Dementia: You are not my Friend

I do not like you. You are not my friend. You are not welcome here. I would rather you take a hike. But, I know that’s not going to happen. You aren’t leaving. You are here to stay.

You have robbed me of so much. Not just me, but my whole family. You have taken away every memory she made, every thought she just had, and every memory that she still has to make.

She doesn’t know me. She recognizes my face. But, she doesn’t know who I am. She doesn’t know my children.

She doesn’t remember the day I was born.

She doesn’t remember all the times she picked me up from school and cooked me homemade meals.

She has forgotten all the Easters and coloring Easter eggs. It was her favorite holiday, I believe. She enjoyed getting out the special tablecloth and all the supplies. The room would always fill with excitement each year as all of us grandchildren and great-grandchildren made special designs.

She has no idea where she used to live or how we would play on the swings or in the woods for hours. She doesn’t remember the mailbox flowers.

She has no recollection of all the beach vacations. A time of rest and relaxation that she loved more than anything. It was the one chance each year when we all could let go and just have fun being together.

She has no idea that I got married and she asks how I ended up with all these children. She doesn’t recall the excitement as each addition happened.

She’s just so confused. She’s confused all the time. She’s upset. She’s crying. At times, she wants me to stay and begs me to take her with me. She bangs on the hidden exit door. Where does she want to go? She doesn’t know. She would go anywhere but where she is at the moment. Or, she wants me to leave the minute I get there. She’s agitated and just wants to be left alone. There aren’t many happy moments anymore. Thanks dementia. Thanks a lot!

Dementia – I will not let you win. I will not ask God why. I refuse to let the suffocation of fear overtake me as I wonder if I will be just like her one day. Will I remember all the memories I am making with my children or future grandchildren? Will they all be in vain?

Dementia – Despite how difficult you make each day and the tremendous loss that you make me feel, you are helping my children and me learn how to love without the thought of return. You are showing us that each day matters.

Sometimes, I wish I would have done things differently before things got so bad. I should have went to visit more often. Eventhough you, Dementia, were making things unbearable. I now realize that wasn’t an excuse.

You aren’t an excuse to push her aside or make the wrong choices just because you make things so hard. So today, I choose to make the best of what you have left me with. I choose to love my grandmother no matter how sad you make me, or no matter how much you make me want to hide and scream. I choose to love and show others how to love through such a horrible disease.

So, take that dementia! She might not remember all the memories we shared, but I do. And, I will focus on the good ones. The ones built out of love.

And, even though you have taken my grandmother and made her into someone completely different, we still have a lot of memories to make. Memories to make from the true definition of love. You will not win this battle. God’s got this, and He will carry all of us through. He knows her needs and ours. We will praise Him in the storm of this uphill battle.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Posted in dementia, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Little One

Today we celebrated your big number 1!

 

20180318_144314

Although our days with you haven’t been many, our love for you has grown with each morning light.

Your smile is so contiguous and your eyes sparkle with delight!

20180318_150826

We trust that God is working out what is best because we know His ways are always right.

We are thankful that He’s allowing us to watch you each day and night.

Happy 1st Birthday one last time. I pray we will always be able to keep God’s Word in your sight.

20180310_101358

We will love you forever sweet chubby cheeks!!

Proverbs 3:5-6- Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Posted in foster care, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Leave a comment

Why?

Why? Why do I continue to subject myself and my family to the uneasiness, uncertainty, and the heartache that comes along with being a family who cares for innocent children in foster care?

I don’t enjoy all the feelings and emotions that come with the un words. Those words don’t make me feel all fuzzy inside. They downright make me feel UN-happy a lot of the time. Thankfully my joy comes from the creator, but fostering can be down right difficult leaving me asking Why? so many times.

Why do I keep having a desire to help children in need when our system is so broken? Why do I have a desire that hurts so badly and seems so wrong much of the time? The desire to help children whose parents are addicted often brings a big mess of chaos to my life, my husband’s life, and my children’s lives. We all get hurt physically and mentally at times. It would be so much easier to just say no. It would be so much easier to say, “Sorry, we can’t care for these children with life long disabilities due to neglect and abuse.” But, we don’t say no. Not all the time. Sometimes a placement isn’t a right fit, which brings a whole new world of hurt. But, we say yes when the Lord leads us because of the children: the deeply, hurting innocent children who are born into sinful brokenness.

We all must realize sinful addictive behaviors can’t be mended overnight. Yes, we all sin. I hate sin. I hate my sin. As Christians, we should hate sin and feel great conviction when we do sin. But, there is a problem bigger than all of us when habitual offenders don’t see their darkness and have mistaken their sinful habits for light. Have we hid our light from them? Do we reward their darkness and call it light?

