This is Not Our Home

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Just recently Mike and I attended more Foster parent training focused on trauma.  The trainer had us all participate in an exercise to help us to better understand the loss that children in care have endured.  She gave us each five blank index cards and instructed the class to write one thing that is important to us on each card.  Some wrote individual names I grouped my people which might have been cheating a bit.  As I began to write God was my first card.  Next I wrote husband, kids, extended family, and then friends.   Not one material thing popped in my head as to what is truly important to me.   So for the next step our trainer asked us to give up one card and lay it upside down on the table in front of us.   As much as I love my friends that was the card I gave up.   Then the next part of this exercise I watched as the trainer went around to each person and took all but one card.   Everyone reacted with “aww you are mean!!”, there were a lot of sighs, gasps, and sad faces.  As I watched this process I just kept saying/praying “Just please don’t take my God!!”.

Guess what card I had left?  Yes it was my God card.  I think I was the only one smiling in the bunch.  The reason for the smile was that it is God who has given me everyone and everything in my life.  Without God the creator my sweet husband, precious children, all family members and friends would not have ever been.  I would not be.  They are His to give and His to take.  Everything on this earth is His.  No matter what I do or how hard I work to earn something.  It is God’s.

This point is driving home even deeper with me as our country and our world continues to be hit by natural disasters and wars.  Right now so many people in the great state of Texas have lost family, livelihoods, and homes.   We do not know from one second to the next what turns our life journey will make.  We are to love and cherish all that has been given in the time that we have been given.  Each moment is a gift of God’s.

So that brings us to this next step in our journey of Foster care.  We now have our home on the market.  As we have stepped into stories and lives of two children so far in our journey the reality of how much of me these kids need has really hit hard.   As I have evaluated the hours I work and our finances God placed the question on my heart.  “What are you really working for?”  I can spend my life making very little impact on this world keeping my own little world maintained.  Or I can work less maintaining my own little world and spend more time making a greater impact in the world we live in.   Life is about people and relationships.  In my fast paced job there is very little forever impact made.  To provide love and safety to a broken young person and their family that can last forever.   People need our time, our love, our encouragement, our hugs, our smiles, our true heart felt concern and help.  People do not have changed lives for the better by me having a nice home.  So we press on looking forward to the great things God is going to do.  We press on as God plans for our life path to cross the life path of others.  I pray God will use us to bring Him glory and point the world to His love and true healing He gives us through Jesus!!

Hebrews 13:14 “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

Sixteen Years of Painful Facial Breakouts and What Finally Brought Healing

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This is not me but exactly what I dealt with for sixteen years.

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Me now no filter and standing by window with revealing day light.   Revealing my nose hairs and imperfect make up application, but there is no rash being revealed!!!  YAY!!!

The purpose of this blog is to share with others what I have learned in life in hopes that maybe at least one person can be helped.   So much of my focus has been on our journey in foster care this past year that I have overlooked a small miracle that has happened.  This miracle took sixteen years of praying and searching for a cure and it is has been in front of me every time I look in the mirror.  Now that I am a “cool up with the times” mom with snap chat I see it on my phone too!!!

When I was pregnant with our oldest 16-17 years ago I started getting painful break outs around my mouth and chin.  It was a painful red rash that would start with tiny little blisters.  I had started with trying cold sore medications as my own first treatment to no avail.  As I went through my pregnancy I mentioned it to my doctors as well as doctors I worked with.  No one could give me any answers and I had one doctor even suggest that maybe I just drool a lot in my sleep.  Never waking up with saliva soaked pillow cases I wrote that off as a possibility quickly.

After I gave birth to our precious bambino the rash continued.  I had hoped that after pregnant hormones chilled out so would the rash.  To my disappointment even a year later it remained a battle.   The battle of the weird face rash!!!   Hydrocortisone made it worse.  No facial cleansers I tried helped.   I would change one product at a time to try to figure out the trigger.  Finally I went to a dermatologist and was diagnosed with Peri-Oral Dermatitis.   This just means “You have a rash around your mouth WOMAN!”  The blanket diagnosis with no reason as to WHY and doxycycline were the only answers.  The antibiotic would clear it up for a while then it would come back maybe a year later and I would take the antibiotic again.   Mind you antibiotics also kill healthy good bacteria and can be more harm than good on many levels.  My thinking was if this is something that can hurt an unborn baby’s bones and teeth what else is it doing?  As a nurse I am thankful for antibiotics, but we have learned the hard way that too much of anything can be very bad.

