To begin with. . .

This is more like a journal for me and therefore, I can't promise that the entries are grammatically free. I usually have time to write at night when I should be in bed or during a brief spare moment during the day when all around me I hear my name, "Mommy," being called. So enjoy the thoughts of Lori (and maybe at times, Kevin). God is awesome! I've been married for 21 years to my best friend. I have 3 precious biological children, 4 born in my heart and at least 4 precious babies in heaven singing and dancing with God's angels. God is good!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

2,557 Days

That is the number of days we have been a family of 9. Tomorrow we begin year 8 as a family of 9.  We are still 616 days until the last of the girls will have spent an equal number of days with us as where she grew up for the first 8 years, 8 months and 8 days of her life.  I know to some that might seem like a strange thing to write and/or think about, but here's what I need YOU to stop and think about. Our oldest adopted daughter spent the better part of her first 3,173 days of her life not being in a healthy environment. They say that for every 3 months spent in institutional care there is at least 1 month of delay in growth. Knowing what we do about her home life before the 2 years and 3 months she was in the orphanage, we know that there was delay then as well and then you add in all the trauma.  Even though the outside world doesn't tend to "see it," we can still see the delays. It's not a bad thing.  It's just  life: her life, our life, our family's life.  All 4 of them react differently tomorrow - our Forever Family Day.  There's usually some weird attitudes a few days before and this year we haven't been disappointed [sigh]. Tomorrow we will celebrate with ice cream at Maggie Moos and I'm going to make a special soup called Ajiaco. It will be different since 1 is in school.

My heart is full.  God is so good.  I am blessed!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Eye of the Storm

"Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me."  John 14:1

It's easy to allow "trouble" to shift my eyes off the cross some days. When I signed up to be a momma to 4 beautiful girls from hard places, I had no idea what I was to experience.  But God did. That is what I have to keep reminding myself as I wade these waters.  Waters that I had hoped we had passed.  Okay, so it is not the same waters.  Now, we all speak English and not Spanish.  So communication, when it happens, is easier to understand.  When I speak of these waters, I'm referring to feelings of inadequacy. I'm outnumbered, and now we've added hormones to the mix. I get it.  Most children go through stages where Mom and Dad aren't cool. Or should I say some moments in a day "we are the best," and other moments we are not their favorite.  😊 So when you mix together 3 bio kids and 4 adopted kids. . . . I'll never forget the time I was downstairs working on something soon after we had brought the girls home (probably a meal since it seemed like all I ever did at the beginning was fix food, feed, cleanup and start again) when I heard pounding and lots of garbled words. I RAN upstairs to find the 4 bio adopted siblings beating on the door of the boys room.  From inside I could hear at least one of the other 3 responding.  The 3 on the other side of the door had locked themselves in the room.  In that moment I felt nothing but FEAR. It wasn't even so much about who was standing on which side of the door as much as it was wondering how it was going to work.  We were spending 4+ hours EVERY SINGLE night for several months putting kids to bed.

So here we are standing at the threshold of almost 7 years of being a family of 9. Honestly, there are still the occasional moments when I wonder how it is going to work. . . . I know, not what you expected me to write.  Especially for those of you who see us more often.  (Isn't it great how we can put on our "church faces" when we need to?) It's a different lonely now.  Our girls are older now, which to the general population means they should be "fine."  When the kids were all younger, we could hide a lot from the rest if one was hurting.  That's not so easy anymore.  Yes, they knew we were spending more time with one or the other, but they didn't get what was going on.  It's really too bad Kevin and I can't have conferred degrees based on experience.  Ha! We've had a practicum like most will never have or for that matter even begin to understand. Some days I wish I could hang a sign that says, "NO DRAMA ALLOWED TODAY - OR FOR AT LEAST 1/2 A DAY!" 😆 I feel more "outnumbered" now than I ever did I believe.  At least when they were little people they could be swayed by toys or a movie or something.  But before it sounds like I want a pity party, I must tell you that we are seeing so much beauty rising from the ashes.  We have a ways to go, but God continues to show us signs of healing.  God is good!  No, God is AWESOME!

