Monday, October 13, 2014

My Gborlee boy

Gborlee has been struggling with more seizures lately and just last Friday had to have emergency diastat at school and sent home to sleep it off. The good part of the diastat is that our school is very well Intune to seeing the seizures and knowing when to administer the drug, but also it stops the seizures within 2-3 minutes every time. The seizures seem to be frustrating to him and I believe he gets a bad headache just prior to the beginning of a string of seizures. The kids have called them "glitches" for a while now, and that really does describe how they seem. No matter what he is doing, he collapses and draws into a near fetal position and within seconds can right his body again just before the next one hits. When one of us is around, he gets held and we rub his head and back to help break the cycle. I don't know that there is any scientific founding in that, but it makes us feel like we are doing something to help, even though we actually are quite helpless. Gborlee is so good natured. He laughs heartily when he is happy, and even gets some physical humor. He doesn't really watch tv, but he will react to certain words he hears or Songs that play. When someone sneezes in the house, you can bet Gborlee with issue a hearty "ah-choooo!" In response. When he burps, he almost always says "'scuse you!" It's hard to believe he will be turning 7 in November, and even harder to believe just how very far he has come in the last 2 1/2 years of American life. He is also is a kisser. In the mornings, at lunchtime, before bed, and many times a day in between! He especially loves baby brother, Isaiah, and kisses him as often as he can. He is so loving and innocent. I think that's part of what makes him such a sweet boy. He does get upset if he gets stuck (like trying to pull his shirt off, or behind a chair that he can't maneuver away from) and starts whining. We have been signing to him and saying "help, please" and he is learning a few variations of those signs. Like yesterday, he kept signing "more" and "thank you" together, and what he really wanted was someone to help him get the toy out from under the table (so he could play "more" with it!) He probably should be encouraged to quit sucking his thumb, but with awful vision and only one ear that hears, I feel like if that thumb gives him comfort, how can I insist he's got to find another way? I remember taking him to stores in Liberia where the older women would say "he will never get married with that thumb in his mouth!" And they would even pull it from his lips. Well, Boo Boo, it's okay with mommy for you to get comfort from that thumb for now! And frankly, at just near 7, I am not really sure we should be all that worried about whether he marries some day. For me, it's just right, just the way he is. Growing, learning and being HIM! As we look into the possibilities of a surgical prevention for his numerous seizures, I am reminded just how important it is to be the voice that he does not have. He knows I will advocate for all he needs, no matter what it is, for as long as I am able. And knowing Gborlee, I will get one of his sweet, noisy kisses as payment. And that, too, is perfectly fine with me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It Can Wait

I had a busy weekend getting all of our fall/winter clothes out and storing the summer ones. Before work this morning I took the last laundry basket upstairs to put away and although the house is not totally clean, I was feeling really accomplished. Then I got in the car, which smelled of faintly rotting apples and old McDonald's boxes. You know, the fries that just sit there until they grow cold (and stiff), but never die. I sat in the parking lot at work, favoring the last few moments of peacefulness. I even put my head back and that's when I see it. A piece of half eaten pizza. On the dashboard. Everyone can see it. There is never time to gloat about what's been accomplished here, because the van needs another good cleaning this week. By the time I get that done, the house will be even worse. Cheerleading tonight for Bella, so I am going into work now and forgetting about what else I need to do. I am sure it will wait for me. It always does.

Monday, September 22, 2014

He Needed Me

Medication for numerous maladies or conditions keep our family on our collective toes. (That would be 100 toes, to be exact.) Not to mention anytime something changes, meds also must change. There is fetal alcohol syndrome, bi-polar disorder, rage disorders, adhd and autism spectrum disorder. There is also reactive attachment disorder, along with asthma, GI issues, seizures and limb disfunction's due to physical disabilities. Add the occasional influenza or common colds, or even headaches or menstral cramping and you can see we have an almost-pharmacy at our control. It can be quite intimidating and scary. When someone is ill, we often question "could it be the meds" and research options on the Internet. Today, I had to pick one of the children up from school less than two hours after dropping them off there, only to be met with questioning looks from the school secretary. Yes, dear lady, he did miss several days of school last week. Yes, he did see the doctor (who diagnosed a stomach virus), and no, I don't suppose that is still the problem. But it could still be legit. Or it could be his dosage increase for one of his other needs has caused an issue. Or maybe he, perhaps, hasn't moved his bowels as often as you think he should (although there is also medication for that in our cupboard which gets a lot of use, too). He could be faking, he could possibly just miss his mama. But whatever it ends up being, I still feel it's more important for my kids to know they can call at anytime and I will answer. I will ask them if they are being bullied or just don't like their lunch choices. I will mention that TV is off limits if you are sick from school, and tomorrow they will have to go and try again. However, it could be any number of things wrong, and we may never really know. Sometimes you just have a tummy ache and need your mom to rescue you. The doctor can decide tomorrow if it's one of the medications - or not. But he needed me, and I brought him home. I am okay with that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