Life gets difficult for all those around when we don’t call sin what it is. I’m not judging. Please know I’m not. My heart breaks for those who can’t see the light because I know how freeing the Light of this World is! He freed me from the darkness that this world offers. And, as long as we are willing to share Him, He can free those around us in deep dark sin, too. The burden of addiction is not too great for our God. We have to do our part. We have to tell others about the great I Am!

We can blame a broken down system time and time again, but the brokenness these children are born into starts at home. We as followers of Jesus Christ have to step up and get the Word out to those crippled by addiction. This horrible cycle of babies being born addicted and suffering awful withdrawal symptoms has to stop. These families need to be raising their children. That is God’s perfect plan.The abuse and neglect has to be stopped by the light.

But it never will be until we step up and spread the Good News across this nation. If you don’t think America is in trouble, read Facebook comments on anything pertaining to Christianity, politics, or a simple faith based television show. I have to click off of those posts. The comments are down right disgusting, and they mostly have no regard to the feelings of others whatsoever. So many people these days are so against Jesus Christ, and they aren’t ashamed to let the world know from behind their screens.

We live in a day where technology has taken over and given too many people a voice. Too many people want to be heard. It’s a sad time we live in. What is going to cause a change? What is going to change the hate, the children being abused, the drug addictions, the violence? What can mend a broken system?

The church. Jesus Christ. The gospel. The good news. Christians doing the job that the Lord gave them. I admit I have failed miserably at sharing Christ with others. I want to get upset instead of show love. My fleshly desires are not pretty. But, no matter how much we all fail, Jesus Christ is the only way to see a change in this world. We have to stop making excuses. People are dying and going to Hell every day. People are killing others and themselves because we aren’t being the missionaries God has asked us to be.

Babies are going to be born addicted, moms and dads are going to take those babies home and abuse and neglect them while looking for their next high, the local department of social services is going to remove children from their first families after the damage has been done, foster families are going to continue to feel hurt, abandonment, and sadness because of broken families and a broken system all while falling in love with suffering children that very possibly could be moved at any given time until we say enough is enough. Nothing will be different until we decide to be the change the world needs by sharing Jesus Christ with those who are hurting the most. We can’t expect darkness to change unless we share the light.

Foster families put our hearts on our sleeves knowing they will be shattered. It is just what we are expected to do. It will never get easier. Not until we stand up and move forward by letting the world know that Jesus is the answer! We have to stop letting fear and worry control us. We can do this together. We can fight the evil in this world with the Light. Let’s band together and be the change all these children and families need in this broken world. Let’s say yes to children in need. Let’s be loving and kind to their families. Let’s not be afraid to show them what true victory in Christ looks like. He loves us all the same, and He has a desire for His children to walk in truth. We have to have that same desire! We have to let Him be the change so many desperately need.

20180220_062830

John 8:12 – Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Posted in foster care, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 Reasons Not to Become a Foster Parent

Being a foster parent isn’t easy. It’s actually one of the most difficult tasks the Lord has ever called me to. So, today, I am going to list the top 5 reasons why you should not consider becoming a foster parent.

Do NOT become a foster parent:

1) If communicable diseases and lice scare you – (Due to the drug epidemic in our country, it is highly likely that the children placed in your home will have been exposed to communicable diseases such as hepatitus, TB, MRSA, etc.)

2) If changing your parenting style to meet the needs of children who have experienced trauma isn’t on your radar (Children who have experienced abuse and neglect and have been exposed to drugs and alcohol have different needs than typically developing children who have lived in a loving home their whole lives.)

3) If the idea of sacrificing time from your schedule to take the children to parental visits, weekly therapy and doctor appointments, court dates, family partnership meetings, etc. doesn’t seem fun and if uncertain timetables seem daunting (When you say yes to a child in foster care, you never know how long he or she will stay. It could be a few days, a few years, or forever.)

4) If taking hot bubble baths with candles lit and a book in hand while you sip hot chocolate is your idea of the perfect way to unwind each night. (Give it up. It ain’t going to happen.)

5) If you enjoy getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night (Nope! Don’t even count on it. Children who have experienced trauma Do Not Sleep Well! They have night terrors. Who can blame them?)

Okay! There’s my list. But, I’m not finished. I won’t leave you hanging. Here it goes.

