Bloom Where You Are Planted

….regardless of the circumstances of life….


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Adoption: A Beautiful Mess

This is a facebook post by a sweet mama who has bared her soul in this post.  I have permission to repost this and I thought that it would touch the hearts of those reading it.  She has said many things that I have felt, over the course of our beautiful mess, but just couldn’t put into words.  Please pray for this family and for her sweet boys and their continued adjustment.  You can find her facebook page and follow this family here.

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Brave: ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

This past month has been the most difficult month of my whole life. I won’t go into details, but it’s been hard. Really, really hard. And last week, I reached my breaking point. My husband stayed home with the boys so I could go out to do some Christmas shopping, and I sat in the mall parking lot and cried and cried and cried. Ugly cried. I couldn’t even leave the vehicle. I had to go home. And then, I continued to cry.

And during my breakdown moment, a friend sent me a message: “Jenny. How are you doing?” And I answered her honestly. And after chatting for awhile, she mentioned that God was teaching her what it means to be brave.

And this past week I haven’t been able to get her words out of my head.

I want to be brave.

Adoption is beautiful. It is also difficult. Terrifying. Exhausting. Overwhelming. Expensive. And a lot of times, it hurts.

When you begin the adoption process, you must be ready to face and endure danger or pain.

Attachment disorders. Hurt children. Children with traumatic pasts that will NEVER be forgotten or fully healed. Uncertain or unforeseen medical diagnoses. Sleepless nights. Exhausting days. The fear of the unknown.

It makes me think of David and Goliath. A boy and a giant. A big, fierce giant who, realistically, should have won the battle. Everyone was scared of him. He was TOO big. TOO strong. TOO terrifying. The Israelites were not strong enough to go up against him! Why offer to fight Goliath, if he might kill you?

And then David stepped up. A boy with a shepherd’s staff, 5 rocks, and a sling. A boy with such confidence in his God, that he knew his God would protect him. His God would be with him during battle. And, sure enough, He was. David defeated the giant.

David was brave. He listened to God, obeyed God, trusted God, and with the help of God, he overcame the giant.

Unlike the story of David and Goliath, sometimes when you face a giant, it doesn’t go down so quickly. Sometimes that giant sticks around for months or years, or even for the rest of your life.

But guess what? That giant will be defeated. God is bigger and stronger than any of the giants in our lives.

So friends, be brave in the midst of life’s giants. Be willing to stand up against those giants knowing that they will not win. The pain and the fear is very real, but it is also very temporary. Our lives on this earth are so short and will be over so quickly. But with Jesus, we have the promise of an eternity in Heaven! Don’t let the giants stand in the way of something that God is calling you to do.

Joshua 1:9-“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


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Zuppa Toscana Soup

~~~This is not my image, but it looks just like what I made~~~

ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP

1 pound of sausage

1 onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

Seasoning

2 tsp. red pepper flakes

6 strips of bacon, cut up

28 ozs. chicken broth

2 c. water

4-5 small potatoes, cut up (peeled or unpeeled…whatever floats your boat)

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1 bag of baby spinach (you can also use Kale or Swiss Chard)

Cook sausage, garlic, onion, bacon, seasoning, and red pepper flakes in soup pot until browned.  Pour a little bit of chicken broth in your pot and scrape of the bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the rest of your chicken broth and water.

Add your potatoes and cover while on medium heat to get your potatoes tender.

Once potatoes are fork tender, add in the heavy whipping cream and let simmer.

About 5 minutes before serving, stir in your spinach (I chopped mine because my crew isn’t fond of eating ginormous leaves).

Let the spinach cook down and serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

~~~note, people…there is NO cheese in this soup…the parmesan is totally mandatory optional.  This could be some kind of moment for me…having a soup without cheese.~~~


