Begin With The End In Mind

‘When I’m ‘on my game’, I pretty much live by the motto in my title.

What does that mean you say?  To me, it is a series of daily/continual choices that lead to and intended result.  Such as my current goal: “I desire to have well run school mornings full of joy, peace and life.”  To get to that goal, I need to do some hard work- my whole family does actually, but we will ALL benefit.

I work diligently to keep my house in a state of non-chaos.  With emergency placement and respite care foster children coming & going that can be a big enough task in & of itself.  Add in the fact that my own 5 children span ages 5 years to 17 years and my husband is a teacher (which means he just went back to work and isn’t 100% home anymore!!!), and we now have Miss B as our special girl for the foreseeable future—–well it COULD be a recipe for disaster, but it doesn’t HAVE to be.

I’m going to share our family’s design for daily success—– not saying it always works, but it mostly does.   I’m also not saying we have the ‘market’ on how to have a happy home, but I AM saying our home is happy—-so our system seems to be working for us for the past 20 years.

So HERE is what our family does-  Hope it helps.

We begin where we want to end-  Dave & I make a list of family goals- something individual for each of us and then our family corporate goals.  For example, Ray is a senior so much of his have to do with future planning.  As a family, we attempt to memorize one scripture a week (its on the chalkboard wall right by our dining room table), we attend worship together and serve others with generosity.

We live by the mission statement “As a family, we desire to make an impact on each other and the world by showing the love of Christ in everything we do, say & think.”  Do we nail it 100% of the time?  NO!  We fail, we fall, but we pick ourselves up again- ask for forgiveness and start over.  EVERY TIME.

Our ‘back to school’ process is pretty simple.  We set boundaries, They help to keep us in ‘check’ and provide a plumb line for us to return to when we get off target.

This is our routine for school.

Bedtimes are established and held to….even if the kids aren’t ‘tired', they still go through the process and head to bed.  Miss B & Lydia at 7pm &Josh at 7:30pm. Older kids ‘pretty much’ decide when they go to bed as long as it is a decent hour and they prove they can handle it.  Dave & I get a few hours to ourselves before we turn in- we aim for 10/10:30pm so we aren’t the ones exhausted the next day—-disciplining ourselves to teach & train our children by example.

Kids backpacks are prepped (by them) and ready before bed.  They either make their lunch or snack in the morning (I help the littles, but the big ones are on their own for that).

Mornings-  Dave & I both get up before the kids.  He starts with his bible study time & then either gets ready for the day or heads to workout (we share weekdays- he gets M/W/F, I get Tues/Thurs).  Days I workout, I go right to the gym at 5:45am and then get ready for the day when I get home, doing my bible study both with the kids and then alone later on.  Days I’m home, I get ready for the day (head to toe) and then head down for coffee/bible study.  It works for us- gets us filled and prepared for the day well and no panic.

Ray & Dean have their own alarms & get themselves ready.  Lillie shares a room with Lydia, so Dave or I wake her so Lydia can sleep another 45 minutes. They all get themselves ready-  usually the boys make a huge egg based breakfast for themselves.  I read a blessing over them from “Blessing Your Spirit”, I read Jesus Calling to them while they eat and they each take some time to read/study the bible on their own… is simply now part of our morning.  Usually they wake 45 min-1 hour before they need to leave and have 10-15 minutes of ‘free time’ left over as a cushion.  I say a simple blessing over all of my kids before they leave the house “I love you. I bless you.  I’m glad you’re my son/daughter.”

We do much the same routine with Josh & Lydia.  They awake, get dressed, come down for breakfast & I read a blessing over them, read Jesus Calling to them and we do a small bible study.  That way they have filled their soul up before they head out.  Josh & Lydia get up about an hour before they need to leave.  They usually have about 15-20 minutes to free play too.  That is great for us.

I get Miss B up while Josh & Lydia are getting dressed.  That way she can eat with them and have some play time with them after breakfast.  Depending on the day, I either get her ready right away or after the kids have gone to school- both work.

I’m one of those parents that doesn’t run ‘things’ up to the school if forgotten (unless I am actually going there, or it was a weird event that led to being forgotten).  I find they don’t forget things if I don’t take their responsibility.   It’s worked well the past 13 years of school aged kids.

I’m sure I forgot things, but that’s our routine.   It works for us and mornings are pretty darn easy around here.   I pray you find a plan that works well for you.

Many Reasons To Say No - But I Still Said Yes

The phone rang yesterday and Josh called out, “It’s State of Michigan again Mom.  Do I answer it?”  I had him bring me the phone and quickly pressed the proper key.  As I suspected, it was CPS (Children’s Protective Service) and they were getting ready to go to court on a case which looked like it would end up with two children entering the foster care system.  My heart broke, as it does with each call, but I quickly explained that my daughter was running a temp and I wasn’t sure if it was strep throat-  plus my husband & two oldest sons are out of the country on a mission trip and my oldest daughter was gone as well so there was NO WAY I could take these  two precious kids.  The worker politely agreed and thanked me for my time.  I said a quick prayer and went on with my day.

End of story, right?  Wrong.

Lydia slept with me since she was not feeling well, which means she slept great.  Me, not so much.

I awoke and did my normal morning stuff.  I glanced at my phone- there was a voicemail.  It was a foster care worker asking if there’s any possible way I could maybe take the girl, even just for the night.  The voice mail was left at 11:39pm the night before.  I did call him back as soon I had the house in order and was dumbstruck to find out that they had placed both children in separate homes, but after about an hour, the foster parents called & asked for the girl to be picked up because she was so afraid of the dog that she kept locking herself in the bathroom.  What?????   When I say yes to a placement of a child, it isn’t conditional if the child is compliant, happy and unafraid.  I say yes because the child needs a safe place….they definitely don’t need another disruption.    AND then the worker informed me that they didn’t find a place, so they stayed at the county building in the DHS office the night prior.

