Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Three Things I Have Learned Just This Morning

Or maybe just realized...

I probably already knew these things, but this morning's activities have brought them to light yet again.

1) We (or should I say I because that is who I really mean) often do good things but they are not the things we are supposed to be doing.

Carson reminded me of this. Well, I guess come to think of it, Coralyn did too. What good little helpers they are! :) Anyway, this morning I asked Carson to get his shoes on to get ready to go to Chick-fil-A for Kids' Korner. Instead, he brought me Coralyn's shoes. Awful nice of him. Very helpful. Thoughtful. Kind. Caring. Good. But NOT what I had asked him to do, at all.

In fact, I really didn't want him to bring me Coralyn's shoes because I wanted her to get them herself. She needs practice obeying, and being responsible (yes, even at almost 2 years old). Coralyn is also very good at doing things that are helpful, but not what I have asked her to do. For example, when I asked her to get her shoes, she decided putting away the magnets would be a nice display of kindness. And indeed it was. I really didn't want the magnets all over the living room floor, but yet again, putting them away was not what I had asked her to do.

So, as I asked Carson and Coralyn to do what I actually asked of them, and waited for them to obey, I thought to myself, "I wonder how often I do the same thing to God? How many times do I think I am doing something good and helpful and all that, but really I am not obeying at all? What God really wants me to do is what He asked me to, not whatever else I may think I should do, no matter how good that particular thing is."

2) The second thing I learned, or realized/remembered, is that we waste an awful lot of time waiting around for something to happen.

Just Carson reminded me of this. At Chick-fil-A today we had the opportunity to play with blocks, legos, play dough, crayons and markers...not to mention the entire play place! Other kids were there, enjoying all the activities. They were having a blast. What is Carson doing? Standing and waiting for Miss Julie to come read the stories to them. And he didn't just stand there and wait for a minute or two. He didn't see her go get her bag of books, stop what he was doing, and wait for her to come. No, he stood there, doing nothing but watch her tidy up the store, for about 10 minutes! He was bound and determined to wait for her. No matter how many times I suggested he come play while he waited, he refused my offer. He was more content to do nothing, just wait. What a waste of play time? At least that is what I thought.

As usual, God turned the tables on me. "How often do I waste time waiting for God to do something I am anticipating or am excited about or am anxious for? Instead of waiting, are there other productive things I could be doing to better use my time? Not to mention when you are just waiting and waiting, the time seems to pass so much more slowly. If you are active, then the time passes quickly, and you had fun or at least got something accomplished in the process."

This one was particularly convicting because I feel like I am playing the waiting game right now. Waiting for God to show me how He is going to provide. Instead of standing and watching, doing nothing, I need to go about life and do those things that God has told me to do (back to lesson #1).

3) The third thing I realized today is really more of a question. How in the world does God not get completely exhausted as He "parents" us? How does He not get totally fed up with us and our stubborn attitudes?

Coralyn was my teacher for this one. Nap time today was an all out battle of the wills. Yesterday she climbed out of her crib, so it's not safe for her to sleep in there anymore. The only other option is her big girl bed, which she for some reason is terrified of since we saw the cow at Chick-fil-A last Wednesday. We went through our normal routine: ate lunch, used the potty, got ready for the nap, read a book, said a prayer, and I laid her down to sleep. Not two seconds after I walked out of her room was Coralyn at her door crying. I couldn't really understand what she was saying, but I guess she was trying to tell me she had to go to the bathroom (which I would have found hard to believe anyway since she just went potty). After about 20 minutes of putting her back in bed, I finally sat down with her in the rocker. And smelled something. She had indeed needed to use the potty! Ugh! So to the bathroom we go, and as soon as she sits on her potty, the crying stops. Only, she won't get off the potty even after she is done! After ample time had passed, we got into a new diaper and trekked back to her room. Again, seconds after I left the room she was up and screaming, again that she had to go potty. Really? I don't think so. Not this time. So back to bed we go. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Finally, she gave in and stayed on her bed and let exhaustion take over. She is contentedly sleeping as I type. Ah, what bliss!

I wonder how many times I rage an all out battle of the wills with God? He knows what is good for me, what is best. And yet I resist Him. I want my own way, and so I fight Him. He doesn't give in though, because He loves me. I keep battling, and He keeps loving. How long does it take for me to finally give in and rest? And why do I even resist in the first place?!

