The Trinity Revisited

26 Jan

Well, I did it again! I stepped into another discussion about the Nature of God and was branded a heretic, not a “real” Christian. And, I was accused of spreading lies about other people’s faith. The discussion started on a facebook page devoted to people who consider themselves politically libertarian who are self described Christians. I didn’t think that was the appropriate place to argue theology and decided to defend myself on my personal blog. I have only been a part of that group for a short time. I have been told twice by two different members that I am not a Christian. I find it discomforting that people who espouse with their words (and sometimes with their vote) that they believe in freedom and liberty would not allow others the gift of free thought.

trinity_artworkI consider myself and monotheist and reject what I have been taught is the “right” Trinitarian view of God. I didn’t always assert that I was a monotheist. I accepted the church teaching on the tri-unity of God. Then, I was given a wonderful gift. I adopted a child who was not successful in the public school system. I brought her home to school and in the process I learned a lot! We were studying art when I encountered Hendrik van Balen’s The Holy Trinity. I had, of course, seen this before. But, this time I was looking at it with purpose. The illustration was supposed to be a jump off point for our discussion about God. How would I respond? My first thought was, “That isn’t what I believe.” I believed in one God and assumed that is what my church taught. As I studied further, I realized that I had never understood what my church taught. I found the illustration above in notes from an adult Sunday school class in a notebook I kept with old sermon notes. I read that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons of the Trinity that are co-equal and co-Eternal.

For several years, I have studied the Hebrew Bible, the Apostolic Writings and the Church Fathers in my attempt to understand the nature of God. The God of the Hebrew Bible created space and time and is not limited by them. He is incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipowerful. This is the God I worship with a sense of wonder, fear and awe. I believe in the Holy Spirit as the power of the one God, not as a third person of the Trinity. There is not one example in the New Testament of worship being directed at the Spirit of God.

Despite the fact that the Ancient Church inherited from the Jewish heritage a disdain for pagan idols, she worshiped Christ as the image of God. Being several centuries removed from pagan Rome, I doubt we can ever fully grasp the significance identifying Christ as the image or their God. This was not an idol of silver and gold, the work of man’s hands! Christ was the very image of God revealed by God. The incarnate, crucified and risen Lord!

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

~ Romans 10:9

I have been blogging since 2006 and I have written about my views on the Trinity three times. Sometimes I think I should just drop it, but then I read something like, “The Kingdom and Throne of our Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven and the earth is His Footstool” and the writer reference Isaiah 66:1. That verse isn’t about Christ. It is in the Hebrew Bible and is talking about the incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipowerful Creator God, the one Christians call the Father. We, the corporate we that includes many people in the church, are confused about the most basic aspect of our faith who and what we worship. And, I think this error results in behaviors and thoughts that are unflattering at best and just plain old sin at their worst.

First, I know I am a very visual learner. I know also that I like ideas and concepts that are small enough to fit easily in my brain. It would be very tempting and easy for me to right size God by focusing on Christ. He is more tangible, more manageable. But, that would be worshiping the image and not the God. It could easily become idolatry. I have chosen not to use icons or statues in my personal worship. It is one of the tools I use to help me stay focused on the wonder, fullness and bigness of God.

Second, there seems to be a “humanization” of the incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipowerful God that people use to lift up a human attribute as better. There is a male Father and Son that is used in paternalistic cults to lift up maleness and masculinity and to subjugate femaleness and femininity. There are white gods and black gods to lift up a race of people. The God of the Bible is neither male nor female. He is not defined by or associated with a racial group. He is Creator of all.

Last, I don’t believe American Christians have a clear idea or understanding of Christ as Lord and King. As members of the body of Christ, we are all theocrats: we all live under the headship of a king. Our kingdom values have been outlined for us in the Sermon on the Mount. We have already submitted to a ruler and we should not give our unquestioned allegiance to any political party or human government. Our future hope is already secured. We don’t have to vote right or make sure the right man is in office. We don’t have to use our combined political strength to interfere with other people’s right to self determination. Our kingdom is not of this world.

