Sunday, December 11, 2011

Phillips Family Cleaning/Chore Charts!!!

Finally!  I was able to figure out how to get my stinkin chore charts on here!!  Will you be able to see them and use them?  I have no idea.  (heehee)

These are the charts that I am currently using.  I tweak them every once in awhile as children grow and needs change.  For example, Ashlee works most Wednesdays, so I need to take her off the dog rotation.  (Poor puppies!)  And as the little ones get older and are able, they will also be added to the different charts.

The different charts and details are all kept in a notebook in my kitchen (by my menu/recipes which is a whole different post).  Each chart/details is put in a page protector and put in the notebook.  A copy is also placed in each bathroom.  I do not want my children to have any excuses when it comes to chores!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment.  I am pretty sure I can answer you from there!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cleaning Charts!!!

For all of you looking for my cleaning charts, well, they aren't here!  I am trying to figure out how to make them available for you to download.  Please check back and if I can't get it to work, I'll email them to you if you email me or leave your email in my messages!



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blessed Suckers...

I happen to be a part of a group of 7 sweet ladies.  Our meetings might look to some as chance encounters, but I believe we were brought together by a higher power.  We’ve named ourselves the “Blessed Suckers”…blessed by the children, suckered in by DHS!

Within our group of 7, we have 31 children total.  19 of those children were adopted through DHS.  These ladies and I meet once a month for dinner.  We have been doing this faithfully for almost 5 years.  I would guess we will continue to meet until we are so old we start dying off one by one.

To be honest, I can’t really tell you exactly when we started meeting, or really even why.  We were just a group of foster mama’s who needed a place to get advice, talk freely about our cases, get support and wisdom from those who had already been there, and just be in a group of people who got it…no need to explain your weird behaviors or those darn eye twitches…they understood!

5 years later, we have been through a lot.  Divorce, death of a child, screaming addicted newborns, RAD preschoolers, new placements coming in, old placements leaving when they shouldn’t, workers lying to us, crazy, scary bio parents, births, grandchildren, stressful court dates, uncontrollable  longings when we here of babies in the shelters, little ones getting kicked out of school for their behaviors, adoptions, therapies (name your poison and we’ve been through them), new diagnoses, old diagnoses that are now new again, tears, sorrow, unspeakable grief, unspeakable joy. 

Out of the 19 adopted children, all but 3 of them were drug affected/addicted in the womb.  One of those was shaken so hard she suffers permanent brain damage.  One of those is too young at the moment…her issues haven’t begun to surface.   At the moment, there are only 3 of these adopted children who are not either starting or currently undergoing therapies of some sort just so they can cope with their environments. 

Recently, we have begun to notice the similarities of the behaviors in our children and have been extremely stressed out as how to go about helping our children.  Why would God give us these babies who are so hurt?  What in the world are we supposed to do with them??  When you read up on their diagnoses and see what the “normal” outcomes are for children with such issues, the future looks extremely grim.  Children with the behaviors that our kids are dealing with are highly likely to end up in prison. 

But you know what?  My God is big.  He is bigger than the effects of meth in the womb.  He is bigger than the baby born drunk.  He is bigger than cocaine.  He is bigger than attachment disorders.  He is bigger than processing disorders.  He is bigger than sensory integration disorders.  He is bigger!

The Bible tells me these things:

Hebrews 6:9b-12 “…We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.  For God is not unjust.  He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love for Him by caring for other believers, as you still do.  Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.  Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.  Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”

Hebrews 6:17-18 “God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that He would never change His mind.  So God has given both His promise and His oath.  These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie.  Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”

We are praying for our children.  I believe that God has great things in store for this group of children.  I believe that one day, more than one of these children will stand up and tell those who will listen about how God loved them so much that He sent HIS only Son to save them.  How God made beauty from ashes…how He used their disabilities for His glory alone. 

You see, even though we are working hard to get these kids everything they need medically, therapeutically, etc, we are working even harder to lead them to the Cross.  Without Jesus, what good will all the time spent in different therapies be?  There is no healing apart from Him.

I am so thankful to be a part of this little group that God has formed.  Before I go, here is a promise to our adopted children:  (Adapted from a post by one of the suckers…)

Dear child,

I make this promise to you, my babies/children, that when the effects of prenatal drug exposure comes calling, I will hold you close when you cannot handle loud noises.  I will hold you near and we will hold our hands over your ears together.  I promise to pick you up and love on your boo-boos, even though you cannot feel them.  When your separation anxiety gets the best of you, I promise to keep you close to me, even if that means we both miss our classes.  When you scream because you cannot stand for your hair to be brushed, I will kiss your head and tickle you through it.  When you are frustrated because you want to read so badly, but your brain just has not learned how to process, I promise I will encourage you and one day you will read.  When you cannot sit in a room with the lights on, I will turn them off for you and we will sit together in the dark. When you cannot regulate your emotions and have a melt-down, I promise to never leave you.  I promise that together, and by God’s grace, we will overcome each and every obstacle that you will face and I promise that you will succeed in life.  I promise not to cry when I watch you stand up and give your testimony and say “God chose this family for me.  This family showed me Jesus.  By His mercy and grace, here I stand before you.”  I promise.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Vision Revealed

When Jacob was about 6 months old, I had a vision.  The vision was during the day, and I have no doubts that God gave me this vision.  We knew that Jacob was headed toward adoption, but at that point, Patrick and I really hadn't made a decision as to what we were supposed to do. 

In this vision, I pictured a grown African American man, tall and thin, giving his testimony.  I didn't hear the entire thing, but I knew it was a powerful testimonty that changed many lives.  His testimony was that he had been born addicted to drugs and by the grace of God, he had been placed in a family that loved him and helped him heal.  God was definately using the man in my vision for a greater purpose!  I felt like that was God telling me that we would be adopting Jacob.  And we did. 

