Tired

-I’m tired from the fight.

-I’m tired from the constant battle.

-I’m tired from the reality of everyone else besides me having a hand in planning my family’s future.

-I’m tired from having to answer to many many different people on how to best parent these kids in my home.

-I’m tired from traumatized brains causing havoc every minute of every day. (It’s not the kids’ fault. We are glad they are here, and we love them very much. But the journey is so exhausting!)

-I’m tired from the many many therapy appointments, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, social worker visits, lawyer visits, school assignments, daily logs to fill out, etc. etc. etc.

-I’m tired from the decisions of the court.

-I’m tired from being asked to pretend like everything is perfect when in reality it’s not.

-I’m tired from having to keep my feelings to myself out of fear.

-I’m tired from the whole system.

But, it’s not just foster care. I am also tired from:

-watching dementia take my grandmother away

-watching people suffer so badly every day due to sickness- people who made a great difference in our community

-watching people drown in alcoholism

– watching drug addictions take people’s kids and lives away

Yes! I’m so tired, and many times, I feel like a ton of bricks are resting on my chest and no matter how hard I push they won’t lift off so I can breathe just a little.

-I’m tired of the frustration.

-I’m tired of those feelings of frustration making me feel like a failure because I say the wrong things and make the wrong decisions in a split second just because I’m completely worn out from the chaos that surrounds me. The chaos of a broken system.

-I’m tired of the tears that come from this deep sadness that permeates my body because I can’t change the system, or take someone’s suffering away, or find a cure for dementia, or help heal a traumatized child overnight, or make those people change who don’t want to or maybe don’t know how to.

I’m tired…

But God very very softly whispers, “I’m your strength. Get up, and I will fight your battle. You are enough. These kids need you no matter how tired you are. No matter how broken the system is. Let me fight for you and them. You do your part, and I’ll do mine. Every human makes mistakes. Learn from them and accept my forgiveness. Move on. Enjoy the moment before it is gone. I will work out every last detail for the best! You can’t fix the brokenness around you, but I can. Trust me! Read my Word! Pray to me often. Pray for those who need to be changed through my blood! Be still and know that I am God! Just Breathe! I created you for a purpose, and my love for you never changes!”

(Praising the Lord once again for His mercy, grace, and goodness. He is Able even when I am not.)

Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Difficulties in God’s Plans

Many days thoughts flood my mind constantly. Thoughts of: Did I choose this journey for myself or is this God’s complete will for my life?

I always find myself thinking:

Life is hard right now…

Life is difficult…

Life is a whirlwind of flight or fright syndrome…

Life is full of aggression on all sides…

Life is moving at a pace that is so difficult to keep up with…

Every single day, things happen that make me wonder how in the world I ended up where I am today.

Every day things get broken…

Every day there is so much chaos…

Every day it is difficult to find a quiet spot for 2 seconds at a time…

Every day there are meltdowns and tears…

Every day seems more difficult than the last…

Five kids ago, things were simple.

Things were a walk in the park…

I could scoop up the five kids I had and go anywhere… I mean anywhere I wanted to go… Why was I not content? Why did I ask for more? Was I being selfish?

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There were no MAJOR meltdowns…

There was no flight or fright syndrome present..

Yes! There was still frustration and normal toddler behaviors….

Yes! I still got upset sometimes at what I now know were SMALL, MINOR, EASY to handle transgressions…

That! That frustration I felt back then makes me feel horrible now. If I only knew what was coming just a few short years later, I would have been different! I would have not complained ONE. SINGLE. DAY! Those days that seemed so difficult at the time were so EASY!

I long for those days at times. Those oh so EASY days. Even the NICU days and almost losing my life days seem simple compared to what I am walking through now.

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Both NICU journeys seemed like the most DIFFICULT trials to overcome. Both times, I thought there would not ever be anything as difficult to go through! Oh my! How wrong I was!

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Not long after the NICU struggle was over, the foster care journey came along with a Crohn’s/Colitis raging battle! Man, life became REALLY tough all of a sudden. YES! Almost 3 years later, life continues to be TOUGH.

BUT! God has prepared me for this journey! He gave me the NICU days, pregnancy complications, and nearly losing my life days to make me strong enough to fight this battle I am in ONLY through His strength.

Usually what seems like our toughest battles are minor compared to what is coming next. What God has just around the corner…

Yes! Life is DIFFICULT in our own STRENGTH. When we take our eyes off of Him, it becomes unbearable! When we question if things are His will or not, we begin sinking. But, He walked on water! He can hold us up no matter how COMPLICATED things seem!

Yes! Life is throwing some STRONG punches right now. But, God’s ALL knowing power and love shines through every day.

He whispers:

This is my WILL!

This is what I have for you.

I have prepared you to parent not 1, 2, 3, 4, but FIVE children with attachment issues who have suffered great abuse and neglect in their lives. You can parent these children whose brains have developed differently because they had to FIGHT to stay ALIVE every single day of their lives!

God whispers:

I will take care of you and your 5 biological children plus the other 5 I have BLESSED you with. I love ALL of you!

Despite the

  • flight or fright
  • aggression
  • fits followed by deep sadness
  • melt downs
  • ungrateful hearts
  • NO stranger anxiety
  • NO attachment except to themselves
  • And the list could go on and on…

He shows me every day that He is God and NO matter what, each day is BEAUTIFUL!

I just have to look past the DIFFICULTIES, so I can see His beauty!

He shows me beauty through…

-hurting children asking Jesus into their hearts

-prayers those same children learn to whisper

-all the kids singing worship songs instead of fighting in the van

-two of them holding hands and playing well together for at least 10 minutes

-a rare day of fun and quietness at the park

-the giggles that happen oh so rarely and the few and far between hugs and kisses (We learn to cherish each and every single giggle, hug, and kiss!)

-and THIS list could go on and on…

There is BEAUTY in the ASHES!

We just have to be willing to focus on the beauty instead of the CHAOS that surrounds us. We have to learn to breathe and stay CALM no matter what!

What most would call absolute CHAOS, God has chosen for us to call our FAMILY.

YES! The days are DIFFICULT, but they are also BEAUTIFUL! And, for that, I am grateful. God is so good and merciful to us! He is ABLE!

Isaiah 61:3 – To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

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Happy 9th Birthday to One Awesome Boy!

Dear James,

Happy 9th birthday sweet boy! You are growing up too fast. The past 9 years have flown by, but they have been great years because you have been a part of them.

I always know I can depend on you to give me a hug every single day. You tell me you love me just as often. I am so grateful. You make my days so much brighter. There are so many things that I love about you.

I love that you still like building with legos. I couldn’t ever create the things you come up with. You are so smart! I know the trip we took to Legoland Beach Resort and Legoland Theme Park were a dream come true for you!

I love that you want to learn more and more about nature. You have taught me so much about God’s creation. You have made me smarter!

I love that you take everything literally, and you want to make the right decisions just because it is what you are supposed to do.

I love that you want to make all the babies laugh. It shows that you have so much love for them. I love that you think of others and buy your brothers and sisters presents any time you earn money. You are always trying to make others happy. You don’t like for anyone to feel left out.

But, most importantly, I love you just because you are you. You blew me away not so long ago when you told me that God saved your life the day you were born because He has a special plan for you. Having that figured out at such a young age is awesome, buddy! I can’t wait to see all the great things He has in store for you. Don’t ever change! Stay just the way you are. There is one thing I know for sure, no matter where God takes you, you will always be my Baby James. Happy 9th Birthday one more time!

Love Always,

Mommy 💚

James’s Birthday Interview:

How old are you? 9

What is your favorite food? pizza

What do you hope you never have to eat again? brussel sprouts

What is your favorite thing to do? play with legos

What is your favorite animal? every animal

What makes you happy? Mommy

What is the best memory from when you were 8? going to Florida

What is one thing you’d like to do while you are 9? fish

What would you like to be when you grow up? lego creator

What is your favorite song? any Christian song

Where is your favorite place to eat? Mexican

What is your favorite book? lego books

Where would you like to go on vacation? Florida

What would you like the world to know? everyone needs to go to church

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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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