Foster Care | Savings, paying off debt, making room, filling out paper work, training, classes, home inspections...so many things to do to prepare, to feel prepared.
It's just a feeling.
You just want to be ready. God has it already prepared but we can't see it so we do as much as we feel we can and hope. We spend time preparing, sharing, and praying, those are the 3 things that we do.
The beginning process of fostering is like standing at the edge of the ocean shore. All the work behind you and you look out on the ocean with hope. There is an ocean waiting for you to enter.
But before you do, you built sand castles. Tedious work, thoughtful, but fragile and beautiful but right on the edge. Then when you are ready...You are dipping your toes in the water. You are looking out over the vast waters. They are beautiful and deep. Jesus is calling you out. He wants you in the boat.
The ocean is SO big and beautiful, the sounds are soothing and the rhythm of the world is at your feet. The sands shift under your weight, it moves around your feet as you step out into the ocean. At first it is warm, it is thrilling, it is magical...then you step a bit further and you see the life beneath the waves that is watching you, that is curious, that keeps its distance. You may or may not be able to see the ocean floor and the waves could be pounding but you know, if you can just get past the crashing waves there is a rolling peace in the deep...you just have to tread. A little further and you find that you begin to feel weightless and less in control, that you can sink your body under the surface, under the service, still touching the bottom and still able to bounce up and breathe. So while the treading seems easy at first and the waves are behind you, the billowing of the oceans lifts and drops you up and down. Out in the deeper waters it can get so deep you can't even imagine how far down it goes. Have you thought about the boat? The danger rises and your faith shakes. You want to turn back but at some point you are too far out. Even your calls for help can't be heard...but they are heard. Because in the deep is where you find Jesus. In the deep is where you want to be. It's where you were called.
The day comes...
Foster babies or children arrive. What's a mother to do? While out in the deep waters you scoop them up and put them in the boat that's waiting. They're safe in the boat. But their baggage. That stuff they brought with them, the hurt, pain, neglect, drugs, withdrawals, trauma, brokenness...its all baggage. What's a momma to do? Carry it of course.
So, you do.
The waves rise and fall and you're in the deep waters and you're treading hard. The boat looks safe but someone has to hold the baggage. You can't climb in a boat with baggage. So you tread. You sink awhile and you swim awhile. You see Jesus. He's offering to help. His hand reaches out but "you've got this". Just pray about it. Pray for that strength and endurance. He'll give it to you.
That's not what He wants to give. He wants to take.
Then, it happens, when nothing else works. You sink. You're sinking and you can't let go. Your arms are wrapped so tight to that baggage that's bringing you down. You're drowning. You see shimmers of hope above you but how can you get there?. How can you find the surface? Then you hear it. That still, small voice say "let go".
LET GO! Let go! let go...
You relinquish your trying and you open your arms and you float to the surface. No struggle. Just float up. As you surface you see Jesus. He's there like he's always been. Just above the surface. He takes your hand and puts you in the safe place...where you belonged the entire time.
Breathe. Oh breath of God. Breathe.
When you turn and look at the shore, it is beautiful. You realize you'd been building sandcastles all these years. Staying where it's warm and safe. You have looked out over the ocean and marveled at it's vastness. You continued to enjoy riding the waves and building your sandcastles.
Aren't they beautiful?
Wait! But where'd they go?
Time, rain, waves, storms, wash them all away. What was most important. What was ever lasting?
Moving your feet towards the waters can sometimes be the hardest part. Taking that first step is most important. You can enjoy the ocean for as deep as you like but Jesus wanted you in the boat with your eyes on Him always. If you pick up the baggage after He's called you out, you sink.
So, because it is new and your don't know what to expect you sit on the shore line.
Stop building sandcastles and dreaming, and put your eyes on the deep.
As we move forward we are going to continue to witness the devil and his evil spirits come under attack. The last thing he wants is for us to raise up a daughter or son of His, a princess in His kingdom. We will pray daily, call on His name, ask others to pray, and have faith in Him.
There is a Bible story about King Asa of Judah, he did what was good and right with the Lord. He removed the foreign alters and smashed anything that was dishonoring to God. He brought peace to Judah and the Lord gave Him rest. When it was time for battle, he called on God for help.
"Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty." 2 Chronicles 14:11
God helps the powerless. Powerless is exactly how I know I feel at some point. In the mean time, we have decisions to make regarding our home and family. We have to get ready so that we move forward in peace and when the time comes, when the devil attacks, we can rely on Jesus.
...we will find Him in the deep!