Some people might read this and think, you are using different words, but you are really a Trinitarian and you can think that. I already know that any truly orthodox understanding of God must be able to articulate itself in light of what is found in Scripture.

“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

~ 1 Corinthians 8:6

But, kicking me out of the fellowship of Christians? I don’t believe you have biblical grounds.


18 Jan

The before scary kitchen:

The Before Kitchen

The room to your left is the dining room. Yes, that is cheap pine siding. No, it doesn’t match the trim in the rest of the house. No. It isn’t staying.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

Well, if America were a Christian nation or a nation of Christians, perhaps some things just wouldn’t be. Adam dug into the ceiling at the farm site. The previous owners had engaged in a legal dispute over a roof leak that wasn’t disclosed at the time of the sale. Adam and I replaced the roof. The man who sold it to the previous owners did this.

This is not the right way to fix a leaky ceiling

Fixing the leak is so last year! First, jam a piece of plywood up there to catch any water and hide it from any prospective buyer. Next, cover the shoddy repair job with new drywall. Now, you know this isn’t going to last long. So, just to be safe, drill dry wall screws about every 4 inches are so. You don’t want the drywall sagging until after the new buyer signs on the dotted line! Finally, spray a whole bunch of popcorn ceiling texture all over the ceiling. Yes, I know that no one uses it anymore, but it makes the ceiling appear as if it has been there forever! All the black? Why that is black mold. Thanks, a lot!

Our first renovation disaster.

Along the edge the “repaired” ceiling, you can see the lovely green checked wall paper I spent an entire afternoon removing for naught! The strip that remains was behind the ceiling trim.  That wall is coming down too which means another day of wasted work. What you probably can’t see in the photo is that the wall is covered with some weird embossed hardboard. There is a layer of drywall under the embossed hardboard. Why in the world would anyone cover dry wall with weird hardboard? I suspect we will find more water damage when we pull it down.

Then, the stove vent that went through the roof leaked. When Adam tried to move out the old stove, the bottom drawer was full of rusty baking pans floating in water. So there was mold on that wall too.

I had planned on taking down the wooden cabinet valences and painting the cabinets white. Renovating kitchens is expensive; I assumed it would be one of the last rooms we finished. The custom cabinets that the kids and I worked hard on to wash away years of grime and grease are nailed to the wall. There is no way to get to the wall to repair it without knocking the cabinets apart. It was my plan to live with the kitchen.

Deconstructing Custom Cabinets

Or not, Adam started knocking out the cabinets. He is taking photos as he goes so that he knows how to rebuild them. I have spent a lot of time on the computer reading about rules of kitchen design and dreaming of my new mold free, not scary kitchen. I have a document called The Home in My Head. I add to it almost daily and then email the changes to Adam. I may or may not be making him crazy!

We can’t afford to implement my plans until we sell or rent our current home. When we move to the farm house, I will have a free standing refrigerator, a free standing stove, a sink that sits on a temporary pedestal and a few counter tops and shelves. Adam had actually built a whole bunch of cabinets for the basement in the house we are living in now. They’ll be moving with us!

But, can you all believe it? I am going to one day have a custom built kitchen! I am keeping my eye on the prize!

Mice Wars

10 Jan

WARNING: This post contains images of grossness and dead things.

We are renovating an old farmhouse. And, by we, I really mostly mean Adam. My work has been mostly wasted, a token really reminding Adam that I am with him in the dream of moving to more acreage. I have been working with the kids, involving them in the process. I hope to gift them with a sense of ownership. I want to excite them about the possibility of living on 10 acres of land that is zoned for agriculture. I know that the move is going to be hard on them. They are used to being able to walk down the driveway and find friends there. That isn’t going to be true at the farm site. Their friends will be a drive away and only available during planned play date.

