Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Future Fears and Present Joy

You shall go forth in joy and be led in peace.... Isaiah 55:12

Yesterday while driving to work I had a conversation with God. It went like this:

God: Why aren't you more joyful at this opportunity to be a mother?

Me: It isn't that I am not joyful, or thankful, I am just trying to be realistic. Ashley is technically our foster child and there are no guarantees that we will be able to adopt her. Also, her former foster parents struggled with some oppositional defiance and tantrums. What if those come up and they are more than we can handle? I just don't want to put all my eggs in one basket.

God: Love her as much as I love you.

Me: As much as you love me? As in no matter what, willing to die for, always there for, through thick and thin? I don't know if I am capable of that.

God: Love her as much as I love you and give her as much grace as I give you.

Me: Did you listen to my logical arguments as to why I can't give her my whole heart?

God: Love her as much as I love you and give her as much grace as I give you.

Me: But what if I get hurt? I don't know if I can handle that pain.

God: If you place your trust in me, I will handle it all for you. This isn't about you, think about how much that little girl has been hurt. She needs someone to love her and I have called you to do that. I will be there the whole time, and no matter what happens in the future, my love is enough to heal her hurts as well as yours, love her as much as I love you.

Me: (crying at this point) What if I can't love her? What if I mess up? What if I can't handle her behavior? What if I make a poor choice? How will this all effect my marriage? What if we weren't meant to be parents and that is why we never got pregnant? Was it really your plan to bring her here or did I just I pull a Sarah and force the situation? How will it ever work out?

God: Trust me, give me your fear, lean into my love and love her as I love you. I can take care of the rest. Go forth in joy and be led in peace.....

Me: Hey, wasn't that my devotion this morning.....so your saying I should joyously go forth and love this child with my whole heart while peacefully acknowledging no matter what happens you are in control and will be with us the whole way?

God: Yes.

Me: (Still Crying) I am idiot. Thank you for this miracle Lord, and help me to love her as you have loved me. Take all my fears and anxieties, I give our family's future to you Lord. I will go forth in joy and be led in peace. Thank you for loving me enough to hold me accountable.

It is amazing how our anxiety and fear can overwhelm us in what should be our most joyous moments. The fears I have are not that different than the fears of a bio mom, but I let them eat away at me all weekend long. My Mom loved me despite of the choices I made and her love has carried me through so many tough times. The best gift I can give to Ashley is to love her with my all heart. Whether she is here for six months or sixty years, I am counting on God to help me give her the best love possible.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


On Friday our foster daughter, Ashley, moved in. We were so nervous. I am still  nervous. She is sweet girl who like princesses and American Girl. She likes to sing to herself in the shower and to play with her dolls. She likes swimming and is an overall good helper.

When we were told about her, we warned that she is prone to major temper tantrums and oppositional defiance. We haven't seen any of that, but we are still in the honeymoon period. We are all trying to figure one another out still. Unlike the twins, she can take care of herself in a lot of basic way and that is amazing. Like the twins, she has had a lot of trauma shoved into her seven years and that isn't awesome.

She is always asking questions and trying to figure stuff out. She wants to know what is going to happen and when it will happen. Part of this is seven and part of this is coming from a life of never knowing. In the past 72 hours, we have been reminded that being a foster parent means looking at the ugliest parts of humanity.

We are still sinking in. It is a lot like the first week of school, we are all nice and patient and not sure of ourselves. Today we had a family meeting where Justin and I outlined our basic expectations and how living in our house would work. Because we were told that she had defiance issues, we are taking a love and logic + positive behavioral support approach.  Today we started trying out the behavior support part. I printed out a behavior expectations chart and the three of us picked out two goals for her to work on this week.  We also introduced a token system. If she makes good choices, she gets tokens. She can turn these in for things she wants. Her current goal is to earn 14 tokens in two weeks so she can take swim lessons.

Our goal is put attention on her good choices and respond to her poor choices with little to no emotion. We know this won't work all the time, but hopefully it can help her see that good choices garner good attention.

My favorite part of the weekend has been family story time. Before Ashley goes to bed, the three of us gather in her room and Justin reads us The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. I don't know if she likes it as much as I do, but she did acknowledge that Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund had to adjust to a new home, just like her.

Thank you for the support and prayers you have sent our way this week. It has made a difference. There is a calm in our home and a mild easiness to our interactions. I hope that we can continue to grow closer and relax together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Foster Parents

Friday evening we will become the foster parents of a seven year old girl. Ours will be the third foster home that she will have lived in in two years and moving in with us means leaving her older sister behind. She is not currently free, but the state is terminating her parent's rights. She will be adoptable in six months.

