Monday, June 29, 2009

My Mother is Coming! My Mother is Coming!!

I adore my mother. Honest, open, fair, generous, hospitable, talkative....these are all adjectives that describe my mom. But when she comes to my house things get stressful.

My mom and I are opposites in so many area. She is a "Martha" busy in the kitchen. I am a "Mary" visiting with the guests in the other room. She is neat and organized. I am a free spirit. She is the detail person. I'm the one with the big ideas. Both personalities have their good qualities but they are very different.

With eight kids, a husband and a plethora of animals, our house is rarely clean. It is not filthy and will not be condemned by the health department but it is not picked up either. My mothers house is always in order, always picked up with things rarely if ever out of place. When my mother comes to my house you can imagine why there is stress.

Even at age 43 I still want to make a good impression on my mother when she comes. I try my hardest to get things picked up and the house looking like there is some kind of order to it. When I begin this task, I feel overwhelmed and get cranky. This makes it hard for my kids to enjoy the anticipation of waiting for Mamaw and Papaw to get here from Florida.

When my children are told to help clean the house they will almost always ask, "Who's coming over?!" (OK, I realize that in and of itself shows that I have a housekeeping problem.) When they find out that Mamaw is coming the groan is loud and long. They know that this means even more cleaning and putting away than we would do for just a normal guest.

By reading the title, you may have figured out already what is going on in my house right now. My parents are on their way up North and we are getting ready. I have sounded the alarm, "My Mother is coming! My Mother is coming!" and the children are working as they groan.

I know that once she gets here all will be well. They love my mother as do I. We just don't like preparing for her arrival.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Missing Sherry

I believe that God puts people in out lives for a reason and sometimes just for a season. That's how it was with Sherry. Meeting her was definitely a "God Thing".

She, like everyone else in the church, noticed me pile into the pew in front of her with all my kids, week after week. My husband being the minister meant that Sundays were like single parent days for me. Unlike all the other church members, Sherry and her husband noticed little things about us as the fact that my eyes seemed tired and my kids were just a little more rambunctious than others. She asked God how to help and got an answer she didn't expect.

During a sermon one Sunday she passed a note to me that read...."Can we take your kids home with us and bring them back tonight?" She explained that she felt God leading her to help me in this way. I was shocked but, at the time, that is exactly what I needed.....a break from the chaos. So, after the service, we handed our children over to a couple who had no children of their own and no real experience in the area of caring for kids.

As odd as it all seemed, my children quickly fell in love with Sherry and her husband. I believe the feeling was mutual because soon after that the kids began weekly visits at Sherry's house. We called these "Sherry Days". My week consisted of Sunday, Monday, Sherryday, Wednesday...etc.

Not only were the kids taken with Sherry but I was finding her to be a wonderful friend and found myself looking for excuses to go to her house without kids. We would talk or read the Bible together. And because she loved the outdoors we would find our selves in the garden or watching animals on her property. Those were wonderfully calming days in the midst of some very tough times.

During this difficult part of our journey, these two wonderful people became an extended family for us. They joined us for Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays. This relationship was a breath of fresh air for me. Soooo much was going on with our RADlets, that I was feeling overcome and overwhelmed. God knew what I needed and in His goodness He provided.

But like many things God gives us, this was only for a season in our lives. Sherry got sick and the cancer made Sherrydays difficult. We drifted apart and although I try to keep in touch, it's just not the same. My home is much less chaotic now but still I miss those days and I miss Sherry. I understand that I don't NEED that time as much anymore. God gave me Sherry only for a season.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Longer Than I Expected

After our little "graduation celebration" with our therapist I was thinking that maybe this RADical journey of ours was close to an end. Most of our RADlets are like different children. Those who have met them in the last year would never ever believe the things we have had to live through. Our children are happy, healthy and generally fun to be around. They are far from perfect but now most of our issues are just normal kids things.

However there is still that one RADlet. He has decided that since he can't live at home with us he doesn't need us at all. He is trying very hard to get us, his family, out of his mind. Now, I guess, we are at a different part of the journey....a very challenging part. How do we let this RADlet know that we still love him and consider him a son? How do we make sure he feels a part of the family when we only see him once a week?.....when he won't even call home? At times I feel like giving up but I know I can't. I can't give in and give him what he wants. I have to hang in there and be creative in coming up ideas to help him feel like he is still part of the he is still wanted.

