Monday, April 21, 2014

Project 365, Week 16

This was an eclectic week!  There was school vacation, we had S for the week as somewhat of a trial, Shaun was doing the last push of tax season, we were scrambling to do our own taxes, we had four performances of Passion of the King, Shaun had a birthday, we met a new cousin, we got Shaun back, we celebrated Easter.  Full, even by our standards.

And my heart is so full.  My soul is smiling having my friend back from tax season.  Its also kind of handy having the father of my children around.  He came down to the kitchen one night this week and said with a smile, I just read my kids a story and put them to bed!  And I smiled and said, Yes, and I did NOT.  :)  He's the best and we're reveling in having him back.

I could gush about him for a while, but I'll send it over to the photos from this week.  I saved you four days worth of Passion pictures....I'll do that separately.

April 13
Took all the kids to the home improvement store to take advantage of their weekend plant sale.  We picked up a few things, but it seemed like much ado about nothing.
 Ready for Passion.  Yup...I totally let him leave the house like that....he'd put a lot of thought into it and was happy.
April 14
Feeling SO blessed that I can just go to the grocery store four minutes down the road and buy an abundance of fresh fruit.  Its just not like that for so much of the world.

Speaking of food, holy moly!  Teenage boys can EAT!
 Celebrating school vacation we met up with my brother and sister and their families.  Between the three of us, there were 15 1/2 kids.  Insane and so amazing.  We all love hanging out and the kids do so well together.  Blessed!

8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2  (I think!  :)

 April 15
The dumb dog was keeping me company in the early hours of the morning going through documents for taxes.
 Last day of tax season, also Shaun's birthday.  I don't even have a picture of him...that's how much we saw him.  :(
 I took the kids to meet their newest cousin and they were smitten!

 Then we met up with some of the Passion cast for $5 Tuesday of God's Not Dead.  It was too intense for the kids and finally in tears Avery said she had to leave.

I rewarded her decision to listen to that quiet inner voice prompting her to get out of there by buying candy and we hung out in the lobby until the boys were done.  They reported it was great!
 April 16
I picked up Z for his first overnight with us since he left in August.  It was SOO good to see him!!  He seems to be doing well and was equally happy to see us, though we all wished it'd been longer.
 April 17
Six hungry-for-breakfast kids.  Grateful to have a houseful.

At one point they were outside playing and I was downstairs doing laundry.  I heard someone come in and I knew he/she was looking for me before they said a word.  Instead of thinking what now, as I sometimes do, I thought how blessed am I to have little ones who need me.  Before I know it, I'll do laundry with no interruptions, without the pitter-patter of little (or big!) feet above.

 They are indeed sitting up on the roof. :)

Later, when the big boys had returned from their training class, I was sitting in the living room meeting with two social workers.  I glanced out the window and saw a pair of legs dangling off the roof.  I excused myself to go tell S where the boundaries are.  I think we still have our foster care license.  :)

One of the social workers is new and was watching the household goings-on in amazement.  Seven kids, calling me a combination of Lisa, Mom and Auntie in and out, telling on someone, looking for Passion sandals, asking a question.  I watched with humor as his eyes got wider.  Just another day.  :)

 April 18
It'd been a while since the girls had had a check-up and they needed one for camp this summer.

Amanda made it a hilarious experience and had both the doctor and nurse grinning by the time we walked out.  Two healthy girls!  Five inches and 1.5 pounds separates them.
 Last performance.
 April 19
Lots and lots of yard work at the new and old house.  R worked so hard!
 Thankfully, Grammy and Bobbi were able to take the girls to clean up day at the softball field so I could cook for Easter.

As we have for many years, we went to Easter service on Saturday night.  My beautiful kids....
 ...and all of us.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen!

The tomb is empty....He is risen and my Savior lives!!

Enjoy the beauty of the day and all that it means to us!

O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?

(I will be posting Project 365 tomorrow).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Six Hours One Friday

Six hours.  One Friday.

Let me ask you a question:  What do you do with that day in history?  What do you do with its claims?

If it really happened....if God did commandeer his own crucifixion...if he did turn his back on his own Son...if he did storm Satan's gate, then those six hours that Friday were packed with tragic triumph.  If that was God on that cross, then the hill called Skull is granite studded with stakes to which you can anchor.

Those six hours were no normal six hours.  They were the most critical hours in history.  For during those six hours on that Friday, God embedded in the earth three anchor points sturdy enough to withstand any hurricane.

ANCHOR POINT #1  My life is not futile.

This rock secures the hull of your heart.  Its sole function is to give you something which you can grip when facing the surging tides of futility and relativism.  Its a firm grasp on the conviction that there is truth.  Someone is in control and you have a purpose.

 ANCHOR POINT #2 My failures are not fatal.

Its not that he loves what you did, but he loves who you are.  You are his.  The One who has the right to condemn you provided the way to acquit you.  You make mistakes.  God doesn't.  And he made you.

ANCHOR POINT #3 My death is not final.

