Monday, January 13, 2014

Victory in Jesus.

Believe it or not, I was dreading today a little bit. Due to reasons too numerous to mention, A is currently unable to attend school, and is staying home during the day indefinitely. We are hoping the papers from his last school will be in sometime this week, meaning he would start school sometime next week—but, until Friday, Blake is finishing work at his “old job:” which means it’s just A and the baby and me. Granted, I have a lot of help here at the Ranch should I ever get overwhelmed.

Last night, A had a pretty rough night. Other than the first day he was here, he had pretty much had a rough night every night; also, the last time we were alone together, I spent half an hour sitting on his bedroom floor while he ignored me from the confines of his burrito-blanket. Needless to say, I was definitely bracing myself for what this day would hold.

I decided to keep him as calm as I could for as long as I could. After discovering he really enjoyed reading books he could understand, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I figured it would not be too difficult to get him to read quietly. I have a children’s Bible that I picked out for Adeline after hearing Blake’s mom read it at our Girls’ Retreat for the youth girls last year: The Jesus Storybook Bible. Side note—this kids’ Bible has got to be the best there is out there, people. It’s paraphrased perfectly for a young audience, and it teaches the truth of the Bible so beautifully and simply for a young person. It helps that the illustrations are really neat, too. Anyway, I thought A might be able to read it, and we could do our “quiet time” together.

I got my coffee, my Bible, and my prayer journals all together on the dining room table, and sat The Jesus Storybook Bible and two journals for A to choose from beside me. He looked skeptical, but when I told him he was going to write prayers to God just like he writes letters to Dad and me, he seemed intrigued. I showed him a story to read in the kids’ Bible, then wrote a few things on the side of his journal to help him know what to write about: Thanks!, I’m sorry for…please forgive me, I feel…, help me to…, pray for others.

After he read the first story, he said he liked this Bible because he can understand it, and asked if he could read more. To which I said, “No you can’t read any more Bible stories what a waste of time obey me!” “Of course you can!” So, he read two more stories. His favorite was the Daniel and the lions’ den story. Later, we did some math, and I asked him if he knew how to multiply or divide.  He said, “I know some multiply, but my teachers always give up on me because I’m stupid.” Well, I don’t know about that, but he knows a lot of multiplication if you give him time, and he definitely isn’t stupid.

In spite of how much I had prepared myself for another “incident” or argument or whatever to happen today, it never did. A was, comparatively, extremely well-behaved today. We watched a movie as a family tonight, and he fell asleep. When it was time for bed, he went straight to his room and went back to sleep. I kept staring at him most of the day and thinking, “Is this the same kid that was living here last night?”

All this to say, I’m still learning about God’s grace. There were so many things said today by A that stopped me in my tracks (and not the kinds of things that are followed by Blake or me saying, “we don’t use those words” or something similar). And who knows—maybe half of it or more is fabricated or altered by the world through the eyes of a 10 year old; but either way, it reminded me of the hope the Ranch gives to boys.  The beauty of the Ranch is that it exemplifies the hope of the Gospel in a tangible way—a new start, a chance at success, an opportunity to live again.

It’s still just Day Six, y’all. Welcome.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hitting the Ground Running

This blog name is inspired by our boys’ love for the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books. A likes to read them to me—it was one of the first things we did together when I picked him up from school on Thursday after a misunderstanding on his part. And to think, that was only two days ago.

Wait, this is only day four?

Shawnee feels like a distant memory. Four days ago, it lingered in my mind similarly to the way the smell of a dead skunk on the road lingers—even after you have passed it, it still stinks. The smell finally begins to fade and you’re like, “Phew, that smelled awful. Glad that’s finally over.”

But, we all know how it goes. When the going gets tough, the grass on the other side gets greener. So, today—after a long day of NOT being angry and our house boys NOT being in trouble and “hey A, are you feeling overwhelmed?” and talking to our boys through their closet doors—I thought, “Shawnee didn’t smell that bad.”

Then, like a wisp of smoke from the bonfire both houses gathered around to roast hot dogs tonight, the thought vanished. I began to remember feeling the walls of our tiny house shrink around us as we prayed for our Promised Land. I remembered the first time I saw our boys’ pictures on my iPhone screen and lovingly thought, “You’re going to drive me crazy. It’s going to be awesome.” I looked around our big house, and the big ranch, and the big eyes of our boys, and how many big smiles Adeline has had since we have been here, and knew that this BIG adventure is where we are supposed to be.

Our two boys—who will be referred to as “A” and “T”—are in bed now after a long day. A is going to turn eleven in about twelve days now, and T is going to turn ten next month. Having younger boys is fun, but also exhausting in its own way. Their anger and other feelings are difficult for them to navigate. The only way they seem to be able to express themselves clearly is through writing notes. In only a few days, I think we have had four or five notes passed under their doors to us.

It is amazing how abundantly God grants His love to those who ask for it. There have been multiple times today (well, since Wednesday) where I prayed, “Lord, please give me grace in this moment,” and within minutes I see some reminder of the love the boys are asking me for, and my heart does a somersault. The Mom in me wants to come to their rescue. The Mom in me also wants to ground them; but lovingly, of course.

Four days, y’all. Welcome to The Ranch!