Sunday, January 3, 2021

What one single thing can I do this year, that will matter 10 years from now?

As the new year began, I still had not selected a "word" for the year.  Last year was the first year that I subscribed to this practice, and while I did okay with it, certainly there was room for improvement!  I was not as consistent in putting the word into practice as I could have been and frankly got off focus a bit over the course of the year.  

Honestly, with that in mind, I almost did not select a word for this year based on a couple simple factors.  I did not like the words that were coming to mind and I just did not feel like it because I did not want the accountability of others.   

Unlike my last new years resolution (and the only one I have ever managed to keep and excel at), napping more, I felt like this word of the year thing was sort of in the same category.  Seems like a good thing to do, but ends up being more work than outcome, peppered with some guilt for not doing it or keeping up with it better over the year.  

I am in an online group with some ladies that were sharing their focus words for the year and while I thought that their words were "good for them",  I still found myself dragging my feet.  Then I read an article that one of them shared.  One of the questions is the title for this post. This question was included in a 10 point musings article, in which the author asked questions as a starting point for self reflection and for personal growth, as we were entering the new year. 

"What one single thing can I do this year, that will matter 10 years from now?"  Gosh.  That struck a cord with me.  One of the words that kept coming to my mind as I was considering my word of the year, was fervency.  Being fervent.  If I become fervent about the things in my life, the changes that I can make 10 years from now would be spectacular! Fervent in how I serve. Fervent in how I work.  Fervent in my hobbies.  Fervent in my relationships.  Fervent with my free time.

My being fervent can not be dependent on others.  It can not be dependent on whether I feel like it or not.  As an adjective, fervent means; very hot (glowing) or showing great intensity or feeling (zealous).  It is something that I alone, would have to commit to in my day to day situations to show others my great love for them, for the Lord, and my family.  

As I considered this further, thinking about how I would use my fervency in the upcoming year, another thought struck me.  If I do all things with such zeal and enthusiasm, I may be exhausted by February.  

However, if I apply this intensity to one specific area of my life, while those around me may not see the tangible day to day out workings, in just one year's time, there will be a marked difference in my life and the lives of those around me.  I can only imagine what 10 years would look like if I spent time being fervent in just one area of my life.  

They say that it only takes 21 days to make something a habit.  So here we go, I am boldly putting it out there...  I am going to be fervent this year in my prayer life.  I am going to attack prayer like I have never done before!  I will make praying for others my number one priority.  I will commit to praying for you in the moment (which I already try to make a practice) but will commit to logging it on paper, and continuing to pray for situations in my life, the lives of those I love, and for those that I come in contact with that need or request prayers.  

Prayer connects us with the Lord. Prayer strengthens hearts, minds and souls.  Prayer encourages us.  Prayer brings people together with a common cause.  Prayer heals. Prayer gives peace.  Prayer flames hope.  Prayer sustains us in difficult times. Most importantly fervent prayers, change lives.  

Here are some great passages about prayer to ponder as we are starting the new year.  Many of us with concerns about 2021, in the dark shadow of personal and world wide issues of 2020:  

  • Do not be anxious about anything , but in everything make your requests to God prayer, thanksgiving and placing your request to God, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind fully beyond understanding (Phil. 4: 6–7).
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
  • When I said my foot is slipping, your love oh Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me your consolation brought joy to my soul (Psalm 94:18-19).
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29,11).

Friends, here is to a healthy, happy, New Year.  May you find joy in your journey,  peace during hardships, strength when you feel your weakest,  hope when you are facing something insurmountable, and most of all grace for yourself and others as we walk this road together.  


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Charlie Trauma

In the middle of September of this year, Grumpy was jumped in the early morning hours, and beat with a baseball bat.  

This is how I learned, that if you are a victim of a violent crime/attack and your attacker is still at large, but you need medical treatment, they check you into the hospital under an alias. (Charlie Trauma) With a fake birthday (01/01/23). Makes it rather difficult for a momma to find a dwarf, in a covid world, who is about to head into surgery, but I did learn something new!  

More challenging was making heads and tails out of the "tale of woe" that lead to the attack, hospital stay, surgery and the weeks of recovery that the Prince and I assisted with. 

More than one time during this entire ordeal, I questioned how it is that Grumpy does not tire of this life on the street. Tire of his seemingly bad luck, and his inability to hold a job, stay in healthy relationships or even make strides towards getting off the streets.  I digress, that could be a post all its own. 

So in September, after yet another round of Grumpy's perpetual bad luck, the Prince and I took a deep breath and got down to figuring out how we could meet the needs of a dwarf whom, according to all recounts of this interaction, was innocent of wrong doing in this particular altercation.  

My mind was cautious.  The year before when he was hit by a car and lost his two front teeth, and was banged up with serious road rash and a broken toe, I was quick to rush to his aid, only to find out that the tale of woe was all a lie.  Well not that he was hit by a car, he was, just of the series of circumstances that he spun us leading to the accident that was the lie.  

After police reports and eye witness accounts we eventually learned the truth of that situation.  Out of that accident however we came to realize that he was struggling, and had been for a while, with Graves Disease and that this accident most likely saved his life. 

The condensed version of this September story is that Grumpy and two homeless friends ( referred to as "band of minions" from here out), was sleeping under an overhang in the local area.  When the sun came up, a neighbor came over to wake the band of minions, and encourage them to get moving.  

They responded by packing up and moving down the road.  Perhaps the group of minions did not move fast enough for this neighbor, or perhaps my dwarf did grumble a bit while walking off the property and a neighbor assumed that he was running his mouth at him (those details are still unclear) but the band of minions and my dwarf kept walking. When the man yelled at them from the porch they started running.  This man who was clearly offended by what he thought he heard from Grumpy, or the fact that they were not moving fast enough, jumped in his car, took off down the road, cut the minions off on the sidewalk, jumped out of his car, grabbing a baseball bat from the rear of the car, and promptly started beating on Grumpy.  Grumpy took several hits to the head, (resulting in stitches and a busted eye) and took the brunt of the hits on his left forearm, as he defended himself from the blows of the bat.  What broke up the beating is still unclear to me.  What I do know is that Grumpy is lucky to be alive and able to retell the tale.