A few years back due to other health issues I went to a very strict clean eating diet.  Took several supplements to get my body chemistry balanced.  Guess what????  The rash still continued.  It was some better, but even after three years it would still raise its ugly little blisters!!   Mind you the healthy life style has made me so much better in so many ways so I totally give a shout out to healthy eating!!   Woot Woot for vegetables!!!!

So this past summer my sister signed up to sell Mary Kay and my youngest daughter and I went to a facial to support her.   With the prodding of my dear daughter Cora I left that day with a consultant kit thinking well I can get the fifty percent discount for our three girl faces.  So I immediately started to use the basic Timewise Miracle set that came in the kit.  My face was in a full on break out as it had been for at least a year with nothing helping at all anymore.   Within a week the rash was gone.  It has now been eight months and it remains gone and I am still on my first set of skin care because a little of the product goes a very long way.  My skin now has a healthy youthful glow that it has been missing for a very long long time.  I haven’t even moved up to the repair skin set yet that is available and the results have been amazing.  My body was having a chemical  reaction to the products that are sold at all the basic department stores.  What chemical I still can not figure out.  I had even tried a $300 set from someone who sold another skin care home sale company and it had made the rash worse.  Mary Kay does not even have a set that is that expensive.  This company continuously tests their products and makes them better and healthier all the time.  My face is proof and I am proud to be a part of something that can truly help someone.   After years of caking on concealer and being embarrassed of my face I am not ashamed to leave my home without make up to run my kids to school or to go to the store.   Mind you I am not beauty queen or super model.  I will continue to age and wrinkle, but can now do it with a healthy grace.  The wrinkles are from hours of laughter and smiles so as they happen I will sport them proudly. They will be less deep and have a much brighter glow thanks to a wonderful company that has it’s foundation built on the golden rule.

My prayers right now are  for God’s guidance with how to balance life and this rash of doubt that clouds my mind.  How do I put Him first, take care of our family,  continue our ministry of foster care, work full-time as an RN, and continue to ask God what is the most impactful way to spend my time on this earth to glorify you Lord? What is my next step Lord? If you would like to learn more about Mary Kay and try the products I would be thrilled to be your consultant and share what has helped heal me!!   There is nothing I would love more than to give another woman the confidence there is in having a healthy clean and bright face!!   Most of all I want my life to point all to Jesus the healer of my soul.  A healthy face won’t matter one day when I face the end of my life, but having Jesus as the healer of my rash of sin determines where I will spend eternity.  Do you know Jesus?  Even more than sharing the help of Mary Kay I am most greatly thrilled with sharing the hope and healing that only comes through Jesus Christ.

Do you Want a Women’s March With a Guaranteed Impact?

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As I watch all forms of media explode over the women’s march I keep hearing many different reasons for marching.  There doesn’t seem to be one specific right that all women are standing united on. Nor have any women’s rights in America been taken away. It is an assumption of  what might happen that has been  fed by mainstream media.  It is not my place to judge each motivation behind the march only God can see into individuals hearts.  This blog is not being written to agree or disagree with this movement.  I will say there have been some things I have seen with this march that have completely embarrassed me as a women and for my young girls.

I can’t seem to stop thinking about women, the brokenness of this world, what the true needs are,  where true change needs to happen, and the rights we do have as human beings.   As my mind is racing and praying about this issue a true world changing vision of a march has flooded my mind.

Do you want to make a lasting impact?  Do you want to do something truly inspirational? Do you TRULY want to help women?

1.First you could provide encouragement to all the women in your life.  Build them up.  Tell them they are beautiful, special, smart, and strong.

2.If you have any young girls in your life be a part of building their self esteem.  Help them realize that they can work hard and succeed.  They can choose the career they want as long as they work hard.  Nothing is free and we all have to work hard.  When the young girl in your life fails encourage her to pick herself up and try again.  Failure makes us stronger and helps us learn from our mistakes.  By speaking hope into a young girl’s life you may very well prevent the next young mother who chooses her drug addiction over her children.  You may prevent the next domestic violence victim. Help elevate a young girls self esteem and teach her how a woman should be treated.  She can then avoid or escape abusive relationships because she knows she deserves better.

3. Be a mentor and support system to a single mother.  March down to local shelters and build up mothers who have lost everything. Women that just need opportunities to provide for their family.  Provide childcare, education, provide jobs, do laundry, what ever the need is SEE IT and take care of it.

