So I was reading an article recently when I thought I could write an article about my life experiences. My life is a little different than most of my friends. It seems to have always been different than my friends. Most of my friends are married now or have been married. They have either had kids and we celebrated or have had difficulties and we have prayed. But my life hasn’t followed a “typical” or “normal” route.
I’m a thirty something single person. No biological kids. No marriage. I focused on getting degrees and had lots of fun during college. I work way too many hours between two jobs. And I added a title this past year that I am most proud and honored to hold. MOM.
Well that is FOSTER MOM.
I’m so excited to share this experience with everyone because it is very interesting. It is fulfilling and frustrating. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. But most importantly it is all about these sweet babies.
Let me start from the beginning. About 4 years ago I had a friend post on Facebook how she was just certified to be a foster mom. She is single like me and works for a church in Houston. She talked about how excited she was for this new chapter and how any day from that day on she could get a call and have a new bundle of joy in the blink of an eye. I was so excited for my friend and thought I could do that too. I think I mentioned it to my mom and how I thought it could be something I could do.
With every post she made and every picture she posted my heart felt more and more compelled to do something. I kept pushing it to the back of my mind and moving on to the next thing at work. It took me 3 years of thinking about it and praying before I told anyone I was even thinking about it.
Last February I figured after 3 years I might want to listen to what God was telling me I should be doing. I researched online for about a month before I told my mom and dad I was thinking about it, which if you know me is crazy because I talk to my mom 100 times a week. Looking back I probably didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know how people would react. Saying, “Hey I want to be a foster mom,” isn’t something anyone around me had every said so I didn’t know what people would think or say. During this time I fostered a dog and adopted him (Foster #1).
I finally got the nerve to tell my parents, my best friends, co-workers, and preacher. I thought I had to have all the answers. I thought I did have all the answers but of course I didn’t. Even though I didn’t have all the answers everyone was so supportive and thought it was a great idea. My best friend and one of my co-workers burst into tears when I told them. (That had to be the weirdest reaction and I just stared because that was not the reaction I was expecting.)
Last May I took the classes. The home studies and interviews came in June. And then the waiting started. And I waited and waited. I would email my home development worker every few weeks asking if I was ok and if she needed anything at all from me. And I continued to wait.
In August someone asked if I could help out an international student. So I helped out 2 international students with a place to live because their place fell through over summer when they were home (Foster #2 & #3).
In October I was being super lazy one Friday morning and I got a phone call. The person on the other end of the line explained who she was and congratulated me about becoming certified and in the same breath asked if I was ready for my first placement.
When I say I LEAPED out of bed I am not being dramatic. I am 100% sure my heart skipped a beat and I was overwhelmed with emotions. I then was the one who burst into tears which was unexpected yet again.
I listened as she explained the situation and that there were two brothers. Kiddo A was lower elementary and Kiddo B was 9 months old.
I said yes without even hesitating. I hung up. I immediately thought I had lost it. I went from having no kids to having a baby and a kid.
I think that is a good place to stop. That day in October was a whirlwind and deserves an article all by itself.
It took me 3 years to say yes to the calling God was placing on my heart. Once I started listening things were turned upside down in my life. Within 9 months I took in a dog, 2 college students, and now 2 kids. HELLO NEW LIFE.
I can’t believe I am writing this article. I guess that is how my life goes now a days. I have no clue what will happen day to day but I am looking forward to sharing this crazy life with all of y’all.
I have decided at the end of each article I will share a fact about the foster care system.
DID YOU KNOW: The latest numbers shared by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) says there were 4,374 children in foster care in April of 2019. 4,374 CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE. That is more than 3 times the number of students at Natchitoches Central High School and almost 11 times the number of students at St. Mary’s.
The Natchitoches Animal Shelter, located at 450 Fairgrounds Road, held a Tales to Tails Program June 22. Residents came to read books, which were provided by the Natchitoches Parish Library. While reading books, they also helped socialize some of the dogs at the shelter. The cats got some attention too! The shelter plans on holding more of these events, so don’t worry if you missed this one. The public can volunteer to socialize the shelter animals at any time during the year. The public is also encouraged to come out and find a pet to adopt! Also, donations are always accepted for blankets, toys, Pedigree dog food and dog houses. For more information call 318-357-3885.
Fort Polk — Destiny Ash, Laura Cerqueira, Jennifer Chirlin, Kyley Cole, Anthony Holloway, Zoe Kata, Ana Murray, Jessica Ramirez, Adrian Rodriguez, Sasha Trevino, Lindsey Turner, Nohora Valencia Camacho, Julia Ward;
The City of Natchitoches will hold a Public Hearing on Monday, June 24 at 4:30 p.m. TONIGHT at the Natchitoches Municipal Building located at 560 Second Street. The purpose of the public hearing is to address any questions or concerns pertaining to the Proposed 1% Sales Tax for Economic Development District C.
