Tag Archives: respite care

Time-out!

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 Ozzie and Zoey have gone home. They were dropped off yesterday afternoon. Yesterday evening I was visiting with a friend and she asked me how their visit went. I found myself a bit tongue-tied as I struggled to give her an honest answer. I wasn’t sure what to say. I was so tired and the last two weeks have been such a blur that I honestly couldn’t recall all that had happened or figure out how I felt the visit went. I told her that I needed a good night sleep and then I’d be better able to answer her question. Now as I sit here this morning I am in a better place emotionally and physically to assess our last two weeks. Overall I would say the last two weeks went 100 times better than I anticipated. Overall the kids (ours and our visitors) handled the adjustment of new people better than expected. There were no major disasters, no accidents, nothing said or done that brought regrets. There were no trips to the ER, no calls to 911 (which one of the kiddos has been known to do before) and no house fires. I would say our two weeks were a success! That is not to say there wasn’t a massive amount of active parenting happening every day as I settle disputes, resolved conflicts and played mediator over a multitude of little arguments like whose turn it was to play with a toy. It wasn’t an easy 2 weeks but it was 2 weeks of a lot of growth and teaching opportunities. It was a chance to work some parenting muscles that I haven’t used in a while. 🙂

The biggest change I saw was the increase in the amount of time-outs given on a daily basis. Some of those time-outs were given as a consequence for behaviors…many were self-declared time-outs as the older kids (or a parent) in need of a break would lock themselves in the bathroom for extended amounts of time. A few days ago I had to give Tyler a timeout when he and Ozzie kept picking at each other. Before it escalated into an argument I sent them in separate directions. When Tyler didn’t want to listen he then received a true time-out as I placed him on the bench in my bathroom. Tyler wasn’t happy about having to “time-out” in my bathroom by himself and he let me know that. While he vented I went in search of Ozzie who had gone down to the basement and was playing by himself. When I  asked him if he was ok he said that he was ok and that he just needed some time alone. I think all that togetherness was wearing on everyone so Ozzie put himself in a “time-out.” Once I knew Ozzie was fine I headed back upstairs to let Tyler know his time-out was over. As I approached the bathroom the door quickly slammed shut. Tyler informed me that he was just going to stay in the time-out and to not come in. Knowing that Tyler would never volunteer for a time-out I told him to open the door…

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As I pushed the door open I saw the result of doing a time-out in my bathroom and I remembered why we typically use the fencepost. While I was checking on Ozzie Tyler had gotten into my make-up and had put on my mascara…or had at least tried. It was all over his face.  As I looked down I saw blood dripping from his ankle.  “What happened?” I asked him.  Slowly he revealed the razor that had been hidden behind his back. As I looked him over I discovered that while he sat, bored in my bathroom, he decided to try out my razor and shave his legs…and arms…with a dry razor.  The result was multiple nicks and hairless limbs. I guess I should be grateful he didn’t shave off his eyebrows.

This only happened once this week but it is reflective of the many mini adventures we had at our home over Christmas break.

Was it a good week?  Yes.

Was it a hard week?  Yes.

Was it a boring week?  Definitely not 🙂

Christmas at the Homestead

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Christmas is over. The paper and ribbons are cleaned up. The leftovers are put away. The frantic pace of December has slowed and now is that blessed week of reflection and rest between Christmas and New Years Eve. I love the days that follow Christmas. The house still reflects the beauty of Christmas but in an easier, less showy way. Toys are strewn about as the kids start assembling Lego kits and piles of new books are scattered around the livingroom as the kids lay around in their PJs reading, not bothering to get dressed. Christmas music still plays in the background but the urgency of the season has passed and now we pause to reflect on what a wonderful Christmas it was.

The holiday was holy.

We went into Christmas unsure of how it would go. We knew God was calling us to open our home to two extra children this year but even with the knowledge that this is what we were being called to do I still had a knot of worry in my stomach as we drove out to Ohio to spend Christmas with family. I didn’t know how our visitors would react to our way of celebrating Christmas, what emotions they would be feeling, or what traditions would be missed. As a result I entered Christmas in prayer.

