Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Christmas snapshots

 Christmas Eve in festive downtown Poulsbo

 Our oldest daughter and her future husband-yeah!!!

 Cant even tell he was grease from head to toe an hour before
but he got his car running again, so he's all smiles :)

 Big brother Ashy is such a comfort to us all!

 Daddy hammin' it up for the kids..guess he likes his new towel!

 So good to have Sarah home for the holidays-she always makes us laugh!

Good Morning :)

Love these early mornings alone. Everyone else in the house is still sleeping and I can take the time to gather my thoughts.  These moments are rare, especially when the kids have school, but I treasure them. 
With my warm cup of coffee in hand and my ever-faithful pup draping her head across my lap. I allow the fullness of the life that God has given me to fill my heart. 

It's been such a long time since I have posted, it's hard to know where to start filling you in on our struggles and triumphs. 
I guess it would be best to start with letting you know that our Little Miss Abby is home again. The program was very good for her and a life saver for us. We are very proud of the hard work she put into learning how to control her emotions. It required a lot from all of us, we all grew by leaps and bounds. 
Forgiving and allowing God to heal our hearts is more difficult than I had ever imagined. We still have a long way to go, but we are moving forward now where'd before we were slipping backward. 

She is a "senior" this year but will not be able to live independently for many years, if ever. It's a daily challenge to not allow myself to worry about what the future will look like. When I think about all the things that God has brought us through so far, I'm ashamed that I would doubt Him now. 

This is random but I watched my all time favorite movie "Harvey" with Jimmy Stewart the other day. Love this line where Elwood P. Doud says,
"My mother always told me, 'Elwood, in this world you must either be very,very smart or ever so pleasant'. For years I was smart, I recommend pleasant!" 

Blessings to you, friend. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Change is in the air!

   David left yesterday for a business trip and won't be back until late Thursday night.  Although I will miss him terribly, the thought of him going isn't nearly as overwhelming these days.

In the past, we could pretty much count on the fact that there would be some sort of "event" when he was away.
For the safety of everyone, we had decided to never have Miss A home when David was out of town. You can read more about it HERE  The difficulty was finding somewhere for her to go, since he travels fairly frequently.

What a difference it made knowing that she was somewhere safe and we could look forward to a somewhat 'normal' week.
I slept like a baby.  In the past, I have laid awake most of the night on alert for what might happen.  My hands would be shaky every moment of every day that he was away.  But when he'd call to check on us, I would try my hardest to pretend that I was relaxed and happy.  I couldn't bear to let him know how I suffered!  His job is challenging enough without having the added stress of wondering if your family was safe.

At 2:00 I cheerfully dropped him off at the ferry and drove home without a care.  In fact, I had a lovely phone conversation with Miss A on the way home!

She sounds great!  Missing us of course, but not distraught.  Miss S talked to her too and noticed how much more 'grown up' she sounded.  I agree.  She seems to be processing things in a much more mature way.  I'm very proud of her and miss her so much, despite the past.  We talked about how this whole thing is going to be very good for all of us-I really believe that!

I even took time to sew a new purse!

Before he left...
We broke the news to the kids that we would be implementing the new points/rewards system for behavior that the MTFC program (that Miss A is in) requires.  The program director would like us to have the same system they use in her foster family in place when she comes home for visitation.  Although the kids hate the thought, David and I are pretty excited about it.  

David answering questions about the "new program"

Points/ reward systems are not usually very effective for kids with attachment issues, which most kids who are adopted have to some degree.  It becomes one more thing that they use to control and manipulate you, therefore, I don't usually advocate using them.  But as this is required for the program, and as it has been designed for VERY challenging children, I am looking forward to giving it a try.

Here is a very basic outline of what is required at the first of three "levels".  I will introduce you to the other two levels as soon as the program director gives us that information.

Points                     things required to earn points                                                                                             

5                            up on time

15                          ready for the day-brush teeth, 
                              clean clothes, eat breakfast

15                          morning clean up-make bed, 
                              clothes away, room neat,
                               personal items put away

10                          pass inspection- 
                              backpack, pockets, room check

15                          homework done, 
                              read and study time

10                          chore

15                         ** school card
                             (teacher signature and performance)

15                          attitude/maturity-
                                respectful problem solving,
                                accepting 'no', follow directions -A.M.

15                          attitude/maturity--P.M.

