The Healing Homestead…

This here homestead has been a long time a’ comin’, its been a complete miracle from the get go! We found our home after searching for quite sometime for a place. We were literally heading back to my parents house after searching all Thanksgiving week for a possible home with no such luck when we came upon what is now our home! We lived in West Virginia at the time when we had flown into visit family annnddd to try and find a home. I am tellin’ ya we looked at probably 100’s of properties, found jack crap. By chance we took the back road to my parents house when mom shouted “hey that place looks empty”, and it WAS!

image
Our home before some fixin up.

To make a crazy long story short, the house wasn’t yet for sale, but that was okay because like I said, we were still living in WV. We miraculously got in contact with the listing agent, she kept us updated on everything. We ended up getting our place by the skin of our teeth! It wasn’t quite the style I had envisioned for myself but it has ended up being just what I needed. I dreamt of having an old old old farm house on lots of acreage, an old barn that was still in good condition, and oodles of character to go around! Well, our house wasn’t quite the “farmhouse” i was looking for and it wasn’t very old, no huge barns to speak of, but character? Wasn’t lacking in that department. If anything it had MORE then enough, mayyybe just not the kind I was thinking of.

While were in WV I had a terrible bout with depression. It took me awhile to come to terms with actually calling it “depression” but that’s what it was. It was a mixture of all sorts of things. I was a newlywed, and if you have ever been a newlywed you know the challenges it can bring to anyone. On top of that I was 3000 miles away from my family as well as my closest friends. I had lived in WV for quite sometime before but it was different this time around. Trey was working nights, that was hard on both of us and I swear the sun only came out once that summer. It was sooo dreary. During that 3 year time we decided we wanted to grow our family and wanted to move closer to my family for support. I was so excited! I just knew it was going to turn my dreary days into sunshine! It didn’t. Well we live in Central Oregon and it literally did turn into sunshine but my depression didn’t leave.

A few years after moving to Oregon we started our adoption process. A year later we brought our boys home. All 5 of us were on the struggle bus for the better part of that first year in one way or another. Being a family was just plain hard. The boys, well that’s a given. After 13 foster homes they finally had their Forever Home and well just because they get a good home doesn’t mean all of their troubles go away. Not at all, unfortunately. I was still dealing with lingering parts of depression and well Trey seemed to be doing okay, for now. It was 6 months into bringing the boys home when I started feeling soooooo freaking good! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t want to hide away from people anymore, had more energy, and just felt good. Around that same time the boys really settled in too.

image-1
the boys this past winter. they LOVE snow.

The first Thanksgiving with boys Treys grandmother past away, she raised him after his own mother past away when he was 8. It hit him hard. I had never seen my husband in such a low place before. He was at his lowest while I was at my highest. Looking back now the Lord totally had that under control. His grief hit after our boys felt secure and after I was able to snap out of depression. He supported me for those years and now it was time I learned how to support him.

By the following spring we brought home our first round of chicks. More and more animals started coming on to the homestead and more and more healing seem to take place. My whole soul stared to heal. We went through a lot with the boys, like A LOT, and we just needed to recover. I can’t describe the feeling I get when new animals come home, its like I am doing exactly what I am meant to do. I was totally meant to be the care taker of all these critters and to bring along side my little family for the ride.

156EB596-7377-4333-A92A-657EF55C4435
our milk goat Dorsey with her little doeling, Primrose.

Though Trey may deny this, I believe he has seen lots of healing through this homestead as well.  He woke up on chick hatching day and the first thing he did was grab a flash light to check if any of them had hatched in the incubator. Its the little things with him. Like the anticipation for the birth of the new baby goat kid to the sprouting of the very first spring seedling, you know it is affecting him too. He reluctantly wants to be apart of it all. At very least he sees the joy it brings me and the children and he just cant help but get some healing too. Treys let go of a lot on these 5 acres, but I will leave his story for him to tell ya all one day.

image-3
The garden in late March.

It brings a person so much healing witnessing first hand what the Lord our God has created, there’s somthin’ so powerful about that. I have been and I have seen my husband and children be transformed on this little piece of land, it was a miracle from the start. We have all had hard times that at some point have felt unbearable, but we have made it through while all living on this Homestead. There’s nothing Jesus can’t heal with the power of prayer, love of family, and a Homestead!

Thank you, Jesus.

**Our homestead finally has a name!!! Only took 4 years, but hey, good things take time!

Introducing, finally…

Dragonfly Station 

Est. 2015

How it got its name: We live in the Oregon Outback. In the Australian outback farms/homesteads are called stations. Dragonfly came from the fact we have dragonflies that I love that seem to come around in late summer. Plus its s reference to a beloved TV show that I will never tire of. So there ya have it!

