Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Four Years Later...

It's so hard to believe that it's been four years since life was turned upside down. This post will be about my thoughts and feelings over the past four years... not so much about the kids themselves. I will do individual posts on them at another time. I'd like to think I'll start blogging again on a regular basis, but really time will tell.

I documented a lot of our first year with the kids on this blog and I'm thankful for that because a lot of it is hazy at best. Life got easier with the kids after that, but hard in just about every other aspect. Chuck lost his job at the end of 2009, and that was really hard. Losing a job sucks, but losing a job in ministry is losing more than a job. It's like losing a family, too. We were hurt and sad and it was really a blessing in disguise when Chuck couldn't find work in Virginia (which is hugely ironic with his military background... it's just obvious that it was God's plan for us to leave). It would have been hard to stay in the area while trying to heal emotionally.

We moved out to Las Vegas to help start a church. That was easily the most humbling and depressing time in my life. We stayed with friends until our house in Virginia rented out. We couldn't raise enough financial support for Chuck to do only ministry work and it took until the end of April for Chuck to get his job with Veteran's Affairs. Our financail situation was terrifying, though I learned that God really does take care of us. I recently realized that my kids really saved my life during that time. By the end of January I was suicidal and the only thing that kept me from acting on that was that I didn't want to leave that legacy for my children. The biggest take away from that time period is that I really can trust God to take care of me and my family. The only thing I have to do is seek God and not give in to the fear that wants to keep me from Him.

Chuck went away to Police Academy for 5 weeks in June and it was during that time that I learned who my truest friends were, and they were the most unlikely people! While Chuck was away he texted me one day telling me there was an opening in Ann Arbor, MI. I didn't even reply to his text because I was dead set against moving again. However, two days after he came home from Police Academy, I realized that I wanted "to go home." And home, I found, was Michigan. Chuck's transfer and our relocation were seamless. Things just fell into place and six weeks later we were in MI.

Our first year here was HARD. Really hard. Our marriage was at near collapse. The house we moved into was really too small for our family. And the winter was intense. Tons of snow, inclement weather and just dang COLD. Seven months after moving here to MI, we moved one more time into a house better suited for our family and also in the school district we desired. Chuck and I did some marriage counseling, but things were seriously touch and go for a while there. For me, it became another opportunity to learn to trust God and find out that He would take care of me no matter what. I was able to go to Haiti on a mission trip in July and it was such an awesome opportunity. I was able to meet with Noah and Samuel's birthfather and share pictures and artwork and learn more of their story.

During this time Chuck applied for some other government agency jobs that put us into a waiting/holding pattern. Relocating was likely and the possibility of that hampered me putting down roots here. I was able to get involved in a MOPS group and some Bible Studies. I also was able to make new friends. Hard as I tried not to, those roots began shooting down and by February this year I realized that while I might hate the climate here, I don't want to leave either. The kids are tied in well and have really benefited from having family close by.

I should pause here and mention something about where I've been spiritually through all of this. When the kids came home, life came to a screeching halt. I had almost no time for trying to build my relationship with God. So, no surprise, when things got really hard in late 2009, I wasn't able to tap into God's strength. I really believe that's why I was so distraught when we first moved to Las Vegas. During the time I lived in the desert, I was in a spiritual desert as well. The wounds from Chuck's lost job were fresh and so very painful. I felt very isolated there, especially so while Chuck was at Police Academy. When we moved to MI I got into a Bible Study that met every two weeks. I was very guarded during that first Bible Study, and didn't really share with the group. I kept mostly to myself and was fully aware that I didn't trust the ladies in my group and expected them to judge me. In January I joined a different Bible Study and then joined MOPS in February. I got into a good routine and it was good for me to get out and be around people. I slowly began to pray for God to give me new friends and that prayer was answered. One day at Bible Study I shared that I had been praying for that and one of the girls I was in MOPS with asked me and the kids over for dinner that night. I remember vividly how thankful I was to God for answering that prayer. I have continued to stay active in MOPS and that Bible Study. I made it out of that spiritual desert, but it certainly took time. God really has healed my broken heart, my broken marriage and continues to show me that I really can trust Him in all things.