Upon reading Natchitoches Times article, “Sales tax raises controversy; Let’s get the facts straight”, and viewing the June 20, 2019 Natchitoches Parish Journal, “Magnolia Minute”, I felt it necessary to inform the residents and visitors to Natchitoches why myself and every other hotel operators at Interstate 49 cannot support Ordinance No. 23; that will levy a 1% sales tax within Economic Development District C.
First, what is an “economic development district?” Economic development districts aka TIF districts (can be setup in multiple ways depending on municipality.) In the case of the City of Natchitoches, Economic Development District C was redrawn with no residents in it to prevent citizens the ability to vote for issues in that district. Thus, the power to levy the new tax is in the hands of our five-person city council. Currently, there is a 2% TIF Tax being collected exclusively from all hotels in Economic Development District C (I-49) and Economic Development District A (Historic Downtown Area). Economic Development District B is located at the Waterwell Road Exit on I-49. Please note, the TIF Tax collected in District C (I-49) can be used for projects in District A & B, and vice versa. It is speculated that most of the District C TIF tax money collected has subsidized District A with the occasional bone being thrown out to the I-49 District to keep us quiet. The City of Natchitoches has been collecting this TIF tax since 2011, and where this money is going, I can only assume.
Another question: Why is the proposed tax only being levied against the businesses in Economic Development District C(I-49), and not Economic Development District A (Downtown Front Street), when both would benefit from any additional tourism. I can only speculate, but my guess is: 1) Different rules are set for certain areas of the city based on which areas wield the most political power (the haves and have nots); and/or 2. This strategy is to divide and conquer. In other words, there will be little resistance from the other districts to the current proposed tax on I-49 businesses in District C, because the tax wouldn’t affect the other districts. If this passes, District A and all the downtown businesses will likely be next for added taxes. By dividing support and resistance, it is much more likely the both taxes would pass.
Citing Natchitoches Times June 14 2019, “Mayor Issues letter concerning sales tax” Mayor Posey is quoted, “it should be noted; revenue will primarily come from people passing through the area.” Cavalier words…this simply does not reflect reality. A majority of the fine people that stay in the hotels all over Natchitoches WORK here. International Paper, Alliance Compressor, Pilgrim’s Pride, Weyerhaeuser, and numerous oil and gas crews that employ a large amount of folks in our community would be displeased to know the money they spend in Natchitoches is so casually taken for granted by our local government.
This morning when viewing Magnolia Minute: MAYOR LEE POSEY – PROPOSED 1% SALES AND USE TAX FOR DISTRICT C. One thing stood out, Mayor Posey was relatively accurate in his statements that District C was created, and hotel owners let him know tournaments are an economic driver for tourism here. He then approached the hotels in advance asking for a tax increase, and discussions included proceeds to go to NSU. Additionally, the Mayor advised hotel operators the park project was running over the original budget and all meetings ended cordially.
But, what Mayor Posey didn’t say is what should concern the residents and visitors coming to Natchitoches: The Economic Development District C hotel operators met with the Mayor on three separate occasions: 2017 at Hampton Inn, 2018 in the Mayor’s office and 2019 at the Natchitoches Conference Hall. Meetings in 2017 and 2018 were memorialized in letters emailed to the Mayor’s office to be part of the public record. (see attached)
What you find in the memorialized email to the Mayor is the hotel owners needed assurances of fairness, in relation to tax collection for all hotel operators. I-49 Hotel owners also wanted to know the costs and revenue to operate the park. We are still waiting for those answers. Operators also inquired on where the TIF collections were used and requested some say in future spending. Once again, no answers. However, the one deal killer that has not changed since the initial meeting with Mayor Posey in 2017, is the lack of desire and effort by the City of Natchitoches to collect TIF and City Taxes (now officially TIF and City Tax arrearages) from the Chateau St. Denis. For the City of Natchitoches to ask for a new tax when there is outstanding tax money that is owed and collectible is unfathomable, and frankly, unfair to the other law-abiding, taxpaying businesses and citizens of Natchitoches. The Attorney General of Louisiana gave an opinion about this situation stating the owed back tax must be collected if feasible. Paraphrasing Mayor Posey from the 2019 hotel operators meeting, he said he had no control over Jerry McWherter (Administrator of the Natchitoches Parish Tax Commission.) Well, from my understanding, Mayor Posey is a commissioner on the Natchitoches Parish Tax Commission, which has authority over the tax commissioner. So, yes, he can do something. He could vote to remove the Tax Administrator if he refused to follow direction of commissioners. The question is, why doesn’t he? A few months back, I brought this point up to the Mayor in a conversation, and, again paraphrasing, the mayor said, he hadn’t been to any of those Tax Commission meetings”, and according to the minutes of those meetings, that’s true. He has not been to any monthly Natchitoches Tax Commission Board meetings even though he is one of six commissioners. Considering our District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, the Attorney General of Louisiana, Jeff Landry, and the Louisiana Dept. of Revenue have all been notified, and all are investigating, in some capacity, the Natchitoches Tax Commission’s actions; why wouldn’t the Mayor demand the collections of the taxes when he has the power to do so? Mayor Posey is quoted, in the June 13, 2019 Natchitoches Times article, “1 cent sales tax levied on I-49 corridor to support sports park” “the City will be “desperate” for revenue to operate and maintain the sports park since there is not enough reoccurring money in the recreation budget for that purpose.”