The Top 5 Reasons Why YOU Should Become a Foster Parent 

Do BECOME a foster parent if:

1) You trust God to protect your family from communicable diseases (He will! What time I’m afraid, I will trust in thee. Psalm 56:3)

2) You trust God to give you strength and equip you with the ability to parent a child who has experienced trauma, abuse, and neglect (Don’t get caught up in a power struggle. Do what works for each child. They need love and secruity! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13)

3) You trust God to plan out your days and understand that His timing and plans are perfect (God will take care of the anxiousness that comes with daunting appointments and uncertain time tables. Jesus might just use you to show hope to a broken family! Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6) 

4) You understand that taking a quick shower will get you just as clean as a long bubble bath and missing a shower every once in awhile hasn’t ever hurt anyone. (Think of the new mom syndrome! You will enjoy nice long bubble baths when your kids are grown. You have something to look forward to! Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and he shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:28-29)

5) You realize you can live off of a limited amount of sleep (It can be done! Sleep is overrated. These children probably haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep since their birth. They deserve to feel safe. Their sleep patterns do get better the longer they are in your home. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Proverbs 3:24)

There you have it! The good far outweighs any bad that might be imagined. Remember these children are not monsters! They need a chance at life. There are no bad children! They didn’t ask to be handed the life thrown at them. None of the things they have experienced is their fault.

If the Lord is calling you to help children in need, consider becoming a foster parent. There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Will you make a difference in a child’s life?

These children need hope. And, that hope comes from Jesus Christ. Don’t be afraid. Just do it! You will fail. You will feel helpless and worthless. You WILL want to quit and give up. But, God will get you through. Don’t take your eyes off of Him! Be the change these children need. The sacrifices are worth it. Your life will be changed for the better. The best things in life come from true sacrifice and trusting the Lord! Step out on faith.

A restless generation
We’re turning over every stone
Hoping to find salvation
In a world that’s left us cold
Can we get back to the altar?
Back to the arms of our first love
There’s only one way to the Father
And He’s calling out to us
To the captive, it looks like freedom
To the orphan, it feels like home
To the skeptic, it might sound crazy
To believe in a God who loves
In a world, where our hearts are breaking
And we’re lost in the mess we’ve made
Like a blinding light, in the dead of night
It’s the Gospel
The Gospel that makes a way
It’s the Gospel that makes a way
By: Ryan Stevenson

20180214_053031

Ephesians 4:2 –

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

Posted in foster care, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An Adoption Party with Lilo and Stitch

AJ loves Stitch. So, when we decided to go to Disney during his “gotcha” week, I knew we had to schedule an adoption party with Lilo and Stitch at Ohana. Mickey Mouse and Pluto joined us, too. We are thankful that some special friends helped make this celebration possible!

 

20180203_10350020180203_105529.jpg

 

 

AJ has been with our family for 2 years now! It’s about time we got to celebrate!! If you know our family well or have read some of the other posts on this blog, you already know that we didn’t officially adopt AJ until this past October (2017). He lived with us, and we fell in love with him for 21 months before his adoption was final. But, January 27th was the two year anniversary of him being delivered to our home. It can all be a little confusing.

 

 

If anyone deserves to have his life celebrated, it is our sweet boy. He has the cutest little personality. And, what better place to celebrate than the happiest place on Earth at Ohana?

 

20180203_105821Ohana means family. And family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. We love AJ being a part of our family. He is our precious son and a wonderful brother to his siblings. There would never be enough words to describe how much love we all have for him.

20180203_105131

20180203_102012Adopting him into our family changed our lives for the better. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to hold back the tears when I think about what a gift he is from God.

20180203_103406

20180203_103320If your family has been praying about adopting, and you feel God leading you down that path, do it. Your relationship with the Lord will only become stronger because of it. The entire process, especially the uncertainties and waiting, isn’t always easy, but some of the best things in life aren’t easy. God doesn’t ask us to do easy things for Him. He asks us to get out of our comfort zone and have faith that we can do what He asks us to do. If he hasn’t called your family to adopt, maybe he is asking you to help a family who is by praying for them or helping them financially. I know any family who is adopting would be grateful.

20180203_103010Our family would love to be given the opportunity to add more children through adoption one day. We are praying about a special request right now. And, we were also asked to take in two children from foster care this past Thursday. That would have made 6 boys and 2 girls for us. But, since we were on vacation and couldn’t pick the children up that night, it didn’t work out.

But, whether our special prayer request works out (Please pray with us. It is actually a pretty big deal that can bring anxiousness the more we dwell on it. I wish I could share, but I can’t right now.) Or, whether the Lord sends us another child(ren) through foster care or strictly through adoption is all in His hands. And, if He doesn’t have another child for us, we trust Him. He is the only one who knows what’s best. For the moment, we are enjoying officially being a family of 8.

20180203_103807

James 1:27 – Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

 

Posted in adoption, AJ, foster care, Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We weren’t planning on visiting a park on a Saturday, but the two little boys getting sick on Monday night changed our plans a little. All of the parks are crazy busy on the weekends. But, with all of our fast passes, we still managed to have an enjoyable day at Animal Kingdom. (If you are planning a visit, make sure you get your fast passes secure way in advance or you won’t be getting any. They get taken quickly).

11986

20180203_122421

wdw2018034927637790_408513452523_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018034927637706_408513452530_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

We headed to the Lion King show first. It was an interactive show in Africa. We all really liked it. Jaden and Jayla got to participate in the show.

