Not another Gift less Christmas

At church Sunday our message was on the Christmas Experience.  We all remember what it was like being a little kid and the excitement that Christmas would bring.  The trying to stay good to insure making it on Santa’s Nice list, the waking up early to run to the tree to see what Santa and our parents had blessed us with, the going to grandma’s on Christmas eve, the Christmas cookies and the Christmas lights…..oh the lights.  As the pastor delivered the message my mind drifted back to those wonderful childhood memories.  Precious memories.

The message went on to talk about how we as adults have lost that Christmas Experience.  We get overwhelmed with buying the gifts, while still paying the monthly bills, working overtime to afford said gifts,making all the party plans, the gift exchanges at our children’s schools, and countless other stressful things. Christmas is just not as fun as it use to be. It was definitely much more magical when we were kids.  And that part of the message hit me.

I started thinking about all the children we have had in foster care over the years. I remember the first set of girls we had and the look on the oldest ones face when I told them they were going on vacation with us. They were so excited.  They had never been out of state let alone been on a vacation.  Another set of siblings, also girls, had never had birthday party’s  before living with us.  They were placed with us the night before the oldest girls birthday, so after everyone was tucked safe in their beds I made a late night run to Walmart to buy her gifts.  The next day while we celebrated our soon to be adopted sons birthday’s ( they are both now our forever sons) we also celebrated hers.  I will never forget her smile as she ate that cake.  Definitely worth the midnight run to Walmart. 

However to a child not getting to go on vacation and not having a cake on one’s birthday can’t compare to the heartbreak of having no gifts to open on Christmas morning. I remember a few of our placements talking about just that.  One young boy told us ” We never put up a tree cause Santa don’t visit bad kids”   One told us that “Mom and daddy need their money to buy their drugs” and that “they(the parent) say toys are a waste of money anyways” The sad truth is many children that come into foster care don’t have a normal lifestyle so things like Christmas traditions do not exist.  We have had children at our home on Christmas morning watching as our own children start to open up gift look at us with puzzling eyes (and in many cases joyful tears) as we hand them thier own gifts to open.  We said from the beginning that every child that God placed in our homes would become our child.  Meaning, what we do for our kids we will do for them. If we go on vacation they go, if we go out for ice cream they go, if I buy 10 gifts for our child at Christmas then you better beleive they get 10 gifts also.  While they are with us they are our children, they become a full part of our beautiful chaos.  

I can’t imagine a child waking up Christmas morning and not having gifts to open.   I know it’s not all about the presents, it’s all about Jesus, however to a child a simple gift is one way they know they are loved.  Our first placement came to us just a few weeks before Christmas.  He was so small and he would not have even noticed if he received gifts or not.  His case worker came out a week after bringing him to us and she brought two small gifts to place under our tree.  She said they were from the department.  They try to make sure all the kids in state care have at least a gift or two under the tree for Christmas morning.  She was surprised that little guy had just as many gifts as our own children did under the tree. When she asked me why we had done so I simply replied, “He will be ours while he is here. God has blessed us to allow us to be part of his life and we want him to know he will always be loved here”  She left with tears in her eyes. And said “if only all foster parents were like this. I’ve not had this happen in a long time”   Little man left the week before Christmas.  They found his siblings in another foster home and they were willing to take him in.  All of his gifts went with him along with a piece of my heart.

Our foster/foster to adopt support group has an annual Christmas party for the kids in our region that are in state care or who have been adopted through foster care.  All the kids and their parents/foster parents come together for one wonderfully amazing night.  We have a big dinner complete with turkey, and all the sides and countless desserts.  The food is always tasty and the joyful noise of laugher fills the halls.  I am blessed to have parents who Love playing Santa and Mrs Claus.  The last few years we have been able to have them show up at the dinner.  All the parents bring a small gift (around ten to fifteen dollars) and place it under the Christmas tree.  Santa and Mrs Claus make their entrance while the children and parents sing a song , usually Jingle Bells, and they make their way around the room shaking hands and hugging everyone.  Then Santa finds his way to his seat in front of the tree and Mrs Claus starts passing out the gifts.  The gifts are all labeled so Santa can “easily” tell who gets what gift.  As their name is called one by one they go up and seat on his lap.  Here they get to tell Santa their wish list and if they have been naughty or nice.  Santa gives them their gift and a photo is taken.  For some this is the first time they have ever had their picture taken with Santa. The smiles that fill the room is something I look forward to year after year.   I honestly have the best parents around.  Not only do they make Christmas memorable for my children but they do so for so many more.  

Photos of our kids with Santa and Mrs Claus aka my parents from last year’s Foster/Foster to adopt Support Group Christmas Party 

Here at our home we start Christmas morning off with the reading of the birth of Jesus.  We all gather in the living room as our oldest daughter reads how Christmas came to be straight out of the Bible.  No gifts are opened until we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. After the reading we all shout out “Happy Birthday Jesus”  Then we head over to the tree.  We use this as an opportunity not only to share our love for Christmas but also to share the true reason for the season with those God has saw fit to be with us.  