4. March down to children’s homes and DCFS offices and learn what you can do to help in the world of foster care.  You could be the one caring adult to completely alter the course of an abandoned little girl for the good.

5. March to the nursing homes and hold hands with women who have lived long and hard.  Hold the hand of a widowed women.

6. Help women who have been widowed or abandoned of all ages.  Mow their lawns, make home repairs, and again provide child care to help her rest.

7. March to a children’s hospital and friend a mother whose child is dying of cancer or kept on life sustaining machines while waiting for a heart transplant.  Be there for a woman who has lost a child.

8. March to the magazines and medias that make women a sex object.  Who make false images of what beauty is.  The medias telling us we have to be a size zero with big breasts, have round butts, and big puffy lips to be truly beautiful.

9. Provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on to the woman who desperately desires to have a child and hasn’t gotten pregnant.

10.Stop judging each other.  Women are the worst at cutting other women down.   The march might be keeping our mouth closed if we are going to gossip or cut down another.

11.If you don’t want to be a sex object then be careful what you wear, where you go, and what you do.  Respect yourself and you will get much more respect.

We are women of all colors, shapes and sizes.  Women with all kinds of talents. God created women with a specific purpose and plan.  We are amazing nurturers.  We have specific qualities that God gave us with a perfect purpose and plan.   March to a bible and read about very significant women God has used to fulfill his plan you will be amazed.

We are beautiful and valuable.  Lets encourage each other and march where it matters most.  March to the places we can make a lasting difference.  Rights of humanity don’t rest on a president’s shoulders.  Rights of humanity depend on human beings making a difference one life at a time.

 

 

A Sixteen Year Old Daughter Teaching Mom Lessons on Vanity and Pride

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A few months ago my oldest daughter, Michaela, expressed her desire to participate in the St. Baldrick’s  fundraiser.  This is an event where the participants raise money for childhood cancer research then have their hair completely shaved off.   My youngest daughter, Cora, and I looked at each other with looks that were mixed with shock, reservation, and uncertainty.   The thoughts and feelings that flooded over me in that moment are embarrassing.  It is amazing who and what God uses to reveal the nasty parts of our human nature.  My first thoughts were “Oh that hair is so beautiful, she has prom, senior pictures, etc…”  Pure selfish prideful thoughts were my initial response.   How nasty and foolish of me.  During her elementary school days it was mom that encouraged her to donate her hair to “Locks of Love” a couple times.  The last time was in fifth grade.    Going to a “Bob” haircut for fast growing hair was apparently reasonable for my  prideful heart.  We later learned that those wigs were charged for and not donated to children with cancer with that organization so I stopped encouraging the drastic haircuts.   In the mean time her thick beautiful locks have grown and grown.

As parents we often don’t realize the impact our conversations and prayers have on our children.   Our lives have been heavily impacted by children with cancer in the area we live.  A year and about four months ago my life long friend since the fourth grade’s son, Collin,  was diagnosed with bone cancer.   He and his family have been in the brutal battle with cancer since the day he was diagnosed.  They have had blow after blow yet continue on taking one day at a time.   They have to continue living life one treatment, test, and surgery at a time.  There is another family with a three year old daughter, Lexi, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer this last year.  I watched Lexi’s mother grow up from the church youth group into a wonderful wife and mother.   Lexi has now completed her treatments and we pray the cancer stays away.  There are many other families impacted by childhood cancer just within our small area.  So as I have talked about and prayed for Collin and Lexi specifically Michaela was listening.

She felt a passion to do this in honor of Collin and Lexi.  Her selfless reason to give her hair made my initial thoughts and emotions that much more embarrassing.  The next thoughts were “It is just hair, she is beautiful with or without hair, SHE DOES NOT HAVE CANCER ANITA!!!”   Dear God please forgive my pride and vanity!!  God there are so many families impacted by childhood cancer and here I am so very very selfish!!!   She is alive and healthy!  Her hair will grow!  Her body is not poisoned by healthy cell devouring cancer.  Her body is not poisoned by the treatments to fight that atrocious disease.  This painfully shy child at age sixteen is willing to have her head shaved in front of her classmates.  This painfully shy child is willing to walk around with no hair for months as it grows back. This child who has no job is giving what she can, her hair, to help someone else.

This humbled momma continues to learn so much and most often through my own children.

The high school she attends does this fundraiser annually.  This year there were 33 students that participated and they raised over $20,000 toward childhood cancer research.  We can learn so much from the ones that are tomorrows future!!

