February 25, 2013

How do I do it?



  I get that a lot, with having five kids ages five and under.  In the grocery store, at church, from the other moms at Bella’s school, everywhere I go, I hear, “I just don’t know how you do it!” “I struggle and I only have two!”  “How do you do it?  You must be exhausted!”

Well, I am exhausted.  But that’s not my secret.

If I had the time to stop and talk with the women who comment on how I get it all done, my answer would be something like this:


I don’t.  I don’t do it.  It’s not me.  Not at all.

Let me explain.


  Today I kid swapped with one of my friends, and we watched each other’s kids at the church.  I watched her kids in the morning, and she watched mine in the afternoon, and that way we each got time to get things done around the house.

  Except after watching the kiddos in the morning, I came home excited to get some cleaning done, and I walked into a completely clean house.  (I actually walked in the door and thought to myself, ‘I don’t remember leaving the kitchen this clean!’)  As it turns out, my friend Shawna, who I kid swapped with, was in on this plan of getting me out of the house this morning.  While I was gone, one of my other friends, Katherine, and my kids’ beloved children’s director at church, Ms. Judy, came and cleaned my house.  Also, another one of my friends, Valerie, wanted to help but had to work, so she sent over enough food to feed an army (which is essentially what we have). 

  Simultaneously, I also have another woman from church who offered to bring us dinner tonight.  And another friend at church who offered to watch my kids this morning for me.  And Bella is playing at the house of her friend from church, who’s parents take and pick Bella up from school.

  We have friends that watch our kids while I take Bella to treatment.  We have a church that pours into our family.  We have family that supports us when we tell them that yes, God is calling us to something even crazier.


  How do I do it?  I am part of a family.  A wonderful church family.  And in our family, we love each other, and we do it well. 

  We love each other because we were loved first.  We serve each other because we were served first.  We share in each others burdens because He carries ours.  And it is only because of our brothers and sisters in Jesus that we are able to serve in the way we do.

  But this is not a story of other people secretly doing my housework or randomly bringing this crazy family meals.  This is a story of God’s provision for two broken people who are trying to serve Him.  There have been many times since Bella, and also since Tootaw, came to our house that I have thought, and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.  I can’t do this.  This is too much.  I am too little.  The cancer treatment.  The fetal alcohol syndrome.  The system’s flaws.  Loving these children well.  Getting it all done.  I am not enough.”   To which Jesus replies,

“You are right.  You cannot do this.  You are too finite.  The task is too large.  You grow weary.  The race is very long.  But I am your God, I am your friend, and I am your provider.  I am not finite.  The task is not too large for me. 

And here’s the thing:  You cannot do this on your own, but you are not in this alone, I am with you.  And you can struggle in your flesh, or you can trust me. When you trust me, I will provide for you in ways that you cannot orchestrate on your own.  This is where I have called you, and I will not leave you here alone.”


And I am filled with peace. 

He will provide for us in ways we cannot orchestrate.  Like SIX separate individuals from our church family all choosing to serve us undeservedly on the same day.  Loving us tangibly.  Smothering us in grace.


So there you have it.

There’s my secret.

February 11, 2013

The beginning of the end.



Bella had a hospital appointment today where she got a lumbar puncture and very heavy chemo treatment.


For the last time.


wait.  wait, let me type that again.  It feels so good.


For the last time.


Over two years of treatment.  Over a year and a half of it with us.


The last time that my sweet girl has to be brave while they put a needle in her spine.  This is the last week that she has to follow up a heavy treatment with strong steroids that change her entire personality.  This is the last time that she has to get nervous before going to the hospital.  This is the last time that her treatment will make her feel really awful. 

I’m crying typing this.  I’m not a crier. 

I am just so thankful.

She is so brave.  She has been so brave.

But I don’t want her to have to be brave anymore.  I want her to be able to be five years old.  I want the hospital to be somewhere we only have to go when her sister sticks gum wrappers up her nose.  I don’t want her to have to take ungodly amounts of medicine every night.  I want her to feel good.  I want her to be free to be five.

And this is the beginning.

One month from today is her last appointment where she will be on chemo (home administered.).  After that we’ll have follow up appointments, but no more meds.  One less thing for her to be worried about, for her to have to think about, to weigh on her little mind that is so much older than her five years should allow.

One month and three days from today is the trial.  We are hoping and praying that this trial frees her and Tootaw from foster care.  Frees them to heal.  Frees them from anxiety and worry.  To just let them be.


This is the beginning.  The beginning of the end.


Thank you Jesus.  For so long the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far away.  Life does not always look the way we want it to, and even then He is our rock.  But this time it does.

He is our healer.  He has healed.

He is our provider.  He has provided.

Thank you Jesus.

Thank you Jesus.



And check out that hair.  She literally has the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen.  Thick.  Shiny.  Wavy.  Rightly so.


You spoke and made the sunrise, to light up the very first day
You breathed across the water, and started the very first wave
It was You
You introduced Your glory, to every living creature on earth
And they started singing, the first song to ever be heard
They sang for You
You make all things new
You make all things new
Then the world was broken, fallen and battered and scarred
You took the hopeless, the life, wasted, ruined and marred
And made it new
You make all things new
You make all things new
You redeem and You transform
You renew and You restore
You make all things new
You make all things new
And forever we will watch and worship You
You turn winter into spring
You take every living thing
And You breathe Your breath of life into it over and over again
You made the sunrise, day after day after day
But there's a morning coming, when old things will all pass away
And everyone will see
You make all things new
You make all things new
Come redeem and come transform
Come renew and come restore
You make all things new
You make all things new
And forever we will watch and worship You
Now and forever You are making all things new
You're making all things new

February 5, 2013

Horn Creek–Have I mentioned this before?



I know I make a plug for Horn Creek at least once a year, but we just signed up yesterday and I’m so excited that I can’t help it!

Horn Creek is a family camp in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in Colorado.  They have several weeks of family camp throughout the year.  Camp is one week long, you stay in cabins, hang out with your family and other families for the week.  And someone else cooks for you all week.






  Besides the whole broken arm thing, we had such a great time last year.  Bowling, food I didn’t cook, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, food I didn’t cook, playground, fellowship with other foster and adoptive families, climbing wall, western night, and food I didn’t cook.  Did I mention that the food is good, and someone else cooks it?

  For the last three years the have had a week that is specifically for foster and adoptive families.  This is my favorite part of Horn Creek.  It is so nice to spend a week with other families who have experienced fostering or adopting – and it’s also so nice not to stick out like a sore thumb!  Most of the families there are large families, too, so we don’t even get weird looks while people count the number of small children following us around.

  Anyway, it’s really wonderful.


Last year we actually got to meet and get to know a family who we had previously only known in the blog world!  It was fun to meet each other in person.  We’ve gotten to know several families there that we keep in touch with throughout the year.


  Let me know if you have any questions about the camp.  The last three years the foster and adoptive week has completely filled up – so sign up soon if you want to go!  I’ve also heard rumors that they are going to set up a second week if it fills up and there is still interest…  You should come.  Really.


  Ok, I’ll be done now.



February 1, 2013

Everything Case Related.



  So I haven’t kept up with things at all here lately – although not due to laziness, that’s for sure.  Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I had pictured having Vida and then getting to avoid dealing with case-related stuff while I soaked up my family of seven.

  But caseworkers kept calling.  Therapists kept scheduling.  Visits kept happening.  Lots has happened.


  Regarding the upcoming termination trial – I am now sure that we (everyone excepting Mom’s attorney) are all on the same page as far as what needs to happen at this trial.  The girls need permanency, and at this point if you asked Bella where she wanted to be, it would be here.  Mom has made very little progress (very.) and with us going on two years in this case we need to find an end.


  The Make a Wish foundation came out and visited with us (!!) and Bella made her wish.  Sometime at the end of April or the beginning of May we will all be going to Disney World to have a meal with the princesses in their castle.  We will be there for 6 nights and 7 days, during which time we will try not to lose any of our five very small children.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for this.  I was so frustrated that it took so long for Make a Wish to process Bella’s case (due to the red tape with her being in foster care), but the timing could not be more perfect because:


  MARCH 22 IS THE END OF CANCER TREATMENT!!!  As of March 22 we will not have any more chemo, no more lumbar punctures, no more steroids, no more administering 8-10 meds at a time, no more holding our breath while waiting for her ANC levels to come back.  No. More.  So, along with it being shortly after the termination hearing, the trip will also land very shortly after the end of treatment.  So, our meal with the princesses will be one big party – thanking God that our sweet girl is healed, that we can all move past cancer and give it the big boot out of our lives.  AMEN.


  Unfortunately, amid all of this good news we’ve had some ups and downs with the girls.  They have continued to have one hour supervised visits with their mom – during which she made some very irresponsible promises.  i.e. promises about them going home forever.  This is not going to happen under any reasonable circumstances, and it completely stressed Bella out.  She was completely dis-regulated most of Christmas.  After the baby came it was completely stressing me out because she wasn’t acting like herself at all.  After her mom made these promises, her food issues began to surface again.  Refusal to eat, puking a couple times a day, coming home with a full lunch box.

  Our friend who drives Bella to school even mentioned that she noticed how stressed out Bella had been, and that then the day after the visit she was completely back to normal.  The visit, I should add, that she missed because she vomited all over the transporter’s car.  I felt so. bad. for him.  He should get a raise.  The next day our friend who drives her to school asked her how her visit went and she answered triumphantly, “I didn’t have to go because I threw up!”  Children should not have to vomit to make themselves heard.  That’s all I have to say.  And they’ve continued visits.  Luckily we’ve been able to deal with the food issues some, and keep most of the puking at bay – but there is still refusal to eat anytime she knows there is a visit approaching.  This week there was no visit – and there have been absolutely no food issues.


    We had Tootaw’s assessment shortly before Christmas (wow, I am really behind, huh?) and it confirmed most of what we were seeing.  Essentially they said, yeah, you’re totally right, we see these things too.  To which I said, “Wheeew”.  Because otherwise I might have thought I was losing it.  At the end of the initial assessment they had a few options: Not to have any further assessment at all, to have her further assessed in one or two areas, or to have a global assessment done of all areas.  They recommended the global assessment.  We have three appointments coming up where they will assess her in our home, through play therapy at their office, and then an appointment to tell us what all she qualifies for.  At that time, whoever she qualifies to work with (occupational therapist, language therapist, etc.) will begin coming to our home to work with her.  I think they will likely also recommend that she go into the early childhood special education pre-school as of next fall.


  In the midst of all of this, we have switched caseworkers…..again…..which hopefully won’t be too detrimental to the termination trial.


  I think (?) that’s most of what’s been going on as far as the girls case goes.  How has all of this happened while simultaneously adding a new baby to the family?  That is a good question.  Some days it feels completely overwhelming when I think of all our family constantly has going on – but most days it just feels like normal.  Our normal.  Which is never really all that normal.


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