Not your Ordinary Wednesday

I was outside watching the kids play & the baby right inside the door watching me, because it was just a tad too cold outside for her. Buddy was pushing around his dump truck like he does everytime they go outside, filling it with rocks and dumping them out immediately, in his own little world. Big sissy was trying to coax Bubba into running out to the trees with her to no avail, he’d rather stay close to momma. With my suggestion of playing Hide & seek he took off running with her right beside him, hand on his back. Buddy’s attention was interrupted and he goes running after them, not wanting to miss out on the fun.

Then it hit me. These days of them being siblings that are living together are coming to a close. In fact, with this weather it may be one of the last days I witness this bonded outdoor innocence. Big sissy will be moving to her respective Gma in less than 2 wks.

And I start reliving the reality of a phone call just a few hours previous. “Everything has been approved for lil MiracleBaby to be moved to her Gma, so we want to start overnight visits this wknd while we wait on the paperwork. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to move her mid December.” I really thought I was handling it quite well, asking all the necessary questions until my FSW asked, “Are you gonna be okay?” I don’t even remember what I answered because her next words, “yea, I can hear it in your voice” did me in.

Y’all I knew this was coming for months already, but the reality never hits till it’s right here. Partially because the system is famous for delays so it’s just not a good idea to plan that a “plan” is happening until it happens. Also, because I just need to be in the moment. I can’t prepare for what it’s gona look or feel like, but trust that Jesus is going to hold me each step of the way. I can’t plan for the grief, but embrace it as it comes.

As I sat there on the porch breathing it all in, the love, the joy, the grief. I took comfort knowing that my Father is weeping with me. His plan was for the family unit to be complete. And yet it’s wrecked so we as mortals try to patch it up, family with family, or family becoming family. It’s not perfect but it’s redemption. It can become beautiful. But here in the messy, how can I feel you here with me Jesus?

I remember exactly a year ago we were preparing for our twin boys to be leaving in December. Now they’re back, with no plans in place of them leaving, which we are more than ok with! And yet we hold it with open hands because it only takes 1 phone call to change it all.

I begin picking up their toys and look up to see this one perfect, very sweet smelling rose blooming in my rose garden. I was completely shocked because I thought those roses were long done for the season. Be that as it may, I immediately heard a soft whisper, “It’s for you, see, I’m right here. Find the beauty among the thorns.” And as I’ve pondered that, gazed at & smelled the rose, I know He just wants me to know that I don’t have to love or appreciate or be happy with the thorns. But to search for His beauty & find joy in that (Him). 

We had our last Sunday outing as a family of 6 and didn’t even know it. Thur night was our last night with just us, so we tore it up, laughter, plenty of rides and a few pictures. We still have a few more days and we will still see each other, but it’s gonna be different. As much as I’m stressed from this crazy busy few months that turned into a year. My heart still breaks because pieces of it are leaving. I don’t know how it’s gonna be, but I know it’s ok to not always be ok.  And in case you wonder what I meant about it being our last night alone, my 17 yr old niece has been wanting to come so she’s here for the week and I’m definitely NOT complaining about that! 🙂

This is foster care.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect on a more personal level, please connect with me. Or if you need prayer, I would love to be in touch with you! Email me at capturingjewels@gmail.com -Follow me on Facebook or on Instagram. To follow along on our journey and not miss any posts, subscribe to the blog [top right corner] or follow my blog Facebook page, not just my personal one.

The Perfect Balance

Hard things are hard to do. Culturally we want the easy way out. You guys, being a foster parent is hard. So. so. so. hard. And pretty much all of the time I want to sugar coat it and tell others and myself that it’s just part of life, it’s really not that difficult. I wish I could say we do it because it’s so easy. But. In all reality, we do it because it IS hard. We, as the church, as God’s people need to be willing to do hard things. Sometimes God asks us to do the hard things that we cannot do on our own, so that He receives all the glory! In our weakness, people can see it is only because of HIS strength! Back to admitting that it is hard… From personal experience I can testify that it is key to embrace the fact that this IS hard. It’s something I just really didn’t want to do. But I needed to embrace it for myself. Acknowledge it and be honest with others. As Christians, we can do hard things. It’s ok that it’s hard and ok to admit it. We need to support and encourage each other in those hard things. I’m still learning but it has been really humbling and uplifting just to embrace this fact. As a fellow foster mom wrote; “Not all, but most days, are really hard. The kind of hard that makes you never want to stop crying. There is HOPE and redemption and grace here, but in the middle moments, it’s just hard.” So if you are in a hard season of life right now, my encouragement is that you embrace it and not shy away. Only with, and because of Jesus can we truly come out shining.

For the past few months I have grieved and cried and lamented over the extremely sad situation of our 4 little babes.. How is it that perhaps they will end up in 3 different homes?! How their biological could choose the life of party and fun over being a responsible parent? My heart aches for grandparents, I know all too well how it feels to have a child disappear from my life. The completely helpless feeling of not being able to control or change the situation. My heart breaks for a family that is broken apart and yet I know it is their choice to step up and be the change. I sense the deep sorrow of what these babies will feel as they walk through rejection in their growing up years. It’s their story, and they will have to walk thru it. I know what pain and heartache feels like and I just want to fix it and change their beginning. I want to see redemption, I want to witness a happy reunification. I want to save them from walking through a story they didn’t choose. But I can’t. One thing I do know, is that I can point them to the One who heals, who redeems the pain, who creates beauty from ashes. I can and will walk along side them as long as possible and hold their hand. And I will never stop praying for them.

