Monday, March 14, 2016

Our Adoption Saga, So Far.

Adoption Day: July 15th, 2010

     We adopted our children through the Arizona Foster to Adopt system in 2010. Previously, in Iowa, we did foster care for nearly a decade and had over 50 children (mostly medically needy infants and toddlers) through our home.

     When we moved to Arizona in 2007, we did not think we would re-enter the foster care system. However, in 2008 my director told me how he and his wife were overwhelmed with the need for foster care homes due to the recent cut to foster care reimbursement by 1/3. After praying fervently, we decided to do foster-to-adopt. We took our time, though, as we did not want to 'rush into things'.
We completed the PS-MAPP classes through AFACA in December of 2009. We did our white paper staffing, and the red file meeting in January of 2010 where we were able to see the photo of Levi age 7 years 9 months, and Cassidy age 16 months.

     Levi and Cassidy did not come to us the way most foster-adoptive children come to their adoptive parents. Levi was dropped off at the school bus stop by his 'Mom number 2’, and picked up at school by CPS. Cassidy was forcibly removed from mom number 2's arms as she waited to pick Levi up at the bus stop that day. 3 hours later, they were brought to us. (This is part of the problem, we believe, as Levi considers us to be the bad guys. If he had a foster home to go to for a short term, maybe things would have been different.)

     We accepted this unconventional scenario because we firmly believed that God uniquely equipped us to raise these children. Plus, our adoption agency promised us that if issues arise in the future, there would be plenty of support for us. Cassidy had significant neurological delays and I was well versed (as an RN with critical care and pediatric experience) in therapies and exercises to meet her needs. 

This photo was taken on adoption day July 15th, 2010:

     Levi was manipulative, and defiant, which was something my husband and I had dealt with many times. For instance, in his former placement with a friend of his biological mother, he learned that if he vomited at will, he would get his way. He did not want to go to school the first day, so he vomited all over his clothes and the car seat, then exclaimed 'I am sick, I cannot go to school.' We  matter of factly took him home, helped him clean himself, and clean out the car. We then told him he was still going to school. 'I can't go to school, I am sick'. I responded with 'Good News Levi, You were only 'car sick', and your friends at school cannot catch that. We only stay home so our friends will not get our sickness.' (That was the LAST time he vomited for us.)

     We saw concerning behaviors right away, including mentioning he saw 'aliens' in his room at night, he was terrified they were going to take him away. When we mentioned this to the adoption agency worker, she said it was most likely transition fears. Levi also showed a lack of empathy when his sister was upset. He would not laugh appropriately, nor did he seem to cry when the situation would call for it. Soon after he came, we noticed that whenever he was alone in the room with one of our animals, they would either run out of the room and hide or would yelp in pain. He always denied doing anything, and we never saw what he was doing. 

     He also took things from us and would trade those items at school for Pokémon cards or junk food. Anything of Justus's that Levi knew was special to him, Levi would destroy, hide, or give away. Our oldest son served in the Air Force, and had been deployed to the Middle East when he came home, he gave Justus his hat. Justus treasured that hat above all his other belongings. We are fairly certain that Levi traded that hat though he denied it at the time.

     The food gorging, food hoarding and enuresis/encopresis were understandable and not listed as 'problematic' to us, yet they do merit mentioning as part of his multitude of concerns.

     Levi's 'crazy lies' were quickly found out in our home; however, neighbors, school friends, and church members often believed his stories. When we moved to a larger home, he told our new neighbors that we let Justus beat him up at night as we cheered him on and laughed at him. He told his friend at school that we could not afford food for lunch, so his friend's mom packed 2 lunches one for his friend, the other for Levi. Levi was giving his lunch items away on the bus for Pokémon cards and candy. We did not find out until the mother talked to the school office staff about being concerned for Levi. At church, he told the Sunday school teachers that we did not feed him enough food at home. They asked us if we needed help with groceries. He told our back yard neighbor that we made him pull weeds 'all day until they are gone'. She came to our door concerned, and we explained that each child in the home was given a plastic sack to fill with weeds. The rest of the children filled their sack within 20 minutes. Levi chose to sit on the rocks in direct sunlight (when there were plenty of weeds in the grassy shade) for hours. It was this sort of 'fact twisting' which caused so much contention in our home.

