Sunday, January 6, 2013

Horse Therapy

I am finding horse therapy is not limited to riding to meet the physical and mental improvements in the rider.  A few months ago I saw the picture of a draft horse waiting at a rescue to be adopted.  I was drawn to this horse, but pushed all thoughts of horse ownership out of my mind.  We had only moved to GA a few months prior and felt it was just not the right time.  I kept being drawn to the picture and every time I saw it, I began to cry.  I had no reason to, I just did which I thought was absolutely strange.  It got to a point I felt a need to have him.  We set up a visit for me to meet Sandman and that's when the magic started.

We went to visit and having 6 kids and a friend in tow, it was a little chaotic.  I asked everyone to stay back so I could get to know him, but Gabby came over and the next thing I knew Sandman was looking at her with his ears pricked up and alert.  She was the only other person he would allow near the fence while I was in with him without backing off.  That night, Gabby and I were talking about Sandman's trust issues and why he's so scared.  The next thing I knew, she was sobbing - deep, whole body shaking sobs.  She didn't know why she was crying, but I had a clue and it all had to do with the kindred spirits between her and Sandman.  Gabby may have come to us as a baby, but with her terrible past, trust has never been something that comes easy to her.

The first boarding situation did not work out, but we found a place where Sandman is respected and loved for who he is - with people that understand that he has worth even though he cannot be ridden and deserves to just be pampered and loved.  We are able to have daily access to him where we can really work on his own trust issues since this big, beautiful boy was starved and, as well as I can tell, beat since I'm finding scars now that he can be groomed.

From that first visit, Sandman has looked at Gabby differently than anyone else. He unnerves her and yet she is drawn to him.  She would not approach him the first few times and then she got his "blessing" when he approached her and allowed her to reach up and touch his blaze.  Since he is food driven, the only time anyone can do this is if they have food in their hand or a bucket.  Not with Gabby.  She had no food, she was no where near a bucket, and yet he did this for her.

Today she wanted to pet him on his side, but was too scared to do it.  Gabby had to finally put her whole trust in me to succeed, which is just as scary as petting a horse that has hooves as big as her head.  At first Gabby just stood there and looked at me petting him.  I coaxed her into holding my hand while I pet him.  Then finally, very timidly, she reached out to touch Sandman and he flinched and drew back.  I told her he's very scared and if anyone could understand what it's like to be afraid of trusting, it was her.  At that moment, Sandman lowered his head to her height and stared at her and she stared right back.  Eye contact is not her strong suit, but there was something mesmerizing between the two of them.  It only lasted a few seconds, but whatever passed between the two was more than any human words could ever mean.  She reached out hesitantly to touch him again and he didn't move.  She stroked him and he stood there.  I dropped her hand and she kept petting him, neither backing away from each other.

Tonight she has struggled dealing with old, scary feelings.  I never thought just a few minutes of petting a horse could reach her so deeply, but it most definitely has.  It has left her emotions raw, but finally in a way that they can heal.  Sandman may have started out as a horse no one wanted and felt was worthless, but his purpose was greater than anyone could ever know - he is saving a child.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Post That Almost Wasn't

I have not written lately as I have had a bad case of writers block.  The process has been write, erase, repeat over and over.  I do not know why - maybe being sick, maybe the stress of the realities of life, or maybe just children constantly interrupting.  I feel the fog of the block lifting but not quite there yet so do not expect anything profound or witty.

The eight chicks we got has now become seven.  We got up one morning to find Gabby's chick looking rather odd.  Over night it had almost feathered out all of it's wings and looked scruffy.  She would not stay with the other chicks and appeared tired.  I wanted Gabby to know she had done what she could for the little thing so we took the chick out and let her run around in the bedroom with one other chicks for company.  The chick did seem to perk up a little but was still not walking tall like the others, her little neck just seems to be contracted in a hunched position.  I had told Gabby to pray but be prepared for the worst.  The next morning her chick was dead.  She handled it at best as she could and Crystal the chick is now buried in a box in our backyard.

Being one that always believes God will provide, but also know that God has His own paths for us which is not always our first plan or thoughts, I have been praying a lot about how I am going to support us as the children grow up and move on with Jim being disabled.  This week a neighbor said I could sell my crafts in her store, another neighbor we found out has a restaurant and will buy all of her eggs from us (15 more chicks ordered today), and I purchased an antique vanity to restore.  The same neighbor that will let me sell my crafts in her store also said if I do a good job on this restoration, she will have me do all of her restoration work.  I also found a second walnut tree on the property and since I am allergic, I will be able to sell all of the walnuts that come from the tree.  God is providing in more ways than I ever thought.

On the note of blessings, a dear neighbor has given us so much food from his garden that my new to me freezer (thank you to a new friend at church for that gift) is almost completely full of green beans, zucchini, summer squash, corn, peppers, and tomato sauce.