Is it possible to be terrified and elated at the same time? In a matter of about three days, we committed to being this child's parents for, worst case scenario six months to a year, best case scenario her life. I spent most of the day in a mild panic. Unsure of how I will handle work, an admin program and motherhood, I have ping ponged through emotions.

She has reading and writing issues and emotional issues stemming from her time with her biological family. What if we can't handle them? What if they are too big for us? What if we fail? ( did anyone read yesterday's post about anxiety attacks? This is what they look like)

I spent some time reading the book of Hosea tonight. The prophet Hosea marries a woman that he knows will cheat him. No matter how awful the things she does are, Hosea always seeks her out and takes her back. Their marriage symbolizes our relationship with God. His unfailing love and constant grace far out way our sinful and selfish nature. In the midst of writing my fears in my prayer journal, God reminded me to pause and listen.

I have prayed for a child in God's plan and in his timing. I have prayed to be a witness of the healing power of Christ's love. I have prayed that we would be used to give love to a child who has not experienced the support of a family. This little girl represents all of those things.

No parent is prepared to handle what their children through at them. No couple knows what type of parents they will be until they are in the thick of it. However, all good parents commit to love their kids no matter what. No caveats, no what if's, no I can'ts. For the time that God places this child with us, we are called to make the same commitment. We can do it, because we have to do it.

This situation would be much scarier if we hadn't had the twins. They taught us that we can love a child, that we can support one another, that we have an amazing support network, that we are capable of being parents. I prayed non stop when the twins were here. It was the only way to truly survive. I am excited to bring this child into our home. She is the perfect age to love Belle and sing songs, play with dolls and take a dance class or play a sport. We will have Halloween and Christmas, we will be a family. Please pray for us and join me in praising God for loving us even when we are selfish and sinful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


This is one of my favorite Dali paintings. It is called Cannibals in Autumn. I truly enjoy surrealist art, I love how the goal is to explore the images of the mind. Dali is one my favorite painters, his world intrigues me. I stumbled upon this painting when I was 21 and going through some intense therapy. I was taking an Art History class and when the slide of this painting came up, I felt like I was looking at how I was feeling.

I am the daughter of a man who suffers from extreme mental illness. My father is bipolar, depressed and, in my opinion, a sociopath. He doesn't live in this world. I imagine that his world resembles a surrealist painting, twisting and turning in on him. He has brief moments of peace, but a majority of his life is spent in a dark place. When he was a young man, there was no such thing as a school therapist or "warning signs" for depression. My grandparents had no way of knowing what was wrong with their son, or how to deal with it. My father chose alcohol as a way to self medicate, and it would take him decades to stop drinking.

When he stopped drinking, it took a long time to realize that he was mentally ill. He had been an alcoholic for so long, that no one knew what behaviors were alcohol related and what ones weren't.  When he first got sober, he slowly re-entered, or in my case entered, our lives.  When I was 12 he vanished again. He reappeared when I was 16 and managed to consistently stick around for a little over a decade. It took almost that entire time to understand that he was mentally ill and incapable of being a "normal" father.

In my early 20's, I started to have panic attacks. In all honesty, I probably had mild panic attacks all through high school, but I am very good at hiding when I am upset. In fact, my panic attacks involve me going very still and very quiet. I tend to shut myself off, go to a room or sit in the shower for a long time. I lived with Jill for almost two years before I told her how scared I was. My anxiety was overwhelming, my sense of failure pressed down on me. No one would ever love me, or accept me. I was disappointment to my family and myself and nothing I could do would change that.

It is hard to explain what extreme anxiety is like to someone who has never experienced it. It is not a logical disease. I know that getting a C on a paper does not equal failure, but in the midst of an anxiety attack I could convince myself that I should never go to that class again because I was going to fail it. Anxiety destroyed a lot of my relationships, it held me back from being successful, and it made me turn in on myself. I became like the cannibals in Dali's painting.

Ironically, my father was the first person to suggest that I go seek help. I think he saw what was happening and related. I know he was concerned about the copious amounts of alcohol that I was consuming.  Jill walked me to my first counseling session. This was the time that we truly became friends. I had been so sure that if I told her how crazy I was, she wouldn't want to be my friend. In fact the opposite was happened, she showed me what a true friend can do.