     In June of 2013 (3.5 years after they came to us), our family was struggling to deal with Levi's issues and maintain our family unity. Through my EAP individual counselor and JCFS family counselor, we were able to come to the difficult decision with our family that Levi would be best served someplace where he could get counseling for his traumas, a rotating staff where he would not feel 'uncomfortable' with the family structure and would learn necessary life skills to be productive. Someone mentioned Sunshine Acres, and we set about researching the Children's Home. His intake was done mid-month and he seemed excited to be surrounded by a farm-like setting with boys his age.

     He told us that he loved Sunshine Acres, and hoped to grow up there and eventually work there. 
Levi told us after 6 months that his house dad told him he wished he could adopt Levi. We were pleased that he was adjusting so well, even though the comment seemed odd. (We also doubted it was said exactly that way, because of his history of fabricating things loosely based upon fact.)

     He was often reluctant to come for extended visits, and soon preferred to not be in our home at all. Sunshine Acres often had wonderfully fun activities planned, and celebrity athletes would come there during their 'off-season'. Thanksgiving of 2014 Levi was visiting with us at Aunt Natalie's and Uncle Mike's house. He demanded to be taken home after supper, and we explained he would be staying with us until Monday. He told us that if we did not take him back, he would tell them that we 'child abuse him'. I calmly let him know that he can report us for child abuse, but he is staying with us as planned. (What he did not know is that Chris had tickets to take him to Disneyland with Justus and Cassidy.) Jaina and I were staying behind to see the live Beauty and the Beast production at the Orpheum. 

     While on the ride to Disneyland, Levi told Justus and Cassidy that he was going to tell Sunshine Acres that 'mom child abuses you too, so you can come live there and get LOTS of presents'. We understand that in Levi's mind, this may have seemed as if it would be well received, however, it caused both of them to have nightmares and anxiety. He went on to make the false allegation, which put our family through 7 months of stress waiting for the knock on the door. The allegations were thoroughly investigated and found unsubstantiated. (During the questioning the social worker asked Cassidy 'Does your mommy ever put her hands on your neck and choke you?'; as a result Cassidy had dreams of me choking her!)  

     After the allegations, I asked that any visits with Levi be supervised or on site at Sunshine Acres. They explained that they did not have the staff for that, and if we visited on site the other children would be upset that their parents were not there. Consequently, I did not see Levi from November 2014 until we saw him at Quail Run in Feb 2016.
Chris and the kiddos saw Levi a few times until he complained that he only wanted to visit Chris. We then had visits between dad and Levi only away from home. The holiday season of 2015 Levi refused to come to our home or see us at all. 

     To our knowledge, Levi was quite happy at Sunshine Acres and there were no behavioral issues. However, 2.5 years into his stay there, he was taken to the hospital for self-harm. We now know that on Feb 2 Joe, the 'house dad' took him for an intake at New Leaf and he was prescribed Zoloft. (We were never notified) One week later, he carved up his arm with a thumb tack and a disposable razor because he was told by the manager of Sunshine Acres that he could not be on 2 flag football teams. Levi never yelled, looked upset, or verbalized anger before his self-harm. He simply sat calmly on the side of his bed and mutilated his forearms. The bedroom door was open, and the 'house mom' walked by frequently.

     While visiting at Quail Run, I asked him why he did it. He replied: 'I was mad and could not get out to the barn, so I had to hurt myself.' I asked him what he would do in the barn. 'When the barn program director or house dad would make me mad, I would hurt my heifer.' I asked what that looked like (we always had him 'paint us a picture' instead of giving vague responses). 'I would use the high-pressure hose close to the hide, or poke her underbelly with the stick, or blow the air hose or water hose into her ear.' I asked how the heifer responded when he did those things. 'She would tense up, then jump and sort of scream.' I asked him 'When your heifer was jumping and sort of screaming, how did that make you feel?' he replied: 'I dunno, I felt guilty, I guess.' (As he shook his head no, shrugged his shoulders, and would not look me in the eye.)

