Friday, August 5, 2016

Focusing on the Positives

I’m an emotional person that, as a whole, probably cries more than the average woman, but my tear ducts may dry out here soon.  My nose has dry, flaky skin from the nose blowing and I’ve probably spent on tissues what you spent on the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Foster parenting is hard.

I have really high high’s, like when I see the progress that my 17-year-old (she turned 17 two weeks ago! Eek!) has made and how glad I am to have her in our home.  And I have really low low’s, like when I just feel defeated about my 12-year-old’s behavior and refusal to take ownership of her health.  Yes, I know that she’s still a child, but she was 252 pounds when she came to us at 11 years old.  She’s on the verge of a heart attack and diabetes.

We keep beating ourselves up when we get frustrated and feel like giving up.  We wonder if we’re truly doing something good at all.  People remind us that we’ve given them a safe home and are loving them well, but it’s hard to see it in the midst of trials.  It’s easier to see from the outside -  maybe I need to take a step back and try to see it from someone else’s view.  Because when you’re in it 24 hours a day/7 days a week and you’re exhausted from sleep deprivation, tears, arguments and frustration, it’s hard to see.

So today, I want to focus on the positives.  I need to see it written out to encourage myself!
  • We got LG (17) a nice Bible with her name engraved on it for her birthday.  She loved it.  She told me that she wants to start reading the Bible more and asked me where to start.  She hasn’t shown any interest in that over the past 5 months so this is progress!
  • LG seems happier.  When something doesn’t work out like she wants it to, she goes with the flow.  She has a good attitude and isn’t negative at all.
  •  LG talks about going to college, though she’s worried she won’t get in.  She’s open to us helping her find colleges, applications, encouraging her to study for the SAT and ACT.  AND she increased her grades since being with us!  Let’s pray her senior year is good!
  • LB (10) has taken ownership of his health.  He has improved DRAMATICALLY and lost 20 pounds.  He makes the right choices (for the most part) when he’s not with us, which is huge for a boy  his age!  His bloodwork improved and we’re so proud of him!
  •  LB is so fun to be around.  He can get rowdy, but what 10 year old boy isn’t?  His laugh is infectious and his jokes are pretty witty.  His heart is pure and he just wants people to love him.
  • LB loves going to church and learns a lot from his class!  He’s never once said he didn’t want to go.
  • AG (12) is very personable.  She is a social butterfly wherever she goes.  She’s never afraid to make new friends and usually has one within 5 minutes of being in a new place.
  • AG enjoys spending time with me.  She constantly wants to go to the museum with me, paint nails with me and occasionally go on a walk with me.  She craves attention so I try to give it to her in a healthy proportion.
  • AG has the most beautiful singing voice.  She truly could be famous someday if she’ll be open to voice lessons and hard work.  She’s very talented!
  • Things are most definitely not perfect and we have our hard times, but as a whole, Kevin and I have gotten closer.  When we remember that we’re on the same team and in this together, our marriage thrives.  I fall deeper in love with him every day, especially when I see him reading to LB when he just said that no one has ever read to him at bedtime before or when he speaks to teenage foster youth in group homes, residential treatment centers and juvenile detention centers across the city.
  • We’ve been able to talk to hundreds of people about fostering and educate people on the foster care system.  I hope to write more about it on here eventually.  Foster parents are SO needed as there are roughly 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S (according to federal officials).
  • We’ve met some of the most wonderful, compassionate, sacrificial that exist through foster/adopt venues.  We go to a couple support groups for foster/adoptive parents and are constantly connected to other couples with similar hearts.  I’ve never met such people that truly exude the sacrificial love of Jesus like these people do.

     Praise God for all of these things!  They are only because of Him!  Have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What's Up Wednesday 6.29.16

It's What's Up Wednesday time!!!

I have a few other posts in draft that I can't wait to publish so I hope you come back soon to read them.

I'm linking up with ShayMel and Sheaffer.  Let's get to it...

What we're eating this week...

I have been just trying to get through everything in our fridge lately so it's been a lot of fish and veggies or spaghetti and meatballs. A while back, I made some dairy-free, gluten-free watermelon coconut ice cream for our kiddos.  They are all pre-diabetic so they're not supposed to be eating much sugar.  Store-bought ice cream isn't an option for us.  They loved this option!  We've done it with berries since then and with coffee another time.  Yum!

What I'm reminiscing about...

Days when I was a kid!  I'm working on a post that got me thinking!

What I'm loving...

When our 10 year old offers to help Kevin with yardwork.

What we've been up to...

