A season of change

Life is full of seasons.  Some seasons call for a family to grow.  Some seasons call for a family to move overseas.  Some seasons call for a family to move back. Some seasons call for a family to grow again.  And some seasons call for a change vocationally to more align with God’s call upon one’s life.

Recently our family walked through the last season above.  And on July 12, I resigned from my position at Praying Pelican Missions.  Below is an exert from my resignation letter.

Working at Praying Pelican Missions and before that a Praying Pelican Missions trip to Belize is what the Lord used to grab my heart and my personal pursuit of the American dream and literally changed me.  From 2007 – present, our family  truly had one of the wildest rides.  We have experienced the best of times and the worst of times and Praying Pelican Missions has played a HUGE role in facilitating, encouraging and supporting our family adventures of pursuing the Lord.  

Now is no different.  After months of volunteering, I have been offered the opportunity to serve our church here in Winston Salem as Children’s Pastor.  When I think back on my time serving as a Pelican, and if you served with me when I was a participant you would recall, The Lord has equipped me to serve with kids.  I truly live out the scripture where David is dancing in front of the ark of the covenant and says to his wife (after she gives him a talking to) “I will gladly all the more act like a fool for God.”  

I believe strongly as does Amy and our entire family and counsel that this is an opportunity to act like a fool for God.  We believe in Listening to Jesus and doing what He says.  He has said now is the time to go.  

As with any transition, I am nervous.  I am sad.  Are there relationships that I will miss?  Surely.  But I am confident that Lord will bless you and keep you.  May we all continue to the Listen to Jesus do what he says.

So here we are, really stepping into our calling to encourage build up and serve the local church.  We are so excited about everything going on at Revo Church.  We are so excited to have pursued God here (a story on what led us to Revo Church for a later date….that’s a crazy story that begins with a friendship between Amy and one of our neighbors here back when they were in elementary school together).  And we are excited about the work we have been able to be a part of thus far and ready for what God has before us.

Now for what you really want an update on the kiddos!

  • Glasses – For those that have been following social media, Jojo, and Z got glasses over the last month.  Now after Elijah’s appointment, it looks like glasses may be in his future as well!
  • Remodel – With the transition to working at church, my need for an office away from the kid traffic through the house decreased.  We had the boys sharing a room with Madeline and it was tense in the best of times.  Some paneling taken down, and framing / dry wall and a new window and presto, Madeline has her own room and the boys are now sharing my old office as their bedroom!  Everyone has enjoyed the transition and the boys have promptly returned to being messy boys!
  • Remodel Church – Amy and I had the amazing opportunity to help renovate a children’s ministry area in an existing church that gifted our church their facility!  This was back in February of this year!  We are now working on an update at our 2nd church campus!  We are so thankful for the volunteers whose sacrifice is allowing kids to meet Jesus and literally spark a revolution of life-change through Him in their lives!
    • Note:  When Amy and I bought our house here in Winston and realized that it needed some work (new floors in a couple of places, water damage treatment, walls sealed, paint, etc.) we felt really silly.  Especially after moving back from Belize, our house was great but we knew we felt prompted to fix our house and some areas specifically for the opportunity to open it up to a small group.  Amy and I were talking and realized that God doesn’t waste anything.  During those light updating projects, He was giving us knowledge (really me design ideas and Amy knowledge and skill….I’m not fooling anyone).  He was giving us the knowledge to help with these projects at church (ala: Bezalel and Oholiab from Exodus 31).  And on a way more important note, we are so incredibly blessed to be at a church that has way more Bezalel and Oholiab who are so gracious and generous with their God given talents.
    • Girls Update – Z: So Z entered our house, literally not knowing the difference between an egg or drum.  She needed to have some pretty serious dental work addressed, and required twice weekly speech and once a week Occupational Therapy.  This on top of visitation with family weekly and weekly counseling.  It’s literally been a dead sprint to see if we can meet these needs and have her as close to grade level  as possible.
      • Dental Work Update – All dental appointments have been completed and all dental needs have been met.  Teeth are back to a steady state and all we have to do is maintain great dental hygiene!
      • Speech – We just had speech today and the therapist said she believes Z will not qualify for speech services when she starts Kindergarten at the end of the month!!
      • OT – We have already stepped back OT from weekly to every other week.  Now the Occupational therapists is suggesting Z will not require therapy once school starts either!!
      • Grade – level or bust – When Z first entered our house, she had an extremely limited vocabulary.  We started out with the babies 1st 100 words book and literally pointed to everything and said what it was and had her repeat it.  We honestly weren’t sure what was developmental and what was environmental exposure that was causing any perceived delays.  After a month of summer school and lots of practice and learning at home, her teacher said last week “Z is on grade level with all of her peers. She is VERY ready for Kindergarten”  I literally cried…like almost snot-bubble tears balled. God is so faithful!
    • Girls Update – L: L is the life of the party wherever she goes.  She walks in (usually belly first….cause well it’s big) and owns the room.  She oozes cuteness and kindness and love.
      • Kindness Counts – We’ve been working on using nice words (Please.  Thank you. Yes Ma’am / Sir, etc).  That’s a work in progress.
      • No paci – When she entered our house she had a paci in her mouth 24/7.  We made that mistake with Madeline and against my better judgement I ran out more than once to get a paci because we couldn’t find it or it had a hole in it or mold, etc.  Not this time.  In just about 3 days Amy weaned her off that paci!
      • Potty trained – After a few accidents and an unfortunate period where when L got in trouble she ran to her room and peed on the floor on purpose…that was special….L is potty trained!  She even is dry at night 5 out of 7 nights during the week!