God has been all over me to dig in His Word today. As I sit down to do some reading I decide it's probably a good idea to start with the book He keeps pushing towards me today...Exodus. So I open up to Exodus and my eyes fall on a section called "Bricks Without Straw" and this part of a scripture...
"...They are lazy, that is why they are crying out..." Exodus 5:8
Lazy...hmmm, where did I see that word today? Oh yes, I remember, in my vintage "Anti-Satan Kit" I just bought at one of our little antique stores in town. I saw it and had to have it! The card that I pulled out first was "Laziness", I even took a picture of it to show my finds earlier today.
The card read...
"Relax. You need your rest. Besides, what can you do?..."
God had told me recently to stop crying out and just move forward, so today was better than yesterday. What I've found is, that the busier I am, the less time I spend with Him and so I get frustrated with the balance of trusting in Him and spending time with Him (which can feel lazy) and then working and moving forward. It's a hard balance, let's face it. It's simply not true that we are lazy when we spend precious time with Him.
Then I read this... "Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies." Exodus 5:9
Lies (according to the Pharaoh) being that we are to take time to worship our God and spend time with him. Make the work harder by making them collect the straw. Like a ton of bricks, yes pun intended, I realized that my work gets harder as a distraction. I'm doing all the "little" things that God could be handling. When it feels too hard or that I'm being drawn away from my time with Him, then that work is fruitless. It's time to rest and be refilled.
MAKE BRICKS! Make Bricks! make bricks...
The scripture makes it very clear that the Israelite's were to continue making the same amount of bricks, everyday AND that included collecting the straw to go in them. Just because the Pharaoh added to their work didn't mean he wanted them to produce less...this was all on purpose.
As a mom, I deceive myself into thinking I can do everything. My kids should have fresh hair cuts, their clothes should be neatly hanging in their closet, their meals should all be healthy, the house should always be clean, and so on. As a wife, I do the same thing. I picture every mom or wife I have seen through the years and admired. I remember my mothers immaculate house, my friends polished children', the friends whose clothes look dry cleaned, the meals the magazine moms make, and I mentally punish myself for not being the best, better even, and I question my abilities. Did I remember all their dentist appointments, are the doctors bills paid up, is the toilet paper in the guest bathroom...is it clean.
i need to was dishes...MAKE BRICKS!
I have phone calls to make...MAKE BRICKS!
I have dinner to cook...MAKE BRICKS!
I have fold laundry...MAKE BRICKS!
I need to match socks...MAKE BRICKS!
Sometimes, it feels like I'm expected to make bricks but first there are 100 other things I need to do first. The Israelite's had to gather straw first to make their bricks, their work became harder but God had a plan for release.
A great lie...
All those 100 little things are necessary in order to make my "bricks" and my work complete but are those little things keeping me from worshiping my GOD! My God who is capable who gave me the verse Psalms 121:1-2. Where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord. I am lying to myself when I tell myself I can do it ALL!
My friend says "I can do all things but I don't have to do all the things."
So, while I need to keep making my bricks for now, God has claimed victory for me if I'll release and let Him help. He will accomplish more than I ever thought I could on my own. Exodus 6:6
Oh and don't forget...
The straw, while very important and very much needed could be collected by someone else...delegate!
I won't always be making bricks.
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by: exodus 33:22
This scripture has been on my mind for about a week now. The imagery of being inside a cleft or cave and having God cover the opening with his hand. Covered in darkness.
How many times do you feel as if you are in a dark place, like things aren't going our way?
When God places you in a place that he knows will become dark and gloomy, that it may be cold and lonely, that it may be frightening or silent, he is doing so to protect us. He places you there with love and intention.
Unbeknownst to you, He is passing by. Beyond the darkness, beyond the feeling that there is no way out, His glory is passing by and you don't even know it.
When He removes his hand and you can step out into the light, you will be stepping out into the wake of His glory and all the things that you were protected from, you may never even know. What you should focus on is that He walked ahead and protected you. He did so because you have a purpose. He's not done with you yet. Live loved. Live purposefully. Live with expectation.
I used to be fascinated with the spiritual world in that I didn't understand hauntings and things that were unexplained. A few years ago, I picked up a book by a local pastor to Chattanooga, Ron Phillips. He's also pastor to several friends. When I bought the book at a yard sale of a friend I didn't realize who he was or where he was from. I had no clue. I started reading this book called "Invisible Allies" and was shocked when I started reading about events local to our area and street names that I drive down all the time. That's when all the pieces of that puzzle came together. He did an amazing job of explaining the mission and purpose of Angels and backed it all with scripture and testimonies, both personal and of people he knew. It helped explain to me what we experience that seem unexplainable. It helped ground my curiosity and even gave me peace about things I (or my kids have experienced.)
