Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Robert, Our First Born.

Alrighty, I already see the irony in the fact that I am writing about our first born son, last. I guess if asked about the order I would probably say that it was just a timing thing. I started blogging just about the time that Peter was coming home, so I wrote about him first and the rest of the blogs just kinda fell into place. In reality though, if I were to be perfectly honest, I would have to say that, Robert is probably our most complex child. Which makes him a little harder to write about.

We are so proud of him and we want everyone to know all about him. There are just many different facets to him. As you see from his pictures, he is incredibly handsome. (How's that for a boastful mom:) (I feel like I am safe in boasting about that because our genes had nothing to do with his good looks. So does that make it OK?:) His heart is so good, but we see a struggling in his identity.

When he first came to live with us, he was three and turned four within two months of being in our home. He was a very angry little boy. He had a very limited vocabulary for his age. The one word he did have down was, "NO". The first few days of him being in our home were marked with his fits of anger in which he would repeatedly scream, "No, no, no ,no!" As brand new foster parents, we had no idea what to do. We were given very little information about him, so we did not even know where his anger was coming from. Sometimes his outburst only lasted for a few minutes, sometimes they would go on for an hour our more. Sometimes he would let us hold him through it, sometimes he did not want to be touched.

As the months went by, we struggled to understand him. Brian and I had both come from very stable families so we did not even really understand that there were little ones being raised in homes that were filled with violence, rage and neglect. So, as we struggled to understand these two little boys who had suddenly come into our world, our eyes were opened to a whole different lifestyle that we did not even know existed.

When were preparing to have Robert and Peter come to live with us, we changed our floofy guest room into a little boy's room. Away went the sea foam green and peach colors and out came the primary colors of blues and reds. The newest 101 Dalmatians movie had just come out so we used that pattern throughout the room. We purchased Tonka trucks, baseballs, in-line skates and many other little boy things for them. We were so excited to have these two little ones become a part of our lives. One of the cutest things we purchased were two little red toddler beds. We wanted the beds to be just the right size for the little guys.

They did indeed seem to like their new room. We noticed something very peculiar early on about Robert. Each night we would tuck him into his bed, pray with him, smooch his little forehead and say goodnight. We would later check on him and his little bother and they would be fast asleep in their beds. Yet, the following morning, Robert would be sleeping on the floor, by the foot of his brothers bed. He could not explain why or even when he had gotten there.

Early on in their stay, their social worker encouraged us to get counseling for the boys. Throughout that year, we learned more and more about their circumstances prior to coming to live with us. We learned that, at the very young age, Robert had attempted to protect his bio mom and his brother from extreme violence that was going on in the home. We do not know, to this day, who was the instigator of the violence. We simply know that it existed and occurred on a routine basis. Robert's lying on floor, at the foot of his brothers bed, was a trait he had learned at a very young age. In his mind, it was his way of protecting his little brother. Robert was only three and he already felt like he was the only resource his brother had.

It took him several months of living in our home before he realized that he no longer had to be his brother's protector. We saw his countenance change, as if a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. We saw him start to become a little boy who could play without the burden of being a parent to his brother. We also saw much, not all, but much, of his anger begin to melt away.

Looking back on those years, we wish we had understood so many things much better than we did. His counselor told us that, because he saw so much violence during his, "pre-verbal years", he has a hard time articulating his anger. We wish we knew better, back then, how to help him through that. We see him still struggling with that now, and it breaks our hearts.

His heart is so good. We love him so much and we are so proud of him. Our prayer for him is that he would allow his Heavenly Father to unlock some of those hidden closets of his life and be set free. Free to be all that he was created to be.
Thanks again for your prayers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Josh and the Joy He Brings Us

In 1994, we were neck deep in foster-parenting two very rambunctious, handsome little boys, Robert and Peter. They had already been through a lot in their young lives before coming to live with us. They were, to put it gently, quite a handful. We felt that we were, at that time, a complete little family. After all, there were two of them, and two of us...perfect. The boys had been in our care for almost two years by then and we were just beginning to get the hang of the whole parenting thing.

One early Friday morning, we received a call from the agency that was overseeing our fostering endeavor. They had a little guy who needed a home, "just for the weekend". They had identified a family for this little guy, but they were out of town for the 4th of July holiday weekend.

With that, Joshua, a little roly-poly 5 month old baby boy, bounded into our lives. We had never done the "baby" thing. Robert and Peter had come to us as toddlers, not as babies. "Well", we thought, "it was just for the weekend". "We would survive, and so would he".

That was over thirteen years ago. So much for "just for the weekend". We are so thankful that the Lord chose for him to be a part of our lives. The Lord had a plan for Joshua and for us, way before Josh was ever born. The first five months of his little life were filled with extreme trauma. It breaks my heart thinking of all that he went through, yet God had a plan. We are so grateful that our Heavenly Father is in control of all things. What Satan meant for evil, God has made good.

Josh and his big brother Robert

He has added so much joy to our lives. He is bright, loving and intuitive. We believe that he will be true to his name and someday become a great leader and a "Mighty Warrior", like the Joshua of the Old Testament, for our Lord and Savior.

Joshua has asked me to let everyone know that he now has his own blog page. It can be viewed at believingfollowingleading.blogspot.com. (Yes, in case anyone is wondering, he was much faster at figuring it out than I was:)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another New Chapter in Life

Sarah, Rebecca and Josh

Its funny how when the kids were little, I always knew there would always be a "next phase", in life.  The first smile, then cooing, first teeth, first steps, potty training, even first days of school, etc.. As a young mom, I never really thought much beyond those early "firsts". 

