I can’t even read them. Those harsh, accusatory, squinty-eyed comments that people left everywhere when a baby boy was drug away and killed before his daddy’s eyes. When a little boy fell into a cage with a dangerous beast, or even when a boy accientally knocked over a Lego sculpture. (That last one is so pathetic, it’s not worth talking about.)
They say the parents weren’t watching, weren’t being responsible, hadn’t taught their kids a thing about obedience, not touching, not reading signs, and on and on. Seriously??
You know what? I was that terrible parent.
That was me.
I had a baby boy who drowned.
He was 2 years old.
I wasn’t watching him 100% of the time, and there you go – 5 minutes later he was being swept downstream in a current so strong an adult could barely stand up. I know because it was only the adrenalin coursing through my body that gave me the strength to stand up, hanging onto a tree branch for support, feeling around the creek-bottom with my stocking feet, screaming and crying into the wind.
A huge burden of guilt came crashing down on my back the minute I realized it wasn’t going to end well. I couldn’t look my husband in the eyes for hours. I didn’t blame the Deputy who was over-zealous in examining me and my parenting. I heard the cold accusations through his standard questions: “Didn’t you know that creek was dangerous? Do you normally allow your kids to play outside unsupervised?”
I wearily answered him, just wanting him to leave so I could flop onto my bed and cry my heart out. (He later was reprimanded by his superiors for his uncaring method of questioning.) I didn’t care. I knew he was right; I had let my baby play outside alone. For 5 minutes while I started lunch. His lunch – hotdogs. There is something exquisitely painful about putting hotdogs into a pan to heat, and an hour later serving them to 2 children instead of 3.
Do you know what it feels like to be having a wonderful, happy day, then to be plunged into the worst living nightmare? And to know it is your fault? You can’t blame anyone else. And you feel like everyone is blaming you, even when they don’t say it?
I am so thankful I have loving, caring friends and family who never blamed or shamed me. They encouraged, prayed, cried, and hugged. But they never said the obvious: “Why DID you let him play outside when you knew that canal was a mere 100 feet from your door?”
My husband could’ve allowed it to make him bitter at me, but he didn’t. He worked through his own struggles without blaming me.
Jesus has healed me from the pain, set me free from the guilt, and is teaching me to shut my ears to the Devil’s accusations. He can heal you too, if you are struggling with something similar. Jesus is the Great Healer!
I wonder how many of the name-callers on social media these days have ever been responsible for a small child 24/7? Do they know how fast a toddler can scale a fence or run toward a croc-infested lake? Have they ever searched for a missing child with their heart in their throat, screaming wild-eyed, and cold with adrenaline?
If they have, how could they possibly be so cruel? As soon as I heard of the croc story, my heart went to those parents, especially the mother. She is the one who will live with the guilt long after the world has forgotten about them. She will go to bed with red eyes for weeks. She will find a random missed sock in the laundry and break down all over again. And the father… he will question every move and replay that scene over and over. He will wonder why he wasn’t just a bit faster, a bit stronger. He will cry in the shower and when he is driving alone to work.
I don’t know the details of the story. No one does, really, except the ones on the scene. I know that more signs or a gator round-up isn’t the answer. That may prevent some tragedies and that’s great. But the thing is; hard, painful, searing things happen. And when they do, we need to rally around each other with love and prayer and hugs and tears. We can grow that way. This condemning and criticizing is killing our souls and our country.
I have no words of judgment. How can I?
That terrible parent was me, once.
Can we learn, somehow, to love and support each other even when they make mistakes or – gasp – have an accident? We all, ALL do stupid things. Some of us get away with it and no one knows. Some of us pay dearly for our mistakes.
Walk a mile in their moccasins. Love like Jesus. Practice the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. And if that’s too hard to do, at least take your mother’s advice and ‘be quiet if you don’t have anything good to say’.
Read my story here: Andy
It’s been a bit crazy around here the past few months.
That’s actually an understatement.
It’s been really, really hectic. Like; two brandings in one day and then a wedding to photograph and a church conference and 3 Dr. visits all in 10 days, kind of hectic. Whew. Which leaves home as more of a refueling station, and we pass like ships in the night, between running to events and tossing a load of laundry in the washer.