By Our Love…

This past week someone made a comment, “why would you open your home to children with so many problems, they come with such trash when your life is already so good?” And “You are ruining your life and it’s your own fault.” These comments were not directed at me, but at someone I know who is fostering and going through an extremely difficult time. I wrote a blog post last week and had all intentions of posting it then, but then this happened, and I needed to really think. Why do we open our homes to these children? Why do we put ourselves through all these hardships when we don’t have to? The answer is simple, LOVE. We do it for love. Jesus has called us to love one another (John 13:34-35), to treat each other how we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), to care for the least of these (Matthew 25), this is why we do it. My life was good before we brought the children into our home but having these children with all of their “problems and trash” has made our life rich. I was poor before. Lacking in true love, for my family, husband, friends, co-workers, you name it and I was not as loving before. These children have shown me what it is to truly love. Every part of my whole life was rocked when they came into our lives and it was totally WORTH it!!!! Before we had them, I didn’t know how rich a true relationship with Jesus could be. Through all of their “problems” it brought me to my knees and taught me how to abide in Him. Through all their “trash” God taught me how to love unconditionally. Without “ruining” my life I would be broke as a joke when it comes to love. And this is why we did what we did, and this is why I want everyone to have a taste of what love truly is. Children especially deserve that!

I don’t share too much about our children’s living conditions before we adopted them or before they entered foster care, but I want you to hear one of the realities. You can see pictures of my family and the love they have now, it makes it easy to dismiss the hard reality of some of the children’s lives here in the US. When they were found and taken into care, they were found with zero food in a filthy hotel room. No signs of food whatsoever. My children were ages 3,1, and 1. They were starving. When they first came to their new foster family’s home, anytime she would come out of the kitchen with no food they would start screaming uncontrollably. She once took them to the grocery store, the twins were in the shopping cart screaming, seeing all the food in the store was overwhelming for them. They eventually stopped crying when their foster mom had put a pound of raw ground beef in the cart, they stopped crying because they were ripping into the package of the raw meat about to devour it whole. This is the ugly reality of some of the children living here in the US. Our children are starving, my children were starving. This is not how I would want to be treated. What was I doing when this was going on? Not fostering, I think about this often, what if I was certified to foster when they came into care? What if I was able to be there for them when they came in as starving orphans? The reality is when they entered foster care, we were on the road from West Virginia moving to Oregon. The exact same week they were saved by DHS, we arrived at our new home 4 hours away from them. Think about it, what if your child is sitting in a filthy hotel room starving, they are about to be entered into the system. Wouldn’t you want to be the family that receives that first call?

These are children in the United States of America, the USA. The riches country in the whole dang world. Yet most of our foster children are traveling from house to house with only a trash bag holding their belongings. I don’t know about you, but the only time my clothes are in a trash bag is when they are actually in the trash or on the way to thrift store. I believe its time to RISE up and do something about these children, laws are laws are laws, but there are hundreds of thousands of children available and free for adoption. There are children in foster care living in crap conditions or in group homes. I am not just talking about teens in group homes. I am talking about young children 4 years old’s, 12-year old’s and everything in between. There are babies in the hospital with no one by their side. These children need us. They might only need you for a night, or a week, maybe a month, sometimes a lifetime. Its time to RISE up and be proALLlife. Get these kids in loving, clean homes. If you can’t do foster care or adoption, that’s okay. Be proALLlife by helping families who can. No money to help? That’s okay too, be a servant with a servant’s heart. Clean a foster or adoptive families house, make them a meal, lend your ear for them to cry and to vent to, PRAY FOR THEM, become certified to respite (babysit), any of these will help! These are kids, like my babies, your babies, and it’s time to RISE up and make the difference, a country with no orphans, now that would be a site!

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. “

Until the cow came home…

When I was a little girl, I was wanted a dairy cow. I thought one day I would marry a farmer that would jump at the idea of getting me my cow. As you know I didn’t marry a farmer. Far from it. I married a man from the outskirts of Washington D.C., he knew nothing about farm life and certainly had ZERO plans of acquiring that dairy cow. Not sure how my dreams of marring a farmer turned into marrying a big city boy, but heck! Guess I hadn’t met Trey yet.

3 and a half years ago we bought a house on a small piece of land, 5 acres to be exact. It came with a few out buildings, chicken coop, a mini barn that we refer to as the pony barn because it couldn’t fit a full-size horse, and a few other random sheds. I mean this place was dying to be a farm! Its has taken me a few years to make this land a farm but this year has been the ticket! Being home with the boys the last year and half has given me the time to do so. Little by little animals have trickled onto the farm. We already had Admiral, our Golden retriever and Cinnamon our barn cat, then after the kids came, we got Obi, L’s mini Australian Sheppard, Skywalker my new cat, I mean L’s new cat… 10 chickens now 12, 2 goats now 3, and one more large animal! Can you guess??? If you guessed a dairy cow you would be right!!