Happy birthday Jesus
I'm so glad it's Christmas
All the tinsel and lights
And the presents are nice
But the real gift is You

Happy birthday, Jesus
I'm so glad it's Christmas
All the carols and bells
Make the holiday swell
And it's all about You

Happy birthday, Jesus
Jesus I love You

Happy birthday, Jesus
I'm so glad it's Christmas
All the tinsel and lights
And the presents are nice
But the real gift is You

Happy birthday, Jesus
I'm so glad it's Christmas
All the carols and bells
Make the holiday swell
And it's all about You

Happy birthday, Jesus
Jesus I love You
I love You Jesus


The truth of the matter is Christmas is not about the gifts.  It’s all about the love and the people we are with.  It’s about the birth of Jesus and His wonderful story, it’s about laughter and excitement, and about giving.  For children in foster care not getting gifts could be a normal thing. But I beleive there is something magical about Christmas.  For every child that comes through our doors there will always be gifts under the tree. A simple little way to show a child, who may have no hope, that someone loves them, that someone beleive in them, that there is hope in their dark situation. Kids in foster care are just that kids.  They did not ask to be placed in the situation. And unfortunately not all foster care homes are good homes. Not all foster care homes love and protect the kids as they should. Many of the children in state care are in group homes because there are simply no homes available.  So I ask you this….

If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent why not step out in faith this holiday season and become a child’s ultimate gift…a loving home.  If you feel you can’t become a foster parent but still want to help then find a group home and donate a few gifts or volunteer to help cook them dinner to make sure every child has a great Christmas.  

The gifts under our tree may be store bought, some may be homemade, some may be elaborate and yet others may be simple but they are all filled with love.  And that is the greatest gift of all. Give the gift that never runs out, give love this Christmas season.  God will bless you for it.
From our beautiful chaos to yours this holiday season don’t focus on the stressful parts of the season instead focus on what really matters, faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.


What I would give….

Over the years I have completed on the one day everyone should be thankful.  Trying to get our family from one house to another so we could make everyone’s Thanksgiving dinners usually made me grumpy.  As our family has grown with the adoptions of our five Littles I have even opted out of a few dinners because let’s face it not everyone’s house is child proof.  We have five very active, very bouncy, and sometimes very loud little loves. Many still question why we didn’t stop at two or are not sure how to handle wild man while he has a meltdown. So instead of defending our choices and our childern in some cases it was just easier to just let my husband go by himself or take our middle daughter.  She does better without her siblings around likewise they do better without her stirring up trouble among them. Besides  this would give me time to prepare dinner for my parents and if I was lucky my brother and his family.  

The stress of the holiday would always get to me.  Stress over little things like will we have enough turkey, will we need more chairs, will they be mad we didn’t go to their house, and countless other things would run through my mind.  My mom could be heard coming up the walkway fussing about how she left something she needed at the house while my dad helped her carry in bags of food that we would prepare.  He would say hello and quickly find a seat in the living room so he could watch the football games.  My kids would be running through the kitchen sneaking brownies and gripping sodas from the refrigerator.  I would be standing by mom at the stove listening to her tell me about something that had happened at her work or at the lodge all while stirring together her homemade stuffing. My brother and his family would walk in apologizing for running late. I would slap his hand are he would reach for a roll or a piece of turkey and tell him he could wait.  Hugs and kisses from my neice and nephew then of course our annual argument over who is playing better football the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Green Bay Packers.  My house, sorry sweet neice, no question it’s the Packers. Complete chaos kids screaming, and playing, and then screaming again.  My dad and brother snoring in the recliners again.  My husband pulls in just in time, the table is set, the food looks great.  There’s turkey, ham, mashpotatos, salad, rolls, green beans, baked beans, and mamaw Smiths classic noodles. We have pumkin pie, pecan pie, brownies and fudge. There’s so much food why did I ever worry we would not have enough?

This year however was so much different. It was just me and my husband and our five little loves.  He only had today off, not enough time to get to our old home or the farm and back.  So we made the most of what we had.  I made a turkey casserole and added a few sides. I spend the day watching movies with the kiddos and doing laundry while he worked on his truck and searched the Web for parts for said truck. The day was just a day.  There was still screaming and giggles and we watched the Parade but oh what I would give to have heard my smoke alarm go off because my mom burnt the rolls or to have smacked my brothers hand as he tried to take the last brownie, or to see my kids climbing up on my dad’s lap, or to see my oldest son and daughter walk through the door. Being away from them this Thanksgiving was hard on me.  I’m sure it won’t be the last holiday I have to miss.  I did get to talk most of them today which did my heart some good but what I would give to have been complaining about all those little things like I use to.  