     According to psychiatrists, he does not meet criteria for inpatient treatment because he 'appears calm and is not expressing homicidal or suicidal ideations'. My concern is that he never expressed ANY anger or intent when he was hurting the heifer 1 to 2 times a week for the past 6 months! In fact, all he does is trivialize it with the comment 'Well, I did not hurt her every time.'

     From the ED, he went to Quail Run Behavioral on 2/9 and stayed until 2/25. We were not notified of the self-harm, ED visit, or need to go to Quail Run until Levi was on his way to Quail Run! He was in the ED over 12 hours. I was referred to as the 'foster mom with an open CPS case’ by both the ED nurse and Quail Run staff. Consequently, I was denied access to medical information. We were not able to get an out of home packet prepared for 21 days. New Leaf did not initiate any after discharge planning and made assumptions that after 2.5 years and with NO counseling, treatment, or reunification efforts, he would return home. The psychiatrist at Quail Run said that despite his hallucinations/self-harm thoughts, and animal cruelty, he did not meet criteria for inpatient residential treatment. The Quail Run Social Worker told me 'When he is discharged, if his legal guardian- which is you, does not pick him up, then we call DCS and you are reported for abandonment.' I inquired about discharge planning and was told the plan was for him to come home with us.

     I reminded them that this is the same child who would look calm and go out and torture the heifer. He also carved in his arm while calmly sitting on the side of his bed with the door open. He does NOT show emotion. Flat affect. No outburst, simply cold and calculating. He has been in 'respite' since 2/25/16. He is not receiving any therapy, treatment or advanced services. He is in a holding pattern, out of school, playing video games and wasting precious time that could be better utilized dealing with the traumas of being removed from school and deposited into our home without ANY trauma therapy. He needs immediate therapy to address the auditory and visual hallucinations. Our family also needs therapy to prepare each of us to deal with the stressors and fears of having Levi in our home again. The issues which led to him going to Sunshine Acres have not been addressed at all. 

     Our biological son Justus is 9 months older than Levi, he has been having sleep disturbance issues and has expressed fear for  our 7-year-old daughter (biological sister of the boy in treatment) that she will be hurt by her brother. Our biological son wants permission to sleep in sister's room. (Which is not appropriate, he is 14, she is 7.) Cassidy (Levi's biological sister) is also having sleep issues (wakes up crying) and she is daily misbehaving at school. (Which is out of character for her.) When we were discussing the option of bringing him home, she had tummy pain every time she ate. We have since decided that until and unless he has extensive treatment and therapy, we are not allowing him in our home. We have to protect our children and pets.

     My husband and I work full-time (Though I work from home, I am still working and cannot keep 'eyes on him' at all times.) Justus is homeschooled because of chronic medical issues which we have not yet gotten straightened out. We have asked family, friends, and church acquaintances if anyone would let him stay with them, all decline based upon his animal cruelty and self-harm coupled with the auditory and visual hallucinations and lack of in-home support.

     We are 'stuck' with either making him a ward of the state or bringing him home. There has to be another option!

     I have made numerous calls, and have advocated for our son because the behavioral team did not prioritize him due to his lack of 'acting out'. Though we understand that the children who are punching holes in the walls may take precedence. We also recognize that without adequate treatment, the future for Levi may not be favorable. He needs to learn how to deal with stress, trauma, anger and hearing people say 'no' to him. Currently, he bottles it up, then ends up torturing animals or self-harming.

     We were hopeful that perhaps Canyon State Academy could help him, and we were told the only way to get him in there was to voluntarily make him a ward of the state in DCS care for 90 days. No parent should have to relinquish parental rights in order to do what is best for their children.

     I have been busy attending the Arizona Senate hearing on HB-2442 aka Jacob’s Law, networking through the ‘system’ and I am making many alarming discoveries. Our issue with Levi is simply one of the dozens of children in Arizona awaiting proper care and treatment. I have spent much of the weekend reading through 384 pages of the MMIC Provider Manual to find huge lapses in protocols in our case. Fortunately, some of the calls and emails I sent have resulted in our case taking notice of some key leaders in the department, and it seems as if we may end up with an ‘expedited’ case. (I say 'may' because there is no promise of anything, yet, knowing folks ‘in the know’ are mentioning Levi’s name helps me to not feel alone out there.)

