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!

 

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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!

Getting Inked up

I’ve always wanted a tattoo.  Three real barriers with that desire:

  1. Amy does not like tattoos
  2. I am hairy like a gorilla and anywhere that I legitimately thought about getting a tattoo I  have to ask myself how would it show through the hair.
  3. I can’t decide on what to get.

Now the first two barriers are hard to get around, but the third barrier there’s something that can be done about that!

At one point in my life (freshman year of college at NC State…Go Pack), I thought about getting this on my arm.

First tattoo Idea

Well let’s take a moment and praise God that wisdom prevailed or truthfully celebrate that I would rather have spent the $50 my freshman year on Gumby’s Pizza Pokey Sticks instead of Wolfie on my arm.

As time passed maturity set in, I settled on two scripture references one on each wrist.  I already had one picked out.  I have always loved the posture of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 as the Lord calls him.  He eventually responds in the last part of 1 Samuel 3:10 “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”  So first wrist tattoo: 1 Samuel 3:10.

For the next one, I waffle back and forth, not really landing on one reference that I would desire to have forever on my arm.  I couldn’t really decide on ONE and here’s the deal with a Scripture reference as a tattoo, you better KNOW that Scripture BY HEART!  And I wasn’t going to commit to the full sleeve of scripture memorization.

Enter the girls, Z and L, into our house.  Amy and I were talking about the last 3 weeks (yes it’s only been 3 weeks) and how “both / and” it’s been.  It’s not been an either / or time; it’s been, it is a both / end time.  It’s BOTH wonderful AND hard.  It’s BOTH frustrating AND rewarding.  It’s BOTH tiring AND life-giving.  It’s BOTH confusing AND secure.  This process, this time with our new daughters is a BOTH / AND time.

Amy and I looked at each other and both said “we are called to this.  we will be obedient but it doesn’t mean that it will be easy.”

This along with the Easter season and messages got me thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mother.  After visiting with the Angel of the Lord (which had to be TERRIFYING), Mary’s response as a teenager pregnant with The Lord is powerful

 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[f] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” – Luke 1:38

I imagine for Mary it wasn’t easy.

  • It wasn’t easy when she told her husband Joseph about the pregnancy.
  • And from what I observed about pregnancy with Amy, I KNOW it wasn’t easy being pregnant in a hot part of the world.
  • It wasn’t easy giving birth IN A STABLE (without an epidural or modern medicine).
  • I am sure it wasn’t easy with the pressure of parenting the Savior of the World.
  • It wasn’t easy when people said terrible things about her son.
  • It wasn’t easy when her son traveled for 3 years and did ministry.
  • And of course it wasn’t easy as she watched her son beaten tortured and crucified.

I imagine Mary responding each time when it wasn’t easy and reminding herself that she is The Lord’s servant.  And as Scripture mentions at times when it was good (people worshiping Jesus when he was young, the visit of the shepherds and wise men) that Mary stored up all these things in her heart to reflect upon.  Because here’s what I know in our lives right now, obedience to the call or will of God does not equal the easy road.

The past week with Z and L have been full of ups and downs for everyone.

  • We’ve had a lot of hitting.
  • We’ve had biting.
  • Madeline’s had tears crying at night that she wants to love Z but it’s so hard because she’s mean sometimes.
  • We’ve had yelling, pouting, crying, screaming.
  • We’ve had arguments over food.
  • We’ve even had the “I hate it here, I’m being bad so you will send me away” talks.

In all things, Amy and I have responded that we are obedient.  “We are The Lord’s servant, may it be according to His Word.”

And when we step back and realize that obedience doesn’t equal easy, we can see and cherish the good times, storing them in our heart.  Things like…

  • The laughter
  • Z learning how to ride a bike, 1st with training wheels and now without
  • Z learning her letters
  • Having both girls say “mommy and daddy” to us.
  • Having the opportunity to present the Gospel to Z and her hearing it for the first time ever!
  • The snuggles in the morning and at night
  • And the opportunities to extend grace and leading our kids in the example of giving God’s grace even when we don’t want to and it’s hard.

And Josh and Amy stored and treasured these things in their heart.

We are The Lord’s servant may it be according to His Word, His Will and His plan.  And ya know I think I might just be one step closer to getting inked up…. now only if I can convince Amy to like tattoos.