10                          shower/bedtime

5                            medication-taken nicely

0-5 bonus               caught doing something good

** School card signed by each teacher stating if they had all homework done, behavior was good, tardy or not, etc.  We will only do this for classes they have below a C

***  They must earn at least 100 points each day in order to "spend" points for privileges the next day

Privilege                  Description          Point cost   

Basics                   Radio/tv in room,       40
                             9pm bedtime   
Later bedtime        Later bedtime
                              on non-school days    15

phone calls             to approved
                              list of friends         15 for 20 min

other                      computer time, 
                                stereo,                     20 for 30 min
                              etc with approval   
tv                           after chores 
                              and homework             20

points bank            save extra points
                             for special privileges  
                              cost negotiated
 additional ideas
(what motivates you?)

Shots from a Sunny Sunday :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

What Happens When Women Pray

Have you ever opened your eyes and wondered how you ever got to this place in your life?  
Its not where you meant to be or ever dreamed of being, but here you are, none-the-less.

Its like the curtains suddenly parted in my world and I'm standing on an unfamiliar stage, wondering how I got here.  I don't like the looks of things from here.  My spiritual life is not where it should be, it doesn't seem like the kids are seeking the Lord, all of our attitudes could use severe get the picture.  Looking behind me, I can see the slow decline that led to this place.  As if we were sinking in quick sand, never realizing what was happening.  

Its unfair to blame it all on Miss A, but all of life has centered on one thing, getting her well, and now its time to shake everyone out of their coma's and into reality!

I'm excited, I love a good project!!  

Not only will we have to implement the new behavior chart from Miss A's program into our parenting strategy for everyone, but we need to gird up our spiritual scaffolding as well.

Yesterday I was browsing our bookshelves for something to read that might inspire me.  I have a knack for collecting books, but don't have a lot of time to read.  There will be no time to rest in 'retirement' because I have such a long list of project to do and books to read!  

Anyway, when my grandparents moved out of their house about 8 years ago, I took home a few books that looked interesting.  They have turned out to be some of the best books I've ever read!  The one I chose yesterday is called, "What Happens When Women Pray"  by Evelyn Christenson. 

Its a short book written in the late '60's, an easy read, but very inspiring!
I'm already almost finished.

The author talks about how they taught thousands of women all around the nation to pray more effectively.  Through their effective prayers, they saw lives changed, families healed and churches prosper.  

David and I have seen how the effectual prayers of a few, especially his ever- faithful Mom, have made such a difference in our lives.  

It seems to me, that women all over the globe are struggling and striving to keep their heads above water in this extremely complicated world.  We are trying to swim while keeping our husbands, children, house, work, homeschool.. or whatever it may be, afloat.

We are pulled in every direction and the more we struggle to keep things together, the more they seem to sink.  

Maybe, we have it all backwards?

This book has really got me thinking that I need to simply get back to the basics of prayer.  Slowing down, bringing things to God FIRST, settling my heart, allowing Him to change my perspective before plowing forward- and so on.

But honestly,

I need help.

I was wondering if anyone would be interested in joining me in an accountability group for women on prayer?
My thought is to follow the simple guidelines/ suggestions laid out in the book to establish an online prayer support group.  
Let me know what you think...I will post the simple guidelines she lays out in the book later.

Pray about it!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making Progress-our first day in family therapy

Monday was our first day of family therapy for the MTFC program that Miss A is in.

Despite my struggle to deal with the anger that had been brewing in me for so long, I found myself saying a lot of really nice things about my daughter!
It kind of took me by surprise-in a good way :)

It reminded me that even though we have gone through some incredibly difficult things with her, she is still my daughter and I do really, really love her.
And maybe most importantly, I have not lost hope for her or our relationship.

The folks in the program continue to impress David and I with their compassion and understanding. 

Within the adoption realm there are a lot of families who are frustrated with therapists that don't 'get it'.  They fail to understand the complex issues surrounding children with trauma and attachment issues.  Therapists are hypnotized by a child's outward charms into the belief that all problems stem from a lack of proper parenting. The message that parents receive is that the issues they are dealing with originate from not doing enough to 'honor the child's culture' or 'understanding their pain'.  Unfortunately, the child hears this too and is armed with even more ammunition against his family.

We felt like we were going to face a firing squad when we left that morning.  But nothing could be farther from the truth!  Although the therapist was clearly empathic towards Miss A and all that she has gone through that has led to this place, she did not blame us or point a finger of correction at us in any way.

She seemed to recognize that we are doing our best and that we want nothing more than to see her find a sense of hope again.