Toby was off work on Christmas eve so we were able to leave for the Homestead a bit earlier than typical. When we arrived at 1:30 there were hugs and greetings and then the kids were off to show Ozzie and Zoey around. They were eager to see the big red barn and meet the animals. Later in the day we began our usual Christmas eve traditions of appetizers for dinner, white elephant gift exchange, and the talent show. Every year the kids put on a show for the grown-ups. Sometimes it is a dance number or a story read but this year they rewrote the classic Christmas Carol and performed it with Uncle Travis playing Scrooge. It was very funny. 🙂

Uncle Travis and Rusty.

Uncle Travis and Rusty.

After our party inside we headed out to the barn to take care of the animals and read the Christmas story.

Ozzie leaning to milk a goat.

Ozzie learning to milk a goat.

George was a big hit with the kids!

George was a big hit with the kids!

Ozzie was thrilled when George gave him a "hug"

Ozzie was thrilled when George gave him a “hug”

Gracie by the barn door

Gracie by the barn door

The reading of the Christmas story

The reading of the Christmas story

After our time in the barn we headed back into the house so that the kids could open their Christmas eve gift…new PJs. Usually we do matching PJs for Christmas morning but this year I tried to find PJs that reflected each child’s likes. After opening their gifts the kids ran to change and model their new clothes.

Christmas eve PJs.

Christmas eve PJs.

By then it was 9:00pm and we tucked the kiddos into bed while Mimi, Pop pop and Uncle Travis left for 10:00 mass. The three girls slept down in the family room and the three boys slept on the floor of our room. Toby, G.G. and I visited in the livingroom, waiting for the kids to fall asleep so that the Christmas magic could begin.

In the morning the kids were up around 6:00 am eager to see if Santa came. Toby did a valiant job of keeping the kids contained in our room until the adults had the turkey in the oven and cameras ready.

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Tyler and Ozzie ready to come down the stairs.

Before the kids entered...

Before the kids entered…

After the kids entered...

After the kids entered…

We had a wonderful morning opening gifts, checking out the stockings and spending time as a family. After all the gifts were opened and the papers and bows picked up, the ladies headed to the kitchen to put casseroles in the oven and the kids began playing with their new toys. Zoey was thrilled with her baby doll and tea set and decided to have a tea party, Ozzie and Rusty began constructing their new Lego sets, Tyler headed out the barn to play with his football and the girls snuggled up in the livingroom to read the new books they received.

Tyler playing outside on the swing.

Tyler playing outside on the swing.

Ozzie with one of his completed lego sets.

Ozzie with one of his completed Lego sets.

Around 3:00 it was finally time for dinner. I always find it amazing the amount of preparation and work that goes into a single meal. There is always a short amount of time in the hour before it is on the table when it feels like it isn’t going to come together but it always does and it is always delicious!

After dinner we began the laborious task of finding and collecting all our clothes, new gifts, toys and children before we began our 2 1/2 hour drive home. We said our good-byes and thanked everyone for another beautifully magical Christmas and for opening their Christmas and home to two extra kids this year. As we drove home the kids all declared this Christmas the best Christmas ever…and it truly was!

Thank you Lord!

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Days before Christmas

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Here we sit on the eve of Christmas Eve and Ozzie and Zoey have come to spend the next two weeks with us. Everyone is excited and eager to leave for the Homestead tomorrow morning so bedtime was a long, drawn out affair. I’m sure the next 48 hours are going to be wild, noisy and magical for everyone involved. Ozzie is a bit worried that Santa won’t be able to find him at Mimi and Pop pop’s house. I remember Tyler having the same concerns last year. We assured him that Santa will have no problem finding him. This year’s Christmas is going to be a bit different with Ozzie and Zoey joining us, but in a lot of ways I think this will be one of the most meaningful for our family. Our kids knew things would be a bit different this year and I could see them  struggling with mixed emotions…wanting to do what they thought was the right thing to do but also not wanting to give up the Christmas traditions they loved. When we agreed to open our home to these two children every weekend in December we told the kids that we would make every effort to continue with those holiday traditions/activities that were most important them. We were able to include the visiting kids in most of our plans. This past weekend, however, we didn’t have Ozzie and Zoey stay with us since they were coming on Monday to spend 2 weeks with us so we took  advantage of it just being our little family at home and made some special memories.