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3 Week Meal Plan

~~~~Edited to say that I came in right at $300~~~~

I haven’t done a 3 week shopping list in a while but with the holidays coming, I figured I needed to iron it all out…for my own sanity.  I’m hoping to stay under budget which will be $300-350.

My goal is to make my own loaf bread, which I have an excellent recipe for that.  My recipes makes 2 loaves, so I can double it and make the 4 loaves that I will need for the 3 weeks.

Big Daddy gets milk pretty cheaply at a new grocery store, so we will get about 4 gallons and freeze them.

I will probably make yogurt again because we have some frozen berries we can mix in with it, but I will buy some until my yogurt sets up (1-2 days).  I will also be making granola to add to it.

I will probably have to make a mid 3 week run for cereal and “special” milk for Boo (aka Almond Milk)….ooh, nevermind on that, I think I have almonds, so I can make his milk!  Woot!

The thing that will run up my grocery bill is my holiday baking crap but, it is once a year and we use what I bake for Christmas gifts, so we are killing two birds with one stone.

I will cook 2 roasts and use it for Vegetable Soup, Beef/Broccoli Stir Fry and Beef Stew

Pasta Bake/Bread

Tater Tot Casserole/Green Bean Casserole/Cream Cheese corn

Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry/Burnt rice

Beef Stew

Chicken lasagna/bread/salad

Vegetable soup and chicken noodle soup

Chili and tacos

Breakfast (bacon, sausage, casserole, cinnamon rolls, biscuits)

Zuppa Tuscana Soup/Chicken and Dumplings (odd, I know)

Cheddar Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole/Bread/Salad

Taco Bake/Rice

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole/Corn pudding/peas/roasted potatoes

Pork Roast/mashed potatoes/cauliflower & broccoli au gratin/mac&cheese

Spaghetti


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Saving Money Ideas

I have a large family.

My husband likes to eat.

I have 4 teenagers and 2 growing younger boys.

One way that I like to save money is when is by cooking roast.  When I cook a roast, I normally put in two.  I do it in the crockpot and I let it slow cook all day long.

I add 2 can of cream of mushroom with a little bit of water. I add my seasoning mix to it and I cube up some potatoes and an onion.

By the time it is ready, I cut up all the meat taking off the fat.  I save about a quarter of the meat, potatoes and onions.  I will put it in a baggie and put it in the freezer or I just put it in a container and stick it in the fridge.

I fix plates for everyone in this house.  I do this for several reasons.  1)  I ensure that everyone has some of everything.  I do not “cook to order” and what I make everyone eats…I am careful with food allergies and I do keep in mind what my kids like/don’t like.  2) I can control the portion size because if I left it up to my kids to fix their plates, they would load up on starch and they would only have 2 green beans.  Not an option. 3) It makes my life easier because there is no whining.

My children always know they can go for seconds (or thirds) in some cases.

When I am ready to use the leftovers, I use the roast for vegetable beef soup (add tomato juice, spices, canned/fresh/frozen veggies) or I use them for stir fry (add peppers, broccoli, water chestnuts and cook/fry rice).

So, by cooking 2 roasts (we buy our meat once a year but if you are watchful, you can catch good sales at the store.  If you can afford it, stock up), you can have at least 2 meals, if not three (the chinese dinner you can skimp more on the meat and add more veggies).

Happy cooking.


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Guest Blogger Megan is Back! “One of My Children is Not Like the Others”

~My guest blogger, my friend, Megan, is bearing her soul.  I will monitor comments and will delete anything that is tacky or rude.  We, as mamas of RAD children, are open to answering honest, forthright questions.  If you are curious, ask, but do so with tact and compassion…anything other than that, and I will block you.  We beat ourselves up enough, we don’t need anyone else to do it for us.  RAD is hard stuff…but God is still on the throne and He is still in the miracle making business.  Now, go and gladiate :)~

One of my children is not like the others

RAD sucks, the end.

Ok, it’s not really the end but seriously RAD sucks. Reactive Attachment Disorder is, in layman’s terms, a diagnosable roadblock that doesn’t allow for “normal” attachment between the parent and child. It also comes along with a slew of other annoying little quirks. One of which is the constant need to suck the life out the primary caregiver, usually the mother—that’s me. RAD sucks the life out of me. I can’t lie, some days I want to just crawl into bed and never come out, but I don’t. If I did then RAD would win and I am way too competitive to let that happen. You hear that RAD???!! You may win the battle but you will not win the war! I know you’re not listening though because as I type this my daughter, who has RAD, is watching a movie in her room as quiet and good as ever…the calm before the storm. Great, crap, now it’s literally raining outside.