How you can be praying for us?  If I could think of two words to describe the things we would love for you to pray over our family it would be rest and preparation.

  • Preparation because August is busy – new school year (two more kids elementary school this year).  Children’s ministry facilitate update.  Children’s ministry training at each campus and prepping for the “new school year” growth in the children’s ministry!
  • Rest – because we need rest in August.  This summer has been busy!  June was the month of remodeling the basement office to bedroom.  July was food preservation month – Amy canned over 75 jars of canned goods from our garden!.  August is children’s ministry month AND VACATION.  Pray for us as we head out on vacation.  Specifically pray that I can unplug, rest, think, reflect, and study and prepare for this next season ahead!
  • Court – The girls’ case has a court date next week on Wednesday.  At this court date, which I will attend (Josh).  We will learn mom’s progress on the case plan and review any pertinent information.  Prayers for wisdom and discernment for the judge and for all decisions to be made in the best interest of the girls and their siblings.

Friends thank you so much for praying for us.  Thank you so much for celebrating with us!  Thank you for being part of our adventures.  Buckle up, we’re just getting started.  God’s got much more in store as we listen to Him and do what He says!!

Amy serves our family and our church so well. I am so blessed to have this partner in ministry. Especially in her silliness

Office assistants for the day. Loving dress up with costumes!

Madeline had to tag along for a meeting one morning. She was having a hard time getting along with her sisters, so this was supposed to be punishment. At the end of the day, she said “you need a better punishment daddy”

Eli at the dentist.

Best of friends. Worst of enemies. These two strong wills love each other deeply but also are fiercely determined.

A pic into Amy’s work on the boys room.

Our plans vs. His plans and a Happy Birthday to a lil dude!

So today is Elijah’s 4th birthday.  And it was a blast.  We can’t believe how much he has grown up and grown into an … well interesting little boy. I almost cried (well maybe it was just dusty) when I was thinking about this time next year we will be getting ready for him to go to Elementary School!!!

Hey..what’s that?  Why are my eyes getting all misty?

Every year on his birthday, Amy and I can’t help but reflect on his life, his story.

We think about the fact if it was our plans we might have not gotten pregnant.  But God had different plans.  For those new to our adventures check out this post when I found out about Amy being pregnant, 3 months into living in Belize.

We think about the fact that Elijah almost lost his life in a tragic car accident before he was born.  Again for those that are new to our adventures check out “the call” in this post from June 2013

We think about the favor of God as we used the right tool for the job (prayer) in welcoming Elijah to this world.   Check out the link for a brief story of his birth in Belize Central America!

And then we can’t help but look at this now 4 yr old and we cannot imagine our life without him.  He bring so much fun, laughter silliness, and joy into our lives.

We start to think about our plans for his life, who he could marry, how many grandkids he would have for us and what he might be when he grows up (right now his plan is animal doctor).  But then we realize God has brought him into the world through His plans.  He literally spared his life from the accident in Belize.  And He was so faithful in bringing Elijah into this world.  Amy and I stop ourselves and our plans and we pray.

Lord He is yours.  We are blessed to be his parents.  We pray Elijah meets you at a young age and draws close to you.  We pray that his feet do not stray to the right or the left and that he does not wander from you.  We pray that his testimony is filled not with sin that you had to redeem him from because of poor choices but rather opportunities that he was kept from because of his relationship with you, Jesus.  We pray most of all that he learns a deep yearning and love for you.  That he draws close to you and Lord listens to you and does what you say, even when it doesn’t line up with our own plans.  Finally God as his parents, will you give us the wisdom, courage, and patience to parent Elijah in the ways You are directing us?  And God may He have the passion and drive to serve you with everything He has and may we have the Faith as his parents to get out of his way!  Amen.

Will you join me in praying this over Elijah as his birthday present today?