Like I said, I knew these things before this morning, but they were great reminders. I hope I have learned my lessons well, and that I start putting them into practice!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love, Hate Relationship

Right now I have a love/hate relationship with Chick-fil-A. I love their food. And customer service. And coupons. And that I can take the kids to play at their play place when it's too hot to be at the park. I was thinking I would love their Kids' Korner time. I could meet other moms, the kiddos could play with other kids. It was a win-win situation, in which free decaf coffee came along with the deal!

But it didn't turn out as good as I had envisioned.

Carson and Coralyn did have fun playing with the legos, blocks, and play dough. They enjoyed coloring pictures. They went down the slide a few times. I got to chat with some other moms and sip my decaf coffee, though all I really wanted to do at the time was go into the bathroom and throw up because I felt so nauseated with morning sickness. With that slight exception, all was going extremely well, until it came time for the story.

That's when the Chick-fil-A Cow came out to greet all the kids and read the story with them. Carson loved the cow, gave him hugs and high fives. Coralyn was terrified of the cow. Her eyes got big and she screamed when she saw him. She wouldn't go in the play place area during the story time or even be where she could see inside and get a glimpse of the cow. So while Carson helped lead the story hour (literally!), Coralyn sat on my lap, her face hidden in my chest, and cried her lungs out.

As we left, I told Coralyn the cow was gone. She asked if he was back at the farm, so I figured, sure, that sounds like a reasonable idea, let's go with that. The cow went bye-bye to his farm and isn't coming back. I thought we were done with the cow.

But no...come nap time, Coralyn will not lay down. She asks again and again about the cow. Yes, yes, yes, he is at the farm. He's even going night-night right now and won't bother you. After much persuading and comforting, she finally took a nap.

Again, I thought we were done with the cow. Again, I was wrong. When Lawrence came home from work, all she would talk about was the cow. That he went bye-bye to the farm. His black shoes and red shirt. That he was on the farm. That he was big. That he was on the farm. Did I mention the cow was on the farm? That seemed to be a very important point for Coralyn. You would think she said it enough that she would have realized he was there and not coming to our house. But oh no...

When it was time for bed, she went right in to her room, climbed up on her bed, and we read our stories and then the Bible. All normal. We prayed and turned out the lamp. She cries out that she has to go to the bathroom, so we make one last trip to the potty and back to bed we go. Not two minutes later she is up out of her bed, at the door, holding a diaper and an extra pair of shorts saying she has to go potty again. This happened several more times. And each time she would ask if the cow was still at the farm. Finally, I rocked her to try to get her to calm down and go to sleep. She was just about asleep in my arms when she startles and looks up at me with scared eyes and yet again asks if the cow is at the farm. I assured her yet again that he was gone. I laid down in bed with her, and right as she falls asleep she jumps up, eyes wide, and screams about the cow. The girl is seriously have nightmares or something about this cow!

I guess she felt safer in her crib, that the cow wouldn't be able to get her there. So I laid her in the crib, gave her Nana (her monkey) and Bear-Bear, her blanket, and she was fast asleep before I got back to the couch.

As soon as she woke up this morning, she was asking about the cow. I knew I had a long day ahead of me!

And now it's nap time. Yet again, the child will not go to sleep. We've tried both the big girl bed and the crib. We are on round 4, or 6, I'm not sure. But hopefully, she will go to sleep. And get over her fear of cows!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mommy Wow, I'm a Big Girl Now!

I don't know if I can say that Coralyn is fully potty-trained, but we have very few accidents. But wearing big girl pants is not what I am referring to this time.

Last night Coralyn slept in her big girl bed, the whole entire night! She didn't come out of her room at all, until about 8:30 this morning!

We tried the big girl bed on Saturday night, with hesitation. But when we told her it was bedtime, she went right into her room and climbed up on her toddler bed. So we figured we might as well give it a try (she's been doing quite well during nap time). Poor thing ended up falling off the bed twice! We tried putting a cushion by the bed, but the second time she fell she somehow managed to miss the cushion entirely. So into the crib we went. I was actually impressed we had made it all the way to 1 am!

Last night when she insisted on sleeping in her big girl bed, I again had my misgivings. But we've got to start sometime, so why not now? In to bed she went, and she stayed there the whole night. Lawrence did go check on her once around 10 pm, but she was fine. I heard her wake up several times during the night, but she never cried out for us or got out of her bed. She must have put herself right back
to sleep.

Taking a nap (this would explain how she fell out of bed)

I am so proud of my baby girl, who's turning out not to be a baby anymore!