     Never give up advocating for your children. Often in the past 3 weeks, we have felt ‘pressured’ to voluntarily place Levi in DCS care. I am learning that this is not protocol, and is more of an ‘easy way out’ for some providers to get the ‘squeaky wheel’ silenced.

I will keep you all informed.

Thank you for listening.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

doTERRA Oils and my Storage Issue Solution.

I did not want to spend tons of money to create an organized and easily accessible oil container for my kitchen counter. I priced out the cost of some options which would make me spend more than a bottle of Frankincense on a container. I grabbed an empty box of Rice Krispies, duct tape, ruler  and scissors... spent about an hour and without spending any money we had our oil storage unit.

First step was to cut the front of the box off, I used this as the material for the dividers. I taped up the sides of the box with fun Zebra duct tape, then decided it may be 'too fun' to leave on the kitchen counter all the time. 

Next, I measured my bottles and used a ruler/marker to guide my 'cuts'. I was not overly concerned with keeping the openings uniform, as we have some thinner bottles, and the larger roller bottles to keep in consideration. 

Once the sections were measured and my cuts were made, I covered every surface with black duct tape. Inside and out were covered to prevent any oil spillage from damaging the container, and to keep it looking uniform. I was not precise, and if someone out there wanted to take more time than an hour to do this, I am sure their box would look much better than mine. 

This keeps my oils close at hand and easy access for the entire family. I prefer this over keeping the oils locked up or out of reach. 

Let me know if you try and share your end results. (I know someone out there can make this look GOOD.) 

As always, I appreciate all comments!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What a week we had...

For the cliff notes, see the link below: South Dakota News - 2-Year-Old Kidnapped, Found Safe In Idaho

News Article:

by Scott Evans
Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB


Posted on April 24, 2014 at 5:37 PM
Updated Friday, Apr 25 at 8:39 AM
                                                                     Jared and I 2007
Jared's Mug Shot 4-24-14

BOISE – A quick response from several agencies across several states stopped what police say was a kidnapping involving a two-year-old girl. This story spans from South Dakota to Oregon.
A mother in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who has full custody over her daughter, told police that her ex-husband took the girl and had likely left the state.

Quick action and some good police work led to the arrest 24-year-old Jared Swets from Grants Pass, Oregon.

For nearly 24 hours police tracked Swets, who was arrested in a parking lot near Cole and Overland Roads. Police figured he'd come through Boise, but didn't know for sure until family members cooperated with police.

Just before midnight on Tuesday, Swets' ex-wife called police in Sioux Falls to report her ex-husband did not bring back their young daughter.

"Quickly we became concerned ourselves that the child was not going to be returned to the mother and this had, in fact, turned into a child kidnapping," said Lt. Matt Burns with the Sioux Falls Police Department.

Police realized that it didn't take the father long to leave the state with the girl. That's when the Sioux Falls Police Department put out a bulletin to notify other agencies.

They believed that Swets, his girlfriend, and the toddler were making their way to Oregon, Swets is from Grants Pass in southern Oregon. But they had more help than just the knowledge of his potential route.

"This person he was stopping and calling, asking to use people’s cell phones and the people he was calling was family members and he was being evasive to them as well, but because those family members were very concerned about the well being of the child they were cooperating with us,” said Burns.

That cooperation led police to calling back the numbers of the borrowed cell phones. Somehow, in a way that hasn't been made clear to KTVB, detectives decided to check in the area of Cole and Overland. That's where Boise Police found the trio around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Boise P.D. found the car, did a traffic stop and made arrested Swets without incident.

"We will do anything we can to assist other agencies, and especially if there is somebody that needs to be taken into custody to prevent someone else from getting hurt, especially a child. We'll go out of our way to do that," said Lt. Ron Winegar with the Boise Police Department. "We feel like they're partners, they are fellow brother officers and sister officers, just in a different part of the country."
"It takes a combined effort of concerned persons, families and things like that for these things to come to a positive outcome and we're pleased with how this came out," said Burns.

Swets is currently in the Ada County Jail awaiting extradition to South Dakota where he faces felony charges of kidnapping.

