Sunday, August 16, 2015

Blessed Be Your Name

We sang this song in church today.



Take a few minutes and listen to it.

It's powerful, right?



It was a reminder to me.  A reminder of how good God is.  He is the Creator of the universe.  He is the Supreme Being.  He created me.  You created you.  He created ethnicities.  He created cultures.  And countries.  He is good.  He is with us in tough seasons and in joyful ones.

I wrote this blog post over a year ago on the day J left my home to return to her biological family after being in my home for 8 months.  It was a tough day.  It was a tough season.  He was with me.

I am looking forward towards being a foster mom again.  I'm not there yet.  Foster parenting is a hard road to walk, but the Lord has instilled this passion inside of me for the fatherless and even when tough, it is a sweet place of joy to know I'm doing what the Father has called me to do.

So, as we sang this song this morning, I pondered.

I'm not walking a tough season right now.  Oh, sure.  I'm starting a new job.  I'm changing schools and grade levels and managing a side business and jump-starting a foster mom support group,  But, I'm not walking a tough season.  Yet, I'm not walking my purpose either.  Not yet.  I'm working towards it.  I'm exactly where the Lord has me to be.  He's preparing me for something bigger.  He's preparing my heart for my season of purpose as a foster mom again.  But, I'm not there yet.  This song still applies.  Blessed be His name.  Whether I'm walking a season of suffering or I'm walking a season of abundance flowing or even if I'm walking a season of in-between.  Blessed be His name.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Dream

I attended Launch Out this weekend.  If you don't follow Jon Acuff on Twitter and Facebook, you should.  He wrote Quitter and Start and from those books and the conferences and Start Experiments he led, birthed a community of people that encourage dreams.  Sometimes our dreams run parallel to each other and sometimes they intersect, but nonetheless they are dreams and we are chasing them.  This community of people provide encouragement via Fb groups and Google hangouts and throughout these platforms, friendships are born.

This weekend, we met IRL for a conference like no other I've attended.  We didn't know the speakers until months after we purchased our tickets because only attenders could present.  We didn't know the details or the schedule until we arrived.  And that was 100% okay.  We were coming to meet friends.  We were coming to dream dreams.  We were gathering in Music City, USA to Launch Out into the Deep.  As David Dollar said this weekend, "Jumping is easy.  Leaping is scary."  We are all leaping.  Different directions.  Distinct pursuits.  Similar emotions.

My dream is to foster again.  I turned 35 this month and that number was a tad hard to swallow.  (Blah.)  I'll admit to being conservative and traditional and sometimes that means boring.  Well, being a single foster mom is NOT boring.  (I assure you.)

And, there you have it folks. That is my dream!

I've done it.  Well, part of it.  I've lived the dream of fostering.  It's hard and heart breaking and amazing and my heartbeat and disgusting and sordid and sorrowful and beautiful and loving.

I want to do it again.  But a little differently this time.  I want to be able to work at home and foster children and be all present when they need speech therapy and occupational therapy and homework help and outside tutoring and play therapy and doctors' appointments and....Kiddos from hard places need support, Y'all!  It takes a village in so many means and fashions, and I want to be fully present.  I want to be fully available; not just emotionally supportive but physically supportive with enough energy, too.  Well, as a single and as a teacher, this has not been possible.  It still isn't, yet.  But, one day.  My dream is to foster again, as a WAHM (work-at-home-mom.)  I am pursuing a network marketing business with Young Living Essential Oils to be able to do that.

I've always been on the low-end of the self-esteem spectrum.  I have a friend that tells me, "Well of course you're a single foster mom.  You're Alyssa Ross.  You can do anything."  She said "You're Alyssa Ross" like that meant something.  Like I was a somebody.  I've never felt like a somebody.  I'm the face that people don't remember meeting.  I'm the one that listens and works in the background with logistics and schedules and plans, but is never on stage.  I'm the one that organizes and gathers and instigates and then lets the extroverts help everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves.   But I'm learning that is okay.  I can be the gather-er and not the main act.  I'm still somebody.  I can be single and also be a foster mom.  Those life stages are not mutually exclusive.

So, that's my dream.  To be a foster mom.  In my own home.  Close to my family.  While working a job I love with a group of people I adore to serve the God who created me.

What's your dream?  Are you chasing it?  Join us.  We'll encourage you along the way!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Foster Care: My "Burning Building Why"

As many of you know, I have recently started my own business, Alyssa's Drop Shop.  It has been an exciting time full of learning and building friendships and watching my health and my family's health improve.