He was there all the time: Seeing God in desperate times.

I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those adoptive moms that completely disappear from the blogging scene after my 2 kids came home from their foreign land. I was so wrong. It could be that when they came home it was to 7 other siblings, all in school, and our lives were already busy. Add that to my father passing away six weeks after he met the boys, which meant my mother also moved into our house. Between the care these two disabled (but loved so much!) boys required, a mentally failing and physically ill mom who was totally uprooted from her married life now that dad was gone, and finishing major building projects at home, there may have been some stress. Like, all the time. We managed constant medical trips, with mom in tow, and several hospital stays out of town at the children's hospital, a few surgeries the boys needed to recover from, and feeling totally. Overwhelmed. Constantly. Yeah, it was a rough first 6 months. Then mom died after a massive heart attack and stroke that incapacitated her and left her hanging to life for over a week. Then she was gone. Seven short months after losing dad. It just didn't seem fair in January that year to have to grieve so deeply once again, when I hadn't really been free to grieve my dads passing due to everything else I was managing. We buried her just shortly before my own medical issues created more stress, leading to a surgery for me to recover from. Then my son and his family left their home overseas, moved to the states where he had a job but housing situations were not working out, so his wife and kids moved in. They had just completed their own African adoption, bringing home a very sick young boy, who required life saving surgery that his daddy barely made it to, coming half way across the country to be there for his wife and son. Yea, it was stressful for all of us. New kids, teens, two moms and 13 total kids under one roof. Crazy.? Yep. Necessary? Definately. Hard? Very. After a few months, their family was back together (still trying to find housing in their town), and I think I actually went through a nervous breakdown. I felt shaken, scared, a failure and depressed. We moved to the next city over, trying to regroup and remake our family to be the peaceful family we so desired. The move was hard. Extremely hard on all of us. We had cherished the years we had called home that my grandfather and father built with their own hands. But we were struggling with job situations, financial obligations and fear. We stepped into a calculated risk, feeling as if God had given us hope for a new start. Then winter hit. The worst winter since the winter of '78 when I was 17. And the boiler went out in our new house (circa 1904). And we ran out of wood for the fireplace. And our pipes kept bursting so we had no water flowing. And we wished it were all just a dream. We had arranged our mortgages by refinancing so we could technically handle payments for two houses, and once we settled into our new house, we could start repairing the old house and put it on the market just after the first of the new year. Then the nightmare began. The temps outside had dropped to all time lows, so we kept the utilities on at the old house to keep pipes from freezing. We had trouble getting the new house warm (remember 1904) so Mike checked on the old house throughout the weeks during the bad weather. He called me in total shock the week after Christmas. He had trouble opening the front door at the house, so entered by a side door. He could hear the water pouring before he saw the damage. A remote pipe on the second level had frozen, burst, and was pouring water out of the ceiling at an alarming rate. Fan blades were dropping, flooring had buckled and the scene looked like a war zone. It had clearly been flowing for many days. We were devastated at the loss. $35k, not covered by our insurance because it was considered "vacant". However, we lost so much throughout the house that had not been moved. Water stood in the basement, Sheetrock had fallen off the walls and ceilings. Lighting hung dangerously loose and the furnace wasn't working. Mold had begun to grow on windows. The house reeked of old, rotting wood and our hopes of selling the house disappeared. It seemed as if there was no remedy in sight. We began the cleanup, sadly throwing away many things that hurt us physically to sort through and discard. There were dark days of despair wondering how this could be a part of Gods plan for our future. Mike worked through many nights and every weekend through the winter months, trying to restore what was left. It was dismal and depressing. It was our life. We felt consumed and confused. Spring brought longer days, warmer nights and more time to face the repairs. We sought legal counsel. We hung on. Finally, my niece asked us to consider selling the home to her family. Really? It was still far from ready to sell. But she and her husband were okay with the challenge of helping us restore the home, making it beneficial for us all. They moved in by July of this summer. Finally it all started coming together. We won our settlement that would help cover our damages and we are almost complete with the repairs. We are facing winter again, expecting frigid and below normal temps. We couldn't see where this story would end, and yet God carried us through it all, promising to never leave nor forsake us. So, I say all of this to show you a picture of life the past year and 1/2. There have been many highs and lows in this journey but we made it. Kids are all in school full time now, mostly healthy, and all doing well. I started working part time in town as the new children's librarian, and I am excited about the challenges ahead. We have embarked on a final adoption journey, lead by a powerful All Mighty God who delights in our joys, and comforts us in our sorrows. It would be wonderful to say we have patiently awaited this new journey, but in truth, we are chomping at the bit! We pray for Godspeed until we can bring our daughter home, and I plan to be much better at this blogging thing this time. Or not. Thanks for staying tuned in. It's my circus. My monkeys. And I am glad you are along for the ride.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reality. This is the hard part of adoption

