She Has Her Hands

I realized a few weeks ago while sitting at the kitchen table, watching our Bear text her father –  that she has her mom’s hands.  They are shaped exactly the same.  I’m sure I have noticed it before but for some reason last night it struck me.  She also has her mom’s laugh.  One that comes from the belly, way down deep that I’ve noticed more lately as well.

Isn’t it funny how we work to assign traits to a family member?  Sometimes the resemblance, whether physical or in mannerisms, is so striking that it can stop you dead in your tracks.  At least for me it’s that way.  There are times when Dozer looks at me in a certain way and his eyes look just like my ex-husband’s and that most certainly stops me dead in my tracks.  Mercy.  It can be unsettling.

We have spent the summer, and a lot of the past year, offering different activities to the kids so that they have a positive outlet for some energy and can claim something as their own.  The Bear has done gymnastics, dance, karate, horse riding, soccer, cheerleading, and tumbling.  Because Dozer is younger, he’s been limited in his pursuits, but he has tried karate and horse riding as well.  We have explored these activities one at a time.  It is challenging enough to be raising two grands who are in elementary school, so we really have tried to limit their activities.  We honor our commitment until each term is up and then if the kids want to continue we do and if not, we move on.  Although it is good for them to be kids and have down time, I think it’s vitally important that they each are involved in at least one positive activity where they can learn team work, build self confidence and self esteem and let off a little steam and energy in the process.

The one activity each has stayed with is their horse riding.  They attend a therapeutic horse riding academy and it is a true God-send.  The kids are not only learning how to care for and manage horses, they are learning what hard work is and having fun while building their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Lately, however, the Bear has fallen in love with cheerleading.  Her mom was also a cheerleader for a few years.  Paige knew she’d look cute in the cheerleading uniform but had no idea how physically demanding it could be LOL.  Our Bear has taken to it with a passion only those  who truly know and love her can understand.  When she came out of her bedroom in her full cheerleading outfit, with her hair up, it took my breath away.  She looked just like her mom.  Memories came flooding back.  Those were good years.  I told the Bear that she looked 10 years old!  She smiled, sighed and said, “I know.  I always wanted to be 10”.  When we got to the high school football field and she took the field with her squad and did her performance, she could not contain the joy on her face!  As tiny as she is she got to be a flyer and she owned it.  It was one of those bittersweet moments for me as a mom and a grandmother.  I was witnessing this child discover her love for something, while remembering her mom’s love for the same sport, and yet realizing that her mom will never get to experience these moments.

I had the same thought a week or so ago.  I had printed several photos – cheerleading, first day of school, tooth pulled to send to my daughter.  As I was looking through them I realized again that all of the  milestones her children will experience up until their teen years, she will only witness through photographs and the occasional video visit.  That saddens me beyond words.  Sometimes the grief that I feel for the loss that all have suffered and continue to suffer because of drug addictions washes over me and honestly, some days it’s difficult to process and remember to breathe.

Make no mistake, I know that my daughter is paying the penalty for the choices she made.  I know all three of her children have paid a price for those decisions.  I know all three of her children, however, are learning to live happily and thrive in homes that weren’t originally created to be theirs, but by the grace of God are theirs.  After the grief washes through me, at times, I can feel the anger simmering.  I still have moments when I want to rage from the rooftops at the wrong-doers and ask them WHY?!!!  But that won’t help at all.  No one has answers for drug addiction or evil … as to why they engage in those to begin with.  No one says that they want to be a drug addict when they grow up.  Evil … well, that’s a different blog post entirely but I am completely aware that evil exists in this world, for there is often no other explanation for some horrors that occur.

Yet, as the parent of this troubled grown young woman, I never ever want to bring her harm.  I still want to protect her and her feelings.  But I can’t.  I can have bad days and be overwhelmed and still call on my small, yet fierce army of supporters.  Who does she have in that prison?  I keep praying that while she is literally a captive audience, that God will be allowed to move in her heart.  My fear is she has learned to harden her heart and immediately assumes the worst in my motives.  Truthfully, I’m sure she’s felt the same way about me.

