Telling our story…sneak peek!

Blessings In The Midst Of Chaos

My husband and I were married sixteen years before we decided to go into Foster Care. We lost our first son when I was 29 weeks pregnant. Three years later, after another complicated pregnancy, I gave birth to our son Wesley.  He was born with a heart defect that required open heart surgery when he was two. Then against the advice of my doctor, I became pregnant again and gave birth to our daughter Amanda. When she was 9 months old I had my first of two major surgeries. We went through some real tough trials in the first five years of our parenting journey. There was undeniable chaos at times. We experienced a great loss and had many fears. Thanks to God, we had the ability to find joy in our hard moments. The blessing throughout our parenting journey has continued to outweigh the chaos.

It came completely natural for us to do Foster Care. We simply wanted to make a difference in the lives of children in our community. Our entire family was onboard as we began our journey in 2005. We became licensed through the Department of Social Services in 2006. We knew that our lives would be changed by the many children who entered our home and our hearts. What we didn’t know, is God’s plan was much different than our own. We were unaware of the impact that three children would make in our family forever. We trusted God then and we still trust him today.

Parenting is difficult no matter what. There will be many blessings mixed within the chaos of life as you are raising your children. With raising adopted children from the Foster Care system, the chaos you experience will be a whole different kind. It may even leave you at times searching for that blessing. Don’t stop looking. The blessing is there. Look for it in the midst of your fears, through every struggle, and in your darkest hours. And if you need to, pray for your blessing to be revealed, because it could become lost in all of the chaos.      

It is my sincere desire that as you read our adoption stories you receive a renewed sense of hope in your own. Hope is a gift freely given through the grace of our Lord and Savior. There is hope for every one of Gods children. I pray you can cling to that throughout your journey. I believe it is the key to all successful adoptions. You need to believe and trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 It is a special calling to adopt. I am pretty confident that you’ll have moments when you will be questioning that calling and or your ability to continue on. But guess what? That’s ok. He doesn’t promise any kind of parenting will be easy. But he does give us encouragement in his word. So, cling to his word often and remind yourself in times of trouble, that he will guide you in parenting your children, if you allow him.

In the midst of every storm, remember why you chose to Adopt. Embrace your journey and let God work. God can bring peace in the hard times and clear any of your doubts. Learn to trust him in all of it. There is no question that your adoption journey will strengthen your walk with the Lord.  I pray you will continue to, or for the first time, seek the Lord for His wisdom, as you parent your precious gift. If God has entrusted you with one of his children through adoption, there is no doubt he wants your journey to be full of love and blessings.

My husband Kent and I have three adoption stories and each of them have their own unique storyline. These children came from three different circumstances and from three different families, yet with each of their placements there were undeniable similarities. In an eleven year period we have been given the sacred privilege to Foster over 25 children. All of the children placed in our home have been through the Department of Social Services and have shared many of the same attributes.

These children all came to us afraid, experiencing separation and loss. They have each exhibited trust issues and have each had some form of specific need. In addition to that, each child has had some type of hurdle (big or small) that they were in the midst of or would be facing in the times ahead. We have learned to embrace the work ahead of us with each child placed in our home. All of them have needed help to heal emotionally. Some children have required us to seek additional resources to parent them adequately. It is certain that they’ve all been in need of a safe and loving home. Together, we prayerfully made the decision to find the blessings a midst the chaos. We have fully trusted God to guide us in meeting their specific needs and parenting them. We have always remembered that there is hope. Hope for us all.

We learned to acknowledge and accept each of our children’s differences and have made a conscious effort to parent all of them (biological, adopted and those we foster) in the same way. We love them all fiercely. We have always tried to communicate openly, remain as consistent as possible and give age appropriate consequences when disciplining. I have often referred to this with others as “My Three C’s” of Parenting. (Communication, Consistency and Consequences.)  

