Chippin' Away

Moving one day, one minute, one step at a time.

They Remember, and So Should We July 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 4:53 pm

As most of you know, the baby went back to his biological mother and father about month ago.  As you can guess, the summer was difficult and dealing with my own grief as well as the grief of my children has been a task I’ve only been able to take on with the help of family, friends, and most of all, my Lord.

One thing I have been reminded of in walking through this trial with my family, is that trauma does not tell time.  This may seem  like an obvious statement, but it isn’t to a lot of people.  Many people assume that my girls, because they’ve been with us for over 4 years, are fine and dandy and most of the effects of their early childhoods have somehow worn off.  I feel it’s important for you to understand that there is nothing further than the truth. The past month or so has, once again, reminded me that my daughters, and many other kids I know, will likely deal with some effect of their trauma forever.

I once read somewhere that adoption is the only trauma we expect people to be grateful for.  Think about that.  The most common view of adoption is that a wonderful family who can’t have babies comes in, takes a child of a terrible situation, and “saves” them.  Once they are with a “better” family, they are happy and healthy and all the butterflies and rainbows appear.  Here’s what really happens, though:

A child, or children, are taken away from the only family they’ve ever known.  The mother who gave them life, the grandparents whom they’ve always shared birthdays with, the cousins they grew up playing in the neighborhood with, the language they’ve grown up hearing, the food they’ve grown up eating…no matter how unsafe, dirty, neglected, or sick their home was, it was all they know, so they are traumatized when they leave.  Most of the time they don’t even know they are about to be taken.  Then, they are brought to a new home full of strange people, strange smells, strange sounds, and often a strange language. We may feel that they are trading a bad life for a good one.  What is true is they are trading the known for the unexpected, control for chaos, family for strangers, home for foreign land.  Why should we expect them to feel grateful?  Why should we expect them to get over it and move on?  When someone experiences the death of a loved one, we don’t expect them to move on, even years later.  On anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays, we gather around with our loved ones and remember those we’ve lost, no matter how many years have past.  The same goes for our adopted children.  Even though healing occurs over time, behaviors change, safety is felt, and family is formed, events happen that trigger their memories of what they’ve lost.  Adoption is built on loss, and it’s important to never forget that.

When my girls hear Spanish spoken, crack cascarones on Easter, eat tortillas, or are reminded that their skin color is not the same as ours, they remember.  When the baby left, they remembered.  When me and Jeff have an argument, they remember.  When they see a family of all the same color, they remember.  When their bodies feel stressed, they remember.  Even if they don’t have explicit memories, their bodies and brains remember what used to be, and as a parent I must enter into that grief with them.  And this will be our lives together.  Always. If they remember, then I need to remember.

Let us be reminded that trauma doesn’t tell time.  That adoption is hard.  When you see a family that has been built on loss, honor that, grieve that, and pray for that.  In a world where we our constantly being reminded of our differences, and faulted for them, let us, instead, celebrate them and honor them.  Let’s sit with each other in grief, and run alongside each other to hope.  The most beautiful story ever told was built on loss.  Jesus Christ came, lived a perfect life, and suffered a humiliating and painful death.  And then He beat death and lead us to Hope.  We can grieve what should be grieved, and hope in the One who brings hope.  We can weep with those who weep, and comfort them with the comfort we’ve received.  We can love those who are different from us, knowing that each of our stories is being perfectly crafted by the One who created us.  And that’s what makes us the same.

Let’s remember to remember the pain of others, the Hope of Christ, and the Love we have been assigned to share with this world.

 

Hope in the “Highly Likely” May 25, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 7:34 pm

It’s been 4 months since the baby came.  In some ways that seems like just yesterday, and in some ways it feels he’s been here forever.  Obviously, my lack of blog posts should tell you, it’s been a busy 4 months.  The hospital stay was traumatic enough for all of us, and then just add in daily life with 5 and, well, you have the makings of crazy.  But, it’s time for an update.

For the last couple of months we have been told that it would be “highly likely” that baby boy would be going home to live with his biological parents.  We hoped for a different outcome, but prepared our hearts, and our children, for the “highly likely” outcome should we find ourselves facing it.  Just a couple of days ago, we learned that he would, indeed, be going home.  Now, before you react, stay with me here.

