Friday, January 20, 2017

Remembering What the Lord has Done for Us . . .

As the dust settles from the whirlwind that hit our family in the fall, I feel compelled to write out and document our testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and all He has done for us this past three months.  Since my time for writing is so limited right now, I am not able to think through writing this, nor write with orderliness and well-articulated eloquence! : -)  It will definitely look more like rambling with lots of grammatical errors!  But I really wanted to just write from my heart for our family’s journal, and at least get what I could down in print so that we will never forget this journey the Lord has taken us on for our good and His glory!  (Chances are your time will be limited in the reading of the entire post anyway, and I completely understand that! : -)

Three months ago, on a very stormy night in mid-October, our home was turned upside down by two little people that landed on our doorstep at 8 o’clock in the evening.  It was very fitting that they should come to us in the middle of storm, as turmoil, fear, uncertainty, pain, and loss had been the one consistent backdrop in the story of their young lives.   We were so surprised when the social worker left after being here for just a short time, and the kids were totally fine with her leaving them with us. . . total strangers.  They waved goodbye to her from a distance, with a smile on their face, as if they experience this every day.
Their social worker had to move them quickly once again, as the foster home where they had been staying couldn’t handle them anymore, and wanted them to be moved immediately.  Also, the preschool/daycare where they were attending was forced to have a 1-1 worker/child situation with W. due to his hard-to-manage behaviors.  They had even mentioned the possibility of needing to put at least W. in a therapy home.  
We were told that W. had some challenging behaviors . . . like hitting, throwing things, screaming, yelling, kicking, punching . . .  even over the smallest of irritations like someone saying “no” to him.  Of course, this behavior is understandable when he had witnessed anger toward others in a violent way (perhaps was also physically abused during outbursts of anger), and had such an unstable, unstructured, uncertain existence for most of his four years.  We have not been given the details of his story yet, but we know enough to know that he has had such a difficult journey, with at least 5 moves that we know of. And the state wanted him to have counseling for the trauma he had experienced  before coming to us.
It was a difficult decision for us to make, even as our hearts had been willing for a long time to say yes to the Lord to take in more orphans and minister to these precious souls that desperately need to know the love of Jesus. But the reality of how this case would affect all of our family weighed in heavy on our minds, as the state was not looking for another temporary placement, but a permanent home.   We told our social worker that we would pray about it overnight, and let them know in the morning.  I don’t know that we ever really had a peaceful feeling about it, but we knew that God was leading us to this, and that He would provide all that we needed.  We had long ago counted the cost of being a follower and disciple of Jesus.  We had said yes to being His ambassadors and vessels of His grace and mercy to the broken world we live in and the hurting people He brings into our lives.  We are striving to serve like Jesus and be His hands and feet to the needy. So He brings us two precious souls that have been rejected by so many and were so in need . . . how we could say "NO" now!!! 
They told us that W. would need to be watched closely, and that he would need a safe place where he could go to calm down when things escalated to the point of harming others.  So, we made the first bedroom down the hall his safe place/bedroom.   At first when he needed a time out (which was often), we would have to pick him up and carry him, all the while he was kicking, punching, yelling, and screaming at us.  When we would try to put him in the room, he would rush back at the door, and a wrestling match would ensue, trying to keep him in the room while we got out of the room. Once we finally got the door closed (it is an outward opening door into the hallway) he would kick and punch and yell at the door, while we held it closed on the other side.  We soon got a lock on it, so that we could walk away, and regroup! : -)  It was truly heartbreaking.
W. would then, in another fit of rage, throw everything in the room onto the floor.  It was so sad to hear him in such a frenzy in there!  We just wanted to be able to quiet him down with love, hugs and a gentle talking to, but there was no chance for that until after a long while, when he would eventually calm down.  We then could go in and talk with him, and de-brief the whole situation.   We would talk about his behavior both that led him to a time-out and while he was in time-out. Then, we would pray with and for him.  We also expected him to put everything back in its place that he had thrown onto the floor before he could come out of the room.  Ted was especially good at this whole process with him, and we were so thankful that Ted’s request to his work to have 4 weeks of paid  ½ days off was granted.  (As part of the Family and Medical Leave Act) This was such a tremendous blessing for all of us, but especially for W. who really needed someone strong but gentle, without emotion, to speak quietly and lovingly to him in the midst of such a volatile situation.
This went on for many weeks, and slowly, he began to stop throwing things on the floor during his time-out; then, he began going willingly into his time-outs; and finally, after three months, the behaviors that cause him to have time-outs have also been greatly improving. 