We knew before we became parents that our faith would play a huge roll in the decisions we would make while raising our children. We have solely depended on God. It is he alone that gives us the wisdom and strength to be effective in all we do to honor him. It is just as imperative to honor him with our parenting. It remains our goal to “teach our children in the way they should go, so when they are old they will not depart from it” Proverbs 22; 6.  Prayer has remained our focus in everything, but we have learned to become prayer warriors during the difficult times we have encountered as adoptive parents. When my heart has grown weary, it has been God’s word and his promises that have sustained me. 

If you are thinking of adopting a child through the Department of Social Services, please know that it is possible. There are many success stories. You can make a difference in the eternal outcome of a child right from your local community. You will be blessed beyond measure by choosing to bless the child that God entrusts to you. It doesn’t mean it will be chaos free. But I am certain; if you are obedient to the call to foster/adopt, the Lord will equip you. He will never leave or forsaken you on your adoption journey or ever. Remember to seek him often. He will answer your cries for help and he will comfort you in your pain and or frustrations. He will flood you with blessings and joy in the midst of life’s chaotic moments or extended amounts of time. He will provide just what your family needs to succeed. I am certain that right now in the community that you live, there are children waiting for someone to love them unconditionally, forever.

This is the intro to the three adoption stories that are told in the Co-Authored book i am apart of.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to share our stories in hope to encourage just one family to make a difference in a childs life forever or to find strength in the journey they have already begun. I hope to share other pieces of my chapter with you in my blog as i wait patiently and pray for all involved in the process of the book as it is published. 

God is good and his timing remains perfect to fulfill our hearts desires.

Blessings in the chaos.

my favorite thing about being a foster parent_dumasEvery Single Child deserves someone to love them and to believe in them. They deserve someone to be their advocate and to give them the resources they need to succeed in life. Every child deserves a forever home!

May God bless all of you that go above and beyond and are involved in Foster Care. You will win some and unfortunately loose many battles. You will rock lonely children to sleep, comfort and reassure those who are afraid, and speak life into young ones lives who have lost hope in themselves.

For all the appointments, meetings, trainings and court hearings…and for every sacrifice and or missed family event or function…I say, Thank you for your love and dedication to the child placed with you!

For every time you’ve questioned what you were doing, or wondered if you were really making a difference, please know…that you are!

For every time you are hurt and for every struggle you persevere through, may you feel Gods comfort and strength to continue on.

In a Foster Care system that is broken in many ways, remember there is a God who can take the broken pieces and make all things whole.

If you feel as if you are alone, know that you are not. There is an army of people who have similar hearts as yours. They get your worries and they can relate to the many frustrations that can come alongside of working with Social Services. So many other people understand the magnitude of the blessings you receive, even in the midst of your chaos.

Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of MY heart❤️

Keep doing what you do! You are making a difference! One child, one family, one situation at a time…You are changing the world!

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A Passion Pause

When Storms Come

Have you ever been in the middle of a storm? With it raging all around you? Where there is no clarity or feelings of peace? I have. And guess what? It’s been more than once, even more than twice. Let’s just say, I’ve experienced my share of storms…and so will you.

Sometimes the storms we face come on fast and strong, then seem to quickly pass and fade away. When things clear up, our outlook on life is often brighter and we have learned something from our storm to use in our future. Just be careful not to hang onto that last drop of rain, doubting that the storm has really ended or never learning anything from it.

Then at other times, the storm we are in the midst of, intensifies over a period of time and reaches a climax that seems unbearable to us. As the winds howl and things continue to pour down, we can completely loose our focus and even our footing. We try to make sense of our waves of emotions and we rely too much on ourselves to weather the storm out.

Whether it’s a thunder storm that we’ve anticipated and been able to plan for, or the dreaded torrential down pouring that happens without warning in our life…our God remains the same and He has the power to calm all of them! Our anchor has to be secured through Him alone.

