Thanks in ALL Circumstances

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is so much to be thankful or rather grateful for…My cup simply overflows…
BUT, stop there. This does not mean that I do not have a (growing) list of health problems, a marriage that has some chapters I would just rather skip over, a house and car that our family is busting out of and never enough hours in the day to get it ‘all’ done. This means that my cup absolutely runneth over because despite all that I lack, Jesus Christ’s grace covers it and THEN even USES my need-my shortcomings and my mess for my own growth. Seriously, He is perfect…He REALLY is!

My prayers have changed dramatically over the years. They use to consist of asking for a lot of help (‘PULEASE fix this, please take care of that, please help with this…’) and Lord knows I needed it (or really wanted it anyway) and yes we SHOULD come to God with our needs (and of course I still do). BUT God has shown me that whether or not I received the answer I wanted, that He has heard and has in fact answered each and every single prayer uttered (cried, blubbered, whatever). AND, (this is the best part) most often the seemingly unanswered prayers were actually the greatest opportunities for growth in knowing (REALLY knowing) our Creator. By walking through ‘the fire’, trusting Christ in the lead, I learned that I can face my greatest fears, cry out in utter desperation and even ask God ‘why?!’ and then in one final act of faith (or perhaps the realization that I have no control over the situation anyway), hand them fully over to Him and rest (yes, actually REST) in knowing “He’s got this” and then survive to tell of it, stronger than ever before.

I don’t know about you but for me it is hard to (truly) seek God when life is going smoothly and I’ve got this on my own. When things are running like a well-oiled machine, I cannot pray with the same passion (fervor) that I do when life is crushing in on me. It’s an amazing perspective (rock bottom looking up) and somewhere along the narrow path I realized that this should always be my posture (in both plenty and in want) and my prayers to follow changed. I still ask for help (yes blubber and what not…I’m not super human) but I no longer fear the trial when faced with it. What a gift!!! Seriously? Priceless.
Had God not gifted me with reasons to fall at His feet each day-to cry out and give them COMPLETELY to Him (to see through the fallacy that a trial is a punishment), I never would have known how beautifully He can bring it all together…in His time…in His perfect way. A blessing not many can understand or are willing to accept as such.
Had I not been given the opportunity to see the depths of God’s beautiful work over my shallow pleas, I would still be losing sleep over an endless list of needs and fears, rather than thanking God for the for the beauty I now KNOW that He is making them into.

Oh so thankful, grateful, undeserving, yet blessed beyond measure.

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Insanity

just released-State issues emergency rules to ease adoption for Alaska Natives (click here to read…)

THIS makes me ill and as an Alaskan Native, ICWA family it infuriates me to no end.
Surely this comes down to one thing…money and power as it is most certainly NOT the best interest of the child.
The first question we should ALL be asking is “Where was the family/tribe during the last year or more?”
It takes almost TWO YEARS to terminate parental rights and during those two years, OCS/DHSS HAS to search for eligible family or tribal members willing to foster or adopt.  After those two years have passed and no family or tribal member has stepped forward, or proven to be eligible, and when parental rights are (finally) terminated THEN and only then is the child available for adoption and in most cases the foster family they have been a part of is eagerly waiting to do so.
So why then is this new ICWA rule so important?  Why are we not only allowing the family/tribe to step in (literally last minute) without questioning their intent after being silent/uninterested in the child for years but why are we now not even requiring any formal declaration of their intent to do so (as we do with EVERY other race/culture)?  Am I the only one who thinks this is insane, racist, discriminatory and ultimately completely inhumane for the child?!