An ambulance was called, Grumpy was whisked to the hospital.  Police were called, and arrive on the scene to interview bystanders and neighbors and they apprehended and arrested the man almost immediately.  The man confessed to the entire thing. 

Grumpy received stitches in his head and had a busted eye, along with an emergency surgery to repair his arm by installing a metal plate, and a few pins to hold the forearm together.   Because of covid, none of us, family, or his band of minions were able to be with him at the hospital during this time.  

The Prince and I were now faced with the uncertainty of what to do, not only with the dwarf that needed four weeks of recovery time and slew of doctors appointments to check the progress of his injuries but his band of minions that showed no sign of leaving his side. 

So we set them up at a local motel near us so that we could assist with getting Grumpy to appointments, check in on his meds, make sure that he (they) had food to eat and clean laundry.  Of course not an ideal situation, but the best option for the situation we found ourselves in.  

Grumpy has since disbanded the minions, after of few weeks of free room and board, one young man went back home to his family.  The other young woman while now is back with her family, is still close to Grumpy and helps him in many ways, like helping him find work, or keeping him on his med schedule, and making sure he gets to appointments.  Grumpy's stitches have been removed, his eye is healed as has his arm.  We rejoice that he is young and mends with relative ease.

The Prince and I have said numerous times that many of our adopted kids are "crack" kids.  Not because of the fact that their biological mother did drugs (although we have no way to be sure) but because they simply fall through the cracks.  They fell through the cracks in the educational systems in which they have been enrolled, they have fallen through the cracks in the mental health treatments that they have received, they have fallen through the cracks in regards to service available to them in this current world we live in.  All the while having fierce advocates for them in each area of their lives, not to mention a steady, consistent, unconditionally loving home environment.  It leaves on scratching their head some days. What could have been done differently, or what did we miss in this process? 

They are on the cusp of not being "special" enough to qualify for services, but too "special" to be able to function on their own in a society that requires you hold a job, pay your bills, have a bank account, keep medical appointments, shop, and do other basic adultish functions.  And because of their distaste for rules, structure and authority, they are unable to continue living in our home.

Because of this crack they land in, it propels us as their parents to continue well into their adulthood to come to their rescue, fix, resolve and assist in these areas, sometimes at nauseatum, because simply their minds are not able to comprehend, or carry out tasks that are necessary for successful independent living.  Welcome to the world of mental illness. 

I will not lie, there are days when I am not okay with this stage of their lives or my life.  While I am not sure what I thought adulthood for these dwarves would look like,  never did I imagine one that would live with the Prince and I always,  or that the struggles of the others would be so great that their best life is not at all what I had envisioned all those years ago when we eagerly welcomed them into our homes and hearts.  

Slowly, I am beginning to come to the understanding that, no matter what I wanted for them, or what my version of their success may look like, I need to be okay with who they are, and where they are in their story.  Their story is also not a direct reflection of our love and care for them.  

I trust that the Lord who brought them to us,  loves them more than we do, and that He does not make mistakes in how He knit these dwarves together.  Their uniquenesses, or "special" qualities are not a surprise to Him.  While frustrating at times, and overwhelming at times, as their parents, we are called to minister to their needs for our lifetime.  

There is a fine line between ministering to and enabling them.  We draw the line at the "cost" to us. The "cost" to us can change on any given day based on the circumstance of that day.   If it "costs" me mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially to aid them, I give myself the right to not answer the phone or the text message.  To say no to the request, or to re-route them in a different direction based on our shared past and their current request.  I will not allow my life to be interrupted by their chaos, but will meet them on my schedule to aid in whatever ways the Prince and I deem acceptable.  

There are a lot of people that think we should wash our hands of this crazy and move on.  To that I reply, Christ did not wash His hands of me and my crazy.  There are days when I am sure He looks at me and just shakes His head at my stubborn, prideful self and thinks that I may never "get it".  This is my inspiration for how we love, even when those we are loving seem unlovable,  unable to express gratitude or thanks.  The Prince and I do what we do based on nothing more than our love for them each.  It is because He first loved us, that I love them, and serve them.  I may be the only Jesus that they see. My prayer is let them see Jesus in me.  

It is a work in progress.  Some days are better than others.  The Prince and I do a good job of trying to balance the trials and struggles in our own personal field of strengths.  We have not arrived, nor do we always do what we need to do with a joy filled heart.   Most days when I head out to aid or assist, it is with a heavy heart filled with more questions than answers.  It is in those moments that I try to re-focus on why we serve, why we care, and why we love them unconditionally.  

This is a saga that will continue, for my lifetime, I can't make this stuff up, but I would really like to re-write their story some days! 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Some of these things are not like the others.....

This year has been a year with many things, not like the others.  Not like the things in other years, the things in other weeks, or just things from the other day.  Due to the pandemic, family dynamics, schedules and children that are all now grown adults, life is very different this year, so why would we not expect that Thanksgiving and Christmas this year would look different too? 

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a stickler for "traditions".  I have worked exceptionally hard to sprinkle all kinds of special into our kingdom.  I am not saying other families do not have similar or even the same traditions or special things, and heck my ideas may not even be original or all that clever, but I have woven "special" things each year into the fabric of our lives. 

For example, the birthday placemat and your favorite meal on your special day. Our thankful tablecloth that we use ever year at Thanksgiving to record who is around our 12 foot table, and what they are most thankful for that year.  Which I then hand stitch to preserve the memories for years to come.  I have a 15 X 15 storage locker for all things Christmas, because I love decorating the house for the Christmas season, by room and by theme.  

I had always assumed, after my dwarves were grown, that my home and our traditions, would be what everyone stopped and planned for.  That these traditions would be held on to with as much gusto as I had placed into creating them over the years.  I am now seeing that perhaps I should have lived a little more in the moment of the years past, because it seems going forward there will need to be continual adjustments to those "original" plans.  

After all the craziness of 2020, why not have a holiday season filled with different?  I recognized that while I am a planner,  as I get older,  I like things to be the same.  My dwarves, I am recognizing, however, may require somethings to be different.   I would like to think that I am flexible and willing to make these changes, but I won't lie, it was hard this year to be flexible.  

