Friday, April 11, 2014

When the whirlwind of life keeps on....

Lately, life has been a whirlwind!
The week before Christmas we found out I was pregnant again!! What a rush of emotions...excitement, worry, joy, apprehension, and everything in between.
I am now almost 21 weeks along with a little boy! (big brother is SOO excited, as are mommy and daddy ;) !!)
Then about a month and a half ago my mom told us she was seriously sick, at the time we didn't know exactly what was going on. A couple weeks later we finally got a diagnosis, stage 4 breast cancer. It's spread throughout her body and is very aggressive. Ever since life has been a day to day roller coaster of emotional stress.
Also about 3 weeks ago I talked to the girls worker and she said that their court hearing is the middle of April and things are looking good for them to go home. They go for a visit on Monday and we are supposed to send all their things with them. If things go as planned they won't be back.
Everyone asks me how I feel about the girls going home. Honestly that is a very tough question to answer. I don't feel like they will be going into the best environment, but they are still their parents' children and as long as the parents are doing what they need to do, they need to go home. Like the worker said, if they can't move ahead with termination since we are basically at a year into this; they need to do something and the parents are doing well enough that the right thing is for them to go home. I also feel like with everything with my mom that God is just kind of letting me know it's time for them to be with their family and it's time for me to have more time to care for mine.
I'm once again at a point in my life where God is simply the only One that gets me through the days. I wake up and take every day one day at a time. He's the only One that knows what is to come and He is still in control even though I'm physically exhausted from all the emotional stress and day to day worry and concern for my mom and the unknown for these two little girls. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MIA and Seeking Wisdom

I have been gone for FAR too long!
Blogger was having some issues for awhile that made posting a little tricky and we had holidays, some major changes with the girls and some personal things going on. So the end of December and beginning of January have been a crazy roller coaster and now that we are already halfway through January, I sit here and wonder how on earth it is possible.
 
Foster care has taught me that you never know what will come next. We went from things looking terrible about 2 months ago, to the parents doing really well (by what I was told by the workers), back to them doing pretty terrible again. Visits have been shortened again and some strict tasks have been placed on them, so we'll see what the next few months will bring.
Of course Christmas and the New Year came and went with a flash.
We also got some news during that time that I hope I can share with you soon. This news has added some more things onto our schedule in the past several weeks.
So I think things are starting to settle back into a routine again.
I'm sure God knows I'm needing a routine back! haha!
 
I ran across this verse the other day while reading my Bible and it just struck me in a new way, I hope you can reap some benefits from it also.
 
"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding-indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."
Proverbs 2:1-5
 
I've read that verse many times before, but as I read it this time, it hit me that I need to be searching and striving for wisdom with the same vigor as I would search for silver. And the way I take this verse, God is saying that if we seek it we will find it and will have a greater understanding of God!
Let me tell you I NEED that everyday!!
 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twists and turns