The kids and I cleaned the main floor. I knew it was going to get messed up again during the renovation process. But, the house littered with mouse droppings, dead flies and spider webs. It wasn’t safe to work in. There were also plentiful live “Daddy Long Spiders,” Asian Beetles and Box Elder Bugs. After we cleaned, we returned the next weekend to start the process of removing the old, dated, peeling wall paper, borders and wall decals that were glued on almost every surface. I was horrified to find new, brand new, mouse droppings on the kitchen counters. I went to the hardware store and bought two traps, baited them with peanut butter and left them confident that I would catch the ONE mouse I imagined lived in the house. The next day I checked and there was a dead mouse in both traps. I found the same thing for three days in a row! I went back to the hardware store and bought more traps. I was worried there were mice wandering around that couldn’t find an available snap trap to explore!

Adam decided we should keep track of how many mice we were catching. He created not-a-scorecard on a piece of scrap wood. He swears he didn’t mean to set up a contest. But, he put my name on one side and his name on the other and drew a Mickey for each mouse we emptied from the traps. The kids immediately saw it as a contest. Damaris is a born competitor; she was determined to get the farm before Dad could to check the “trap lines” so that we could get ahead. I encouraged this behavior by adding “& kids” to the not-a-scorecard.

Mice Wars

Look! It’s a tie!

Well, it was a tie! Twelve all! A total of 24 mice that would not be leaving their potentially lethal, potentially  Hantavirus containing droppings in my house! Our catch rate slowed to a trickle. It had been over a week and neither team had a kill. Until… The kitchen ceiling used to leak. We replaced the roof last spring. Time to fix the ceiling. And, what should Adam find as he digs in? Mold — lots of mold. The whole ceiling has to come down — the vapor barrier and the insulation have to go too. The custom cabinets that are nailed to the wall and have an attached linoleum back splash that is made of a material strong enough to build a submarine with have to be disassemble to access the moldy drywall that is behind them too. Mold spores will be flying. Adam will do the work in full personal protective gear. The kids and I are banned from the house.

And, Mr. I-didn’t-create-a-scoreboard came home claiming victory. Because when he pulled out the stove exhaust, he found this:

Gross Dead Things

This is what became of the three blind mice. They stumbled into a space they couldn’t get out of!

He wants to take credit for every flippin’ dead mouse he finds during demolition! The kids don’t think that is entirely fair. They aren’t even allowed in the house during demolition and won’t be able to defend their honor. So, what do you all think?

On a better note! The ceiling that has to come down is an acoustic ceiling. It is covered with that ugly cottage cheese sprayed on popcorn stuff. Those ceilings automatically date your house and they are hard to clean. But, I was going to live with them because, prior to 1980, that spray contained asbestos. Since the house was built in 1898, I thought surely, surely we would have to worry about an expensive asbestos remediation. But look!

None Detected

Can you believe it? Good luck!

Hallelujah! God is good to me. All the time He is good to me!

2012 in review

30 Dec

Thanks to those of you who have been following my life!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

On Creativity Sabbaticals and New Starts

28 Dec

As we enter this season of rededication and new starts, I thought it would be a wonderful time to restart my blog. If you have been a regular reader, you know that I have taken a 3-month long, unannounced blogging sabbatical. What led to my extended absence from blogging? Quite simply,  I needed to rest and I needed to plan! I needed to re-energize me.

And, while I wasn’t blogging, I was experiencing and living life!

(1) We transitioned the Little Dude to my BIL and SIL’s home. His father continues to contest the termination of his parental rights and the Little Dude’s adoption, but he is currently doing that from a jail cell. He tested positive for methamphetamines in early November. He had been on probation for another drug charge. His probation was revoked. He will be in jail until the end of January.

(2) We enjoyed our family and friends!
Dancing the night away!

(3) We cleaned years and years of muck and dirt from the farmhouse. According to Samson, “Uh, it could use a sweep!”

This place could use a sweep!

How does the bottom of a fan blade get this dirty?

(4) We barely made a dent in the needed renovations!

Pulling ugly, water damaged linoleum

PPE for mold remediation


Before - dark, ugly and dated!

Wallpaper glue? I hate wallpaper glue!

Wallpaper glue? I hate wallpaper glue!

(5) Adam and the kids learned to cook on a wood stove!

