up the lovelies and head 45 minutes north to get Hallie.  It's chaos, and it's our life.

Chicken nuggets from Macdonalds are a winner.  20 nuggets for $4.99 with that Sweet chili sauce.  Who knew?  I even partook (is that a word?) of a couple last night myself.  Not bad when you are half starving to death.

Lovely is getting bullied.  I was so afraid of that.  She goes to a middle school that is so IFFY, they don't even CHECK to see if you live in the district, because NO ONE in their right mind would ever go there unless they absolutely had to.  I've transferred Hallie out of it since day 1, but with Lovely having some issues, she couldn't transfer out of the district, so to that school we go.  And of course, her being new, and even though I have her as spit shined as good as this white woman can get her, the 8th grade girls are still picking on her.  It kills my heart.

She didn't tell me, but LB ratted out the bullies on the way home.  He went into great detail, and my heart got heavier and heavier.  It was silent in the car, while I processed what I had heard, and then to my utter amazement, the following words came out of my mouth, "I want to kick their asses".

Stunned silence in the backseat, followed by the loudest WHOOP of happiness and delight ensued.

"LOLLY, you kick their ass? You do that FOR ME??"  (Oh, sigh,

I had immediate remorse, but inside of me, happiness was there too, that they were so jacked up that I was such a bad ass.  .Who knew?

"You know I would"

"It's ok, Lolly, I can handle them".

And she did.  She totally handled them.  She was back to her normal little mean, smart mouth self this evening, and I much prefer that over the sad, little beat down being, that she is after a hard day.

They are doing better with their homework, and though we still battle at bedtime (me, trying to get them to bed, them not wanting to go), it's been like a "Normal" family.

LB still tells me that I'm still his "best friend in Oklahoma", but Hallie is WAYY up there too.

And I found this on my bed this morning, and I have to tell you...Lovely has an extreme talent in art.

And an extreme talent for melting my heart.  

LB has an extreme talent for making me laugh, and scratching my head at how fun boys really are....

If I don't end up in jail, smacking some smart mouth middle schooler, we will be good.  It may be me AND Lovely sitting in the principal's office, both of us in the doghouse.  And I found myself asking LB, "So, what was under there?" as we walked arm in arm out of the capital.

It's the easiest thing in the world, and the hardest thing in the world, this wonderful job of Foster Mom.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love and a side of kleenex, please

Everyone has been hacking up a lung for about a week now.  LB has been dragging around, and Hallie woke up with no voice.

This mom had reached the end of her rope.

So, we took a quick trip to the "Doc in a Box' down the street, and 1 hour later, we have 2 diagnosis of sinus infection (Hal & Lovely) and a neat case of strep (LB).

Oh joy to my soul and goodness.

I start a new job on Friday.

I'm taking college classes.

I have 3 sick kids.

GOD, hello.  Where are you right now?

Here's the deal.  And you're going to think I'm a weirdo, but I don't care.  Back when Laynie was so sick, I would be so deep in prayer at bedtime, that I would fall asleep praying.  Inevitably, I would wake up praying, as well.  And during that early morning prayer, I could hear God speak into me.  It was so incredibly cool.  And I have never felt so much peace as I did those days.  It was when I was at my most broken and surrendered, that I heard His voice.

After she died, I heard him for awhile, then life creeped in, and I didn't hear Him anymore.  I would struggle to hear Him, but I just couldn't.

Then I went out of my head, and followed His lead for me, to take on this Foster Mom role,  and things are CRAZY and WILD, and I am SO out of my element, and I'm hearing His voice again.

He calms me in the morning, when I wake up sweating that I'm over my head. (Or in a menopausal sweat, they are very similar)

He calms me when I'm driving, and I think that I can't take anymore.

He loves me when I'm sitting in a doctors office, with 3 budding comedians trying to outdo each other, and I know that no matter what is happening around me, and what is going to happen......

He is there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Netflix and Avatar

I have Netflix.

I gave up cable a few months back, and to keep Hallie pacified on the need to have zillions of shows at your disposal, I opted for $7.99 a month Netflix through our Wii.

It's been exceptional.

I watched Friday Night Lights, Prison Break and All 5 seasons of Grey's Anatomy is quick succession, and after you've "Net-flixed" through a series, it seems silly to wait a week to have to watch a stupid tv show.

We are spoiled rotten turd muffins.