Tomorrow marks a year since Kevin walked into his corporate world job for the last time!  I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!  It has been a year of struggle, patience, lots of tears, pure joy, pure defeat, and so much more.  God knew I needed Kevin here at home to walk the road we have needed to travel with our children.  One has gone from wanting to die to living and caring about what Kevin and I think!! Another is continuing to heal emotionally.  Relationships between Kevin and all of the kids have improved so much. We are beginning to see small (I mean small) glimpses that one is beginning to see me as mom. Yes, there's a lot of junk too that I wish we could have avoided, but that wasn't God's plan.  I know some people are planners.  Kevin and I like to plan.  We've just found that with our unique family there are a lot of plans that we just can't begin to plan let alone carry out on a time schedule.  😂

One plan that we have at least begun is that Kevin has begun his own handyman business called, "Mr. Tie-Dye."  He loves working with his hands, learning new things, and being creative and at least with some of the handyman work, he is able to do that.  We don't believe God is calling Kevin back into the 60-80 hour corporation life.  In some ways our kids need him now more than ever!  Oh yes there are other avenues he would love to pursue, but as of yet God hasn't opened those doors.  He's continuing to work on his voiceover work, but again with trying to get Mr. Tie-Dye in place and our family's needs, it's not complete yet. So for those of you praying for us, a great prayer would be that Mr. Tie-Dye would be able to support his family like I know he desires too. It is so hard not to worry!  I want nothing more than to see him be successful - not monetarily per say - but in order that he can support our unique family.  God called us to this and He WILL see us through it.  In my heart and in Kevin's heart we know that.  The devil just likes to play with our mind.  I wish I could say God always wins, but unfortunately that is not true.  Doubt rules sometimes.  However,  God is continually reminding us that the money we had set aside is not really ours, it is His.

As much as I want to keep writing, I need to stop for now.  I am trying hard to get better sleep (not that it is working the greatest). I was trying to think how to end it and these words from Ray Stevenson's song, "Eye of the Storm," came to mind:

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
. . . 
...when my hopes and dreams are far from me, and I'm running out of faith 
I see the future I picture slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face

Monday, August 21, 2017

Your Grace Is All I Need

Sunday, September 20, 2017

It's been about a year since God breathed a song into Maleah's heart that has since become words that whisper comfort to me when fear and doubt begin to creep into my heart.  This morning Maleah had the opportunity to share God's message in song with our church family. As she was singing, I could see a younger Maleah singing her heart out for Jesus.  I saw the not yet toddler who went crawling into our Associate Pastor's office right up to a picture of Jesus that hadn't been hung yet on the wall. She stopped and stared at the picture and then pointed her little finger out and said, "Sheshus," over and over. Then through tears I blinked I saw in front of me a daughter who has had to overcome some adversities that most have never experienced, still walks through some, but is standing up there sharing her heart. God is good!

Grace: noun (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. 

God gave it to us freely when he had his own son die on the cross for our sins. It's a gift. In Maleah's song it says, "Your grace is all I need, it brings me to my knees. You break every chain.  You take all my pain. . . Even in my weakness, I'll be glad." That's not easy to do.  To be glad in our weakness. What I really struggle with sometimes is how stuff that happened over almost 7 years ago can affect my daughters like it does now.  It's CRAZY!! God can break all of our chains to hurts in the past, addictions, problems, yet we continue to hang on to them.

I feel like for the last several months we have had a lot of "Aha!" moments as more "stuff" comes to light. I really believe a lot of it is because of the ages of the girls. I get it why a lot of people would never consider and older adoption.  I even get it why most would never consider more than one - let alone 4!! We may have adopted them all at the same time, but the issues that each of them have are different and don't affect them all at the same time. In a "normal" (I use that term loosely.) adoption it can be said that about 2 years into it you should be able to see their personalities and settling down of how it will be.  In our case, it wasn't that way (and I'm very glad it wasn't).  I believe that is because we did adopt 4 at the same time.  YIKES!! There is a constant roller coaster going on in our home. I know many don't understand when I say that sometimes we can spend hours in one day working with one or more of them.  Tonight it was 2.  It was nothing bad either.  In fact we have made a HUGE discovery that Kevin and I pray will make some major differences eventually.  We aren't naive enough to think it will change for the better over night. I always hesitate how much to share, but I want to try and share so that if there's another family in a similar situation you can hear this.

