Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nudges Toward Foster Care

It's so hard for me to write about things when I'm in the middle of them. Somehow it seems so much better to wait to share experiences from the wise perspective of hindsight, rather than the muddled viewpoint of the midst.

A number of people have asked me recently, "So are you done with your fostering classes?" "Are you about ready to start fostering?" The answer to those questions is yes and no, respectively.

Getting licensed for foster care is a long process. Completing 36 hours of classes is the first step and, while that sounds like a lot of time to put in, I'm guessing it's one of the easier steps in the process.

The next step after completing classes was to fill out a six page application and send it back to Social Services. Two and a half weeks later, I got a call saying there were a few things we missed and they need to send the application back for us to go back over. Today it arrived in the mail.

So, yes we completed our 36 hours of classes at the end of April; no, we're nowhere near having foster children in our home. We knew going in that it's a long process. In fact, we were told that best case scenario it usually takes at least six months to get licensed.

Honestly, I'm fine with that. I'm still over here processing my feelings and not even sure that this is the path we will end up taking. We said we felt called to make ourselves available, so we'll see what twists and turns God decides to put in our path.

In the mean time, let me share with you a few people who have probably nudged me along in this direction more than I even realize.

Undoubtedly, one of the things that has made an impact are the few people I know in real life who have been involved in fostering or adoption. In Arkansas, it was a youth girl from our church and here in Ohio it's been our Pastor and family. Also, the writers of several blogs I follow have chosen this pathway. I know their writing has influenced my mind.

While I have never met these bloggers in person, both of these ladies shared their "How we met" stories on my blog; that kinda makes me feel like we're friends.

Reading Rosina's stories like this one, can't help but put a little ache in your heart. She also shared an  excellent article that every church should sit down and consider. Rosina was also the one I turned to in the middle of our classes when all the information was overwhelming my brain. Her reply to my email was so encouraging and helpful and helped tremendously in calming my questions and fears.

The most compelling reading I've done on the subject came from Shari. Her series on foster care is eye opening and beautiful. If you want to view the issue from every angle, go read her posts; I cannot recommend them highly enough.

I'm sure there are many more amazing people involved in fostering who could share encouraging stories. A couple weeks ago, a friend shared some podcasts from Revive Our Hearts Ministries. I finally listened to them today and they are so, so good.

Whatever all I do not know yet about foster care -- and I am certain that is a lot -- one thing I do know is that opening our hearts to this need is going to wreck us in every way. In the muddled midst of the process, I am hanging on to the belief that it will be in all the best ways.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Let Vacation Begin!

It's the last day of school.

I'm sitting here, in my quiet house, savoring the moment. I decided last night already that I will enjoy this last morning of quiet by doing nothing.

I'm actually not dreading summer vacation. I have some years, I'll be honest. This year, I'm not. But I know it will be an adjustment to have more people around every day, so I'm enjoying this quiet while I have it.

Honestly though, my emotions are all over the place this morning.


Just look at that man-child. I am so proud of him. He's grown so much in the past year -- like, literally; it's weird to look at an adult sized person that's your son. But I'm not just talking about on the outside. He's also grown so much on the inside. I see evidence of God at work in his life and that is so thrilling to watch.


And this woman-child? She's amazing. And not just because she makes cool macrome and grows cute succulents and takes on and conquers sourdough. I'm convinced the girl can pretty much do anything she sets her mind to. But that's not all that amazes me. I see Jesus in her life too, and it's so sweet to behold.

So, yes. I'm discovering lately the abundant blessing of watching my children grow up and choose truth. There is no way to describe the deep feelings that stirs in a parent's heart. But people! Look at my babies.....

Chris recovered video clips from an old hard drive and watching them last night just about undid me.


Just look at them playing church...


Chris was giving them flips and the giggles and hilarity were high...


And oh, my heart. I think they were only maybe two and four when I taught them the Bible verses of the wise man and foolish man story along with motions. Their sweet, lisping 
voices are just too much.

So, yes. This growing up business undoes me; the joy and pride and blessing of seeing them mature and the bittersweet ache of days forever gone. Not to mention, who were those young parents and what ever happened to them along the way? I mean, I feel like I'm still that person but looking at those old pictures, I realize I must be somebody much different.....