In the midst of allowing myself to feel the pain and embracing this journey [again]. God gently laid some truth from the other side of the coin, very plainly in front of me. Embrace the joy. This life of mine, being a foster momma, is filled with soo much joy & love.
Perhaps the best gift that I can give them today is to let them know how happy they make me today. What an incredible beautiful gift it is to be their momma. The wonder is not lost on me and it truly is not something I take for granted. I absolutely adore and love them to bits n pieces. I am so grateful for the opportunity and gift of being their mother. Watching them grow and play fills me with so much joy and I’m so proud of them. Caring for their needs is something I have dreamed of doing for years and it truly is a privilege that I enjoy. Being needed and chosen and adored by them makes my heart swell so much it feels like it could burst. I prayed for twins for many years and it’s been a dream come true to bring home a baby from the hospital. I used to tell them everyday, “I love being your Momma”, but the weights have smothered it the last while. I want them to know the joy they bring to me, how much I want them and celebrate the gift of them. Even if it could bring pain of parting in the future. It’s totally ok for me to experience that JOY and speak it. In fact they need to hear it. I need to embrace the joy that they give me and how happy it makes my heart to be their momma for today. Allow myself to feel happy in us being a family. It just felt wrong, almost a guilt to rejoice in them being in my heart and home when it meant that they were ripped apart from their mother and life is not how it should be for them. The confusion and fears they face everyday. How can I be ‘happy’ in the midst of that? They need my empathy not my sympathy… (don’t we all?!)

It feels like I could constantly be crying. I look at them and feel all the pain that is involved with them being in my home and the next minute as I watch them play, learn and laugh with innocent childhood perfection, I am overcome with joy that I get to witness it. Of course I can’t, and won’t, just gallantly go on my way and pretend the ugly doesn’t exist, but neither can I sit here and let the heaviness engulf and overcome us. With God’s help I want to find the perfect balance of embracing what each day holds.

Clearly, farming is our number #1 focus these days. 🙂

 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect on a more personal level, please connect with me. Or if you need prayer, I would love to be in touch with you! Email me at capturingjewels@gmail.com -Follow me on Facebook or on Instagram. To follow along on our journey and not miss any posts, subscribe to the blog [top right corner] or follow my blog Facebook page, not just my personal one.

Expect the Unexpected {life update}

Been pondering what to share this month and I suppose it may be time for a bit of a personal life and family update.. Fittingly so with this being the month marking 1 year ago that we received twin baby boys into our home. Seems a bit surreal and sorry if you already know all the stats, but I wanted to write it down for my own remembrance 🙂 

Last July 5th we said good-bye to our first lil boy #MrSunshine and a few days later we welcomed twin 4 1/2 month old boys into our home on July 11th. Because it wasn’t any legal or criminal issues, but merely a lack of proper support, as soon as birth mom was back in shape the boys returned home, no questions asked. I won’t say how many questions and doubts I had, but I chalked them up to me being overly sensitive n attached to the boys in wanting to keep them. In those 5 months we had definitely fallen in love with Bubba & Buddy and were heartbroken telling them good-bye on Dec. 7th. We were not in any rush to take new placements in allowing ourselves proper time to heal (more on that another day.) Also I kept somewhat in contact with mom and told her we would like to support and help her with the boys when she delivers new baby girl in February.

On a personal life level, just prior to the twins leaving we felt led to do a few tests and check out why I have been having such severe menstrual cycles. Crippling to the point of vomiting and, well, I’ll just end it there. We didn’t really receive the quick fix we had silently been hoping for, except that the Dr. recommended I double or triple my pain meds and swap off with tylenol and ibuprofen. My body had become immune to ‘2 advils’.. He, however, felt pretty strongly that I probably have endometriosis. And if you know anything about it, the only way to confirm it & repair it is through surgery. He suggested we check out the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and do some blood work as cheaper alternative ways to definitely track what is going on with my body. So during this kid-break, we took the opportunity to take the classes & learn the CrMS charting. We have been really impressed with it so far. God opened and closed some doors pretty clearly to us in what to pursue, and at this point we are happy & at peace where it led us.  If you have any questions feel free to ask, & hopefully we will have more answers in the future.

December & January We took a Florida vacation, celebrated the Holidays with family, partied in the Smoky Mountains and just did life TOGETHER..  Emotionally we just really needed each other. And I didn’t see myself being ready for another attachment in quite awhile. The end of January, I was in contact with the twins’ mother and we ended up watching Buddy while she was in unexpected labor with baby.. she was not early but with many complications, it was prolonged and we ended up getting Bubba a few days later and were so enjoying babysitting them! They seemed kind of in shock but definitely recognized us and our home. Baby made it, but by a series of complete miracles and would end up having a month stay in the NICU.
And then the text came…I was actually rather shocked and my heart was kind of confused with all of it: “The boys’ trial home visit has been disrupted and they will be staying with you again for awhile.” Babysitting was suddenly placement. Of course I was excited to see them, love on them and watch them grow again. But so much had happened in those short 8 weeks and my heart was not prepared for this at all.. They turned 1 a month later & we got to celebrate their birthday with them! But at the same time, it tore me apart. So confusing and traumatizing for them. So disappointing for the bio mom & family.  That’s not all, we also got 2 more of their siblings, aka sisters. Two days later 3 year old Glitterbug came & a month later we brought Miraclebaby home from the hospital. Yes we are busy and yes it can be overwhelming. Also YES, our hearts are full!

Look at all those hair!

 

There are so many things I wish I could tell you about them and their lives.. But obviously it is not my story to tell. Just know that these are some of the sweetest and most beautiful children around. 3 out of the 4 are high energy kids, and cause me pure exhaustion by the end of the day. They have adjusted to us and life here quite well, perhaps better than what we have!