I do not know what we have done to deserve so much love from so many. I do not know how I will ever give back as much as I have been given.  I am beginning to wonder if us coming into contact with so many other foster parents and all of these good tidings is not a sign for us to go back into foster care.  We cannot until we have lived here six months and honestly, I do not feel emotionally ready for it, nor would I bring a foster child into the home when we have a teen that has almost been arrested three times due to his anger issues around the other children.  I am praying on this a lot but feel God's path is heading us towards medically fragile children again.  We will see what He has in store for us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It has been a week of hurrays for us.

First, the great news about the repairs on the house (see last blog).  Then, Jim got a second letter from Social Security confirming he will be getting SSDI and with back pay from December.  I am shocked since this was his first application for SSDI and we know many people are denied.  It reinforced in both of us how disabled he truly is.

Next, Gabby started attending camp for the first time.  After her initial fears wore off, she has loved it and is disappointed that it only lasts one week.  She has asked if she can do an all day camp even.

Dustin has a job with our neighbors doing whatever they need at their consignment shop and helping the husband clean out abandoned buildings.  The first building he will get to help with is an old jail that is on the historical registry.  Dustin has denied any payment for now since these wonderfully, kind people have been giving us clothing for the children, plants for our garden and Jim a new office chair he liked.  I told Dustin that is very admirable of him, but he needs to think about getting paid at some point so he has spending money.

Towards the end of the week I took Cameron, Ben, Gabby and Bella to VBS.  Bella did not want to go and was very adamant about not going.  I insisted since she had not made any friends yet.  I am so glad I did!  She had fun, made a friend, and there was a boy there she liked.  She came home and spent hours on the phone talking or texting with a friend in California about it.  It was so nice to see her acting like a typical child instead of the defiant, angry one that we have seen for weeks.  By Saturday Dustin had heard so much about VBS, that he decided he would go - but only this once and it was just to help with Cameron and he wasn't going to pray or anything like that.  I just sat there smiling and nodding at him.

I met another homeschooling mom of six at VBS.  We did not get much time to talk since she was a tribe leader and I had Cameron to chase.  Before we left on Friday, she offered a freezer to us for free.  We are arranging to pick it up next week and our neighbor is going to help us get it.  Neither one of them will allow us to pay them.  I guess I will be doing a lot of baking in the near future.

I am thanking God every day for the wonderful blessings he has brought to us.  We are definitely blessed and hope we can show the same love and caring for others in the near future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I have not written in a few days as I have had many things on my mind.  I have tried to write but nothing came out the way I wanted.  Today was a day of miracles though so I had to write.

Jim got a letter last Thursday about his SSDI claim stating he met the requirements for medical disability.  This was such a blessing, but in the same breath it set things in black and white that Jim is not capable of doing everything we had hoped.  He is not pushing himself to work as hard and we are noticing some improvements in his health when he takes things a little easier.  That made me realize he was not going to be able to complete the repairs on the house like we had hoped, not without some kind of major help.  I have been thinking about our finances for days trying to find some way to pay someone to do the repairs and still continue with the financial plan we have set for ourselves.  When the cost appeared prohibitive, I was trying to make a plan for me to do the repairs on my own and still manage my own chronic pain.

Then today I got a call from the pastor of our church.  He told me that he had got a call from a woman Jim had talked to at a Wendy's on Sunday.  I thought this was odd, but as I listened to what he had to say, I was shocked.  The pastor informed me this woman belongs to a Baptist church in Marietta, which is over an hour away, and they have been looking for a ministry to help a family.  Our pastor did not know Jim had received the disability letter, nor how disabled Jim really was, but when she asked what our family's biggest needs were, he told her we need the house repaired.  He asked my permission to give her my number so she could call us and work out how the members of her church could come in and do all the repairs on the house at no cost.  I was flabbergasted!  I did not know Jim had a conversation with anyone nor how this woman would know what we needed.  Later, Jim told me he had gotten into a conversation with this couple about us moving to Georgia from California with all six kids.  The couple asked if we attended a church and Jim mentioned we are going to the Lutheran church in Rome.  I was in shock again because the Wendy's he had met this couple at was no where near either of our homes.  We were coming back from a gun show that was an hour and a half away in the opposite direction from where they live when this "chance" meeting happened.  I cannot believe now that there was any "chance" in this and that God had a hand in their directing this meeting.