From our beautiful chaos to yours if your complaining stop and take a moment to realize how blessed you are to have things to complain about.  We are way to blessed to be stressed.  Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.  

A Chat with my Papaws 


What do a suit, a wooden donkey, and an old ash try all have in common?  To anyone else most likely nothing, to me they hold memories of two of my favorite men God placed in my life….my grandfathers better known as my Papaws.  
When I was younger both of my parents worked so my brother and I spent most of our days after school and over summer break at my dad’s parents house.  We lived in walking distance to my grandparents so if I was not at home you could lay money on it that I was at my grandparents house. We spent our days exploring the outdoors, playing card games such as Canasta and Rummy, helping papaw Luster in his garden, helping  mamaw with supper,and riding in the back of his old pickup truck.  They are some of my fondest memories. My childhood was pretty awesome. 

The summer I turned fourteen my beloved mamaw passed away. I’ve talked about her before, we named our youngest daughter after her.  Up until that point I had never seen my Papaw Luster cry.  That is a imagine that will forever be in my heart.  The day we laid my mamaw to rest my Papaw became sick.  We all assumed it was fatigue from the week he had endured but quickly found out it was cancer.  I can remember my mamaw always saying she could not live without my Papaw.  I would like to think she knew he was sick and and went before him to get things ready. 

That’s where the ash tray and the wooden donkey come in.  He had smoked most of his life, I recall him telling us a story once and I beleive he said he was 14 when he picked up the habit.   Every morning his alarm clock would go off at 7am and by 7:10 he was having his first cigarette.  We even helped him roll his own cigarettes when money was tight. He would put a wrapper in the top of the donkey fill it with Bugler tobacco,close the lid, push down on the donkeys ear and just like that a cigarette would pop out the donkeys butt (looking back that should have been a sign that smoking was bad who wants to smoke anything that comes from a donkeys butt??)  We didn’t think much of it until the doctors told him to quite or the cigarettes would kill him.  He did stop smoking for us, but the damage was already done.  One of his most powerful life lessons to me was to never start the habit, and to this day I have kept my promise to him.   I miss him just as much today as I did in my teen years, more so most days.  He never got to see me finish school, get married, or meet my kids.  I hope somehow I am making him proud today.

Yesterday marked the four year anniversary of my Papaw Wilbur’s passing.  It’s still hard to beleive it’s been four years.  Having a grandparent around in your thirties is a blessing.  As kids we would go up on Saturday nights so we could see all of our cousins.  We would play The Dukes of Hazzard, or go swimming in the river, run wild and free in the fields, or play hide-and-seek around the chicken coops from sun up till sun down.  We would gather at their house one week out of the summer so we all could go to vacation bible school.  As I got older papaw and mamaw moved to town. I spent many days with my cousins walking down to the 7/11 to buy candy bars and Dr Pepper (yes we were THAT cool)  Papaw was at my wedding, and saw my older kids kids grow up to be fine young adults.  He even got to to meet a few of our Littles. As he got older he excepted Jesus into his life and we could spend hours talking about the Bible.  He always wore his Sunday best to church, which is were the suit comes in.   

When we were thinking about becoming foster parents I asked him what he thought.  His words to me “Some people are put on this earth to be doctors or lawyers and some are put here to be moms.  You young lady were meant to be a mom, a great mom”   With his blessing and his promise to accept any and all our foster kids as his great grandkids we started off on a life changing journey.

He loved to hunt and I am thankful my oldest son and dad shared that love with him.  Every hunting season for as long as I can remember the men folk of my family load up and drive up to their hunting camp.  Male bonding at its finest.   I never dreamt four years ago would be papaws last trip.  My son, my dad, my uncle, and papaw were all doing what they loved when out of nowhere papaw had a heart attack/stroke and was gone. The only comfort, besides Jesus, I found was knowing he was doing what he loved with the ones he loved. And I am thankful for that.   

My dad, son, my brother and nephew are at hunting camp right now and I like to think papaw Wilbur and my uncle are in heaven looking over them, laughing with them and still enjoying their guy time as they have always done.

All of this brings me to this morning. I find myself in my closet hugging an old suit and holding an ash tray and and laughing at a wooden donkey.  Tears run down my face as I share my day with these two wonderful men.  I talk with them and tell them how I miss them and tell them about my day. I ask them if I’m doing this parenting thing ok, or if they think I’m in over my head.  I tell them I miss home and miss my family there. I ask them to guide me and to watch over my children. I smile at wonderful memories and laugh as I replay hunting stories from them both. I sigh because I would give anything to have them hug me one more time and hear them say Crissy your doing just fine.   Just another morning chat with my Papaws to make this day of mine just fine. I LOVE OUR TALKS.  I may not have them here with me physically but I know they are always me. And when I surround myself with the few things I have of theirs I feel their presents even stronger. Thank you both for visiting me in my dreams. You always know when to come.
From our beautiful chaos to yours take time to remember those loved ones that have gone ahead of us. Talk with them, laugh with them and share a joyful tear for they are still alive in our hearts. 