Relationships between mothers and daughters can be complicated.  I had a conversation today with my child I never wanted to have.  I opened wounds that will likely take years to heal, and I did it in defense of these children that we have been given the responsibility for.  Yet in doing so, my child feels as if I’ve turned on her and want her removed from our life story.  I hope one day when my daughter reads these posts she will understand.  She will come to see that this mom tried her very best, made lots of mistakes, loved fiercely and always, always wanted the best in the world for her.  God tells us not all lived to see the fruition of their prayers and hopes and dreams … maybe I will be able to see my children come home, but maybe I will not.  Either way, I’m going to continue moving forward one step at a time, and I am going to lean on those around me when I don’t feel I can take the next step.

And I will always, no matter what, as long as I draw a breath, love my children more fiercely with every passing day.  But in this moment, I’m going to wipe my tears, go wash my face, and snuggle with the Bear while we have movie night and watch The Greatest Showman … because she has wanted to see that movie her whole life!  And I will pray fervently for her mom, even when I can’t form the words.

God is good always.  He loves my kids more than I do.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Anticipation

Anticipation really can be heavy, can’t it?  Whether what you are anticipating is a good thing or something you dread, it can weigh on one, at least for me it can.

I’ve learned through the years that sometimes things happen that catch you off guard.  You weren’t anticipating, you didn’t expect it.  One thing we have been dealing with lately is our Dozer and his behavior at school.  This little man was pretty much non-verbal when he came to live with us almost 3 years ago.  In fact, my father called him Grunt (and still does) because that was how he communicated best.  He still is engaged in speech therapy because he has trouble getting some sounds out correctly.  But boy does he talk.  All the time.  Once he found his voice, he put it to good use.  Historically, however, we haven’t had issues with him at preschool with talking out of turn, but now that he’s going all day every day for kindergarten, some issues have arisen.

Seems little man can’t quit talking to his friends, or touching them.  He explained to me one night at suppertime that one of the girls at his table won’t really talk to him.  He says, “she won’t talk to me, but I try to get her too.  I talk and I talk and I talk” … you think?!  This week one of the notes  that came home said that he was trying harder but he can’t quit touching other people … this note indicated that he even put his mouth on someone’s ear.  When I asked him about that he looked at me incredulously and said, “I was trying to tell my friend a secret!”  That makes perfect sense, because the boy couldn’t whisper if you paid him too, and he does have to get right up to your ear to tell you a secret.  Another note that came home this week was that in art class it seems he made a “loud squawking noise” as the teacher was explaining the importance of being quiet in class.  As I read that one aloud yesterday, I noticed Joseph was all but laying in the floor, quietly laughing.  Really, you do have to laugh … I suppose!

But all in all, honestly, I expect those notes sent home for our Bear, but not Dozer Man.  I did not anticipate this.  I keep hearing my husband’s words from not too long ago, “They are gonna crush us” … as they get older.  Could be he is correct.  We will be investing in helmets and body armor/gear in preparation for teenage years.

This week, however, I have been anticipating something far more serious.  Out of respect for my daughter, I will hold off on saying “out loud” what conversation I will be having with her, probably this weekend, but it is not one that will be easy for either of us.  The kids have been with us for almost 3 years now.  In those 3 years we have worked extremely hard to help the kids get their legs underneath them, but much of the last 3 years has been us just trying to keep our heads above water.  I have learned to look for signs, know when our trauma-versaries will be occurring, and am learning new ways to deal with bad attitudes.  The kids have made tremendous progress in the past 3 years, but there is much more work to do.

Looking back now, it is painful for me to remember the shape the kids were in when they came to live with us.  I realize how far they have come in their journey.  I am thankful beyond words that they have a home with us, a forever home with us.  But to know that I am going to have to bring up a difficult subject with my child doesn’t make anything easy.  I asked out loud not too long ago, when would I stop caring if I hurt her feelings.  My best friend in the whole world looked at me and just said, “mom’s never stop caring”.  She’s right.