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • Praise – Easter: We had a GREAT Easter service at Church!  Lots of new families!  But Guess What?!? Jesus is still Risen this Sunday!  Pray for our church staff and volunteers that we serve with the same energy this week as last week!
  • Praise – ZOO: This past week was Spring Break, so we took ALL the kids to the Zoo.  It was so exciting to see Z and L see these animals for (what we think) was the first time!
  • 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!
  • Praise – Hair Care  – Amy successfully did BOTH Z and L’s hair and THEY LOVED IT.  Unfortunately when Amy combed out L’s hair and didn’t braid it she went outside and fell into a HUGE pile of tree pollen.  And if you didn’t know L’s hair is apparently magnetic to tree pollen, so Amy had to re-comb it out!
  • Praise – Veggies – The girls haven’t eaten very many veggies in their lives.  This week we have gotten Z to eat cucumber, sweet potato, and last night she had TWO HELPINGS of salad.
  • Prayer – Financial Support – 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!
  • Prayer – The Gospel – Pray that the Gospel and God’s grace would penetrate every heart in our house, flood every conversation, that times when we are frustrated that we would turn FIRST to God’s Wisdom and rely on His strength instead of our own!

Pizza is a favorite night in the house. Praise God for Amy and her ability to do most things from Scratch

9 baskets (including miscellaneous socks and linens) of laundry. An every 2 day routine in our house!

Elijah being Elijah at a park

Every Sunday I take one of the kids early to church to help set up the children’s ministry. This past Sunday it was daddy / daughter time!

It’s a bird….it’s a plane

Faster than a speeding bullet.

More powerful than a locomotive

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

It’s a bird….

It’s a plane…

It’s….SUPER WOMAN!

Well it’s Amy.  And I can’t say “just Amy” because this past week, she finally proved that she was super woman!

A week ago last Sunday I woke up and had a slight headache and was feeling relatively crummy.  Well Monday I woke up and I felt more than crummy, but (like an idiot) I stayed up and watched the basketball game.  That led to a night of the shakes.  Tuesday was a little worse only we had a small group party that night and Amy needed me to power through.  Wednesday was worse than that and by Thursday (Madeline’s birthday), I was almost certain I was hallucinating.  A quick trip to the doc and sure enough Flu = positive.

Meanwhile Amy during the week…did the following.

  1. Got the girls to one visit with their mom
  2. Planned, prepared and executed a small group cookout / party for around 30 people
  3. Didn’t kill me
  4. Made Madeline a special birthday dinner
  5. Planned and executed Madeline’s birthday party for 19 girls (a spa party at that!)
  6. Learned how and successfully did Z’s hair this week since her mom wasn’t able to.

I am sure I am missing something (like the 1000 loads of laundry that is our house each week).  Oh and planted the summer garden (15 or so tomato plants and pepper plants).  She really is super woman!!!

I’m happy to report that I survived the flu and that as a public service announcement to all…please go get your flu shot in the future!  I will ALWAYS get a flu shot from now on…UGH.

Foster Care Update

We are almost 2 weeks in to Z (5 yrs old) and L (2 yrs old) in our house.  We had GREAT strides this past couple of weeks!!

  1. We got both girls to the doctor and had to catch up L’s shots (she needed several)
  2. Z went to the dentist to have an assessment and plan of action for some relatively extensive dental needs
  3. Both girls were enrolled through God’s grace and the grace and kindness of the preschool director into Jojo and Elijah’s preschool for the rest of the school year.
  4. Enrolling L in preschool for the next school year and getting the information about enrolling Z in school for next year.
  5. Successfully taking the girls for a visit with their mom
  6. Washing and doing Z’s hair (although this is a constant source of tension, pain and prayer in our house currently)
  7. Teaching healthy eating times – We assume that the girls were allowed to roam without structure at eating times.  Therefore, Z desires for snacks ALL the time, every. single. minute.  We have been able for the last several days to structure eating around 3 meal times and 2 snack times a day.
  8. Girls are sleeping in their own beds – When the girls came to our house, we learned that they had never NOT co-slept.  For those who know us, you all may recall our bed is a NO KID ZONE.  So that was a tough lesson.  The girls were sleeping in one bed in their room.  We had one single bed and one crib.  Well Amy thought maybe L was scared of the crib and took it out of the room in exchange for Madeline’s twin bed.  Madeline graciously decided to sleep on the floor on a mattress – don’t worry we ordered her a new bed.  Now both girls are sleeping in their own beds!
  9. Paci – L came with a paci (it seemed) glued to her mouth.  She had it in all the time.  Well Amy and I decided we LOVED her smile and her joy and wanted to make sure that paci didn’t hide it.  So for the past 4 days we have only had the paci at sleep times!

