Foster Care

There is much to be said about Foster Care!  I have witnessed HUGE changes throughout foster care in my lifetime.  Most of these changes are excellent.  Like the motto from our DHS is ‘Love a child, Foster a Family’  The DHS is truly trying to lift up the entire family when they become involved with removing children from their homes.

This task is monumental.  To Foster a Family is to help each member overcome what ever brought DHS to their doorstep.  Change like this does not happen overnight.  While the adults are working through their issues their children are living in a foster home.  This is a home where someone has said YES, my home will meet ALL requirements of DHS.  My home will be a safe haven.  YES, we will go to doctors, dentists, therapists, family visits, set up school schedules and help the schools help these children who are traumatized.

This is a double edged sword from my perception.  The kids were never really seen by doctors or therapists decades ago and so this is an improvement that Foster parents are required to do, it comes at a cost.  While we say take them to their appointments- the foster parent has to make the appointment, make sure the insurance is accepted, get to the appointment, report all findings, and follow up with any necessary follow up.  That alone is a FULL TIME job to do for just one child.

I speak from experience.  My business partner and daughter is a foster parent.  She has always been a hard working person.  There are not many people I would agree to go into business with, but she matches my work ethic, abilities and willingness.  We started our business prior to her becoming a foster parent.  While I support this change in her personal life it has taken a toll on our business.  Her time gets spent on the needs of the children in her care and the requirements of DHS.

We need more foster parents.  There are not enough.  Part of the reason that there are not enough is it is extremely challenging to be a foster parent.  I know most employers can not accept the lack of time you have for your job.  This is a problem that I believe DHS needs to help sort out.  I know that DHS does not have unlimited resources and would find it difficult to get all of the beginning requirements done with all of the placements they have.  But foster families suffer the brunt of this endeavor and many never take another child after the first one.

The Dave Thomas Foundation asks employers to be adoption friendly.  https://www.davethomasfoundation.org/our-programs/adoption-friendly-workplace/   This is a fantastic organization and I would hope you will consider signing up.  My personal belief is that we need a Foster Friendly organization as well.  Where employers that support an employee in being a foster parent offers things like telecommuting, 4 day work weeks, open communication with that employee.

Let’s help DHS fix problems like too much is required at the onset of a new placement, lets help foster parents fulfill requirements and be able to keep their employment, lets find more foster homes and help change our world by ‘Love a child, Foster a Family’

No More Decisions today, please.

Recently our family went through a terrible tragedy.  It landed one of our daughters in the hospital 24/7 caring for her son.  While he received excellent care we are not the type of people who can leave a loved one in the hospital alone while we go take care of food, showering and such.

We’ve had many conversations about those days in the hospital.  I am grateful I was able to be there for her to run the ‘Ronald McDonald’ floor and get a shower in.  I am extremely grateful for all of the help she received from her extended family, church family and friends.

One of ways that could possibly help others in the future is instead of asking “What can I do?” or “What can I bring you to eat?”  During times of crisis the people we are trying to help are so busy making life and death decisions that asking them to make more decisions is crippling.  It is more helpful to say- Can I bring you Mexican food or a Chicken dinner?  A choice is easier to make than a decision.  Instead of “What can i do to help?”  Say I am driving by your house- can I feed the animals? or I will be near the hospital today- can I bring you clean clothes?  Each of us has different relationships with the people going through the crisis- so offer what type of help you are capable of giving, instead of giving them yet another decision to make.

We are so grateful our crisis ended with healing and to witness the power of God always leaves me awestruck.  We serve a mighty God who loves us endlessly that is still moving the mountains in our lives.  Thank you to all of the kind loving people who reached out and helped our daughter and her family.

 

 

Life threw another curve ball

Hello Pen and Paper,

I received a horrible telephone call Monday night.  I knew I had to put things on hold and get there to help one of our children.  I called my husband and said we are leaving when I get home- get ready.

Mental Health issues have been no stranger to this family.  My brother committed suicide in 1991.  He left behind his sweet 5 year old son and the rest of us wishing we had done more, wanting to know what we did wrong.  Should I have done this?  Would that have made a difference.  The words of my nephew still make me cry today, “Why didn’t Daddy knowloved him enough to stay alive?”

Sadly that wasn’t enough when I attempted suicide.  And to those whom I hurt, please know it was never because you didn’t love me ‘enough’.  I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.  The emotional pain was more than I could handle any longer.  I am grateful I did not succeed.  I am happy that I’ve been part of your lives and traveling this journey we call life.  I apologize for hurting you.