While I loved much of this change, there were some things that I did not really enjoy. Mostly, the feeling of it not being the same as years past.  All those years ago, when I was painstakingly training myself and my dwarfs in the finer aspects of all things holiday (November through December)  and weeding through the "traditions" that would stick and the ones that would fall by the wayside, never did I envision a year where we did not all come together and celebrate and share those moments, together, under one roof, as a family.  Now I am realizing, that in much of what I do, I need to find the joy in doing it alone, and if any of the dwarves want to join in, extra benefit for me! Additionally, I can't be picky about the ones that are wiling and available to help.  If I find that I am doing something alone, and if it causes me frustration and angst, that I need to let it go for next year.  I need to make my plan, be okay with it, and if others join in all the better !  

Back to this year and our different.  Many of you know,  the dynamics of our family and home look different this year.  We have Doc and her husband local and close.  Sneezy is putting in some effort to re-engage this year, with at least myself.  Dopey is living out of state, but is enjoying an extended visit with us due to pandemic restrictions on his state. Happy is here and is going no where soon. Grumpy has been flying under the radar since early December. Sleepy is home for an extended season because of pandemic requirements at her out of state college.  Bashful finds himself spending his days at the county jail.  

As a mom to such a varied group of dwarves, I found myself in a situation this year that was less than ideal for me.  Never in all the years of raising the dwarves did it occur to me that they would not be close as adults.  Never did I anticipate that after years of raising such a different and diverse set of personalities in our home, that some are just over chaos and poor behaviors. Never could I have anticipated a pandemic, where those that are on the outer circle, I would have to treat cautiously due to potential contagiousness and different life styles.  I realized that there was no way that we were all going to be able to be under the same roof, at the same time, for this holiday season, pandemic aside.  I realized that I was going to have to be the one that was flexible, and in that realization set about attempting to make other plans, so that I could be with as many of my dwarves as I could during the Christmas season.  

I have learned that even the best laid plans, in a pandemic filled world, have to be fluid.  Baking with one dwarf that desired to do so, had to be set aside because of illness. (Not covid)  I baked when I had time and if someone could join in, they did. What a gift for this momma's heart!   As for gift exchanges, holiday meals, and gathering, again we modified and over came.  

We discussed and came up with plans for blending and combining some traditions into one day.  Christmas Eve, so that Christmas Day was free for new options.  We zoomed our church Christmas Eve service. We added a special little three year old to our group with a sleep over and activities the night before Christmas Eve.  We made a plan with family for an "open house lunch" so that we could socially distance with those that are not in our immediate bubble.  We invited friends that could not get home to their family, to be with us. We made sure Bashful had much mail leading up to Christmas, even if it meant addressing and stamping the cards and handing them out to people to send to him.  We made a plan in case Grumpy showed up.  

We shared our traditional meals.  We shredded through miles of wrapping paper.  We took photos. We worshipped together.  We prayed together.  We laughed.  We napped together.  We watched movies together. They played video games together.  We Face timed across the miles.  We shared our favorite gifts received.  The only thing we never got around to was our gingerbread houses... 

It turned out to be, okay...  none of these things were much like the Christmases of the past but still vaguely familiar.   It is my prayer, as the albeit self appointed, Chaos Coordinator of this Season, that everyone who walked into our home over the last several days left here, with full bellies, full hearts, and the knowledge that they are loved and appreciated for who they are, for their relationship in and to our family, and that above all, the reason that we in Lingle Land celebrate the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.  


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Have you ever wondered...

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to get an alert (call/text/email) about some bizarre, unforeseen, and potentially life threatening situation that has the ability to change the course of your life? 

Yesterday at 3:03 PM the world stopped for several minutes as we all processed the following scenario ... as penned by Sleepy.  

I am sitting in my abnormal psychology class,  a student is asking a question, when the girl beside me interrupts to say she got a campus wide alert that indicates there is an active shooter on campus.  The events that unfold seem to take so much longer than they really did but this is my first hand account of the alert, on 10/19, regarding an active shooter, on my college campus. 

It's as if my ears did not hear correctly. Immediately my thoughts start racing about what is going on.  I grab my phone, and I try to concentrate on the commotion that is going on inside the classroom. Everyone shuffling around, not really knowing what the "right" thing to do is.  I am trying to remember have I ever practiced a drill that would prepare me for this?  Have I ever heard anyone discuss what to do in this situation?  Our professor, turns off all the lights and tells us each to get under a desk.  We are in a lecture hall with six entrances (or exits). Our professor tries to lock them, but she is unable because they are either emergency exits or they lock on the outside.  I think, this does not seem safe. 

While she is attempting to lock the six doors, I am under a desk, and begin texting my parents and boyfriend.  I start by telling them that I love them, and that there is an active shooter on campus, but that I am in class hiding and I am safe.  Am I safe?  I am trying to hold back tears, and attempting to keep my hands from shaking, as I focus on reaching out to my loved ones, not really paying attention to the others in my class and how they are responding.  At one point, I do notice that some students are putting desks in front of doors to make barricades, and taking cover like myself.  Is this really happening? 

A student yells, I got another update!   It seems as if the air is sucked out of the room at that moment.  This student declares that it was a false alarm.  

FALSE ALARM!!  This was the scariest three minutes of my life.  Some of the thoughts that ran through my head included, but were not limited to: 

  •     I need to let my family know that I love them, just in case...
  •     I freaking can't believe this is happening at my school, on my campus! 
  •     Is this going to be okay? 
  •     Why would someone be doing this, and why here?  

Less than a minute after the update, an email goes out explaining that they were testing the emergency software, and this was all a false alarm.  

The school's IT VP sent an email stating the following: 

"At 3:02 this afternoon a False Alert was sent through the Alert messaging system regarding an Active Shooter on campus.  This occurred inadvertently while testing the system.  There is no threat on campus and no cause for alarm.  Steps are being taken to ensure that this type of false alarm does not occur in the future.  Please accept my apologies for any stress or concern that this has caused." 

So after we get the false alarm notification, it was back to class as normal.   As if that was some sort of drill that we had known "might happen" and we were prepared for. (like a fire drill).  

Suffice it to say, during the last 20 minutes of class, that my professor insisted on finishing, is a blur, as it was lost on me.  I would also venture to say it was lost on many of my other classmates as well. Personally,  my nerves were frayed.  My adrenaline kept spiking anytime I heard what I thought was a door opening.  

