Monday, July 9, 2018

Emotions Like Waves

This weekend I prepared my “Nest Room” as I’m calling it. I found this sweet sign at Hobby Lobby and knew that it belonged in the room my foster children will be staying in. I hung the sign, repainted a dresser (using sweet white rose knobs I found off Amazon), arranged my furniture, made the bed, and organized the abundance of books, toys, and craft supplies that have been gifted to me by loved ones.

Today I went in to the DCBS office to review and sign off on the 10 page case summary that my R&C worker typed up and submitted after I left. Three things struck me as humorous when reviewing the case summary. 1) She referred to me as having a curvy, rounded figure who was naturally beautiful. Yes, she is my new best friend. 2) She stated that when working I dress professionally, and when home I dress “casually but simply.” She should get major props for so beautifully describing “slob” for my at-home attire. 3) She described my home as “warm and welcoming” and “decorated with an eccentric touch and many handcrafted paintings.” (In truth, her description of my home was so sweet and beautiful I struggled not to tear up.... her perspective is just as I would like to portray my home. Knowing I have been successful warmed my heart!)

Both this weekend while preparing my room and today while reviewing my case summary, I have been overcome with emotions. Emotions that ebb and flow as the waves of the ocean... coming and going constantly. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen my post already, but I want to restate something here...

The emotional battle is real. One minute I’m fine, the next completely overwhelmed.

I feel excitement about all the things I’ve been looking forward to... craft making, board games, kid movies, outings, birthday parties, and donut stops before church!

I feel anticipation. It’s as if I’ve been waiting for this for years... I’ve always thought about fostering, and since first calling and inquiring about classes in February the process has felt so long. Five months seems so long at this point!

I feel grief over the life experience that will require a sweet flower to have to come and stay with me for a while. While this is a dream I’m getting to live out it is a time of separation or abandonement, trauma and fear, discouragement and distrust for the small one entering my home. At times I feel guilty for my joy over this journey. I’m constantly reminding myself that I have been put in this position to bring warmth, security, comfort, safety, and joy to others that need it. And it’s okay for me to find delight in that. I grieve the precipitating events/situations and am elated to participate in the healing that follows.

I feel nervous, that I’m not ready or prepared enough to take on this responsibility. I’ve mentioned it before, this is a radical shift for me. I’m fully aware of the blissfully independent, isolative, and (knowingly) lazy life style I’ve been living for the past 6 years. It’s possible that I’m using the term “nervous” when really I mean “fear” of the adjustment period.

I feel confidence and gratitude, considering the ridiculous amount of love and support that I’ve found through this process in my family, friends, and most of all in my coworkers. It was a coworker who first challenged me to consider why I wasn’t fostering at this stage in my life when I had worked so hard to  convince myself I wasn’t ready. It was my CEO and Supervisor who encouraged me to sign up for classes. It was a best friend/co-worker and a very close friend/neighbor who threw me a baby shower several weeks ago. It was an entire group of coworkers that presented me with a $500 gift card to Walmart at said shower. It has been these same coworkers who have showered me with craft supplies, children’s books, hair bows, and toys. I have not had one negative word spoken over me since I voiced my intent to be a foster parent this year. That is incredible to say and most certainly adds to my confidence and sense of security.

Finally, I feel comforted. I find rest and peace in the knowledge that Sweet King Jesus is watching over this whole process and wants to have His way in it. I am not alone. I have a supernatural support. Need some parental advice? I’ll speak to the father of millions. He knows a thing or two about raising kids. Need some encouragement? I’ll speak to the author of my dreams, who wrote these desires on my heart by hand. Need someone to vent to? I’ll call my mom. Just kidding! (Not really, but keep reading anyway.) I’ll speak to the one who knows not only my thoughts, my heart, and my situation... but will be the One most intimately aquainted with the sweet soul I’ll be housing. There is no better resource than this.

There are many emotions being felt here at Shady Corner. And many more to come.

If you are reading this, dear friend, please continue to pray for me. Pray for my ocean of emotions to be calmed. Pray for my mind and heart to be prepared for this first placement. Pray for the child and this difficult transition. Pray for the parents/care-givers, the workers, the judges, the lawyers, and everyone involved. I plan on eventually listing some specifics that can be prayed over, if you are so inclined. But for now I just ask that you pray. That is more than enough.

“Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.” —Rachel Wojo

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Change is Coming...

Disclaimer: I am not a gifted writer. I am more disorganized in thought and speech than ever before, and make no attempt to hide it. That being said, I still want to share my thoughts and experiences and am making a commitment to writing a blog update once per month. So here we go!

