Last year at this time I was a new foster dad of a 3 year old son Little Mister (as we refer to him on the internet.). Kara and I were so excited to be helping a child in need, our kids were excited too, thinking this was going to be like getting a new puppy. Kyle wanted a boy his age, Katie wanted a girl her age, Claire wanted a girl her age. We received our first little gift in Little mister and have had him for over a year in our home now, and what a year it has been!!!!
In addition to Little Mister we had the pleasure of fostering two others, both of who stayed with us for a while and then moved on. One was a young lady 11 years old and another was a young girl 8 years old. They were aunt and niece.
As we have learned over the year all of these little ones come with “issues” and a history that is tough. Some may have medical issues like delayed development, autism, or Cerebral Palsy. Others may have emotional issues like abuse (in many forms) neglect, fear for safety etc. Most of the time, in our limited experience, they have a little of both. The challenge for us has been to manage those issues, along with their astronomical amount of appointments, and the various agencies that are in their lives. Ultimately though what these kids really need and want in addition to thereby and meeting their medical needs is someone to care and love them. And let me tell you some of these kids have issues that make them hard to love, but still they need it. They need someone to play with them, to care if they are doing their homework, to fight for them when they get a raw deal from society.
Kara and I and our family have been so blessed by the kids that have stayed with us, we have become a better family because of it. I am so proud of my biological kids and their welcoming with open arms to the kids.
I say all of this because there are thousands of kids out there that need a home. They need someone to care. Will you be that person?
At the beginning of this post I have a music video from Steven Curtis Chapman about caring for the orphan. Watch it and listen to it and give some consideration to what you can do. Maybe it is pray, maybe it is donate, maybe it is jump in and open your home, whatever it is just consider doing something.
Merry Christmas all!!!
Today we celebrated our first Christmas with a fourth child. Our fourth child came to us via the county almost 7 weeks ago. He is 2 ½ and is one of 4 children from the same home. He is an amazing little kid even though he does not talk yet nor does he totally respond to his name. He does not sleep well at night due to nightmares, which has made it real hard on Kara and I, but we are getting through. The return though is a little guy who is extremely loving, eats well and loves to be tickled and chased. What a blessing it is to be a foster dad…hard work…..but a blessing.
As I celebrate this Christmas with our new extended family I would implore you to consider what you can do to help all of the foster children in our world. There are so many that have nobody to help them. Nobody to love them, give them kisses goodnight, hug them, tickle them or just give them some stability. Kara and I decided to take this leap after lots of prayer and some gentle nudges from friends. It has been an amazing adventure. We have had great days and tough nights. We have been surprised by so many different responses when we have told people around us that we are doing this. Some are supportive and excited for us, others are concerned that a foster child will mess up our biological children, and still others are concerned that we will not have enough time for all of the kids.
We look at it as an opportunity to share Gods love with another person and give him a chance to be successful in the world. For a month of for longer, we are in this to make a difference.
Merry Christmas to all!!!!
Foster care references:
Info about becoming a foster parent: http://www.fosterparenting.com/
Sleep Train has great info regarding foster care as it is a charitable cause of theirs: http://www.sleeptrain.com/help-foster-kids.aspx
Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s was a foster care kid: http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/
Recently Kara and I have been feeling a strong call to be foster parents. While this has been something that we have been praying about and thinking about for years, we have recently decided to get more information and jump in. Interesting enough this idea has been reinforced to us in multiple ways. After thinking about this and talking about it a bit, we were listening to the radio and heard a commercial for adoption. Friends of ours, who have done foster care, during a dinner came and talked with us and discussed the ups and downs of being foster parents. Amazing the many ways that Foster parenting came across our paths.
We finally took the big steps in the summer of 2012. We found an agency, began taking classes and moved to a larger home to accommodate a foster child or two. We started the process of getting our home ready for a foster child. We were so naive in what had to be done. You do not realize that these children are still someone else’s children that you have been given the responsibility for. We thought that this would be just getting a child and loving on them, and treating them like our own for a period of time, boy were we wrong. There are lots of rules, regulations, etc. etc. The process f becoming a foster parent while a tedious one that often does not always seem to make sense, was a good one. In fact it caused us as parents to identify our own specific approaches to parenting. This is something that you believe you do but when you are training to be a foster parent it forces you to really lock in on your approaches and gets you very much on the same page as your spouse. This has been a great experience and I believe it has made Kara and I even better parents to our 3 biological kids as well.
In the summer of 2006 Kara, 6 months pregnant at the time, and I, took our two daughters, three and six, to Sea World. This was a much-anticipated “vacation” for us and the first one we had taken since we had started a family. We were excited to have fun, rest, relax, and enjoy just being together. Part of that happened, but some of it was just a pipe dream. We packed up our little family and headed down to San Diego from our home in Elk Grove. We traveled by day making so many stops. Time to pee, take a break, get a snack, because the ones we brought were not as good as highway gas station ones, and hitting traffic. My travel timeline was all messed up. When we finally arrived, we were ready for the resting and the relaxing, however we quickly learned that taking a family on vacation is very different from when were DINKS (Double Income No KidS). There was not relaxing, no resting, instead there was lots of whining dirty diapers and parents needing to be the entertainment. And who would have through that a regular hotel room would become a jungle gym for the kids…….. This was a great learning experience. Just last week we took another family trip, camping with our church. We actually had a great time. We hung out with friends, made new friends, spent time in God’s word. Katie was baptized and Kyle threw up. Of course, no family trip would be complete with throw up. We had a great time. We bonded as a family, enjoyed one another’s company, and just enjoyed being together. Family trips, or vacations are not just about having fun, but they are about enjoying time with one another. We had a great time will have many more. I hope that you and your family will also make memories together through family trips.