Anyway, LB and Lovely were flipping through my 8 channels, and all the sudden the "Mansion" lost it's appeal.  So, I introduced them to Netflix.

Oh, boy.

After thrilling over finding Ally McBeal, and Wonder Years, it didn't occur to me that there is like 2 and one half million episodes of Japanimation crappage, that of course, little Vietnamese Children, would LOVE.

So, I have been introduced to Avatar.  It's a weird experience.  I see Chinese people on the screen, and they have hick California voices.  A few episodes ago, there were even redneck ninjas, talking in a hick accent.

It freaks me out.

I loathe it.  Beyond loathing.  Takes me back to Barney days.  And maybe even Teletubbies.  Yep, it's bad.

But, the lovelies like it.  It makes them all kind of happy.

I tried Hannah Montana.  I tried Phineas and Pherb.  I tried.

I did.  And when I tell them it freaks me out, they tell me, "You freak ME out".  I believe that.  So we watch Avatar and some show named Naruto, spoken in Chinese with subtitles.

Needless to saw, now I dream of a chinese kid with an arrow on his head talking in valley speak. Or everything is subtitled.   Neat-o.

I'm learning all kinds of fun things being a foster mom.

Monday, November 12, 2012

In a New York Minute...

You know that Don Henley song that goes,  "In a New York Minute...everything can change?"  It is so true.

Lacey was reading back on my blogs from Labor Day weekend, and I was giving the boys respite care at my house.  We were all having fun, and I was sharing about our weekend, and blogging about all the things we were going to do, and then, in a New York Minute...everything changed.

Got the phone call from my cousin that Austin had drowned. 

Lacey and I were reflecting on that, and how arrogant we all are, in thinking that we can plan our lives, and know what is going to happen in the future.  We've been studying the End of times at church, and, I'm telling you, everyone should live intentional.

Chaurley (Hallie's sister) was driving home from work on November 1, and was hit head on by a drunk driver. She had angels surrounding her car that night.   She is bruised, broken and banged up, but she is still here.  I am so thankful and so humbled by God's grace and protection.

Everyone keeps telling me, "Oh you're so amazing".  Oh, no, I'm  sooo  not.  I'm a scared, over-my-head, ridiculous mess, that just loves the Lord, and wants to do "more" than just be another date on my headstone.  I hope that people reading these find comfort and understand that ANYONE can have a relationship with God.   It doesn't matter where you've come from, or the mistakes you've made. 

He is Faithful, and when you give your life over and walk with's easier and different. 

Life is a gift. Love is the bonus.  Live intentional, and forgive easily.  All the rest is gravy. 

Hallie & Austin in August

Chaurley and Hallie

Don't take life for granted.  Because everything can change in a New york Minute.    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What would I do without Hallie?

I can't go another second without talking about my last born.  She shocked me at 37, by making me a mom (WAY past my prime), and she is a joy and a treat, and I am always so very proud of her.  

This has been tough for her.  

She was all in at first.  Talking about it, anticipating it, thinking about being a servant, and listening to the call. She was all in and willing to go just a tiny bit extra.  

And then they arrived.  

Lovely likes to stir things up.  She is used to chaos and she doesn't get any satisfaction from me, because I won't play her reindeer games, but she does get a rise out of Hallie.   And Lovely has NO filter, and isn't kind in her words, and doesn't have social graces or sometimes, manners, at all.  So when she launches an attack, look out, because it's going to get ugly in a hurry.

And Hal can give as good as she can get.   I look at them, and think, "Whoa, they've become sisters fast", but Hallie just looks at her, and thinks  "I can give you back anytime."

So, I need EVERYONE and I do mean EVERYONE, to pray for my sweet Hallie.  Her heart is large, but her patience is small, and if fostering does anything, it teaches one patience.  

She is amazing with LB, because he is a new, fun toy, but I'm afraid Lovely rings too many bully bells, and it's not fun around here, when the gloves come off.  

I'm on a balancing act of a lifetime here, being kind to the new kids, but being fair to the kids that own my heart.  

Prayers, please.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Opening Up your Heart

Had a great day with the lovelies and my girls.  Katie Begley took our family pictures this morning at the capital (capitol? I can never remember), and the lovelies were in rare form.  This year, there won't be many with just the 4 there are 2 more.  And it just seemed weird, not to have them in there.  My little  asian lovelies.

