Sunday, July 22, 2018

My Latest Project

I decided we need a garden... a big garden. We have a little garden, with just enough food for fresh eating. But now that I have 4 teens we need more food.

So I had this grand idea. I decided to fence off a quarter of my 3 acres of pasture and turn it into a garden. I have everything I need for canning. I have the helpers. I have the room. So why not try to grow all my own food?

So first step I found some wire fencing on Fb market place. I drove way out to some backwoods town to pick it up. It was just the right amount of fencing for my space.
So I plotted out my garden.. but somewhere in the midst of my garden planning I decided to add a gaga pit, since the garden was going to be in the only flat space on our entire property.

My parents came for their annual visit. My dad helped my boys build a gaga pit out of 2x8 boards I found on craigslist. It turned into a much bigger job then I had ever anticipated so I was really thankful for my dads help. It took the 4 kids, Grandma and Grandpa an entire day to build it.

So next step, get the neighbor to cut down the dead tree. He came out on the following Saturday and cut it down. Unfortunately he left it lay.. and now I am trying to figure out how to burn it. I discovered that dead pine is very difficult to burn, even if it is no longer green.

So now we have the fence up, the tree down, the gaga pit build.. so its time or the next step.

I had decided we needed a lasagna garden/square foot garden/no till garden combination of gardening as I could not afford a tiller. So I put up signs asking for wood chips, grass clippings and composting scraps.. within a week a neighbor had dropped off 4 large bales of 3 yr old corn fodder!! I was so thrilled.

The kids and I marked off the first half of the garden. This is my favorite part. I love planning out things like this. So far we have 2 really long, narrow beds, 1 wide bed and 3 triangular beds that we marked off and layered with corn fodder. NExt step is adding greens, either grass clippings or manure!

I am so excited to see what I can plant in this garden next year! I have access to free raspberries, free elderberry bushes, free asparagus plants and free herbs.

It is a slow, step by step project but we plan to overseed for winter and do no planting until spring so we have lots of time.

Currently both our mowers are broken, so I need to work on repairing those so we can mow the meadows which will give me an abundance of grass clippings.

We have called all our local tree companies to order any and all wood chips they want to deliver. WE had high winds go through last night so I am hoping that means wood chips for us!

This garden has proven to be theraputic during a stressful season of life. I have also discovered that this is one area that Bubbie is willing to work with me. He hates all housework and dishes etc.. but he LOVEs to help me in the garden. Many evenings we are outside puttering around in the garden space.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The day my 14 yr old son was introduced to alcohol..

As a single parent raising kids from hard places, I try hard to parent intentionally. We have family values, family rules, family guidelines..I am intentional and my children write out life goals and values for themselves at 13. Recently we have had some really good discussions about different family values and morals, about family rules, about the fine line between socially drinking and becoming addicted. The talks about how just because it is not sin, does not make it right. The talks about how we are influenced by those we spend time with. The talks about how we must be willing to be set apart and different and how hard that can be.

God has been faithful in providing positive role models and friends for my children in the past year. We do struggle to find good Godly men that want to invest in young lives.But every once in awhile I find people who do that.. Usually in the most unusual and quiet ways. For that I am most thankful.

Let me give you an example.. My one son has started wearing his shirt tucked into his waistband. I HATE that look. It drives me CRAZY! But I let it go, because it really is a matter of preference.. AND I realized that he does it because 2 men, 2 men who are showing him how to be hardworking farmers who honor God, wear their shirts tucked in.. and being like men is way more important then being like a boring old mom. He is watching and modeling what he sees.

We  have walked through lots of hard stuff in the past couple months that has really stretched this momma. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart. Parenting teenagers who spend the first 4-5 years of their lives in violent, criminal, dangerous, addiction ridden lifestyles is even harder.  But God is good and my kids are amazing kiddoes who work hard at doing what is right. I can only hope these last couple months of hard things build their faith, build their relationship with me and each other and are all a part of their strong foundation that we continue to build. Teaching teen boys to respect their mom has been a huge challenge. But it is so worth the hard work.

I know the majority of my blogging is all about the good stuff and the easy stuff.. but I decided to share a recent challenge we encountered.

Several weeks ago, we were away. I had laid out guidelines and rules to protect my children. I give them freedom as they earn it. My trust in you gives you freedom. We discussed how to handle uncomfortable situations.

