Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm back!! The good, the bad, the heartbreak

So shortly after my last blog post our computer decided to die on us. Literally the week after our 1 year warranty expired on it. Awesome. I had been trying to convince hubby forever to buy a mac, well because they are just awesome and we have terrible luck with pc's. I thought this was finally my chance to convince him to switch! Alas it didn't work, and being the genius he is he fixed it about a month ago. Because he's the bomb. Seriously peeps I have such an awesome hubby :)

SO where then have I been the last month? Why did I wait so long to begin my blogging exploits again? So many reasons. First, where do I start?! In the months I was gone so much happened. In that time we found out we are being blessed with another baby, that the said baby is a GIRL (Carters can reproduce a female offspring!!) and the biggest of all was we got our first foster care placement, an amazing 15 year old I'll call Smiley (because she has the best smile ever, the one that lights up the room). That leads me to my second reason I have not began blogging again. I needed the time to work through what has happened in the last month. But now I want to share with you the journey we've been on. So grab some kleenex, a cup of tea or joe, and get ready, cause it's a long one. And the best place to start is the beginning :)

On June 5th we received a phone call from Children's Division about Smiley. Hubby and I were somewhat cautious because she was only a foster placement, and we decided before we started doing this we only wanted children who were available for adoption since that was our main goal. But something about her story prompted both of us to agree to meet with her and her worker. SO we agreed for them to come over later to meet and then make our decision from there. We prayed the whole morning and we both were feeling like the Lord was asking us to trust Him, and before even meeting her we knew we were to open our home to her. From the moment we met her we were in love (I'm crying now just thinking of it). She's a beautiful girl, and we expected her to be shy but she shocked us with her openness to talk with us. The meeting went much better than we expected, and we agreed to her coming to us that week. She came on the 7th, a Wednesday afternoon when she was done with summer school. The first few weeks were an interesting time. It was an adjustment for all! What in the world do we do with a teenager?! And not just a teenager, but an african american girl that has never lived with a white family? And a white family that thinks their black! She got a kick out of us, as Keith and I are kinda goofy and deal with things with humor. At first she didn't open up, but once she did it was like the Lord opened the flood gates. Her and I became especially close, and I would be very open and honest about why we started fostering and I believe that prompted her to open up more. Lets just say, this sweet girl has gone through more than anyone should ever have to go through. My heart would break as she would tell me stories, and I would sit and cry and hold her as she did so. It's amazing the capacity of love the Lord can give you for a child that is not your own. We truly see no difference between her and our biological children. After she was with us about 2 months the topic of adoption came up. The court was in the process of terminating parental rights, and we made it known we would like to be considered for her adoptive placement. We began to talk with her about the possibility. And she was very excited and very vocal about how she wanted us to adopt her! It was amazing. Something hubby and I dreamed about since we began courting was coming to pass. It was so cool! And she just fit. It was like she was always meant to be with us, the boys adored her, Keith and I adored her, our friends and family adored her. She turned 16 in September and we had a huge sweet 16 with her. It was so amazing to see how God was using our family and our network of friends to redeem and restore this precious child. But the enemy hates redemption and restoration. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. And this is where the story becomes difficult to process.

The Breakdown

I can now say in hindsight I can begin to see when she was starting to pull away. We just thought she was being a moody teenager. At the end of October we had a family support meeting (aka FST), and at that meeting she faced all her family and workers and made known to them she wanted us to adopt her. She even asked her parents to sign away rights and to not make it a battle for us. They agreed. Everyone was so excited with the progress they saw in Smiley, and the workers were thrilled and promised to expedite the process for us. The goal was to have her adopted in less than six months! YAY!! In the beginning of November they had her adoption staffing and choose us to adopt her. This was a Friday. The next day we discovered some things that had been going on without our knowledge that needed to be dealt with. When we confronted her, she freaked out and tried to runaway. We had to involve her case worker and things were really hard. We had no idea how to deal with it, and we knew it was normal for a "crisis" period to happen once adoption becomes a reality. This is where I give a shout out to all our AMAZING family, friends, and pastoral staff!! Seriously this last month would have been so much more difficult if it had not been for your prayers, support and love. You guys rock! (and I know most of you had no idea that this was going on. We needed time to process as a family before going public, so please accept my apology if I've been a bad friend and kinda fell off the face of the earth :) ) Anyways, the first issue was resolved quickly and we thought we were moving forward. We had a great week, there was breakthrough, and we were figuring out how to deal. Then it happened again. We confronted her about an issue she freaked out. This time packed up her room. Swore to leave on Monday. We tried so hard to talk to her. Prayed, and prayed and prayed. Monday came and we took her to her therapy session and she refused to leave with us. She was adamate she was not coming back to our house. Ever. She was done with us. This was the week of Thanksgiving. She was given the choice to go home with us or to go to the children's mental hospital, and she choose the latter. My heart was breaking. I really did not understand what was happening. It was almost surreal, and still is. We are approaching a month of her being gone and my heart still longs for her to come home. It just feels off. But I can't make her choose us. We visited her in the hospital everyday, and also scheduled other family and friends to go everyday to iniadate her with love. Eventually she began refusing to see us, refused our phone calls. The following Monday she still refused to come home, and they placed her in an emergency children's shelter. Again, refusing to see or talk to us. This past Thursday we were to have a counseling session for "closure". She didn't show up.

