Monthly Archives: November 2012

Looking Back

My stomach is in knots.

From excitement for sure, but mostly because of the unknown that awaits us.

Our lives are about to forever change.

I check the luggage again.

Check a few more things off of my list.

Try to keep all my kids” “stuff” together for the flight. (Why is it that sippy cups are always around when you don”t need them, but as soon as you are ready to walk out the door it”s as if they have grown legs and disappeared!)

Weigh the luggage again.

Sit.

Think.

Worry (just a little;).

Nauseous.

Is it the pregnancy? Possibly.

It”s the unknown again.

It”s the built-up excitement.

It”s the overwhelming thought of having 3 children in the air with us for hours on end.

It”s the overwhelming realization that we are going to be going from 3 to 4 in just a matter of time now…and then from 4 to 5 shortly after…WHAT WAS GOD THINKING?!

Then the questions start circulating.

Will she be scared?

Will she scream to go back to the familiar arms of the Aunties who have loved her since she was just a few months old?

Will she beg to be placed back in her familiar bed, in a crammed room with dozens of other children, instead of her cot next to her new sister?

Will she want to call me mommy?

This is going to be GREAT!

Finally, on our way!

It seems as though we”ve been waiting forever!

All the other stories I”ve read have the families home within 5-6 weeks.

I can TOTALLY do this!

Oh gosh…nauseous…

I can”t do this!

Check the list again.

Check the luggage again.

Sit.

Adoption is such a foreign, strange, beautiful thing.

Adoption.

She isn”t ours. She WILL BE ours. She IS ours.

What if I accidentally make her feel singled out because I”m loving on her too much? What will the other kids think? What if I don”t love her enough? How DO you love a child who wasn”t with you and then IS…

Only three more hours until we leave for the airport.

Repeat above scenario a half-dozen more times…

October 2010

Up until now this is all I”ve known.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But now…

Summer 2012

now I know SO MUCH MORE!

I know her favorite color is orange.
I know that she wants LONG hair.
I know she loves high heels.
I know that everything in her past happened “last night”.
I know that when she says “another one” it comes out as “zchuwuzchuone” and it is the CUTEST thing ever!
I know she loves to be the one in charge during imaginative play. Her siblings have deemed her queen of the fairies and can make (or NOT make) any one of them a fairy at any given time.
I know she is dangerously allergic to fire ants.
I know she doesn”t like carrots.
I know she loves to be read to.
I know that she adores her big sister, handles her oldest brother, plays so sweet with her middle brother and absolutely LOVES her baby brother.
I know she can buckle herself into her car seat…when she wants to, ha!
I know she has a hefty set of lungs!:)

I know lots of things about my girl. MY girl.

As I think back about all the uncertainty that awaited us this day last year I still get butterflies of nervousness in my stomach. I get that tinge of desperation in my gut. I get those feelings of inadequacy swimming around in my head.

If only I would have known then what I know now. The process, the set backs, the seemingly impossible…but would I really be where I am now?

Without the “this time last year”s we couldn”t have the NOW!

And the NOW is what I am SO grateful for, today!

Alethia,
We are no longer “on our way to bringing you home”. You ARE home, baby!
Love forever and always,
Mommy

____________________________

Tasha Via

Tasha is a mom of 5.  She takes pride in finally figuring out a good routine to this new “normal”, but then the kids wake up and reality really begins!  She is madly in love with the worship pastor at her church and proudly calls him her baby”s daddy.  She is learning to become still in this life so addicted to instant gratification.  She is still becoming who God is calling her to be…She likes cleaning and organizing the house, rearranging furniture to confuse her family, sneaking cuddles from her boys, trying to fix the girls hair without a fight, eating butterfingers, and blogging about her family.

biggest.

if someone would have told me 7 years ago that our almost 1 year old baby girl, chloe, would someday be a little sister, i wouldn”t have been able to fathom that. i couldn”t even imagine how my heart could fit love for any other children–let alone one ”stealing” her birth order. [yes, people say that to us.] yet, my heart has grown with each child we”ve been blessed with. i didn”t realize that was one thing that really doesn”t only hold a certain capacity.