It has been over 4 months now being a family of 6. Let me tell you, becoming an instant family of 4 kids, ages 3 and under is no joke. And 1 year twins in the middle?! Of course the first month is all fun and everyone is doing great. Month 2 the crazy is high and the real is coming out, turns out 8 wks can raise alot of insecurities for babies. Month 3 we all just want to quit; but we keep reminding each other of that moment we knew God wanted us to say Yes and we keep pushing through, verbalizing that we embrace this life and family. Month 4 we have found a new normal and most days we feel like we are ready and ok for the long haul this appears it is going to be. And we are learning how to specialize in each individual to bond with them instead of lumping them together in an overwhelming sense where no one feels valued. We actually love doing this again & treasure having a family. Routines have definitely taken shape and bring security to us all. I don’t know how I do it most days, but have discovered that the best way to not become overwhelmed is to not ‘plan’ to accomplish anything. Lessen my expectations. Be satisfied in playing on the floor most of the day. Feel full and accomplished without crossing off a to-do list. Believe me, it is still a work in progress, that last one. But I have to constantly remind myself what is most important and not just in a cliche type of way. FOR REAL. Currently I am learning how to carve out time for what God wants me to do on a personal level and am in search of soul rest even in the daily ‘crazy’ schedule.
Recently I was kind of berating God, why He had brought us to a place of peace in saying Yes, and then just left us sit and fend for ourselves in this difficult journey? Why does it suddenly seem like a heavy burden to bear?! He reminded me of the verse my yoke is easy and my burden is light and that I had been trying to carry this yoke alone. I need to come away with Him, into His yoke and it will be free & light. That takes intentionality. Time to stop. Rest. Commune with Him and allow Him to guide every footstep and not just go go go…. In the midst of 50 things pounding in my head that need to be done, schedules & appointments nearly colliding, visits being rescheduled 5x in 1 day….I am learning to literally lift up my hands and say, You control it God and make it work out. Show me what I can cut out or do to make it work. I know You care & You will make a way. 

I just really wana shout out to my amazing husband & partner in all of this, he pulls more than his share of the load. He changes just as many poopy diapers as I do, bathes the boys 99% of the time, does the nightly ritual of putting baby to bed & 100% cares for the boys if they wake during the night. Not only is he the entertainer of all things play in the evenings, he is also the first one out of bed & has coffee brewed for me when I drag myself out 10 (or 20) minutes later. He often cooks us breakfast, or half of it at least & never complains about helping me with last minute meal prep. He never leaves the kitchen until the table is cleared. If it looks like the dogs may fare too richly under our table he will find the broom & remedy that. He washes many dishes, and loads/unloads the dishwasher whenever there is a need. Many laundry-day evenings will find him helping me clear our bed and put away what I didn’t get folded yet. If I’m feeling like I need space, he usually figures out a way for me to get groceries alone or takes the kids on a drive or takes them outside. Anytime there’s even the slightest opportunity that one can ride along with him, he will be the first to suggest it. My chocolate stash stays well supplied. I am so grateful that he helps me around the house until the toys are picked up and things in order so that I can sit with him after the babies are in bed. There’s alot more, but you get the picture, he is Super Amazing & I wana be more like him. I’m seriously so humbled how well he loves me in word & action. 

We were very grateful to family for watching our brood so that we could celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary in May. It was seriously one of the cheapest and best vacations we ever had. Originally our plans were a bit more elaborate to celebrate the big five. But then when we had to downscale we knew right away it was the perfect opportunity to relive our first dates and part of our honeymoon in MO. Something we had often talked about doing, and I’m so grateful circumstances led us in that direction. While it is awesome to make new memories, it is so soo good to stop and remember where we came from and how it all started. Even experience those first heart flutters again. 😉

We took the kiddoes to the zoo and the parade.. felt like big accomplishments and they loved it! They spend many hours on our swing set Dan built and the pool has been brought out of storage. We also added 2 baby kitties to our family and thankfully their airways seem to handle frequent squeezing quite well. They absolutely love pizza, so Lil Caesars has seen us quite frequently! We have had more than our fair share of sicknesses, Dr. appointments and teething irritability and are always so grateful for the few days of good health! And we have gone on multiple road trips, we love traveling and the kiddoes do fairly well with it as well. So yeah, its been pretty interesting around here.

And just like that we are halfway through 2017 already and it feels like it was just January. I’m presuming the rest of the year will evaporate just as quickly. One day blends into the next and the months slip away without us hardly noticing. We hope to look back at these days with fond memories and not just a blurred image. Are you saying Yes to what matters today?

If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect on a more personal level, please connect with me. Or if you need prayer, I would love to be in touch with you! Email me at capturingjewels@gmail.com -Follow me on Facebook or on Instagram. To follow along on our journey and not miss any posts, subscribe to the blog [top right corner] or follow my blog Facebook page, not just my personal one.

Dear Community with a Foster Parent in your Midst

As usual, when there is something brewing in my heart, it comes out eventually. And I’m not really sure how to share all of this because it can be pretty personal, however, I want to try to express it with lots of grace. & as a means of educating people and being a voice for so many foster Mamas that feel misunderstood or alone, or just like people don’t ‘get it’.
disclaimer 1. this post may get long.
disclaimer 2. This was a compilation of my personal experiences & feedback from other foster mamas.

Number 1. WE NEED YOU. We need your support, prayers, hands & feet, encouragement, acceptance, hugs and coffee. But first, let me clarify some things and then I’ll try to explain…

Yes, we signed up for this. In a sense we knew what we were signing up for, the unknown, the heartbreak & emotions of reunification, the trauma, the dirty, the sweetness of innocent children[& some not innocent enough] but in another sense we really couldn’t prepare or truly know what it was all going to be like. In reality tho, that didn’t matter, we signed up because of a calling, a nudging we heard from God. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t so much a choice of something we really wanted to do, but a choice of being obedient to God the Father. And sometimes we really really wish you would get that big picture. It is not something we are doing for ‘ourselves’….it truly is about and for the kids, something bigger than us. And we want you to see this as a ministry, not just our family of sweet lil kids. [If it would be just about us, I doubt we’d last very long.] We would love your help in being able to give the best possible picture of Jesus to these souls in the short lil span we have them. Its a bit of a crazy whirl and can get overwhelming to just get the basics done at times, much less all the spiritual tools & love we want to give them. We really do need you.