And that is where we are now. It has been such a range of emotion I never knew could happen. My heart has broke in a way I never thought possible. The Lord has been so gracious and kind to us in this storm. I understand so many things I would never have had we not gone through this. But I still wish it didn't end like this. I wish she was still here. At first I wept to the Lord and hubby that I would never do this again, that I was done. How do you recover from such devastation?!? But as time has moved on and the Lord has tended my wounds like the good Daddy He is, I have come to learn so much (and I promise not to talk about all of it now, I have already gone on WAAAAAAY to long!). First, the enemy is crafty. Of course he would love for this to destroy our calling in loving the least of these!! Teenagers are the least of these when it comes to foster care. NO ONE WANTS THEM!! I will say I understand it better now. They are hard. They are broken. Most of them have been in the system their entire lives!!! Smiley's first hotline on her was when she was 5 months old. Think about that! That makes for a pretty crappy life. These kids are broken, and they need love. They need families that are willing to do the hard things, even if it means your heart gets broken in the process. Yeah it's not fun. It's not easy. In fact the last month has sucked. BAD. But Jesus did something for us that sucked FAR worse, and we are called to imitate Him. Plain and simple. It's not a suggestion. Secondly, and my biggest, is that I cannot save anyone. I can't. I won't be able to when our bio children grow. They have free will, and STRONG ones at that. I never went into this consciously thinking I could save children. But the Lord has shown me that was my heart attitude, an idol if you will. I thought by sharing my story, what I went through, what Jesus has done for me, and them seeing how God can redeem a life would change their hearts and heal them. And it can be a tool the Lord uses for sure! But that in itself cannot save these kids. Only Jesus can. Only the Holy Spirit can convict them and bring them to repentance. Lastly, God is sovereign. I knew this before, but it has become real for me. You know how you know something in your head, but it's not real to you? That was God's sovereignty to me. My own life story kinda made me believe in God's sovereignty, I mean if He can save ME, that's pretty amazing right?! But this has really made me trust in the Lord in a way I would have never had before. She can run from us, run from our love, run from our rules, run from our standards, but she can't escape God's. Never. And the thing I cling to is that the seeds we planted in her time here will not die. I know her time here changed her. I know she will always remember our family and the love we have for her. We have made it clear to her she always has a place to come. Always. We love her and it's unconditional, just as the Lord loves us. Will you have to repent and follow the guidelines of the house? Yes. But we love her. And Jesus loves her more than we ever can or could. And my heart's cry is that one day she will stop the self destruction she is in, turns to Jesus and allows Him to love and heal her. And that is what I will pray until I no longer have breathe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I suck at blogging...and waiting

So I have officially decided I suck at this blogging thing. I mean it's not like I have 3 kiddos 4 and under, a marriage, a household to run, a doula business and midwifery apprenticeship to manage. Not to mention trying to have a relationship with the Lord, my family, friends, and finding some time for myself in there somewhere. Time that isn't spent cleaning, in the kitchen, cleaning, playing with kids, laundry, some more cleaning and some more time in the kitchen. Did I mention I spend ALOT of time in the kitchen?! But the thing that has captured my mind, heart and time recently is a girl.