If you've followed my blog at all, you know that Jacob was never meant to stand up and give that testimony as an adult.  Since his death, I have questioned this vision.  What did it mean?  Was it just so I would know we were supposed to adopt him?  It just never felt right and I, being human, really needed to know how I could have misinterpreted this vision that was given to me so clearly.

Fast forward about 4 years.  In order to finish this story, I need to tell you the story of Aaron.  Remember how I've been promising to tell you and then I never do??  You will understand soon enough.

Aaron was placed as a foster child in the home of my very good friend.  She was in the process of closing her home and ended up feeling led to take this one last baby.  Jacob had been gone for 4 months at the time and I remember her bringing him to my home so I could hold a baby.  He was precious, but we were looking for Emma at that point. 

Fast forward 10 months.  We had lost Emma Claire to DHS a couple of months before my friend asked if we could keep this sweet baby for the weekend while they went to the lake.  SURE!  I remember taking this baby into Walmart with us and thinking "Wow, I feel complete for the first time since Jacob died."  I shared this with her and that's when it started....she started praying.  She prayed that God would change our hearts and we would find a place in our home for this child.  I, on the other hand, was NOT praying in this way!!!  I also had no idea for a long time that she had been praying this as well.  Well, we kept him a few more times and our hearts were changing.   He sure was hard not to love!  We didn't get to bring Emma home, so maybe God was changing "my" plan?  We got to know him more and more, prayed and prayed, and God changed our hearts.  We were going to include this child in our family.  It was settled.  God had placed this baby with my friend just for us!  I cannot tell you how grateful I will always be to her for following the Holy Spirit's lead.

And then we get a phone call.  "Will you adopt Emma?"  WOW!  That's 2 babies to add to our home.  That's a lot.  Aaron and Emma are 8 months apart in age.  Where will everyone sleep?  Is our truck big enough?  All those human questions...ugh!  But, God gave us peace and we said yes to both of these babies.

And that is how Aaron was placed in our lives.  As Noah said, "Mom, God took one of our blessing (Jacob) and gave us two more (Aaron and Emma)!"  If God had allowed us to bring Emma home when WE thought we should have, we never would have said yes to Aaron.

Back to the vision.  A week or so ago, I was thinking about Aaron and how he is the least affected by the drugs that he was exposed to in utero.  Aaron's bio mom tried to kill herself and him 3 times toward the end of her pregnancy.  I realized that God must have huge plans for this boy to protect him the way He did.  And  all of a sudden, it was like God slapped me across the face.  My vision that I had assumed was Jacob, was Aaron!  Praise God! 

And that was why I couldn't share Aaron's story with you before now.  "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

This picture is the first time I had both my babies together.

This Mother's Day....

I feel extremely blessed.  For the first time in 6 years, our family is still.  Let me explain.

In the Summer of 2005, Patrick and I started praying about our family and foster care.  By the Spring of 2006, we had our first placement.  Since then, we have had 3 placements that did not stay with us and 5 placements that we have adopted.  We lost a child to a piece of furniture.  We have been scrutinized, judged, lied about, treated with such utter disrespect by hospital staff, law enforcement, and DHS that I cannot even think about it...I try NOT to think about it.  We have had failed adoption placements.  We have dealt with the effects that drugs have on an infant and how those effects have followed these children into their childhoods.  We have dealt with/are dealing with Reactive Attachement Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Effects, Sensory Disorders, Auditory Processing Disorders,    I have gone to bed SO many nights asking God what He was doing with our family.  Would we be keeping the children He placed in our home or should I prepare them to move?  You promised us Emma, how do I get to her??  We have our Emma...wait, no, she's gone.  Wait!  She's back!!  Aaron?  Where did you come from??  You weren't in the plan AT. ALL. 

But here we are, in May of 2011, our family complete.  We have our health, we have our home, we have jobs, we have family and friends.  This mother's day, while I will never forget or stop missing the child I lost for a little while, I am at peace.  Total peace.  God has given us this time to rest in Him.  I have no idea how long this time will last, probably not long considering I have a daughter who will start driving in October and that almost ALWAYS leads to graduation, marriage, grandchildren, etc!!  So, again, I will enjoy the peace while I have it!!

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."  

God...I'm ready to do the good things You planned for me long ago!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I just walked into the other room to get something...

and here we are, eight months later!  I swear they wrote the book "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" after me. 

I have no idea where we left off, so I'll probably just ramble a know...until I get the hang of this blogging stuff again!  I did discover that you can merge two blogs!  How exciting that was for me since I no longer have to keep my old blog a secret!!!  So, now if you read something about Jacob or anything else that has happened since I started this little blog, you can look it up!!

And here is the reason we had to go private for awhile:

This is our newest and final addition to our family!  Aaron Jones is our 2 1/2 year old bundle of boy!!  He has been with us for awhile, and I will share his story soon.  God orchestrated this boy's placement in our home.  First of all, he's a boy.  Secondly, he's a boy!  A boy in need of a home.  So thankful God chose our home for him!  Emma loves her "Eh-non"!

We just finished a week's worth of homeschool convention...WOW!  SO much work and we are SO tired, but it is SO worth it to see all the homeschooling families and how they are blessed by the convention.  We had 6000+ people come through the two conventions, one here in OKC and one in Tulsa.  We made new friends and laughed with old friends.  I am so amazed at how God chooses to bring people into your life that bless and encourage. 

That's all I have...I'm in convention recovery this week!!  I'll leave you with one of my new favorite pictures: