Parmesan Lost

A few years ago when Katie had just learned to walk, we were living in an apartment.  Why that's significant I don't know except to say that we were living on one level.  The reason I tell you this will be clear in a moment.  I had been telling Janet how I used to love the Kraft Parmesan cheese for my spaghetti.  You should probably know that Janet prefers to grate her own Parmesan cheese, but because she loves me so she bought me some.

We brought the groceries in and Janet put them away.  Katie was wandering around the apartment.  Later Janet told me that she had bought the cheese but it hadn't been put in any of the bags.  No big deal, it happens.  She would just tell them the next time she went to the store.

A few days later, and thankfully before Janet went back to the store, we saw Katie with a familiar green cylinder.  So that's what happened to the cheese.  We couldn't help but laugh.

A Little Scare A Lotta Hope

This week we had a little scare.  Well maybe not so much a little scare.  I should really start at the beginning.  Someone we know is pregnant and does not want to keep the child.  So we are being allowed to adopt the child.  The only stipulation is that the child will never know who the mother is.  Well we've been trying to adopt for so long, it just seemed to be the ideal situation.

Let's call the mother, Clara, to make things simple.  I am going to stress this is not her real name.

Clara called Janet to tell her when she woke up Monday morning, she found a lot of blood in her panties.  Sorry for being so graphic.  Well, Janet left work to take her to the hospital, and on the way called her mother, and then me.  When I got the call, she was sobbing so hard I could barely understand her.  I asked her if she wanted me to meet her at the hospital, I knew she would say yes.  So I cleared it with my boss and left for the hospital.

On the way to the hospital I began to have a conversation with God.  I have to say I was expecting the worst.  I told God that I didn't understand why He would get my hopes up and then chop my legs out from under me.  I asked if it was that I wasn't supposed to adopt this child or any child for that matter.

I caught up to Janet and Clara at the hospital.  I tried to be positive and joke around so that Janet and Clara wouldn't be any more upset than they already were.  That seemed to work well.

Finally after several hours in the emergency room we had our diagnosis.  (By the way if any one in the emergency room says "I'll be right back."  expect them to be gone a half hour)  The doctor told us that whenever someone is pregnant and is bleeding it is what they call a "threatened abortion."  That's a horrible term for possible miscarriage.  He did make it clear that they didn't know for sure, it could go either way. 

So Janet made an appointment for Clara the next day.

On the next day, Tuesday if your keeping up with that, I was listening to John Macarthur.  He was talking a worship and part of this focused on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  Take a look at that -- "Give thanks in everything," not only for the good times, but also for bad times.   So I grumbled a little bit, then I said okay God if that's what you and if this is what it takes for me to make an impact then this is what I will do.  It is God who gets all the glory and I will give thanks to Him in all situations, in all things.

I don't know if there is any correlation, but when Janet called me later, I found out the baby was fine.  There is a heartbeat and the baby was thrashing about and kicking.  And I learned an important lesson.

I Hate Chuck E Cheese

I probably shouldn't use the word "hate," but I can't think of a stronger word.

We went to Chuck E Cheese this weekend to celebrate the second birthday of Jasmyn.  Why would you take a two year old to Chuck E Cheese?  But then I digress.  Katie loves it there.  She runs all over the place playing the games and I usually follow here from one game to the next.  At one point I lost her.  I searched all over, and even went back to table.  I asked Janet if she had come back to the table at any time.  Nope.  Now I'm starting to get a little panicky.

Then I heard her, she was crying.  She had taken her tickets to the counter and was trying to cash them in for a purse.  Like she doesn't have enough purses.  We need 399 tickets for the purse and we had forty.  I went back to the skee ball to see if I could win enough more.  Forty-five tickets later. 

Janet and I decided to pay the difference, $3.19.  I think we spoil her.  She was very happy and lo there was make up in the very cheaply made purse, which since Saturday has been all over her face and dresses.  I'm waiting for her run out, then she can have more when I'm dead.

It reminds me of another visit.  It was Katie's first visit and she ran all over as before and was having a ball.  She went with the baby sitter and the other children there.  They were older and knew that the tickets equaled prizes.  They took there tickets to the counter and were getting prizes and candy.  Katie was barely two and she went the counter and look the girl in the eyes and said "I want candy."  I don't the girl knew what to do, she looked at Katie and then looked at me, obviously uncomfortable.  I asked her if I could buy it and she said I could.  So eleven cents later Katie was happy, the girl was relieved, and I was beginning to hate Chuck E Cheese.

