Happy 4th Birthday Sweet Boy

Dear Jayce,

What a miracle you are sweet boy! The Lord uses your birthday every year to remind me how incredibly blessed we are. He has brought us through so much the past 4 years.

I could not begin to even explain everything He has done for us these past 4 years. But, one major miracle is that no one can even tell you were born nearly 12 weeks early. The only evidence left is one long scar across your left ankle from an infiltrated IV. Even that ankle hasn’t needed surgery like the doctors anticipated. God is so good.

He also made the extra fluid between your brain and skull disappear after we had been told it would always be there. Our God is bigger than extra fluid. He is the great physician.

We praise His name for allowing us to celebrate you today. We had a blast at your PJ Masks party. Thankfully you had your brothers and sisters and grandparents to celebrate with.

It was so cute that you kept finding toys and things around the house to wrap for your daddy and me. You wanted to make sure we had presents just like you. You wanted us to feel special on your big day.

You are one of the sweetest boys I know. It melts my heart each time you say, “I love you so so much, Mommy.” And, I love to hear you pray at each and every meal.

I know you are going to do great things in this life. The Lord saved you and healed you for a reason. I can’t wait to see how He calls you to serve Him. We love you more than you could ever imagine. Stay sweet baby boy! Stay sweet.

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

Jayce’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 4

What is your favorite food? cupcakes and watermelon

What do you hope you never have to eat again? peas

What is your favorite thing to do? working on the barn with daddy

What is your favorite animal? monkey

What makes you happy? God

What is the best memory from when you were 3? playing and eating ice cream

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 4? play on my roller coaster

What would you like to be when you grow up? policeman

What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves Me

Where is your favorite place to eat? McDonalds

What is your favorite book? PJ Masks

Where would you like to go on vacation? Bald Head Island

What would you like the world to know? Jesus loves Jacob Stillwell and me.

Matthew 14:14 – And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

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Happy 14th Birthday to our Oldest!

Dear Jacob,

Fourteen! Really! You are really fourteen years old? It’s so hard to believe. So far, you have made the teenage years so easy. I’m so grateful.

I have loved watching you grow into a young man. It seems so strange to look up to you each day. You have surely outgrown your mama. But, that’s a good thing.

I love your passion for the Lord and listening to you sing in the teen choir at church. You are such a humble boy that loves learning more about the Lord each day. You have sacrificed so much for your younger brothers and sisters. Your patience and giving of your time doesn’t go unnoticed. I appreciate you taking the time to teach them and help them as they grow.

You don’t hesitate to bring them along as you explore different hobbies like collecting old bottles, digging for fossils, or metal detecting. They really look up to you. And, you sweet boy are a wonderful role model. Thanks for always being here for all of us. We love you to Pluto and back. Don’t ever lose sight of the things that really matter.

Love Always,

Mommy ❤

Jacob’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 14

What is your favorite food? Crab Legs

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Blue Cheese

What is your favorite thing to do? Search for old bottles

What is your favorite animal? Border Collie

What makes you happy? Finding old bottles

What is the best memory from when you were 13? Getting to adopt a brother

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 14? Find an arrowhead

What would you like to be when you grow up? Firefighter

What is your favorite song? When Love Broke Through by TobyMac

Where is your favorite place to eat? Red Lobster

What is your favorite book? The Adventures of Arty Anderson

Where would you like to go on vacation? Bald Head Island

What would you like the world to know? How to get saved

James 1:17 –Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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Happy 6th Birthday to Our Fiesty Little Girl

Dear Jayla,

This day six years ago, we welcomed you into our family. You were so perfect even if you became a NICU baby! You broke us in right from the beginning. You let your fiesty little attitude shine through from day one.

You are a tough one, sweet girl. And, we are so proud of how you stand up for what is right. We love that you have the desire to always go after what you set your mind to.

We know with God’s help, you are going to go far. You are not a quitter, and you capture everyone with your huge smile. You always have a song coming from your heart.

Don’t ever change your big personality. It really keeps us going. Thanks for loving all of us so well. We love you more than you could ever imagine!

Love Always,

Mommy

 

Jayla’s birthday interview:

How old are you? 6

What is your favorite food? Cake

What do you hope you never have to eat again? Green Beans

What is your favorite thing to do? I like to play with dolls.

What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

What makes you happy? Birthdays

What is the best memory from when you were 5? Gymnastics

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 6? Get a WellieWisher House

What would you like to be when you grow up? A doctor

What is your favorite song? What Can Wash Away My Sins

Where is your favorite place to eat? Chick-Fil-A

What is your favorite book? Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

Where would you like to go on vacation? Disney

What would you like the world to know? About Jesus Christ

Pslam 105:2 – Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

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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.

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Happy Birthday Little One

Today we celebrated your big number 1!

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Ephesians 4:2 –

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

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