On Friday afternoon we decorated gingerbread houses. This is a favorite activity of the kids every December. This year we did mini houses rather than the full-scale ones we typically decorate.

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Can you guess which house belongs to which child?

#1

#1

#2

#2

#3

#3

#4

#4

Answer: #1: Rusty, #2: Gracie, #3: Molly, #4: Tyler

Friday night the girls were invited to a friend’s home for a holiday sleepover. I left the boys home alone to drop the girls off. This was Rusty’s first time babysitting. I could tell Rusty was nervous but eager to try. I told the boys that after I dropped off the girls I was going to call home and if Rusty said Tyler had been good that I would bring home a treat. My goal in this was two fold…#1. to motivate Tyler to listen to Rusty and #2. To help Rusty resist any unnecessary tattling. It worked. As I was leaving the girls, Rusty called. In the background I heard Tyler yelling, “I’m being good!!!” It turns out that Rusty wasn’t calling to tattle he was calling to find out when I’d be home because Tyler was hungry and wanted to eat but Rusty was afraid for him to eat while he was babysitting. Rusty was afraid Tyler was going to choke so he told Tyler he had to wait until Mom returned to have any food. That issue was mediated by suggesting Rusty feed him applesauce. Tyler filled his belly and Rusty didn’t have to perform the Heimlich Maneuver..Win..Win!

On Saturday I had a special surprise planned for Toby and the girls. It was an early Christmas gift that I purchased in the fall…tickets to the B.E. Taylor concert. We are all fans of B.E. Taylor’s Christmas concerts, especially Toby, so this was a fun gift to surprise him with. I decided to take the girls as a special daughter/ parents date. The concert was wonderful and really put me in the Christmas spirit. It was a wonderful evening with the ones I love!

At the concert..

At the concert..

Molly and Gracie

Molly and Gracie

B.E.Taylor

B.E.Taylor

On Sunday evening we celebrated Christmas with Mimi Joy and Aunt Beth. We had a delicious ham dinner and then exchanged gifts. The evening was so relaxing and special. The kids were thrilled with the gifts they received and loved giving the gifts they had made Mimi Joy.

Opening gifts..

Opening gifts..

Toby recieved money to buy new church shoes but it came folded as a dress shirt..so creative!

Toby received money to buy new church shoes but it came folded as a dress shirt..so creative!

Gracie and Molly were thrilled to recieve cameras from Mimi!

Gracie and Molly were thrilled to receive cameras from Mimi!

The biggest hit of the night! Socks!

The biggest hit of the night! A box of cute Socks!

After our family party at Mimi Joy’s house we came home and had our own gift exchange. The kids wanted to exchange gifts with each other and give Toby and I our gifts before Ozzie and Zoey came so we had our family’s gift exchange on Sunday night. It  suddenly it felt like Christmas. It was simple and relaxed and lovely sitting as a family and unwrapping gifts. As a Momma it delighted me to see the effort and thought that each of the kids put into each other’s gifts and the sincere gratitude that was expressed to each other in words and hugs. Here are some of the gifts that were given…

Molly wrote two books for Tyler using a "publish your own book" kit she recieved for Christmas last year. Here Rusty reads it to Tyler.

Molly wrote two books for Tyler using a “publish your own book” kit she received for Christmas last year. Here Rusty reads it to Tyler.

Gracie made a new hat for Tyler in his favorite color- lime green.