I guess I'm learning that this RADical journey is a marathon. Although six years is a long time and was long enough for healing my other children, it was not long enough for my son. He was in and out of foster care for ten years, so maybe we are half way there. Maybe once he has been in this family for ten years or more he will realize that we are not going to ever give up on him. I've heard that it does take that year for each year of abuse. Right now I'm just wishing there weren't soooo many years of abuse.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Leader in the Making

Our oldest son is a youth ministry intern for the summer at a very small, country church. He is young but has always been beyond his years. He was ready for kindergarten by two but we held him off til four. By six he was campaigning against abortion (and yes, he knew what it was and why he was against it). At nine he was into the elections and had collected signs for our yard. We said he could stay up to find out who would be our next president but eventually we had to send him to bed and explain to him what hanging chads were. When he became a teen, he thought he was ready for the world. I know that all teens think they know everything but this son went way beyond that.

This past week his church did VBS and I took my little ones. We stayed at his house for the week. (that is...the house, owned by the church, that they are letting him live in for the summer....aka....the parsonage) Although from the outside this looked like a house, the inside was more like one huge dorm room. The only thing in the fridge....2 pot pies and a pack of hot dogs. In the cabinet were snack foods. The beds were unmade; there were clothes along with x box games and DVDs on the floor. A few books and Bibles were on tables near by (that part was encouraging:)

Don't know what I expected. Maybe I thought since he'd always been so much ahead of himself in life that he would keep his house a little more.....clean and organized.

I must say that when I went to the church, the people all had good things to say about the job he'd done so far. Guess there really isn't a correlation between the way he keeps his house and the way he does his job. He apparently is a good leader, just not a good housekeeper.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Things We Do For Love

I have one sister who is five years older than me. When I was in high school (in Ohio) she was already married and living in Georgia. About once every six weeks or so my mom and dad would torture me by dragging me on a road trip. We would pack up the sedan, dad driving, mom riding shot gun while I held the pooch in the back seat. The drive was a little over nine hours. If we left as soon as dad got in from work on Friday and drove straight through we would make it just in time to hug each other hello and good night then go to sleep. After church on Sunday, it was a quick burger then back in the car. Once we drove the nine hours to see a special program at my sisters church and drove home the very next day. CRAZY!!

Well, mom and dad, today we did something equally as crazy. We got our entire crew up and ready then drove two hours to hear our oldest speak for 15 minutes, stayed to eat lunch with him then got back on the road for another two hours.

He is a youth ministry intern and preached his first sermon this morning. Proud doesn't begin to describe what I felt today. To see my son in this capacity and hear him speak, I would've driven nine hours like my parents did way back when.

All the time in the vehicle however can make one a little loony. That was the case today. I turned around in my seat just in time to see my five year old licking his shoe. Yes, literally! I simply said, "Please, don't lick your shoe." Then I turned to my husband and said, "That's something I never thought I would be saying as a parent." He smiled, I chuckled then we both broke out into a roaring laugh. I grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and began a list of things we never thought we'd have to say as parents but have actually had to say to our children.....
1. Don't lick your shoe.
2. Don't eat the deodorant.
3. Don't put socks in the wall.
4. Help me find the turtle in the pool.
5. Don't poop in the creek.
6. No bodily fluids of any kind on the walls.
7. Don't flush the the toilet.
8. No more reading're grounded.
9. Don't color the dog.
10. Call the sheriff, there's another horse in our yard.

So, what have you said to your children that you never thought you'd have to say? I would love to hear your additions to this list.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Little Miracle

My wonderful husband and I spent several hours at the hospital ER last night with one of our daughters. That happens when you raise kids. Thankfully, this time it was nothing serious.

The question the nurse asked was really quite simple.....Does she have any medical conditions? As my husband was telling the nurse how healthy this adopted daughter is, my mind went back to the day I met her.

On Sept. 23, 1999, I was notified by our social worker that there was a baby girl in the hospital scheduled to be released the next day. She was to come to our house as a foster baby. I was told she had some medical difficulties and was asked to meet with a nurse in the neonatal nursery to learn how to care for her. With in the hour, I was headed to the hospital with two toddlers in tow.

This baby, who is now our daughter, was born 10 weeks early, weighing only 3lbs and 7oz. She had some serious lung problems and couldn't suck and breath at the same time. She also had three different types of drugs in her system at birth. The first month of her life was spent in a Children's Hospital fighting for her life.

The day I met her was her one month birthday. She was still hooked up to monitors but was now breathing on her own. The feeding tube had been removed. The nurse showed me how many sucks of the bottle she could have before she needed the bottle taken from her mouth to take a breath. I sat there a little frightened by the idea that this child couldn't breath while drinking her formula. As I was carefully feeding her and watching the monitors closely, I notice that her coloring began to change. She literally turned blue in my arms. I called the nurse, who handled this fragile little one so well. The nurse patted her back and got her to breath again.