I spent several days last week overwhelmingly sad.  I missed my Granny a whole lot and even took a drive one day through the back roads to visit the cemetery where my maternal grandparents are buried.  A lot of my thoughts that day were the fact that I just wanted to be a Granny.  I wanted to be a Granny like I had.  I was lucky enough in my life to have a large extended family.  Both sets of my grandparents were amazing.  I miss them all a lot.  My grandmothers approached life in very different manners.  Both of my grandmothers were extremely strong women, especially in their faith, their love of family and their resolve.  One was a bit more of a spit-fire, didn’t mind going toe-to-toe with anyone, never hesitated to speak her mind and she always wore her feelings on her sleeve.  My other grandmother was quieter in her strength.  She didn’t always reveal her emotions, at least to us kids.  She was definitely, though, the backbone of our family and she was one of those that you could go to, curl up next to, and just know her love.  Yet for our two oldest grands I don’t get to be that Granny.  I wanted to be.  Last week, especially, I could feel myself getting angry because I was robbed of that, but when you think about it, that’s pretty selfish, isn’t it?

When you anticipate something and you know that this could be a life-altering decision, or conversation, you feel the apprehension settling over you.  One of  the problems with a having a child in prison is that I can’t pick up the phone to call her, I have to wait for her to call me.  So I jump every time the phone rings. I am already practicing my words, and what it is I want her to hear.  I’m afraid that she’ll only hear the beginning and then will shut down and shut me out.  I don’t even know any more what to pray, so I pray for God to move in both of our hearts.  I pray for the grace, love and mercy to broach this difficult topic and I pray that her heart be softened to hear all of my words.

My best friend asked me if I was doubting the decision we had made and I emphatically told her no.  I then explained, though, the sense of grief I feel.  Grief that my daughter will only view her children’s milestones over  the next several years through photographs and video visits.  I grieve the fact that the children don’t have their parents present and healthy to raise them.  I grieve the fact that I don’t get to be the Granny I had thought I would.  God has different plans.  He’s not been surprised by anything.  He already knows how this is going to play out.  It’s my anticipation that is exhausting though.  I’ve got to let go of the rope I can pull to pieces while fretting over the unknown, so I can grab hold of the rope that is the anchor that God has thrown out to me.

As I’ve told Joseph many times, Hope never fails.  Clinging to that anchor is all I can do, because it will keep me steady.

anchor architecture blur buildings
Photo by Ian Porce on Pexels.com

 

Summer’s Unofficial End

Below is a cute printable maze from Education.com to help combat bored little ones:

Guide your boat through the twists and turns of this maze from Education.com. Your little one will love coloring on this cute printable. Find many more educational resources for Kindergartners here.  

 

kindergarten_maze_kayaking

kindergarten_maze_kayaking_answers

BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!

Today begins the first full week back to school for the kids.  I’ll be honest, I have been looking forward to the beginning of the new school year.  It has been a long, hot, busy summer break.  I was officially over the battle with electronics by July 1.  However, the Bear in all of her fierceness continued the battles until the very end.  Mercy.

As we drew close to the beginning of the new school year, I realized the kids truly were not excited.  While snuggled in one day, Dozer asked, “do I go to school on Fridays?”  I told him yes.  Then he sighed heavily and said, “do I go to school all day?”  Again, I told him yes.  He looked right at me and said, “I don’t like that.”  Of course I commiserated with him for a  minute but inside I was thinking:  Happy Dance!  Both kids at school all day!

The Bear truly didn’t want to begin a new school year.  As the day drew closer, I noticed her chewing habit was amping up.  The night before her first day her behavior quickly deteriorated to the point where she had to go to bed without being able to watch TV.  After she calmed down I went into her room and she was covered completely with blankets, I could only see a big mound of covers in her bed and she was crying quietly.  I prayed.  She breathed.  She doesn’t do change well.  She has great fears.  She was remembering her first day of preschool when she still lived with her mom.  I prayed.

