Category Archives: blessings

1st Birthday and Going Home

Pipsqueak turned 1 year old in September. We were able to have her first birthday party here at our home with her new mommy and daddy. She spent one last night with us on her birthday and then headed home with them the next day. I think it’s safe to say we all miss her. Some of us more than others (Parker asks about her almost every day).

I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions over the past 2 months. I kept hoping they would hurry and call with another child who needed us but I see now that God knew I needed a little breather.

Her adoptive momma keeps me posted with pictures and videos, asks me questions about what to feed her next and whether we’ve gotten a new foster kiddo yet. I think it helps in some ways to still have the contact but in other ways its hard to see *my* baby hitting all these milestones without me/us to see them and be there for her.

The thing is she’s not mine, not ours and we know that. I am so thankful that God allowed us to have her for a year. She was placed in our home for exactly 365 days. That’s pretty crazy in the foster care world. I feel like everything about Pipsqueak and her time here, God had perfected from the beginning. His ways are not our ways and seeing that in such a tangible way has grown me closer to Him.

Jonah turns 6

Jonah turned 6 years old on September 28th. He is a smart, sweet little boy with an active imagination. He loves to help his older siblings and he really enjoyed being a “big” brother while Pipsqueak was here. This is his Kindergarten year and he’s eager to learn to read so he can get his own library card like the big kids. Some days he takes advantage of his status as youngest but most of the time he’s pretty mature for his age. He has several “friends” that he drags around the house with him like his little, satin brown lovey, his Mickey Mouse and his other animals daddy has brought home from trips. His big brown eyes and sweet smile light up my world. We love you, Jonah-baby!

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I’m 41, he’s 37

I guess we didn’t get any birthday cake with number candles for ourselves this year. We need to do a better job with that in 2018.

We do our best to make each other feel loved and special. With this busy life, we tend to put ourselves and our marriage on the back burner. But we listen to one another. He gets me special chocolate that I love or sends me an Amazon wish list item just because. I try to surprise him with concert tickets and make sure he gets his *gross* sushi.

Most of all, we count ourselves blessed every birthday that we have together. Couples aren’t guaranteed any time together. Our anniversary is March, my birthday April and his is in May. Then we spend the rest of the year focused on everyone else.

I love you sweetheart! You’re my handsome baby-daddy that I love so, so much.

…that time I spent the weekend with Trappist Monks

(This is the first post about my experience at the monastery. There will be at least one more.)

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Months ago, my friend Jennie asked me if I would be interested in going on a writer’s retreat with her. A little background is required here. Jennie and I met each other because our boys were on the same soccer team. She was the reason I did the first NaNoWriMo challenge (the month I wrote my first novel). Our boys have become fast friends and so have we. When she asked, I thought it was more of a hypothetical. I think it was around when I turned 40 which made me proclaim all kinds of craziness. Go on a writer’s retreat, even though you’ve never published a word? Sure! Why not?

She explained more as the months went by that it was a weekend retreat at a monastery, a SILENT retreat. She started to ask me more specific questions about when I could go, would the weekend or week work better. At this point, I realized she was serious. So I made a commitment to go. This was the bravest leap I’ve made in a long time. Yes, a weekend trip like this was harder to muster the courage for than becoming a foster parent. Years ago, when I was unattached and young and should have been brave, I had a dear friend ask me to take a cross-country road trip. I chickened out. I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I wanted to experience something new.

I had already spent the month of July ridding myself of distractions, increasing focus and attempting to cultivate self-discipline. I was more than ready to embark on a weekend of silence.

The Monastery hosts silent retreats for anyone and everyone. When you arrive to check in, you pass this piece.

 

From the moment we entered and were greeted by Father Seamus, we were indeed received with kindness and hospitality. Father Seamus sat in his full monk attire, at an unassuming front desk. He asked our names and told us that they never ask where people are from or why they are there. They don’t expect to know if you are a believer, a catholic, an atheist. He said we were welcome to attend as many or as few daily prayers as we’d like. He cracked a few jokes about no one keeping track and you don’t get “extra points” if you attend all the prayers. He was charming, sweet and inviting.

We had arrived right before the 12:15pm prayers so we decided to attend those and then attend our first silent meal. There were signs posted about where silence was expected. For the most part, Jennie and I both respected this, only daring to giggle and laugh from time to time when we were alone in the elevator. I can’t speak for her but I felt the silence needed to be kept in order to get the full experience of this weekend.

