My Little Valentine

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Today my husband is working a double so I spent the holiday with my little valentine. We had lunch with an old friend, ran errands, and helped Auntie Jackie get ready for Isabela’s baby dedication tomorrow. Ben talked to the girls at lunch, called Mim (my mom) and Jackie by name, and was able to entertain himself while I helped Jackie. He was pleasant the entire day, which for a 2 year old takes incredible strength and effort.

Tonight as I prayed over him at bedtime I just started to cry. Everything just hit me as we rocked in the chair beside his crib.

I remembered being so overwhelmed when we first got this little guy. We had asked for a non special needs baby as a first placement. Although he had came into care with no diagnosis, I immediately knew that something wasn’t right. I took him to the pediatrician week two and he tested far into the autism spectrum. He couldn’t make eye contact, couldn’t eat properly, wouldn’t sleep, cried if I walked out of the room, and was non verbal. There were so many of those first nights that I rocked him to sleep thinking, can we do this?
I had almost forgotten those first days but God reminded me tonight at bedtime. As I rocked him, I just saw that little boy last summer. I saw his curly, out of control hair and his vacant eyes. Then I thought of the boy I played with today. I thought of My SON.

This little boy is my joy and is doing so well. God is so faithful.
Happy Valentines Day!

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You Can Do It List

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Yesterday I spoke a little about how anyone can (and should) participate in fostering children, whether it be by physically caring for children or by supporting local foster families. And heck, it’s National Adoption Month! So today is the perfect day for me to share a list I created of 7 ways you can contribute to local foster families. Enjoy and please comment below if you have another way folks can join with foster families!

  1. Drop off a meal. When people birth babies, we do it but it’s not typical for foster families and it should be. Very often we get a call and have a new child within 2 hours. That can totally throw off your rhythm.  It would be amazing to have someone who dropped off dinner so it didn’t mess up our family routine.
  2. Toothbrush and PJ Committee- I am bless to actually have a toothbrush and pj committee! (Shout out to Cola and Mike!) Remember how we get thrown kids within two hours? We don’t typically know how big these kids are and they don’t normally have any gear. I have a couple who runs to the store and brings me a set of pajamas, undies/diapers, and a toothbrush. This helps me avoid running to the store the minute I get a placement and gets us through the night. What a blessing!
  3. Respite- To leave our children for a minute (i.e. store, date night) we have to have a state approved respite care giver. The process for someone baby sitting in our home isn’t extensive (finger printing and paperwork) and it is a blessing to have someone we can call. If you love to play with kids for an hour or two, this is a great way to serve a family.
  4. Kid Clothes/Gear- This can be appreciated but ALWAYS ASK FIRST. At times, we have all the gear we need. Other times, we have NOTHING for the age group we are given. In our case, we had been preparing for a newborn little girl (family member of a friend who was being born into care.) At the last minute, that placement fell through and we ended up with a toddler boy. We had tons of newborn onesies that I had been collecting from thrift stores and friends but no size 2t boys clothes! We had several friends and church members drop off clothes and toys and we were completely set up for an 18 month old within a week. (Had my crew brought over more newborn supplies it would have been not helpful and added to the clutter I was trying to quickly clear out.) So, when you hear about a placement, shoot the mom or dad a text and just say, “is there anything specific that you need for this placement that I can drop by?”
  5. Lend your ethnic expertise- I live in a diverse area, so the kids reflect that. We do not know what ethnicity kids coming into our home may have. We are a white couple, so friends who can do hair braiding can come in very handy! (I have had a couple of ethnic hair tutorials over skype, but it’s still not up to par.) Also, friends who speak other languages can come in handy when we receive kids who are not fluent in English or whose parents speak another language in the home. It can be comforting for a child to see someone who looks like them, eat a familiar food, or hear the language they are used to.
  6. Prayer- We covet your prayers! We are trying to help a child heal while trying to coach their biological families (many of which hold some resentment towards us since we get to care for their children when they want to.) It can be a tough gig. We are trying to do our best and don’t always know what that is.
  7. Emotional Support- Every foster parent needs one or two people they can just talk to about what’s going on. Come by, bring us coffee, and sit and let us talk.

So there’s my list. Try something out and let me know how it goes! If you have something you do to support foster families, I would love to hear about it!

You Can Do It

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When folks hear that our little boy came to us through foster care, I brace myself for “the response.” You see, almost 100% of the time I hear the same phrase. It’s one that annoys me, so I brace myself and paint on my smile.

“I could never do that.”

The first time someone said it to me, I thought to myself, “do what?” I mean, I am in prime baby making years. Everyone around me is a mommy, so what’s the big deal? I didn’t birth this one, but I “do” the same things every other mommy does. I make breakfast, we read, play, etc. What unbearable task am I doing?

Some folks elaborate why they “can’t do it.” They say things like, “aren’t you afraid they are just going to take them away?”

Truthfully? Sometimes. I communicate regularly with the biological family and social workers, so I know what’s going on in the case plan. There are no shocking secrets being held from me. If the case plan is reunification (which most are) I know that eventually the child is going home. I also know that it is rare for it to happen suddenly and forcefully and more commonly is a slow process of the child getting visits, overnights, and then staying home for good.