So day 1 of our vacation,  8:30 pm  my 14 yr old got on a pontoon with a group of men.   I was inside putting Bubbie to bed. I trust my kids to make wise choices. My 12 and 13 yr olds came inside around 9. When I asked where big brother was, they told me he had gone out on the boat. He had permission to do this, within my boundaries and he had checked himself to make sure he was within those boundaries.

I worked on getting Bubbie to sleep until 9:30, then I got the other kids to bed.  My oldest was still not back from his pontoon ride.

So I went in search of others who might have details of what was going on.. Apparently all the men in the house except Jeremiah and my dad had gone out on this pontoon with the intent of fishing late into the night, while drinking "socially".

So now we have my 14 yr old son, out on a boat with a bunch of men he knows well and admires, fishing and drinking way late into the night. I. was. not. happy.

So I sat on the back deck praying.. see the thing is, I could have send a text message and demanded they bring him in. But  he is a 14 yr old boy. He hates drama and a fuss.  He would have been completely mortified and endlessly teased. I knew I could trust him to make wise decisions. I knew I could trust him to stand his ground and be a respectful son. I was very unhappy he was in this situation but I also knew that it needed to be handled with care.

So I felt led to merely pray, not intervene. I sat on that deck, worrying/fretting/praying from 10:30 to 11:30 pm.  At about 11 pm, I felt led to reach out to a couple prayer warriors. My son is strong, but I knew that he was in a situation that I would never ever voluntarily allow my child to be in.

11:30 pm, after 3 hours of partying  and fishing, my son and the other teen/preteen came laughing in the door. Soaking wet.. apparently they had almost capsized the pontoon. I did not find this the least bit funny and was in Massive Mama Bear mode.

He immediately went into defense mode.. Mom, I did not know it was going to be like this! We were just having fun! I obeyed all your rules!! You know you can trust me! I would never ever drink, I am not stupid! Mom, please don't make a fuss.

Me: What would YOU say if "I" went out until midnight drinking and hanging out with friends?!

Him: "I" was not drinking!

Me: silence

He had nothing more to say as he saw his mom in tears and he knew that a line had been crossed.

I send him to bed with a hug and the words "I love you and I am not angry at you. But I am very unhappy about the whole situation. We will talk about it some more when I am calm".

The next morning (at 5 AM!) when the other kids got up to go out fishing, they whispered wide eyed and shocked..
Was Elijah out all night?!
Was he drinking?
Is it true they almost drowned?

Now let's backtrack... somewhere around 11-11:15, I felt very heavy and I send out an SOS for prayer from my prayer warriors. Right about that time,  it's a long story, but apparently someone went running across the overloaded pontoon and the entire thing tipped dangerously, Like witnesses said they had never gotten so close to dumping a boat into the lake..  Now, important details here.. the majority of the adults had been consuming alcoholic beverages. Only 2 people on that pontoon were strong swimmers, one of which was my son. They were out in the middle of the lake, pretty far from any land, in the middle of the night. #Godprotected!

Second story.. I have to say this is my favorite part of the whole story..
Apparently there was a good bit of "good natured" mocking of our family's values and my strong parenting.
So one man says "Let's text Ruth Ann and tell her we will bring Elijah in once he is sober."
Second guy says "Then there would be 3 people who walked on water. Jesus, Peter and Ruth Ann. She would march down those steps, across the dock and walk right across the lake to grab Elijah off this boat and haul him back to the house" .
Apparently everyone knew how I felt about drinking.. 🙈🙉

Later, I brought up to the group, would you drink socially or otherwise in front of your own teen?!
The answer was mostly yes, because obviously every family has different values and morals.

The question, I regret NOT asking.. what would you do if I challenged your kids and teased them because you choose to drink socially and I don't? What if I told your kid you were a wrong for drinking socially and you were damaging them by exposing them to it?

Disclaimer: I do not think drinking is a sin. I do drink wine occasionally. I just don't think I want my boys to see drinking as being "one of the men".

So as in the t shirt story above, where my son tucks in his shirt because that he is what he sees men doing.. he has been trying to be more like the men he is around.. but guess what he is modeling this time?!

Later once everyone was calm, Elijah and I sat down for a discussion. I did not forbid him from going on future fishing trips, tho I did forbid younger, less trustworthy children from going out. We talked about the kind of influences we need in our lives and the choices we must make.  He now has to make his own decisions and I trust him..