That's it I'm a Woman

Friday I was listening to some of my favorite podcasts and they were discussing how a woman feels about her family.  And I thought to myself "That's the way I feel."  About the third time I said this I began think "Okay, I'm a woman!"

Seriously I believe that men are the protectors of their families and I am very protective of my family.  In fact I'm fiercely protective of my family, much like a momma bear and her... wait I didn't want to go that way.

Okay that rationale didn't work.  But I do bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, cause I'm a wo...  Hmmm, this is getting me nowhere.

What is the role of the man?  Is there one anymore?

I think there is a least one and that is to be the head of the family like Christ is to the church.  That's where I want to be.

God Speaks...

Most of the time I love it when God speaks.  I say most of the time.   Lately God has been talking to me about my sin.  I'm not really crazy about that.   I would much rather just stroll along thinking everything is hunky dory.  So much for the illusion of my perfection.  I know I'll tell you "no one's perfect," but in reality I think I am.  Maybe I should have never told God whatever it takes. 

That's not all He's been talking to me about.  I suffer from anxiety, to the point I take medication for it.  There are times when the anxiety wells up inside of my that I think my chest is going to explode.  I know much of my anxiety is self inflicted and God has been speaking to me about trusting in Him.  I've been practicing this anxiety for so many years it will be next to impossible for me to overcome.

I think that part of my anxiety comes from my own feeling of self worth.  I really believe that what I do doesn't matter.  God has been telling me that He is willing to use me if I am willing.  I guess if God is using me to do it, wonderful things will happen.

I could use prayer in all of this.

Meanderings From Tuesday

My last post was not my best post.  I think it was borne out of my desire to be more consistent in writing my blog.  I'm not really sure anyone is really reading this, but I have always had this deep inner desire to be a writer of sorts.  I'm thinking that if I truly want to be a writer that I need to spend more time practicing my craft.  It has been said to "write what you know," but I have always thought what if you don't know anything.  I may have used that before but as I get older I'm finding it harder to remember my way to work.

I spoke last time about the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and now I want to share about Wednesday.  Katie was home with Janet, and I had to go to work.  When I left Katie was still asleep and because she hadn't been feeling well, I was glad.  About 7:30 I got a call at work, I was greeted with "Hi Daddy."  I can't tell you how excited I was.  It was the first time that she had called me at work and I really love these moments.  We talked for a while about things that a man my age can share with a four year old.  She appeared very excited to be able talk to me.  After a while the call of nature hit me so strongly that I had to get off the phone, at least for a short while.  She began to cry.  Of course.  That's my weakness, but I had to go or there would have been a great mess where I was sitting.  I told here I would call her back when I had answered the call.  By the time I called back she was okay because her best friend, Victoria was there to visit for the day.  She did come back to the phone and at one point asked Victoria if she wanted to talk, so I talked to her for a second.  Literally.  But they went off to play and I was forgotten.  Until later.

I had locked my keys in my car so Janet had to drive all the way out my job to let me in.  I won't be doing that again anytime soon, either that or I need to find another way into my car.  Seriously Janet is such a good sport about things like that, sometimes I think she wonders what she got into when she married me.  If she only knew.

The Beginning of the Thanksgiving

Today I had the opportunity to go to Katie’s school.  They were having a Thanksgiving feast to celebrate – you guessed it thanksgiving.   I walked in and I saw no faces I recognized.  Many of the parents seemed to know each other, I wondered how.   It really didn’t matter though, I was there for Katie, so I waited. 

Mrs.  Holloway came out and gave some instructions, then she saw me she smiled and told me that Katie had been asking if I would come.  I’m glad I did, I didn’t want her to be the only child without a parent present.  It appears that it is equally or more important to her.

The children entered the room, K4 and K5.  The K4 children began with a Bible verse .  “Give thanks to the Lord…”  It is not the only verse Katie knows and every time I hear her recite scripture it brings great joy to my heart.

Then all the children sang a song -- “Gobble, Gobble the turkey’s in trouble…”  That’s all I could catch of the song, but it was so very cute.

Then we ate and spent time with each other.  It was a great time and I’m very glad I went.  I know it made Katie’s day, it sure made mine.

Pride

It’s interesting, at least to me, that when I write, I want to write something so profound and earth shattering that it changes the world.  I know that’s really not possible, but it is the way I am.

