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Held by grace

Posted By: Randi Posted In: General Parenting, Post adoption Date Posted: June 20th, 2017

Her hands freeze above the keys. Her tears run down her cheeks. Her song has come to an end. My patience has left with it. We find ourselves at a familiar impasse.  Continue Reading

Fire and Rescue

Posted By: Teresa Posted In: Uncategorized Date Posted: June 12th, 2017

 

Our little community has an all volunteer fire/rescue crew. This group of men and women live and work along side each of us, having a variety of jobs and responsibilities, e.g. mechanic, caterer, agent, grocery store clerk… However, when the alarm sounds, they literally cease everything they are doing and rush to the fire station, jump into their prepared gear, and race to serve, not knowing what to expect. I appreciate their willingness to be trained and ready to assist without warning.

Recently, I heard the alarm sound at the fire station. Continue Reading

on timing….and toothbrushes

Posted By: niki Posted In: Uncategorized Date Posted: June 10th, 2017

Today was one of those delicious Saturdays where we didn’t have anywhere to go or anything scheduled.  These days are rare.  I woke up today, knowing that a long full day was stretched out ahead of me and I wanted to make the most of it.  We have had about 2 weeks of summer so far and my house clearly reflected it.  I went into the bathroom and noticed that the drawer that held the toothbrushes for about half of our family was full.  And gross.  There were so, so many toothbrushes in there, and toothpaste with the lids off, and dried toothpaste stuck to bobby pins…..you get the picture.  I decided it had to be dealt with as soon as possible.  My 4 year old and I emptied the drawer and soaked the tooth brushes and threw away multiple free sample size tubes of tooth paste that had no lids….and I scrubbed the drawer.  This drawer has looked this bad for a long time now but today was the day.  Zero tolerance…..not one more day.  How does that happen?  How do I live with something every single day for days and weeks and months….and then one day I’ve had it and it has to get fixed?   Continue Reading

Posted By: niki Posted In: Uncategorized Date Posted: May 27th, 2017

Matthew 5:5 says Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.  The meek……not the leaders, or the politicians, or the mothers or the teachers or the doctors.  The meek.  Blessed are the meek…..Webster’s Dictionary says meek is:  having or showing a quiet and gentle nature; not wanting to fight or argue with other people.  Blessed are the meek.

I want to be meek.  I want to be quiet and gentle…….I don’t want to feel easily offended, or prone to argue.  I don’t want to feel proud, like I always know what is right, because I don’t.  I want to be meek.

Children are born quiet and gentle and are only taught to fight and argue…….and isn’t it so much easier to teach them to fight and argue, than to be quiet and gentle?  I am sitting here now, thinking about the day we have had so far and there has been so much more fighting and arguing than quiet and gentleness.

Lord Jesus, please empower me with the skill to be gentle and quiet…..and to war against the fighting and arguing.  Let me be the vessel in this home, in my community and in my church that presents itself as a gentle, quiet and meek person, desiring obedience and humility.  Change everything in me that stands against this blessing from you, Lord.  As you continue to break my heart for all that makes you hurt, also break my human nature to be gentle and quiet in You, Father God.

Whenever I read this verse I think of the children, the babies, as the meek….and they certainly are.  The helpless ones, the ones with no voice, the ones who need our help.  They are the meek.  God chooses to bless them.  We, who are called to foster and adopt, choose to parent them and we are flawed….we make so many mistakes…..and we don’t have all the answers to ease the pain and suffering our adopted children face.  We don’t have the answer about a birth father, or a reason a mom chose to place for adoption, or how to reassure a sweet 4 year old boy who looks up at me while I am standing at the kitchen stove and says, “I guess my birth mom didn’t want me” with his bottom lip stuck out.  No matter how many ways I tell him that she did….she did want him…..and no matter how many tears I have fresh to cry over his pain and the loss they both have experienced…..I don’t have enough words.  I do have this prayer……Lord God in Heaven…..make me meek.