I want to shake people who say they can’t do it because it isn’t true. You CAN do it. You can. You don’t have to be especially gifted to open up your home to a child in need you just do it. I don’t know what I am doing half the time, but I can see that whatever I am doing is working. Our little one is growing and learning and thriving.

You can do it and if you are a Christian, there are Biblical mandates to do it. It’s our job. (James 1:27)

What you meant to say was, “I don’t want to do that.” I understand that feeling. It’s okay. It’s hard. Foster kids aren’t perfect. They have baggage. Heck, not everyone is a kid person let alone a kid with emotional baggage person.

So, if you don’t personally chose to foster or adopt, I want to challenge you to support the families in your church and community that are. Tomorrow I will list some ways you can participate in someone’s foster experience, so tune in!

The Booty That’s Breaking the Internet

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I am not much for celebrity blogging, but hey, Kim Kardashian is breaking the internet so why not chime in. If you have been living under a rock for the last couple of days you may have missed it. The entertainment world is buzzing about scandalous pictures taken by Paper Magazine starring reality star turned celebrity bride, Kim Kardashian. I can’t figure out what the shock factor is. This girl came to fame because of a leaked sex tape. If you had wanted to see it, you could have googled her years ago…so why the buzz? Yes, she has a large rear end. Cool.

The celebrity responses thus far have been priceless. No one seems to care that she posed nude for a magazine. That’s apparently fine. (Proving that the moral compass of Hollywood is nearly non-existent.) Nor does anyone care that she did this and she is married. People care because she d+id this and she is a mother.

Huh?

I have been racking my brain as to why anyone, would want to do this. Here are some of the reasons I have come up with:

  1. She needed the publicity and knew that exposing herself would get a lot of attention.
  2. She wanted to show off her post baby body.
  3. Money.
  4. She thought it sounded fun.
  5. She likes the attention

After thinking through the reasons, I pondered the emotions that go behind each of these reasons:

  1. Lack of self-worth, desperation
  2. Insecurity, need for approval
  3. Greed
  4. Recklessness, self-destructive behavior
  5. Pride

In the end, the release of the photos makes me very sad for Kim. Here is hoping that she fixes the issues in her heart that led to this decision and “breaks the internet” next time by bringing good in the world.

If You Want Me to Read Your Status

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I have a lot of Facebook friends. I was in college when Facebook came to fame so I have been collecting “friends” for about a decade now. (I previously had Myspace as well. My profile is actually still floating around somewhere in cyber space chilling with my Xanga.) All that to say, I don’t actually see many of my friend’s status updates. Out of the 1,000 or so friends I have on there, I see about 20-30 people. It has slowly evolved based on my preferences with an occasional break in the monotony if someone gets engaged or knocked up. So, how do you get the privilege of being in my newsfeed? By following the following, simple rules to being awesome on social media:

1) Limit pictures of food. I will accept 1-2 dinner pics and 1 really cool Pinterest recipe a month. After that, you’re just annoying. I like you, but I am not IN LIKE with you, therefore, I do not care what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today. Were you fed? Rad. That’s good enough for me. If you’re without food, that’s when I care and am glad to help out.

2) Don’t overshare about your baby. I know. They’re cute. I have one. He’s freaking adorable. For real, his smile can cure many a disease, but I understand that you don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the Halloween pictures and I think it’s cool when you inform me that your child won smartest kid in DeKalb County, but there is a limit to what we really want to know about. The limit for me is bodily fluids. I don’t want to hear about anything that leaves your child’s body: poop, pee, vomit, snot. You can keep those details at your house. I also don’t want to hear about how exhausting your life at home with the little one is. I live in that life. I understand…and the childless women out there won’t really get it until they are there…and isn’t it more fun to surprise them anyway?

3) Check your facts before you hit share. If I have to Snopes your crap one more time, I think I may scream. Kennedy really was assassinated, Elvis is dead, Macaulay Culkin is alive. Let’s move on.

4) Don’t attack your spouse or bad-mouth your kids on social media. If you have something to say to them, call them. Did they block your number? Private message them. Don’t be tacky.

5) Save the boobies for the shower, not my newsfeed. That’s right, keep profanity and smutty pictures to yourself. This includes your profile picture, lame brain! Respect yourself, or at least respect my marriage enough to cover yourself in pictures my husband or son might see.

6) Don’t post anything that says “LIKE OR SHARE.” They’re typically stupid or political, two things I can’t stand on social media. Have an original thought about the subject? I’ll fancy a listen, but just sharing every anti Obama you see is annoying. I get it. You don’t like him. He’s not my favorite either, but tell me why.

7) Just say no to abortion posts. Let’s just get it straight…no one wants to see pictures of dead babies. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the subject. Nor do we want to see pictures of cute babies with words like “Don’t Kill Me” written on them. Or the pregnant woman saying, “I am glad I had a CHOICE!” You are either making me want to hurl or cry. No. Just no.