The morning of school the Bear wanted to argue and fuss and Dozer was quiet.  As we walked up to the school I could feel their anxiety.  The teachers where the kids go to school are amazing.  They were outside, cheering on the kids, playing music, and taking pictures.  Once it came time for Dozer to go with his friends, he went, quietly.  But the Bear took more coaxing.  Part of her issue was seeing her little brother be independent.  She had a harder time letting go of him than I did that first morning.  I suspect that may not be the last time that occurs.

As  I walked away from the kids, I intended to save my happy dance until I got to the car. Then I realized tears were running down my face.  Quietly.  Now, I’m a person who has been told am emotion-less, stoic, cold, unfeeling … and although that’s pretty harsh, I will own the fact I’m stoic.  But I let the tears fall.  For whatever reason, for a million reasons, for no reason at all … they needed to be shed.  I will admit though, after I pulled out of the parking lot, I did a happy dance!

I couldn’t help but remember, though, when I went to register Dozer for kindergarten, what things were like the day I sat in that classroom 3 years ago and met with the Bear’s kindergarten teacher.  I met with the teacher because both parents were knee-deep in  their drug addictions and hustles, and although they had the children, they didn’t communicate with the school teachers.  I did.  I remembered how worried the teacher was for Kaleigh, I remembered how bad things  were  for  the kids at that time, I thought back to how the kids were when they first came to live with us:  scared, neglected, survivors with no structure, no roots, no permanency in their lives.  How Dozer would begin crying the minute we would drop off the Bear at school because he had to go to day care.  How difficult it was getting  him assimilated to other kids so he could socialize, talk, grow.  It took me back to the look in the Bear’s  eyes that lasted oh so long … a look that no child should ever have in their eye.

Although all of these memories have flooded my mind over the past few weeks, I can’t  help but be humbled and grateful to God and the tribe of family and friends that surround us to help us as these kids grow.  I cannot imagine our lives without these two to raise, yet I honestly never imagined we would be raising little ones at this time of our lives.

In the afternoon when the kids came bounding out of the school, their excitement was contagious!  Joseph was off from work so he went with me to pick them up and they were excited to tell us what awesome days they had!  Dozer’s favorite part of the day, “the Skittles” … seems he got to eat Skittles LOL.  The Bear loved her teacher, was happy with the friends in her class and had an “amazing” day!  Thank you God.

I told Joseph yesterday that I hope the “honeymoon” phase with school lasts a good long time.  We all know – especially with little ones that things can change quickly.  We will begin a new routine of both kids doing homework, both having good and bad days, both not being motivated in the mornings, and the Bear hopefully learning to “let go” of Dozer so that he can grow his roots a little independently from her.  But we are off to a good start.

These two children have grown by leaps and bounds over the past 3 years (almost) they have lived with us.   These past years have gone by quicker than any we’ve ever experienced, Joseph and I.  We are blessed beyond measure.

Oh yeah … could you gather … summer break is over … routine is back in order … BOTH kids are school kids now!!!!  Maybe, just maybe, I will learn to slow down, tend to what’s  most important and ready myself everyday for the afternoon witching hours … cause those of us with kids, know that afternoon/evening witching hours exist and are no fun!  Helmets on!  Kneepads on!  Shoulder pads on!  Feet on the Bible.  I’m ready!  I hope ….

20180809_080055

 

 

 

Answered Prayers

It’s been awhile since I took the time to sit down and formulate my thoughts in order to blog.  It seems that the lazy, hazy days of summer that surrounded my childhood are now busy, noisy, crazy days that run together in a blur.  My mom sighed heavily about a week ago and expressed her sadness that summer was “half over” for the kids.  Me?!  I laughed out loud.  I told her that I would do a happy dance the minute they jump out of the car on the first day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love these kids fiercely, I’m glad they are with us, but they WEAR ME OUT!!  It’s different when you’re in your 50’s raising two active little ones.