Less you be thinking, oh they are just raising a family like I am with mine. It probably appears like that & we try to lead a mostly “normal” life. But here’s a few things you may not have thought about it. We probably did not even have 24 hour notice before a new child or children were in our home. We had no idea what gender or age.  In less than a day we were an instant family, BAM! We don’t know their sleeping or eating likes/dislikes. I remember with different ones, we didn’t know if they could sit, crawl, or walk. Juice or water? Rock or go to bed? Paci or no? Sing or silence? Obviously we can start our own traditions & routines, but we feel so helpless knowing how to ease their level of comfort or what they were used to. Within the first 24 hours they need to be examined at the Health Department, where we generally meet the Foster Support Worker. In the first 7 days there is a Child & Family Team Meeting. Within 30 days there is generally court to be attended, Dentist physical, drug physicals, their worker visits our home, our parent support worker visits, GAL visits, shots up to date, birth parent visits begin (usually weekly), developmental evaluation & many are qualified for a weekly in-home therapist, therapist supervisor monthly visits, or if older possibly a weekly counselor, if babies they are qualified for WIC vouchers for formula, milk etc, so that’s another appointment. These are just my experiences and I know that it varies by child & state, so it could be more or less. I have discovered to not expect anything remotely normal for at least 3 months.

We would absolutely love if you would sign up and become foster parents as well, welcoming even 1 child into your home, but we also understand that not everyone will. But there is something you can do! In fact many different things. There is a big need for respite families, meaning you would do some paperwork & training and be licensed to care for emergency placements while they find a foster family, perhaps a wknd, a few days or months. & you would be able to provide a legal bed & place to babysit for foster families if they have trips or just need a wknd breather. Also open up your home to babysitting possibilities. We have lots & lots of mandatory meetings & appointments and sometimes we need to take some or all or none of the children with. Suddenly we need to fully fill a wardrobe or two, and we also need alot more groceries, plus we have no idea what they like or dislike. So perhaps you could offer to do some shopping or babysit while we shop & have a moment of quiet to grasp all the changes that are taking place. Another wonderful way is to check in and offer babysitting while we go get our training hours in. We are not allowed to take the children with and oftentimes the classes are for 2 or 3 hours in the evening or a full Saturday. Contact DCS & get fingerprinted and legal to transport children or sit with them at the office in emergencies.  Find a local foster parent association, provide meals or childcare once a month for them. Donate time or things to foster closets that are aiding foster children with free much-needed clothing. Maybe you have space or funds to build or re-do a playroom for your county…delightful spaces for visits are SO RARE. Caring for the orphans in our own communities is really a ministry where everyone can do something

Ok, so on to some practical ways that might help you understand how to better rally around the foster parents in your midst. And I might throw in a few tips about some things you may not have realized..

Your support. This can be a hard one. Oftentimes we feel like you are more curious in knowing the case history and the dramatic of sad & terrible. We really aren’t allowed to share details with you, so in being vague and not expressing a whole lot to you, we are not trying to keep you out of the loop. You are just asking the wrong questions. Perhaps ask how the child is adjusting and things about their current life with us versus what all has transpired in the past or what will happen in the future. We can have our speculations and info about what will happen, but I’d say 95% of the time the turnout isn’t exactly what we anticipated & can change drastically with one phone call. So it is easier for us to not have to guess the future in order to try and explain it to you. The unknown part is the absolute hardest part of this whole journey!! Having to answer “I don’t know” to those type of questions doesn’t make it any easier for us.  Like I said, its hard, because we love when you show interest and care about them, but we don’t always know how to answer! Also, please keep in mind that our job is to show Jesus to the birth parents, so hearing you bash them doesn’t give us ideas of how to better show love.

Your hands & feet… literally 🙂 On the night of a first placement, help out with immediate needs or food that night/week/month. Come clean our house while we are at a visit. Bring us a warm meal when we have been in meetings & gone all day. Drop off a frozen casserole that we can use on a day when the unexpected comes up and we completely forgot that it was also important that we feed these kids. and ourselves, we tend to forget our own needs sometimes. Share a bucket of cookies. Offer babysitting but keep in mind that perhaps our kids are going through traumatic visitations and insecurities and babysitting isn’t the best option. Suggest a play-date, grab our weekly groceries. Offer your pair of hands at an outdoor adventure to the zoo. Or maybe sit with our kids after they are in bed so we can go out on a late date night.
Throw a shower. Especially if these are first time parents or when we get newborn babies. I still fondly look back at my Welcome to Parenthood/Fostering Shower that was thrown for us before our first placement. And the boxes, gifts and thoughtful items that were sent to us. Also Birthday parties, umm yeah, they may not be here next year or even remember us, but they deserve to be treated with love and showered with gifts. These babies and the families should not be cheated out of these experiences & they should be treated the same way as if they were born into our family. Celebrate these children with us!! 

Encouragement… So  we know we are amazing, (insert curtsy here) we hear it alll the time! However, we really want you to know that we are not some super-human, extra-ordinary saints or angels. We are human, doing something [that should be] ordinary & normal, saying yes to helping a child in need. It is hard, we don’t always keep the big picture in mind. So your heartfelt encouraging words, texts, & notes really mean alot. They help keep us focused.

Prayers… I cannot stress this one enough. We neeed your prayers. We love to hear you are praying for us. We don’t want to bother you with our many ever-changing prayer requests, all-the-time. But. It literally can change lives and we are so grateful for every prayer warrior on our team, praying for the BEST interest of the child and not our selfish desires.