It's been a week now, since I've had both kids.  Every day the ice breaks a bit more and more.  There has been a consistent rule in this house that lovely only gets to talk to mom once a day.

After seeing the dynamic at the family visitation yesterday, I've decided to relax that rule.  In doing that, I have earned even more of Lovely's trust.

She opened up to me today, and let me see her heart and hear her fears.  I had to prompt her to be honest, and I don't think that comes easily for her.  Instead of seeing a smart mouth pre-teen, I saw a hurt little girl, just needing answers about why her life is in chaos, and why she can't have the family she deserves and wants.

I felt my eyes well with tears many times during our visit, and once or twice a tear would escape and make it's way down my cheek.

It's not fair.

Not fair.

I didn't offer much, just listened, and listened, and listened, until I wanted to scream, "I CAN"T HEAR ANY MORE.  GOD WHY OH WHY?", but instead I just loved her and asked more questions, until her face looked like an 11 year old again, and I told her, that all I want in the world is for her family to be reunited, and I want to help all of them achieve that goal.

So tonight, I have a new friend.  She's been making baby steps all week, but today was a giant leap.  Tonight was the first time she sought me for a hug.  Unfortunately she is a strong little sucker and I think I have a pneumothorax, but it's all good.   LB has been hugging me and calling me his best friend all week.  Though Lovely will comment, she hasn't been very forthcoming with hugs or affection, and I haven't pushed it AT ALL.  She watches LB lay on me on the couch, and attach himself to me everywhere we go, and  I wondered if she was ever going to get to that point, not holding much hope.    Tonight, though  it's all her attached to me, and I'm amazed at God's goodness.

I'm still working that puzzle.  Some pieces fall right into place, and some have to be moved and tried and turned and set aside and returned to another time.  But the beautiful thing about a puzzle, finally, it will all come together.  Just work and never give up.

                                                                          It's all worth it.

Long hours, Great benefits

This came from Lacey early this morning, and I just smiled because it is so true.....

"If you seek great things for yourself, "God has called me for this and for that", you barricade God from using you.  As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God's interests.  This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you into His purpose for the world.  Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.   I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me.  God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him.   I should never say, "Lord, this has caused me such heartache."  To talk that way makes me a stumbling block.  When I stop telling God what I WANT, He can freely work His will in me without hindrance.  He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else HE chooses.  He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and his goodness.  

(Oswald Chambers, 2010, 10/22), My Utmost for His Highest
Updated edition for Kindle, Discovery House Publishers

When everything seems uncertain, I just lean into Him.  Yesterday was bleak.  Meeting the parents, watching the dynamic.   It was just hard to take in.  

I've lived in a protective bubble my whole life.   That bubble popped when Lacey, Hallie and I went to Haiti and I saw first hand how lucky we are to have the things we do.  It all but disappeared at the parent visit yesterday.  

There is real suffering, and not from having a broken nail, or not getting the new Iphone 5.  It is happening all around us and all it takes is one small effort to make a difference and show God's love.  

My caseworker (who in my eyes is Hercules/ElasticGirl/and Superman) all in one petite package, not only did all the things for me she did this week, but is volunteering at the kid's shelter this weekend.  On the weekend, the shelters go over capacity (due to family problems escalating) and she feels she needs to help out.  This coming from the underpaid worker that works 50-60 hours a week, helping the unfortunate.  I used to skate through my 35 hour week, and feed the homeless on Thanksgiving weekend, and feel like I've done my part.  

God calls us for more than having all the latest gadgets.  He calls us to help widows and orphans, and I'm not ignoring that call.  It looks like I will be getting 3 year old brother in the near future.   I am not afraid, for God is a loving, good God, and I have a "MANSION".   

God doesn't call the equipped.....He equips the Called.    Will you let Him call you?

You will never find more peace... and the pay may not be terrific...but the benefits are outstanding.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

One big puzzle

Lately, I have been getting asked this question a ton, "So, how long are you going to have your lovelies?"

The answer is....I don't think about it.  Really.

If I were to think that this situation will last a couple of weeks, a couple of months, a couple of years, it would probably be too overwhelming to wrap my mind around.

It's just like Laynie.  We never projected out.  We lived right in the minute and didn't allow ourselves to jump forward and think like that.

It's just too big and too complex to wrap my head around.

