Archive | November 2013

Day after Thanksgiving


Dear Readers:

My prayer is that all of you had a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by the people who help you feel loved and blessed. We embarked upon an adventure of manhandling my wheelchair into my oldest niece’s home to share a Thanksgiving meal. It was the first time I’ve been in someone else’s home since my amputation, the first time I’ve seen inside her house since they moved and the first time to celebrate the holiday with my sister and her family in probably a decade.

Thanksgiving is one holiday I’ve always felt, since I was a young teenager that sort of gets the bums rush out the door. The older I get, the more I see how true my teenage wisdom turned out to be. (Now that’s not something I can say every day.) A huge number of American’s get all hyped up over Halloween (a holiday I can’t stand now) and seem to slam dunk into Christmas. Thanksgiving is just turkey and football road kill along the way for a lot of people. Still for others all it means is the “Black Friday” sales marathon is on, which is an event I understand, where a deal can be had if you’re brave enough to enter the fray.

I’m not. Never have been. I don’t see that changing. Shopping has never been high on my list of entertainments nor are crowds. Enough said.

Instead the ladies of our household (okay my daughter and I) are hosting a Christmas ornament craft make-it and take-it day. Not a huge crowd. All ladies except for my two-year-old great nephew. Time for fellowship, crafting, laughter, soup and sharing. Our first social occasion in our new home since we moved in nearly two years ago.

However you spent your Thanksgiving or however you spend the day after I do have this one hope for each of you. That hope is that as the approach of the day set aside to acknowledge the birth of our Savior ticks closer to us you can do just that; acknowledge Christ.

In whatever way you feel led by God to do so I hope you find multiple ways to have a lot of Christ in your Christmas!

Twenty-five days and counting!

–Faye

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Thanksgiving Day Prayer


Abba Father,

For the beauty in this world,

I thank You…

Whether it is a glorious skyline…

Or children jumping in leaves…

Or a flowering weed…

I thank You.

 

For the good in this world

I thank You…

Whether it’s volunteers in missions…

Or homeless shelters…

Or a mother’s faith in her child…

I thank You.

 

For the bravery in this world

I thank You…

Whether it’s a policeman facing crime…

Or the bullied saying, “Enough”…

Or a child battling deadly disease…

I thank You.

 

For faith, family and friends in this world

I thank You…

Whether we are always at peace…

Or see enough of one another…

Or understand individual battles…

I thank You.

 

For these things in this world

I thank You…

Whether others see what I do or not…

Or these things seem too vague…

Or perhaps they seem too small…

I thank You.

 

For these things in this world

I thank You…

Without them my life would be less…

My heart would be less tender…

My soul would be less free…

I thank You.

 

For this day set aside to be grateful

I thank You…

Whether in sickness or in health…

Abundance or in need

In smiles or in wretched tears…

I thank You.

 

I thank You.

-d.f.a.v. 11/26/13

Many blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving!

–Faye

 


 

Gratitude

 

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 N.I.V.

When you’re tired of this life

And we often are

Tired of the news being bad

Constant repairs on the car.

 

When you’re health’s declining

And the bills pile up

The harder you try the worse it gets

Nothing at all in your cup.

 

When your child’s in trouble

And nothing you can do

Or your spouse walks out

Shocking and surprising you.

 

Be filled with gratitude!

 

Circumstances may not change

Life may still be tough

The difference will be in you

How you respond when it’s rough.

 

Don’t deny the realities

But look for something

That you can praise God for

Let Heaven with your praises ring.

 

God is walking right beside you

Guiding you through the storm

So if nothing else my friend

Let that keep you warm.

 

Be filled with gratitude!

-d.f.a.v. 11/24/13

Being grateful with you,

–Faye

Prayer from the Cottage by the Sea-Thankful

image

Abba Father,

I’m thankful for so many things

But this morning Lord I’m most thankful for

My faith.

Not faith that the chair will be there

Or that the car will stop when I’m crossing

No my FAITH.

My faith that You are the I Am

That You are walking with me every step

That FAITH.