#suicideawareness will be my focus for now.  I want to be the change that I so desperately need to see in our world.  I’ve used anti-depressants, I’ve ‘graduated’ from Mental Health counseling and I still struggle with mental health issues.  I have tools to help me and I utilized all of them this last week.  I don’t ever want to see another person I love, like or even hate hurt like our family hurt this last week.

I will not tell their story.  They deserve the respect to tell their story.  I am grateful beyond words that the God we serve brought us a walking, talking living miracle.  Praise God for answering the prayers of our family- biological, church and adopted.

While finding my path to the creation of a Suicide Awareness group- I’ve found many good websites with great information.  I am disappointed because we still don’t have the answers of how to stop this.  You know- if I break my arm it hangs there funny and even if I don’t notice it broken other people do and get me the necessary help.  Then it has a cast and everyone KNOWS she has a broken arm.  But when my mind begins to root into itself finding every despicable thing about me and broadcast it across my personal widescreen monitor- no can see it.  No one can turn it off and say don’t watch that.  No one can hear my inner voice that says “you are in the way- just get out of here” on repeat.  I am the only one that hears my mind saying ‘you aren’t good enough’ over and over again.  So things spiral out of control and downward.

But with the help of Mental Health counselors I’ve found one of my many tools is God and His word.

2 Corinthians 10:5 New International Version (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So when my inner demons begin telling me I am not enough I take that thought captive and I declare that I am enough.  God sent his son to die for me because I was enough.  I refuse to listen to this demon anymore and instead I think on all good things.

Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Sometimes the things I find to think about are around me and not me- but they are good and shut up the demons.

 

If you struggle with mental health and need someone to talk to; I am willing to listen.  I don’t have the answers.  I care.  I love everyone.  I want to help.  I want to be the change that helps you live one more day, one more hour, one more minute until the hurt subsides and you can resume.

This last week hit me so hard that I will be getting the semicolon tattoo.  My daughters asked me if I wanted to do this together a few years ago and I turned them down.  I was ashamed of me and it hurt too much to think that my daughters had ever been suicidal.  It doesn’t hurt any less today- but I am no longer ashamed.  I am an open book.  If something I have experienced will help someone else I want you to know anything and everything about my life.

Dear Heavenly Father,  I’ve seen you move mountains in my life more than once.  I’ve seen you bring change in ways only you were capable of.  Father we need you today to help us stomp out suicide.  Please guide my steps and create through me a safe place for people to turn to in their time of need.  Thank you God for bringing us our miracles last week.  May your Glory shine through our family forever more.  AMEN

Chiari Malformation

One of my daughters was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation earlier this year.  While I will always support my children throughout their lives I didn’t want to believe this diagnosis.  There was part of me that felt if I didn’t claim this diagnosis it would not be true and therefore go away.

It hasn’t gone away.  It appears that she does have this.  In my ignorance I thought it was a ‘new’ disease that soon we would hear how wrong the doctors were about it.  Let’s be honest that happens more than it should!

September is Chiari Malformation awareness month.  When I saw our daughter post that on Facebook I decided it was time for me to become more aware.  It was time I learned about this and if there is anything I can do to help or make life better in anyway.  I am proud to say I have learned a lot.  It is not a ‘new’ disease.  It was first discovered in 1890.  Obviously medicine has improved greatly since then but it does not seem as much improved on curing this malformation.

Our daughter was born prematurely.  2 months early and had to spend nearly that entire 2 months in NICU.  We got her home and had a near ‘SIDS’ death with her 3 days later.  She had to wear an apnea monitor until she was 3 years old because she would stop breathing every time she fell asleep.  She had many respiratory issues throughout her childhood.  I heard so many times -it isn’t presenting like Asthma but it seems to respond to Asthma treatments.  Well now that she is an adult and heard that same statement more than once with hospitalizations for respiratory distress, we are wondering- She never has really responded with easier breathing until the doctors get steroids into her body.  We are wondering if the steroids decrease the swelling of the Chiari Malformation, which then in turns decreases the respiratory distress.

I don’t know if we will get the answers to these questions.  I’ve looked for ways to decrease her respiratory distress since the day she was born.  She spent the first 10 days in an enclosed incubator with oxygen and I could only put a gloved hand inside to touch her. The studies show that most Chiari Malformation is a birth defect.  So here this tiny baby was helpless and all of the tests for the next 3 decades didn’t get to the root of her ailment.