With a return home, the baby will be monitored for a few months, and then if the state sees fit, he will stay permanently.  A return-to-monitor brings with it a plethora of it’s own “highly likelies.”  It is “highly likely” that the return will fail.  That’s just in the statistics.  But for our family, it brings more.  It’s highly likely my kids will flip.  It’s highly likely that this momma will flip.  It’s highly likely that this summer is going to be hard for all of us as we adjust to life without baby.  It’s highly likely that my daughters will have plenty of hard questions about baby, their birth mom, and their own stories.  It’s highly likely that our house will be flooded with tears.  Well, you get the idea.

The thing about “highly likely” is that it isn’t certain.  It’s chance.  If we are living in the highly likely scenario, then when we say “I hope this doesn’t happen” or “I hope this does happen” we are banking on chance.  Not certainty.

But there is a hope that it is certain.  It’s my hope in Jesus.  The Lord brought to mind a story from the Old Testament that I haven’t though about in years, the story of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego.  Here’s a paraphrase:  These men faced a very scary situation.  They were given the ultimatum, worship a golden image or face death in a fiery furnace.  When King Nebuchadnezzar said, “who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”, their reply is actually astonishing.  They say, “…we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Then, when they are case in the furnace, the King sees 4 people in there instead of 3.  The fourth man is described “like a song of the gods.”

You see, these men believed they could be delivered from that furnace if God wanted to do that.  But if he chose not to, their faith was certain that they were worshipping the one true God.  Jesus was there with them in the fire, and He was there with them when they got out.  And you know what?  He was with them before they even were put in the fire.

We are not promised a life without fires.  In fact, scripture makes it quite clear to expect trials of many kinds.  We are not promised to be delivered from those fires either.  Does God have the power to do so?  Yes.  Does He always choose to?  No.  But He does always choose to walk with us.  He’s before the fire, during the fire, and after the fire.  His ways are not ours, but His ways are good.

So, that’s what I’m clinging to.  I might have to fight to believe it, but I will continue to fight.  I will fight to believe He is good.  I will fight to believe He’s good.  I will fight to believe He loves my family.  I will fight to believe He loves baby boy.  I will fight to believe He loves their biological mom.  I will fight.  Because regardless of if God delivers me from the fire now, or delivers me from it when I go home to glory, He wins.  The war is already over.  And I will continue to fight in the battles.  I have hope in the highly unlikely.  His name is Jesus.

*please don’t comment negatively about my childrens’ biological mom or the circumstances we are in.  I love her deeply and pray for her soul to be won*

 

Here I Raise my Ebenezer March 4, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 3:36 pm

As if my life needed more complexity, Number 5 was admitted to PICU on Monday night (well, really, early Tuesday morning) with severe infection in his lungs.  When I got him to the ER, he was gray.  I’m no medical expert, but gray = bad.  He was intubated about 30 minutes after we arrived and admitted shortly after that.

Now, I’m not going to share all the nitty gritty details, but let me just say this.  What a freaking roller coaster.  I mean, whoa.  After I got my my emotions under control (sorta) and sat down in the room, I just thought to myself, “Why? Why, Lord, would you do this now?  Hasn’t this past month been full enough of crazy?”  I’m sitting here now, Day 4 of this sweet boy’s stay in the NICU, on the day he turns 6 weeks old, and I’m telling you that the Lord has provided.  Big time.

The old hymn, Come Thou Fount, says “Here I raise my ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.”  An ebenezer is simply a monument to signify God’s help, a way to acknowledge God’s blessings and help.  As hard as it might be to believe, I can point to several ebenezers since coming to stay at Dell Children’s Hospital.  I want to share them with you and remind myself of them in an effort to do as David says in Psalm 9:1, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

First of all, while I can’t tell you any legal details of the case, Number 5’s stay in the hospital caused a postponement of a hearing that was looking really scary to us.  Just know, this was a HUGE blessing to us.

Second, I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but many times in hard circumstances, you realize how many wonderful people love you.  I’ve been brought meals and snacks, people have come to pray with us, nurse friends have helped us understand his treatment, and our community of friends and family have wrapped us up in love.  I’ve always loved them, but wow.  I am so very thankful for my people.  I love you guys!

Also, because of the love mentioned above, the staff here have taken notice.  I believe with all my heart that little man’s story is bringing glory to God.  His life has been too hard for his little 6 weeks of life, but the Lord is using it.  He’s showing me that as I share our family’s story with doctors, nurses, RT’s, and other medical staff.  He’s showing me as people notice the community of people surrounding us and ask me questions about who they are, how I know them, and comment on what a wonderful family I have.  He’s doing something big.  I have faith in that for sure.