She impresses me more and more every day actually. This morning it was during "school time." When we got back from the library, it was raining, so I let Carson and Coralyn watch a movie...about shapes (can't get the teacher out of me, it's got to be educational!). After the movie, I had them do a worksheet I made up. They had to glue shapes I had cut out onto the paper where I had traced the outline of each shape. Coralyn did the whole thing by herself, correctly matching a square, triangle, rectangle, circle, and heart. She even named the circle and heart! Later, we were doing puzzles, and she did an entire puzzle (dealing with shapes) all on her own! Sure makes this teacher-mama proud!

Corlayn reading a book

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where's My Shadow?

I'm not sure if Coralyn has figured out what a shadow actually is yet. She has never gotten overly excited about seeing her shadow when we are playing outside. But she's probably too busy to take the time to notice she even has a shadow.

But that's not the shadow I a talking about today.

Coralyn has definitely noticed that our Shadow is missing and wants to know where he has gone. Every morning when she wakes up, she asks first about Daddy and then about Shadow. For the past 4 days now, the answer has been the same, "Daddy's at work. Shadow had to go bye-bye." This satisfies her for awhile, maybe 2 seconds, until we walk past Shadow's room. And then she says his name again. I tell her again that he had to go bye-bye, and she is okay, until we get to the kitchen. As I put her in her chair, she points to where Shadow used to sit and again says his name. She says his name a lot...whenever she plays with her cars (as he LOVED to play with cars) or when we go out through the garage and she sees his bike that is still here (until someone can come and pick it up for him) or when we get into the Yukon and she points to where he usually sat or when she opens the cupboard and sees a bag of chips (he liked Fire Cheetos quite a bit!). Everything seems to remind her of Shadow...the trampoline where they would jump together (or she would watch him jump), turning on the Wii and hearing the intro music (he played the Wii A LOT!), or a football he got for his birthday.

And every time she says Shadow's name, remembering him and wondering where he has gone, I pause and pray for him. I don't have any idea where he is now or what kind of family he is living with or if he has started school yet. So as I wonder about him, I pray...that he will make good choices, choose good friends, have the opportunity to go to church and learn about Jesus, trust in Jesus as His Savior, and thus be able to live a completely different life from what he has known these past 12 years. I pray he will taste and see that the Lord is good, that Jesus is what it's all about, and that he'll be able to enjoy the abundant life God is offering him.

Will you please keep praying for him too? The next time you see your shadow, will you think of our Shadow and take a moment to pray for him?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to Normal

Well, I guess life is back to normal now. If there even is a normal anymore!

Yesterday, I was kind of paranoid about Shadow's dad coming to our house. I even called the Liberty Police Patrol to ask them to drive by a couple of times throughout the day. I didn't spend much time at home in the morning anyway. Coralyn and I kept busy running errands, some of which I think I made up just to have something to do and keep my mind occupied.

Not that I didn't have lots to think about though. Around 8:30 yesterday morning I got a call asking if we would be willing/able to take in THREE new kiddos! "Um, how old are they?" is my first question, as I think about my family going from 3 to 6 in a matter of minutes! Hearing that the kiddos were 1, 2 and 1/2, and 5 and 1/2 made my heart do a little flip. I wasn't exactly sure we could handle that many little ones. But I sure wanted to talk to Lawrence before I made any decisions, and figure out a way we could open our home, and hearts, to these children.

I got some more background information and then headed to his school to discuss the possibility of adding THREE kids to our family, giving us a total of 4 kids ages 5 and under! He needed time to process and think through the decision clearly, so I left him to work on getting ready for the first day of school and headed home to get the rooms ready in case we did decide to foster these precious kiddos.

I changed the curtain to a monkey one we got specifically for younger kids, moved the bunk beds a bit, arranged the dresser and bookshelf so I could fit a pack n' play in the room that would be for the boys (ages 1 and 5 and 1/2). I brought up lots of Clifford and Dr. Suess books, along with some of Coralyn's younger aged toys. I picked out a stuffed animal for each of the boys and made their beds. I couldn't get Coralyn's room ready since she was taking a nap, but in my mind I was figuring out how to arrange furniture, make room in the closet for more clothes, and anything else I would need to do so that Coralyn could share the room with the little girl (2 and 1/2).

I was all ready and excited and thinking it would be challenging and keep me very busy, but that we could do it, especially since the older boy would be in kindergarten during the day.