Well, our church caught on fire on Father's Day evening and the worship center/main building is unusable now.  The adjusters are estimating 9-12 months to get it fixed so we've started meeting in the student building.  We've changed to 3 services to try to accommodate that many people!  Kevin works for our church so he doesn't have an office anymore.  He's working from home currently. Thank you so much for your prayers for our congregation.  We know the church is the people, not the building!  This has actually brought together many churches in our city as they offer equipment to us, their time, their prayers, their money.  It's been so encouraging!

We had a service in the parking lot the Tuesday after it happened.  It was awesome to praise our Father - He is so good.

What I'm dreading...

I can't think of anything.

What I'm working on...

Keeping the kids active.  We normally spend at least 30 minutes a day outside playing basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, football or hiking but when it's over 100 degrees in Texas, no thank you. The kids and I did a workout video the other night and it was a blast! (and I'm super sore!)

What I'm excited about...

The upcoming 3-day weekend!!!

What I'm watching/reading...



And still reading...

What I'm listening to...

I'm LOVING listening to audiobooks through our public library right now.  Lately I've listened to these...

What I'm wearing...

Red, white and blue!

What I'm doing this weekend...

We're going to a family's lakehouse on Monday to grill out and swim.  Should be fun!  We really want to embarrass the kids by wearing American flag EVERYTHING!

Like this...

What I'm looking forward to next month...

The last week of July, the 2 younger kids will be at church camp.  It'll be like a mini stay-cation for us!  Woo hoo!

What else is new...

The kids made Oreo balls for Kevin for Father's Day.  Yum!

Bonus Question:

What's my favorite 4th of July tradition/recipe?

I think I'm going to make my grandma's cherry jello "salad".  It's so grandma-y, but I love it!  Cherry jello with cherry pie cherries, crushed pineapple and covered in a cream cheese topping.  Then I'll put fruit on top to make it look like an American flag.

What are your 4th of July plans?? 
Friday, June 17, 2016

A little Friday catch up!

Happy Friday, friends!!!

Things have been wild and crazy around these parts, but I'm stopping in for a little bit of Friday fun with Liz, Andrea, Karli and Amanda.


I've created an "Our Foster Journey" page for the blog!  Look up above and click the link there!  I'd be so happy if you checked it out!!!


A couple weeks ago, I was a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding in Austin and it was a blast!  She had the best hair and makeup people come in and bought us super cute robes to wear while we were getting ready.

Rehearsal DInner

She bought us THESE earrings!


I've been eating my favorite greek salad lately!  Yum!


We took the kids bowling recently and we had a blast!  I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of bowling, because I'm terrible and I have these oddly really weak, skinny wrists so I tend to drop the ball too soon (even with a light ball).  I used my husband's brace and I actually improved!


My sweet friend from Dallas came to visit last weekend and we did a lot of fun stuff!  It was really nice to get to do some stuff I used to do before we got the kids.  

We walked around the Texas State University campus early in the morning and visited a farmers market while L (my 16 year old) took her ACT.  Then we shopped at the outlets, had wings and shopped some more.  L was with us for the shopping and we enjoyed doing that with her!  We also went to eat at Zinc, walked on the Riverwalk and had ice cream at Lick Honest Ice Creams.

On Sunday, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden which was beautiful!  My friend took a lot of pictures of our family and they turned out really well!  Here's my favorite one that I can share publicly!

Have a fabulous weekend!  Don't forget to check out my Our Foster Journey page!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Being Too Hard on Myself

I am my worst critic.

I always have been.  When I ran track in high school, second place wasn't good enough.  A 95 grade wasn't good enough because it wasn't a 100.

Though I feel like I've gotten over a lot of the petty issues where this affects me, I've realized that I haven't completely stopped.

Foster care is hard.  Really hard.  I knew the billions of appointments, bad behaviors and dealing with "the system" would be frustrating, but I didn't realize how invested I would be in the kids' feelings/situation.  Or I suppose I did, but I didn't realize how much I would cry about it.  I'm not able to stand back, pray hard, be empathetic but be okay.  I have let so many issues burden me to the point that I cry every single day.  Admitting that makes me feel vulnerable, as so many people view it as a weakness, but Brene Brown in her book, Daring Greatly, is helping me to realize that it is okay. Being vulnerable is what makes you stronger.

I am not patting myself on the back at all - I have had a pretty compassionate heart for most of my life, though I'm not perfect and I've hurt people before, and if you're one of those people, don't worry, I'm probably still beating myself up about it.

I believe in therapy - finding a good counselor that you trust and that has your best interest in mind and doesn't just tell you what you want to hear.  I've been seeing a counselor for a while and I have to tell you that besides God and my husband, it's been what has helped keep me sane over the past 3 months.