This girl is the girl we hope to call daughter soon. As most of you know (and if you don't you will now), our family recently became a licensed foster family. This has been a dream of ours since before we got married. To someday become parents to the parentless. For our home to be used for God's glory to redeem and restore the orphans. The main goal of becoming foster parents is so we can adopt, and we specifically feel called to adopt older girls, in particular african american girls age 10-17. For those of you who know us, this probably makes you laugh. I mean we are reverse oreos :) My husband claims to have grown up in the 'hood (Grandview, close but not quite hunny :p ), and I have always loved the people and have worked very closely in the culture since giving my life to the Lord. So we have always dreamed of having little black girls in our family. Well this girl, we'll call her G, is 17, so she's not so little :) Keith and I both had our eyes on her for months without knowing each other were thinking the same thing, and the Lord confirmed to us a few weeks ago we should move forward. The next day we requested her long profile, and both felt like she is the next step for our family. The following day we submitted our home study to be reviewed by her case worker to see if we can be chosen to be her adoptive family. And we are still waiting. And it is so HARD!!! I struggle to speak to soon, but we both feel like she is our daughter. We really feel the Lord has chosen her to be apart of the Carter clan. I knew waiting would be hard, but it's much harder than I ever anticipated. Especially because everyday feels like forever. To know she's out there, and feeling like she should be home with us, her family. Have any of you had experience with adopting through the foster care system? I'd love to hear your story if so! And please friends, if you can please remember us in prayer. Pray if this is our daughter, that she'd come home soon. And if it's not, that the Lord would direct us towards her. We desire the Lord's will above all, not what our "feelings" tell us is right. We know our hearts are deceptive above all things, which is one of the reasons I am struggling so much. But let's face it, I'm a woman and I'm emotional. Especially when it comes to orphans.

"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause." Isaiah 1:17

Wednesday, April 13, 2011's not a one time thing

Sorry it's been soooooo long since I've posted. It has been crazy hectic in the Carter household the last few weeks. We've had exciting injuries, birthdays, attempted break ins and mommy trying to stay sane in the process :) I will be posting about some of these things soon.

Honestly I wasn't planning on blogging tonight. Hubby is off, and I cherish my evenings when he is home. But tonight something interesting and unexpected happened. You see, while writing a birthday wish to my brother on facebook I ran into a familiar face. I saw his mom in his friends list. We are half siblings, our father being the same. His mom was my abuser for many years. A woman I have had to work VERY hard to forgive once I became a follower of Christ. I thought I had forgiven her. But once I saw her face so many feelings came rushing back. Fear, anxiousness, anger, hatred. And that's when it hit me. Forgiveness isn't a one time thing. It's a constant walking out. Forgiveness is so hard to do sometimes. Trust me. I have had to forgive so many people in my life, especially my parents. People who have hurt me so badly, it still can bring me to tears when I talk about it. But that is where forgiveness is so GOOD!!!! I can talk about it now, and yes it hurts, but I'm not bitter or cursing those who hurt me. Instead I pray the Lord gives me His heart for them. They are broken, and more importantly need Jesus just as badly as I do everyday. I used to walk around SO angry, SO bitter, such a victim. My life was horrible because of what those people did to me! I was just a child! I mean, should I not blame the adults who let me down? No, I shouldn't. Because I can truly sit here and say today, that God allowed what happened in my life for a reason. He is sovereign and He is GOOD!! So tonight I stared at her face, and prayed that if she doesn't know Jesus yet, that He would reveal Himself to her. That He would heal her heart, heal her brokenness. And again I forgave her. Just like I will need to again.

"Then Peter came up and said to him, 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.' " Matthew 18:21-22

Monday, March 21, 2011

Loss is a tough thing

Today is the anniversary of a dear friend of mine who lost her son at 13 weeks. This friend is an inspiration in how she lives and handled those difficult times in her life. Not only did she lose her son, but also had an early miscarriage and had a 39 week old stillbirth daughter. Wow. Talk about grief. She now has 2 beautiful girls, who I hope will marry into my family someday :) But the way she talks and glorifies the Lord through her pain blows me away. I never thought I would have to walk that path. Until 3 weeks ago...

3 weeks ago tomorrow my husband and I lost the precious baby living inside of me. That day was probably one of the hardest of my life. Knowing what was happening, and knowing there was nothing I could do to change it. Gut wrenching are the only words to describe the feeling of grief that comes over you. That type of cry that comes from the deepest part of your soul. How and why did this happen? This has never happened to me before. I have had 3 healthy pregnancies and 3 amazing little boys to show for it. God why?!?

