Thankful

I’m not back from hiatus, not really.

I just felt so overwhelmed that I felt I needed to blog about it. 

In the sanctuary of our church, there is a banner that reads, “If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that would suffice.” I can’t remember who said it. 

Today, Erin walked down the stairs with her arms held up in the air triumphantly.  She just finished her last class of graduate school. Ever. She passed her big test and her final presentation with flying colors and now all that is left is to get her degree. 

She’s done, and she only made one B in the entire two years. I can’t believe her journey is ending already, but I’m so proud of her for making a commitment to her education and sticking to it. Education is so so so important to me, so I’m happy it is for her too. 

Now, she gets to start her training for the next phase of her career, which includes, at some point in the relatively near future, a substantial pay raise. She’d technically make enough to support the entire family, but I want to continue teaching, at least for now. 

And since both our kids are older, I can do that without any problem or added expenses at all.

I am so thankful for the way the Gods have worked everything out in perfect timing to the benefit of all. 

  • Our daughter and our son were placed with us almost two weeks ago and will get to start the school year with us. 
  • We were able to get out son into a better-for-him school that is closer to where I work. 
  • Because of the way that the placement occurred, our kids were placed as “foster kids” so we get the benefits from the state to help them transition. 
  • I have enough graduate school hours to get my next pay bump. 
  • Erin is graduating and will be able to advance in her career. 

Being a family of four has been so awesome, and sometime either this year or next, we’ll start trying for #3, but that will happen when it happens. 

I. Am. So. So. So. Thankful for all the blessings. The happiness that my heart feels right now with having two kids is indescribable. And now with Erin done with school… I want to hug my heart. 

All that’s left is for me to finish school and then we’ll be, I guess, living that stereotypical “American Dream.”

Personally, I feel like I’m already there. 

But I wanted to share because I felt like I could burst from excitement and happiness if I didn’t write it out.

Now to bed. The we and the kids have a busy day tomorrow. 

Blogging Hiatus

Hey Everyone!

I haven’t been updating here recently because things have gotten crazy with my home life and the addition of two kids, one 13 and the other 9, on Friday.

This is mainly because our 13-year-old turned around and had surgery on her right leg to remove some hardware she’d had placed after an accident before she was placed with us.  This was an overnight stay in the hospital, and it was a long 48 hours.

She’s recovering well and able to move around, but with my promotion at church, school starting back next week, my daughter’s inability to move well on her own fully yet, Erin graduating from school in less than a month, and my classes about to start again… I don’t have a lot of time to come up with actually good blogs about my spiritual path.

It’s not because I’m not practicing… It’s just that I’m practicing, but don’t have time to write about it.  The biggest things going on in my life have to deal with my personal life and my family, so running this blog and my other blog is not feasible.

With that said, if something spiritually awesome really happens or I come up with a topic I feel like writing about, I’m sure I’ll blog here again.  If you want to keep up with my life as a lesbian pagan in the south with two kids, please feel free to e-mail me at kel.henry 85 @ gmail.com and I can give you that other address.

Peace and Blessings to you all!

Kel

Blessings

We have had a crazy busy couple of days. 

Our placement was on Friday, so we are now officially a family of four!

We started a nightly reading routine, and our son immediately told us that he was unable to read. He is nine years old, but because of his past, his education is severely lacking. He said he didn’t know how to read, but Erin read to him and he knew a few of the words. 

Same thing last night. 

Tonight, Erin picked out three books and he picked one. Then he got a shock: he was reading to us. 

And he did it. Every single word. And it was absolutely the most amazing thing I had witnessed up until that point. The three of us (our daughter included, who is 13) were so excited, so he decided HE wanted to read not one, BUT TWO MORE books. 

I wanted to cry. 

Then our daughter saw how excited we were about his reading that she wanted to read, so I picked out a story by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and we alternated chapters. We read nearly 30 pages in the book before she was too tired to continue. I was so so so proud of her. 

Our son wants to buy more books to read. I can’t even accurately describe how exciting this is to me. 

Reading is so vital to a kid’s education. And if we can get them pumped about reading, then they are going to do so well in school.