At church, Craig said that in our earthly bodies that we couldn't be able to be in the presence of God because he was too much for our minds to understand.  I think that is how most everything is for me.  It's all too much for my mind to understand.  :)

Like yesterday for instance,  I was so tired and worn out from not sleeping, that I got overwhelmed and let doubt creep in.  WHY am I doing this?  HOW do I face these parents tomorrow?  WHAT was I thinking?  HOW LONG is this going to last?   And then, all the sudden, the enemy is in the front seat with me, and dang near driving my car.

Oh, hell, no, Satan.  You have no business here.

So, I got rest, and I'm thinking clearly this morning.  BUT, it didn't mean I didn't falter last night.

I was short with lovely because she talks to her mom on the phone for hours at night.  Because they are limited to one phone call a day, they push that boundary and talk and talk.  I was over it last night.   That was the enemy working to cause chaos in my head.

If I was separated from my kids, I'd do ANYTHING to figure out a way to talk to them.  So, I'm not going there.

And it's not just about fostering, it's about LIFE.   Life is one gigantic puzzle.  You have work pieces, and friend pieces, and kid pieces, and relationship pieces, and family pieces, and difficult pieces and pieces that are even lost.  

It's all about doing that puzzle one piece at a time, and knowing that you're doing the best you can do with each piece.  It's not easy, and sometimes you spend hours on ONE AREA of the puzzle, and you work and you work, but when it's done, you look at it, and say,  "Dang, that was worth it".

But it's a challenge, and the best part is, if you have God on your side and He's navigating you through the pieces and putting them and YOU where He has you planned, that puzzle is far easier to navigate.

One piece at a time, people.   Don't get overwhelmed looking at the whole puzzle..... take it one piece at a time.  And pray over each piece.  

Isn't life amazing?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The way things Work

This has been one of those "Wow" moment days.

Kids did great.  First time since she's been here, lovely just got up with no problems and did the dang thang all day.  Kids doing fantastic.

This one is about me.

You might (or might not) know that I sold funeral prearrangements for about 8 years.  I rocked that, and enjoyed it as well.   After Laynie died, and I had left the field for a few years... I let my insurance license lapse.  Something I said I would NEVER do.

Totally did it.

Considered getting it a couple of years ago, not to go back into preneed but just to have for other stuff.  Never could get past the whole "Test" thing.  Didn't want to have to face that again.  (I have a fear of testing, called, "stupidity")  SOOOOO, needless to say, I put it off.

I love my job.  I love the clients where I work, I love the mission of the non-profit, I love my supervisor, I love my coworkers, I just love love love it.

So when I got a call from a former company I had worked for back in the funeral days, I considered it for a second, and kind of blew it off.

Until I read my bible that evening of the call.  I always just pray and then open the bible, it's amazing to me how what I need is given to me.  And that night, it chilled me.  I randomly turned to Ecclesiastes 7 and verse 2 read  ..

"It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals.  For you ARE going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time."  

For.the.everlovin' love.

It gets better...

"Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.  A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now."

Well, when a door is thrown open in your face, you best not ignore it.  So, I agreed to an interview, and told them I would study and take the test, and see what happens.

I passed without even throwing up.

I had to give notice at my loving workplace, but even in that there isn't sorrow, because I've made longterm friends there.

I'm leaving a salaried position to chase a commission position.  Those of you that have ever worked commission know that is WHOA, scary.  But I know how good I am (I put the "Fun" in Funeral) and I will do fine....

I worked purposely to the 15th, because I thought I was a check behind, but alas, I found out today that I am not.  So I will not be getting a check on the 30th of this month, because...well...there's that stupidity thing again.

So I'm talking to Lacey on the way home from work, and she reminds me that I am the one that just yesterday typed about BLIND FAITH, and WALKING WITHOUT WORRY, and WHY do I let SATAN destroy my faith?  (Man, she's my kid)  and at that precise moment my favorite song in the world (right now) came on...

And I just cried and drove and sang with my hands in the air (which terrified the drivers around me) but I knew that MY GOD is greater than My WORRIES.

So it wasn't any shock to me when my new manager to be texted me and told me that I had better get ready because I have so many leads WAITING for me, that I would never stop being busy for awhile.  I just raised my hands and sang....

"My God Never Fails, He Never Gives Up, He NEVER runs out on me"

That's why I like walking the narrow path.  Faith, Overwhelming Peace, and Grace.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hope Rains...