At the same time, I started talking to a guy I knew. He had also decided to lay off the drinking and make more positive choices about how to live his life. Though I barely knew him, I felt safe sharing things with him, he always listened and didn't judge. He was always there to walk me home and hang out and watch a movie.  I was lucky that he stuck around and asked me to marry him.

It took a solid year of weekly therapy to get my anxiety under control. I had to learn what feelings were and how to express them. I had to realize that there are more emotions than angry and happy. I let go of a lot of fear and slowly began to forgive my father for abandoning me for alcohol. He and I had the best relationship we could for five years. He took me to Paris.

There he told me that he wanted to take a trip with  me so that no matter what happened in the future, we would always have that memory together. When we got back to Manhattan, I figured out that he was refusing to take medication for his bi-polar issues. We had a huge fight about it. Over the next two years, we watched him slowly return to the dark place he fought to get out of. He is currently in prison, convicted of embezzling 70 million dollars, mostly from the elderly. We no longer have contact. I don't know that we ever will again.

I still deal anxiety on a daily basis. There are times in my life when it is worse. I have triggers, sitting around with nothing to do, too much stress at work, long periods of time without working out, illness.  I take medication to help control my anxiety. I fought this for a long time. I felt like taking medicine would make me look weak or admit I couldn't control myself, than I thought of my father and took myself off to the doctor.  Wellbutrin makes me a happy person. It helps me keep things in perspective. As my doctor says, you can't will your brain to change its chemistry.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

I am learning to cast my cares on Christ. To press in and lean against His strength. One of my favorite song lyrics is: "and if our God is for us, than who can ever stop us". In my life, my anxiety has often been the thing that has stopped or hindered me. As I move towards motherhood and embrace my roles as a wife and teacher, I am learning to accept and even love the quirky part of me that worries all the time.

I am also learning to give my father up to God. My Dad has delved so far into his mind that only the power of Christ's love can save him from himself. There are days when I am anxious for him. There are days when I am angry at him and there are days when I simply miss him, but there is never a day when I don't think of my Dad and pray for him.

The gift my father gave me was the ability to say that I was ill and needed help. I hope that I can offer that same gift to my child. If they are displaying signs of mental illness, I hope that my experiences will enable me to direct them towards help and to empathize with them. There is nothing more brave than admitting that you are hurting and need help.   I pray that I will continue to give more up to God and trust him to work out the road bumps that make me nervous.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pride goes before...

Why is it that just when I write a blog about patience, I am challenged to be patient? And why do I have this wise husband who holds me accountable to being patient? Some days, you just want to scream.  Yesterday was filled with pluses and minuses. Plus, I was officially accepted into PSU's Admin program and am excited to move on towards becoming an administrator. Career wise this is something I really want to do and the extra income will give us a lot of room to think about how we want to live our lives.

On the home front, we met with our social worker yesterday and she let us know that most adoptions are taking closer to two years than one. Part of this is because the state has cut her department in half and part is just the reality of adoption. It was a bit of hit to the gut. I have had my eye on next spring and now it could be the spring after that! This is one of those times when I have blogger's remorse. What was I thinking writing a long blog about the importance of faithfulness and patiently waiting for God's plan? I was an idiot! I don't want to patiently wait for God's plan. I want what I want and I want it now!

That is what I thought for most of yesterday and last night. I was just plain angry with God. How dare he? I have been patient and I deserve to have my desires fulfilled. Isn't that what he promises? As I was stewing in this last night, my husband asked me what my blog had been about? Darn him and his convicting me.  As I was trying to embrace my husband's reminder, good old Jeremiah 29:11 came roaring back into my head "plans to prosper you and not to harm you". This was followed by good old Hebrews 12:1 and "running the race with patience".

Big reminder Lindemann, this isn't about you. It is about your future child and what is best for them. It is about learning to embrace God's plan, even when you don't understand it. It is about living life with a joyful and generous heart no matter what. It is about being the best wife, daughter, sister, friend and teacher I can be.

This journey isn't always easy, but I have far more blessings than I can count.  I will continue to have faith. We are going to do respite care and emergency foster care and I am excited about that. I am choosing to put Jeremiah 29:11 on repeat and keep moving forward in faith.

Monday, August 15, 2011


There are a lot of infertile women in the Bible.  Sarah, Rachael, Hannah, Rebecca, and Elizabeth all struggle to have children. In the end, each is blessed to give birth to a child who changes the world. When I was in the darkest moments of my journey through infertility, I started reading a book entitled Hannah's Hope. It was the starting point for me finding way to a place of peace and healing.

I have been thinking about these women all day. Sarah stands out the most because she was an old woman when she finally gave birth to Isaac. God had been promising her a son for years, but she gave up hope and took matters into her own hands. She gave her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham. When Hagar became pregnant, Genesis tells us that she became bitter towards Sarah, but I wonder how jealous Sarah was of Hagar? It must have torn her apart to see this slave woman giving her husband the one thing that she could not. Was she mean to Hagar? Did she cry herself to sleep at night? We know that she took her anger out on her husband and blamed him for the situation. His solution was to allow her to mistreat Hagar and Hagar ran away.

In the desert, God found Hagar and spoke to her. He told her that her son would also birth a nation and that she would be blessed through him. Hagar listened and returned to her mistress. It was almost a decade later before Isaac was born. Isaac was the fulfillment of God's faithfulness. He would go onto father generations of Jews, and through him God's promise to Abraham was fulfilled. However, his brother Ishmael would also go on to father a nation and their descendants are still fighting today.

In a moment of weakness, Sarah gave up on God's plan and implemented her own. She was impatient and tired of waiting, but her plan led her family to experience unnecessary pain and turmoil. If she had found a way to hold fast to her faith and patiently wait for God's plan, she may have saved herself, Abraham, Hagar, and their sons a lot of pain.  I really empathize with Sarah.

My husband is constantly reminding me to be patient, and I am always having to check in and ask "my plan" or "God's plan". It doesn't always work, I forge ahead and push things. This almost always ends up with some sort of hardship or pain. Why can't I be more patient?

I feel that this journey has been specially designed for me to learn to let go and learn to slow down. Adoption requires me to trust others, keep the faith, and not give in to despair. Infertility has taught me about honesty in marriage, the amazing love that can come from truly trusting your partner with your deepest fears, amazing friendships that I am unworthy of, and that true peace comes from letting go of my plan.

I am being challenged to let go in areas of my life beyond infertility. Our marriage is a partnership, but you can't always have two people at the wheel. I am learning to give stuff up to my husband and am amazed at how this little thing has strengthened our marriage.

I do not know when my child will come, but I have faith that they will come. Until they do, I have been charged with teaching 185 children a day. That in itself is a blessing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Now it's time for so long...

Our first foray into respite care came to an end today. The twins went back home at noon. They were very happy to see their foster mom and she was excited that they remembered who she was.  It is impossible to write about the things we learned in the past 8 days. My father-in-law told me that he used to encourage couples who were considering becoming parents to "rent out" his children and really see what it is like. He is a very wise man.

Overall, we had fun. There were days that weren't as fun and we both broke down, but this experience confirmed that: adoption is the right choice for us, we are committed to fostering children after our adoption, and we will continue to provide respite care. Before the twins, the foster population was anonymous to us. As teachers we interact with foster kids, but the reality of who these children are and the precariousness of their lives only becomes clear when they are in your home. This week reaffirmed that we have been called to love some of these kids. That affirmation is important.

It also made me wonder why more people don't foster or adopt? If even a quarter of those who were able took in one of these children, it would work wonders for our society as a whole. These kids deserve to loved. They deserve to have someone who will kiss their booboos and rock them when they cry.  One of the most heartbreaking moments of this week occurred when we were trying to take pictures. They didn't know how to take a picture. We are used to kids who stop and pose when a camera comes out. These boys had no idea what to do. No one is taking pictures of their childhood. Please stop and consider what you can do now, or in the future, how can you help one of these kids out?

On a good note, the twins' Aunt has been found in Wisconsin and as soon as the State can terminate the Mom's rights ( a six month process) they will be off to live with their Aunt. She is excited to meet them and is flying to see them.  Not only do these to adorable boys get to live with a family that will love and care for them, they will grow up to be Packer fans. It as if they were sent to us to prepare them for their future.

I am sure I will have more to write later. I am happy to have my life back, and can't wait to have a romantic date at an adult restaurant.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Falling in love

It was bound to happen, two adorable little boys who are desperate for love and you can't help but give it to them. There is something terrible and magical about toddlers. They terrorize you and than turn around and give you a huge hug or smile and your heart melts. We have finally settled in at Casa de Lindemann.
We are still crowded, and teething, so there are moments of terror. However, we have had car sing alongs, and random hugs, cuddle time, and just plain funny antics. It will be hard to let them go on Saturday.
DHS called to arrange a visit with their mother this week. This will be their final visit with her. The state is terminating her rights. This means the twins will be in limbo as the state attempts to locate their father. They have a good foster family and their maternal grandparents are in the picture, but I cry when I think about the fact that they are being put into a system that could mean they never have a stable home.
Currently they spend time with their foster family and alternate weeks with their grandparents. This leads to some serious confusion about routine and expectations. They are too little not to have stability. They won't be adoptable for a couple years and I pray that they find a good family. Please join me in praying for these little guys. Pray that they will be loved and protected as they move through the system. Pray for a family that will love them and provide them with a solid foundation to become amazing men. I have never before felt so helpless, I have to keep reminding myself that these are God's children and he loves them more than I can imagine. I have faith that his plan is one of love and grace and that these boys will go on to have a healthy and happy life.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thoughts in the middle of the tornado.