Gracie made a new hat for Tyler in his favorite color… lime green.

Molly made Toby a plaque for his dresser that touched his heart..

Molly made Toby a plaque for his dresser that touched his heart..

The evening ended with our annual tradition of the ornament exchange. Every year on the 23rd we give the kids an ornament that is representative of the year they had. We have done this since Gracie’s first Christmas so that when the kids leave home they will have ornaments to take for their own tree. Usually the ornament they receive is a surprise but this year they picked out their own ornament when we stopped at the world’s largest Christmas store on our way home from Michigan. After hanging their new ornaments up on the tree we had our family devotional and headed to bed.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Rusty's new ornament.

Rusty’s new ornament.

Boys’ Weekend!

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Last weekend while the girls were enjoying a weekend in Ohio the boys were having a “boys’ weekend.” When I picked up Ozzie he jumped in the car, excited to share the news that he had been chosen to bring Crystal and Nico, the class dogs, home with him for the weekend. The kids in his class get to take turns taking home these two stuffed dogs and then have to write a journal entry in the class notebook from the point of view of the dogs about what they experienced over the weekend. Ozzie was thrilled to get to take the dogs to “boys’ weekend.” As we drove back home Ozzie solemnly informed me that my house might be messy when I come back from Ohio because boys’ weekends are usually messy. I asked him what he had planned for “boys’ weekend” and he filled me in…

Ozzie’s boys’ weekend to-do list:

1. Eat 5 pizzas

2. Watch “boy” movies.

3. Sleep in their clothes.

4. Stay up until 9:30 pm.

5. Pass out in the living room.

He was quick to inform me that he wouldn’t be passing out due to alcohol because he doesn’t drink.

After dropping off Ozzie, the girls headed out, and boys’ weekend commenced. I called Toby the next morning to check in and see how he was holding up and was informed that the boys were outside building a tree house. Ozzie and Tyler woke up with the grand plan of building a boys’ tree house in the woods. They sat down and drew up plans which they then presented to Rusty in hopes that he would help them build it. They gathered hammers, nails, and old boards and headed off to the woods. After a while they were back at the house in search of mediation from Toby. Ozzie was frustrated by “contractor” Rusty’s interpretation of his drawing. Rusty was frustrated by the unrealistic demands of “architect” Ozzie’s vision. (Rusty had a handful of old boards and Ozzie wanted a two-story tree house with a front porch and a door.) Both boys were frustrated by their lazy “laborer”, Tyler, who kept wandering off the job site. Toby said it was just like every job site he has ever worked on. 🙂

Ozzie's rendering of the infamous tree house.

Ozzie’s rendering of the infamous tree house.

The boys soon gave up on the tree house project and came in to play. The girls and I arrived home Saturday evening. As we drove up the driveway we soon began to slip and slide. The car came to rest sideways about halfway up the driveway. I put it in park, put on the emergency brake and decided to deal with it in the morning.

Sunday morning everyone, with snow boots on and church shoes in hand, headed down the driveway to “unstuck” the car. Toby wrapped his bandaged foot in a grocery bag and drove the ATV down the driveway. He was able to get the car out of its precarious position and we were off to church.

Hiking down the driveway...

Hiking down the driveway…

"You know you're a redneck when..."

“You know you’re a redneck when…”

 

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Sunday was a big day at church. Rusty was speaking in church for the first time. He was a nervous wreck but he did it and did great job. He has come so far! There was a time not too many years ago that he would have been unable to do that because of Selective Mutism. Gracie also had a big day. Gracie has been working for the last 3 years on a program for the young women in church called Personal Progress. She completed it last week and received her recognition on Sunday. Go Gracie!!

Gracie with her Personal Progress medallion.

Gracie with her Personal Progress medallion.

The kids also got in some sledding time this weekend. After 5 years of living here they discovered the best sledding hill on the property is the driveway (which may have something to do with our inability to get up it!) We only have one sled so the kids improvised with some plastic sheeting. Everyone had a great time, even Winnie, who discovered the joy of chasing the kids down the hill while trying to jump on their moving sled.