Lovely woke up very unhappy this morning.  She knew she was going to school and she tried her old tricks, which thankfully, she knows now, aren't going to faze this old girl.

She dutifully got ready, not happy anywhere in sight, and I raced Hallie to school then back the other way, to attempt to get LB to school on time....We raced in and his teacher and counselor were waiting, and he was set.  I got a phone call from his resource teacher at lunch and she told me he was  "a bright light of sunshine" and he was a "Tiger".  I already knew all that.

I had Lovely to myself about 30 minutes before we went to middle school to make her drop, so I got to go over the school's expectations, and of course, Lolly's.  She was remarkably docile, and I had my breath held and fingers crossed.

I'm so silly.

She walked in like she owned the joint, joked with the counselor (who hasn't seen her since the great melt-down), and we found out that her resource teacher had been a past teacher when she was younger.  Can you believe this???  Lovely felt immediate calm, and had a "buddy" assigned to her, that shares her same schedule, and, about the same IQ, and she didn't spare me a backwards glance as I skipped out of the school.  I kept expecting my phone to ring all day, but prayers were covering her, and when I got the "thumbs up" email from the counselor, who could NOT believe the difference in this kid, she couldn't help but comment that, "It is nothing short of a miracle that this kid is doing so well".

I prayed with both of them as we raced LB to school.  They both chimed in "Amen", and I knew it was going to be a good day.

I picked them up from their after school care, and the delight on their faces, and the skipping around me to the car, (Even from lovely) made Hallie and I laugh out loud.  They couldn't talk fast enough to tell us about their successful first days.  LB told me he "Ran like the wind" in his little crew shoes (which had me worried), and lovely told me even though her new friend that helped her find her classes, "wasn't pretty on the outside, he sure was pretty on the inside".

I am so proud of her.  She has zero filter.  She says what she thinks and isn't afraid to say ANYTHING.  She's very literal and takes everything you say at face value.  The other day, the dogs had ran out of water, and we were outside, and I made the comment, "I'm such a bad mom", and she piped up, "YOU BAD MOM?", and Lacey had to explain to her that it was just the way I talked.  Now, I really have to engage my thinking cap before I speak. She said that a couple of girls had told her she had a "Wig" on, and she was "Fat", and she told me that she said that, "You jealous of my nappy hair?" and the "I like to eat".   She was so animated, telling me about her day, I was captivated.  That sweet little face just talking, talking, talking.  Such a difference.  Covered in prayers.

I hear them in the other room, watching the presidential results with Hal, and I hear, "What happening with O'Romney" and my heart is happy tonight.

The thing about prayers.  You can ask and ask for something, and the deal is, it's all about faith.  Faith that God will deliver.  Doors open, and you just walk through them.  You don't question, you don't be scared, you walk in blind faith, and obedience and His will and His path for you is shown clearly.

I took my own path my whole life.  Took the wide path, with a lot of other wide path followers....and I never found peace and happiness.  Now I've taken the narrow path, the path that few will choose, and though there are some rocky moments, that path never fails.   That path is freedom.  Freedom from worry, freedom from guilt, freedom from burden.....

Hope rains and reigns in this home.....

Monday, November 5, 2012

In the Beginning....

I really wanted to go to work today.  I was trying as hard as I could to get the lovelies enrolled and squared away, so I could get some hours in today.

Didn't happen.

What did, though, was short of a miracle.

I say that, but after all that has transpired, it's really not.  We took Hal to school, and I got the lovelies dressed and in front of the tv, just like any good mom, and got on the phone.

I needed everyone on the same page, and that took some time.  I have NO information about my kids.  So I just stupid called the old principal at the school and talked to her.  She was so helpful, and though she couldn't give me tons of information, she gave me WAY more than I had before I called her.

We walked into the counseling office that had housed a wailing lovely last week, and she strutted in with her new clothes and haircut, and bless the secretaries hearts in there....they all just went nuts over her.  Of course, she just strutted even more, and I was so proud of her.   I timed it so the 6th grade lunch was almost over, and she got to see the other 6th graders streaming through the hall and I made the comment, "It looks like a whole bunch of kids like you."  I saw her visibly relax.  Baby steps.