Acceptance… We want you to know that these children are not all lil’ heathens and terribly bratty kids prone to trouble. They are normal children, with normal training needs, but from not-normal situations. They may act out because of trauma and they may not. We don’t always know what they have seen or experienced or are feeling, so it can be a challenge knowing how to parent at times. But it really doesn’t help if you are constantly trying to analyze their behaviour, especially in front of them. And yes, our parenting techniques are different, some because legally we are bound to, some because of their unstable background, but all because we chose to parent them here & now like this. So please be respectful & understanding. Maybe you can even learn something. Our plea to you is to accept the decisions we make in nurturing our children & to educate your children in how to relate to them, & to include them without awkward hesitation & stares. The last place ‘foster children’ need to feel & hear that they indeed are ‘foster children’ is from their friends. It cuts my heart every-time. Be understanding & gentle around the young ones, they are not super trusting, or maybe too trusting sometimes, but we are trying our best to be a stable trustworthy person in their life. So, keep that in mind before you come whisk them out of our sight. Or perhaps it looks like we have super strict boundaries on our toddlers, remember, you don’t know their story and we aren’t allowed to explain it to you. But we know how much they can handle & we truly have their best in mind. Here’s a fun tidbit, [I wanna say fact, but haven’t done an actual research..]  ??% of foster children are brighter, smarter & more aware of comprehending situations & comments than your bio child. Sadly, oftentimes because it can be a mode of protecting themselves. So keep that in mind when you make remarks in front of them.
It may shock you, but we also actually love these kiddoes as much/the same as our bio children. Obviously, this one didn’t come from me, but I will add that I can understand your surprise n disbelief about this one, because I was you. I did not expect to love them as much as I did/do. There are many times I stop n think, there is no way I could love a bio child more than I love this child right here, right now. God grows them in your heart & it is amazing.

Hugs & coffee… and all the other impromptu lovings. Somedays we just feel sad. We may be trying not to stress about the unknown future or perhaps we’re remembering a child that left [quick insert, we love when you remember all of our children and not just the ones we have at present, they never replace each other in our hearts].

Those comments…we know you mean well, and we truly want to give you grace for them, but just in case you didn’t realize, they feel really insensitive. — “I could never do that.” “I would get way too attached.” “How in the world do you do give them back?” “Aww, I would just love them too much to let them go again.”   …Umm, we don’t have stone hearts, it hurts us too, but Jesus. 🙂 And all the comments about them looking just like us. It’s sweet & we smile & agree, however, that really isn’t as important to us as you may think. What about the other toddler who hears you and is also ‘our’ son but knows his color is different, even though he may be too young to understand, or so you think. I can’t speak for all, but in general I’m pretty sure we’d be super ok with you blessing the kids for who they are instead of trying to make us feel like we birthed them.

I guess in conclusion we just want you to know that it is a ministry, a mission. We need your support just like a pastor, a missionary and those in ministry who are often thought of as being in direct line of the enemies fire. 

I am extremely grateful for the wonderful community surrounding us and the love of Jesus they have shown to me and to our family. They have taught me so much and I hope this helps you understand how to step in and lift up the foster families in your midst. GOD BLESS.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect on a more personal level, please connect with me. Or if you need prayer, I would love to be in touch with you! Email me at capturingjewels@gmail.com -Follow me on Facebook or on Instagram. To follow along on our journey and not miss any posts, subscribe to the blog [top right corner] or follow my blog Facebook page, not just my personal one.

When you are Living a Life you did not Imagine *NIAW-2017*

This week is NIAW and I have been very quiet over here.. Well, quiet on the blog. I have been really busy and I have been writing, but I always chicken out from posting. I thought I could get more courage this year to share more of my heart. But then we got 4 lil foster kiddoes the beginning of the year and my time to write and even be online has measurably decreased. SO, for now I am learning how to embrace this season and share as the Lord leads.

But last night I started doing an Instagram post on this years topic #ListenUp by Resolve. And realized it was going to get lengthy, so thought I would just type up a bit today.

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Not sure how to share what all I have been thinking about this week. It seems so hard to believe that it has been 4 years already since we blissfully thought we were beginning the next part of our dream-life-come-true. Some days I just really don’t want to think about it, and other days I allow myself to walk down that dream driveway.. What if we would have gotten pregnant and would have a lil forever family of our own? What if we would know what it is like to have to figure out what kind of birth control we should use?? What if we would know what a mini us looks like? What if we would know the joy and feelings of being pregnant? What if we would understand the pain of childbirth? What if we would need to buy a new house because ours was getting too full? What if we would have to decide what pediatrician to use, or whether we should vaccinate our child or not?  I. DON’T. KNOW.

Sometimes it all feels like some kind of mean dream that somehow we should be able to fix. THIS is not the life we had dreamed of or talked about or planned. All those dreams and longings come back as bitter tears and pain instead of the joy and laughter we had imagined they would gain us. It feels like it’s all spinning and we have absolutely NO control over anything in our life. Like, Why can’t we at least figure out something and have it go the way we dream? Should we release it and find a new dream?

Yup, even though we have found a peace in the journey and are staying busy. It never goes away. There are definitely many, many days where we don’t agonize over it or even question it; but there are days when we do wonder what is next? And we do wonder why God chose us to be here? It does not make sense, but we know and have experienced that God is a Redeemer of our pain. He can use all of it. Sometimes I just want to stop allowing the pain to change me in an effort to let God know that I’m done & hope that He won’t allow more. But, His gentle Holy Spirit always convicts & challenges me…….. So, I didn’t come on here to preach, I just wanted to share to encourage you to ListenUp to those around you. Even if they seem like all is fine and they have reached a peace, God is never done. They may need a listening ear for the next step/struggle in their journey. ……. Most importantly I want YOU to know that I am here to ListenUp to you.  If you are struggling at times, please let me pray for you. let me virtually hug you and tell you, I understand. We are not here to get stuck, but to be REAL.

Peace and ears to all,

If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect on a more personal level, please connect with me. Or if you need prayer, I would love to be in touch with you! Email me at capturingjewels@gmail.com -Follow me on Facebook or on Instagram. To follow along on our journey and not miss any posts, subscribe to the blog [top right corner] or follow my blog Facebook page, not just my personal one.