1. Foster Mom glossed over some things and wasn't super honest about others. Example: "They can eat at the table and don't need high chairs." reality, they use high chairs at her house and tend to fall out of real chairs.

2. These twins remind me of Jonathan and Tim, my oldest nephews, one has brown hair, one blond, one is a picky eater, one is a daredevil and they hate and love each other very much.

3. God gives you a baby first so that when they become toddlers you are prepared. Being thrown into the middle of it is a little shocking.

4. Condo sucks for little kids. Our neighbors are crazy.

5. God Bless Caiullo

6. I have taken care of little kiddos before, Aly and I were all over NYC when she was 3 and 4, but 1 is is differant than two and Aly was surronded by people who adored her and loved her. Thankfully she never had to wonder if someone was going to leave or hurt her. These guys are wary. They were very unsure about cuddling and are just kind of angry and sad that they have been uprooted.

7. A chat with their foster mom let me know that they were drug babies. I really dislike people who do meth while pregnant.

8. They are adorable and like to take care of one another.

9.  I am a person who needs sleep and am a little crazy without.

10. I can't believe my Mom did this alone.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Respite 2 year old twins day 1

woke at 6am and drove home from Ashland.
Twins arrived at noon.
2 hr where the hell am I? fit before 30 minute nap
1 hr play time
45 minutes played at park
20 minute fit by one who didn't want to be in the stroller
10 times the other one told his screaming bro to be quiet
2 hrs playing
10 nuggets for dinner
5 sippy cups
Three diaper changes
Two baths
Two bottles
One kids asleep
The other fighting it while my amazing husband rocks him.

Our condo is too small for two year old twins.

They are adorable and the cats have been ok.
Routine is the key, Routine is the key.

I am exhausted.

Everytime a foster kid goes somewhere new, they don't know if it is forever or a week. As two year olds they can't communicate their fear, but they are pretty freaked out. I hate that they are two and have abandonment issues.

Even if we just get love them for a week, it is worth it.

I am exhausted. I love my husband. Just when we figure it out, they will go home.

Monday, August 1, 2011


No one tells you that infertility is work. Actually no one tells you that a planned pregnancy is work. There is a lot of tracking and planning. Infertility adds to the workload. For almost two years (which is almost no time in the infertility world, some women work for decades), I researched, measured, documented, timed, recorded data, advocated doctors, tried various diets, took pills, had a minor surgery, and tried to stay sane. Having a baby became my second job. My uterus was my boss and she wasn't nice. She was demanding and mean. I put in a ton of work and was never rewarded.

What I didn't know was that my job should have started five years before. When I was 25, I started gaining weight. I had intense pain in my side and went to the doctor with three ovarian cysts. The gynecologist I was seeing at the time, told me it was nothing and all women went through hormonal changes at various periods of their life. I didn't like his answer, but I didn't push for another opinion.

I didn't start pushing until I had issues getting pregnant. I went through three doctors before I got to my current obgyn. After looking at my data, my history and running tests she diagnosed me with polycystic ovary syndrome. I was happy just to know what was wrong with me. She helped me lose weight and understand what was going on. She focused on infertility and gave me the best treatments possible. However, she also let me know that if the doctor so long ago had pushed harder, I may have prevented scarring on my ovaries and fallopian tubes.

I went as far as we were willing to go with medical infertility. To be honest, we could have gone further, but it is exhausting. I just didn't want to do it anymore. I have no regrets that we tried, and I can't go back and change the choices that I made so long ago, but I wanted to share this to encourage others to check in with their doctor and be honest when you want another opinion.

If you are my age, do not assume that everything is ok. Our generation has had more issues with pregnancy than any before us. It is hard to deal with infertility, but watching my best friend suffer through preeclampsia was awful. As children, we were exposed to toxic levels of hormones in our milk and meat.  A majority of women are fine, but make sure. Be proactive about your health. I wish I had taken some time to put some work into that earlier.