When the Church Responds to Foster Care Needs

On most Fridays I join the challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Visit this inspiring community by clicking here. Today’s prompt is: PROVIDE

My children are grown and married. Currently we are taking care of my daughter’s children while she and her husband attend a seminar and celebrate their anniversary. As grandparents we are being introduced to foster care—we have two foster grandchildren. My eyes are being opened to the circumstances that many children face.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, 437,465 children in our country were in the foster care system in 2016. The most common reason a child is placed in foster care is neglect (61%). The second most common reason is drug abuse (34%).

I was talking with my son-in-law and he said that poverty is a factor. He has participated in a poverty simulation course and was awakened to the stress that poverty places on a family.

Some children bounce back and forth between foster care and their biological family. It is heart breaking. But I have been encouraged to see the way the church in this community has stepped up.

Last Sunday we attended church with our daughter’s family. A dedication service took place for a young couple and their foster daughter. The children’s pastor invited people that wanted to  support  this  young   couple to come to the front of the church.

About thirty people, from teenage to elderly, walked to the front. They encircled the couple. The young mother had grown up in the foster care system and had been befriended by a family in this church.

My daughter’s family is part of a community of believers who are taking in foster children, providing support to families (children’s clothing, furniture as needed, meals as their family grows suddenly).

The community provides material and emotional support. The love and compassion for children is palpable.

It has blessed my heart to see this faith community engaging in the needs of children. I am so grateful that my daughter’s family has this support system.

Mental Illness Affects the Whole Family

Yesterday I began the task of going through my brother’s papers. After years in psychiatric hospitals and then group homes he passed away last June. I was his guardian.

When I saw the prompt for Five Minute Friday, I was already there emotionally. Sadness and REGRET.

When my Dad could no longer handle his  finances,  I  became  his  rep payee. I have years of bank records and medical records. I am discarding many of the papers, but keeping those that tell his life story.

My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult. His illness shattered our family. Each of us was traumatized by the events that took place.

Over the years my sisters and I had our turn as advocate for our brother. We visited him in the hospital and arranged outings.

Among the papers that I accumulated, are papers that my parents saved. I found my brother’s birth certificate. And I found copies of letters that my father wrote seeking better care for him. Letters looking for answers. Letters from hospital administrators, doctors and a senator. A letter from another parent of a mentally ill son.

My brother’s life was tragic. I do wish that I had understood better the heartache that my parents carried for so many years.//

Now I have to trust God’s word.

And I heard a voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

Musing About Family and Privilege

The snow has come as forecasted and the world outside my door is cold and white. It is a good day to stay inside. It is Five Minute Friday—the day that we take five minutes, or just a little more—to write on the prompt that Kate Motaung gives us. Today’s prompt is: PRIVILEGE

There is a great benefit to growing up in a family with both mother and father. When the family reads Bible together and prays, there is additional blessing. This is God’s design. An intact family is not meant to be a privilege, but we live in a broken world.

My daughter and son-in-law have taken in two children through foster care. They have had some contact with the biological parents and are deeply saddened by the brokenness that has led to the child entering foster care. My daughter has shared with me her gratitude for our family, her growing up years.

Sometimes we don’t recognize the privilege we have experienced until we move outside of our comfort zone. Sometimes we need a new perspective. //

Family - Bouquet

As a nurse I had a dramatic change in perspective when I left the hospital labor and delivery unit to attend home births. For years I had taught Lamaze classes, giving instruction on how to stay relaxed, how to breathe, comfort measures for labor. When my clients gave me feedback, they told me about the hospital procedures they encountered. The breathing techniques and relaxation did not always help.

For home birth, the laboring mother is in her home. I was the guest giving her guidance and support. She was able to work with her labor in a way that I hadn’t seen in the hospital.

I am now an advocate of homebirth—with a clear plan for hospital transport when labor is prolonged or complicated. My hope is that hospital staff and homebirth attendants can have increased communication and understanding. All can benefit from a new perspective.

It is a challenge to step outside of our comfort zone. As Christians we have been given a great gift and the ability to reach out to others with love.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God . . .

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the common wealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2: 8, 12-13

 

Talking About Sex

On Thursday evenings I look forward to seeing the prompt  that  Kate   Motaung has chosen for Five Minute Friday. I enjoy linking up with this community of writers and seeing where the word takes us. Today’s prompt is: INTENTIONAL

I was born in the 1950s, before the b.c. pill became widely available

My mother had five of us. The women in my church had anywhere from three to five, maybe six children. My aunt had six children.

