Our Family

Our Family
Our Family: Pops, Me, The Teenager, The Boy, The Freckle Faced Ninja, Miss Priss, Miss Sassy Pants, Madi-Lou-Who, & Dora the Explorer

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Two Steps Forward

Life is like a dance.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Always hoping for more steps forward than backwards.  Sometimes all we see is how very LOOONG the path to a certain resting place in our journey seems.  A particular song in this dance is seeming to last forever.  

Especially when you are fighting a fight.  A cancer battle.  A depressed teen battle.  A job loss, a marriage, a special needs child.  We can get mired down in the details and stuck in the hard moments of our story.

I was sitting in church on the 22nd of September when this song, The God of Every Story by Laura Story was debuted.  It was two days after I learned about 3 children.  They needed a family.  Tears fell down my face as Tony and I looked at one another.  "We're going to do this aren't we?" he asked.  The first step.  

The God of Every Story, by Laura Story

Suddenly, the music stops.  The dance is over.  We pause for breath and find we have moved along in the journey.  The fight is not over but there is a break while the smoke clears.  Change, progress has been made.  Small battles won.

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have the opportunity, le us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:6-10

Our Christmas this year has felt like one long series of backwards steps.  Sick kids.  Sick mom.  Sick dad.  More sick kids.  Endless neediness.  Tantrums. Anxiety. Lectures.  Arguments.  Broken furnace in below zero temps.  Steps backward.

Some days I remembered to say to myself, "don't get weary."  Some days I remembered that I was fighting for these little ones' hearts.  Aiming for healing.  Straining for those two steps forward.

Other days I was just tired.  I could not see the fight for the smoke.  All I noticed was the laundry, the noise, the 104* temperature, and the dissension. Steps backward.  

All of these steps backward seemed to overwhelm our intentions to celebrate Advent.  The plans of relishing in the Spirit of Christ take a backseat to breaking up fights, stopping dives from top bunks or table tops, and temper tantrums.

This all makes me think of another journey.  Joseph.  The adoptive father of Jesus.  He's picked the perfect bride. Good family.  Sweet girl.  And then he discovers her indiscretion. He's a nice guy so he's going to quietly back out of the engagement.  But there's this angel.  Already this marriage journey is not what he had expected.  Steps backward.

So he'll marry the girl.  But then he's got to take this pregnant girl who's expecting THE CHILD OF GOD on an 80 mile walk to his hometown.  There's no evidence in the Bible of a donkey, just a guess that he may have owned one.  That journey must have looked like a million miles!  Steps backward.  

Then.  In a barn.  In a manger.  A feed trough of all things.  This beautiful baby.  Pause in the fight.  Shepherds, angel, wise men, gift.  Suddenly they can look back and see where they've come.  See the dance of two steps forward, one step back.  See where they've landed.  

"Take the child and go to Egypt.  They want to come kill him."  Really?  That's like a million steps backward!  

I'm wishing an angel would come give me some guidance.  Tell me clearly where to step.  Because I'm failing most days.  I'm yelling where soft words would have been better.  Too quick to correct when a hug was what was needed.  Telling them to control their mouths when I was not.  Many steps backward.

I. Was. Going. Backwards. 

So we went out to eat.  Now to most of you that's not a very big deal but this was the first time we'd gone out as a family to a restaurant.  If you've had newly placed older foster or adoptive kids, you get this.  Each new experience is anxiety filled and has the potential for disaster!  But we'd survived the first trips as a family to Walmart and this was the 2nd day with no hot water, no stove or oven, and no heat.  We were just coming out of all the sickness.  We were cold, stinky, and grouchy. 

IHOP.  Before we left Tony gave the obligatory "behavior we expect in a restaurant" lecture.  Off we went.  Upon arrival we took up the entire bench in the waiting area then walked in a long line (yes our kids walk like ducks everywhere...Tony has them well-trained!) all the way to the back of the restaurant. I noticed lots of raised eyebrows and smiles as our crew in their tasseled winter hats walked by.  

The looks on the faces of the patrons at the tables around where we sat was priceless.  They ranged from shock to rolled eyes to grins.  As we're being seated the hostess asks, "Are these kids all yours?"  "Wow!"  when we respond yes.

After strategically arranging who could and couldn't sit together to prevent fights, food and otherwise, I spent the next few minutes getting food choices, explaining why they didn't need the largest adult meal on the menu at age 5, reminding the same child 5 times to get back in their chair, and stopping arguments over crayons (why give only 2 per kid but not the same 2 colors? Why?). 

Drinks come, "Are these kids all yours?" Tony and I both look at each other with raised eyebrows.  "Yup." 

When our food comes, the waitress asks again, "These kids are really all yours?"  I'm tempted to say something obnoxious like, "well we kidnapped those 2 from down the street, those 2 are his from his girl friend, this one we found roaming around the parking lot, thinking that one's an alien,..."  When we just nodded she said, "how in the world do you get them to behave so well?"  

I'm sure my mouth fell open!  I'm not sure what answer I stammered out but suddenly I looked back and noticed that the teenager was chatting quietly with one sister.  The boys were playing tic tac toe.  One girls was leaning on my arm while she colored while the other two talked animatedly about their pictures.  

The smoke cleared.  I could see our forward progress.  See some of the success of our journey.  Two steps forward, one step back.  

Two steps forward, one step back.  