Well I was right…I’ve had to take about a week in between writing these paragraphs because of my daughter’s constant “fits.” She is 11-going-on-4 and constantly craves my attention. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get my attention even if that means being punished and throwing an all-out tantrum. Her fits break me, they make my arms and back sore, they take away hours of my time, but mostly they have me second-guessing her place in our family. That last one bothers me the greatest. The bruises I acquire and the physical pain I feel is nothing I can’t heal from, but the emotional toll from feeling like I made a huge mistake by bringing her into our family is what kills me most. Then the guilt of thinking such a thought creeps its way in and eats me alive. It burns a hole in my heart each and every time. I am her mother. I am supposed to love her unconditionally right? How could a mother feel such things for her own daughter? Well I do, a lot more than I care to admit.

In addition to feeling agony that is self-inflicted, I have to deal with the constant stares and misguided advice from strangers and even a few close friends. They all tend to say, “Maybe if you were a little more relaxed with her she wouldn’t want to rebel so much, maybe if you just walked away from her when she’s being rude, she’s just so sweet I don’t believe she could cause so much trouble…” Seriously? Well damn, why hadn’t I thought of that? Oh wait, I have been there and done that too many times to count. What most don’t understand is that my daughter’s “special need” is not one that can be easily seen, it’s not one that you would even know she had unless you lived with her or spent a LOT of time around her. She is a master manipulator, a liar, and the best at conning her way into your well-meaning heart. However, when you start to try and love her back she fights it with all her might. She punches, spits, curses, screams, and breaks things to get away from love. Like I said, it sucks.

I stress eat now. I know a bag of Oreos better than I know myself now. I yell more now. I say a lot more in my head than I do out loud now. I’ve fine-tuned the art of making fun of someone without them ever knowing now. Ya know, when you say something funny to yourself and are laughing so hard on the inside but all you show on the outside is a slow smirk? I’ve got that down pat now.

RAD has changed me. It has changed me possibly even more than it has changed my daughter. I see things differently than I used to. I used to have a perfect picture of what my family would look like. My kids would each be sweet and wanting to cuddle every day. My husband would be perfect and never falter, but mostly I saw myself as the world’s best mother. I would never scream, I would teach all of my children to speak three or four languages, they’d be kind little angels out in public, and we’d never turn on the T.V. Now, I’m ecstatic if we go an hour with no one yelling “mom!!!” a hundred times. I’m content if the only thing we spill during the day is the dogs’ water bowl. I feel accomplished when we can give the kids a hot meal at the end of the day, even if it is just Ramen noodles. I’m impressed with myself if all of the kids managed to get bathed each week. Hell, I’m impressed if I managed to get a shower longer than five minutes! Being a mother, being a mother to 6 children, being a mother raising a child with RAD, just being a part of my family from the inside, has changed me. It has made me stronger and weaker at the same time. I have the strength to admit my faults now, but I also have the strength to know that this thing called RAD, this thing called life, cannot break me. My strength as a mother is something that RAD can never take from me. It’s something that can never be taken away from any mother who has to endure the wrath of RAD. We trauma mama’s, as we’re so sweetly called, are gladiators (thanks Scandal for bringing that one back!) We manage to dust ourselves off each and every time we go to battle. We may end up with a scar or two, but we always get back up; because that’s what gladiators do. We stare fear in the face and duck…’cause RAD always comes out of the gate swinging.

For those of you who may not be dealing with RAD directly, but are close to a parent who is: Don’t abandon us because we miss a few play dates, or because we don’t ask you how your day was for the tenth time in a row. Most likely, we are tired and only surviving on whatever fish sticks our kids didn’t eat that day. We are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders and when you stop caring we do too. We stop caring about ourselves. We need a friend who will remind us to put on deodorant if we forget. We need a friend who will hear us laugh and cry about whatever horrible thing our child did at school that day. We need you because some days we need you to be our gladiator. Currently, my knees are bruised from having to safely restrain my daughter yesterday, but today my heart is ok. My heart has lived to see another day because I’ve recently found some pretty great friends who get it and who can just be in the moment with me.

RAD sucks, but that doesn’t mean our lives have to too.


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God is in the Details: A Post by Amy

~~I posted, a few months ago, about the love, adoption, and the loss of this sweet family’s sweet daughter Freh.  Amy and Sten’s story continues and the light of the Lord shines through dark times.  She has graciously let me repost her original blog (you can find her blog here).  Amy and Sten’s story is powerful and their faith is an inspiration~~