I’m 29 and single. I often joke that the only thing I do with my spare time is sit on the couch, eat Doritos, and watch too many episodes of Frasier and the Golden Girls. While I joke about this, it’s also true. I work hard during the day, and veg out even harder when I come home. To be honest, I have some habits that need to change. I stopped going to church a couple years ago. Work was chaotic, busy, draining, and I simply didn’t have the energy to walk through the doorway of my home on the weekends into a public place. I didn’t want to make plans, sit awkwardly through forced chit chat, or hear another person tell me that I needed to quit my job and find a new one. Things have drastically changed since that time in my life, things are a lot better at work and I’m not constantly exhausted. But I haven’t gotten back in church. I know I need to, I know where I will be going, and I know that I need to make it happen. How I spend my time off of work is another habit that drastically needs to change. I need to be more productive and more creative. I should use my time to better myself or others, but I don’t. I rest, and I have claimed that is enough. 

Well, things are about to forcefully change and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Next week I should be approved as a licensed foster parent for the Department of Community Based Services in the state of Kentucky. I will be opening my home to girls between the ages of 5-10, offering a warm and safe place whenever it is needed. I’ve known for a long time that this is something I wanted to do, but I’ve always had too many excuses for why I shouldn’t. 
My job is too consuming. 
I’m single. 
I rent. 
I have student loans I’ll be paying on for eternity. 
The list goes on and on... 

Earlier this year while sitting at lunch with a friend she asked me why I wasn’t already fostering. I listed those well versed excuses and was caught off guard with her challenge of “Well, aren’t these all things you would be self-sacrificing for if you were to start your own family anyways?” It was like a slap in the face. I have always planned on getting married and having kids. That hasn’t happened and may not, but if it were... then yes! I would still start a family despite my job, despite renting, despite my student loan debt, etc. So why not now? That one question opened my eyes to the foolishness of my excuses, and the reality of this: If not now then when? 

The next week I called a social worker and signed up for the next round of training classes. Six weeks of classes, five hours of online trainings, mounds of paperwork, three home studies, and a lot of anticipation later... I’m done! I can be ready to have a kid within a matter of 1-2 weeks. Days, really. 

This new chapter is going to change a lot for me. My entire daily life will be shaken. When I wake up, cooking and meal prepping, efficiency at work (to get off at a decent time), coming home and putting more effort into keeping my home tidy (because we all know kids make some fantastic messes), free time, self-care, overall busyness... all of this is going to change. And I can’t wait! I need to be challenged. I need to focus on something outside of work and myself. What better way to do so than to open my home to a kid that needs a warm and safe environment for the time being.

Will it be hard? Obviously. I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard “I could never do that... I would get way too attached.” Or, “Savannah! Are you sure that’s a good idea for you? I don’t think you can handle the goodbyes....” And in some ways, they are right. I WILL get too attached. I probably WONT handle the goodbyes very well. It’s going to be incredibly challenging, difficult, and heart-wrenching. But I’m ready. I’m ready to use my time and my home to better the life of someone else. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with kids outside of the professional role in my workplace. I want to be there for the good and the bad for a kid that needs someone. I want to be the one that healthy and attached relationships are formed with. I want to hold hands, give hugs, and wipe away tears on difficult days. I want to play games, go on fun outings, do craft projects, and watch Moana 100 times a day. I want to argue about how we’ve already had chicken nuggets too many times this week to cook them again. I want to work on Life Books, go to treatment team meetings, work on loving and supporting biological parents in getting their kids back home safely, and see kids reunified with family members. I want this experience, both the good and the bad. 

If you know me at all, you know change is difficult for me. (Difficult, not impossible.) Once, I changed offices at work (same hallway, seven doors down) and had to leave my desk in the old office. I swear, I grieved for three weeks over that old desk. It’s ridiculous, I know. What can I say? I am the way I am. Ha! Don’t worry, I am not disillusioned to how hard this will be for me. The adjustment to a new life in my house, the responsibilities that accompany it, the certain heart-ache that will come with separations and goodbyes are all things I am doing my best to mentally prepare for. But I am ready, I am willing, and I am grateful for this opportunity. It’s happening. And that’s all there is to it.

9 years ago when this blog was first created, I never thought I would be sitting here praying for and writing about the sweet little flowers that are soon to enter my home. Yet here we are.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” - Dr. Seuss

Monday, July 28, 2014

No Strings Attached

I am currently reading the book "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller, and after only 7 chapters in I have cried twice. This little bit of time has been a revealing soul search, let me tell you! Literally.