I remembered how in our first week I had to chase the same child down and wrestle her into the car-seat screaming every morning for school.  And the second week.  

Another child would kick the back of my seat with the force of a mac truck when angry.  Still does, just not as often.  Today they'd hopped in and out of the car with smiling faces and even were singing in the car.  

I remember thinking we'd never to in public again.  Bless that waitress's heart, I gave her the biggest tip I could!  

Two months ago if we told a certain child she had to sit in time out or told her no, that set off a major meltdown and we were on the floor holding her for 30 minutes trying to not get bitten.  Today that same little darlin' stomped over to the time out chair and SAT THERE crying!  Two steps forward.

Today Miss Priss said, "Mommy, I'm feeling all funny because everything is changed around."  We'd rearranged the living room.   Remember EVERYTHING new is stressful to kids who've experienced trauma.  But his same child a year ago could not handle going to her 6 person discipleship class without Tony going with her.  More steps forward.  

I actually remained completely calm and remembered most things I've read in the 4,000 parenting books, articles, and blogs I've read as one child laid on the floor in Walmart screaming because I wouldn't pick her up while I unloaded the cart.  Steps forward for sure!!

Praying you have more steps forward than backwards and that we all remember that God is directing the steps of our story for His purposes.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


So happy new year! I originally posted this on Facebook for a few minutes and then realized how LONG it was (shocker, I know!) so I'm turning it into an abbreviated blog post! Sorry about the weird highlighting.  I can only get rid of it if I retype the whole thing.  Riiiight!  ;) 

Our new year's eve was a total reflection of our year 2013:

7 am - woke up to boys arguing and girls giggling.  Way before we were ready to be awake.

7:05 am - checked Facebook for any new breaking news in the life of my friends.  Realized I might need to make a new years resolution to get off Facebook.  OK, maybe in 2015.  
8 am - listened to the Bible at breakfast which led to a map discussion and the kids declaring the countries north and south of us are North America and....North America! 
8:30 - tantrum over being sent to bedroom. To play. 

8:35 - checked Facebook while sitting over tantruming child.  Facebook helps keep parental temper in check amazingly well.  Rethinking Facebook resolution.
9 am - singing of some horrid Justin beiber-ish song. Threatened with removal of vocal cords if continue. Results in gales of laughter and imitations of characters from despicable me 2.

9:30 - tantrum over wearing clothes.  
9:35 - checked Facebook.
10:00 - massive gun battle. Good guys won. 

10:30 - tantrum over who was petting the dog first.  Dog hiding in crate.
11:00 - Check Facebook.  Wonder if it's too soon to put kids to bed and break out New Years bottle of wine.  
11:15 - Put on movie and descend to using the screen for babysitting.  And feel OK about it.  
1:00 - Succumb to complaints of hunger and fix lunch.  Insist on naptime.
1:30 - Lay on girl's bedroom floor and constantly "shhh" them while checking Facebook until 2 finally drop off to sleep and the other 2 pretend.  Fall asleep on floor in 15 minute increments as awake girls attempt to have a silent puppet show on top bunk beds with stuffed animals.  
3:30 - All awake, give up on nap.  Eat snack and begin process of bathing children who, while mommy had a stomach virus, missed several days of baths.  
4:00 - Make children mop up 2 inches of water on the floor.  Attempt to get clothes on while naked children enjoy singing and dancing naked and making fun of naked tushies.  
4:30 - Get ready to go to Walmart.  Do NOT make a list.  Mistake number one. First trip to store as a whole family (and without the help of teenager). Mistake number two.  
5:00 - Drive to Walmart amid squeals of excitement. Threats of being sent to bed and missing all new years treats if misbehave in store. 
5:15 - go through Walmart with 2 carts holding 3 kids + new years treats. Each accumulated treat (new movie, ice cream, cookie dough, sparkling grape juice, frozen pizza, eggs, bread....) brings SCREAMS of delight and loud singing "we're having ice cream, of yeah, ice cream, oh yeah, yuuuummmm, yuuuuummmm!" Which brought much amusement to all other Walmart shoppers. Especially about eggs and toast. Except me. Discreetly trying to shush the exuberance.
7:30 - had dinner and a movie in the living room. 

8:45 - Paused movie and left room to make cookies and returned to 3 youngest having a food fight (i. Am. Not. Kidding.).  Guacamole, chips, salsa, pizza all over.  Note that no premature bites of cookie dough we gave them were thrown.  Thankfully laid down blanket first.  Dogs have field-day helping clean up.   
9:00 - 3 children missing treats, 3 massive melt downs, and 3 children going to bed. Immediately. 
9:15 - Checked Facebook.
9:45 - felt sad missing teenager Gabby Gonzalez who is developing a social life of her own and been out of town since last Friday.  
10:00 - Finished treats and movie and regretted how much i ate.  
10:30 - put kids to bed. 

10:45 - reminisced about past 20 years of New Years Eves.  Remembering how we discussed getting married for the first time on New Years 20 years ago.  
11:00 - put on new movie for mom and dad. 
11:15 - listen husband Antonio Gonzalez begin to snore. Watch whole movie, forget about midnight, regret staying up so late. 

 We hope your New Years Celebration was as full of laughter and good memories (and fewer tantrums) as ours. Praying for abundant blessings in the new year for all of you! Love & hugs, God bless!