Open Heart, Open Hands, Open Horizon…

Nothing like waking up at 6:30 on the first morning of your vacation. Clearly my mind needs to realize we are on vacation. And the best way to do that is to write it out, and beings its still dark and hubby is sleeping, I grab my computer instead of pen n paper..

Yesterday we said good-bye to the twins we’ve had in our home since July. We knew it was coming for awhile and had been having overnight visits, so the transfer went good and in a way it still doesn’t seem real. Like, we’ll just come home and go get them again, right?  But I knew in my heart it was different when we dropped them off this time. And oh, it hurt. Why do the tears always insist on coming when I just want a composed good-bye, but instead have to rush away? Each one of our lil munchkins situation has been a lil different, but generally my heart has mostly been heavy with, “What will happen to them? I wish they didn’t have to face this traumatic change and good-bye, I’m grieving their losses, their confused lil minds, their tomorrows.”  But this time is different, and to be quite honest, it feels selfish. But I can’t lie on paper. I’m really grieving my loss this time. Don’t get me wrong, I 150% care about those babies and will invest in them whenever I can, I know it has affected them, albeit we didn’t see nearly the fear as in some of the others. And I know because of power in prayer, they will adapt and adjust quite quickly. Sadly, they will probably even forget us. BUT…I didn’t ever want to say good-bye. What’s going to happen to my dream of raising twins? I don’t want to lose them. I just really didn’t want to go thru this right now……yep, I
know, it feels so selfish. But herein is the pain. 

I read a quote the other day about how we embrace pain? I know I need to move forward. But how do I know if I am embracing my pain or wallowing in it, or maybe I am ignoring it? How do I grow from it, let it do it’s purifying work? I’m sure there are more ways than one and I’d love to hear other people’s stories.. Here is something that I’ve been pondering since I read it and I believe there is something in it for me..but I’m still sorting thru it..  So. when we receive a blessing, a good thing. We receive it. We accept it. We rejoice. We don’t question, where did this come from? why me? we don’t resist it or try to avoid it. So when we receive a trial, a painful experience, we should likewise not question (I insert, obviously being mindful of discerning between attacks from the enemy vs God allowing you to walk this path, we never want to welcome havoc from the the devil. but in walking with God I know it can ALL be used to glorify Him if He allows it.)  So, we don’t sit here questioning, why me? why this? we grieve. we rejoice. we embrace that this is FOR us. We don’t resist it. All of what comes our way, creating emotions, whether joyful or painful, are to teach us something.

For me, it’s super helpful to be able to recognize and know why I am feeling what I am feeling. Why do I feel this joy or pain. Like I was above. Being completely honest. Otherwise it seems like I am ignoring the real issue & just trying to quickly get thru the symptoms. Embrace the pain and hurt, shine Jesus on it and hear what He wants to say to me in all of this. I guess I tend to be one of those people that thinks everything happens for a reason and even tho there are MANY things that I still don’t know the reason for it. I want my heart to be open and learn and grow even in the most vulnerable, dark days. I would rather feel deeply both joy and pain, than to not feel at all.

Sigh, enough with that for now. Seriously the last 3 weeks I have felt like I’ve only been hanging on by a thread and every couple days that thread got ripped as well. I am such a, what people would call Type A personality. So whenever I had plans made and they were cancelled and changed multiple times day in and out, I was beyond wanting to plan anything. In the middle of it my sister reminded me that God always has a bigger plan that we can’t see and we just got to hold onto that, even in the minute details. It felt like it was all that was left to do anyway, so I just held on. And it got me thinking. So many times we plan things out, we think we know what is best. But we can’t see the big picture. Am I willing to let go of my agenda and allow God, who is looking at me from the future, plan my every detail? Or do I do everything within my power to make things go according to MY plan? What if we lived our lives with hands open wide, instead of it all clenched inside our fist, saying ‘This is how it’s going to go!’ It’s really hard for me, when things are falling apart, to not try and keep it all going according to plan. So I am asking God to let me be ok with letting go and going with His plan…

And let me be clear, I’m talking about the lil things. I know that when a big life” situation is out of our control, it’s relatively easy to give it to God who controls it all. But what about our everyday plans that seemingly are in ‘our’ control? For example, our trip to Florida was rescheduled and we weren’t sure if we were even going to go this time. And it was all planned so we could relax and leave.. turns out I left without vacuuming, cleaning or having my Christmas decor out. Yes, the girl who loves Christmas doesn’t even know if she’s wanting to get Christmas out. (lets be real, of course I will, it may just be for a week tho.) And if you know anything about me, that pretty much never happens, my house is clean before I go anywhere long distance. Something my Mama taught me! (and I’m silently hoping the ladybugs on the ceiling don’t entirely take over our residence.) But we had an appointment and had to go….. It’s in these things that I’m learning, Let go….

So yup, while I feel quite a bit weary and sad. I am officially in Florida. And I am so thankful for a wonderful husband who blesses me with such an amazing Birthday gift every year. I am excited and hopeful to experience God’s healing on my heart and in my body (which, being worn down has a nasty cough!) And R.E.L.A.X.A.T.I.O.N. ….amen?! peace to all.

[[edited to add, good thing I waited to post this.]] After our arrival to our final destination, I went to the beach just to clear my head right away and my honey went to get sandals which he ‘forgot’ and came back and totally shocked me with some gorgeous flowers. And trust me, it’s not just the flowers, this man really cares about my heart and I am so grateful we are walking this journey together!
 Don’t they just add the most beautiful smile to the room?! <3

Foto Friday ~ Birthday Boys

I got to hang out with these handsome lil guys awhile back to document their Birthdays. Almost they share a BirthDAY but are 3 years apart. They are so sweet & fun! I was just a lil nervous because we had shade, then bright sun n heat and a 1 year old who wasn’t too impressed with sitting outside in it. But at least he didn’t cry and one can easily see how adorable he is, even without a smile!! 🙂 During the first part we had a lil fun with being a cowboy, for which Cashton is perfect. Celebrating being 1 for Greyson, and then dress-up. These boys always look classy thanks to their mama’s good taste! 🙂 dsc_0654dsc_0632dsc_0703dsc_0724dsc_0893dsc_0905dsc_0928dsc_0628dsc_0673dsc_0721dsc_0738dsc_0689dsc_0710dsc_0812

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Disclaimer: if these photos are viewed on a PC, I’m sorry they look so grainy. I’m trying out new settings for web exporting and so far I’m not convinced I like it. Please help a girl out if you have a way to get them to look clear and sharp on FB and blog. Seems like people just care what it looks like on their phone these days.. Anhoo, have a lovely day.

