Monday, September 26, 2011

Finding Some Joy

My busy week is over - what a week that was! But I got everything done that I needed to. The youth group came over and we had a nice time with them. We'll do this again next year, for Will's last season of football. After they left our house around 11pm, they all headed back to the church for an all-nighter. I don't know how those youth leaders do it. I could never stay up all night long!

I had quite the time of it towards the end of the week with some of my personal possessions. On Thursday I was leaning over the washer, pulling out some wet clothes when my cell phone slipped out of my pocket and into the 5 gallon bucket of homemade laundry detergent I keep on the floor. Not good! Fortunately, I had hung onto my previous phone and was able to get service transferred to that. Then, the next day I lost my keys. It's like a key fairy - demon is more like it - came into our house and whisked them away. We have looked absolutely everywhere for them and they are nowhere to be found. So today I went to town and got copies made. How utterly frustrating!

We went to Council Bluffs on Saturday. The whole weekend was kind of discouraging on a number of levels. The wedding reception was the most joy-less one I think I have ever attended. We were sitting there and I asked Paul, "What's wrong here?" He kind of shrugged but said he felt it too. Later that night we were talking and we finally pinned it down to the utter lack of joy on anyone's part. It was like the families involved were just playing a part. It was bizarre and sad. I guess that's what happens when you don't do things God's way.

My focus this week is getting together the papers we need to go forward with our adoption application. We have to have them all in by Oct. 15 - things like our marriage license, dog vaccine records, signed dr reports on all of us, etc. We also have to make a decision by then whether or not we're willing to take an HIV baby/child. I guess I don't have a problem with it. I think the only danger with HIV is in the case of mixing blood. Because of that we'd have to be a little more careful, but there's a big difference between HIV and AIDS. But maybe I should do a little more research on this first. I spent this morning trying to find our marriage license - to no avail. I know we got a copy after we first married because I had to have it to get my Nebraska driver's license. But I have no clue what happened to it. I called the Black Hawk county registrar's office and they said I could pick one up from them - in person - for a $15 fee. So I guess I'll have to do that. Fortunately, I am going up there anyway in a couple of weeks when my brother and family come to town. So that will work out.

Sam came to us last week and announced that he wanted to make a "lever." He went and got a couple of thin boards but was then having trouble figuring out how to attach them. Paul and I just looked at eachother - was this really OUR child? He's only 3! His vocabulary, which has always been good, has just exploded even more in the last couple of weeks. He's becoming quite the chatterer. Yesterday, I overheard someone at our old church ask him, "Does your mom call you 'Sam'?" Sam replied, "Yep - and I call my mom, 'mama' 'cuz she likes that when I do that!" He has been quite cheerfully wetting his pants lately. As he told me matter-of-factly the other day, "I just don't like to come in the house when I'm busy playing!"

Ben got a brand-new bowling ball last week from Special Olympics. We had figured out that the reason he was having trouble bowling was because his hand is so large - but his frame is so thin. For his weight, he can only handle a 10 lb ball. But the span on a 10 lb ball is smaller. So they ordered this ball for him - Ben got to pick it out - and then specially drilled the holes for him. I'm hoping he really can become a good bowler in time. I'm not in favor of the smoking ban in all Iowa businesses (except casinos - follow the money trail on THAT one!) but I do have to admit it is nice to be able to go into bowling alleys now without inhaling all the smoke that used to swirl around inside them. Ben's bowling event is on Oct. 20th.

Well, I had better get started on dinner. Pretty soon I'll have to go pick up Ben from practice. Will's game got cancelled tonight, which is nice. He said it probably had to do with lack of players from the other team. Some of these smaller schools have a hard time putting together JV teams. It's kind of raw out there this afternoon and I'd just as soon spend it indoors, anyway!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blue Blood

I realized it has been over a week since I posted, so I thought I'd do that tonight. Plus, I'm experimenting with moving pictures around in my blog, so I can kill 2 birds with one stone - hopefully.