Literal Birthday

2 year old elijah

3 year old elijah

Elijah at 4 years old

Elijah at 1 year old

The days are long but the years are short….It’s been 2 years

If you’ve followed us along with our family on our adventures, you know that one of my favorite pieces of parenting advice is “the days are long but the years are short.”  I remember first hearing it at a cafe in Belmopan Belize in a podcast by Andy and Sandra Stanley.  It really was just a reminder that in the midst of the chaos the days may seem long but the years are really short.  Time flies when you’re having fun? Right?

We were hit with that fact the days are long but the years are short.  Amy woke up one morning about a week ago and said “can you believe it’s been two years?”  I shook my head and nodded politely.  (Truth is I had no idea what she was talking about).  That is until I saw my Facebook, which so kindly reminds us of what has happened in the past…Thank you Facebook.

Anyway, I saw it was two years since we made a drive from Orangewalk Belize to the airport, tears streaming down our faces as we said goodbye to that season.  Two years that I tried to navigate 20 suitcases through customs in Miami, my two luggage trolleys toppled and all my bags fell, blocking two switch-back lanes.  Two years as I asked each stranger to stop and help (silly me this was my welcome to America…it took 12 people before a kind international woman offered her assistance).  Two years since I lost what was my identity…I was Josh the missionary in Belize.  We were the missionary family.

But it’s been Two Years.  Two Years since our church family cleaned our house, filled our fridge, left notes in each room for our kids and us.  Two years since they took Amy to New Orleans.  It’s been two years since they dropped almost everything and cared for me and my family.

It’s been two years since we drove past the “Foster Parents Needed” sign outside of the Children’s Home in Winston-Salem.  It’s been two years.  A lot of long days but really really short two years.  The days are long but the years are short.

At that moment, on the plane (in first class because we found a steal on the tickets for our family…and luggage….remember 20 suitcases), I remember sobbing when all the kids finally went to sleep and begging God WHO AM I?  I have no purpose.  I have no identity.  I was lost.  And I struggled for about a year and a few months to find out.

Now as we are here in this new but different season, I find myself drifting back to identity.  We may not be the Edmonds, Belize missionaries, but we are The Edmonds, foster family to Z and L.  The Edmonds family those crazies with 5 kids!  What if they don’t stay?  What if? Who will we be then.

Identity is a funny thing, we always search and desire it but often place it in the wrong things.

Fast-forward to this week….Man I had a particularly challenging week this week.  I was faced with a relatively taxing and challenging situation at work that required many hours of late night conversations (way, way past my bed time).  In addition, we had a gas leak.  Let me run down the gas leak.

  • Sunday – Amy and Josh smell natural gas coming from the brand new and newly installed water heater.
  • Monday – Gas company contacted, identified the leak, provided instruction for correction and turned off gas.  Plumber comes out to address corrections (delayed over 2 hours, and same plumber that installed the BRAND NEW water heater).
  • Tuesday – Gas company came back out, checked leak and informed us that the plumber did NOT correct the mistake.  No gas day two.  Did I mention that gas is how we have hot water?!?  Oh and he let us know that we now need a city inspector to sign off on the corrected gas leak prior to the gas company turning on the hot water.  Plumber comes to correct the gas leak, finally.  It’s around 8:30pm.
  • Wednesday – City inspector comes to inspect the system.  He finds that the gas leak is improved BUT there were other issues with the hot water heater that were not up to code.  So the plumber returns at 9:30pm (still the SAME plumber that installed it) and complained that he had to fix his mistake.
  • Thursday – City inspector comes signs off on the corrections, plumber returns at 4pm to do final check and at 5:30pm we have hot water!

It’s been a week for of LONG days.  In the midst of it, I was sharing some of this with a friend at work and they suggested Psalm 62.  I spent the rest of the week there, resting on God’s promises.

I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken.

So many enemies against one man—
    all of them trying to kill me.
To them I’m just a broken-down wall
    or a tottering fence.
They plan to topple me from my high position.
    They delight in telling lies about me.
They praise me to my face
    but curse me in their hearts. Interlude

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge. 

I found myself re-realizing, as I have always known that my identity is in who I am with the Lord.  He alone is my refuge and my strength.  God was my refuge 2 years ago and for the year and a half that I struggled with who I was / am.  God is our refuge in the LONG days of Foster Care.  And God is our refuge now as we struggle through a challenging week.  I choose to trust Him at all times!

My prayer is this week as y’all are going through the week, as you reflect back on a particular challenging season or as you struggle with who you are and what’s your value that you read, reflect and ultimately rest on the promises of God as laid out in Psalm 62.  May His word refresh your soul.

Many of our pre-dinner hours of the week are spent here! Don’t worry L is floating on her back in this pic

Children’s Museum fun!