I. Am. So. Thankful. For this day. 

Two Years Ago

I opened my Facebook today and immediately saw a memory picture of Erin and I smiling while holding an ultrasound. Today, two years ago, we announced we were adopting. It was, at that time, the most liked photo I had, and it routinely shows up in the top ten of most liked photos overall.

Last year, when I saw it, I wasn’t sure that I would ever be completely okay on this day when it popped up. When that adoption fell through, it was crushing to me.

But a couple weeks later, after the day the adoption fell through, a friend from church approached me about an older girl, in foster care, that needed a family to love her, and maybe we should consider adoption because families are all made up in different ways. I told her it was too soon. I needed time to heal.

The days that followed, that little girl kept popping into my life, and I told the Gods that if this is what THEY wanted for our life that THEY would make the way.

Months later, my wife approached me independently about adopting her. And the next week we made the call. We flew through the process faster than any family our licensing specialist had ever seen, and now…

…Two years to the day that we announced we were adopting…

We signed the papers that we received their history and still wished to proceed.  We made plans for this girl and this boy to move into our home in 48 hours.

We started this process in January, and now both foster care and adoptions believes we’re the fastest family to move through the process.  I keep thinking to myself, “Well, this is what THEY wanted for us, so I’m not surprised we moved so quickly.”

There’s a sign on my door that, while faded, says, “All my children have paws.”  Time to take it down and replace it with something else.

I guess I was wrong last year. I guess I will be okay with today after all.

The Gods have a funny way of working things out.

Divine Timing

There’s been a lot of ups and downs in my life the last couple of months.  My summer graduate classes are a little overwhelming, and one of the professors is a down right jerk sometimes.  There’s been some issues with my financial aid, which we thankfully got worked out so I’ll graduate.  Erin’s been stressed with her graduate school stuff coming to an end in the next short amount of time.

And then this adoption.  Oh, this adoption.

We’ve been fighting back and forth with people about placement before the start of the school year, and they kept pushing back.  It has literally been a “Yes, placing them before the school year starts is ideal, but you haven’t done steps two through four yet.”

But we’re foster parents, legally…

“Yes, but that’s not how we do things.”

But if they lived with us as foster parents and then we tried for adoption, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

“Yes, that is correct, but that’s not what you’ve done.”

Well, we couldn’t have…  can’t they just be placed with us?  You place children in adoptive families as foster children all the time.

“Yes, I know, but you aren’t approved by our office yet.”

BUT WE ARE APPROVED BY DSS!

This has been the cycle.  Over and over again.  We had this amazing plan, and up until this point, we’d felt that this was the path the Gods had wanted us on.  We made this call back in January and ever since then, the doors to foster care and adoption just kept opening and we kept sweeping through them.  We got through the process so quickly that our foster care licensing specialist told us that she’d never seen a couple go through the process so quickly.

Well, that’s what happens when you’re on the path the divine want you to be on.  Things just keep happening your way.

Until they didn’t anymore.  Until my faith was tested so much so that I started wondering if these Gods even really existed.  Y’all, it was bad.  I have never in my entire life felt like the Gods weren’t there looking after things.  I’ve never felt so alone in this Universe, divinely speaking.

I spoke with the foster mother about my frustrations and how things just… didn’t seem to be working out.  I was so disappointed that we weren’t going to get them placed with us before the school year started, and so upset about how stupid these regulations seemed to be (even though I know they’re in place for a reason), and so worried about what it was going to b like to not have some time to get into a routine without school going on.

“Look,” She told me, “Spirit has gotten you two this far so fast. This is obviously the path you are supposed to be on.  I know that Spirit’s worked it out this far, and it’s going to work it out in the future.  I know it’s hard to be patient, but things will work out.  I know they will.”

And then things didn’t change.  I tried really hard to hold on to that, but it didn’t seem to help.  Things weren’t changing.  And they just kept getting more stressful.

I was starting to feel like everything around me was falling apart, and it is times like those where I’m so thankful that I married a strong woman of faith.