Foster parenting is always challenging, with the kids belonging to the state, and needing to parent them according to the state’s lists of rules and regulations; and then being monitored regularly to make sure that you are doing everything correctly.  We have twice a month visits by social workers (one from the state and one from our licensing/adoption agency), and weekly trips to visit their biological family members.  It feels like we are being watched closely on every side.  Since Ben and Brielle were infants when they came to us, and had no biological relationships that were ongoing, parenting W. and G. is a much different learning and stretching experience!   
Now that G. has figured out who we all are to her : -) and is not asking "What's your name? and "Is that mine? over and over and over again, and is  potty trained, : -)  life seems to be settling into our new normal very nicely.  The Lord has been so good to us in answering our prayers and helping W. through his anger, and both W. and G. feel safe, secure and loved so that they can trust us and begin to bond with us without worrying about moving again.  We thank the Lord for all He has done for us, especially in giving us the strength and wisdom we’ve needed through the transition. 
I want to write this all down, as in the hustle and bustle of the day, I feel like I'm already forgetting how far the Lord has brought us!  And I don’t ever want to forget all that He done for us.  Those first 2 months were so very hard for all of us.  Emotionally, I was so fragile.  I had meltdowns easily, and cried many tears.  This of course, greatly affected the whole countenance of our household.  My sweet older daughters, who also felt and took on most of the daily stress, would often hug me and say, "We can do this! We're in this together!" Physically, my heart rate and other various heartbeat irregularities were off the charts, and I thought this might just be too much for my aging heart . . .in many ways!  Our existing family relationships were put to the test and stretched so thin.  I wondered if we would ever recover from the stress this put on all our relationships.  I felt so weary, and longed for encouragement.  But there are few who understand what this journey is like, and since most folks just think we’re crazy, or well on our way, ;-), I felt pretty alone.  And I felt like I needed to appear that I had it all together for everyone watching.  It was definitely all bringing the worst out in me (my sin!) which also made me feel terrible!  And actually, God was/has been revealing some big areas of sin in my life, and has been doing some major pruning!  Ouch!  Though it has gotten much easier, I still have my meltdown moments . . .like this past Sunday at church when a sweet friend just asked how I was doing and the tears immediately started flowing! : -)
We all had an especially dark day just four days in to our difficult transition with W. and G. (and on the morning of my 50th birthday), when we got the call that our dearly loved one was in a coma after an attempted suicide.   We just felt the weight of our enemy’s evil schemes all around us to kill, steal and destroy life however he can.   Our hearts were so heavy that day, and we felt so sad and discouraged. It just seemed like the enemy was winning the day with all the brokenness in the lives of those around us.  But greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!   He brought our loved one through her near brush with death that day, and of course, was already in the process of bringing good out of what the enemy meant for harm in W. and G.’s lives.
So in the midst of it all, I have to admit, I often thought maybe we had made a mistake . . .maybe the Lord hadn’t called us to this. Maybe we needed to “rethink our lives” and reconsider what we agreed to! But then my next thought was . . .  how ridiculous, faulty, selfish, and evil this thinking is!  Of course God has called us to this. He put the desire in our hearts, and has directed our every step to that life-changing day in October when He brought us two vulnerable, precious souls.  He has not called us to a life of ease and comfort, doing what pleases us.  Loving and serving others takes sacrifice, and requires surrender of our selfish ways and reliance on the Spirit’s work in our lives.  Without a doubt, placing orphans in families, and even more so in families that will lead the children to Him, is at the very heart of our Heavenly Father.   It is our enemy who is placing the reluctance, doubts and fears in my heart!  I think often of how our Heavenly Father loves us so unconditionally and sacrificially, while we were still sinners (and not very loveable), and I am so thankful for this and really want to love that same way.   
I wish I could say that we have always selflessly and sacrificially thought this wasn't about us and what we were going through, but all about the kids and their needs, and rose to the occasion with great spiritual strength.  But, in this process and in reality, having our family change so drastically in an instant has truly been exhausting and overwhelming; even when that change was something we’ve been wanting and waiting for, and certain that it is a part of God’s good deeds that He has planned long ago for us to do.  We now see that God had just as much work to do in us than what He was working out in and for the kids.  And it has been good, because He is good, and all that He does is good and He loves us all so much!  We are so thankful that He is so patient with us and so faithful to complete the work that He has started in us . . .even when it hurts. 

We’re constantly being reminded that when God calls you to something, He is faithful in providing all that is needed.   He has graciously carried us through this season for our good, to grow us, to build our faith and to show us more of Himself that perhaps we wouldn’t have seen any other way.  Oh, and to bless us!!!  : -) Children ARE a BLESSING, no matter what!  