Learning to cook with wood

Look! We roasted a pumpkin!

I feel as if I have just been harvested. I am entering a period of rest and planning. As I do, I will turn my focus toward my word of the year, shalom. This year it is my intent to glorify God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others and with the rest of creation!


12 Sep

I don’t want to live in a country in which terminating parental rights is an easy thing to do. Our Founding Fathers understood this too. Citizens in a fair and just society simply cannot live in fear that their government gets to do whatever they want just because the state decides to do it. I understand that there is a need for defense attorneys; they force the state to prove their case. I still don’t trust the process.

I’m-the-Baby’s father, the same father who told a judge he didn’t have steady employment and couldn’t afford even $50/month in child support, has hired a private attorney. I wonder who’s paying the cost. His parents? The wealthy neighbors who he had planned on placing the child with? He was told that the state of Minnesota gives preference to family when placing children out of foster care. He has said at least three times that he planned on seeking custody and parenting just long enough to make an alternate adoption plan. Thankfully, one of the times, he was speaking to the social worker and the guardian ad litem so his comments are a part of the official court documents. The “very wealthy” neighbors called the social worker and she told them not to get their hopes up. There is a relative adoptive family willing to accept the baby. Did they take no for an answer?

“As soon as his paternity was legally adjudicated, he has done everything he can to demonstrate his commitment to this child.” 

Really? His paternity was legally established at a child support hearing on July 25th.

First, this is the right information, wrong implication. The father’s moral obligations to this child began way before his paternity was established in a court of law. He knew his girlfriend, a vulnerable adult living in a group home, was pregnant. Naomi is known to have substantial difficulty meeting her own needs for food, shelter and health care. Yet, instead of standing by her, the father abandoned her financially and emotionally during her pregnancy and did nothing to monitor the adequacy of his son’s care. He did not file with our state’s putative father registry. He did not execute a declaration of parentage. He did not cooperate with a paternity test until his cooperation was demanded by a court. In mid-April, after the results of the paternity test came back, he met with the social worker and she asked him if he would be a placement option. He said, “No.” Last, at the child support hearing that the attorney referenced, he told the judge that he was in agreement with the adoption by my BIL and his wife. Since his parental rights and responsibilities would soon be terminated, the judge did not order him to pay support. He did absolutely nothing to claim or maintain his parental rights.

Second, the father has not done everything he can to demonstrate his commitment to his child since July 25th. He did call and tell the social worker that he wanted to parent. She told him that he did not have a relationship with his son and he needed to start visiting him. Almost four  weeks after this initial call, he called the social worker and said he was having trouble getting though to the visitation center and asked the social worker to set up visits. The social worker called the visitation center. His first call to the visitation was after close of business, on a Friday afternoon, three full weeks after his initial call to the social worker. I suspect he called the center, found it closed and immediately called the social worker back. His first scheduled visit was 4-1/2 weeks after saying he wanted to parent, 5 days before his son was 7-months old, and 8 days before the state by law had to petition to terminate parental rights and move toward permanency planning/adoption. I suspect he had met with his attorney and been advised to cooperate with the social services office.

Finally, Minnesota laws define the conditions under which a parent’s parental rights can be involuntarily terminated. One of the conditions is abandonment. Abandonment is presumed when, “The parent has had no contact with the child on a regular basis and not demonstrated consistent interest in the child’s well-being for six months and the social services agency has made reasonable efforts to facilitate contact, unless the parent establishes that an extreme financial or physical hardship or treatment for mental disability or chemical dependency or other good cause prevented the parent from making contact with the child.”

When does the six month clock start ticking? This isn’t a criminal case; there is no jury of peers. There is a judge – a judge with preconceived ideas about adoption, blood connection and father’s rights. If the defense attorney can convince the judge to start the clock on July 25th, the father will be considered a placement option for my grandson. His family, people we’ve entertained in our home and given access to their grandson, have quit talking to us. I don’t even see the father when I drop off for visits, he is kept secluded in another room.

