Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All the Feelings

Well, Josh is home for the time being. He arrived home sometime Wednesday morning even though he was suppose to be released the Thursday before then. I was on the phone for many hours on Monday Momma-Bearing it up with supervisors and anyone that would listen. Not many people wanted to and I was hung up on a few times, but he was finally released, so I guess it was worth it. There was a ridiculous error with paperwork that the city was not willing to look into and wanted to blame on the county. Thankfully, it was resolved and he was released.

I always have mixed emotions about him being home. I know he needs a time to adjust to having his freedom back, but my parents who allow him to stay with them and end up supporting him, want instant change, an instant job and instant responsibility from him. But, they have enabled him for so long that he uses his freedom as a free pass of sorts to go out and come in whenever he wants to and that infuriates them and makes them lash out at him and at us. I can not hear them complain about his early morning calls or not even coming home at all frustrations anymore. They need to have a conversation with him, set boundaries and guidelines and stick to them. But, since they have not done that for the past 10 years, he never takes them seriously. But, at 25 he needs to get his crap together. Everyone is affected when he is home, good or bad and it needs to change.

A friend of my mother's apparently had a job and a rehab/half way house for him to live in, but he does not want to live there. The job is contingent on living at the halfway house. But, Josh just got out of a place that had rules and regulations and does not want another one even if it means a job and a way to stay out of jail. Because he has a violation of probation hearing in a few weeks that could land him back in jail for as little as three months or up to nine months. A part of me understands and then a greater part of me is in disbelief that he would not take a great opportunity for improvement and a way to stay out of jail and be able to see his children.

And that is another whole story. His baby momma does not want him to see the children now if he could possibly be incarcerated at his hearing in a few weeks. And I get that, but I don't necessary agree with it. He miss them and they miss him. He called to talk to them and she didn't answer or return his call. Her pettiness at times is frustrating. Just be an adult and answer your phone or call back. Let him at least talk to the children. But, I am sure she is afraid he will tell them he is home and ask them to ask her to let him see them and she does not want to do that. Her prerogative I guess, but selfish in my opinion. I guess that is because I miss them, too and we can not have them for the weekend until after his hearing.

I had a dream the other night that Hayden came over and stayed for the day. It was so nice to see her and spend time with her and see Rick happy. He misses her so much. He contacted Cody again and there was no reply or response. Cody was cleared of all the charges from the night he called Rick to watch the baby at the hotel where Brianne left him and Hayden to go find her and whoever she was with. Seems even though she pressed the assault and disorderly charges against him now as his wife she can refuse to testify against him. Must be one of the reasons they got married so fast and secretively. I just want to be able to see my granddaughter. Their problems are theirs to figure out in counseling and should not involve us not being able to see Hayden. She has probably forgotten all about us.

And do you know the most frustrating thing about Josh and Cody? Their choices and lifestyles have affected Kari and Noah. That makes me so mad. Kari and Noah should not have to fear Josh being home because of things that he has done in the past. They are very leery of him and his actions, words and promises. They love him, but are afraid that they will find out in a little bit that he is back in jail or worse. Noah, especially has heightened anxiety when he is home and it is hard to watch him cower when Josh goes to hug him or when Josh is home. The other day he forgot his key and Josh let him in the apartment to use the phone and after he called me, Noah stood out front waiting for Rick because he doesn't feel comfortable in the house alone with Josh. Breaks my heart.  And why should Kari and Noah not get to know their niece because Cody is acting selfish and immature? Not that he even thinks of them as his siblings, though. I am glad he and Devin has a close relationship, but she is not his only sibling. He has other siblings and they miss him and their niece.

It seems that I will indeed need to retake the Praxis I math test. I was hoping that my SAT scores would be high enough that I would not have to take it, but from that paperwork I received today, it looks like I am way below the needed score. I wasn't looking for the easy way out, but I did not want to retake the test because when I took it three years ago, I missed it by 2 points. When I took it a few weeks ago, I miss it by 18 points! When I schedule it this time I am buying the online study guide. I will take it online as many times as it will let me. And praying. A lot.  

