Saturday, October 9, 2021

the Value of an unbroken promise

 You were supposed to come get her after school. She was going to see your new apartment and spend a whole weekend with you.

But you didn't come. Something came up and you had to leave town. When I told her she screamed, she sat on the stairs and cried, she threw her shoes at the wall. 

She had been counting down the days til today, to when she would see you again.

You would think that after all the broken promises, after a year of not seeing you, that she would expect the worse but she sees you as perfect.

You may have felt like a failure, you may have made a million mistakes with her in those first few years, before rehab, before divorce. Even still, you are her hero, you can do no wrong.

I planned all kinds of fun things for us to do, to fill the hours, and try to make her forget what this weekend was supposed to be, we painted canvases on the floor, we went swimming and made swid hotdogs and brownies, she had fun, but she still would have rather been with you doing anything.

I was her nanny, I spent ALOT of time with her, she is wonderful, she is curious and wild, she speaks her mind ( even it very inappropriate times) but more then anything, she is your daughter.

That day, that you didn't show, that was more then 10 years ago and I have no idea if either of you remember that weekend.

There were many weekends after, where you did come, and she did spend the weekend with you, but for me, the caretaker of this child. I will always remember her disappointment, her anger, her struggle to understand, her broken heart, and it is this I remember anytime a child asks me to make a promise.

I have seen "THAT DAY" play out more times then I care to recall, it always looks the same, a broken heart getting a little more broken.

So I say maybe, even if I am 95% sure that it will work out, and I know it drive the kids crazy not to have a YES or a NO but I do it because I know the worth of keeping a promise.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

the HEART of a mother

Every women's story is different. I will pull back the curtain and let you see a bit of my story.  A bit of an origin story (you know, like in the super hero movies.... how they got to be who they are) 

the HEART of a mother 

Many years ago (when I was 22) those words were prophesied over me, by a Godly leader that I trusted and respected. I had no idea what those words meant or how they would come to be so defining for me.

My womb has "held" two little lives that my arms never got to hold and I'm ok with that - I never longed for newborns like my sister did.

My story is a bit ODD.  I felt at a YOUNG age (17ish) that I would not birth my own children and then as life progressed and more health issues were discovered, I add to that initial "hunch" that I didn't need to pass on these health struggles. 

My life as a foster sister had taught me that blood was not a requirement when it comes to family. 

In fact, the very first time my heart broke was not from a boyfriend but instead from a quick and unexpected removal of my two little sister (they were foster sisters but we had begun the process to adopt so they were my sisters to me, and I had grown to love them so deeply - that I still have that scar today, 25 years later).

So - BOTH times that I found I was pregnant, I was perplexed and confused and wondered if I had misunderstood my "calling" and perhaps God did want me to go down that road, I struggled to find the "normal" emotions tied to pregnancy because I was so sure that I would never experience that in my life. So yes, there was sadness in both miscarriage's, but only because I knew that a life had ended, and a possibility had gone away. I do often wonder how different my life would be if either or both of them had lived. But I am not that women who wishes to be pregnant or gets jealous of friends babies, honestly I'm not a really big "baby" person anyways...

In my life I have loved many kids - worked as a nanny, in children's ministry and countless friends children's and my niece and nephews.

I am 38 now. I am a proud CAT mom (and they bring me more joy than I could ever express) and my job and passion project at the moment is to be a Relief house mom (alongside my husband) - I get to pour my heart into little (and older) kids who need it so desperately. 

I am happy that I get to be a "mom" in this little way, because I had such an amazing mom (and still do) who taught me how to love others in an effortless but intentional way. And though I don't have anyone who will carry on my family, and I'll never be a Grandma, I am content, I feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

My story is not over, I still might get to call someone my daughter or son - cause God is rarely predictable. But for now I will do my best to use this heart, the heart of a mother, that God placed in me.

I am NOT a mom, but that is ok


some photos - of me and the Kids I've had the privilege of loving over the years 


Me and Bobby - one of my two little foster sisters. (I was 15 or 16 here)

a baby I watched for a few days when she was only a few weeks old 

This is me and Wesley, one of my very first nanny kids - I was 18 here

Me and Lily - I nannied her and her siblings when I was 22.

and this is Rohan - I spent my afternoons with him for 2 years :) he was such a sweet boy

And this is Ailsa - I was her nanny in 2009 -2010 

And then Came Joelle - I've never loved a child as much as I love this girl - she is probably the closes thing I will ever have to a child of my own - she is my niece. When I moved to Arkansas in 2013 - it was HER that I missed the most (and still do) 

she has a brother too - but he was really little (6 months) when I moved so I love him too - but we didn't bond like me and Joelle did.

and then I got to spend 6 amazing years as a youth leader at my church in Arkansas

These two girls I babysat for the last year before I moved to Arizona - they helped me with my "i miss working with kids" phase :) 

and if you want to see photos of my current job - me and the kids - that is the post before this one :) 

I hope this post did it's job of explaining ME a bit more, and why I'm not a mom but why and how I have the HEART of a mother. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Houseparents - My one year recap

Last year I turned 37 and we celebrated my birthday by saying goodbye to our lives, and a lot of people we loved. Some of those people came over, to our empty house and sat on the floor and ate cake and hung out with us one last time. 2 days later we loaded up our car and cats and drove to Arizona, to a new job and a new life. 

