Thursday, March 5, 2015

I kneel before the Father...

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Facebook to give me a go to scripture. I was weary, burdened, my heart hurt and my emotions we so very low. Over 25 friends took time to respond and in no particular order I am meditating on the scriptures that they shared and also praying for them at the same time.

So first you join me and pray for my friend Barb . Lord we lift Barb and her sweet family up to you. I ask that you keep them safe and warm during this winter season and that their home be filled with love and laughter. I praise you for Barb hearing your small still voice and offering me a Word for my time of need. I thank you for her faithfulness and prayers. Amen.

OK, so Barb suggested  Ephesians 3:14-21
New International Version (NIV)

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I SHOULD kneel before the Father. I pray to be filled with His strength and power to fill me during this difficult time.
I pray that in my faith Christ will dwell in my heart.

I am positive that I have NO idea how wide and long and HIGH and DEEP Christ's love is for me. I will never know how much He is able to do. I know sometimes I try too hard to do it on my own. It's time to step back and look at all God's handiwork.

 If He can pull off a sunset He can handle my life.

If he can make it 70 one day and snowing the next he certainly can handle my prayers.

If He created my beautiful children HE created me to be a light in the world as well!

His works are just that. HIS works...NOT mine. He's got this.

May He dwell in my heart and protect me forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, February 27, 2015

He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine....

A week ago I asked my friends on Facebook to give me a go to scripture. I was weary, burdened, my heart hurt and my emotions we so very low. Over 25 friends took time to respond and in no particular order I am meditating on the scriptures that they shared and also praying for them at the same time.

So first would you join me and pray for my friend Candice. Lord we lift Candice and her sweet family up to you. I ask that you keep them safe and warm during this winter season and that their home be filled with love and laughter. I praise you for Candice hearing your small still voice and offering me a Word for my time of need.

OK, so Candice suggested Ephesians 3:20.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is a work in us. --Ephesians 3:20

The Father is amazing. He has a plan for us that we can't even begin to imagine. We may wish our paths started differently but in the end we know that God is and has been there right with us...all along. In good times and bad. It's difficult right now for me to see where God is in a situation that our family is experiencing right now. But I know years from now, maybe even months I will look back and see glimpses of Him all over this part of our testimony.

God's Winter Art

He doesn't just bring us to the edge of the fires or rough waters, He walks us straight through them. A good shepherd, always aware, always alert. If we stay silent long enough we can feel His presence. The presence of the Lord is comforting to me. I know He is with me forever and always.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weary? Burdened?

A week ago I asked my friends on Facebook to give me a go to scripture. I was weary, burdened, my heart hurt and my emotions we so very low. Over 25 friends took time to respond and in no particular order I am meditating on the scriptures that they shared and also praying for them at the same time.

So first would you join me and pray for my friend Monica. Lord we lift Monica and her sweet family up to you. I ask that you keep them safe and warm during this winter season and that their home be filled with love and laughter. I praise you for gifting me with Monica and her awesome husband as friends. Thank you Jesus, Amen.

OK, so Monica suggested Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

The Lord will give me rest. All I have to do is go to Him and He will GIVE me rest.

What is it to rest in the Lord? Is it to literally lie down? slow down? or press into His Word? Perhaps it is to set yourself apart and be with him daily, or go on a retreat, or even that 5-10 minutes that you set aside to be just with him in the morning or the evening.

It's hard to say but there is much peace to be experienced in the presence of the Lord and sometimes sitting still and being with Him can provide that peace and rest we need so much. To simply quiet your mind, listen to a devotional, read a short bit of scripture. Anything to get a word from the Lord to set upon your heart.

This week was a time for me to hear: don't give up. Keep going, press onward and upward much like these blades of grass in the snow. 
It has taken everything in my power some days just to stand in the Lord, much less walk anywhere. My feet and heart were heavy this week. This has been a season of loss and all who encounter me say...REST. Rest in the Lord. Why can't YOU just rest?
So ...what does resting in the Lord mean to you? Leave your answer in the comments section.
Have a blessed day and pray for those who must endure these cold temperatures. amen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How do you Let it Go?

She started the day with her icicle.