As for the girl, she was found safe, and was turned over to child protective services until she can be reunited with her mother in South Dakota

My Bullet Points:
  • Jared spent Easter (or at least part of it) on the Popken Farm in Iowa... Chris and Justus were visiting there. Jared brought Rylie to see her grandpa Chris, and Uncle Justus.
  • Jared wanted Chris to take Rylie to Arizona, citing perceived abuse, drug exposure and his belief that there were developmental delays in Rylie...
  • He called me 6 times on Easter. I did my best to encourage him to take Rylie home.
  • Tuesday Night Chelsie let me know he did not return Rylie.
  • He turned off his phone... did not contact me again.
  • I worked with detectives in Sioux Falls extensively, giving access to my phone records, family history, and anything else they needed.
  • Though I had to keep a 'professional face' on at work, my mind/heart were solely on Rylie's safe return to her momma.
  • Slowly, we were able to get information from those Jared and his girlfriend were contacting for money.
  • This information was instrumental in the ability of Boise, Idaho police to safely return Rylie to her mom.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


What does trusting God look like in YOUR life? I have discovered very recently that allowing God to move in the lives of those close to me without MY micromanaging things is trusting Him.  Is it easy? Not at all, often I feel like Sarah in the Old Testament. She identified a problem, took matters into her own hands and as a result really messed up things. We are still feeling the effects of her lack of trust in God, just peek at the Middle-East.

Is this decision to trust God to move in His time and in His way comfortable? NOT AT ALL. BUT, it is what He wants to see. My ability to stand before Him with my loved ones in open hands and step back to allow Him to move. I have to keep myself in check in regards to this new ability to trust Him, I tend toward the same impulses as Sarah!

Stay tuned for further installments of Welcome to Kimberley's World.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It started with a phone call in the chip aisle...

Saturday July 21st we were shopping in Walmart... as we were in the chip aisle, my phone rang. It was Chelsie, the mother of my 1 year old grand daughter Rylie. I answered happily, and she tried to sound 'happy'... but, her voice soon cracked and she became hysterical. I could not make out what she said. I asked her to take deep breaths, sit down and then back up 2 hours... she started talking to me about how she came to pick up Rylie from Jared. They were getting along just fine, had discussed how he was doing with giving up the marijuana.

When she left, she soon realized that the formula was left at the farm house. She drove back, did not see/hear Jared and thought maybe he was in the garage smoking pot... She fully expected to catch him doing that and not see what she did.

As she was talking to me, I told Chris to continue shopping with the younger 2 kiddos. Justus (age 11) stayed with me because he could tell I was upset. I remember Chelsie saying 'I saw him hanging there'... that is when I felt as though I would pass out... I squatted down and just listened to her. I was trying to discern what was happening (they were just loading him into the ambulance at that time)... I spoke to the officer and he told me Jared was non-responsive, posturing and was intubated. I knew then that the outlook was grim.

The Walmart manager approached me because someone told him I fell down... he asked me if I fell, and I responded 'No, my son just hung himself; it is okay'... The poor guy looked so shocked. He could not possibly know I meant to say 'No, I did not fall... this is a family issue... it will be okay'... I kept listening to Chelsie and told her I would make the phone calls, and for her to just focus on being there for Rylie and getting home safely.

My first phone call was to Jordan Spencer (my oldest son) and he was my 'safe sounding board'. I first asked what he was doing and told him to call me when he was done driving... after he called me back, I was able to express every emotion, thought and scenario without censoring myself. I needed that outlet and will forever be grateful for him.

Coordinating calls to Jared's grandma was tough... but, we finally got through. I spoke to the hospital and they asked me if he was an organ donor. Not a question that you want to answer... yet, you do not want their death to be in vain.

My big fear that night was for Jaina... she had a fun night with friends going to an LDS dance. Fortunately, her mother understood the situation and allowed Jaina to sleep over even though it was a Saturday night. (Her brother had also hung himself over a year ago, so she was very understanding. He was not found in time though.) I did not tell Jaina until she came home the next day... I did not post anything on facebook until after his girlfriend did... and even then, I hid it from Jaina... to give her one last bit of happiness before we turned her world upside down.