If that quote is true, the Mayor should be demanding the Natchitoches Tax Commission to collect the money it so desperately needs, not skipping almost every meeting for the past year, and failing to fairly collect taxes from all the businesses in town, especially when there are known tax arrearages that are collectable.
I encourage all citizens to show up Monday at the city council meeting to voice their opinions, and demand accountability for fairness and justice in how our city is run. My suggestion is to dedicate the existing 2% TIF tax to pay for the expenses of the new ballpark. Then, the City of Natchitoches should collect the back taxes owed. Let’s show the State of Louisiana we treat all businesses fairly, and the government in Natchitoches will not tolerate corruption or favoritism within its ranks.
It’s been a busy summer for Northwestern State University’s Wind Symphony. Members of the ensemble are preparing to perform at the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles conference in Buñol, Spain July 10-13. WASBE is the only international organization of wind band conductors, composers, performers, publishers, teachers, instrument makers and friends of wind music. It is the only organization completely dedicated to enhancing the quality of the wind band throughout the world and exposing its members to new worlds of repertoire, musical culture, people and places. The conference is held every two years.
NSU was one of seven groups chosen to perform and was one of two selected from the United States. Ensembles from Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain and Portugal will all play at the conference.
“Being selected to perform at the international level is an honor and speaks volumes about the dedication of everyone involved in the School of Creative and Performing Arts,” said senior music education and music performance major Hope Spaw of Bossier City. “This opportunity would not be possible without the past members of our wind symphony and their contributions they made while they were in school.”
To apply for WASBE, Director of Bands Dr. Jeff Mathews submitted a recording of the ensemble’s spring concert for review by the WASBE artistic council. The recording was peer-reviewed by an international committee of wind band conductors. He also submitted concert programs covering the last three years to inform the artistic council of the style and caliber of work the ensemble typically performs, a history of the program and a proposed program of what they will perform at the WASBE conference in Spain.
“This has been a long-time goal of mine.” said Mathews, who conducts the Wind Symphony. “Bands from all over the world apply for this opportunity, so the committee recognized the quality of our program. It is the result of the work done over the years to build the School of Creative and Performance into a world-class program.”
The NSU Wind Ensemble is a concert band that performs in winter and spring that is counterpart to the Spirit of Northwestern marching band. Participation is by audition and members are regarded as among the top musicians in the department.
“Over the past 30-plus years, we have built an outstanding marching band, so it is gratifying that our concert band — our serious musical side — is being recognized as well,” Mathew said. “Some of our best recruiters are band directors out there and they understand what this means.”
NSU’s performance at the conference will be live-streamed for internet viewers and recordings will be available for purchase of the performance.
One day, a few years ago, while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook I noticed that a childhood friend of mine posted about being diagnosed with cancer. After the shock set in I sent the friend a private message and quickly tyed, “I’m so sorry, I’m praying for you.” Pretty much a standard reply to the ups and downs of life occurrences posted on social media. I am ashamed to admit that it is almost an automatic reply in some cases.
Just as soon as I clicked send I noticed that it had suddenly auto-corrected to, “I’m so dirty, I’m partying for you.”
As far as technology has come over the years one would think that you could merely erase it, delete, double delete or there would be a special 911 button to erase stupidity. No, this would not be the case. I helplessly watched as the message was read by the recipient and was prepared for whatever backlash befell my complete act of boneheadedness.
I fully anticipated the friend (or soon to be former-friend) to screenshot the message and make a new post stating that they have never in their life seen something so callous and cold. I totally deserved whatever came my way.
As I sat there in a puddle of sweat beating myself up and already planning my apology I noticed the conversation bubble pop up as they were writing me back. It seemed like it took three eternities for them to respond. Then the bubble went away.
Oh gosh, they are speechless now and cannot even respond to someone who is so insensitive.
Maybe I could claim that I was hacked. It happens all of the time. Someone hacks your social media accounts and then posts terrible things that you would normally never say. I could wait a couple of days and then post a simple statement that reads, “I am so sorry if you received a strange message from me via messenger. I was hacked.”
In the midst of all of my plotting and worrying I heard a simple ding that alerted me that I had received a message. I was prepared to accept my fate.
