Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We Haven't Forgotten

We haven't forgotten
The child with pudgy hands
     and cheeks of rust and dimples,
washed on a beach-
     blue, ashen,
Like the plastic soda rings-
     birds trapped, flailing.

We haven't forgotten
     those who journeyed
over hectic waters -
     tears, seizing heartbeats

We haven't forgotten
     but we pretend
we did not see.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Caroline



Caroline,
Twenty, a mother, provider
     Ravaged by AIDS,
Her daughter beside her.

Caroline,
Bones, skin, and teary eyes,
     Forgotten in silence,
Gifted with virus, stigmatized.

Caroline,
Hope came then, not now.
     So tired - but her child -
How can voiceless scream so loud?

Caroline,
Memory, seen in a younger face,
     Buried, rural ground.
She finally got to leave this place.
     Love for daughter her only sound,
Caroline.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2016 Yearly Recap

This is late, but since I've done this recap since 2013, I might as well do it again!

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before? 
I traveled internationally alone. It was a lot less scary and a whole lot easier than I expected - and a lot easier than traveling in a group, I will also admit!

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My goals for 2016 were to give to a cause every month and read 50 books. I did give monthly to CRF through sponsorship and I also read exactly 50 books! For 2017, I would like to commit to at least 50 more books and I want to write more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sweet friend Megan gave birth to twins! Also my friend Stephanie gave birth to a lovely daughter.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My uncle Greg died on September 27. Also notable - although we weren't close, the mother of my sponsored child died in August, and her life will always leave a mark on my heart.

5. What countries did you visit?  
Kenya (and Qatar and England if you count long airport stays...)

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Last year I wanted to have more community and I wanted to be busy in a good way instead of focusing on me-time. I am thankful for the Bible study began by my friend Krisann and I last January that is still going on! The Lord has been so faithful with community. I'm also learning more about busyness as I step into foster care.

For 2017, I would like to be more intimate in my prayer life. I try to keep conversation casual throughout the day, but I want to step deeper with the Lord this year. During some difficult transitions globally, I should be relying intentionally more on the Lord than I feel like I am now.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day I lost my uncle was one of the most difficult days of my life. I don't know if anything can quite compare with that.

On a happier note, November 14 was the day that Jen and I gave our Kenyan daughter-in-a-way, Eunice, a birthday in honor of her mother, Caroline.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I thought the trip I planned in July to Kenya went very well. As a young person still very much learning about taking groups overseas, I felt like this was an accomplishment for me! Similarly when I traveled alone in September.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was when I accidentally paid $50 instead of $52 to the water company for 3 months and ended up with a $400 late fine for those $6 I missed!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 
Other than a month in the winter that I could not seem to get over a cold, I have been healthy!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a car!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Most of my money went towards bills, that car, and food. I'm adulting now, aren't I?

13. What did you get really excited about?
Obviously I get so excited about CRF's ministry and about my beloved community in Kenya.

14. What song will always remind you of 2016? 
Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave.

Yellow Water Jugs



The yellow water jug
holds just a little in its bottom
in the early morning
so I can splash my
dark dark cheeks.
Uniform stretched out on my bed,
I wear a faded dress instead.
I stand up tall - upon my head
is the empty
yellow water jug.

The path is long and stretches far.
One way students walk to class;
this way we walk for water.
Dust is stirred by bare
dark, dark feet
like mine and all the other girls',
careful braids and short-cropped curls
and teeth like baby pearls. 
All carrying, just the same,
yellow water jugs.

The men watch us, 
taking tea with big, rough hands,
winking at us with 
dark, dark thoughts 
but we do not meet their eyes. 
The hairs on my arms rise.
Strength in numbers, walking by sunrise. 
I grow thirsty under the sun
but as barren as the dusty path
is my yellow water jug. 

The thorn bush catches my foot
and like a river, up wells
dark, dark blood
but still I smile because I've arrived 
at the end of the long queue. 
Women young and old and thin 
with weary faces, weathered skin 
stand at this daily chore again,
all carrying empty
yellow water jugs. 

The heat is thick and still I wait, 
jug at my feet, skin damp with sweat.
My head bows, casting
dark, dark shadows. 
When the sun is high it's my turn,
so I pump until my muscles burn 
and my dry, dry throat yearns, 
but others are waiting too, so 
I rush to fill my 
yellow water jug.  

The jug balanced on my head, I hurry. 
I don't want to be trapped in the
dark dark night
with the men who always watch.
I make it home, aching, tired.
Grandmother cooks bent over the fire. 
Brother walks in with stick and tire,
looking so smart in his school uniform.  
Grandmother cooks and empties most of 
the yellow water jug. 

It's hard to see through the
dark, dark smoke
but we eat and tonight there is enough. 
Brother talks about all I missed
in class. I ball my fists,
but through sleepy thoughts I listen. 
No need for tears. When the rains come, 
perhaps I'll go back to class again. 
But tomorrow I'll be walking 
with other girls, barefoot, balancing
our yellow water jugs.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Foster Care Timeline (From Training to First Placement)

Hello friends, I know I don't post often, but I am going through the training process to get my foster parent license and I thought I would share the timeline here - as a look-back for me and a help for anyone who might be considering the same.

As I begin, I'm in the very first stages of the training process, but I am curious to see what length of time lapses before my first child placement. The representative said 30-90 days from orientation to licensing, but I've heard stories of much longer lengths of time! We will see.

Before this timeline began were several months of talking to people who have fostered and interviewing with a few various agencies, as I didn't want to make the decision to foster lightly. The agency that I've chosen is the third that I've interviewed with - not including CPS, which I was considering, but I preferred a Christian-based agency for the support system and resources.

Foster Care Timeline:

January 20, 2016 - Interview with representative for a foster agency that I liked, but I didn't feel like I quit fit their needs (they're passionate about foster-to-adopt)

January 21, 2016 - Interview and private orientation for a foster agency that I also liked, but I didn't feel like I quite fit their needs (they're passionate about long-term foster care only)

January 23, 2016 - Conversation with someone at CPS; I was interested, but more passionate about a Christian-based agency

February through July (6 months) - After attending multiple meetings where I didn't feel the Lord saying "yes" and planning a group trip to Kenya in July, I took a break from interviews and meetings and spent time in active prayer about the next step to take

July 26, 2016 - Initial conversation with representative for my chosen foster agency (different agency from the first two in January)

August 2, 2016 - Foster Care Orientation and first training session

August 3, 2016 - TB test

August 6, 2016 - CPR Certification

August 7, 2016 - Two-hour Psychotropic Medication Overview Training

August 19 2016 - Finish reading The Connected Child, an assigned reading for training

August 20, 2016 - Built bunk beds for children's room, purchased smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguisher

September 8, 2016 - Training sessions over sensitive communication, sound relationships, and child development

September 15, 2016 - Training session missed due to being out of the country - making this up during my home study

September 22, 2016 - Training sessions over separation, loss, and grief and child maltreatment

September 26, 2016 - Completed two-hour Trauma Informed Care training and two-and-a-half-hour Medical Consent training

October 26, 2016 - Fingerprinting

November 22, 2016 - Sent autobiography, house and yard floor plans, and dentist and doctor information

December 7, 2016 - Veterinary papers and rabies certification sent

December 13, 2016 - Received wellness check from physician

December 16, 2016 - Cleared TB test

January 21, 2017 - Behavioral Crisis Management Training (4 hours) and Medical Training

January 25, 2017 - Fire safety home check

January 27-29, 2017 - First placement; respite care for 3 children under the age of 5 years

February 3, 2017 - Home visitation

February 7, 2017 - Submitted income information