In April of this year we learned to trust God in new ways when the tenants in our house in Virginia stopped paying rent. In the last few months of cleaning up their mess, putting the house up for short sale, shelling out money that we don't have, but manage to come up with and watching our credit score plummet we've realized that God does take care of us. Having our credit destroyed, not paying a mortgage that we promised to pay, and realizing that foreclosure might become a part of our story... well, we've decided to keep our eyes on God. And thankfully, Chuck and I are doing that together.

The last four years have been rough. This year I feel more okay than I've felt through all of them, even with the financial stress from our house in Virginia. I have reached a place of not worrying about judgement coming from others. In fact, for the most part, I really don't care what others think of me anymore. The path to that lesson has been a hard one, but I endured it and I'm thankful to be here.

I'm glad to share that I finally feel like we are a "normal" family. Noah and Samuel have overcome so many fears and worked hard to get on level with their peers. When they first came home I could not see this day of being a normal little family. God is good.

I hope to do updates... with tons of pictures... soon :)

Monday, June 13, 2011


Saturday we crossed a unique parenting milestone. Tristan was the exact same age, in months and days, as the twins were when they came home from Haiti (34 months).

When the twins came home, Tristan was three weeks old. We were brand new parents, so the heaviness of all that we had missed with the twins was there, but we had no experience to back it. We just knew we had missed nearly every day of their lives up until that point.

And on Saturday, I looked at Tristan and thought about how I just know him inside and out and how I barely knew Noah and Samuel at that same age. I didn't know their most ticklish spots yet. I didn't know what they were afraid of (quickly learned that was just about everything...). I didn't know how they slept at night or what they liked to eat or what their favorite color was. Nothing. I knew nothing. I didn't even know if they were potty trained.

Adoption is a beautiful, wonderful, horrible, thing all wrapped into one. When I look at Tristan, I just can't imagine not knowing every little quirk about him. But that's the truth about Noah and Samuel. I'm not terrified of Tristan (well, not most of the time...) like I was of Noah and Samuel. It's just such a huge thing to wrap my mind around, and yet we lived it and continue to live it.

We've gotten to know Noah and Samuel intimately. We know their quirks, their fears, their favorites and their dislikes. Samuel HATES bananas. I love that I know that! But there are still questions... like why does one of them lie all.the.time? What brought that on and how do we best help him? What are the scars from at Samuel's forehead hairline? Who was born first? And on and on.

To be honest, I was very careful about how I publicly gushed over my newborn. While I was very excited to have all three of my little boys come exactly when they did, I questioned God on why He would allow a newborn to take some of the spotlight off of our sons' homecoming. And I was so worried that people would think I loved my bio son more if I gushed about him. So I kept quiet.

I will tell you that as hard as it was to have all three kids come at once, I absolutely adored being a mother to a newborn. Being handed that perfect baby straight from God was one of the most awesome things I've ever experienced. So was being handed my twin sons in a sweaty, scabie infested orphanage at 8 months old! But I was afraid to gush for fear of being judged.

And my gosh, have we experienced our fair share of judgement! If ever you want to be judged harshly, just have kids. It has brought on more judgement than I ever encounted during my party years of college (when I deserved to be judged harshly).

This has turned into a bit of a ramble, so I will bring this to a close. I really just wanted to document this milestone within our family. Celebrate it, mourn it. It is what it is and I continue to put my trust in God and His perfect timing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Marriage Statistics

Whether you're married or not, you've probably heard the statistic that 50% of marriages fail. And I've heard in the past that the statistic for Christian marriages is slightly higher.

So, why is this?

I don't think I have the answer to this question, rather I have more questions.

I'll begin with the people who throw this statistic out. I've heard this stat over and over from pastors, counselors, marriage seminars and "helpful" people. And usually I don't hear much of a solution proposed with the stat. Or, if there is a solution offered, it is often a pat answer like, "respect your spouse." Or, "Marriage is tough. You have to work hard." But, what exactly needs to be worked on?

A lot of things!