If you happen to be in any kind of storm right now (big or little) Remember, that He is the only anchor that will hold. He is sure, certain and safe. He (our anchor and our hope) is steadfast, firm and reliable.

It is not in our own confidence that anchors our soul, but the sure reality and belief that Gods promises for us are true. This is our anchor. And this is what we are to lay hold of when our feet may begin to stumble or wander within our storm.

When we put our trust in Christ, our eternal hope, we can make it through any storm that may come our way.

How do we lay hold of something, when we are drenched in the middle of uncertainty? 

I too am practicing this…but here are 5 things that have helped me in the midst of the many storms I have faced and am still learning from.

1. Read your bible! You have to know without certainty that your hope is in the eternal presence of God.

2. Pray! Ask God to open your mind and heart to hope in Him alone.

3. Remember how much Christ has suffered for you and your hope. (Wow… what an anchor right?)

4. Praise Him throughout the storm no matter what. Give Him praise for His Faithfulness, Strength, Wisdom, Mercy and Grace.

5. Think about other Christians (family & friends) who have weathered their storms holding onto their hope in Jesus. Lift up and encourage others. Share your testimony of faithfulness during and after your own storms.

May I suggest you start here:

Mathew 7:24-27 -Christ our solid rock

Hebrews 6:19 -Hope an anchor for our soul 

Colossians 2:5 -He is with you

Psalm 107:28-31 and Matthew 8:26 -He calmed the storm

Nahum 1:7 -The Lord is good

 

There Is A Fine Line Between Helping and Enabling.

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The desire to help people, especially those who mean the most to us, comes very natural to many of us. Especially to Parents who want to help their children succeed.  Unfortunately, this well-meaning impulse to help solve a person’s problem can backfire. I am learning this as I grow older, not only as a parent, but also living a life of Ministry. Trying to avoid back firing can be tricky and difficult. We try to give, help and serve others like Jesus. But in doing so, nobody said it would be easy. It can tear your heart out and make you question all you’ve ever known.  But trust God, His timing and His promises!  He is proven His faithfulness to me over and over again.  And I too am always learning!

I am seriously good at solving problems. It may even seem weird to some of you, but I actually enjoy problem solving.  I love to help people, so I am more than willing to do whatever I can to fix things for them.  I will always help people, but I have grown more aware of what it really means to enable someone. There is a fine line (but a big difference) between ”helping” someone and “enabling” them.

Personally, I believe it depends not only on the situation confronted with, but the condition of the person’s heart that you are trying to help. I find myself pondering on a few questions whenever I am making the decision to offer my help to someone… so that I do not enable them.  Does the person own up to what they have done?  Or only when they will gain something in return?  Are they being truthful? Demanding?  Or rebellious?  Is the person willing to help them self and change their ways?  And also, is there a pattern to their behavior that needs to be broken?  Would I be helping them to succeed or hurting them in the long run?  Is there behavior or problem causing harm to them self or someone else?

I felt compelled to write this to shed some light on enabling through my own parenting experiences that have ended in mishaps and also in many successes. I know my children have to solve problems “big and small” on their own.   And….Ugh it’s so hard not to protect them from failures!  Can any of you relate to this?  I know many of you have walked this hard and unclear road as well.

I (we) have great kids!  All five of them are different and have different levels of responsibility and different levels of problem solving skills.  They, like anyone else, have to make decisions that are responsible and live by their consequences. Nothing makes a parent more proud of their child than to see them trust God and figure things out with His guidance. BUT…I also like to be involved in the process. LOL  I struggle with letting go and letting God do his amazing work. (He works even through their struggle)  I have learned that being involved in the problem solving process for most people (esp. teenagers and young adults) doesn’t give them an advantage in the long run.  It can even make a problem grow or become a temporary fix.  No matter what the “problem” is when they have to solve it themselves, they are most likely to learn from the process of figuring it out and less likely to keep repeating it. When they problem solve on their own, they learn from their choices and they gain the confidence needed for the next thing they will face in life.