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I didn’t do a lot of research on the monastery or the monks before arriving. I had clicked on their website (in 2016, even Trappist Monks have a website).  I really had no idea what to expect. We were given keys to our very basic accommodations. We had our own rooms and were told that visiting in one another’s rooms was discouraged. Everything about the weekend lent itself to solitude and silence.

I had everything I needed to survive. I had brought my laptop, camera, phone and plenty of books to read. Because I didn’t do a lot of research and planning, I didn’t have many goals for the weekend. I didn’t think I had an agenda. However, we had just gotten our full approval to become foster parents so I did think “I should have my phone on, just in case…” I also had quite a bit of school planning and researching that I needed to do online so I thought my laptop would come in handy. I was hoping to be able to roam the grounds and practice using my camera, instead of just being an iPhone photographer.

So, really, I did have an agenda. I felt a small twinge of panic as we drove closer to the monastery and my phone did not have service. About an hour away from the monastery, I could no longer use the maps or send or receive texts. For the rest of the weekend, the only time I could receive or send texts was when I was in the retreatant house library. It was the only location that had Wi-Fi and their hours were limited. So now I had no phone to distract me and a computer I couldn’t use in my room. Then, soon after going for a walk and snapping some great pictures, I realized I’d remembered fresh batteries for the camera but had forgotten a memory card.

I had wanted to have an unplugged, silent, peaceful experience and God was setting me up for just that.

(This is the first post about the silent weekend with the monks. More to come!)

First Day of School 2016-2017

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It’s back-to-school time! I cannot believe I get to spend every day with these crazy kids. Here’s hoping they learn something this year.

Foster: 7th grade. He has been going on and on about how his life is over now that school has started back. It’s like prison he says.

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Katie: 5th grade. My precious breath of fresh air. Excited for school to start, couldn’t wait to go over her assignment sheet, look at her new textbooks and jump right in!

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Theodore: 3rd grade. He’s changed so much. The extra time to let him mature and grow could already be seen as he began tackling multiplication today.

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Parker: 2nd grade. This boy. He NEVER SITS STILL. He’s a cuddly, little, intense boy. We will see how school goes this year.

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Jonah: K4 (Kindergarten – year one). Yes, he wakes up this handsome. I couldn’t believe what he knew today! He’s excited about schoolwork. Maybe he’ll take after his sister.

Parker’s 7

For the first part of his birthday this year he spent some special time with two other sweet 7-year-olds. Chris and I took the three of them to a movie, to Menchie’s for a treat and then home to play some video games. It was a great plan for a fellow who can still get cranky and lose his temper when overwhelmed or tired. The next day was his birthday day and I took him and Theodore out for a doughnut and to pick out his cake and birthday dinner. I love that he chose store bought cake, corn dogs and chips. He made it easy on mommy. We had some family over the next night for pizza and cake, so Parker had a third day to receive attention, love and presents.

Parker is a beautiful, healthy, strong boy and we are thankful he’s a part of our family!  He is still the one who consistently comes for a cuddle with mommy. He keeps cracking jokes and has a great sense of humor and timing. He would rather play inside than outside. Unless the conditions are perfect. If he’s well fed and hydrated, has a sibling or friend to join him, the temperature is not too hot and not too cold, if there are things to ride and room to jump, run and explore then he’s a big fan of being outside.

He’s weighing in at about 48 pounds these days, still has his pretty blond hair, is starting to read, loves Pokémon and Wii games, he’s easily angered but even quicker to laugh and giggle and be silly. The chores he can do well now (but not necessarily with a great attitude) are take out the big and little trashcans, walk Maggie, clean up the living room and make his bed.

 

Preparation and provision

I continue to be amazed at God’s provision.  I’ve been witnessing it for years now but He never fails to provide.  Financially, spiritually, relationally.

In April, when we began to take foster parenting classes, Chris and I felt the spiritual attacks. The direct and indirect disapproval of loved ones hurt. Realizing that it is a spiritual battle we’re fighting doesn’t make it any less painful.

God has provided reassurance and peace as only He can. Our marriage is growing stronger and we are realizing the increased amount of faith this ministry will take.

As I’ve made preparations to have an infant/toddler in the house again, God has also provided in practical ways. We’ve been given almost all of the big items and I’ve found great deals at yard sales.

There is no rational reason why our family should be doing this. Taking in another child. Except that there is every reason. No child asks to be torn from all they’ve known and loved and placed with strangers. No infant should be without a momma to hold her close and pray over her little soul as she’s rocked to sleep.

But for the grace of God, there go I. I could have been the one addicted during pregnancy. I could have been the one single, no way to feed my children, no more willpower or strength left to protect them. I could have been the one who lost my temper.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”     Romans 3:23