 After my doctor's appointment we braved the parking lot at the local library...she enjoyed crunching snow.
 The ice is about 2 inches high...this was piled up on her favorite brick walkway...we had to avoid her usual walk up high and jump off the end...too dangerous.
 This is a field at the back of our neighborhood. It used to be filled with corn, sometimes cows...soon it will be a main cut through road. Sad. But was the frozen tundra and beautiful!
 This little road was not salted, sanded or cleared. The car way up ahead of us was fishtailing all over the road. We took it slow and low and got home safe.
 Here at home there is evidence of a child in the house. The blessings are the many footprints left by one busy girl. No snow was left untouched!
 This was a bit touch and go while getting the mail. It's solid ice but tomorrow shall be melted away by warming temps!
 We still have icicle art going on in the bush out front. It's amazing how much this bush can take without snapping. It reminded me of how I feel most days.
Amazing what God creates right before our very eyes. So I imagine all that I am loaded down with right now is meant for a better end...excuse the mess...I am building a testimony.
God Bless.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Looking for God and being surrounded by HIM

I just noticed that my last blog post was sometime in August of 2014.

Wow. Our life has been a whirl wind of loss, joy, more loss and retreating with God. I simply felt surrounded by God today as I took some time to clean out the "treehouse" ---code for room over the garage. I looked out the back window into the woods and was hit by nature flocked in snow and ice.
 My daughter's favorite thing about snow is eating icicles. She had her eye on this big one and would not relent until I had given her that winter treat!
 I caught the sun shining through on this one and realized that God is shining on me in these dark times indeed. I recently suffered a miscarriage and this is the second one within a year. It's nice to know that I can always look to the light to find HIM in all situations.
 Here was the icicle that won my daughter's attention. I had to stand on a stool to reach it. But the smile on her face was worth the dangerous task of getting the prize!

 This made me think of a frozen wave. Sometimes we get battered by the waves trying to get to still waters. Sometimes...God freezes them.
 Here is some icicle art in our daughter's favorite bush out front. She spent most of the day plucking them off and eating them...she mentioned ...they taste like "leaf" :)

 This one reminded me of a hand reaching out to get something! Nature is amazing and I praise God for this week of being snowed in to better appreciate what He has in life for us. Snow Days = Time Outs from God
God Bless.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hurricane Season for Adoptive Parents

Here we are in our third official hurricane season at the Niles household. Well sort of, this is our third summer of being a growing adoptive family. So our not your normal.

you would think by now that we would have this drill memorized. However, just like the pains of forget.

 First read this old post and then we will go Back to the Future
 Flashback to July 2012

What does our hurricane season look like you ask?
Well, let me tell you the necessary components of a perfect storm in our house.
  • new school year, different school, new outpatient therapist, new med check doctor, braces, fun with family, upcoming trip out of town for Mom, upcoming trip out of town for Mom and Dad and then add a bit of PMDD and yep. there ya go . category 5.

So if you read the post I linked into the beginning of this one you see both excitement and trepidation that I felt with the thought of adding a new child into our family.

A week ago we were planning to go back to school shopping for shoes.
This week we are calling local treatment facilities and trying to make the best decisions two parents can make for a child who is still struggling to get her footing in this world.

Yesterday was the Orientation for her High school. We were supposed to meet teachers and tour the school, maybe even purchase a gym uniform or some jazzy spirit wear.
Instead we were calling Nurse stations for updates and information on when we would have our first family meeting which is hospital code for the "what the hell is next meeting"

Most people are planning BBQ and beach days for this weekend.
We are pulling back once again from obligations with our church family, and reorganizing to be ready for the next step in our child's treatment.

Tues of this week something triggered a very emotional reaction in our child. Add the components that I described earlier and you have a table flipping, wall phone ripping, angry child on your hands. There is nothing quite as disturbing as watching an otherwise "normal" teen snap back to survival instincts.

Getting braces on was a highlight of her summer.
Hearing all the things that she could not eat was determined a nasty attempt at controlling her by us...the parents.  What may be deemed as rules from the orthodontist for your child is viewed at Food Restricting by her parents.
The only logical thing for her to do is completely ignore those rules and SURVIVE.
Outright defiance ? no. Normal life for her and us.

Going to high school for the first time ever! New school, fresh start, new friends.... all exciting for our two oldest children who are now college age. For our daughter it's a restart that requires quick acclimation, finding the safe people and fast! As well as a litany of unknowns.

New therapist and new med check doctor to Bryan and I means: Office closer to home, trauma informed care, and hopefully less school time missed due to weekly appts. A doctor to do med checks means consistency and not the numerous nurse practitioners and high turnover of people at the last office.
For our daughter it means lack of control. Evening hours meant to be better for her school schedule now threaten her homework and after school activity times.  New people meant going over her painful history once more.

In home therapy had been going well and we were once again lighthearted and having fun in our family. No more walking on egg shells. Mom and Dad were making changes, our daughter was walking away instead of wanting to stand and fight. We were bonding, over pedicures and manicures. I even let her style my hair.

For our daughter, that meant feeling safe and part of a family. Mom and Dad not reacting or raising voices meant something was wrong. Chaos is good in the heart of our daughter. Fighting is normal, violence was all she was raised around and normal routine sometimes feels very unsafe to her. She craves structure and for us to protect her and advocate for her. She hates structure and for us to protect her and advocate for her. Did you catch that one? :)

She is on the fence about being in our family. Yes it's been two years. Yes that is a long time. However, studies show that it will take 2 years for every year in foster care for a child to even feel safe, attached and a part of their new family. so....we have 14 more years to go. That is if and only if she accepts her therapy and does the work. If she refuses medicine and therapy...well we are now in a different ball park.

In our home we have a zero tolerance policy for violence. You may flip a table. You may yell. You can even throw something.
You may not yell at your siblings and verbally abuse them. When a punch is thrown at me I often try to remove myself from arms length, and leave the house. This Tuesday I found myself cornered in our kitchen. So on the second hit I picked up the phone and said: I am calling Dad to come home.
Then I was hit again and again, leaving me no choice but to do what is next on our safety plan. Call 911.
I was able to dial 9 then 1. then the handset was ripped from my grip. The next part is a bit of a blur. But in a rage my daughter was able to rip the base of the phone off the wall, hit me in the head and back with the handset and then begin swinging the entire phone up and down and side to side getting in a few solid hits until the phone slipped from her hands.

I then stepped by her and said: I am going to the neighbors to call 911. I grabbed my wallet, all valuables *Bryan's work laptops, walked calmly down the hall and locked my bedroom door behind me. set down the valuables and slid out my back bedroom door quickly locking that behind me as well.

Before I got to the fence, my neighbor said: Cora is here, she is safe inside. Who do I call first.
This is our life. Our neighbor is Cora's safe place. I asked her to call 911. Then she yelled out do you want a medic. I yelled back No we are fine no medic. I then asked her to call Bryan and Zac and tell them come home. neither could be reached.

I quickly ran back inside to find the emergency number list so I could call Bryan's boss and have him sent home. I went inside and checked for the list. It was very quiet. I turned to walk down the hall and called out to Ambriel. She did not answer. I knocked on her door and asked her to come out front and wait for the police with me. No answer. Fear stuck my throat closed. I knocked on her door. No answer.  I turned the knob slowly, and the door slammed back in my face. I knew at that point she was in one of her purses searching for something. Then the door swung open and in all her fury she rushed me causing me to trip backward over myself and hit me several times again until I made it to the front hallway. I asked her loudly to join me in the front yard. She would not be staying here tonight. She refused and slammed her door.
I ran back outside and called the cellphone of Bryan's Boss at the Railroad.  He informed me Bryan had left for the day and should be on his way home. I asked Donna to call Zac again to see if he would answer.

I went back in and called to Ambriel and told her to please come out front to wait for the police. I got no answer. This time mom instincts kicked in. I ran down the hall sick to my stomach and opened the door. She sat on the floor. Leaning on her bed back to me. not moving. I called her name. my voice was shaking now. she did not answer. I looked over her shoulder careful not to get within arms length and she had cut herself up and down both arms. I instantly dropped to my knees and saw there was a large amount of blood and a pair of safety scissors.  I asked her to let me have the scissors. no answer. She was gone. checked out. pupils did not respond. no blinking. I spoke louder and turned on the lights and fan . When she is in this state I do not touch her, I said: I need to see your arms. Did you cut deep? Can I help you?
no response.
again I said give me the scissors the police will be here soon. I don't want them to have to take you by force, drop the scissors.
no answer. I tried a different approach.
I looked at her rabbit sitting next to her and said: if the police have to use mace on you it will hurt Princess. she responded by throwing the scissors over her shoulder. I removed the scissors. felt the floor around her for anything else and ran out front dropping her scissors and other  sharp items on the porch and yelled for the neighbor to ask for a medic.