Got Little brother (Going forward LB) enrolled, and he was bouncing off the walls.  Found out today in his paperwork I secured from the old school, that the little dude wears glasses.  "LB, you wear glasses?"  "Oh, yeah, but just to see."  Good thing I'm nosy, cause his caseworker didn't even know that.  Weirdly, NO ONE had caught it but me.   I'm nosy and read everything.   So we are getting the boy his glasses so he can see.

Caseworker came and brought us some clothing vouchers, more paperwork, and just a lovely visit.  She really is the bees knees.  Of course, she's my first one, so I don't have a basis for comparison, but I think she is just about the most terrific thing on the planet, and make sure I text her that often, because the last thing I want is for her to ever quit.  She is exceptional.  The whole experience with the system of DHS has been exceptional, and I don't think that very many people say that enough.  They are so overworked, and underappreciated and I, for one, could NEVER in one million years do the job that they do.  So, that's my kudos to DHS.

Lovely continues to amaze me.  Especially tonight, which is the title of the blog.  As I read through their IEP's, I see they are both lagging in reading.  Well, reading I can do.   Math, oh boy.  Get a tutor, but reading?  Bring it.    I know they both LOVE talking about the bible, and I just happen to have 2 beginning bibles with the stories in them, so we read Genesis.   Well, I say we read Genesis, actually Lovely recited it to me.  She knew every day of creation (I have trouble remembering those myself) and almost burst my eardrum, excitedly telling me about Noah and the flood.  I made them read, taking turns, and those two turned into comedians, talking in "God" voice, and then scooby do.

I let them take them to bed, and gave them flashlights to read with (I used to love that), and when I went in to tell them lights out a few minutes ago, they had already done it and were giggling talking to each other.

I told them it was going to be an early get up and rise and shine, that they better get to snoring, and LB pipes up, 'Lolly, we love you, You do good job today."

Buddy, you have no idea what a treasure you and lovely are to me.  You may think you will learn so much from me, but truly, I am learning more from you.

Today was a good, good day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Out of the mouth of Meanies

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the stuff screamed at me on Friday.

It wasn't fun at the time, but a few did crack me up, but of course, I wasn't going to react, but some of them are really over the top.

She may be a pre-teen, but in some respects, she is still very much a 6 year old, and today, in my 18 month old room, I saw a little girl act JUST LIKE HER, and it was a revelation, that 11 year olds are just big giant babies wrapped in a big ole body....

All of these said in crescendo voice.....

Said one million times.... "I want out of here".  ( life is so out of control)

Said one millions times..... "I hate it here"   (meaning....this isn't my home)

"I can't stay here" .... (meaning....I'm so alone)

"This not safe place" ...... (meaning.....she's been to many unsafe places to even know that term)

"I hate that piano, that music makes me sick"   ( suck, and I don't want that soothing music being played right now)

"This bald headed baby with glasses is weird, and I don't like it" ....  (well...that one pinched, but it wasn't something we hadn't said a few times ourselves)   (talking about Laynie's pictures which she was standing in the hall looking at when she was sent to her room)

When this didn't faze me, she moved on to insults....

"Oh, you live in your big ole mansion, and it just stupid"  (my barely 1200 sq ft mansion)

"Oh, you have crunchy bed and it poke me and it not safe"  (mattress pad issues)

"Call 9-1-1, I'm here against my will"  (too sad to even know she knows that term too)

"I not eat your white food, I vietnamese"    (really, you hadn't screamed that 300 times at me already)

"You got fat face and I think you not pretty"  (well, happy birthday  (inside joke)

"Why you keep me here, you want to hurt me?" (said in question form)

After grammie came over to check on me, and beat a hasty retreat when, with a new audience, she tuned it up even worse....on grammie's leaving......   "Who that old lady?  She just come to stare at me?"   meaning "I'm not ready to meet people, and you are weird enough, without bringing your older clone into the mix)

My friend, Becky came over, and helped me get brother's bed together, and kept me sane 1 1/2 hour, when it was reaching it's peak momentum, and after I told Lovely that she would have to leave the room and go scream in another one, so I could talk to my friend, she made the comment.... "Oh, you have friend?"

Becky asked her, "What do you want to do", she replied, "I want to leave this place"....

Here's the deal, Lucille........hurting people hurt people.  She seriously cried and screamed for 8 hours.  I know she said many more things, but I was kind of in a facebook "SAVE ME" zone.  My friends came through and we did it.

