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The Selfie that Changed My Mind

It wasn’t until I saw the selfie that I realized where we had arrived.

For much of the eighteen years that Tim and I have been married, I have felt alone. By that I mean that in the things we have had to do both in business and family, I have been lonely. In those times and in every one of those moments, God has met me there and I have had peace. And the blessings and gifts I have experienced from doing what He has called us to do is immeasurable in so many ways.

winter kiss small

But it has made me tired. So, so tired. The kind of tired that makes you weary, and the past few years, adding foster care and all the emotional weight that has brought has literally made my shoulders physically ache.

In the beginning years, it was new and exciting, the whole world in front of us and it was whatever we colored it to be if we just painted enough of the canvas. I was young, Tim was strong, and we faced so many challenges head on, always expecting great things. Together, we created a beautiful life and a beautiful business, and once I knew

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My Grandmother's Gift To Me

Today would have been my Grandma’s 85th birthday. Her death just over four years ago was the heaviest grief I had ever encountered until that point in my life.

I knew it was coming. She had been unexplainably sick for quite some time, and though she was the strongest woman I knew, she was fading fast. She was serving Meals on Wheels, donating time and money to every cause that came her way, all while champion cheering for her entire family of six children all with multiple children.

Her life was a beautiful mess, and even after I moved six hundred miles away, she answered the phone every time I called to catch up, filled up my soul’s bucket with phrases like “You’re such a mess” and “For cryin’ out loud” and always ended with an “I love you, my doll face.” If I got her laughing good and long, she would say “You are a peach.”

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The Day That Mr. Angry Man Left Our Home

When it first started looking like little buddy was going to be staying with us long term, maybe even permanently, we called in the heavy hitters for help to keep our family together. We had made progress in many ways, but the weight of the trauma, emotions and behaviors we were living with day-to-day would not be sustainable long term. Read: we were barely surviving, and knew we couldn’t last as a forever option without some expert help.

In-home counseling began, and I realized I was about to change more than any one else in the family. I had already been humbled a million times over with tantrums in the grocery store, case workers knowing all our drama, and having to say “no” to things I wanted to do simply because I couldn’t leave the helm of the ship for fear of falling off course. It was a heavy load. But letting a complete stranger in to my home for hours each week to analyze our family and figure out how to make it work? Whole ‘notha level of humble. But we were desperate, and willing to try anything at that point, so that superseded any reservations that may have remained regarding my comfort level…

She arrived with smiles and compassion, though she was so strong I couldn’t comprehend how she mixed the two traits. Somewhere in between Mary Poppins and the finest drill sergeant, she observed long enough to know where to start: by teaching us how to see through little guy’s eyes.

We had already taken the classes, we had already done all the training. We proudly had the certificates that dubbed us “Therapeutic Foster Parents,” but nothing prepared us for what it’s actually like on the battle ground. Practicing your skills while under fire is very necessary though exhausting. And sometimes, you trip and make a mistake. Or you just run out of endurance. Either way, when you call “Man Down!” and someone shows up on the rescue field, you never forget that face.

We learned how to put the Problem in the middle, not any one of us family members. The problem was not me, or Tim, or one of my kids… the problem was that we needed to understand what language this hurting child was speaking. He literally was delivered to our doorstep from a completely different world. He had only known hunger, fear, fighting and pain from the day he was born. He was now immersed in food, love, kindness and care for the first time… and it was literally scaring him to death. Our world was so foreign, and it did not make sense to him. Put yourself in another world where no one can understand you and you don’t know how to communicate what you need. Let me know your reaction, and I’ll tell you that’s what it looked like here.

Little guy knew anger. That is the only emotion he knew. If he was scared, he got angry. If he got hurt, he got angry. Frustrated? Anger. Tired? You get the picture.

angry man

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Smoke and Mirrors, and the Center Line that Actually Was

I had heard the expression “Smoke and Mirrors” many times in my life without thinking much about where the original phrase came from. If I think about it as a child, I imagine one of those Carnival Fun Houses, where you walk in to the House of Mirrors section and try to figure out which way was the right way out.

I hated those things.

I would have been the one to run in to the attraction full force with my two sisters, each of whom were much more adept and graceful than I was. My older sister smart and quick-witted, thinner and physically strong, able to think and prance her way through that maze without a hitch, time and breath leftover to taunt me and send a few digs mocking me along my halted way. My younger sister so full of life and light, young enough to not have ever counted the cost, not ever needing to, whooping and hollering with glee at the adventure before her, barreling through with bravery and excitement, too overwhelmed at the chance of a new venture to be afraid… and too young to think of me, stuck and left behind, alone.

mirrors

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Hurricane Season and Court Dates Coming

I find it very ironic that we are almost to our court date for our foster buddy in the middle of hurricane season.

I watched the reports of the impending storms, first with surprise and mild amusement, gradually turning to shock and gravity that moved me to purchase supplies like batteries, candles, bottled water and non-perishable foods. The text messages flew back and forth between my Northern mother and sisters to me, teasing and begging me to pack up with such a good reason for a visit. All the while I never stopped keeping watch on the weather screen, and I never stopped praying.

So it is with foster care and court dates.

miracles

 

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