I first got into Young Living Essential Oils because J, my foster daughter, was not a good sleeper.  It typically took her an hour and a half to fall asleep and we were up 4-5 times each night anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour.  A friend gave me a bottle of Lavender and told me to put it on J's feet.  I have never liked the smell of Lavender and had no clue how much to use (and felt stupid asking) so I put it in my spice cabinet and practically forgot about it.  (And continued NOT sleeping).  Fast forward about six weeks, it's 1:00a.  We haven't been to sleep yet.  I stumble downstairs and grab the bottle of lavender, willing to try anything at this point.  I put some in my hands and rubbed them on her feet.  She fell asleep a few minutes later, but I was skeptical.  Was it because it was now 1:30 in the morning?  Or was it really the Lavender?  So, the next night I put some more on her feet.  She was asleep in five minutes.  FIVE MINUTES, Y'ALL!  And we were awake only once that night for about 10 minutes.  Um, yes!  YES!  This I can handle!  Lavender is now my favorite smell EVER!  (Not really, but you get the point.)

When I found out that Young Living Essential Oils could also help with my seasonal allergies, I was hooked!  We had some ice days, and I headed over to Chrissy's house.  J played out in the yard with her kiddos while we talked oils.  I enrolled as a wholesale member to get my Premium Starter Kit and enrolled in Essential Rewards to get cheaper shipping and points back for free product.  I was thrilled!  We could start sleeping!  We could have some calmer evenings!  This was huge!

I didn't start pursuing the business avenue of Young Living for another 7 months.  I mean, extra money is great, but I didn't see myself as anyone that could possibly remember enough of how these products work or what to use them for or anything like that.  Our family hadn't been naturally minded previously and this whole new world was opening up and frankly....it was overwhelming to the extreme!

Well, I started seeing the benefits of YLEOs and I started seeing a little bit of income come in and I started learning about network marketing.  One of the things I started talking about with my team is a "burning building why".  WHY am I pursuing this business?  If I was standing on a rooftop of a building and my children were on a burning building across the way and I only had a small beam to use to get to them, I would not hesitate to save my children.  What is my motivation to grow my YLEO business?  WHY am I pursuing this as a business?

Yes, I love the products.  Yes, I believe in this company and the integrity they stand behind.  Yes, these products have helped my family and me with headaches, sore throats, sinus infections, cramps, sleeping, stress, emotional balance, memory, focusing, weight management, bug bites, scalp psoraisis, cuts, scrapes and so much more.  But, why am I pursuing it as a business?

Well, here's my burning building why.  I want to be a foster mom again.  My entire life I have wanted to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom.  I would love the grocery shopping, meal prep, laundry and homework help.  I would enjoy having a garden and going for bike rides after school.  Of course, traditionally being a SAHM means one is married and one's spouse earns enough income for this to be financially feasible.  Cue the background, in case you don't know, I'm single.  SO.  That's kinda always been a moot point  Not married, so no other income coming in.  And, not married, so no kids.  I mean...dur!

Except, I've been a foster mom as a single and while it was HARD, I now very much know it is possible.

And now a whole new world has opened up to me.  I can be a work at home mom.  I can earn enough income to cover my expenses and those of little ones that the Lord blesses me to know and love for however long they're in my home.  I'm not there yet.  I'm growing my business right now.  But it's coming.  My burning building why is to buy a home, go through the rigor-moral to get licensed again and open up my home to little ones that need love.  Yes, two parents is ideal.  But as a lovingly honest friend once told me: "One healthy parent is better than two abusive ones."  Truth!

So, if you're super skeptical about essential oils, that is A-OK!  I was, too!  If you're interested and have questions, I'd love to help you find answers!  If you're already naturally minded, then great!  But it's okay if you've never even heard the words "essential oil" and have no clue what they're for or how to use them!  I was the same way!

Maybe you also love foster care or adoption and would like to help support that.  I would love to talk to you more about that, too!  I believe the Lord has called us to help the widows and the orphans.  I take that call very seriously and Young Living Essential Oils are helping me to answer it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Smiling through tears

Her precious laugh still rings in my ears.

I remember one day.  I had a meeting at the admin building after work and came back to school to pick her up from after school care.  I walked in the front doors and smiled at the worker letting parents in.  We were in the beginning stages of exchanging pleasantries when I hear "ALYSSSSSSSSSSA!" and turn to watch her run the last ten yards or so to fling herself into my arms.  I swung her around and we laughed at the joy of being reunited at the end of our days.  It was a day I will always remember.  Always.  The overflowing joy that she brought to my life.  The heart-smiles I was blessed to experience because she was there.

Her picture is in several places around my  home.  Throwing leaves up in the air when we went to Lake Ouachita last November.  Her school Kindergarten picture.  A precious, sweet one a fellow teacher made for me in secret on the playground at school when we knew she was leaving.  Her hand-prints in red paint for last year's Valentine's Day.  Her presence is every where.  Kindergarten had their nursery rhyme parade recently.  As these precious little ones walked in, I remember how hard she worked to practice Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and how proud she was to dress up in a pretty white dress with sparkles and put silver glitter in her hair.  I roll my eyes and laugh with Sara because her daughter and J poured glitter on each other and all over my classroom the morning of the parade while Sara and I were in a parent conference next door in Sara's room.