She helped keep me together, and prayed when I didn’t feel like I could.

She prayed last night.  I’m not sure for what… peace, clarity, shit to come together, whatever.

Today, our phone rang.

Today, we got the call that they want to read our future daughter and future son’s histories to us so we can formally accept them.

Today, we found out that in nine days… NINE DAYS… our family will be a family of four.

Before school starts.
As foster children while the adoption goes through.
After my summer school classes are complete.
After Erin’s major final test is done and over with.
Before our daughter’s foster mother has to move, but not so much before that our daughter’s things will create added stress.
After our son’s birthday, so he celebrates with friends and not complete strangers.

At the absolute most perfect time for all parties involved.

When I called my bestfriend Amy and told her the news, she started crying on the phone because of how happy she was for us.  We’ve been waiting for so long… and things were so no going the way we wanted them to.

She said, “Kel, you and Erin always say that things will work out for you.  And you always believe it.  Your faith is so strong in the Gods you worship, and it always pans out for you.  It doesn’t matter how bad things seem to be, you two always find a way and you always come out on top.  The Gods you worship are real, and they work amazing things in your life.  They are always, always looking out for you.  It is so awesome!”

I’m pretty sure that was exactly what I needed to hear.

Now, with the countdown beginning in earnest, it’s time to get the small things left around the house done… Because our family is DOUBLING in less than two weeks!!

The Fall of Perry Noble

At this point, this is old news, but between the adoption, graduate school, and trying to catch them all, I haven’t had much time to blog about this topic.

About a week and a half ago, a local news group reported on NewSpring church, of which I have written quite a few times before.  Okay, so it’s four, but in specific topics, NewSpring has been up there on the list.  Generally, my responses are about how I think Perry Noble, the lead minister, is wrong and why.  Perry Noble and I basically never see eye-to-eye on anything, which is pretty amazing in my opinion.  I can usually find something to agree on with someone.

The local news group reported that NewSpring church had had some super secret meeting that no one was privy to except those immediately involved.  They also mentioned that the church’s automated response was to “tune in on Sunday.”  This raised a lot of questions for me, the main one being that this local station must have some sort of spy action going on because this meeting couldn’t have stood out from any of the other countless meetings that I’m sure the church had.

NewSpring has been known to go above and beyond to “get people in the seats,” and part of me wondered if this was just another one of their poorly thought out publicity stunts.  This was when I starting seeing the rumor mill begin to crank into action.  There was all kinds of things about the reasons why, but the major theme was that Perry Noble had been fired.

I went to church last week like I usually did so that I could get the classrooms set up for Sunday School, as part of my job as Youth Education Director, and completely forgot  to check in on what the big news was.  When my teacher came in for second service, she told me that Perry Noble had been fired.

Fired.  He didn’t step down, he was pushed out.

A church that touts about “all are welcome” removed their senior pastor from his position.  The irony of that statement is not lost on me.

However, I completely understand why they made the move they did, and also think they handled it the best way they possibly could.

Perry Noble is sick.  In his statement to the church, he mentions just how sick he is.

Perry Noble is an alcoholic.  He suffers from addiction, a sometimes silent illness that can and will creep up on the individual who has it.  Addiction can take many different forms, but they’re all characterized by one common trait: a dependency on a substance that begins to effect your life in a negative way.

His dependency problem began to affect his ability to be a good pastor to the members of NewSpring.  I speak from the point-of-view of those who regularly attend NewSpring here because my definition of a good pastor does not necessarily include many of the things that Perry Noble preaches.

He mentions that he plans to focus on his family, which has also been affected by addiction, and to get help to get better.  I sincerely hope and pray that he follows through with these statements and is able to get better.  His addiction will never go away, but he can learn the tools to fight it, and that is what he needs.

I do not, in any way, wish ill of him.  While he and I do not meet eye to eye on a lot of things regarding faith and spirituality (and I will go as far to call him completely 100% WRONG on a lot of things), he has, from what I can gleam literally saved the lives of some of the people in his church.  He honestly believes he is doing the work of God.

Just like I want love, happiness, and wholeness for all people, I want it for him too.