This is a picture of Paul and me from last night. We ended up going to an Andre Rieu concert here in town. We hadn't planned to go. Paul had called a couple of weeks ago and found out that ticket prices started at $47, which seemed a little pricey. In fact, just a week ago we had commented to eachother that for that kind of money, we could spend the night in a hotel away from the kids! But then Tuesday, I got a call from Clear Channel radio telling me that I had won two tickets to the concert! So, I called Paul to let him know that Sat. was going to be a date night and while we were talking, he got a call from Clear Channel letting him know that HE had won 2 tickets as well! We had signed up at the state fair last month. What are the odds of THAT happening? Well, actually, as the week wore on discovered a few other people in my circle of acquaintances had also won tickets, so I'm guessing the odds were pretty good!We're kind of assuming that they were trying to fill up the auditorium and gave Clear Channel many tickets to give away. We gave our other set of tickets to a friend of mine and her husband.

I actually wasn't too sure about the concert. My tastes are more plebeian in nature (you might remember how I referenced a rather crass Toby Keith song in my last post!). I can stand to listen to classical music for a short while, but the yawns kick in if I listen to it for too long. And then as we were walking into the conce
rt I got a little more nervous because I saw all these white heads going in - it was sure to be a snooze fest!

But it was amazing! I never knew classical music could be so much fun! At one point they dumped "snow" on some of the audience and balloons fell from the ceiling later in the program. The 2 1/2 hours just flew by. I could have easily listened for another 2 1/2! So who knows - perhaps we are classier folk than I realized!

I don't have a lot to report on from last week. This next week will be a busy one, though, that's for sure. Friday night, the youth group is attending Will's game in Pleasantville. Then, they are traipsing over to our house for food, then back to the church for an all-nighter. So, you know what I'll be doing all week long! Yeah, I see some definite cooking and cleaning in my future! We have been told that at last count, they are expecting 25-30 kids to come over. I'm wondering how they are all going to fit into my house! Will and I hammered out a menu this week. Tomorrow I shop for the food and then I guess I'll be cooking for rest of the week.

Next Saturday, the day after the youth event, we are headed to Council Bluffs. Paul's nephew is getting married and, while the wedding is taking place at the courthouse, they're having a big reception afterwards. I would be more excited if the bride and groom hadn't been living together for the past two years and didn't already have a child together. Yes, it's good they are doing the right thing, but I'm thinking a quieter, more intimate wedding would be more appropriate, under the circumstances. We are going for Paul's brother and wife because we really like them and want to support them. I know they are relieved that their son is finally marrying his girlfriend. So, we'll show up, give them some money, eat some cake, and spend most of the evening sighing, hoping against hope (and praying) that our children make better choices when they reach adulthood.

I found out this week that I am going to be writing regularly for Jewels for Encouragement. I figured that was the case, but it was nice to get the official say-so on it. My posts will show up the 27th of every month, but I'll put a note here so that you all can view them if you want to.

Life is speeding up, even faster than it was, if that is possible. I looked at the calendar and realized that we do not have a single Saturday free until maybe in November. Wow! And that's the month with two birthdays in it. I think I had better be taking my vitamins! And guess who is planning the town's annual bonfire/Halloween party this year? Yep...the people who normally do it don't want to. So, it was going to be scrapped. I know the kids really look forward to that every year and it's so good for neighborly unity. So, our city clerk and I are taking it on this year. I'll let you know how that goes!

I ordered a manual this week in hopes that it will help David with some of his learning problems. I am just convinced that he has both a visual/motor brain processing delay, as well as an auditory processing problem. I remember when he was 7 and we had him evaluated by the AEA that they did dx him with several learning delays. I kind of brushed the whole thing off since their solution was to bring him to school every day for reading class. That kind of defeated the whole purpose of homeschooling and it took him until he was 9 1/2 before he learned to read, but he did learn. And he's actually a pretty good reader today. But he has some other areas of struggle. They're not terrible and he's really a pretty good student. But they aren't getting better and I'm afraid that if we don't address them, they could have life-long impacts on his learning and eventually his vocation. We have a learning center in Des Moines that I have often wished we could take David to, but I know it's frightfully expensive. My chiropractor told me how he and his wife spent over $30,000 there getting their son's difficulties taken care of. We can't do that. But I did run across this manual in a magazine and finally ordered it recently. Now I'm studying it.