I want to share a few instances in my life where I have been aware of these "invisible allies".
The first experience I can remember happened when Cooper was around a year old. He was an early talker and very articulate. My sister in law and I were working together to start a business and Cooper was with us constantly. One day while talking to himself we realized it was a full on conversation. We asked him who he was talking to and quick as lightening he said "Bob". We froze.
Bob is a very important man in our family that passed away when my husband was 8 years old. We didn't talk about him really. Maybe on ocassion but rarely. Bob is my husband's daddy. My sister in laws daddy. She was as floored as I was.
A month or so later we were in our home town after moving into a retail space. We had sat down to eat and again Cooper was talking to someone and was very intensely watching as if someone was leaving. He hopped down from his chair and ran to the door looked out and down the walkway as if someone important just left. We asked him what he was doing. Again he said, it was Bob.
There have been lots of occasions where "Bob" has showed up but only seems to show himself to my kids. As they get older they react differently. Is it really James Dad? I don't believe so. I believe he is resting in peace with Jesus and waiting in us. I don't for a second believe those that are there visit. However, our angels know things far beyond our knowledge, even how to reach us. What's important to us, is important to them.
Evan had his own moments, mostly he shared information that he learned like when he told our neighbor that in heaven he would be her brother. He went on to explain how heaven worked and that when we all go there how different things are. He didn't talk about it like a child. He talked about it like an adult who had been there. He was 4. He didn't even start talking until he was nearly 3. My neighbor got chills and still to this day talks about the experience. Our messengers are sometimes those that are at their most innocent.
A few years ago, I was headed to a business meeting and my then 12 year old son, Cooper, called me and said "Mom! I was sitting on the porch listening to my music and I noticed our curtains moving. When I looked there was a man standing there with white hair and a beard. I went inside to see who was there and there was no one." I asked where his dad was and questioned everything; but, he stood by that he saw someone standing there looking out. Later that night when I got home he said "Oh, I forgot to tell you. After we talked I went back out on the porch and saw him walking across the street." I asked him if he saw what he was wearing. He said "You know I didn't even notice clothes." So we figured it was "Bob". My kids have never been afraid.
A little earlier today, I had sat the toddlers outside with their snacks at their baby picnic table. I stepped in to do dishes but could see them from the kitchen window. A little while later, the 2 year old came in, handed me his container and said "Him done. Him said thank you." I said "Really what else did 'Him' say?" (I was being kind of flippant). Then G said "He went Bye Bye. He kissed me. He said "I love you." When I asked G what he looked like. He said he was "big." He said he had "white" hair. I didn't even know he knew the color white yet. He was also wearing white. Is Him, Bob? I believe so.
I wanted to share a few of these stories because with all my heart I believe we have guardian angels that walk among us. I also believe that we have had evil among us. I have seen those too. In times of distress in our house and feelings of uneasiness I have seen things that I have had to "cast out". Call the name of Jesus and call our angel armies on. I've cleansed our house several times in recent years. The first time I realized something wasn't right was a morning I was irate before sending the kids to school. As I came down my steps I saw something (shadow) move from my living room to my dark dining room. I stopped dead in my tracks. Something was there and it had to go. It was disturbing the very peace in my house and using me to do so. So, while this may sound crazy to some, I'm willing to bet there are thousands of other people who have experienced similar instances. Some of us reason really hard with it but it's so simple.
There is a spiritual warfare going on that we can not see. Period. I call on our Angels from time to time to stand guard around our home. I call them to bring in a needed harvest for our work and business. I call them to protect our children when we can not be with them and sometimes just because we aren't sufficient.
I recommend Ron's newer book "Angels verses Demons". As Christians and Believers we can not take lightly that these spiritual beings exist. One exists to serve and to protect God's children, especially those who believe and the innocent. The other is out to destroy. Sometimes the battles are won for either side but praise His Holy Name, we know who wins the war! Amen!
While the Bigs were all getting ready for school I told my husband The Toddler was laying in his bed, awake, ready to pounce on the day. The first sign of life and he is up. I was right.
He got up and and said bye to the Bigs and took his potty trained, independent self to the bathroom. After I unstopped the toilet from the whole roll he used we laid in my bed for a minute. He asked about the sounds he was hearing. Birds singing.
The high pitch song of the birds were a curious thing to him so we agreed it would be fun to sit on the porch under a blanket and listen to them. There must be hundreds.
He yells "hey, buddy" at the passing cars and waves. No one seems to notice.
"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear." ~Winnie the Pooh
He becomes fascinated with the pillows and cushions of the couch we are sitting on and says "Ee watch TV" and when I say that we are watching the birds and clouds he is still again.