I’ve also notice that when I think about teaching a Sunday school class, that in my mind I will be so good that they’ll have to build a new building just to hold the class.

I guess there’s really nothing wrong with either of those ideas or thoughts except they leave out God.   How does God get the glory in those mindsets.

Even on a lower level when people come to my house, I want them to have the impression that I’m super spiritual.  (See my cape)  I have commentaries and books on the bible on my shelves.  I really use them, but secretly I want others to see them.

I’ve been noticing that trend, or more likely that God has been showing me this trend in my  thought process. And also showing me that this is pride and this is sin.  This is my sin.

She is Still Around

Jasmyn is still in our lives and we are very grateful.  No, she is not staying with us, but Elizabeth has said that she wants us to see Jasmyn every other week.  We had to think about this for a second and said “Well okay.”  And if you believe that I have some swamp land in Florida for sale.  We are ecstatic.

Blaine is going to keep bringing Nivayah around every week to play with Katie.  So it seems all is right with the world.  Today.

Katie doesn’t seem to notice that Jasmyn is gone.  She taken it all pretty well.  Janet and I have adjusted well.  I think we did all our crying before Jasmyn left.

Now I’m hoping and sometimes praying that I will get the opportunity to share the gospel.  I need to go from sometimes praying to always praying.  I just have such difficulty in this area.

It’s not that I don’t know the importance of prayer, it’s that right now I find it to be a chore.  And many times I don’t know how to start my prayer.  I guess that means that those of you who do need to pray for those of us who don’t so that we will.  Confusing enough?

Cloudy

It’s cloudy outside, sort of like my mood.  Today I handed Jasmyn over for the last time.  It was great to have her again last night, but it was extremely sad to see her go.

Jasmyn was the last of our foster children.  Over the past year we’ve had a multitude of children in our home and now our house seems enormously empty.

There has been so much chaos and noise.  And although Janet and I griped and complained, we loved every minute of it.

So now we wait to see what God has next for us.  I feel like I should be doing something though.  I don’t wait very well.

There is ray of sunshine, Blaine is willing to keep coming out each week and visiting with us even if Jasmyn is not there.  Katie and Nivaya are going to play together while the adults talk.

It’s amazing what kind of skills you learn as a parent.  For instance, carrying on a conversation while the kids scream.

I hope we get to see Jasmyn again.

Janet’s Birthday

Yesterday was Janet’s birthday.  No I won’t tell you how old she is.  We decided to go have a nice dinner to celebrate.  We had a wonderful time.  Katie ate well and was extremely well behaved.  I love family nights like this.

Jasmyn will have her final night home with us tonight.  The social worker will be there at 3:30 to pick up some things to take to Elizabeth.

Jasmyn’s grandfather and cousin will be over tonight for dinner.  Janet and I have discussed it and we would like the visits to continue.  Nivaya (I think that’s how it’s spelled) and Katie get along really well and we would like to continue the relationship. We’ll see how it all goes.

More on Jasmyn

It always seems that I have so much I want to say and when I get to the blank page, my mind is as blank as the page.  Anyway I want to tell you that Jasmyn was back for Tuesday night, just Tuesday night.  She'll be  back again Thursday night, just Thursday night.  Don't ask me -- it doesn't make sense to me either.
It is funny because Jasmyn didn't stray far from me the whole evening, I hated to put her to bed.  I began to exercise and lay down on my back and she climbed up on my stomach.  I'm really going to hate to drop her off for the last time.  She has been an important member of our family for nearly a year.  Janet and I love her so much.


HE Speaks

Don't you just love it when God speaks?  I do.  God spoke to me this weekend.  Janet and I have been praying and trying to figure out how to proceed for foster care/adoption.  And this verse was part of the our Sunday School class lesson.
  • (Gal 6:9)  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
We've been considering giving up and just relaxing, but I think that verse is telling us not to quit, but to continue forward.  And we will.
I think sometimes Janet thinks I'm nuts when I talk about this stuff.  I asked her about it and she said "I think you're nuts for other reasons."  She may be right.
When I say we prayed.  I don't want you to think that we are pray warriors or anything.  I only wish that were the case.  I know prayer is important, but that is mostly a head knowledge and not really a heart knowledge.  I think God may be waiting for me to let go.
Katie really hasn't appeared to know Jasmyn is gone.  Maybe that's the status quo, who knows.  She seems to be happy to have "Mommy and Daddy" all to herself.
That's another thing, she's started to call me "Daddy" and sometimes "Dad."  I haven't heard "Poppa" in a while now.  It's okay with me, but Stephanie doesn't seem to like it.  She hasn't said anything though.
Jasmyn will be back tonight, and Friday she'll be gone for good. Hopefully not out of our life.  I have found out that Elizabeth is a good mother who has made some foolish and immature decisions.  That gives me a better feeling about Jasmyn going back.  I've ordered a Bible to give to her and I hope that I have the opportunity to talk to her about Jesus.  If you are a prayer warrior, even if you're not, pray that She is receptive and God speaks to her through me.