We are suppose to implement at home a points/reward system that they use.  That way, when she comes home for visits and when she gets home, there wont be any confusing gaps or changes.  The program that they use will just flow over into our lives, too.
I have to admit that I'm a little skeptical.
Order, repetition and consistency are not my forte.
Also, what we do with one child, we will have to do with everyone, which makes the idea even more overwhelming.

But, I'm game.
Who knows, maybe it will be just the ticket for everyone-?

Sweet, Sweet Promises

Isaiah 43:1-7

But now, thus says the
your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name;
You are MINE!
When you pass through 
the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers,
they will not overflow you,
When you walk through the fire, you will 
not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, 
Your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and 
I love you,
I will give other men in your place
and other peoples in exchange 
for you life,
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 
'Give them up!'
And to the south, 
'Do not hold them back'
Bring My sons from afar,
and My daughters from the 
ends of the earth.
Everyone who is called by My name,
and whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Wonderful Resurrection Sunday!!!

 Never too old for an egg hunt...but the competition is fierce!

 Our beautiful niece :)

 Its serious business when some of the eggs have money!!!

 Feelin' pretty good about his stash

 Hmmm...should I keep looking or call it a day?

 Not sure what happened here :-P

 We were blessed to have our nephew and his wife "The Chefs Extraordinaire" 
they prepared a French style rack of lamb with Apple and Endive salad 
as an appetizer-Yyuuummm!!!

 5 star restaurant style

 The chef and my sister


 My two sisters playing Just Dance on the Wii
don't you just love the aprons!

 The hungry gang!

Good times :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Much Deeper Forgiveness

At the risk of stating the obvious, Gods timing is so perfect its almost comical!

Miss A has been in the program for a week now.  Each day she has been away I discover new feeling sprouting from my heart like buds on the Maple trees outside my window, but much less pleasant to witness!  Out of the core of me is coming such a rush of anger and bitterness, its taking me by surprise.  I had no idea how much animosity had been stored up over the years toward my own dear daughter.  It hurts to admit it.

Witnessing our other children bask in the peace and quiet that comes in her absence, makes me realize how much of a hold she had on everyone.  She controlled every aspect of our lives.  Each day, I woke with the dread of waking her not knowing if she would be in a decent mood or a bad one.  If it was bad, our whole day would be a nightmare!  The other kids would walk on egg shells all day for fear of arousing her wrath and go to bed at night afraid of what she might do to them in their sleep.  All of this became the marshland that I navigated each day.  No time to stop and consider or raise my eyes from the path, lest I stray into danger.  "Keep to the path, don't lose focus" was the chant inside my head that my feet beat the path to.
Now in relative peace, comes the reality of where we have been and the rush of emotions we held tight in our chest until in safety we dare to look at them.

Thank you Lord for the reminder that now is the time to forgive!

Over the years, my thoughts and energies were fixed on the work at hand.  I was careful to establish my heart in the fact that she was hurt and it was my job to minister to her needs.  Pouring every ounce I could muster into loving her the best way possible, day in and day out.

When the Psychologist suggested that much of what she does is for attention, that she really does understand what is going on and that she is quite possibly not psychotic as we had been led to believe, something broke, and I think it was my heart.
There's no doubt in my mind that the motivation for her behavior is pain and trauma.  That she doesn't 'mean' to do it, but to hear that she continues to hurt, lie and abuse for personal gain...well, frankly, that is so distressing it makes me angry!

BUT, being the season of the greatest example of forgiveness given by our Lord Jesus Christ, there is hope yet for me :)

I long for a restored relationship with Miss A.  I hunger for a deeper relationship with Christ.  Therefore, I WILL forgive her!  Its not my favorite thing to do.  Hurt and anger are familiar friends whose company comforts me.  Difficult to admit, but true.  They whisper to me that forgiving leaves me powerless, that only in holding onto hurt can we really make the other person SUFFER!              LIES!!!!!

To hold onto hurt only rots my own heart and gives power to the enemy!

My prayer is now-

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxious (evil) thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.

So, Gods timing is perfect in that He should expose the depth of my unforgiveness in this season.  The same time of year 7 years ago, that He asked me to "walk to the cross" for a hurting little girl and her brother, in the same way He walked to the cross for me (knowing FULLY what I am, a sinful wretch).  To lay down my life for her as He laid down His for me.  Yep, 7 years ago those were the words that came in confirmation to adopt Miss A and Mr B!  And today He asks me to go much deeper in forgiveness!