and here we are. a different child as our oldest. i don”t think this is for everyone. but, i do know it”s for some. it is for us. and missing it because i was more worried about the ramifications of disrupting birth order than educating ourselves & listening to God”s plan for our family makes me shudder at the thought. so many of these ”older children” are really just children. ready to love. ready to make your heart grow again. ready to be the big brother. ready to excel at every new task. eager to serve. quick to learn. ready to be little again.

it”s really been a blessing to watch those things in him. there are also blessings for each person in our family from it.  today i was in the middle of hard and i giggled out loud as i waded through it. i giggled at how easy our lives could have been. you know, when we were on track with our 2 kids and climbing the ladders. getting manicures every week and eating out all the time. able to enroll our kids in private classes & they could have calendars like socialites. seriously–it would have been so easy. [and i”m not knocking anyone…i”m truly saying that”s how i saw our lives at one point.] but, oh, what i would”ve missed. what we all would”ve missed. this kid is right where he belongs.

and so am i.

______________________________

Lovelyn Palm

Lovelyn is the mother to 9 children who range in age from 11 years to 3 month old twins. Her home is in the Midwest, but her heart is forever changed by a love for East Africa. She has a passion for caring for vulnerable children & families and advocating for waiting children. Sure her hands are full, but so is her heart. She blogs her family”s journey at Moments with Love.

Purposeful Shopping

$450 billion in the U.S. spent on Christmas.

Gifts are good. Don’t stop giving gifts. But, let’s give purposefully this season.

Here’s an opportunity to share links to any and every storefront or shop where we can buy gifts and support a good cause.

Will you help us shop with purpose?



Consider sharing these on your own blogs, get the InLinkz code

All I Know Is I’m Not Home Yet

Below is the lyrics to “Where I Belong” by Building 429…my new mantra…

Sometimes it feels like I”m watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I”m breathing but am I alive
I won”t keep searching for answers that aren”t here to find
All I know is I”m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I”m lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.
All I know is I”m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You
All I know is I”m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

[x2]
Where I belong, where I belong
Where I belong, where I belong

Friends . . . I keep saying international adoption (or just adoption in general) is not for the weak. However, I am beginning to understand that it is actually indeed for the weak . . . those who are so emotionally spent that they almost have nothing left give, those that are so sleep deprived that they can’t remember what their pillow looks like, those that are physically strained and with compromised immune systems, those that wonder why they did this to their family and to the one they adopted, those that are poured out and completely used up. This is what an adoptive parent looks like in the beginning stages. And the only way I can be a parent is to lean on my Father in heaven who adopted me and knows exactly what I  am going through. The only way I can parent well is to be emptied out of myself and filled up with the Spirit that groans on my behalf to the Father. When I reach my end and finally let go of my books, my workshops, my blogs, my yahoo support groups, my professionals, my doctors, my well intentioned family and friends and I just fall on my face before my Savior and Lord . . . then I can truly be the parent God created me to be (even when I doubt that is possible.) Now please understand, I’m not giving up on my books, blogs, yahoo support groups, professionals, doctors, friends and family they are all vital to the success of my family, HOWEVER, I need to be interacting with all these things while looking straight in the face of Jesus. When I take my eyes off him, all these wonderful resources are ineffective at best.

