Tag Archive: Words of Wisdom

Who did you encourage today?

A few weeks ago I posted Speak Life by Toby Mac as a Monday Inspiration, but I’ve been thinking that I want to do more than just drop off the video and lyrics and carry on my way.

It’s such an amazing and important message that I want to challenge you to really listen to it and think about how you can incorporate it into your life ~TODAY~.
Yes, it’s performed by a Christian artist, but the principle is universal.

I promise I’m going somewhere – just humor me  and let your heart and mind marinate in this for a minute

 
Some days, life feels perfect. Other days it just ain’t workin’…
 
…we can turn a heart with the words we say…
 
…hope can live or die…
 
…look into the eyes of the brokenhearted; 
watch them come alive as you speak hope, you speak love
 
… it’s crazy to imagine words from our lips as the arms of compassion… 
 
…hope can live or die…
 
…lift your head a little higher…
 
…use your words to inspire…
 
…hope will fall like rain when you speak life with the words you say….
 
 
I know what you’re thinking: “Okay Jamie, that’s a great song, and you’re so wise that we know that you have a point here somewhere…. But… what is it?”
 
I’m so glad you asked! Here’s where we’re going…

What have YOU done today to encourage and support your fellow foster parents? That’s right, foster parents, I’m looking at YOU! 

 
I’ve posted before about the importance of building your foster parent sisterhood (or brotherhood, because there are foster dads who are JUST as involved), and I probably will again. But today I’m talking to those who can say, “I have a wonderful support system in place – my family is local and wonderful (or my church family is amazing, or my neighbors all look out for me, or whatever), and I don’t need to reach out to other foster parents.” 

That’s wonderful! (I really do mean that – I know it always seems that I’m being sarcastic (and I usually am, just not this time), but I sincerely think it’s great that you already have a strong support system). I wasn’t so lucky, and I’ve heard from many, many foster parents who just don’t have a family/friend network available for the support that is so critical to our sanity.

Your existing support system is all the more reason that you should be reaching out to support and encourage other foster parents who maybe don’t have family local or haven’t been able to just lean on their church family or neighbors or co-workers.

To be blunt (which I know is totally unexpected from me):

Get thee to thou local foster parent support meetings!!

Because YOU, of all people, know best how much foster parents need that (sometimes daily) support and encouragement, right?
YOU, of all people, know how much more a pat on the back means when it comes from someone beside you in “the trenches”.
 
YOU, of all people, know how much more comforting it is when they shoulder you’re crying on has been there – and isn’t judging or spouting meaningless platitudes.
 
And when a foster parent desperately needs to escape for a half hour and vent about a behavior or a case manager or the brokenness of the system; YOU, of all people, know that it’s just venting and we wouldn’t trade what we do for the world.
 
And I’m not talking about a grand, sweeping gesture. I realize you need a babysitter just as bad at the next foster parent. I’m talking about a phone call, or a facebook message, or even a text. Just a little reminder to someone who needs to know that they are not alone.
So… what’s the best way to connect with and know which foster parents need your support today? By attending your local support meetings. Facebook groups are great – I’m in a few. But some days nothing can replace a real-life face-to-face hug.
 
If your area doesn’t have a local support, see what needs to happen to get one started. Because we NEED each other. No one knows better than us how hard ~and how very necessary~ it is to do what we do.
 
By the same token, if you run or co-run or lead or facilitate or take coffee orders for YOUR local group – please give us any tips you have for getting the whole thing off the ground.

TobyMac – Speak Life (Official Lyric Video) from tobymac on GodTube.

Mother Goose Speaks – Spend the Holidays with ALL your kids!

I have a special treat for y’all this Thanksgiving Week!! I finally convinced my mentor, Mother Goose to do a guest post for me!

As I sit here tonight surrounded by my goslings, I am so ready for the holiday season. We are eating turkey this week (but no rolls due my weight loss journey with Duck Mommy) and everyone at my house is excited. I always decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving and I can’t wait! 

The trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is my favorite time of year. The house smells wonderful from baking, and the TV is constantly showing a new must-have toy and everyone’s list continues to grow! It’s a cliché, but giving is much more fulfilling than receiving.

Papa Goose and I have been foster parents for over 15 years. We have fostered more than 150 Littles! Our house is always a busy place and that’s just how I love it. Our house is not quiet or spotless; sometimes the kids stay up too late and sometimes go to bed without a bath. We are far from perfect parents, BUT our house is a home full of love.


We don’t see skin color in our home – when you break a white egg and a brown egg are they different inside? The big thing is we don’t see foster either. Our kids are our kids. I love them with all my heart (especially the ones who are hardest to love). When my 10-year-old biological daughter was about 2, she was certain that our licensing councilor was her caseworker. She was convinced that L came each month just to see her!