I was just out of nursing school when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. I still remember the young woman that was brought in to the  labor and delivery unit where I was working. She was there for a saline induction and as I understood what was happening, I was horrified. The baby would die before being delivered.

The next day I went to the nurse manager and told her that I could never be assigned an abortion case. I wrote a letter about my conviction, and it was placed in my file at work.

I grew up in a different age. The sexual revolution has made things seem common, things that are harmful to women.

I want my granddaughters to know that they should protect their bodies. I want them to know that sex is a deep bond reserved for marriage. It is just one part of a life-long commitment to one man.

I want them to know that sometimes pregnancy is a surprise,  but  it  is  always a gift. Motherhood is hard; it is a self-sacrificing role, but it has many joys. It is a time to get close to God. A time to lean in to Him for strength and guidance.

I will tell them.

All Life is Precious

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Advent and the Family

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son . . . John 3:16

As I think about Christmas and God’s great gift to us, I find it meaningful that Jesus came to a family. He came as an infant to Mary and Joseph, to the family unit. From the beginning, starting in Genesis, God planned the family unit.

We have fractures and brokenness in family life, but it is God’s design for nurture. Jesus came to heal the brokenness. The church family is called to be a place of healing.

My daughter and her husband are taking in two children for foster care, hoping to adopt. This is a stretching experience. We have limited insight into the heritage and health history of the children. We simply know that they need a loving home.

It gives me joy to see my daughter and son-in-law welcoming them into their home. I am blessed in being able to help. As I swaddle and feed the baby he cuddles up against me.

And so I have new insight. As part of a church family my willingness to extend love needs to be stretched. God’s desire is for us to bring healing to those in need.

Five Minute Friday is a community of inspirational writers. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is ONLY.

Thank-you for visiting.   I would be pleased to have you stop  by my  Facebook page.

A Thanksgiving Birthday

This year I cooked the turkey on Wednesday, a day before Thanksgiving. I scooped out the stuffing and put it in a casserole dish. I deboned the meat and placed it in a  large  baking  dish.   I  put  the  bones in  the  freezer, planning to make broth sometime in the next week.

Turkey

When my daughter and her family came for Thanksgiving my meal was ready. I said to her, “This worked well. I think I might want to do this again.”

She gave me a peculiar look and said, “You cooked the turkey on Wednesday last year too.”

“I did?”

“Mom, the baby was due and we didn’t know when I was going to go into labor. You made the turkey ahead and brought it over on Thanksgiving.”

And then I remembered. She did go into labor late in the day on Thanksgiving. Sometime during the early morning hours of the next day she went to the hospital with her husband—and I went along as extra support.

The birth of my youngest grandson was beautiful. The doctor commented that he wasn’t really needed. Everything proceeded smoothly.

I remember the birth of this little boy,  now  turning  one  year  old.  Memory of the Thanksgiving dinner has faded into the background.

But I think I will keep the tradition of cooking the bird on Wednesday.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is FAMILIAR.  Visit this community and join the fun by clicking here.

A Mouse in the House

It is Friday and the #FMF community is writing and posting their thoughts on the prompt given by our gracious leader, Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: EXCUSE  You can visit the community and join in the fun by clicking here

The cold weather has arrived, and I have found evidence of a mouse on my KITCHEN COUNTER! I washed the counter and placed cotton balls with peppermint oil along the inside edge of the counter.   I  told  my husband that we had to get rid of the mice.

My husband dutifully brought out a mousetrap and set it with a piece of cheese for bait. And the next morning the cheese was gone . . . no mouse.

Dear husband set the trap again. This time he used caramel sauce for bait and set two traps. And the next morning the caramel sauce had been licked off both traps . . . no mouse.

I looked at the empty trap—I am a little skittish about handling a mousetrap. I took a metal knife and set the trap off and then picked it up. I was determined that we were going to catch the critter, no excuses.

I took a small chunk of cheese and worked it in my fingers to make a soft ball and then smashed it on the bait holder. Then I turned the trap this way and that as I figured out how to set the trigger. I set the trap on the floor.

That evening, while we were watching TV, we heard the trap go off. My husband went to look and he came back with surprise written across his face. “You caught one.”

So he took care of disposing of the mouse. I asked him if he was going to set the trap again. He looked at me and gave this excuse, “Well, you’re the one that knows how to set the trap.”

So I set the trap again. We have caught mouse number three. At first my husband’s pride was hurt, and then he realized he had a partner in catching mice. Sometimes we have these little difference to work out as husband and wife. I am glad that he takes the mouse out of the trap.

