Friday, October 19, 2012

Foster Care Gets Respite, The Heart Gets a Different Break

  Have you ever sat down and wondered how far you could go if you did something in faith? either. My inclinations are to shrink away and hide or jump blindly full speed into the abyss. The latter is usually my first choice unless it involves a large group of people, particularly if they are all adults. I have had to learn to reign in the leaping because I needed to consider my husband's thoughts first.

  Foster care is something we both agreed to step into but getting approved demands that you rehash the past over and over - verbally and on paper. Couple that with the fear of being rejected and it just makes an emotional mess for me. Good thing that is over, besides it is NOT about me which is what I told myself during each interview and stack of paperwork.

  So far, our experience with foster care has been for respite, which is temporary care of a foster child while a foster family takes care of something or gets some rest but it can also be a place to stay while a new placement home is found. 

  The children waiting for a new placement home are really sad because they are so scared. Each move is starting over again and it is unsure what you are getting when you move. Will it be a family with children? A single adult? A different school? A place with plenty of food? A safe place or not? It is even more sad to get a teenager who is pregnant and even more sad than that is a teenager who is pregnant and has an infant. This was our latest call and we said yes. At the moment, we are not supposed to get calls because we are in the process of getting a teenager from a group home and the counselor does not want anyone else in the home when she gets to us but, the phone rang and I answered. They assured me that it would be just for the week. Again, I was given the "talk" which includes any behavioral issues and the reasons why the child is having to move to a new home. The whole thing stirs up my insides because I feel so unprepared and inadequate but the car pulls up and the nerves dissolve when I see this child with child and holding a child. 

  The woman who washed Jesus' feet came to mind as we ventured out on errands. Luke 7:
"36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

  We have had lots of stares since being a different color makes it obvious whose baby it is and it is very clear that she is about to have another any day. We also had an encounter with a rude sales lady that I tried to kill with kindness, a smile, and the face of the sweet baby. She was obviously disgusted by a pregnant teenage mother and would not crack, so I thought it best to continue on as if her rudeness was nothing to dwell on. 

  Jesus proved it - compassion is rooted in love and love is Christ. Again, another reminder to walk through situations NOT thinking of me but displaying Christ. So hard sometimes...

  Several days in and this young lady felt comfortable enough to share some challenges in her life right now. She knows that she has made some choices that were not wise and she knows that she many obstacles to overcome. No one needs to point out those things but someone does need to draw her near and point her in the direction of hope. Her story is made even more challenging as the system struggles to find a new placement home for her and the baby. I know we cannot keep her because we had our first meeting with our child from the group home and, if you can believe it, she is in more need than this young lady. Fortunately, this young mother can be re-unified with her family. She just has to keep working on her goals and make better choices so I pray that a good placement home opens up soon and her ears are open to the message of hope we share. For now, we are going out to purchase a duffel bag or some kind of suitcase to replace the garbage bags in which her stuff is packed. People are sinners but they are never trash.

  More on our child from the group home later...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Flying the Coop and Flies in the Coop

  Months before we moved last year, our son moved out. He wanted to move in with a few buddies and live closer to campus. We sat him down and gave him the "grown-up" talk about responsibility, choices, consequences, paying bills, and handling all the things your parents always took care of for you. His response was probably like most young people's response - rolling of the eyes and repeated confirmations that he knew all that. My folly was that for years I had been repeating to him that it was my job to raise him so that he could leave one day. What a schmuck I am! Here I was staring that moment in the face and I wanted to scream, "You can't leave! The training is not complete!"

  Honestly, I would never feel ready for two reasons. One, I feel like a terrible mother (long story of the past) and two, I feel like I did not adequately teach him the Word of God and that he is going to walk away from church. But, here's truth: God is sovereign, I am not. I could have been the best Bible teacher in the world and lived the most respected Christian life (which I assure you I do not) and he still could leave and not follow Christ. 

  Relationships cannot be forced and definitely not a relationship with Christ. God's Word and prayer are part of my life and therefore, it is in my home but when children leave, they have to choose who or what they will serve. No matter what my children choose, I love them, pray for them, and when led, give advice but I cannot truly know the result of what their hearts took in until they live life.

  It is a lot like the chicken coop my husband built for me. Never having built many things and having no real experience with chickens, made it an interesting undertaking. The coop looks great though and, yes, that is a plastic playhouse. I am so pleased and happy to show it off to anyone who comes over...