I was kind of encouraged last night while talking to my friend who met us at the concert so we could give them our extra tickets to find out that she is using the same materials with her daughter. It helped to validate my decision to spend $65 that we really could not afford right now. The book came and I was kind of disappointed at how small it was, but I'm reading it now and trying to gain an understanding of the exercises I'll need to do with David in order to re-train his brain. If it works, then I think I'll do some of it with Ben, too. I'm thinking that I need to get David on some specific vitamins, too, to help his brain function better. I'm kind of excited because David is such a creative boy and I know he's capable of so much more than what he can express right now. The manual explains that when you have a processing disorder it's like there is a wall between the right and left sides of the brain. The exercises in the manual help create a "bridge" to cross between the sides.

Well, tomorrow is my shopping day and I need to get some things ready for that, along with cleaning up the house. Will dumped a pile of laundry in front of the washer and informed me that it is all stuff that needs to be washed and dried by tomorrow's game. I've been thinking that it is past time that that boy learn how to do his own laundry. What do you think?

I'll probably write again in a week or so, post-youth group activity and wedding, so I'll have some things to report on. I'll probably be exhausted!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Another sniffly Saturday...sure will be glad when the frost hits and these allergies are no more!

Well, let's see, another week has gone by and I've got a few things to report on. Patch Club started this week. That is something our church does on on Wed. nights for the elementary school kids. Our pastor's wife called me this year to ask if I'd help. I was thinking, "No, no, no!" but found my mouth saying, "Ok!" But the first night went fine. I've got the kindergarten through third graders. I had 8 this past Wed. And it actually went well. Of course, I bribed them with candy. Kids will do about anything for sugar.

Last Sunday my friend Julie got saved. It was wonderful! She and I have been walking together once a week and emailing back and forth since last March. Her family started attending our church last fall and I figured out pretty quickly after I got to talking with her that she was not saved. So I've been praying and explaining things as she asked. Last Sunday during the final hymn Julie turned to me and asked for a tissue because she was crying. Church ended and I was cleaning up the pew and she was just sitting there, still. And I'm thinking to myself, ok, what should I do now? Do I leave her alone or say something or what? So I finally tapped her on the shoulder and asked, "You ok?" She bursts into tears, grabs onto me, and says, "I'm tired of fighting! I'm ready to get saved!" So my mind instantly started whirling. What to do now? Do I find the pastor's wife? Do I do this myself? So I finally asked, "What do you want to do?" A couple other women in the church had reached out to her recently so Julie asked me to get them for her. I found a room for us and when everyone got in there, Julie gave her life to the Lord. It was wonderful. I can't even remember the last time I was part of something like that. It's been almost a week and I'm still rejoicing!

Well, how to segue from that to something else? Well, I do have other good news, but it's not nearly so important as the above. I got 7th place in the most recent FaithWriters Challenge. Here's the link: It had been SO long since I had placed that I had kind of given up on it. I thought maybe I had lost my touch. So getting that was a real encouragement to me this week! This one will be published. The basic premise of this story was one that I actually wrote over a year ago for another challenge entry. But there was some problem with the billing on my account and I wasn't able to enter that week. Well, I thought I had saved the piece when we wiped out my computer this summer, but I discovered that I had not! But I was able to take that idea and re-write it to fit the topic. The story is primarily a conversation between a mother and her grown son. But there's a little "twist" at the end that makes it kind of interesting.

I mentioned a week or so ago that a devotional I wrote for the Jewels of Encouragement blog was going up this week. Here's the link to that one: I got some really nice compliments on this one. I'm anxious to write for them again!

Oh, and speaking of writing, Will is back to blogging. He had decided to abandon his blog and just do his writing in the form of notes on Facebook, but I suggested that he also post his notes to his blog, because I know he had readers who don't Facebook. Here's the link to his blog:

I sold my buffet yesterday. This was my massive, 6 foot long one I've had out in the back room for the past 7 yrs. It was with a pang that I let it go, but I needed the space more than I needed it. The lady that bought it called me at 8:30 in the morning to ask if she could come down and look at it. Oh my goodness - I wasn't dressed, the house was a mess, and the buffet had seven years worth of stuff in it! I managed to get it unloaded, vacuumed out and lemon-oiled. But I couldn't do much with myself or the house. And of course she was one of these young, cute moms - made me feel decidedly dowdy when she showed up. And they asked to use my bathroom - it was on my list to clean it yesterday, but I hadn't gotten that far at 8:30 in the morning! But I did get to hold her 3 month old who slobbered over me. He got fussy as they were loading the buffet so I swooped him up. It was blissful!

