Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Monday, April 29, 2013

On Being A Planter

I'm going to be transparent.  

It just works better for me.  

I'm afraid if I give up the kids God will maybe not bless me as much as He has been blessing me.  

There, I said it.  

The relationship and the closeness I feel to Him...well.... I don't want that to end.

Is He only blessing me this big because I am following His will for me?  

And if I give the kids up to a better home for adoption, will I lose His blessings?

That's pretty "all about me" statements, huh?

When I got into fostering, I thought I would get one child, keep them for a few months, until their parents pulled it together and help bridge the gap and send them home.  


I got the whole tamale, and no end in sight for the placement.  Most days, I don't let it bother me.  It just is what it is, and these kids need love and someone that gives a crap, and I am that person.

But when the rubber meets the road, and you have to start deciding futures and how deep you can go with these gets serious in a hurry.

I felt so sick today.  How in the world do you make a decision like that?  

I posted this on facebook, but I am going to share it again, because God speaks through some of the most interesting people to me.  

I had a 10 am appointment today with a random call-in at the funeral home.  I hadn't sought him out, and we've had trouble connecting to get the appointment.  It just so happened that TODAY ended up being the day.  As we got to visiting, he told me he was 84 years old, and that he was a retired pastor. Well, the more we talked, the more I liked him.  He was a true spirit-filled man.  And I sensed that and opened my heart and talked to him.

He listened to my heart about the lovelies.  He sat for quite a while, and then he said he had something for me.  He went to his office and came back with a small black binder.  Inside of it were about 100 handwritten highlighted pages, of his thoughts and interpretations of the verses, "You reap what you sow".  

He gently took my hand and looked me in the eye, and said,  "Young lady, some people are meant to plant the seeds.  Some people are meant to sow them.  And even more are meant to reap them".  I was trying to follow, and I looked at him, and tried to make a joke about being a brown thumb, and sowing oats was WAY in my past, and understanding all about reaping what I had sown.   He smiled at me, and said ever so kindly,  "You are a planter.  You tilled the soil, and planted the goodness of the seed.  You worked the ground that needed to be worked, and set the growing in motion.  There is good in that.  You've even sown the seed, by reaching out to the other children, and the older sister.   You are a planter.  There are many people out there that aren't planters, but they are brilliants reapers.  Believe that God can take your plant, and find the best reaper in the world for it".  

The peace that overcame my heart was instantaneous.  I am a planter in these lives.  That was always my goal, and I have achieved that goal.  I will continue to pour into them and help them sow their dreams, their aspirations and give them as many tools as I can equip them with to make them be ready for their lives.  

I am a planter.  

And that is enough.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Next Step

Today, at the bio parent visit, I totally skipped it.

Couldn't even bear to watch the awkwardness of the whole deal.

Parents still deep in denial, kids firm in their stance they aren't going back.

It's all a big fat mess.

Then, the social worker came for our monthly home visit and brought up the adoption subject.

"What are your feelings on the subject?"

Hello, what?

Adoption?  Gulp.  Forever?  Gulp.  Like, mine?  Gulp.

It's not that I haven't thought about it.  But when I think about it, it gets too big, too intense.  So I just can't go there.

I've prayed and prayed on this.  These kids need a mom AND a dad.  I can't give that to them.  These little boys need a male role model.  I can't give that to them.  And it's looking more and more that I will never date again, and the chance is shrinking daily that there will be a male role model for these boys.

So I need you all the network for me.  Network the skies for me.  If any of you knows ANYONE that is longing to adopt some wonderful, precious little souls that are seriously the best kids on the planet, you need to send them my way.

I think case worker is going to start pushing for termination.  I can foster them until a permanent home is found, and we can do visitation from my home, to make sure that the fit will work.   And pray, too.  Pray for these kids without ceasing, that God's will for them is done.  If I was 10 years younger, I think I could consider adoption, but the bottom line is....I would be 69 before BB would graduate HS.  And how fair is that to him?

So be in prayer, and network every resource for me, someone out there is wanting some children, and I can vouch for these kids that they are just precious little souls.

Pray with and for me, that I can be led exactly the way I need to go.  I covet your prayers.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Loving until It Hurts

It overwhelmed me, as I was driving to work today, that I needed to go on a full out LOVEFEST.  I've been very busy at work, trying to get those ends to meet, and I've been very distracted.

I was overcome with the desire to reach out to the parentals of my fosters.  I haven't shown them any love, and probably a whole bunch more resentment, and I wanted to just do something to shower them with good tidings.

