Thursday, September 29, 2011

"The Help" Helped

I think sometimes the Lord uses strange things to get our attention. I just finished reading "The Help" and it won me over in many ways. I loved it. The movie was great too. However,  the one thing that hit home for me was Aibileen encouragement to Mae Mobley because she was not getting it from her mother.

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important." You can watch it here. Does that just not melt your heart?

After reading this and watching it I decided that I am going to put this into practice every morning and every night. Looking right into Miss D's eyes I tell her the same thing, plus how beautiful she is, special she is to us and that God loves her and cares for her. Tonight after I was finished she said, "AGAIN!".

It struck me this past weekend that I have not been building her up enough. What I do for her in her third year of life could define who she is as a person. I would hate to think that I never made time for encouragement but always made room for correction.

I hope that this time for us will bond our hearts, help me love her more, and make her feel valuable.
I can only imagine the hurt and confusion in her heart...Lord, may these words be balm to her spirit and heart.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Family Ref

Life is so busy. Going from two to three is a big jump...especially when you add a 3 year old. My house is always loud and I feel like I need to wear a black and white stripe shirt most days acting as our in-house ref. I finally learned for the most part to let them just have it out. To ignore it mainly and only focus on a few things. I got to the point where hearing my own voice was annoying.

The dynamics in our family has shifted and all kids are trying make our family puzzle work. Jack went from youngest to middle and the struggle there was painfully obvious...demanding all attention. Miss D went from the only child to a house of 3 and sharing was not in her vocabulary...but hitting and biting were.  Keegan turned into a full fledged Kindergartner...getting no naps...and is super tired when he gets home making afternoons miserable. Jack has missed Keegan so much while he has been at school and occasion has cried himself to sleep at nap time missing him.

In all of this I almost feel like things are beginning to settle a bit. There are days that I want to go outside and scream, and there are days where everyone seems to play together nicely. Miss D's hitting and biting streak has dramatically lessened, however the defiance has been kicked up a notch. "No" and "I don't want to" are her new phrases and boy...does that drive me UP THE WALL!!! Consistency has to be key with her, so time outs are given every time she says that..every time. We both hate it, however  I "think" she is getting the point that she can not disrespect me.

Last week she had her dental work done and after two visits, she has a shiny new "grill". Three silver teeth up top in the front and two in the back. We had to go back the second time because the dentist thought that a giant white tooth in-between two silver teeth looked right. (this was after I requested all silver) looked like a giant white tooth with 2 missing teeth on both sides of it. So, he made it silver and now it looks more uniform.

We had lots of one on one time while she was recovering from the dental work. She seemed to soak in the attention and her behavior seemed better. She kept on calling me "mommy" off and on and I told her that she could call me that if you wanted to. Now she is calling me mommy more than Mrs. Michelle. However, she informed me the other day that she has another mommy too. In a weird way, I feel sad for her other mommy.

Emotionally, this foster to adopt situation is super hard for me. The love I need for Miss D is just not natural. You think it should be that you are rescuing a child out of a situation and that you automatically will love them. I keep praying that God will give me an eternal love for her and something so unexplainable that I can only attribute to Him working through me. I care for her deeply, but am begging God to make me smitten with her like I am with my own boys.

God has a lot of work to do in our family...but I know He can do it and it will be amazing.
In the mean time...I will just put on my black and white stripe shirt and keep training my kids to follow God and walk in His truth...even when it is hard.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We're a happy fama-wee....

Since my last post was extremely depressing, I thought I should follow up quickly with a good post. Last weekend we went to my parents house for my cousin's wedding. We had a great weekend and I was able to catch my breath and Miss D had distractions (Gi Gi and G-Bob).

This week we have turned over a new leaf. Not to say that we want digress, but Miss D has stopped her tantrums quickly and the hitting has been few and far between. I can actually breathe and enjoy life as a family of 5. My neighbor Tawanda has been stopping by for an hour in the afternoons and it is just enough distraction to cook and get food on the table.

Week 5 has been a turn around for how she sees us. She has intermittently called me "mom" and "Mrs. Michelle". When she calls me "mom", Jack immediately corrects her and says, "No! That is not your mommy." I quickly correct him and let him know that I am for right now. Poor guy just does not get it..but really...what 3 year old can possibly understand?