Our youngest adopted daughter was not quite 3 months old when her unstable world was thrown into complete mayhem.  Although, we do not have detailed records of what happened for the next 9 1/2 months, we know that her "caregiver" was her 5 year old sister.  Her brain remembers that.  When we first adopted the girls there was a real struggle as our oldest adopted in a sense had to relinquish control that she had assumed for at least 3 years. There was a loyalty between the girls to some extent with great reason. We have never tried to downplay or hide these facts from the girls. They learned to survive - together. Fast forward to the present. We knew that there would be adjustments that would take time after we moved around where the girls all slept.  We knew that sending one off to public school would also create some adjustments. [sigh] Making adjustments seems to be the name of the game.  Well the GRUMPY attitude has really been prevalent with the youngest the last several days, but I couldn't identify any other problem.  Trust me.  I have tried!  The problem is that when she gets in this mood she tends to pick on others.  Today, at 2 different times, she asked to talk with me. (That in itself is a miracle!) The first time wasn't a "safe" time.  So tonight after supper we talked.  As we talked it dawned on me that I/we had missed part of the equation. Her big sister was "mom" to her for the first 3 years of her life. I say that word loosely because in reality she wasn't.  I don't even remember what she said tonight, but I just blurted out that if I had been her mommy when she was born, it would have been different.  She asked me how, and I told her how it would have been. I talked about how I cared for the 3 I gave birth too. Oh my heart ached for her. We had a long talk about the difference between a mom and a sister. When her oldest bio sister does something that bothers her she reacts differently than if it's any of her other siblings.  With the others she will respond (good or bad) and go on.  With her older bio sister, she will for the most part not say anything, get mad, take it out on the rest of us as it builds up over time, and then eventually tell us about it when it's really too late to do anything about it. We talked about what she needs to do from now on.  We "drew a line in the sand" and she is going to work on how she responds when situations arise that aren't so fun, and deal with it then. Oh I know it is not a done deal. This is going to take some time for her heart to convince her brain that her loyalty/trust is misplaced. I told her no one is wrong.  It's just how her brain, and in some ways her sister's brain were wired to survive those first years. Now that she is older, her relationship is and will be changing. She couldn't see that big picture.  I'm sure it is going to take some time for her to do that.  My prayer is that she can in a sense rewire her brain to accept that she has just 1 mom and treat her sister as a sister.  Kevin and I laughed because it might be that those first few times she really treats her sister as a sister when conflict happens may surprise bother herself as well as her sister. 😊 Oh the joys of parenting children from hard places. We wouldn't trade. . . just wish we could wipe away the pain.  

I wanted to end with another story that happened after church was over today.  Not so much because it had to do with any of my own family, but because it reminded me of a difference.  We were standing talking to some friends.  One of their daughters was sitting on the stage counting out candy and dividing it into 4 piles. I was talking with her about what she was doing.  She explained that she was dividing out her candy to share with her siblings. Her twin was sick at home and she missed her.  As she began showing me who was getting what candy, it reminded me of the battles we used to have over candy.  Even now there is not a complete willingness to share candy.  I shared with the mom how candy was something that the orphanage used to bribe the kids to get better behavior, which is not uncommon. The first couple of years were horrible (think Halloween madness). We would have never seen one of the girls counting out candy to share. Yes, now we see it at times, but there is still that sense of, "It's mine and I'm not going to share." If it is something that we buy with the intentions of the child sharing we have to remind them of it.  Oh yes, we are in a far off better place than we were, but it has taken years to get to this point. 

Tomorrow is the Solar Eclipse day. According to some news sources it could be complete mayhem on the interstates since we are in an area where the moon will cover the sun for the longest.  We had thought about going to Trevecca Nazarene University to participate in their activities, but are now thinking we will stay home.  Honestly, we are a little concerned about even letting ours go outside.  It all goes back to that trust issue.  We can say it until we are blue in the faces that they cannot look into the sun, but we know there will be that attitude of, "It won't hurt me." 

God made the heavens and the earth, and all that is within. In Deuteronomy 4:19 it is written:

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Keeping our eyes on the cross!

Friday, August 18, 2017

In the Quiet

My prayer journal that I write in every night is not enough room to write about today!  So, while I multitask watching the, "The BFG," with some of the family I must write about today. (A side note: the little girls reminds us all of a little how Maleah used to look. 😊) I don't have too long before I need to go get one of the kids from a birthday party, so I have to try and get my thoughts down fast!