I called all the support people and told them my ideas.

Shot me right down out of the sky.

Seems we are back to denial mode, and the only place denial is good is that River somewhere in Egypt.

I've told these kids at least 100 times, "If you don't start telling the truth about everything, nothing is going to change".  Well, it seems like the parentals are content with the way things are and have been, which puts these kids in a dangerous situation.

If nothing is wrong, then why are they living with me?  They clearly don't see any wrongdoing on their parts and blame the system for their children being with me.

I know people can truly 100% change.  Because I did.

But the difference was, I never didn't love God, and He tugged and pulled at me, and showed me His face in so many things.

And these parents are Buddhist and are probably only going to see a big fat man with no hair, sitting in the lotus position.  Not going to be much help there.

So.....I just keep living this crazy life, one day at a time.

And I'm going to do my best to love outrageously beyond myself, every chance I get.

Will you join me?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Being a Branch

Today when I went to church, and listened to one of our fantastic leaders speak on I am the was, as always, perfect timing.

In the spirit of being totally honest here, I have a serious confession.  This past week, I was really considering giving the kids up.

I was in a full blown, burn out, over my head, out of my league, giant Texas sized funk.

I haven't been nice.  I haven't been happy.  I haven't been a branch.

I started focusing on me.  I started looking in the mirror and saying, "Wow, you have a lot on your plate.   Wow, that's a lot for one person to handle.  Wow, I could be so much more free if I just took back my life."

It was ugly, and in being completely transparent, I was completely over it.

I have a special needs preteen, an emotionally needy 9 year old, and a 3 year old I can't understand.

It's beyond crazy.

As I put everyone to bed at 8 pm last night, and pulled my bible out, because I was so emotionally drained, and so needy for some word from God, I read from my devotional and realized I am not alone.

The whole problem was, I've been leaning away from the tree.  I've been so busy with LIFE that I strayed from my constant, from my source of power.  I haven't been reading my bible, I haven't been praying like I used to, and even during the KLOVE fundraiser this last couple of weeks, I've let the radio stray to other stations.

And I lost my way.

You can probably tell by my blogs.  I lost my way.

Today as Sam shared the message, he talked about how he didn't want to foster.  His wife came to him, and mentioned it,  already having 4 kids of their own, he kind of deflected the idea and went on.  Until he was reading in the bible one day, and it hit him like a ton of bricks that he was supposed to do more.

I know that feeling.

I have managed to kick this thing in the face for 6 months now, and roll along with people saying, "How in the world do you do it?  You are crazy.  You are mental.  Have you lost your mind?"

Well, yes, yes I have.  But it's a good kind of crazy. Then I stop and think about it.  I Really am C.A.R.A.Z.Y.  (that's really c-arazy, not just regular crazy). 

Where I struggle and fall short, though, is loving the parents of these children.  I carry a deep, ridiculous anger that I am certain translates to these kids.  And the reality is, they will probably go home.  And I need to be more of a branch when it comes to these parents.  I struggle with a woman that stays with a man that abuses her and her children.  I struggle desperately with that.  I struggle when the children scream out in terror at night, at dreams I can't calm, once they've had to see their parents.  I struggle with a system that can't demand justice from parents that let harm come to their children.  I struggle with all of these things.

But I am a branch.  I have to show love and give shade, and bear fruit for the branches that are growing around me.  I need you all to pray hard for me.  It was brought home how far from the vine I had traveled, and I have to have my vine to stay strong from for this journey I am on.

Please pray for me, as I struggle to be the best branch I can be.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fear Not- He is Near

I missed a week of work this past week, going to training in Abilene.  Though the training was very cool, and I learned a lot, it took me out of the game for a week, and it's tough getting rolling again.

I know I will be ok, but there is that anxiety level that creeps up and almost takes your breath away.

And why is it, it always happens in the middle of the night, when I am craving sleep the most.  I can wake up at 2 am, and lie there (Lay there, oh Mrs. Dinius is not proud of me right now), and stew and stew over every thing in the world that is wrong.

So reaching for my bible tonight, and my daily devotion, it was all about letting go of fear and knowing God is right there to catch you.

Bad news is everywhere.  It can start to pervade your soul if you allow it in.  The lovelies get so jacked up watching news that I have to totally turn it off in this house.  I'm wondering if that isn't the better way.

Sure, if Rick Mitchell were still here... I'd want to have bad weather everyday, simply to spend the evening with him.  (I had to throw that in)

But, bottom line, is....God never fails me. And He is Near.

I heard this song on the way back from Abilene this week and wow, did it speak to me.  After the senselessness of Boston, and the explosion in was very appropriate.

He is Near.   Just reach out to Him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I'm pretty open about all my stuff, and I'm going to share with you something that until recently I didn't even realize had happened.

I use to drink so much Dr. Pepper, I would kid that I need an IV drip of it going all day, to keep me fueled.

I'm serious.


Then about age 40, my waist started expanding, and I decided that the good Dr. was the culprit, so I switched to Diet Dr. Pepper.

It took me a few days, but then I embraced the icy goodness and started drinking it, just like I had my regular Dr. Pepper.

I'd stop by 7-11 at 7:00 in the morning, and get me a big gulp to get me through the day.  I would gulp that first burn down and the rest of the cup would slide right behind it.  By the time I would get to work at 8-830, I needed a refill, so I'd fill it back up.  Sometimes I'd make it until noon before I refilled it, but usually it was around 10, for pop #3, then I'd have a fresh one at lunch, and chase it with probably 2 more in the afternoon.  It was nothing for me to bang back 6-8 DDP's in a day.  And I was proud of it, because there weren't any calories involved.

I was able to do this for about 10 years. And didn't think one thing about it.   

Then someone told me that my forgetfulness was probably a by-product of the "aspartame" in the soda.  My dental hygienist, Kim, was appalled at my intake, and for years, every time she saw me, she would implore me to stop drinking so much, that it was literally taking calcium from my bones.

Finally, after not being able to string a sentence of words together, honestly, I'm not sure what it was that made me decide to stop, but I just did.

I traded DDP in for tea, and I try to sweeten my tea with Stevia or real sugar, and just take the lumps on my waist line.

It was hard.  I'm not going to lie.  Even with the tea in my system, I had the worst killer headache I've ever experienced, for about 2-3 days.  I was sluggish and cranky, and I kidded that I was going through withdrawal.

Sadly, I was pretty close to the truth.

When I turned 51, I started having serious problems.  I couldn't sit for more than 15-20 minutes without hurting intensely all over.  My knees ached.  My hips hurt so bad that I really couldn't sit.  It killed me to sit at a movie, and I would restlessly move in my seat back in forth, willing the movie to end so I could get up and get some relief.  The tops of my feet were numb.  It was so weird.  And mainly, I really couldn't keep simple things in my head.  I fear Alzheimers, the disease that took my grandma, and I'm thinking now, that was the whole reason for the withdrawing from the drink...making sure it was only the drink.

My memory did return (somewhat, I still have the 50 year old normal problems now), but better yet, as I was driving down to Abilene this week, I realized I didn't hurt at all.  I drove almost 5 hours and didn't have to get out once to walk and stop hurting.  I haven't had an Alleve for a while.

It's a Christmas Miracle.

When Dawn, the trainer here in Abilene at my work, started talking about how she had to buy a new bed because she was hurting so bad, and I watched her drinking her Diet Coke, exactly the way I used to, it all clicked in my head.

This delicious stuff that we all crave and's killing us.

And as for me, I want 30 more quality years.  I don't want to be all hurting and unable to move because I won't give up my drink of choice.

I had a soda the other day (a regular DP) and it was so sweet, and heavy and left sweaters on my teeth.

I'm over soda.   Now tea.... that's another story.   I got to have my tea.  I'm sure there are side effects to it too, but for now.... Tea it is.

I'm just putting this out there for you to consider.  If you're young, you think you don't have to worry about it, but I'm here to tell you, it will catch up with you.

Friends don't let friends drink Diet drinks.

Feel free to share this blog with your friends.  If you are having pain or forgetfulness, and you drink a large amount of diet soda, I bet by just stopping you can turn it around.  It worked for me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

As the World Turns

Life is a soap opera. 

Pure and simple.

Injuries, sickness, drama, it's all encompassing.  There is usually something happening somewhere every second, and if there isn't, you need to hold on to your hat, because it's going to start shortly.

This weekend....

I have a training session looming over my head, which requires 20 pages of script to be memorized. 

I'm old.  I'm freak old.  And I have so much in my head, that memorization is nearly impossible for me. 

In fact, I dropped my college course this 8 weeks, because I really couldn't cram one other thing in.  And you know what happened?  OU rescinded my financial aid and charged me for my ENTIRE FIRST CLASS.   The whole point of financial aid is because you can't FREAK AFFORD IT.