Sam decided to learn how to button and unbutton his clothes this week. It only took him a day. He was recounting that to me today and also reminded me that he now wipes his own bottom. I praised him and said, "Oh, you're getting to be such a big boy!" "Yeah, " Sam agreed, but then sighed, "But I still can't write my 'A's'"! I've started trying to teach him some writing skills and it is coming along very slowly. He'll get there. I'm actually surprised at how much he is already able to do for not even being 4 yet. But then, he hangs around with teenagers all day long. I guess some of that was bound to wear off on him!

This morning Sam wanted to know where his dad and Will were. I told him that they had gone to fix Will's car. Sam cupped his face in his hands and exclaimed, "But I broke the windshield!" I was surprised he even remembered that. He added, "I might do it again!" I told him to just stay off the hood of the car and it shouldn't be a problem!

Well, tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11th, 2001. Everyone seems to be pausing to remember that, which is good. When Julie and I went for our walk this past week, Pleasantville had placed flags all along part of the walking trail. I remember that Tuesday well, as I'm sure everyone does. It was a beautiful, sunny, late summer day in the Midwest. I had just dropped Will off at school and I had Ben and David in the van with me. We were sitting in the parking lot of Center Baptist Church in Omaha. I had a MOPS steering committee meeting and was just waiting for the others to arrive. I was listening to the Christian radio station when the announcer came on and said there had been a terrible accident - a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers. I didn't think a whole lot of it until a moment or two later when the suddenly stopped playing music and announced that another plane had hit the towers and this was no accident. I remember that the head of Grace University (who sponsored the radio station) then came on and said that he suspected that some guy named Osama bin Laden was behind these attacks. When he said that I remembered a Readers Digest article I had read some years earlier that suggested that bin Laden was the greatest physical threat to the United States. I didn't really know what they meant by that and of course, nobody would ever attack the United States! But it all came back to me when I heard this college head suggest this.

I remember at the meeting that we had to tell the pastor's wife what had happened. She hadn't heard yet. Afterwards I drove to Paul's work. I just felt this need to gather my loved ones around. I called my mom, to make sure that my brother, who flied (and still flies) frequently for his job wasn't on those planes. I called the school where Will attended. They told me I was welcome to come pick him up, but I didn't. Wanting to do something - anything - I called the blood bank to see if I could donate. All those injured people were going to need extra blood. I got home, turned on the tv, and didn't move for the next few hours. I sat there, along with all of America and the rest of the world, in stunned disbelief and grief as the images from New York, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania aired. I cried when the entire congress gathered on the steps of - where were they, actually? Anyway - they stood there together and sang, "God Bless America" and it seemed to me to be the single-most united act I had ever seen in my lifetime.

And I remember the next day, driving Will to school when all of a sudden I felt this fierce patriotic pride surge through my being. The day before had been about grief. Now, it was about pride. Nobody can keep the United States of America down for long. That's why I have come to appreciate Toby Keith's song "The Red, White, and Blue" where he personifies the country as having a "big, black eye" from this event but turning around to give the bad guys a "boot in the ____."

I don't know if we're any safer today. I don't know when the next attack will come, if it will. But I do know that ten years later, I still tear up when I think of the events of that day. I don't even cry when I think about the days my own babies were born. But there's something about 9-11...

So, anyway, that's where my thoughts are as we come upon this anniversary. Ten years later, I am still so patriotic and so in love with this country. My boys, who were little guys then, are now big guys. And while I find myself praying for the Lord's perfect will in their lives and futures, I have to admit, that if one of these boys donned a uniform and went to fight for this great nation - I think I'd nearly burst wide open from pride.

September...the month of memories...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Heeding the Call

For a few months now I've been asking for prayer as we sought God's will on something. I'm ready to blog about it. I'm going to give two versions. The first is the "nutshell" one, the second is the mini-series one. Depending on what you have for time, you may want to go with the first!