Thanksgiving Came Early this Year

Many will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this coming Thursday. If we were still back in our home state we would be rushing around trying to make time to get to all the family dinners, or at least to get some of us to most of them.  This year was different, as I know many of the holidays will be from now on.
There was no Macy’s Day Parade on the television as I prepared the turkey and the ham. There was no football game in the afternoon.  There were no store ads out on the table for my mom, my oldest daughter, and I to look though to see what “deals” we could score early on Black Friday. No, instead it looked as if it was a typical Saturday morning at our new home.   You see, with my husband’s new job he will only have Thursday off for Thanksgiving. So traveling with the five Littles to make it to everyone’s dinners and then back so he can go to work on Friday will not happen.  We decided to have dinner early here with the hopes that family and friends could come down and celebrate with us.   Plans we make don’t always workout the way you want them to however.
We had planned on our oldest son being here, my brother and his kids, our parents, a dear friend and her kids, and our daughter along with her boyfriend. As time got closer one by one they had things come up.  People got sick, the snow and wind where heading their way so they were afraid to travel, and other personal things came up all of which caused our dinner to shrink in size.  I started to realize being out of state now meant starting new traditions. I was upset and felt alone that everyone was cancelling but completely understood life happens and somethings you just can’t help.  As for my family if we were going to have dinner with my husband Saturday was still the day so plans continued.

On Friday our oldest daughter and her boyfriend showed up late in the evening. She decided to come after class instead of waiting till Saturday morning to drive down. She somehow always senses when I need her the most.  Just having her here made my weekend.  We spent a few minutes catching up and then we all called it a night.  Saturday I was awakened my excited little loves who were eager to see thier sissy.  I went downstairs and started preparing our dinner.  We spent to morning making pecan pie, Turkey, ham, mashpotatos, mamaw Smiths classic noodles, and all the fixings for a traditional family Thanksgiving. Sis and her boyfriend jumped right in to help. It was nice having them help. Seeing them together, young and in love, made me happy. I am happy she has found someone to make her smile again.  We cooked and then Lissa led us in prayer as we sat down to eat.  Looking around our table I could not help but be thankful.  The Littles were so happy their sissy was home and the made up with her boyfriend nicely. (Still not sure he knows what to think of our whole crew lol)  
There was no pro football Saturday only college games that we skipped through until my husband found a NASCAR race on the TV.  We enjoyed a relaxing evening at home in front of the fireplace.  Sunday we got up and headed to church where we were blessed with a service on Love.  We headed home and had lunch then my husband surprised me.  He knows I always put up our Christmas tree Thanksgiving day evening, we celebrate one holiday at a time here. And he knew that Sis would not be with us on Thursday.  He asked me to ask her to watch the kids for a few minutes. She agreed and we went into town.  Our Christmas tree that we have had for years did not survive last Christmas.  Our three little boys, love their hearts, thought they could climb it (in their minds it was a tree therefore it could be climbed……it could not)  My husband explained he knew I was bummed that our plans did not workout like we had hoped and he knew something that would cheer me up.  He wanted me to pick out our new Christmas tree.  He had been out a few days earlier and thought about getting one, but wanted me to find the perfect one for our new home.  We looked at many different ones.  Some with white lights, some with multi-colored lights, some round and full, some thin, some really tall and some really some.   We decided on a 7 and a half foot full tree with white lights.   I was happy.  The very idea my husband bought something Christmas related before December 1st is nothing short of a miracle. 

When we got home he done the unthinkable.  He told me we could go ahead and put the tree up.  He said seeing we had already had our Thanksgiving dinner and he knows our tree goes up Thanksgiving evening it was time.  Husband of the year award right there.   Sis got the ornaments ready while we put the tree together.  Then just as in years past our kids (with a little help from their sissy and mommy) decorated the tree.  Their faces were priceless.  The excitement in the house was delightful.  Having our daughter here to help out one more year was priceless. Not going to lie I shed a few happy tears. My heart was full. 
So this year, though different in many ways, was definitely wonderful.  We may not have had the parade on TV, or the football game, or everyone here, but thanks to my husband we where able to keep the tradition of decorating our tree and start a new tradition. We now have a book we all wrote in. The idea is simple all I asked was for everyone to write something they are thankful for.  Years down the road it will be fun to look back at the pages and revisit the things we are thankful for now.   Change is not always easy, more times than not we have to move past the pain and embrace the memories of what was and continue to move forward.  I was not sure how our first Thanksgiving would go being away from everyone.  I am truly thankful for our daughter and my husband for going above and beyond make sure we (especially me) had a great holiday.  I am so thankful for all they do for our family.  Did I miss my family and friends not being here, yes yes I did. I miss them daily.  Family is everything to me. However I know that the world does not revolve around me and that life happens and plans change.  New traditions are God’s way of saying life goes on.  Embrace the new and cherish the memories from years past.  We all have so much to be thankful for don’t waste time being miserable about things that are out of your control.  
From our beautiful chaos to yours embrace your family traditions both old and new.  Be thankful for the time giving to us to share these memories with our loved ones. Change is not always easy but it can be beautiful.