Well she is only a 6-month-old heifer, so not in milk yet. She will not be technically a cow until she delivers her first calf. Her name is Mia! She is a sweetie. There was quite the learning curve after we brought her home. I thought I would be fine with my knowledge of horses but no, just no. I had no clue what the heck I was doing. I think I gave her bloat, which is one of the deadliest things a calf can get, but then I think I was starving her by not feeding her the correct amount of protein. It was a mess. I was walking her to relive her bloat, waking up at all hours to run out to the barn to check to see if she was still alive and kicking, she was. We made it through, those first few weeks were like having a 250 lb. baby. The good news is I didn’t kill her. I am far from the person you should look to for advice about having a dairy cow, but I am learning and fast. With some help from The Family Cow Forum, I got her on track! She is doing well as you can tell by her Christmas pictures. Next September we will breed her, and Lord willing she will calf in late spring/early summer. She will one day become Mamma Mia!

The things I have learned the last few months are, no matter how much research you do on having a cow it will never prepare you for actually having a cow, or heifer for that matter. And just because you marry a city boy does not mean that one day, he wont buy you a farm and then buy you a dairy cow to go with it. There’s always hope. Now let’s see about some pigs!

Thank you, Jesus!

***You can also check out my latest blog post I wrote for Michelle Madrid-Branch

The Miracle of Motherhood: Adopting from Foster Care & Trusting in the Lord, by Kylie Gray

Amateur chicken enthusiast…

I am sitting inside on these weeks of 90 degree days because the wild fire smoke has finally rolled in, blah! Its the bain of my existence. I still have PTSD from last summer being cooped in with three wild monkeys during all of those fires. Lord willing it will surly leave us soon, pleassssseeee smoke go away! I have wanted chickens since we bought our place in 2015 and it came with a chicken coop, it just never seemed like the right time. I finally got the gall up earlier this year and Trey was like “umm yeah, no”. I have learned with Trey he needs a slight shove when it comes to any animals. (This will be a pattern in the next few posts.) Poor Trey. NO! There is nothin’ poor about him! You see, Trey should have known what he was getting into when he married a country girl of this sort. So not one of you should feel bad for that man and plus i think he secretly likes it! Anywhoozal, I ended up saying “well the boys are in the car and we are going to get 4 chicks, are you coming?” He came… We bought 4 and then I realized it wasn’t so bad and then Trey requested his very own chick. One that looked like a classic yellow one, see I told you he likes it! Okayyy, so I went to town on the hunt for Treys chick and ended up buying 6 more. We now have 10 chickens. They are everything and more we dreamed of… Just kidding, but they are pretty cool. We like to sit out by the coop in the cool of the evenings to watch the chitlens try and capture a few. Those dang birds are still not laying. 4 to 6 months my eye! Well technically its hasn’t been quite 6 months but when someone gives me a range I go for the fastest amount of time. Having these birds has given L such responsibility, I do not do a dang thing for them. Every once in while I help lift a heavy bag of food but even then he has  recruited his little brothers to assist him. Above is the cool before, it was this ugly pinky-tan color. yuck! I wanted red and I tried manyyyy shades, nothin! My mom called and said she just didn’t picture me out there with all my farm animals in a classic red barn, it needed to be teal. If you have known me for any length of time you would know i love teal, I loved teal before teal was cool. How had I not thought of that myself?! Yea, kayla k. I painted my chicken coop teal! No jokes about it! Kayla’s, my oldest childhood best friend and has known me since the obsession began, she makes fun of me. jokes on her, I made her wear a teal bridesmaid dress. She still loves me. Here is some after pictures or should i say during pictures, I feel as if its needs some more white trim, a flower box, and defiantly a new fence! Those things will come soon enough but until then enjoy these during pictures!

A year in the making…

this blog, pitiful as it might be, has hit its one year mark. today is the day we say Hazzah to a fresh start! it seems to be the theme in the last few weeks of my life. we recently hit our one year mark with the boys and ever since it just feels like a new leaf has been turned over.

the boys, holy smoke, the boys. one year, can anyone of you believe that its been over a year since we brought those willy boys home?? i cant! time has amazingly sped by, while at the same time days felt like they would never end. this year is one to be documented. we have grown so much as a family and ohhh has it ever been so difficult. we are flying through this life with abounding GRACE! or i am learning it at least. Grace is the key to this life. giving myself grace, giving my children grace, giving Trey grace, and Lord give me Grace! parenting is hard work, kudos to you all who have done it since your children were born! ha! since our adoption has been final, in April, there has been a huge shift in the boys. they are feeling the utmost secure. do we still deal with behaviors or out right naughtiness? umm 100 percent. after all don’t we all deal with that within ourselves? but instead of it feeling like it comes from a place of trauma, it feels just like normal everyday kid stuff. there is very much of a difference. someone once told me “wait till you hit that one year mark, it will be like a switch flips in them.” Ours didn’t seem to happen at the one year mark but a few months before. i probably told many people a 100 times over this year that “its like a switched flipped” or “they are night and day difference” and its so true. each time i tell someone that its because i cant believe how different that have become. i am not naive i am aware that things will or might come up as they age but i am not going to live that way. i truly believe that God has transformed these boys. there is no other reasonable explanation. God is the only answer. people will say “you and your husband are heroes” and to me that feels wrong. i am not a hero, we wanted these children, we weren’t doing the children a favor, they are ours.