And as excited as I am for this cohort program, I am a bit anxious about the time away from home and the course load. I am not very good at being a domestic goddess when I am working full time and now I will going to school as well. I will really need to get me, the hubby and the kiddos on a schedule. We have done it before and I know we can do it again. It will just take some time adjusting to a new schedule. But, everything worth having takes some adjusting to, right?

Counting down the days until the regular school year ends even though I am not sure why. Not getting a break until some time next year or June 2018. LOL




Friday, May 20, 2016

FMF - Expect

 I am not sure what I expected parenting to be like when I was pregnant with my first born. All of it - the morning sickness, the growing belly, the kicks and delivery - was all so new. I don't think I had any expectations at first.

But, then as I started raising my son as a single parent, I was faced with the expectations of others and of my own. I wanted my son to be the best behaved in the nursery, to not have any dirty diapers and to always say kind and cute things. I wanted him to be the best dressed in pre-K and be the first to read and write his name and to capture his teachers' hearts with his smile and his gentleness. I wanted him to be the best athlete on the field and have good sportsmanship. I wanted him to make honor roll and win blue ribbons at the science fair in elementary school. I wanted him to have friends and be liked and be happy.

Some people expected him to end up in jail as a result of living in a single parent household. Some people expected him to be just like his father, even though he was not around him enough to be just like him. Some people expected him to be a preacher or a teacher.

And I expected that God wanted good things for my son, too. But, God called us to be holy, not necessarily happy. Although I believe if we are striving toward holiness, we will be happy in our obedience to Him.

And even though, God wanted what was best and right for my son, His expectations were different. Not as an earthly parent, but as a Heavenly Father. Just like I wanted my son to reflect me in a positive way, God wanted my son to reflect Him.  

And for a time, he did. He was saved at a young age and involved with church and had a desire to see others become believers and strived to live a holy life.

Then the unexpected happened. Shoplifting. Skipping school. Drugs. Running away.

Not what I expected.

And his life looks a lot different now. Rebuilding a life with his children, with a career, without addiction, after incarceration.

It is not at all what I expected as a parent, but I remind myself that God is not shocked or undone by what has happened. He is still wanting. expecting my son to reflect Him again and is graciously, patiently expecting it to happen.


Make sure you link up your FMF blog post at Katie's blog!



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

FMF - Grow

I am a total black thumb by nature. I want to be a green thumb and have tried to cultivate a gardener's heart, but I normally end of giving up or killing whatever I have tried to plant and grow.

One of the most important part of the growth process I have been told is the pruning process. Taking the dead parts off of a plant or flower to allow for new growth. Maybe I just see the dead parts and assume there is no more life left, so I just give up on the plant. But, plucking away the dead parts is what allows the plant to grow and regrow. It is a tedious and long process at times and I am not good at waiting.

Thankfully, God is.  God is the master "wait-er". He waits patiently for us to come to Him for salvation. He waits graciously for us to ask for forgiveness and He waits lovingly for us enter His throne room to spend time with Him in prayer or just in the stillness.

And He patiently waits as I grow, most of the time at a slower rate than I should, never rushing me, just kindly redirecting me and guiding me.

I heard a quote a while ago that I think of often.....

Bloom where you are planted

I need to remember this so I can grow in the Lord and closer to Him,


Make sure you link up your FMF post on Katie's blog!
  

Moving

So many times I miss out on how God is moving in my life or in my family because my eyes are on the circumstances I want Him to change or work in and I forget the every day blessings He provides.