If 50% of marriages fail, than at least 50% of people heading into marriage today have not had a good example of what a successful marriage looks like. If a person enters marriage carrying baggage from their childhood or a previous marriage, that is going to cause problems. Because I have adopted children, I think of the trauma that so many kids experience. And if that's not worked through, that's brought into marriage. Self esteem issues, addictions, health issues, and on and on. "Working hard" for some couples is a lot more work than for others.

One can spend a lifetime working through issues of the past. If there is not healing, it will effect the marriage. And when you have someone unwilling to work through past issues, there is often resentment from the other spouse. And just how do you work through issues?

For me, there has been tons of counseling, 12 step programs, behavioral classes, Bible studies, accountability partners and much prayer. And I'm still messed up! So, what's the answer? How do Chuck and I keep from becoming a statistic?

The answer I've come to: Run to Jesus. Run after Him and seek to be like Him. In my opinion and experience, it's the only real answer that will work. Jesus is completely capable of healing people... He has a good track record. I'm not saying that you need to go to church and get healed. My experience is that I need to be in a daily relationship with Jesus, seeking Him daily through prayer and study, and following the guidance I receive. For me that has meant a whole lot of outside help through the various mediums I listed above. There are so many resources out there, all saying different things, many contradicting one another. If I'm following after Jesus and seeking His guidance, I find that I'm led to the resource or person that I need in that season.

So, I hope that it doesn't seem like "Run to Jesus" is just another pat answer for how to have a successful marriage. It's so much more than religion or going to church. I have found that true healing and behavior change in my life has been the result of seeking Jesus... seeking to be more and more like Him and accepting the guidance I receive from Him and being willing to do what I need to do to find healing.

Marriage IS tough. But we don't have to be another failed statistic. If two people are willing to do whatever it takes to work things out, healing and restoration is possible. Believe me, I know.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Perception and Grace

Something that's been on my mind for the last few months has been perception. I've realized that what I think about a person, overall, is usually based on very limited knowledge. Of course, there are some people in my life who I know very well and I spend a great deal of time with them, so this doesn't apply to that type of relationship. I'm talking more about acquaintance-type people.

I'll give an example. There's a couple I knew who were going through a really rough time. They had kids and were basically sticking it out for the kids' sake. So, I've perceived this couple in that light because I didn't know anything beyond that. What I've learned is that they have a beautiful marriage today. They are some of the most in-love people I know. But, up until recently I thought they were really rough.

And unfortunately, for me, these types of perceptions sometimes keep me from recognizing who a person truly is today. I don't give them a chance, in my head, to do or be something different. I sometimes base what I know about a person off of knowledge from years past or a single event. How can I know who they are today?

So, that very sick person who hurt me 5 years ago... can I judge them? Do I really know who they are anymore? Should I warn others to keep their distance?

Something beautiful about life is that there's opportunity for healing. The healing I've experienced in my own life through the work of Jesus is a-ma-zing. Don't get me wrong... I still mess up and I still hurt people and I certainly don't have it all together. But... who I was 12+ years ago is not who I am today. And I'm sure there are people out there who knew me back then and have no idea who I am today and judge me based on what they know. That used to haunt me. It used to really matter that there might be people who think that's still who I am. And thankfully, God has removed that concern from my heart.

So, what God's been showing me is that there are people in my life who I have opinions about based on old information. I have no idea who they are today or what they are doing. So, I need to let go of that old hurt and be optimistic about who God is helping them become. How liberating is that? I've been HURT, if you know what I mean. But to embrace this new idea lends forgiveness that I've never been able to feel (I've decided to forgive in the past, but haven't felt it).

The coolest thing about God is His amazing grace. It is unfathomable. And because God has shown me this new light in which to view people, I'm able to extend grace to people and situations that have been humanely impossible for me in the past.

This goes the other way, too. You see, people disappoint. Just recently, someone I held in high regard showed themself to be selfish and self centered (just like me!). And at first I was really shocked. But now that I've had some time for the feelings to settle, I realize that this person is just being a human. And today I choose not to view this person by just the most recent information I've gained. I will allow this person to be one of God's kids, on a journey toward healing and becoming more like Him.