I Can’t Help…Sorry

Have you ever felt led to do something nice for someone?  Someone you don’t know?  Such as pay for someone’s food in a drive thru or pay for a strangers gas?  Have you ever “felt” like you were being told to give but then shrug it off because you know that  “someone else” will do the “right thing” and give? Let me share a little test of faith with you.

A few days ago I took the three youngest Littles to the store.  Nothing out of the ordinary, we were picking things up for this weekends Thanksgiving dinner we have planned.  While we were there looking at which gravy would taste the best a lady walked passed.  She too was looking at the gravy selection.  She shook her head and said ” I believe I can make it cheaper than that”  I laughed and made the comment ” I could make it but no one would eat it”  For those that know my cooking skills you can stop shaking your heads and laughing. Seriously you can stop laughing you know my cooking struggles lol. Anyway…. She then quickly shares her secret receipt on how to make your own gravy.  We start talking and I tell her I’m cooking this weekend for some of my family and how it’s our first holiday away from home. She tells me how she is planning a meal for a local seniors group.  We compare group sizes, mine 10 to 15, hers around 200 elderly people. Her small group feed the seniors every year who have no other family.  My heart sank.  She is in charge of picking up all the food and getting it to the center for preparation and will also be helping cook and serve it.  We chatted a few minutes and talked about the turkeys, she told me to wait till Wednesday to buy one because thats when they go on sale. She said Hi to the kids and off she went. That’s when I felt the first tug on my heart to give her money, but I ignored it.  Surely God knows our current situation and knows “there’s simply no way”  

The kids were very well behaved, for once, in the store while I continued gathering up all the goodies for the weekend.  As we shopped I could not help but think about all the people this woman and her small group were helping.  It brought a smile to my face.  Then our paths crossed again, this time next to the flour.   As I was picking up what I thought I needed she recommended a different one.  She said it made the best homemade biscuits. As we talked again, while I placed her recommend flour in my shopping buggie (shopping chart), I asked how long she had been helping out with the group she is with.  She said more than 15 years.  I asked if they got alot of donations from local stores or churches and she said that during the summer donations come in pretty often, but around the holidays most businesses and some churches donate to the food banks so she has to spend her funding wisely.  We again part ways and I felt the “tug” again.  So I start questioning myself.  I start thinking ” Lord you no we cant do this” “I can’t do this right now” “I am sure someone else will help out” I was having a nice long talk with myself standing by the bottled water.  I will admit I am a suckers for the people who stand by the exit ramps with their signs ” homeless please give”  I have watched the Dateline shows talking about how many of these people are running scams,  but still I give. So as the tug got louder and louder in my head and in my heart. I said Yes Lord, I hear you and went to look for her.  

The kids and I went up and down the aisles looking while I came up with a number I thought would satisfy the internal tug.  She was no where to be found.  I am embarrassed to say I felt relieved. I started thinking to myself, Maybe just thinking I should give was enough to satisfy God?  Me agreeing to look for her and give a little might have been enough to show Him “Yes Lord I will follow You” maybe…

That’s when I made the turn down the canned vegetable aisle, and guess who was standing there looking at the corn?   She looked up and smiled and waved at the kids again, by this time the boys were saying “mom it’s mamaw again”  I told her “This might sound crazy, but I think I’m suppose to give you money for the seniors”  She looked at me strangely. I explained that I felt God was telling me to give and that I could not ignore His Will. She broke down in tears and hugged me. She said that I was her angel God told her about. That she had been praying for a way to afford this year’s dinner, that’s why she was at the store picking up the on sale items and to find out when the other things would be going on sale.  I reach in my purse and found a few dollars and went to pull them out, then I felt God pull on my heart. I looked at the few dollars and put them back, and grabbed my checkbook.  I went to fill it out and as I did a different number than I had first thought popped in my head.  For a split second I thought “God there is simply no way I can’t justify that amount” But just as quickly as that negative thought crossed my mind a calming peace fell on me and I smile and wrote the check. 