I was using all my efforts to try and calm myself and refocus my thoughts.  Breathing deeply, remembering it was a false alarm, but none of that took away from the terror I felt for three solid minutes.  Thoughts of "this could have been the day I died or was seriously injured".  How does one transition back into a  learning environment in a short amount of time as if the incident never happened?!  Well let's just say,  I am still a bit unsettled today.  

I am grateful of course that it was a false alarm.  However,  for three very long minutes I did not know it was a false alarm.  My emotions and body fought with one another to understand and  process what was happening around me and potentially to me during that time.   Just because it was a false alarm, doesn't mean that the emotions that we the students and staff felt were not real, and in some cases I would say, traumatic.   

Now as the parent on the other end of the text message from my dwarf,  all I can say is that immediately my heart started racing, my senses became hyper focused, as my desire for more information and details quickly ate up the three minute time span between text number one, "shots fired on campus" and the last text, "false alarm".   

I am also proud of Sleepy in her ability to keep us calm as she relayed the facts to us.   I am not sure I could have stopped my hands from shaking enough to send a text message, let alone several back and forth messages.  I  am also proud of her for her concern for the others in her class that may have anxiety, and struggles that this incident will exacerbate.  

In my conversation with her after the incident, (at the end of class) I encouraged her, knowing her level of stress and anxiety, to seek a school counselor to talk out the incident with and to encourage others to do the same.  While some may have the ability to "shake" this off.  It is important to know yourself and to recognize in others if there seem to be more lingering affects  It is important to recognize if  you are still thinking about the incident, to seek a safe place to work through those feelings and concerns in an effort to offset them returning unexpectedly in the future.  

Yes accidents happen.  We are so grateful that this was just a false alarm. The outcome otherwise could have me writing a different post entirely.   As a mom and a believer, I also trust that the Lord has a purpose in all things.  Did someone on the campus yesterday, my dwarf included, need to go through this situation in order to be prepared for something in their future, only time will tell.   

Rejoicing in a swift resolution.  Grateful for a school of professionals that understand this could be triggering for students and staff and for them providing after care for them.  Trusting the Lord uses all things for His glory.  

You really Can't Make this Stuff Up! 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

September 13, 2020 - Grandparents Day

Today is a celebration, that I know we honored casually when our dwarfs were young, either through their school or Sunday school classes, but that I have really lost touch with in the last 10-12 years.   

It seem to me like an occasion that little kids observe, (because heck they are stinking cute and grandparents love them and the attention)  and in that, has created a great opportunity for some art work with tiny hand prints to go to someone besides moms and dads. Where songs with your class, are performed from a stage, and are rewarded with beaming smiles of pride, from the older adult versions of their parents.  

I do not believe that I actually heard about this celebration until I was working and had one of our dwarfs in a day care situation.  (So early 1990's. ) 

This week I received a text wishing me an "early" Happy Grandparents Day.  The text message started me thinking about the gravity of being a grandparent.  The significance that I desired to be associated with that title, and the plans that I had made regarding my role as a grandparent when I reached that distinctive milestone.  

However, in this first year that I am being recognized as a grandparent, it was not accompanied by tiny hand prints or baby snuggles. Nor did I fill any particular "grandparent"  role that I ever envisioned.  What it has filled me with is the realization, that along with many others, we (the Prince and I) now belong to a group of unique men and women, where celebration is categorized by a loss.

There are many that find days such as these a challenge.  Mother's Day (1914),  Father's Day (1910), National Siblings Day (1997),  National Grandparents Day (1978)  are difficult for many because these days are reminders of what they have loved and lost.   

Our "becoming a grandparent story" is a bit different, thanks to a pandemic, and a series of events that lead to the premature birth of our first grand baby.  A sweet, very tiny, 1 lb, 9 oz,  boy who's name is Braden.  He was born at 22 weeks gestation and lived for 5 weeks and 4 days here on earth.  

A sweet boy, whom we did not get to meet in person, to hold, or to cuddle, but all the same he was loved and prayed for by many.  By his parents. By his grandparents. By those that know, and love our family.  

His short life was confined to visits by only one parent at a time, and was reliant on the care of a wonderful staff of NICU doctors and nurses, during the pandemic.  As first time grandparents, none of this is how we had envisioned being promoted from parent to grandparent. 

As grandparents in the midst of a pandemic, we were at the mercy of photographs and updates from his mother daily on his condition and care.  We never got to see him, or touch him, but he did touch our hearts.  

He was a scrapper.  I could get an urgent update in the morning, and start praying for mercy in his little life, and by the afternoon, the next update would relay a re-bound in his over all health and situation.  He held on to life for five weeks and four days.  

Braden James went home to be with Jesus on May 15, 2020.  We rest in the knowledge that he is healed in the name of Jesus. We know we will get to meet him someday. He left behind a void of a grandchild born and lost before he had the chance grow and mature.  He left behind parents, grandparents aunts, uncles, and future cousins and siblings.  

I know that the Lord has a reason and a purpose for all that He does.  I know that someday when He deems the timing right, our home will be filled with the pitter patter of visiting grands, and that until that time, I will continue to ponder and pray about what type of grandmother I want to be.  What kind of grandparents the Prince and I will be together.   From this first experience however, I can tell you that what I do want to re-create, is to be grandparents that pray as if their grandchildren's life depends on it! 

Braden James
April 7, 2020 - May 15, 2020 


Friday, July 10, 2020

The Last "Little" to Enter Adulthood

On the eve of Bashful's symbolic birthday that will catapult him into adulthood, I find myself wondering exactly how we have gotten here.  Where has time gone.  How did it pass so quickly?  How am I the mother of all "adults" now ranging from 27 -18? 

It has been a wild and crazy journey from never wanting children (dwarfs) to becoming the parents of seven.  When I thought about this monumental occasion over the past 27 years, the celebration of the the last in the kingdom to officially enter adulthood, I assumed it would look vastly different! 

Tomorrow, July 11, 2020, the last minor in the kingdom, at the stroke of 2:28PM becomes an official adult.  There will be a celebration.  Just not the kind that we had originally imagined.  There will be rejoicing.  Just not for the reasons originally thought.  There will also be some tears.  Just not tears that will make sense.   First let's recap. 