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Summer is gone.. ..update..

Hello to October and Autumn, it is so nice to see you!! For the first time in my life I am absolutely so happy to see Fall and say good-bye to summer & heat. I think perhaps it is because of hardly doing any swimming this year. But the cool days and changing leaves have me in so many smiles today and I am just delighted at pulling out a jacket! The smell of cool, air-blown laundry in from the line, and burning cinnamon-apple candles, ahh! I saw the neighbors put up Christmas lights and that got me excited, only to be shot down by my hubby saying that we don’t need to rush it! 🙂

July 5 we did say good-bye to #MrSunbeam after having him in our home for a day short of 7 weeks. It seems like it was a short time, but he was the happiest lil fella and we had quickly fallen in love and gotten attached to him, our first lil boy! He went to a wonderful home and they reported he is walking and doing well, so it was definitely a success story with a few tears.

We decided to quickly go to Nashville that very weekend to belatedly celebrate our Anniversary, and we had an amaaazing fun time. I want to update with a few pictures yet!         Don’t you know, we hadn’t even been on the road for 3 hours when we got a call for twin 4 month old little girls. We definitely wanted them, but also knew we were on this trip and were supposed to be. So we said if they can wait till Monday, that would be great, if not, we understand. And it turns out because of the uniqueness of the situation they could wait till Monday. I was sooo tickled!! And of course had to go buy them a few cute outfits 🙂  Well. on Monday, somehow we got twin BOYS instead. Kinda a shocker, but we were still delighted. They don’t look anything alike, but of course we think they are sweet, adorable and just perfect! They don’t expect it to be long-term, but time will tell! So, by now you can probably understand why this update is just a tad behind..  They have stretched my mothering capabilities beyond what I thought I could handle and left me groping at times, truly not knowing what to try next!! As soon as we’d have them on a feeding schedule for a few weeks, they’d have a growth spurt, or wanted to sleep less and we had to figure it out all over again! Sometimes they’d wana be rocked and sometimes just lay in bed. Currently however, they are 7 1/2 months old and are eating baby food, cereal in their bottles, are on a very reliable schedule and sleeping well. Most times they like to be rocked to sleep and just since they’ve been sick they like if I rock both of them at the same time, thankfully we have a rocking loveseat which makes it very possible. I’d say we’ve grown; from getting up 13 times that first night and having multiple night time feedings, to now sleeping all through the night is quite an accomplishment! They usually go to bed around 7 and wake @6 – 6:30 am, taking 2 naps a day. Also am quite proud of their accomplishments. From just laying on their backs when they came to now crawling and Buddy is pulling himself and walking along furniture. He also just cut his first 2 teeth this month. We nicknamed them Buddy & Bubba, it just kinda fits them! dsc_0095

Otherwise around here we finished up the garden and cleaned it all away. I completed and passed my high school education test, which is same as a GED in most states. Growing up we were only allowed to go through 8th grade and I’ve always loved school and wanted to complete it just for my satisfaction. My computer was restored, for $0!! My niece was here for 2 weeks and we accomplished A LOT on my to-do list, which is making for a MUCH more relaxing time caring for the twins, editing pictures and catching up on personal things. And helps me be ok when all I get done during a week are the basics. We also had a family reunion in Linn, Mo with my family. We just took what we got with family pictures!img_2783 img_2725

My sister and family from PA were here for a week, and we had a delightful time, but definitely different with 6 kids in the mix! They had so much fun.. dsc_0360

Hubby is in full harvest swing.. Even though the days get long, I am so happy they are having beautiful weather and not much rain delays and hoping it will continue so they can be done before November. There was 1 week when he didn’t get to see the twins from Sunday till Friday, but then there were 2 days that I got to ride with a lil, thanks to my sis for babysitting. I think not being able to go with him makes the days seem alot longer. But I will enjoy them, because before we know it, time change will be here and the days will be so short!  Peace to all & here’s a challenge for you:

“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”
E. Elliot

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“Blueberry Butterscotch Squares”

Whooa…It’s July!  I’m actually kind of excited that this year is seemingly flying by, no specific reason, just a feeling. 🙂 I’ve got a super yummy Blueberry bar recipe for you that you are definitely gonna want to try! But first, just a lil update..

June was a full month and yet we had time for lots of sweet moments.. The main reason for being quiet over here is not for lack of good, good things that God is doing. But because that my computer issues have still not resolved. I have an appointment on July 11 to see if they can restore my data before putting in a new operating system. I do have my old one that I can thankfully run my business with, but only do the basics cuz it’s soo slow. Decided to brave it today and was reminded why I haven’t before, took a loong time to just open Lightroom, much less make minimal edits to my photos. We’ve been busy with all the usual first-month things, mtgs, appts, visits that come with a new foster placement & thoroughly enjoying having #MrSunbeam with us. He is definitely living up to his nickname. (sidenote, he will possibly be leaving to go with relatives next week..) Also had court for one of our others that was on trial placement and things are going well there so we said a more definitive goodbye. :'(  –no words…we have our sad days but the peace of Jesus is so sweet in these times!! Otherwise on the agenda we attended a wedding, an adoption conference and participated in a 5k for our local pregnancy center and took our 2nd year CPR training. Oh and SUMMER HIT with full force time-to-hit-the-pool-temperatures!

