Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Yell Over Spilled Yogurt, Growing Hearts, and The Baby Grace Brought

Little J spilled her yogurt this morning. She was sitting at the counter happily eating, when BAM - it was like a yogurt bomb went off. Yogurt on the floor, yogurt on the counter, yogurt on the cabinet doors, yogurt on my FOOT! I felt it inside of me, the frustrated response, the one that instantly wanted to yell - "What DID you DO?!?!?! - Why? How? There is yogurt on my FOOT!" However, I took a breath (I have found that, as a general rule, breathing is beneficial,) and instead said, "Don't worry honey, we can clean it up together. No big deal."  My insides followed my outside response pretty quickly, and Little J experienced grace.

Exhibit A - Yogurt Foot
Our homestudy was scheduled to be presented to the Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP) Council for our county/state this past Monday.  However, on Tuesday, I got an email saying that "out homestudy was inadvertently left off the presentation list." Left off, after 18 months of it being inadvertently lost in the process, thinking it had been approved the whole time while we were fostering and hoping for a long-term adoptive placement.  Inside I wanted to yell, "What DID you DO? Or Not DO! How? Why?"  However, again I took a breath, a breathing in and out kind of prayer, and instead said, "OK. I understand. It will all be OK. In the right time, God will bring the right children into our home and not a single child has come or left our home on accident."  Our caseworker experienced grace.

It has been a year since Baby J came and invaded our lives and hearts, and 6 months since he left our family. Six months of grieving and thanking God for his life and the part we got to play in it and crying for the parts that we will not get to be a part of, mourning the hole that he left in our hearts - the one that used to feel like a gaping wound.  There is a huge need for foster families in our county, and I am pretty sure the same is true nationwide. Jeremy and I talked, we prayed, we got the opinions of our J-Crew and the response was unanimous and passionate, "It is time."  So, yesterday, after breathing in my frustrations and breathing out grace about the missed SNAP approval, I told our case worker that she could put us back on the call list for a foster placement.  Fostering isn't about me or us. It isn't about growing our family. It isn't about the pain of "what if they leave." Fostering is about a child, a child who has no one in this whole world to offer them safety, love, family, a home, or hope for today.  So, you can call us again, we have room, there is a hole where Baby J was that another child will not fill, but God will grow our hearts to make room for another....
They say your heart is about the same size as your fist. J.S. has one tiny fist....

The call came the same day.  Would we accept the placement of Baby J.S., a 5 day old little tiny baby man, he really needs a family for now?  Now, we have a baby - he is even a "J" Baby!!! (Unbelievable.)  He may go live with a relative after a hearing today. He may stay with us for a few days, weeks, months or forever. We don't know.  So, we will love him for today, for these minutes and hours, all of the breaths in and out. We will feed him two ounces of formula every two hours day and night and hope and pray that he continues to avoid the pain and torture of withdrawal from addictions that he did not choose. We will choose hope and grace and cling to the knowledge that Baby J.S. is not here on accident and although some things happen "inadvertently," nothing is lost in the the hands of our Good Father. Welcome to the family, Baby J.S, the baby that GRACE brought.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Twitterpated. Another J on the Way?

There is something about the spring.  Birds are singing, flowers are breaking through the cold hard ground, and the next thing you know, I'm twitterpated - knocked for a loop, in the words of a wise old owl:

Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You're walking along, minding your own business. You're looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head's in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you're walking on air. And then you know what? You're knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!
Twitterpation looks different for me than it did back in the spring of 96 when I was falling head-over heals for a boy named Jeremy.  Beginning in the spring of 2001, came this deep, knocked for a loop - lose my head yearning, to be a Mama.  Although different than the original twitterpation, it was just as powerful and life-changing. Since then, three more J's have joined our crew.  Now, it is April and I find myself with the Mama urge....come on, one more J, please, God?  It doesn't have to be a baby, I'm a little older now and wouldn't mind skipping the "up all night stage."  However, there is something about baby feet that is absolutely irresistible, so I could endure the torment of sleep deprivation if there were tiny toes and Johnson's Baby Lotion involved.