This is a photo that we have from our first meeting with Bashful.  He and his eldest sister, were meeting with us as we started the process of adoption.  By this point, we had been made aware of their need for a forever family, and we had worked through as many details as we could on paper and logically in our minds, to see if this could be a fit for them and for us, which lead us to this the first meet and greet!  

I would say that he is about 13 months old in this photo, but my mind sometimes has a difficult time remembering specifics.  (I am sure no one else out there can relate...  )

Bashful was a yellow headed blue eyed bundle of giggles, pudgy legs, infectious smile, and a stubborn streak a mile long.  Just like every other toddler I had ever been in contact with.  

As things progressed, we were able to see that the Lord indeed was calling us to adopt them.  As doors that we thought would be obstacles would be blown wide open at each juncture.  As those around us tried to advise us, encourage us (some in the opposite direction of pursuing adoption) we knew in the end, that we were right where the Lord wanted us to be.  Our family of five became a family of seven. 

Nothing could have prepared us for the challenges that just getting out of the fostering component into the actual adoption stage of the process would bring our way.  We are to this day so grateful for the aid of so many including our family doctor, our neighborhood doctor, and a host of church members that helped care for, clean, organize and shuttle any number of the five dwarfs while we acclimated to life as a family of seven.  

In the midst of the process going from fostering to adoption, we were also made aware two more of their biological siblings that also needed a forever home.  Same process, same concerns, but soon enough the Lord clearly lead us from a family of seven to a family of nine.  

I would like to say that the process was smooth.  That there is a silver lining.  That our days as a super sized family have been filled with sunshine, smiles and happy memories.  While there is much of that that I do recall, for a few of these dwarfs, what we had to offer was just never a enough, or the right fit for them.  

To hear several of them explain it, the system got it wrong.  They got the short end of the stick.  They were supposed to be adopted by wealthy sports or movie stars.  Whatever it was that we offered them in their forever home, was never good enough, and was not able to fill the void that they held in their hearts from being abandoned by their biological family.  When I say family I don't just mean mom or dad, that includes any other relatives, grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. because before they could become eligible for adoption, all the other family members were offered an opportunity to take one or more of them and care for them. When the state made it's way through the family, that is when the parental and family  rights were severed.  

Many many years and many many hours of therapies, for them and myself, have shown me that sadly, hereditary issues like mental illness (which includes illusions of grandeur, and pathological lying)  social and cognitive delays, RAD, post traumatic stress disorder, and in utero influences, can not and are not easy assessed, diagnosed, or overcome.  

There is no amount of unconditional love, or stability, discipline or support that can change what is hard wired into someone's DNA.   Bashful is a living testimony to this.  

While he has had every opportunity to understand, learn, grow and be supported in a home that, while not perfect, aimed to provide love, consistency, grace at every turn, for Bashful, that was just not enough for him.  Through years of therapy, conversations, examples and others telling him that he had value, was indeed loved, he has not yet been able to trust us or allow for us to be his guide in life.  

He rebelled. He pushed the envelope.  He made excuses.  He deflected. He refused to acknowledge his shortcomings.  He was disrespectful.  He was always angry.  He fought against the systems that could help him be successful, like counseling, check list and charts.  He would not do hard things.  Heck, he would not even on the regular do easy things right the first time.  As his parents, we were at a loss as to how to help him.  

In that last year, we had just been encouraging him to hang in there until he turned 18. He and I hardly interacted, and when we did I kept things as neutral as possible.  Graduate high school.  Work and save money, were all the areas that we were encouraging him to just do.  In preparation for when he officially became an adult, so that he would be ready to head out into the world that he knew was right for him.  Which, just so we are clear, was anywhere but here with us.  

In February of this year, while the Prince was out of town, Bashful who was suspended from school for a few days, began down a road that has lead us on a bizarre, how did this become my life  rabbit trail in life and to tomorrow.... the day we celebrate his 18th birthday. 

Without him.  

After breaking into our bedroom and stealing electronics from our room while we were working, he put into motion a plan to run a way from home.  Plan is a strong word, he just called for a friend to pick him up and asked for his debit card.  He left the house with one backpack that included a hoodie, a lid, and an extra pair of pants.  

While I attempted to talk him out this "plan" while on the phone with his father who was also trying to talk him out of this plan, tensions escalated, language got stronger, and the threat to the safety of myself and Happy increased.  Finally, the Prince said to just let him go.  We all assumed that when the Prince returned to the kingdom in the next day or so that we would work things out and move forward.  

He stayed a run away until he was "recovered" by local authorities on May 5, 2020.  In the midst of a pandemic.  The authorities wanted us to bring him home.  We refused.  We after all have an immune compromised child living in our home.  It ended up that he was able to stay with his adult brother Grumpy for the night until the Prince and I could make plans to get him, and have him quarantine safely.  

On the morning of May 6th we go a call from the Juvenile Detention Center, at 7:00 AM to ask if we would give our permission to them to interview Bashful as he had been brought in over night in connection with some burglaries.  We agreed.  

That afternoon he was released on house arrest to the care of his father, but in a paperwork blunder, to the address of Grumpy.  Because of the precautions that were outlined in the house arrest information the Prince made the best decision he could for Bashful by returning him to his brothers address for that day, but kept in close contact with him as to not break the supervisory role that as a parent is your responsibility for a minor child.   In the meantime we continued to pursue the quarantine options for his return to our home.  Additionally, the Prince and Bashful had a court hearing the next morning with the judge over the phone that Bashful and the Prince were required to attend as part of the house arrest requirements. 

Throughout the remainder of the afternoon into early evening, the Prince was in touch with the two boys, as they communicated about various things. Around 9:00PM the Prince came to me and said that he thought that he needed to go do a well check on the boys since technically Bashful was remanded to his care.  He was going to pop into their place and make sure they were set for the night. 

An hour or so later,  I realized that the Prince was not back to our house yet.  Not really too concerned I texted to check in on him.  He immediately called me.  

