Saturday, March 4, 2017

Reality Check

I know I post a lot of stories and pictures on my blog of us as a family and what we are doing.  Posts of our family going through our every day lives and mostly the happiest of pictures.  I do want everyone considering fostering or adopting a child with special needs, to know that our core, as a family, is happiness, joy in the Lord and in the family He has created around us. 
We feel very blessed every moment of every day.  As you read my post today, please don't forget these words because they are the truth.
The other reality we live, is that all of the children in our home have special needs that makes life harder than most others lives, every day.  It does not take away from God and His Holiness or cause us to run from Him. In fact it actually does the opposite and causes us to run to Him.  It causes me to stay on my knees in prayer, often in anguish, over our children's health and solutions to bring relief from their hard behaviors.   The hard days do not take away our faith but in fact builds it.  Often these behaviors are so severe or seasons so hard, I have no where to find relief but in God, in prayer and in His scriptures.  We literally live and see miracles almost daily.  Sometimes the progress and relief is in such small increments, I don't see it till I look back to where we were..  We focus on the good and on God.  We live and push (or crawl sometimes) through the hard and tough.  I have learned that my joy is truly in the Lord and not in what is going on around me.   It is not easy by any stretch...I am human... weak, battered and broken at times but given the strength daily for what is ahead.  Our life at times, is self sacrificing but is rewarding and what needs to be done to care for the children God has lent to us and trusted us to raise.  It is what Tim and I feel we are called to and we see fruit from it all.  It is our life and reality.  It is both ugly and beautiful all at the same time sometimes...but through it all...we are so very blessed and content.  This might not make any sense to some people but is so very true.
I never want to paint a picture here on our blog, that when one is led and feels to do foster care, adopt a child with special needs or any child, that it will be all happy, easy and a life of flowers, butterflies and roses. 
That IS there...but often we have to live or go through... anger, grief, hurt, tantrums, very hard behaviors, hospital stays, surgeries and turmoil as well.  But don't we sometimes have these things with our biological children?  Also...God surely had to go through (and still at times is going through ) many of these things with me, in my adoption into the kingdom of God.   Adoption actually comes down to are you willing?  Willing to stay the course and walk the road.  What are you really doing this for?  Can you give God the dreams you had pictured in your head about what this adoption was going to look like and turn out like?... AND embrace the reality of who the child is and the new family structure you now have whatever that maybe?  Even if you are, sometimes things were not meant to be and God has other plans.  His plans and ways are higher than ours and perfect.  I will be honest with you all.  We have had two disrupted adoptions.  They happened many years ago...Where circumstances beyond our control caused a disruption before adoption day could take place.  They were excruciatingly painful for all involved to live through and look back on even now.  I pray for anyone who has or is going through such a painful time.  God be with you.  
Often people say such wonderful and kind things about our family and Tim and I.  We are not special.  We are average people and can not do what we do with out God having His mighty hand on every detail and moment of our lives.  All the glory to God and is His.
I thank each and every one of you who thinks of and prays for our family, who take the time to write and encourage us with scriptures and notes, who have actively gotten involved in our family and children's lives.  We are profoundly grateful and may God bless each and everyone of you back 100 fold.  I so often feel the support of people praying for us when we are going through difficult times.  It is a wonderful blessing.
I have had a lot of people lately asking how the children are doing.  The health of some and behaviors of others.  Especially, a lot of people asking about our sweet Antonio.  I am going to, over the next few weeks,  do a few updates on some of the children and their lives to let you all know how each child is doing.  I can say one thing... they sure are all growing!  I don't know how I ever was chosen to be so blessed by the Lord, to be so surrounded by love every day of my life.  Time goes by so quickly and I am amazed daily by who God is shaping each child to be.  God is so good.

Ephesians 3:17-19  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Second Catch Up Post As Promised!

I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.  If you look closely, you can see the rainbow in front of the trees and ending on my dads home.  A rainbow is a reminder of Gods promise. I like to think this is Gods precious promises, abiding on my dad and his home.  So very special and amazing.
This will be the second catching up post and then I hope to keep up with my blogging much better.  :)

The weather here has been just wonderful for working outside, so I have been very busy with doing little projects and clean ups around the farm.  If I have a choice of working inside or outside...outside wins every time.  Housework will always be there for me to catch up with, when we have colder or rainy weather.

In January Carolyn had her Footsteps in Faith ballet recital.  It was so uplifting, inspirational and beautiful as always.  She has matured and progressed so much in her ballet technique and grace.  So beautiful.

We are still in a drought (our pond is still only half full)  but we had a good amount of rain come through in one storm.  The children love to go outside and jump in muddy puddles when that happens.
It blesses my heart to see them having so much fun just being kids and not worrying about getting dirty.

Kinsley and Anna-Kate are only a year and a week apart in age.  They are very close sisters.  I took these while they were waiting to go back for their therapy appointments.