Mommin' to a Toddler isn't easy. It's quite hard some days but God reminds me to slow down and talk soft to try to help the world sense. Sometimes that makes all the difference.
You worry too much.
Rarely do you go a week without being afraid of finances, worry about schedules, or fret over things that are not in your control. Ultimately, none of it is not worthy of your time spent grumbling. You worry if there is enough; enough money, enough time, enough you. You worry if you have enough so that you can enjoy the little things. You worry your children are missing out because you might not have enough, you let your checkbook be your idol. Don't I always provide. Be patient and be a good steward of what I've given you. Let nothing go to waste. Instead of worrying or complaining set your thoughts on Me. Let me help you see through my lens the abundance you have and all that I have waiting for you if you'll trust me. Numbers 6:25 I will shine my face upon you and show you My grace. I will put a new song in your heart and you will be thankful.
There are many things in your life you would like to change and "riches" is one of them but I tell you, don't wear yourself out chasing them. Proverbs 23:4 Let me bring you all that you need to your table. Give your desires over to me and stop focusing on what you are lacking, the emptiness. Your fullness and light come from Me. Just as my people that I rescued from Egypt had manna every morning, rise early and come to me for all you need. Take all you need, nothing less. You must come daily because while you are able to withhold your grumbling from others, I hear your thoughts and see your heart. Let me help you think my thoughts. Luke 18:27 Trust me with your desires and worries. Open up to Me and let me quite your mind. Come to me daily even when you are not worried. Let's talk about the plans I have for you that are hopeful and prosperous. Jeremiah 29:11 You will thank me.
With every glimmer of gratitude and gratefulness you will feel my glory surround you. Even if you are struggling some days to be thankful, just remember I am listening and I care. I died for you. 2 Corinthians 9:15 Your joy from your thanksgiving will guide your in the matters of your heart. Acts 2:28 I will shine a light there in that secret, dark place and reveal the truth about your circumstances and show you how I plan to make it all good. Trust Me. Ephesians 6:10 The darkness is necessary so that I may shine My light through. The foggiest times are so that you can see My view, My perspective. Abide in Me, rest in me, and I will bring you the joy you seek and the freedom from worry that you carry. In the end I will have given you that new song I promised. Psalm 40:3 Your song is meant to be shared. Sing it loud.
I am the same God that guided Abraham, gave Sarah her child, parted the Red Sea, raised Jesus from the dead, and I will deliver you from your circumstances. Take refuge in me as I rescue you Deuteronomy 32:10&11 Now child, move about your day free of worry. Rest everything in your heart on me. Trust me to handle and guide you. Your obedience and trust in My plan is all you need to move through your day.
Letters from Heaven are the Lord's answers to my own prayers, I share these personal writings as they are meant to encourage you as well. What He gives in the darkness shall be shared in the light. I am praying for my readers. Be blessed today.
This little game is appropriate for babies ages 14-24 months. It will help develop fine motor skills and perceptual motor abilities as she uses her eyes and fingers to accomplish the task. Allowing her to explore the can and figure out how to insert the sticks is good for developing problem solving skills.
As your little one plays with this over and over she will learn to easily turn and tilt the can to make inserting the sticks easier.
What you need...
-popsicle sticks (you can also use pipe cleaners or flat poker chips)
-tennis ball can or other cylinder type container with lid. Cut a slot in the lid that will allow the objects to pass through
Today over on my craft blog, here, I shared how I made these Eye Spy bags but if you don't sew, you can still make fun and interactive Eye Spy toys that your little one will love.
Every toy starts with a few basic pieces. A clear container with a lid, sand or pellets, tiny objects, and glue.
Our little ones will sit and our laps and help us find some fun things. It teaches them about colors, shapes, increase vocabulary, and builds trust. They know they can sit and interact in the safety of our laps. These bottles or bags are also a fun activity for older kids when they are given scavenger hunt cards.
The little toys keep their minds occupied during doctors visits, long trips, difficult during nap time, or for time outs. For children with RADS they get to connect with you and escape stressful situations for a bit by studying the objects inside. Keep in mind also that the items are typically too small for toddlers to play with so they enjoy looking at the tiny things and you don't have to worry about them going on little mouths
To make the bags you can click the link at the top of this post. To make a bottle you'll need a clean, clear bottle with a lid. Fill your container about half way with pellets or sand and then add your objects. Put glue around the top of the rim and screw the cap on tightly. Let the glue set and you're good to go.