Our daughter is NOT defective!  She is bright, beautiful, Christian, a wife, a mother, lover of animals, business owner, author, aunt, cousin, brainiac and more.  Our daughter is NOT Chiari Malformation.  She might have this but it does not define who she is.  We serve a Big God that handles big problems.  We will follow where God leads and find joy, love, peace, hope and more.

#chiariinformation #chiarisupport #lovemychildren #GodisGood

School Shootings

I wish there was an easy solution to the school shootings that keep happening.  I’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about the many ideas I have read or heard.  There seems some good ideas and yet there isn’t a GREAT idea that stands out.

We will never end bullying.  It is part of human nature.  For as long as time is we have bullied others to move ourselves up that ladder we imagine raises us to a better place in life.  I was bullied in school.  I also bullied in school. I battle with mental health issues that stem from an abusive childhood, but I never blamed the school or my classmates. I did have some classmates I fervently disliked but I never wanted to cause any of them bodily harm.

I do understand being put down and misrepresented by everyone in my life.  I also understand what it feels like to not be heard.  When I attempt to say anything that is important for me to say and the receiver doesn’t listen, it always causes me to stumble in my journey to stay healthy while battling mental illness.  Unlike the mass shooters we have heard about I don’t want to harm others- my issues are that I want to be heard but I don’t feel worthy.

Possibly increasing mental health counselors in schools is one of the tools we can utilize.  I do believe we will have to use many tools to overcome these mass shootings.  I think sadly the doors need to be locked once the bells ring.  While locked doors can be shot open it does send off warnings and gives authorities time.

I think our teachers and administrators are overworked and need their work load lessened.  It used to be (in the good old days)  classes were not allowed to be over 10 students.  Currently if you are a daycare provider you are not allowed to have over 6 or 7 children in your daycare.  Why do we think teachers can do more?  I have no idea how to fund these changes but we must cut down class room sizes so that teachers can be more effective not only in teaching, but in identifying problems that can be treated instead of expelled.

We’ve all known soldiers who return from service and struggle finding work.  Maybe it is time to make a security entrance guarded with veterans.  They have combat training and need work.  I do not see that arming teachers is viable.  While I am not against any teacher who feels he/she is capable of handling firearms.  I have enough relatives who are teachers that would never carry a gun, to recognize that this is not a good option.  I don’t like stereotyping people but honestly most people that go into the teaching profession choose this career because they want to nurture, educate and guide children.  I do not think it is fair or right to ask them to be armed and ready to kill any one of these children.

Nearly 4 decades ago we as a society decided that teachers could not discipline our children.  While I did not agree with that decision back then I recognize that we are not going to change it.  So I ask you – as part of society that does NOT allow teachers to discipline your children- why do you think it is appropriate to ask them to arm themselves and make combat decisions to kill one of those children?

I don’t think there is any ONE solution to our problem.  But maybe if we join our brilliant minds we can find some working solutions so our children are not being gunned down while attending classes.

 

8 years is too long

I had a heart wrenching conversation last week.  I try to be a shoulder for those who need to talk.  I’ve always been at a loss for words and learned years ago most people are wanting to talk things out- not have me offer wisdom, which is great because I am always at a loss of what I should say.

I felt the hurt that he felt in what he told me.  I felt the loss that he felt in his words.  There is no way to heal that hurt or fill that loss.  I know this person always believes the best in every one.  Sometimes he believes blindly which usually is a blessing to those he believes in.

This time it was not a blessing to a little girl.  This time he left one person drowning while he was trying to save another.  I am glad that my words failed me again.  I have spent many nights without rest trying to understand his choice.  I am grateful that he made what I consider the right choice at the end of his eight years, but I am sick to my stomach that it took him eight years to throw a life line to a little girl.

I don’t understand how anyone makes the choice to stand by an adult and leave a little girl drowning with no one to lift her out of her hurt, her loss.  Eight years is too long to leave a child without hope.

I know he has spent many sleepless nights and countless hours in prayer looking for wisdom and guidance on all of his decisions.  He is human and will make mistakes.  His judgment is not always accurate.  I am working hard at finding the path to forgiveness of his mistake.

But I was that little girl that no one helped.  I was the little girl victimized by grown men from the time I was 6 years old.  I was never thrown a life line.  I grew up as a victim and lived as a victim for many years.  I battle Mental Health issues daily from what was done to me.  I pray no one ever goes through what I went through- yet here is another little girl left alone with trusted adults who knew and didn’t help!