And, my dreams for an open, fully disclosed placement where my grandson can be connected and loved by all the people who care about him is in shambles. Openness in adoption is built upon a foundation of trust. I no longer trust. I am really struggling emotionally and spiritually. I cry almost daily. But, I just keep trying to do the right thing, even though it is hard. My Dad told me that is what love is. I say that is what moral courage does.

And, my heart is breaking. Because after Naomi’s parental rights are terminated, essentially my rights as grandparent are too. So, if his father wins custody and does not let me see my little one, I will not be able to petition the courts for visits. I just lose him. Forever.

Don’t confuse legality with morality. Dr. King noted that everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was legal. Don’t give anyone the proxy for your conscience. And don’t confuse legality with fairness. ~ Marian Wright Edelman,The measure of our success: a letter to my children and yours

But I Didn’t Do Anything

13 Aug

When my daughter learned she was pregnant, my grandson’s father was told he couldn’t continue his relationship with her because she was a vulnerable adult. Naomi made an appointment with her psychiatric nurse practitioner and had him write a letter stating that she was capable of making a decision to enter into a relationship. She gave it to her probation officer and sent a copy to his. Because she was intent on reuniting with him, she began raging at her group home and was asked to leave. She was homeless but content that her plan had worked. She wasn’t a resident of a group home. She was making her own rules and taking care of herself. She wasn’t vulnerable anymore! He didn’t want a relationship with her anymore. He emotionally and financially abandoned her during her pregnancy. As an unwed father, he never took responsibility and registered with the fathers’ adoption registry. The state had to get a court order and his probation officer had to tell him that failing to cooperate would result in a probation violation in order to get him to agree to take a paternity test. After paternity was established, he met with his son’s case worker and told her he couldn’t parent. An ex-felon, he is having trouble reintegrating into society. He is unemployed. He was offered a service plan to enable him to reunify with his son but, frankly, didn’t want one. He didn’t want to meet him and get emotionally attached to a child he cannot parent. He recently attended a child support hearing and told the judge he couldn’t even afford $50/month in support and he was going to voluntarily sign away his parental rights anyway. Because he expressed his determination to voluntarily sign away his rights, the judge did not order him to pay child support.

“I’m going to fight your parent’s for custody.”

I just spoke to my daughter. She couldn’t get in touch with me this weekend and called him to find when the next dependency hearing is, the hearing at which they had both agreed to voluntarily sign away their rights. She is trying to arrange transportation. (As an aside, the county has agreed to send a volunteer driver to get her and bring her to court but they need to know where she is going to be. She doesn’t know. Can’t you stay at the shelter that night and be there in the morning? No, they wake her up too early when she stays there.) I had known that my grandson’s father was emotionally struggling with his decisions to voluntarily terminate his rights. He called the social worker almost three weeks ago and told her he wanted to parent. She asked that he begin forming a relationship with his son be participating in supervised visits. He has not called to schedule any visits. The social worker sent him a letter detailing their conversation and reminded him that he needed to begin visiting with his son. But, I didn’t do anything wrong. In the past he has expressed that he doesn’t understand why he needs supervised visits. He is a non-offending parent and has never hurt a child. What should his rights be? What should he reasonably do to protect those rights?

According to our state’s law his rights can be terminated if :

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent has substantially, continuously, or repeatedly refused or neglected to provide the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, and other care and control.
  • The parent has been ordered to contribute to the support of the child or financially aid in the child’s birth and has continuously failed to do so without good cause.
  • The parent is found to be unfit because he or she is unable, for the reasonably foreseeable future, to care appropriately for the ongoing physical, mental, or emotional needs of the child.
  • An unwed birth father has failed to register with the fathers’ adoption registry

That law seems a little vague to me. The operational definitions of the terms can be argued and there isn’t an attached timeline. The judge will look at the evidence and decide whether or not reasonable efforts at reunification have been made. I don’t know whether the judge will look at the past six months and see clear and convincing evidence of unfitness and move forward with a termination of parental rights or not.

I only know that he used the word fight.

