What I Learned in My 1st Month of Parenting

08/31/2011

Our kids are not ours. We are not promised any number of days with them. This is especially evident for foster parents but it’s actual true for ALL parents. If we feel like we own our kids, we are mistaken. If we believe we can protect them from everything and keep them safe in our arms forever, it’s an illusion. I think the sooner all parents can grasp this, or un-grasp their kids, the better it is for everyone.

On the morning of our big team meeting where we knew we’d be hearing the details of how and why Ladybug will most likely be moved to live with a family member (as you can imagine a complicated, heart-wrenching decision which will ultimately be made by a judge…tomorrow), I decided to read the story of Abraham and Isaac again. It’s in Genesis 22 if you’re unfamiliar but the gist is this: Abraham had been promised a son and waited a really, really long time before his wife got pregnant. When Isaac finally arrived, Abraham absolutely adored him. He idolized him to the point God needed to test Abraham’s allegiance as it seemed that Isaac—the answer to Abraham’s prayers and a promise from God—had moved before God in Abe’s priorities. God had some really important plans for Abraham and Isaac so it was essential he stayed on course. The test was that God asked Abraham to give Isaac back to Him, to take his life as an offering to God. It wasn’t until God was sure that Abraham was really willing to do it, that He stopped him. After reading that story, I got out of bed and went into the bathroom picked up my quick daily devotional read, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

On August 23rd, this is what it said:

Entrust your loved ones to Me, surrender them to My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one–as well as yourself. 

Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from son-worship. Both Abraham and Isaac suffered terribly because of the father’s undisciplined emotions. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love. 

When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do.

At some point every parent has to figuratively put Isaac on the alter and admit they don’t own their child, the Creator does and entrusts children to us as He sees fit.

Recognize each day as a gift. When you come to the place of accepting that you are not promised tomorrow, it’s easier to appreciate today. This is true not just for parents but all people. As a foster parent it is blatanly obvious – I have today. After that, I have no promises. You better believe we are making the most of everyday we have with little Ladybug.

Since this post is getting pretty heavy, here is some lightness…

Other beneficial side effects of [foster] parenting:
My biceps are huge! I mean, I’m a petite lady so my arms are still pretty scrawny but considering… I’ve got guns! I didn’t have the ease of working my way up from a 7 lb. baby to a heavy toddler… we went straight into parenting a 25 pounder. The first week my arms and lower back were killing me. Now, they barely hurt at all.

I’ve learned some pretty slick parenting techniques through our training and also just from living and learning. Of course, most of these tricks only work a handful of times so it’s an on-going cycle of learning, trying, succeeding, failing and moving on. For example, this temper tantrum technique worked beautifully and impressed some witnesses: Temper tantrum started. I laid the kid on the ground and said, “OK, go! Go ahead! Tantrum! I’m ready.” She looked at me bewildered. I said, “Come on! Yell!” I raised her arms above her head and jiggled them around fake screaming “Ahhhhh!” “And kick your feet!” I stomped her feet up and down and growled, “Ugh! I’m so mad!” By then she was laughing and the tantrum moment had past. I felt brilliant. But then it only worked a couple more times before she was on to me. Ten days later, the worst tantrum ever. I had to put her in her crib and walk away to keep her from hurting herself or me. You win some. You lose some.

People are so friendly to us in public. Strangers stop to comment on how beautiful she is. Ladybug is super friendly and says hi and waves to everyone at the grocery store, even if their backs are turned. An older woman at the grocery store even offered to return Jason’s shopping cart after he unloaded groceries into the silver bullet. “I remember what it was like grocery shopping with kids,” she smiled. An elder putting away a cart for a 28 year old dad. Imagine.

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Your Love Never Fails

08/29/2011

I can’t promise I’ll post everyday this week. We’re heading into a storm…

Your Love Never Fails
by Chris McClarney

Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes
But, You have new mercy for me everyday
Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night
but joy comes with the morning

And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water’s deep
But, I’m not alone here in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails

The chasm was far too wide
I never thought I’d reach the other side
But Your love never fails

Thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus, ooh

You make all things work together for my good


Phone Photo Friday

08/26/2011


Red Sunrise

08/25/2011

Most days I write posts ahead of time so they’re ready first thing in the morning but it didn’t work out last night. We’ve had a rough few days around here. We learned earlier this week that Ladybug will likely be moved with a family member next week. That alone would be plenty difficult. But, there is a disagreement between the decision-making judge and the recommendations from children’s services. That adds anger and frustration on top of the sadness. We’re trying hard to stay positive and enjoy every moment we can with our little lady in the next 7 days.