At school today, she (with her teacher) wrote, "My name is Miss D. I love: Michelle, Keegan, Jack and Jonathan." My heart skipped a beat when I read that. Then after school, we were watching Yo Gabba Gabba, the family episode, and she said that she was in our family with a really sweet smile.

Her favorite song (ironically) to sing right now is "I love you, you love me...we're a happy fama-wee." Keep singing that Miss D and hopefully it will become a reality! (wow..I just rhymed)

God is really amazing. I could just cry writing this next part in pure happiness. God has not abandoned me.  Jen Hatemaker wrote this post that I totally identified with it. It is so good to have encouragement!  Also, I have a friend from church named Karen who got a 3 year old (Tia) and 5 month old (Annie) placement 5 years ago. (they are adopted now) I have been talking to her on and off and I feel like she is the only person right now that fully gets me in all of this. She has been there. She knows what I am feeling. Well...guess what? Annie is on Keegan's soccer team and I nearly screamed in excitement when they walked up to our first practice tonight.  I no longer have to play phone tag with Karen because I get to talk to her every Thursday and Saturday for a while. Praise God for His provision in my life. I can get some steady encouragement from someone who walked in my shoes. I love you knew what I needed.

Oh and yes.

I am an ordained "soccer mom" now. Yes, 5pm and I am putting 3 sets of shin guards on with those crazy long socks.


Now I just need a mini van. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The End of Myself

(This might be really depressing for you to read, but I want to document this from an honest approach. In Miss D's words "I ain't" going to sugarcoat anything.)

Week 4 has been very hard. I can not even really describe it to people, it is that challenging. Miss D hit this mean streak of hitting Keegan and Jack, shouting, throwing fits, etc....ALL DAY.  From what my Arrow rep says it is very normal for them to hit this wall at some point and their emotions play out their aggression.  They are looking into some play therapy for her to help her with this transition.

I had several melt downs of my own this week of full fledged crying.  I am not this kind of person but I could not pull myself together. I had so many emotions that I wished that I was not having. I wondered if I made a mistake bringing her into my family. I asked myself if I could love her the way that I loved my children. Could I work within CPS limits and not spank...because nothing else is working. I thought we dug ourselves in this hole and now there was no way out. My self-control was being tested beyond belief. Nat called yesterday and  in that moment I would of sent it to voice mail but instead I answered it for her to talk me down and lower my blood pressure.

The message that her and others have been saying to me over and over is that I must put my eternal eyes on. I know that...I really do...but in the moment it is hard. However, one thing she said hit home with me. I have come to the end of myself so that God can take over. Surrender all that I am. I was there. I did not even want to wake up the next morning to start again. The white flag had been pulled to the top of my flagstaff. I have no other option but to let Him flow through me to work through the next few weeks. What an amazing testimony to be at that place to KNOW HE IS ABLE even in my weakness. I remember Jerrell Altic telling me once, "To truly follow God is not comfortable". Yep, sure isn't.

Luckily last night I was able to go to Lupe's with some friends. (Mexican food fixes most everything for the moment!) My poor friend Stacie was the witness to my tears...I am so glad that I have amazing friends to be real with. Seriously, what would I do without the body of Christ? To have amazing prayer warriors fighting the enemy alongside me and begging God to intervene...there is nothing like it.

This morning I woke up with a different resolve. In way I felt God get in the driver seat. I was actually able to praise Miss D and love on her differently today. The smell of her shampoo used to make me queasy because of all the stress that I associated with it. Today, she even smelled different. Weird I know.  Her fits even seemed considerably less. I could actually give her a couple of stickers for good behavior. I know that this road will have many turns, but today was a good drive through the Hill Country. Calm.

God also is able to bless. This morning I tried to pay my cell bill and realized that my roll over minutes had expired and thus landing me with a $172.00 bill. I called AT&T and without even asking this guy took it off and gave me 1000 roll over minutes. I wanted to reach through the phone and hug the almost made me cry.  I was able to put Miss D on the same team as Jack for soccer, even after the sign ups ended. The most surprising blessing was my neighbor Tawanda. She showed up at the door at 4:30 and let herself in. She was born at 20 something weeks and now at 23 she is a very high functioning adult. She lives down the street from me and walks the neighborhood. Normally, it would annoy me, but today, it was a great distraction. I was able to get dinner together with her entertaining Miss D.  She spent a good 30 min. playing with my kids. I invited her back next week. :) I might even pay her to come do this for me in the afternoons. I bonded with her a little over VBS week when she rode with me and helped me with the boys. A couple months later, I am thankful for our little friendship.