Not only were we shocked by this offer, but once we mentioned to the children this could not have been coincidence and His hand must be guiding us, my daughter that has been swearing she is an atheist now wants to go to vacation Bible school in a few days and has asked for some church clothes to go with us on Sundays.  I do not know if she is actually starting to believe or if she does not want to be left with a babysitter at her age.  I am just happy she is willing to try.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Time For Change

I have been reading the Dear America Book series to the younger children lately.  I love the way it reads and reminds me a lot of the journal entries written for Dances with Wolves.  I think I am going to try writing my blog in the same manner to see how it flows and to keep my interest sparked for awhile.  So here we go:

We have been in our new home for a little over a month.  It has been a month full of ups and downs, happiness, fear and sorrow.  The family as a whole and each individual is going through a lot of change.  I have a lot of fears for two of the children as they are not dealing well with the move.  It looks like Jim will be approved for disability which is good as he will be able to access medical care, but the ramifications for myself and my work load is overwhelming.  I am trying to get our little homestead fully functional and easy to maintain as quickly as possible as I do not know how much longer the older boys will be living with us to help with heavy lifting and repairs, nor do I know how long Jim will be able to help.  I cannot count on the three oldest consistently either do to their disabilities or just defiance.  We are going to start going to a church and hoping I will be able to get help from members of the church when it is needed.  Jim is coming to the understanding that he can no longer push his body to do all of the things he wants to do.  Accepting help from outsiders will be hard on him though.

I have been thinking a lot lately about blind faith and how much this move was based on just that.  The two children that are struggling are my two that have no faith as both are now atheist.  I feel that I have failed them, but their lack of believing has made me realize how important faith is as the other children that are believers are thriving.  I had prayed on this move for a long time and truly believe it was God's hand guiding us on this path to Georgia and into a new life.  Now that we are here, I know this is what He wanted us to do.  I did not realize how tormented we had been in California and how impacted I was by it.  When one of the neighbors stops by, I still feel my stomach jump into my throat thinking it is someone complaining.  I still do not answer the phone when I do not recognize the phone number as I feel like I cannot deal with anything negative without stopping to think things through first.  God has blessed us with wonderful, supportive neighbors, a church who will embrace my children and us, and I pray that I can finally let go of this fear.  As for the two children who are atheist, I am praying they find a path that does not continue to lead them down a road of anger and resentment.  I see their anger turning into hatred and viciousness towards others and all relationships in their lives are being damaged because of it.  I pray that someday God's love will fill their hearts and push all of that anger aside.  At this point, a mother's love has not been enough.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Homesteading with Children

The fun to be had with children on open land with neighbors that don't complain about children running around and being loud.  My industrious husband recently got a cart to move things around the property with - soil for the garden, grass and clippings to the compost piles, heavy tool boxes from here to there, etc.  My children had a different purpose for it.

We've been discussing getting chicks so we could eventually have fresh eggs.  We are planning the brooder, hen house and yard.  During one of the discussions about spacing needed, Benjamin pops up and asks, "If I squeeze the chickens, will eggs shoot out the chicken's butt?"  Anyone that knows the way I think can just imagine me giggling as I had this comic strip thought of Ben running around squeezing chickens and shooting eggs at his siblings.

There is something interesting about looking into the backyard at night to see a teen swinging a light saber near the bug zapper.  Turns out hitting bugs out of the air is a new pass time.

Then there is my sweet daughter that loves the outdoors, horses, dogs, well any kind of nature, except flying insects that buzz - which here in Georgia I think is 90% of the bugs.  It has become a daily ritual for her to come in whining/yelling "There's a wasp in the house!" or other such flying creature she is afraid of.  This is the same child that donned a bee keepers hood and held pieces of a bee hive just a few months before we moved.  Somewhere between California and Georgia, she became afraid of flying, buzzing insects.

We will see what the next adventure holds another day.  They are really keeping me on my toes, or at least laughing regularly.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What I've Learned in Georgia

Since moving to Georgia, I've learned a few things.

1. The bugs are BIG here.  Very big!
2. Teenagers can get up by their alarm even on the weekend by 7:00 and not melt.
3. Children of all ages can learn to say Yes Mam and No Sir without being sarcastic.
4. Bear skat really stinks but it comes out of a dog's hair with vinegar.
5. You may see interesting things along the road like someone barbequing out of the back of the truck.
6. Drivers are more patient.
7. People actually pull over and stop for funeral processions.
8. Fire flies are camera shy.
9. Sweet tea is better than soda on a hot day.
10. Sheets dried on a clothes line smell heavenly after a hard days work.
11. TV is not a necessity.  Children are actually happier without it.
12. There's something relaxing about hanging clothes on the line while kids are laughing and playing.

13. Fire flies can make everything right after a hard day.

14. Teen boys from California think they've died and gone to heaven with all the southern beauties.
15. Teens don't have to walk around plugged into things or texting and they will survive.  Not only that, there are teens here that actually communicate with adults and help out around the house!

16. People reach out to help others just because that's what you do.
17. Men are still gentlemen and open doors for ladies and tip their hats to them.
18. A family of 8 can live with just one refrigerator.
19. It is possible to feed a family of 8 without a stove for over a month.  Meatloaf on the barbeque is quite yummy.
20. There are people that don't pity or baby children with disabilities.