Washtenaw County currently has about 300 children in foster care and a desperate shortage of foster homes. Our licensing workers call us semi-regularly asking for names of anyone we know who might be interested in fostering, anyone at all.
When a child or children cannot be placed in a home several things happen. First the caseworkers start calling homes that are less and less ideal for that child. An ill-fitted placement is better than no placement at all. Sibling groups have to be separated. Kids are put in homes that will take them temporarily and then will be moved multiple times as a long term placement is located.
While these things are bad, two are worse. The first is this: Kids who can’t be placed, even young ones, will be sent to a homeless shelter overnight and a placement will be sought again the next day. The second is this: Many, many teenagers are being placed in group homes, essentially modern day orphanages. In the words of a Navigator I spoke with in November, “If they weren’t already damaged, the group home will damage them real quick.”
When the subject of foster home shortages came up at a recent foster parent training I asked why they thought that …
When it comes to church, our family used to be solid back row dwellers, so much so that if the back row of the sanctuary wasn’t open, we would lurk uncomfortably in the aisle trying to figure out what to do.
“Let’s go out to breakfast instead.”
“Maybe if we stare at them long enough they’ll feel uncomfortable and move somewhere else. There are plenty of seats up front.”
“Kids, stand over there and cough a lot.”
About five years ago we made a decision to move up front so that our kids could better see and follow the service. It actually has a lot going for it. So, here’s my ten reason countdown on why everyone should sit in the front row:
10. First lips on the common cup. Now, I’m not saying how the rest of the congregation feels about us with our six kids getting to the cup first, but I figure we aren’t getting any germs.
9. Access to the altar. My preschool aged daughter can dance out into the aisle and right on up across the stage where she has plenty of room to show off her moves while Daddy chases her back toward our seats with a baby in each arm. This also gives everyone a nice chance to see the striped red snowflake tights that she paired with a hot pink tutu, a …
I have gotten the impression that some people think big families are accidents, as if the parents are a bit simple and just haven’t figured out how these things work, so they didn’t manage to stem the flow of children before it got embarrassing, kind of like when you wait too long to fix your cat and suddenly have ten kittens that need homes.
My husband and I each come from families with seven children. There were times as a kid when I was embarrassed to have so many siblings. I would go through sibling by sibling and try to pick which ones I didn’t want so that our family could be a more normal size. I always arrived at the same conclusion: that I liked each one and would keep them after all. When Matt and I were dating we said that we would have two to four children. We currently have two plus four children, to quote my father, “we figure it’s a good start to a family.”
It saddens me to see fewer couples choosing to have large families because coming from a big family has been an amazing blessing for me. My brother and sisters are my best friends. They are the ones I call when I need to share or laugh and when I can’t handle my grief. Beside Matt they are the ones who …
Last week I won the Chelsea Homemaker of the Year Award at the Chelsea Fair. Now, anyone who knows me well knows that public recognition embarrasses the bejeebers out of me. I hid with a scarlet face behind Baby J, while they bedecked me in a sash and crown and gave me flowers and a plaque. Then, I was careful not to tell anyone and grateful that no one I knew was at the ceremony. This worked well until my husband absconded with my computer and Kindle, updated my Facebook status, and refused to return my electronics until he somehow made it so that I can’t delete it. I will now be changing my password to Mattisarat and putting my icy feet on his belly in the middle of the night for the remainder of his life (which may be short.)
Soon after I got the phone call to be sure I was at the award ceremony, I walked into the girls’ room and stepped SPLAT! into something cold and squishy, yet curiously crunchy. On opening the window shade I found that my usually well behaved three year old had made a fish pond in the middle of her bedroom carpet with water and goldfish crackers. I hopped off to the bathroom on my heels, navigating around laundry piles to rinse my foot. The irony …
We’re all familiar with the story of Job, but do you know what I noticed when reading his story the other day? Everything of value is taken from him, and yet he STILL HAS HIS WIFE. It kind of makes you wonder what kind of woman she was because apparently leaving her with him was more of a test for Job than taking her away.
As it is she barely gets three mentions in the book. First of all she appears in Job 2:9. She looks at him in his distress and makes her infamous statement “curse God and die.” If ever Job needed a kind word, sympathetic ear, and warm hug, now was the time. Yet, she comes rolling in with her bad advice, probably leaving him gritting his teeth and wondering why he ever married her in the first place. I guess we’re starting to see why Satan left her around.
Next she shows up in 19:17 where Job says “My breath is offensive to my wife.” So, I’m reading this to say that poor Job is mourning the loss of everything he holds dear, and his wife is complaining about his breath. Hmm.
The last time she gets a mention is in 31:9-10 where Job says that he has been faithful to his wife. It’s funny, these days I don’t think most people would really fault Job if he …
My youngest son is that child that you know will do amazing things, if only he survives to adulthood. He is responsible for every gray hair on my head, wrinkle on my face, and my future heart condition.