I would have to say that for the first time since we have been foster parents to two little girls I am truly ready to let them go. Sometimes, I feel as if that's selfish of me to say. It sounds as if I don't want to deal with them anymore (and trust me there are days I feel that way), but overall I want them to be able to go home. To be with THEIR mother. To have THEIR family.
I'm not always sure that those are the best "qualified" people to care for them, but I can assure you that the best place for a child is with their God-given family if in any way possible.
These girls have lived a life of limbo for almost 8 months now. Just think of how much of their lives that is (one is 4 and one is 1). That's a BIG chunk of their lives!!
Leading up to one court date, I couldn't imagine them letting them go back home. I honestly probably would have thought the judge was psycho had they let the girls go home, I thought they should be with us forever. Then leading up to another court date, I was getting tired and frustrated and had just gone through a second miscarriage. I honestly felt like I shouldn't have to take care of them anymore and was ready for the judge to say they were going home. That did not happen. Since then there have been times that I did not want them to go home EVER. I wanted to selfishly say that it would be better for them to stay with us and never go back to their family.
The beginning of December was quite a time for me. I was unbelievably emotional and had several up and down kind of days. Finally I realized that I think God is trying to teach me that these girls would be best off with THEIR family. If in anyway possible they NEED to be with their family. Also, I think God was trying to teach me that I have a sweet, smart, healthy little boy of my own and even if he is the only little one I ever get to truly call MINE, I should be happy. God entrusted that little boy to me and my husband and we can be overjoyed that he is ours.
So the girls have a court date coming up again. I have my doubts that they'll get to go home, but I really hope they can. From what I hear the parents are doing very well and I for the first time in this whole thing, the other day I saw the mom again and I saw her as a true MOM. Not some power-tripped lady that wanted to get back at the foster mom for taking her kids (not that I had anything to do with her kids getting taken away, but I felt like she felt I did.) Just as a regular human being, who just wants to see her kids.
I think God wants me to see that even if she isn't mother of the year award material, she might just still be deserving of having her kids back.
And that is just what the kids need.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear Foster Care System

Today's post is going to be the letter I would write if I could write a letter to the foster care system. Get ready, I'm getting on my high horse! {You have been warned!}
 
Dear Foster Care System,
   My husband and I decided to become licensed foster parents in order to give love and stability to children who are in need of it. After 7 months of being a foster parent, I no longer am surprised by the continued unconcern for the children who are stuck in limbo in your system. There appears to be no rules as to what constitutes children being taken away from their parents, there also appears to be no standard for the children to quickly get back to their parents. The system seems to enable the parents to live their lives basically care free while they have a full time paid babysitter for their children and they can see their kids a few hours to a day or two a week. When the system seems to crack down and say do this or its gonna get ugly and the parents do what they are told to, they still don't get their kids back. They have to "work up" to being able to be trusted with them again. (NO mind that they've already been "trusted" with their children in their own home with NO supervision over night). All the while the children are left in a world of limbo wondering when they'll get to go back to mommy and why mommy and daddy aren't getting things fixed. I thought the system was supposed to get kids out of bad situations and quickly get things resolved. Whether that be by them going home or being adopted. Instead, I can see how kids are left in foster care for years. All because the system just uses the children as pawns in their dirty little game with the parents.
 
   I'd love to help you out, Foster Care System, but since there is no system to your so called system I'm just not sure I can do it again. I love the children I've been entrusted with now, so I will continue on for them but after that I'm afraid you'll have to find someone to fill my shoes. Maybe one day you will wake up and realize that you're lack of a system is driving away good people with good intentions.

Yours Truly,
A concerned foster parent

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Financial Sacrifice: Part 3

Welcome to the Financial Sacrifice series, here is Part 1 and Part 2.
 
Today, I'm going to cover vehicles.
In Part 1, I told you that my (I don't even remember what year it was) Oldsmobile Achieva broke down halfway to our honeymoon destination.
We knew we had no money so we turned around and came home, because we knew we needed money to fix our car. Turns out that the car was beyond repair. Thankfully, my parents let me borrow their extra car so that I could get to work and back everyday. (we only had one other vehicle, a 1987 Ford Ranger)
I kept my eye open for cars that would possibly be something we could afford and be at least reliable. One day, at a small car lot, I noticed a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am.
This was in 2007, so the car was only 3 years old and I thought I would REALLY be moving up in the world. So I called my husband and told him about it, I believe that the price on it was $7,000. That was a lot of money to us at the time, but with a loan we knew we could make it work.
A few days later, my husband and I went to take a look at the car. It had some scratches on the outside, a few cigarette burns here and there inside, but overall was in decent shape.
It had manual windows, manual seats, no cruise control, but it had air conditioning and a CD player. Sign me up! We could afford manage the loan on it and it would get us where we needed to go!
In order to save money we first of all went with a used car, then we sacrificed a little on the "bells and whistles" such as no cruise control and manual windows and seats, also since it had some scratches and cosmetic problems it made it more affordable.
Trust me when you are in desperate need of a car, the looking cool factor isn't nearly as important!
Factor in some of those money saving tips if you find yourself low on money, but needing a reliable car.
 