And, of course, He loves W. and G. soooooooo much, that He did not leave them as orphans.  He has placed them in a forever family that will love them always, no matter what, and lead them to Jesus! I can’t wait to see more of the good plans God has for W. and G.!!!
These three months of being a shelter in the storm for W. and G. have shown us many things, but one of the biggest lessons by far is just how faithful our “Strong Tower” is for His children!  We pray that we will continue to preserve in the Lord’s strength in loving, nurturing and protecting our two new treasures that He has given us, just as our Heavenly Father does for us!
Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
 Proverbs 14:26


Caroline Bowes said...

"We’re constantly being reminded that when God calls you to something, He is faithful in providing all that is needed. He has graciously carried us through this trial for our good, to grow us, to build our faith and to show us more of Himself that perhaps we wouldn’t have seen any other way." Mommy, that so beautifully sums up what the Lord has shown me these past months. What a blessing it is have such a faithful Father who not only loves us when we are so wholly un-lovable, but brings us face-to-face with our weaknesses so that in turning to Him we see His power so much more clearly; learning to rely on Him and seek Him above all. We are needy people, we are weak... and He is STRONG. Amen! He is our Tower! He is "I AM."
How truly blessed we are to be His children! May we learn to love others, especially those who are dearest to Him, just like He has loved us!

Thank you so much for writing so honestly for our family to look back on, Mommy. I can't thank you enough for your love for the Lord and your heart for adoption! Without your passion I might not even know, non-the-less be a sister, to two very special little people. You are such an inspiration to me, and I love you SOOO much!

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for ME." (Mtt 25:40)

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Phil. 4:19-20)

I love you Care Bear W., and Cindy Lou Who!! One day when you two learn to read, and are looking back on our family journal...I'm SO very thankful that God brought you to us!!!

AZDonna said...

Oh, what a beautiful, vulnerable, unconditional love filled post this is. While I knew W's behavior was a handful, I had no idea the depth of challenges you were facing bringing him through that terrible transition time. That little boy did not know what pure love really was until he ran smack dab into the Bowes family, and it had to be so foreign and startling to him. But praise God, and kudos to you all, for showing him day after day and hour after hour that love never gives up and it can be a beautiful thing. Thank God there are families like yours in this world to provide hope to the hopeless and a home to the fatherless. God bless you and continue to smooth the way to perfect peace. xoxox

Lydia said...

Wow, what an amazing testament to God's faithfulness and strength. So glad that you were able to take the time to write all of this down for yourself and for the family while the struggles and little victories of the last few months are still so fresh in your mind! I know it has been very hard, but so beautiful at the same time, and you did such a wonderful job piecing together the last few months with such honesty as you grappled with a wide range of emotions! You guys have done something that not many people are able or willing to even try, and many that do end up compromising for lack of a solid foundation and support. It is so clearly the Lord's hand that has sustained you through each and every moment, and spurred you on to even more love and compassion for these precious little needy souls. It is just amazing for us to see how far W. and G. have come in such a short amount of time, and it still brings me to tears reading about the outbursts and challenges that you have been able to overcome with real, patient,and consistent tough love...something that W. has probably never had in his short years. That little fella is the sweetest, and it breaks my heart to think about what all he's been through. Every little chapter in the story of our lives that He is writing, gives us such a refresher on his power in our weakness. It's such a blessing to be able to look back and say "WOW, if He got us through THAT thing, We can totally do ALL THINGS with His help!"
BTW, congrats on potty training Cindy Lou Who, that is a big endeavor in its self! :-)
1 Peter 4:11
"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Love you lots,

Meemom said...

After reading your posts and the 3 responses to it, I have a few tears and a big lump in my throat. Robyn, you expressed your feelings beautifully. It is very nice that you have documented all that the family has experienced as I am sure it will help to reinforce how faithful God is through out the years to come. Not only to the Bowes family, but to all who put their trust in Him.

I have to admit I was very apprehensive when learning that 2 more children had been added to the family; but upon meeting W. and G., I could not help but fall in love with them and appreciate better what the Bowes family has set out to accomplish with these two little souls. It also seems exceptional to me that all the older brothers and sisters are so accepting and loving toward W. and G.

So glad things are smoothing out and becoming a little easier. I am sure this will continue has W. and G. become secure in their new home. Gods blessings on the whole family in pursuing this new endeavor!!! You are indeed a VERY SPECIAL FAMILY!!!!!!!!!

Teresa B said...

I love you my friend!! Praying for you all!

God is so good!

Ted and Karen said...

We did not know that it was possible for our hearts to be breaking and rejoicing at the same time. We are praying and will send email soon. Love to you all, Dad and Mom Bowes AKA, Grammie and Papa.

The Bowes Family said...

Thank you all so much for your sweet notes of encouragement!
We are so grateful for all your love, support and prayers!
God bless you!
Robyn, for all of us!

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