after the adoption it felt like i was in a season of “rest”, after we hit the one year mark it felt like “go time”, whatever that means! i am seeing Big things for this family. zero clue what the heck its going to be but feels big. so here is to a new fresh year with endless possibilities! what i do know? we will be finishing all of the projects around the farm and house that never seemed to get done, writing a little more on this blog, and mayyyybe getting few new animals. i plan on writing a few posts here and there on all of the above, while still navigating this second year of parenting. annnnddd Go!

A thank you note…

To foster parents,

Thank you.

Thank you for being there when we didn’t yet know them.

Thank you for seeing a need and meeting it.

Thank you for sacrificing your own life for theirs.

Thank you for enduring their screams, tears, and anger.

Thank you for loving them through their brokenness.

Thank you for the tears you shed not giving up on them.

Thank you for helping pick up the pieces of their shattered little hearts and mending them back together.

Thank you for snuggling them when we couldn’t.

Thank you for wiping their tears and kissing their owies.

Thank you for loving them when we didn’t yet know them.

Thank you for staying with them when know one else would.

Thank you.

Love, Adoptive parents

.

It is well…

“It is well with my soul” a song title that means a lot to me. Six months ago we brought home three boys that for the last year were separated. Two were in one home and one was in another. In their case file it says “not recommended for placement together”. Their behaviors were so horrible that DHS couldn’t keep them in the same home. Hence the 12 other placements before us. Tonight I rocked the boys to bed, as we do every night, and played a song I hadn’t played in a long time. “It is well” by Bethel Music. It brought me back to where I was just 6 months ago.

Grieving. The children were for sure grieving but so was I. I was grieving the life I just gave up. Screaming, fit throwing, constant fighting, now filled our whole house and I was missing the silence of my home, that I so hated just weeks before. I feared that we would never be “normal” again. I would listen to that song, sing the lyrics and try to convince myself “it was well with me”. But it wasn’t.

Tonight I came down to Trey and just started to bawl. Our children are not the same children they were just six months ago. We take them out in public and actually get compliments on how well behaved they are, L is doing AWESOME in school, the child psychologist we have been going to says they have come so far he sees no need for us to keep coming back. How is this possible!? How do we go from HELL on earth to resembling a normal everyday family? And how did this all happen in six months? “Through it all my eyes were on You, and through it all it is well with me.”

.

.

.

Pic #2: after our first night with the boys in our trailer during the transition period.

Pic #4: X2 throwing a fit for an hour and refusing to come inside. Our golden sat there the WHOLE time with him. They had been home for a week or two.

Pic #9: L learning how to ride a bike. And he picked it up pretty fast!

Originally posted on December 30,2017

Homeschooling…

I started homeschooling L at the beginning of the year. We do a charter school so he has a teacher that we check in with every now and then. Some people thought I was crazy. I heard a lot of negative things about homeschooling him and how he wasn’t going to react well to his new mom being his teacher. But, there was something in me that just felt it was the right thing to do. Maybe, I was stubborn, naive, or possibly little bit of both. Either way I went through with it and have stuck with it.

It’s been hard. I skip days and feel like a failure the majority of the time. Or that I am not good enough to teach him, or he’s not learning like he should be and it’s all my fault, or he’s falling behind. All of these things I have felt for months. This week he went in for a school assessment. He took an hour long test (miracle in itself )and his scores came back incredible. He showed immense improvement from the beginning of the year and in half of his subjects he’s at the top of his class. The other half he has more than tripled his scores from before.

I couldn’t believe it. I sat in front of his teacher tears weld up in my eyes as she was going over his scores with me. She obviously noticed and grabbed my hand “you’re doing sooo good Momma”. Then I updated his caseworker and she sends me this email back. I needed this. (did I mention I asked him if he would rather go to school and he simply said “no, I love YOU being my teacher!!!) 😭

Originally posted on December 15, 2017

He sure has changed!

Our little X1, oh how I love him so!

I was looking at this picture of him and then I looked back at the first picture I ever posted of him. Does he even look like the same kid?? The second picture was taken during our transition a few days after we met him. The first was just a few weeks ago. I cannot get over how his face has changed and looks so much happier. Wow, what being back with his brothers, having a mom and dad, and knowing he’s not going anywhere has done for my little boy!

Originally posted on December 12, 2017