20180203_133004

20180203_132723(0)

Next, a few of us watched It’s Tough to be a Bug. It’s a cute 4-D film, but it isn’t for all children. It has a few scary parts. Jayla is 5 and did pretty well, but the little boys and even James who is 8 wouldn’t have liked it. We had to make a decision based on each child’s personality.

20180203_142009

20180203_142015

11984

After the film, the older kids, Jamie, Ken, and I headed to Avatar Flight of Passage. It is an awesome ride. If you ever have the chance, ride it. It was even a little better than Soarin at Epcot. And, Soarin was one of our favorites. Get a fast pass though because the line can be over a 3 hour wait!!

20180203_160328

While the older kids rode Thunder Mountain, I took the smaller ones to see all the different animals on the paths throughout the park.

wdw2018034927674742_8170288170_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

James was especially interested in seeing the animals. He has always loved learning about the animals all over the world. He told me that if he wants to see every animal in the whole world then he will actually have to visit each country because he knows they can’t put every single animal in a zoo. Sounds like he has a lot of traveling to do one day.

20180203_164802

20180203_145052

We all rode Na’vi River Journey together. It was a pretty neat ride, but I wouldn’t suggest standing in a really long line for it. (Get a fast pass if you can because it isn’t really worth wasting two hours in line. We had fast passes, so we got right on.)

Next, the kids headed to DinoLand U.S.A. They were able to ride all of the rides in that area before heading to the Safari. James was not thrilled about riding Dinosaur, but he toughed it out. He did hide his face the entire time, but I was proud of him for trying. It is pretty intense especially for kids who are frightened easily. Jayla was fine, but as I said before, she has a high tolerance for things. She is my most outgoing child for sure.

wdw2018034927798689_8170369051_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

By the time we finished with DinoLand, it was after dark, and it was nearing closing time. We rushed to the Safari and got in our jeep just in time. The Safari focuses on the wild animals of Africa. We were able to see hyenas, elephants, giraffes, lions, and several other animals. Of course it was dark, so we couldn’t see really well, but we are glad we took the time to do it. We couldn’t get our times worked out to take the ride before dark, but if we ever get to visit again, we will be getting a fast pass earlier in the day if at all possible.

We ended our day at Rainforest Cafe on Animal Kingdom property. Most of the kids fell asleep while they were eating. Literally! We were all so tired. But, like I mentioned earlier, we had a great day together.

(You almost need two days to do everything in this park unless you arrive at opening. We arrived around 11:30, and we were exhausted by closing at 8. So, I don’t know if we would have made it from opening to closing with all the kids. The walking back and forth from each land even made the older kids tired. Keep in mind this was our last park on this trip, and if you do Legoland and all 4 Disney parks in a row, you are going to be tired by the last day. The tiredness was worth it though! We made a lot of memories that I know the kids will remember for a long time.)

11985

wdw2018034927637704_408513452525_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-regGenesis 1:31 – And God saw everything that he made, and, behold, it was very good.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Day at Epcot

We visited Epcot on Friday. The older kids took turns exploring the park with Jamie and their Neannie and Pawpaw for most of the day. The smaller kids and I joined them for the afternoon. We were too exhausted from Magic Kingdom to get out early.

wdw2018033926684528_408480242724_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018033926641694_8169582128_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018032925861140_8169113993_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

Although Epcot doesn’t have a lot for younger children, and our little ones slept through most of it, I’m glad we went. We enjoyed all the rides and going to all the different countries.

 

Jaden had been looking forward to Epcot since she learned that we were going to Disney. She wanted her picture taken in each country. The teacher in me thinks it is a great place to take your school age children. There are a lot of cultures to learn about.

 

If you get to the different countries early enough in the day, you can see a lot of the  princesses. We missed most of them.  But, we did see Sleeping Beauty and Elsa and Anna.

wdw2018034927076391_408492600623_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018034927076388_408492600621_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018034927107018_408494194461_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018034927107023_408494194466_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018034927106323_408494063620_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg

wdw2018034927106321_408494063618_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-regThe Soarin and Frozen rides are two of the best rides in all of the Disney World Parks. Snag those fast passes early for both of them. You won’t regret it! Jacob and Jaden probably rode Soarin at least 3 times. We would have ridden Frozen again if we had had time.

 

wdw2018034927098762_8169877943_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-reg.jpegEpcot is the park to go to if you are tired or just need a break. If you only have small children, you won’t need a full day in Epcot, but the older kids and adults could easily spend an entire day or two there. We are all looking forward to visiting it again soon.

20180202_211611

20180202_210954

Galatians 3:26 – For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Posted in Let's Reminisce and Reflect! | Tagged , | Leave a comment