God has provided.  He has loved us and been near to us in this time.  He’s taking care of me, Jeff, the 4 older kids and this baby.  I’m fighting hard to remember and believe that this baby is God’s baby.  He’s got his days in His wonderful hands, and I am so excited to see what He does with them.  I wouldn’t have written this story for his life or mine, but God is writing it, and He is good.  So I know the story is going to be good too!

Thank you everyone who has prayed for us, taken care of our tangible needs, and walked this journey with us.  I love each of you.

 

I’m not a superhero February 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 10:31 pm

I have been getting a lot of amazing responses to my latest update about number 5.  You guys are so awesome, and I’m so thankful to have friends and family who are on this crazy ride with us, loving and supporting us through it and in it.

I’ve heard a lot lately something along the lines of “oh, you are so awesome!” or “I could never do what you are doing.”  It’s always so hard for me to respond to those type of statements.  I know the good intention behind it, but I also feel the need to be honest here.  I am no super woman.  We aren’t super parents or super Christians.  We are sinners and we struggle and we screw up.  A LOT.  If you could spy on me during some of my days you’d wonder what in the world type of crazy zoo this family is and what in the world is wrong with that momma???

My good friend, Becky Miller, recently wrote a post that perfectly puts into words what I think when I hear the praise of people.  I’m re-posting it here and I hope you enjoy it.  Becky is a great friend, but more importantly she is a wonderful sister in Christ who fights with us for the orphans in our city.

Please hear me before reading this.  I am NOT offended by anything anyone says to me.  I love all of the support and encouraging words.  This is just for you to ponder and think on and perhaps it will cause you to think about how you can be for the orphan as well.

Foster Parents Are Not Superheroes 

“I could never foster; I wouldn’t have the heart to give a child back after they have been in my home.” This is a common sentiment expressed to parents who are fostering or have fostered, but in saying this, one is making assumptions about something they do not understand. Foster parents are not superheroes; they are not their own breed of people that are stronger than anyone else and thus able to do really hard things and not suffer from it. Additionally, foster parents are not a unique group of people that do not have feelings. They attach to a child just as much as the next person so to assume that foster parents are able to give a child back and not experience great loss is to assume they have less capacity to feel.

Foster care, rather, is an opportunity for the grace of God to be made great in foster parents’ lives.

Most days, foster parents don’t know what the future will hold for the child they love in their home, but they receive the grace they need to trust the Lord and say yes to His sovereign plan. They are not people who can more easily love hard kids, but are given the grace to be able to pour out a parent’s love on a child that may or may not ever respond with affection to their pursuit. Sometimes, on those despairing days, when kids go home, or the effects of trauma have seemed to prevail and win, they are not resilient people, but ones who must bank everything in knowing that their strength is coming from God’s grace to get them through.

Lamentations 3 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Just as the writer of Lamentations is mourning the loss of Jerusalem and being comforted by the Lord, foster parents find solace in the new mercies of the Lord when they are grieving the loss of a child in their home. For twenty verses prior to the author expressing hope, he writes in detail the affliction he faces and the pain he feels. “He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.” On and on the author goes, until verse 21 when we see a dramatic shift.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…”

The hard but ever so comforting truth about following the Lord does not mean the absence of pain, but it means that we are not alone in the depths of our sorrow. In the midst of loss, the writer of Lamentations expresses confidence in God. Responding to God’s call to care for the orphan and be a restorer of brokenness does not guarantee a happy ending, but the Lord does promise this: He does not leave you. He is not waiting on a hilltop for you to come out of darkness, but in the valleys, in despair, in loneliness, and during the days that feel unbearable because it is impossible to know when the agony will subside, He is right there with you with his arms wrapped around you.

We are not safe when we avoid things in life that can cause us pain; we are safe because, as believers in Christ, we have the great Comforter in the midst of pain and suffering. As the author of Lamentations writes, His mercies are new every morning and this is the promise in which foster parents stand.

 

Recap: Our Journey February 12, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 11:37 pm

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Heal my heart and make in clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from nothing to eternity
-Lyrics from Hosanna by Hillsong

This verse and this song have quickly become me and Jeff’s heartbeat as we have walked through foster care and adoption. God truly broke our hearts for the orphans that live right here in our neighborhoods. These children, the ones in foster care, need families to love them forever or for a short time, and we believe that we, as Christians, are especially equipped to do that. We have a love given us by Jesus Christ that we can give freely and fully no matter how long a child stays in our home. In fact, we consider it an honor that the Lord of Creation, the One who knit all of these children in their mother’s womb, would allow us to be a part of their story. He allows another mother’s children to call me mommy and it is both miraculous and extremely painful, and it is God’s love to me daily.