So you can tell it’s been and eventful time.  Just like our prayer on our last update we don’t have it all together.  Not at all!!!  But we are taking each day as an adventure and celebrating each and every victory!

Praises / Prayer Requests

  • Madeline TURNED 7!  Pray for her as she adjusts to not being the only bossy girl in the house.  She is our fiercest care giver and is doing a great job showing the girls the ropes.
  • Hair Care – The girl’s mom is a hairdresser.  Typically she does hair on visits but she wasn’t able to do hair for Z this past week.  Amy successfully got her hair down, conditioned (washed) and then tried to get it up but a lot of tears have been had by both.  Pray that mom is able to get Z’s hair done this week and/or we are able to get her scheduled at a place!
  • School – We successfully enrolled L in school for next year and both girls for the rest of this year!  That is a HUGE MIRACLE and answer to Prayer!
  • Easter – we are gearing up for a great Easter at our church!  Pray for MANY new families to come with soft hearts ready to hear the Gospel!  Pray for smooth ministry logistics for all of our systems!
  • Self-Care – Amy and I are adjusting to this new normal.  Pray we find margin in our life and specifically enough to do some self-care (working out, gardening, etc)
  • Financial Support – Amy and I are on the support trail again.  We are praying for $1200/month in new financial support.  That breaks down to
    • 12 supporters at $100 / month
    • 24 supporters at $50/month
    • 48 supporters at $25/month
  • If you are interested in supporting us financially, please email us back at joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com, and we will get you all the appropriate information.

We appreciate you guys partnering with us along in this adventure of life!  We love hearing from you so write back often!  Until next week….get out and enjoy the spring weather, where ever you are!

A few pics from Madeline’s party

It’s finally getting to be Eno weather!

Spa party = lots of nail painting

 

Family of 7 – Foster Care Update

Last week to yesterday….it’s been a wild ride!

Let me bring you up to speed.

  1. Monday (last week) At the beginning of last week, we were waiting to hear from the previous Friday about a family group of 3 kids (7, 5, 6 months).  Yes 3 kids.  Yes we are insane.  Amy measured and the car seats fit so we said yes.  Decision: it was decided that for that family group our house would not be best.  We trusted the decision and we waited.
  2. Monday (last week) We received a call for 1 and 2 year old boys.  Decision: we deferred.
  3. Monday (last week) We received a call for 2 girls.  A decision was to be made on Wednesday of that week.  Decision: Ultimately it was decided for them to stay in their same county.
  4. Monday (this week) – we got a call about two boys (2 years old and 4 years old).  We said yes.  Decision: The county was deciding on Friday (a couple of days from now).
  5.  Tuesday (this week) – We get a call about two girls (2 years old and 5 years old).  We said yes.  Decision: We are now a family of 7.  They are here!  AHHHH.

Every time we got a call.  Amy would run into the bedroom, change out those clothes to the appropriate size, update the bed spreads and we would wait.  This time, yesterday, we got a call in the morning and we just paused.  I came home after getting Madeline from school and did a little more work and went on a 45 minute run.  We still hadn’t heard anything.  I was swinging by the house on my run, getting ready to do another lap when Amy was standing in the driveway waving me down.  THE GIRLS ARE COMING!

Enter some frantic cleaning, prepping and then waiting!  A Chick-fil-a run for our family (which is so complicated that I have to write it down on my phone!), and we waited for them to come!

And now we are a family of SEVEN!  You read that right a family of 7!  Life seemed to be a blur and go in slow motion all at the same time last night.  And now it’s moment by moment, patience persistence, and love.

Our prayer is simple: Lord, We don’t have it all figured out.  We don’t know much.  We are going to mess up a lot. But God we trust you!  Walk with us.  Give us more of you.  More of your love.  Have us be gentle and kindhearted.  Lord extra.  Let’s go God.  You called us back to Winston for something.  You put that sign in front of the Children’s Home on our way to church EACH SUNDAY.  You guided us to this and here we are.  In everything else, we trust you Lord so we are trusting you now.  Step by step, moment by moment.  Amen.