What he has written about so far has been simple, yet profound (great book review, right!? Amazon top verified reviewer, here I come!). Seriously though, it is bringing an awareness to my hidden (and ignored) insecurities. I didn't even realize until tonight that I have slipped back into the insecurity of believing that Jesus doesn't like me. That He wouldn't like me if He "really met me." (As if He doesn't know me already, *insert eye roll* but you get the point.) I am able to depersonalize it and delude myself into thinking I haven't exposed myself, my true self, to Jesus since He isn't actually here in person. And along with this delusion comes the belief that I would never be His choice. The lie that I'm not chosen. The picture of being lost in a crowd of other "unwanted ones", a root for my struggle with loneliness.

In his book, Miller writes "Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous or clean; accepting God's love will." Ouch. I was writing all this in my journal tonight and decided to look back at my last entry. Of course, it's about earning my righteousness and by being disciplined. I have ALWAYS had the mentality of "I just need discipline to fix my life." I never think of it as a bad thing either, because in it I am acknowledging that the source of all I need is found in God. I just go about it the wrong way and depend on the wrong things. Instead of simply (and I do mean "simply") placing my trust in Him, I make a check list. My confidence comes from incorrectly trusting myself to fulfill my newly written goals - thus earning what I am seeking.

"If I go to church more regularly... I won't be so lost in what I am supposed to be doing with my life."
"If I read my Bible more... I'll be more willing to love."
"If I spend 20 minutes in prayer before work every day... I won't spend the whole day complaining."

All those things are good, and they place me in the position of being closer to God and more attune to to His will... but are they the actual source? No.
My receiving that joy, contentment, wisdom, compassion, etc., has become to me a reward of having perfect discipline. And the mentality that without perfect discipline, I will never be fulfilled.

I don't accept what is freely given.

Are all those things that I mentioned good and godly? Yup. Will they light a fire in me to pursue Him even more, and to build the desire to obey His will? Yes. But do I have to depend on MY efforts, MY work, MY accomplishments to save me from a life of loneliness and emptiness? Never.

Typically though, it is beyond my thinking to imagine receiving those things mentioned without first proving myself worthy, proving myself "like-able" through completing those tasks. I struggle so much with the fear of not being lovable. I fear I can never make another close friend. I fear that I am too "__insert disdainful word here__" to be invited to a gathering. I fear being forgotten. I fear that my best friends will never love me as much as I love them. That I will never be valued by anyone other than my mom and aunt (there is no doubt of their love, they don't allow it.) My best friend recently posted a status on Facebook where, after she commented that she was craving pancakes, her husband made her cinnamon pancakes, freshly made blueberry topping, and homemade whipped cream. I caught myself wondering if someone would ever want to do something like that for me on a regular basis - and found that I can't really picture it. Now, do not get me wrong and take me for being ungrateful. I have wonderful family and friends that do many sweet and generous things for me. My mom loves me more than anyone in the world. But other than receiving the occasional gift and being a temporary house guest in the home of a highly hospitable person, I can't picture someone serving me without the expectation of return. Usually I feel that I give the gifts, I bake the food, I take the time. I can't picture a marriage where we serve each other as equally and willingly. Is this being selfish? Undoubtedly. Don't think I don't recognize this. It is still a place where I struggle in my insecurity of fear of being unlovable, and a left-over choice.

It's the same in my relationship with Jesus. I forget that He gives without a request alongside it. That He wants to give me good things when I have been ugly.

I want to accept God's grace without trying to earn it. I want to be forgiven for my ugly, selfish, dark heart - without forcing myself to feel guilty and ashamed for the necessity of cleansing me, the embarrassment of there being anything wrong in the first place. I want to get rid of condemnation, and accept that I can't be good/kind/loving on my own.
And after I've done that, I want to do those things that I did mention (praying, reading my Bible, etc.) but not because I'm trying to force my contentment or buy my freedom. I want to do it because being in God's presence is where I am comfortable. Because learning his thoughts, and hearing what He has to say is utterly desirable. And I will.

I will be fascinated with Jesus, no strings attached.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 16 of my Juice Fast

Well, it's Day 16, and I am over half way through with my Juice fast!

I am continuing to feel great, have loads of energy, lose weight (I'm down 18 pounds), and today I put on a dress that I wore for my graduation ceremony for undergrad school. I looked better in the dress today than I did 2 years ago. 

It blows my mind. In 16 days, I have undone the past 2 years. 

I can hear you asking, "But isn't it awful? Don't you miss chewing!?" And the answer is, "Eh, not really." Do I miss chewing? Not at all. I did eat a cracker while I took communion at church yesterday, and I'm not going to lie - it felt really weird to chew it. And the grape juice tasted like sugar on crack cocaine. But I'm still not hungry, and I still feel great. 