I truly feel like a weight has been lifted from my heart. Like I'm able to love better because of it. I am once again humbled by who God is and how He works in my life.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I've really been blown away by the support and encouragement I've received as a result of my last post. Thankfully, I've not received any negative feedback.

To know that people care about us, truly care about us, and are actively praying for us is humbling. Putting it all out there didn't come easily for me, but I'm glad I did.

Chuck and I are continuing with counseling and that is showing promise in it's effect on our marriage. We are both putting forth an effort... at the same time... and we are hopeful.

I'm doing Beth Moore's Revelation Bible Study and it is awesome. God is drawing me close and I'm not pulling away. My desire to spend time in the Word is returning and I feel like I've been given new eyes when it comes to some passages I've been reading. God is good!

I went to my first MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) meeting this week. I felt awkward during the social and craft times, but the speakers were a couple who've been married for 40 years and they shared about what keeps them going. Rather timely, huh?

In other news... we are buying a house! That means another move (ugh), but it also means that we will be able to settle into something that is our own. You can buy for cheaper than you can rent here, and we're not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, so we are taking the plunge. We will be 6 blocks from my sister, on the same street, and 8 blocks from my mom and step dad. The house is zoned for the school the twins go to (our current house is not), so they will attend the same school next year regardless of what type of classroom they end up in (we are thinking that they will probably repeat Kindergarten, but in a regular K classroom as opposed to the special eduction class they are currently in). We are actually buying the house from friends of my sister and brother in law, so it won't even go on the market and we won't have any real estate fees :) They have lived there for a little over a year and he is joining the Air Force.

It is really neat the way this has come together. I remember talking to my sister a year and a half ago when she told me her friends from Idaho were moving back and would be just down the street. I remember feeling a twinge of envy because I wanted to be just down the street from my sister. And then, when my sister's friend learned we were moving to MI in August she told Christi, "Wouldn't it be awesome if they bought our house?" Yes, it would be awesome :)

So that's what's going on with us. Again, I so appreciate those of you who have reached out to us. The blog, email, and Facebook notes have meant more than you can imagine.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Raw Ramblings

I keep telling myself that I need to blog. I feel guilty when I don't. But, the truth is that the words just aren't there.

If you read the posts over the last 2+ years, you know things haven't been easy for the Cason Family. Three kids, two relocations, a career shift for Chuck... the list goes on.

While the kids have thrived through all of that, well us grown ups... not so much.

The last few years have been extremely painful. There's a lot I just can't or won't blog about because I don't want to point fingers or point out the wrongs of others. I try to keep my finger pointing directed at myself and take note of where I'm wrong and how I can clean my side of the street.

I feel like I've become jaded. I put distance between myself and others. I don't get close. I over-analyze things. I prefer to be alone most of the time. My time with God has diminished to nearly nothing. I believe in Him. I trust Him, but there's no hunger to spend time with Him anymore.

My marriage has taken a beating the last few years. Again, no finger pointing or blaming. We are in counseling. We've been given a resource with some new ideas. I pray that we can use some of these ideas to break some old patterns that we've developped. We've struggled over the years, but never like this. It is hard not to feel hopeless. There's a big part of me that doesn't want to put that out there. It's embarrassing. I know there are a few people who read this blog who might like to see our marriage fail. But, I've learned that honesty... gut level honesty... is the only way to move ahead. I know that God is absolutely capable of redeeming our marriage. If you'd pray that for us, I'd be so grateful.

So, if I don't blog often please realize that we are going through some things. If, upon reading this, you feel the need to judge me or offer advice or leave an anonymous rude comment... go for it. We've experienced all that and more over the last few years.

I'm not sure many people read this blog anymore. I know that I tend to move away from blogs that don't post often. So many people supported and encouraged us through our adoption process and cheered with us as our children finally arrived. I feel like you all deserve to know a little of what's going on in our lives now. I just don't have much energy to blog anymore, but I just don't feel like shutting down the blog is the right thing to do.

It's my prayer that we'll come out of this on the other side, stronger and with a faith that moves mountains. Thanks for journeying with us this long.