Even though we are in a bit of a financial snit right now, God is still moving and blessing us. We have learned to make sacrifices or wait for things which has helped with our entitlement issues. We have had to be creative and lean on others for things and have seen God moving and blessing us. Being accepted into the cohort, a FREE seat on the NYC trip with Kari, cooking dinners together instead of going out and participating in a yard sale that made us some money and helped us declutter the attic a bit. We have posted things on Craigslist and sacrificed our morning coffees =)

But, God is still moving. And He always is even when we don't see it or can't see it.    

Monday, May 09, 2016

FMF - Miss

So many times while my kiddos were young, I heard someone say the phrase, "You're going to miss this!". I wasn't always sure they were right. Would I really miss sleepless nights? Diaper changes? Nursing? Trying solid food for the first time? Learning to crawl, walk and talk? Potty training? Starting school? Loose teeth? All of it seemed so daunting then. But, now.....

I do miss some of those days. Buckling them into their car seats for play dates. Hearing real belly laughs for the first time. When they discovered their hands and feet. Snuggling in bed together watching PBS Kids and Disney Jr. in the early mornings. Singing them to sleep. I really do miss it.

But, I do not want to dwell on what I miss from when they were young and miss what is happening now. Now, I have a tween and a teenager and I am enjoying these days.....

Dropping her off to babysit, seeing how proud of herself she is that she is making her own money.  

Watching him get on the bus and head to middle school.

Helping her pick out make up and watching her accent her natural beauty.

Listening to him practice for the talent show at school.

Seeing the two of them work on a science fair project together.

Giving them more chores to do to alleviate some of the pressure of housework from two working parents.

Not having to get a babysitter for date nights.

Even though, I miss them being younger, I love seeing them change and mature into wonderful young people.

I miss those days, but I am doing everything I can not to miss the here and now.


Link your FMF post to Katie's blog!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

FMF - Pass

Once I see the prompt for FMF, I always have a rush of thoughts go through my mind.

PASS.....
I will pass, I will pass over you.
No, thanks, I'll pass.
Pass me the rolls, please.
Did you see that pass?
I passed!!!

This is what happens. I have all of these thoughts swirling and then it takes a few days to figure out what I should write, if I should write, what God wants me to write.

My first thought was about Passover and a song we used to sing in church when I was a teenager.

When I see the blood. When I see the blood. When I see the blood. I will pass, I will pass over you.

I loved the fact that God made a way for the Israelites to identify themselves as His children, so when the final plague was handed down in Egypt, they would be saved. It is an amazing picture of how, even in our imperfections, God chooses to save us, if we just trust in Him.

No, thanks, I'll pass made me think about the fact that I am struggling with my weight and being healthy and one of the main reasons is I do not pass on food very often. I eat and overeat way more than I'd like to admit. I do not think eating is bad in and of itself, but what I have been eating and how much and how often I eat....therein lies the problem. I am not eating to live, I am living to eat. Celebrations at my house growing up always involved way too much food. But, when I was thinner and younger, it didn't really affect me much. And even though I have always been an emotional eater, I could curb it or chose food choices that weren't too detrimental to my health. But, the older I get the less I care about what I am eating and whether I am hungry or not. Which I guess, goes hand in hand with, pass me the rolls, please. LOL  

Did you see that pass? I loved when my older boys played football. Well, any sport, really. I loved being the team mom or just being in the stands, cheering for them. My husband coached most of their teams and he was a fantastic coach and Dad when it came to redirecting them and encouraging them. Our youngest is not so much into sports as he is art and music, but he still enjoys watching a game or two of football with my husband.

I passed!!! resonates with me the most right now, I guess, because we are winding down the school year and I am getting ready to embark on a new educational and career journey. I have always been one who does well in school with hard work and perseverance. It also used to come pretty naturally to me, to get good grades. Recently, though I took a course and had to retake an exam. It was a harsh reality for me that I am not as young as I used to be and my brain is not as sharp. I require more study time and less distractions. But, as long as I am putting in the effort and not giving up, I can still succeed.

I am not sure any of this even makes sense, but since I am just getting back in the groove of writing I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to blog. It really is therapeutic for me to write. I need to remember that and do it more often.


