Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Be Anxious for Nothing

I'm really working on taking that to heart. Not being anxious for anything, I mean. Some days are much easier than others! It's been another rough week around here. It amazes me how we are so vunerable to attack when our spouse isn't around.

So that I don't sound like a total complainer I'll give you all a quick highlight of my week before I ask you for prayers for a few things :)

Tuesday morning, while having coffee and chatting with two of my favorite friends, my home phone rang. Which usually means someone soliciting or some annoying political poll. Despite my misgivings I decided to answer it just in case it was my mom or Ben. On the other end of the line I heard a familiar voice that I haven't heard for probably 7 years! It was Brother Ed Phelan, asking if I was free to meet for lunch that very day!!!

Now, if you don't know who I'm talking about (which probably most of you wouldn't!) I'll back up and give you a quick story. After graduating college I joined the LaSallian Volunteers, which was a division of Americorp Volunteers. This meant that in July, after graduation, I moved to the Bronx, NY to live with three De LaSalle Christian Brothers, and four other volunteers. We all lived in this big, beautiful old Victorian style house right in the Bronx and worked at various places in NYC. A couple of the volunteers worked at the Christian Brothers high school because they had teaching degrees, I worked at Highbridge Community Life Center with Br. Ed. At Highbridge I had two jobs; I was the assistant to the executive director (Br. Ed himself!) and after 3:00 I went over to help with the after school program where I tutored and worked with 1st-3rd grade underprivileged students. It was an AMAZING experience both living in a community as well as working at Highbridge. I still claim that I was the only blonde in the Bronx.

Anyway, Br. Ed was my boss and he was also my house mate so he was a large part of my life in the Bronx. All eight of my house mates made it out to our wedding and after Ben and I got married we made it out to NYC to visit once, but that was in the first year of our marriage and it was the last time that I spoke to Br. Ed other than email. So to hear his voice was quite a surprise! And the best part is that I was actually free to have lunch with him!!!

We met and had a couple minutes before I had to drop Hunter off at school. Then Br. Ed and I sat down at my favorite local restaurant and chatted for hours. Literally. Seven years is a long time to have to catch up on! I filled Br. Ed in on all this adoption stuff and he told me about his travels and how not much has really changed in NY. Boy did it make me want to visit the Bronx!

During the course of our conversation and explaining the foster system and adoption and all of that it really became so crystal clear just exactly how broken the system is. I really wish I knew where to start and how to "fix" the system. The problem is that I really don't think that there is a way. Where human nature is involved things are just messy. And there is no way that you can write laws and create a system that allows for each individual case to be considered in the way that it should be. And unfortunately that puts a lot of the decision making into the hands of the social workers and judges who become so desensitized to all of it. It's so hard to determine when to keep giving the birth parents more and more chances, and when to just cut ties and allow the child to become legally free. I'm glad that I don't have to be the one responsible for those decisions. Of course it would be wonderful to see the birth parents solve whatever issue was keeping them from successfully parenting and see each child returned to their parents. That would be amazing. However, it is seldom the case that it happens that way. Instead the children are bounced around through the system for years and years and by the time the decision is finally made to legally free the child from the birth parents the child is 12 or older and has a much greater chance of aging out of the system than being adopted. Heart breaking. Really.

So, please be praying for opportunities for us to make a change. I don't yet know how. Or what exactly it will look like. But I do know that this isn't right. It's not fair to the children. And that's the greatest concern.

I'll get off my soapbox now and just say that it was such an awesome surprise to get to visit with an old friend! Especially when it was so unexpected! Truly a blessing.

Like I said before, I have still been feeling so attacked. This week nothing has broken (praise Jesus!) but so far it has been just as crazy! I'll spare you all the details and just ask that you be praying. I actually think that I'm handling it all pretty well but I am ready for it to be over. Also please be praying for Ben. He's been super busy and we haven't talked to him in quite a while. I get an occasional short email so I know that he's fine, but he has been really busy and I'm sure he has to be exhausted.

Thank you for the prayers!

Love you all!

B, E & H

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Three months. Today makes three months that Ben has been gone. Hopefully just one more! I can't really complain since four months is an amazingly short deployment. Almost a year shorter than the last, ha! But wow, I'm still amazed at how hard it has been and how much chaos has been crammed into these three crazy months since he has been gone.

It's been a bit of a rough week around here. We were super busy, which is usually great because it helps the time pass, but for some reason both Hunter and I have just been really struggling through this week. Our poor neighbors were witnesses to some of it tonight as Hunter had a COMPLETE meltdown when I told him that we were going to go home in a minute. Usually he's totally fine and cooperates with no problem. On a bad night he might whine about it. Tonight, it was a screaming, crying fit that lasted all the way home, up the stairs and commenced with him getting in big trouble. Not exactly the way that I wanted to end a nice evening with friends. Sigh...

I have to admit that I kinda understand his feelings because I often feel the same way. All these emotions just get stuck inside and then you reach this tipping point where one little (usually completely unrelated) thing sets you off into a crying, screaming mess. All week Hunter has been extra sensitive about missing his daddy. I don't know why this week is worse than last, or if he heard or thought of something that has got him upset, but it has been a constant battle for him this week. Take yesterday for example. I was co-hosting a baby shower for a dear friend and Hunter was invited to hang out with the men and kids from our small group. They went to Cabela's, played arcade games and had lunch at Panera (Hunter's choice!). He had a great time and I am so blessed to have men that are willing to invest time in Hunter while Ben is away. As soon as I got home Hunter asked to go to the park to play football. I quickly changed out of high heels and into tennis shoes and we went to the park. About 2 minutes into our football game Hunter sat down in the grass and put his head in his hands. I went over and asked him what was wrong. "I miss daddy." Again, sigh... Mom's can't play football like dad can.