As I have said before in other entries, finding people who "get" our family and all of our craziness is not easy. About 2 weeks ago I had a mom that I knew only through some connections contact me about homeschooling.  Over the past several days we have been having conversations. It finally worked out for us to meet today. I am not going to share particulars, because that is not my intent. However, by the end of our time together, I knew God had sent me a new friend, someone that at least on some level is walking a journey that is unique as ours with her family.  It was a beautiful time together, sharing and connecting.  I know homeschooling is not for everyone, but it was so good to share how God has used the talents that I was given to teach and help children.  I have learned just as much about myself and how to reach 7 different personalities over the last 11 years as my children have learned. When I can share with others how they can use their own talents God has given them to connect with the child(ren) God has blessed them with, encouraging them to be the teacher their child needs and not how or what society says we should do, it reminds me of my 7 blessings and a husband who encourages and loves me to do this crazy journey.

Later this afternoon Kevin and I went to the high school to discuss the next steps to help our daughter not just survive, but eventually thrive educationally. Again, I'm not going to go into specific details, but Kevin and I left there with hope and thankfulness that there were at least 2 people, including one of our daughter's teachers who are willing to really help her.  I made it through the entire meeting without completely breaking into tears, but it was close. 😀 Thank you Jesus for people to walk beside us through this part of journey! I know it won't always be easy, but I'm thankful to at least have a beginning - a start.

So it wasn't a typical - I mean productive school day as it could have been, but as I have learned, some of these are the best days!  There were lots of life lessons learned today because of the adjustments that were made to our schedule, and some memories made.  It all comes in the ebb and flow of the ultimate plan God has planned for our family. It's our crazy life and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Now, I'll leave to pick up Maleah from her birthday party - a party she has looked forward to for a long time with some of her friends that she learned while doing the Lion King.  I can't wait to hear her stories.  I'm glad she wanted me to take her and pick her up since it wasn't close to home and late at night when the party ended.  It's these times I cherish.  I'm going to blink and these next 2 years will be gone.

Our God is a mighty God.  In the quiet and in the storm, He is always present.  Blessed to be a child of God, a wife and a mom!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

There's No Such Thing as a Normal Day in the Bryant Family

Two children were woken up early thanks to one sibling who does not know how to put themselves back to sleep if they wake up early and/or be quiet so that siblings can still sleep. So I had 3 grumpy kids to start this morning thanks to the early riser. Of course the 1 that woke up early needed a nap by afternoon time, but didn't get one. Due to the grumpiness it took the child almost 90 minutes to find a joyful attitude (this happens quite often in our home 😧) and talk about what had happened, i.e.. telling the truth. When this happens, we try to do what we call, "Time In," and keep the child close to us. Or in the case of this morning, she sat across the room some of the time. Oh trust me, we don't just allow the child to sit there for that long. There was conversation throughout and trying to reconnect, and she chose the "sit in." 😜 This one, well, this one is stubborn. There is a good reason for it too - it's how she survived. It's been rough for her the last 2 weeks especially. I wish she would allow me to hug her and hold her instead of playing the emotional games, but trust me when I say we have come so far!!!!

At breakfast, 1 child dropped the glass jug of milk while trying to put the lid on and putting it away at the same time. The glass jar fell to the floor, but miraculously did not break. Most of the milk spilled out across the floors and walls of 2 rooms and furniture. After we spent about 10 minutes on our hands and knees cleaning up the mess, I directed the child to put the towels used for soaking up the milk in the washing machine with our bedsheets that I was about to wash, and asked the child to start the load.

At lunch, another child was making a sandwich and somehow managed to knock the pile of glass plates nearby causing them to fall on the floor SHATTERING the bottom plate (how it was only the bottom one I do not understand, and yes I know that I'm sure it can be explained by someone who has a much better knowledge of physics than me 😊) and sending the shreds of glass all over the same two rooms. It took 15 minutes to clean it up, and this time caused 4 people to have to wait to eat lunch (think assembly line lunch for the Bryants). Even after sweeping and then vacuuming twice a child still got cut. 😞 

After lunch I remembered to ask the 1st child if the laundry had been swapped to the dryer, but they had forgotten to start it. So I kindly reminded them (I really did) to start the laundry. Later I noticed that there was clean laundry on the ottoman in the living room, so I knew the sheets and towels had been transferred to the dryer.