Make sure you link up your FMF blog post at Kate's blog!





Monday, April 25, 2016

FMF - Unite

What joins people together? A common cause? A common dislike? A common love?

Our country - the United States was built on a common cause, dislike and love. Freedom, enslavement and hope of a new country/people.

My husband and I were united together due to a common love - for the Lord, each other, family, our children.

I find myself united with people of similar likes, dislikes, hobbies, beliefs....it is what makes me feel wanted or needed.

My most important union is my unity with Christ. Desiring a relationship with Him to eradicate my sin and be clothed in righteousness, binds me to Him creating a union of other believers as well. Being united in Christ, in His love and for the cause of the Gospel.

Right now, though, I see division in so many ways - in the country, in my family, among friends. It seems we have lost the main reason for our unity.

I do not mind being united for a common cause or even for a common dislike, but I much prefer to be united for a common love.  

We should love others because He first loved us. Love with abandonment. Love without discrimination. Love because He is love.

Colossians 2:2  "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,"

Philippians 2:1-2 "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."



Linking up to Kate's Blog today for Five Minute Friday and think you should link up, too!
  

Whirlwind

These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of blessings, activity and sickness.

I am still in awe of the fact that I got into the cohort. I tried to talk myself out of the blessing of it all this weekend. I let fear creep in and doubt surface. I am still struggling a bit, but know that if I can trust God in the small things, I can trust Him in the BIG things. Why is it that way? I am not sure why I seem to be able to trust Him in the day to day, but with the future? Or big things? Not so much. Praying that changes.

Kari is babysitting more and more lately, which is good for her and us, but also a bit tiring, driving her from job to job. She loves the family she is working for, though and I love seeing the look of pride on her face when she pays for something with her own money. It is very hard earned and she deserves it.

Rick and Noah have both been under the weather lately. Rick has a URI and is dealing with coughing/breathing issues due to allergies. He has not been sleeping well and his energy level is so low right now. He needs to rest, but can not sleep because he is coughing or having trouble breathing. I am trying to make sure he has some extra TLC to help him recover faster. Noah was diagnosed with the flu/a viral infection last Thursday. We thought he was dealing with allergies as well, but then his temperature spiked and a fever has been lingering for the last 5 days. We are hoping having tomorrow off gives him one more day to recover before returning to school on Wednesday. I am thankful for a day off for the primaries tomorrow.

We got to spend some time with Devin on Saturday when she was in MD to see Cody, Brianne and Hayden before moving to TX. It was nice to spend the day and have dinner with her. She and Austin and Jayden left this morning for TX. I am not sure when we will get to TX for a visit, but hope it is sooner than later.

Only 8 weeks of school left for this school year! It seems a bit surreal, but I am glad things are wrapping up in middle school for Kari and at my current school for me. I still get a bit anxious when I think about the unknown possibilities of next year, but then I remember that God orchestrated all of it, so I try to rest in that fact. I am sure I will feel better after the meeting on May 18 and once I am placed at my school for the next school year. I know this is what I should be doing, so I just need to stop stressing and enjoy the time I have left at MES.

These next 8 weeks should fly by pretty quickly!

Hope

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

Hope

My friend, K always used to tell me to keep a little bit of Hope in my pocket, so I could pull it out and hold onto it when I felt like I had lost all hope. That Hope is a person and that He is faithful and available at all and any times. Sometimes, I felt like there was lint in my pocket more times than Hope, but I would eventually remember her words and turn toward Hope instead of away from Him.


I use the phrase, "I hope....." many times as if to say maybe it will come to pass, but truly, realistically Hope is certain and sure when we remember that Hope is Christ and our hope is in Christ. We can know for sure that He is with us, protecting us, helping us and leading us.


My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.