That said, there are some amazing ways in which I’ve seen God work over the past month.  The respite we all needed and I prayed for was able to come to fruition.  Although it didn’t all go as I had planned in my head, it was perfect.  We were able to take the kids on their first ever vacation and watch them experience the majesty of God’s creation as they swam in the Gulf of Mexico.  We were even able to locate some gators for Dozer … although he wanted no part in actually touching one, our Bear (who has faced bigger demons) showed no fear and was able to hold one.  There were many times that it seemed as if we would not be able to make this trip, but God was good to us and allowed us this respite.  We did, however, discover that our Bear has not one single ounce in her soul that can “let go” or “wing it”.  She must have an exact – literally – exact plan in her head (down to the very minute) and if she doesn’t have one, it stresses her out!  We also discovered that portable DVD players can save people’s sanity on long road trips.  Who knew?!  Yeah – we stay behind the 8-ball in technology all the time.

We also were able to see God’s hand move in our Zebra’s life.  As his capacity to walk or use his arms to feed himself or do any daily task continued to diminish, his parents made the brave decision to take him to a doctor that is not conventional.  For treatments that are not tied into modern medicine.  We’ve come to realize that modern medicine can sometimes have no answers or remedies.  Ancient treatment practices have worked for much longer, so why not try?  They tried.  Afterwards, he stood up on his own volition and walked straight towards the Atlantic Ocean because he was NOT ready to leave.  Tears of joy from all of us who were able to witness it or see it on video.  We’ve seen improvements.  He’s not completely healed.  We now have an even stranger diagnosis.  But God is good.  All of the time.  I saw our Zebra sit on my sofa and eat Honey Nut Cheerios, one at a time, by himself and I do not remember the last time he could feed himself, he called the next night excited because he had dressed himself.  He hasn’t done that in more than a year.  We are blessed.  We continue to hold fast to that anchor of hope.  Because God is the Great Physician.

So I have many things to praise God for, particularly right now.  Stolen moments shared with friends, while the kids were cared for by a “babysitter” … which was a first for us, yet that “babysitter” is more like family than anything and her whole tribe adores these children.  It allowed Joseph and I to be adults, with my best friend and her husband, for the day, being outside and enjoying each other’s company with no children.  As a couple, we have to learn to do that more, it’s good for all of us.  The Bear’s anger has diminished somewhat, of that we are thankful, although, there are very rocky days ahead, of that we are certain.

Yet there are things that continue to weigh heavily.  I know it is time that I go see my daughter.  I’ve visited her in jail before.  I’ve even driven 100’s of miles to another state to see her and support her, but this time I’ve prolonged the visit.  The fact that she is in a federal prison 5 1/2 hours away is not as big an obstacle as the fact of … I just haven’t wanted to.  I was ready at one point not long ago, then things came to light and my whole perception of her changed.  I have had to regroup.  We’ve had 2 video visits with her and each have gone well, but there is still so much laying between us that is unsaid.  I realize there is a huge pink elephant that stands between us and yet I am unwilling at this time to reveal the pink elephant to her.  I don’t want to.  I don’t trust her.  I’m not sure if I know who she is any more.  But I love her.  I miss the daughter I had.  I have grieved the relationship and now am just … a professional at compartmentalizing.  I don’t say that with pride.  It’s complicated.  But I feel led to make the trek.  When I do I will do it alone.

Then there is my son.  Incarcerated again, but at least I know where he is.  I had been writing to both of my kids because I believe that sometimes that’s the best way to communicate with them, but I haven’t written since our vacation.  When I mentioned this to his sister she sighed, and told me not to worry about it, he is (or was) being disciplined for … well, being stupid and breaking the rules while incarcerated for activity that is banned.  Seriously?  My reaction to that news was heaviness for a moment.  I then realized that as much as I miss my son and want him in my life, I don’t know him either.  I do not know the person he has become.  I will probably be in the courtroom when he goes to court next, just to see his face and so he can see me.  I would never give up on him, I love him beyond measure, but I have stopped trying to help him.  I’ve offered suggestions, people to reach out too, but I cannot spend my energy attempting to “change” a grown man who refuses to act as a grown man.  Those attempts have backfired too often.