It was 8:30 p.m., and I hadn't been home since after supper since I was running the 2 that had volleyball and the one that had soccer to their practices (I squeezed in a 40 minute walk too at the park and talked to my mom and a friend!). Kevin came and asked me why the clothes in the dryer smelled like milk. 😩 NOOOO!!! Since the child was already in bed, I couldn't ask, but my guess is the laundry detergent wasn't put in. So the sheets and towels when back in the washer on a sanitize cycle to hopefully get the smell out. Thankfully, Kevin checked the dryer before he put another load in because the dryer smelled like spoiled milk. So we had to clean that first. (I decided not to put the entire load in to test it, so I'll have to check the few that I did to see if the dryer is okay.)
I know I can hear some of you say, so just put another pair of sheets on the bed. Well that would be awesome, but about 5 years ago, I paired all of us down to 1 set. Think about it. 8 sets of sheets x 2!!! Where do you store it all!? Yes, I do have some extra sheets ready for air mattresses, etc., just not the size for our bed.

In the midst of this, we did school today. Micah (I can't believe he is in the 8th grade!!!) had his first Physical Science test today. I told him I wanted him to take it without me giving him any direction on how to study other than his workbook he takes notes in and the study guide he did. He wowed me! I know there will be times in the future as the class gets tougher that Kevin or I will have to give him guidance, but he basically did the entire chapter on his own. We always tell our kids we want them to know how to learn and be able to apply it, not memorize a bunch of information for a test and then forget it. It's not about perfect scores - especially if there is no understanding behind it. Maleah will have her first Chemistry test tomorrow and I'm having her do the same thing. I'm excited to see what she will do! The other 4 finished their first unit as well. I love how they were able to apply what they learned and talk about it beyond the book learning. Our one going to public high school will have her first tests/quizzes tomorrow as well. I can't believe 2 weeks are already in the books.

Tonight my procrastinators, I mean night owl children were sitting in the living room with Kevin and I. Micah began to read out of a collection of Dr. Seuss books, one of which was, "Go, Dog, Go!" It was one of our favorites when the kids were young. They loved to mimic the phrases. So there was Micah, in his deepening voice that sounds like Kevin, reading it to the rest of us. It was awesome! 😍

So as I sit here at 10:50 p.m. listening to my washing machine STILL washing my sheets, I know I have missed some other cool things that happened during my day like hugs from the kids, silly or thoughtful responses to conversations. My days are full of them if I just take time to look. Maybe you need to do the same. It's so easy to have the pity party. I have so much to be thankful for. God is good. He gave me a loving husband, and some pretty amazing kids. I'm thankful that Jesus is walking with me. Just for the fun of it I decided to make a Lessons learned today list since I'm all about education. Ha!!

Life Lessons Learned Today:

1) Put the lid on the milk jug BEFORE trying to put it away.
2) With the amount of food we pull out for lunches, it is safer to put the food at the dining room table and not on the counter. Oh how I miss the amount of countertops I used to have now that the kids consume more food! 😁
3) Always ask/remind the kids about putting soap in the washing machine.
4) Be thankful for the "stubborn" child who will give you hugs and say, I love you," before bed time --- most of the time.
5) Cherish the moments God gives us in the middle of the storms even if it's past bed time, and not grumble that they aren't in bed. I need those moments more than ever during this season.

With all my heart, I am waiting, Lord, for you! I trust your promises.
Psalms 130:5

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Place in This World

Seven years ago we were in the process of doing lots of last minute paperwork on 4 little girls so that we could bring them home.  We had seen all of the reports both in Spanish and English.  From things the girls told us after we got them, we know that at least things that were said on paper of their daily schedule were not completely true. Of course, as we have learned over the years, all those words on the pages did not begin to explain the personalities, emotions and challenges within each of these precious girls.  There are also lots of holes in the history that we do have - things that just don’t add up. So when our girls ask about their history, there are a lot of things we cannot explain to them or do not feel that they are ready to hear, let alone understand.  At times I am in awe that they even survived. They don’t come by their stubbornness by accident, that’s for sure!!