Version 1) We believe God is calling us to adopt another child. Things are moving fairly rapidly on this and more than likely, we will be new parents again this next year.

Version 2) When I was somewhere around the age of 12 I read a Readers Digest condensed book about a soldier who fell in love with a little girl in an orphanage while in Vietnam. After the war, he moved Heaven and earth and was able to return to Vietnam and adopt the little girl. Her new family named her "Kim," I remember. I was so moved by that story that I decided right then that when I grew up I would someday like to adopt, as well. I never forgot that and when Paul and I were dating I informed him that if we were to marry I would like for us to consider adoption at some point. He was agreeable.

Well, we did marry, of course, and the babies came quickly for awhile there. Adoption was the farthest thing from my mind during those busy years! But then infertility struck and after awhile, we began talking about the possibility of finishing our family by adopting. I even made a couple of phone calls - one to an adoption agency and another to an organization that provides temporary and permanent housing for children in need. But the time wasn't right and I didn't know where to go next, so we just dropped the idea. And then, eventually, Sam came along and I had the stroke and my days became more focused on survival as I fought to overcome the effects of the stroke, care for a newborn, and deal with Ben, whose behavior was beginning to take some alarming downward turns.

But I never forgot about adopting. At the same time, though, I assumed our family was complete with the arrival of Sam. After all, the doctors scared us into getting a vasectomy so I knew we wouldn't be birthing any more children - even though we had totally planned to have a fifth in order to give Sam a sibling close in age. As time passed a drumbeat began resounding in my heart about the possibility of adoption. Every time I would read a story about the subject, my heart would constrict. I felt jealous when I learned of others who had adopted. Hearing testimonies about adoptions would nearly drive me to tears.

But there are a lot of good reasons for us NOT to adopt. And I reminded myself of these reasons over and over. But the drumbeat wouldn't go away. So, finally, in the spring of 2010 I prayed. I remembered that Sam had come about as the result of a "fleece" prayer I had prayed in the winter of 2007. If God could so clearly show His hand then, couldn't He do it again? I told the Lord that I would completely zip my mouth in regards to the subject of adoption - not that I brought it up that regularly, anyway - but if God wanted us to pursue this, then He needed to have Paul come to me and bring up the subject. And so I became deliberately mum on this subject. Not one word about the possibility escaped my lips.

And then last December 9, Paul and I were on a date. We were eating and he suddenly reached into his billfold and handed me a little post-it note. On it was the name of an adoption agency. That day he had been in a customer's home and had noticed that she had children who didn't "match" her in looks and asked if she was adoptive parent. She confirmed this and she and Paul ended up talking for a very long time on the subject. Here was my sign! And I was excited. For about three days...

And then all the doubts came rushing in. I knew we couldn't afford an international or private adoption. Yes, God could provide the money, but would He? I wasn't too keen on the idea of begging our friends and family for the funds, either, especially when we already had a houseful of children. It seems like most months we're barely scraping by when it comes to finances, so what we were doing even thinking about adding another child that we would be financially responsible to care for? And then what about time? I live in a whirlwind most days, running from one activity or chore to the next. Having more children would make that even harder. My work load would increase considerably. What about Ben? Things were so rough in our house until he started school. He was so happy going to school which calmed our household down, which, in turn, made all of us happy again. Did I really want to take a chance on disrupting that? What about my writing? It's hard enough finding the time and quiet to write what I do. More children would make that harder. And so on - I came up with many, many objections to what it seemed God might be calling us to do.

While all these thoughts were swirling through my head I slowly began to find myself considering more and more the idea of providing foster care to a child in hopes that we might be able to adopt it at some point. I had always been very opposed to this idea, though, because I know a couple of families that had to give their adopted children back once they got into adolescence. These children were never able to overcome the abuse and neglect of their early years. I also couldn't stand the idea of loving a child and then having to give him back because some relative crawled out of the woodwork or a birth parent cleaned up their act. Did I really want to deal with the emotional baggage a foster child would probably have? The answers were no, no, no! What I would like to do is to come up with $25,000, fly to some foreign country, and bring home a cute, cuddly little girl, who would love me forever. But slowly, my resistance to the idea of fostering to adopt began to crumble more and more.