In a recent session, she explained this visual: we all have a little circle around us.  It includes your feelings, emotions, experiences, pains, hurts, everything YOU.  And sometimes we can open up the door to that circle and let others into it a bit - usually your spouse or other family, but even with them, we can't leave it open so wide that we start personally taking on others' burdens to the point that you're on the verge of depression and anxiety about issues that are not your own to take on or solve.  This isn't meant to be heartless, it's about boundaries.  Boundaries that don't exist in my life. Boundaries that could have prevented me from being so hurt by friends and family during my engagement/wedding, boundaries that could have prevented me from depression after a break-up in my 20's, boundaries that could prevent me feeling like I need to fix our kids' issues and be the answer to everything...because I'm not.  I'm not the answer and never will be.

I've been so hard on myself over the past 3 months.  Our kids are in horrible health and we've been working on feeding them healthy food and ensuring that they get physical activity every day.  We've been successful for the most part as all 3 kids have lost weight and now are pretty educated on what bad foods can do to your body as well as what foods are great for your body.  "Superfood" and "vegetables" are now are part of their vocabulary.  Yet the one week that our 12 year old gained 3 of those pounds back, I fell apart and felt like a failure. I can't prevent her from sneaking food at school or at church or lying to us about eating 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches including all kinds of fried food.  I just have to let it go.  I take on too much responsibility when part of it is honestly theirs.  I will do my part as well as I can and know that I've done my best.  And that goes for many areas of raising these kids.

Raising 3 foster kids is not the same as having 3 biological children and I have to remember that.  I didn't get to raise these kids from when they were babies.  I didn't get to hold them in my arms and let them know that they were safe and loved.  I didn't get to teach them how to eat properly or how to use the restroom.  I didn't get to teach them respect and a good work ethic.  I am trying to catch up on what most people got many years to do with their biological kiddos.  These kids have 10, 12 and 16 years of a different parenting method so I'm having to re-teach and replace some things they were taught before.

I need to give myself some slack.  That's hard!  We jumped in hard with both feet and DO NOT regret it.  I'm trying to focus on the positives and how much I see God working here and to not let the set backs get me down and discouraged.

God called us to this.  God has equipped us and will continue to.  He in in control...not me.

fun moment when Kevin took L to a minor league baseball game :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

Wow!  It's been over a month since I last posted.  Needless to say, life is crazy.

I keep wanting to post some deep post about foster care and how wonderful it is, but as wonderful as it is, it's also really hard and really time consuming....even being on leave from work!

It's frustrating that I can't post photos of the kids, because they are my life right now.  If you want to see some photos and we text, hit me up.  I just can't share publicly.

It's the What's Up Wednesday link-up with Shay, Mel and Sheaffer so let's get to the randomness....

What we're eating this week...

Holy moley, this healthy lasagna was amazing!  Let me tell ya...our 2 younger foster kiddos HATE veggies, but they're on the verge of diabetes so I'm getting creative.  Surprisingly, everyone actually loved this lasagna made with zucchini instead of pasta, including my husband!  And I used ground turkey instead of ground beef!

What I'm reminiscing about...

Ha!  The days that I didn't have to get 3 children to 3 different schools and a billion counseling, doctor, dentist, optometrist, caseworker, attorney, agency appointments.  It's totally worth it though.

What I'm loving...

That my hubby is in such a great job!  He is such an amazing leader and Director of Local Missions.  He's working on an event to educate our children on human trafficking and the tactics that traffickers use, a Bible study in the local prisons and how to serve our foster/adopt parents and children.  Here he is doing the announcements at our church...

What we've been up to...

Kite Day at church!  We flew kites, the kids climbed the rock wall and we ate from the food trucks. Fun stuff.

What I'm dreading...

Going back to work on May 10 :(

What I'm working on...

Being patient.  Ahhh...seriously, my patience levels are getting better.  Even the kids said the other day, "You and Kevin are awesome.  We're really hard to deal with and y'all are really patient with us." Haha!  I'm glad they think that. :)

What I'm excited about...

Getting some girl time this weekend!  See "What I'm doing this weekend" below.

What I'm watching/reading...

Oh new addiction:

Hart of Dixie on Netflix.  I love.  I'm in Season 1.

I'm also reading too many books at once....hence, why I can't finish a book lately...

What I'm listening to...

Since we got the kids, we've been going to the library every other day.  They get books and movies like crazy and the last time we went, I decided to get myself a CD.

What I'm wearing...

Usually just a pair of jeans and a t-shirt lately!

What I'm doing this weekend...

I'm pretty pumped about this!  This weekend is my friend's bachelorette party in west Texas.  It'll be the first weekend I've gotten away so I'm looking forward to no responsibilities.  We're not going to a typical place for the party and I'm super excited.  I'm sure we'll do some hiking, swimming and hanging out.

