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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Here Goes. . .

I had originally sent this as an email and message to a few people who have shared an interest in our journey in foster and adoption, if you didn't get this it's not because I omitted you - I just know these days fostering / adopting is all I really talk about... - however over the last few weeks so many others have asked about how everything is going and it is so in depth really hard to squeeze it all visually into words much less on paper errr... digital space? More so importantly it gives us a chance to shout out - how Incredible our God is!

....Here Goes....

I feel like I am running a constant rat race between all of the appointments - I need to write one mass email to everyone who has gracefully cared to check on us and X... Well here goes, grab yourself a cup of Joe because it's lengthy ~ so many people have asked how he is doing and what is happening... this is as close as I can get on paper/ e mail (and now blog) - so sorry in advance for it being lengthy....

Last week (November 2011) X had a permanency hearing, we were uncertain on what to do as we have never attended one, I called his CPS caseworker to see if she wanted us to go, she said ask the ad litem.... So I called him, and his response was this...

"The family court system is an open forum to the public anyone is welcome to go" Well nice ... But are we needed?? As you and I both know that is a crazy drive to make and I am already going nonstop running around as it is not to mention I will have to make special arrangements for X since I won't be able to care for him if I do go. Again he (the ad litem) said I could go but it was entirely up to me. I have prayed on many things since we have had X in our home, to give you a glimpse of those prayers, Please help this little boys heart have some of your sweet peace, Please help this little guy adjust into our home, please guide us on what doctors are needed to help him heal and recover from his injuries both physical and emotional, please oh please let us be able to adopt him - ahhh that last one I mentioned... Changed over the course of a couple of months... I saw my want and selfishness in that prayer and really it was gimme things that I really had not searched in my heart of hearts. Something changed in the whole seriousness of what was going on in X's little life, he needed a permanent home to just love him and be there for him, one that would let him blossom and fully thrive into a Good purpose greater than ours.

I woke up Thursday morning @ 4 am realizing I really don't own nice clothes to attend court ... Frustrated I though on a casual sweater and jeans... Justified wearing sneakers as I was walking in downtown Joseph would watch X along with the help of Noel as he was still going to work - so X would be going to work with papa Joe on this day as well - One of the things I have learned this far in fostering is that unless you have a very familiar back up caregiver, it's just not great leaving them... Not good for the child and can be very stressful for the person who hasn't cared for him or her or a child who has a higher level of constant demand for whatever needs he or she may have. So I made it to downtown Houston... I vaguely recalled how much Houston traffic stinks and I mean in a sense of driving in it.... It can test your vocabulary and compassion for others on why they feel the need to cut you off just to get a car length ahead of you... Or the need to ride my bumper... Or the urgency of where they have to be appears to be more important than anyone else.

As I sat there observing other cases, my heart broke for the desperation for the young lady on the bench in front of me wanting her children back... I should have asked her if I could pray for/with her and I missed that chance to do so on the many times she left and returned to the court room because of losing her ability to not to cry .

X's cases was last to be heard... I had shown some pictures to his ad litem before we were called just so he could see how he was doing and in case the judge was curious... The judge seemed nice enough but yet very stern and unwilling to really listen to what anyone had to say including me (even after asking me if I had anything to say) He also so kindly mentioned that this has become some kind of contest with all those who are involved on the legal teams that he can't say what kind of contest it was because it would go on permanent record. He stated that there would be a trial in February.... And prior to that there needed to be a mediation so that everyone could try and come to some sort of agreement - Did I mention this entire time I was standing there less than an arms distance from X's biological mom??? The judge then asked her if there was anything she wanted to ad... And she said yes , since the last hearing she had met a family that was in her aunt and uncles church that was willing to adopt X and that she wanted a home study on them and that WHEN they passed she would relinquish her rights to him as her mom and let them adopt him.... My headed started spinning as so my stomach as the judge ordered CPS to do the home study for consideration. It never ceases to amaze me at how our minds can run a million and 1 thought processes - and still hear what is going around you absorbing it all in - in a split second I felt my heart rise up into my throat and at the same time fall... Did he just order a home study to be done on a family that has no idea who X is, and X has no relation or idea who they are????? Seriously?? The judge all of the sudden asked me how did I feel and all that could come out was that " I am concerned" before he cut me off on my full thought, with "WE ARE ALL CONCERNED" this is a difficult case! When all I needed to say was that I was concerned on the progress X has made, the bond he formed with us, that he only just turned 2 a week prior to this date and that we WE are the only family he has known as an actual family for the last year of his life of having 5 homes including his birth home... In under 17 months of living, but I never was given that opportunity to finish that thought. At some point the lawyers and judge were discussing legal jargon when X's ad litem asked mom if she wanted to see the pictures I brought to court... ( I literally had them developed less than 24 hours prior) she said yes, I glanced over and my reserved shyness dissipated in an instance as I looked at her take them in her hands and slowly thumb through each one observing them, as I wondered what she thought as she looked at them, and then fell out with out me even thinking... If you would want those, you are welcomed to them - If you know me more than a hug or hand shake, you know I am very reserved and to myself at first... This ??? This was NOT me. I mean I just wouldn't talk openly and expose my thoughts- well they weren't my thoughts I was too busy observing her look @ his perfect smile and precious face.... @ some point during the process another family becoming considered for X's forever home, I just said OH GOD..... FATHER ..... Please help me keep it together, Lord please do not let me fall apart in here, and God please let you perfect plan for X unfold and if another home has your blessing on raising this little boy... Please let me have peace and strength in you and every judgement I had in my mind about his mom didn't matter anymore it was gone, the accusation of how could you, why would you, didn't matter as if it didn't exist... And what I saw was a young mom searching in her heart for something just as I was... She said yes to keeping those photos as we both just stood there, I realized at that time we both were lost in the uncertainty of what would happen we both shared a unique interest no matter the underlying reason it was a shared emotion that was unspoken.

