Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Makings Of A Good Mamma Horror Film.....

It was a scene right out of a mamma horror film.

The moment where you realize that the coffee grounds a child spilled  the day before were the very last ones in the house.

And if  it happens to be day 5 of a high fever/cough-out-your-lungs sort of flu that is circling through the kids and the longest stretch of sleep you have seen was 2 hours - four days ago.

And your developing the cough that comes as a precursor to the debilitating fever.

And there is no-one else to step in and do your 24/7 job.

And a child is caught doing something that endangers everyone...and they don't understand what the big deal is.

These are the elements of what could have been a horror-story  Saturday - simply because they stacked up with the everyday drama and reality of parenting my 11 kids. It could have been just enough to bring this unprepared mama to her ever loving knees in  panic and joy-sucking fear.

Except it didn't  have to.
Unless I let it.
Because I know there is another way to deal with this
(and it doesn't include running away or overindulging in alcohol.)

If I can get my eyes out of the mess around me
and lay down the weight of it all.
to watch diligently for the blessings and mercies that come every morning -

I will see them.

They are there and the promises are true - I have not been forsaken, I am not alone, I am beloved and I am truly blessed.

Even if I don't sleep
Even if I get sick
Even if I have to call 911 for a child's febrile seizures that go on too long or the house is set on fire by a child....

Even if I don't 'feel' them.....they are still true.
But I have to open my eyes and my heart to see them or I will simply curl into a ball of despair.

So I can take my hot cup of Thera Flu with me into the shower  and instead of crying I can laugh.

Because one friend brought groceries in the morning - and another brought a hot meal at noon.

And no 911 calls needed to be made.  But if they did - my cell is working and I know the responders who are likely to show up.

And other friends came and brought gifts to pass through for another family - and a shopping bag full of wine - simply to make me smile.

Laughing and receiving the joy that comes when my heart is not set on this life being exactly what I want - but in trusting that is exactly what He wants it to be.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Once Upon A Time 900 Kids .......

Once upon a time  31 Ugandan Village Cooperatives of 30 widows and single mamas  hearts were woven together  with  Beauty for Ashes Uganda.   These mamas had 900 secondary school age kids who were the treasures of their lives.  But these families were living on $.76 a day which made school almost impossible.

Then God whispered a plan into my friend Brandi's heart.
And set it in motion.

He called out a group of Advocates from far across the world to each represent one village and help meet the physical needs of those precious families.

They did the math....and were terrified at the fact that $38,000 was needed to ensure that those 900 kids were going to school.  So they prayed, and wept and cheered over every single donation.  And they waivered in their confidence because there was only two months to reach that goal...and honestly...they  were all over their heads busy outside of this craziness.

But God....

....had the rest of the plan. Today - December 12th - a month after starting the Join Our Village campaign we are at an amazing $36,000.

That means that 850 of the kids are already covered and only $2,000 more is needed to have them all enrolled in school next term.

I stand amazed.

That God would use us.  This ragged band of cracked and tired hearts which meet late at night on goggle hangout - as the instruments of His love.

His radical,
Tonight I go to bed knowing that the 57 kids from Tubor - my particular village - are headed to school because others  joined the Virtual Village or  stepped into the gap and helped bridge us until our members come forward.

I am trusting that the same God who provided for the 950 will also cover the 50 who are left.

Because every one is precious.

The whisper on my lips tonight is 'thank you God,' for allowing me to love the 900 and trusting me to be a part of their story.

If you feel led to help us bring those last 50 kids into the 'we've got this covered' category follow this link and donate under the one time donations  section.  If you want to have fun you can add 'cheering for the last 50 kids' or something like that to the comments/designate village box so that Brandi can have the joy of matching donations to the villages who have students still unfunded. Honestly - $2000 more feels almost like nothing compared to the $38,000 that we faced to begin with.