L marching to help mommy in the garden

More museum fun

it’s all fun and games until someone eats a black marker….long days remember?

Momma cooked a breakfast with no hog

Quick:  What’s that reference?

The first line of the answer to the reference is “Just waking up in the morning gotta thank God”  IF you know it and are reading this comment on the social media post and / or shoot me an email with the answer.  I don’t have anything to  give you but we would just love to hear from you all!

Anyway, we feel in our family that it’s been two weeks of just that… Thanking God for all that He is doing and has done.    Here’s a list…these things YOU have prayed for.

  • Z’s teeth are 95% fixed.  We have one more cavity filling appointment in July!
  • Preaching at our North Campus was a HUGE success.  Please give the podcast a listen and I pray that the text provides as much of a blessing to you as it did to me studying and preaching through it.
  • I also had the opportunity to preach to our student ministry at one of our campuses.  The ministry has exploded and the Lord has faithfully brought in over 25 students each week!
  • Z’s behavior has totally changed since getting her teeth fixed.  It’s almost as if she has started to trust us!
  • L is peeing all day on the potty.  YES!  Pooping on the potty well that’s another animal entirely.   Funny story:  Every single night, we put L on the potty to poop.  Every night she does not.  Then she goes to bed.  20 minutes later she opens the bedroom door and tells us either “horses poop” or “I peed” and every single night she has pooped in her diaper.  I share that because Amy just walked back into the office from dealing with this situation for the evening.
  • Jojo and Z graduated preschool last Thursday!  We had a great picnic and party afterwards.  Madeline has 4 more school days until summer!
  • THE POOL Opened and our family LOVES it.  ALL OF US!  Even Z and L who had NEVER been to the pool!  Now to get them to learn to swim!
  • Glasses – Z and I (Josh) went to the eye doctor and got Z’s eyes tested.  Glasses should be here in about 3 weeks.
  • The LAST of the evaluations.  Z has an occupational therapy evaluation on Wednesday.  This is the last of the initial evaluations.  10 weeks and we have covered all the necessary bases!  Now to get routine speech therapy and counseling into our family schedule!
  • Baptism!!!  – Our church celebrated baptism Sunday.  We partied as saw 9 people moved forward in their relationship with God to make that decision!  It was awesome to see 2 members of our community group and 4 fellow children’s ministry volunteers take that step!  And for sure there aint no party I have ever been to like a Revo Baptism Party.
  • Garden – The garden is on point these days.  Several jars of strawberry jam.  We have located a hidden blackberry patch.  And we are crushing some sugar snaps.  Also, since  L wont eat veggies, like hides chewed corn in her mouth for hours, we have dehydrated Kale and Spinach picked from the garden, ground it in a spice mortar and pestle.  Our “secret ingredient” is now included in everything from burgers to pizza to spaghetti sauce.  Haha….parenting win! Note: if you want to know “the how” talk to Amy.  
  • Home Improvement – we have made the decision to reclaim my (Josh’s) office as the boy’s bedroom, getting Madeline her own space.  So Amy took the paneling down, sealed the concrete walls, unhooked a light and tore down 1/2 the ceiling and that was all last week.  Now we are looking for contractors (or volunteers) to help with framing the walls and a closet and hanging some dry wall….interested?
  • Z is showing some real keen interest in the mystery and love of the Gospel.  She and Amy had some AMAZING conversations leading up to Baptism this week at church!  God is stirring, softening, and moving her.  Pray we continue to present the Gospel in a way she understands!
  • Financial Support – The Lord has shown His favor in moving in people’s hearts of people and their generosity.  We still have a ways to go to reach our goal, and I am spending some serious time on that this week so continue praying for favor!

I had a boss who loved Ronald Reagan.  When things were going well and he was solving a ton of problems at work, he would say he was “Reaganing” that day.  I don’t want to give the impression that we are “Reaganing” but we are celebrating the good along with all of you!  Thank you for praying.  Continue to do so!  The Lord is on the move and this season we are expecting great things from Him in the life of our family!

Because Baptisms at our church include 3 bounce houses

This dude LOVES BBQ chicken

Z and M are starting to really bond! Two strong willed girls for sure! So fights then coloring. Ya know the usual.

First and last day of preschool. The best blessing this year for him was finding his first best friend!!

First and last day of preschool. How much has he grown!?

Edmonds Family Update: GI Joes

I loved the TV show GI Joe growing up.  Funny thing: I never really played with the toys.  I was much more into wrestling and transformers and He-Man than GI Joes.

But the cartoon….that was gold!

Anyway, at the end of each episode they always had a moment which ended up with the saying “And now you know and knowing is 1/2 the battle.”

I feel that knowing and maybe more specifically not knowing brings along uncertainty and worry.  At least that’s how I feel in our lives.  Amy and I have noticed through some times with the girls knowing and not knowing brings unwanted stress, worry, frustration, anger, tears,

It really had me contemplating.  You only know what you know.  So that’s brought some humor, frustrating times, and just times we are left stumped.  We wanted to share a couple of those things:

  • Frustration – There are many times when either me (Josh) or Amy are heading out somewhere (e.g. take kids to school, gym, a run, etc) that Z gets nervous asking when is _____ coming back?  Are we going to be left alone?  Slowly over the last 7 weeks, she has realized that she isn’t left alone and we will always come back but I guess you only know what you know.
  • Stumped – Amy took the girls to the store the other day.  Now we hadn’t gone on this adventure with them yet.  Typically Amy or I were going to the store by ourselves or we were ordering groceries online.  Anyway, Amy and Z and L head to the store and when they return Amy tells me the story.  Apparently Z’s head was darting back and forth, looking up and down.  Amy noticed the behavior and asked “what are you doing” Z’s responded: “Looking for cameras.  Mommy asked me to look for those when we shopped.”  Stumped.  You only know what you know.
  • Humor:  Yesterday there was a court hearing about the case.  Amy was speaking to the social and our Foster Care Supervior.  Z heard “court” and said how much she loved court.  Amy asked her why.  Z mentioned that she loved all the food places, like McDonalds and sometimes they had places to play.  Amy (better than I would have done) held in her laughter and gently redirected Z that she was referencing a food court and that wasn’t the same kind of court Amy was referring to.  You only know what you know.

How are we day in and day out, moment by moment it depends.  Sometimes are frustrated.  Sometimes we are stumped.  Sometimes we are laughing .  Right now more often than not, we wish we knew.

We wish we knew all of the family backstories.  We wish we knew how to best love, serve, and meet needs of Z and L.  We wish we knew what Madeline, Jojo, Elijah really thought about our new family dynamic.  We wish we knew the best way to respond.  We wish we knew the answer to “what’s going to happen with the girls.” We wish we knew what was a made up kid story and what was real when Z tells us something we think may sound crazy.

We wish we knew because if we knew, at least accordingly to GI Joe that’s half the battle.

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • Prayer – Wisdom / Discernment – Update: We are continuing to learn about Z especially.  Her behavior ebbs and flows.  Amy has been doing extensive research and we are scheduling a larger meeting to help us learn more about Z’s brother to see if there is any insight.  Pray for peace.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray that we respond correctly that I (Josh) model Amy’s lead from her wisdom and research to respond in wise manner when Z’s behavior “shuts down”
  • Financial Support – If you all didn’t know, my job doesn’t pay a “full-time” salary such that we can “live on”.  Therefore, Amy and I raise funds from people sponsoring us for ____ / month in order to meet our financial goals and, in this season, for Amy to stay at home.  We are still praying for 10 more families to jump in and commit to financially supporting us for $50/month from June 2017 – July 2018.  If you are interested in learning more about what that means, the return on your investment, what are family budget is, please feel free to contact me at joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com.
  • Prayer – Dental Work  – Update: FIRST REPAIR APPOINTMENT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!!  Yay!  Now we just have 2 more repair appointments to correct additional decay and damage.  Pray for Z to continue to be calm and trusting!
  • Prayer – Preaching – Update: Sermon is polished and I am preaching through it over the next few days.  Pray for me personally, as the weight of communicating God’s Word weighs on me.  Pray specifically for me to FOCUS and for our house to be a place of peace.  This Sunday I would appreciate any FB, IG posts, texts, emails etc just saying y’all are praying for me as I communicate God’s Truth to our church.  If you are local to Winston, I would love to see you at our North Campus in Rural Hall that weekend.  For directions check out our page: Revo Church.
  • Praise – POTTY TRAINING – Praise and Prayer Request.  L is mostly peeing on the potty (awesome!).  She is even doing this on her own, knowing when to go, getting up there, doing her thing, and getting down!  That’s great.  BUT every stinkin (pun intended) night she waits until she goes to bed to poop.  And then comes out of her room to tell us to change her pull up!  We’ll get there!

Friends!  Thank you so much for your continued love and support of our family.  Thank you for your encouragement.  Please continue to reach out to us and encourage us.  Those words of affirmation are like wind in our sails.  Call, text, email.  Thank you for loving us so well!  Life is adventurous.  I guess you only know what you know and knowing is half the battle!

7 people in the house and only 4 different cereals for breakfast.. That’s a win I think.

Life is rarely quiet. It’s always a blessing to catalog these moments.

This is the 155th version of the fort downstairs. At least they all fit in it.

Oh and the name the “LOUD” house. If you know our kids, there is no better name for this fort.