 I have sat down many times since then to write about this last year but I never felt I could properly describe it so it always got deleted. But here I am, just turned 38, it has almost been a year since we started this job so I decided it was time to REALLY write a "recap". 

 When we moved here to Arizona to work at a place called Sunshine acres, a wonderful little community, it honestly seemed WAY too good to be true, but it really IS, just as it seems. 

and quick overview of this place and my job. Sunshine acres has 7 kids homes, with room for up to 10 kids in each, 3 of the homes are Boys and 4 of them are girls. Each home has one full-time set of houseparents that are ON (duty) 5 days a week (most weeks) and then there are 6 relief couple. each has a set house that they are in on the full-time parents 2 off days (one couple has 2 houses) and the other 3 days of their work week they go where needed (in any house, or on "support" helping everyone). Me and my husband are a relief couple and our "set" house is a girls house where we spend every Monday and Tuesday. 

I feel in many ways that my whole life prepared me for this job and with that being said it is both the easiest job I've ever had AND the hardest job I've ever had. We started just as covid effectively took over anything and everything normal at Sunshine acres, as well as in Arizona (& the world really) so it was a bit like trying to stand up-right on a rocking boat. 

Fear and confusion and sickness and death was all around, quarantine and hand sanitizer and facemasks, social distance- these became a part of everyday life and we learned to find our place here, as everyone struggled to find a new normal ( not unlike adjusting to life after losing a loved one) 
  At first I could not remember anyone's names, not just the kids but the other house parents too. I still mix up names occasionally but for the most part I know most everyone here. 

 My favorite things about living and working here are 
 - having a dining hall that cooks 95% of the food for the kids (& us) 
 - driving around in our golf cart 
- no snow, no frozen icy roads, no REAL winter
 - my commute from home to work is very short 
- prayer and God are a part of everything and not just something I bring to the job like every job I had prior 
- and I work alongside my husband 
 - the dr I found because of this job that is so very awesome and actually listens when I talk, and works with me to fix any issues I'm dealing with 
- coloring and crafting and taking pictures are all a part of this job 
- I get to braid and create fun hairstyles for countless girls 
-and at the end of the day, when I'm tired, I know and feel that I made a difference and I can see the impact of my job and that is wonderful
-I have no doubt that this is where I am meant to be, that God called me here and has equipped me for this job

 My least fav parts of this job 
 - waking early for school days (I am allergic to mornings) 
 - with a job like this, on my off days I run errands and do stuff around the house and I’ve not really had any social life outside my job, covid has NOT helped this 
-it can be difficult to cultivate relationships with the kids when there are so many of them, it takes time, and lots of patience and it can be really hard to NOT compare ourselves to other houseparent's
-its equally hard to build relationships with the other adults here, our focus is first the kids and so conversations are short and broken and can be few and far between.
 - emotionally it can be hard, and draining 
- I am not a part of a local church anymore where I volunteer and soak up the word and worship (we have a church here but it’s not the same, and covid has kept me from visiting outside church on off time) 

 I cannot really tell you what a typical day is like here, at sunshine acres, as a relief houseparent, cause there really is NO SUCH thing as a typical day. Every day includes lots of kids, usually at least one “meltdown” or “attitude problem” , snacks, homework, laundry, chores, meals in the home and at the dining hall, goofy/silly/fun stuff, and boring/blah stuff. Its a bit like my live-in nanny job from a decade ago but on steroids (instead of one kid, it’s 8,9, 10 kids) , instead of one house, I work in many (mostly the 4 girls houses but occasionally a boys house for a day or two). 

 I find myself answering the same questions again and again “what’s for snack?”, “ can we go to the park?” … and the like, but I have found that over the weeks, months (over the last year) we have developed relationships with these kids, we love them, I love them, so very much. I don’t ever want to say that I know where I will be 5 years or 10 years from now because I always want to leave that up to God but I could see myself, (and so could Tim, he’s said so often) being here for a long time. And I’ll just end by saying one little thing. 

You might not be able to pick up your life and come work at a children's home, and it’s probably NOT your calling but you can do something (so many things) to provide love for a child who needs it. I talk to people all the time about how my parents did foster care, and how I had so so many foster brothers and sisters over the years, and usually what they reply with is - I could never do that, it would be just so hard to fall in love with those kids and then to have to say goodbye. 

 And I will add - JUST because something is hard - should NEVER be a reason why you don’t do it. You don’t have to foster, maybe just volunteer with an organization that works with foster kids, or other kids in need,  find out what their needs are and work to help or fill a need, or if you are doing great financially then look around and see where you can send that money to help kids. 

 And that’s all I have for my ONE YEAR RECAP. Come back next year and I’ll write another one.