little

Over the Summer we added two pets to the family. A husky pup because someone had a big birthday and asked at just the right time. And an accidental kitten. Hubby has always wanted puppies or kittens. I have always fought them off because we had babies or little kids and puppies and kittens chew and scratch and bite and do not yet know that they should not. So I’ve managed to dodge hundreds of wee animals in the name of familial safety.

It was however, on a milestone birthday when husband spotted some cute puppies for sale. He sent pictures. Then called. I said no and after we hung up I texted go ahead and then called him to make sure he knew. It was his birthday for goodness sake. He is awesome and he has always wanted a puppy so- yes. The brown one. but he liked the white one who he could name ghost, you know because of Jon Snow. I laughed and then completely caved.

The next week I’m taking wee ghost for his shots- there are kittens in the front waiting area, in cages adorable and frolicking. I’m not tempted. Not in the least. But our youngest kiddo and I are waiting for more than 40 minutes and the cuteness was just too much. That day we came home with Benjamin the cat. He is a mess! He plays and bites. Chews and scurries and darts through the house like an armed missile. But I do love him so maybe mostly because he seems to know that he is my cat.

– he sleeps when we are awake –

So at this time we have five kids and five pets. It is a lot. But everyone loves them. Well not really. Our oldest dog isn’t at all sure about Ghost and Benjamin and the hair on his neck stands up for a long time when they are around- invading his space but eventually he adjusts and seems happy with them. Big dog number two loves them both immediately and is ready to play and pounce and chew. He is with us and them for for a few months until a quick illness takes him to heaven. That was hard for everyone, he was such a good dog. RIP Quinnie boy.

The big cat was not interested in any new friends at all. She is awesome and solitary and only wants your help getting through the cat doors to food and water and litter boxes. And really she doesn’t need anyone’s help- she can go through just fine- she just prefers that someone help her. She is big and fluffy and really only loves daughter 10 and sleeps with her and basically lives in her room. She has yet to warm to them. She is boss. She is queen of all the pets. One feels so special when she comes to say hello.

I’ve introduced you to our family pets for a reason, promise. The kids were so excited. They immediately loved them both. They clamored to hold them, pet them, feed them, love on them. And everyone handled the kitten and the puppy pretty well, except for daughter 8. She loved them and was excited in the same way as the others but where she struggled was this: kittens scratch and puppies bite. It happened with each of them on separate days in different weeks but it was basically the same. I heard her crying.

Checking on her I found her overwhelmed and weepy. She cried out, “Why is he hurting me?” Alligator tears flowing, spit slipping over the edges, mouth open wide and eyes shut tight, she cried hard. “Oh, baby they are babies still and they haven’t learned not to bite and scratch, to them they are just playing with you.” She cried some more, “But I’m just trying to loooove theeeem.”

I comfort her for as long as it took both times. Both times I fought the tears. I hurt for my sweet heart; giant heart girl. I tell her so. I tell her that I love her heart. Hold her and rock her and tell her that time will pass and they will both learn not to hurt us but that it will take time and we will have to teach them. She gets angry at some point and says she won’t play with them or love them ever again. I smooth the hair back from her tear soaked face. I tell her she will feel love for them when her feelings aren’t so hurt.

She reminds me of me, now with some in our family who I chose to love. Mouth open, spit dripping, tears flowing and the immature little girl self in this old woman is wondering why they won’t just let me love them without them hurting me, us. I’ve let the hard years turn me cold and I’ve let negative bias and resentment in often enough to not like myself anymore. I cry out and the Good Father comforts me, my words to my girl ring in my ears as His voice to this mama’s heart.

He tells me that time will pass and they will learn how to let our love in but that it will take time and we will have to teach them. So often I feel frustration and anger and coldness and feel like I want to throw in towels and run away inside my heart and Father smooths the hair back from my tear soaked face. He tells me how I do love them and will remember this when my feelings aren’t so hurt. As the days pass I sense the deepness and realness of Father’s promise that He is still working in me. Still growing me, moving things around, making me able where I wasn’t before.

And that is it. Sometimes I am still little. I think that this isn’t the kind of post that tells anyone what to do. There isn’t a crisp bow to wrap around anything here. But I think that is okay. Maybe this is just a story full of reminders. I’m reminded that God speaks when and where we will listen and that He is with us and we are not alone and that He is at work in us, always. And really that is a lot. I know there is more but I am okay stopping here for now. Keep going friends, you are not alone.

Blessing~ t

our road {a promise}

Last month my husband and I went on a trip to another state for six days. It was the very first time we’d both left the kids for more than one night. My husband could have gone on twenty trips without the kids at any point in our marriage because he doesn’t have the insecurities and mama worries that I have had. It took me a bit longer. It took hard work on myself and the building of relationships that we could trust when it comes to care for our kids. It didn’t happen overnight. It took ages. It took a lot of prayers and change and growth and for me, none of it was easy. But it was worth the work. I feel like we are now in a new stage in life. Like we have crossed a road that has always scared me and walk in a place of peace.

The logistics were challenging for this kind of trip. Rather than use respite for our FD9 we asked Hubby’s mom to come and stay at our house for those 5 nights. Two couples from our church, people the kids know and love, came and gave my MIL a rest, took the kids for a walk, did crafts, took the boys to lunch and just teamed up to help care for our six kiddos so that hubby and myself could rest and recharge. It was hard to leave. It was difficult to plan. We had to work hard on the budget to make it happen and I had to let go of trying to control everything and trust God and my friends and family to meet my kiddos needs. Was it perfect? Did it all go super great? no, but it did work. The kids were safe. The team worked together and everyone did so well.

We spent five nights in Seattle and it did not rain once. The sun shone down on us. The water lapped and sparkled along the shores and the snow-caped mountains smiled at us as we drove on freeways, stood on towers and relaxed on waterways. It was splendid. It was refreshing and restful and restorative. We met people like us. Folks who are foster parents and adoptive parents who love Jesus and who struggle and question and persevere. It was so great. At the end we boarded flights and ate great food and enjoyed hot coffee and stout beers and when we landed in our own state we were so surprised to find that it was raining.

Tiny raindrops dotted the cracked windshield of hubby’s old work car as we drove into and over the mountains on our way home. We smiled and laughed that the rain was waiting for us in the desert rather than meeting us in the Pacific North West. We smiled at the thought of all the lovely sunshine that we had enjoyed over the past several days. It felt to my heart like a lesson. Like God had smiled down on us and given us this gift of Sun and rest and peace. Like he was saying that it was not just okay that we take the time for ourselves and for rest, but that we must and that He was pleased with us. I’m not sure where my brain and heart had doubted God’s goodness toward us. Maybe only in that this life is so very hard and we often fail and that terrible feeling that God is disappointed in us and that means that He doesn’t want to give us good gifts. But that is just not true. I know it. I would tell anyone else that it isn’t true for them, but I struggle to believe it for me, for us.

As we started the drive home remembering the blessed days before the clouds moved in, blue-gray and hanging over the mountain tops. The Sun set in a fantastic mix of orange, yellows and red hues behind us. The rain became a little more steady. The end of our day was looking just as beautifully complex as all of our years together. When the sun finally disappeared over the horizon and the darkness closed in around us and the car sped over miles of long straight highway the full moon shone out over us as we went. A large singular light in the skies above us. I remembered God’s chosen people, guided in the dark by fire in the sky. It felt like Father’s gift to us again. The tears burned at the corners of my eyes as I remembered just then what a woman whom I did not know said as we walked out of the church a few days before. She reached out and touched my arm as I passed and when our eyes met she said, “God will give you strength in a time of great need.” The moon looking down through the dark and rain now felt to me like a reminder. It felt like a promise that God would be with us when it was hardest. Things I know, things that I would tell anyone, but such a sweet word to my spirit now as we traveled home.

After more than an hour the moon and its light was swallowed up by the darkness and the clouds were heavy and the rain was hard. Now the roads were narrow and the wind was fierce and my hand gripped the door as we flew across the miles. I was scared. We could not see well through the window and I could feel my husband’s tension build. I have learned that it does not help my husband to ask him to slow down or to be careful. He wasn’t driving that fast but I was filled with fear and as we went I prayed quietly and whispered to myself- God is good and faithful. A reminder that He is trustworthy even when I feel all the terror of my circumstances. The drive through this storm lasted a long time. I fought with myself to hold tight to the truth of who God is even when I felt so much fear. What if we wrecked and the kids were left without us? What if more loss and hurt bled into their lives from all the edges? What if we’d had days full of sunshine and the rest and then the worst would happen an hour or two from home? It had not ever been so clear to me just how fearful for my children I had been. Or how I did not trust in our good God for them. I prayed. I Asked for His forgiveness. On that dark road, our car pelted by rain and wind, I laid them all down and asked Father to keep them and whispered again, God you are good and faithful and I can trust You, no matter what I feel.

It seemed to me, the whole journey, was a picture of the years ahead of us with our children. There will be sunny days and stormy days and days when the darkness and rains last too long but God would always be good and faithful and we can, all of us, trust him.

Selah~

Blessings~ Tina

Hope. {attachment issues}

Today I walked three miles rather than two. I was angry and needed the extra steps and the extra sweat. Truth is, that I have been angry all week. I’ve been mourning and angry and not handling myself well at all. it has been a slow build up of frustration and fear.

On my walk, I wrote an entire blog post describing our many hard days with a kid with attachment issues and the control and manipulative behaviors that go with them. I vented and cried and told you all about the times when I manage to be therapeutic and wise and kind and then about the times I am not therapeutic at all and cry and yell and react. I gave you a list of behavior tactics a kid like ours might use to gain control of his surroundings. I gave you some ways to handle them and a few on how not to handle them.

I came home and watered the garden, did the dishes, ate my breakfast and watched Downton Abbey and decided against actually writing that blog post. I’m far too in-the-mess to write about it the way that I really want to. My emotions are all mangled and twisted in with any bits of good wisdom I might have managed to hold onto.

So, I prayed instead of writing a very passionate and moving post. I prayed for this kid, whos anxiety comes out looking like and feeling like defiance and blatant disrespect. I prayed that we could be what he needs. I prayed that we could remember our training in the heat of the moment and that he would learn to trust us. I prayed that he would believe in and feel the comfort we are trying so hard to give. I prayed that we could love him unconditionally, although imperfect and human, as much like Jesus as possible.

I said yes to God’s good that He is doing here in all of our rooms. I Said No, to all the things that the enemy of all of our souls is trying to do. I decided that I could and would go on loving this kid even if I do not always enjoy him. Even if he is one kid with me and another, very charming and sweet kid with most others. I can (and will) continue to choose to love him and be what he needs using all the tools I can muster. That is the adult thing to do, the Christ-like thing to do. I can choose love with my husband or mother-in-law or brother when we are not seeing eye-to-eye because we are a family and I have committed to them- I can do it here too.

Someday, when my emotions aren’t so thick with frustration from the morning or the week(s) of wrestling with a ten-year-old who has gotten very adept in the use of many survival skills, I will write that post. I will share with wisdom with grace and you’ll feel all the love that I have for this kid because my words won’t be so heavy with the struggle. I promise.

This, however, is not the post that I wrote on my walk- or the one I have promised. This is the post that I needed to write, one of honest frustration felt and real hope clung to because somewhere out there, there is a mother or father who feels like they are going to explode. They feel maneuvered and pushed into a corner or duped and perhaps they don’t know how to share with others what is happening in their home without feeling or fearing that they will look crazy.

Here is the deal mom or dad- you are not crazy! But if you are not careful you will do exactly what this kid is pushing for you to do and is fearful that you will do and you’ll give up on them. Maybe you’ll put up a wall or disengage just keeping people alive without connecting to them. It is even possible that you’ll even leave them. Your need for survival kicking in too.

So, understand this, You are not alone. Many other parents in your shoes UNDERSTAND what you are going through and we are right there with you! Don’t give up on your kid(s) or on your ability to love them or your ability to learn what it is that they need. You can do this. There is help out there.

From anywhere you can get personal coaching here (their podcast is here).

More great coaching here.

If you are in New Mexico you can join this facebook group and find parent coaches here (👈🏼 full disclosure- I work for them as a family advocate in my region).

This podcast is great as well.

This group opens twice a year and is $15 dollars a month (or listen to their podcast here) you get access to video training and can chat online with their well-trained people if you need it, or go to their many forums to post questions and get feedback and loads of resources.

Great book on audible here or to purchase to read here.

And an article for your kid(s) teachers, here. This is a hard road but there is hope. Be Blessed adoptive and foster parents! You can do this!  God has got you and you are not alone!

~Tina

September Yarnalong # 1

IMG_6501

September is my absolute favorite month. It is the ending of the hottest days of the year and the beginning of cooler and dimmer days. I trade my tall cups full of ice and unsweetened tea for cozy cups of steaming hot teas. I start thinking about knitting for Christmas and making menus for the coming colder days.

The end of Summer means the roasting of chili and the frantic canning of prickly pear jelly and there is always the silent promise for all the comforting foods of my younger family filled holidays finding their way into our kitchen. I’ll begin to crave posole and tamales and warm flour tortillas.

This year September is extra special because it brought us a finalized adoption of our nearly eleven-year-old son. He moved in last November and as he found a place his own in our chaotic every day he slipped into all of our hearts, one at a time and in each owns quiet or not so quiet moments shared.

It has been a time full of challenges and learning curves, of failures and of so much grace that I can’t even begin to tell you. Sometimes it is hard to become family. Harder still to become friends when all the hurts burn at the ears and even the subtlest change can remind him (or any one of us) of other days and years spent in harder places.

But these days brothers are becoming friends. He and biggest sister becoming downright pals and the little girls are finding a playmate unexpected in the big boy who is tough on the outside and so tender-hearted on the inside.

Even the five-year-old is softening to him which is huge because there has been some kind of strange competition between them since he moved in with us. Maybe some fear that one’s adoption is more special than the others and so they’ve been at odds much of the past ten months he has been with us. Yesterday as his adoption became final in the same courtroom hers was in last year, she hugged his legs and smiled up at him and it felt to me like a breakthrough of sorts. Maybe the kind only a mama notices but it was something, I just know it.

I couldn’t find words when the judge asked me what he had brought to our family. I’m not the best speaker even when I am prepared but on-the-fly, I’m downright terrible. I’d say now though that he brought us to hope for his future and somehow that spilled out and over and hope grew for each of us. I’d say that he brought us all a bigger, wider and deeper understanding of Father’s love as we learn to choose to love him and ask him to choose to love us as well even when things are really very terribly hard. He also brought laughter and joy even though there is sadness mixed with it. His new with us started from loss and we will be here for him as he walks out his life.

With the finalized adoption we move into a rest time of foster care (if that is a real thing). We’ll do our best to only do respite for other foster families for a time and we hope to use our days and weeks to exhale and finally relax into our new forever family.

I’m re-reading this book (so relevant to adoptive families) and love it so. I had a few copies to give away to other families like ours or to those who would want to wrap around and support or understand better families like ours. I held on tight to my copies and waited for just the right hearts to share them with and was so happy to be able to place them into hands that needed and wanted them so. I have one more to give (if you would like or know someone please ask me) it’s a great read full of heart and wisdom and Jesus love.

I started the devotional you see below and only made it one day. It’s long and thoughtful and requires my attention and my heart. I’ll let you know how I like it when I know.

I’m knitting a wrap called the #bebravewrap by Sally who is @pinkgirlknits on Instagram. It’s a test Knit and I’m liking it so far. It is defiantly working at getting me out of my knitting or lack of knitting rut.

There is much else to say, but I think that for now I am done. Hints for later are that I started a new job last month or wait, the month before and I took a team to Asia to work with migrant workers children left behind and other wonderful works with the poor and immigrants. I didn’t plant a garden this year but hubby did for me while I was away which was too sweet and so very loving. It was a Summer full of joy and sorrow and growth and at some point, I will share about all of it. I hope. I plan to but yeah, sometimes I’m just waiting on words.

I’m joining Ginny for Yarnalong. Blessings and peace friends.

Long-ish term projects and words {yarnalong}

The ladies from our church and other friends are reading a book together this season rather than doing a Bible study. I love the idea and am looking forward to the time we will all spend together. The book is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. I’ve read it before -a few years back- and it wrecked me, in a good way. I hadn’t expected it to really hurt me so badly the second time around but it seems that it just might. When I read this weeks chapter there were tears that I hadn’t anticipated and so many things copied down, things that moved me. Below are just a few…

“But these aren’t things you need to say anyways. Like all beliefs, you simply live them.” pg. 15

“”If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no.” pg. 16

“The singular tear that slips down his cheek carves something out of me.” pg. 19

“And I see it. At least a bit more. When we find ourselves groping along, famished for more, we can choose.” pg. 21

“…our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That that which tears open our soul, those holes that splatter our sight, might actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave. Maybe so. But how?” pg. 22

But, I reckon I’ll keep ya posted. As it happens I am also reading (more like dabbling) in this one, this one and(at night when the house is quiet devouring) this one it is also my resource of the week! Adoption is a blessing but the road can be hard. We need good resources and community so yeah.
You. Are. Welcome. 😉

Projects made of yarn should go into Yarn Along posts yes? So, I started a sock yarn blanket. Yes. I. Did. Truth be told, it is one of three. The others are pretty but long-neglected and they rest so nicely in beautiful bags on shelves or in baskets. Its okay, someday they will see light and receive attention again. This one was meant to be my book-club-blanket meaning it was meant to be worked up when actually at said book club meetings but it is completely addicting and as it turns out, the only project that I want to work on.

Never mind that though, one mustn’t squelch the creative heart. This particular sock yarn blanket is different than my other ones in that it is not a knitted blanket but rather -I broke out the old crochet hook- and had to look up how to crochet- to do it. I used this recipe to start it as I needed a reminder of how to do it. It has been something like 8 years since I crocheted this kind of blanket. I do love it though and would recommend anyone else to start one.

I’m calling this my February Yarn Along post even if it is early, so I’ve linked it with Ginny. If you like to see what others are making and reading- have a look-see when you get a chance.

Blessing and peace~
Tina

Feb 6, 2018

I’ve added some progress pics below. I do enjoy this project and am afraid if I work on anything else it will join the other sock yarn blankets… but I do need to make some things to raise funds for my Summer Mission Trip so… We. Will. See. 😬😭😂