I handed it to her and she started crying again. She started praying for me right on the middle of the aisle. The cashiers stared and other customers walked by quickly. I stood there and took it in.  She hugged the kids goodbye and as she walked off I could hear her say “I can’t believe this ,I can’t believe this” 

I checked out and went home.  Feeling good about myself but dealing with the “What if we need that this week” and “I wonder if she will really use it for the seniors or was she running a scam also” nagging going on in my head.  Jump forward to today.   I had ordered a few things for the kids for Christmas, and today for some reason a few of those things I ordered I found out would not happen.  At first I was furious that they were not coming in. I really had my heart set on these particular gifts and the idea my kids would not be getting them made me mad. However both companies agreed to full refunds on my purchases with the promise that the refunds will be in my account tomorrow. When I was adding up the amounts it totaled three times the amount I had given the lady.  God is good.  Was I upset about the gifts, yes. Did the kids really need the gifts, no.  Did the seniors need a hot meal prepared with love on Thanksgiving, yes.  My heart went from mad to glad just like that.   I went to the mailbox after I got off the phone with the second company and found this card.  

Now I don’t know if she will use the money for the dinner or not, but God does. All that matters is that God spoke to me and I listened. Was it easy, no. But I stepped out in faith that He would provide a way.  I do not share this to bring praises my way, But to show that God will always provide for those who step out in faith and follow His Will.  To God be the Glory, we are but simple servants.

Never be afraid to follow the path God lays out for you. It maybe as simple as giving a few dollars to a complete stranger for food or to become foster parents, or missionaries in a foreign country, or to buy toys for a needy child at Christmas.  Whatever God puts on your heart allow yourself to follow Him even if you don’t understand why. You will be blessed.
From our beautiful chaos to yours open your heart and allow God to speak to you. The journeys He will provide are are beautiful. 

Just Hold Me

This past week has been crazy.  Not one but four of our Littles had the stomach bug…ugh.   I have been puked on and pooped on more than I care to admit.  And to make things worse my husband was working 14 hour shifts.  It was a long week for all of us.

I hate when any of my kids are sick.  I try my best to be super mom but with that may sick at once it’s hard to do. I make sure they stay hydrated, make sure they get their medicine on time, read them their favorite stories, you know all the typical mom stuff. Sometimes I wish I had more hands.  By far their favorite (and mine) is the cuddle time.  That time when they climb up on my lap and I kiss their forhead and we just sit and rock. They love it when I sing them songs and hug them tight. In that moment that mommy kiss fixes everything from fevers to boo-boo’s. They feel better just by being in mommy’s arms.  Most of our Littles have out grown me rocking them to sleep, but when they feel bad that’s the first thing they want…and I’m okay with that. 

Over the weekend three of my little loves started feeling better. Baby girl however  is still feeling blah this morning. She’s not running a fever or throwing up anymore (thank goodness) but she just isn’t feeling back to normal yet. With all the kids sick last week my house was in need of some tlc this morning.  After I got two off to school and feed the other three their breakfast I started working on the mess.  Laundry in the washer, dishes in the dishwasher, swept and mopped the floors and then I started working on the kitchen.  Baby girl came walking in.  She looked up at me and started whimpering.  I made her a sippy cup of her favorite juice and handed it to her.  She took one drink and threw it down the hallway and started to cry.  I looked over at her and asked what was wrong, she of course could not answer being that she is only one.  I asked her if she wanted snacks, or if she wanted a bottle instead.  Nothing seemed to make her happy.  She started crying even harder. And in that moment in her eyes I could see what she was saying “Mommy just hold me”  I stopped what I was doing and picked her up, she immediately laid her head down on my shoulder and sighed really loud. We sat in the middle of my kitchen floor for over 30 minutes.  We rocked and I sang to her. She snuggled and and held on tight.  All she needed was for her mom to hold her and all her “feel bads” left.   House work will just have to wait another day.  Baby girl needs her mommy.

As I was holding her in that moment I could not help but think “I’ve been exactly where she is”  There have been  days I just could not find the strength to go one step further. Last week, for example, was one of those times. In the mist of all the sick kids and the husband out of town all I wanted to do was stand there and cry and have someone hold me.  And you know what? I got just that.  Just as baby girl cried out to me, I cried out to Jesus. I told him I was tired, that I was struggling, that I missed been around my family, and that I just needed to be held.  He answered, He always answers.  Just as I held baby girl and told her I was here for her, the peace of Jesus came over me.  I know I am never alone for He is always with me.  As I heard her cries, Jesus hears my cries. He sees my struggles, He knows what I am going through, He knows where my heart is, He knows my weakness and knows my failures and He Loves me anyway. And just as I stopped everything to hold my baby girl, Jesus took time to let me know He was still holding on to me. Thank you Jesus. As I stood there with tears running down my face on the radio the song “Just Breathe” came on and I knew God was telling me to calm down that He has everything under control even if I can’t see it.  

I am thankful for our little sit down in the kitchen floor this morning. It was a good reminder that just as parents hold their kids when they need it most, so does our heavenly Father. We may not be able to crawl upon His lap but His loving arms are always around us. Holding us, protecting us, and letting us know we will be okay for He will always be with us.  How beautifully amazing is that.
From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s important to take time to hold one another.  Some days we just need a hug to let us know we are not alone.