It was a busy weekend, a fun-filled weekend…Crystal and Nico had plenty to write about. I think “boys’ weekend” was a success.

Rusty

Rusty

Gracie

Gracie

Winnie attack!

Winnie attack!

Room at the inn

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The question was a simple one…

“Do you have room?”

“Can you make room?”

A simple question asked by a humble man.

A man whose wife was heavy with child.

We don’t know how many doors were knocked on…how many turned them away before they found a place to rest.

Then there in the humble surroundings of a dusty stable the King of Kings was born.

The question is still a simple one…

“Do you have room?”

Our homes might not be so filled that we would turn away the King of Kings…the Lord of Lords…

but what about our lives?

“Can you make room?” is the question we were asked this week by the social worker of the two children that we did respite care for a few weeks ago. The current foster family has put in their 30 day notice which leaves these two little ones being pulled from their home and being placed in a stranger’s home days before Christmas. They asked us if we would be able to take them every weekend this month as they scrambled to find a new home for them. The social worker paused and then timidly asked if we would consider taking them for Christmas.

“Do you have room?”

When we were asked to do respite care for a weekend we had no idea that it would turn into a commitment that would fill the month of December…that would fill the Christmas season. The fact that we are in the position to be asked is a testament to how far God has brought us and how He has transformed my heart over this past year. I am an inn keeper at heart. I struggle with opening my home and life and my heart to others. I have friends and family who have such open hearts and homes who willingly and eagerly take in anyone who comes to their doorstep (figuratively and literally.)  They earnestly reply, “The more the merrier!” I so admire people like that…would love to be more like that…but I find myself struggling to be like that. A few years ago the thought of having to open my Christmas season to strangers would have made me angry, resentful, and overwhelmed but God has been working on me. God has been showing me the blessing of “Yes.” I have watched miracles unfold over the last year because of the courage to say “yes.” I would love to tell you that when God calls I respond with a courageous and bold “YES!” but more often it is a timid and barely audible “yes.” I’m still a work in progress.

So when God said, “I have two lost souls in search of a bed to lay their heads upon in this most holy of seasons…Do you have room?”

I answered, “Yes.”

Our weekend wasn’t an easy one. We went into it tired with Friday being a full day before the weekend even began. Friday morning the boys were up early to get a little hunting in. This is Rusty’s first deer hunting season and was eager to go out with Dad and try to get some meat for the freezer. Although they didn’t get anything it was still a special rite of passage shared by Dad and son.

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Later that day Toby and I headed off to the hospital. Toby had to have surgery on his foot and he was scheduled for 12:30. He has had a mass growing on the top of his foot that has been getting more and more painful over the last few months. As we went into a back room to get him prepped for the surgery we had the chance to talk to the surgeon. While discussing the expected recovery time Toby discovered that his original plan to go back to work on Monday wasn’t going to work out after the doctor explained that he would be on crutches and unable to put on a shoe for a couple of weeks. The surgery itself went really well and we found out that the mass that they thought was a tumor was actually a foreign body that was infected. Something had worked its way under the skin, got infected, and then a mass of tissue grew around it. We were blessed to find out that the damage they were afraid might occur as a result of the surgery was able to be avoided due to the shallowness of the mass. We made it out of the hospital around 5pm, drove Toby home, and put him to bed.

Toby waiting to go into surgery.

Toby waiting to go into surgery.

Saturday morning I left early to pick up our two visitors for the weekend. I wasn’t sure how the weekend would go as I flew solo without my wing-man. Although there were no major mishaps I definitely felt Toby’s absence as he was stuck on his back. Saturday afternoon I drove the girls over to the local high school where they were hired to do face painting for the community Christmas party. They had so much fun doing it in the fall that they eagerly said “yes” when asked to do it again. While there the kids took part in some of the fun activities they offered like crafts and meeting Santa.