Tonight I am waiting expectantly for the rest of the plan to be revealed and doing the crazy happy dance in the meantime.

Unpacking The Holidays And Pulling The Pieces Back Together..........

Unpacking the holiday decorations after Thanksgiving led me to a startling realty. Somehow in the chaos and craziness of the past 5 years a few very basic family holiday traditions had fallen by the wayside and it was way past time to pick them back up.

Like the truth that these ornaments with each of the kids baby pictures on them hadn't even been unpacked since 2009.  And the 3 youngest kids didn't even have one yet?!  Honestly, I was shocked to see that this particular tradition had been shelved because it is one way I have celebrated and marked each child's adoption or birth.

But this year is different.  I have margin and emotional space to unpack them and order the missing ones online though Walmart.   15 minutes at my computer, $30 and a few spare ribbons later made me feel as if we were one healthy step closer to leaving the chaos zone.

Until I went to hang the stockings and realized that Laughter didn't have one of his own.  Seriously?  How?  Felt stockings are one of the few sewing projects besides karate uniforms that I do anymore.  And every child of mine has had one before their first birthday. 

Except...apparently...#11 who was born mid-moving chaos 5years ago.  Wow.  Thankfully I know how to resolve this issue also. Though it is much harder to do it when the kids are old enough to have opinions and ideas that you want to meet.  He set his heart on a space ship and planets and stars - so this is the first stage.  And it's actually my fathers stocking (which I made as a preteen to celebrate his British heritage) flipped over, so its extra special.  (and I have no idea why these photos wont flip so I'm ignoring them.)

The more I unpacked the clearer the picture became - special ornaments that needed a little repair had been stored and ignored in Ziploc bags for years, my stash of clearance wrapping paper had almost run out and the last time I sent out a Christmas card or did a family Christmas photos was 2010.  Not that these are critical parts of life - but they are markers and indictors to me of the cost living in crisis and chaos has had on our family.   These simple truths made me sad and  inspired me to action.  I could feel the effect of these hard, chaotic years wearing on the fibers of my heart and knew that that the time for deep joy, tradition and celebrating had come again. 
Starting with ornaments and stockings.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"You Are Blessed! You Get To Bless! This is happiness!....

Advent is a season of preparation - in our house its a daily walking through of the promises, the history and all of the reasons that led from Adam and Eves decisions in the garden all the way to Bethlehem and then purposefully on to the cross.

Day 5 of our advent book this season (Wait - I'm doing something new as much as I love Russ Ramses book Behold The Lamb of God it was time for a new pattern and when my friend Lisa from One Thankful Mom sent Ann Voskamp's book Unwrapping The Greatest Gift I was more than a little excited. )  so for those who know me in real life - shift to a new Advent celebration.

But back to day 5 - the first text on the page is Genesis 12:2 I will bless you......and you will be a blessing to others.  The whole devotion is encouraging and hopeful- but the line that seized my heart was this one on page 33.

You are blessed! You get to bless! This is happiness.

Because it's true.
No matter what else is happening in and around my life I AM BLESSED and I GET TO BLESS.

Oh amazing joy - to truly realize that my happiness is that simple.

My life is jam-packed with blessings and the natural outpouring of the is to overflow that abundance onto others.   From those who live close - within my own 4 walls - to neighbors I honestly have a hard time sharing space with - I am called to spread the blessing over them.

This week I have had the joy of watching our Tubor Village account grow beyond our own abilities to fill it.  I have seen the joy of blessing overflowing through so many hearts who believe that the children and single mamas of this village cooperative in Uganda are worth investing in. As of tonight we are $750 away from having all 57 of the Tubor secondary students enrolled in school for the next semester. 

And I stand in awe.

Because on Monday I thought we were dreaming too big.....Shoot... 900 kids total in our Ugandan cooperatives were counting on us to make their dream of school possible in February..  Us...a ragtag group of advocates and virtual village members that are just stating to get our feet on the ground.