I want to be meek so I can hear your voice.
I want to be meek so I can bear your choice….
I want to be meek so that I will humbly be
All that you wish for me.  Lord, make me meek.

A search that led to a pie…….

Posted By: niki Posted In: Faith, Fear, Foster care, General Parenting, Holidays Date Posted: May 20th, 2017

I was searching my bible app for a verse.  I feel like it is a real verse from the bible but I couldn’t find it.  Maybe it is just Truth from the Holy Spirit or some interpretation I have owned of a different passage.  I looked in my bible for something that sounded like this:  What the devil intended for evil the Lord can use for good.  If anyone has an accurate verse that cites this, please share with me!  If not….I’ll move on.  I did find this one in Proverbs and it also works, in a round about way.

 

Proverbs 11:1-The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

 

In my mind, this means play fair.  What works for one can and should work for everyone.  Here is an example.  I am reading a book called The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog by Bruce D., Perry and Maia Szalavitz.  I am reading it because I missed an opportunity to hear this man speak and a social worker friend said that this book was a good synopsis of his talk.  I ordered it from Amazon…..and if anyone wants to borrow it let me know.  It goes through case studies that this psychiatrist experienced with children in his practice and he began to learn the effect that trauma had on children’s behaviors…..and in detail, shares some of the horror that children live through before they can get help.  It is aweful.  To read about abuse, neglect, misunderstanding…..misdiagnoses…..and triggers and body memories and irrational responses to typical things like a door bell that rings, or a gallon of milk…….and I ache.  I ache for the children who are living through these nightmares every single day.  I ache for the Lord who is with them in their horror and hoping and planning and asking good people to step in and help.  The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.  He can detest the work of the devil in the attempt to destroy the lives and hearts and souls of children…..and he can raise up warriors.  Moms and dads and social workers and nurses and lawyers and law makers……teachers……business people…..day care providers……therapists and the list goes on and on….to help make accurate weights.

 

In the book, a child who had been horrifically abused had a trigger from doorbells that sent her cowering in fear.  The many foster homes she was placed with were not allowed to know her history because of ongoing legal proceedings, but they reported that this trigger sent the child into complete shut down fear mode.  This doctor read the history, understood association between the doorbell and the abuse…..and was able to begin to help the child heal.  Now, if you are like me, this makes you feel hopeful yet overwhelmed…..and maybe your home life involves this extreme level of trauma based parenting, and maybe, not.  Mine does not.  We have mild stuff….but nothing like this.  Either way….I have a really good idea.

 

Lets create accurate weights for our scales….because we can.  Maybe we cannot undo the aweful stuff but we are able to create some good stuff.  Yesterday I bought a frozen turkey on sale.  I decided to just thaw it out and cook it……because it is cold outside this weekend in Iowa, and because I can.  I can cook the turkey and we will eat it for Sunday dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans (yes, in May, not for Thanksgiving)  and I will use some of the meat for soup and some of it for a hot dish….because that’s what Dutch moms do.  As I was thinking through Sunday dinner, I decided that if I am going to make a Thanksgiving meal…..I can also lead my family into a spring Thanksgiving meditation…..oh…..and make a pumpkin pie.  Because (you guessed it) I can.

 

I hope and pray that my children will grow up with a trigger that when they see a roasted turkey come out of the oven, and watch me whip up mashed potatoes and serve up beans and gravy…..that they will expect some words on being thankful…..and that they will hope for the delight of a pumpkin pie.  Now that, my friends, is how we create some accurate weights.  Maybe cooking isn’t your thing.  That’s fine.  Make it a tradition to do something else….always get ice cream after a baseball game.  Try to bring red licorice on a car trip.  You get the point…..create new triggers for your people that speak love and life and health and strength and safety and goodness and the weight of Jesus love through parents to children.