This Mama can't birth no more babies.  That's OK, because the J-Crew is pretty passionate about adoption. We think it is fantastic and back in 1996, adoption was one of those common denominators that pushed Jeremy and I past simply being twitterpated and into the kind of relationship that became a marriage. We've enjoyed the joy and newness of spring, weathered dry hot summers, trudged through everything falling apart in the mucky autumn, and bundled up and clung to each other through cold hard winters. Relationships go through every season and having survived 15+ years of different seasons thus far, we can firmly declare, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto us!" (I digress).

We are hoping and praying for one more J.  In September 2012 we became foster parents, being convicted that there was a huge need for families to love and shelter the hurting hearts of children who were experiencing pain beyond what many of us have ever known.  Five children have come and gone from our family during this time span.  We recently found out, that although we originally requested and had been told that we were approved not only as a foster family, but also were being considered as an adoptive family, that has not really been the case (booo!).  The right files were never sent to the right people, the right "i"s were not dotted - the T's not crossed and stuck somewhere in the midst of red tape, we have not been being considered for adoptive placements this entire time.  So, now our homestudy is being sent for adoptive approval and will be reviewed on Monday, the 21st, the day after Easter.  This seems rather fitting, Easter is a time of all things new, resurrection, and hope.  So, we have renewed hope that there may be another J on the way, that will stay, sometime in 2014.  You know, the kind of J that sticks, and joins the J-Crew forever. A little brother from another mother, to share in the stories, songs and seasons that are to come.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yolks on you! Some mid-week silliness from Short Girl

Q: What are the strongest days of the week?

A: Saturday and Sunday, the other days are weak days.

So, since Wednesday is officially a weekday, here are a few weak chicken jokes to help you make it over the hump. (Short girl and short person approved, the J-Crew likes these!)

Q: What do you get if you cross a chicken with a cement mixer?
A:  A brick layer

Q:  Why did the chicken get sent to the principal's office?
A:  He was using fowl language.

Q: Why does a chicken coup only have two doors?
A: Because, if it had four it would be a chicken sedan.

Q:  Why did the chicken cross the road, roll in the mud, and then cross the road again?
A:  Because, he was a dirty double-crosser!

The determined chicken went to the middle of the road. That's right, it was time to lay it on the line!

The healthiest chickens all drive free Range Rovers.

Knock, Knock
   Who's there?
  Bach who?
Bach, Bach, I'm a chicken!

Q:  Which side of a chicken has more feathers?
A: The outside

Q:  Why did the chicken join the band?
A:  Because, he had a great set of drumsticks.

Q:  Why did the chicken cross the basketball court?
A:  The referee kept calling fowls.

A man decided to start a chicken farm and bought 10 chicken to get started. A week later he bought another 20 and another 30 the week after that. When his friend asked how his chicken farm was coming along the man replied, "Not one of them has grown yet. I wonder if I'm planting them too deep?"

A first grade teacher was telling her students the story of "Chicken Little." She got to the part when Chicken Little ran up to the Farmer saying, "The sky is falling. The sky is falling." Like every good teacher, she asked her students to predict what would happen next.  Eager Emily quickly raised her hand and the teacher called on her. Emily said, "The farmer said, Holy Cow, a talking chicken!"

One of my favorite chicken lines that Truth-in-Love Friend often says to me, Jennifer-of-Many-Words:
I hear you clucking, big chicken.
This last one can serve as both a joke and a fantastic pick-up line that I would like to recommend to my favorite single brother....
Q:  Why did the rooster cross the road? (I don't know, why?)
A:  He wanted to meet a good looking chick.
Q:  Knock-knock.  (Who's there)?
A:  Rooster ;)
So, let's see if you can get the J-Crew to crack up???  Share your favorite chicken joke in the comments, but not until you join the song and shake your tail feathers.... 