Carolyn is still  my right hand girl.  She helps me so much with the children and out door barn work.  We work very well together and she is happiest when she is with me and helping me.  She is not only my daughter but one of my best friends.
My sweet Carolyn and little sleeping cutie pie.
There is a small circus that comes to a town near ours every year.  We have not made it out to our little circus in many years.  I wanted to make a point of going to it this year beacuse the younger children are finally old enough to enjoy it and have never been to one.  Also, because I beleve that circuses will soon be no more and are a dying piece of American history.  We saved up for a month so we could go and when we got there, the ticket lady blessed us and let us all in for 1/3 of the price, of what we were expecting.  (God bless her and thank you Lord!)  We sat on the very front row because Antonio is in a wheel chair.
Antonio is going through one of his hard spells.  They last a few weeks.  He seemed to enjoy it even though he was not himself.
We enjoyed seeing everything up close and in full view!
Billy with the tiger and lion act behind him!
 The older children were just as excited and happy as the little ones.  I paired up a little with a big, to help the littles get the most out of the experiance.
Anna-Kate always does better when with her dad. She is a daddy's girl through and through.
Elizabeth buddied up with Antonio and Carolyn with Timmy.
William was Kinsley's big buddy.
Billy is always my buddy, as it is so very hard to keep him focused, sitting still and behaving appropriately.  He did well as the action never stopped!
We had a little extra money because the ticket lady let us in at a reduced cost, so the ones that wanted to, had a ride on a camel.
I cant believe we didn't get a picture of the elephants!  They were absolutely huge!
It was an outstandingly fun time, that the children are still talking about daily.

I will leave you with a peaceful picture of my pair of clown fish  in my little reef tank.

Hebrews 12:14  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Behind Again :)

Well, once again life has gotten a bit busy here on the farm and I have gotten behind in blogging.  I am so sorry and will make this a catch up post.  I might have to break it into two.  :)

In December Uncle "B" and Aunt "S" took Kinsley, Billy, Carolyn and William to the Children's Discovery Museum...
In a bee hive. Honeycombs!  My little larves!
Funny mirrors!
Digging for dinosaur bones!
Puppet shows and theater stage!
Water fun!
 and the Aquarium!
It was the first time Kinsley had been on an outing with her Aunt and Uncle and you can see how tired she was getting here!
And maybe Billy a little too.  :)  That boy never runs out of energy!
Happy time!
 Thank you Uncle "B" and Aunt "S" for taking the time to take the children to such wonderful places and on adventures that they will remember the rest of their lives!

In December Zeke took part in the Special Olympics bowling tournament.
He looks like such a grown man to me here in this picture!  Well, I guess he is now though!
 I knew it would be very crowded and I could not get in, out and move around like I would need to, with all my small children, so William and Carolyn went over to cheer him on!  He got a ribbon!  Great job Zeke!

I know we live in the deep south but we do occasionally get snow!  It snowed here the beginning of January!
Billy and Yellow our faithful farm dog!
Timmy making a snow angel!
My right hand lady!
Kinsley playing with the sand toys in the snow!
Warming up by the fire after playing in the snow.
Kinsley did not want to come in, she was having such a good time.  She got very cold.  Here she is warming back up again.  I had to put her in several layers of cloths to help her get warm.
Warm tea always helps too!
Antonio stayed in where it was warm.  He does not like cold weather and it makes him sick quickly.  He stayed in and supervised the warming up of the little children.

Directly after the snowy weather, we had  a few weeks of very nice weather (mid to high 60's) so we took advantage of it and with the help of God and some of the children, built Billy his chicken coop, he had been wanting for his chickens.
Front view.  It has three separate sections.
The back view.
I tried to design it so a small child could easily care for chickens with  minimal help.  Praise be to God, it turned out great.  I was out there every spare moment, working on it, trying to get it finished before the weather turned cold again.  Glory to God it is completed!...and today it is so chilly, we have our wood stove going.  :)

We also had our two pregnant goats deliver their babies! 
You can read about that over at my farm blog if interested!

Philippians 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Birthday Young Man!!

At the end of December Antonio had his 22nd birthday!
A cookie his massage therapist made for him!
He was one of the children that did not come into our home as an infant.  Our daughter Faith Anne had just passed away and I was filled with grief.  I had a very hard time with it all and spent much of my time escaping on the internet, trying to learn more about special needs children and the diagnosis that Faith Anne  had.  I stumbled upon My Turn Now.  The adoption site for our state, Georgia.  I was blown away that there were children, nation wide, that were wards of the state.  That had no parental rights over them and were just waiting for homes.  I stumbled upon Antonio's page and was very drawn to him.  Below is the picture that was on his waiting list page.

We requested more information about him and learned all about his diagnosis and history.  He had been in care since the day he was born, up for adoption his whole life and no one ever tried to adopt him.  I fully believe that the Lord gave us Antonio to bless our home and also help me navigate the deep sorrow of the death of our daughter.  Antonio is such a wonderful person.  That little five year old brought us a lot of joy from the day we met him.  He was moved to our home and six months later we adopted him and made him our son.  Carolyn and Antonio shared an adoption day.

He fit in seamlessly and was just one of the gang!

He had never left down town Atlanta in his whole life, so experienced a lot of firsts with us.  Like going fishing, to the zoo, museum or going to the ocean.
Or going to Disney.

He absolutely loved being in a large active family.

Loved having his own dad for the first time in his life.

He was and is, just so loved by us all.
 His personality was always positive and upbeat before his Botox overdose, his smile rarely left his face.
He loves me and prays for me and everyone he knows.

He loves to bowl...
and be in the middle of everything going on.

He loved it when we started adopting little ones.  He is the best big brother!

He loves meeting up and going places with extended family!  Like his papa and nana. (Tim's dad below)
God is so good to have blessed us with this child of ours.  Antonio has grown into a fine young man and is one of the kindest and best of men I know.

For his birthday he wanted Aunt "S" to make him a Bob the Builder cake.  She always does such wonderful work.  It made his day.

 Isaiah 41:10  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

May God in heaven give you health and long life.  May He hold you in His powerful hand keeping you safe and well.  You are a true blessing and we love you dearly!

Love Always and Forever, Dad, mom. Stephen, William, Carolyn, Zeke, Elizabeth, Billy, Timothy, Kinsley and Anna-Kate