My Son’s Magical  Pajamas 

Most kids have a favorite toy or blanket they use to comfort them when they are upset or hurt. Stuffed animals and soft silky blankets can make all the wrongs of this world right again in the eyes of a child.  For my son it’s not a favorite toy or a blanket, it’s a pair of Disney’s Lightning McQueen pajamas. 

A few months before we moved one of his former preschool teachers, a friend of mine, stopped by my house for a visit with our wild man as she did from time to time.  She came baring gifts: toy trucks, balls, airplanes, shirts, and a few pairs of pajamas that had belonged to her boys but they had decided my boys could use them more.  My boys were in heaven.   

Up until that point wild man  never wore pajamas to bed.  He has many sensory issues and most days clothing and him don’t get along well. His wardrobe is limited very limited.  His teachers and I worked together to find clothes he could tolerate long enough for school. Usually his shoes and socks and even his shirt was off before we walk in the door of our home after school.  Weekends and evenings you could find him running around the house in a pull up only.  That is until he discovered his “magical pajamas” 

When Mrs Julie brought the boys their new treasures the boys were of course excited for the toys, my boys never get excited over clothes.  It wasn’t until later that evening when I was going through the clothes that wild man picked up the Disney Cars pj’s.  He held them up and looked at them and motioned for me to put them on him.  So I did.  He sat there feeling them, smelling them and hugging himself in them. And for the first time ever he went to bed and slept in pajamas.  The next day he came in from school ran to the dirty clothes and grabbed the pajamas out and put them on.  He has worn them everyday since.   As soon as he gets in from school his school clothes come off and his magical oh so comforting pajamas go on. 

The problem with wearing the same pajamas everyday is trying to keep them from wearing out.  Thankfully they were a little big for him when he got them so he has been able to wear then for a while. But a little while back I started to worry.  What happens if he out grows the pajamas?  What happens if they tear while he plays?  What happens if they simply wearout from being washed so often?   So I started looking for an extra pair or two in different sizes so he could have them as he grew.  That’s even I ran into a problem a big problem.  The pajamas had belonged to Mrs Julie’s son when he was small so they are about 8 years old.  They are no longer carried in stores.  So I started buying similar pj’s hoping they would work.  I’ve bought ones made from the same material, ones with Disney Cars characters,and ones that are the same color green……Nothing worked. Bad news for wild man but at least our younger boys are hooked up in the pajama department for years to come.  I don’t know what it is about these pajamas but they are the only ones he will wear.  So after a few months (and a few hundred dollars) of buying new pajamas I took to Facebook to enlisted the help of my friends on the search. Within a few hours I had several people looking for these pajamas.  I even sent an email to Disney asking if they had any that I was not looking for a hand out but that I was willing to pay for them if they had them.  They replied back with ” We are sorry but we no longer make these please follow the link to check out our new design”  I own the new design, it’s not what he needs.   I’ve looked in fabric shops for the material, I have a friend that said she could make him more if we could find it, no luck.  I checked Amazon and Esty no luck. Then I searched Ebay. And there I found….. one pair size 6.  So I bought them. I figure he could grow into them next year.  The real test would be would he wear them?  The day they came in I quickly washed them and took them to his room.  When he came in he ran up saw them and….. put them on!!!!  These are not from Mrs Julie but they are the same in every other way.  Why has he choose this particular pattern? This particular color? Who knows. But it’s what he likes. These pajamas give him a sense of security and comfort I can not explain. I am grateful that he has found that in something. I am grateful Mrs Julie gave them to him. I am thankful Ebay had one pair.  What will we do in a year or two when neither pair fit him? I honestly have no idea.  For now we will just wait and see what happens.  We adjust to what works for him. And for now it’s 8 year old Disney Cars  pajamas.

From our beautiful chaos to yours find and take comfort in the small things: an old shirt, the smell of a favorite perfume, wrap up in a blanket from a dear friend, or cuddle on the couch in your magical pajamas and just take in the joys of life. 

November 30 Things I am Thankful For

1. I am thankful for my children God has blessed me with

2. I am thankful for a hard working, God fearing husband that goes above and beyond to provide for his family

3. I am thankful for my parents who love me as I am and raised me to chase my dreams

4. I am thankful for my in laws who love me as their own

5. I am thankful my God gives us second, third and fourth chances in life

6. I am thankful for my brother and my amazing neice and nephew 

7. I am thankful for foster care, even though the system is broken sometimes

8. I am thankful for all the children who were placed in our home along our foster care to adoption journey. Everyone one of you ( 20 plus placements) have a forever piece of my heart.