Okay…let me take a breath.  Here’s a little back story for those who are not foster parents and might think this new rule is all rainbows, sunshine and cultural goodness…

ALL foster families, are very much aware that there is little to NO chance of ever adopting an Alaskan Native child (unless they are in their family or SPECIFIC tribe as we have learned).  Never mind the fact that out of the 2,500 children in foster care in Alaska,  1,500 are Alaskan Native and the number of AK Native (ICWA approved) foster homes makes up a tiny fraction of our resource families.  Nope, no need to take that into consideration at all (apparently)…basic supply and demand economics doesn’t seem to matter to our law makers, as long as we can put a culturally sensitive band-aid on the problem, we can sleep well, right?  Who cares about the actual children and how they’re sleeping…

So most foster families hoping to adopt understandably refuse to take Alaskan Native children at all in order to spare the heartache of attachment and removal.  Sadly this has left our group ‘homes’ (using the term ‘homes’ loosely mind you) FULL of almost only Alaskan Native children to be raised in a facility instead of a loving home with staff instead of family.  Hmm…I still don’t see how the ICWA laws are protecting our children or culture…Perhaps those who wrote and continue to expand upon them should sign up to foster?  Crazy thought, I know.

Of course there are those faithful few hoping to adopt who still choose to take these little ones in regardless of the risk, opening their homes and loving them like their own, putting their hearts on the line every hour of every day for years, only to have them taken away (from the only stable, loving family they’ve ever known) and given over to a sub-par family or tribal member, declaring they are (and I quote from page 2, paragraph 3) “protecting the stability and security of Tribes.”  What?  I thought we were protecting the child?

It is cruel for all involved ESPECIALLY the child.
Common sense is checked at the door in the name of ‘cultural sensitivity’ while this is the most inhuman thing a person could do to an already traumatized child.

We are to love regardless of color (or culture) right? So how is this discriminatory rule a ‘GOOD’ thing?

Victory!!!

“To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,That the man of the earth may oppress no more.” God delivered!

As of 10:30AM our little Lulu has been fully justified! The Judge was amazing…Truth was pouring out of every mouth in that court today and he expanded greatly upon the gravity of the matter, continually reinforced his belief that Lulu should remain in our home (adding that to remove her would be ‘detrimental‘ to her well-being)!
THANK YOU, JESUS!!!
Our adoption home study was also just approved and we have already contacted our adoption attorney (no less than one hour after the verdict…This little one has waited long enough)!

The tribe does have plans to appeal as does the Grandma BUT one day at a time and today is nothing but victory!!!

Thank you for your prayers!!!

Justice to the fatherless…

Court could NOT have gone any better today. TRUTH was told and completely undeniable and the tribe has yet to intervene…Exactly what I have been praying for!
As I sat in the court room I had Psalm 10 open on my Bible app to verses 17-18…“LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble
; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.”

And God delivered today ‘…justice to the fatherless and the oppressed’!

A verdict is expected by tomorrow morning and I am continually praying for God’s perfect will to be done in our little one’s life. 

Thank you all for praying alongside us!  It is such a gift to know that strangers (yet brothers and sisters in Christ) are lifting her up-actively being a part of her story without even knowing her.
One sweet day you will know full-well the difference your prayers have made.  God bless you for interceding!!!

1 Year Already

One year ago today, our lives were forever changed by sweet, little 10-week old baby Lulu…calming our fears of ‘what could be’ and showing me how easy it is to love, to mother, a child from another.

Lulu arrived the day after Easter and it still tugs at my heart today when I see photos of our two girls dressed in their best, in celebration of our risen Lord, (knowing Lulu was waiting for us to make memories with her too).

Well THIS year is not going to be like the last!
Currently hanging in my bathroom are THREE beautiful, (matching, but each unique) boutique dresses for ALL of our girls to wear this year as we celebrate together, the hope of a future (in oh so many ways)!  And although we still do not know whether or not Lulu will remain in our home forever, or return to live with her Mom, there is no question that she will hold a piece of our hearts and remain in our prayers for a lifetime.  And I’ve learned…(okay, I am learning), that it is simply not my business to worry of what tomorrow brings, no matter what is at stake.  The battle is HIS!  One day at a time.  That is all that is asked of us.  One day at a time and I am okay with that.