My friends, I have been poured out and spilled all over the floor. Hard days are these indeed. I have one child who has no concepts of parents and family, who is just trying to figure out if she will be given away again and lives in fear and sorrow. I have another who very clearly understands the concepts of parents and family and feels that hers have been hijacked and violently reacts to mundane things in her grief. I have yet another who is so compassionate that he wrongly puts all the needs of everyone above his own as if he were the parent and loses his childhood and so much joy in the process. Hard times. Hard to watch, hard to parent, hard not to condemn myself as being responsible for their pain. I was trying to take credit for their pain recently saying, “I did this to them all. I hurt Eden and Noah by bringing in this new child. I hurt Yaya by taking her away from all she knew. I have wrecked our peaceful wonderful family and injured and innocent bystander in the process. A bystander that didn’t ask to be adopted and ripped from all she knew. . .” You get the idea, and can see how this line of thinking goes now where but bad, really bad. And one night as my sweet Eden raged on and begged me to leave her room and leave her alone, I dragged myself out of her room and into the guest room. I fell on the bed in a choking, sobbing, heap, moaning; “Lord I CAN NOT do this anymore! I can’t do this.” And just like Jesus, he responded, “I know. But I can. And I have been trying to “do this” but you won’t let me. And for the record, I DID THIS, my sweet child. I did all of this, not you. I know what I am doing with precious Eden, courageous Noah and sweet Yaya. And I know what I’m doing with Eric and I know what I’m doing with you. Lay it all down dear one, give it back to me and let me parent through you. It will get better I promise, and my promises are true. Do you not remember them? Yaya’s life verse is one of my better promises…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, give you a future and a hope…”

Deep inhale . . . yes, Jesus. I remember. Deep inhale. Take this world and give me Jesus. And it is better, not perfect but better. And I am not so foolish as to think it won’t get worse or that I am spared from suffering. But I am no longer parenting out of my own power and God has been so faithful to send several people to help us on this journey…friends, family, doctors, therapists, even total strangers. In my weakness I am strong. Adoption is only for the weak who are made strong in Jesus. Praise you my dear El Shaddai!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Angie Williamson

 

I am the daughter of a King, “the” King, and on most days I don’t come close to being worthy of that title, but each day I try to live into it. God has blessed my life with an amazing husband who is my best friend and makes me laugh like no one else. He is an incredible father of three wonderful children. Two, he and I came up with together, and the third God recently “made in China” and we got to go pick her up this past May 2012. My 8-year-old son has a heart of pure gold; I have never seen so much innocence and compassion reside in one person in my life. He is a man after God’s own heart. My 3-year-old daughter is my joy. She is hilarious and spirited; a smile is always on my face when I think of her. My 2.5 year old daughter is kind hearted and brilliant, her capacity for learning and joy that we have seen in just 6 months of knowing her is unbelievable. I am also an advocate for Compassion International and we sponsor 4 children that I consider as dear as my own. So I suppose I’m a Mother to 7 children…no wonder I’m exhausted! God is so good to me I can hardly stand it.  You can follow Angie”s blog at Just the 5 of Us Now.

Run Your Race

There is something that I think many of us suffer from…the “disease” of comparing ourselves to others.

This can happen in ANY arena…

Your body.

Your intelligence.

Your beauty.

Your income.

Your reading list.

Your Facebook account.

Your vehicle.

Your education.

Your clothing.

Your speech.

Your children.

Your spouse.

Your checkbook.

Your parenting.

Your ability to hold it together.

Your decorating.

Your sewing.

Your cooking.

…and many more. (the list is endless, isn’t it?)

Satan absolutely loves to get us going about, well, really anything! He cares not how he misguides our hearts, just THAT he gets our hearts off track.

Remember what Scripture says about him? “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy…” John 10:10

He’s out for blood, baby. Not just to irritate you.

I used to struggle greatly with how my body compared to others. Now? It’s all about how good of a mother I am. …Or, actually APPEAR to be.

Since coming home from Africa with a former-orphan, I have been literally SWAMPED by my youngest three children’s needs.

And honestly, there ain’t a lot of hope that they are going to suddenly care about MY state of mind anytime soon. Toddlers, well, they are pretty much selfishness defined.

So the new area that Satan has tempted me with is watching other families via blogs and how they are “doing.” I’ve listened to the lie that they are all doing better than I am.

I would be a fool to assume that anyone missed me blogging, so I’ll just say it. I’ve written very few entries lately. I’ve had no ability to blog about my holiday decorations, cute ideas I had or new family traditions we installed this year. In fact, we didn’t travel for the first time EVER over the holidays because the needs of our newest family member dictated such.

Not a single article of new clothing. Nobody matched in church last Christmas.

I thought about how it was his first Christmas home and I should blog about it…but when the time came he was running a fever of over 102 and cried his way through Christmas morning. Blogworthy? Oh I don’t think so.