I have been silent on my blog for quite some time. There was a family situation that was much too difficult to write about, and it still hurts. It has made us feel like horrible parents, although we feel completely right and supportive of each other about the tough decisions we made. I don't want a discussion about what we have gone through, but I am ready to start blogging again. In retrospect, I wish I had been more open about what we had been going through since adopting one of our children. As adoptive parents, we constantly feel as if everything we do is ridiculously open to speculation by those around us, whether they know our home life or not. Taking in children through the foster care system is quite risky, and with each adoption, parents feel more vulnerable and judged. Usually that doesn't matter, but comments made to our face or behind our backs can cause such painful turmoil in our hearts, because our main concern has always been for the children who already come to us "broken." It is our duty to love them unconditionally and fight for them even when no one else does. Our situation was hard from the get-go, because this particular child came to us at 9 years old, after other attempts at being part of a family fell apart too many times. The wounded heart and the way her was carelessly parented before us caused severe reactive attachment disorder (RAD) in this young life and we tried many types of counseling, along with several different types of medications but none ever really "hit the nail on the head." Rules were ignored. Attempts to love were unsuccessful and house rules were always a struggle. There were many things that happened over the years, but it came to a point we felt unsafe in our own home, and we decided to put the child out. Toughest decision of our life, and this 17 year old had broken every rule that was established to keep all of us safe, healthy and together. My oldest daughter took him in, which created even more family friction, so we sit here several months later knowing we did the best we could do with the hand we had been dealt. Yeah, loser parents. Gave up too soon. Not strict enough. Too strict. Didn't love enough. Time for tough love. You never cared. You have no idea how to handle teenagers. We have been beat up enough. It's time for this child who knows everything to live his own life and find out how little he knows. It would have been wonderful to finish this family story on a positive note. We miss him. We could not reach him. If the judgements had been less, and the support more, could we have held on any longer? How could we ever know? He sounds perfect in his new setting. Doing good in school and his job. Getting off of medications he never felt he needed anyway. He has privileges now that we had revoked. He sounds like he is being the model kid. But no one knows what it was like here. We are simply shell shocked and wondering if the bomb will explode or perhaps we really are the worst parents in the world. Either way, we continue to pray for his safety. We ask God to guide him in his decisions. We miss the rare good times we had when he was here. But the other 8 kids at home are worth protecting. It's calmer here and there is no worry about their safety anymore. Parenting doesn't come with manuals. I often wish it did. Especially for the kids who come from difficult places and everyone thinks we are suppose to "fix" them in a short time and send them happily ever after into life. Blame me if you will, but I refuse to accept any more negativity about why we did what we felt we had to do. Come parent for a few days under our roof. Then tell me how much better you could do. Until then, I will keep walking in my shoes, doing the best I can, and keeping my eyes on Jesus. Prayers flow freely here, sometimes with laughter and sometimes in pain. I hope you can pray with us in our journey. We don't take it lightly. Ever.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