This is what he told me: 
When he turned onto the street that the boys were living on, the area by their house was blazing with lights from police cars.  There was a great bustle of activity as a SWAT team tore around the outside of the property and through the home.  The Prince parked and rushed to where Grumpy was outside, standing, handcuffed.  Bashful was nowhere to be found.  They had already arrested Bashful and taken him away.  He was being charged with attempted murder in the second degree.  For nearly an hour, the SWAT team removed, overturned, uprooted, dumped every literal area of that home.  Additionally, removing boxes of items that were identified in advance as stolen property or other various types of evidence.  He would wait there with Grumpy until the dust settled, and get him situated before heading home.  

Thursday, May 7th 9:00 telephone hearing.  Bashful is being held on 8 counts of burglary. 
Friday, May 8th 9:00 am telephone hearing.  Bashful has had 5 more counts of burglary added to his case. 
Monday, May 11th , final phone hearing.  Total charges being held against Bashful, 13 burglary charges, 1 burglary charge with a fire arm, and one account of attempted murder second degree.  

Bashful spent most of May in the juvenile detention center.  He called us everyday, several times a day.  He wanted us to post bond.  He wanted to us to pail for his bail.  He wanted us to visit him.  He wanted us to contact his parole officer.  

Friday, May 29th they direct reported him to the adult facility in Manatee County in the juvenile side.  He is under maximum security  detail and only gets out of his cell for 2 hours a day.  Now when he calls we have to pay.  He still attempts to call several times a day, but most days we only each talk to him once.  It seems that when you have all the time in the world on your hands, you forget that others are still working, serving and doing the same life that they did before you went to jail.  

Last month, we had not heard from him in several days.  I told the Prince that his silence was not a good thing.  That he must have gotten himself into some trouble.  On Tuesday, June 16th I got a call from the jail.  I thought it was him.  It was not, it was a "friend".  The friend asked us if we had heard from Bashful's attorney.  The friend asked if we were going to bail Bashful out.  The friend asked if we had talked to the parole officer. The friends said that Bashful was hungry, could we send a care package... I asked the friend why Bashful could not call us himself.  His response, "He was put in the box".  Solitary. For fighting.  For one month... seems extreme, but of course I do not have the details of the fight.  My guess it was a serious one for the punishment to be a month in the box. 

Tomorrow is Bashful's 18th birthday.  Sunday, the 12th, Bashful gets removed from the box, and taken to the adult side of the jail.  Not at all the birthday celebration that he was planning for himself, nor us for him I am sure.  But still a day that deserve recognizing.   

The most recent update on his cases are that he will most likely have the majority of his juvenile cases reduced to time served.  That is 9 counts of burglary.  There are four more felony counts that they are going to pursue as adult charges.  Two of them are burglary.  One is burglary with a fire arm and the other is the attempted murder second degree.  If you were to add up all the maximums for those four counts alone, he would be facing life plus 40 years.  

  This is the last photo that Bashful and I had taken together.  It was from the Prince's birthday party last year.  The month before his 17th birthday.  Amazing how much things can change in one years time.  

As we celebrate Bashful tomorrow, we will rejoice in the past 16 + years that he has been part of our family.  We will be grateful for all the opportunities that he has had while in our care and under our protection.  Opportunities to try new things, to learn about the Lord, to be surrounded by his biological siblings,  to eat well, to be safe, to have all of life's necessities provided for him. (along with many of his wants)  We will rejoice that we were able to protect him as long as we did.  Creating rules, and guidelines which often caused unrest and angst in our home, but ultimately were for his safe keeping.   

Tomorrow we will pray that the things that we attempted to instill in him during his time in our home, will begin to bubble to the surface of his mind, as he spends much time alone with his thoughts.  That he will start to understand the sacrifices made on his behalf, not just by the Prince and I, but also by our family and friends.  

I am sure, as there have been since February, there will tears throughout the day.  Tears of relief that he is someplace safe. Tears of pain for the experiences that he is enduring as a young person that were never part of our plan for his life.  Tears of joy in the memories of his younger days, and the times over the years when he was kind, helpful and appreciative.  Tears of sorrow for the time lost already in this slow process of justice, and for the potential additional years that will be added to his time of incarceration.  Tears also for all the coming of age activities that he will miss, getting his license, prom, senior photos, graduation, higher education, holidays... the list is a bit overwhelming if you think on it too long. 

Through it all, however we will not stop trusting that the Lord is and always will be the Lord of Bashful's life.  God loves him more than we ever could.  As a matter of fact He loved Bashful, and all his siblings so much, that He kept them safe during the worst part of their early days, to bring them to us, their forever family.   

We will not stop acknowledging that the Lord who created Bashful, is not surprised by what we consider this huge detour in his young life.  We know that somewhere in this process there will be men and women that will be able to speak into Bashful's life.  Our prayer is that it starts to "click".  We hope that he takes the time while in jail to consider how doing things his way turned out, and as he matures will start to seek, on his own, opportunities to change the way he thinks and to learn from these early mistakes.  

So for now, we do not know what the future holds.  We do not know what is in store for Bashful, or any of the rest of the Lingle's in the kingdom, but we do know the One who does!  

Here is wishing you Bashful, a Birthday filled with new beginnings,  health, humility, grace and safety.  

I sure did wish that sometimes I made this stuff up... 


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Things that I have learned from being a mom...

If you know me, and have known me for any amount of time, you will know that I never wanted to have children.  It was never my desire.  Marriage sure, children, not so much.  If you do not know this about me, and wonder how I ended up with not one or two, but seven...well, I'll get to that in a bit.

As another Mother's Day is upon us, I want to first and foremost say to all of you moms that do this alone, for you I have the utmost respect and admiration!  Even if you have had great help along the way from your siblings, parents, neighbors and friends; it is just you that the school calls, it is just you at 2 am when your child has a fever or a nightmare, it is just you that soothes their broken hearts, their physical hurts... Hats off to each of you out there that are single moms!  You are doing great work, you are making an impact not only your children, but on people like me who see your strength and applaud you!

For the moms that have impacted my life over the years of whom I also respect and have been or am encouraged by...