Then the baby kicked, as if saying, "Hey don't forget about me!" I realized that come December we wouldn't have a bed for our new addition! Well, I reasoned, she can sleep in our room for awhile. We can borrow a bassinet or cradle from someone, and the baby will be fine. That is the plan anyway, whether we have foster kids or not. But what happens when the baby outgrows the bassinet and needs a crib? We don't have room in Coralyn's room for two toddler beds and a crib. No matter how we arrange the furniture, it just won't work. Not to mention having a dresser big enough for clothes for THREE girls!

My heart sunk. We would have to say no. I hate saying no, especially when someone needs my help. Especially when innocent children are involved. I know that we can't help them all, but I sure would like to be able to! I know we can't go past our limits or else we aren't really do any good. But it still breaks my heart. So with sadness I called the agency this morning to let them know we had decided we just couldn't take these three precious kiddos. Call us again though! We will be able to say yes to others. So please keep calling.

And because I never know when the phone will ring, or when it does how that phone call might drastically change my life, I have decided that I don't really know what normal is anymore. I guess for today normal is loving on Lawrence and Coralyn, and taking care of Carson during the day. So for now, normal is good, very good.

Who knows what normal will be tomorrow? :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


That is how my heart feels. Well, actually it feels quite full, and even overflowing at times, of emotion, but in a sense there is an empty space.

My house feels empty this morning too. Because we now have an empty bedroom. A bedroom that was full of Shadow yesterday now only contains remnants of his presence with us the past two weeks.

"Wait a second!" You are probably thinking to yourselves. "Didn't Sarah just blog about how wonderfully the party went and how Shadow responded so positively to all the people coming and supporting him?"

Yes, Yes, I did. But what a difference a few hours can make.

Almost as soon as I was done blogging about the successful birthday party, I got a call from Shadow's caseworker. She wanted to let me know that Shadow's dad had been picked up by the Buckner police for threatening his girlfriend with a knife. After being taken in by the police, Shadow's dad proceeded to threaten to slit anyone's throat who had a part in his son being "taken." To add to the drama, he confided that he knew our address and had planned on being at our church on Sunday morning. I thought these were empty threats at first, as I naively believed Shadow had no way of contacting his dad, let alone getting him this specific of information. Oh how wrong I was!

After catching my breath and trying to calm my pulsing heart, I went upstairs and told Shadow we should start cleaning and organizing his room. Thankfully, this was a pre-planned idea, as I would never have been able to just waltz in his room and just start going through his stuff since I was home alone with Shadow and Coralyn (who took an amazing 3 and a half hour nap that allowed me to get everything done that I needed to yesterday afternoon during the chaotic hours before Lawrence got home). I had promised I would help him make space in his room for all his new birthday stuff, so in we went to get the job done. What he didn't know was that I was on the look for a cell phone and anything else that might need to be confiscated.

I didn't think I would find anything, or at least I didn't want to. We had helped him unpack the first night he was in our home and didn't see anything noteworthy at that time, so I figured all was well. Again, how wrong I was! Not only did I find a cell phone (which he claimed didn't work, but I wasn't born yesterday and know that when you push a button and the screen comes on that the phone works). The phone went directly into my pocket, despite Shadow's pleas that it was broken and he just wanted to throw it away. Upon further searching, I mean "cleaning," I found about 5 lighters (he was expelled from school for having lighters and using them). They also went in my pocket. Next, I found what I thought was a box of matches, but when I opened it, I found used cigarettes and some other stuff I didn't recognize (found out later it was indeed drugs, which he has used in the past). Finally, I found a credit card that definitely didn't belong to Shadow, or anyone in his family based on the names I knew from his records. So with my pockets full, and Shadow's room much cleaner, I called the case worker to let her know what I had found.

I tried to use the phone to find text messages, and did. I was shaking too much to be of any good though, so I had to wait until Lawrence got home to do some further searching. Unfortunately, he had Back to School Night (where students and parents come to meet their teachers before school starts) and wouldn't be home until later than usual. As soon as he got home though, he was able to look through the phone and found text messages indicating that Shadow had indeed given his dad the exact address of our church. He had texted some other pretty specific information as well, making it clear that it was no longer safe for Shadow to be in our home.

After much prayer (and hair pulling) we decided that Shadow would have to leave our home immediately. Thankfully, God provided a foster home for him to stay at until Wednesday. At that point he will be moved yet again. I'm not sure if the police will be involved due to the drugs in his possession. All I know is that my heart breaks for this young boy who has grown up in a terrible environment. He doesn't seem to realize how dangerous his dad is or what kind of awful lifestyle he is living. How I pray that he will choose a different path!