She's Back...Er was

Jasmyn came back last night.  Just for one night.  She off again today.  She's a jet setter.  She'll be off hobnobbing with the likes of (gasp) her OWN MOTHER.  Yes she will be off to what I think will be the right place for her.  Although she will be back on Monday and then off again (for good) on Friday.
It was good to see her again last night.  She and I played for awhile, but you know the attention span of your average 18 month old is only slightly less than that of your average 48 year old male.
We had another visit with Blaine, Jasmyn's grandfather.  What a good guy.  He was surprised to find out things were moving along so quickly, but he did say that Elizabeth was a good mother that made some poor choices.  I don't know many 17 year olds who don't make poor choices.  I think there are some of us who never grow out of that.
I still have a slight amount of selfishness and want to keep Jasmyn forever.  I think that's only natural.  I mean she is a beautiful child with such a hearty laugh.
Katie has surprised me.  We were concerned how she would respond to all of this and she doesn't even act like it bothers her.  I think we as parents over analyse everything.
After this, Janet and I have decided to take a break and heal a little.  In the past year we have had Jasmyn, Lindsey, Junior, James, Michael, and four other children in our home.  None of them were for our forever family.  I'm sad for that, but I'm glad we could be there for them.
If you pray, pray for us.  Katie is ours in the respect that we have custody.  But her last name is not ours and we want a child that no one else can lay a claim to.  That seems selfish.
Pray specifically for the that child and that we are prepared. 
In all things Seek God with all your Heart.

His Glory

I have come to a realization.  It's taken me awhile.  Some weeks ago while I was praying I made
a commitment to God to glorify Him no matter the cost.  In light of all that has happened in the
last couple of weeks, it has occurred to me that this was my opportunity to glorify God.  Okay I
know I sound like a fanatic, well I reckon I am.
I remember hearing that some of the young people, who were killed at the YWAM, made the same
commitment.  The result was phenomenal.  I wanted to make a similar impact.
I think to die would have been easier (I am not suicidal - it is definitely not God glorifying).  But
God definitely gets all the glory.  How He gets glorified through this is a mystery to me, but he
knows.
I also realize that these situations puts Janet and me in the position where we have no choice but to
rely on God.  I'm not a real handy person, but I do like to fix things myself, and now there is nothing
I can do to fix this situation.
I have spent a lot of time agonizing over this and wondering what I had done wrong and all the time
what I was doing wrong was focusing on the situation and not God.  Now I know it is time to rejoice
in what God is doing in my life.  May he have the glory and honor forever.


It's the Fourth

It's the Fourth of July and I wish I could say I was looking forward to it. (There's a lot of I's in that sentence)  Any way, Jasmyn will have visitation all day Saturday and it's an all day thing.  I used to hate when Katie went on visitation, but since her father doesn't come any more, it's not a problem.
The plus side is we're going to Water Country on Friday.  It will probably be crowded, but we won't stay long.  And we usually go early.

We Must Be Out of Our Mind

With all that happened last week, Janet and I were unsure whether we wanted to continue with the foster care.  But then we began to ask ourselves, "Why we began doing this." 
  • Our most selfish reason was that we wanted to adopt, we wanted to have children of our own.   Apparently we are unable to have any of our own.  I guess we could go through the whole fertility process, but I think it's better to adopt someone in need of a home.
  • Secondly it provided a service and stability for the childrenThe city we live has expressed their concerns about retaining foster parents.  When they asked us I couldn't tell you why, I can now.
  • Third and most importantly, we are beginning to look at this as a ministry.  I think that scares Janet a little.  But we've in at one situation have been able to minister to a family member of the child we have in our home.
  • Fourth we can't imagine never having know these children.  Even the ones who have been in our home for just a short period of time have impacted our lives.
So now we are going to go back and talk with the social worker and get another placement.  We just pray that God will bless the children and their families through us.