Our children are listening even when we are so far from perfect ourselves we should watch what we do and say.  We are shaping the future of tomorrow.   Sometimes they shape us, in spite of ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Beaten Down…More Lessons as a Foster Parent

As we continue along this journey our family continues to learn more about ourselves and how to love the broken daily.  There are days that feel like Satan has literally whipped the tar out of us.   Mostly speaking for myself having felt beaten spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Lately the battle has been intense.  The struggles are a strong indicator that we are exactly where God wants us to be.  Satan leaves us alone when what we are doing has no significant impact on the eternity of someone else.  When we are making an impact he throws his best shots at us.

One thing I am learning of myself is that I go from happy to extremely angry in 0.0002 seconds when the safety of others is compromised.  Threats of physical harm, hatred, and disrespect of life really ticks me off. It is sin that I despise.  The sins of hatred that exist in this world and I despise what it stirs within my own self.  How do we remain empathetic and therapeutic with a young little human being who has known nothing but chaos, hatred and abuse?  God continues to reveal more and more the effects of trauma, lack of parenting, and lack of nurturing on a human life to us. Reading all sorts of books still has no comparison to living it.  There is no cut and dry, no black and white, no easy answers.

There is so much I can’t share.  There are multiple conversations about life daily our child and I have.  This morning’s conversation I think it is safe to share.  One thing I have learned is that a traumatized child will turn to material objects as their comfort.  They can control them and break them.  They can keep them and those objects don’t pose a threat to them.  Human beings have failed them.  TV, video and computer games has been the nurture for this child.

I was talking to one of our dogs this morning in my high pitched, make the doggie hyper and happy voice.  Telling the dog how beautiful she is and how much I love her.  Our child piped at me “She is ugly!!  She isn’t happy!!”  My reply was “Well you can have your own opinion, but I think she is beautiful!”  The returning comment was “You think she is ugly!!”  Once again I reply “I think she is beautiful!”  “She is a living creature and all living things are beautiful because God created them.  Everything God has made is beautiful!”  Our little one asked “So do you think the TV is beautiful?”  My response was “No the TV is man made and really to me it is junk!”  He then asks “What about phones?”  My response again “They are junk and really not important either they are a tool to connect with other human beings.”  “What matters most are living beings created by God not things that were made by man.”  He then asked “what about flowers?”  I state “Yes they are living and we have to savor them and enjoy their beauty fast because they don’t live real long.”  Next was “Do you think the laundry basket is beautiful as he pointed to it?”  My reply “Was no not really it is just a tool to help the human beings I have in my life to care for.”

Children that have not been valued and loved unconditionally struggle with being able to value other people.  Children who have not been nurtured in love struggle with loving others.  Their hope has been placed completely in failing and fleeting material things.  This is a rocky journey and I fall some days.  This mom gets tired.  Some days I feel like our family is just in survival mode.  Then God will give us sparks of hope.  God will renew the spirit within me the more I lean on Him and trust Him.   Some days I feel like I am just hanging onto Him by a fingernail with a dark hole beneath me.  Then I  realize that underneath the unknown, the unseen, God’s other hand is right there to catch me and protect us.  God is good and we will continue to learn and press on.

What is Good?

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The longer we wait for our Foster license the more little projects I am finding.  When a woman is pregnant it’s called nesting.  I have no idea what to call it when waiting for the completely unknown.  It’s a whole new kind of nesting.  Each item in this room has been carefully thought out and  inexpensive monetarily speaking.  A lot of time and love has been put into it.  Each item can also be reused or repurposed elsewhere in our home if need be so nothing is lost or wasted.

This little chair has been my latest labor of love.  This chair was literally getting ready to be thrown in a fire and my husband spotted it and saved it.  I’m sure he is now getting an eye for “what  Anita would love to paint and restore”.   I sat looking at this simple little chair this morning after putting a sealing coat on it and thought. “I like it.  It looks good, well at least to me.”   My thoughts then turned to God as he created this amazing earth and all the galaxies.  After each day of creation “He saw that it was good.”

God planned each and every person, plant and animal before He even spoke it all into existence.  My thoughts then turned to how my heavenly Father looks at me.  He planned me before sin entered in.  He knew all the good He could do with my life and my existence.  He had a purpose in creating little me.  He has this much love, thought, and planning for every human being.   Others may not look at what God has created and think it’s any good or like it.  Every human being is not likable and pleasing to all other human beings, but to God…  We were all created for something beautiful.  Of course sin entered and that beauty becomes distant and separated by our sinful nature that opposes all that God created us for.  We search to find our own purpose, meaning, and salvation to no avail.  On our own separate from our Creator we are destined to be used up and thrown into the fire.   God provided a Savior, Jesus, to snatch us from the grasp of that fire.   He looks on us with love and sees His original purpose, plan, and beauty.   As we submit to being saved and give up trying it all on our own we begin to change.  Beauty and restoration happens and God looks upon us and sees that Jesus has covered our entire being.  God can once again look at a human being that is covered by Jesus and say “it is good”.

