Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Internet Battles Over...

With school just around the corner, 
this little white box could mean a little more
sanity for everyone!

In our home, we have struggled with kids choosing to be on the internet over homework, chores,  simply listening to my voice, staying up at night to go on the internet, downloading inappropriate movies and music, going to questionable chat rooms...you name it, we have had to address it with one kid or another.  Believe me, if it wasn't needed for school and work, I would have happily pulled the plug on the internet years ago just to avoid the headaches!!!

The only downfall to this gadget is that it came so late in the game for us!

This little cutie is called the Circle With Disney.  It is $89.00 and you can get it at Amazon, Target, Best Buy or the Disney Store.

But first, let me explain what it does...

You plug this baby into your internet router and now everything that comes through your internet, passes through the Circle before streaming out to gadgets in your home.

Next, you download a Circle app onto your phone or computer, that ONLY YOU have the password to.
Circle will identify all the devices that are accessing your wifi and list them for you.
You then make a profile for everyone in your house and assign the devices that belong to each person to their profile.
Circle offers several levels of filter that you can choose from for each profile.  For example, if you have a young child in your home, the filter on their profile could be set to 'Child'.  Circle would then automatically filter any unfavorable websites or content and that child couldn't access it.  Each person in your home can have a filter level that is appropriate for their age.

Let me just highlight a few of my favorite things you can do with Circle---

*Pause internet for an individual or the whole house and un-pause with one click
*Set bedtimes and wake times for each individual
*Set total time limits for each individual
*Check browsing history (cannot be erased by them!)
*Circle alerts you when a new device accesses your wifi
*Alerts you when the Circle has been tampered with

Being a new product, they are constantly working out the glitches and improving it.  But so far, I have found the technical support team to be very helpful and open to improvement ideas.

We did find internet speed to be a little slower, but our internet is choppy on a good day.  We also discovered that we had over 21 devices accessing our internet...that may have contributed!!! 😳

Did I mention that it was only $89.00???  So seriously worth it!  Like I said before, I only wish we had it when the kids were little.

"Not doing your chores like I asked?..."  Click.  "No more internet for you!"  Done.
Need I say more...?

If you want to learn more about it follow this link...Meet Circle

Monday, July 18, 2016

Its What We Do...

If we are honest, most days we are just trying to hold things together.

 Everywhere we look, something is threatening to come apart at the seams.  
Whether it’s family, house, yard, health, or work: it all seems to be held together by a very thin thread.  

God has gifted women with an extraordinary ability to not only juggle multiple items with incredible skill, but to keep them from falling apart.  We wield a God given Super Glue that we innately know how and where to apply. 

We are doers and fixers…and we are good at it!
We see every broken place, crack, splinter and weak spot and we are ON IT!  Fixing, applying, adding, piecing or simply fretting about how to fix it. 

  I don’t know about you…but I get so exhausted!!!

Sometimes, a lot of times, the problems are too complex for us to handle.  There are no books, seminars, conferences, techniques, counselors or even medications that we can turn to for help. 
The issues that we deal with are huge.  God has asked each and every one of us to hold the broken close to our hearts.  In doing so, their pain becomes very personal.   We rub up against it, touch it, feel it and help that person carry it.  Pain and brokenness are messy…so very messy!  When we get close, it soils us.
  But God asked us to embrace the broken because that is exactly what He did for and to us. 
  Is it easy, NO!  Is it fun, not in the slightest!  Does He ask us to like it, not at all!  
He never asked us to enjoy our walk in this world.  
He just asked us to be His light and love to the person we are walking with, knowing that the world has done a number on them too!

But when we can’t fix it:  when there isn’t anywhere to turn and we run out of answers, then we get discouraged.
Hopelessness, depression and despair start to swirl around like smoke and we choke on it.  Although we can work like crazy to fix things on a good day, the minute we can’t find a solution, we bow our heads and give up.  At least, I do!  And at that moment, we are made useless.  Our light goes out and we are disarmed.
Satan uses some pretty heavy weaponry on us because we are fighting ‘front line’ stuff.  We are walking beside Gods people, and this broken world has placed them within Satans grasp.  God has asked you to help get them back!  Do you think Satan is going to stand back and watch that happen?!!!  I DON’T THINK SO!
He will hit you with the big guns…problems that are too big for you to handle and when you can’t fix them, he’ll hit you with doubt, despair, discouragement and depression! You’ll get mad at yourself, your family, your church and community.  Everyone will have failed you, in your mind! 

