It Is What You Make It…

Frustration is a part of life. If your a House Parent- it’s a major part of life. There are many many things about our choice of lifestyle that brings us angst. Bills, kids, behaviors, Social Workers, dysfunctional members of the community, scheduling conflicts and meetings are just a few of the things that makes me want scream everyday.

Lately I’ve been in discussion with a few people about being frustrated over several aspects of this ministry. Like everything else, being a HP has it’s ups and downs and it usually happens minute to minute. We “Surf” the emotional roller coaster of a Bi-Polar environment. Calm and laid back one minute, chaos and drama the next.

It’s really no different in any other job or ministry. I remember sitting in the cab of a truck somewhere in Nebraska praying that God would deliver me from being a Long Haul trucker. I also had that same conversation with God a few years earlier sitting on a beach in Hawaii praying he would deliver me from a tiny, sunny island in the South Pacific (I know- I’m an idiot).

Bottom line- It is what you make it. The place your at now may be your “Hawaii” your asking to be delivered from. Maybe it’s time to move on or maybe you just need a breather. No matter what you do in this life, we all get to a point where we ask ourselves if this is really what we should be doing.

God calls us all to different areas. Some find their niche in a steel mill in Pennsylvania, some it’s eating sand and blowing stuff up in the Mid-East, for others it’s cleaning pee off the bathroom floor and taking care of kids that have a love-hate relationship (at best) with you. At some point if your following Gods will, peace can be found. Maybe not consistently, but there will be a sense of peace at times.

As much as I absolutely love what I do, there are still days that I would LOVE to slap a staff member that I think is out of their mind. I sometimes have to walk outside or get a cup of coffee at the gas station just to keep from saying or doing something to a kid that is trying to get me riled up. I probably make others feel the same at times. We are all only human after all. The best we can hope for is to learn to control our responses better and to embrace the concept of forgiveness.

It is what you make it. But your only going to make it if you reach out and connect to others that will help build you up and empower you to do what you’ve been called to do, serve others. -Launch

Question #22 – 4/10/2008 – We have Three Small Children-Any Possibilities?

My husband and I are pastoring at a church right now and are very much feeling like houseparenting of some kind is a right fit for our next area of ministry. After a short time of looking into houseparenting I’m quickly realizing that we may just have too many kiddos ourselves to be of great help to a children’s home of any kind. Though I’m not giving up on the dream of my husband and I serving in this way someday, I was wondering if you feel we should put it to rest for the time being. Our girls are 5,3 and almost 2… but we feel very experienced and able to offer a lot due to our youth ministry background and because of how drawn we both are to parenting full-time and looking into foster care. The whole houseparenting idea just jolted us both several weeks ago and we just can’t shake it… but– so far, “not possible” has been the answer due to our biological kids. I 100% understand… just wondering if we should think toward 20 years fr! om now instead of now.

Thanks so much,

Mike’s Response

I can tell you that having three small children is going to extremely limit the number of facilities that will hire you.  Also, when you consider the age of your children, there are many programs you shouldn’t even consider, mostly therapeutic or behavior programs.  I have also seen in the past with others, that with rare exception, facilities that will hire you with more than two children, are also the facilities that have high turnover, which is usually a sign of other problems.

If you decide that now is not the time, you may want to consider becoming foster parents.  It is a way to help out kids in need and also receive valuable training and experience for your future as houseparents.  My wife and I were foster-parents before we became houseparents and still use the skills we learned then – today.

As far as looking for a facility, you may want to join the Houseparent Community There may be someone out there that may know of a facility that can fit your situation.

If anybody has any other ideas or you would like to add something, just register and add your comments.
If you would like to ask your own question CLICK HERE to go the submission form.


Oh The Pain.

I loathe all that is Mac.

Nothing but system errors and messages that seem to mock me; System error, System Timeout, Network Unavailable, Contact someone that loves you- AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I have lost spreadsheets that I have poured my very soul into. Spreadsheets that were formatted perfectly. I had layouts that were pleasing to the eye, a tapestry of color. Gone forever.

I have tried, oh how I’ve tried, to get my Mac to do something as mundane as download music, back up my Blackberry or merely connect to the internet (I’m borrowing a laptop at the moment). It’s no use. Everything the Mac touches it destroys.

The final straw came last night. I had just finished unplugging my Blackberry from the beloved Mac only to see all my contact data was erased. As I gently threw my Blackberry across the living room at the wall, I grabbed my Paul Simon CD and put it in the CD drive in the hopes that old Paul would soothe my soul and stop me from chucking the Mac into the backyard.

Instead, itunes starts ripping the CD and formatting it into some evil Mac language and refuses to play the CD. Desperately I tried to eject the CD but the Mac refused to give it up. My wife got a worried look on her face and quickly walked out of the room saying she thought the baby was crying. She wanted no part of this one. I know now what must be done, I can’t risk another human being being cursed with my Mac, it must be destroyed.