We as a family have had some good conversations out of this hard thing, it is easy to want to protect our kids. It is equally important to guide them and guard their influences.
We also had some good conversations about how casual smoking and drinking, aka social smoking and drinking can lead to bigger problems. Realities we see in our home every day.. The realities of the damage alcohol can do to families. Addiction is no joke. Prenatal alcohol exposure is no joke.

How would you handle this situation? I especially would love to hear from experienced moms!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Seasons of Change

I am going back to work..

I am going to be a working, homeschooling single mom.

Bubbie is going to private school.

I am both thrilled and terrified.

I know that this is what God has for me and God is in every detail of this journey.

I  want to be that stay at home mom who spends her days doing fun things with her kids.

I don't want to send my kiddoe to school.

I know my kiddoe will benefit from being in school.

I think it will be a really good thing for me to get out and do something I am passionate about.

I go from thinking that there is no way my kids are ready to be left alone while mom works to thinking Praise God I have trained them in such a way that I can trust them to be left alone.

I am sad, to the point of mourning that so suddenly my years with young kids are over. Which happens when the majority of your kids are the same age.

I absolutely love having built in babysitters for Bubbie and Nesiah.

All the parenting books say that it is good for moms to have other interests and focuses as their kids enter the teen years and I think it is true..

I give myself permission to stop this job if I get overwhelmed.

I hope to see this job become a fulltime position and an answer to my financial worries in the next 5 years.

God has always provided for us in every way.. sometimes it is through gifts from other people, sometimes it is through a very flexible job that allows me serve children and families from hard places.

I can not believe my oldest is going into high school and my youngest into kindergarten.  Where has time gone?

I remember the days when I would go months without ever being away from my children.The seasons when attachment issues made reentry miserable, so I just never took a break.

I appreciate the days when I can run out to meet a friend for coffee and leave the kids at home, alone, to finish up school or whatever tasks they are working on.

This post is all over the place but in reality so are my emotions. This is the end of a season, a season that I dearly loved and fully enjoyed.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Many years ago, when I had 2 foster kids ages 3-4, I got another sibling set ages 3-4. The first sibling set was available for adoption, which was so exciting for me. Then the caseworkers asked if I would be willing to consider adopting the other sibling set, should they come up for adoption. I said, no way! There was no way I could raise them, especially once they are teens. So no, I was not willing to adopt all 4.

Yet somehow, by the Grace of God, I was blessed by the adoption of all 4 kids, and now they are 12--13 yrs old and I love them dearly..

Deep down, I have always been afraid of raising teenagers. My own teen years were very turbulent. Suddenly I have 2 teens and 2 on the cusp of teendom.

I am getting a crash course on teenagers. It's not just one, but 4. When I have one figured out the other one jumps in with drama. Add in early childhood trauma, the "hard places" these kids have survived and we have interesting dynamics.

On a positive note, they are really really awesome kids. They are fun, loving, kind, sweet, hard working, respectful kids. I get many compliments on their respectful attitudes and their maturity.

I love having peace and calm, I like being in control of my life. Having this crew means,lots of chaos, lots of wild energy, lots of illogical drama, lots of silly laughter and lots of letting go.

I firmly believe in co parenting with God. God is the Father of the Fatherless. The only way I will survive the next 5-6 years is by HIS grace and mercy.  Recently he impressed on my heart that something was not right in my house. I spend a good bit of time in prayer, some electronic fasting, just seeking Him, trying to find answers.

He revealed the sin to me on Friday.  I did some praying. My initial reaction was to flip out, to completely cut off things, to shut down, to put my foot down.. but God.. My goal is to be a Holy Spirit Parent. I want to respond not react to my children.

So I waited and I prayed. God revealed His plan for me. See, one my kids had used to internet to search for things. Things that were not edifying or upbuilding.

So God led me to this website, it had great resources, for kids, for parents, and it showed people who had recovered from a lifetime of addiction and sin. It was great. I spend a couple hours, praying, seeking God and putting together a little "presentation".

I called a family meeting and presented my presentation. It was a really neat God experience, but reality is deep down in my soul, there is this fear. What if I mess up this thing called parenting, what if these kids who have only been with me for such a  short time, don't have enough of a foundation to withstand the temptations of the world?

I need to let go, I need to find the balance of losing the reins and pulling them back in when they need. This si HARD for me. So hard. I want to control and carefully build this sheltered world, where my children can only be ok. But.. they need to fail, they need to mess up, they need to feel the sting of sin in order to learn to stand strong.