  • The moms of my friends who's homes I would hang out at on the weekends growing up, that made time to sit and talk with us and listen to our silliness.  Thank you, I still remember you! 
  • The moms of my children's friends, that over the years have impacted my parenting by challenging me, walking beside me, and be-friending me.  Thank you, you all have a special place in my memories! 
  • The women to whom I am related to by marriage, who are the truest and most authentic examples of what a sisters should be.  You ladies rock! I look forward to growing old with you and enjoying sister time when our kids are grown. 
  • The women in my life that are moms, with whom  I have the privilege of calling friends and sisters in Christ, who not only love me for who I am, but love my children for who they are, provide accountability without criticism and have walked through the fires of life with me.  The fires are inevitable, your wisdom is my source of encouragement, you all know who you are, I I love you!  

Then there are my moms...

  • My biological mom that made the choice to give me life, and let another raise me.  There are no words to describe how valued this makes me feel every day.  I know that was not an easy decision 50 years ago.  Thank you! 
  • My mom that loved me as her own, raised me, taught me life skills, how to be kind, how to be generous all through the example of her life.  I miss you much!  I know that I will see you again someday, and look forward to that day! 
  • My mother in law who raised a son that was kind and compassionate like herself, to share my life with and to grow old with.  Your son is my constant anchor, cheerleader, friend and best partner in crime that there ever could be! I would be lost without him! 
  • My step mother, who while she entered my life when I was an adult, gifted me with a great sister and cares deeply for my father and has been faithful in kindness and encouragement to me over the years.  Thank you for your willingness to join our crazy family! 
Each of these women, ALL of them, are shining examples of grace, kindness! They have been and are authentic and genuine beings! Thank you!   I would not have been able to become, or to be the mom that I am now... the mom that I never desired to be, without your influence and love.  

Yes, back to that.  I never really saw myself as a mom.  I wanted to do more, be more and not be confined to the space and years that it would take to raise children.  Which back in the day,  I foolishly thought was about 18 years plus gestation each.   How did I get to this place?  I have no other answer than simply put, the Lord who created me, knew me better than I knew myself.  

My first, and she knows this, was an opps... Medication interaction that resulted in the most amazing and incredible experience of my life.  In 1993 her arrival taught me that no matter how hard you wish or pray,  that baby will not turn out to be a boy if it is supposed to be a girl!  

However one look at her sweet and tiny over baked self, had me awestruck.  The Prince and I were both head over heels in love.  While reality came at us fast, and as new parents we knew that we could not do this alone, family stepped up and stepped in to help us settle into a new normal.  I was blessed to be able to share with my own mother, who was never able to have children, the process, including having her in the delivery room and holding a newborn in her arms.  My first child was spoiled by everyone that knew us.  Her milestones taught me how to look at all things through a different lens, the lens of exploring, learning and growing.  She taught me to see things from a small person's perspective with awe and wonder.  To slow down, and to experience her wonder anew with each of her new discoveries. 

Nonetheless, I was sure that this was a once and done situation.  As Doc progressed through her stages of development, we would pass down that items that no longer did she need, with the bold assumption that she would be a one and only child. 

Years passed.  Life was good. However, with the passing of the Prince's father,  and as we were making arrangements for all the things that he left behind, our hearts softened to the consideration of perhaps adding one more dwarf to the kingdom, so that our eldest would never have to face a hardship of this magnitude alone.  

In 1997 the world was introduced to Dopey.  If you think having one child is something, when the second arrives you are astounded that there is just as much space and love for the new addition as there was for the first.  Dopey has taught me how to stay alert and on my toes.  His wit and whimsy from an early age was infectious to all that he met.  His temper was a mirror to my own hearts sinfulness, and often he and I would indulge in significant battles of the will.  At the end of the day however his heart is soft and kind, and he could always sooth out any issues that we had with a great big hug. He has shown me how to be fierce, yet loving in ways that were unknown to me prior to his arrival.  He also tried to show me, however it would be many many more years until I learned this lesson, about not having to die on every hill.  Sometimes compromise is a good thing. 

It was not much longer after his arrival that the Prince made a deal with me.  The Prince had always wanted 6 kids, I none.  HIs offer, if we could just have one more, we could consider it a compromise and a full house.  

Two years and one week later, in 1999,  an impatient and rambunctious bundle arrived in our lives.  Sleepy (her dwarf name is spot on) was the only of the Lingle dwarf that taught us that prayers can and are answered.  I remember praying for her to be a baby that would sleep. My other kids were not fans and I was starting to feel the stress of sleep deprivation.  Sleep she did!  Alot!  Then I panicked and doubted.  We poked and we prodded her, we kept trying to wake her.  Until someone wise said, "that baby will wake up when she is hungry or uncomfortable.  Let her sleep! "  

Once I recognized her sleeping patterns were an answer to (an all be it selfish) prayer, she taught me in her arrival to be grateful for answered prayers. During this time I also had learn how to maximize my time while she slept those early days away.  She also showed me how to be persistent, as she relentlessly pursued walking at an early age, as a way to keep up with her older siblings I saw a determination and drive in her that showed me I needed to be a bit more like her in that way.  Like her momma, I doubt that she has ever met a stranger , and the whole family considers her my mini me, which I think is amazing because I do not believe that I was ever as task oriented and resilient as she. In addition she has an amazing selfless streak that puts me to shame, and her compassion for others has been a lesson to me, that I still work at daily.

We settled into life. While hectic, it was good.  My dwarves taught me to be more selfless.  To make choices and decisions that would be for their good, even when I was afraid, or concerned that I had made the wrong ones.  

They were forgiving.  I was not the best mom, especially in the beginning.  I could be short tempered,  frustrated, irritable, and over all just too busy to always stop and do or say the right thing that could potentially have been used for a life lesson or for their growth and edification.  

Raising kids that mirror who you are at your core is a very hard way to see your short comings.  It is also a painful way to realize that you have to make adjustments to who you are, especially when they start manifesting your poor attitudes and words in their day to day life.  

In 2005 we were presented as a family with a unique opportunity to add to our family through adoption.  By this time we were settled into a routine, with our eldest dwarf being 12, the middle being 7 and the youngest being 5.  As an adoptee, I knew first hand the benefits of a life with a family that loves you and cares for you.  Since I was already entrenched in this thing called parenting,  what difference could two more make?   A bit more in groceries, a lot more organization, and if you can love three as much as one, certainly the same applies to four and five, regardless of if you birth them yourself or not.  Children need love.  Children need stability.  Children need families.  We could provide all that.  