Ok, so we also went blueberry picking at our local patch and yumm! Soo so much better than ANY store-bought ones! I had really wanted to make a pie this wknd, but completely forgot till too late in the day, but I wanted to whip up something yummy with these blueberries for the wknd. So I decided to use my old n faithful, well-loved recipe. They are a family favorite for years and always a hit wherever I take them. And super easy! Because I strategically use a 1/2 cup for everything I only dirtied 5 dishes; Bowl, spoon, spatula, 1/2 cup, & Tablespoon ring. No mixer needed. Definitely give them a try!

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Blueberry Butterscotch Squares

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (softened)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen*)

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. Cream together the sugar and butter and mix in eggs. Add flour, salt n soda and mix completely. Fold in the blueberries. (*if frozen, work very quickly as dough will get thick & cold really quickly, which is ok. Just add a lil baking time.)  Spread in pan and flatten out. Sprinkle with chips, pecans and brown sugar. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is lightly brown.

Here are a couple pictures I quickly took to entice you 🙂

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ready for the oven

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doesn’t have to be perfectly in every corner

 

perfect! lightly browned..

perfect! lightly browned..

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yumm. All mine! 🙂

Enjoy and have a wonderful July 4th weekend!

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“Life” on our Anniversary

Today is just a lil different than what I had imagined.. But it’s ok. I’m choosing to cherish the moments as this is what our imperfect, perfect life looks like! No, we still don’t have the ‘normal-family-life’ thing downpat, but come’on, I seriously doubt we’d be happy if we lived the American-normal. Most of the time I feel like we fit into a mold too much the way it is. Who defines ‘normal’ anyway?! lol

Being without any kids for the past 2 months we decided we’re gonna go spend a few days in Nashville for our 4th Anniversary this year. Who lives just a few hours away and hasn’t spent time touring the famous city of Nashville? Yup, that would be us! So we were getting all excited and planning what we wanted to go see….. But Dan kept holding off on making actual motel reservations, because, as he said, “what if we’d get some kids”?!

Sure enough, on Tuesday morning we were discussing that we should get our reservations made that evening and a few hours into the day. We get a phone call asking if we’d take 3 lil boys. Uh-oh. See, we’re just licensed for three. And next month is #mylilgirlie’s court to see how her trial placement with her bio Dad is going. And with not knowing the outcome we were not willing to fill up our home n not leave a space for her, just in case. So I called our placement lady (in our county) and she said she’s make a few calls. Turns out they’d gladly up our number but we’d have to get another room ready and we can’t do that without getting a storage building or adding a lean-to…(which I have been bugging dear hubby for) cuz I want to help as many as I can! So we sadly had to say no, but I felt complete peace about it. Before I hung up, she said, Oh looks like I’m getting a child into custody right now. I almost squealed, Yay, we’ll take that one! She says, It’s a baby. And I’m pretty sure I squealed for real then. We’d love to have a baby! So I had to wait to hear back, and a few hours later she said they couldn’t find a judge to sign and won’t be able to remove the child till tomorrow, but it’s a 10 month old lil boy.

Waited till mid-afternoon to finally receive the call that he’s in custody and I can come pick him up. I came into the office to hear him giggling the most deep, adorable giggle as he was playing with an FSW’s kids & just loving it. He took to me right away. Needless to say it was evening till I came home, not only a bunch of waiting and signing I had to turn around and go back for more after I was 5 min on my way home. Thanks to Lil Ceasar’s we had a relaxing eve to get him bathed and ready for bed. [Minus going thru the nastiness of a small bag of stinky clothes–needing to get Clorox as they might be contaminated from the drugs.] He did super well, took a 45 min nap and woke up after 7pm, and by 9pm and only a few tears later he was out again! And he slept till 9am!! I was just a lil freaked out and secretly delighted when I woke up during the night and the next morning and the lil champ was still soundly sleeping!

He seems to have a good mix of being a content, happy lil guy with lots of smarts and just a lil bit of temper I think… Smiles super easy and copycats alot, constantly giving me giggle fits and then he tries to laugh with me. He’s been crawling and pulling himself up, so I suppose this will be interesting if he continues to be this active! Wasn’t so keen on the baby food, but I think it was mainly the spoon thing as he loves to eat with his fingers and picks it up and handles it really well. I’m not quite sure what all is normal for a 10 month old, but he doesn’t seem to be behind at all. And is a healthy weight, coming in just a tad on the short side. His happy demeanor has earned him the web name of MrSunbeam. MrSunbeam

So, that brings me back to today. It’s our Anniversary and so far I’ve been to the Health Department and Walmart. It would be fine, but I keep thinking about being in Nashville and it’s just not cutting it! I know we will still go and I’m looking forward to that. I am happy, very happy tho; I know, with the timing of everything that this was meant to be- MrSunbeam here and us at home. So, I can happily be sad. [it’s true]. We’re just gonna get a babysitter tonight and go eat some yummy steaks and see if we can find anything else to do that may seem romantic [NOT grocery-shopping either!]. Mmm now my mouth is watering.

Funny story, my wedding pictures are still not in albums. I was going to scrapbook them so I never put them in an album. Now that just looks overwhelming. So maybe we’ll go get some albums and stick em in for now, beings they’re all printed. We did have such an amazing wedding and I never tire of looking at our beautiful pictures & reliving the fun, giddy feelings. No doubt the biggest piece of amazingness was in the man that I married. I was so in love and hoped like crazy it would only get better. Indeed, I am being truthful, not cliche when I say it has! He spoils me rotten and loves me dearly. I am so thankful that he is an awesome leader and provider for us that I can trust 200%. I love him like crazy and couldn’t ask for more.

Here’s a couple wedding pictures —

 

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I got this last one made into a 16×24 canvas from Canvas On Demand for us. We like to get 1 big thing that benefits both of us for an Anniversary Gift and thought this was perfect 😉

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