April rolled around. I had been nearly completely silent on the whole idea of adoption since the previous December. One day Paul asked me, "So what are you thinking about this? You haven't said anything!" I told him my thoughts. I told him that I was scared to death to love a child that might never be capable of loving me back. I could invest years, energy, money, and love into a child that might turn around and stomp all over my heart someday. But even as I said that, I immediately was given a vision of Christ dying on the cross. Isn't that what Christ did for us? He opened up His arms wide in love for the whole world and look how He was rejected. Am I called to do anything less? Paul then said something that made me think. He said, "You know, life is so short. If we can make a difference in someone's life, I think we ought to consider it."

Mother's Day came. I got my usual gifts from the boys and then Paul handed me a small package wrapped in pink, girly paper. I didn't know it at the time but apparently he had bought this gift with a certain amount of trepidation. He told me later he was fully prepared to take it back if I reacted badly! I opened it up and it was a small, pink photo album that said, "Baby Girl" across the front. That was a little puzzling, since we have neither! Inside was a letter that he had written. Peppered with Bible verses to back up his points, Paul wrote that he was committed to doing whatever it took in the next year for us to adopt a little girl. At that point, my defenses crumbled. I started crying and accepted the reality that we were, indeed, going to pursue this.

For the next few weeks, I lived in a state of confusion though. I had agreed to explore the possibility of adoption. But how? Where were we to even start? I explored the international websites and was dismayed by the cost of an international adoption. On some of the applications it appeared that my stroke history might make me ineligible. I could probably figure out how to get the ball rolling on a foster care adoption, but I still didn't know who to call. I remember thinking that I just wished God would drop a baby on our doorstep, so I would know what to do!

About this time, we got a brochure in the mail for the upcoming homeschool conference. I looked through the offered workshops and one caught my eye. It was entitled simply, "Adoption - a Calling." I knew nothing about it, other than the title. I thought I could relate to the title because it seemed like this was indeed a "calling" that we were experiencing. Paul arranged to get off work to attend the seminar with me and we went. It was taught by a couple from the Fort Dodge area. We had never seen them before in our lives. They started the workshop by giving a brief overview of the four different types of adoption - international, private, foster care, and relative adoptions. And then they told their story. This couple has adopted close to 19 children, I think, nearly all of them out of the foster care system. They have one biological child, a little boy born the same month as Sam. I was transfixed by their story. Afterwards, Paul and I stayed and asked this couple question after question.

As we left the room, finally, I told Paul, "I think our family is about to get a little bigger!" But then I added a few minutes later, "But I don't want twenty children!" Paul exclaimed, "Good! Because I don't, either!"

The next day I was wandering the curriculum hall, buying materials for the boys. Suddenly, I stumbled across a booth emblazoned with the name, "Iowa KidsNet." I had just learned the previous day that this was the organization that headed up the foster care and adoption services in the state of Iowa. I talked with the lady there. And I talked with her some more. And some more! And then I called her the next Monday and talked with her again! The first step, we learned, was to take an orientation class. Unfortunately, due to funding cuts, the classes were hard to get into. But she got us into a class that supposedly was full.

The night before we went to this class, we met with our pastor. We both really wanted to get his input into this. I honestly half expected him to tell us that we were nuts. We had enough on our plates and we would be insane to bring another child or two into our home and add to the chaos. But he didn't. He looked at us and told us that he thought we could do this. He said he wouldn't tell that to just anyone, but he had observed us for the past 6 1/2 years, saw the way we parent, and was confident that if God was indeed leading us this direction, we could do it. Wow!

About a week previously, Paul had gone up to camp as a counselor. While he was there he ran into my parents' pastor from Waterloo and asked to speak with him. A number of years ago this pastor and his wife adopted a sibling group of five out of Iowa foster care. So he was able to have a nice long chat with this pastor. And then he spoke with the maintenance head at camp, who I went to school with. He and his wife added a sixth child a few years ago through foster care. They told him both the same thing - there will be struggles, but the reward will be worth it.