I know Shadow was only in our home for two short weeks, but I pray those days make a difference in his life. I know that we followed God's lead and were supposed to have Shadow in our home, but I am saddened about how things turned out. I guess that is part of following after God, you don't know all the details. You just trust Him and take one step at a time. And we will keep on following Him, as we truly believe He has called us to foster parent and open our home, and hearts, to these children who so desperately need love.

Please pray for our continued safety as this situation works itself out, and please pray for Shadow as he transitions yet again. If anyone needs a miracle, he does!

And so as I get ready to go about my day, my heart is both extremely full, yet empty.

Monday, August 15, 2011


The birthday party was a huge success, thanks to all our friends and family who came to support Shadow. We were blown away by their kindness and generosity (seriously, the kid came away loaded with toys, clothes, and tons of other cool stuff). And the best part of all was that I really think (or at least hope) Shadow saw all those people and realized that they truly care about him. He prayed out loud for the first time last night, and his words broke my heart:

"I want to thank You for all the people who came to the party and thank You for
all the cool stuff they gave me. Please bless them for giving me such great
presents. I don't really have anyone right now, so thank You for the party and
please bless them."

To be honest, I wasn't sure how the party was going to go. I didn't have very high hopes after some of our friends introduced themselves at church, and Shadow just sat there ho-hum and didn't really try to interact with them, even though they have a boy very near his age. However, God blew me away at the party -- not just in how Shadow played with the kids who came, but with how many people came and the generosity of their gifts!

We invited about 10-15 families, and I think almost every single one of them came. I'm not sure exactly how many people came, but I know Lawrence cooked 24 hamburgers and 40 hotdogs. We only had about 8 hotdogs at the end of the night! I'm really glad that the weather was so nice because I don't think everyone could have fit in our house! We ate in the backyard, and the kids ran around, played laddergolf, bags, jumped on the trampoline, played on the swingset, or hid in the empty frog-shaped sandbox. And after Shadow opened his gifts, there was a quick game of football!

Speaking of gifts, the kid was buried in presents! We brought them all from the coffee table to the trampoline, and I think the poor trampoline about gave way from the weight of the presents (not to mention all the kids sitting on the trampoline "helping" Shadow open his gifts)! People were so generous, and got him clothes (which he tried on immediately after everyone was gone), model cars (two of which he has already assembled this morning), monster trucks (which make really cool sounds -- a given since they're from my brother-in-law who always gives Coralyn presents that make obnoxious noises), drawing supplies (which he proudly showed us last night, especially emphasizing the erasable colored pencils), 2 footballs (1 of which got used immediately), a couple of frisbies, a hat, a basketball Wii game (which he has played for over an hour this morning), and I can't even remember what all else. Basically, the kid is now loaded with cool stuff! And we are blown away by how generous everyone was! They don't know Shadow from Adam, and yet they came to his party and brought him some really nice things. We are so grateful! Not just because he got nice presents (and we would never be able to afford to get him all that stuff), but because he saw what the love of Jesus looks like lived out by normal people. He saw that God does care about him, by means of all the people who came to his party. And maybe, just maybe, that heart of his is softening. I pray it is.

I know that one birthday party isn't going to undo 11 years of no birthday parties. Or that a couple weeks in our house isn't going to undo the 12 years he has had in the world, and all that he has learned there. But it's a start. A really good one! And it gives me the hope I need to carry on, to keep on going, to keep giving of myself even when I am exhausted and don't see much progress. It gives me hope that we can make a difference. Now I don't really know who was more blessed by the birthday party: Shadow or me?!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Big 1-2!

Shadow's birthday was yesterday. He turned 12. On Sunday, he will have his first birthday party, ever! Even though the party isn't until this weekend, we wanted to make his actual birthday super special.

He's only been with us for one week, but we still had some good ideas of what to get him. Hot wheels, a basketball hoop and ball for his room, and Wii motorcycle game. Oh, and an alarm clock (but that's not as fun, just practical -- but very necessary once school starts next week and he'll be in charge of getting himself up on time). To start the day, we let Shadow sleep in as late as he wanted, which ended up being until about 10! When he finally got up, we did a rousing version of "Happy Birthday," singing in the most annoying, off-pitch voices we could muster (which wasn't too hard for me). When he flopped down on the couch, we suggested he might want to meander into the kitchen. He did, and saw his presents on the table. "Holy Moly!" was his immediate reaction, which made me feel really good inside because I figured he must feel special and that the day was off to a good start.