My reality is: our house is messy and laundry is a continuous and never-done chore. I can’t talk on the phone because I get mobbed by loud children who much of the time are fussing at each other. I tidy a room and the Littles untidy it again. Didn’t I just vacuum that? Yes, yes I did, but someone has spilled the pretzel crumbs all over it. Someone comes to me crying. Someone else needs help with homework. Another child comes to me asking for love. (And yes, this is literally the verbiage used this morning by Darrah Kate, “Mommy, I t’ink I need sum wuv.”) So I stop, kiss, solve problems, advise, listen and love. All the while the messes continue to whirl at breakneck speed. Not many craft projects are taking place.

I’ve had to stop following particular blogs that paint life with a well-groomed brush. I find myself looking at them and scouring them for faults. “Is their house REALLY that clutter free?!” “How does she think of all these ideas?” “How have they gotten their newly adopted children to attach so quickly?” “How can they afford that?” “They went where to serve whom?” “Matching outfits? Really?!” And I come back to my own life feeling like I don’t measure up.

I’ve come to the realization that my dear Savior was pierced for this transgression. He was killed because of this sin of comparison. This is NOT how He wants me to live! I am not to live under a cloud of heaviness because I simply cannot keep up with [insert name of bloggy super mom here]! No! He wants my eyes where? Where again?

On Him.

Check it out. I think He’s talking to ME!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Two things: “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before US.” I don’t have to run your race. Or her race. I need only to run mine.

Ah. That’s nice. And quite freeing too.

The second thing comes in verse 4. Get a load of this:
“After all, you have not yet given your lives in yours struggle against sin.”

Gulp. Did you read that just now???

I haven’t YET given my life in the struggle against sin. Wow. I’m not fully sure of what that verse means, but I can be sure that it means that I’m not done battling against the powerful force of sin. And that I haven’t yet gone the distance in my effort to be free from it.

I have noticed that I can carry my carefully balanced load in an acceptable manner…until the unexpected comes along and demands my attention elsewhere. Like a house of cards it all crumbles and I am filled with intensity, stress and [gulp] yell at my children because of the stress I am under. I have learned that no matter what other people may be able to add to their plates, I cannot compare and must simply say no. I need to take on less so I am available for my children more. This is my race.

The process of saying no has been good for me. (You might try it!) I am forced to examine my worth in the eyes of Jesus again. It’s not how MUCH I do, for how many people or how much money I raise for worthy causes. It’s about doing what He asks me to do.

For now, that’s simply to focus on the adjustment and attachment of our dear child from Uganda. Helping my other young children adjust to our new family and address the needs of each person with great care. It doesn’t matter if other people agree or even understand. I just need to obey.

Sew matching outfits? Bake cutesy treats for the class at school? Volunteer at the nearby nursing home? Lead a Bible study? Assist with my child’s team? Great ideas. But right now, I’ve just gotta run MY race.

And for now, those just aren’t in my path.

________________________________________

Amy Shaw

Amy is a vivacious lover of life. Married to her best friend, Brian, for over 16 years she is the mother of 9 children. 4 are biological, another 3 biological who ran ahead to Jesus, 1 adopted from Uganda and 1 more waiting for her in China.

Six Things Adoptive/Foster Families Need When New Children Arrive

What would have helped you the most in the early weeks and months of adding a child to your family through adoption or foster care? If somebody had asked you, “What can I do to help?” and you were able to answer anything at all with no shame, guilt, or concern about whether they really would want to do it, what would it have been?

This is what you answered:

Bring Food

Many of you stated that having meals delivered allowed more time to focus on all of your children, but also gave you some contact with “the outside world.” It does not have to be dinner, as somebody said, even bringing cut-up fruit would help. Someone else mentioned having dinner brought by friends who then shared the meal and spent the evening with them. One person wrote that when they adopted a baby, friends brought meals, but when they adopted an older child people assumed it wasn’t as demanding and didn’t bring meals. I think we can safely say that every adopting/foster family will be blessed by meals.