But look at what he says in Acts 17:26-27---

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.  Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’”

Do you hear what Paul is saying here?  Remember who God is!  He has allotted when you were to be born, where you were to be born and what the boundary of you life would be, whether physically or spiritually. 
  No matter where you are, you can at least FEEL your way toward Him and FIND Him!  

He is not so far from you…because ‘IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING’…

Fixing things in our life requires action, using our hands.  It’s what we do, we are good at it.  But when the dark smoke starts to swirl around you, you’re choking and you can’t see; 
reach out and ‘feel your way toward him and find him’.  

He didn’t leave you in some unknown place. 

  He put you there, and ‘is actually not far from’ you!  

Seattle skyline shrouded in smoke from wildfires

In His love,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Teens Journey Through Addiction

This kid!...

our 9th child,

18 years old,

didn't graduate from high school,

can't drive until he's 21 years old due to drug charges,

lives in a half-way house and washes dishes in a restaurant,

and we simply could not be more proud of him and his accomplishments!!!  


Because in one week, we will celebrate a major milestone in his journey...ONE YEAR OF SOBRIETY....Yeah!!!!

At this time last year, we were picking him up from jail and driving him across the mountains to a  drug treatment facility.  He was so angry that we had to have his older brother ride along for extra protection in case he bolted or got violent.  I was literally shaking during the entire three hour drive!  Our relationship with him was almost completely broken.  We were all hurt and angry.

After 35 days in that treatment center, we drove 5 hours to the next one and he stayed there for 3 more months.

When his time there was up, we had no choice but to bring him home until we could find an available bed at an Oxford House (a clean and sober half-way house).  And he's been there ever since.

Its not that we didn't want him to stay home,  in fact, I grieved heavily at losing him again.  You see, he is such a bright, funny, loving, magnetic person.  He lights up every room he enters with a huge smile.  Drugs had stolen that person from me since the time he was 11 and then when he had finally gotten clean, and we could see glimmers of the boy we once knew coming back out, he wasn't able to stay.  And I felt robbed again.

But his drug buddies lived around us, and he couldn't risk falling into that lifestyle again.  Not only that, but he had gotten pretty heavy into dealing drugs and their were several people who wanted him dead...literally!

And now, here we are!  One year clean and sober...no alcohol, pot, Molly, mushrooms, cocaine, etc.  None of it...!

Here is our story...
I don't want this to come across like we did it right or have all the answers, far from it!  But rather,  in the hope that it will help someone who is in a similar situation and needs some encouragement, its a lonely road!

It took 3 years of fighting law enforcement to get him arrested enough times or for a serious enough offense that the court would order drug treatment.  That's right~ I was the crazy mom who called the police, called parole officers, called the court, called juvenile detention...hours upon hours of phone calls, snapping pictures of every shred of evidence I could find and waving it in peoples faces until someone finally heard me cry..."Help him!!!" ..."Please, someone help him before he's 18 and its too late!"

Why did I need the court to send him to treatment?  Because in our state, you can't force someone to go to counseling after the age of 13, let alone treatment.  Its ridiculous! He was a danger to society and himself, but unless he admitted there was a problem and chose to seek help on his own, there was nothing we could do.  So we hounded the system.  Praise God it worked for us, but there are WAY too many people who don't get to enjoy such happy outcomes.

The system is broken.  Especially when it comes to drug abuse and mental illness. ( I will tell you about our run-ins with the mental health circus sometime...that was a crazy ride!..no pun intended :P) But along the way, you learn valuable little tidbits that help you out...
For instance--in our state, every time you call 911 on your child his name gets on a list that goes to a Juvenile Court Judge, if he sees your childs name come up enough times, he can order him to appear in court to find out whats going on.
So, like a Mom on a mission to save her child, I called him in for everything you were allowed to call in for; leaving the house without permission, threatening people, damaging property, illegal possession of drugs or drug related items, skipping school...you name it, I called.

