Category Archives: children

Homeschool Year 10 – A Day in the Life

I have an app on my phone that causes me to have the competing emotions of happiness and sadness daily. You may have heard of Timehop? After beginning our tenth homeschool year last week, a few pictures from 7 years ago came across my screen. 2011. Foster was in 2nd grade, Katie in 1st grade, Theodore was almost 4, Parker had just turned 2 and I was 7 months pregnant with Jonah.

I think there were about 6 pictures but I found myself analyzing everything. The place we lived at the time, the school books they were working in or toys they were playing with. It was a homeschool day-in-the-life but I wanted more! I wish I’d taken a picture of myself with my ginormous belly. I barely remember those days. I remember them but I can’t transport myself back to feeling the same, when I only had one child who was beginning to read and still had someone in diapers. When I had fatigue and hormones and very little patience. When we were still adjusting to the loss of Chris’s mom and the fact that his dad was about to remarry. When Chris was new to his job at the airport and our purse strings were pulled extremely tight. Scraping by to feed and clothe and house a family of 6 (almost 7).

It’s the looking back that affirms our choices. We can ponder and speculate all day long the “what-if’s” of life and try to feel confident in what the future will hold, but the looking back reassures me that while at the time it felt too difficult to be good, that God did honor our choices and is continuing to care for us and give us an abundant life. If someone had said to that tired, overwhelmed, burned out, struggling momma that she’d be mentally and emotionally strong enough to become a foster mom, I’m sure she would have said you were crazy. Or that she’d have the courage to homeschool her children through high school! At that time I was still trying to figure out how to get someone from reading c.a.t. to reading chapter books. Oh the stress!

Today I stalked my children and took some day-in-the-life photos. In another 7 years, I’ll be able to look back and praise God for what He was doing, what He was teaching all of us on those days.

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Who called you?

Our most recent emergency/temporary foster placement was a 4-year-old girl who in a 5 minute span, asked me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” twice, asked me “who called you” and told me she “didn’t like it here”.

She was in our home for approximately 36 hours. She came after midnight with a small trash bag of dirty, smelly, stained, ill-fitting clothing and a few stuffed animals to which she didn’t seem particularly attached. The department also brought one of those care packages that non-profits and churches have been giving lately. It’s a large, pink sack with a child-sized blanket and pillow, some new toiletries, notebook, crayons, small toys and new stuffed animals.

She also had 4 clean adult-sized pull-ups with her because she was so heavy that even the largest child’s pull-up wouldn’t fit her.

When we get these calls, as I did at 9:45pm on an average, busy summer evening, I was already a little hyped up. We had gotten another call at 8:15pm while arriving to pick up my oldest son and his friend from soccer camp. So, call number one was for a 3-year-old boy, 5-year-old girl sibling set. I pointed out to the placement worker all the ways that we would be going outside of department rules to take them. She said she wanted me to call my husband anyway. And that she would call her team leader and make sure it was doable. She said she would call me in an hour.

I spoke with my friend when I dropped off her son and let her know that we could be getting kids in the middle of the night and asked if she could do the morning run to the day camp our boys were attending. Of course, she graciously said she would.

The hour came and went and I texted the original worker who had called and asked if they had found a place for the 2 children. She said they had but that she was about to call me about a 4-year-old girl.

When she called, I heard the details and my heart started to break a little.

They arrived from a county an hour away about 12:30am. She was a beautiful, biracial child. I was able to get her to sleep by 1:30am.

I, however, laid on the couch, praying and trying to sleep. I cried out to God. And the most common question for me is “why Lord?” Why does it get to this point? This child clearly needed an intervention in her care years ago. At 4 years old she weighed more than my almost 9-year-old son. I was sick. It’s not fair. I admit, I do try to love and pray for birth parents. And I am fully committed to bio families staying together. Even if that’s an aunt and uncle or grandparents. I want any child to be able to stay connected with their family of origin.

But. This is not okay.

By the time she was crying herself to sleep the second night, she was saying all kinds of things to me. Asking all kinds of questions that I cannot answer. “When will I see my mommy again?” “Why am I here?”

Chris, Foster, Katie and I spent an hour debriefing the past hours while she cried herself to sleep. We had to ask ourselves hard questions. And it’s not just as easy as “we’ll keep her and make her better”.  We have to trust what God shows us. We have to trust how he’s built our original family and how he’s equipped each of us.

Placement let me know this morning that they found her a permanent placement. The description sounded like exactly what she will need.

I fell on my knees before God. Thanking him for continuing to do a work in me and my family. For shaking us to our core with a front row seat of this pain and brokenness and reminding us to be wary of our pride and feeling like our family is the place, with the answers, for every child. Because there is only One who can truly have those answers. As much as I want to minister and serve these precious children and families, my greater desire is to never get in the way of what God is trying to do in their lives.

When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.

                                                                –Isaiah 43:2

 

 

Hard wait

I sorted clothes today at one of our local foster care closets. I helped a teen boy, 15-years-old, pick out some jeans and shirts. I had him laughing because I was teasing him that his favorite color must be gray. I offered him a sweater and told him he’d look like Mr. Rogers. Once I had made him smile, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to say, “Hey, I get that life really sucks today. But hang in there.” But I didn’t.

Driving home from volunteering there today I was overwhelmed with some really big feelings. Monday of this week, we got 3 calls for teens in less than an 8 hour time span. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week a teen that is very close to our family was texting me, sharing that she’s having a bad week. Then Thursday (today), I meet this young man at the closet.

He wasn’t in school today because he just came into care with his siblings.

So, yeah. Big feelings.