I am so thankful for God’s love.  As I am so far from perfect He continues to teach me how to love, forgive, and live.

Genesis 1:31a  “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone,  the new is here.”

Life is More than a Vending Machine

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The other day my youngest daughter and I had dashed out of the house without eating any breakfast.  Our place of destination that morning happened to have a vending machine full of junk food that could provide a very short lived satisfaction to hunger pains (with no nutritional value I must add).   My daughter asked if I had change so she could get a snack until we can get some “real food”.  With those big blue eyes softening my heart I of course  caved and told her to go ahead and get some change from my wallet for  a snack.  Her first try to obtain a snack of her choice the tasty treat became entangled in the spiral mechanics of the machine and would not drop below to her reach.    Upon her second try for another choice the snack once again became stuck between the spiral grasp and the glass door of the machine.   After the second try  the only thing being fed was the machine with mom’s change instead of her belly so she decided to call it quits and just count her/our losses.

 

This encounter reminded me so much of the world we live in.  Some give and give yet never seem to get ahead or become successful according to the standards of our world.  There are some who may give a little and get what someone else paid for and lost.  There are some who may just shake life and make demands and the demands are granted without any work or effort.    Sometimes worldly systems work  sufficiently and one can get what they have worked/paid for.  Life can really seem unfair and meaningless.

Life of one who has a relationship with Jesus provides so much more than the give and take of this world we live in.  The things that are so fleeting and superficial, beauty, money, power, fame, attention, etc… start to become just that, superficial, as one’s relationship deepens with Jesus.   A quote caught my attention in Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s Bible Commentary of the New Testament.  “God’s love for His own is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love.”    It seems all anyone wants to hear is what God will give give give.  Our lives are so much more than what we can get.  The world is so focused on “self” and what God and others can do for “me me me”.    God’s plan for us is to perfect us.  Not in a way the world sees perfection.  It is a perfection of faith and love.  The more He perfects our faith the more of His light and love can flow through us.   The stronger our faith the more God can work through us to love others perfectly.  The stronger our faith the less we let ourselves get in God’s way.  Sometimes deepening our faith means we have to go through a lot of pain, suffering, sorrow, and mistakes in this life.  When it comes down to it I would much rather be perfected than to have everything perfect.  When I look back on what may seem a complete mess in my own life I can see God’s perfect plan and how it evolved and refined my faith.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– His good, pleasing and perfect will. “

If I Would Just Remember to Look UP First

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Just a few minutes ago I was out piddling in our yard feeling a bit overwhelmed with a lot of things truthfully.   I sighed as I looked at this tree from the outside trying to see what branches should be trimmed to make mowing around it easier.  As I stepped underneath it I felt like I was in a whole new little world.  As the sun shown down through the green leaves I felt like I was in a beautiful protective green bubble of life.  It was a whole new perspective of this tree I had never known.  I took another picture looking out from the protective green branches.  That view somehow made our large yard less daunting.   As I stepped all the way out from under my green little hut I was looking eye to eye with this beauty.

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Had I not taken the time to step under the protective shield of this tree and look up I am quite sure I would have missed the eye contact made with this beautiful creature.   Yet another reminder from my Heavenly Father God to step into His protective loving arms, look up, and then look out with His perspective at what is before me.

Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”  Psalm 42:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.”

Perfectly Imperfect

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There is a new hobby I have found in rehabbing old furniture.  A hobby that has come from trying to create a fun and whimsical space for the kids on a tight budget.  Just jumping right in seems to be how I do things best and learn as I go.   As the flaws in my painting and in old scars of the furniture started showing a different kind of beauty has developed.

I can’t help but think of how imperfect I am and how life in general is.  It is through these imperfections and scars that God can create our greatest beauty.  Giving Jesus our sin, our scars, and our weaknesses He covers them with His righteousness and turns our flaws into something of beauty.  Each of our lives are unique and have a specific purpose planned by God.  We can remain dark and drab or allow Him to bring out a beauty that we cannot see or create in ourselves.

Philippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

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