What happens to NewSpring going forward will be an interesting story to watch unfold.  The church has already stated that Noble will NOT be allowed to come back as senior pastor or even be allowed back on staff.  With everything he invested in the church, I doubt he’ll just come back as a visitor/member.

And this decision by the church has already had some fairly negative reactions by members.

NewSpring refers to its members as owners to give them a greater sense of responsibility.  This responsibility is spilling into a “shouldn’t we get  say in if he can come back or not?”  Some have mentioned how it doesn’t seem very forgiving to not allow him to come back on staff (true) and that it feels like a really presumptive decision to make about what is best for the church when they don’t know what God’s plan is (also true).

And apparently the new minister, Clayton King, has a bad habit of screaming or shouting a lot from the stage.  There’s been more than one comment about how it is bringing back bad memories of experiences from church times past.

Personally, I would not mind NewSpring to get knocked down a peg or two.  I do not wish harm on any individual person within this body, but this body as a whole is preaching and living some pretty nasty non-truths that they are passing off as truths.  It’s highly unfortunate, and a smaller body may help bring down the community effect the church tends to have.

Whatever happens with NewSpring, though, my one main stronghold is this: The Gods are working, and I know they are working for the good of all involved.  I hope and pray for Perry Noble’s healing.

The Next Steps

“Hey, love.”  I rolled over to face my wife as she got ready to leave for work.  “I hate to wake you up to this… but I was checking the news before I left and another black man was shot and killed by a police officer.  They were pulled over for a broken tail light and his girlfriend video recorded the aftermath.”

I sighed.  I didn’t know what else to do.

“She said stuff like, ‘Please, God, don’t let this be how he goes.’  There was a child in the back seat.”

I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach.  This makes the 115th black man to be shot and killed by police officers this year alone.  My heart breaks for the 115 families and friends who are now grieving and mourning the loss of their loved ones because some cop somewhere decided that it was within his or her right to execute a person without a trial or even an arrest.

And then, to make matters worse, a picture starts floating around of a white guy with his hand on his gun facing a cop, and the cop is trying to talk the guy down.  Had that white guy been a black guy, his name would be added to the ever growing list.

Then tonight, there’s Dallas.  Ten or eleven police officers have been shot.  Three, as of the last time I checked, have died.  It was at the end of a BlackLivesMatter protest, and as much as I hate violence, and I feel bad for those families, just like I feel back for all 115 families, I can see why it came to this.

I don’t like it, but I can understand.

If you’re going to bully a people into submission or start executing them without probable cause or justification, they are going to push back.  Especially if they have asked nicely for help and not gotten any.  Then acted out non-violently and STILL not gotten the help… Yeah, violence is the next step.

Maybe the snipers felt they were protecting the people in the protest from a person or persons they felt were going to do them harm?  Sounds kinda like the argument the police use all the time to justify why they overreacted and SHOT unarmed and subdued black men.

After the response of the privileged majority to Orlando, I finally personally really understand the struggle that POC face when it comes to things like the BlackLivesMatter protests.  I understand their anger.  I understand the rage.  I understand all of it.

And I would probably be in a similar situation if people who were supposed to protect us were killing us on the streets like they are POC.

::sigh::  I don’t know what else to say.

I had a meeting with the minister today in which he told me the plans for the Youth Ed department and reaffirmed my position as the leader.

It comes with some added responsibilities, such as reorganizing all the files and getting everything streamlined, but I like organizing, so that part should be fun.  They want to get enough coverage so that I don’t have to be in the classrooms anymore so that I can supervise.  That would be fantastic.

I’ve been checking my bank account on a regular basis to see a check clear, and it did today!  This is awesome for me because it means the state accepted my Notary application.  Not only am I ordained through the Universal Life Church, but I’ll also be a notary public, which means, for South Carolina at least, I’ll be super-legal in the weddings department.

