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Why?

03/11/2013

I keep asking myself why? Why are we doing this? Stacks and stacks of paper work. Vigorous home inspections. Fingerprinting. Background checks. Physicals. Classes. Appointments. Poking. Prodding. Drama. Purchases in the name of home safety. Sacrificing all privacy. All to be foster parents. Really, when I’m asking, I’m asking God. Why? And He’s kind enough to answer me sometimes. When I’m willing to hear, this is the answer: Listen and obey.

It’s a funny answer because that’s what I tell Ali when she’s doing or about to do something disobedient. At first I may warn her playfully that we don’t stand on furniture but as she teeters near the edge of the sofa, my tone gets serious. “Ali, listen and obey! Sit down!” So when He said listen and obey, He got my attention. I know Father means business.

After another day of feeling knocked around, while I was getting ready this morning I asked the same dumb question again. Why are we doing this?! It wasn’t the same kind of loud and clear answer as before, but I had the immediate realization that they are worth it. These kids are worth it. Ladybug was worth it. Our Precious Ali was worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if it was about my daughter. All the paperwork, time and prodding from the first time around … looking at those sweet faces, especially the one I still get to kiss everyday, remind me that these innocent kids are so worth my plight.

My plight? And here’s where I gave myself a real (much-needed) kick in the pants: Seriously?! Do you want to tell a kid who has been emotionally and physically abused by the adults who are supposed to protect him, who has been taken away from the only people he’s ever loved, who has been bounced around from stranger’s home to stranger’s home with his few belongings in a trash bag, who is way behind in school because he keeps getting moved around, who doesn’t know how to express himself because his emotions are all mixed up…do you want to tell HIM about your plight? About all this dreadful paperwork you’ve filled out and how much time all these processes and appointments consume. Do you want to tell HIM how hard your life is? How hard you had to work to get to where you are? Good grief, woman! Where is your perspective!

We’re in it for the kids.

Jason and I remind each other of this often. When we’re taking things personally. When we’re feeling unappreciated and unwanted by the system. When we get frustrated.

I’m amazed that I can still be so selfish after all this time; after all we have learned.

Thank God that everyday I get to snuggle a beautiful reminder of why we are doing this. Even though it’s hard, each and every child is worth it.

why

In high school, when I had something I wanted to remember, I would write it on the palm of my head…where I’d see it for a while and then it would eventually wash off, hopefully when I didn’t need the reminder anymore. These days I use my smart phone for notes-to-self but when I thought, where can I put the answer to this why question I keep having?, this is what I came up with.

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#ImThankfulFor

11/22/2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all! Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorites because I love good food, getting together with family and friends, and I love to be thankful. We have been blessed with so much and this day is all about giving gratitude to God for His provision and abundant blessings. I’ve been participating in the Twitter Trend #ImThankfulFor this month, each day listing another thing I’m thankful for. These have been pretty random based on whatever is happening each day. Here’s my list so far:

Day 1: #ImThankfulFor Good friends and a girls’ night out … even when the kiddies come along. Mostly I’m thankful for our awesome friends!

Day 2: #ImThankfulFor my daughter’s bio family and especially her bio mom – for carrying her, loving her and wanting the best for her.

Day 3: #ImThankfulFor honest, fair and hard-working business people like our contractors, our architect and our mechanic … to name a few.

Day 4: #ImThankfulFor my church @gracechurchnash and my pastor @LindellCooley. Every Sunday I’m both challenged and encouraged.

Day 5: #ImThankfulFor my husband @JAhlb814 getting to travel the world playing music. But, #jealous he has 12x more passport stamps than me.

Day 6: #ImThankfulFor my rights as a U.S. citizen and glad to live in this country. And, I’m grateful that campaign season is finally over!

Day 7: #ImThankfulFor a knowing smile from a fellow adoptive mom at the grocery story, when stories are exchanged without words.#adoption

Day 8: #ImThankfulFor the wonderful people I work with who are creative, hard-working, trusting, encouraging, independent and supportive.

Day 9: #ImThankfulFor Friday night shopping dates with my daughter whenever @JAhlb814‘s on the road, even if it’s to Kroger. We have fun.

Day 10: #ImThankfulFor friendship that has survived college, careers, motherhood and distance…the kind of friendship that lasts forever.

Day 11: #ImThankfulFor times apart because they make reunion oh so sweet. Thankful my awesome hubby & best friend @JAhlb814 is almost home!

Day 12: #ImThankfulFor inspiring people who are kind, hard-working, motivated and optimistic even after coming through horrific situations.

Day 13: #ImThankfulFor electricity and light, gas and heat, running water, four walls and a roof … It’s easy to take them for granted.

Day 14: #ImThankfulFor a mid-week night out with my two favorite people and warm Italian food on a cold, dark evening.

Day 15: #ImThankfulFor the miracle that happened one year ago today! https://mymcmlife.com/2012/11/14/i-believe-in-miracles/ … #fostercare #court#custody #adoption

Day 16: #ImThankfulFor family near and far, but especially the ones close by that are willing to babysit their granddaughter so often!

Day 17: #ImThankfulFor estate sales! Found all kind of great stuff today, haggled for good discounts & got a workout moving furniture, too!

Day 18: #ImThankfulFor siblings. My childhood would have been so dull without them. Happy bday to my favorite sister!pic.twitter.com/AAkSVXUD

Day 19: #ImThankfulFor really big dreams and the first exciting/scary step of a new adventure.