I’m thankful for this faith Lord

Because it assures me You are alive and well

Faith.

A gift from You I’ve no doubt

As is my life, my family, my church, my friends

Our faith.

I’m thankful for so many things

This morning Lord I’m most thankful for

My faith.

    d.f.a.v. 11/24/13

Being thankful,

–Faye

My Wishes

 

I wish I knew their names

The names of every parent

Who adopted a child.

 

I wish I could thank them

Face to face with gratitude

For their love given.

 

I wish I could know

The children they’ve accepted

Who they love as their own.

 

I wish we could have

A great big party to celebrate

The creation of a Forever Family.

 

I wish no child

Would go to bed without parents

Without a home to call their own.

 

I wish I could do more

Than pray or draw attention to

National Adoption Awareness Month.

 

I wish just one child

Could find one Forever Family

Because it’s the right thing to do.

 

I wish those ones

Would soon add up to all

So every child has a family of their own.

 

I wish I could say thank you

To all the people who make

Adoption dreams come true.

 

Would I be saying thank you

To you, or you, or you

Or maybe to one of you?
d.f.a.v. 11/18/13

Thank you!
–Faye

 

Who Matters?

WARNING! Today’s picture post is not for the squeamish.

Photo from a Facebook repost from Al Ramirez originating from a (by self-report) Animal Shelter Manager, who posted via Facebook this and other pictures to give the inside look at life for pets surrendered to his and other animal shelters. I am unable to verify that this shelter manager’s written or pictorial report is true but I have no reason to doubt it. Besides, a “picture is worth a thousand words” and his picture certainly speaks volumes. This picture was not something I particularly wanted to see on my Facebook page but the image has remained with me. It spurred me to other thoughts though. Pictures of what we don’t see.

Dozens of metal trash cans are piled full of stiff dead cats. Quite the shocking image and it’s meant to be. It’s being circulated as a warning to those who turn their pets over to animal shelters, “This is what happens to these poor animals. Shame on you”.

Another series of television ads show dozens of abused animals. It’s up to us to rescue them.

An entire reality based television program was being aired depicting animal rescue workers going in and forcibly removing abused animals from their owners. It’s the SWAT team for animal rescue.

Every time I watch television and I confess that isn’t daily, I see these type advertisements. Send donations! Put a stop to these horrible animal cruelty! It’s an ugly and hard look at an ugly truth.

It rips at your heart. It’s meant to and it should. Animal abuse and neglect is evil. God never intended for humans to purposely hurt animals.

He didn’t intend for us to do the same and worse to our children.

What’s wrong? No advertisements depicting abused and neglected children’s situations. No reality based television of Child Protective Care workers storming into a house and forcibly removing abused and neglected children. (Of course people’s privacy must be protected, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but given what is aired on television today, I do believe there is a way around all of that. Is it truer to say the reason we don’t see it is because it’s an ugly reality we just want to ignore? Do we think it will just disappear?)

The closest we come in equalizing the issues are the news coverage of child abuse cases (and what we see and hear about is an incredibly small percentage), television ads to send donations to stop world hunger and advertisements from pro-life groups to stop abortions. The latter two also soliciting funding.

But states are responsible for child abuse and neglect protection and they are funded by our tax dollars. As a resident of Alabama let me tell you state tax funding is far, far, far from being enough.

Here Child Protective Services is under the Department of Human Resources, DHR for short. Funding cuts are yearly events. If DHR can’t have enough money to fund themselves decently then they can’t reimburse the service providers they contract with to cover services DHR themselves can’t provide for lack of money and/or cost effectiveness. Foster families are given incredibly insufficient funds to care for foster children. Every year it is do more with way less.

The lack of money trickles down and who hurts the most? The children. Children already removed from homes where they were abused and/or neglected are then hung up in a program poorly funded, overloaded, overworked and insufficient because no one can get blood from a stone.

In no way would I advocate the harming of animals or the protection of those who do. I also realize that for many their pets are as human to them as my child is to me. But I can’t help but wonder who matters more? Animals or human beings? I think it is a legitimate question. Along with many more when it comes to what gets funded and what doesn’t.