I have spent the last few hours trying to think of a fitting demise for my little Mac. Perhaps I should give it to the boys and let them have their way with it. But if I did that, parts from the Mac would be all over the cottage and serve as nothing more than painful reminders for years to come.

Fire would be a decent way to go, but I’m pretty sure I would go to jail for torching it in my backyard.

Maybe a long drive, a nice quiet field and a box of ammo would be a more fitting end. I’m actually leaning that way because it combines my hatred of Mac with my love of firearms, a win-win situation.

I’m open to any suggestions as to how the Mac will meet it’s end. If anyone would like to donate a PC drop me a line. -Launch 

Question #21 – 4/9/2008 – What About My Credit Rating and Driving Record?

Hi Mike, 

My husband and I have worked as relief HPs for about 3 years, and my husband also has 9 years working with high-school students (Job Trainer) and 1 year with developmentally disabled adults. We loved our time as relief HPs (even though it was the hardest job ever!!)and are now thinking about a full-time career. 

The positive:
We are married for 16 years now, and have no children at home. Totally clean background for both. Husband is a great cook, and I am organized and can do all of the requisite paperwork. We have worked in nearly 40 different homes (for the same facility) and have learned a lot from each of how best to (or not to) run a home. 

The challenges:
I have a good driving record (and can handle a big van…) but my husband’s record is borderline. To add to this we have somewhat abysmal credit (won’t say it’s not our fault, but we have had some significant challenges too.) 

So I wondered if you know whether or not there are facilities out there who would even consider us, given these circumstances? 

I appreciate your perspective. 

Thanks DB2592! 

Mike’s Response 

As far as your credit goes.  Although checking your credit is something that a facility can do when you sign that release form, I know of very few that actually do.  When my wife and I started as houseparents we had horrible credit, because of a medical emergency and lousy health insurance.  We have spent our entire time correcting things and now have excellent credit.  I would not include this in your resume, but be prepared to discuss it should it be brought up by a perspective employer.  If you can explain how you are working to correct things I don’t think too many will hold it against you. 

Now for the driving record.  That can be a little more difficult.  When your employer submits your license to their insurance company you can almost guarantee they, the insurance company, will do a records check.  I don’t know how bad a driving record can be, before it is considered bad.  I think it will vary depending on the insurance company.  If the insurance company won’t insure you, the facility won’t hire you.   

This is usually a question that is included with an application and you need to be open and honest when you answer it.  There would be few things worse than to accept a position, and find out after you moved that you cannot be insured and therefore cannot work.   

You shouldn’t let the credit or driving record stop you from applying for positions.  If you find that after trying you can’t find any positions you may need to rethink things, but few people ever get anything they haven’t tried to get. 

If anybody has any other ideas or you would like to add something, just register and add your comments.
If you would like to ask your own question CLICK HERE to go the submission form.


Mommy And Daddy Brown

In a field where the tour of duty for a House Parent couple is on average only a year and half, you have to take notice when you run across an old timer or two that have been ministering to children in need for longer than some of us have been legally able to vote.You may have that couple at your facility, here they go by Jim and Becky Brown. From what I know about them they have been at our facility for ten years, or forever, I forget which. Needless to say they have seen and experienced a lot of change in those years. They held on through changes in staff, programs and kids. By example they prove that a facility is what you make it.

Jim and Becky are Family Teachers in the toddler cottage on campus. Countless kids have gone through there in the years they have been doing their ministry. Fortunately some of the earliest memories these kids have are of “Daddy and Mommy Brown”.

I had the honor of filling in last summer for a week in their cottage. We were assured that it would be a cake walk. A bunch of toddlers, a playground, early bed- no problem. After all, I am an old grizzled Army Sargent and used to going toe to toe with disrespectful teenagers. I walked in the cottage with the expectation that having to listen to the Tele-Tubbies on the TV would be as hard core as it would get that week.

Upon entering the cottage all the kids verbally assured me I wasn’t Daddy Brown. I reassured them I had the power of making snack time vegetables or pudding pops, it was their choice. They did not seem the least bit intimidated or concerned. I needed to rethink my strategy.

The rest of the day went great, the kids were very well mannered and polite. I had a blast on the playground with them and thought we were bonding well. Then it was bath time.

If your not familiar with young kids, they either hate bath time or can’t get enough of it. My wife went to take care of the girls, I was going to take care of the boys. I told the boys to get ready for a bath and they were all naked in about 5 seconds and fighting over who was getting in the tub. This was a new one for me. I guess I had to be more specific with the instruction.

So one boy got in the tub. I was helping him to get situated and noticed that all of his buddies were still hanging out in the bathroom. One was brushing his teeth the other was taking a dump. No shame at all, they were just taking care of business. The whole situation was system overload for me. I’m the guy that locks the bathroom door just to brush my teeth.