Recently I watched a documentary called “Buck”. This documentary was about Buck Brannaman the inspiration and technical advisor for the Robert Redford movie The Horse Whisperer. This documentary illustrates the way Buck “breaks” or befriends a horse. For many years humans would “break” a horse by literally beating the horse. The cowboy would use various physical devices and fear tactics to train the horse. Devices like “hock cobbles” to hold the head down when the rear feet would move. They would use whips, and other beating tactics to bring the horse into submission. This submissive pattern of training would allow the cowboy to show the horse that he was the boss. Buck uses a different approach. It is an approach of care and understanding toward the horse. In order to “break” the horse he “befriends” the horse. He shows the horse respect and the horse in return respects him. I believe that Buck’s approach to know the horse and learn why he does what he does is something that can translate to people as well. Think of some of these approaches as a manager or leader of people. For so long the standard approach for managers was information is power and fear. “Do what I say, no explanations, just because I said.” Approaches of influence take on manifestations in the workplace like, political games, mind games, and lack of communication.
“Leadership is influence”, according to John Maxwell, and influence is a tool that can be used in many ways. You can influence with fear and power tactics, things like implying that do this or lose your job or using the “you’re on a need to know basis and you do not need to know”. These types of tactics can work to have standard outcomes, but I would suggest that another route would be even better. As a leader, communication is key. By offering more in communication to your subordinates and colleagues, I believe you inspire more creativity and better outcomes. In today’s world, it seems as though there is a need for more creativity. With financial markets in flux, and ongoing challenges with leadership in companies and countries, it seems as though in order to survive more and more companies and leaders need to be as creative as possible to stay ahead of the game. As we have a world that is unsettled, I think a different approach might be worth a try. Try Buck’s approach and let me know if it works. Try befriending you colleagues and subordinates, see if you get more done, and are able to leverage more creativity? See if this approach also makes you happier as a boss. Good luck and share your findings either on this blog or via twitter @joeayer.
Tonight I got to experience the awesomeness of being a Dad. Don’t get me wrong every day of my 11 years of being a father have been great. Sometime exciting, sometimes scary, and always an adventure. Today between a light cleaning of the house, going to church, having the cable guy come out twice to fix the cable and working on science projects with the girls and writing my own paper for school, I somehow had time for a little bit of reflection on being a Dad. Tonight the oldest had a tough time going to sleep. I found myself needing to cuddle her to get her to calm down and fall asleep. While I laid there I realized that she is growing up, but she still needs her Daddy. I serve as the protector, comforter, teacher and leader. How I carry myself, sets the tone for her in the future. I am so luck and happy to be a Dad, but I also have a huge responsibility. I think I have always known it was there, but tonight I realized I need to focus on it more.
Look out Dad has a new computer
Recently my Dad got a new laptop. This was amazing to me as I have been on him for years to get something new that would allow him to communicate with the rest of the world including my kids, his 3 grandchildren, in California. He was one of the only people that I had even heard of that changed the internal clock battery in his previous 15 year old e-machine. Of course he was still on dialup in living in the great state of Georgia, even though many of his neighbors had broadband and wireless routers that they offered to share.
Saturday Dad and I and the kids had a Skype call. This was a huge eye opening experience for my dad. He was able to see and hear his grandchildren and vice versa. This opportunity to interact with them in a way that he has not been able to do for a couple of years, was great.
While plane tickets are expensive, this has become a great alternative to more regular visits.
Dad, thanks for getting a new computer, now we have to get you on facebook!!!!!
2010 here we are. What is your New Year resolution? Loose the pounds? Get more fit? Eat better? How about spend more time with family and friends? Recently I have seen friends and acquaintances that are fighting cancer, it has caused me to pause, and thing about how our time here on earth is finite, and we must live each day to its fullest. One of my friends Lynn had Hodgkin’s/Lymphoma 8 years ago and now is fighting breast cancer. She is only 39!!! Matt is a pastor in TX has three kids a wife in his early thirties and has a brain tumor. It was found after he had a sudden and unexpected seizure after the Thanksgiving holiday. Lynn and Matt are healthy, normal people, which within a matter of day are now in the fight of their life.
How sad, but I would tell you that both of these people would say do not be sad for them. Instead, try to be educated and realize that life is a gift. This is my New Year’s theme, live life to its fullest. Not to be sad for what I do not have, but to be thankful for what I do have.
So with this in mind…. I ask you….are you focusing on what is important? I mean really important and lasting. I challenge all of us to make each day count, volunteer, donate blood or money, sign up to be on the bone marrow registry or to be an organ and tissue donor.
Have a Happy New Year!!!
P.S. You can check Lynn’s blog at http://lynnhowes.blogspot.com/ or subscribe to Matt’s Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/MattChandler74.
Today as I drove from one place to another I listened to a great podcast with Chuck Swindoll. This was brought to me via the Catalyst Podcast which is a great regular listen. Check it out at www.catalystspace.com. I think you will enjoy the ongoing wisdom that Dr. Swindoll shares with young leaders.