She did come home to live with us the very next day and without any monitors or medical devices of any kind. That first year was difficult. We were at the ER again a few months later due to her breathing problem and her low body temperature. There were other problems.....eating issues, like not being able to tolerate milk based formulas or milk as she grew older. She also had acid reflux. She had many colds and ear infections as the years progressed.

As I listened to my husband last night tell about how healthy she was, I realized he was right. For the past five years, she has had no major issues. No problems relating to the drugs....not even a learning disability.

She does have a real stubborn streak that I try to remember was what kept her alive as a baby. She is a fighter and has a real willingness to live life to the fullest. My baby isn't that fragile little thing anymore. She is almost 10 years old and as healthy as any child her age. She is a real miracle!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Amazing Parents?

As I left to do an errand this morning I took my five year old with me and instructed the others to clean the house while I was gone. When I returned I found the children watching a movie and the house.....well, it was better but not totally clean. I asked my girls if they did their very best work on cleaning the house or if they did just enough to get by. They said they did just enough and seemed to think that they didn't need to do anymore. I reminded them of Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Then I asked them if Jesus were coming to our house in the flesh would the house be clean enough. I got some silent stares.....hope that means they got it.

OK, so, those of you who know me well, are probably asking the same question my children asked when I told them to clean the house....."Who's coming over?" Today it was a therapist to talk with us about our RADlets escalating behaviors, which is the real reason the girls didn't want to clean the house. They are tired of social workers and therapists coming to the house interrupting our day.

I like this therapist, she seems to know what she's talking about. We've found that is not always the case with therapists. She also considers the fact that we know our son better than she does, so she asks us questions and listens to the answers.

Today she gave us a compliment that I found hard to take. She praised our parenting. Right now I don't feel like a great parent. I feel like I am just doing enough to get by. She, however, sees things differently. She compares us to other parents she's worked with and she is amazed. She tells us that many other parents would have just given up on a RADlet like ours.

I have to admit that I have felt like giving up on our oldest RADlet but children are not, I hang in there and try again. That shouldn't make me an amazing parent, that should be the norm for parenting. I don't feel like we are doing anything spectacular.....just being a parent.

I am sooooo glad that God is an amazing Father and hasn't given up on me. I don't believe he has given up on my RADlet either. At any point if my son decides to reach out....I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt the God will be there for him, running to him like the Father of the prodigal.

Monday, June 8, 2009

To those of you who prayed for us last week as we faced court with our RADlet....Thank You!! That was one of those things we never imagined doing as a parent, and yet we felt a great sense of peace. I know that was God answering prayer.

We were given a gift in the court room that day....a suspended sentence and probation. I just hope our son sees it the same way and uses this opportunity for all it's worth.

Things would have been so different for him if......
if his birth parents would have done their job
if the system would have put them in appropriate foster homes
if the foster parents treated him with the same respect as their own children
if the therapists would have recognized his RAD earlier

Remembering where my children have come from still angers me. RAD is a horrible thing to have to deal with. It is easy to prevent but oh, so hard to cure. So, tonight work on a little RAD prevention for me. If you have children, laugh with them, hug 'em, kiss 'em and talk to them!! But you probably already do that don't you:)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stress and Mowing

I was push mowing the yard yesterday, something I don't do often now that I have teens. As I was mowing I noticed was quiet (except for the sound of the engine), no kids yelling, no phone ringing, no beeps telling me laundry was done or dinner was ready or that I had a text. Oddly enough it was pretty peaceful. I was alone with my thoughts and prayers.

My thoughts took me back to another time when things were more simple. A time when my decisions and mistakes didn't affect quite so many people. A time when my stress was a little less. A time when I was the teen and not the parent of a teen.

I know I gave my parents a hard time about doing the yard but, truth be told, I kinda liked it. It was a time I could think and pray. I began to talk to my Creator and sing praise songs as I walked the yard. It was a good time with God. After a while my parents began to notice a change in my attitude. Spending so much time with God had made me more like Him. Pretty Amazing!!

Fast forward many years to when my husband and I first adopted our sibling group of four. We went from a family of five to a family of nine overnight and our house was in chaos. I tried to make sure it was organized chaos but honestly that didn't happen very often. On those occasions that the stress of life got too much, weather permitting, I would get on our riding lawn tractor and mow our two acres. It reconnected me with God and brought me back to a peaceful state.

I'm glad I got the opportunity to spend that extra time with God yesterday. This week holds more stress than most. We have to appear in court with our RADlet. It is good that I was able to do something that could get me to that peaceful state before my stress levels got out-of-hand. Could it be that I have learned a thing or two through the years?