After the birth of Joshua, our 2nd son, we felt the Lord asking us to trust Him with the size of our family. "Ummm, excuse me Lord? You SURE about that??" I mean, I don't want to be the Duggers with 20 kids right?! This is where the Lord in His tender loving kindness chastised us. Do we really believe God's word when He proclaims children are a blessing from Him? How can we say we trust the Lord with our WHOLE life then not lay down this part at the cross? So that September of 2008 we decided to give that part to Jesus, and would except whatever He had for us. Even if it meant having 20 kids. Yep, I said it. SHOCK AND AWE! Fast forward to February 2011. I take a pregnancy test because I am 4 days late, and I'm NEVER late unless it's for a reason :) YAY! Pregnant with number 4! And as fast as it happened it was ending. But Lord, I don't understand!! I gave this part of our life to You, expecting children from it! I NEVER expected death. Never. With my heart ripped open, sore and tattered I went to the Lord in worship and prayer. The enemy tried to attack so hard, to bring fear and depression. Fear of being intimate with my husband for fear of becoming pregnant again. Depression over feelings like I caused it. It has been a really hard, hard journey, but the Lord has been so faithful to treat me gently as He heals my heart and soul.

1 in 5 women miscarry. Some never know it and some do. I think unfortunately it's one of those "hush hush" things in our culture. But it NEEDS to be talked about. Cried over with your closest girlfriends. Dealt with before the Lord. That's how healing comes. I'm so blessed to have some amazing women that surrounded me when I lost my baby. One of my friends came soon after it started, and just sat crying with me. The day after several of my friends came together to love on me and cook meals for our family. One of my best friends took me to the chiropractor so I could get adjusted and acupuncture to help the healing process. My amazing chiropractors cried with us and held me as we all wept. Then that bestie took me out for a stiff drink and dinner :) They would call persistently when I wouldn't answer my phone, even find tricky ways to stop by my house to check on me. My friend with teenage daughters lent her girls to us for a date night so Keith and I could go out and talk and reconnect. Because lets face it, for guys it's a totally different experience. And they might not be sensitive to that. But they come around :) Promise.

Through this I have learned alot. First and foremost, as always, God is sovereign. He IS GOOD! He is kind. And that's a hard thing to believe when your in the midst of pain. I have learned that we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. Heck we aren't guaranteed the next second! Enjoy what God has given you. I look at my babies and will NEVER take pregnancy for granted again. I didn't think I did before but I did. And yes, I am still the mom who losses patience and yells at her kids, or tells them to go play so I can get one last thing done, but I am looking more carefully at that these days. Can the chores wait? Yes. Your kids will be grown up before you know it. Or they could die tomorrow. Enjoy the time you have been blessed with. And as moms I think we are to hard on ourselves. We live in a "suck it up and get over it" type of world. Well I have decided not to embrace that ideal anymore. I cried ALOT when this happened, and still cry. And will probably still cry years from now at our loss. Because it's just that, a loss. They will never be replaced. And yes our baby is dancing with Jesus, but in my selfish flesh I wanted that baby to be with me. To birth that baby, nurse and sleep with that baby, watch that baby grow into a child, then an adult, get married and give me some grandbabies! But that will never happen with that child. So I sit here and grieve my baby, rejoice in the ones I have, thank the Lord that He is good in the midst of life hurting, and look forward to the rest of the journey, whatever that is.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Foodie Fun

So sorry it's been a week. I'm very tired tonight and am making myself do this since I've made the commitment to. It's been a long week!

I have some new and exciting recipes for ya'll! This week I discovered my love for sprouting grains and beans. So far this week I made some sprouted spelt flour and sprouted lentils, which I then turned into a salad and a peanut curry. YUM! In our family we try to stay away from gluten. Our oldest has a pretty serious sensitivity to it, but after staying away from it for years, we have been able to slowly reintroduce it back into his diet by soaking and sprouting. If your new to this, doing either soaking or sprouting helps to predigest the enzymes in the grain or bean, making it easier for your body to digest and absorb the nutrients. There is actually an anti-nutrient called phytic acid present in grains and beans, and soaking and/or sprouting helps to neutralize this acid. I truly believe so many of our health problems today come from not soaking and sprouting our grains/beans. I have been soaking for over a year now, but am even loving sprouting more! Sprouting actually increases the nutrient content of what you are eating! For example, with sprouting spelt, it then contains up to 5 times the vitamin C and increases the complex B vitamins substantially! To me this is very important, my adrenals crashed last summer and B vitamins are so important to healing adrenals and other hormonal imbalances. I know you are now thinking "that sounds WAY to complicated!!" But trust me, it's really not! I used to think the same exact thing, which is why I never did it. But here is a great video that shows just how easy it is. So now here are some recipes you can use with some of your sprouted things!