Make it a great day or not – the choice is yours

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours

That was a phrase that Amy brought home early in our marriage.  Before we had kids, Amy taught middle school when we were living in and around the Raleigh area.   The announcements at her middle school always ended with “Make it a great day or not the choice is yours.”
Amy thought the phrase was a great thought / idea and brought it home early in our marriage.  When we had a tough day at work – make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.  When I played basketball on Saturday morning and those jumpers weren’t dropping, make it a great day or not the choice was yours.  When I did the laundry and well I didn’t pay attention like I should, Amy had a choice – make it a great day or not the choice is hers.  You get the idea.
It is really is a posture of response.  We have the choice during frustrating or difficult times on how to respond.  We have the choice to let negative events impact our entire day or not.  So very early in our marriage, Amy and I CHOSE to respond in a way that enabled us to move past the frustration of the moment, situation, or day and really have a great day or not the CHOICE WAS OURS.
Amy and I find ourselves repeating that phrase almost daily this week.
A couple of reasons why: Appointments and triggers.
Appointments:
One of the things they told you in our classes before becoming a licensed foster parent was assess impact to your family.  We assessed impact and said “yes.” Man we wouldn’t change anything BUT THE APPOINTMENTS ARE SOMETHING ELSE.
 Check out this list from just this past week:
  • Monday
    • Dentist Appointment for Z
    • 30 day check ups for BOTH Z and L
    • Visitation with mom and grandma for Both Z and L – 2 hours
  • Tuesday
    • rGroup
  • Wednesday
    • Therapy for Z
  • Thursday
    • Visitation with mom for both Z and L
  • Friday
    • Crown appointment for Amy – YUCK!  hard to make it a great day or not when you sit in a dental chair for 2 hours!!

Here’s a complete list of the appointments we have had since the girls arrived in our house at the end of march!

  • Initial Medical Appointments (within 72 hours for both girls)
  • Initial Dental Screening for Z
  • Visitation 2x per week for 2 hours each day in Lexington, NC (about 45 minutes away)
  • Sick appointment for L
  • Dental repair work for Z – FAILED 😦
  • Paternity Testing for both Z and L
  • Initial Dental Evaluation (again) for Z
  • Dental repair for Z x 2
  • 30 day developmental physical for both girls
  • Weekly Therapy for Z
  • Speech Therapy evaluation for Z (3 HOURS!…goodness)
  • Occupational Therapy assessment for Z
  • Monthly home visits with the girl’s social worker
  • Monthly visits with our Foster Care Supervisor
  • Quarterly visit with our Foster Care Licensing specialist
  • Z failed her eye exam during the physical so we have an initial eye exam for her soon.

And I didn’t mention the the preschool schedule, which I have a note on my phone to review every day just so I can intelligently answer the question “who goes to school today?”

  • Z – Tues, Thur, Fri
  • L – Mon, Fri
  • Jojo and Elijah – Mon, Wed, Thur

Thank goodness for my electronic calendar on my phone and all the alarms!

We don’t share this, I don’t write this to say “woe are we”.  We knew (sort of at least) what we were getting in to.  But my goodness, I feel like GI Joe “now we know and knowing is half the battle.”  If we can share this for anyone possibly considering Foster Care then at least it provides a sneak peak into “real-life”.  And it’s a real life that we CHOOSE to make GREAT.

Triggers

Triggers are events, smells, sounds, etc that may elicit an emotional (or even physical) response from the girls due to trauma associated with that trigger.  This past week was a week of triggers.

  • Power Outage – A couple of weeks ago we had a large rainstorm.  About 5 in the morning the power went out.  All of the kids sleep with sound machines, so of course the power outage caused all of them to wake up.  After some glow sticks for night lights and some calm words, Madeline Jojo and Elijah went back to sleep.  I thought Z and L went back to sleep as well but after closer listening I heard whimpering from their room.  They were both crying.  Once they woke up and were into some normal light, Amy and I saw the fear on Z’s face.  She was scared the power would not come on.  After repeated attempts to assure her, it was a storm not the bill, she finally believed (once the power DID come back on….4 hours later, and after a rough time of doing hair without power). WELL THIS PAST WEEK.  It happened AGAIN!  The disappointment on Z’s face was heart-breaking.  It was as if she was looking at us and saying “You told me it wouldn’t happen again”
  • Water Heater – It was a normal Monday.  Well sort of normal, I was actually able to get into the shower in the morning (something that I don’t normally do).  I thought to myself that’s odd the water pressure seems to be a little off.  Amy and I switch off and when she gets into the shower she notices the same thing.  We check a couple of sinks around the house and determine the hot water pressure is way way too low.  Some personal investigation and one visit from the plumber later it’s determined a new hot water heater was in order.  Again we had to do hair in the morning (Monday morning is Z’s hair day).  And we had NO HOT WATER.  It turns out that was a trigger from Trauma because we learned she never had hot water until she started to stay here. Well 4 days later, a new HOT WATER HEATER!! YAY.  I can now shower again!
  • Sounds – Just yesterday we were walking back from the pool open house in our neighborhood and there was a loud BOOM.  It almost sounded if someone dropped a 2×4 or piece of plywood on the ground.  Maybe it was  backfire…nonetheless a loud POP or BOOM.  Z stopped in her tracks.  Froze momentarily.  Who knows what that sound represented / recalled / reminded?