We don’t need to make this complicated – simple food is a blessing. I remember a friend bringing us “Breakfast in a Bag,” a gift bag filled with yogurts, juice boxes, muffins and other little treats. Gift cards for take-out were also mentioned – a great idea. After one of our babies was born, a friend brought us Kentucky Fried Chicken and another ordered pizza to be delivered – what a treat that was! Cookie dough ready to be baked, homemade soup or spaghetti sauce, a frozen lasagna, will all be welcomed.

Provide Household Help

Several of you wrote that you needed help with laundry and cleaning. I know we all have a hard time letting people see our mess, but I for one, find it very hard to relax if my house is too messy and chaotic. A friend grabbing the vacuum or folding laundry while we visited was a big help. I had a friend once pick up all of our kids’ dirty laundry, take it home, and return it clean, dry and folded. A group of friends might want to go together to hire regular cleaning help for the first few months after new children join a family, or create a cleaning team themselves.

Along those lines, a number of years ago I was very sick and needed treatments that were an all day event. One day a friend came to my house while I was at the clinic, put new, clean flannel sheets on my bed, washed my other set, and cleaned my house with my older children. I came home and crawled into a clean bed with new sheets and it was pretty much one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. That was nearly nine years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. Friend, if you read this, thank you once again.

Run Errands

Picking things up at the store, or driving children to sports practices and appointments was also mentioned as a great help. If you are already out and about, or if you can add a child or two to the crowd in your car, you will make a big difference for a family adjusting to life with new children. The first year my girls were in school, a friend drove them home every day which not only simplified my life, but relieved my mind. As our little ones grow older, we forget how difficult it is to buckle multiple kids into car seats in order to pick up one child from an event. Waking kids from naps to take an older child to a practice is even worse. This is a great kindness if you are somebody who is already in the car and happy to run a quick errand for a friend with a new child.

Provide Babysitting or Respite

Many of you said that babysitting would have helped, even if it was just somebody being with the kids while you took a nap. Some said they needed help with their other kids while they took new children to multiple appointments. Others said they needed care for their new children while they gave some attention to their original crew. Of course, it all depends upon the unique needs for the family, but this seems to be a need for most families. Weekends are particularly difficult for Dimples, the lack of structure that she enjoys at school just doesn’t transfer to a long Saturday stretching before her. We try to fill her days, but one of the greatest gifts we receive are friends who invite her over for a few hours, or even all day. This Saturday when I’m in Denver, she has big plans with our youth pastor and his wife and she is already looking forward to it.

Respite is a great need for families whose new children have significant challenges. A family can quickly become exhausted when there is constant raging, arguing, and destructive behavior. A friend who understands children from “hard places” and is willing to give the family a 24 hour break, or even a four hour break, will have an impact far beyond what they may imagine.

Show Kindness to the Original Crew

I’m in the process of (slowly) writing an article for Empowered to Connect on “giving voice” to the siblings of children from “hard places.” Our original children struggled with our inability to give them attention and time when we added three new children to our family and one year later added another. They lost us for a number of months as we struggled to figure out how to live this new life.

My friend, Beth, welcomed Ladybug into her family and home, and nearly completely homeschooled her for a year after Dimples came home. Rusty and Ladybug joined the youth group of a local church and we were thankful for the encouragement and positive adult interaction they received. It was so meaningful, that we eventually made that our church our new church home.

Friends who will take the kids and do something fun is also a huge blessing when life at home seems to be a load of work or simply tumultuous. If a family has new children who are raging or crying for hours, the kids may need relief from the stress too. My friend, Sue, began taking Ladybug and Sunshine to the library once a week, which they still look forward to each Friday.

It is very easy to forget how hard this adjustment phase can be for the other children. Reaching out to them, or giving the parents a break from the new kids, so they can enjoy the other children, is a real blessing.

Be Present

I have to admit, I was struck by the prevailing theme of loneliness and isolation in the comments. I hope you will read them yourself, because I can’t express the thoughts as well as the original authors did. Over and over readers expressed that once the initial excitement died down, they felt lonely. The needs of their children may have prevented them from getting out and about; they were stuck at home, alone, living a new life with new children. It is hard to imagine how very isolating this can be.