Some cops understood my mission and even applauded it.  Others complained that I was wasting their time.  It seemed to just be the luck of the draw.

At one point, we got him signed up for the Youth At Risk program.  Its a program through Juvenile Court where they bring in a mediator to try to assess how bad things are and help the family get things back on track.  If the kid won't cooperate, then they turn them over to a Judge, who then takes over the parenting role and consequences for breaking family rules becomes time in detention.

Its a good program for kids like ours, who really couldn't give a darn about house rules or school at all.  The Court Appointed Mediator was great and actually gave David and I the green light to lay down some heavy consequences that hesitated to do before.  It didn't take long for our little runaway to decide he didn't like the pressure and he decided Jobcorp was a better option for him.  But that only lasted about 5 months before he was kicked out for drug use...no big surprise!

Our big break came in December of 2014, when we received a notice from the court that he would have to appear before a judge for a drug charge from 10 months prior!!! Way back in February he had been caught on school property (big no-no) with a baggie of pot.  It had taken 10 months for them to formally charge him.  So in January, we went to court, he was found guilty and sentenced to 3 days in Juvie-big whoop.  But, the best thing that came out of it was that he had to serve 9 month probation, and his probation officer was GREAT!  She saw what was going on and was watching him, and all his cronies.  If she even caught a whiff of something fishy, she was ON IT.  Plus, she really made me feel like we were a team.  She understood my desperation to get him help and encouraged me to let her know if I saw him doing anything questionable.  Three months into it and he was locked up for a month with an order to go straight from detention into rehab.  She had compiled a laundry list of parole violations ranging from being 10 minutes late to out-patient drug counseling to a failed UA (urine analysis drug test).  Nothing horribly serious, but enough that the Judge could see that although our son was good at covering his tracks, he really did need some help.

Little did they know how right they were.  We found out later, that during that same period of time drug dealers had almost shot him!  They had jumped him right in our neighborhood, drove him to a remote location, beat him up and had a gun to his head!  He was saved by a curious stranger passing by with a spotlight.  True story!

That was the final trip to detention and the beginning of sobriety.  Today, he is loving his new life!

And this week we get the joy (yes, it is a joy again! Thank you, Jesus :) ) of spending a few days at the beach with him.  We will have a celebration honoring his amazing accomplishments and present him with this token...

We know that sobriety is very fragile.  It will be a life-long journey that he has to take one day at a time.  There may be set backs, but we praise God for His mercy and faithfulness to us and pray that you will not lose heart in yours.

I love the mandate that God gave in Joshua 1:7, "Only be strong and very courageous, ...do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go."

In His love,

Read about his celebration...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hope For The Cave Dweller

I don't know about you, but caves freak me out!  

In my mind, all forms of nastiness is found inside caves; 
darkness-dwelling creatures, 
smells, drippy water, crumbling earth...its all bad!

I do NOT want to go there!
But lately, God has been showing me the good in caves. 

Psalm 142 says, "A Psalm of David, when he was in THE CAVE.  A prayer."

When he wrote this, he is surrounded by Saul's army; no escape in sight, desperate, afraid and confused.

Then David proceeds to pour out his plea to the Lord from within The Cave.

(Can you hear the desperation?)

Psalm 142-

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.  
I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!
In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.
I cry to you, O Lord; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living."
Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

Although we don't want to go there and we do all that we can to avoid those dark places, it is where God prepared David to become a King.  He didn't put him in a Prep School for Kings.  He drove him into the wilderness and into a cave, hunted by a mad man bent on killing him!  Tough training!

But why the wilderness?  That desolate, dangerous place where people go to die?!

Its where I imagine my GPS lady will direct me some day (because I'm pretty sure she hates me!)  And one day, someone will randomly stumble upon my shriveled body crumpled next to my dirty, dusty car with blown out tires and everyone will ask, "What the heck was she doing WAY OUT HERE?!"  Blame my GPS!

The cave in the wilderness is that place where we desperately cry out..."NO WAY, GOD...this can't be for me!  There is no way that you would want me here, in this...!"

And yet, there you sit.

In a cave, in the wilderness, isolated, in the dark...there and only there...can He finally get your undivided attention!