How this all works I cannot tell you. But now I must go pick up my school children. Let vacation begin!

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Dilemma Of A Woman Who Invites Company

So you're living your life, doing your work, accomplishing your tasks, content with your world, and then... you invite company.


Suddenly every nook and cranny is viewed through visitors eyes. As if the scales have magically been removed from your eyes, every room - every wall - every drawer - every cupboard - every closet - appears different than it did only yesterday. Every project you have been meaning to tackle, every half-finished idea you haven't found time for, every dream you wanted to do suddenly becomes a pressing need you should have accomplished yesterday.


"Oh, that horrible, awful trash pile that certainly shouldn't still be here a year after moving! Oh, the weeds I was going to weedeat; oh the brambles I was going to mow! Oh, the messy porch -- and most other people would wash their filthy siding! How do the appliances in my kitchen get so grimy? I've been planning to hang a plant in that corner... I've been wanting those quilts done... All winter those coat hooks were supposed to go up... HOW do I let my bedroom accumulate so many piles?? Why do I let my children pretend the bookshelf is their kitchen/play space/storage area??? Does anybody ever dust this place thoroughly?! When was the last time I washed that mirror? I absolutely refuse to examine the windows; there are limits."

Of course I am exaggerating.

A little.


Clearly I need to have company more often. Or I need to keep the scales off of my eyes on a daily basis. Or I need to leave the scales on and realize that the company will probably be wearing some themselves. Or I need to remember that visitors will be too polite to comment on that trash pile so who cares what they think.......

Or, even better, I could just focus on making the people entering my home feel welcome and cared about, instead of thinking about me and my pride and reputation.


Then again, I could just look at it as a good way to get some things accomplished around here for once. After all, when else do I ever get around to cleaning those corners that my company won't see anyway?

This is what happens when you try to take a Mother's Day photo --
One out of twenty catches everyone looking at the camera!

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Obviously, we had company yesterday. And, obviously, although this is written tongue in cheek, it's also embarrassingly true. I'm curious, do any of the rest of you identify?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Little Of This And That

In case you haven't noticed, I've completely fallen off the blogging wagon lately. I've had dry spells before -- times when I felt uninspired and the words just didn't come. But I don't think I've ever felt quite what I've been feeling lately. For some reason these days I just flat out have no urge to write and, as a child said once, "I can't care."

I realized with a start the other night that June is just around the corner and the thought hadn't even crossed my mind to work on lining up 'How We Met' stories to share on my blog. The discovery gave me a twinge of something very close to guilt, like I had somehow failed all of you people. On the flip side, I felt no creative surge whatsoever to come up with an idea to remedy my slackness. I can't care.

The funny thing is, I'm not sitting over here feeling depressed or despondent. You'd think it must be something like that going on to bring about such long quiet spells and sporadic writing. That's not it. For the most part, my life is busy and happy and fulfilling right now.

I'm really not sure what the deal is except that, like I said earlier, the whole idea of fostering came up and I wasn't ready to share it and that kind of shut me down. Over that same time, as silly as I feel to admit it, I was obsessed with learning how to crochet and ended up injuring my hands to the point where I spent several weeks being really careful what I did in order to let them heal up.

I think maybe it's simply that those two things combined shut me up for awhile and now it's just taking too much effort to get back into the swing of writing. Or something.

So anyway, here I am. This is a feeble attempt at getting back on the blogging wagon. I'm guessing one day my urge to write will reappear but I ain't makin no promises, hunny. We're just gonna hang in there and do our thing and see what happens, I reckon.

As for story time in June? Unless I get some volunteers saying they would just love to write their story for me, I guess we'll skip the "How We Met" stories this year. I'm quite open to volunteers though, so feel free to send me an email at christopherbethany@juno.com! And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can go read last year's introductory post here. You will find links to all the other 'How We Met' stories at the end of that post.

As to what I've been doing? A little of this and a little of that...


I agreed to mark off this quilt for a friend, even though I didn't really know what I was doing. It ended up being a kind of fun challenge, although I'm happy to say it's crossed off my list and if I had it to do over I could certainly do a better job.