First, I do not have custody of my grandson; the state does. I am a foster parent. The Social Security Act requires that states that receive federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance give preference to an adult relative over a non-related caregiver when placing a child in foster care. Since my grandson’s father had not registered with the putative father registry or stepped forward to prove his paternity, when my grandson entered care, paternity had not been legally adjudicated. We were the only family by default. Our family would have had to say we did not want to be considered as our grandson’s caretaker. I chose to do relative placement rather than non-relative placement because I know that I love my grandson. I knew I would do everything to help him form healthy attachments. I knew that I would manage him in the home as long as it took. I wanted him to be emotionally health. Now, a non-relative foster mother may have done that for him too. I know several foster parents who are awesome. I just wanted to be the one who loved on him!

When my grandson entered care, his father lost the ability to make decisions for him. Minnesota law gives preference to relatives when making adoptive placements out of our foster care system too. My grandson’s father didn’t even turn in the paperwork listing his relatives so that the state could do a relative search. When it became apparent that Naomi was too unstable to parent and his father seemed unwilling to parent, the state moved toward permanent, adoptive placement. My BIL and his wife have agreed to adopt my grandson. They have completed a home study, met with the guardian ad litem and have been diligently working to establish a relationship with him. While I am thrilled with the possibility that the one I love will stay in the family, I am not placing him or choosing his adoptive home, the state is. My grandson’s father was not initially opposed to an adoptive placement, he just wanted to hand pick his adoptive family. He knows a couple who want to adopt. It is someone who lives nearby. When he speaks of adoption by this couple, he describes a situation in which the parental lines are blurry with him seeing his son almost daily and even keeping him for the weekend when he has his other kids. He has told numerous people (including the social worker and guardian ad litem) that he would like to get parental custody just long enough to make an adoption plan. He doesn’t seem to understand how frequent moving and changing of caretakers affects attachment. He thinks my grandson it too young to know that he is being jerked around. The social worker told him that if he were to regain custody she would expect him to maintain custody and parent himself.

And, he used the words “fight” and “your parents” in the same sentence. That is his perception. He views us as his enemy. I want to whine, “But, I didn’t do anything wrong!” He is going to struggle, gain power over contend with, not the state, us. I want every adoption to be done in a way that is ethical and considers the rights of everyone involved, including the Dad. But, when he views himself as having done nothing wrong and fighting us, I begin to get anxious and depressed. And, I get a little self righteous and proud. How could he fail to establish paternity, fail to support and establish a relationship with his child and feign innocence? What if the judge decides in his favor? Will he let us continue having a relationship with the Little Dude? I am anxious and teary.

And, I remember, I am going to love boldly no matter what.

Why does life have to be so very hard? I know one thing, I am not going to make it harder by joining the struggle to gain power over or contend with him. I won’t do anything to hinder his efforts, or point out his lack of efforts. I am just going to pray. You pray too. I don’t know how, but God is going to be glorified in this.

Winning the War…

31 Jul

… one battle at a time.

I am feeling hopeless, discouraged and downright angry tonight. Why in the world would our country place barriers to people trying to re-enter society after an incarceration? Wouldn’t supporting successful re-entry decrease recidivism and help lower the cost of incarceration?

Naomi is out of jail, but her sentence continues.  Despite having an identified developmental disability related to prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, she cannot find services.

[Naomi] is an individual who likely is going to have  a difficult time structuring herself, has limited insight into the need to do so, is impulsive, and tends to have a hard time changing her response on the basis of feedback, particularly negative feedback. Contingency management and punishment is likely not going to be very effective.

Incarceration, whether viewed as punishment or rehabilitation, did  nothing to mitigate Naomi’s developmental disability or her addiction. She still cannot structure her time. She remains impulsive and seems unable to change her behavior. Her latest facebook update read, “Drinking a half gallon of Amsterdam Gin to myself……NOT a good idea. Been a crazy week…..went to detox, got choked by some crazy dude, became homeless in minneapoils, fought with my best friend and almost beat her up…..but on the brightside, met a sexy man. [sic]” She is losing the battle to re-enter society.