What I'm looking forward to next month...

On May 7, our church is hosting a human trafficking awareness/training that my husband has worked really hard on.  The intent is to educate kids/teenagers about the ways that traffickers lure kids in and how to recognize when something isn't right.  We have a lot of parents/kids signed up so we're expecting a good turnout!

What else is new...

This last Sunday, we took the kids to a minor league baseball game.  It was a blast!  I wish I could show you the fun photos I took of the kids!

Bonus Question:

What's your favorite mother's day gift to give or receive?

Well, this is my first Mother's Day to actually be a mother so I don't know what it's like to receive a gift.  Ha!  But I like getting my mom something personal.  I'm slacking this year though because I haven't even thought about it yet!

Have a great rest of your week, friends!!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Life Lately


It's been a month since I've posted.

On February 26th, we got 3 kids.

Yep - that's right.  Three foster children came to live with us and to say it's been crazy is an understatement.  I have been stretched to limits that I honestly expected, but man oh man, ones that are wearing me out!  It's been a little bit of every emotion.  We love having them, but it's also been very exhausting.  Imagine bringing home a new baby and dealing with all of the changes and adapting you would have to do - now times that by three, but really like 1,000 because they're ages 10, 11 and 16 and have a history being parented in a way that you would not have parented.  Ha!

It's been everything we expected - even the hard stuff.  We truly feel God's confirmation about it and that brings such a peace.  He has us where He wants us with the kids He wants with us now.

I SO wish that I could post all of my fun photos of the activities we've done, but legally, I can't.  I'll post what I can!

The weekend they came, we got to know them and had to make a few runs to the store.  They came with NOTHING so we had to get them clothes to last at least a couple days.  After that, friends and a local organization helped us out with getting some more outfits.  That was crazy!  They all wear adult sizes so building a wardrobe for 3 adult-sized kids was expensive!

We got the kids enrolled in school which took 5 hours.  We have one in elementary, one in middle school and one in high school.

We went to the rodeo that weekend only to find out that the rodeo part was over, but we got to enjoy the fair.  The kids had a blast!

We've made Oreo balls together...

Played many many board games...

Kevin and I finally got a night alone when my friend offered to come over and babysit.  We went to see the movie, Risen and enjoyed dinner - peacefully.  Then we got pie at the grocery store....haha.

The first week, I was pretty good about getting my Bible study done, but then fell off the wagon.  I'm just always SO TIRED.  Even if I get 8 hours of sleep, it's not quality sleep.  My emotions keep me up!

But these mornings are nice...Bible study/adult coloring, blackberries, tea and essential oils.

I've decided to take a leave from work.  I need some time to transition.  If a mom to a new baby needs it, I DEFINITELY need it.  This past week was my first week, but it was Spring Break so I was busy with the kids each day.  We had many appointments and did some fun stuff too!

We swam in the river, went to my parents' house, watched movies and played games.  We also went hiking...

The 16 year old and I got pedicures...

We made green pancakes on St. Patty's Day...

We went to a preseason Rangers game...

It truly has been awesome!  God is so good and so faithful.  It definitely hasn't been all butterflies and roses.  I've cried A LOT, had to take this break from work and now I'm sick.  My immune system has taken a beating.  I so wish I could talk about more of the details, but you get the drift.  Nothing can prepare you for the emotions that come with foster care, not even having bio kids, but it's worth it.  I always appreciate your prayers and encouragement! 

Hopefully I'll be back to blogging a little bit more now that I'll have some time to breathe.



Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, my friends!

I'm using today's 5 on Friday to catch up a bit on happenings around our house.  Since G left, we've done some random stuff!


We went to Enchanted Rock State Park with my dad and his girlfriend last weekend.  It was beautiful weather!  The perfect day for a hike!


Kevin and I didn't do much for Valentine's Day, but I did make him some brownies in my heart-shaped cake pan!  He loved it!


This week was my sister's and my bro-in-law's birthdays.  We had the family over and grilled pizzas! It was my other sister's great idea!  We set up a bar of pizza toppings and everyone made their own.  Then we grilled each pizza on the grill....perfection!


I've been LOVING the Sacred Holidays Women's Lent Study that I've been doing.  God has been speaking to me through it every morning!  You can still join in by purchasing the digital version.  Let me know if cost is an issue and I'll get you a code!


Since Kevin has Fridays off, he's smoking a brisket for us today!  I can't wait to get home for dinner!  I never realized how much prep goes into it!

I hope you have a great weekend!  XOXO

Linking up with KarliErikaAmanda and April!