This weekend, I was exhausted and had zero motivation to do anything but see how many movies I could cram into 48 hours. I wanted sleep and rest. At first, I thought to myself, "Well, that's disappointing. I thought this detox would fix this." And then I realized... even though I was exhausted and unmotivated, I felt GREAT being exhausted and unmotivated. Prior to the fast, I would be exhausted, unmotivated, miserable and unhappy. But this weekend I was exhausted, unmotivated, content and felt good. Had I not had a blister the size of a steak you'd see on Diner's Drive-In's and Dive's (If you don't get the reference, my blister was huge, and a steak sounds great), then I would have been fine to go on a 4 mile walk. Prior to the detox, I would have known there was no way I could step a foot off my front porch and you couldn't have paid me in enough steak to take a 5 minute walk, let alone a 4 mile walk. 

Am I still craving food? Yes, but not in the sense you think. 
I'm craving variety. I want food, but I would be happy with healthy and non-processed food. I'm totally diggin' a cauliflower crusted, veggie pizza. Or a salmon patty and a nice kale salad with feta and almond slivers. 
Do I still want that "sunshine burger" from Buckhead Cafe, a deliciously tasty and juicy burger with a sunny-side up egg and a hefty dollop of guacamole, with greasy fries and ranch good enough to bathe in? 
Well, duh. Wouldn't you?
 Am I going to eat it? Every once in a while, yes. This is a juice detox, not the way I am living the rest of my life. I'm detoxing/fasting in order to lose addiction, not my taste buds. I expect to eat "clean" during the work week (because of my very long days at work and my level of business, it is easier for me to not focus on food treats) and then I plan on cooking more on the weekends, using meats, dairy and grains in moderation.

And yes, I still plan on eating out every once in a while. I still plan on eating chicken nacho's from Moe's, or a Reuben sandwich from Home and Market Cafe. Just not all the time, and it will be followed with clean eating and exercise. 

So there's my update. I still work at a psychiatric hospital and am surrounded by psychotic, homicidal, and suicidal patients 12 hours a day. I'm still exhausted on the weekends because of it. I still want food. But I'm still losing weight, still feeling great, and still planning on finishing this out for the full 30 days (you are going to eat your words, Jeremy Wagoner). 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 6!

I am proud to say that I have reached Day 6 of my 30 day juice fast!

Sunday, the first day, was probably the most difficult. I felt very weak, nauseous, and light headed. Day 2, I was at work and got a headache around 12:00... which turned into a migraine that night and I was in bed at 7:00 that night. Day 3 was a lot better. I felt really good, even though I had a small headache. And since Day 4 I have been doing GREAT!

I have noticed several exciting things:

1) I'm pretty excited about this one..... I've been waking up wonderfully. Normally, the most difficult time of the day for me is in the mornings. I am my most angry (yes, angry) the first 60 seconds after I wake up. It's been like that for years. I wake up angry, and it fades away after a couple minutes. I'm sluggish, miserable and exhausted. But even just after the first day, I have been waking up easily! I am not alert, and ready for the day after I wake up!

2) I am sleeping wonderfully. I sleep deep, and it feels good.

3) I have so much energy! I am not at all tired during the day. Usually I would tell you my "good" part of the day was between 11:00 - 2:00. However, I now last until around 8:00 before getting tired! Talking about improvement!

4) I'm not hungry. Am I craving? I'm craving bread and cheese, nachos, pizza, biscuits and gravy, and all that non-goodness (whatever, we know it's goodness) like a crazy mad woman. But no, I'm not actually hungry. I drink 64 ounces a day, sometimes more depending on if I get hungry or need to slap a craving in the face with a shot of pineapple juice. I'm also trying to drink 80+ ounces of water along with it. To answer the question that everyone at work has asked me daily, and I know you are wondering yourself, is no. I am not pooping my brains out. So there. That's all I have to say on that note.

5) I walked a mile this evening. And I did it quick, and I was never out of breath, and most importantly my feet and legs never started cramping. I really do believe that my health and physical wellness will change from this point on, so why not be honest. Walking anywhere previously killed me. But not now. Praise the Lord.

6) I'm losing weight. I think I might save this for later, and say how much when the fast is over. Or I might not share at all. I'm not sure yet. The point is, all these other things are more exciting to me. I'm doing this to feel good.

Did I mention how proud I am? I fully expected to quit after day 2. But I haven't. It's been so much easier than I though, I am reaping the rewards so much sooner than I could have ever dreamed of.
When I go into work with my beet, turnip green, apple, lime, and orange juice... I'm proud.
When I still get on Pinterest at night and can look at pictures of bacon without stars bursting in front of my eyes (trust me, that happened the first 3 days)... I'm proud.
When I realize that I'm almost done with my first week... I'm proud. And excited.