That's just one example of how the whole week has gone. And it's wearing on me too. Boy is it tough to be a parent. And man is it ever tough to be both parents! What a reminder of the beautiful thing that God has created in marriage. And to any of you who are a single parent for any reason, YOU ROCK.

One thing that has really been impressed upon me over and over this week is that I am so grateful that God knows what is best for us. I don't know how I would have made it through with another child, especially one that had some issues of his own. What a beautiful mess we live in.

The other thing that I keep realizing is exactly how blessed I really am. I am so blessed to have a husband who is so amazing. I'm so blessed that he is a wonderful father to our son and that Hunter can't wait to have his daddy back home with him. I am so blessed to be surrounded by the most amazing people who love on us and are willing to take care of us even when we aren't lovely. I am so blessed in so many, many countless ways. I don't want to let the tough times overshadow the blessings. I want to take the hard days and use them to make the blessings shine.

Please keep praying for all of us, that Hunter's little heart doesn't hurt so much. That Ben is home safely, and soon.

We love you all,

B, E & H

Thursday, October 4, 2012

So glad that I'm not in charge

A couple of days ago I received a call from our social worker with our agency. I wasn't able to answer right away since I was dropping Hunter off at school, but my initial reaction when I saw her number appear on my phone was one of complete frustration. Luckily for her I had a few minutes to gather my thoughts on the drive home before I returned her call. I hate to admit that I immediately became defensive upon seeing her number on my cell, but it has been over a month since we last were in contact and in my opinion that is too long! However, I called her back and had a decent conversation about how and why everything fell apart with V.

In the course of our conversation a few interesting things came up. First, I was able to voice my frustration with one particular person involved in the case. Turns out that this person had also managed to step on the toes of my agency as well. So, we discussed where to go from here and my worker should be getting back with me regarding someone who I can file a complaint with. My goal is not necessarily to get this person in trouble, but I just don't want any other families to be treated the way that we were treated.

My SW also asked me if we wanted to be put back on the list as an eligible family. First, I didn't know that we weren't on the list, but I guess that's okay since I really don't want to go through that again with Ben gone. We had a very frank discussion about how to proceed, but the answer is honestly that I just don't know. Here is what I do know right now:

-Ben will get home sometime next month. I do not want to bring a child into our home before Ben gets back. Also, there is a period of reintegration after Ben's homecoming which I want to get through before we consider adding another family member. We also bought tickets to go home for Christmas so we really can't take a child until after the new year.
-We have no idea if/when we will be moving. Ben has recieved some conflicting information regarding this which means we could be moving anytime from about February on. Again, not great news for adopting.
-Washington state requires that the child live with us for a minimum of 6 months before we can finalize an adoption.
-A new (interesting?) fact that I found out is that IF we have a child placed with us and get orders to move we can request that the state allow us to take the child with us. However, this scares me. The few times we have tried to do something "out of the ordinary" so far it hasn't worked out well. So while this is good information to know, it's not something that I want to count on. The state could certainly deny our request and then we could be right back where we are now. While we will store this information, for right now we don't really feel like it's something that we want to intentionally do.

So, what does all this mean? I'm glad you asked!

True to self, it means that I begin freaking out, wondering what in the world we are supposed to do. It seems almost impossible that we will be able to adopt in WA, but there is a very good chance that our next move (or possibly even the next two moves) will be for fairly short periods of time since one of those should involve an Army school that is about a year long. With my mind whirring I quickly realized that the bottom line is that it will most likely be years before we can actually adopt. So naturally, I panic. Which mostly means that I start sending frantic emails to Ben (in hindsight I bet he actually is glad that he isn't here sometimes because the worst I can do is email him right now! ha!)

A while back (months ago actually) I impulsively bought a book that has been sitting on my nightstand ever since. After finishing a series and really mostly because I had nothing else to read I grabbed this book and dove in. Oh. My. Goodness. As usual God met me right where I was at, right in the moment that I needed a big flashing neon sign telling me to just slow down and sit. Line after line, scripture after scripture this amazing book was laying out everything that I needed to hear at the very moment that I was most open to it. I'm trying to resist copying sections of the book for you to see what I mean, but the overall point is this: We are created to be a part of God's plan. We can not mess this up. We are called to wait on Him and enjoy his peace and joy. God does not need us to meddle in His plans. He does not need us to accomplish His purposes in our lives. We are to sit back and wait for his guidance.

See what I mean???

I confess that I am only halfway through the book, but this is GOOD STUFF. I am trying to soak it all in. And I'm pretty sure that when I finish it I will open it right back up to the beginning and read it again just to make sure that I retain a little bit of the wisdom that it contains.

I am so glad to serve this amazing God who daily meets me where I am and gently reminds me who I am. I am a child of God, created by Him. He loves me. And He doesn't expect me to do everything on my own. He will equip me for the things that I am to accomplish. And if I go astray, as I am bound to do, He is a God of second chances. WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!!!

So here I am today. Enjoying a moment of peace and quiet after having three amazing kiddos terrorizing my house this morning. The house is a mess, there are probably a ton of other things I should be doing, but for this moment I am going to bask in the peace and the joy of my Creator. And I know that no matter what happens, if we have the opportunity to add another wonderful child to our family or if we remain a family of three, I am only responsible for answering the call of God when I hear it. The details? Those are all up to Him! (sigh...) What a relief!

Love you all!

B, E & H

P.S. Quick update: The truck seems to be doing okay! The tire is holding air and it has been consistently starting up. YAY! The washing machine also seems to be holding up too. Ben's computer seems to pretty much be dead, but we will deal with that when he gets back. The grass is also dead, so the lawnmower can wait until springtime. And thank you for your prayers because nothing else has broken! Thank God for miracles!