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The girls with the face painting sign they made to show what pictures they offer.

Craft time at the Christmas party.

Craft time at the Christmas party.

Gracie the Elf...compliments of the balloon man at the party.

Gracie the Elf…compliments of the balloon man at the party.

The remainder of the weekend was spent trying to keep the kids occupied in one part of the house while Toby recovered in another part. To help facilitate that I made sugar cookies for the kids to decorate.

Tyler's sugar laden creation!

Tyler’s sugar coated creation!

While the kids were visiting us they were introduced to the Elf on a Shelf tradition that we have been doing with our kids for the last 5 years and our personal elf friend, Buster. The kids were delighted by the stories Tyler told them of some of Buster’s past antics and couldn’t wait to go to bed to see what mischief Buster would get into during the night.

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Buster

Buster didn’t disappoint…

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Ozzie was especially taken with Buster and I found him whispering secrets many times over the weekend for Buster to take back to Santa. The weekend was a good one..a crazy, noisy, exhausting one… but a good one. There were no major catastrophes unless you count that awkward incident of Gracie finding Ozzie using her electric toothbrush because he wanted to see what it felt like. Gracie handled it very well. It was discreetly tossed and a new toothbrush took its place. 🙂

Now here I sit.

 The kids have gone home for the week. They will be back next weekend. The house is a disaster. All the  Christmas preparations I had planned for the weekend still sit undone on the side bench and I am worn out.

This weekend was in no way a reflection of what an ideal weekend in December should look like by my standards or the world’s. No lights were hung. No shopping was done. Not one drop of cocoa was sipped (at least not by me) although I wiped up plenty of spilled cocoa. I didn’t sit and gaze at the tree once this weekend. By the world’s measurement it was an utter failure of a Christmas season Saturday. Martha would have been horrified if she had seen the cookies the kids decorated. My home at this moment would be more likely to be featured on an episode of Hoarders than in any decorating magazine, but somehow in the midst of the mess and the noise I felt as though I had found something I had been missing. By saying “yes” to two small children I found something that I had lost. By making room in my schedule, in my home, and in my heart for two weary travelers I found Christmas. Not the sparkly, tinsel trimmed Christmas we are told we should strive for but a messy, dirty, hay strewn Christmas where two children, without a home to call their own, showed us the real meaning of Christmas love.

The question was a simple one…

“Do you have room?

and all I had to do was say, “Yes.”

Counting the blessings.

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This weekend was a special one. It was a weekend that left us counting the many blessings in our lives. So often we take for granted the very things others are praying for this holiday season…food in our bellies, clean sheets on our beds, warm homes, clean water and the security of home and family. This month we began, as part of our evening routine, making blessing leaves. Each night beginning Nov 1st with the letter “A” we each wrote down a blessing in our lives that begins with that letter. The following evening we moved to the next letter of the alphabet and we then taped the finished leaves up on our bedroom door. It had been a joy watching our children count their blessings and reflect on the many good things God has given them.

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Blessing leaves

Earlier this week we received a call from our adoption agency asking us if we would be willing to do  respite care for another family over the weekend.  Respite care is a service our adoption agency offers to all of their foster/pre-adoptive families. For a family that is in need of a babysitter for a short amount of time they call on one of the other foster/adoptive families to step in and take the child for the week or weekend. Often it is used to give that family a much-needed break in hopes that if the family takes the weekend off to “recharge” their batteries they will then be able to continue on with the placement.  When we received the call asking us if we would be willing to take on a 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy for the weekend we hadn’t ever considered doing respite care before.  After discussing it as a family we all decided that it would be a fun thing to try and a wonderful way to bless another family in the process. After saying “yes” we then received more information on the kids. We found out that they were coming to us  not knowing that next week parental rights of their biological parents were going to be terminated and that after next week they would cease to have contact with them.  They also came to us having no idea that their foster family had just put in their 30 day notice and  would be moved out of the house they call “home” days before Christmas. We entered the weekend in prayer.  We prayed that everyone would be safe and comfortable while together, we prayed we would have wisdom in dealing with the issues that we were told these two children came with, but mostly we prayed that we would be a blessing and that their weekend here would be a respite not only for the foster family but for these two kids whose world was about to be turned upside down.