Triggers, it seems that every day we may be reminded (sometimes unexpectedly) of what influences, conditions behavior or reminds the girls of trauma.  We pray for awareness, wisdom, and honestly for healing, for triggers to reduce and trauma to not be recalled as quickly.  And we don’t even know if that’s the right prayer!

And speaking of prayer / praises: 

  • Prayer – Wisdom / Discernment – Update: we had a great meeting with our Child/Family team today and got some good insight on how to answer Z when mom can’t make it to visitation and doesn’t call.  I feel like we have some good tools in our belt now we are just praying for a receptive heart and head to hear from us and them.  Continue to pray for discernment / wisdom for us!
  • Prayer – Self-Care – Update:  Still no date night.  I am determined that we will have one this weekend (OUT OF THE HOUSE WITHOUT THE KIDS).  We did enjoy a Cinco de Mayo in typical fashion with tacos from our favorite place and a board game tournament.  Note: Amy won 2 nights to 1!  UGH!
  • Prayer – Financial SupportUpdate: We have had two more join our financial support team! Praise God for them and their families.  I will be following up with several potential financial partners this week.  Please be in prayer for receptive hearts and The Lord’s favor!
  • Prayer – Dental Work  – Update: Z did great at the dentist for the evaluation last week.  Now we have two “repair” appointments coming up over the next couple of weeks.  Be in prayer for mine and Amy’s patience and Z’s anxiety.  We are praying that the dentist does NOT become a traumatic event for her!
  • Prayer – Preaching – Update: I am polishing up the sermon I have the opportunity to share with our church on May 21st.  If you are local to Winston, I would love to see you at our North Campus in Rural Hall that weekend.  For directions check out our page: Revo Church. This week pray for FOCUS and TIME and QUIET so I can finish the polishing process and then work through practice for the next two weeks!
  • Prayer – Madeline: We are having a hard time with Madeline’s emotional regulation, something that she has struggled with in the past.  Right now pray for us as we work with Madeline to identify things that need a big reaction and things that need a little reaction.  Pray for Madeline as we talk to her about looking around the house to find her kind and big words!  Also BIG news in Madeline’s life, she has read one of her Bibles on her own all the way through (actually reading it to the boys at night by herself).  She has moved on now to the “Bigger kid Bible”  Note: If you want to know what Bible’s we use for our kids, please let us know, we are happy to share what’s worked well and hasn’t worked well in our house!
  • Praise – POTTY TRAINING – We have made the step towards Potty Training L.  She is now mostly peeing and pooping on the potty!  YAS!  GO GOD!

Every day, every moment make it a great day or not the choice is yours.  Our prayer is that we always have this posture of positive response even in the events that frustrate and annoy us.  My prayer is that you all CHOOSE to make it a great day or not, each day.  The CHOICE really is yours!

And now a glimpse into our lives from this past week.

Our Tribe! Amy and I are so blessed by their love for each other!

One of the coolest parts of serving our church is getting to encourage kids to memorize scripture. So Instead of the rap lyrics that I had in my head, they can recall actual scripture when times require it later in life.

Batman. He’s smaller than I remember but he is still a mighty protector.

Amy’s garden back in full swing. First harvest of the year: radishes. We recommend roasting them, which turned them into an almost sweet baked potato!

 

Every day a collection of moments

It seems that at the end of every day Amy and I look at each other and recount what’s happening or happened.  It’s almost as if every day is a collection of moments.  The moments may be an hour-long, it may be 2 seconds, or it could be 20 minutes.

The moments may be hard and frustrating.  Perhaps they are tiring and exasperating.  And then there are the moments that are life-giving, encouraging, funny, fun, etc.

Each day….a collection of moments.