That’s just my opinion.

–Faye

Our Adoption Story

 

Married ten years my husband and I finally accepted that God did not intend to give us children biologically. We had suffered through our third miscarriage and the heartache for me was heavy and suffocating. On top of this I had been through other health issues that made even trying to have another child ill-advised.

My husband and I discussed adoption with a lot of bad information. We heard horror stories of couples spending thousands of dollars and biological mothers backing out at or shortly after birth. Of biological parents coming back in the child’s later years and successfully winning custody of their biological children. We also knew first hand of adoptions from other countries that required thousands and thousands of dollars. We weren’t educated properly and it slowed us down. Which, in the end, was a good thing, but even the good thing could have been much better had we been more knowledgeable and known truth verses fiction in perusing successful adoptions.

Our youngest niece, the biological first born of my husband’s sister, had lived with us on and off since birth. Christmas of 2005 she, her mom, Alicia and my mother-in-law, Helen moved in with us again. Alicia was enlisting in the Army and Helen and Kiana were to remain with us until Alicia moved to her first duty station. All that changed.

While we were back in Alabama trying to make our custody of Kiana legal Alicia was in boot camp. It was a huge obstacle in our care for Kiana to not have Alicia present or for the county family court where we live to be able to contact her. Kiana’s custody was supposedly in Helen’s lap but it turned out there was no signed court order for that in Helen or Alicia’s possession. Additionally the Department of Children’s Services in Tennessee would not cooperate with any of us including the judge in our case himself.

Finally when the custody issue and my husband and I were her legal guardians the entire case changed. Alicia called shortly after she’d completed boot camp from school in Texas and asked me if we’d adopt Kiana. Alicia was pregnant and the father was a fellow recruit from boot camp who was also with her at school. They planned on getting married when school was over. What I suspected to be part of the picture we were not seeing was that her fiancé’ wasn’t thrilled with the idea of raising Kiana. It would be a few years before Alicia admitted that to me.

Meanwhile, Alicia’s second pregnancy was difficult, especially during the first trimester and the Army discharged her on a medical discharge. Eventually she, Helen and Paul ended up in her hometown and we went to see them around Thanksgiving. It was not a good visit for Kiana. Paul was not friendly to any of us and Alicia spent a great deal of time, when we visited Dollywood, crying due to Paul’s moodiness.

Kiana’s feelings of being responsible for Helen and Alicia’s happiness, which we’d been working on in play therapy, were overwhelming for her as she experienced them firsthand again. At the end of the day, when dark had fallen, we prepared to leave and Kiana’s heart was broken. She was really unhappy leaving her Mommy with Paul since Paul had made her cry, she was tired from being active all day. She was torn between the Mommy she loved and the Mama and Daddy she also loved. Even at four she recognized she felt safer with us, but the relationship she’d had with Mommy and Helen was what felt “natural” to her. It was a tough spot for a four-year-old.

The successful part of the trip was that we had secured Alicia’s signature on the necessary paperwork to have her parental rights severed. The battle before us now was the biological rights of the father.

Finding him was impossible. In order to avoid child support, in part, Tim and his new wife (he had not been married when he fathered Kiana) moved a lot and Tim changed jobs as soon as the Department of Children’s Services would locate him. Which we would find out only when no child support checks would arrive. Eventually the Alabama court agreed we could notify Tim of our intention to have his parental rights severed by means of public notification in his hometown paper after six months of no child support.

At last we were allowed to adopt Kiana and the legal battles were over. In the years she has been with us and since that one heart breaking visit to Dollywood, Kiana continues to see or talk Alicia or Helen. Kiana has seen therapists during these years to help her adjust to her life changes.

God choose to fulfill our desire for children through a family adoption. An unexpected but wonderful thing and a blessing I cannot begin to explain. Kiana is our daughter and I hate it when people feel the need to stipulate that she is our adopted daughter.