He opened his presents, and we even got a smile out of him as he did. Though we did have to "force" him to smile as he held up all his presents.

Then we finally got to eat breakfast: biscuits and gravy, per his request. I have only made biscuits and gravy about three times in my entire life, but they must have tasted good, because Shadow gobbled them down like there was no tomorrow.

Lawrence and him headed to the gym, and when they got back we went to McDonalds for lunch. Now if you know me, you know that required a whole lot of love on my part. I actually ordered my very first Happy Meal, for Coralyn. I actually had to ask for help! We ate and then had some fun at the Play Place. I'm not sure who played more: Coralyn or Shadow? :)

All afternoon Lawrence and Shadow hung out. It was Lawrence's last official day of summer, so Shadow was lucky to have him the whole entire day! They played laddergolf, shot some hoops, played on the Wii, and just had guy time. Later, we all went to the community center for a swim. I swear Shadow is half fish, as he wants to go swimming, every single day! I think he would live at the pool if we let him :)

We grabbed some school supplies from Wal-Mart and then had spaghetti for supper, once again Shadow's request. The cake will wait until Sunday when we have the big party. I am excited about the big event and looking forward to sharing this special memory with him. I am so thankful to all our friends and family who are coming to help make this a super day for Shadow. We couldn't do any of this without their support and prayers.

With that said, I will keep you posted on how the birthday party turns out. For now, I need to get some stuff done while both toddlers are asleep (Carson is back today! Coralyn was so excited to wake up to find her best buddy here this morning!).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Keeping It Light

Today Coralyn stuck a pea up her nose at lunch. I left the kitchen for 2 seconds, and when I come back I find her with her finger up her nose. I tell her, "Yucky, No! No!" and pull her finger out. To this she responds, "Berry." We didn't have any berries for lunch, so I assumed she must be talking about the peas. Sure enough. I tilted her head back and there in her nose was a green pea. Yummy!

On a prouder note, I forgot to mention in my post about Coralyn being 22 months old that her recent accomplishments also include being able to say and indicate colors. She has down pink, yellow, green, and sometimes blue and red. For a little girl who's not yet 2, I think that is pretty good. I am one proud mama (and teacher)!

Now if I can just get her to learn NOT to stick peas up her nose! :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Catch 22

I have so many things running through my head right now, so forgive me if this blog doesn't make sense. At least I warned you up front.

Now to try to organize my thoughts into a blog that you can actually understand. :)

First, Coralyn is now 22 months old. Which is quite easy to remember (for this week at least), because I am 22 weeks along in the pregnancy! Both of my girls are growing steadily! Coralyn is adding more words to her vocabulary each day, and it seems as if she is able to do so much more as well. She has become quite the swimmer and loves to swim "all by herself." She kicks her legs and has just started to use her arms too. She can climb up on the couch without help, and somehow she can reach things in her room that I didn't think she could :) The best part of all is that she has adjusted amazingly to our crazy life the past several months. She did fantastic at camp and hasn't missed a beat since we got back, even though we added an 11-year boy to the family! Coralyn has taken to Shadow like he has lived with us forever. She even grabs him by the hand and says, "Come here," pulling him wherever it is that she wants to go. She loves playing cars with him or "helping" him play the Wii. She is thrilled that Shadow likes to swim, which has meant almost daily trips to the community center's pool. I think she also enjoys having someone else sit with her in the backseat of the car :) I am so thankful that Coralyn is as flexible as she is and just jumps right in to whatever our life brings. And speaking of being flexible, the girl can do the splits! :)

The little one inside is doing well and growing like she's supposed to be. I can feel her kick more and more, and I just know that any day now Lawrence will be able to feel her movements as well. December seems like such a long ways away, but we will just have to be patient and wait until the time is right to meet our newest addition!