Left to drown for 8 years before someone finally did something.  Too little too late.  I pray for her daily.  I pray that God holds her close everyday and never allows anyone to harm her ever again.

World please wake up!  There are evil people doing evil things.  When you know someone is being harmed you MUST stand up for the victim!  Quit standing up for the bully!  Why do you think by helping the bully you help the victim?  You DON’T.  When you help the bully you tell the bully he/she is okay and keep doing what it is that is destroying their victim!  If you help the victim, you tell the victim they are worthy, you tell the bully NO!  I don’t understand why this is so hard for you to understand.

I am going to end this blog with a prayer for all of us.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We need you.  We plead that you help each of us recognize and call out bullies.  Teach us to help victims and strengthen our faith to serve you well.  Teach us to stop helping the bullies and to start helping the victims, daily.

I love you, God.  Please help me be the change I want to see in our world.  Thank you for blessing me with live, love and laughter.

In the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ

AMEN

 

Something Is Wrong

Recently one of my grandchildren was the victim of bullying.  The school handling the situation did a very poor job.  We attempted to offer positive solutions to the principal, the superintendent and the school board.  Our suggestions were stonewalled.  We continued to press for changes and it seems as though the school board is making changes.

I made a few deliveries of packages to some of our local schools.  I commented to my dispatcher that there were a lot of police cars at each school.  My dispatcher stated that the schools in our area had increased the police presence for safety.

This bothers me in many ways.  Many years ago when my youngest daughter was attending high school, there was a resource officer assigned to her school.  I did not think it was a good thing.  I felt it was probably going to end up in our civil rights being violated in multiple ways.

My daughter built a relationship with that resource officer.  He changed her perspective on police, on crime and criminals in numerous ways.  While I did not agree with police at school it ended up being an absolute blessing in our family.  In our modern society we find it difficult to connect with police officers, fire fighters or emt’s.  I do believe that having personal relationships with the professionals that protect and serve us- we have a stronger community as a whole.

I am grateful that we are able to offer police within the schools for protection.  But I feel this is a bad band-aid and not a solution to the problem.  While I have to agree that we have horrible problem with people shooting up schools, students and faculty, why?  Lots of the cases in the media have been traced back to bullying issues that were never taken care of.

This tells me that my grandsons case is not the only one handled poorly.  We as a society are not repairing the damage done by bullies.  I was bullied in school.  I was also a bully.  When I was a bully I was reprimanded for my behavior.  When I was bullied I was given retribution, in the form of my bully had to apologize to me in the principal’s office.   I am not an expert but I recognize that both ends brought the issue to a closure.  I did not contemplate revenge because there was closure for me.

How can we bring our youth closure when they battle these issues?  How do we bring an end to these young people being accosted through social media, texting and so forth?  How do we help our youth learn empathy for one another?

Many people state we learn our behavior from our parents.  Other believe the responsibility belongs to the schools.   I believe it takes a village to raise a child.  We must speak up when we see wrongs being done.   We must correct our children when they are mean to others.  We must also set the example to be kind to others.  And we have to find a way to help our children find closure when they have been accosted.  If we do not we will continue to lose these babies to suicide or to mass shootings.

Our schools are being attacked and we are using the police as a band-aid.  We need to fix the problem of why our schools are being attacked.  Part of the problem is that the administrators treat everyone as a second class citizen.  Children and parents are intentionally excused from conversations as though they are dumb.  When you attempt to file a grievance it is ignored.

While it is not my desire to lay all the blame onto schools- that is where the problems are happening.  It makes sense to me that is where we begin making changes.  I do not think we will ever stop bullying.  We need to learn proactive ways to deal with it.  We need to give our youth closure when they are faced with bullying.  Allow them to receive apologies from their bullies.  Give them the chance to heal from being attacked.

When an adult is found guilty of computer hacking one of the common sentences is no computer privileges ever again.  Is there a way to implement no access to cell phones, social media and such if a youth is found guilty of cyber bullying? While schools need internet it needs to be guarded much better than it is.  Today’s youth are running a muck with the free internet access they have at school.  Yes it needs to be managed at home, too.  But I listen to the youth today and most of them have free access to the internet while at school.

Schools this is for you- you are doing something VERY wrong!  If you were doing things so right, people would not want to attack you!  You would not need police for protection.  I pray this begins a revolution in how to do things right!  Let’s heal these youth.  Let’s strengthen our education system.  Let’s be the change we want to see in the world!