Two of my friends are getting married in August, and they’ve asked me to perform their wedding, so I’m excited about that.  I was talking to it with a woman a church, and she told me her daughter is getting married, so I may end up doing theirs as well.  I also started to advertise on a national pagan website, so maybe I’ll start bringing in a little extra cash on the side.  Who knows?  (Yes, I realize that I can’t charge more than $5 for the actual act of notarizing something, but the travel/preparation/ceremony stuff is allowed.)

I wrote out a list of everything I needed to do today, and I got most of it done.  I probably would have gotten more of it done if I had… you know… not downloaded Pokemon Go! this morning.

Talk about a time suck.  It’s bad, y’all.

But my team is pretty kick butt, and Valor pretty much owns this county.  I feel good about my life choices.

Yeah, I’m a nerd.

Told The Parents…

So now it’s getting real.

H22

The Gods’ Plan

Funny thing about my Gods…. They tend to be looking out for my best interest regardless of my mood or feelings towards life in general. 

I’ve always been they type of person who puts way too much on themselves.  I always complete what I set out to do, but I’ve spent so much of my life stressed out that I’m not so sure my body knows how to be no stressed out.

For example, in high school, my schedule wasn’t working out and it left me we a gap class. The school was going to let me be a teacher’s aide or even just go home, but I took Psychology 101 instead. And that was with two AP classes and an honors class and art school. 

My mm said, “one day, you’ll learn to take a bird course.”

But I didn’t. And I still haven’t. 

I’m a full-time teacher. I’m one of the only Genetics teachers in my district and now I’m taking up Chemistry next year for the first time ever. I haven’t taught chemistry since I was student teaching, so I have nothing. I’m still in graduate school (so is Erin). Erin and I are in the late stages of the adoption process for a sibling group. AND I’m still the youth education director/coordinator at our church. 

June was a crazy month for us. I was feeling a little overwhelmed because the adoption process was not (and still isn’t) going as fast as we’d like it to. Our soon-to-be-son is going into fourth grade, and changing schools is going to suck for him… But unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it can be avoided anymore. 

Money is always budgeted and it feels like every time we start getting ahead, something breaks or car maintaince is due (see my other blog later for all that). I realize that’s life and being a homeowner. It’s hard to adult sometimes. 

And my responsibilities at church are high-stress this time of year as people go on vacation and travel and so on, so help has been on the down swing. I had a week where I kinda snapped and broke completely down. 

I cried. For the first time in a long time, I really honest to Gods cried and got it all out. I’d been holding on to so much because Erin is just as busy as I am, if not busier this time of year, and I didn’t want to add to her plate… But I snapped, and I cried, and I just let it all out. 

I felt so much better. 

With how crazy our June schedule has been, I’ve been working overtime for church and then missing Sunday’s because we are out of town or some other plans and I wasn’t feeling well right after school got out (this happens every year where my body crashes for a few days). So today was our first real Sunday back in the swing of things. 

And my minister sat down to talk to me while we prepped the room. 

“Hey Kel, I’ve been meaning to talk to you so I’m glad you’re here today. I spoke to the board, and we want to offer you a raise.”

It’s essentially three times what I am currently making. If I break it into hourly pay, it is just over $10 an hour. I was really shocked. I definitely didn’t expect this type of conversation.

And it felt so wonderful. I felt needed and wanted and appreciated. It was an awesome feeling. 

And the church is starting a volunteer drive next weekend, so I feel heard and validated. I feel like my needs are being recognized and met, and it is so awesome. 

When we got home after church, there was a package on our door with two large bags of cat food. We’ve been fostering a cat and the food her mama sent us will set her cat and one of ours up for a long time. We also go a visit from the mama of another cat we are fostering with money to help cover some of the expenses… Neither of these things we asked for. 

So I feel like blessing me are just raining down today…with how crazy this past month has been, it’s definitely not being frowned upon.

One of these days, I will get back into my regular “teaching” style of blogging… But until then, I’m still here and the Gods are still working. 

1 Year!

1 Year since marriage equality came to the entirety of the states. 

1 year since we said I DO!

And to celebrate, a couple pictures in front of the places where it all went down:

Outside the Supreme Court

Outside the Supreme Court


Wedding Day 1 year ago!!


Wedding Day 1 year ago!

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