I was devastated for a child I had never met.  I was angry and frustrated at the broken system.  And I got downright ticked off at our complacency as a church—-how many of us have a safe place, an extra bed and un-exercised love and compassion so that a 4 year old little girl who had just had her world explode out from under her could at least sleep in a real home instead of on a makeshift bed in an office?????

Oh Church, arise!!!!!   We say we love the least of these, but do we truly?   How can we love if we don’t extend ourselves to them in some way?

I was stuck.  I didn’t know what to do.  I sent Dave (who is in Serbia for 2 weeks) a text on the app we use for communication and we arranged a time to chat.  I told the worker I’d call him back once I knew if my daughter had strep throat (which I was guessing no since she was feeling MUCH better than the day before).  Then I prayed.

I knew I had every ‘good’ reason to say no:  My husband is out of the country, as are my two oldest sons, my 11 yr old daughter is finishing her two weeks away at camp & grandparents, it is VBS week at church, my kid was sick the day before, our extended family might freak out, I’m teaching in Lydia’s class on Sunday, and……..

But I had this reason to say yes: Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

And I knew Holy Spirit would be with me (very clearly stated in Hebrews 13:5-6).

AND I have an amazing support network.  I immediately sent out a few texts asking for prayer & posted on our ministry group.  Within minutes I had offers of dinner being delivered to my house & shoppers prepped to get little miss anything she needs.

Strep test  came back negative, she had no temp & was feeling just fine.  Talked to Dave & he agreed it would be hard, but it is God’s heart.  So I made the call back to the social worker, figuring now, for sure, they would have found a home for her—no.  They were still at the office.  Oh, my heart.  I said bring her.  Then I almost panicked.  Josh & Lydia started running around super excited and helped me make sure beds were ready/etc, dog was in the kennel.

Miss T arrived with a plastic grocery bag of clothes and a tattered blanket (which is actually a snuggie).  She wouldn’t let go of the female worker at all- so we started with a tour of the backyard and then went into the house, ending in the play room in the basement.  Eventually she let go & started playing.  We played a bit & then went up stairs to sign paperwork and headed outside. While we were outside, I told Miss. T we have a dog, but she was in her kennel.  I was clear that our dog was very small and not scary, but we would leave her in the kennel for a while until Miss T was used to seeing her there.  Then the workers left.

We played downstairs and outside.  Miss T basically ran to ‘get away’ from the kennel.  She was terrified.  After a while we were able to go by the kennel and after HUGE strides today and much prayer….Miss T chose to pet Daisy (the dog) all on her own!!!

We did normal kid stuff:  played, went for a walk, ate ice cream bars,  swam in the pool, warmed up in the jacuzzi tub,  colored, stickers, read stories and she went to bed great.  

It was a good day and tomorrow will be too because I am following the call He has put upon me.

I know I have tons of support from neighbors to friends who have offered dinners, help with clothes/baths/kids/etc.

Whatever we need.

I’m accepting the help too.

We all have a part, if I do mine, they can do theirs.

What is your part?

Meeting A New Sister

Since I am somewhat introducing you to our family while also attempting to journal some of the amazing journey of how we got from ‘there’ to ‘here’, I will do some flashbacks.  Today, you witness Clara meeting Daddy & her siblings.  CUTENESS WARNING!

*I was in AZ for 8 days with my mom waiting for ICPC approval to come back home.  ICPC is basically where the states learn how to play nice with each other and allow a child from one state to be adopted into a family from another state….that took a while & quite a few miracles…..stories for another day.

The day we got approval we flew back home. Dave picked up us at the airport at midnight.  Ray & Dean were away for the weekend at a fall retreat.  The three other kids were sleeping over at our neighbors.

After a full day of travel, we were all tired.  Clara traveled amazingly well, especially considering she was 2 weeks post neurosurgery for a drainage shunt. Mom & I had been traveling, scheduling things to the minute.  So to say we were glad to be back in our home state is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

Dave couldn’t wait to hug his wife (me)


and finally meet his daughter, who he had been praying for over 3 months!

Introducing Daddy to his newest daughter.

Clara wasn’t too impressed.  She just wanted OUT of her seat.

We headed home & the hour drive was uneventful.  It felt SO good to be home, even if just in our own van.

After dropping off my mom, we headed home to get settled.  Dave & the kids had prepped Clara’s room so sweetly.  We got her settled in went to bed, got up, went back to bed, got up, repeat, repeat, repeat.  BUT finally we got a few hours of sleep.

The next morning, I drove down to get the kids while Dave stayed with Clara.  I was never so happy to see those three little faces as that moment.  They squealed in excitement, anticipating meeting their new sister.

Lillie was in awe of Clara.  Tenderness like this photo is normal for Lillie.

I introduced Josh, Lydia & Lillie to Clara by starting with her feeding pump, milk bag & tubing, then we went to her port & all about her.  Clara still had a bandage on her head where her sutures had been removed the day before.  She also still had her sutures in her belly, since they weren’t healed enough to remove yet.

We even made it to church the next day!   Clara didn’t sleep much better her second night home…Oh Lord, what were we in for?

Then her big brothers arrived home….family back together again.  Complete.   Just what she had been waiting for.  She slept through the night once they were home.

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