I am going to copy/paste from facebook...

For those of you that are friends on facebook, much of this will be a repeat... I just feel we need prayer by as many people as we can get... Also, if you get this more than once I apologize! You may be in more than one group on my email listings. Please pass this to any that will pray... especially for Jared's spiritual walk... and for Chelsie to come to a saving knowledge of God's grace and love of His son Jesus.

I am going to copy/paste a post that a mutual friend wrote. She c/p all my posts and added a few comments of her own. Her son is also a friend of Jared's that has bi-polar disorder.

It is a LONG read, but it was also a very long ordeal...

Tambrey Groves:
I have known Jared Swets for a number of years...he and my son were friends in high school and Jared would come stay the night at our house sometimes.  He and I would sit and talk until the wee hours of the morning about just about...anything...but mostly his dreams...his goals.... visions... ambitions... and some of his struggles...

There were rough the night my son, Clay, called on their way to the hospital after an encounter...our pickup truck still has bloodstains on the seat from that night...

Over the years I have watched Jared grow, and the country, different jobs...but one thing was constant...his eye for art...whether it was a picture from his cell phone, or more recently, a painting he did...he never disappointed! I have prayed for him as I have prayed for my son...I see their struggles and I want their lives to not be such a struggle.

Along the way, Jared met a girl (Chelsie Bremer), fell in love and they have a beautiful little girl (Rylie) who just turned 1 in July!  A couple days after her birthday is where the pain and numbness and worries...and miracle begins to happen....I got a message Saturday night...around 10pm central time, from Kimberley, that Jared had hung himself, and at the moment was in a hospital, unresponsive and posturing...not a good sign....with the news at hand, we seriously did not expect Jared to make it...and if he did...what kind of a life would he have?....I fell asleep praying to God to grant a miracle, because Jared would be a perfect person to grant one to and be able to share the Word of God when he was recovered and ready to face the world once more...

Yes, we always pray for miracles, and unfortunately, most all of us, me included, do not have enough faith to think that it can really happen...but God hears our prayers in numbers and He does give back to us... from is mainly going to be Kimberley's updates....for ease of getting it right...and less typing for me...I a going to do the copy/paste thing and add his mom's posts to this note...updating as we are updated...

Kimberley Spencer-Popken
Sunday am
Some of you already know, but I wanted to keep this off Facebook for a while...

Our 22 y.o son Jared Scott Swets attempted suicide last night (Saturday, July 21, 2012) by hanging himself in his grandparent's garage. (He lives with his dad and them on their farm). His girlfriend Chelsie Bremer was there to pick up their daughter Rylie...

Just as Chelsie was getting ready to leave she went to find Jared to say goodbye and found him hanging. She was alone (except for Rylie) and had to cut him down and perform CPR until the ambulance could come.

Comment from one of Jared's friends:
Abby A****** Why would such a nice young man do such a thing? With a beautiful family by his side...i can only pray and let god do the awful
July 22 at 8:28am via mobile · Like

Kimberley Spencer-Popken (to Abby)

Jared has had many issues throughout his life... though he was surrounded by folks that desired the best for him, he felt alone in his 'disorder'... We cannot infuse our will into another no matter how desperately we may want to. We must not pass judgment on him, as we cannot understand what mental anguish he endured. He was diagnosed as bi-polar and chose to not be medicated because he did not like the side effects. Only God knows everything that Jared has endured.

Sunday Morning (July 22, 2012)
Latest Jared Scott Swets update: He was just extubated in the past hour (breathing tube removed). He is able to breathe on his own and was able to tell the Dr. his name. He keeps asking 'Why am I here, how did I get here?' He seems to have some issues with memory, but he was heavily sedated and that could be part of it. Keep Praying.

Kimberley Spencer-Popken
Sunday Afternoon (July 22, 2012)
I just spoke with Jared Scott Swets on the phone. He is still groggy from the meds (most likely). He
remembers Rylie's name... but he does not remember painting yesterday... It was good to hear him talk.

Kimberley Spencer-Popken
 Sunday late afternoon (July 22, 2012)
^^Needs a nap... *sigh*... time to leave for church.