Friday morning we began to prepare for their visit. Molly was having the little girl sleep on her top bunk and Rusty was having the little boy sleep on his. They changed their sheets, picked out books to put beside the bed, and pulled out toys they thought the kids would enjoy.  After getting ready we headed out on a field trip to the ice skating rink. The kids had fun skating with their friends for two hours before we had to meet up with the foster family at Burger King to pick up our visitors.

Tyler skating with the boys.

Tyler skating with the boys.

Miss Grace

Miss Grace

Gracie and her best buddies.

Gracie and her best buddies.

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Molly and her buddy, Tatum.

Molly and her buddy, Tatum.

That night we picked up our visitors without incident. The foster mom had been concerned they would have a tough time going with us but they did great. They connected with the kids right away and when we arrived home they were eager to explore the house. Our weekend was spent playing at home on Saturday morning and going out in the afternoon. The kids loved the McDonald’s play house and all the animals. In the afternoon we went to the Olympic Fun Center where everyone enjoyed roller skating, rock climbing and laser tag. They stayed with us until Sunday night when we met the foster mom to drop them off. It was a wonderful weekend with some wonderful little visitors.

Tyler and his new friend

Tyler and his new friend

The kids exploring the fields..

The kids exploring the fields..

Our visitor enjoying the rock climbing wall.

Our visitor enjoying the rock climbing wall.

Stopping for frozen yogurt after a day of fun.

Stopping for frozen yogurt after a day of fun.

With Thanksgiving approaching this week I have found myself reflecting on all that I have to be thankful for and how many blessings I so often take for granted. One of those blessings that I became more aware of as we cared for these two little ones was the blessing of security. We so often take for granted the blessing of knowing that where we sleep tonight will be where we will sleep tomorrow, that the people we call family will still be our family next month, that the home we know and love will still be our home next year. That is a blessing that millions of children world-wide are denied. They live with the fear and uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. They go to bed not knowing how long they will call this place home or these people family. I recently read a book entitled, Adopting the Hurt Child, which profoundly affected me. In it the author attempts to illustrate to the reader the feelings of a child in the foster system. Here is his analogy:

“Imagine you are sitting in your livingroom on a warm summer evening. Your spouse is dozing peacefully on the sofa, having consumed one too many beers at dinner.  Your two children, who have spent all day bickering, are quietly playing with their favorite toys. You’re curled up with a good book, and your feeling is one of contentment. Perhaps this isn’t the perfect family, but they are yours, and you love them.

Suddenly there’s a knock at the door. You rise to open it. Standing there is a tall man you have never seen before. He gently takes you by the arm and ushers you into his car.  Before you can comprehend what has happened, he’s driving you away from your home.

Soon you stop in front of a beautiful house with a broad, manicured lawn. The man leads you inside, where he introduces you to the people there. They are warm and pleasant, and they smile sweetly at you. The man tells you that this is your new family.

Your new spouse doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. Your new children never argue and are well-behaved. They show you your new room, point out all your new belongings, and tell you to make yourself at home. All while they are smiling.

You look over your shoulder at the tall man, who’s smiling too. He assures you that this new family will love you forever. And all they expect in return is for  you to love them back.

You slowly look at your new surroundings. Your emotions are swirling out of control. You feel as though you are moving through a dream. This new family might be wonderful, they may be superior to your old family in every way- but they are not your family. You don’t even know them so how can you love them?”

I found this to be a powerful analogy. It gave me greater empathy for the fears, behaviors and struggles of all the innocents who have ended up in the system through no fault of their own. In made me realize the profound blessing of security…of home…of family. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for so many things. Forgive me Lord for the blessings I take for granted…those very things that so many others are praying for..