Chris tilled up a little garden spot for me the other night, bless his heart. I am so thrilled!


My youngest three hardly know what a garden is and think this little postage stamp deal is huge. I know we tried to squeeze too much into a little space and I know we're probably planting free deer food and I know the soil is probably poor and full of grass and pieces of roots. But walking in that freshly tilled dirt and making rows and dropping seeds satisfies something deep down inside of me.


Charles thought it was all like a giant sandbox and loved chopping away at the dirt with his little hoe. Now the challenge is to keep him in his corner so he doesn't destroy all our nice rows of seeds.

Now that my hands are getting back to normal I'm anxious to do some sewing and to f i n a l l y get the girl's quilts finished.


They've been sitting here waiting on bindings for months now!

And now, I really must run along. Nice chatting with you all again and thanks for hanging with me in my silence. I would be so delighted if some of you would feel led to send me stories......

Friday, April 27, 2018

Two Breakfasts For One

When the rest are at work and school, and there's only Charles and I at home, I am notorious for not eating. I don't enjoy cooking and Charles and I both have enough Gingerich genetics to easily do without or go with very little. It's not really the most healthy habit, because then we end up being starved at odd hours when it's easy to grab some quick snack to tide us over until the next meal.

Recently I've fixed myself two yummy breakfasts that I sort of made up and I got the notion to share them with you this morning. All of you homeschooling mommies or those with a busy row of toddlers or those heroes who get up and fix their school children a big breakfast can feel free to roll your eyes and skip over the bizarre idea of making a breakfast just for mom. Someday you might be odd, like me.

The first one is this....


No measurements here, of course. I just heated butter in my iron skillet, threw in a couple handfuls of frozen hashbrowns, sprinkled them with a few seasonings and fried them a couple minutes. Next I added some spinach leaves to the butter on the side, sauted it a bit, then mixed it into my tators. Last, I cracked two eggs into the empty side of the pan and fried them to taste. Two pieces of toast on the side, and there you have it!

It looked pretty and it tasted delicious too.... Except, that particular day I ended up getting two phone calls before I got a bite, so it was a little on the cold side.

The second one is a twist on creamed eggs over toast...


My mother-in-law is a native Virginian and grew up on cornmeal gravy. I'd never heard of it either, but I love it! It's basically the same idea as brown flour gravy but you use white cornmeal instead of flour. For my personal plate full, I put several tablespoons of vegetable oil in my little pan, added about an eighth cup of white cornmeal (I didn't measure but that's probably close) and salt and pepper to taste. I stirred that together with a fork and browned it a bit, then gradually added milk and whisked and cooked until it was gravy consistency.

I put two pieces of toast on my plate, cut up two leftover hard-boiled eggs I had in the fridge and sprinkled them over the toast, then poured the gravy over top. Yum.

I didn't bother to share either of these creations with Charles; he wouldn't have wanted them anyway! It's kinda fun sometimes to do something a little extra just for oneself.

Got any little extras you like?

        ----------------------------------------------

I wanted to thank all of you for your encouragement after my last post. I got feedback from a number of you, all encouraging and blessing, and it meant so much! I'm finding out that there are lots of people who have been in the ministry of foster care over the years and it's so good to hear their input and stories. Thank you.

I'm sure you'll hear more about this subject from me down the road. Sometime I'll tell you about some people in the foster care trenches that I have greatly admired who probably planted more seeds in my heart than I'll ever know. Also, a few of you thought it would be interesting to hear more about "Module VIII"... I'll keep it in mind.

Many blessings on your weekend!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Things On My Mind

As of today, Chris and I have 27 hours of Foster Care classes under our belts and 9 more hours to go. My brain is cram jammed full of terms like 'Primary Family', 'Safety Script', 'Arousal Relaxation Cycle', 'Triggers', 'Child Protection Team' and that all inclusive answer to almost every question involving foster care -- 'It Depends'.