If blood makes you squeamish, you probably should skip this post. But if you have suffered loss, maybe you will understand. I have a daughter who is turning seven next Wednesday. Part of that seems surreal to me, because she was our last newborn and she has been very attached to me from day one. She loves to tell the story of how I didn't want her, but I grew to love her any way. Ah, but there is more to that story. I was visiting my oldest grandson and daughter in law in Maine when we got the call. I had taken our last trip with a baby girl we had cared for more than a year, and it was a bittersweet time knowing this angel would not become a permanent part of our family as we had expected through most of her days with us. I was at the emotional breaking point knowing our loss would result in her unification with her family of origin, but the pain in my heart was almost more than I could bear. Foster care had worn me out to the point that I had said, more than once, I was finished laying my heart on my sleeve. I just couldn't suffer another loss such as the one of losing her. It was more than a death to us, and we knew it had become exactly what the state had wanted by reuniting her to her birth mom, but our hearts sensed it would never be ok for us to endure the emotional loss coming for us when we had to say goodbye. The trip to Maine was coming to an end, and I would be flying home the next day. I got "the call." A caseworker who had become more of a friend, was telling me about a baby, just born, who needed to be placed in foster care the next day. "Nope. We have decided not to take anymore foster kids," or something like that had swirled around in my heart and came tripping out of my mouth. "Oh", said the caseworker/friend. "Your husband just said 'yes.'" I think my palms went sweaty, and I swallowed a lump. Of course, I called dear hubby. In the end, I was tentative, but it could still fall through by the time I returned home the next day. As my plane landed at the airport, there was already a text on my phone. He had purchased a baby car seat, my mom had already stocked us in formula and diapers,and had washed the box of newborn clothes. With a snow storm and a foot of snow greeting me, we headed home just a few hours before my "no" baby was in my livingroom. Her original name was Patience. I saw her face and knew immediately she would be forever ours. So, a rocky start, but a beautiful baby, changed our life again. Our sweet foster daughter returned home shortly after the baby came, and my heartache and grief at her loss was soothed by a babe-in-arms. We grew to understand each other, and now I stand at the threshold of her 7th birthday. But it is not without fear. She went through many therapies due to her drug exposure in utero, walked with braced ankles and had to be coerced to talk. After she had ear tubes around two years old we noticed how much quicker she responded, how fast she picked up talking in big sentences. We spent a lot of time together as all the others were now in school, at least 1/2 days. By the time she turned 3 we began a contract with her birthmom to also parent her, as of yet, unborn sister. When that fell through, our hearts faced another break, crying for another loss. She seemed to get it. May 15, 2010. Tears fell so freely, while even she grieved a baby she would never know. A miracle took place that day when our African angel was born. We didn't know it then, but one day we would mark that day as when God's plan took root . This girl, sensitive to praying for a new baby, would pray for a solid year, until just after her 5th birthday, not one - but two!- babies would join us, "for keeps!" It was part of Gods plan, balm for our losses, a reason to understand the infinite grace of a loving Father. Jumping ahead, we are praying again. Our girl has been struggling with health issues, probably since her tonsils and adenoids were removed in 2012. They had a bit of trouble getting the bleeding to stop. Didn't set off many alarms then, but her nose bleeds increased to sometimes, 4 or more a day. They were often unprovoked, and enough to make this mamma concerned. We started last spring back at the ENT that had performed both of her earlier surgeries, to seek advice. We did saline sprays for dryness, allergy pills too. They looked up and around her nostrils, finding nothing of concern. "Some kids just bleed." Hmmm. By fall, she was tired of it, and me too. It became usual to pre-soak bloodied clothing, often a borrowed shirt from school that they had offered when her own had gotten too soiled. We left tables at restaurants to stop the bleeding but it was getting harder. Our pediatrician listened and did some bloodwork. Seems there was a possible clotting disorder. We went to a hematologist. As she bounced off the walls in the hemotologist office, she was the picture of a healthy kiddo. "Let's wait and see." Then the bloody stools began. Not a lot, but it was disconcerting. We were referred to a GI specialist, who poked her tummy. "Where does it hurt?" He asked. "Right here," and she pointed to the exact spot she had for a while. Another, wait and see. The blood increased, the nose bleeds stop, and the pain is still there. Today, she bravely pulled her sleeve up to expose an "awesome" vein, as the technician pulled even more blood from her arm. No tears now, because she has gotten quite good at this medical stuff. I scan the tubes of her blood, hoping, praying, there are answers in there. That the doctor will find what he needs before we go into her endoscopy and colonoscopy this week. It almost seems cruel to tell her she has to go through an invasive procedure this week, her 7th birthday week, but she takes the news like a champ. "I want to feel better mom. I hope they find out what's wrong." She silently looks out the car window,as falling snow and bitter cold impedes our travels home. I want to scream, cry, pound my fists on the dashboard. All the fears of the proceeding months assail all reason. I wonder how to pray. For this child. Prayers for answers, but please God, make them good answers. I plead,silently, so she can't see the raw fear. But she turns toward me and says, "It's gonna be a great birthday mom." Oh yes, I add, "you deserve it, sweety!" And she smiles. Being almost seven is the best ! Dear Father , let's make sure it's just one of many more to come. I don't feel as if my heart could take another loss.