Another one of my children is struggling, they don't like my rules, my boundaries and my parenting style. It has been a bit of a bumpy road lately. On Saturday, after the family meeting where I shared my presentation, I prayed and prayed. God help me lead these kids to you.

I had to run to pick up my Zaycon chicken, in town about 30 minutes away. So I asked my daughter to join me. She was not happy with me. But when we got in the van, the local christian talk radio station was on. I rarely have it on in the van. But it happened to be on, and the lady on the show was talking about relationships between girls and their families.  We listened for 20 minutes. AT the end I looked at my daughter and we both burst into laughter.  I told my daughter "That was from your daddy Jesus, just for you and I".  God cares about every moment of our lives. He speaks through many things.

I took a 2 mile walk with my walking buddy last night. I vented to her, she is an adoptive mom too. She understands my fears. I love that God has placed her in my life for such a time as this.

This morning, at church, the message was again a confirmation.  This was our conversation on the way home.
Son #2: Mom, Pastor A preached on the very thing you talked about yesterday!
Me: yup, God is trying to tell us something.
Son #1 Well, Pastor A did a much better job then you did mom!
Me: He is a Pastor, what do you expect?!
Both boys: His message wasn't nearly as embarrassing as your presentation!
Me: But he validated what I said, and that is all that matters.

I have spend a lot of time in the last week, praying, seeking God, asking him how to parent these kids. Surrending my will, knowing that I can not control their futures. I can not live in fear. They are truly good kids and they are fun to be around, I can not live in fear of losing this. I must trust that God holds them in his hand. I must let them live out the story that God has written for them, EVEN if that means they suffer pain and heartache.

This weekend I am reminded again, when I feel inadequate. When I am terrified of raising teens, when I have no clue how on earth I will parent these kids. That God is faithful, He is true and He is the pilot, I am merely along for the ride.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

My Miracle Girl

This girl is rocking and rolling. She is making new friends, growing in many ways and doing so many new things.
We got this awesome stander right at Christmas time. She loves loves being upright and moving. This is the perfect piece of equipment for her.

It took a good bit of begging and pleading before the insurance company and the therapist agreed to fund it for us. But we got it accomplished. She rolls all around the house in this thing!

This past summer, I started praying for an ipad. I really felt like ti would be beneficial to Nesiah. I prayed and sought out different options. There was really no funding available anywhere. A $500 ipad was not in the budget.. Long story short, a friend from the past and her husband blessed us with this amazing ipad. free. completely free gift. It has been life changing for Nesiah.
It has improved her tracking and vision abilities. She loves to listen to music on it too. It also has helped her interact with people around her, because it is HER ipad, the kids have to play with it by her and with her. So it is a social interaction tool.

Nesiah loves worship music. She is learning to communicate. She has started demanding that I let her stand with me during worship time at church.
She lets us know when she is hungry, sad or wants a cuddle.  She loves to be in the kitchen with me when I am cooking etc.

For this season of life, God has blessed me with several great respite providers AND finally after several years of fighting,I have been approved for respite funding.  A young woman from our church comes once a week for 4 hrs, another lady comes when I need extra help on some days, and yet another friend loves to have Nesiah over to their house. She loves each of these caregivers and they are all people who truly enjoy her. I am able to attend youth events, church events and take my big kids out to do things I otherwise would not be able to.

Last but not least, I was just invited to take my daughters to a dance class on Sunday evenings. Not just any dance class.. but a dance class where the instructor is a dance THERAPIST! I am so excited to see how this will work for Nesiah. She loves music and I am sure she will love to dance!

The biggest health concern she currently has are her seizures. They seem to be hormone related, and cycle monthly. They are not fun for her and scary for us. We pray that she would soon outgrow them.

I love how God has provided each of the things Nesiah needs at just the right time! I love how He cares for every little detail of her life.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Ministering to Good Kids...

This is going to be a bit of a random post, with info that has been rolling around my brain for some time now. Thoughts I have mulled over and wrestled over for years.

Why is it that in christian circles so many people are willing to minister and serve the kids in the community, the unchurched kids, the teens in prisons, and the under privileged kids, but they are not willing to reach out to the churched, the good kids who are in need of role models?

Now, please don't misunderstand me. There is a huge need for all of the above. Those kids need so many strong role models and they NEED the church. But.. so often there are those within the church who are overlooked.