We went to the orientation class and came away greatly encouraged. I suspect that the orientation class is an attempt to "weed out" the parents that might be tempted to do foster care for less than stellar reasons (the state does pay a stipend per child per month). We met a couple there who was in the process of renewing their license. They had completed the training 4 years earlier and ended up bringing home a baby girl from the hospital less than six months later, adopting her when she was a year old. But now they wanted to add to their family. I'm not holding out for a newborn, but wouldn't it be something if that's the way it worked out for us? We were fingerprinted at the meeting and turned in reams of paperwork so background checks could be run on us (they came back clear!).

We found out later this summer that the classes we need to take in order to become licensed were full and few and far between. We finally got into a set that would not be beginning until late January. It was a little disappointing, but I reasoned that God had His hand on this and if we needed to wait, then there was a reason. Besides, there's the not-so-small matter of having a bedroom ready for another child. Our plan is to move one or more of the boys down to the new basement, building a room down there, and thus freeing up one of the upstairs bedrooms. And that's going to take a little bit of time. Well, I then got a call two weeks ago letting me know that an opening had come up and we could begin our classes on Oct. 3! We will complete them on Dec. 5th. During that time, we will have our home study and once we're licensed in Dec, we can begin taking children.

My desire, though, is for adoption. I do not have any intention of having a stream of children come through our home. However, we may not necessarily get to adopt the first child that is placed with us. I'm making it very clear to the powers that be that we want to adopt and would prefer to have only children who will soon be available for adoption placed with us. But I'm not sure how much say-so we will have on that.

So this is our news. Am I excited? Yes. Am I apprehensive? Oh yes! I know that we are taking a tremendous risk by opening our hearts and home to a child who has been already been hurt by those that were supposed to protect them. All my previous objections - time, money, resources - are still factors. But this is the thing: they don't matter. When God calls you, everything else falls by the wayside. Will we sacrifice to heed this call? Of course. Will we lose things we might have kept otherwise? There's no doubt.

And, I have to keep in mind, too, that just because we have come this far on the journey and the end appears in sight, we may never actually get another child. There is a possibility that God has been simply calling us to obedience, like He did with Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice his son. Time will tell. Throughout these months, the one thought I have returned to time and time again is this: I don't want to get to Heaven someday and have God look at me sadly and say, "I had so much planned for you - if only you had obeyed."

So, whether I'm on the verge of becoming a mother of one more - or several more - remains to be seen. Whatever happens, though, I know that I have the confidence that we are stepping out in perfect (or in my case, inperfect) faith and obedience. Wherever we end up will be the center of God's will.

And that's a good place to be.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Glimpses of Hope

It's raining out right now - the sky just opened up and it started to pour. Makes for a sleepy Saturday...well, allergy drugs can do that, too!

Paul didn't work much this week for his regular job. It's that time of year. However, he ended up getting an unexpected furnace install job this week. And the deck addition/ramp he's been doing for our neighbor has been taking him longer than expected. This morning he's up in Des Moines checking on a couple of other small side jobs he hasn't had time for yet. I'm feeling thankful - God is meeting our needs! Paul and Will have to get Will's car going this week (it's hoisted up at our neighbor's in his garage) and Paul suspects that they are going to get back to furnace checks soon at work, which will mean normal 40 hour weeks. Too much going on! His knee has been dealing him fits lately, too. I have a fuzzy feeling that next spring we're going to be visiting the surgeon about that one. He's had trouble off and on the last year and a half or so with that knee. That's the same one he had the operation on in '92.

School is back in full swing now. Will hasn't gotten many days in because of helping Paul, but he'll make those up later. Actually, David has been helping quite a bit, too. We had an interesting situation this week at school with Ben. I won't go into all the details because I already facebooked about this to some of my friends and I've told a bunch of others already. And I hate to be redundant! But anyway, Ben has become aware of some of the emotional needs of one of the students in his self-contained classroom. This little guy is a 6th grader and this is his first year in a new building, room, and with a new teacher. He's having a difficult time adjusting. Ben has mentioned that to me several times since the start of the school year. And then my jaw about hit the floor this week when Ben told me, "That reminds me of when I was in kindergarten and I was so scared." One of the classic traits of autism is an inability to empathize with others. But Ben was not only able to bring up long-ago emotion, but was able to connect that with how his classmate might be feeling. So, he and I talked about ways that he could possibly be a friend to this new little guy.