But God is big.
And strong.
And has a plan that is already in place - part of which is that we get to be the hands and feet of his love

What could be better?
Happiness caused by doing exactly what we are supposed to do - blessing others.

Grab it friends - happiness is within our reach. Receive the blessing that comes from loving God and then seize the wonderful reality that you get to go out and bless others.

Peace to you -

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why Can't I Refill My Kids Generic Concerta?!!

Want to know one sure way to cause a mamma of many FASD/ADHD kiddos a melt on the floor and scream panic attack on the day before Thanksgiving?  Its super easy.

So easy in fact that some of you might have fun trying it out on your friends - since too many of us will be in the same boat this month when we go in to refill our kiddos maintenance ADHD  prescriptions at our regular pharmacy's.

Start by smiling at your friend - and then slowly - and clearly say  'two weeks ago the FDA changed how the main generic extended release Concerta  is defined - it has been downgraded and is now no longer considered an equivalent ADHD medication.'

Smile again.
And Wait.
While this sinks in.
Slowly....because we don't really want to think about what this means.

And be sure to catch them when they fall...because if they need an ER visit for a head injury you get the its really an important step for you.

This is exactly the place I found myself at on Thanksgiving Eve - except I didn't pass out.  But I wanted whimper and find a safe corner to hide in until I had time to process the reality. 

Because I was now...........

-Unable to fill the controlled medication that you are only allowed to fill when 3days remain on the RX. 

-Understanding that the mandatory archaic paper copy of the prescription that is written for generic is not going to help at all....I had to have one written for name brand which I had to get from the psychiatrist who is now out of the office until Monday morning because it's a 4 day weekend.

-Understanding that even if I get that new paper RX  in hand insurance is likely to deny it because there is {WAS} a generic option and I will have to go through the appeal process with the insurance company....and that we only have 3 days of medication left.

-AND that your pharmacy like mine is not prepared for this....and at this point is 'hoping' to get more stock in on their Thursday order so that 'maybe' if everything works like it should we will only be without medication for 4 days.  Unless the order doesn't come in. (oh kill me now!)

- AND that this will be a medication change for every one of the people used to the generic version so the 'find the right dose' game will begin again as soon as you have it in hand.  And each trial requires another trip to the clinic to get that magic paper prescription........

-All during the high stress Christmas season. (fun enough for ADHD/FASD kiddos) and will I pay the uninsured full cost name brand price this month if insurance denies them for more than a week?

Puddle.  Sniff....clutch my wallet....I'm already 3/4 of the way through the process for my 4 kids who are directly affected and just writing about it has sent my blood pressure up again.

Perhaps I shouldn't have suggested pranking your friends with this one.  Unless you are one of 'us' the irony of it all wont make much sense and the perfect cruelty of the timing will likely slip past you.

Maybe a better way to help your friends would be to pour them a glass of wine, seat them in a soft chair and gently start by saying "This may be hard to take....but I want you to know that this is not a huge crisis - only the next crisis - and you have weathered much worse.....and you always wondered if the generic was as good or not.."

Because nothing will be gained if we loose it when the reality hits that the FDA re classified our kids ADHD meds . Because we have to get to it and deal with untangling the mess as soon as possible.

Good luck friends .....and as a trauma-mamma I honestly wish someone had taken the wine approach with me.   That said - happy 2nd day of Advent - from this mom who I eagerly awaiting something better.......

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Seven Days Of Thanksgiving.....

In my last post I revealed my new game plan for dealing with the ongoing holiday stress cycle that our family reality creates and I thought you just might get a good laugh  out of hearing how it went.

I've named it the 7 days of Thanksgiving......

On the first day - which was last Sunday.  We cooked and devoured the turkey a pumpkin pie and a huge dish of winter veggies.  I was feeling cocky by Monday morning when the roasting pan was washed and everything was wiped down and put away.