Day 20: #ImThankfulFor Oreos. And the sweet guy who is willing to get them from the grocery store at 10:30pm. @JAhlb814 #itsthelittlethings

Day 21: #ImThankfulFor getting out of work while the sun’s still shining & an early start to a much needed 4 days off! pic.twitter.com/MU2j9jxL

Day 22: #ImThankfulFor Father God, from Whom all blessings flow! I have so many, many things to be thankful for today. Praise the Lord!

Follow me on Twitter @mahlbrandt if you’d like.


Unbelievable

11/16/2011

I’m afraid if I start telling the whole story of what happened yesterday, it’ll be the longest post in the history of my blog and quite frankly, my brain is fried from this long, crazy, wonderful experience. I’m also afraid that if I don’t tell the whole story now, it won’t ever get told. So let’s see where this goes… Basically, a miracle happened yesterday. And I don’t throw the word “miracle” around lightly. God moved a mountain, an even bigger mountain than we initially thought.

Last week we got unofficial news that most of the people at the DCS office were changing their opinions and were feeling she should stay with us. But it wasn’t official yet. Yesterday, they all got together and made their official decision. When we arrived at the courthouse in the afternoon, we got the bad news from Precious’ case worker after a very split meeting, they had decided she should move to the other “kinship” placement on Friday, as originally scheduled. My heart was pounding so hard I thought I might suffocate.

While we were waiting for our hearing, the social worker suggested we allow this new placement, the woman who had not yet met Precious, to hold her and see how she reacts. I could barely manage an introductory smile, and I just couldn’t bring myself to make small talk. How could I trust a woman who would do this to us and to Precious? Did she not realize the gravity of all of this?

As she was holding her, Precious kept looking over to Jason and giving him big slobbery open-mouth smiles. He couldn’t help responding back with a smile but I couldn’t do it. Watching that and imaging her growing up without a daddy, HER daddy—it was more than I could bare. I had to walk away as tears started burning my eyes. I tried to hold it together and not be a blubbering fool in the courtroom. Thankfully (?) we a long wait before going in and plenty of time to compose myself.

What happened inside the courtroom was a beautiful blur. I shouldn’t really share any details but here’s how it ended. The judge (magistrate, technically) asked us if we would be willing to accept full legal custody of Precious and no longer receive any assistance from the state department of childrens services. We enthusiastically said yes. Her ruling was that Precious leave state custody immediately and we be given custody of her. That means she is no longer a foster child—she’s ours! I think that ruling was unexpected by everyone in the room. Talk about a miracle! That just doesn’t happen. But it did. We are over-the-moon excited and thankful. God is so good!!

Now we’ll still need to adopt her through an attorney and there is a bit of a jumbled legal mess around this whole situation but WOW WOW WOW! And we’ll have to come up with money for a private adoption but come on, if God can do all of this, He can handle all of that, too. Thank you to everyone who has been praying and cheering us on. Seriously, prayer works and I without-a-doubt believe that God worked a gigantic miracle on our little girl’s behalf.

It’s all still sinking in.


God is good! And why I don’t get away with anything.

02/25/2010

I did something to my shoulder two days ago. Not sure what but it was definitely nerve related and hurt intensely. It probably happened from swinging my backpack into the trunk before work …

Anyhow, I was really wanting to not make a big thing of it, not draw attention to it, not tell anyone, not let it distract me … but yet, in all my attempts to do that, it was distracting me bad. Real bad. All day.

I made it until 8:00 pm without saying a word. Then I reached across the table for my Sprite at the Listening Room and winced at the take-my-breath-away pain. I succombed to temptation and I opened my mouth.

Me to Jason: “I really jacked up my shoulder. It’s killing me! I don’t want to make a big deal of it, though.”

I don’t know if it’s our 10+ years together or his super observant nature or his prophetic gifting (probably a combination of all 3), but he can see right through me.

J: “Ya know, there is a difference between saying you’re not making a big deal about something, still worrying and obsessing about it in your mind, and actually not making a big deal of it.”

I couldn’t help but smile. I knew I was pegged. He knows me better than I know myself.

J: “I’m not saying you’re doing that. I’m just saying —”

M: “I love you.”

J: “Don’t you mean, I hate you?” It’s hard being the messenger. Can you tell I usually react defensively?

M: “No, I love you because you don’t let me get away with anything.”

Driving home, I was praying about it. I decided if I was going to stop thinking and obsessing about it, I needed to fully give it over to God. I trust Him to take care of all of my needs big and small, including stabbing shoulder pain, but sometimes I need to confess that I’ve been letting it burden me and release it to Him. I think I prayed something like this:

God, forgive me for letting this become such a distraction for me. I’m handing it over to You. I trust You with it.

Instantly, the pain went away. Hallelujah! I have faith but even I was pretty surprised!

Then I made a wide right turn and stabbing pain took my breath away again.

Ok, I need a reminder. Something I say every time it hurts to refocus and remember that I handed this over to God. … How about “God is good!” Because He is good. Even when I have pain. He is still good!

So that’s what I did and have been doing for the past day and a half. The pangs of pain have been getting progressively less frequent. But when they hit, I proclaim “God is good!”  And whether the pain stops or not, that is what I will keep doing. It’s amazing what a difference it makes for me to say-try-attempt to not do something and to actually resolve to hand it over to my God who is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine.

You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to. You may be carrying secret burdens and letting your thoughts be consumed by your situation, even while holding it together on the outside. I just wanted to let you know there is another option.