It was only in the wilderness, inside a cave, where David learned to PRAY!  He lost all his self-confidence and aspirations.  He had no fancy words or animals to sacrifices, no temples, no priests or prophets.  He couldn't DO anything.  All he had left to do was pray.  That is our training ground.  That is where God wants us.  He will drive us into the wilderness time and time again, if only to hear us cry out in our helplessness...

"With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord."


"When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!"


"I cry to you, O Lord; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.""

I wish there was another way that we could learn.  It would be so nice if we could come to that place of complete submission and desire to draw close to the Lord without a dank, drippy, cave and 'the hounds nipping at our heals'.  Unfortunately, we are stubborn by nature and really balk at going down on our knees...so He is gracious enough to help us out-;)

This morning, I  was thinking about a friend who is in a hard place.  It seems that she is being driven into the wilderness and my heart aches for her.  I was crying out to the Lord to help her, remembering times when I was in similar situations and felt so very alone,  its painful, hard work to be in those places!  But, I'm forever grateful that it isn't in vain.  Good will come.  David needed that time to prepare his heart and soul to become king.

So take heart, friends!  God is wanting to prepare us for great things too, if we will let Him...and get down on our knees. :)

In His love,

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Gods Hand in the 'New Normal'

Many of us face the challenging reality that
 our homes have taken on a very different feel since we adopted. 
The dynamics have changed; between children, spouses, even extended family and friends.  Besides a few familiar faces, it seems like a completely different family and we mourn the loss of what we had. What has become the ‘New Normal’ of our home is not exactly what we had imagined it would be when we set out on this journey.  

And honestly, we really don’t like it very much!

Moms I talk to are riddled with guilt that they don’t especially like they way things are.  They miss the way it used to be and that doesn’t feel ‘right’. 
But we need to remember that change is a process.  

And the process can be REALLY hard!

Coming to terms with the ‘New Normal’ in your life isn’t a one-time event.  Unfortunately, you aren’t able to put it on your ‘to do’ list and then check it off as completed when you feel you are done.  
It would be so nice if you could!

So here are a few things that make the process of accepting our ‘New Normal’ a little more challenging

1. Family is our Magnum Opus---our Greatest Work.  It’s the best we can create in this world and says so much about US, what we believe, what we stand for…and it should!  God thinks an awful lot about family, so should we.
2. We may have thought that it would look a certain way and now (in so MANY ways) it doesn’t.  So we see our Great Work falling apart.

-If you can’t relate to any of this, feel free to stop reading now :)

3. The very nature of Adoption and Foster care is based on choice.  We ‘chose’ to do this (or did we???...more on that later), so we must have chose wrong.  Now we are just stuck with a broken piece of work that is making everyone we love miserable and we ‘just have to live with it’.  A very depressing and incredibly overwhelming thought!  

4. Maybe you are thinking that if you got yourself into this, you will just have to work REALLY hard to fix it all.  You will go to every therapist, doctor, school counselor, or do whatever it takes to find a solution.  Not all that is bad, it can be super helpful, but what is driving you?…guilt, fear, an overwhelming need to fix what is broken before it breaks your family, a need to get back what was lost?

Heres my point-

Did you forget that... 

God is the Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth, 
The Alpha and Omega, 
in Him there is NO MISTAKE?!!!  

He holds the picture of your family….NOT YOU!

You chose to adopt and were able to do it ONLY because HE ALLOWED IT.  
If you are here in this place, it is because this is where He wants you.  

What you see as “Broken”, He is going to use to fix YOU!

 That’s right…how tremendous!

Please don’t think that I am belittling your situation, the depth of your depression or the weight in your heart.  
I may not know exactly what is going on in your family, but I do know the One who created it.  And I have been in a similar place
, and still am.  
And if there is one thing to cling to it is this…that YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE GOD WANTS YOU!  
It may not be easy, and you may not like it much.  In fact, that may make you a little mad at God.  Feel free to rage at Him, He can take it.  But at the end of the day, please remember that He is doing a good work in YOU, because He loves you so very much.  
This is about you and your relationship with Him…and probably your attitude-lol
When we take our eyes off the way others are robbing our lives and look at what God is doing in us through them, it is the first step toward becoming ‘friends’ with our ‘New Normal’.
With love and hugs~