Monday, November 08, 2010


It's so hard for me to believe that Noah and Samuel will be five tomorrow. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is easy for me to go a while without quietly sitting and thinking of how far we've all come. Not too long ago we were sent an email asking if we'd be interested in 10 week old twin boys. And now they are five??!! How can that be??

The wait to bring Noah and Samuel home was agonizing. There were times I thought I would truly lose my mind (and if you ask Chuck, he'll probably tell you that I did lose it!). It's true... once you have them home all that pain of waiting evaporates, though I will never forget it. For us, we were so dang busy with newly adopted twins and a newborn that we couldn't really see straight, let alone think straight. For about the first 18 months of being parents we operated in complete survival mode. I was on high alert for a loooong time. Plus, we went through so many changes in that timeframe. It seems like we are just now settling in as a family. And that is SO nice.

Noah and Samuel are Kindergarteners this year. Michigan has a really late cutoff date for school, so the boys were eligible for Kindergarten this year. I would have kept them home if it weren't for the program that they are in. They are currently in an early childhood developmentally delayed Kindergarten class. The goal is to ready them for 1st grade, but if that doesn't happen, they will repeat regular Kindergarten. If Noah and Samuel weren't so tall for their age, I wouldn't think twice about just having them do Kindergarten next year. But, they are the biggest kids in their class and I don't expect that will change. I want them to have confidence in school, and I'm concerned that they will be WAY bigger than all their classmates if we hold them back a year. That may very well happen if they aren't ready for 1st grade, we will see.

Both boys continue to blossom... and grow! They were in size 6 clothing long before turning five and I'm now buying size 7 shirts so that they still fit in the spring. Michigan has these wonderful sales called Mom to Mom sales. I would be so broke clothing these kids if it weren't for those sales! I think I've only ever bought two pairs of jeans brand new. The rest have been given to us or I've picked them up at Mom to Mom sales. These sales are such a blessing... and it's fun to get out and bargain hunt with my sister!

Noah is such a social little guy. Often he will hang out and chat with the adults rather than play with other kids. He just wants to be where the talking is :) His language and ability to express himself continues to amaze us. If he doesn't understand something, he asks what we mean. It's hard to believe we once could barely communicate with him! Unfortunately his robust personality gets him in trouble sometimes at school. We have our work cut out in that department! Both boys LOVE books. They love going to the library at school each week and picking a book out. And I enjoy buying them books through Scholastic each month. I hope they grow to love reading like I did.

Samuel is such a neat kid. He's not at all social like Noah. He does like to play with other kids, but doesn't NEED to be around others like his brother. Samuel does really well with self play and imaginative play. He's always flying something around and telling me what the things are in his hand - his imagination impresses me! Samuel is settling in well at school and has never had any behavior issuses. My mom comes over every school day and works with the boys on their letters. We are so impressed by how far they've come. It's neat to see them identifying letters and writing them!

Both boys are infatuated with Toy Story currently. We saw Toy Story 3 in the theater over the summer (for free!) and they got into it a little bit. Since moving to MI we've busted out the old VHS tapes of 1 & 2 that Chuck's parents so generously gave us. The boys have loved watching those two movies for the last month or so. And tomorrow they will open Toy Story 3! Most of their presents are Toy Story toys. I'm so excited to see their little faces light up tomorrow night!

So, tomorrow at dinnertime we will head to Caesarland, which is like Chuck E Cheese minus the mouse (Noah is terrified of the mouse, and therefore Chuck E Cheese). Just our family is getting together for dinner, cake, and to watch the kids run and play. N & S have only been in school 5 weeks, so it seemed odd to invite their classmates to a party. Next year we will be sure to do a friends party for the boys :)

Noah and Samuel are some amazing little guys. They are almost always kind and loving with Tristan (unfortunately he doesn't reciprocate that well... I guess that's two years old for ya). They rarely fight. Their energy level has definitely picked up and they sure can make some noise. They continue to be good eaters and try new things. They've both recently decided that vegetables are yucky... funny they never said that until they started school! Tonight both boys had seconds of meatloaf... I think Samuel had thirds.

Thank you to all our friends and family and those on the internet who've prayed for these two special little boys. They are such a gift. They may make me crazy most of the time, but I really wouldn't have it any other way!