Kimberley Spencer-Popken
Sunday Evening (July 22, 2012)
Tonight, I was able to speak to Jared Scott Swets, and he seemed to be following the conversation much
better. I explained to him that I believe God saved him for a reason. I discussed with him how he used to be so stable when he was going to church... and that when he stopped he seemed to spiral out of control... I told him that I believe there is a DIRECT Correlation.

I was talking to him as we drove to church tonight... and as we walked up, I stood in front of pastor Justin Marshall, (same one that baptized Jaina and Justus)... I knew that he would intercede with Daddy AKA Abba/Father while I was searching for the right words. It is humbling to know that even though I am an imperfect vessel, HE can use me in small ways to speak truths when necessary. I am not sure what is in store‎...but I KNOW that God is with me, that this did not take Him by surprise and that somehow God will use this to bring Glory to Himself. If I could write the script, I would have it so Jared becomes a strong man of God that uses his past pain/turmoil to minister to other hurting souls. I know God can use ALL things! I do  not need to know the ending of this chapter because I have read the epilogue. We win over evil, God will Reign forever and EVER and everything will make sense to us in HIS time!

In church tonight, Pastor Tom Shrader said a few key things in his sermon that spoke to my heart...

FIRST: If God is not done with you, you cannot speed up your ENDING...
SECOND: God talks to us, and if we keep ignoring Him... we will stop hearing him. This created in me an urgency to continue to present the Gospel to Jared Scott Swets and to remind him of the Amazing Grace he can accept...I was overwhelmed during our after communion worship, with the sovereignty of our Lord and how He is always there in our storms of life... He is steadfast in His grace and offers a peace that passes understanding. I felt so unworthy yet, so appreciative and I yearn for Jared to also know this peace.

The tears flowed and as I was leaking from my face abundantly, I had to leave the worship meeting.
After I got tissues and sat in the outer entry area, there was Pastor Justin Marshall again to pray with me for Jared. We are praying that the wall around his heart will be broken and he will come to know the joy and blessings as a true child of God.

I will continue to pray unceasingly for Jared... but, I want to speak VERY clearly here: Even if Jared does not come to accept God's grace and salvation... God is STILL good. God's goodness is not dependent on any situation in our lives. God is able to take our circumstances no matter how horrific and turn them into valuable life lessons that allow us to gain empathy and serve Him better in the future. Do I have a 'preference'?  Absolutely... but, even so, I will Praise Him in All Ways and Always!

Kimberley Spencer-Popken
Monday Morning (July 23, 2012)
HUGE Praise report: Just spoke with Jared, he did not remember speaking with me last night, but the first thing he said to me was 'I guess I hung myself. Why would I do something so stupid?' We talked for almost an hour and he truly believes he died and was brought back. I asked him why God would want to bring him back when there are billions of other humans on this earth? Why would he choose JARED??

He could not think of a reason so, I suggested to him that perhaps God is not done with him yet; that in the future God could use all of Jared's life experiences to be a testimony of what amazing things God can do. I told Jared of how so many people are praying for him. He is humbled, I see slivers of hope that this can be his second life. We joked that maybe I would call him Garfield (the cat) because he is on his second life. I called it a 2nd life and not a 2nd chance because I do not believe ANYTHING is a 'chance'.

Jared still struggles with short term memory loss. I was able to get him to laugh when I said 'Never mind, I will call you Dora from the movie Nemo.' He laughed hard at that one; I appreciate your prayers so much. I especially love how God used Pastor Tom's sermon last night to give me the EXACT words to speak to Jared today. I told him that God was always talking to him, but it was like Jared had his ear buds in, listening to the world, the lies that he told himself about everything; all the time God was there trying to get Jared's attention. I suggested that this 2nd life was essentially God taking the ear buds out of his ears. I encouraged him to give God his full attention.

He ended the conversation with me because Chelsie came in. I hung up and immediately spoke to the nurses desk asking for a chaplain's consult. Jared is FINALLY not pushing God away! I know my prayer warriors are working overtime, and I appreciated it! Keep it up please!!!