 On the second day we put up the Christmas tree, baked a treat and called it good. 
I also chose a bottle of wine from the special stash that my girlfriends provided - not because it would go with the food but simply because it was pink (a bubbly rose) which made me smile to look at  and even better,  because it had this awesome bottle and totally fun girl name.  Thankfully it was tasty also.   Yes..... I know this is not how to pick my wines - but if it makes me happy I think the Reverse Wine Snob just might give it a chick flick - happy feeling - what the heck thumbs up because it made my day.

On the third day we made cornbread and settled in with  a fresh batch of colds which might turn into something more.....but didn't. 

In celebration of not being really sick we spent all day Wednesday baking pies with the crew and girlfriends at the house in preparation for the BIG SURPRISE which we didn't know was coming. Shepard's Pie, Apple Pie, Coconut Pumpkin Pie..... it was all good and we loved using up some of the strange bits and pieces in the freezer.....and even thought about wiping it out since it was almost empty.

Which turned out to be a good thing.

Wednesday night we got a call that there was some excess food available for late pickup if we wanted it. Since feeding 12 + of us takes a lot of supplies I am always on the lookout for ways to stretch the budget and free food is one of them. 10:15pm found Hannah and I out gleening in a dark alley in South Minneapolis.  Not dumpster diving...but freezing our tails off and then dealing with a cranky 15 pass van that didn't want to start.

But we were happy.  There was enough bread to fill one freezer, enough meat to keep things interesting, a box of fresh sandwiches and salads for Thanksgiving lunch  and a case of turkey pot pies for Thanksgiving dinner.  Well worth a late night trip in the bitter cold.

But God wasn't done yet.
Since under the Week Long Thanksgiving Plan we were not going to be spending our whole day cooking there was a bigger plan for us in motion that included being wholly devoted to giving and sharing out an abundance of amazing food  that would overwhelm us on a regular day. 
Much less a holiday. :)

The next morning I got a call and
had the fun of going back and filling up my 15 pass van with all of the rest of the food that was left from the distribution the night before.  Something like 20 huge fresh turkeys, 6 cases of bread, cases of baked goods, cases of meat, and an assortment of wonderful strange things like pumpkin brittle and fresh veggies. Which looked like this x 4 rows in the van.

And the party began....we buried turkeys in the snow banks, toted everything else into the house and put the word out to everyone close that we had food to share.  It was great fun - to have a rotating door of friends coming in to pick up and deliver food until at dinner time there were only 5 loaves left.

And the turkey pot pies went great with the home made cranberry sauce and pies from the day before.  And our Thanksgiving went on for three more days.....until today when we took our first full breath of Advent.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tomorrow We Eat The Turkey: Thursday We Eat The Stuffing.....

Tomorrow is Sunday - five days before Thanksgiving and we are cooking up the turkey for supper.  Nope -not because they are super cheap this week and I think I just might be able to trick the crew into eating two this week  Not because I left it in the van for 3 days and it MUST be cooked - but simply because I am applying the lessons I have learned with 15 years of special needs parenting and trying something new.

I'm not doing it all.


Heart cluch. Fake swoon.

Yeah..yeah.  We already decided that I was done being a super hero last year.  And the fact that I hit the end of my rope and didn't even have enough left to hang myself on was a pretty telling reality check.

So this is a new twist.  Thanksgiving this year will still include all of the things we love -like the 11 kids cook off.  But it will not ALSO include the huge traditional dinner that almost kills the mother.

I'm cooking a progressive Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Turkey for dinner on Sunday ...maybe with mashed potatoes- maybe with tater tots.  Stuffing on Thanksgiving as the main course. Roasted veggies on Tuesday with the gravy from Sunday night...and wonderful desserts all week long. I'm going to weave the thankful theme into all of it and take the time to enjoy it myself with the team instead of rushing through.

What a novel idea.