Sometimes writing is painful. Putting words into print somehow solidifies the reality. But everyone knows that writing is therapeutic and sharing one’s story is really more for the writer than the reader, right?
I have had an aversion to sharing in the past several months, because how do I say it? How do I justly tell a story that has so many details and changing parts that won’t leave me feeling torn apart and raw or worse yet…vulnerable. After all, isn’t dealing with child loss and grief enough? I mean why tell a story that will make me look like a glutton for punishment? I don’t know. But what I do know is that an amazing story is unfolding in my life and I haven’t shared it because of vulnerability. I have avoided the messy, ugly, scorching parts in order to preserve what little dignity I have left. Questions, opinions, judgement, they all raise the hairs on my neck. So I have turned to close confidants and my prayer posse to stand there, in this foggy ditch and intercede on my behalf until I can muster the words……God is still working. He has not set my tapestry down and forgotten. He is very much working out the finest of details.This ‘new us’ is now on a constant quest for joy. Consistently, almost methodically searching and seeking not the temporary thrills and distractions from our pain, but eternal, long-lasting, blanketing joy. We did a lot of talking and praying about this joy. I asked God to tell me where to go to find this gift He had for us and very clearly he pointed us to children, the beautifully packaged joy that He has time and again chosen for us since we were just 18 years old.  May 2014. Mother’s Day weekend. We got an email that informed us that a young, homeless girl in Florida is pregnant and has chosen us to be the forever family for her baby, due in October. We were ecstatic! Oh, how we have longed for a baby to hold and love since that day just a year before when our lives were shattered and our Freh was taken from us. I finally felt like there was some joy.to.be.had. A baby, a young mother in need, a little package of hope.

We flew to Florida and met “D” and her boyfriend. We went to an ultrasound and saw the little life inside her. It was a boy. He was healthy. We enjoyed the time we spent with this young girl, talking about her life and her plans for herself. Seeing that the relationship she was in with her boyfriend was not healthy,  Sten and I talked with her about that and ways she could get help. We bonded with this young mother. I felt an immediate love for her. She showed us the hotel she was now staying in, and we taught her how to cook some food for herself.  On the flight home, Sten and I admitted that we felt conflicted. We really wished she could somehow find a way, like we had over 19 years ago, to keep her baby and yet, we still really longed for a baby. I committed to praying simply that God would move in D’s life and that He would guide her to the right decision.

She and I texted throughout the summer and I was able to have a few very meaningful conversations with her. We talked about purpose and God and joy. She knew that we had lost our daughter a year before and she asked me how I handle that, a question that brought such a lump to my throat because I knew what possibly laid ahead in her future. I simply answered that I just let God handle the hard parts and I never stop seeking Him. Her response was that her grandmother used to tell her the same thing.

35 weeks, ultrasound day….we received a call that D had not shown up for her ultrasound and that she called to tell our consultant that she has decided to leave her boyfriend and keep her baby. She had reunited with her mom and they were going to raise the baby together. Now, you might think that we were angry with her for this…afterall, how could she string us along all summer and take thousands from us in support? We had our house ready for a baby. WE were supposed to be his parents, right? Nope. God had protected our hearts so perfectly that when we got the news, and the initial (5minute) sting wore off, we were so HAPPY for D. She found a way. She gets to be a momma to her baby!! How could that make anyone angry? God had worked it out to the smallest details. My concern was that she knew we were so happy for her and that we loved her, no matter. It was ok. I felt that peace that only God can wash over me.

This is where it gets ugly and messy and, for sake of sanity and humility and all.things.sensible, I will just share the watered down version. Have you ever had an experience that is so confusing and awful  that all you can do is chalk it up to the darkness in this world? Well, that’s kind of how this next part played out……Two days later we were matched with another baby due “any day now”. He was 100% certainly ours, or so we were told. We let our guards down, went to Target and bought everything we would need for this soon to be born child. Then, I asked if a prenatal record was available for us to look over so we knew what to expect with this baby and just.like.that he was stripped from us and given to a family who would “love him unconditionally” (aka pay more money and not ask questions) To my friends in the adoption community, you may take a short break to wash the vomit from your mouths. I know. Brutal.