Toxic People

This phrase has been thrown around a lot lately in my circle of friends and family. I even find myself using it to describe people and relationships in my own life, past and present. It is easy to put a label on someone or something that we don't agree with or understand, but it is harder to truly examine someone or some situation. I truly believe that I have been and am being exposed to toxic people, but I also believe that when I find someone ruffling my feathers or shaking up my comfort zone, I tend to label them as toxic. It allows me to then be the victim instead of owning my words and actions and having to make the necessary changes to my behavior. I come from a long line of martyrs and occasionally find myself gravitating toward victimization even if it is unwarranted.

So, I am more often than not, checking myself and my behaviors. Am I exhibiting toxic behavior? Am I making myself out to be a victim when I really should be owning my actions and apologizing? Do my words and actions match up or am I contradicting myself?

Sometimes I am too hard on myself. Other times I am not careful enough with what I say and how I treat people. I have found myself in a few situations lately where my words have wrecked havoc on my relationships and even though I have been quick to apologize when I realized my error or was called out on my behavior, my apologies have fallen on deaf ears. It is hard to apologize and then when it is unaccepted.....it is even harder on my heart.

By nature, I am a people pleaser and very non-confrontational. I avoid conflict with everything in me. To a fault sometimes. But, lately, I have found myself so tired of being the nice guy, letting people get away with being hurtful under the guise of honesty or letting people get away with wrong, destructive behaviors. I have spoken up and defended people lately and then later had it backfire sending hateful backlash my way. Relationships have ended or been temporarily broken and I have questioned my motives, my words and my actions.

And here is my conclusion.....

Some people are toxic. They destroy people with their words and actions. They cause people to be afraid to be honest with them and make people want to stay away from them. They want to divide and keep people/family/churches/whatever divided. They play the victims instead of owning their own behavior. They do not accept apologies because doing so takes them out of the driver's seat and would cause them to humble themselves. They are selfish and self serving. They expect things from people that they themselves would never do for anyone else. They do not like it when someone sheds light on their BS or makes them responsible for their behavior. They have to be on control of their relationships at all costs. They lie, they manipulate, they hurt the ones they love. They accuse others of being toxic when in fact they are the ones spewing forth so much toxic waste. They are quick to call others out, but do not like it when someone calls them out.

And that is not me. I lean into reconciliation. I yearn for peace and resolution. I want to love others unconditionally and want to be loved unconditionally. I pray for redemption and wholeness. I abhor dishonesty, contradiction and division.      

I can be labeled as many things, but toxic is not one of them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blinking Cursor

A blank page with a blinking cursor is a bit intimating when you haven't posted in nine months. I didn't intend to stop posting or maybe I did. So, many things have changed in just a short amount of time. And yet it seems like forever has passed.....

Josh is currently incarcerated for a charge he was convicted of in January. He will be released soon and has a job and place to live lined up for when he returns home. He just celebrated his 25th birthday in March and is looking forward to Kaysen and Kiyah turning 6 and 4 in May. He has been drug free for a few months and hopes to be able to celebrate a year of sobriety next February.









Devin and her boyfriend, Austin will be moving to TX next week. Austin will be working with Rick's dad as a Jr construction supervisor. He plans to attend school to obtain his nursing degree as well. Devin will continue to work in the food service business, but desires to go to art school. Austin's nephew J will be moving with them as they were granted guardianship of him last week. Devin will also celebrate her 25th birthday in May!



Cody and his fiance, Brianne were married on April 1. No one knew they were eloping and no one was invited. Devin is devastated. There are extenuating circumstances that made them choose such a surprising and private ceremony. It is sad that we have not been able to celebrate with them. Rick and I have not seen Hayden in three months due in part to our reaction to some behaviors that Brianne was involved in that caused great upset to her relationship to Cody and then in turn to our relationship with Cody. Words have been spoken that can not be taken back and even though apologies on our part have been offered, they have not been accepted. It is hard to be dragged into a situation, defend your child and then have to suffer consequences at the expense of the selfish reactions of the person ultimately to blame for the destruction of several relationships. To be blamed as the reason for the inability to see our granddaughter is so upsetting. I do not understand when an olive branch is offered, but it is not accepted, especially by someone who should be the one asking for forgiveness. We are praying for a reconciliation that only God can orchestrate.