Sprouted Lentil Salad
1 cup Sprouted Lentils (I used the red lentils)
1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil

Toss together and enjoy! Even the oh so picky man of the house loved it!

Thai Peanut Curry

1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
3 cups sprouted lentils
2 red peppers diced

Heat skillet with coconut oil and saute onion until soft. Add the red curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Mix well and let simmer 10-15 minutes, until flavors begin to mingle. Turn heat to low and add diced peppers and lentils. Serve over Thai rice noodles or jasmine rice.

So I tried to take some pictures of all this goodness but honestly my camera stinks for food shots. Sorry, I'm just not cool like all the other bloggers out there :) Hope you enjoy the yumminess as much as I did!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Here I am, and it ain't pretty

Hi, my name is Shannon Carter and I'm a sinner. First things first. I gave my life to the Lord when I was 21, after years of trying to fill it with the things of the world. Drugs, drinking, sex, all trying to dull the pain of a very tumultuous childhood. I grew up with very little stability, abuse, and alot of things children should never go through. I HATED God. Hated Him. I thought if there was a God, and He allowed the things that happened to me happen, He wasn't a God worth loving or giving my time to. Fast forward years later, after all the things I tried to find peace and hope in were going to cut my life short. The Lord in His grace and loving kindness brought me to a place of despair, and revealed He was the only one who could bring peace and hope. I sat as a heartbroken 21 year old, listening to a sermon on how God can restore families, with the mother I had barely known. I sobbed. And that day in hot Missouri August I gave my life to the Lord and have NEVER looked back. That started the journey of where I am today.

Without that day I would not be married to the most amazing man for me out there. My husband has been the Lord's heart, hands and feet to me since the day we met. The Lord has used Keith to facilitate so much healing to my heart and soul. And without Keith I would not be mother to the most amazing gifts one can ever have, the sweet 3 little boys sleeping as I type this. Without those little boys I wouldn't have realized my passion for so many things. For pregnant mommas and mommas in general. The Lord used my boys to lead me to some of my many callings : a labor doula, childbirth educator, breastfeeding counselor, and a student midwife. My boys, especially my Isaiah, have taught me so much about surrender to the Lord. Without Isaiah we would all still be in bad health as a family due to eating habits. When he was 2 he was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Thus began the journey to heal him, through lots of being on my face before the Lord, food and alternative medicine. But that is for another post :)

So that is a snippet of who I am. So topics on this blog will range from my faith, to my family, childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting decisions/choices, to food and health. I promise to always be kind, and if there is ever a controversial subject I discuss, please know my heart. And that it's not to judge, but to inform and educate. It's something I feel very strongly about, and have put in lots of hours of prayer and research into. I'm super excited about this journey, so please come along for the ride!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ok ok, enough of the peer pressure!!

Ok, so for months my friends have been pressuring me into starting a blog. As a momma of 3 children 4 and under, I felt like it was just one thing to add to the hectic-ness of life. But then a friend from church's blog spoke to me . I have never been a crafty type. EVER. And probably will never be. I admit (as much as it makes me feel like a huge slacker mom), I have never, nor will I probably ever scrapbook or do baby books. Just not my thing. But my friend Jami's blog really convicted me about how I am the keeper of my families memories. Wow. A job I have really been slacking at. I take lots of pictures, but I don't write down those really cute and wonderful things that happen day to day. And I also don't write of those hard, gut wrenching things we go through either. So hats off to you friends, your peer pressure has worked!

So my friend Jayna is the genius behind my blog name. For those of you who don't know me that well, you will be surprised to learn of my love of fermentation. Dairy products, condiments, salsa, breads, anything and everything! Our family follows a Weston Price/traditional diet (more on that here), and a cornerstone of the diet is fermented foods. My husband has actually been known to question my tactics, declaring "Do we have to ferment EVERYTHING!?!?". Yes sweet man. Yes we do :)

That is all for now. My goal is to introduce myself later this week, and also my amazing family. Hope you all have a blessed week!