9. I am thankful for adoption.  Our family has grown by five through this beautiful gift

10. I am thankful for great friends who understand our beautiful chaos 

11. I am thankful for our new home 

12. I am thankful for the simple but necessary things in life : water, food, shelter

13. I am thankful for my ever so large extended family: uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents 

14. I am thankful for early bedtimes and goodnight stories

15. I am thankful for the gift of today

16. I am thankful for growing up in the 80’s 

17. I am thankful for God’s promises to me 

18. I am thankful for our new church

19. I am thankful for those who accept our son (autism and all)

20. I am thankful for all of things that make us unique 

21. I am thankful for sunshine and rainbows

22. I am thankful for forhead kisses after a long day

23.  I am thankful for giggles and the occasional cry

24. I am thankful for phone calls and unexpected texts

25. I am thankful mountain air and ocean  breezes 

26. I am thankful I call pray whenever and wherever 

27. I am thankful for Sunday afternoon  football (GO PACK GO)

28. I am thankful for the kindness of strangers when I need another hand at the store to open the door

29. I am thankful to be an American 

30. I am thankful truly thankful for the life God has given to me.
What are you thankful for? 

Five Reasons I love Adoption 

November is National adoption month. There are over 650,000 children in foster care on any given day in the United States.  Many have been cleared for adoption and are waiting on their forever home. Loving, caring foster homes/foster to adopt homes are ALWAYS IN NEED.  Please if you have it in your heart open your home to a child in need. It will be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make.Let’s change the world one child at a time.


It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows 

 Last night as I was feeding my baby girl I could not help but think of my oldest daughter when she was younger. As baby girl sat in her high chair discovering her new found favorite food (spaghetti) she was all smiles.  The spaghetti was covering everything from her face to her shirt. She was a hot mess but she was loving it and so was I.  When did I become that mom? 

When my oldest was her age that never would have happened.  She was my first child and I was young (19) and in my mind I had to prove I could be a great mom to all those that judged me.  Her hair was always in place and never would I have let her play with her food making such mess, after all no respectable mother would do that.  If she did happen to get food on her face and hands she was quickly cleaned up and her clothes changed. So why am I not that mom now?

I will tell you why.  Now I know that these moments will pass by all to quickly. It seems like only yesterday I was bringing our oldest home from the hospital when in fact she is now 21 and a senior in college. Life goes by so fast we need to enjoy the little things and that includes dirty spaghetti faces.  No one ever said life would be prefect or that it would not get messy.  It’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows some days are going to be stormy and messy. But that’s OK it’s part of life. I was a good mom then and I’m a good mom now, I’m just different.
One thing that annoys me about social media sites such as Facebook is all the fake illusions.  If you take time to look at other people’s pages you will see that   “life is alway prefect”  Meaning that every photo they post their kids are posed perfectly, their jobs are going great, they love their spouse, their kids love each other more than anything, ect. It’s enough to make some of us feel less than adequate.  I mean most days I’m over here cleaning dirt of of my son’s face, wanting to kill my husband for working over for the third night this week,  cleaning up bathrooms where my sons have “tried” to hit the toilet, dealing with my daughter who wants to argue her point on why the sky should be purple instead of blue,  and breaking up the latest of the sibling fist fights.  My life is far from perfect and seeing others lives so grand did at one time make me feel like a failure.  Don’t get me wrong I have been known to post the ever so sappy “I love my husband more than anything” post but I also show the not so get moments of life.  Like when one of my potty training three year olds told me he “had went number 2” all by himself and I got excited ran to the bathroom only to find his “gift” in my hallway floor.   Why?  Because my life is not perfect.  I don’t want other struggling moms to think they are alone.  Like I use to after reading my timeline.  We are all moms (and dads) trying our best. I don’t understand why we compare our situation with others but we do we always do.  I don’t want others to to see a fake me. What they see if what they get.  Twenty years ago I worried how others seen me and how they thought I was doing as a mom.  Now I don’t care. I know I’m a good mom. And thanks to my older two children I know that I will miss cleaning up dirty faces and messy handprints off the walls all to soon.  Thank you Sie and Bub. Thank you.

I am blessed God gave me a second chance to enjoy all the little things being a mom means.  I am more relaxed with my parenting style this go around (maybe because I am seriously out numbered lol). I love seeing my kids be kids.  Jumping in mud holes, food on their faces, and dirt on their hands. They are enjoying their lives and that makes me happy.  Our family photos do not have us all looking at the camera with big smiles instead my beautiful chaos is well…. chaos.  Kids are running around, someone is always crying, and the only person looking at the camera is normally me.  That to me is prefect.   

At church last Sunday our pastor talked about Faith and how our plan is not always God’s plan.  We may have our life planned out stage by stage but if it’s not part of God’s plan for us it will not workout the way we think it should.  I never planned on being a mom to seven kids but God did.  I never planned on having kids so far apart in age but God did.  I never planned on adopting five little loves or moving out of state but God did.  His plan for us is so much more than we could ever plan for ourselves. We must have faith and follow Him even if it seems life will get a little messy in our eyes.  He does not promise us sunshine everyday but He does promise to carry us through the storms.   

From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s okay if life gets messy from time to time. We are not perfect. Our happiness will come from how we handle all of life’s little messes.