I knew that somewhere, out there, were the "teenage" years. But they seemed forever away. Frankly, I had always prayed the, "rapture before puberty", prayer thinking that maybe we would skip those years. Clearly, that did not happen. Then, I tried forbidding them to turn 13. They ALL disobeyed me and turned 13 anyways. So, we ushered in the teenage years. 

The first two were a little harder, simply because of our learning curve. Now we are into the teenage phase with the second two and it seems to be going a little easier. I think mostly because we know, a little better, what to expect.

Wouldn't you think that would be an end of the new phases? Noooooo! Then comes the, "growing up and moving away", phase. I would tell you about all of that, but that would take forever. I want to fast forward to the, "Mom, I met someone" phase.

One of the things I have not yet mentioned about Peter's homecoming was that exact statement. (Don't worry, he has given me permission to tell this story.) Shortly, after we met Peter at the airport and we had exchanged some small talk and made a rest stop, he said, "Mom, I met someone and I think you are really going to like her". 

Now first, let me explain a little bit about Peter. Throughout junior high and high school, Peter had many friends, many of them girls. He even had several "crushes". Some of them serious enough to talk to us about, but never a serious girl friend. He laughed at his friends that had one girlfriend after another. He told of how several of his friends that had girl friends long enough to spend a bunch of money on them, only to have them dump or be dumped.

So, when he came home saying that, "he had met someone", we knew this could be serious. All the way home from Amarillo, he told us about Rebecca. Of course, as the mom, I had a million questions for him. (No surprise there) The first question was, of course, her walk with the Lord.

"She's a Christian, mom, she loves the Lord very much". He went on to tell us of her generosity, her kindness, of course of her beauty and of her compassion. She sounded wonderful, but you know, as a mom, the proof is in the pudding. 

He talked with her everyday he was here, both on the phone and through IMs. Rebecca's leave was to overlap Peter's by about two days depending on flights. She flew into Killeen, so he knew he would be able to see her for a very short time before he flew to Iraq. He also knew that she would then leave Killeen and head to Colorado, which just happened to take her right through here. 

He asked if we would like to meet her. That was a silly question, of course we did. Peter told his dad that he was a little afraid for her to meet us because, "Mom might ask her too many questions and scare her away". (Who me?:)

All of that long drawn out story to tell you that we did meet Rebecca. She was all that Peter had promised and more. (It is funny, you pray a lifetime for your children's future spouses, and then you meet someone who might possibly be one of them, and your shocked at how well God answered your prayer.) 

We found Rebecca to be polite, sweet, intelligent and yes Peter, very beautiful. More than that, she loves the Lord and desires to walk closely with Him. Rebecca, is serving along side Peter in Iraq. What a great place for them to truly get to know each other. They have to see each other for who they really are, on a daily basis. There is not really an opportunity for "glamorous dating", they both work long hours under stressful conditions. 

We are hoping to get a chance visit with Rebecca a little more as she travels back to Killeen. We are praying for our Lord's protection and guidance over both of their lives. Thank you to all of you who continually lift both of our sons up before the Lord as they go through the many phases in life. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Sweet Sarah

We have always thought of Sarah as "the icing on our cake". After trying, to get pregnant for years, we had decided we were probably not going to have biological children. Which was heart breaking, but the Lord had put "fostering and adoption", on both of our hearts at a young age. We simply thought this was His way of leading us down that path sooner than later.

The day before the completion of our older two son's adoption, much to our delight, we discovered we were pregnant! I just had to giggle at the Lord's timing. We were also fostering another precious baby named Joshua, at the time. Somehow, we knew she was a girl right from the start. While we looked at many girl names, Sarah was the name that seemed right. We had waited a long time for her. At the age of 30 I felt "old" to be pregnant. (oh to be 30 again:) We felt the joy that Sarah and Abraham must have felt at the knowledge that they were finally pregnant. So, the name Sarah was a natural choice.

Sarah has brought much joy and laughter to our lives. She is an eternal optimist. She sees the good in everything and everyone. She is solution driven. In her mind there is not a dilemma that cannot be fixed or a problem that cannot be solved.

She has a very unique sense of humor, which leaves her often misunderstood by her peers. She seems to be OK with that. She marches to the beat of a different drummer. She reminds me of King David, dancing before the Lord.

She delights in each new season. She was ready to decorate for fall in August. If she had her way, she would already have the Christmas lights up. (I think she gets that trait from her Aunt:)

She has a strong mothering instinct. When any of her bothers were in trouble. She was, and still is, quick to rush to their defense. If one of our sons were on time out, she would stand by their side and pat their arm and say, "it's OK". She still does that now, to anyone in need. She is quick to stand by their side in hopes of making everything OK.

We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father that He blessed us with all of our children. We are thankful that He allowed us our one, "home grown", child. We are thankful for Sarah and all the joy that she brings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Man Where a Boy Once Stood

As our time with Peter is nearing the end, we have finally grown accustomed to the "More Grown Up", version of our son. We saw pretty dramatic changes in him right from the start. Things like, he brought US presents, he spoke in sentences that entailed more than one syllable and he wanted to shop at Ross instead of major, name brand, department stores. (Who is this guy and what has he done with our son?:)

All kidding aside, Peter is truly growing up. He seems to have a new outlook on life. He is so grateful for our wonderful country. His patience level for his younger brother and sister has greatly increased. He has become much more frugal. He is quick to express his appreciation. He is just, well, more introspective, I guess is the best way to put it. He seems to be figuring out who he is and where he wants to head in life. While only barely turning nineteen, he seems to have left the "turbulent teen" years behind. He is quick to admit that, while he stills makes mistakes, he is working on walking with the Lord.

We have had many wonderful, "late night", conversations with him. We have laughed often. Our time with him has been sweet. Somewhere over the last year, our boy has become a man. We are so proud of him. We are sad that our time with him is quickly coming to an end.