I’ve written several blogs about my son and our journey as parents in dealing with the trauma he has dealt with in his sweet little 8 years of life.
It isn’t easy on any of us. A couple weeks ago we celebrated my brother in law’s birthday, but also visited my mother in law’s gravesite. It was the one year anniversary of her passing from cancer. This is a pretty accurate picture of the sort of emotional rollercoaster ride my son has been on his entire life.
In one of my previous blogs I told you guys about his “big sad” and how he is just now starting to process the loss of the relationship with his biological dad. It’s been tough for sure but I am thankful to God, because He has not left us through this difficult journey. He is guiding us as parents and He has his steady hand on Elijah without a doubt. I know this because of how the conversation went on our way home from the birthday celebration and gravesite visit.
We have tried talking about our “big sad” earlier on in the day to try and prevent nighttime sadness before bed. We got in the car and quite frankly he just started crying and said, “I’m sad about my daddy and I want to talk about him.” So, we did.
E- “Can you tell me some good things about my daddy again? Like, what do you think he’s doing tonight? Right now?”
Me- “I am not sure buddy, what did your dad do at night when you were with him?”
E- “Usually watch tv, or be on his phone in his room. I usually played by myself in my room.”
Me- “Well, didn’t your dad make music a lot on his computer? I bet that’s what he’s doing. You enjoyed listening to the music he made didn’t you? So that’s a good thing you can think about.”
E- “Yeah, he did make music a lot. But I always got in trouble if I got around his computer… like that one time when I accidentally touched it and he hit me in the head.”
My heart began to break as I could hear his voice begin to shake and see the tears roll down his face…
E- “I also don’t really think my daddy misses me. I wish he would miss me. He probably doesn’t though because he didn’t really spend time with me when I went to his house…”
Me- “Well honey, your daddy didn’t have a very good example of how to be a good daddy…”
I could hear his tears begin to flow stronger and the pain in his crying…
Me- “He actually had a very good example of how to be a very bad daddy. Your dad now has a great dad. He had David to show him how to be a dad right?
Me- “And I had mimi to show me how to be a good mom. But your daddy, his daddy was very very mean to him when he was growing up. He didn’t have a good daddy and really, he never knew what it was like to really live as a family either.”
Now it was shattering…
I proceeded to share some stories with him
(age appropriate) about his biological dad’s childhood and his history in the foster care system and how broken and sad his entire childhood was. I told him how a lot of times in life we don’t understand why people decide to do things or choose the path they choose. I told him I don’t understand why his dad is the way that he is or has done the things that he has done, but I do know that he has a broken past and has dealt with some “big sad’s” in his life too. I told him that I understand how sad this is for him and that I hated that he was dealing with this.
But I knew I had to turn it around. I had to be the one to show him the gospel in this tragedy in his life.
Me- “Buddy, we have to realize one thing during the midst of all this sadness. We have to know that no matter how many sad memories we have in life or how many bad things happen to us, God has given us even more blessings. Your daddy didn’t have very many good memories as a child. He has a childhood mainly filled with all sad things. But you have God. Has God given you another daddy? One who does all of the things you wish your other daddy would do?”
Me- “And I know that you wish your other daddy would do those things. I am not saying Zach replaced him or that you shouldn’t still want your other daddy to do them to. I am not saying that at all. I am saying we have to choose to look at our blessings because we have SO many of them. You have so many good memories too and so many good things happening in your life and all of those are also from God. You have a family that loves you and spends time with you and you also have some blessings from your dad.
E- “Like what?”
Me- “Your love for the military. You got interested in that because of your dad being in the army. Without him, you probably wouldn’t care about it at all. But that’s a blessing from him. You found something that you are really interested in and enjoy learning about!”
E- “Yeah, that’s true.”
The next statement he made completely blew me away.
E- “Mom, you know I really miss my daddy. I really wish he would have had a good daddy because I think he would have been a really good one. And sometimes I wish he was my daddy. But even more than I miss him, I wish he would find God. I really wish he would find God.”
Now, I was wrecked.
My 8 year old son desires for his dad to find God because he knows that God is the only one who can change him.
He is so selfless and I really wish I was more like him in that way. I do believe 100% that he meant what he said. The strength in his voice came back when he said it and he meant it with all of his heart. Even more than he wants to see him, he would rather him find God. Wow.
We finished up the conversation with some heart-filled prayer for God to find his dad and bring him to Him. We always pray for him in this matter. We pray over his life and his choices and his finances, but we mainly pray that God would change his heart. I truly do desire this would happen. I desire to see my son get to have the same kind of relationship with his biological dad that he has been blessed with in Zach. I desire to see the healing in my sons heart, and in the heart of his father. I sincerely pray that God would come and redeem all of the horrible stuff my son has had to deal with in his short sweet 8 years of life thus far.
But the truth of the matter is God does all things for His glory. His redemption is for His glory, and His judgement is for His glory. He promises to work all things together for the GOOD of those who love Him, but His idea of good for us isn’t always the same as what our idea of good is for us. We trust God because He is God, and we are not.
We hope for redemption. We trust in his justice. And we work every day to surrender our ideas of good to the one who gave His life for us. He knows what his dad needs, and He knows what Elijah needs. I have to trust Him.
He is the only Father that is not broken.
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It is such a happy time in our family right now with a new baby on the way!
We are almost to the halfway mark! Elijah is excited as well, but I know that with a new baby means big changes for him in his life again. Over the last week or so we’ve been starting to see how our happy little boy is actually feeling some really big sad’s.
We have a bedtime routine with Elijah and it’s been in place since before Zach and I got married. It carried on into our marriage and Zach is just now apart of it. We always spend the last hour of the day together typically watching some corny cartoon Elijah likes on netflix and have a snack. Then we do the usual brush your teeth, feed the fish, get in bed. We have memorized a few verses that we always repeat and then pray.
This has been no issue up until the last week. We do all of the usual things but a few minutes after leaving his room he comes into ours crying.
“I miss my daddy, and I’m sad.”
“Every night when I go to bed I start thinking about him and I get sad.”
“I prayed to God to make me not sad, but I still am… why?”
So many questions began to fill my head and most of them are still unanswered.
Like, why now? Why all of the sudden is this bothering him so deeply, causing him anxiety and to not be able to go to sleep? Why is it only at night time? I started to think maybe it has something to do with the new baby coming, another huge life change.
In the last year and a half he lost relationship with his biological dad, gained a new dad in the household, and experienced gaining a grandma and then losing her to cancer in only a matter of 3 days. Then trying to sort through all of the emotions this brings on while starting a new school year, not to mention the background of abuse he has had. My mommy heart breaks for my son when I think about everything he has had to adjust to. I knew all of these things would always play a part in his life but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch your child have to walk through them.
After discussing each night and everyday we did find out a little more about his heart.
He is concerned that with the new baby he won’t get as much love. Bingo. It really does relate back to his dad and a lot of the loss he has experienced. The joy of a new baby is so exciting and fun but he is still learning to process how to grieve. In the back of his mind he thinks he is going to lose us in a sense when the baby gets here just like he lost his dad and his grandma and the security of the routine he had always known.
The hardest question to answer was , “I prayed to God and I’m still sad, why?” I explained to him the difference between “big sad” and “little sad”. We have these momentary sadnesses that can pop up at any moment like when we thought a friend was coming over and then we find out they can’t. We are sad, disappointed, let down… but it isn’t that big of a deal. Losing a parent is a big deal, I would consider it a “big sad”. The “big sad’s” in our lives take more time to heal. They take more prayer and more trust that God knows what is best for us. A big sad may never be completely healed, but our God never leaves us no matter how big the sad is.
So as a mom, what do I do?
We stand on who GOD is. The perfect Father. I reassure my son that he never did a thing to earn my love, just like we do nothing to earn God’s. He can never do anything to lose His love, nor mine. We remember when we are sad that, “The Joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10, and we pray that at bedtime. We admit this is a “big sad” in his life and lean on God even when it feels like maybe He doesn’t hear or answer us.
I learn so much from being a mom. Being a mom has humbled me and God has used it to show me how to listen and be discerning and gracious. Let me tell you it isn’t easy when you are pregnant and exhausted to sit in your little ones bed for 30 minutes to an hour dealing with deep rooted issues knowing that when you finally do get in bed, he is going to come in crying and needing you. But we do it. I cannot leave my son to struggle alone. I have to give him the tools and grace and assurance he needs to walk through the pain in life.
God the Father is the same with us. While he doesn’t always take away our negative situations, mainly because he allowed them there to begin with, He will never leave you to struggle through them alone either.
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I really hope you guys have enjoyed the summertime bucket list blogs so far!