A picture is worth a thousand words

There has been something bugging me for quite a while. I probably will lose friends with this post, but it's not meant to harm you. I hope it's something you will take to heart. I have been a follower of Christ for the majority of my life. That's not bragging, I am stating where I am coming from. I accepted His gift around 17 years old, and although I am imperfect and unfaithful many times over, He never has failed me. His word is truth and I am learning more of it as I get older. A question came up recently on a social website I am a part of regarding Christians and tattoos. Was it wrong for a believer to get a tattoo or would that be something Christians should shy away from? The discussion varied, and a lot of it was religious talk about what a person had been taught as wrong through their church. Was it a law? Do we live under grace? Well, as I continued to mull over all the sides to that conversation, I felt there are many more issues as Christians that we don't want to discuss as right or wrong. We make huge statements about what Jesus thinks about abortion or gay marriage. What about the "little" sins, like lying, stealing, cheating on our taxes (what!!!) or how we treat our neighbors (or the homeless man?). When I discuss these type of issues with my teens, they tend to see more black or white, until it hits something they believe in. One of the areas is how Christian women dress. I am trying to eliminate my teens wearing clothing that draws attention to parts of their bodies, like low cut shirts or high and tight shorts. I want their lives to show modesty, and not have to deal with grown men or teen boys devouring them with their eyes. But it's very hard to back up what I believe in modest dressing with my girls when so many Christians are taking selfie pictures in front of their bathroom mirrors with half of their breasts exposed. Or see the women shaking their booties in their short shorts. I know we live under grace, and God sees our hearts. But please, as Christian women that I want my girls to look up to, before you post a photo, think of what you are wearing and showing off. I know you have a beautiful smile and you are sincerely a great person, but I am tired of seeing flaunted breasts and those coy looks you are posting. I think a little more modest pictures may get your point across better, especially if you are quoting scripture of giving a religious point of view. If you are making a commercial to sell cars, maybe the low top will help. But I wish we could consider our walks with Christ to be much more important than a sales job. I want people to WANT to follow Christ because they see something in my life that appeals to them. I also want to continue to grow and please Christ. End of rant.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Don't eat the apple

Don't eat the apple. I said it too sternly, but she had to know how serious I was. We have been through 9 family members with the flu (two are teenagers that barely leave their rooms, so maybe they won't get it?) and dear hubby and I were really getting tired of all the cleanup. It seems like it has lasted for months, although it's really only been a week. I have been sleepy with one eye open so I can direct the next kid coming through my bedroom doorway directly to the bathroom when their stomach bug bites. Mind you, they have to pass two other bathrooms on the way to mine, but somehow they only feel better if they toss their cookies on me, beside me, or at the bathroom doorway. One kid, so far, has actually made it to the toilet before coming to me. We have Sprite and soda crackers on hand, jello in the fridge, and I have washed my hands so much they are cracked and scaled. I spent 14 hours in bed (only getting up to calm fights, find things in the cupboard that everyone thought we didn't have, and sipping a small amount if weak tea to settle my stomach.). What I keep trying to tell the others they don't want to believe. My advice? Stop eating and drinking and sleep it off. After losing everything that is possible, my twelve year daughter saw a small window of opportunity to scope out the kitchen. She reached for an apple. "Don't eat an apple. It will just come back up. Have a cracker." She stared a me as if I was speaking Egyptian. "I feel better and I am so hungry." I tried to be sympathetic, really. But I insisted an apple was not a good choice. She ate it anyway. A half hour later she came back to the kitchen. "Mom, I was sick again." Even with my warning, do you think she could have at least seen it coming? Couldn't she have walked 10 steps to the left to the bathroom? Nope. Today, she ate jello for breakfast. Still sick? No. She just didn't eat it yesterday because she wanted that apple. If she had eaten the jello yesterday, the apple would have been great for today. After going through 9 sick people in this house, you would think they would listen when I say, "Don't eat the apple!"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Say what?

