a visit from ned

Jules —  May 8, 2015

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Last weekend the girls and staff at House of Hope were busily making preparations for a special guest visit on Monday. Jessica knew it had something to do with the the Royals, our Kansas City baseball team. The special guest was Royals team manager, Ned Yost! Jessica said Mr. Yost spent several hours at House of Hope and spent a good portion of the time visiting with the girls and engaging them in conversation. He let them pass around his world series ring. Mr. Yost talked with the girls about his faith and shared how his faith influenced his team’s world series season. He is involved with House of Hope’s fundraiser, Stars and Spurs.

I pretty much love anyone who invests in my kid, so I officially LOVE Ned Yost!

Go Royals!

where peaceful waters flow

Jules —  May 4, 2015

I love this song Lydia’s ensemble sang tonight. They scored a one at state!

family visit

Jules —  May 3, 2015

Every fourth week we are able to bring the girls for our Sunday afternoon visit with Jessica. They all look forward to it but Anjelia gets especially excited.

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We enjoyed playing cards. Jessica taught the girls how to play poker. Anjelia is really excited to get some poker chips and practice at home!

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We brought Jessica’s guinea pig, Taylor!

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We enjoyed our family time. The time went quickly and we were sad when it ended. I have to admit it really exhausts me emotionally. We made a small shopping trip at a grocery store on the way home and I nearly had a public meltdown. Don’t you hate that? Please tell me I’m not the only one that has near miss public meltdowns! Ugh! And why does everything come to a head at the checkout?

Anyways, I’m so hopeful that this was the last week of Sunday visits at House of Hope. I’m anticipating that we can pick her up next Sunday and bring her to church. She said she doesn’t know if she can take another Sunday away from her church. I’m looking forward to making her Sunday dinner, too. Sunday passes. . . I can’t wait!

lydia’s junior prom

Jules —  May 2, 2015

Lydia with her date, Aleck.

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Lydia and her long-time friend, CJ

the cost

Jules —  April 27, 2015

When Jessica was two-years-old and away for long visits it was very difficult to see her empty booster seat at the dinner table. I remember well the heartbreak of her empty chair.

I had a number of scriptures written on index cards that I kept in a drawer of miscellaneous paper notes. One day I placed the drawer on my dining room table and was digging through it. Dinner time neared and I cleared the papers and drawer from the table. Our family sat down to eat and I sadly glanced at Jessica’s empty chair. I noticed a paper lying on her booster seat. It was an index card, facing up, with a scripture verse written on it in my handwriting.

I was taken back by the verse that appeared in her seat: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. Luke 14:33 Whoa! God was reminding me that she was ultimately not mine, but His. Our children are good gifts, but they are ultimately on loan. They belong to Him and come what may, I will continue to serve Him. There will come a time for all parents that we no longer have control over our children and any control over our children that we think we have may just be an illusion.

In retrospect, it feels like taking Jessica to House of Hope and leaving her there was giving her back to Him. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and at the same time a great relief. Because we did what He showed us to do, He is doing a great and mighty work in her life. The Cost of Being a Disciple that Jesus speaks about in Luke chapter 14 requires us to be obedient to make really difficult decisions. Sometimes it requires us to let go of those we love the most and to trust Him at a much deeper level than ever before.

The Cost of Being a Disciple requires us to trust His will and ways above our own. The ultimate challenge of trust for me involves my family. As the song Oceans bravely says, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” Selah. . .

moms in prayer

Jules —  April 19, 2015

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Five years ago, I became part of a Moms In Prayer group. We faithfully pray together for our kids and their schools. To hear other moms pray for my kids has been such an incredible source of support and encouragement! I’m very thankful for such Godly friends who have stood in the gap for my family.

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We had the opportunity to go to our state capitol, Jefferson City, for a Moms In Prayer getaway conference. We toured our gorgeous state capitol building and met Friday and Saturday in a conference room inside the building. It was a great privilege, and sharing it with good friends made it even more special.

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In my time of personal prayer and reflection, I felt as though God kept whispering to me, “Be still and know that I am God”. I’m going to practice quieting myself and reflecting on Him more in the days ahead.

happy sweet 16, jessica!

Jules —  April 7, 2015

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Tori and Grant joined us.

Jessica’s birthday party at House of Hope was fun. It was truly a joyful party. We were concerned the week leading up to her birthday. Who wants to celebrate their sixteenth birthday in a group home? She seemed happy and relaxed, as well as the rest of the family. James and I couldn’t stop talking about how peaceful her countenance and demeanor have become.

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Grandma and Grandpa partied with us!

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Easter birthday!

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Playing pin the tale on the donkey! Jessica was hoping I would wear my rainbow muumuu! It’s become a tradition. Plus the other girls didn’t believe her stories about our family!

We visited, opened gifts, celebrated with cake, played pin the tale on the donkey and had a selfie session.

Elaina owns an Ocarina. It’s a made up instrument from the Zelda games. . . because she is nerdy like that! She serenaded Jessica. It was a fun and goofy afternoon. The time went quickly.

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Here’s a video of Elaina’s serenade!

the big picture

Jules —  April 2, 2015

IMG_0012 This week’s family visit at House of Hope.

As we meet with Jessica’s counselor each week, I’ve had a number of AH HA moments. It’s as if we have spent many years of parenting trying to put together a puzzle, but no matter how hard we tried and how much we asked for help, the pieces just didn’t fit. It was confusing, frustrating and very lonely. . . until the last three months. We are beginning to understand the pieces and how they fit together and it’s as though we are beginning to see the picture. Her behaviors are making sense!