Then I went inside and kicked all the dogs out. Turned on all the house lights and waited for the police.

This has been our story for 2 years. We have made the call over 7 times. 4 times she left to go to the ER for an evaluation and that required an acute stay. Last year there were 4 charges of assault and battery against her. Bryan and I dropped those charges in December of 2013.

This time the officer again pressed charges due to the fact that she admitted to hitting me with the phone and her fists.

This time was no easier than the others.

27 hours later to the minute she was admitted to a local psychiatric hospital.

The next day an officer called to book her meeting and establish a court date. After speaking with him he said two things that make me sad. He said: Mam , it seems as though you may be educated a bit more than me on the mental health system. Then he said: but I can see this is not the first time you have been through this situation.

I replied: Well, I certainly am glad that I get to go to DC next week and talk to these politicians about the failure of our mental health system and the fallout it causes within families.

He laughed, but stopped when I told him that it was true. I had been given a scholarship from NAMI to attend a 6 day conference in our nation's capital. On the agenda is meet lawmakers.

He wished me well and said we would be talking again soon.

Day two of a storm in our house is a day of cleanup and rest. First we put the house back in order. Then we shut off all electronics. shoot out a prayer request and Sleep. sometimes a casserole is delivered. and it was. I am thankful for my friends that step in and hold us up when we are weary.

Day three gets a little bit more organized. the entire table turned into command central with laptop, house phone and cellphones all buzzing and beeping.

It's not our own battle. It's silly to think that we fight the world each day to advocate for our daughter. This is bigger than insurance and bumps and bruises...this is a war for her soul. We all do battle in this house everyday. But even though we fight what is unseen, we must still deal with the everyday responsibilities. We have to call therapists in and out of home. Cancel appts. Rearrange work schedules. Cancel play dates for Cora and make a plan.

We wait mostly for the all important call of the family session. this time we got no word until the third day. I knew this would happen because the holiday is coming up.

So, there will be no first day of school for her. Instead wen will meet in a run down facility, with beige walls and heavy furniture that can't be picked up and thrown and pictures of rolling hills and farm land drilled into the wall for safety purposes . We will say a silent prayer that the same therapist we saw last time will be we can at least not have to start ALL over again.

We will offer hugs or hands to hold and be given the cold icy stare of a child who has been through this one time too many. She will be distant and angry.  She will hand us a list of things she would like brought from home so she can have some comfort during her stay.

We will do our best to meet her needs and let yesterday be yesterday.

We will pray for God's will to be done. Not ours. We will wait on him to direct our steps.

After all, we are not at war with a hurt child, or a grumpy woman from VB psych unit, or even the insurance companies or the bewildered stares of those who do not understand our story.

The bible says it best: Ephesians 6:12
 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

So, please pray for us as we do battle.

thank you-

The Niles Family

Monday, August 25, 2014

Suicide and My Dad

Make a donation to the Out of the Darkness Walk 

Dad(R) with brother Raymond (L) and Sister Edna(center)
I wish I did not have to write this post. I wish no one ever had to write about suicide.
This year my Dad, Ward E. Barton, committed suicide 6 days before his 73rd birthday.

My Dad and me

This year I lost my Dad. Six words that still make me cry after saying them, typing them or writing them. I had to say those six words over and over again as I notified friends, family, banks, retirement boards, insurance companies...the list goes on and on. It is those six words that I wish I did not believe were true.
Dad and me at Halloween and Easter. My brother Andrew and me with Dad.

My Dad was my hero when I was a young girl. He could fix anything. He could build anything. He was strong. He was funny. People loved him. He was a Railroad Engineer and a good one! He loved us the best he could. He worked very hard and he played very hard.

He always had us on a boat, fishing off a pier or on the beach. He taught me how to cut bait, take a fish off the line, run a boat among many things. I still do bait my own hooks and can tie a rig on my line so it won't fall off! He taught me how to skin squirrels and clean a gun. I never felt good around guns. They always made me very very uneasy. Unless he was the one handling it. He was very smart about guns and always kept his equipment in tip top condition...whether it was a fishing pole or a rifle.

My Brother Andrew , Dad and Mom
Dad was always the first one there when someone had a need. If I broke it he fixed it. If you needed help...he was there. I remember him always showing up after Zachary was born and bringing over huge bags of diapers and wipes. He loved that boy to the moon and back. He loved all his grandchildren and even his grand dogs. Some of you have been the victim of "Eddie's picture show and tell" . Smile if you have ! :)

I love this picture. I sent Dad a Bible and he was so excited.
Dad loved to take pictures and then make everyone look at them. Most of them were of his kids, our dogs, his boats, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, vans, hunting cabin. Sisters , Brother's , etc. He was a collector of all things Railroad and probably had one of the coolest things a railroader could ever want. I can say this now because he is it's safe. He had a BELL. A real GIANT Locomotive Engine Bell. He painted it Brass gold and when people would come to the house he would ring that sucker SO LOUD! Mostly he loved to do it in front of my boyfriends!

After Dad retired many of his coworkers, family and neighbors passed away. He really took that so hard. He had a love for the "drink" and would often get himself into messes, yet always seemed to pull the boot straps back up.

When I got the call that my Dad had shot himself I was numb. It did not surprise me that he used a gun to end his life. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to sit there and do what he did.

Dad was a "jack of all trades" but this haircut bothered Zac!
At the time, he was living near Roanoke near his 3 brothers and last surviving sister. He had told them that if he did not answer his phone or answer his door that he was dead. He told his neighbors in the RV park where he lived that he would not be around in another 3 days. He made his plan and followed through. My Dad always followed through.

Dad and I at Christmas. I have his wavy hair.
So, where do you start to pickup the pieces when you lose your Dad. I knew right away that I would be involved in the Out of the Darkness Walk. I knew that Dad did not want fanfare and pomp around his untimely death. Instead, as Dad had often told me, I had his cremated. My brother and I took time to spread a little bit of Dad here and there. I still have a list of places to go and see and things to is to go fishing again during spot season...and let a bit of him go in the Bay. Another is to return a bit of him home to Roanoke. He was born in the mountains and was one of many many children. He told me many times that his Momma had about 2-3 sets of twins that never made it past their first year.
Cora and her Pawpaw

My Dad. Short in stature....big in personality. I miss him. When I look at Cora's big blue eyes I see my Dad's with a glint of "hey I am up to something " in them.
I think my Dad wanted Zac to have this toy more than Zac wanted to have this toy! :)

So. I walk the walk in September. I am collecting donations. I am blogging to share my story and hoping that if we all become educated about depression and suicide we can CURE IT! But the stigma of mental illness is a shroud. It's time for that to be removed.
here is a quick video explaining the walk. Showing who walks and why we should all be aware of depression and suicide. thank you for watching.

Will you share this blog today?
Will you make a donation today? Here is the link to go directly to my fundraising page~!

Here are some facts that I think you need to know!

 IN THE UNITED STATES, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute; with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, and the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults. The suicide rate among U.S. military members rose sharply in 2012, with an average of one suicide per day

Suicide is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio- economic status, and it takes an enormous toll on family, friends, co-workers, and the entire community. AFSP provides opportunities for survivors of suicide loss to get involved through a wide variety of educational, outreach, awareness, advocacy and fundraising programs.

A contribution to AFSP is a good investment! More than 82 cents of every dollar you raise can be used to:
  • Educate the public about mental disorders and suicide prevention
  • Fund scientific research
  • Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
  • Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation
  • Offer educational programs for professionals
Please visit the Programs and Research section of our website or download AFSP's Annual Report and learn more about how the funds you raise make a difference.
When you walk in AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Community Walks, you join the effort with thousands of people in hundreds of cities to raise funds and awareness for AFSP’s vision to create a world without suicide.
The importance of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s mission has never been greater, nor its work more urgent
Join the Movement Today!

This is Mr. Jim (L) Zachary and my Stepfather Pat (R) Mr. Jim took his life in 2009. We miss you too Jim.