He’s the kid who cut his own hair, not once, but seven times! Who drew a path with blue marker across his grandmother’s entire house --cherry floors, carpet, and tile-- so that I would have a trail to follow to find him. He’s the one who put dish soap rather than dish detergent in the dishwasher because he wanted to see what would happen –twice. He’s the boy who put all manner of things --toys, bars of soap, pears-- down the toilet causing my dad and me to become experts at removing and replacing toilets, the boy who, upon getting locked in a sun-room, broke three windows to get out (good-bye $700.00), the boy who regularly loses frogs, salamanders, spiders, and toads inside my house, and who inadvertently released several mice in my parents’ living room which were never seen again. The boy who ran away from home to the backyard, packing all of his favorite stuffed animals, but no food, and then tried to start a fire and catch a squirrel with a homemade spear for dinner. …
On Sunday we flew home from Florida with our five kids. To add to the general excitement, ten of our nieces and nephews (13 and under) were on the flight as well. When the flight attendants offered $800 in vouchers, a first class ticket on tomorrow’s flight, a hotel stay and meal vouchers to anyone willing to give up their seat, you would have thought that the rest of the passengers would have taken a good look at all our kids and stampeded one another to get back off the plane. Heck, I considered it.
The first thing I do when getting to our seats on a plane is ask the person sitting between me and one of my kids to trade seats with my two year old nephew who has been assigned a seat twenty rows away with strangers. Any sane person looks at my arms full of baby and legs clad in three year old and decides that twenty rows away from us is the place they want to be. Even if it is a middle seat. (Last time I flew the woman next to us sneaked off and got a nice older gentleman to switch seats with her –failing to mention that he would now be sitting next to a six month old.) Then I have my nephew switch seats with my teenager so that the nephew is with his parents and my …
Before my junior year in high school I went with my church youth group on a mission trip to Colorado. I vividly remember one Sunday morning our youth leaders maneuvered the two white fifteen passenger vans up a steeply winding road to the summit of Pike’s Peak. We tumbled out of the vans into the thin atmosphere, sky so blue it made your eyes ache. The piles of snow scattered about belied the warm June morning. We came together for a homegrown church service, just a few Bible verses followed by a song. As we chorused Amazing Grace we were one with our maker, on the top of the world, young and unashamed. And a remarkable thing happened, those who were on the mountain with us joined the song. The voices of our brothers and sisters in Christ, people we won’t likely meet until the next life, co-mingling their voices with ours in praise and gratitude to our savior. As the song ended we all nodded, smiling to each other before going our separate ways.
Thanks to my dad, I’ve been hiking up mountains for as long as I remember. As children, my brother and I would trot along ahead of him, hopping over mossy logs and slippery rocks, racing to the mountain top. Once, when I was …
As we left the hospital with Baby J. the nurse told us to bring everything on the counter; they would just throw it out if we didn’t. So, I upended the pink plastic medical bin into a bag and didn’t look in the bag again until we got home.
My husband Matt was holding the baby, my sister Jenny making dinner, the kids circling me with interest to see what treasures I had brought from the hospital. (You know, besides a baby). I pulled out five tubes of antibiotic ointment, about twenty syringes, blue gloves, adhesive tape and then a long cylinder of some sort with one tapered end and a twist on lid on the other. A flashlight? I twisted the end, but no light came on, instead it started to shake. I looked at my sister confused. She began to laugh.
“Is this what I think it is?” I asked.
“Um, yup, I think so,” she laughed, “When Ella was in the hospital they rubbed one on her back to help loosen the gunk in her lungs.”
“Huh. Yeah, J. did have breathing trouble there for a while.”
“Hey, what’s that thing?” one of the kids asks, “A toothbrush?”
Another comes over and looks at it with interest.
“Ooh, it’s a back massager!” He takes it, turns it on and trots over …
I hold her close against my chest long after she surrenders to sleep, cherishing these precious moments with the daughter whom I have only a few more days with…
When we brought baby Jennifer home from the hospital there was every indication that we would be adopting her. The months passed. The certainty grew, as did her place in our hearts. With her gregarious personality and happy chortle she became an integral part of our lives. Then, her parents changed their minds. A terrible caseworker combined with an apathetic lawyer in an overtaxed foster and court system to make a perfect storm of a foster care mess.
But, through it all God protected this baby. He used us to meet her needs in ways which no one else could. Now, we have just a short time left with her, and as I rock her to sleep I wonder: How do you fit a lifetime of love into a few short days, especially knowing that she may never experience it again? How do I let go and trust that God can care for her without my help?
Time passes and the night wears on. Jenn sighs in her sleep and lays her little fist against my chest. I stroke her tiny fingers one at a time trying to memorize the little dimples in each …