Extenstion: Take snap shots with your phoneof each item you include and use your phone like a scavenger hunt card or print them out, laminate, and put on a ring to go with the bottle. There are many ways you can create a self exploratory eye spy bottle.
One of the things I recently learned about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RADS) is that when children with RADS are introduced to the unexpected , being events or people, they can shut down. Before it was even suggested that we had a possible RADS child in our home I thought the symptoms were him, being shy or unaffectionate. I honestly just thought it was his personality. Then a therapist asked about particular scenarios and the reactions. A flood of memories came rushing in on me with each question. It broke my heart to learn that internally, my boy was shutting down as a coping mechanism. His little body would go into tiny panic mode until he could process the situation and judge how others would react. If the situation felt unpredictable the tiny panic button stayed pushed down.
Then, I read about calming bottles. As beautiful as they are and as fun as they are to make, they served a huge purpose. We have made up several different ones for fun and to see which one he liked best. The purpose is to give him a temporary focus that he knows is safe until he is ready to return to reality. It may only take a second or you might find him crouched in a corner studying the rhythm and waves that he is in control of making. Here are a few of the ones we used.
The eyeball bottle is his favorite.
In each bottle I added different elements or colors. The basis for almost all of them is simple oil and water. I color the water with food color and poor in the desired amount, I add glitter or buttons or googly eyes...what ever is on hand. Rubber bands, tiny toys or anything small. A bit of elements glue gives the water a milky color. I add baby oil to the top, put glue around the rim and screw the cap on tight.
I placed these in a basket near our door going out to the car so I will remember to grab them but they are also reachable anytime he needs them.
I have a few other fun activities and calming objects you can make at home so be sure to come back for a visit.
Those times when it is 2 o'clock in the morning and you are wide awake and can't sleep and you're fighting your own thoughts and your responsibilities as a mom weigh heavy, that's when Jesus is calling you.
"Letters from Heaven" is a new series that is meant to encourage and inspire.
You feel overwhelmed with all I call you to do. Being a mom is a challenge every minute. You worry to much. Your sick baby is my baby too. Your toddler, your child, your teenager, they are all mine too. The responsibility to raise these souls and nurture them weighs heavy. You worry if you've done enough to raise them to their greatest potential. I Am enough. As you accept your weakness and faults, accept my power. You will falter and fail. You will make mistakes but it's during those times that you allow Me to help most. You fall and look up. Tonight, you feel the heaviness of motherhood as I call you to a bigger purpose outside your four walls, your comfort zone.
Your discouragement is natural because of your focus on your limited abilities instead of my limitless power. Remember, I sent my Son for you and He is with you always. If I'll give you Christ and a Helper, what more do you need? You only need to spend moments in My Presence to recharge and set yourself up right again. Your neediness for Me is what I crave as I desire to spend time with my daughter as she grows, just as you do your own children. I never get tired of being with you. My power is always available and flows through you. It is the very reason you can meet the needs and show the love that you do.
Stay focused, the evil one will distract you. It's his plan to keep you from My perfect plan for you. Be aware of your distractions. You have have everything you need and need not go searching elsewhere. You have abundance within you even when you fail, fall, misstep, or falter. You question the technicalities of our relationship to often. You simple, heartfelt prayers are cherished, I adore them. I wish you would not wait until it's hard to speak to Me. Instead, come to me continuously, let Me speak to you. Open yourself and I will flood you with all that you need. Strength, encouragement, praise, love, knowledge and much more, flow like a river and never dries up.
You feel you are on a steep, rocky path at times. That only means I am taking you higher. Just keep your eyes on me.
Your purpose is important. Jesus dried up the fig tree with a few simple words, a thought, belief, and power. Everyone was shocked. The tree wasn't producing fruit, it was not serving its purpose to its greatest potential as other trees do naturally. Stay focused on Me and I will continue to keep you with your purpose. Habakkuk 3:17-19 Rejoice when you feel you have nothing left to give. Jude 1:24-25 Seek Me to keep you clean and atoned forever so that we may spend many moments together so that I can refresh you. Philippians 4:7 Seek My Son, Jesus, daily, He is always there, call on Him, the Spirit, and My angel armies. I will give you peace so pure you can not deny it is from Me, a supernatural peace.
Isaiah 17:4-6 You will be fruitful because you seek Me. Far too few of my beloved children produce fruit. I will harvest your fruits and it will be good. It will be in such abundance that gleanings and fruit will remain even after the harvest for future planters. Your fruits will multiply for those who lean into Me.
I am birth mom to my 3 boys, foster mom to 2 sweet babies, wife to my high school sweet heart, and daughter to my King. I love to write. I am no scholar but I love my Lord and He helps me.