I have to admit that lack of family support is a problem for Naomi. Because let’s face it, if we would allow Naomi to live here, she wouldn’t be homeless. Like many other adults living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Naomi is mentally ill. Her history of neglect and multiple foster placements exacerbate her problems. One of the way her mental illness manifests itself is with chronic anger that occasionally erupts in frightening raging. I can count on one hand the number of rages she had in my home. Most days she was safe. Prior to reaching the age of about 16, I enjoyed her company and her place in our family. But, she started raging at home. Even when she wasn’t raging, she walked around with a chip on her shoulder. She seemed ready to explode at any time. The whole family began walking on eggshells. The memory of her raging keeps me from comfortably welcoming her back home. I don’t seem to possess whatever grace is required to support a person with severe mental illness in the home. I don’t know how to keep the rest of the family physically and emotionally safe. I like the peace that descending on my home when she left it. The battle for family connections is nearly lost.

It would appear that from an employment standpoint that she would benefit from supportive employment.

Formerly incarcerated neurotypical people with good job skills and a felony convictions experience a barriers to finding stable employment. Naomi’s does not have good job skills. Naomi’s IQ is too high to qualify for a job coach. Yet, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) means that she doesn’t naturally possess the habits, attitude and social skills that employers value in their employee. Even prior to her conviction, she had difficulty finding and keeping a job. Her battle for stable employment is being lost. The enemy is surrounding her on all sides.

With respect to her executive function however it is clear that any treatment attempts as well as any living situations are likely going to have to need for a large amount of structure.

She has connected with an organization in the cities. She keeps telling me that she can get housing through them. But, I read through their site. The public housing that they have available all require a criminal background check. I am sure that she will meet with  discrimination based on prior felony conviction and be ineligible for placement. She needs to find an apartment in a felon friendly complex that she can afford on her disability payments. The battle for safe and reliable housing has suffered the lethal blow of civil barriers related to the stigma of addiction.

Naomi had planned on living with a “good friend” while she got stable after being released from jail. The friend kicked her out. From Naomi’s facebook update, it appears as if she had just cause. She goes to the Salvation Army’s shelter and is turned away because she can’t prove she is not a minor. Having valid state identification is a requirement for housing and employment. Naomi lost her license months ago. She wasn’t able to apply for a replacement until she was out of jail. Her official license is being mailed to us. It isn’t in yet. When it arrives I don’t know where I will mail it. Where do homeless people collect important mail? When she was sentenced, the jail should have assisted her in getting a state ID card so that she had one when she was released. She is sleeping on the street. Another battle lost.

Finally, upon release from jail, Naomi decided she needed to get away from this town. Her friends use meth. She knows where to find meth. She felt she needed a fresh start. This might have been reasonable. But, county services are regulated by the county in which one lives in. She has an open Chips here (Child in need of protective services) so she cannot get services in the county she is currently homeless in. Another barrier and another battle lost.

Last night she was seen in the Hennepin County Medical Center’s Emergency Department. She is numbing the pain of losing her son with alcohol. She was injured when in a drunken stupor she decided it would be a good idea to go for a swim in the Mississippi River. I don’t know the extent of the injury. I called to talk to the nurse, but she was taking care of Naomi. I left a message and she never called back. It is after 7AM now. Night shift is over and I never heard anything, not even a disposition. I fear her battle with addiction is lost.

And, I am tired. Another sleepless night. Another night of worrying about things that are outside my sphere of control. Another night of seeing only a prison cell or a morgue. Another morning waking up and forcing myself to engage an unseen enemy. Bloodshot, swollen eyes are my only outward battle scar. If wars are won one battle at a time, they are lost one battle at a time too. Fighting a war that seems to be already lost is exhausting.

The Man

14 Jul

In 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state in the US. Just forty years later, a pioneer filed a claim for a homestead in what is today Alexandria, MN and built his home. Adam and I recently bought that home and 10 acres of land.

Our Farm House

The flower gardens contain a lovely mixture of burdock, bull thistle and a few volunteer trees.