Two weeks of refusal to answer our emails and phone calls. We had nothing. We were devastated, angry, hurt, seething mad. Talk about God putting up a huge wall. In the midst of hurt and loss upon loss like this, we barely could see straight. I pushed hard into God and the very close, personal friends he has gifted me with. They spoke truth into me.  I cried, paced, spit…all of those ugly things you do when you get seething mad. But, God was loud and clear to me, once again, to wait. be quiet. TRUST HIM.
I decided I was not going to share publicly what had happened. I was going to let things pass and hopefully ease into the next chapter, without many scars or should I say judgement. People would notice when November comes and we don’t have a baby. I just didn’t have the words. I kept hearing God nudging me to ‘write it out’….share what He is doing in the midst of pain, but golly! That is just such a vulnerable place to put yourself. And in the center of all that confusion and hurt, I certainly couldn’t see the thread of God’s needle. I could feel more of the flame of his blowtorch… How could I possibly find some wonderfully holy inspiration for writing? But God kept revisiting the issue. Write.

Behind the adoption drama unfolding, another ache. Our oldest son. He has had a difficult stretch these last few years and we have had to let him learn some incredibly hard life lessons. Ones that you think to yourself, “son, this is going to possibly wreck you, but you must walk across these burning embers in order to heal and learn.” I can see now that God knew. God saw way in advance that if we had been given D’s baby, we certainly would not have been available to help our first-born child through quite possibly, the most difficult time in his life. I love my God for protecting my children that way. For answering my very own prayers for my children so perfectly. Weaving our hearts together in the most intricate way possible.  I am thankful.

My husband is a patient and introspective man. He encourages me to do things that really stretch me, like be patient, wait it out, be quiet (HA!), listen. He is such a ROCK for me. After all the dust settled from that terrible “you have a baby, wait, no you don’t” week…Sten said to me that we should wait a month, get our bearings and start looking around us at what we should do next. We certainly agreed that we weren’t going to give up on adoption. God put that call on our hearts and we haven’t felt as if he is taking it away.

On November 6 we signed with an adoption consulting firm called Christian Adoption Consultants. Turns out, Freh’s friend in Heaven, Mattie Sam, well, his mom is one of the lead consultants there and they orchestrated the whole “hey, our moms should totally meet” thing. Tracie and I firmly believe that they are up to some serious Heavenly Shenanigans! Isn’t that cool? Isn’t it amazing how if you just take a half step back, you can see that GLORY IS RIGHT THERE? God, just waiting to do His thing! Now, we are working with Tracie’s team at CAC to meet a need and be matched with a baby who needs us and we cannot wait to see what God will do with this. It finally feels like we are right where He wants us to be. Adoption is very hard. Adoption is very risky. But, with God and Godly people by your side, He will use the ugliest of situations and bring beauty from them!

All this time, I have heard God speaking to me to write. “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:1-4 This verse has come to my plate many times over the course of the past 8 years. Be a lamp. Still, I struggled inside my own head with sharing. People will just understand, I told my self. God will understand why I don’t want to write about it, it’s painful. But then, without even mentioning this spiritual struggle to anyone, God used one of his people to deliver a message. A facebook friend wrote me and said she had been feeling like the Lord was leading her to pray for me. We chatted about that and I let her in on the very surface details of our adoption trials. Then just Sunday morning, she messaged me again, “Have you blogged about any of this? I’m wondering if sharing your thoughts, your story might bring your baby home? I believe God is not asking you to share your sorrow rather share His love and openly SEEK your baby. I’m positive God is asking me to tell you to listen to that voice you hear calling.” 

WAIT.
WHAT?

Yes. My God. Our God. He does these things. He uses his people as 2x4s to smack us upside the head. He’s done it before. Why am I surprised? 

So, I just spent the better part of a Monday writing to you about the wonderful, faithful, amazing love that is God. He is in the very details of our lives, even when we feel so far from him. He is right there. Listening. Beckoning. Leading. 

A I am not giving up. Refinement is painful at times. I can see joy and sorrow, contentment and longing all rolled up into a holy ball of fire and ice, beauty like nothing ever witnessed before.  

If you have endured this post to the very end, would you do one more thing? Would you please pray for us. Pray that whatever baby God is intending for our family will make it to our family soon. Praise God with us for the mighty work He is doing in our oldest son. Ask God to give our weary hearts strength in this wait. Pray protection and peace over our children. Ask God for grand logistic graces for all of the ifs and whens of this adoption and the impending adoption of Mihret’s brother from Ethiopia. Please pray that I will continue to seek and see Him in all of the details.

Love you all.
Amy

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