There is an “anniversary” coming up for the girls, although I don’t know that they “know” it.  However I do believe that their minds do.  That is one area where I can relate.  Even though I don't consciously think about it, as it gets closer to when we lost Rebecca Joy, my heart does, and it affects me emotionally. As the girls get older, and as more questions are asked, the more I can see how they are processing and struggling to grasp how their past is part of who they are.  Six and seven years ago, we dealt with a lot of yuck — without hormones raging inside of preteen/teenage bodies.  Over the years we have continued to work through some tough stuff, but it seems like the last year and currently is almost worse in some ways.  Those little girls filled with fear and mistrust, but desired to have a Daddy and Mommy are now maturing into beautiful young women who are trying to figure out their place in this world (Yes, I’m thinking of Michael W. Smith’s song). They are old enough to put “A” and “B” together and realize that it doesn’t make sense. In their own ways they wrestle the information in their heart, and struggle to know how to feel about what they may or may not want to hear, let alone deal with. We have seen how the devil wants nothing more than to tear any peace they may have knowing they love Jesus.  He finds all kinds of ways to feed them lies.

I’ve been really struggling to find peace myself most days as we help our kids navigate the waters we are all in.  It’s not that I don’t trust God’s plan.  I’ve really been trying hard to identify why I'm struggling so much, and honestly I think it is because it’s lots of things all wrapped into one and I don’t feel like I am doing a good job anywhere.  I know, I know.  God thinks I am more than enough. . . . This journey can be so isolating at times.  We are missionaries in our own home in many ways. I get tired of trying to explain things to others at times because to most it doesn’t make sense. Also, there is so much that I don’t feel that I can share because it’s not my story. It is their story. We can still see behaviors of the girls sometimes that are behaviors we saw when we first got them.  When the trauma sneaks up, their instinct is to revert back to the age where they experienced something.  It’s like they are stuck.  It happened yesterday afternoon.  We hadn't seen a pataleta (fit) like this in months.  Honestly, we had hoped we wouldn’t again, and so had she.  I loved Kevin’s analogy.  It’s like their heart is a cup.  Eventually if you keep pouring in feelings you don’t deal with, it is going to overflow. The challenge comes in helping them through that without them fighting, flying or freezing.  That is so hard sometimes! You see when their brains go into low functioning mode, there is a lot they don’t hear.  During that pataleta, our daughter had no clue Kevin was trying to talk to her.  Tonight at the supper table I gave instructions about how much of what toppings they could have (tacos) since 7 preteen-teenagers can eat a lot! I had already said it twice with everyone there (and supposedly listening) and 2 of the girls looked at me at 2 different times and ask how much they could have of something.  They have both had some tough days lately.  By evening time there is not a lot of energy left to help focus. I’m trying hard to remember that daily, because it is so easy to get frustrated and think that they just don’t care. Especially now that they are older, and except for Sunday afternoon Nazarene Naps :), we struggle most days by mid afternoon.  I feel like I’m back when the magical hour of 4 p.m. arrived and everyone goes stir crazy, and supper is a long way of from happening.

My original intent of this entry was actually to write about a special 2 days I took one of our daughters on to do a program called Passport to Purity. It was a beautiful 2 days with her! I’m so thankful that God asked me to be her Momma!! I was amazed at her insight and thoughtful reactions to what we talked about. God is good!!! Being sexually pure is not something our society is going to talk about, let alone promote. It is also something, Kevin and I believe, that as Christians, we need to talk to our children about.  TV, social media, school, extra curricular activities are all great ways for our children to hear, and honestly learn to be okay with what society says is okay.  Our daughters already know that anyone who wants to date them will have to talk to their daddy first.  Of course, the older ones know that we also must agree that they are mature enough to date in the first place (this is not group things, although we’ve discussed that too). :) Yes, once they are “on their own” that is a different story, but our desire is that whether our children date someone while still living at home or after they leave that they will remember what God desires of them. 

There was more that I wanted to say, but my late nights and early mornings are catching up with me.  It’s another area that frustrates me - taking care of me. I should have just called it quits about 30 minutes ago, but instead here I am struggling to keep my eyes open.  Ha!!

