Sunday, October 29, 2017

The messy side of prematurity

In the NICU we learned about the medical risks of prematurity - how to keep their health stable. We learned about the physical risks - their vision, hearing, muscle development and risk for cerebral palsy. The area we didn't talk much about? The neurological and emotional risks...those are hidden disabilities and challenges that can make some of the other risks be handled in stride or a tougher battle. 

From birth each baby was so different! Sure, as they've grown we can tell which parent they take after more or collectively that our kids our connected...but even before that, Brennan was sweet and laid back, Landon was happy and unpredictable and Brooke was intense and more temperamental. They're maturing, developing and gaining skills, but those personality traits have served them well.

Fast forward to mastering skills, communication, making choices, critical thinking, impact of friends - that's neurological and emotional. One kiddo struggles regulating emotions, more than the others. Ironically, that's often associated with prematurity. This kid is wired uniquely, perceives things uniquely and needs uniquely. Though they were born a set, they're so different.

When emotions are regulated, situations happen, conversations happen, decisions can be made pretty evenly. When they're not regulated, emotions get in the way of how those situations are perceived, how communication happens, whether or not decisions can even be made...

This past weekend was a breakpoint for that one kiddo. It was messy, really messy. Emotions were raw and all over the place. The last week or so, was kinda like an emotional highway...some turns and hills and some straightaways.  Saturday all bets were off - strategies weren't working, they were just get more emotional and less thoughtful until it clicked.

After the breaking point and we got the kiddo into a relaxing bath, their emotions starting coming down, like the other side of the mountain...they accepted (and did) the consequences they had earned and spoke calmly. While they were in the bath though, I went back to the kitchen where the breakdown happened and was struck by the mess...Kleenexes, balled up paper, pencils and notebooks, so many emotions, frantic, and overwhelmed - then the Bible verse reminder for the upcoming week defining and describing LOVE. What a day for that verse to be our tone for the week! 

Themes throughout the service Sunday was compassion, entering into each other's pain and how much we need God and being Christ to others. Just the conviction I needed...this afternoon, this one was in a great mood to learn and we went through 8 tips to control emotions. We talked about so many emotions (like a bazillion - their words!) slowing down to feel them, recognizing how situations are impacted by emotions from their perspective. They were unbelievably thoughtful, compassionate and kind!  I'm sure we'll have a ton more conversations and hopefully they'll be like this! This one is beautifully made - the intensity that helped them survive, though a challenge now, will be a force channeled for love so deeply and fully!

Writing this more for me to process and remember than anything (!) but it might resonate with some other families in a "mess" right now. As a parent it's so hard to try to continually teach and explain, (often feeling like it falls on deaf or unwilling ears), but how incredible when God works and helps them understand! He knows how we're uniquely wired, made and gifted and will remold messes into creations. (I'm sure He's working on my heart, patience and perspective as much as them handling their emotions!) Saturday started pretty awful, but this weekend ended with lots of beautiful moments! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God moves in incredible ways!

When God moves so deeply, you can't help but share! Our family has grown in so many ways this last month - starting new routines, middle school (yikes!), new abilities and our family grew by two! In all this growing, we certainly craved normalcy, things to stay the same, but by taking a step back - there's no way not to change! We're constantly on this journey...our entire blog is called Pollak Family - We're Growing for good reason! :)

In all this change my faith has been made so real and grown so much! Much more than just concepts I believed. Nich & I really do make a great team, and I've learned there's no small way of doing things for us :) Yes, our plates were already full with our family, work, volunteering and other commitments, but God's call was so strong and He's provided the resources, endurance, patience, balance, etc to make things work and to know we're following and doing His work. Last November we felt a strong calling to become a foster family and for the last month have welcomed 2 little boys to our home. Plates became fuller, our dependence and God's grace much more abundant! :)

Over the years, there's been many times God has been so real to me - giving direction when options seemed cloudy, rest and comfort when I'm weary, and contentment when I'm anxious or jealous. Preparing us. This last month, God has been moving in us to blindly, intentionally, willingly follow Him. As a family, we've faced challenges that made us doubt whether we were still on His path, what He has for us, question our willingness (even out loud!) and situations led us to be humble, broken sometimes to utter dependence and in a prime spot to be ministered to. My ears, eyes and heart were ready and so hungry to hear from Him. He reminded me of His power, plan and guidance way back to Moses in Exodus - "You need only to Be Still." God's at work, orchestrating so much more than we can see! I I need to be listening, ready, praying for discernment for when He's ready for me. That's an incredible place to be! 

Last week was especially tough and we ended up with a pretty critical & stressful moment for one of the kiddos, and through this wrestle, God surrounded us with such affirmation my heart was about to explode! It was definitely a Kingdom moment - the message at church last week seemed to use scripture, song and reflections of past lessons that God's already worked through to culminate all my doubts and worries and He took them. I was such a mess! :) He loves us so much and I believe is so eager for us to follow without hindrance the life He has for us, blessing and serving others, and gives us what we need to do His work! So often we miss the opportunities because we get so caught up with the worries and day to day of this world that we don't "raise our gaze heavenward" and get a chance to do what we were truly made for!

Man, I hope this conveys the joy and just life I've felt in the midst of such tough stuff knowing we're doing what we're made for! What a God we serve! 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The next chapter!

Foster care has been on many of our hearts for years...sometimes for a brief time, sometimes on a couple of ours, but this past Thanksgiving God put a heavy tug on mine, Nich, Hailey & Brooke's at the same time. We prayed about the timing, our family, the agency, the logistics (!) and felt such a peace and direction that we knew this was the next chapter for us!

It's absolutely amazing to see how God works; looking back it's easy to see how the seasons and lessons He's brought us through has prepared for this next step. Surviving and managing life with many young kids will help us acclimate others into our care. Balancing medical & development issues with typical kiddos has helped us see each kid uniquely, think creatively, trust God and ourselves, savor moments and get our work done quickly! It's also helped our kids be more understanding, patient and compassionate with others. We've been blessed with this house and have room to share and supportive family & friends too! Personally, I've grown (and continue to grow!) in ways to accept and love the life God's given me and to trust - He has a beautiful plan bigger than I can see and He's got it under control. A few years ago I wrestled with not serving in a ministry, but He reassured me that timing was to minister and build up my family. We'll always have areas to grow and challenges to face, but I believe the kids have a good foundation...we got through a tough season and are stronger, even more ready to serve as a family!

After several months of learning and licensing, our family was officially licensed  to care for foster kids Friday! Our home is prepared, our hearts are ready and we're eager to welcome kids into our home! We'll likely be ready early July!

Please pray for our family that we continue to seek God during the transitions, continue traditions and conversations. We're prepared in our heads - pray that comes out in our hearts and lives in the moment as we care for new kiddos!