My six year old daughter was fighting with her 9 year old brother. When I stepped in to break up the screaming, she said, "I have anger issues! I am trying to work on them." Oy. My 11 year old just told me this morning she couldn't shower because she had just gotten dressed. I reminded her she could undress and put the same clothes on after her shower. "I can't," she whined. " My clothes will get wet!" What? I am not really as amazed as I used to be when one of the kids say something odd. With 12 kids I feel like I have heard it all. Like when the 10 year old animal lover comes out of her room while the others are saying, "we have frogs!", its probably safe to assume they do...and they are probably in her room. So many times I hear it, but tune it out, like most moms do. (Or maybe it's just me ? ) "Can we go to McDonalds to get ice cream, mom?" "No sweetie, I don't have money for that treat this week." "Just use your credit card." Yeah, they don't get it. My goal these days is to find the humor in the announcements. "Dad, I need your credit card." Um, no. Dad asks, "why?" "So I can order this on line. You can even put your credit card number in the space and it will save it for the next time we need to buy something," Yeah, some things they say shouldn't be ignored!! "0ops." I heard from the kitchen. I waited, then said "clean it up, please." "It's okay mom. We have another gallon down stairs." "But wasn't that a full gallon of milk?" "Not anymore." Aren't they precious?

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Good. The bad. The ugly.

Although it seems so much longer, it has only been 10 days since we found our (prior to this event) house for sale. Ten very longgggggg days, dear hubby unexpectedly taking his first few days of vacation for the year to dry out and salvage all we can. The good news? He and our oldest son at home has now taken over 12000 pounds of wet and soggy wasted building materials to the dump, and perhaps now the drying out can commence. The bad? We have no funds to start the rebuild, so as soon as we can figure that piece out, we can start the work of rebuilding. This month marked the one year Anniversary of my mothers life in heaven, and at this instance, I am so very glad that her and dad don't have to see the damage. The stress at home could be cut through with a knife if it were visible. Some of the kids are understanding of this, but others are feeling the strain. We repeat: I think I can. I think I can. The ugly part? I am not handling the emotional part well at all. And it's just the beginning!!!!!!! So, how is that for being real? I am forcing myself to go through the motions right now. I KNOW my Father God is faithful and I know He will make a way when it seems there is no way. He is working in ways we can not see. I am standing on the promises that I have believed in. I can still say "God is good, all the time." So having friends bring coffee and prayers, having our oldest daughter tearing out sopping wet Sheetrock and insulation, and getting random calls and texts offering help when we need it is the most sanity I have felt in many days. Enjoying temps here in lower Michigan above the freezing mark and having new insulation around our pipes and crawl space walls in our "new" (yet quite old) house here so we can shower and cook is also wonderful. Knowing we have a plan and many prayers to help us keep going is certainly encouraging us these days. And perspective. My dear nephew by marriage woke to horrible news yesterday, when his sweet mother passed away unexpectedly. A life lost too soon, and a broken hearted family left to cherish her memory. When it comes down to it, life is the only thing that matters. Houses and material goods are just not as important. People matter. The rest is just an inconvenience. The good? We are all here The bad? Life is not always easy The ugly? It's an earthly life But heaven is real. God cares for us more than we can imagine. Doing what's best for eternity is what matters .