I dislike that kind of life. Now, I can do it ok, I know how, but I really prefer a quieter schedule. Puttering in my house and lighting a candle at mealtimes, and reading a book with my littles, or playing in the sandbox with them… that’s more my style! Ok, so that’s not completely realistic, either, but at least have some days at home, ya know?
12 days ago I drove to town and handed ‘my’ baby over to his father. I handed over all the boxes of things we’d collected for him in his 6 months with us, then I got in my suburban and drove away.
“I could never do that!”
I hear you. I do. I used to say that too.
I still don’t enjoy doing it. But if God calls you to step up, He will also lavish His grace and strength upon you. He will equip you for every job He has for you. This is why we need to be so very careful to stay in His will for our lives.
We had this last placement (foster child) for 6 months. He was like my own. The kids bonded so well. We are still adjusting to life without our baby, but we are also happy that he is with his biological family. He seems to be adjusting well. As well as can be imagined, considering everything.
Obviously, it’s frustrating to not be able to share more details, but for his safety and our legal obligations, we are not allowed to share much. Suffice it to ay that he is in a good place, and we are happy for him. In this case, foster care has worked exactly as it was designed to. And for that I am grateful!
Meanwhile, we are taking a break from fostering. I’m not sure how long. I’m not sure if we will ever open our home again, or if we are done. But we are taking it slowly and deciding things one case at a time. I did agree to do respite for 4 kiddos next week. Yikes! 😉
Oh, my heart will always, always be with the foster care system. So many kiddos sitting in social workers’ offices, so many crying babies who need a nurturing mama, so many hopeless teens whom no one wants. I pray God will call many people to this ministry, to care for ‘the least of these.’
Fix your eyes on Jesus today!
A few weeks ago, we drove to CO to help a friend brand his calves. We took several friends along to help rope. My husband enjoyed it more because it was a head & heel branding. We are kinda partial to the buckaroo style.
I am leaving this as a photo post, hope you enjoy!
I’ve been telling my man that I want to go on a date. You know – just him and me. Not the kids, not a quick burger – but a nice, sit-down, talk awhile, real date. Life has just been crazy busy lately, and I feel like we have been ‘passing ships in the night’, so to speak. I am home for awhile to throw in a load of laundry and slap together some sandwiches or heat up some leftovers, then I’m off again. He eats supper then heads out to his second job; the saddle shop. We have had dr’s appointments, a wedding, planes to catch, church meetings, foster-care meetings, brandings all over the place, and on and on. Whew.
Time to slow down. Time for a little one-on-one. Time for a leisurely supper and maybe a movie? But first, he has to finish the current order on the bench, and I have a cinch order that must get done. I can’t relax with orders hanging over me!
However, it is going to happen. I am trying to get in one date night per month, this year. That was my goal. We missed May. Bummer! But I intend to make it a bigger priority for the rest of the year. I find that time alone where we can talk, is so important to our relationship. It is not a luxury for us, but a necessity. To keep those tender feelings alive and that fire burning. We haven’t always been able to leave the house for dates. Babysitters are hard to find, so ‘stay-home’ dates have been a regular feature. But time alone is a must. Going through your life with only whispered conversations at night when you are tired and emotional – not a good idea. Long conversations happened when you were dating, and they are just as important now.
I know there are many who disagree with this, and that’s ok. But I dare you to try it for 6 months and see what happens. Put those kids to bed early and pull out the candles and fancy dishes. Play a game or look at old pictures together. Get a sitter if possible and take a short hike and then just sit and admire God’s creation together.
Meanwhile, I was browsing the web and found a few lovely items that would be great for my ranch-wife style on a night out! How cute are these boots?! (I kind of have a thing for fringe.) Plus, they have a pretty turquoise lining. Go over and check em out: Fringe Boots. If fringe isn’t your thing, you can find more boot choices over here.
Of course we need a lovely lace top, to go with those boots. How about this ivory beauty? So pretty and feminine.
If we are going out on a date with our husband, we will need a purse to carry our stuff…
Hope your day is lovely and warm and you take your man on a date!