July 23, 9:38am
I just spoke with Chelsie Bremer, she said the Chaplain came in and asked Jared if he believed in God... and Jared replied 'I did not before, but I sure do NOW!' Chelsie had a very crucial conversation with Jared, he may struggle with it, but she had to let him know that she is angry and hurt. It bothered her that he has no memory of it and she will never forget. Please keep praying for both of them. God is doing an amazing work here. May HE get the glory, share this story freely that HE may be glorified and others may find help and encouragement at His goodness.

God is so good, he was with me when I thought my son was an organ donor... I felt HIS peace. I rejoice as I see this miracle unfold, my medical mind struggles with this rapid recovery but, my spiritual self is rejoicing and praising! Let this story be shared! He knows it is being shared and thanked me for it.That is all for now. PLEASE share Jared's story and let everyone know that GOD IS SOOO GOOD!!

One final update before I hit send... I spoke with Jared (he is currently admitted at the inpatient behavioral hospital in Yankton, SD) last night  He was able to express that he is angry with me for supplying the information to the police that got him admitted. (he had convinced the inpatient medical psychiatrist that he was 'okay'... then sent texts to Chelsie and me stating he was going to get out and use a gun this time.) I let Jared know that it is okay to be angry with me. I also let him know that I would do it all over again because it got him where he can get help. He was at first resisting help. He tore off a medication patch, and was not actively participating in group therapies.

I reminded Jared that he is there to get well, and urged him not to play 'games' in therapy like he used to do. (he would lie to the doctors, just to see if they believed his 'stories'.) They would then prescribe medication based on those lies, and Jared wonders why the medications never worked! Please pray that God can bring instrumental people into his life that can help to break down those walls around his heart, I know Jared could grow to be an amazing instrument for God to reach hurting people in the future!

Jared was discharged from the hospital and is home with his dad/grandparents. He seems to be making plans for the future and we are praying that he stays on his medication.

If you made it this far... whew! Thank you!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Parenting Reflections...

     I should preface this with a disclaimer that I am still actively parenting, so my reflections are a bit premature. I have had 24 years of being a 'mommy' to look back on, and this will be a good starting point for my reflections.
     I can still hear the voice of my firstborn son as he spoke to me on Mother's Day, he thought it was important to apologize once again for the roller coaster ride that was parenting him through his teen years. I reminded him that I forgave him when he first apologized about 6 years ago... but, still he needed to assure himself that I really knew that he appreciated the structure and 'tough love' that we doled out so freely in our home. I have my own regrets... interestingly, I regret being such a 'hard-liner' and think a bit more grace would have gently seasoned my parenting style without spoiling the final dish.
     Contrast that conversation to the one I just ended after 90 minutes. This was with my 2nd born son who went to live with his dad at age 7 because we were 'too hard on him'. I just listened to him describe how awful it was being raised by people that only bought him things and did not put boundaries on him. He now says he just wanted someone to tell him NO... instead, they purchased new games, toys, clothes... and essentially ignored him. I cannot change the events of his childhood, I do wonder what it would have been like if he could have stayed in our structured home.
     The wisdom for anyone else to gain from this insight is this: Your children want you to be the PARENT. The time to be their friend is after they reach adulthood. Rest in the knowledge that the same children that bemoan your rules or your structure, will one day reflect back and thank you for loving them enough to raise them 'God's Way'. Teaching them to respect your rules and authority sets the foundation for them to respect God's rules and authority. My firstborn thrived in the military, he has no issues with obeying authority and has an excellent work ethic. My 2nd born has had trouble with teachers, the law, and his employers... he also admittedly stated he has struggled to find a work ethic.
     Parenting is fraught with pitfalls and speed bumps. Be gentle with yourself as you fail, and admit your failures to your children. As you confess your errors to your child, they will learn to be honest with others and gentle with themselves. You will have regrets, those come from the perfect hindsight of being beyond a situation. Do not dwell on your regrets or shortcomings, focus instead on growing and learning from each 'learning opportunity'. As you get a couple of decades of parenting under your belt, it gets a bit easier to prioritize and to focus your efforts on the things that really matter.
     I now focus much less on potty training and more on building character traits. I pray that I could infuse young parents with the wisdom that comes from 24+ years of looking back...