Each time I feel light has been shed on her behaviors, I am left feeling sad, even deeply grieved. She has been sick for so long. She has become a master at hiding the trauma (except from us). I suppose that has been a coping mechanism. She told us prior to House of Hope that she is tired of living a lie. She lived her whole life trying to pretend everything was ok. You can only do that for so long before your life crashes around you. I’m thankful she has such an amazing counselor and staff that can help her work through the trauma and related behaviors.

I know this is going to be a long road. It’s going to take time to figure out all the pieces and how they fit together. There is much healing that needs to take place. There is a whole new way of thinking and seeing the world for her to discover.

I have much hope that ultimately the big picture is going to be very beautiful. . .a true work of art.

a promise fulfilled

Jules —  March 23, 2015

promise
[prom-is]

noun
An express assurance on which expectation is to be based.

As we have been on this sixteen-year-long journey with Jessica, the Lord has spoken in profound and amazing ways. (It’s hard to believe her 16th birthday is in a couple of weeks!) He has been reminding me the last few weeks of His presence and promises throughout her life.

On August 13, 2000 we took Jessica before our church to have her dedicated to the Lord. She was a sixteen-month-old happy baby girl. In just eight months she would be taken from us over a seven month period and placed with her birth father. My previous post explains in a little more detail.

The church provided a Certificate of Dedication. We were asked to choose a scripture we wanted printed on the certificate. Jeremiah 29:11-12 was an easy choice. I felt embarrassed and disappointed when I received her certificate. When filling out the form, I accidentally wrote Jeremiah 29:11-14. I thought versus 13 and 14 were awful printed on the certificate and did not make sense. I remember thinking, “they must think I’m crazy!”

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

It wasn’t until years later that I recalled the certificate in light of everything that happened. I remembered my “mistake” and my heart flip-flopped. The Lord knew what was coming for Jessica! On her very Certificate of Dedication to Him, He placed a promise! I believe He fulfilled His promise and brought her back to us physically many years ago when she returned back to our home and our arms.

Yesterday, while at church, my heart flip-flopped again as these verses popped up on the big screen. Jessica is away (in exile) at House of Hope and she will return again to our home and our arms. The promise is being fulfilled once more!

God is doing a new work this time. It’s not just a physical leaving and returning. The spiritual portion is being fulfilled. She is calling out to Him and seeking Him with all her heart! This time the captivity He is bringing her back from is spiritual. He is restoring her heart and mind, setting her free from the trauma and brokenness. The chains are breaking! The walls are coming down! Jessica, the captive, is truly being set free!

I thank God for His promises through His Word. His Word is relevant and personal. What He has promised He will fulfill!

i had a dream. . .

Jules —  March 10, 2015

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I awoke several years ago from no ordinary dream. Have you ever had one of those. . . a dream you knew was important somehow? I’ve held onto it for several years and have understood in part what it meant. Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to understand it in its fullness.

There was a pickup truck in my backyard driving erratically. To my shock and dismay there was a teenage girl in the back hanging onto the top of the cab. I became sick with worry as I watched the driver spin and turn, putting the girl at great risk. Suddenly he hit a tree and the girl went flying and hit the ground. She got up and began stumbling straight towards me as I watched from my sliding glass door. She swayed and stumbled and had a far off, detached, “not there” look in her eyes. I opened the door as she neared and she literally fell into my arms.

I laid her on my kitchen floor and called 911. The paramedics immediately arrived, but this very odd thing happened that puzzled me in the dream and in reality. They said, “Ma’am we cannot treat her in your house, we have to take her outside to help her.” EMS set up the stretcher outside and carried her out and placed her on it and began treating her in the yard. At that, the dream ended and I awoke.

I’ve had a number of “hardest days ever” and most involve my daughter Jessica. For six months I had to watch her leave my home over and over for days at a time. She would glaze over when I told her they were coming to pick her up. Her eyes would change, she would detach and become catatonic. It was a mother’s hell. I couldn’t imagine what was happening to her and there was nothing I could do to stop it, short of kidnapping. The day we packed up all her things and watched the truck back in to load up her bed, toys and clothes was a painful, indescribable loss. Foster care is something I believe in with all my heart, but nothing has caused me as much pain. Jessica had been with us since birth and suddenly at two-and-a-half-years-old she was gone.

Yes we got her back, and now all of this would just be a sad memory, full of relief over the outcome, if it weren’t for the PTSD and attachment problems that this kind of trauma has caused Jessica long term. I’ve had well meaning people ask, “shouldn’t she be over that.” We have learned there is much to early childhood trauma and its effect on brain development.

All of this leads up to my most recent “hardest day ever”, the day we placed Jessica at House of Hope, a Christian group home for troubled teen girls. It felt like all the prayers for Jessica over the years culminated and came to fruition in one day. Like this was it. . . the answer, lots of answers and miracles big and small throughout the day. We prayed our way through every step of the way that day. And now I’m thinking, “Did all of this start the night of that dream? Was that the beginning? And since the dream, was every day and every prayer leading up to the one day when we would find the help she needed. . . the help that we couldn’t give her, the help OUTSIDE our home, just like the dream promised?”

House of Hope does feel like a dream come true. I thank God for leading us there.