Jeff and I were introduced to the foster care system through our church, The Austin Stone. At the time, we were newly married kids trying to figure out how we could serve the church. When the church offered a class to become certified to babysit children in foster care, we thought to ourselves, “of course we can do that!” So, we headed to the church offices to complete our CPR/First Aid training, get our background checks completed, and attend an information session on the foster system in Texas.

We left that training in pieces. We were undone. The numbers and statistics of the amount of children in care, the probability of them aging out of the system having never had a family, and the prospect of these children growing up on the streets or in jail was just too much to bear. The Lord truly broke our heart for what breaks His. We decided at that point we would be certified to provide respite care for kids in foster care. And then, needless to say, it became very clear to us that the Lord wanted us all in on this. We said “yes” to His call on our lives to become certified foster parents and our crazy story began.

We had two boys in our home for about six months. They ended up being reunified with their mother and it was a beautiful picture of God’s redemptive power. He even allowed us to see them recently, nearly 4 years later, playing with their family at a local park nearby. God was so good to give us that peace of mind and affirm that He is trustworthy and good.

A month after the boys left, three precious girls walked through our door. They were 6, 22 months, and 5 months old and terrified, dirty, and traumatized from being removed from their mother and father’s care earlier that day. Ten months later we were able to adopt them officially and three months after that our son was born. The last 4 years with these kids has been full to say the least. Full of love, trials, pain, healing, hurting, learning, growing, and prayers upon prayers. And God has been good just as He promises to be. I can look back and see this amazing story unfolding and I smile as I type this. In fact, just recently, my daughter’s therapist said to me, “Cara. I’m looking at a securely attached girl. That’s amazing.” We’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for sure as a family, but God has been faithful to heal and teach and has proven Himself to be exactly who He says He is.

About 3 weeks ago we got a call that would once again change our lives for the crazy. We found out that the girls’ biological mom was going to be having a baby boy, and the state was going to take custody of him at birth. CPS was looking for a home for him and wondered if we’d take him in to be with his older sisters. Without much thought, we said “yes” to that and a week and a half later a tiny little baby boy came through our door. We are once again on the foster care journey. We don’t know if he will be ours forever, or how long this case will go on, or what is going to come out of all of this. But we know God is good. We know He is faithful. We know that He is in control. We know that we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and in Him, we have everything we need.

 

It’s a boy!

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 8:24 pm

Did I get your attention?  Then, keep reading!

I’ve been thinking about dusting off the blog for several months now.  It’s been over a YEAR since I posted here and, well, life has been busy and this has taken a back seat to everything.  But, I think I have the perfect reason to begin posting again….we have a baby!

About a month ago we found out that the biological mother of our three precious girls was having a baby.  CPS called us and asked us if we would be willing to take him into or home since we have his sisters.  Without much hesitation we said “yes” and find ourselves, once again, in the world of foster care.  Today, baby boy is 3 weeks old, and we’ve had him about as long.

I won’t be writing much about his story, his mom and dad, or the circumstances that brought him into our home, but I will be documenting our journey and the many feelings and lessons that are learned from being a foster parent again.

So, friends, I am a mother of 5!  Let the crazy begin! (or continue….)

 

Created October 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — chippinaway @ 3:09 pm

Recently I have been studying from a wonderful book called History of Redemption. Get this book.

Part of the reading plan has you read sections 10 times out loud in an effort to memorize them. Honestly, reading something 10 times out loud turned out to be more challenging than expected. But I am so glad I did. It’s amazing what begins to speak to you after reading something so many times.

Today, I am focusing on Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Have you ever just sat and thought about being a creation? I never did until now. Being created makes you, makes me, so valuable! Think about an artist, a musician, an engineer, any person who creates. They think, make plans, put in effort, and create something personal. A creation is not just thrown together, but it is an expression of self. An author writes themselves into their characters, a song-writer writes their lives in lyric form, an artist paints every stroke with purpose in order to tell the viewer something he or she finds important. A creation is personal, it’s from the depths of the creator’s soul. And the creator sees his creation as extremely valuable.

God created us and gave us value. Our value is not found in our business, our productivity, our looks, or even our failures. Our value is found in the fact that we were created by the great creator, Elohim.

Do you see the freedom here? I feel my chains dropping off as I write this. I no longer carry the burden of making myself valuable. He has already made me valuable. He has made you valuable. You and I are created. And I think that’s amazing.

 

 
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