Several people said they wished friends would just stop by for coffee, even if the house was messy. Others used the words grief and loss to describe how they felt. Some of you said you needed somebody to just listen and not judge or try to cheer you up as you coped with the changes in their lives. Encouragement is needed. If you live a distance away, a phone call, email, or encouraging text may be what a mom needs. Knowing you have not forgotten her, that you are praying may help her through the next hour.

It has been four and a half years since we brought our first adopted children home and for a long time our life needed to become very contained and small. We simply could not go out much; even going to my bookgroup once a month became impossible. I hope you’ll be encouraged to know that this month I am going to my bookgroup once again — and I even read the book.

If you missed this post, be sure to go back and read the great responses from everyone. Please take a moment to add your thoughts – it is not too late.

Thank you for being a great community and sharing my life.

Encourage one another.

______________________________

Lisa Qualls

Lisa Qualls, writer of One Thankful Mom, is the mother of 12 children who came to her by both birth and adoption.  As she winds her way through the challenges of attachment, trauma, and life, she shares what she is learning in the hope of helping other families.  She earnestly believes in the power of God to heal children’s broken hearts and wounded minds.

 ‘

His Story

I can remember just like it was yesterday walking into the decorated, empty room we had gotten ready for our soon to be adopted son. I remember curling up on the bed, hugging the stuffed monkey we’d bought him and wishing that it was my son. I remember wondering what he was doing at that very moment . . . wondering if he felt loved and safe. I thought about all the moments he had lived already that I would never fully know. As a mama, to not know all the answers to the questions that I’m sure I will be asked some day, is heart wrenching. I remember the ache of just longing for my precious little boy to be with me . . . wrapped up in my arms.

I remember that time seemed to stand still as we waited for phone calls, paperwork, travel dates. It felt like all the years of the adoption process and the waiting would never end.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. I am sitting next to my son in his first grade class listening to him talk about how he used to live in Africa. He says it’s so sad that so many people have to drink dirty water just like he did. He tells about how his baby brother died from drinking dirty water. I fix my eyes on the floor as they well up with tears. All I can think is that it could have been him. It would have been him. My throat is thick as I say how blessed we are to live in a country where we likely don’t have to walk more than 20 feet in our houses to find clean, good drinking water. I sit and watch my son speak about his past . . . about HIS story. We take turns going back and forth talking and trying to help the kids understand what children just like them have to drink every day and what they must do to get it. I can see him remembering the very things he is speaking of as the words tumble out of his mouth. I think about how Tariku literally means “his story” and I smile   Aren”t all our lives stories?  Isn”t all the pain, the good, the struggle, the hope just begging to be told?

I remember crying many tears in his empty room just over two years ago, longing for my son to be home with me. And now the tears flow freely as I sit next to him and see how his story has shaped his heart so beautifully. It really is true – our pain, our mistakes . . . they don’t define us. They shape us. Tariku’s difficult past isn”t who he is. It’s a part of his story. Just like him being loved and treasured and valued is a part of his story. He inspires me. He shows me that we choose how we respond to the good, the bad and the ugly. He is choosing to take a terrible life circumstance and use it to help others. He is showing me what healthy vulnerability looks like even at age 7. No hiding. No fear. No shame. He is who he is. And that, my friends, is simply beautiful.

 ________________________________________

Amy Savage

Amy is a business owner and adoptive mommy whose heart has been broken and expanded by loving orphans in Ethiopia.  She blogs at Love the Least of These because there is power and transformation in sharing our stories with each other.  She and her husband, Ben, and their three children make their home in Colorado Springs where Ben works in orphan advocacy for Children”s HopeChest.

 

 

Maybe I Thought It Was My Idea

 

Maybe,

during this entire adoption process
I struggled with the idea that
this was all my plan,
not God’s.

Maybe,
I often thought…

“What if we get him home and this whole thing falls apart?”

“What if my motivation is wrong?”