I am not talking about offering assistance to someone that has an immediate and or true need. And there will always be times we give and offer help not knowing the full circumstance of the situation. When you give from your heart out of obedience and someone abuses that giving, it is on them, not the person who has given. Alway give…

Enabling means: To give someone the authority or means to do something.  I recently read somewhere that the meaning has really become more like – “offering help that makes someone or something, (typically an undesirable situation) continue indefinitely. A friend who makes excuses for his hung-over friend is enabling alcohol abuse.  The relative who lends money to a drug addict is enabling that addiction.  And a parent whose child asks to be “bailed out” of a situation they’ve created because of their poor choices is enabling irresponsibility.

Those who constantly enable dysfunctional behaviors are called co-dependents.  I don’t want to be a co-dependent of anyone…..especially in my child’s life. The reality is, enabling not only doesn’t help the person to overcome or learn anything, but it actually causes harm. It can make the situation much worse and continue to repeat itself.

Stepping in to “solve” the problem, takes away any motivation for the person to take responsibility for his or her own actions. Without that motivation, there is little reason for them to change their behavior. Enablers can help their spouses, friends, and children dig themselves deeper and deeper into trouble.  People have to solve their problems without a “bail out” (a rescue) or THEY haven’t solved the problem. Therefore, they have most likely not learned from it either.

There is definitely a fine line between helping and enabling.  “Helping” would be like letting a teenager ignore their chores while studying for finals or because of a busy work week. Dismissing a teenager’s drug use, drinking, lying, defiance, violence or rebellion as “just part of being that age” is NOT helping.

If you ignore unacceptable behavior…you are an enabler. 

If you solve all of the problems brought to you by a person…you are enabler.

I have crossed that ever so fine line of “helping or enabling” myself.  I just didn’t realize it at the time.  Boy is it a tough lesson to learn for both the parent and the child. The child who didn’t get money at their request, or the “bail out” they feel they deserved after their poor choices, may feel they have lost the parents love. But…Oh how wrong that is….

A Strong love… teaches others to solve their problems, grow and learn from them.  Even when it’s painful and can cause heart ache. 

Love your children, spouse, friends, and relatives Strong

Pray for them!  

Show them a love that does not enable their behaviors, addictions or defiance’s.

A Love that helps them to grow and continue to blossom. 

A Love that allows them to learn from their mistakes and become better at solving them.

A love that never stops loving them, but never loves their poor choices.

A love that guides them in the right direction without picking them up and taking them there

A stronglovewebLove that does NOT enable.   

A person struggling needs a Strong Love…

Christ love for us is Strong! 

 

 

I am not a professional…..But If someone you know becomes mentally unstable please do not hesitate to seek medical attention. I suggest seeking a counselor or therapist for anyone that has a dysfunctional behavior that could cause harm to their self or someone else.  If an addiction to drugs or alcohol is the problem, I suggest enrolling them in a treatment plan, attending a local AA group or a Celebrate Recovery Program and or seek counseling.

Foster Parents~Let Your Love Shine Brightly in 2016!

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I’ve heard your pain, your hurts and your worries and I have felt them myself. Being a Foster parent is not an easy job. As a matter of fact, it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Nobody fully understands what it entails and nor will they ever completely get it…unless of course, they too are given the heart to walk the hard road of fostering for themselves.