She left last year about 9:00a on Valentine's Day.  The transporter came to school to pick her up.  We had all of her belongings in my car and loaded all the boxes and precious items into the transporter's car and she chattered with her brothers after giving me butterfly kisses and Eskimo noses.  Then I waved, walked back into my classroom and away from my heart.

Valentine's Day is a day to love.  A day to laugh.  A day to remember the blessing the Lord has bestowed.  This year, I remember her and my heart smiles through tears at the memories we made.    

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

People Affect Us

Poof!  A cloud of flour and sugar puffed into the air when I turned on the mixer, and I was immediately transported back to a time, just a week or so together, that J and I were baking Lemon Squares.  I'd someone forgotten to raise the mixing bowl and the entire box of powdered sugar, it seemed, flew all over me, her and the kitchen.  Her eyes flew to mine, because she thought I'd be mad.  I laughed and tickled her and she ended up practically taking a bath in the sink since she'd been sitting on the counter to be able to see into the mixer and therefore was absolutely covered.  It was a fun, light-hearted moment for us, but a telling one for me, too.

She's on my mind all the time.  I'll see a Hello Kitty jacket and smile knowing how much she would like that.  I'll be walking around the creek by our house and see a little girl learning how to ride a bike with her dad and remember times we did the same thing.  She was in my life for 8 months, and she's been gone from me for 10 months now.  Longer than she was with me.  But she will be in my heart forever.  Her impact on my life was enormous, to say the least.  

We all impact the lives of the people we touch.  It makes me want to be sure I'm leaving the kind of lasting impression I want to be remembered by.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Life Change

I have decided to discontinue my work on my doctorate degree.  This has been a tough decision, because I'm not a quitter...yet, I'm quitting.  Honestly, that's been a point of pride.  As I met people and loved making contacts with people across positions in a variety of school districts, I was encouraged about the direction education is heading.  Let's be honest.  Some things need to change in education.  And I see some of those changes happening.  I see other changes on the horizon and it's exciting to see and to be a part of.  Yet, this degree was in Educational Leadership, meaning most people want to be a superintendent.  I do not.  So, the more I talked with others and the more I learned and the more we read books on leadership, the more questions I had about if this was where I needed to be.

I talked with a former professor, who understands my heart is vocabulary and teaching curriculum courses some day, and she said I would be pigeonholed into teaching educational leadership courses since many people with this degree are superintendents, thus universities need professors to teach these courses.  I don't want to be pigeonholed into teaching a course I don't want to teach.  

So.  I love the cohort model.  I love the idea of starting a process and seeing it through to completion with one group of people all along the way.  I am not a quitter.  But it doesn't make sense to stay with something that could potentially be the exact opposite of what I need.  So, I'm discontinuing the program.  

I was talking with a friend a month or so back.  My dad had just had triple bypass heart surgery and my grandpa's health was rapidly declining.  I said something along the lines of "This has been a rough couple of months."  My friend kindly, wisely and succintly said, "I think it's been a rough year for you."  

Well, now that you mention it.  J left in February.  I tested, applied and was accepted to a doctorate program in the spring.  I sold everything I own and moved in with my family in July.  I started a doctorate program in August while beginning my 13th year of teaching (We can definitely call August "busy season" for teachers.), my dad had heart surgery at the beginning of October, my grandpa passed away at the end of October and I'm quitting my doctorate in December.  Yes.  Yes, I think 2014 might have been a rough year.  Moving in with my family hasn't been rough at all.  In fact, it's been a humongous blessing.  But change, and some stress with the selling/boxing/moving of everything.  

I was talking with a dear friend on Tuesday and confessed I was limping along until Christmas break.  I love talking with her.  She's known me for over 10  years and loves me dearly.  It's nice to be known...you know?  She compassionately said she didn't think anyone would question it at all if I huddled under the covers and hibernated for a bit.  

Ok.  Don't mind if I do.     

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Children provide writing material

I haven't posted in a long time.  I was thinking about that the other day.  How therapeutic writing was for the time J was in my home and then the time when she left.  Children definitely provide writing material!

Don't get me wrong.  Life has definitely not been dull since she left.  I applied and was accepted to a doctoral program.  I sold almost everything I own and moved in with my parents.  My dad had major heart surgery and my grandpa passed away.  Life has had it's ups and downs this past few months.  But I haven't felt the burning need to write like I did when J was being boisterous and fun or my heart was tender regarding something happening in her case.

Hmmm...maybe I'll start writing again anyway.  Or maybe something will happen soon that drives it. ??