 (Isn't it great!)

 but the real test is not how great it looks, it is how well it functions. After a few days, the coop design revealed some problems. Cleaning it is a pain. Ugh! Hundreds of flies took over and the buzzing was sooooo loud that it would made you dizzy. Why????

  Luke 6 reminds me clearly that it takes trial to test the integrity:
47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

  Whether we like it or not, we will face trials and those trials will expose who we are and in what we trust. Even Christians sometimes find out that there is an area where they were not trusting in Christ. The difference is that when the flood comes, the ruin of the house is not "great" because the foundation exists, a lot like the chicken coop. Overall, the coop is solid but the issues inside cause frustration. When I realized the problems, I could have given up on the coop or sat down and had a pity party but I decided that the coop was worth correcting. If I did not correct it, the chickens would eventually get sick and Henna, Nilla, Poe, Jules, Auntie Em, Paislee, and Brownee would cease to exist. They depend on me to care for them.

  It took a drill, some aspen wood chips, and diatomaceous earth to correct the problem. By drilling a small hole in the floor, I can spray out  the inside and the water will drain out. Putting in a layer of aspen chips mixed with diatomaceous earth (the food grade kind) keeps the coop dry and the flies are discouraged from breeding but if they do, the DE kills them. Daily, I scoop out anything too nasty if needed and once a week, I scoop it all out and scrub it down. The coop is a thousand times better.

  The process is a lot like my own life. Christ decided long ago my life was worth changing but it took a lot more than a drill and wood chips. As I repent, the nastiness is scooped out, Christ pours in grace and I am able to grow. Of course, I build up nastiness a lot quicker than my chickens and need scooping out on a daily basis but the process is functioning not frustrating. I depend on God to care for me and without Him, I would have ceased existing long ago (another long story from the past). I have entrusted God with my children as well and in that is peace despite my shortcomings as a mother. They will leave my coop one day but I can keep them before God through prayer.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Swine, Examine Thyself

  Look what the pig drug in!!!

  Adjusting to a child leaving the nest, a hospital stay, a move, and a new adventure have all passed under the bridge. You can either get buried under the burden of change or you break it open, look at it, and discover the joy. Re-evaluation of life is not only good, it is essential. The Bible commands it in 2 Corinthians 13:

 "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"

  And so, in the midst of putting together a new home and a new year of home school lesson plans for my only child at home, I did just that and I found that I had vision problems and heart trouble. It was not pleasant and brought me into low places. Log removal from my eyes and cleaning out layers of nastiness in my heart was necessary. For this new season of my life, I needed to grow in wisdom and not be so inclined to foolish wallowing in emotional mudpits. The path is already peppered with obstacles that require perseverance, which I am positive are in direct correlation with the areas that need sanctification and my response must match my faith. 

   How does this affect the blog? Well, the content will still contain helpful tips, recipes, home school tidbits, and a smidgeon of silliness but now I can add several new things. The first addition will be great photography because my daughter has blossomed into an amazing photographer. Next, the content will broaden to include information on foster care, dealing with the emptying of the nest, and venturing into farm life. 

  For now, grab yourself some concord grapes and make some grape fruit leather. One of my friends claims that it tastes like manna and since there is no way to dispute her claim, you will just have to see for yourself but, yes, it is worth the effort. 

  Concord Grape Fruit Leather
  • 1 1/4 lb. concord grapes
  • 1/2 c. sugar 
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 200.
Wash the grapes, then squeeze them out of their skins into a pot. (this quite fun, they pop right out). Put the skins in the blender and puree them. 

Cook insides about 20 min. over medium heat, stirring them occasionally, until seeds separate from inside. Put insides through a food mill or berry press to remove seeds and return to pot. Add in skins, sugar, honey, and lemon juice. You may want to taste this while cooking and adjust sugar if necessary. Cook about 35 min., stirring often, until very thick.

Put a layer of parchment paper in a jelly roll pan or half-sheet cake pan. Spread mixture evenly in a thin layer. Bake 3-4 hours until it is barely sticky. You can also dry this in a food dehydrator. When done, let it cool then cut into strips with parchment paper attached and roll up just like a fruit roll-up. Store in an airtight container.