Below are the lyrics to Place in This World.  I was about 19 when this song came out.  It was a difficult time in my life, and I was searching.  I hadn’t thought about these words in a very long time.  This afternoon I decided I would look them up - thanks God for the words and Google for the ease of finding words and music to a song that is close to 30 years old!! :) My heart has been hurting a lot lately for the orphans. You see the fairy tale story doesn’t happen with most. Their stories are beautiful, but they are messy.  That’s where God can work miracles.  That is what I continue to pray for my girls - to heal them completely so that they truly know God’s peace in the midst of the storm.  We all desire to be loved and accepted. Our society is big on “making it big.” I don’t desire that for my family. I want them to seek Jesus and follow Him all the days of their lives here on earth. I don’t want there to be any more orphans or foster children in this world.  I want them all to have a place - a place to be loved and cherished - family to help them work through their fears - a place to be safe and to have a family. I know, a God-sized dream for sure! But I will keep hoping. I’m too tired to get on my soapbox about how much we waste money on “stuff” that we don’t need. Your are welcome. :) Thankful for God, who loves me, even when I am struggling.

Place in This World

The wind is moving
But I am standing still
A life of pages
Waiting to be filled
A heart that's hopeful
A head that's full of dreams
But this becoming
Is harder than it seems
Feels like I'm
Looking for a reason
Roaming through the night to find
My place in this world
My place in this world
Not a lot to lean on
I need Your light to help me find
My place in this world
My place in this world
If there are millions
Down on their knees
Among the many
Can you still hear me?
Hear me asking
Where do I belong?
Is there a vision
That I can call my own?
Show me I'm
Looking for a reason
Roaming through the night to find
My place in this world
My place in this world
Not a lot to lean on
I need Your light to help me find

My place in this worldPla

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chronicles of Education and So Much More, 1

I've had some ask how it is going for our one who is going to public school this year.  Well, day 2 is done, and she is surviving.  How well?  I honestly don't know. If you ask in another week, the answer might have a different tone - or even the week after that. . . . and the truth is I may never really be able to tell you how she is doing.

I can tell you that I have at least 2 who are worried to the point that it is affecting their behavior here at home. :( It may be a daily conversation to remind them that God is with her.  I have another 2, that even after just 2 days of school, I can tell were not getting the support they needed from me for their work.  Sure there were probably at least a handful of times that they could have asked, but didn't.  However, I also know that there were many times that I was too busy helping the one to have time (or I'd forget) to help the others.

August 9
I fell asleep writing this last night.  However, it is just as well, the ending of Day 3 has overturned the apple cart. It is almost midnight and school work is still being worked on.  This was one of my biggest concerns.  :( She is also very tired - another concern.

August 10
One more day to go on this first week.  In some ways it has dragged by.  I'm exhausted, so I can only imagine how she is feeling.  However, I finally was able to get someone to connect with me about next steps for possible testing.  I don't even care when it might all fall into place, I'm just thrilled to have someone in our corner so to speak.  After last night (which we knew was going to happen sooner rather than later with homework), we need to have someone looking into things from the inside. Thankfully she (the school professional) is going to look into getting some answers to our questions/concerns. I think she MAY even have some understanding of the effects of trauma and/or is taking the time to understand where we are coming from with our situation.

As Kevin said this morning at 12:45 a.m. (UGH!) half joking and half not, I wonder if anybody out there needs to do a case study of the effects of adopting 4 older siblings affected by severe trauma at various levels (at the minimum, and adding them to a trio of biological kids all within a 6.5 year age span. We finally had to call a halt after day 3 of 2 of the girls getting up early to say goodbye to their sister before she left for school.  They already don't sleep well or get enough, and then to add an even earlier time to their day.  OH MY GOODNESS.  THE GROUCHY GRUMBLING BEARS HAVE COME OUT OF HIBERNATION!!!!!!! After a comment that one said to their sister about not being able to get up and say goodbye, we've figured out it is out of fear that she will be mad at them for not caring enough to get up. So we have told them all that unless they are sleeping by 8:30 p.m., they cannot get up at 6:30 a.m..  I know some of you may wonder why, but when you deal with sleep issues like we do, taking away from when they already don't get enough makes for some really tough days. :(