A Song of Home: Book Review

This past October I met Susie Finkbeiner at the Breathe Conference for writers. I went to her session on dialogue and picked up helpful tips for my writing. I learned that Susie writes historical fiction. When given the opportunity to be on her launch team for A Song of Home, I signed up. It is the third book in the Pearl Spence series. Having finished this book, I will go back and read the first two.

A Song of Home

The book is set in 1935. Pearl’s family has moved from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to Michigan. Pearl is a thoughtful girl, eleven years old. Through her eyes we see the complex troubles in her home and town. Her relationship with her mother has painful wounds.

Will Bliss, Michigan ever feel like home? She attends school and church, but has deep distress over her mother’s choices. She is a reader and finds comfort in the local library. Stories linger in her mind; her musings about life are touching.

Opal Moon brings some order to the Spence household. She offers friendship to Pearl and gives her an outlet for her energy. With music streaming from the radio, Opal teaches Pearl the new dance steps. (I learned about the Swing Era.)

Other women provide guidance for Pearl.   Aunt  Carrie  is  a  rock  of  stability. Mrs. Trask, the librarian, has a gentle kindness. Meemaw isn’t physically present, but her words of wisdom come back to Pearl. Pearl makes a connection between lessons from the Bible and events taking place in her life.

A Song of Home is a well-crafted story of love, forgiveness and hope.

Sharing this post at Booknificent Thursday 

Thoughts on Motherhood

Motherhood is hard and self-sacrificing. As I look back I remember the fatigue, the laughter and tears, the hard questions and my shortcomings. The years have passed by quickly.

Now I am a grandmother and I realize that God was refining me. I was blessed by the Lord’s guidance, the prayers that were answered. I am thankful for the great joy that my family gives me.

Two recently released books bring attention to the role of mothers. Erica Komisar has written Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. The Wall Street Journal had an article about the author, who is a psychoanalyst, and reviewed her book. Ms. Komisar pursued research into the hormones released during birth and breastfeeding. She discussed the love hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin, Ms. Komisar explains, “is a buffer against stress.” Mothers produce it when they give birth, breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children. “The more oxytocin the mother produces, the more she produce in the baby” by communicating via eye contact, touch and gentle talk. 1 //

Oxytocin: Love Hormone

I am currently reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood by Julie Roys. The author looks at the confusion in our culture over sexuality, marriage and gender. Ms. Roys goes back to scripture for direction. One chapter in the book is titled Marginalizing Motherhood. She writes:

Many moms today need to hear that motherhood is worth sacrificing some of their best years. Unfortunately, that’s not what they are hearing—not from society and not from the church.2

Women are struggling with the demands of mothering. But it is a God given role. A few pages later Ms. Roys continues:

God values motherhood because he values children and is critically concerned with transferring the faith from one generation to another.3

Children need mothers, and mothers need God’s help. They need encouragement from friends and family. One of my favorite scenes in the Bible is the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”                  Luke 2: 39-45

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. Luke 2:56

If you are a young mom, be encouraged. God is faithful to answer prayers. If you are older, like me, you can encourage a young mom. As women of faith we can seek ways to come alongside women that have experienced miscarriage or infertility. There are joys and sorrows in motherhood; we can share them.

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: NEED Visit the Five Minute Friday Community here.

  1. Taranto, James, “The Politicization of Motherhood” The Wall Street Journal, October 28-29, 2017 A11
  2. Roys, Julie, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood, Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2017 p. 148
  3. Ibid. p. 155

Meeting Life’s Challenges

In the past few weeks I have read a couple of books about women overcoming difficulties in life. Sue Detweiler’s book is about the value of prayer. My review of Women Who Move Mountains is here.

Mountain View

Kristina Cowan wrote about birth trauma and post partum depression. She has included research as well as her experience as a woman of faith walking through this most difficult time. The number of women experiencing birth trauma seems to be rising. My review of When Post Partum Packs a Punch is here.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch

Currently I am reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood. Our culture has so many mixed and confusing messages about sexuality. The author takes us through her own misconceptions and what she has learned. How do we recognize error? How do we guide the young women in our area of influence?

Julie Roys’ book is thought provoking and worthy of discussion. When I have finished the book I will write a review.

Every season of life has challenges. We can be victorious through prayer, study of God’s word and thoughtful discussion in the community of believers.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is OVERCOME.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Linking with Booknificent Thursday