 

Then teach your people to do the same for their people….and so on and so on…..and maybe we can tip the scales so far in our favor that the opposition no longer has weight to throw around.  Wouldn’t that be nice.

trampoline stuff, single mom stuff

Posted By: niki Posted In: Uncategorized Date Posted: May 13th, 2017

This week I drove to an outlying town for a home visit….way out on the edge of the county.  As I was driving the mama texted me and said she and her toddler were out back putting up a trampoline she had bought for her boys.  I got to the house and walked out back.  Sweet young single mama of 2 precious boys was in the back yard starting to assemble a mini tramp she had purchased off of swap for her boys.  They youngest was napping and the older boy, just 2 was “helping”   aka losing screws and poking holes in the cardboard box.

 

I surveyed the situation and could see she was struggling.  The instruction manual was cast aside on a pile of parts….and the toddler kept taking things she needed for assembly….and I thought to myself.  Oh my word.  I am no help here.  I can’t put together a tramp.  I stink at following directions and building things…..so I took screws away from the toddler and talked to her and watched her struggle for a bit…..and then I thought to myself…..I have a husband to do this stuff and she does not.  She bought them a tramp and she is going to figure it out all by herself….and my admiration for her swelled.  Courage.  Determination.  Love.  I picked up the instruction manual and began to read:  step 1, step 2, etc.  and we had to take some things apart and then she found her rhythm and she started rockin it.  I helped for awhile…..longer than I expected…..and was late for the next visit but it was worth it.  She sent me a photo 2 hours later and the thing was completely built.  I was so proud of her and impressed.

 

Tonight, my husband and kids are putting together a new tramp.  We have had one in our yard for about 9 years and all the kids and all their friends love the tramp.  Ours broke last year at the springs level and was beyond repair so we gifted our kids with a new one for Christmas and now 5 months later, because it is spring in Iowa, it is getting assembled.  My very capable and patient husband is out there after dark even, putting it together and reading the manual and like a pro, he will get it done completely and safely.  Single moms do not understand the security that comes with having a good husband who can put things together…..and so single moms have to decide if they will do without or if they will figure it out.  I have so much respect for these women.  So much stronger and braver than I am……and so today, I ask for prayers for all the single moms who are doing the job of mom and dad……

 

Lord Jesus, give them patience and wisdom and provision.  Many of our birth moms are single moms…..some single moms are struggling with parenting and wondering if they should…….some are in bad relationships……so Jesus, just please be the everything they need.

waiting families….pick a verse

Posted By: niki Posted In: Adoption Musings, Faith Date Posted: May 6th, 2017

Recently, I talked with a couple in church that are waiting to adopt.  They finished their home study and are now a waiting family.  They didn’t ask me for any advice but I gave it to them anyway.  I told them this.  When we were done with all the busy work of adoption and began to wait, I would pray and pray and pray for our child that was coming, for the birth family, for the process, for our life together.  Sometimes I would run out of prayers to pray and would  feel like a broken record……but I still wanted to talk to God about this child we were waiting for.

 

I chose a passage of scripture to pray and read.  Psalm 139 was the one God led me to and as I moved through my waiting days, on a walk, in the car, whenever I was thinking about the child who would join our family, I could go to Psalm 139 and read and know that those words were my prayers, too.  I encouraged that couple in church to find a scripture and just start to pray it to Jesus, to read it to each other, to whisper it to their own selves……

 

Psalm 139 has come back again and again to me over the years, and will always be a part of that particular child’s story.  I thank God for using His Holy Word to guide me through one of the hardest waiting seasons of my life.

 

Recently I reread Isaiah 43 with fresh ears…..in verse 4 it says “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”  Our birth mom shared that when she learned she was pregnant, she heard God tell her “this child is precious in my sight and I have great plans for her”…..and she decided to name her Precious and asked us to keep that name when we adopted her.  The power of God’s words, to stamp truth onto our life and existence, should never be underestimated.  He told her that this child was Precious……..and I can re-read it in scripture anytime I look up Isaiah 43…….and smile and know that God is speaking and working and moving all the time.