I know God is with us, with Ladybug and with her family. I know He cares about all of us and what is best for us. The Lord is faithful, He will never abandon us and He does not make mistakes. But He didn’t promise a bump-free ride. Every morning when I wake up, the sun is reflecting through our bathroom window and french door onto the wall across from our bed. The light is usually bright yellowish white. Today it was red. Sure enough, when I got up I saw that the sun peeking above the tree line was bold red. There is a storm coming…

(I didn’t think of taking a picture at the time. The one above shows what it USUALLY looks like.)

Please pray with us that the right decision is made to keep Ladybug safe and healthy. Also, please pray for peace and strength for all of us to face whatever we have to face next Thursday.


Studio Murphy Workbench: In Progress

08/24/2011

Jason and I came up with an idea for a murphy bed style work table in his music studio utility room. We didn’t want something that would eat up precious floor space but he needed a work surface besides his desk or the floor for changing guitar strings, repairing effect pedals and soldering. It’s a fairly simple concept but I think Jason did a great job implementing it. It’s not a finished project yet, as you can see. He still needs to add drywall, mud it, prime it and paint it; and finish out the workbench with banding and add built-in hidden shelving and a power outlet.

The legs fold out on hinges like a drop leaf table. The table top is unlatched so it can fold down and rest on the legs.

It’s standing height or stool height. I have a specific kind of stool in mind… one of these retro chairs that doubles as a step stool. I saw one at a vintage store once but one of these replicas look like a decent option.

My old acoustic guitar is serving as a test dummy. We plan to add some felt or a rubbery soft surface to the table top that can be removed when he’s soldering.

I’ll be back to share the finished project whenever it’s done.


Being a foster parent

08/23/2011

1. Being a foster parent is so easy. Anyone could do this job. It’s as simple as loving and caring for a child who is in desperate need. These are sweet, beautiful, innocent children. For crying out loud, step up! You can do it! These kids need you!

2. There is nothing easy about about being a foster parent. It’s hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. We prepared for months… classes, home study, reading books and blogs. We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed. But nothing really prepares you for the Niagra Falls of emotions that come crashing down on you when you become a parent overnight, fall desperately in love with a child, learn his or her angering story, work hard to reverse the negatives in the child’s life and teach trust and hope and love, and to fear for the kid’s safety and future and want to do anything in the world to protect him or her yet to acknowledge you are for the most part powerless. Also, there is the matter of just parenting, which is no walk in the park. Just because we signed up for this program doesn’t make it less painful. There are good days and there are bad days. This is hard, really hard.

3. I have no regrets about being a foster parent. It’s amazing, wonderful, rewarding, life-changing and exciting. It also sucks. It just might lead us through a valley of heartbreak like something out of our worst nightmares. I do not want to go down that road. I do not want to be crushed. I do not want to do hard. But this child (any child) is SO WORTH IT.

PS. Please pray for us this morning. Important decisions are being made. Thank you!


House Tour: Master Bathroom & Laundry Room

08/22/2011

Master Bathroom

Oh man. So much to say about this room. And most of it has already been said. Once upon a time this room was a bedroom. The people who renovated the house before us quickly turned it into a bathroom with a washer and dryer in it. Basically it looked like a bedroom with hardwood floors, a washer and dryer in the closet nook, small shower, pedestal sink (zero storage) and a toilet in a little room. We re-renovated it into a much nicer and more practical master bathroom with a huge (4’x5′) hand-tiled shower with duel rain showers, tiled floors and a sink vanity made from a vintage piece of furniture. And, we did it ALL ourselves. If you have a few hours to burn, you can read all about our renovation project here.

Laundry Room

One of the best parts of the master bathroom renovation was creation of a separate laundry room. I remember having this floor plan epiphany while I was driving home from work one day. Originally we were just going to put doors in front of the W&D, but as the designated laundry-doer, I really wanted a walk in laundry room. Clearly, it’s not finished yet. Projects of higher priority caused us to stop when it was functional and say “good enough for now.” I have plans, though. Plans involving a craft/sewing table and prettier storage baskets for the shelves. Hopes of tiled floors (using the same tiles as the bathroom that we have in storage.) Dreams of attached drywall, mudded, primed, painted…