There is one more stone to which you should tie.  Its large.  Its round.  And its heavy.  It blocked the door of a grave.  It wasn't big enough though.  The tomb that it sealed was the tomb of a transient.  He only went in to prove he could come out.  And on the way out he took the stone with him and turned it into an anchor point.  He dropped it deep into the unchartered waters of death.  Tie to his rock, and the typhoon of the tomb becomes a spring breeze on Easter Sunday.

There they are.  Three anchor points.  The anchor points of the cross.

~Max Lucado Six Hours One Friday: Living in the Power of the Cross

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Every Hour I Need You

How about a foster care update?  Feeling the need for a little therapeutic writing!  :)

I don't talk about foster care often, mostly because there is so much that I cannot share.  I've also found that taking pictures of and talking about a 17 year-old is different than taking pictures and talking about a 9 year-old.

At seventeen, they are their own person.  I read the following a while back and it made so much sense to me....the reason I share so little about R and less and less about Avery:

And so much of just can't talk about.

Because you suddenly realize that these kids are people.
People with feelings and emotions. And you can't go around blogging about their mean math teacher or their failed attempt at choir auditions. These are things that are too precious, too priceless, too soul-baring, too hard to share. They need you to be their safe place. They need you to keep their secrets. They need you to pick up pimple concealer at CVS and not breathe a word to anyone. They are so easily embarrassed and you must do your part to help them get through it.
And you know what? You will help them get through it. You will give them pep talks and scoldings and reminders and notes.
You will give them confidence, and wings. It just takes awhile.
(Check out the whole post good!)
We have a full house this week.  By many standards, five kids is not a lot, but having a respite or a new placement adds a significant degree of difficulty.  We spend the first several days concerned about basic safety for all involved and then the process of getting to know each other begins.  Routines, rules, likes, dislikes.  

Also, the patience-trying process of building trust.  I have no reason to trust them and they have no reason to trust me, so we start from scratch and make small, almost imperceivable steps towards trust.

You don't realize how fundamental trust is to a quality relationship until you don't have it.  With my own kids, we started building trust from the moment they were born.  When they cried, I fed them.  When I said don't touch, its hot and they touched it anyway, they learned to take me at my word.

And for many of the kids we take, they are starting over again.  Disheartening for them, exhausting for me.

Yesterday morning I went out on the porch alone and just said, God please help me.  And quietly sang

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

God IS my strength.  I marvel all the time that He called us to foster care in spite of me and all my shortcomings, not because I am so special or have a clue what I'm doing.  He took my carefully crafted list of reasons why I should be disqualified and torn it into shreds and reminded me that I can do all things through Him.

In the snippets of time when Shaun and I get to talk and I'm able to share pieces of my struggles, he's started to jokingly say what you need is to find a husband who can help you out with some of this.  :) Yes, looking forward to having my partner-in-crime back from tax season and I'm clinging to Jesus, who is my Source.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Project 365, Week 15

This is a few posts jammed into one, so excuse all the photos (as if I always stick to just seven photos...have I ever done that??).

Happy Palm Sunday!  What an exciting time!!

April 6
I signed R up to run a race with me and then informed him he would love it.  He was skeptical but as the date drew closer he got more excited about it.  

We had a beautiful race day.  He ran the Legends 4-mile and I ran the half marathon.  It was a great first experience for him and it gave the two of us some positive, happy bonding time.  If you parent a teenager, then you probably know that not all the interactions are fun and happy.

I had an ambitious goal that I didnt make, which I blame on the constant hills, the one-mile gravel stretch and my lack of outdoor training.  My pace ended up being an average of 9:30.

 Barefoot...interesting strategy.

 After, we joined the family who were immersed in dress rehearsal.  That boy in the middle front melts my heart.

 April 7
First day of softball practice.  Avery was SO excited!
 April 8
It was a beautiful day so Aiden and I went over to the old house to do yard work.  He couldn't wait to show me where the crocuses were growing and then he picked some for me.
 I dug out my glove from years ago when I used to help with Shaun's softball practices....happy to be putting it to good use again!
 April 9
The first of THREE times I would drive through our capitol city this week.  From the back, Aiden said, Mom, I LOVE this place!  Avery always says that, too.
 We were there for a special foster care training where students were doing skits dealing with real teen issues and I was surprised to see someone from our church productions.  He's Judas this year.
 Alayna and Isaiah came over to play for a bit so we pulled out all the yard toys.
 April 10
I had a rare work meeting and got to put on heels!
 April 11
Sweet Armand Joseph arrived!!
 These two brothers hold the titles for my oldest and youngest nephew/niece, #1 and #17

While I was meeting my nephew, the rest of the family was at church for opening night of Passion of the King.

At 10:30, on my way home from the hospital, I picked up S, who will be staying with us for at least this week of school vacation.  I pulled into the church parking lot as Shaun and the kids were coming out.  Shaun and I waved and exchanged a look that said, hi, a) I would love to sit and talk with you and b) yup...this is our life and c) no one I'd rather do it with.  When you've been married almost 20 years you can speak like that with just a look.  True story.
 April 12
First day of T-Ball.  Way too much coach/coordinator talking, not enough action.
 It was such a gorgeous day, so I put the grounds crew to work.  Interest and dedication varied.
 And Amanda successfully went to her first softball practice, with smiles at the end!