Today is another totally free post! I have made a point time and time again to advise you to make. Your bucket list according to what your kids are interested in! It makes it so much more for them and for you as well! So let’s get started.
_MOM TIP #1 Get a library card
Most of you with school aged kids have seen the papers that come home where you are able to log your reading time each day. In our house we aim to read at least 20 minutes a day. Getting a library card has been one of the best things I have done! It has saved us so much money because of how many books we go through. Whether it be Elijah reading books to me or the other way around. We read simple stories we get from the library, we read chapter books, and we read the bible. It really doesn’t matter to me what we read as long as we are spending some time with each other each day! It is a way for us to connect and have fun! During the school year Elijah earned SO many rewards for all of his reading and most of them came in the form of food. Whataburger coupons, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy’s, and Braum’s to name a few! We collected them up and use them when the budget was tight! So on this day we used the free ice cream from Braum’s coupons to get a little sweet treat!
_MOM TIP #2 Find free museums
Elijah has always loved anything to do with the military. Ever since he was a toddler he has been infatuated with the little plastic army men and setting them up for battles. I truly think it began because his biological dad was in the National Guard Reserves, so naturally he thought it was really cool. I have never discouraged his interest in this but more so encouraged it.
To serve in the military is a huge responsibility and a great honor. If you have served, or are serving currently, thank you.
He still finds great joy in all things military so I thought what better place to take him to than to The 45th Infantry Museum.
Museums are a fabulous way to spend your day, which is why I said to choose things that interest your child. If your kid doesn’t enjoy things about the military I wouldn’t take them to a museum that offers nothing but military artifacts! You will get worn out and frustrated super fast and the point is to have fun not to do something just to say you did it.
We walked in and signed our names in the book and asked the man at the front which way we should start. We walked through and I have to say for someone who has grown up interested in history it was very neat. I am the kind of person who gets distracted easily but the information and all of the artillery and guns were fascinating to look at.
It was interesting to read about the different wars.
To know that the things we were looking at were legitimately used by men who served was very cool. We took our time and Elijah had fun telling me what guns were AK-47’s and which ones were used for certain battles. His knowledge about these things blew me away! He has my dad to thank for that.
_MOM TIP #3 Avoid unnecessary expenses
We finished up inside in the gift store which is the only place we spent money. I bought Elijah another collection of plastic army men for $10 which isn’t a bad price at all. This was an optional expense so you could easily avoid the gift shop if you need to! Outside they have big tanks and various forms of transportation. By the time we got out there we had just enough time to walk around and look at them before it started to rain on us! Overall it was a short afternoon and we both really enjoyed our time here!
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So I’m back with another Summer Bucket List update!
This is another low cost- basically free bucket list post! Let’s recap on a few of our key survival tips so far! And I will add to it in this post. When making your bucket list be sure to include things that actually interest your kids or that you would like to teach them about. Also, don’t worry about making every single option extravagant, keep it simple! Choose a friend that your child gets along well with to take with you on some of your adventures. Look for deals on the supplies you will need for your outings and coupons for activities or discount days. Pack your lunches! And don’t forget to put down your phones and actually engage in the activities!
_MOM TIP #1
Teach your kids they don’t need a lot to have fun!
As most of you Oklahomans know the beginning of summer was full of rain, rain, and more rain! I was so sick of trying to find things to do inside that finally one day I said “Forget it! I don’t care if he ruins his clothes or makes a mess when he comes in, he is going outside!”. So, what did a desperate mom do? She called and invited a friend over and sent the two of them out into the pouring rain in their bathing suits. I’ve never seen Elijah so excited to get outside and get dirty in my life. He typically doesn’t really like getting dirty, he’s the type of kid who needs to put on flip flops just to walk through the grass. It honestly drives me crazy! I didn’t hear aa knock at the door or a yell to come inside not even one time! When I finally called them to the back door and hosed them off with the water hose, it was quite the sight to see! Covered in mud! But it was so fun to hose them down!
_MOM TIP #2
Find a local VBS and SEND THEM! It’s free, and they learn about Jesus!
One of the parents on our baseball team is a pastor and his church was hosting VBS this week. We decided to send the boys to that which started at 6:30 and ended at 8:30. On this particular night after VBS was over they were showing The Lion King and serving hot dogs and popcorn! So not only is VBS a great learning experience… it can provide you and your husband a few hours alone together. Did I mention it’s free? Bonus! The double bonus for us this night was that both boys had dinner we did not have to pay for. TRIPLE BONUS is that we scored an extra two hours of alone time because of the movie night! Zach picked them up around 10:30 and they were exhausted!