I think I will intentionally open two bottles of wine - and alternate a glass from one or the other each night - I will invite my friends in all week long and sit with them over chocolate biscuits and cheese as if every day is a holiday (decadent...naughty...and freeing because people are a gift in my life)

I think I will start the family advent readings tomorrow because no matter how hard I try...I cant ever keep up with the season.  So why not start a week early?

I'm going to breath in and breath out - play the music that brings joy to my heart - hang twinkle lights in our bedrooms and rest at the feet of Jesus.

I can't wait.

If You Spend Yourselves In Behalf Of The Hungry.....

Magnets don't stick to the stainless front of my fridge but tape does and  have had this version of Isaiah 58:10 (by my girl friend Artsie Andie)  there to remind me each time I go to open it - of what I am called to as a believer and follower of Christ who has been blessed with much.  It does wonders for my soul - each time I look at the words- I hear the call and the promises and they are etched deeper into my heart......If you spend yourselves of behalf of the hungry......and satisfy the needs of the oppressed....then your light will rise out of the darkness...and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always....he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.You will be like a well watered garden, like a spring who's waters will not fail.  
Its these words - written on my heart that wont let me ignore the needs of the women and children of Tubor  village.  These are the hungry, they are the oppressed.  The 30 women who are member of the Tubor Co-operative are the mammas to 57 school aged children who I feel should be able to go to school and have regular meals.

But their mamas can't just make it happen - because  to often they have to make the choice...between food or education. Medical care, mosquito nets or malaria. Groan..
And I can't make it happen - I don't have the resources to write the check (ok - I could write the check...but it would bounce for sure!)  But I am sponsoring two of the mamas as well as advocating for the entire group.  But I am only one woman.
But God can make it happen.

Because he owns the cattle on a thousand hills and is pulling our village together from all over the world.  So that mama's in Uganda  - and every one of us who is willing to be a part of this wild thing he has going on - will know and see that God is taking care of his daughters by calling us to LOVE each other really well.  Not just with our money - $23/month is fairly painless for most of us - but by weaving our stories and hearts together in a new way.

Because some day soon....I dream that members of our virtual village (shoot - why wont I just say all of us?  Our God is the God of crazy big things.) Going to Tubor and being able know and be known by the women there because we have relationships through our facebook page, messages passed back and forth through our Ugandan team and the power of agreeing together in prayer that we are called to live life freely in Christ and boldly in him for the joy of ourselves and others. 

All it will take is us being willing.  For us to step out in faith that the God who built all things has this one small thing also.  Bringing together 23more women into one cyber place to love on and celebrate all that he does with the women of Tubor.

Do you want to join us? Do you have the desire to join this beautiful group of 10 women from Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin  and Canada, ( whooot!  I am no longer alone :)as we speak and act to change the lives of women and children on the other side of the world?

Will you stand with us as we say that they are worth it?  If you are ....follow this link and join us in the celebration.  Because I know that the single moms and widows of Tubor Village have hope and a future that we get to rejoice in with them.


Monday, November 17, 2014

We only Get One Chance- For Good Or For Bad -To Parent Our Kids....

14 years ago Steam was 4, Star was 2 and Kudu was a newborn.  Y2K was sneaking up on us and I sat around with my friends joking about the reality that we only got one chance to parent - for good or for bad - each of our children.

Fast forward to today.  8 more kids, 5 household moves, 13 years of homeschooling and  5000+ more parenting days  - for fun you can add in the 40,000 diapers and at least 1500 sleepless nights and I think I'm almost ready to run screaming from the reality of it all.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Can I Join Your Village If I'm An Atheist?

YES you can!

Disease, hunger, poverty, destruction. 

Fear, desperation, despair, hopelessness.

Isolation, depravation, abandonment, displacement.

These are not words that fall along denominational, political, ethnic, gender or religious lines.  They are the painful reality of too many people in the world today. And too often the familiar truths of the single mammas and widows of Uganda.