I have finally realized that it’s not my job to change my children.  It’s God’s.  Up until a few years ago I honestly thought it was my job to facilitate that … uh, wrong.  Very wrong.  It’s my job to pray for them and I do.  It’s my job to offer encouragement when I can, send a bible verse or lyrics from a song.  It’s my job to be here when they come back … because one day I believe they will come back.  I may not be alive to see it, but hopefully their children will be.

For now I will keep moving forward.  I can rest assured God answers prayers, regardless of how big or how small.  I’ve seen this in mighty ways over the past 6 weeks, and that both humbles me and amazes me.  Like anyone else, I sometimes wish God would answer my prayers in a more visible way as it relates to my adult kids and their souls, but I know He hears and He can move.  Meanwhile, I know how blessed we truly are regardless of what circumstances we are momentarily living through.

Summer is my favorite season, I will relish every moment I can get, even though I can’t seem to slow it down.  There is no better  therapy for me than mowing the yard or processing food Joseph has grown in the garden.  I get to walk barefoot outside and feel the warm sun on my skin.  Those things make me a happy girl … well, and these cuties:

 

Respite

green tree on grass field during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This picture reminds me of the farm my maternal grandparents lived on until their deaths several years ago.  There was a field on this farm, back behind the pond, and even further back behind an old cemetery.  As kids, we had many stories we could tell to scare one another about the deaths of the people who were buried in that cemetery, or the ghosts that lingered on the hill.  But back in behind there was a field completely surrounded by trees, almost like a big oval or circle; and, although as kids we roamed every inch of that farm playing, as I grew older, when I took walks, I always ended up there.  I could breathe deeply there it seemed.  It allowed my thoughts to settle and caused me to be reminded of God’s majesty in creation.  When you walked back out and down the hills, there was one lone  tree like this standing gloriously alone.

I only ever thought of the term respite in relation to medical lingo, and trust me my knowledge of medical lingo is slim to none.  I never really was aware of the use of the term in regard to situations such as foster parents asking for respite for a brief time  – until my daughter went to a group home before she turned 18.  There was drama (imagine that), and my daughter went to someone’s home for the weekend who provided respite care.  Since that time I have heard the phrase used and often have thought of the meaning of the word.  Respite.  A delay for a time … an interval of relief ... don’t we all long for that during seasons of our lives?

Recently I have been longing for respite.  Respite from the craziness that tends to crash in from all different directions in my life these days.  If I listed all of the different directions that my head and my heart get jerked around to, it would sound as if I was regurgitating a litany of sad, scary, stupid things and I don’t want anyone to get sidetracked by my own personal dramas.  But respite is what I need.  Not only do I need respite, but I know Joseph and our two little ones desperately need it as well.

However, for me, respite has never been something that comes easy.  I might be able to quiet my body for a moment, but my mind is often churning.  Those are moments when I have learned to make myself stop and literally tell God to “take this, because I can’t”.   Since a week ago Friday, the main thought in my head as been:  Be Still and Know that I am God.  Hmmm…God knows I need respite as well.  I know that there are things that, as a family, we are going to have to work through.  We are going to have to process emotions that could threaten to tear us down.  We are going to have to be strong, incredibly strong, in order to help the ones we love overcome obstacles that would drive any adult to their knees, let alone a child.  We have the potential to be told news that will be heart-wrenching at best and could even be so bad as to be devastating, yet for me, if I don’t have the chance to get my feet squared and my knees locked, I may not do so well.  So we need to be shored up.