8) Get rid of uninformed political posts that appear the day of the election, disappear for two years, and then magically appear again. Do you follow politics year round? Awesome, I want to hear from you. Did you run to the ballot so you could vote straight down our party line or run and vote for someone who looked like you? I don’t want to hear from you. Just “shhhhhh” and look pretty.

9) Know that whatever you are selling, I’m not buying. I am sure it is wonderful. It may be life changing. Here’s the deal, I live a pretty simple life. We don’t own much…and I am happy with it. I am not going to buy your product. I am really not…and I am super annoyed when you add me to a group without my permission solely for the basis of getting my money. I feel like you owe me coffee or something first before you hit me up for $80 foot cream.

10) I don’t want to play a game or try a quiz. I just don’t. No.

 

So, it’s really pretty simple. Happy updating, friends!

Be a Cheerleader, Not Critic

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My friend and her spouse are going through a hard time. Honestly, I think she is done. It breaks my heart because this is a couple who both serve in ministry and have for years: he has a pastor and she as a worship leader. They both know the scriptures and are surrounded by folks who encourage them in their walks. Their marriage has had a lot of rough spots from the beginning and I think this is the point where she is tired of trying.

I have been friends with the wife for over 10 years so I am privy to information that the rest of their camp may not know. I know details of what brought her to the point of being “done.” I know how she was wronged. How she was hurt. I honestly don’t know how I would react were I to be put in her position.

I am not blind to her faults. She is not perfect. I’ve known her long enough to know she has a touch of the Taylor Swift crazies fresh out of that “Blank Space” video, but her redeeming qualities have always outweighed her faults.

So, color me surprised when I log onto Facebook this morning and see her husband blasting personal details of their marriage for the world to see.

What? This is the woman you want to reconcile with? This is the mother of the kids that you want so desperately to see. Hey, Genius, I don’t think you helped your case there.

It’s not just this couple though. I see it online far too often. You disagree with your spouse and then you blast them to some unseen group of people and wait for them to agree with you by hitting the like button.

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should keep your negative marriage posts off of social media:

  1. It does not fix the situation. Let’s start with the big captain obvious of it all: what did posting something on twitter solve? You got your feelings out. Great. This could have also been done via writing in a journal, praying, or calling your best friend. Why did you put it on social media? You wanted others to know or you wanted others to agree with you. You did it for you without thinking of the impact on your spouse.  That’s called selfishness.
  2. Public “attacks” can turn a battle into a war. Your little squabble can turn into a big fight when your partner sees what you posted…or better yet, their sister does and calls them. I see it in my own marriage. My husband is not a fan of social media, but I will post things about the baby or how proud I am of his school/career life and then his phone will ring. His grandfather wanted to say congratulations or his friend wanted to tell him that his kid looks like this kid they used to go to school with. I am always surprised when my posts make it to Michael’s ears and he comes home to tell me about it. Imagine if it were a negative post. How incredibly hurtful it could be to know that I shared my hurt with the world as opposed to talking with him. Ouch. Talk about escalating a problem quickly!
  3. You need to surround yourself with people who know both you and your partner and who encourage you to fight for your marriage.  Congratulations, you just created an army of people who heard about how your partner sucks, but who don’t see how he/she are great. They have your back and therefore, your spouse is the enemy. When the fight is over they will still remember the time you came home late and your partner overreacted. Your partner is now labeled a control freak. Awesome.
  4. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I love this scripture because it would solve so many problems if we would just DO IT! So the next time your husband or wife does you wrong and you want to scream, log off! Put down the cell phone! Be your spouse’s cheerleader instead of their critic.
  5. Don’t get me wrong…It’s okay to let people know what’s going on, but be select. Surround yourself with people who believe in marriage and more importantly, believe in your spouse. You need people who will look at you and say, “I don’t think she meant that” or “That doesn’t sound like him.” If you surround yourself with Bitter Betty’s and Melancholy Mike’s you are constantly going to hear advice like, “You deserve better” or “You should just move on.” You don’t need that right now. You need someone who can encourage you to keep on going and advocate for your spouse. (FYI-Your family is not always the best choice, as they love you so much and will always be on your team. Find someone who knows you both equally, such as couple friend who shares the same faith or value system as you.)

How Does He Know?

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The question was innocent enough. I was picking up my little darling. As soon as his eyes met mine, he took began to run, smiling and laughing in my direction. Levi, my friend’s sweet little kindergartener looked at me, eyes curious and wide, and asked, “How does he know that you’re his mommy?”

It was a genuine question that I felt deserved an honest answer. I took a beat and looked at him and said, “Lots of reasons. When he wakes up in the morning, I am there. I take care of him all day. I feed him. I make sure he has everything he needs and I love him.” Levi seemed to accept this as a sufficient answer and moved on.

Levi’s question got me to thinking: so quickly Ben came into our home and accepted us as parents. This is both sad and beautiful to me. In such a short amount of time he has become ours and we have become his. The hurt, neglect, and pain of the past are memories which only occasionally come to the surface. Now he is in a place where is cared for. He is safe and loved. We accept him as our own and he chooses to accept us. Here’s to a fresh start.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17