 
There it is in the background, that car treated us well for 5 and a half years!
Yep, no cruise control for 5 and a half years, it's TRUE!
We did have a few "break downs", but it was basically just fuel filters needing changed and things like that, nothing major. Even though we had a used car, it didn't mean we were stuck on the side of the road. It drove me 40 some miles to work 5 days a week for a year and made numerous trips to PA (1,500 miles), and after I quite work it was still my primary vehicle for driving 20 some miles to town for groceries and other errands.
Don't buy into the belief that older and used means that it will not run well, there are some that do have problems, but if you check it out and know what to look for for problems you can find good used, reliable vehicles for a fraction of the cost!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Financial Sacrifice: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Financial Sacrifice series, for Part 1 go here.
 
Today we will discuss something else people spend WAY too much money on.
Furniture!
When we got married, we had a couch and bedroom set that the people we bought our house from wanted to sell, so they added a little extra on to the sale price of our home. We also had two recliners that my parents gave me when I went to college, along with an end table (think from the 1970's!). For our kitchen table, we had an old folding table that was in the garage when we bought our house with a couple of folding chairs my parents gave us (again 1970's!). We also had a computer desk and a partially broken dresser that someone gave me when I went to college. Then there was the love seat and glider rocker that our friends' parents were going to throw away, but asked us first if we'd like them.
 
 
 
 That was basically our furniture in a nutshell! Fancy let me tell you, but hey we were glad that we weren't sitting on the floor!
We were also lucky enough to have been given some decent decorations that we had either registered for or had wedding guests that had good taste in decor, so we had a decent decoration set up (although as you see in the above picture we were still lacking in wall decorations, it's just hard to decorate when you have such a modge podge of stuff to work with).
I just did not spend much on decorations or even towels and bedding, we were blessed to also have received a fair amount of that type of stuff for gifts also!
As a young engaged woman, the spring/summer before our wedding, I wanted to paint and "redo" the entire house before I moved in. Well, our house was in desperate need of paint on the outside and our very limited budget made painting the inside have to wait awhile. I painted the last room in our house some 2-3 years later!!
You may not be able to keep up with the Joneses, but if you are patient and do with what you have or can get cheaply, you will eventually get ahead money-wise.
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Financial Sacrifice: Part 1

There is so much to the story of our financial struggles, that I could write you a whole research paper to give you the back story, but I won't do that to you. So hopefully throughout this series, I won't loose you, but I'm going to just pick out some of the things we did to save money and keep our expenses under control.
 
We were newlyweds. What is the first thing that newlyweds often spend a HUGE amount of money on?
Yep, the honeymoon!
Well, we knew we couldn't afford some tropical getaway with a master suite and 6-person Jacuzzi tub. So we decided we would book a little hotel in the mountains and drive the 5ish hours for our four day getaway.
Our entertainment would include walking around the cutesy downtown area, hiking in the national park, mini golf and sitting out back of our room snuggling next to the stream that ran by.
This is what we planned for our honeymoon, nothing overly fancy, just something nice and sweet to celebrate our new life together without breaking the bank.
We avoided high priced airline tickets, the price of some ritzy resort for a week and we didn't need a rental car; just to name a few things.
We also didn't have the stress of big travel plans the day after our wedding.
 
Side note: we did not end up going on our lovely 4 day getaway and it did end up being a stressful travel situation. My car broke down about half way there and we decided that we'd need money to fix the car, so homeward we went.
Thankfully, the hotel we booked let us transfer our stay to the next year and we ended up going for our 1 year anniversary!
 

 
But if it had all worked out the way we planned it would have been WAY cheaper and MUCH less stress!