My own teenage son and his siblings aren’t in school today either. They’re not even doing schoolwork here because they are on a trip with their grandparents. Getting to swim, ride bikes, play laser tag. They are eating junk food and watching too many movies. They’re making memories and getting loved on.

They aren’t standing awkwardly with adults asking them what size they wear and handing them used clothing and shoes and a coat that’s a little too big. They aren’t wondering what tomorrow will hold. When they will see or talk to their parents? What will school be like now?

This is painful. This wait. I know now isn’t the time for us to take in teens from foster care.

And I know, logically, that because our family is big and that often times sibling groups come into care together, that getting a call for a single child isn’t going to happen as often. I get it.

But, friends, this is a hard wait. Knowing, meeting, seeing all the children that need care and feeling like we can’t just say, “yes, bring them here.” It’s heart-wrenching.

So I am continuing to lean on truth. And help where I can.

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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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Foster Parent Conference 2017

We were able to knock out a ton of training hours this past weekend. Now we have until next June to get one last hour and we can do that online! It’s one less DCS induced stressor that won’t be hanging over my head. (Still need to get the dog’s shot records up-to-date…shh…)

The best thing about the weekend was just getting to be with Chris. He is rarely the only person I need to pay attention to and it’s a luxury when that can happen. We spent 14 hours in training or listening to keynote speakers, so there wasn’t a ton of free time. We did get to hang out with another foster parent couple from our neck of the woods on Saturday night. Sunday we cut out early so we could go visit some family at their church.

I had been holding my breath waiting for September. I needed this trip and I needed for our little foster baby, Pipsqueak, to get some good news about going home to her forever family. Her first birthday is this month. I was wrestling with God trying to push and push and getting frustrated at His lack of compliance. (I’m not sure why the ruler of the universe won’t just do what makes my life easier…but He doesn’t.)

What was making things harder for me, personally, was that every day I was feeling more like I can’t let this human go. If she starts walking, if she starts calling me “mommy”, if she cries when I leave her in the nursery, I’m not going to be able to do it. I felt like I was ready to let her go. And I had accepted her being adopted by her forever family 6 months ago. So she needed to just go NOW. Which is when I like things done.

God is so gracious. Patient with my impatience. He had worked it all out ahead of time and I just needed to trust this is all in His timing. But, man, foster care will take you through the ringer. Two months before we were to leave for the weekend conference, Pipsqueak’s family had planned to come and keep her over the weekend, then hopefully take her home right after her first birthday. Speaking about this and not divulging too much is a fine line. Basically, they live FAR away. They can’t just pop in and get her when they want to, or be here at the drop of a hat for court or visits.

Then just a few days before we were to leave, I get a text from her forever mommy that says that a certain DCS office has still not sent some extremely important paperwork to the licensing office. At that point, I had to just give it to God. I had to accept that His plan was greater than mine. That she would take her first steps with us. That it could be another month or three before they finally got to take her home.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you wanted something so badly and you are praying and waiting and thinking it’s never going to happen and then you finally let go and it does? That’s what this was like.

Literally 42 hours before we left (I was counting down, don’t judge), I got a text saying that licensing had received the packet and was coming to visit their home 2 hours before they needed to leave their state and head to ours. It was a miracle. THEN the next day, shortly after we arrived at the conference I got a call from Pipsqueak’s caseworker, letting me know that ON HER BIRTHDAY we were going to have her last CFTM (big important meeting) and that she would be placed with her forever family.

You guys, God. I just sit in awe and wonder of His GRACE, MERCY, LOVE.

Because I got that call, I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my husband. And we were able to begin to talk about what it will be like to let our little Pipsqueak go. We were able to start processing together the changes it will make in our family and for the big kids.

God is so good. 21368707_10212821857768999_2279935667135562710_o

Foster turns 13

So. My oldest child is now a teenager (as of this past Valentine’s Day). I thought it was sad when I weaned him, when he went on his first overnight away from me, when he started going hunting with daddy and leaving for days. Or when he turned 5, oh my goodness.  Well, apparently 13 is like that. When you sort through and scan in old baby pictures and you cry for a week. I’m not sad that he’s 13, I actually love teenagers and all the drama that can bring. The rollercoaster of mature young man to petulant child to coasting into relaxed adolescent is a fierce one that speeds along every day.

The tears come from being so proud. And so in love. I cannot fathom how I can love him more now than I did as a precious newborn. How can I love him more now than I did when he looked up at me with those sweet, hazel eyes and beautiful eye lashes and sucked his thumb and told me “I wuv you mommy”? How does that happen? I’m so thankful for Foster Owen Grubb. If I tried to list all the reasons why, this blog post would never end. Love is like that. And love for a child? Even more so.

My prayers and goals now that we have a teenager in the house?  That as parents we will know how to be a friend to our son and be his authority at the same time. That we will not only command his respect, but earn it. That our transparency will encourage his. That we will be so authentic that he will know that we mean what we say and say what we mean in all areas of our lives. Because if there is one thing teenagers are good at, it’s spotting BS from a mile away.

Theodore turns 10

I’m certainly glad that we gave this boy such a big name. Everything Theodore does is done BIG, LOUD, FAST, ENTHUSIASTICALLY. Well, anything he wants to do that is. Not so much for chores and school work. He loved that his double digit birthday fell on the day of the solar eclipse and it was amazing to experience totality and then have family over to celebrate his special day. I think it’s something he will always remember. He also had a few buddies over to spend the night last night and Chris took them all to BrickUniverse (A Lego fan convention) in Knoxville this morning.  He has loved the special attention and treatment. I do believe he wishes every day could be his birthday.