In raising grands, it is difficult to stay connected with your partner.  At least for us it is, and I would find it hard to believe we are unique.  We are older, raising young children who have come from a hard place, and while these are the years we looked forward to being along as a couple, we are blessed with the amount of life and joy (with heartache, screaming and tears mixed in) that we have in our home right now.  But as a couple, and as a family unit, we need respite from the world.  We need that moment to bind together as a family, to strengthen our bonds, and to prepare our footing for what each day may bring.

Some may think of this thought of a time of respite as a way to run and hide.  It’s not.  Trust me when I say,  there are few things in my life that I have fled from, I’m more of a bull in a china shop.  I want the truth and I want it unfiltered, then I can analyze.  I have said before I do not believe in coincidences.  I believe the week ahead will bring a lot of fun times for our girl, but will also be a week that will lay bare some scars.  Once that hard work is performed, I want her to have the chance to just be a kid.  To explore and be amazed and laugh and for a moment have no yucky thoughts.  I believe God’s hand is on our paths at all times, I believe in more ways than one He is reminding me to Be Still.  I don’t believe He would leave me hanging when it comes to the respite we all need.

At the end of the day, God will provide.  He cares about the most minute details of my life, and it matters to Him if my soul, my husband’s soul and our grand’s souls are refreshed through a moment of respite as we move forward on our journey.  But for a moment, my prayer is that God continues to know our hearts and continues to shine the light on our path so that our steps can be firm and steady.

 

 

Summer Break!

 

bloom blooming country countryside
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

I know – the first day of Summer is actually next month, however, it is the beginning of summer break!  It’s a love/hate relationship I have with summer break.  I am definitely a summer, warm weather kinda girl … I do not like winter … I relish the long, warm days of summer.  I am able to do my favorite things in the world during the summer – mow (yes, it’s therapy for me), help Joseph garden, plant and tend to flowers, harvest the veggies in our garden to be canned for winter, and just enjoy the daylight hours.  However, around mid-June I feel myself being ever aware that the Summer  solstice will mean the days will begin to get a touch shorter.  But hey, I’ll take every drop of warm sunlight  on my skin I can get.

But the part that wears me out about summer is keeping the kids occupied.  Thus begins the building of the wall of limits as it relates to electronics, time in front of  the TV, tablet or computer.  Like so many parents of kids, mine believe electronics are a right they are entitled too.  Uh – no – I don’t play that way.  I will admit, though, these two little ones do play outside a lot in the warm weather.  Spending time helping us plant and harvest in the garden, helping me plant and water the flowers, playing in their little pool, going on nature walks, and playing on the trampoline keeps them busy.  Most of the time.

This summer break, although still brand new, is one they will  relish.  I do feel, however, that this summer break needs to be used to heal.  Last week, while at the counselor’s office, I told her that because we have no school to deal with anymore, I want her to rip the Band-Aid off (so to speak) and insist that our Bear begin to open up.  That being said, I was already preparing to stock up on helmets and protective gear, because if the Bear truly does open up, we could be in for a torrent of more anger, rages and fear.  After we left counseling that day, the Bear’s behavior was as good as any kid can have.  And the next day and the next … all the while, I was informed that she did open up, she revealed things she’s guarded in the deepest recesses of her soul, and yet she walked with a lightness in her step.  Wow.  Being able to get some of the bad gunk off her belly and out of her heart seemed to have caused her to feel a bit better.

For us adults, knowing now what we know, our steps got a bit heavier.  My shoulders felt a bit weighted down, and a sadness seemed to settle over me.  But I continued to move forward, for if this tiny fierce little female warrior can be lightened, then I can as well.  In those same moments I felt the heaviness settle, I remembered a few very real things God had brought into my life in the week leading up to this session that were preparing me for the  upcoming days or weeks, things that most people would run and hide from, but because of my work in the criminal justice system, it was something I could look at, listen to and ponder.  I was allowed great insight that I would have otherwise not had, because God opened a door for me.  So as that heaviness came, moments later, a remarkable, awe-inspired thank you went out to God for preparing me in ways I didn’t understand and for allowing our Bear to feel safe enough to finally begin to delve into some truths of her life with her parents while they were in their drug addictions full-tilt boogie.