Now on to the jumbled mess of thoughts that are running through my head. Since Tuesday I don't think I have been able to relax or breathe easily, even when I am sleeping. Given Shadow's background, we have to be very careful about everything it seems. I am always worried about what he's doing or what could happen or how in the world things are going to look come tomorrow when Lawrence goes back to work and Shadow is "stuck" at home with Coralyn and me all day. I have a deep sense of responsibility and my heart is heavy with all that Shadow has been through and how that affects the way he thinks and acts now. He's had 12 years to learn the ways of the world, and he has learned them well, too well. I pray earnestly for God to work in his heart and break away at the hardness and darkness that is there, but I know that will take time, lots and lots of it. It hasn't even been a week, and I am already so exhausted and ready to say that I just can't do this anymore. But I'm not a quitter and I know that God has brought Shadow to our house for a reason. I know that this is the right thing to do, and just yesterday I read, "Never grow weary in doing good." Oh God, give me strength, and wisdom, and everything else I need to raise a toddler and a preteen! :)

Although the past 5 days have been busy and draining in every way possible, God has been at work. In me, in my heart. And guess who He's been using to teach me these lessons? Coralyn and Shadow, of course!

I am so proud of Coralyn for adjusting so well and welcoming Shadow to our family. She loves him unconditionally and has accepted him without question. Oh to have the innocence of a two-year old! Unfortunately, I don't have that privilege right now. I have to be weary of his background and all the baggage that comes with it. I have to be wise. I can't just ignore his past and welcome him open-armed with no restraints or reservations. And yet at the same time, I wish that I didn't know anything about Shadow except that he needs my love. So I am trying to figure out how to be "innocent as a dove, but wise as a serpent." I am working on loving like a child, but having the wisdom of an adult. This one may take awhile. How thankful I am though that God loves and accepts me, with my baggage and all! That He has welcomed me into His home, given me complete freedom (knowing all along that I will make poor choices and mess up), trusted me (again, knowing that I am not totally trustworthy), and loved me unconditionally (forgiving me of my past and wiping away all my sins). It's like Pastor Michael talked about today. Only as I recognize how much I owe God (EVERYTHING!), can I truly appreciate the cross. I may not have the background Shadow does, but I am still a sinful wretch. And the only reason I am not still in that position is because God, in His infinite grace, has saved me and rescued me from darkness. I pray that rather than judging Shadow (or his family) for his past, that I will look past his sin (like God has done with me) and simply show him the love of Jesus.

This leads to another thing that God has been teaching me, mainly through Shadow. Shadow idolizes his dad, even though his dad has not been a good role model or there for him throughout most of his life. Shadow's deepest desire is to be reunited with his dad and live with him, forever. I wonder, why in the world does this child want to be with his dad at all? Why hasn't Shadow given up on him? Doesn't he realize how much better he has it here at our house, with people who love him and care for him and want what is best for him? Doesn't he see how our friends (complete strangers to him) care more about him than his own family seemingly does? Why in the world does Shadow want to go back to such an awful situation when he has it so good here? I don't get it, at all. Then, at church this morning, God showed me how I am just like Shadow. How many times do I prefer the things of this world over my God? How often do I choose want I want over the good things that God has to give me? Don't I get caught up in my desires and deceive myself into thinking that whatever the world has to offer is better than what God has made available to me? I know that my thoughts aren't always on heaven, or things above, but rather focused on the stuff of this world. And God is crying out for me to come to Him, to sit on His lap, to enjoy the fullness of His kingdom. He probably wonders why in the world I choose the temporal, momentary junk the world has to offer over the eternal, glorious riches He wants to give me. I bet He doesn't get it, at all.

Yet He still loves me and keeps offering His best to me.

And so that is what I must do as well. Like we sang in church today, "I will pour out my praise." I will give my all to live for God, emptying myself (knowing that God will keep refilling me, everyday) so that Shadow (and Coralyn) can see firsthand what Jesus' love looks like.

I know that was a lot, and I hope it made sense. If you made it this far, thanks for letting me verbally vomit and attempt to process all the random thoughts that are going through my head. And as always, we appreciate your prayers!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lawrence's Shadow

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity as we are adjusting to having an 11 (almost 12) year old boy in our family, helping Coralyn get used to being a little sister, keeping both of the kids busy (and trying to find things they both enjoy doing, at the same time), figuring how to enroll a kid in MIDDLE SCHOOL, and learning more about how the foster system works.

Wednesday was our first full day as a family of four. We made it a full day, indeed. To start, we walked to the park. Of course Coralyn wanted to swing while Lawrence and Shadow (the nickname I have given our foster kiddo) threw a football around. Next, we went to the library to get Shadow a library card and check out a few books for everyone. Then we were off to Wal-Mart to pick up a few items. And that was all before lunch! While Coralyn took a nap, a service worker came over to meet Shadow and get a feel for how things are going with everyone. After Coralyn woke up from her nap (the one day this week that she has actually slept in her big girl bed), we headed to the community center to swim. That evening we played the Wii and watched "So You Think You Can Dance." Before Shadow went to bed we read a chapter together from the book he picked at the library and then a few verses from Mark. By the time we hit the pillow that night, we were exhausted!