Just when I thought it was all said and done.... The ad litem asked her, her uncle and myself into the hallway... And called the uncle into another room... and she and I stood there in that empty hallway... In silence... Again words fell out of my mouth - I just want you to know your son has been such a blessing to not only our family but to many others that have come to know him... And we have been honored and blessed to be a part of his journey... And she looked with a pause... And said thank you... And within seconds a ton of her own reserved thoughts surfaced... Are you a Christian home? Yes, Do you and your family attend church? Yes, Do you have your own children??? Yes... 3 daughters and 1 son.... DJ 21 - who just recently got out of the army, Tre 19 who just graduated high school this past year... And my youngest 2 12 and 13 Noel and Sabrina who are both at home with me home schooled... Probably for their last year as they both express an interest in going to public school for the various activities... In my head as all of this is falling out I had this little voice saying shut up... She doesn't care or need to know any of this but it kept coming out ... She then said - I just want my son to go to a home where I know he is loved, loves God, will share pictures and letters and let me know how he is doing, and without even thinking about it... I said WE COULD AND WOULD DO THAT!!!! And as quick as I said that she too said GOD told her while standing before that judge today when she saw me... She felt that she was being told to reconsider leaving X where he is... In in the same breath I will sign over my rights today, at that time tears resurfaced and that same request of Lord please help me maintain composure also came out... And the door swung open and the ad litem called us both in there, and he told her I came on my own freewill today... That I was not asked, or told to come and that I am here because we also care about her son. She told him that we talked and she wanted us to raise him she wanted us to be his forever family... And said okay that he would start working on the paper work and the he personally would handle the adoption! The mom and I exchanged numbers, and hugs, and went our own way after riding down the elevator.... So many emotions I held myself together feeling like I had to keep myself on the ground, knowing she may change her mind at any given chance...

Since then we have talked a few times via phone, and she has told her lawyer as well as X's CPS caseworker her decision and they all agree that this is the best decision for him!!! I still remain guarded and will have to somehow remind myself that isn't over til those papers are signed... However with each phone call I hear her sincerity... And this last time she said she will start sending his personal stuff that he has... His birth certificate, social security, etc...

I am in complete amazement as I sit here Thanking God for encouraging me to go to court, thanking God for being my voice when all I could do is sit on the rat wheel as my brain circled in a whirlwind of thoughts... Thanking God for the revelation of this is not about our family adopting X, it's about realizing this little guy is HIS ... And this entire time he had his eye on him and in his life, and that I needed to trust and ask for him to be safe and be wherever God wanted him to be, acknowledging and fully embracing and trusting even if that family is not ours... That HIS goodness will always shine through for HIS GLORY... That became our prayer for the last 2 months... Not what we wanted for ourselves but for X. When we became content and just completely trusted without trying to alter/control this whole thing... When we said okay God He is yours, you love him more than we ever could... And had faith that it would all work out for HIS good.

I fail on a regular basis of falling into desperation.....

As I am Gracefully reminded of what kind of God we serve....

Thank You God for loving me and teaching me how to love others... As hard as I think it will be, it isn't Lord when I surrender my all and let you love through me....