At bed time I had to run laps around the house trying to catch a kid that refused to go to bed. The more I tried to grab him the harder he laughed at my fat butt trying to catch him as I tripped over furniture and toys. I finally got him when I tripped and fell and he collapsed from hysterical laughter.

After that week I had a new found respect for Daddy and Mommy Brown. They are definitely the hardest working couple on campus and have an energy level that most younger staff here would have a hard time keeping up with. This video is just a small representation of the fruits of their ministry and a life well spent.

The Brown’s are a great example of what we are called to do, serve kids.-Launch

1st Annual Houseparent Network Retreat retreat technicians in front of secret lair

It’s finally beginning to come together, the first annual retreat. Rest assured my expectations are set incredibly low as to what the turnout will be, but I figure worst case scenario if only a couple of us show up in Alabama to split a hot dog and share a few war stories around the fire it will be well worth it.

Over the last few years I’ve heard it said more than once that trying to get a bunch of HP’s to gather in one place would be impossible. As a rule we are busy with the kids and meetings, and generally most HP’s don’t care enough about networking or being involved in any community outside of their own living rooms.

If your one of the people that believe that it’s hopeless to try and gather the masses for a time of fellowship and fun, you may be right. In fact it will better for you to stay home, because hopelessnesses of this magnitude is just insane. Besides your facility probably could not function without the joy you more than likely bring to those in your presence.

As for the rest of us, don’t be expecting Dr. Spock or Father Flanagan to make a guest appearance. This is after all the first annual HP retreat. No fancy hotels or speakers, just a bunch of families getting together to fellowship, compare notes and hopefully plan out something more substantial for next year. This is the first step in what I hope turns out to be an annual event that we can all get something worthwhile from- and look forward to the next year.

The one tradition I want to start now is a “House Parent Of The Year”. This individual (or couple) will encompass all the quality, skills and attitude of a professional HP. The lucky recipient will have smack talking rights of being the universally accepted uber HP of planet Earth until the following year. I will look into setting up some kind of email or post a topic on the board for HP of the year submissions.

In the coming days I will be PM’ing everyone on the forum board and sending out emails and mailings to all the facilities I can find. Details will follow in the mailings and emails.

If you and your family are unable to attend, please encourage someone else to go that may have vacation or off time during August 7- 11. Bring your kids, the facility kids, your second cousin, whatever. Just come with an attitude of connecting with fellow brothers and sisters in an awesome ministry. -Launch

Class Is In Session

Nun Ruler

I was not able to blog everyday about the conference like I had hoped to do. After the conference would let out each day, all of us would head out to get something to eat, followed by watching a basketball game, and finally wrapping the evening up with some kind of embarrassing game that would give all your fellow coworkers enough ammunition to black mail you for years to come.

I even planned on taking some pictures on the way back of the scary road with the falling boulders that I drove the bike past on the way up. But the morning of my departure found me breaking icicles off the handle bars on my bike and the fog was so thick I had a hard time seeing the road. So no pics of the adventure guys, I was a little preoccupied with keeping the fury side up on the bike and not driving off a cliff.

But, I do have a few highlights of the conference;

Day 1- Teaching in the kitchen. Truthfully I wasn’t expecting much out of this one. The first part of the class was pretty basic about teaching opportunities during dinner and just the run of the mill kinda stuff. But the next part of the class really got my attention with shopping strategies and how some of the big name grocery chains up sell products and how a two for one special is not a bargain- sometimes. I felt some conspiracy theory undertones, and I’m all about conspiracy theories, especially when it comes to big business and Republicans. While the discussion stayed clear of politics, it definitely hit on keeping a food budget in check and getting more for your buck. Great presentation by Jay Ballentine from Phoenix Group Home in Morganton, NC.

More classes throughout the day, followed by a scavenger hunt and hike. I then watched WVU throw away their chance at dominating the NCAA championship.

Day 2- Milly and Dwight Brown from Nazareth Children’s Home in Rockwell, NC, gave a great presentation on fixing up an old house and some neat ideas on making your house a little more comfortable for you and the kids.

Carl Lanier from Appalachian Family Innovations, went over the basics of SODA’s. First class presentation and very well done. Very nice to go back over the basics and to role play some scenarios.

That evening I found myself in the hotel lounge enjoying a few, um, beverages, with several teaching parents from various facilities. I heard a lot of good feedback about the network and bumped into a few people from the Christian Houseparent Forum. It’s always good to put faces to names, especially when you meet someone with a screen name of “Gargolian4057”. (Just an example, I’m sure the name is still available if your interested).

Bottom line on the conference- Awesome. It’s well worth it and has given me a chance to evaluate many different tricks and practices of the trade.

I guess the next big outing will be the Houseparent retreat this summer in Alabama which will be this summer. Hopefully we should have a date pinned down by tomorrow. -Launch