These children come in all different fashions when they arrive at our door. They can be any or all of these things when we are finally introduced. (fear filled, fragile, desperate, beaten, neglected, starving, anxious, confused, shaken, hyper, mischievous, hurtful, calm, depressed, etc.) They often face other struggles because of their life circumstances. (Attachment disorders, learning disabilities, sleep disorders, post trauma disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, severe anxiety, processing disorders, and so on)

We don’t just open our doors and everyone blends perfectly together. We cautiously open our hearts too. And when we do that just right, so many other things start to unfold. We long to really “know them”  so we can care for them just right. The unknowns about “who they are” and “what they will be like” brings on our own set of pre-placement anxieties. We wish we had all the important information upfront. And we somehow accept that we may never really know much of anything. (What have they gone through? Will we be all that they need to heal?) So many things matter in how we move forward, yet little is ever answered. We help them transition the best that we can. We set out to love unconditionally and try not to have preconceived expectations. We are on call 24/7. So therefore, we live a life of spontaneity. Organization becomes second nature and we learn quickly to utilize resources when a call comes. We usually over think things, analyze everything, and have only a handful of people (or less) that we can talk to…about everything.

The life of Fostering is a hard one. It’s exhausting emotionally and physically. It is definitely not for all. It makes our hearts ache, our heads spin and can turn things upside down in our families for awhile. But…it is desperately needed! It’s rewards are great! And it is making a difference, one child and one family at time! And in the midst of some crazy days/nights, weeks/months, and sometimes years…as we do what we are called to do…somehow, someway, the blessings manage to outweigh each and every struggle and heartache.

We may not see the progress or healing while they are in our homes, but we claim it for each child and family.  We have faith and it outweighs a failing system. We cannot do it by “our power” so we trust an unfailing God and “His power” to do all things.  We seek the Lord as we keep pouring out. He fills us daily, so we can keep our focus and move forward with every struggle. We pray His perfect plan unfolds in everyone of our Foster children(s) lives. And sometimes His plan is a forever home through adoption.

Remember…You (WE) are not “just a Foster parent.” 
We are comforters in the middle of the night, when a child wakes with night tremors or wants their Mom. 
We are therapists who hear the things that would break anyones heart. 
We try our best to speak wise words of love and truth…when at times we are struck to complete speechlessness.
We become reporters, when a child opens up for the first time. Or there is visual evidence of wrong doing.
We are transporters as we caravan repeatedly to appointments, court dates and visitations. 
We quickly become patient advocates as we seek every service and resource for a child’s medical needs. 
And….We are professional child advocates as we fight for the help our child(ren) need in school, with daily tasks, or life in general.
We are often the first real example of a parent (mom or dad) and it’s imperative that these children have one. 
We can improvise and change routines or plans in a split second. 
We are a quick learners and we learn things about our child(ren) and…ourselves daily! 
We multi task and meet the needs of our husbands, bio kids and that of your placements. (which all bring there own challenges) 
We appear to be super mom to others, but often we feel alone on your mission to save the world…one child at a time. 
We sit for long hours at appointments, in court, at therapy and visitations, and sometimes still work other jobs outside of the home. 
We are happy doing what we are called to do despite the chaos at times. 
We are creative and fun loving…
We are motivated and determined. 
And…We are so much more!!

I know YOU…I am You!

You have cried in the quiet

And yelled privately at the system

You encourage yourself to keep going

And question everything you do

You have doubts

And you talk yourself out of them

You are happy with baby steps

And ecstatic with big ones

You jump for joy when you sleep all night

And you try to catch up on sleep when you don’t

You shoot to move mountains

And are satisfied when you help a molehill move

You love the smiles and laughter

And you look forward to new goals

You get discouraged when trust is broken

And you hurt when a child leaves

You prepare your bios from the loss that’s to come

And you protect and guard your own heart without even knowing

You worry about outcomes

And you wonder about plans

You love each and every crazy minute of your life

And….You love and provide so much more!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! You are like me. And WE are like so many others. And WE are all called to love!  To live life and help others to live their lives better. To make the world brighter! To make a difference and then some! 

So let the difference your making be inspiring. Let your story be told.

Let your love shine brightly in 2016!

Remember, We are so much more then what the world sees as “JUST a Foster Parent”.  

We are a Gift to a child..a Blessing to a hurting family… and a crucial piece of stability to a system that needs our help.

We are changing the world…