Yesterday was our second full day, and it was another busy one. Lawrence and Shadow went to school to do some testing to see what grade Shadow will be in this year, and got some work done in Lawrence's classroom. Once the test was complete, Lawrence was able to get all the paperwork we will need to fill out to enroll Shadow in Middle School! Augh, how can that be? We are going to have a kid in MIDDLE SCHOOL?!!! Later that afternoon I spent a couple hours tutoring a former student, so Lawrence and Shadow were off again to run some errands. Almost right after they got back, Lawrence had to head out to switch some mixed up luggage from camp, and of course, Shadow wanted to tag along. (Have you figured out where I got the nickname yet? :) As soon as they got back, Lawrence and I had to leave for our first class on becoming foster-to-adopt parents. Kaylee Sue was amazing and watching both kiddos for us. I am pretty sure they kept her busy! And she must have worn Coralyn out, because the girl just woke up this morning, at 9:30! That's a new record for her!

We have tried to establish routine already and get Shadow ready for school, so bedtime has supposed to been around 9. But last night we didn't end up leaving his room until after 10 since we were having such a good conversation. We read our chapter from his book, a few more verses from Mark, and then talked about our character trait of the day (since we didn't get to do it at supper). Honestly, we were going to hold off on the character trait until today, but Shadow reminded us and asked if we could, so of course we said SURE! That led to some discussions about school and church and what life will look like for him in our home since he's in the foster care system. It's hard because next week is his birthday, so he wants his family to come and some friends too, but that just isn't possible with his particular situation. And from what he's said, this will be his first birthday party ever. He's going to be 12! And he's never had a birthday party?! Ah, my heart breaks!

Well, we finally got to bed. Before he did though, we mentioned the plans for today, and when Lawrence said he was going to work out this morning, Shadow asked if he could go along. At 7 a.m.! So this morning Lawrence got Shadow up and off they went to the community center. They lifted weights and swam and had a great work out together. I'm not sure what Shadow is going to do come Monday when Lawrence has to go back to work, and Shadow will be "stuck" at home with me (and my daycare kiddos).

Okay, I gotta run. We have another full day ahead of us. Thank you so much for your prayers as we continue to adjust to having an almost 2 year old and a pre-teen. Life is always the adventure, isn't it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One of Each

Today is a big day for our family.

This morning we had a sonogram and found out that we will be having another little GIRL come December. We were kind of hoping for a boy because we would love to have one of each, but we aren't disappointed with the results at all! We are thrilled our baby is healthy and apparently quite cooperative as she was in position from the start for us to get a great shot of her backside and determine the gender immediately. She was squirmy, but still let us get some good shots of her face, legs, feet and toes, and at one point she even seemed to wave to us as we took a picture of her sweet face. We could see her tiny heart beating (162 bpm) and got a glance of her itty bitty stomach too. We saw her brain, and everything appears to be developing well there too. At various times during the sonogram I could feel the baby kick and see her legs moving on the screen. I was already in love with my baby, but after this morning everything seems even more real. December seems like forever away, as I can hardly wait to meet this precious little one and hold her close and kiss her all over.

Coralyn did a great job during the sonogram. She kept pointing to the screen and saying, "Baby." She was ultimately more interested in playing with the babies they had in the office though. Seeing a replica of the 20 week baby made my heart melt as I watched our own baby up on the screen. So tiny, and yet so full of energy! Like I said, I can hardly wait to meet my bundle of joy, not to mention introduce Coralyn to her little sister.

Finding out our baby's gender made for an exciting morning, but our day is far from over. In just a few hours we will meet our foster child, an 11 year old boy. So, in a way, we are indeed adding both a boy and a girl to our family! We get one of each after all! :) We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we make this huge transition. As the time draws closer and closer, my heart seems to beat faster and faster and my mind is racing 100 miles an hour. Yet, just like I was somewhat anxious about our sonogram this morning, I have a deep peace that only God could give. Just as I am confident that God is shaping and molding the little one inside of me, I know He is at work in this situation. He has brought this boy to our home to transform all of us. And just as I can hardly wait to meet my little baby, I am excited to see what all God has in store for us as we begin this new phase of our journey with Him.

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