Kari is just a few months away from being a 9th grader! This year has been her hardest yet as far as drama and such goes. She has chosen to forgo the PVA program for HS and attend her feeder HS. Two girls that were her very best friends will be attending NCHS as well, but a misunderstanding that escalated into a broken friendship fueled by one mean girl's words and actions has dissolved their relationship. She is excited about the possibility of reconnecting with some friends from elementary school and being able to walk to and from school. And not having to stay after school 2-3 days a week. She will also have the opportunity to attend a vocational school and try her hand at culinary classes as well as cosmetology. I am excited that she will be making more dinners and making cutting and dyeing my hair for free =)   

Noah is just a few months away from finishing his first year of middle school! It has been an adjustment period for him that has mostly been positive. There have been a few growing pains and bumps along the way, but he is doing well in his classes. He enjoys being at the same school as Rick and being able to have lunch with him occasionally. He continues to draw anime and hone his video gaming skills. He is hoping to attend art classes again this summer. He is constantly creating with boxes, paper, clay...whatever he can.



Rick is plugging along with schoolwork. There was a delay in his classes in the fall due to a 2 day hospital stay, so he will not be doing his student teaching until the fall of 2016 now. He is hoping to be teaching full time by January 2017. He loves working in the STEM department at LMS and is looking forward to teaching a few summer bridge classes at the local HS. He is an amazing teacher - we can not go anywhere without a student or parent seeing him and stopping him to say hi or chat for a few minutes. He has a true gift and it is so evident with his students and his colleagues. 

I am working as a special education teaching assistant and thoroughly enjoying it. I started attending WGU in July 2015 to redo the classes I needed to be able to have a recognized bachelor's degree and it has been slow going. I found myself frustrated that I was retaking classes I took 20+ years ago. I was not doing well with the online concept of classes, lacking discipline in scheduling and completing assignments. I had failed my first exam ever in my educational journey and was really just struggling. I met a colleague at the beginning of the year that was having the same trouble I was obtaining her teaching certification in MD. The state would not accept her undergrad degree, either. She mentioned a program she was applying for in January, but I did not inquire much about it as I was just struggling to start my next term. She shared with me a few weeks ago that she had an interview set up and after talking to my supervisor, I sent in my application and had an interview set up the same day as hers. I found out this weekend that I got into the cohort! I will be withdrawing from WGU and attending a special education cohort this summer. It is a two year program that will allow me to get dual certification in general and special education, I will be hired as a special education teacher in the fall of 2016 and when I complete the program I will be two classes away from obtaining my master's in education. It is an amazing opportunity that I was so grateful to be given. I have secretly been drawn to special education for the last six years, but just did not see it as a possibility. God had other plans. He always knows our hearts' desires.



And the biggest change has been this new addition to our house.....


We rescued an 8 year old yellow lab in March. Jack has been a wonderfully, energetic addition to our lives. I read somewhere that dogs can do wonders for people that struggle with depression and anxiety and that has been 100% true for me and this dog. He is an old dog with the activity level and heart of a puppy. He is our protector and our goofball, barking at anyone and everyone and prancing through the house to play fetch. He sleeps with Kari and plays in the yard with Noah. After Harrison passed away in December, my parents were uncertain about getting another dog for the house, but Jack was the dog our house was missing. My parents love him as much as we do, although they are not thrilled when they hear his paws bounding on the ceiling of the basement apartment as he rouses the house awake in the mornings or wants to rough house at night.

So, life is short and moves at lightning speeds with its ups and downs and twists and turns. We have changed in the last year since the last post, but are thankful for the growing pains and lessons we have learned. And we are very excited to see what the next nine months hold.