Will you join us in praying this prayer?  Thanks for journeying with us!  It’s been, is, and will be a wild ride.  But that’s what adventures are for!

Bella and Christopher with a team yesterday in Belize. We thought it was appropriate to share a pic of them our first “Foster children”

Jojo and Elijah had their Festival of Praise last week. Elijah was less than thrilled.

Jojo on the other hand. Brought the house down!

Every day napping with Jojo

Madeline is having a spa party for her birthday. We were family practicing nails the other night.

Some of God’s greatest gifts are….

It’s May 30th (I’ll spare the year to forgo how old I am now).  Seventeen year old Josh is praying while blowing out his birthday candles and he prays:

God my girlfriend, please let’s stay together.  In fact God I pray right now before eating this birthday cake, ice cream, and pink lemonade [my staple birthday spread], that you let me stay with my girlfriend. In fact God I’ll say this.  Let us get married.

Seventeen year old Josh….idiot.  God clearly answered the very next day.  NO.  NOPE.  NOT THIS ONE.  Seventeen year old Josh cried snot bubble tears, tried to “win her back” by taking swing dance lessons and all in all embarrassed the mess out of himself. It was ugly.  That time God’s gift was a clear answered prayer.  NOPE!

Ever heard that Garth Brooks Song “Unanswered Prayer”?

In the example above there was a clear answer.  “Nope, sorry Josh.  Answer is No” 17 year old Josh didn’t understand that the NO answer God gave then, led to the next girlfriend, the next girlfriend to an organization in college and that organization in college led to meeting Amy.  God’s gift at that time was a no! And I ended up married to Amy. #Winning

When we were in Belize, we prayed and prayed and prayed for community.  Y’all prayed and prayed and prayed for community.  And it seemed that God was silent on this.  Unanswered prayer.

Lord here’s the deal. Whether we are or are not, we feel alone.  Amy feels alone.  We feel boxed in, different.  We need community.  Bible study, something / anything.  Lord please bring us community.  People to do life together.

Each night the tears would flow.  The “discussions” (I thought they were fights but discussions sounds better) would occur. More tears.  And no community.  Unanswered Prayer.

God why aren’t you answering me on this?

Eventually we feel the call, prompting, impetus to move back.  For reasons that clearly don’t make any sense to our family at the time, we feel Winston Salem on our heart and we move.   What we thought at the time….Unanswered prayer.

The Lord provides a house, furniture, a set of strangers (church family) to care for our house while we move and we relocate in Winston-Salem.

We pray and feel God lead us to start an rGroup (church language = community group / life group) at our house and immediately it’s us and 2 other couples…..for a LONG TIME.  I’m a shell of myself.  Depressed, desiring for community but unable to invest in anything, my family, this new community, people around me, anything.  But people keep praying, keep loving, keep persisting.

Amy begins to thrive immediately when we are back in the States.  She immediately plugs into to a couple of mom’s communities.  Our kids adjust comfortably and here I am still praying.

$@)*(@# God I prayed for community.  Where is it?  I prayed for you to do this? And you haven’t!  What the…

Hurt, broken, lonely.  Depressed.  For me I felt a prayer was left answered for Amy and Unanswered for me.

But…People kept loving. People kept persisting.  Another (about) year passed and I stopped travelling so much.  I wasn’t here and there. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have community in one place when you are in and out?  It’s near impossible!  But I stopped travelling so much.  I wasn’t in Belize for a week, Nicaragua for two weeks, then home for a week, then repeat.  

I spent from August to January and didn’t travel 1 day outside of our house and my heart began to heal.  I was spending so much time from place to place to place that I longed to be where I was not.  When I was in Nicaragua I wanted to be home.  When I was home I wanted to be in Belize.  When I was in Belize I wanted to be in Nicaragua.  I can’t do this anymore.  So Amy and I made that decision and we (really I because Amy had already taken root), took root.

I started to notice all the people around us loving our family, loving me.

  • Our staff team at church that welcomed me so graciously, lifted weights with me, encouraged and loved a completely jacked-up missionary.
  • Our rGroup family that sat through some of the worst teaching time ever as I was totally checked out from what was going on.  They faithfully came and endured some really horrible leading, believing that God had something greater in mind.  They loved our family so so well.
  •  Our extended church family and volunteer teams that just encouraged the mess out of me as I started to serve more regularly, with the limited travel.