The degraded masonry chimney you see in this photo is only a memory. The home has no fireplace. The chimney is only used to vent the furnace. We could have repaired and rebuilt the chimney. But, that would have meant sinking money into a decorative furnace exhaust. So, Adam climbed on the roof and chiseled and hammered away. It is gone.

Do you see the trees peeking over the back of the house? Most of them are gone too.

Preparing the Land

This is maybe the hardest working man in the nation!

The land that they were growing on will become our new mound septic system.  Adam went to the land use office. They checked the records all the way back to 1950. There is no record of a septic system ever being put into the site. Not surprisingly, the inspector did not pass the system. He had been out there when the previous owners lived there and walked the land and couldn’t find it. They had two years to bring the septic into compliance and never did.

Eleven years ago today, I said I do. I still do! Thanks for marrying me someday!

What Now

12 Jul

Naomi met her new boyfriend at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting or she has known him for years. The story changed as she tried to present this relationship as the long-term stable kind. He turned 31 on July 4th. His facebook picture shows him sporting his gansta’ clothes. He lists his occupation as “entrepreneur.” He just got a new tattoo – a marijuana leaf. I wonder if entrepreneur and drug dealer are the same thing? He is not employed. Naomi tells me he “earns” $3000 a month from disability following a work related head injury. Federal SSI payments are $698 a month. The state supplements that to bring the total income to closer to $800. Workman’s Comp? If he has a significant head injury that is preventing him from being able to be employed, is his behavior safe? I don’t know his story. I try not to worry about it. But, apparently, he is what’s next.

  • They got an apartment together in St. Cloud. His furniture didn’t fit so the nice manager let him out of their lease. He is living in suburb near Minneapolis/St. Paul. She is moving in with him after she gets out of jail.
  • Or, he left the apartment in St. Cloud, but the manager is a jerk. The lease remains and Naomi’s representative payee has had to pay the rent while she is in jail. She doesn’t get paid SSI while she is incarcerated, so all of the money she was saving while she was in rehab and didn’t have any expenses is gone. She is going to live there by herself when she gets out. She has no furniture. Can she have our air mattress?
  • Or, she is moving in with a friend she met when she was in the psychiatric day treatment program during her senior year of high school. Her friend lives in St. Paul. Or, she works in St. Paul and drives 20 miles one way (coincidentally to and from the same suburb her new boyfriend lives in) to work part time for minimum wage at a fast food restaurant.
  • Her ex-boyfriend (a minor with a felony who she has been ordered not to have contact with as part of her parenting plan) is going to pick her up at the jail and drive her to her new home, wherever it is. But, they are definitely not back together.

Naomi has told all of these versions of the truth to different people since appearing in court in June for her first dependency hearing. Her residence became kind of an issue when she told the guardian ad litem that it was none of her expletive filled business where she lived and who she lived with. The judge ordered her to submit an address and stopped supervised visits until she complied. So, with the exception of a parental capacity evaluation, there are no visits scheduled until her case worker gets an address, visits the address, sees a lease or talks to a manager to make sure Naomi is legally living there. She just is not allowed to couch hop and have custody of her infant son.

She wants to come to our home on the day she gets out of jail. She needs to pick up her stuff. She doesn’t just want her clothes. She needs everything because she is setting up her apartment. She is traveling in a small sedan but is sure she can make everything fit. She knows her ex-boyfriend cannot come to the house, but I need to make an exception because he is the only one who can drive her and she needs his help carrying her things.

And, blissfully, no. This is no longer your home. This is your son’s foster home. We don’t do visits here because it will blur that line. I do not have to try to figure out her web of lies. All I have to do is pack her clothes and bring them to a neutral location. I plan on setting one last boundary. I have been dealing with her stuff since the day she left our home, almost 2-1/2 years ago. I will not move them to our farm site. If she hasn’t gotten them by then, I will dispose of them along with the rest of the stuff we won’t have room for anymore. Smaller living space – simpler life. Storing her things creates chaos. They have become a tool for manipulating me.


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