Fast forward 3 days....she isn't perfect yet, and I bet a million dollars, I spend my share of time in the principal's office with this one....but we have a night/day different lovely sleeping tonight.

This one tells the hair dresser, "You think I hot now?"

Yep, I'm definitely going to be in the principal's office with this one.

Nappy Hair and Best Friend Status

It's been a really good day.

I can't believe I'm saying that, but I really really mean it.

Little brother got up at the butt crack of dawn and I heard him in the shower, getting ready for the day.  He is such a joy.  Without any surprise, I realized he had totally cleaned the bathroom when he was done.  He puts his dishes away, wants to clean the kitchen constantly, and makes both of their beds.  Lovely has ordered him around like a servant and I shut that down pretty quick, so after a few BIG sighs, she got her booty out of the chair and did her own "Fetch and Carry".

I was a bit anxious about church today.  The kids classes are big and loud and I wasn't confident in Lovely's reaction to all of it.

Silly me.

Prayers were covering us and she and little brother LOVE church.  The kid listens to KLOVE in her room at my house, for goodness sakes.  And "Here I am to Worship" was playing when they walked in the room, and they lit up like Christmas Trees.  "LOLLY, we LOVE this song".  I let Lovely go in the younger room with Little brother because she is just a calmer, nicer being with him nearby....and as we walked in the room, she pointed into the big kid room, and said, "That place look good", and I told her that it was where she could go, if she thought she could be cool, and she said, "Let me think".   When I picked them up between services (I serve at the next service, and they knew they'd have to do the room twice), she offered to go in The Loop, because she was "cool".  Dropped her off, she didn't even look my way, a Vietnamese woman was in there serving, and life was good.

Saw several loving friends this morning that gave me very needed hugs, and seriously, during worship, I was so emotional, because God is SO GOOD.  He is faithful and He does everything in His time.  Everything happens for a reason, and I just trust and believe that what is going to transpire is His will and I am taking it one day at a time.   Only one day.

I'm being so transparent on this journey, and the good thing is...everyone knows what is going on.  I don't have to explain to hardly anyone, anything.  It's so nice to have everyone in the loop.  What a bunch of loving welcomes from my friends to my lovelies this morning.  Miss Lovely wasn't very welcoming, as she approaches most everyone as a potential enemy, but little brother is full of light and welcome hugs.

Lovely only asked for mom one time today.  She talked to her on the phone for about an hour (little bro didn't even look at the phone, he is not even phased) and cried and was upset, so that just wears me out.  Three steps forward, five steps back.   I hear visitation with parentals is even more taxing, (I can't even imagine).

Took them for haircuts at JCP this evening.  JCP gives free haircuts on Sunday, and boy, did they take on a monster with Lovely.

She has 3 peoples head of hair on one head, and it was full mast when we arrived.  I had tried to tame it for church, but it has such mass and curl that by appointment time, it was full circle.  I swear I heard the hair stylist gulp from the other side of the room.  It seriously took 4 hairdressers to figure out a cut that the white woman could handle in a morning rush to school.  Found out she has some african american in her, so the neatest hair dresser in the world (a precious african american lady) says, "Oh, I Pegged that" and gave me soooo much information, with a firm, "Don't wash that nappy mess for 5 days".   Gulp.  Gulp.  Ok.

Little bro had told me that his hair (that was hanging over his ears), was making him "deaf".  So when he got his spike cut, he strutted like a peacock and I just almost had to sit on him to keep him spinning on the chairs while Lovely took 2 hours.  I tipped them well on their free haircut....and my new hairdresser friend, told me to get that "Nappy hair back in there to get a relaxer on it".  I'm still laughing.   Lovely asked me, "Lolly, what's nappy?"   I told her it meant thick and glorious.   She smiled and liked it.

Those two little souls.  Rocking my world.  Little brother announced again that I was his best friend and he was so happy.  "Thank you for taking care of us, Lolly. Thank you for my haircut, and getting rid of all Sister's hair.  You my best friend in Norman, maybe Oklahoma."

So far, It's all worth it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Just another day in Paradise

Woke up in a very different environment this morning.  I had little brother staring at me at the end of the bed. "Good morning, buddy".  "Hi Lolly, do we eat?"

As I blearily looked at the clock and realized it was 6:30, I thought, Welcome to your second motherhood.

I told him to go lay down for a little while longer while I got a shower and wait for everyone else to wake up, and when I finished with my routine, he had woken "the beast", also known as "Lovely."