We leave tomorrow to go to Mansfield for the weekend for my cousins wedding. I am hoping that this will be a good experience for all of us. Some good family time is needed. A good drive will be good too...every child strapped in and hopefully asleep.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Love Makes All Things Easy

I found this frame at Walmart the first week I had Miss D and it said, "Faith makes all things makes all things easy." I placed a picture of her in it and put it by my bed. It is a good little reminder that we need to trust God through all of this that He CAN protect Miss D from the family line she is from and the generational sin that is rooted so deep. I need to trust that even if she is placed back in the family, that He can save her. He does not really need us even though we would love for Him to use us in her her life.

The court date Monday went well as far as we are concerned. We did not have to be there but the information we have is from out attorney. Everyone who showed up did not look impressive or trustworthy. The one person that I thought was going to fight for her did not show up at all. They provided the name of one person they want her to live with and they have to check that option out. This option in my book is the worst case scenario and I can't imagine a judge giving Miss D to her. The parents and everyone else interested in Miss D were supposed to have a placement meeting this week as well and everyone canceled and wanted to reschedule. This of course looks to the court that Miss D is not a priority because both main parties do not have jobs and they have time to be there. I found out yesterday that our cps worker's supervisor would like to push toward termination of rights. That is rare and I am excited to have someone fighting for Miss D. Our attorney is awesome too! She is so detailed and tells us everything. She asked the judge if she could approve the home that Miss D would be placed in before she is moved. He approved it! She has a foster child of her own and is passionate about the child and what is best. She loves what we are doing with her and how we are taking care of her. One piece of interesting information that we received is that she was a preemie and born at 6 months gestation. This is very helpful to know.

I have been focusing on the second part of that phrase this week. "Love makes all things easy."
Every day has been different in its own way. I am trying to figure out what makes her tick and what makes her ticked off. I finally figured out the key to the madness is to flat ignore her tantrums. It works like a charm. Originally I was putting her into time-out for every ugly behavior, but it just made her more mad. She liked the attention so she kept on. Now, if the attention is not placed on her at all...she gives up. Miss D and Jack are getting a long so much better!!! The turning point for us was Tuesday morning. We went to Aunt Finine's house and she told them to go shopping and play "store" and they played beautifully together. We still have yelling matches every once in a while, but they are settling in the house together better. Jack no longer growls at her. :)

Her sleep patterns are getting better which has helped my mood out too. She is finally relaxing and trusting us. I don't have to sit in her room half the night anymore. I have slowly inched my self out the door and she trusts me that I will still be there. This is huge! She has started to kiss me and tell me she loves me before she goes to bed. She is precious!

I took her to the eye doctor this week and found out that she has to have eye surgery to correct her lazy eye. The first person doctor I called was the chief of ophthalmology at Texas Children and scored an appointment with him October 14. The best thing is that...HE ACCEPTS MEDICAID!  SCORE!

She starts MDO on Tuesday and this will be a great thing for her. I suspect that we will see her blossom in the next couple weeks. And guess what...I get 10 hours to myself! It has been a challenge to get even the basic things done around the house. The paperwork on foster children is a lot and with a child who needs medical attention the amount of time on the phone is crazy trying to make appointments.

I think week four will be even better! A funny thing happened two days ago. Arrow called us and asked if we wanted a 8 month old. It just made me laugh. I could not imagine having more than one right now. I politely declined. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Miss D Part Two

We have almost hit the two week mark since we had Miss D I am sitting here with a bowl of ice cream and I finally feel a bit of normalcy and out of the fog. I can begin the processing that I have needed to do for a week now. It has been a interesting ride the past two weeks. You pick one emotion..I have had it. 