The Lord brought us through today and He’ll bring us through tomorrow! 
Note: If I wasn’t raised a Baptist, I would wave my hands in the air and shout that one out, but alas… 😉

Removed

If only more people were aware of the little ones right here in our own country who just need someone to show them their worth.
Please share.

Looking for a “Joseph” to interpret my dreams…

The last two nights in a row I have had extremely vivid dreams…Dreams that appear to have a clear meaning, though I cannot see the call of action…what does God want from this family???

Here it is…

I recall picking Lulu’s Mom up at a strange apartment-style building that felt like a dorm for recovering addicts.  The feeling in the apartment was unsettling, unwelcoming and ‘off’.  The walls were a minty green and the carpet a darker, dirty green.  The woman were kind of hanging out in the apartment stairway and entry to her door…watching how we interacted and ‘sizing me up’ in a way (very much like the rehab center, she had been living in).
The next thing I remember was that it was very late, Lulu’s Mom was at our home (though our home was not the home we live in now) and I was thinking that I was SO tired and not looking forward to the long drive back to the center.  However, we loaded baby in the car and she took a seat in the very back row of the car (although it was just us 3 driving because the rest of the family had gone to bed).  I remember trying to recall how to get back to the building (as it was new to me, in the dream) and trying to retrace my previous path.  It was absolutely pitch black and there seemed to be no street lights (or even a moon) to light the path.  It was winter and the snow was thick on the roads.  At one point we began to drive up a steep hill just as the road narrowed to what seemed to be less than one way width, birch tree branches nearly scraped the sides of my car and my line of sight was absolutely nonexistent.  I could only see the sides of the car where the headlights reflected off the heavy snow coming down.  The car heaved up and down over huge bumps and I recall driving quite fast through the blackness, bouncing recklessly along, thinking ‘What am I doing?  I can’t even see!’ but I kept on going (plowing blindly through the snow and trees).
Finally nearing the top of the hill, the road abruptly ended with multiple warning signs posted ahead.  There were two homes to my right, both nicely lit with exterior lights (nice, beautiful homes) and to my left was a complete drop off down to the city below with just a few naked birch trees offering a false sense of security between me and the air beneath.    I backed up slowly feeling panic set in, wondering how I was going to get out of this situation.  I managed to pull into what seemed like part of a driveway, though my car was surrounded by birch branches, stopping lop sided in the snow.  I then looked back at the road I had just taken and could see for the first time that what I had crossed was really no road (in the conventional sense) at all.  It was a kind of dirt bridge, just half the width of my car with loose dirt hanging down and large tree roots (acting as part of the road) protruding from the ground’s edge hanging out above the cliff.  No wonder the ride had been so bumpy…how did I manage to cross that and how on earth am I to attempt it again…now knowing what I will be crossing?!”

At that time, a woman and someone else came out of the home to get into their car.  I thought that perhaps I could follow them out safely (seeing how they managed to cross the gap) but then thought that maybe I should attempt it first so that she could help me if needed…neither option offered any comfort.  I rolled down my window and asked the woman how she managed the road.  She seemed to laugh it off and made a comment about it ‘being difficult’ and got into her car.
I then felt hope as my headlights lit what appeared to be a narrow road just ahead of me (down a path or alley way to the side of the home).  However, upon adjusting my eyes to the dark, I could see that the shadows ahead were trees dotting the ‘path’ in such a way that would not allow a car to make it through (no such luck).  I looked back over my shoulder to the ‘bridge’ I had to cross again and noticed that Lulu’s Mom was no longer in the back seat.  I was completely gripped with fear.  The panic left me unable to move but I had no choice but to cross it.  Then I woke up.

My first thought when I woke, was that God was showing me not to fear what lie ahead…even if it seems an impossible path to cross.  I blindly followed by faith the first time and He brought me through the impossible.  How could I doubt that He would not provide again?
This translation seems obvious right?  The problem is that I am unaware of a fear that I am struggling with.