A Real life story of two girls

She has a room full of Barbie dolls and books. Her curtains are pink with butterflies and flowers, light enough to brighten her baby blue room when the early morning sun shines through the top floor window. They also block out the darkness of the night and the winter winds that howl around her windows once the sun goes down. She plays for hours in a make believe land, and if I am close enough to listen, her dolls speak kindly to each other, take good care of their pets, while traveling adventures in her neighborhood or cruising around in her toy doll car to more distant lands. She meticulously styles their long blonde hairs with her own hair ties and ribbons, and makes sure their dressed in their Barbie doll best. She has a bunk bed that is reserved for sleepover friends, but she really has only had her cousins over. She started a new school this year and is trying to break into already-formed groups, hoping to establish her own right to be friends. She is ten years old, and although her initial start to life was tenuous, she is growing into a wise, healthy and wonderful young lady, full of compassion with dreams to have a house full of puppies and kittens when she grows up and even a pony in her barn. I encourage her with hugs and kisses as I tell her she can accomplish anything she sets out for, because since her first breath, God has had a beautiful plan for her life. Hours of flight time, many, many miles away, sits another ten year old. While my daughter is fed, cared for and loved so very much, the other little girl has not been. She is a pitiful fraction of what she should be for average size, possibly wearing a toddler sized outfit because of her emmaciated body. She has been kept away from life as much as possible since her illness could have been caused by polio or cerebral palsy as an infant, or maybe malaria stole her years. Slightly crippled, she sat in darkness for hours, days, years. She has felt no value, since her culture determines children like her are not allowed dignity. She is treated less than an animal, as she slowly rots in a dark room, waiting for life giving scraps of food from kind neighbors. She lives only with a mother, as the father most likely disappears at the onset of her sickness which kept her from being "normal." She had no dollies to break the monotony of her days. She had scant and filthy clothing covering her body . She would never have considered dressing a toy to send it on fanciful daydreams. She had hours to ponder if anyone would bring her some food. Such are the daydreams of a little girl, stuck in poverty and seclusion. She has no voice to better her life, but a neighbor finds someone who cared enough to seek a life for this child. She is rescued into the sunshine, slouched and wan in a stroller much too large for her tiny, chronically malnourished frame. She appears to be a shell of a human child behind eyes that are dull and probably lost their sparkle many, many long days before. She was brought to the light by a stranger, given medical care and even more importantly, food. She is covered in filth and rashes, itchy skin conditions that our first world country has little understanding of. She is a mere 19 pound mess, at ten years old. But she is beautiful. Some say she is worth less with her dark eyes and skin, much less than the 10 year old American girl that I call my daughter. The contrast between the two is Heartbreaking. My daughter received medical care when she was born 13 weeks too soon, to a drug abusing mother, costing our state millions of dollars even before she came into our family. My taxes have paid toward her care and I would never regret all it has taken to give her the beautiful, normal life she holds now. But my daughter is not worth more than the dark skinned angel on the other side of the world. Not a penny more. They were born to different mothers on different parts of the world. One has had the extreme benefits of good health care and the love of a family. She has had food,clothing and shelter. She has experienced school and friendships, birthdays and time to grow in the warmth of sunshine. The other has been considered cursed, a "snake child", shoved into the darkness without even basic needs being met. A month or so since her rescue, she is gaining weight and eating rice and oatmeal. She had been denied so very Much, but smiles as if she was just simply waiting to live. Waiting ten long, dark years just to live. It wrings my heart into a tiny, painful place and I can hardly bare the pain she has endured. She needs our prayers, she needs a family who cares. She needs to know she is beautiful and worth whatever it takes to redeem her lost years. She needs to know that she is worth much more than the life of a dog, yet in America we value a dogs life more than this child. Would you deny her the privilege of life? How can we ever say NO because she was born there and not here? Oh that we could stop believing that America is so blessed that we can Stop caring for the least of these.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dealing with the Unexpected - being real