The sun came up on day two and I walked into her room with this huge dimply smile. She reached up for me and when I picked her up she laid her head on my shoulder and began stroking my hair. At that moment I could you not? The rest of the day consisted of correcting different behaviors. For one, she did not know how to eat at a table. She wanted to put a napkin on the floor and it took a couple meals, but she got the idea that at our house we don't do that.  The next objective was to actually use the napkin on how it was intended to be used instead of her shirt. I learned that day that she had a different vocabulary than us..which if I were to be perfectly honest made me laugh a bit that it was coming out of a 3 year olds mouth. She did not urinate for 24 hours and lets just say she was very gassy. Nutrition was not a priority.

I have taken her to the doctor three times for blood work and shots...all 6 of them. This week I get to take her to the dentist for a mouthful of problems. Next is the eye doctor to check out her eyes.

The world that she lived in contained no boundaries and no discipline. The word "no" was not said very often. This has been the hardest obstacle of them all. She loves us...she ignores us...she loves us...she ignores us.  Now..I hear that girls are different than boys in that there is a lot more emotion..and she is 3. Still, it is hard to undo three years of freedom.  I know one day she find comfort in routine and boundaries. In fact, we are seeing signs that are very positive.

Miss D was the only child in her house and then she was brought to my house with two other being 3. This has been extremely difficult and lots of emotion is wrapped around this subject. My Jack is the sweetest, most loving boy...but has a temper. She brings that out in him. Just too much sassy for him. I have been the mediator so much between those two and the bickering about drives me bananas. Last Tuesday I called my husband and said, "I can't take it anymore...I have to get out of the house...lets do dinner out."  We went to Gringos, Mexican food is my comfort food,  and I just cried and cried at the table. Luckily, we had a amazing waitress, bless her beautiful heart, that played with my kids while I tried to pull it together. The "real" emotion here was..."What did I just do to my family?" Of course, as I rocked her to sleep that night God reminded me that I am doing exactly what is right for my family whether they get it now or not.

I feel like I just went through the newborn, bringing home baby, phase. I have been zapped. Literally, there has never been a point where I wanted to dig a hole and jump in and throw e-mail and phones out. I just had nothing left in me to converse with anyone and neither did I really want to. Maybe this whole fostering thing gets easier. I do not know how people get a child after child into their home being this emotional.

One thing I know is this.....if Miss D came into my home to teach me the importance of adoption from right where we live...God achieved that. I know there is a lot of hype of international adoption. It is a beautiful thing and God bless the people who go get those babies and protect them. However, the same pictures you see of neglected kids across seas...were the same pictures I saw of Miss D when CPS first got her.  There are holes in our system, and I might be another story of losing a child, but she needed me and other kids need you...even if it is for a short window of time. I can't even express to you how amazing it felt to walk into church with Miss D and the amount of people who came up and embraced her. If she stayed with us, her life would be so much different. A life of love, values, boundaries, family and Jesus. Now only God knows how her life will turn out...who am I to say we are the best choice...but for her to leave our home and know what she will simply heartbreaking.

I have been playing praise music, Praise Baby and Sing over Me, in her room at night hoping that God's truth would pour into her soul. It also plays over the monitor at night. This song is beautiful and so comforting to us both.

Hold on to Jesus by Erin O'donnell
You're a little piece of heaven
You're a golden ray of light
Ad I wish I could protect you
From the worries of this life
But if there's one thing I could tell you
It's no matter what you do
Hold to Jesus -
He's holding on to you

The world will try to tell you
That might is more than right
That beauty's on the outside
And being good's a losing fight
But remember what I've told you
Because the world will make you choose
Hold to Jesus -
He's holding on to you

Hold on to Jesus
Cling to His love
Rest deep in His mercy
Whenever things get rough
Don't lose sight of His goodness
And don't ever doubt this truth
That when you hold on to Jesus
He's holding on to you

Hear me dear Jesus
Rock this little one to sleep
Keep her close when she's scared
And give her grace when she is weak
I know she'll stumble
But I know she'll make it through
If you hold to her just like
You said You'd do
Hold her Jesus -
And she'll hold on tight to You

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Court Date Monday

Monday is the first official court date for Miss D's family. We don't need to be there and Miss D does not either.  Please pray for us because some family will put up a fight for her but it is not what she needs. I am not sure I know how to deal with all of this. Pray for strength to get through the next few days.