I shared my dream with Ron, confused as to why God would give me this dream.
I did wonder though if it had to do with recent fostering decisions…To back track a bit, just the day before this dream, OCS had called and asked us to take in a 2 year old girl and her 5 day old brother as pre-adoptive placements (meaning that there was a good chance that we could adopt them).  Although our goal is adoption, we were not expecting to adopt more than one and the timing was all wrong (reasons?  Our home is too small for two more little ones, I am waiting for hip surgery, AND we were holding off on fostering till we felt sure that Lulu’s Mom was going to remain on track with her sobriety), BUT I prayed and asked God to show me HIS will…knowing he would provide and the more I prayed the more certain I was that God would cover us if it was His will.  However, when I presented the question to Ron, his initial response was ‘this is not the right time…not now’ (which did not surprise me as he is the proverbial ‘realist’ in the marriage while I am the ‘dreamer’…pun totally intended) although he agreed to inquire upon God’s will before the decision needed to be made the following day.
So the next morning, he called from work to confirm that he truly felt this was not what God was asking of us now (we reviewed all the reasons why this is not right for us now) and I, after much prayer, agreed with him.  So though disappointed, I felt we were making the right decision in not moving forward at this time and was admittedly relieved to not have to take it on amidst all the obstacles facing us at this time.

Connection?  Seems like there could be but we both felt that God was telling us to wait.

So I asked God to show me the meaning of my dream.

The next night I had another dream.  This time, my parents had just adopted a baby girl (about 9 or 10 months old).  We were living in Anchorage (in their home in fact as we were between homes) and for some reason we had the baby with us (this was the day they had just received the baby so it was a bit odd even in the dream).  We were on our way back to their home when we found ourselves delayed in a kind of transit area with people crowded in.  While there, women were commenting on the baby, who in the dream, I was happy for my parents, but I had no personal attachment too.  At one time I told the woman inquiring that although we were foster parents; my parents had adopted her.  With that a young girl, small for her age with pale skin, dark eyes, long black hair pulled back into a pony tail and wearing a teal blue top (I want to say she looked to be about 13 but for some reason I recall thinking she was 17), looked up from a table and said, “Would you take ME in???” I was surprised and replied, “We are only licensed for newborns to two years old…are you in foster care?”  She said that she was and that she had been in many different foster homes.  I asked her when she had come into the system and she said in “about 2007” but that she had recently been put into a group home where she feared she would never leave.  (The look on her face was so hopeful that she might have a future with us…)

I will not leave you as orphans...
I told her to give me her number so that I could talk it over with Ron (who was in another area of the building).  When I went to give her my number on the same paper, I noticed that she had drawn beautiful art (in various styles) all over the paper above her phone number.  The art was breathtaking and she told me she loved to draw.  I then told her that I was a graphic artist and felt a bond…a comradery between us and thought that ‘this might work’ with a teen, (perhaps I could even help her with her future).  I gave her my number and as I woke the lasting thought was “She sought US out”, we were not searching for her (not what I had expected…I literally ‘search’ the northwest adoption page almost daily. I pray for these children wondering if one is meant for us to love, knowing God has called us to love all of his children).

I have to say, there are definite ‘fears’ and (worldly) reasons to fear about taking in an older child (when we have two young ones of our own to consider).  However, if God wanted for us to walk in faith on the matter, we would.  I do not believe that our fears of stepping out of our ‘baby comfort zone’ would hinder us from moving forward IF God showed us that this was His will for this family (as I know that He will provide in ALL things).  We just have not felt that this is what He wanted from us. Till now (?)

So today I am wondering what it all means.  Is it obvious?  What are we to do, if anything (outside of praying for God’s will to be done…whatever it may be).  Thinking back on Joseph in the Bible…God does give some the ability to interpret dreams, to show us what we are overlooking. If you do feel you have a word to share, please do and if not, please just say a prayer for us, that God would open our eyes to His will and prepare us for it, whatever it may be.