I'm so ticked.  OU smacks.  Sorry OU fans, but they do.  I was given bad information from one department, and now the other department won't take responsibility, and they are trying to charge me $1500.  For ONE CLASS.   That is just ridiculous. 

So, my short lived college career is now over.  Not that it was going to help me go farther in life, it was just a bucket list thing, but MAN, that smacks. 

During all this, I'm trying to memorize.  Memorize, Memorize.  So much stress happening, I'm getting ulcers in my mouth.   Fun.

Then, I decide to take the lovelies with me to the next volleyball tournament because they've never been out of the state, and my cousins are there to help me and want to take them to the zoo.

Sounds great.  At the beginning of the week, Hallie jammed her fingers, and thought that was the worse thing that could ever happen to her.

OH SO WRONG.  During the huge volleyball tournament she took part in this weekend, she came down wrong on her ankle and tweaked her knee.  She kept playing, and by the time I got her to the trainer, after he manipulated it, and looked for the source, he decided it was the LCL (The lateral muscle on the outside) and he was hoping that it would only be hyper-extended.  Either way, it became a weekend of saran wrapped ice on her knee, and alot of hobbling, and limping.  And Hallie wasn't feeling good either.

Meanwhile, I was getting the sweetest pics from my cousins, of the happy faces of the lovelies at the Dallas Zoo riding the camel, and a text that read,  "BB has crapped a monkey.  I repeat, he has crapped a monkey".   I didn't feel by a minute of remorse for leaving this unpleasant task to the pediatric nurse whose care I had left him in.  As she fed him his 2nd bowl of beef and noodles, and third piece of pineapple (The little dude can EAT now), I told them,  "His poop is going to run you out of the house."   And I was right. 

They had the most fun time, and Lacey said they talked 3 hours straight on the ride home, reliving every second of the day, over and over.  Good Good times.   Thanks Shannon and Megan, for rocking their world to another planet.   (for the record, I think Shannon has been on a heating pad all day today, recovering from walking).  LOL

Kip is still looking for a job, Lacey is doing everything she can to finish her thesis, so she can graduate May 10! (woot)... and Hallie is hobbling around, telling me everything is ok, and I do pray that is so. 

Health scares through out our family, and OU socking it to me in a stupid, major way (How do they expect me to pay that??) and during all of this running and taking kids to tutoring, volleyball, counseling, doctor visits, school psychologists, hearing tests, feet doctors, and making sure all the balls stay in the air.... trying to memorize a script.

I'm over it. 

Through it all, God is there.  I start to hyperventilate over any of one of the million things that is going on in my life, and I just close my eyes and give it to him.  Then take it back, and worry some more, and then give it back.   He gets very tired of playing tug of war with worry with me.  He's probably over it too.

Just give it to Him.

I'll get the kids where they need to be everyday (And so will Lacey while I have to be gone this week, everyone pray big prayers for her, this is not a job for the weak of heart), Hallie's knee will be supernaturally healed, and somehow in America, I will figure out how to memorize this dang script.

Prayers are coveted during this soap opera kind of living time. 

I am so tired of living in the  "When I get that done"....or "I'll do that as soon as I get that done".... or "I can pay that tomorrow".  

If Laynie taught me anything it was not to live forward.  Live full out in the moment, and embrace every single thing as it is handed to you. 

For just a minute though, I'd like to not have quite so much handed to me. 

Through it all, God is good.

Monday, April 8, 2013


There were two things that struck me in the face as I read through my homepage on Facebook today.

First ..... this......

And as I stared at this precious display of a beautiful wonderful homecoming, I was taken instantly back to these precious gifts....

 and how life has no time limit on how long our lives are going to be.  

All I could think of looking at the image of that little boy flying to heaven, free from his earthly shortcomings, how he was going to be free and whole in heaven, was our friend Payten Sutterfield, 3 years old at the time, declaring after her mommy told her that Laynie had died, being sad for just a moment, then smiling the biggest smile and declaring with 3 year old intensity,  "She's going to be so happy, mommy.  She's going to run and run and run."

Free from the earthly problems that plagued her, and even in that picture I could see Austin running toward Jesus and his heavenly home.   I found great comfort in the tears I wept as I remembered lives well lived.  

Then about the time I catch my breath from that, I run onto our friend, Trent and Keri Austin's facebook page, and they have shared a link to a song that just totally totally blew me away.  The only words that come to mind for this powerful song is "Anointed".  According to Trent, this guy was on the stage alone, and carried this song into worship.  He held me in his grip for the entire 8 minutes of the song.  It wasn't so much the pictures, or the images on the video, but the power and anointed grace of the man singing.