She looked extra special this morning after her benedryl induced hard sleep.  Hair was straight out, distrust still all over her face, and as I jiggled her bed and teased her with "Good morning sunshine", she just glared at  me.   I thought.... "Oh crap, here we go again".

I just talked to little brother and we went in the kitchen where he declared, "I LOVE some pancakes", so pancakes it was.   Asked lovely if she would like some, to which she surly replied, "I don't eat here".   CRAP.  More CRAP.

I just ignored and continued to mess with little brother who delighted me more by the second.  In the advent of cooking smells in the air, my 6 foot tall teenager lumbered into the kitchen, yawning and smiling, "PANCAKES?"

Then from the front room, "I want call my mom".   OH CRAP.

Continue eating pancakes.  "I want call my mom".

Called mom.  Phone disconnected.   Could feel the tension escalate more.   Crap!

Called sister.  "It too early, why you call me?"....  "WHERE"S MY MOM"??

This kid has been the peacemaker, peacekeeper, problem solver, translator for this family her whole life.  What's her role now?

I had a small visit with her about the expectations and how we needed her to try to eat, and try to do her best to get along with me, and reinforced how happy I was to have her and little brother there and that it was my job to do the worrying, and it was their job to be kids.  Phone rings, it's mom.   Praise To the LORD.  The new rule is one call a day,  so the worry of needing to be the one to call and check and control and take care is taken off her very young shoulders.

One hour later, phone call is over.  Mood seems somber, but level.

Let's go shop.  WOW.

The girl LIKES to shop.  Little brother likes to climb in racks. I watch my surly little grouchbag turn into a butterfly in front of my eyes.   Prayers covering us.  The trip to the mall is a huge success.

Now to stop 2.  I figured going to Walmart would be a nightmare.... not even a blip... kids didn't ask for ONE THING.  We had our list and we stuck to the list.  No whining, no asking, no begging, just happy to be there.

We got home and there were Target sacks on our porch, from a fellow foster mom, who dropped off a SANTA drop for my lovelies.  PJ's, Undies, socks, colors, marshmallow gun, stickers, and a BINDER for me to keep all the stuff from my lovelies organized.  (Who thinks of that????)   Wow, i am blessed with some dandy friends.  And the kids???  Well they were ridiculous.   "I've ALWAYS wanted new underwear. These SOCKS are so cool  Can we eat these marshmallows"   Christmas in November.

Lacey, Kip and her friend Brandon, Hallie and her b/f Wyatt all come over, and after a shower and slipping in her new clothes, a new Lovely has appeared in the place of surly stinkbomb.  I watch in amazement as she charms and loves on Lacey.   A wii tournament ensues and I am further amazed at my reticent lovely, doing the MC Hammer, and shaking her groove thing to the sounds of "It's raining Men".   My heart starts to beat.

Little brother gets me in a headlock and tells me, "Lolly, you're my friend".  (said with an accent which even gains him more points)

By now, my lovely is poking fun at Wyatt (You like Hallie?  You think she hot?). (His braces freak me out) after Lacey explains that braces will be worn by most of her classmates and that it is to get straight teeth, she walks up to Wyatt and tells him, "Boy, I bet your teeth are going to be so straight".  Oh boy.

They are playing in the backyard with the basketball and it goes in the neighbors yard.  Lacey and Lovely go to retrieve and the neighbors french bulldog runs out to greet them.  He licks her right on lovely's leg and on the way home she exclaims to Lacey, "I didn't like that sausage nugget licking my leg".  She's fitting in more and more.

She eats pizza with everyone (she had a few bites of Macdonalds for lunch, so she's not starving to death) declares grammie's strawberry cake "Delicious" and only has a moment's pause with Lacey during the course of the evening, "I can't call my mom" and they get to visit about it.

I'm still sitting here amazed at the turn of events today.  She was sitting in the chair, singing along with the DVD of Camp Rock, and I just wonder at the difference a day, and a little brother...make.

He is played out, having played sooo hard with Wyatt, and sleepily hugs on my waist and tells me, "Lolly, they so mean to me at shelter, they hit me, and this is good place, you are my best friend in Norman."......and when I didn't think my heart could expand another inch.... a little voice from the chair next to me pipes up.... "Me too".

Refined by fire.....that's the life and triumphs of a foster mom.