I was so excited by this turn of events that I just had to say something to Ben's aide. She and I send a notebook back and forth every day, so we can keep each other appraised of Ben's day and night and any concerns that pop up. The thing with special education is that there is such a shroud of privacy around each student. And that's good for the most part. But it made me feel a bit trepidacious (is that a word?) in broaching the subject. But I just had to! So I started this note - "It's probably none of my business, but...." And I just told his aide that Ben was observing what was going on and had a desire to help. I didn't know if there was really anything he could do, but I wanted them to be aware. Well, the next day, I got Ben's notebook back and his aide wrote me this long note about how they took my suggestion and they started having the two boys take walks together. She said the little guy never cried once all day long (and he had been crying every day) and several times that day they had found him with his head just resting on Ben's shoulders. He finally felt safe! She told me yesterday that the same thing happened again.

I'm just thrilled beyond words. I remember how two years ago at this time I was in real despair over Ben. I could not envision a future for him that didn't involve some sort of incarceration (seriously!). My days were SO difficult with him. And now - I am filled with all kinds of hope for his future! I'm just praising God here!

Ben is involved with bowling this fall for Special Olympics. Monday I took him down to Knoxville for his first practice. A bowling alley there opens up their lanes for practice for the kids, which I think is so neat. I won't have to take him every week. His coach has a daughter in the Olympics who attends the same school as Ben so she's going to pick the two of them up and take them and then I'll just have to retrieve Ben. This is going to be interesting because Will has games on Monday nights and then in Oct. Paul and I are starting some Monday night classes in Ankeny, which is located a good hour away from Knoxville. Agh....

Ben also happens to be drug-free at the moment. That was never really one of our goals with him; it just kind of happened this summer. He's been taking Namenda for a couple of years now. I saw changes right off the bat with the drug and then has his dosage was adjusted downward, the effects didn't seem to be that great. But his dr. didn't want to adjust them upward again. However, he started school a year ago and that did a lot to improve those behaviors that we were wanting the Namenda to take care of. Well, this spring Ben's insurance changed and because of that we were going to need to get letters from Ben's teachers stating that they felt he needed the drug in order to function before his insurance would agree to cover it. I'm willing to do that if I need to, but I haven't been convinced of a real need for the drug for the past 6 months or so. So, we decided to just let it go for now. If his behavior or learning spirals downward then we'll do what we need to to get him back on it. And then he's been on a very low dose of Risperdone for the past couple of years because of some aggression toward his brothers. That has totally disappeared so I told the psychiatrist I didn't see a need for Ben to take that anymore, either. So, we don't even have to go back to this guy unless Ben needs to go back on his meds. Anyway, it's all interesting. I figured Ben would be in psychiatric care the rest of his life.

Ben also has somebody new to work with him. Her name is Deana and her card says "counselor." She is going to be coming into our home every Tuesday afternoon and will be teaching Ben safety skills and she'll be teaching him the basics of meal planning, shopping, and cooking. This is part of the services he gets with his new ID waiver through the state. She can also provide respite care if we need it. It's all part of what they call "Supported Community Living" training. His future is on the way!

Sam is running around this morning with a football, declaring, "I Iowa Hawkeye!" The first game of the Hawkeye season just started ten minutes ago and it's on in the kitchen. Fall has officially started!

Last week I got started on my Christmas baking and I was explaining to Sam that that was why he couldn't eat all the treats I had just made - they were for Christmas. His eyes got big and he exclaimed, "You mean, we're going to have Kissmas again?!" Ha, ha, ha...

I got to out with my friend Melissa Thursday night. I needed that! It had been a busy 3 months since we had our last girls' night. But we behaved ourselves and were both home by 11 pm. I think that's because we both have kiddos to get up for school early the next morning! I'll see her again tonight because we're having a picnic at church (indoors, I hope) for the youth group and their families.

Will injured his shoulder last night during the game (which they lost - they are 3 for 3 now!). He's holding it pretty close to his chest today.

Well, I need to get moving on my to-do list. You won't want to miss my next post. It's going to be about some pretty big changes God seems to be leading our family into. I'm finally free to talk about that. I'd write it all out today but I've got too much other stuff I have to get done. It'll happen next week, I promise!