One day we were cleaning up from lunch and she asked me, “Mom, where are my other mom and dad?”
I giggled and said, “We are your mom and dad.”
She looked perplexed and said, “NO, MY MOM AND DAD BEFORE YOU!”
She thought she was a foster child! So I thought: well, I’m doing it right!

I can’t imagine a Christmas without kids. The excitement of a child’s eyes when they get up in the morning and Santa has brought them presents! Even more I can’t stomach the thought of a foster child spending Christmas away from their foster family.

I know you’re asking yourself why any child would be away from their foster family???

Unfortunately, some foster parents ask for respite over holidays and even birthdays. Yes, I have had a respite child at my house on their 1st birthday and guess what: the other foster family didn’t even bother to tell me it was his birthday!

I clearly have a huge problem with this. I just don’t believe that we should be allowed to ask for respite over Christmas OR Birthdays. I know people want to spend Christmas with family out-of-town, but take your kids (all of them) with you. Please. Or if you really can’t, then put on your big girl panties and go a few days after the holiday. Are you going to have any less fun with people on the 27th of December?

Imagine your whole family goes on a cruise, your parents pay for all your siblings’ families to go but not yours. Imagine how that would feel as an adult. Now multiply that feeling by a thousand, because these kids are already feeling crappy about the holiday because it’s the first, or fifth, or fifteenth holiday they are spending away from their family of origin, with a foster family they may not know very well or trust. And then they’re just dropped off – like dry cleaning or the mail – unimportant and definitely other. Other family, other child, just other, not a part of your family. No child deserves to be treated this way EVER, but especially not during the holidays.

If you’re Christian, would Jesus have sent anyone away? Because that’s what this holiday is really about, right? Celebrating his birth? I think he would have gathered all those orphans together and shared what he had, and if Mary and Joseph wanted him to come for dinner, well he would pack all those kiddos up and head on over!

So please love all your kids. Give them a great big hug and have a wonderful holiday season together!

Much love and happiness,
Mother Goose

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Building Your Foster Parenting Sisterhood

It may take a village to raise a child. Some days it takes a sisterhood to keep a foster mom sane.
 
But we’re not born with foster parenting sisterhoods – we have to build our own. I actually live several states away from both my family and my in-laws (not entirely by accident), so I didn’t really have a built-in village the way most new moms do. But I still expected to be able to call my mom or sister when the baby wouldn’t stop crying in the middle of the night, or I couldn’t figure out how to get gum out of the toddler’s hair.
 
But it turned out that the most urgent questions I had couldn’t have been answered by my mom or sister anyway. Here are some actual questions with which I called my mentor in my first 3 months of fostering:
 
Foster mom dilemmas that a phone call to YOUR mom won’t resolve:
1.   “So I went to pick up Johnny at day care, and he wasn’t there! The case manager had picked him up for a visit and didn’t think I needed to know ahead of time.”
(this happened three times)
2.   “Susie fell off the couch onto her head. There’s no bruise and she barely cried, but do I have to go to the emergency room?”
3.   “Jasmine has a fever and is really miserable. Should I cancel the visit? Do I have that authority?”
4.   “Should I go to court Tuesday? The case manager said I can, but that I don’t have to. How does it work? Do I have to say anything? How should I introduce myself?”
5.   “Do you know anything about Sally Casemanager? She seemed nice but a little flighty. And some of the stuff she said was kind of confusing.”

 

Foster mentor responses:
1.   “Let me call the Foster Care Liaison. That’s not okay.” (the third time) “Here, let me introduce you to her supervisor’s supervisor. That’s not okay.”
2.   “Would you take your biological child? Then, no. You’re the mommy, trust your instincts.”
3.   “Would you let your biological child go? Then cancel it. You’re the mommy, trust your instincts.”
4.   “Yes. You go up and stand next to the G.A.L. You probably won’t have to say anything, but you will need to introduce yourself. Which judge do you have? Here’s what she’s like… Do you need me to go with you?”
5.   “Yes, I had her once before (or so-and-so had her before). Here is my experience with her….”
 
That’s not to say I haven’t called my sister in the middle of the night to get her advice on a child that won’t stay asleep when you get out of the rocking chair, but I cannot stress enough the value of my foster parenting sisterhood!
 
As much as my sister loves me and cares about my foster kids, she just doesn’t understand when I’m excited for a baby that’s being reunified, but sad for me because he’s leaving. But my foster mom sisterhood gets it. Not only do they understand that sometimes I just need to vent about how horribly, heart-breakingly volatile foster parenting is; they’ve been where I am and they feel the same pull that I do to keep doing it.
 
That is perhaps the most crucial element of my friendships with veteran foster moms: they’ve been where I am. They don’t always know the right thing to say – sometimes there IS no right thing to say – but I know that they’re coming from a place of understanding and support, because they’ve been where I am.
I’m sure I don’t tell them enough, but I couldn’t do this without my foster mom sisterhood.
 
And to my sisterhood (you know who you are): Thank you!