I started to notice that prayer for community in Belize.  The prayer that we felt God was telling us NO.  That prayer was really Unanswered.  Because He had something better for us.  God knew what was best.  He knew and knows that He is orchestrating a GREATER plan and life for us.  And here we are walking that out day by day / step by step.  In some of the greatest community of our lives.  We are so…. FULL.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts really are…Unanswered Prayers.

 

Prayer Requests

  • Foster Care Update – Our last post…our license was approved.  We have been called a couple of times about a placement but God had alternative plans for those children.  We got a call on Friday for another sibling group.  WE FIND OUT ABOUT THIS TODAY! Pray for us that we simply trust and follow God’s plan.  Pray for the BEST situation for all the kids involved!
  • Preaching – I have an awesome opportunity to preach one Sunday in May.  Pray for God to speak to me through the Scriptures, for my nerves (sweaty feet and palms) and for God to communicate His message through me.  Pray for open and soft hearts.
  • Evangelism – Our family, kids included, have had some cool personal evangelism opportunities.  I spent 45 minutes explaining how to share Jesus to Madeline yesterday so she can share at school.  Pray that we are able to continue to proclaim the Good News and hearts are soften to receive it.
  • New Opportunities – Our family has been presented with some exciting and cool opportunities (more to come later).  Pray for us as we run into them!  We are so excited about all God is doing!
  • rGroup – Continue to pray for our rGroup.  God is doing some crazy stuff in it.  We have grown from 3 families to … well more than 3 families. I think last week we had almost 30 people!  Praise God for growth. Pray for Amy and I that we lead well and can shepherd those the Lord has placed before us!
  • Two friends with health situations.  I have two dear friends: Jon and Tony.  They are facing some health situations that are relatively serious.  Please be in prayer for both Tony and Jon and their wives and children.  We are proclaiming in the Name of Jesus healing over both of their bodies!

Friends God is on the move in our family.  We are overwhelmed and overjoyed.  Thanks for travelling on this adventure with us.  If we can be praying for any of y’all in any way.  Please please let us know!

We had to move our community group from upstairs to downstairs. Seating is varied on Tuesday nights for sure! If you’re local and not doing anything on Tuesdays come on by and check it out!

Crazy Hair day at school during Spirit Week

Friday lunch date – every Friday with this beauty.

Foster Care Update: All the questions and some answers

If you read the last post, update you realize that Amy and I are in the process of becoming licensed Foster Parents.  (if you missed the last post: Check it out here)

As we began in the journey all the questions started to flood in.

  • You’re doing Foster to Adopt right?
  • Don’t you know “those kids” have issues?
  • Where will all the kids stay / sleep?
  • Why would you do this?

And the comments:

  • I just couldn’t let them go back if they were in my house.

Amy and I were flooded with all the thoughts and some judgments and a lot of admitted ignorance.  So we wanted to take some time and try and answer some of these questions / comments / concerns.

Question 1 – Why?

We live on a principle that I heard described as BYSSIW.  Because you say so, I will.  The phrase refers to Jesus directing and providing the opportunities and for our response to be Yes Lord we will do it even when it doesn’t make since.  It’s based on the passage of Scripture in Luke 5 where Jesus asks Peter if he can get into his boat.  Peter responds Yes.  Jesus then asks Peter to let down his nets and even though that’s an insane proposition for Peter, he says “because you say so I will.”  Peter obeys Jesus fillets the miracle and follows it up by asking Peter to follow him.  Peter Obeys.

The most obvious answer to why is…Because God says so.  The Lord called us to open our home to anyone and everyone as far back as we can remember.  Amy grew up going to a friends house all the time who lived so open-handedly  My grandparents ministered to several people in this way as well.  My great-grandmother fostered well into her “golden years.”  My mom always invited people into our home, strangers or not.  Living open-handedly is part of how God made us.

When we got back to NC from Belize, we had no idea why the Lord had orchestrated it all.  We saw the sign on the side of the road by The Children’s Home here in Winston and I think we both knew in our hearts immediately this was for us.  But we were scared and waited.  Finally the kids brought it up and we instinctively knew it had all the signs of a HUGE opportunity at least as He presents them to our family from the Lord….so we obeyed.