School for the rest of us has been okay.  The lack of sleep and different schedule for 1 has definitely affected a few. I realized just how much I had robbed a few of mine these last couple of years with much needed time for instruction.  So our focus is a little different this year depending on which child of mine you ask. (Although, don't ask them right now because this week as been only science, math and reading for all of them.) Next week at least 3 of them will be trying out for Charlotte's Web, and the following week 2 will be trying out for Alice in Wonderland.  That will completely change up our Tuesday schedule, but we are all looking forward to it.  Micah will eventually be involved behind the scenes and then toward the end with sound for each play. I MAY even have part of a day to do what I want/need to do every now and then.  I'm not sure I'll know what to do!!! :)  Recreational sports also started up this week.  At least through the end of September we will be on our toes with 4 playing volleyball (I'll be coaching the 2 youngest girls' team), 1 playing flag football, and one playing soccer. Maleah has decided to train for a half marathon this fall, so Kevin and I are going to do that with her.

The other morning in-between all of the craziness and emotional upheaval, I had a heart to heart with Maleah.  It has been so wonderful to have beautiful and sometimes hard and even painful conversations with her over the last several months! We were talking about friendships and how she wishes she could spend time with people and not have to use technology to connect.  It's just not the same!!! I told her how I have someone that I talk to about once a week who is willing to listen, give encouragement, etc.. No, we don't live close enough to see each other a lot, but over the years our friendship has strengthened from the times we did and do spend together. That's what she desires not.  She left her 2 best buddies when we moved from Jackson 10 years ago.  Yes, they still pick up where they left off and they do communicate via technology, but it is not the same. :) Anyway, we talked about how technology can make you feel lonely and isolated. I told her that is why I took easy access to Facebook off my phone, and do not check it very often.  (I know I've already blogged about this recently.) Fast forward a few hours later and I came across an article that a friend shared that NPR did on how the iGen (kids born from 1995-2012) feels after, they drink less, drive later, etc., but psychologically are more vulnerable for mental health issues. The report goes on to say that it is largely in part to smartphones, and spending less time with their friends in person.  It means they are not able to interact emotionally or get the social support they need.  There is a lot more to the article.  It is called, "How Smartphones Are Making Kids Unhappy," if you care to read more on it.  If nothing else, it should hopefully give you something to think about! All of my children are in this iGen, and none of them have a smartphone, let alone their own cell phone.  All of them at some level or other have struggled as they have been in situations where their peers have their noses buried in their smartphones, and not connecting with others. We do have a smartphone as our home phone, and the older ones do use it some, but with restrictions.  And guess what!? Most of the time it is by texting and not calling. I'll be honest though, caller ID can be bad, because depending on what is going on in my life at that moment, I may not answer myself and let it go to voicemail or see if they will text me. Is it out of convenience.  Not in my case.  Sometimes it is all I can do to pretend to be together, and if I answer the phone I will lose it. If it is not someone I feel "safe" with, and that has an understanding of my life I live, I will probably not answer the phone.  Now please don't think that if you call and I don't answer it's because I don't like you.  If it is during the day, it's probably because we are in school.  Later - I have forgotten to turn it off from vibrate. If you text and I don't answer, again it's more than likely for the 2 reasons above. [SIGH] I COULD GO WITHOUT A PHONE EXCEPT THEN I WOULD HAVE NO WAY TO CONNECT WITH THOSE NOT NEAR ME - AND THAT'S TOO MANY IMPORTANT PEOPLE! :) Okay, so sometimes it's fun to ask Siri crazy questions just to hear the responses. ;)

John 10:10 says: "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."

The devil is trying his hardest to steal some of our joy and kill the trust that we have worked so hard to build these last almost 7 years.  He does not want us to succeed. But God is not giving up (even when my family or I do at times) on us.  This journey we are on has not been easy, but it has had so many beautiful stops along the way. It's about surrounding everything to God and believing that ours sins were truly forgiven when Jesus died on the cross. I'm not perfect. In fact, I'm a mess.  A beautiful mess. Although the devil likes nothing more than to point out my faults, my physical imperfections, and fill my heart with fear about our family's future, God promises a rich and satisfying life.  I'll take that any day.  Rich in living for Jesus, loving my family and serving others. A wise man named Solomon once asked God for wisdom and not for riches.  Proverbs is full of wise sayings. This has been one of my verses this week from my daily study: You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail.