October 26, 2012

And it continues.

  I’ve been a little quiet since the hearing last week and all that has happened since then.  Thank you to all who e-mailed, texted, called, and prayed.  I think I just needed a little time to frame my mind around all of it and be sure that I was at least within throwing distance of the right attitude before I talked about it much.


  I feel like we all (everyone on the case plan team) went into the hearing rather confident of what would happen.  The caseworker had already changed the case plan goal to adoption at the previous case plan meeting, an adoption worker was assigned, etc. 

  At this point, seven years into my experience in child welfare, I am convinced that if there is something that the court can do to throw you for a loop and/or neglect very important issues brought up in court reports, they will.


  Basically what happened was this:

The county attorney still had not filed the motion for severance.  This is why court was postponed for four weeks at the previous hearing.  All so that this attorney could file one piece of paperwork.

  Because the motion had not been filed, they could not legally set a hearing for termination of parental rights.  So this time, I guess to make sure they gave Mr. county attorney plenty of time to file his paperwork, they set the hearing out until January 13th. 

  In the meantime, the court ordered that the girls continue to have weekly visits with Mom and that her ‘progress’ be tracked.  This makes so much sense, since just in the last four weeks that she’s been in the picture, after being MIA for over 6 months, she has missed a visit, failed to be at Bella’s hospital appointment, and did not bring dinner for the girls at the visit that she did show up to.


  I wish that Bella and Tootaw would be able to go home.  I prayed for it incessantly for the first 12 months of the case.  We did everything we could to support mom and dad toward reunification.  I will forever mourn the hurt that the girls will experience for the rest of their lives due to not being able to be with their birth parents.

  But it is clearly not going to happen.  So at this point we are only picking scabs on two little girls’ devastated hearts.



Since resuming visits, Bella has started throwing up again and we are seeing the first traces of the same food issues that we had previously.  Tootaw completely regresses in potty training after every visit, and by the time we make any progress it is time for another visit.  They are so confused.



With that said, I am at a place where I am at peace with where God has us.  This is not His first intention for the girls.  This is a result of brokenness and sin and hurt.  But He will not leave them here alone.  He will use all of this – His scope reaches infinitely farther than mine.

And I know He will heal them in time.  I see it in Bella’s giggle, in how she is choosing to call us Mommy and Daddy now, in her gorgeous hair (which is now down past her shoulders!).  I see it in Tootaw’s attachment to Brian’s daddy love, in her smile and innocence, and in the easy way she has become a part of our family.  He will heal them.  He is healing them.  And no postponed court hearing is going to get in the way of that.

October 18, 2012

18 Months.


My little Naomi Rahab, you are 18 months old.  Most people who see you guess that you are about 12 months old and are shocked at all you can do.  At 17 months you weighed a whopping 17lbs., so it’s no wonder people get confused.  I’m not sure you’ve grown a ton in the last month, so I’d say you might be pushing 18 pounds.

You’re itty bitty.



You are absolutely not itty bitty when it comes to personality though.  I think that mostly in an effort to keep up with your sisters, you live up to every definition of spitfire.  And I’m not sure that descriptor even quite covers it. 

You already have an ornery look that makes me nervous.  Your joy spills out of every pore.  But when you believe you’ve been scorned?  You let everyone know.  You have developed a pretty bad habit of scratching, biting, pushing, and any other form of forcing your will to be known.  We’re working on that.  You’re also very daring.  You’re a climber, a tester, and a dare devil.  You make your Mommy nervous.






You work very hard to keep up with your sisters.  I’m not sure you’ll be so passionate about the little baby that is going to enter your life in a short 2+ months – you are the baby, and you like it that way.

You love your sisters so much.  You get so excited when you first see Sylvia, Bella, or Tootaw in the morning, and you want to be in on every little thing they do.  And as long as they aren’t taking up room on your Mommy’s lap or playing with something that you want, you are just excited to be with them.

You’ve had your ups and downs in the sleep department, but things seem to have leveled off (at least for a week or so) and you are sleeping very well.  Your Daddy rocks you down at night and sings to you, which I’m sure will make for the same sweet bond that Sylvie shares with him.





You have lots of words now – but you have figured out that you can usually get away with a grunt or a pointing finger – so you don’t use them all that much.  You can say Mommy, Daddy, yes, no, up, baby, ball, book, thank you, sorry, shoes, that, water, dog, and cat ….I’m sure I’m leaving out a few.  You know several of your animal noises.  You love to read books, and you like to “read” books to me too.  You love, love, love to play outside, and I think you’re going to be sad in a couple weeks to find out that your whole life won’t consist of summertime.

You are still nursing, and I’m not sure your going to be weaning yourself all too soon.  It seems like you know it’s the one thing you have with me that the other girls can’t take.  I’m ok with that, although you will have to get used to having another little baby around before too long.

You are a Mommy and Daddy’s girl.  Anytime I take you to a nursery or leave you at a friend’s house, as soon as your realize what we’re there for you squeeze my neck and lay your head on my shoulder.  You’re very hesitant to leave my side.  You do great while I’m gone – but when we get back to pick you up you light up, get an excited look on your face, throw your hands in the air, and run to us!  It’s wonderful.




You, little lady, have enough personality for three or four kids.  I can’t wait to see how you grow and change and how that personality is expressed as you get older.  You may be in the middle of a big huddle of sisters, but you will not let yourself go unheard.  And that’s good.  God has given you that voice for a reason, little one, and he will use that passionate exuberance in wonderful ways (after some refining.  you do have to stop scratching.)  You look a lot like me, and got a dose of excitement and exuberance from both me and your Daddy.





I love you more than you will ever understand.  I pray for you every day – and I also pray, basically all day long, that I can be the Mommy that you and your sisters need me to be.  I love you, even when I need grace.  You are a light, sweet one.  And I cannot wait to see how you shine as you grow.


Love you, love you, love you,


October 16, 2012

Bossing our hearts.

As we come up on the girls hearing this Thursday, and with all that has popped up in the case in the last three weeks, I find myself struggling with so many emotions.  In the up and down and back and forth it is so easy for me, in my mind, to exchange emotion for truth, and lies for what I know to be true.


I have had to constantly center myself with what I know is true.

With what I have been promised.

With the love that has been lavished on me.


I feel angry at Bella and Tootaw’s Mom for the continued trauma, the seeming lack of judgment for the girls’ good.  And while I think that unjust things that hurt His children make God angry too, I have to remind myself,

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.  [Proverbs 16:32]

and to

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every from of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  [Ephesians 4:31-32]



I feel afraid of what will happen at the hearing on Thursday.  That they will extend this hell for my children instead of allowing us to heal.  But then I remember,

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.       [Joshua 1:9]

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  [Isaiah 41:13]



I question why my girls have to go through this.  Why it has to hurt before it gets better.  But He reminds me,

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.     [Zephaniah 3:17]

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  [1 John 4:16]



I think, what good could come from this?  Why not just restore this now?  Why not just redeem what is broken here?  And lovingly, but firmly, He rebukes,

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off it's dimensions?  Surely you know!  Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?  …Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?  Have the gates of death been shown to you?  Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?  Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?  Tell me, if you know all this.  [Job 38:4-6, 16-18]


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  [Romans 8:28]





So, we will go into Thursday trusting – bossing our hearts and our emotions that are so unreliable.  Knowing that He loves us, and that He has a very different, infinitely more wise, perspective on all that is happening.  I will be praying that they set a hearing for TPR, but will rest in knowing that whatever happens, He will use it all for His glory, which is our good.

October 15, 2012

Fall at Grandma and Grandpa’s.

  We spent the weekend at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  The girls had a lot of fun, and Bella and Tootaw got to meet their Aunt Amy and Uncle Jon for the first time.







Opening birthday presents!



…with a little help.












Picking pecans from Grandma and Grandpa’s pecan trees.









“Practicing their balance.”


And ice cream on our way out of town…









The girls gladly all split this monstrous banana split.





October 8, 2012



My sweet, sweet Sylvie girl, you are THree.  (You make sure to really pronounce that TH at the beginning, you are very proud of pronouncing it correctly.)  Of course, most of the time when we ask you how old you are, you are four or seven, or ten.  Not just yet sweet girl.  One year at a time.




As a birthday surprise your Nana and Grandpa came in town.  I didn’t tell you they were coming, and when they showed up you were over the moon.

Other than that, my goal for your birthday was to have LOTS of purple.  Purple is absolutely your favorite color, and you love anything that happens to be purple.  It’s a part of your three-year-old self.


We went to IHOP for a special birthday breakfast, and hung out with your Nana and Grandpa all day.


I decorated the kitchen in purple balloons and streamers, but your sisters got very excited and decided they wanted to help decorate for you too. 

So…it wasn’t the most put together decorating job, but it was very unique, and chock full of love for you.

















From Daddy and I you got a purple Ukulele. (A guitar, as far as you’re concerned)  You love playing Daddy’s guitar with him at night during our family devotions, so we thought you’d enjoy getting to play along with him.



In your new veterinarian dress up costume from Nana and Grandpa.






Playing with your pink and purple princess Duplo set from Nana and Grandpa.  By far the favorite present.  Because while you love purple, pink and princesses, you also absolutely have an engineer’s mind.  Lego was happy to oblige both.












Happy Birthday sweet girl.  You are getting so big.  It’s so much fun to talk with you now and to hear what is going on in your little mind.  You are so clever.  You are quite the negotiator – so much so that I think by the time your are 7 or 8 you might be able to out-reason me.  Makes me a little nervous. 

You love your sisters so much and you play together constantly.  Not without bickering and annoying each other – but that’s part of being sisters.  Most of the time, in the morning when Naomi wakes up, before I can get in there you are out of bed and talking to her at the edge of her crib.  You are so sweet – “It’s ok Naomi, sissy is here, I won’t leave you.”  You try to give her things to make her happy and you love it when it works.  You and Tootaw play together all day as if you never spent a day of your lives apart. 


I would definitely say that if there is something that defines your personality it is joy.  I have said that since you were born, and it has endured.

You are an optimist, and you are happy in almost any circumstance (as long as your sisters aren’t stealing things from you.).  I could say, “Alright girls, we’re going to the doctor to get shots now.” And I’m confident you would reply, “Oooooohhh, yeah!  I bet that we’ll get stickers at the end!!!”  You can search out the joy in anything.  I hope that you can hold on to that as you get older.  It is beautiful.


You are a little bit of a home-body, which has surprised me as you’ve gotten older.  You love playing with friends, or going to their houses, but you’d really rather just be here with me and Daddy.  It’s not that you aren’t social.  Anyone who has met you knows that your are, by all means, social.  But, when I take you to a friend’s house for a couple of hours, you are always concerned as to when I will pick you up, and most often you tell me you’d rather just play with me.  I love it.  I love that you love home and our family.  In fact, when I asked you if you’d like to have friends over for your birthday, or have it just be our family you said you’d rather it just be us. 


At night you want me to lay down with you while you fall asleep – a pretty new phase.  I figure it won’t be much longer that you’ll want me to do that, so I oblige.  You have me tell you a story, and then you tell me a story.  Back and forth until my imagination has run out.  Then you roll over and squeeze my face and whisper, “I love you Mommy!”

And that is the best part of my day.

I love you more than you know.  I pray for you always, and I only hope that I can teach you the meaning of grace, and what it truly means to love other people, and Jesus. 

I am so, so blessed to be your Mommy.  Here’s to 3, and hoping that it goes by slowly enough that I can always remember what a joy you are.

October 2, 2012

Honestly weary, but still singing.

Oh my.  What a week. What’s that you say?  It’s only Tuesday?  Yes, yes, this candy bar in my hand is helping me process that.


Sunday afternoon my eldest was not quite acting like herself.  She was super crabby, and she actually chose to take a nap over helping clean up the playroom.  (And she’s actually usually quite helpful.)

This is the part where I should have said to myself, “Hey Maggie, maybe Bella is sick?”  But instead I chose the higher road, and said to myself, “Grumble, grumble, kids refusing to help pick up any messes, grumble grumble, what do they think I do all day, grumble grumble.”

Cause, you know, I want to teach my kids to be Christ-like.


Anyway, she got up from her nap, and sure enough, her temperature was 101.7.  Because of her disease, any time that she has a fever over 101.4 we have to be to the Emergency Room within 45 minutes.

So that’s where we went.

We got to the E.R. and they poked and prodded Ms. Bella and ran about 30 different tests.  They told us the workup, recommended a strong antibiotic, and told us that we needed to check in with the HemOnc unit first thing in the morning.

We got home at 11:30, wiped out.

The next morning I checked in with HemOnc – they said not to do the antibiotic just yet, and just to let them know if anything changed.  Bella slept in, so I snuck up to her room a few times that morning to check her temp, and it was holding right about 101. 


As soon as Bella got up, she complained of her neck hurting.  I took a look, and her entire neck, jaw, and ear area was swollen and she immediately started dry heaving.

This is when I start to panic.  These things aren’t the end of the world with an otherwise healthy kid – but with Bella’s disease everything is a big deal.  I called and of course they wanted us in the E.R. as soon as we could get there.

We went to the E.R. where they ran about 30 new and different tests and poked and prodded lots more.



Can you see her behind that belly?  Just barely?


In the end, they ruled out just about every possible thing other than a virus, which is what they have to do with her, prescribed us an antibiotic just in case, and told us to follow up with HemOnc today.  Somewhere in there I called in to participate in her case-plan meeting.

That was a long two days.

Very long.  And I was worried about my girl.


Also, it was the day of the girls’ visit with Mom. When I called the caseworker and let her know Bella was still sick, she said they would pick up Tootaw and just leave Bella here.

Which made me furious.

But, with us ending up at the hospital, it actually ended up being a good thing. I think Tootaw was too confused to be overly traumatized by the whole thing, and Bella was distracted enough that she didn’t even remember that she was not at a visit.


It was such a blessing to see how God provided through it though.  Brian’s cousins took dinner to our kids while we weren’t there and our friend Chris (who the girls now lovingly refer to as Grandma Chris) came and stayed with the little girls so I could be at the hospital, and Brian could take care of everything else. 

Our daughter is on the mend.  She has been well taken care of. 

He is our provider, and He is just so faithful.



With all that said, I am feeling weary.

The last two and a half weeks have included Tootaw and Sylvia being sick with fevers, Naomi ending up in the hospital for some unknown medical problems, the hearing, the girls’ first visit back with Mom, Bella being in the hospital for two days, a case plan meeting, and two children who haven’t been sleeping.  Amidst caring for our four kids, ushering in 3rd trimester, and general life, this has left us with a worn out Mama.  That’s just honesty.


But I also know that things will improve, they will not always be this crazy.  And I am so thankful for the ways that God has provided through it all, worked through it all, and given us strength.


The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.


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