2.27.2011

february in review

I really can't believe how time flies. It really seems that J-Man just came to our home not so very long ago. How could 4 months have passed so quickly?

Highlights from our last month:

J-Man went to his first basketball game yesterday! He was the biggest cheerleader for the lady Jaguars- my favorite 10-year old girls basketball team :) Was it the action on the court, the fun noises all around, or the sweet ladies loving on him that made his first sporting event so fantastic? Well, the answer is...yes to all! And might I add- our Jaguars won!

J went to his first dentist appointment last week. Which was also a first for me when I was sitting in the dentist chair with a bouncing baby going to town in my lap! He got a great report from the dentist... no teeth yet, but they look to be well on their way. To top off the visit he got his first balloon! As with everything else, we thoroughly enjoyed testing it out and exploring it by trying to put it in our mouth.
up, up, and away!
And of course, one of the biggest milestones that comes along with being 6-months, SOLID FOODS! We have rice cereal and peas checked off of our list so far. Neither of which can compete with the usual delicious formula- but he is making a valiant effort. And if nothing else, he sure does enjoy banging on the tray of his high chair. Quality entertainment!

One of the newest discoveries lately is his new-found ability to bounce. He bounces in the jumper, bounces in laps (on the dentist chairs), bounces on the ground with support from mom and dad. Life just doesn't get much better than a good bounce.

Another big outting was his first half-marathon last weekend. This kid can do some cheering! He was perfectly content hanging in his stroller hollering out to the racers. Now if that is not motivation to keep running, I'm not sure what is!

We love you, J-Man!

2.17.2011

happy birthday to the j-man!

January 26 I get the following email from my dear friend, Donna:

"Would you guys like to come over on 2/13 to have Valentine's family double date around 2?"

Family Valentine's double date? Of course! And then to find out that we're going on a hike together! Of course! What better way to celebrate such a great holiday than with my two favorite guys AND great friends? And not to mention we have a frame backpack that's been begging to be used...

So the Valentine's hike was on the calendar.

Come February 13th, we roll into the Beckley's home loaded with our gear + baby...

and to our surprise our friends are not decked out in hiking gear as we expected... but we roll in to find the Beckley's staircase lined with so many of our dear friends ready to celebrate J-Man's 6 month birthday!!

sneaky Beckley's!!
Happy Birthday, Sweet Guy!!

Time to sing...

J-Man's (very appropriate!!) cake!
Jackson and J-Man were pooped pups after the party!
   
We were told later that afternoon that the party was in case we didn't get to celebrate his 1st bithday together. How very, very thoughtful.
This baby is loved by so many. A picture of God's overwhelming grace.

Thank you, friends!!

2.13.2011

fostering in atx. family #1

Since Bart and I have become foster parents, we have been pleasantly surprised by how God has surrounded us with others who have similar heartbeats, many who are from within our own agency and some from our church body. We have been both inspired and challenged by their stories and want to share them with you as well! I hope that their stories will also encourage you to pray for the work that they are doing within their home.

This will be the start of a series of posts featuring families who are dedicating their lives to the "least of these" here in Austin. Enjoy!

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Aaron and Shauna (Foster Parents through Caring Family Network)

The day they were officially licensed!
How did God lead you to fostering?
Aaron and I have always had a heart for adoption and knew we would adopt one day, but we never thought that we would foster. It wasn’t that we were against it. It honestly just never crossed our minds. We hadn’t heard much about it or really understood what it was.

When the earthquake hit Haiti in January of 2010, we heard there was a chance medically fragile Haitian children were going to be brought to the Austin through the foster care system to receive medical care. We went to a meeting about it and decided that we needed to become licensed to be able to care for kiddos that might be coming. We took our 30 hours of classwork in 3 days with 6 other couples. By the end of our classes, it didn’t look like any Haitians would be coming to the US. Instead, our hearts had been opened and broken for the orphans in need that live in our city, in our neighborhood. The Lord showed us that we hadn’t learned about children in need to just give money or donations. We were to open our home and family for children He would bring to us. Five months later, we were licensed and waiting!

How did you decide on your agency?
We honestly did no research at all. We didn’t really even know that there were agencies! We thank God so much that Caring Family Network was the agency that first told us about the Haitian children. We have grown very close with everyone in the branch we are a part of, Handle with Care. We can always walk in to visit, call with a question, and know that they are doing everything they can for our kiddos.

Describe your experience as foster parents so far…
We are foster parents to a sibling group of 2, a now 9 month old baby girl and 22 month old little man. We’ve all been together for just over 6 months, and I can say that our days are pretty normal and typical with 2 kids under 2! The first month was a roller coaster of emotions. Having never cared long-term for little ones before, it was like we came home from the hospital with a 3 and 16 month old with no instruction manual. We had gotten attached to our little ones very quickly but had no idea how long they would be in our home. We still have many unknowns, but that’s normal. I’ve been able to begin a relationship with bio mom through visitations, which is something I hadn’t expected to do. In our situation, the bio parents need just as much love and healing as their babies do. I’m thankful that the Lord doesn’t allow my mind to wander to the what ifs and what wills, but they are always there in the back of my mind. Our experience feels less like an experience, and more just like life!

What are some things that potential foster parents should know?
Your heart is going to get broken. Whether your kiddos are reunified or not, seeing your kiddos go through pain and loss breaks your heart. We don’t know whether or not our kids will leave our home one day. That alone is hard to face. But God (my favorite phrase in the Scriptures) has allowed this time with our kids to be the most love filled experience Aaron and I have felt. We love our kids. Love them dearly. And I know that saying goodbye to them will be the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do, but we trust and we pray that if that day comes, it will come because He has meant for them to only be in our home for that short amount of time for a greater purpose than we can see and understand.

What has been the most difficult aspect of fostering? How do you cope when times get challenging?
The unknowns. Not knowing how long your kids will be with you. The flip-side to of that, being honest, is knowing all the information you know about your kiddos and their history and trusting that if they are reunified, that they will stay safe and cared for. Aaron and I pray together often for our kids, their bio parents, and everyone else involved in their case (case workers, judges, doctors, etc.). I know that prayer is my way to petition on their behalves. I know that our prayers are heard, and that I can rest assured that in the end the Lord has our kids in His loving arms.

On a much lighter note :) Try to stay on top of paperwork and keep organized! Spend time in the beginning making files and folders to track all the paperwork. If you struggle with this (like me) make sure everything has a place, that way when the paperwork comes you’ll already know where to put it! Also, make sure and get your close friends to become certified to babysit. You’re going to need date nights, and you’re going to want people you know and your kids know to love on your little ones while you’re away!

What has surprised you about fostering?
We’ve been very surprised about the opportunities we’ve had to share the story of fostering to so many that know nothing about it. Going into this, like I said before, we knew nothing about foster care. We are trying to use the story God has given us as a way to make people aware of the need for families in our own area and neighborhoods. We want people to realize that being a foster parent means being a parent. Really. Our days look no different than any other parent. We are simply a family or four, living each day, not knowing what the next will look like, just like every other family!

2.10.2011

give where you live

Lately I've become acquainted with a non-profit in ATX called "I Live Here, I Give Here". Their mission is to help link volunteers and willing community givers to the most prominent needs in the city. Each month they spotlight a different need, offering info sessions and allowing individuals to network with specific non-profits who are already doing phenomenal work in the spotlighted areas. Well, this month I was pleased to see that the focus was on "Foster Care and Adoption". Here is the link for your viewing pleasure!

I am proud to live in a city where it's the norm to serve and give.