I have prayed for years and years for male role models for my kids. We had a great system for a 2 short years, but when we came to a crossroads, they went one way, we went another. That was really devastating for my children and has left them with more issues.

So I decided a long time ago that fighting and begging for mentors is not the answer, I do not want to force anyone to spend time with my kids. My kids are sensitive to that. They don't like being a ministry project. They just really want grandpa/uncle like people, and I want them to have men in their lives they can learn from.

I have gone to great length to teach my kids all the typical dad things, I taught them to throw a ball, to play baseball, to climb trees, I wrestle with them, I teach them how to run a  farm, build things, fix things and just about everything a man can do. Thing is these skills are great, but now my daughters are learning my extremely independent nature and not seeing the value of good men. How will that impact them in the future?
I watch my friends' husbands and learn from them, I let things go that drive me crazy, because I am told dads do that kind of thing. I work hard at demanding respect from my children (and respecting them too).

I asked my girls the other day, what do you think it would be like to have a dad?  My girls informed me that girls don't need dads Only boys do... Now, I realize that this has been the way I have modeled life for them. I am thankful for new good friends who have strong dads who can model a good father daughter relationship! Because I obviously missed the boat on that one.

 So I have mulled over this for years.. why do people willingly make time to go into prisons, to minister at youth centers, to go into the inner cities, but no one can take the time to throw a ball with my sons (or the sons of all my single mom /widow/divorced friends)? ( I am not judging here, just observing)

I realized that our culture has made it a noble ministry to serve the unchurched and the unbeliever. However the single mom, ESPECIALLY the adoptive single mom, has chosen to parent these kids, so it's their problem. People think "well you shouldn't have adopted those kids if you can not provide everything for them". It is not a ministry, it's not as noble to go help the good christian kids who seem to have it all together. Taking off work to go serve at a facility is considered great, taking off work to work alongside a "good" young man seems not worth the bother.

My friend (also a single mom) and I had a conversation recently. She has 2 foster kiddoes, and she is ministering to 2 young girls from two seperate "good" families. She was struggling with the question of "do I release these girls and go back into foster care or do I not take more foster kids so I can continue to minister to these girls from "good" homes". It is a question that I have struggled with as well, so we had some interesting conversations. It is easy for me to become discontent when I am babysitting for a mom who just needs a break. It is easy for me to think that babysitting for kids from a troubled home is more noble. Why? I realized that my own attitude needs adjusting..

What many people don't realize is that  boys without involved male relatives see christian men as "out there", they feel unworthy of their time and attention. They are not learning what a good marriage looks like, and they are not learning how Godly men do life. They are not learning to identify with christian men.

What people don't realize is that girls in a home without a father or involved males relatives, need to find healthy male role models too.

It doesn't take special men, every day men can be heroes. It does not mean taking them out to do all kinds of wonderful fun things. Its the little things, the everyday things, the showing interest in them and their lives, the working alongside them, just everyday stuff.

We have been blessed over the past year, there have been several men in our lives who have stepped up. One is our neighbor, landlord, my friend's husband. He is a not one to fuss, or make a big deal, he just includes my boys when he takes his boys to do stuff. His quiet ways make an impact. He took them fishing, he got them to help him build a tree house, and he took them hunting.
Another is another neighbor, 2 men, whom my oldest son works with. They are teaching him how to do farm work, they are pulling in his interests and teaching, investing and working him. It's not any big deal stuff, it's little everyday things. He struggles to trust men, he doesn't like a fuss, but these 2 men have done much for him in the past several months in quiet, unassuming ways.  It has changed his personality for the good. It has been such a huge huge gift for him.
Today my second son was dropped off to help an older man, he was planning to work alongside this man. I asked this man to give him a chance, to work alongside him, to let him have that experience of working with a man. Of all my children, he needs this most. He struggles the most with wanting a man to look up to. I am beyond grateful that this man was willing to give him time this afternoon.

I have learned to ask for these things, tho it is hard for me. Time is valuable to people and very few people wish to sacrifice their time, they willingly give their money, but time is valuable.. often to valuable to be spend working alongside young men.  For that reason, I am thankful for the people who have taken time for my boys.

I am going to wrap this up with this.. if you happen to know a young man or woman who does not have a good strong father/grandpa relationship, take time to say hi, to talk to them, to reach out to them. Do not be offended if they rebuff you at first, often they struggle with knowing how to relate, but it is important that they learn. Their eternal future may be changed by your simple kindness.