I've been keeping kind of quiet about this over here, I admit. It's something that I really never saw coming, to be honest. It's not some dream I/we have always nourished; not some idea we've had for years. It had crossed my mind a time or two, just because there's some people we know who do foster care and the county we live in has a desperate need in that area. But a while back when Chris nonchalantly threw out the idea that maybe we should consider foster care, I think my mouth dropped wide open. It just wasn't something I had ever imagined we would consider.

About a month ago, we attended an information night. It turned out that the meeting they had advertised hard for in order to spread awareness brought in exactly two people: Chris and Bethany Eicher.

We sat there with four members of the Guernsey County Social Services team that night and listened to staggering statistics and heartbreaking scenarios. We heard how the number of children coming into care in our county has more than doubled in the past two years due to the drug abuse going on. The same cannot be said of foster care homes available and you could hear the pain in their voices when they shared the difficulty to find placements and the devastation of needing to separate sibling groups and send children to other counties.


We came away from that meeting a bit overwhelmed and with an even lower sense of feeling qualified for the job. But we also came away with a deep impression of "Why not?"

Do we not feel a call to be the hands and feet of Jesus? Is there not a tremendous need right here before our eyes? Is there any reason to not at least make ourselves available to pursuing this idea? Why not?

And so, we enrolled in Pre-Placement Training and have spent the last three Friday nights and all day Saturdays sitting in a conference room, taking in information. To say the least, it has been stretching. Stretching and eye-opening and quite, quite interesting.


Frankly, I think all parents could learn a thing or two from taking Module VIII: Helping The Child Manage Emotions And Behaviors. It's not just foster kiddos who could benefit from some of this training.

So, now you know what's been consuming my mind lately. I still have lots of questions and feelings about all of this. We're still holding this idea loosely, waiting to see what God has for us; how He will choose to lead. Just because we take classes doesn't guarantee we will ever actually foster children but we're open to that; we're making ourselves available. It's a bit of a struggle for me to consciously keep my hand in the open position.

It's felt a little scary and somewhat unnecessary to put it all out there for everyone to see. A bit like the early weeks of a pregnancy, perhaps, when you're not sure if you want to tell people yet or not? So I haven't talked about it -- which, in turn, has seemed to effectively shut off my ability to talk about anything at all! But I'm kinda tired of hiding over here in my corner. I believe in honesty and openness and I sure would welcome any prayers you feel led to pray on our behalf. We don't know exactly what we're doing in all of this but we're pretty confident God does.

Monday, April 9, 2018

'Cats and Lilacs'

It is one of those "Cats and Lilacs" seasons around here. So many things tumbling around in my mind but none of them are things to elaborate on at the moment. The longer I don't push through and just write something, the easier it is to just be quiet. The odd thing about being a person with a need to write is that, while it is easier to just be quiet, the longer I am quiet the more restless and unsettled I feel inside.

And so, since I have no cat pictures and no lilacs blooming, I will show you the pictures that I do have.

We've had sunshine...

And snow....

 And rain...

And flooding...

All in the course of a week.

We also had two birthdays in nearly a week's time --


Jennifer turned 10 on March 30th. Her birthday wish was a trip to the American Girl Doll Store in Columbus. She was thrilled to have her dad promise a day together making her wish come true. At the last minute she opted to invite her sister along. They were two excited little girls!


Charles turned 5 on April 7th.


Remember the Curious George story a while back? I turned it into a book for his birthday. He loved it!


The incredible thing was that after several months of being missing, "Curious George" was found two days before Charles' birthday!


His sisters had great fun decorating his cake. They did a super job.


In other news, there's always new ideas and new projects happening at this house. Jasmine has gotten into playing with sourdough.


She's turned out some tasty muffins...


And some yummy crackers...
and some flops.


Her starter is finally looking healthy enough to try bread!

In spite of snow again this morning, outside the grass is beginning to turn green and on my daily drive to school I see more and more glimpses of tiny, green leaves. Inside, our windowsills are full of tiny seedlings, just waiting for warm enough days so we can plant them in the dirt.


So, there are my 'Cats and Lilacs'. Maybe one of these days the reminder rant or the emotions over another's crisis or the curious ways God leads will turn themselves into blog posts. For now, I really must run along and take care of laundry and get my hungry child some lunch.