Our collection from this past week

  • Sad – There have been some sad moments this week.  Phone calls that didn’t happen.  Visits that were cancelled.  Just a lot of sadness.
  • Victory – L POOPED ON THE POTTY.  MORE THAN ONCE!!!.  She immediately followed that up by running to her room and pooping in her pull-up.  But ya know you take the good and take the bad!
  • Encouraged – Friends and family have stopped in (THANK YOU!!).  Whether it’s dad showing up on Saturday, a good friend coming over to see Amy on Monday when doing Z’s hair, or bible study on Tuesday, THANK YOU!  Everyone is ALWAYS welcome at our house.  Please stop in, consider this your invitation. Our door is always open!
  • Unexpected – Over two days, Winston – Salem received ~5″ of rain.  Well that led to trees falling on some power-lines somewhere around our grid and as a result the power going out at our house (for 4 hours).   In a moment of preparedness, we got everyone glow sticks.  But there was still some sadness from Z.  In a moment of learning, we realized she had lost power several times in her life due to other circumstances and she was scared.
  • Victorious AGAIN – On Monday’s everyone is in school but Z.  So every 2 weeks Monday’s are hair days for Z.  Amy successfully did Z’s hair (with no power at the house I might add)
  • Adventurous –  I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life but I had never, ever been to Pilot Mountain.  I also had never visited Mt. Airy.   There was one failed attempt to get to Pilot Mountain with Amy and the kids that resulted in getting lost (don’t ask) but this past Friday all of that changed.  Some staff from church went out to hike around the top of Pilot Mountain and at a Snappy’s … apparently a staple from the Andy Griffith show.  It was great time with great dudes!
  • Blessed – A blessed moment when a friend has Madeline go home with her daughter, feeds Madeline dinner and transports her to girl scouts.  Giving Madeline some great attention and special time was just what she needed!
  • Culture – We LOVE our Elementary School.  I know we have shared before.  To recap: Almost all of the teachers are from a different country.  Friday night, the school hosted an international night where they had booths for over 85 countries INCLUDING FOOD!  It was a great family adventure!  and L ate her weight in international food, including a Jamaican pattie that was a little too spicy!
  • Frustrating – Z needs dental work done to take care of some poor dental hygiene and eating habits previously.  We had the initial consultation and Wednesday was the day!  Well it didn’t happen.  The dentist said “this will be a little pinch” and that was that.  Z shut her mouth and sat directly up and after 40 minutes of Amy trying to convince her to trust us, she was all done.  A frustrating moment because her teeth hurt her but we need to try a different pediatric dentist to help get the work done!
  • Normalcy – We are starting to get a rhythm to our family and our house.  Appointments are always thrown in here and thrown in there but we feel we are getting the hang out it.  In a moment of normalcy from this past weekend, Amy and I binge-watched Netflix (13 Reasons Why) and played board games!  We are two wild and crazy kids!!

Life to us right now is a collection of moments.  And each moment, whether frustrating or funny, whether life-sucking or life-giving, each of these moments is our life that God has given us.  We turn to Him and celebrate and praise every moment! We love our life full of little moments!  We pray that you all see and cherish all the moments as well!

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • PrayerWisdom / Discernment – We are dealing with disappointment and conflicted feelings.  Will mom be at visitation?  The answer is we don’t know.  Why wasn’t she there?  The answer is we don’t know.  “I don’t want to go and live with mom.  I want her to come and live here.”  When will I talk to mom again”  Pray for Amy and I as we navigate all of these crazy emotions, hard questions, and difficult conversations.  We KNOW we don’t have the answers and the ability.  Pray the Lord fills us!
  • Prayer – Self-Care: Amy and I are still struggling to find margin in our lives and specifically time for just us, individually and together.  Pray for wisdom, some great baby-sitters, and the discipline to get out.  Pray that the update next week, we are celebrating a date night AWAY from the house without the kids!  UPDATE: Still no date night away from the kids but we did have the Friday Night fun night.  Continue to pray for a date night away from the house.
  • Prayer – Financial SupportUpdate – We have had some supporters jump in, A few at $100/month, some at $25, and a couple at $15/month!  Right now we are still looking to meet our goal of $1200/month in new financial partners.  IF you are interested in partnering with us financially, please email Amy (edmonds.amy@gmail.com) or myself (joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com) and we can get you what you need to know!  If you need more information on our living expenses, budget, where the financial support would go, please let us know we are happy to share our current budget!
  • Prayer – Dental Work – Pray for us as we navigate getting Z the necessary work done!  Pray that she trusts that we want the best for her!
  • Praise – Preaching – I had the opportunity to speak last night at our student ministries as I shared my life verse.  Thank you for praying!  We had a great time and I believe the Holy Spirit moved through me as I shared God’s Word!
  • Prayer – Preaching – I have the opportunity to preach in big church 🙂 in May.  We just started a series “I just want to be happy.”  It’s based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  I am so excited to share with our church in May.  Pray for me as I work to finish preparing the message and polish practice and preach one weekend next month!

And now a look into our moments from the past week!

The famous fried pork chop sandwich from Snappys! It was worth every calorie!

Elijah at International Night

Lunch dates with Madeline are special moments for me!