_MOM TIP #3
Plan an evening like this at the end of the month, or end of the pay period when money is kind of tight.
I had decided since it would be a late night Landen could spend the night… another one to mark off our Summer Bucket List! We pulled the extra mattress from the trundle bed and moved it into Elijah’s bedroom which is how we always do when extra kids stay over! I love having the trundle bed for that exact reason! We got it super cheap online from Wal-Mart. Another thing kids love to do for sleepovers is build a pallet or fort and sleep in it! Supply them with blankets and pillows and flashlights and there is another special memory for them that really didn’t cost you anything at all! When they woke up in the morning they turned on cartoons and I brought them cinnamon rolls for breakfast in bed. Overall the only thing we payed for was the cinnamon rolls and I did a little extra cleaning of the laundry room from them coming inside, but they both had a blast and Elijah was able to mark off 3 things from his list!
Remember to subscribe so you can follow along and score all of the mom tips for your OWN Summer Bucket List! Thanks for reading!
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We are trying to keep our kids entertained this summer without breaking the bank, right?
In my last Summer Bucket List post we talked about how boredom kicks in way too fast once we hit summer break and all we really want Is our kids to be thankful for their break and have fun! When you have a tight budget this can be something that seems nearly impossible, so in this specific blog I am going to talk about one of the cheaper days we had so far.
One of the best things ever I remember as a kid
was doing things with my friends. I loved that my parents were really involved in my life and activities and always welcomed having our friends over to the house! They were so willing to pick them up and take them with us to do whatever it was we were doing. I remember countless times when my parents would LOAD up the suburban with our friends to take them to the lake or pick them up for church events. I remember late night taco bell runs when I was still unable to drive. Most of my memories are very simple but I hold them so close to my heart. I know that growing up with parents who were willing to lose some sleep and have a messy house made a tremendous impact on me and how I want my kids to grow up. With that in mind, I like to try and include Elijah’s friends in our activities!
_MOM TIP #1
Choose a friend who wont drive you to insanity! Don’t hate me because I speak the truth. Some kids just don’t play well together!
We decided to bring along Landen, who you will see in a lot of these posts because Elijah and him get along so well! We wanted to do three things on this day. Our itinerary looked something like this: Go to the park, have a picnic, and get snow-cones! You guys, local parks get overlooked so often! We think kids need some super extravagant play place when in all reality most kids can have fun anywhere, especially if you bring along a friend they enjoy spending time with!
_MOM TIP #2
Go buy an outdoor blanket from Wal Mart! The brand is mainstays and it cost around $10. It is a padded quilt that folds up and zips so it’s easy to carry and doesn’t take up a ton of room.
We live in Midwest City so we decided to go to Joe B. Barnes. Regional Park on Reno and Douglas. I love this park because there are plenty of things for them to do and I can sit back and relax because it’s small enough to see them as they run around. They also have a dog park on one side so you can bring your doggies along as well! The walking trail really isn’t too bad either, but today was more about the kids! So first we set out our picnic under some shade and ate it because two 8 year old boys are ALWAYS hungry! Our lunch was simple too! Sandwiches, apple sauce packs, fruit, gatorades, and some bubble gum! No need to go buy McDonald’s or pizza when you’ve already spent money on groceries!
_MOM TIP #3
Take advantage of the fact that your child has a friend with them and take something with you FOR YOU to enjoy while they play. I took a book! But you could color or listen to an audiobook or journal. Or maybe you just want to sit quietly. But PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE! Unless it’s for pictures of course!
After lunch they ran off with the soccer ball and I got to sit in the shade and read. They played for a couple of hours and decided they were in DESPERATE need for a snow-cone. So that’s what we ended with! This park has a snow-cone stand available right near the play area so that’s super convenient. I sent them up with their money and they joined me back on the blanket to enjoy it and cool off. The boys were hot, sweaty, and stinky when we left but we had a virtually free (besides the $5 on snow-cones) fun day! And even I got to relax!
Just remember as you’re planning your bucket list the most important thing is making memories. It doesn’t have to be expensive or something extremely out of the ordinary. Most kids will just appreciate it that you want to spend time doing things that they enjoy!
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