And on the heels of seeing that picture, and thinking about Laynie, Austin, and even Ellie Kate McLaughlin flying home to Jesus, it was a moment for me.  

But even more than are you flying in your walk?  He wants, no, he longs for you.  This video set every bell whistling in me.  It's long, and it's repetitive and it might not work for some of you, but it worked for me.  When he sings about ground warfare, I didn't picture it like the video, I see me struggling to keep the lovelies, and in spite of all the odds, make this thing work.  I see the enemy working hard to take my joy, but then the video says... "New places.... New perspective....... aerial view"....

When you get God, and you let Him take the reins of your life...He leads you to higher's still got bumps and twists, but it's ok, because now, you run to Him during those times, because He carries you through them..  That is the difference when you are Flying with God as your pilot.

"God has given you the it's time to spread your wings and fly....."

"He has set you free from the things that held you..... Now..... Fly......."


Friday, April 5, 2013

Good for Now

Been visiting with the lovelies teachers the last week or so, getting their Individual Education Plans in place.    LB is doing so good, that next year he will be mainstreamed into 4th grade and fly like the eagle he is.  He will still have assistance in testing, making sure he understands the questions, but he is kicking booty and taking names in school.

It matters a TON when your parents care about your education.

Lovely is doing better.  She is in special education classes most of the day with a group of smelly, hairy legged boys that really drive her to complete distraction.  Mean, smelly, full of boy goodness, my little lovely just doesn't handle that kind of stress well.

So, got a psych eval, so I could see what in the world I am dealing with.  Mainly post traumatic stress disorder, but on the learning side, possible dyslexia. 

That is tough.  I am a poor poor teacher.  (Remember the whole immigrant/gristmill from the Kip days).   I get frustrated that they just don't "Get" it, and that's not good when you have an entire house of Vietnamese  as their first language, speaking children.  Add a learning disability on top of it, and WHOA..  The report helped all the teachers get a better grasp on her situation, and I think things will start looking up.   The kid made a C in vocal music.   How does ANYONE make a C in vocal music??   She had a serious problem with the teacher and that teacher didn't give one iota bit of a crap about her home situation.  Some teachers wear me smooth out.

This isn't a perfect world, full of perfect mom/dad raising 2.4 kids kind of world.   I feel hopeful for Lovely because her #1 teacher is tutoring her, and her reading is improving tremendously.  Her social skills are becoming more mature (in spite of me) and though she does have her manic moments, she is really coming along.

Then there is Little Bit.  BB.  Cutey patootie with a killer smile, and a penchant for peeing his pants.  I took him to the speech pathologist this morning, and she was quite taken with him, once he came around and flashed that million dollar smile  (Warning:  that smile will take your heart to another dimension, for real)

When he came into custody, he wasn't potty trained, still breast feeding, and spoke no English.  Now he drinks from a cup, for the most part can make it to the potty, and speaks very broken, funny English.  I'm having his hearing tested Monday to rule out any hearing loss, and for now, we start at the simplest picture books and start learning words.  I think I will throw in fun spelling tests for Lovely and as BB learns the words, Lovely will have a refresher course in spelling. 

Today I was sharing their story with a couple I was working with at work, and the father kindly asked me, "Honey, when do you rest?"  I stared blankly at him, and said, "When I sleep".   

Seriously, I wouldn't have it any other way.   As long as Hallie doesn't feel slighted, I think we are pulling this off. 

Bubba told me the other day that I had thrown my dating life into the toilet, taking on three kids.  To that I say,  "Flush".   I will figure out all that later.  It might be God's will to keep me single.  And I'm totally content in that.  (Though a helping hand from an all-in partner would be ....well, I have no idea). 

I got a blessing gift today from a high school friend, and I have to tell you, the timing couldn't be more perfect.  Just about the time I start feeling a bit desperate and thinking, "How in the world do I stretch to ......" someone sends me a blessing and everything smooths out. 

That's how I know that it's all good, and it's right where I'm supposed to be. 

Thankful to friends, and teachers, and my daughters and my mom, who came over and highjacked Lovely to come watch the Thunder (Lovely says  "Dunder") with her.   Of course, LB was so sad, so i broke out the "Tin Tin" movie I had saved for them, and now they are covered up laying on the couch totally enthralled in this little boy dream movie. 

Peeps, it don't get much better than this.    Dating?  I got two men in my life that take up all my time and make me a better person.   I think I'm good for now.

One day at a time.  That's all I project out.  One day at a time.