Aside all of the above, I also fail in forming my thoughts and words onto paper... I carefully remember that I need to honor our foster sons privacy as well as those involved... And have to refer to him as X for the time being... And remain in constant prayer until the day we can say (hopefully soon) X.... Our son thank you everyone for walking along side of us in this journey... Thank you for your continued prayers.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He Makes Beautiful Things

Everyday is made up of a multitude of things... Everyday we have choices to be a blessing or inflict our ability to be down right ugly to those around us. When we are Christ filled we can't help but be vessels of what God is doing in us and sharing that light with others.

Everyday we are filled with several feelings - pride, hate, love, anger, sadness, pity, happiness, etc . . . We are walking images of Christ and as children of a Glorious Father we should employ ourselves to be a blessing every chance we get. A Blessing to our spouse, children, teachers, friends, co-workers, strangers... at some point each of us have accepted Christ into our hearts and when we did we had that desire to be better - to be new.

Have you ever heard a song that just lifts you up and stays with you???

It’s a beautifully written song with an incredible message of hope, encouragemt, reassurance and faith.

The hope is that you’ll take what God is doing in your life or gifting you with and run with it, run with a passion that sets your life on fire burning with desire to serve and glorify HIM -a fire so magnificent it becomes contagious.

The encouragement is that God sheds his mercys on us daily, we wake up and we are renewed and refreshed and have another day to live for His beautiful works share that encouragement with those who
surround you and pray for good works that create a domino effect.

The reassurance is that regardless of where you and I have come from, what color our skin is, what your level of faith or unbelief is, how financially sound you may or not be, how intelligent or funny you are or aren’t ~ God can use you.  He makes everyone and everything beautiful.

The faith is simple or complex as one chooses to make it - faith is to know in your heart before you see with your eyes. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2Cor 5.7)

The words to this song had me looking up scripture using different key words…reborn, beautiful, blessings, and ultimately, new.

. . .

“Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others.  God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.  Are we commending ourselves to you again?  No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.  If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.  And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.  Either way, Christ’s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves.  Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.  At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.  How differently we know Him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us.  We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:11-21

It's a long verse... but it needs to be read in its entirety to grasp ~ Paul deliveres a message that is powerful... we are Christians and we are to be ambassadors for God. Be a blessing.  3 tiny words that carry a such massive responsibility. Our family, our friends, complete strangers, all may be waiting for us to be the ambassador that leads them to a relationship with our Father.  The thing is,  when we accept Christ into our hearts…truly and completely…we should be bursting at the seams with His light so that we have no choice but to share His good news!

So how is this message of hope incorporated into our relationships?  Simple.  When you’re made into something new through Christ, something beautiful, you live to be a blessing to those around you.  And when you do that, it becomes second nature to be a blessing to your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, colleagues, etc.  I’m not suggesting that it’s an easy thing.  And I’m also not trying to say that we don’t have our moments of relapse into ones self.  This much I do know, it's much easier to recover the more you live for Him.

 No matter who you are and what your circumstance is, God wants to have a relationship with you and HE can use you to make beautiful things, and (2) Be a blessing!

so thankful that Christ doesn't leave us the way we are when we come to Him...He makes all things new!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Home Improvement

So the carpet upstairs has been deemed beyond disgusting... It was Berber beige which would have never been our choice as our 4 children inhibited that space for a good portion of their growing years as well as various animals and foster children.... the carpet was stained, tattered, had multiple runs in it, toenail polish, glitter paint, spills, and other crafty stuff that certainly did not belong on the floor...

Two weeks ago we decided to take a plunge and decided to install laminate flooring, which we have never done... this involved ripping off all the baseboards and removing the disgusting carpet which I will show in a bit as embarrassed as I am - but for you to get the full impact it must be shown ;)

Yes I know - EWWWW - So as you can see we were LONG over due needing to replace the flooring upstairs...

But wait!!!
It gets even better.... after pulling up the carpet ... we were anticipating seeing the sub flooring-
UGH - the reveal was glorious country peel and stick blue a what once may have been white but now just yuck....

Not even trying to understand how this would be used in a bedroom... it actually encompasses the entire upstairs!!!

Here is a glimpse of when he started in the smaller room....

SO here is the new stuff!!!!

I am thrilled!!! - We still have Sabrina and Noels room to finish it's the largest one... @ 240 sqft. We also need to put up the new baseboards and PAINT - I dislike painting but it needs to be done... I have 1 teen girls room to paint and 2 unisex rooms and the hallway. Your ideas are welcomed!