I do wish Chris and I had understood adoption better before delving into adopting Kiana in that knowing the laws and more of the how to do this and that would have been valuable information. That is one reason I advocate for adoption now. There are so many children who need families. Some of them may already be part of your extended family, as Kiana was for us. Some of them may live next door or down the street. Some of them in your city, county or state and some of them in another country, but they all have the same need regardless of where they are or where you are located, a safe and loving home.

If you are considering adoption or foster parenting get educated. Know the facts, resources and options. Options for adopt are many. Which will you choose to take to heart?

–Faye

*Names changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Only by Amazing Grace

No better off, no better woman than any other

Just a woman trusting in the Lord,

My life’s no prize, God knows, trust me, I sin

And oh the raging water’s I’ve had to ford.

Sorry to say I don’t usually do right

No matter my intentions or what I want to do

Seems like to me I mess it up, always

Though I’ve promised to Jesus to be true.

When it comes to comparing me to others

The world tells me I’m not as bad as some

And that I’m way worse than the saints

Yet one day God is going to call me home.

Before the Lord Jesus I’ll face my life

I’ll see through His eyes how wicked I am

I’ll learn just how little I’ve done for Him

He’d be just in my face to door to slam;

Yet though I’ve no doubt and won’t deny

There are times I am nothing but a hypocrite

Times when my sins mount higher than any

When at His feet I’m unworthy to sit,

One thing redeems me, one thing to which I cling

Jesus came to this earth and cruelly died

Then He rose again in defeat of death

Though evil had Him brutally crucified

And with grace so amazing, grace so sweet

He has lifted me out of my life’s disgrace

Undeserving then and undeserving still

Jesus saved me by His precious amazing grace.

So utter your observations, jeer if you want

Call me crazy, tell me I’m weak, needing a crutch

Point out my failures, all the times I fall

But don’t forget I tell you this much,

God loves you, God loves me, and no doubt it’s true

Call me and all the others all the labels you will

There’s a hole in your heart God’s perfect size

By no other grace than amazing it’s a hole He’ll fill.

        d.f.a.v. 11/18/13

 

I think a perfect church sign would read, “You’re right. We’re hypocrites, sinners, liars and thieves and worse. No perfect members wanted, only those humble enough to admit what they are before God.”

–Faye

Crushed

Screaming into her cell phone 24-year-old Alia* stared in disgust at the 18-month-old baby boy before her. So what if he was a cutie? He’d been the millstone around her neck her mother had warned her about for years.

Looking at Caleb’s big blue eyes and white blonde hair made her even madder. Before this kid came between them Alia had believed the baby could be the answer to her situation with Jason.

“This is your stupid fault Jason! You went and found Jesus and changed everything!”

On his end of the conversation he tried, again, to explain how once he accepted Christ as his Savior he couldn’t keep having sex with her. He was doing everything he could to be a good father and to provide for Caleb and her.

“But you won’t marry me will you Mr. Holy Roly? I hate your God!” Alia screamed.

Calmly Jason tried to explain to her that her hostility towards him and God didn’t make good foundations for a marriage. Alia didn’t hear.

Seething over how obvious it was that Jason adored their son and God more than her, she let a primitive scream wail into the phone. “I hate you! I hate your God! I hate your precious son too! I should have had an abortion!”

As Jason’s reasonable voice coaxed her to calm down she exploded. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I am not letting some snotty rich people adopt this brat after you forced me to have it! You ruined everything Jason!”

Snatching the baby up, she hurried to her car barely pausing to buckle the boy in a seat. The empty car seat was a looming presence in her rearview mirror as she raced out onto the highway.

Caleb’s crying, Jason’s pleading and rage built up inside Alia making a canopy of noise in her head. The phone was still in her hand and she screamed into it, “Tell me you love me more than Caleb! Tell me!”

Leaving no time for Jason to answer she neared the roads curve. “You’ll have to choose soon” she said.

Her foot left the gas pedal, but she didn’t apply the brakes. With the SUV pointing toward the ravine she gribbed her cell phone and closed her eyes. First the vehicle was a cocoon of plastic, leather and metal encasing them as it became airborne.