Monday, April 14, 2014

From Hate to the Booty Shake: A New Kind of Dance

I used to hate myself. I am not sure I knew it. I don't think anyone else would have known it; although, there were well camouflaged clues along the way.  However, I always felt guilty - never "enough." I saw my mistakes, weaknesses, and short-comings and they were so magnified that I carried a heavy weight in my heart. I was pretty sure my husband did not "really" love me. I am not sure I felt totally secure in my parents love. I felt that I needed to "do" and "be" a certain person in all my relationships - including my relationship with God -  and that somehow I was always just missing the mark. I was working - very hard - and I was also failing and floundering and depressed.  For me, this depression was somewhat cyclic and I had "seasons" where the cloud would lift.  It involved a dance of pursuit and distance, highs and lows, basing my worth on my performance, and I am not sure when it started, but I do know when it ended. 

Sometime in the Spring of 2012, while the tulips and daffodils came to new life, so did my heart. God spoke truth, love, and grace into my heart and set me free from my own self-loathing.  He also gave me Zoloft, a fantastic Christian Counselor, and relationships where I could be 100% open without fear, Praise Jesus. My life has changed, my relationships have changed, my marriage has changed, and I have so much more freedom in life. The dance looks different these days and involves a little more of Mommy shaking her booty in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Oh, things are not always tulips, daffodils, and booty shaking, but now I recognize the cycles and both have tools and accountability to notice when a downward spiral begins. 

There has also been a down-side to my freedom. Somehow, in my mind, the legalism, self-loathing, and lead weight of all my guilt - a life full of unending unmet self-expectations - got bound in with, I hate to admit it, my Bible. During this Lenten season (the 40 days leading up to Easter), I committed myself to go through the life of Jesus with a daily reading plan. This has been an exercise in discipline for me; however, I have begun to find a fresh relationship between my mind and God's Word. I love God's Word - but, I have somehow also been wounded at times by legalism that called itself God's World.  

So, I have been rediscovering the Bible, reading through a lens of love and with a willingness to wrestle with it when the wrestling moments come, and they will come.  I am beginning to find a place where I worship and yearn for Christ and can study His Word with a pure heart. I have lived a "moral" Christian life - making "good" choices, there is no doubt that my life is better because of that. However, Jesus has lead me to a place where being "good" is not enough - I want to be radically changed by Jesus. I want my life to be different because He has made me new. I want the world around me - the people who come into my life - to be different because Jesus is a part of my life.  Thank, God, for being about the business of making everything new, and especially, for a new kind of dance.  
Middle J-Crew was in Kindergarten and at a weekday children's program at Church. At some point during the evening, my then darling little 6 year old daughter, said to her teacher, "My Mommy shakes her booty in the kitchen."   I must have been in an "up" cycle! 

What Is This Feeling - Wicked

I love this show and all of it's music!  From Loathing to Love....for every story, there is a song!

For Good

Saturday, April 12, 2014

About Short Girl

My husband, before he was my husband, once described me as, "that spunky short girl from New York." That still makes me smile. Now I am still short, call the mid-west home (even though my heart still occasionally longs for the grape country of Western New York), and certainly hope I have retained some of my spunk! 
I am a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, music-maker, grace-embracer, Jesus follower and my name is Jennifer. (I am not Jenny, unless you knew me when I was three, then you are grandfathered into that special group to whom I will always be "Jenny"). 
I am kind of short (no comments). I love a good story, a deep conversation, a beautiful piece of music, dark chocolate, and laughing til I cry. I adore children and my heart aches for hurting children. I love to get lost in a good book or get a little tipsy while sipping just one glass of wine with the love of my life. (I am short - it doesn't take much.)  My "Truth-In-Love" friend, calls me Jennifer-Of-Many-Words.  (Is that better than Dances-With-Wolves?) I do love words - words in stories and songs, prayers and pleadings, and since words run around in circles in my head all day, I've decided to start writing them  
I'm a short girl with a story and a song and if you would like to follow along, then I'd love to have you join the story.
Monsieur and Mademoiselle Mustachio. (I really should have waxed that day.)

The J-Crew.