While we were not sold 100% at first on the idea of adopting, we did pray about it and ask others in our circle of church and friends to join us in praying for the potential of expanding our family.  About this time I remember a sermon point from our pastor that said, "Sometimes when the Lord presents you with an opportunity to do something, He may not actually have you follow through, but instead is measuring your  hearts willingness to serve Him."  In the process of moving forward through the uncertain waters of fostering and adopting we chose to trust the Lord and wait on Him to open or close the doors.   

At this point, you all know how this turns out...  after two years in our home fostering to adopt, we were finally able to add Sneezy and Bashful to the ranks of the "little Lingle's".  The addition of two dwarfs that I did not have the privilege of birthing or raising "from scratch" placed me on a huge learning curve as we navigated waters of uncertainty in regards to the needs that accompanied them to our home.  

Trauma, anxiety, vision issues, medication, asthma, social and cognitive delays were amid the top contenders.  I learned with their addition to the ranks,  that I needed to be patient, I needed to explain things that we took for granted or accepted as normal.  Their being part of a family was a relatively new concept to them. We were after all strangers to them in a strange land.   

I also learned, that up until that point, I had been incredibly blessed with the health and abilities of my first three children.  While they each had their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses,  I foolishly thought that I knew exactly how to make things work for our new additions, because the first three, in my mind, were doing so great.  

Here is where I learned to eat humble pie.  I had to admit I knew nothing. The world of special needs was a foreign land that I had been thrust into.   I had actually no idea what would help these children reach their full potential.  I learned to search out resources, to be crafty in my requests for information about their past, to be an advocate for those two, who did not yet have a voice.  

I also learned about how your past, no matter many years you live in it, has repercussions that last a very long time, good or bad.   In these days there was always something to do, to be done, or to be preparing for so I often  had to bow to selfishness,  and embrace interruptions, and become more flexible in some regards in our life, and more strict in other areas of our life.  

It was thirteen months after the arrival of Sneezy and Bashful, that the state of West Virginia asked us if we knew that they had two brothers.  We had heard rumor of this, but it was not verified until that moment.  Of course as the case working was finalizing the adoption of two children to our home, that opened her case load for two more, that just happened to be their brothers.  

At this point I do not remember there being much discussion about what the right thing to do was, or if this was something that we wanted or would consider doing.  I do remember saying "no thank you",  to that wonderful caseworker Judy, signing the documents that she had brought that day,  and waving good bye as she headed back to West Virginia.   If you fast forward two months, the arrival of Happy and Grumpy rounded out our family of nine.  

As I look back on that inclusion of two more children to the home, I think that there was a part of me that had a bit more confidence than I should have had.  While the initial stages (we know this is called the honeymoon period) were not horrible;  they sort of just rolled in, started getting acquainted, and learning to adjust to routines and life in a busier home than where they came from,  there were some small cracks showing that we were unsure about.  

This again sent me back to learning about these already formed small humans in my care that I had to piece and puzzle together their specific and yet different special needs. Here is where I learned about FAS, intellectual disabilities and heart problems.  I had to learn even greater flexibility in regards to my daily and long term expectations.  I had to be more diligent in following through and making sure things and small people got where they needed to go, and I had to really dial up my skills of food purchasing, prepping as well as other organizational skills such as laundry and routines.  

Fast forward to this year's Mother's Day.  This is my 27th celebration of being a mom.  When I think about the Lord's sense of humor, I shake my head.  Clearly,  the orchestration of this process had to be all from Him, as if it had just been the Prince and I,  we would have made a big (or bigger) mess out of this child rearing thing. While it has not been pretty at times, I am humbled that the Lord has chosen me to be all their mothers.  For in His wisdom He has shown me my constant need for Him, and has allowed me to minister to many other parents in ways that allow them to know that they are not alone in their journey in motherhood or parenthood.  

Here are my final thoughts on some other things I have learned over the years as a mom.  

Every family has it's own language.  We make up sayings and phrases that keep simple ideas,  simple for young minds.  Some of my favorites over the years have been, (and I am not saying I made them up per say but we used them heavily) :
  • Brush and Flush: which indicated you had 30 minutes to bedtime, and you needed to brush your teeth, use the bathroom, and get in your beds.  
  • Back to the Back, Crack to the Crack, Seat on the Seat, Feet on the Floor: the proper guidelines for sitting at the dinner table, or in the pew at church on Sundays when your dad was preaching. 
  • Hard is not bad, hard is just hard: when trying to encourage or console a dwarf going through a challenging or tough time. 
  • Last out of the rack, makes the sack: reminder to turn around and make your bed daily. 
I have to understand that they are just mine for a short while.  I have just as many days to influence their lives as they have had to influence mine.  How we influence one another is based on mutual unconditional love,  mutual admiration, and mutual respect for one another.  If any of those components are missing there becomes a disconnect in your ability to influence and impact one another in a positive way.   

Because my kids are now all almost grown, as a mom, I have learned that no matter how much you want better for your kids, at some point they are going to make their own choices and write their own story.  Sometimes that story is not at all what you would have chosen for them.  Be encouraged, God loves them more than you do and is not at all surprised by the fork in the road that may be separating or distancing them from your family at this current time.  He has a plan.  Trust in that plan!

In regards to others, their plans, again while may not look like what you would have thought or desired for them, you are still proud of them for working hard, being true to themselves, and being tenacious enough to go after what they desire in their hearts.  

I am and have always been, the middle part of my children's stories.  Regardless if you have adopted kids, raising grandkids, or have your own biological children, we as moms (and parents) are just the middle of their stories.   It is my hearts desire that I have instilled a legacy that will linger beyond my lifetime, influencing them when they are no longer wanting or needing my care and supervision. Most likely we will pass from this earth before them, and  it is my hope, prayer and desire they will continue on their chosen paths without us but with the memories of a life filled with love and grace.  

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms in my life that often feel like they are overlooked, overworked and under appreciated .  May those that call you mom, actually take the time to call, text, send a gift just to say they love you and to say thank you!  If they do not, try not to take it personally, and remember all the rest of us in the trenches with you - love you, appreciate you, and see how hard you are working on their behalf!!  Happy Mother's Day one and all!!