Trees stood in the path of the sailing vehicle, large branches snatching the undercarriage, ripping at the tires. The interference was enough to flip the SUV. As the vehicle flipped the windows shattered, deployed airbags cushioning Alia but Caleb shrieked in fear as he was thrown around the vehicle.

Over and over the vehicle turned. Alia clung to her cell phone and Jason was hysterical on the other end as he heard the noise. Four minutes after the SUV left the road it crumbled to a stop, upside down. Alia crawled through the window, her head bleeding from a slight scratch and her wrist aching.

Sitting down on a near-by boulder she stuck her cell phone in her hip pocket. Jason had insisted on On-Star service with the truck so help would arrive soon. “How long will it take them,” she asked out loud?

Within minutes she heard sirens and when she heard the first squeal of brakes she lay herself out near the boulder, waiting for the rescue people to reach her. As she saw the deputy coming down the rocky ravine she remembered her cell phone and managed to push it just out of easy arm’s reach before he reached her.

Soon firemen, police officers and paramedics swarmed the scene. Already the rescue personnel were exchanging looks and quietly pointing out what caught their experienced eyes as wrong. Alia watched through slotted eyes but her inexperienced eyes didn’t see the clues theirs did. Nor did she see the clues A’s they were marked and evidence was collected.

The first deputy on the scene found her cell phone and she heard him call Jason who was listed in her contacts as her I.C.E. number.

It wasn’t long before Alia knew Jason was at the scene. A brief silence fell when the deputy escorted him down the ravine. Alia heard his voice asking about her and Caleb.

Moaning, she made her voice weak as she asked for Jason. Then came a howl of grief so large it seemed to pass through her telling her all she needed to know. Now Jason would love her and only her.

The Lifesaver Helicopter’s approach could be heard as firemen and paramedics carried Alia up the steep ravine strapped to a backboard. Tugging on one of the paramedic’s sleeves she asked if Jason could ride with her.

“I’ll ask m’am.” But she returned with a negative reply.

Alia held her thoughts to herself. Jason would come to her soon enough, she assured herself.

As they loaded her into the helicopter she closed her eyes, “How simple a solution,” she thought.

The paramedics jumped out of Lifesaver and joined the other rescue workers a safe distance from the helicopter’s blades as they started up. Everyone looked at the disappearing chopper then gradually at one another.

Jason was being helped to the top of the ravine where his father waited. He was bent over in pain as he stumbled towards his dad.

Then all eyes followed his, as from the road, he pointed to where the Winnie-the-Pooh blanket covered the lifeless body of his son.

The son Alia had never once asked about.

Though based on the bare facts of a true story names and identifying details have been changed or altered to protect the privacy of the grieving.

Please, if you or your partner are hurting your child or considering harming them in any way seek help. Many states allow you to turn your child over to a hospital or other such facility with no questions or punishment involved. Help is available if you seek it out. Adoption may or may not be the right solution for you, but, harming your child IS NEVER THE RIGHT ANSWER.

–Faye

Another Woman’s Child – Part 3

(From AWC-Part 2) “However it came to be, they wouldn’t be seeking a solution in a doctor’s office this they both knew for sure.”

Briefly closing her eyes Sarah reminded herself of the promise God had given her, He would allow them to be parents, in HIS time. God could not be rushed.

Sarah clung to that promise and exploring adoption with Kevin had provided them with much more fun and anticipation than they had thought possible. Yet so far they had not been able to find “their” child. There were so many children out there needing parents but both of them knew they were meant for specific children and so far, God had not given them the green light. Now the Christmas holidays were fast approaching.

With this holiday approaching Sarah found it to be particularly difficult to sing the hymns and Christmas songs about a baby Jesus and His mother Mary. The longing for a child seemed to triple in her heart and she prayed constantly. Reminding herself God always kept His promises she forged ahead.

She prayed as she shopped, as she decorated, as she wrapped gifts, as she cooked meals, laid awake at night, woke each morning and even as she showered. “Please Lord; please help me keep the faith.”