Much to my surprise, my friend opened up about how much this message made her laugh. She had received so much sympathy and cookie cutter replies offering prayer that she really needed a break from all of the condolences.
I could not believe that I had worried a few months off of my life for nothing.
This event did teach me a valuable lesson that I still think about today. So many times we are so quick with our mouths to offer words with empty meaning. I was always the first friend to let you know that I was praying for you but the chances of that sincerely happening was very few and far between.
It is so easy on social media to live your life on auto-pilot and just click “like,” “love,” and “wow” without much thought behind it. It is even easier with your closest friends to join a meal train, say a few nice words and move on to the next order of business for the day. If we do not stop and remind ourselves to be sincere and show love then we have not accomplished anything.
I will always truly believe that God used this moment to humble me and make me slow down to really truly feel what someone else is going through, show more empathy, and to stop living such a shallow existence. He has changed me so much over the past couple of years that you can bet the farm that if I tell you that I prayed for you then I sincerely meant it. If I tell that I am cooking for you then I will.
For the first time in all of my adult life, my closest friends will tell you as well, we will hold hands and pray in public if needed and they know if I say we are praying then we are.
It only took forty years to learn this lesson and out of shear fear you will rarely see me type the words, “I am so sorry, I am praying for you,” because in my mind I just said, “I’m so dirty, I’m partying for you”.
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” – 1 John 3:18
Several railroad crossing guards at intersections near the Northwestern campus were down sporadically throughout the day on June 21, causing general confusion and traffic congestion. A Union Pacific representative confirmed that there was an electrical issue at the Second Street crossing, which impacted three other crossings including the one at Jefferson Street. Crew members were on site making repairs.
Benton – Victoria Berry, Bridget Miller, Jessica O’Neal, Finnley Plaster, Megan Rainwater, Ty Whatley;
Bossier City – Christian Baker, Brittant Batchelor, Katie Briggs, Courtney Brooks, DeMontre Evans, Hannah Gates, Candace Guillory, Peyton Harville, Cayin Head, Ashanti Hill, Jodi Hill, Nicholas Hopkins, Brandon Larkin, Chelsea Laverdiere, Arielle Martignetti, Katherine Parson, Taylor Powell, Melissa Raley, Jenna Rambin, Jami Rivers, Jalyn Robertson, Winnifred Robinson, Tori Spraggins, Savannah Stevens, Courtney Wilson, Eric Zheng;
Boyce – Bo Bowers, Katelyn Brister, Dylan Frazier, Jodie Martin;
Campti – Alisha Bedgood;
Converse — Haleigh Sharrow;
Coushatta – Sydney Anderson, Kaylee Antilley, Mary James, Sidney Jones, William Lee, Carmie Williams;
BOM Bank is proud to announce the promotion of Reba Phelps as Agency Manager for BOM Financial Services. Reba is a 1992 graduate of Lakeview High School and attended Northwestern State University. She is currently attending the Louisiana Banker’s Association Leadership School. Reba is a member and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches. She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of El Camino Real where she won the Beverly Burton New Board Member of the Year Award for the State of Louisiana. Reba is a Past Board of Director for the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce where she chaired the Membership Committee. She also was elected to serve on the Natchitoches Parish School Board in 2018. Reba started her career with B.O.M. Financial Services when the doors opened in 2006. Reba has been in various positions in the Insurance industry for over 26 years. She is passionate about building relationships with her clients and her community. Reba has two daughters; Meredith Phelps, who is a Junior at Northwestern State University and Kathryn Phelps, who is 12 year’s old. Reba is an active member of First Baptist Church and in her spare time enjoys spending time with family, writing her “Blessed” articles for the Natchitoches Parish Journal, and volunteering in the community.
Natchitoches native Teri Ivey’s hard work paid off for her. She received an invitation compete at the 2019 Olympia Pro Powerlifting Championships in Las Vegas on Sept. 13-14. Only 30 people from across the world will compete in the bench press competition, which Teri qualified for in her weight and age group (132 weight class in the 45-49 age group).
Ivey lives and teaches special education in Texas, but she has family and friends in the Natchitoches Area. Her sister Christi Ivey admires Teri’s dedication.
Teri graduated from Natchitoches Central in 1988 and earned a bachelors in elementary education from Northwestern State University. In college she used to go to Warehouse Fitness. After moving to Texas her workout routine dropped off as she focused on her family and earning her master in curriculum instruction at University of Texas at Arlington.
She started back up about three years ago, getting serious about weightlifting just two years ago. Her first competition was eight months ago and she’s been training heavily with Coach Brad Duncan in Texas since January of this year. So far she’s set state records in her weight class in bench press and deadlift. With a bit of luck and a lot of determination, Teri will set new records when she competes later this year.