There are many other reasons as well…that the number of Foster Children has risen by almost 11,000 children in North Carolina in the last 5 years.  That kids in the Foster system are often shipped around from home to home to home.  But the root of our rationale was we feel God calling us like Peter to put down our nets, calling us to follow Him in this  and our response as  family has to be “because you say so God, I will.”

Question 2 – You’re Fostering to Adopt right?

We will tackle the second question right now.  You’re fostering-to-adopt right??  That’s a great and legitimate question.  When we started on this journey this past late summer and into the fall, the answer was Yes.  Overwhelmingly Yes.  We wanted to be placed with kids that were only available for adoption, whose parents and extended family had already terminated their rights, and were ready for their forever home.

As we got into the classes and began to have conversations and learn more, we learned more about needs and opportunities to meet the needs for these kids and here’s what we landed on.

We desire permanency for any children placed in our lives.  We learned and now see that permanency is the best outcome for the kids that may come into our home. And the ideal situation beyond just permanency is the children reunited with their birth family.  If we can play a part in that, we are blessed.

Isn’t that risk?  Wont we open ourselves up for loss?  Yes is the obvious answer.  But we will rely on God.  Ultimately this is where we landed for our family: the fear of a potential risk will not deter our family from opening ourselves up to what we believe God has for us.   Risk or no risk.  Forever or for a season.  We believe the opportunity is from and of the Lord and we will run towards it.

We’ll leave the last few questions for another time.  The blog took a turn mid authoring.  See I started this blog last Sunday and then tried to finish it while following a thread on the Royal Rumble last night but was too distracted.  Anyway the plan is / was to finish it tonight.  Only we have an immediate update!

Update as of 1/30: OUR LICENSE IS APPROVED

GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!  We got a call today that the approval process (typically 6 – 12 weeks) was over and our license was approved in 17 days!  Now we are “on the list.”  Amy and I cried (me from excitement, Amy from unpreparedness) and now we are frantically working to finish the remodeled bedroom.  We have inventoried what we have and made a purchase list for a variety of items, sizes etc for the child / children that will be placed into our home in a moment’s notice.

So what’s next: We will meet with our Foster Care supervisor tomorrow and go over referrals (reviewing the placements that we are open to) and then it’s literally at any moment we could receive a phone call.  In the meantime, it’s a sprint to finish decorating the room, getting the last minute supplies and prepping our family for the excitement.   God’s on the MOVE!  Thanks for riding the wave with us!!

Praises

  • WE ARE APPROVED – Our last update we were praying for a miracle, children in the home by Madeline’s birthday.  Well the process that typically takes 6 – 12 weeks for approval, God moved mightily and our license was approved in 17 days.

Prayer Requests:

  • Wisdom – We are likely to get a call for children that may or may not fall within what we have designated as right for our family .  Our “right for our family” is a sibling group ages Madeline’s age to Elijah’s age, (1) of them must be a girl.  Pray that the Lord provides just that.  Pray that we have the wisdom field these referrals with all the wisdom that comes only from the Father.
  • The kids – Pray that they are safe.  Pray that they feel love, even if their situation is hard right now.  Pray that they know Him and if they don’t pray that our family can be the place where they discover the Father’s love.  Pray for their salvation!
  • Patience – You all know we are not the most patient people on earth.  Pray the Lord refines us through this waiting.  Pray for our patience and trust that everything is His timing.  It is we know.  But we lack patience at times.  Pray that we are faithful in the waiting.
  • Preparation – Pray that we can finish the room THIS WEEK.  It’s move in ready just not up to Amy and Josh specifications yet.  Pray that we can finish decorating and then get necessary supplies / clothes / toiletries or put people on call for them as needed!  We could be going from party of 5 to party of 7 before Valentine’s day!  Let’s go!!

Until next time.  Enjoy these silly guys!  Life is always an adventure.  Thanks for adventuring with us!

On nice days, we visit highschool tracks.  They have the best sandboxes

On nice days, we visit highschool tracks. They have the best sandboxes

Future worship leader

Future worship leader

Just a mess...always

Just a mess…always

still messy

still messy

Friday family days are for Target, free bananas, and Icee

Friday family days are for Target, free bananas, and Icee