The Quest for Children

I’m going to start this from the beginning.  I was born many years ago … wait, maybe not that far back.  Janet and I were married in August 1996.  Janet had been married before and has three children.  I on the other hand, being pretty much a procrastinator, was 36 and never married.  Consequently I never had children either --  at least that I know of.

Janet’s youngest Stephanie came to live with us.  I don’t want to really dwell on her, because it’s not really the point and it serves no great purpose.  I will have to say, because it explains things else ware, that when she turned 18 she began to develop a promiscuous lifestyle.

Around summer of 1998 or 1999 Janet became pregnant with what was supposed to be our first child.  The pregnancy barely lasted three months.  This was our first heartbreak.

In 2000 we bought a business and began to work that.  During that time Janet became pregnant again.  I don’t know how, but she knew right from the beginning that she would not carry this child to term. She was right.

In 2001 we closed the business and knowing that I could not make a living  without an education, I went back to school.  I graduated in December of 2004.  During that time period we went back and fourth about whether or not we wanted children at that point in our lives.  At one point we said that we did not and that was that – sort of.  I still had that longing for children that I kept hidden away.  Apparently Janet did too.  She approached me one day about that topic and we both recanted what we had previously said and decided that we would try to adopt.  Somewhere about June time frame Stephanie became pregnant with Katie.

Janet had seen a show on National Geographic about the little girls in China.  We then decided that this was the route we would try to take.  Janet attended an informational meeting about adoptions from China and met a couple Chris and Kerry, while I was at work.

During this time I was working as a press brake operator.  Great job for a 44 year old man with arthritis in his back.  In February of 2005 I obtained a job with a small company as Junior DBA.  It was a fair amount of money more than I was making at the time.

Meanwhile we met with Chris and Kerry at their home and began to learn about the adoption process.  They had adopted a little girl from China, so they were very knowledgeable about the process.  We hit it off right from the beginning and became fast friends. 

We had to put our plans on hold for a year because I was offered a job in Northern Virginia for almost twice what I was making -- so we moved.  We had finally gotten ourselves in position that we could start the adoption process, when Stephanie called.  There were some problems in the relationship she was having and wanted to know if we could take Katie (She doesn’t call her Katie).  Of course we said yes.  There’s more to this but it’s not really relevant.

Not having anything for a baby in our house, we took the money we had saved for adoption and went out and bought things that we needed to take care of this precious child. (And she precious, exasperating but precious).

The next year I got a job back in Hampton Roads so we moved again.

When we were ready to start the adoption process again, the rules had changed and we didn’t qualify.  So we switched to the Vietnam program.

We finished our home study and were ready to begin our dossier.  That’s when we got the phone call saying that the Vietnam program was closing because of the Hague Treaty (At least that’s my understanding).

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet this is where is gets interesting.  We decided to enter the foster care system with the intention of adopting.  We knew from the beginning that every child we had in our home would most likely either be returned to the parent or placed with a relative.  But we were determined.

So we went through the training and in July we had Lindsay and Junior placed with us.  Lindsay was six and Junior was under two.  They were only with us for two months.  I learned a great deal during that time.

In August, eight month old Jasmyn was placed with us. Initially we thought she was a keeper.  Elizabeth, the mom who was seventeen, had run away from home and was in trouble with the law.

In March we brought nine day old Heaven(we called her Jaime) home from the hospital.  We also believed she was to be a permanent member of our family.

Elizabeth has made a remarkable turn around which is something to praise God for.  And it looks like Jasmyn will return to her mother.  We have expressed interest in a continued relationship with Jasmyn, Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s father.  They appear to be willing.  During the court day Janet cried several times and I don’t blame her.  I felt the loss myself.

On that same day (the court date) we received a call from social services saying that they were going to remove Heaven from our home.   The reasons they gave were flimsy and nitpicky at least in my estimation.  Janet did not cry this time – she sobbed.  In nearly thirteen years of marriage I have never seen her like this.

The social workers have said that they would not block more children being placed with us, but we don’t know if we can continue doing this.

So here we are four years later and no adoption.  I can only say that the discouragement level is high.  I am attempting to look to Lord in all of this, but I am at a loss as to what to do next.

In Christ Alone.