Dear hubby went to our old house on Friday to turn a trickle of water on, preparing for the expected frigid temperatures over the coming days. We had left the furnace on and kept all utilities in place as we were needing to do a few small projects before listing it for sale in the new year. What was totally unexpected was pouring and gushing water in the original part of the house that my grandpa had built. A main water pipe in the second floor had burst and since mold had already begun to grow, it had probably been pouring for many days. Not trickling, but pouring! The standing water in the basement damaged the furnace so now there is also ice on all the windows, too. I can't describe how severe the damage is and you would never believe it unless you could see it. Not only is there Sheetrock soaked and fallen on several floors, but lights are hanging off the basement rafters where the pouring water had damaged everything in its path. The ceiling fans that were so pretty now had drooping blades like wilted flowers. The ceilings on the first floor and basement are damaged beyond repair and the wood floors (75 year old oak floors my grandpa put in, and all the new oak floors we had installed in the last year) are buckled and ruined. We contacted our insurance company immediately. Hubby had shut off the water and contacted a water damage company who assured us they would take care of all the issues involved and would have to take everything off the ceilings and walls. They knew the process. Rest assured. $50,000 in damages on a home we were needing to sell. It's damaged at half the value of the amount we still owe on it. And no where near being able to be listed for sale now. Then, the hammer dropped. Literally. Our expensive insurance policy is worthless for water damage. They do not cover water damage. However, we had always purchased good (and more than ample) insurance that would meet our needs IF a devastation would occur. 17 years of insurance. But when we moved in October, we had to switch our coverage to "vacancy" insurance since we didn't live there anymore. We paid twice the amount of premiums, and apparently received less than we ever had before in coverage. Yes, we should have understood our policy better. No, we should not have trusted an agent who had handled every bit of our insurance needs for the last 17 years to know the policy we had been handed. But why would we doubt his integrity now? He had always taken good care of our insurance needs in years past. But this time it's "oh, I didn't realize they didn't cover damage from water." Really? So, we struggle with tears as we survey the damage to the $30,000 addition we added 2 years ago. We cry as we pull off Sheetrock and ceilings and realize it's JUST A HOUSE. We have a lot of hopes wrapped up in this house. We had dreams and plans that need to be set aside now as we begin the major rebuild. We will work on it with due diligence to make it safe and liveable again. We estimate a year to rebuild and a ton of money for supplies. I tend to ask myself in difficult times, "what can I learn from this?" 1. Don't trust an agent, no matter how much you like him. Read policies and ask questions. 2. Keeping heat on in a vacant building will not keep pipes from freezing in Michigan winters. 3. Be thankful we were not on vacation and came home to all of our household being ruined. The majority of our possessions had already been moved to our new home. 4. Continue gratitude that there was no person injured. 5. Realize bad things do happen to good people. 6. God knows our needs and we can continue to trust him even when our situations seem devastating. So, we continue to move forward. We try to turn the financial burden and stresses involved over to a loving God, and ask that our hearts are kept strong in the tasks ahead. Whew. Not what we expected for the new year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New year musings

2014. Why does that sound so space age? I am looking back at the year, and wondering how to encapsulate it into a blog space. I can't. On the home front, all kids are attending school, and doing wonderful. Oh sure, some are behind their age bracket, some are above. But for each of them, they are progressing and doing wonderful. And that's not sugar coating. But it is the icing on the cake. Most of us are healthy, with just a few upsets like everyone else experiences. We have had colds, the flu, nosebleeds and emergency room visits. There have been tests run at medical centres and more on the horizon. Just typical day to day things. We have moved into a new home, and will be selling our other one. We have learned how to make new friends, start over at new schools, and shopped at new stores. We left the country and came to a big house in the city. It suits us well. Our oldest at home is 17, working full time and doing online school courses towards graduation. He sees himself moving out on his own probably sooner than we think he should, but we encourage his independence. He is growing up. We have two younger ones at home that will probably never be able to live independently. And that's okay too. We work hard, visit with the four grandsons whenever we can, and love opening our home to friends. We are loud, sometimes too rowdy, and drink a lot of coffee. We try to eat sensibly, but don't like to deny ourselves of the good things in life in moderation. We take turns getting out so someone can always be home with the kids. We miss our out of town family very much, and still hope someday they will live closer. Either way, they are doing life their way, and for that, we are thankful. I don't make resolutions, but I plan to worK towards bettering myself. Being more welcoming, more loving, less critical. I plan to seek God more faithfully, follow His will for my life to the best of my ability. I am so far from perfect, but I hope I have learned life's lessons and make my Creator proud of who I am becoming. I know this year has the potential to be life changing for all of us. Seek kindness. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God. Stay tuned for details on just how that plays out in our family. Happy New Year.