Kevin too was praying. He knew, though Sarah tried hard to hide it, how hard the holiday was for her. It was hard for him too.

The phone ringing early two weeks before Christmas caught Sarah in the midst of baking cookies for the widows Christmas baskets at church. It was one of the not-for-profit adoption groups they had applied with and had been approved as foster parents with.

They’d taken in four children over the last six months for brief periods before the children had been moved to other homes before too much bonding could take place as they would not be children up for adoption later.

If surprised at the number of adoption agencies, for-profit and not-for-profit ones they were stunned at the number of children in the United States who were waiting to be adopted. Sarah and Kevin’s hearts wept for many of the children they read about on websites.

The caseworker asked Sarah to look at a particular group of siblings who had recently became listed with the state as adoptable children. The picture that came up was of a group of six siblings. The caseworker had told her their parents had died in a house fire. A fire caused from their manufacturing crack cocaine in their homes’ basement. The children ranged in age from 4 to 14 and as Sarah studied their photograph she saw the weariness in their eyes.

The oldest, a girl who was dressed much like a boy, had a defiant look on her face that chilled Sarah to the bone and made her wonder what that 14-year-old was feeling. As much as this sibling group called to her Sarah was sure taking on six children at one time with such an age range and in a house that didn’t have room was not God’s will.

There was no point in getting the children’s hopes up knowing the local Department of Children’s Services would not approve them for six children. Still she and Kevin went to meet the siblings and Sarah felt it hard to leave them in the agency’s visiting room. The six had been split into four different homes and clearly the hour they had together was precious to them.

Reality couldn’t be denied. Kevin and she lived in a modest three bedroom house with one bathroom, it would not work for eight people. No way. Sarah tried to forget the sibling group and a new fear began to nibble at her heart.

Christmas was a week away and Kevin asked Sarah to sit with him by their tree one night after dinner. He’d turned the tree lights on and lit the candles she’d placed around the room, turning off the overhead lights. They sat on their sofa enjoying the quiet of the moment. Kevin spoke first.

“I’ve really been praying a lot more about God leading us to the right child in the right way to adopt Sarah and I know you have too.”

She sighed, “Yes, but mostly I’ve been praying He’d help me keep my faith in Him and the promise He made me.” She paused then continued, “And I have to admit there is one issue I can’t get beyond Kevin.”

“What?” He was surprised.

“What if I can’t love another woman’s child Kevin? No matter which child God brings into our lives?” Sarah confessed her fear.

“Sarah honey, you have a mother’s heart already. Of course you can love another person’s child! Where did this come from all of a sudden?”

“I was looking at that website with that sibling group of six on it and remembering what their caseworker said about how their parents died. Kevin, their parents were dopers. They used drugs and they made drugs to sell. They endangered the lives of their children by starting that fire that killed them. Why do you think the oldest has that hard look on her face? What do you think those kids have seen? Experienced? It won’t be easy to love kids like that.” The look on Sarah’s face was one of panic. “Kids like those six are going to need a lot of emotional support, unconditional love, a firm set of ground rules and who knows what else?

Kevin nodded slowly and interjected, “We haven’t even discussed adopting that sibling group seriously Sarah. And they can’t help who their parents were or what their parents did, kids like them and others need forever families in more ways than we can begin to name.”

“Yes, I know,” Sarah said, tears rolling down her cheeks, “but Kevin there won’t be a bit of either of us in a child we adopt. Not a bit of our blood or a bit of our flesh. Biologically no child we adopt will ever be ours.”

“You’re right but we know a bunch of people who have been adopted and it makes no difference to their Father.” Kevin smiled.

“Yes, but I’m not God…I’m not sure I can do this Kevin but I don’t see any other way we can become parents.”

“Let’s pray now Sarah, together. God is going to open this door. I just know it.” Kevin said, reaching for her hand.

Across town another group of people were praying too. They were praying about how to help Kevin and Sarah in a practical way.

To be continued…