 

 

Complexities of vulnerable mothers…

Posted By: wellon Posted In: Uncategorized Date Posted: May 4th, 2017

The phrase “orphan crisis” usually brings to mind the faces of children, but every orphaned child bears the story of a vulnerable mother. If we are serious about impacting the orphan crisis, then we must acknowledge the inextricable link of orphans and vulnerable women. Not all orphanages, or orphan care organizations, believe in holistic orphan care, which grants dignity and real transformative opportunity not only to orphaned children, but to vulnerable women as well.

 

In Congo (where my children are adopted from and where our ministry Mwana Villages is currently serving) and similar regional countries, high gender inequality means that women remain a particularly vulnerable group with few opportunities for employment or education. Women become even more marginalized when they have children but are single, unwed or widowed. Even if married, widowed mothers lose all rights to their home, land, and assets while retaining responsibility for their children. With few options available to supporting their family, many of these women must choose between abandoning their children or turning to prostitution or begging as a means of income. In extreme desperation, abandonment is a route too often taken while many children are also faced with abuse, neglect or severe malnourishment. This harsh reality means that one in five children do not live to see their fifth birthday in the Congo.

 

But let us be part of changing that reality…It involves commitment to reunification. It means digging into the hard social histories and complicated lives of vulnerable women. It means seeing adoption as a last resort when we are certain reunification is not possible. It means creativity and perseverance to come alongside women in promoting self-sufficiency. And while the work is difficult, we CAN enable more orphan prevention.

Katelyn’s Fund Foster Care Prayer Vigil – 05.11.2017

Posted By: Heather Posted In: Foster care, Katelyn's Fund Events Date Posted: May 3rd, 2017

Everyone is welcome to join us in Sioux Center next week Thursday for our Foster Care Prayer Vigil.

May is National Foster Care Month and we are excited to gather together

and pray for the workers, families, and the children impacted by foster care!

Continue Reading

As Long As It Takes

Posted By: kristin Posted In: Post adoption Date Posted: May 1st, 2017

This job of parenting through adoption can be hard, it certainly is different than parenting biological children. It isn’t bad or wrong, it is just different. God has been speaking to my husband and myself over the past couple of months about the magnitude of the job we signed up for. We continue to walk along side our 8 year old as she is full-on processing grief and loss right now. It is hard, it is painful to be a target of anger and it is a task that we can’t ignore. We love her so deeply; a love that makes the pain we see in her eyes so difficult to bare. We don’t want her to feel rejection; we don’t want her to turn her feelings of rejection into finding ways to reject us. And through it all, we can never give up. God has given us ideas over the past month to help her through some of this. We briefly tried counseling, but really, we learned through that process that we know intimately what she needs, she isn’t hiding her feelings, it isn’t a process where we need to “figure it out” … it is abundantly clear that she is full on dealing with grief and loss. She needs her mommy and daddy to walk through this grief with her. I am not saying counseling isn’t a great solution, I believe most often it is. However, for now, with where we are, we have learned that God has equipped us to help her through this.

 

Just over a week ago I received a text from my husband that said “As long as it takes” … I didn’t understand what he was saying so inquired further. God had just given him a devotional through the radio of a father speaking about trying to break through with his stepdaughter. He struggled with why it seemed nothing was working and then he realized that this process will be pursued for as long as it takes. It isn’t likely going to be in my timing. God asks us to pursue our kids for as long as it takes. And in hearing this reminder from my husband I couldn’t help but think about me, a daughter of the King, and how He pursues me for “as long as it takes” … and really, this happens often, through many situations. Those times when I refuse to do what He knows will bring healing or peace, He waits, and then when I have a break-through He is there for me. That, adoptive and foster parents, is what we need to remind ourselves always. We love, nurture, pursue for as long as it takes. And now, just a little over a week after my husband’s reminder, guess what? We have had a little break through. We are doing work with it, finding ways to help her process, and we are here for her …. As Long As It Takes!