As all of this transpires, and the world swirls around our little family, I am beginning to reconcile realities of who my daughter became, to the child that I gave birth to, who I love more than life, who is paying a lengthy price for her drug addictions, yet maybe hasn’t faced reckoning yet as it relates to her children and the prices they paid.  Yet, as scripture and Samuel L. Jackson would say, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.”  It is not my job to make sure people “pay” who brought  harm to a child, it is not my job to punish my daughter for her failings as a parent, it is my job to help these children heal and for me to heal.  Most times, I leave me out of the equation, yet at my age, I’m learning to stop that.  It’s not healthy for anyone.

So I am definitely looking forward to this summer break.  I hope it becomes a time for us, as a unit, to come together, to heal, to grow, to have fun and get out and enjoy all that God has created for us.  He knows what this week holds.  He knows my fears.  I can let go of all of them and hand them over, because they get much too heavy to shoulder.  I will set up parameters for electronics – I will bask in the sunshine with my little ones – and I will thank God everyday for the unique opportunity we have to help them as they grow.  Come on Summer …. it’s Game on and I’m stocked up on protective gear and sunscreen!

Ephesians 6 says:    Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…and pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all of the Lord’s people.

 

It’s Mother’s Day!! (Yay?)

0902171615

The woman in this picture is my hero.  She got married incredibly young, had four (oftentimes unruly) children, went to college and gained her degrees in order to teach math, has a passel of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is the glue that holds our tribe together.

This picture (though not terribly clear) is the true epitome of my mom.  Taking three of her great-grandchildren (all three incredibly delicious if you ask me) on a ride, because it makes them laugh.

She has sayings such as:

  • I’m getting ready to run down the road naked!
  • Good morning Rosebud!
  • Go wash your face (after you’ve had a meltdown).
  • Don’t be mad at them (any grandchild or great-grandchild) . . . they are sick, or getting ready to be sick, or tired, or getting ready to be tired.
  • They don’t have to eat all of their food at my house!
  • Do NOT come into my house mad at one another.

There are more, many more I’m sure.  But these are a few.

My mom is afraid of only a few things in this world:  Water (she would have screamed for help to arrive, but sadly would never have attempted to save any of us); Dissension in her family; and something happening to our daddy, one of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

My mom is hysterically funny – loyal – committed – dramatic (although she would never admit it) – loud (although she might not admit that either) – and grounded securely in her faith in God and the promise of a Heavenly reunion with her parents.

She has taught me more in the way she simply lives her life than she can ever know.

But if I’m honest, I will admit that I’ve done a little bit of wallowing this  morning.  I vacillate between being sad that my two children are incarcerated and that if I’m being real honest, our relationships are beyond strained, yet realizing at the same time how blessed I am.

My daughter and I try to put a Band-Aid on our relationship, and we do communicate somewhat, but I normally hear from my son only if he is incarcerated (which is he again) or hungry … and I do not help him out of either of those situations.  Thankfully, my step-daughter is happy and healthy and is a blessing beyond words when we get to visit, she probably just doesn’t realize that!

I also know I am blessed that my children are alive, therefore there is hope that one day our relationships will be mended and we can share in one another’s lives.  I also know I am beyond blessed to be raising two of our four grandchildren, because regardless of how tense and crazy days can be sometimes, I would in no way give up this opportunity to be the safety net that these two children need, and hopefully continue to be a source of strength to them as well.

I am blessed that I have two sisters and a mother who know the path I’m walking and encourage me and lift me up when I need it.  I get to go hug my mom and tell her how much I love her.  I am always amazed at the person God chose as my mom … there could have never been another as perfect for me as her.  I love you mom.  I respect you.  I am thankful for you.

For all moms that are sad today, know that there are many who share that sadness.  But joy comes in the morning.  I will remember all of the things I can choose to be thankful for today, for that will help me today.  Sometimes we all just need a little extra love on days like Mother’s Day.