“What if I am blowing up God’s plan because of my wants and desires?”

Maybe,
I even thought these things
up until the night before Gotcha Day.

And what if…
maybe,
what the Holy Spirit kept whispering to me
the. whole. time.
was EXACTLY right!

I am your Good Shepherd.
And I never lead my sheep where they shouldn’t be.
And I have equipped you with MY grace,
MY abilities,
MY strength.
DO NOT BE AFRAID!

Maybe,
God knows what He is doing
and I can trust Him to lead me in the right direction.

No.
No maybe-ing this time.

I KNOW He knows what He is doing.
And I laugh now.
I laugh at all those days and nights
I struggled with whether this was right or not.

Because this is God we are talking about.
And He knows the end
from the beginning.

And that doesn’t just mean,
(affect high-pitched, cheery voice)
“Oh, my life is so easy now!!
And my children are so perfect!!!”
Squee!

Umm…No!
Come sit for a day?!?!
That is ABSOLUTELY untrue.

But what it does mean is this,when you are called,
you are equipped.
And if anybody’s power/grace/anointing
is sufficient,
God’s is.

________________________________________

Anna Lokey

Anna Lokey and her husband Shaun have been married 11 years. They have the joyful privilege of parenting four little girls. Three biological (Zoe-8, Hazel-5, Sophie-3) and the fourth, Lily (age 2), recently adopted from China. Anna is a homeschool mom trying everyday to bring up their girls in a loving, Jesus-centered home! She and her husband help lead worship at their church and serve in the children’s ministries. Anna enjoys reading, working out, and playing pretend with her girls. You can read more about them and their Anything but LoKEY life on her blog.

Identity

 

Our daughter is so proud that she can now write her name. She loves to practice. Her name and her ability to write it is important to her. Her name is part of who she is. What’s even more amazing is that she only has three fingers and no thumb and she just came home from China six months ago. She writes her name in spite of it all. No one tells her she can’t. She knows it is part of her identity, and she just keeps writing. How will she respond one day when that identity is challenged? How will she respond when she is teased or bullied? Or told she can’t do something?

The crazy thing is that we walk around every day letting others challenge our identity. When we choose to truly follow Christ, we claim a new identity in Him. Our entire mindset is changed, we are a completely new being. Romans 12:2 says, “ Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We now choose to be empowered by Christ, not by others. Our identity is in Christ.

I know that the day will come when Madelyn’s identity is challenged. She will be made fun of, she will be called names—it will happen. I want her response to be, “I am Madelyn, my identity is in Christ. My confidence is in Him, and He empowers me to rise above.”

Keep writing your name Madelyn!

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Amy Kratzer

 Amy Kratzer’s identity is in Christ. She has been married to her awesome husband for seventeen years. She is a pastor’s wife, mom, and seventh grade public school teacher. She has three children, Harrison, 13, Cailyn, 6 and Madelyn, 4. The youngest, Madelyn, joined the family in February 2012. In her “spare” time, she loves blogging, reading other people’s blogs, and helping adoptive families with her ministry Forever Hope

Broken Little Child

He threw a rage at the hospital tonight. A big one. He kicked and screamed and threw a chair at the receptionist. His super-human fury-driven strength required five men to contain, an empty “time-out” room, a bed with restraints, a “burrito wrap,” and some emergency medications. And somehow, he still managed to spit on people, hit, and slap the doctor across the face.

Of course, we’ve seen this sort of thing before. Many times. At home. We aren’t surprised by his actions, just surprised that he finally lost control enough to show this very real side of himself to other people…the same people he’s been trying to convince that he’s perfectly compliant and well-mannered. He wants them to believe that this is our problem and not his.

We stand by the truth. We are not, have never been, and never will be perfect parents, but the responsibility for the behavior our son chooses does not belong to us. It belongs to him and him alone. The responsibility for the trauma that caused his brain to work the way it does also does not belong to us. It belongs to another set of parents that failed him many years ago.

And yet, I concede to my son’s way of thinking on at least one point. Although not in the area of responsibility, this problem does belong to us as well as to him.

Because we love him.

Tonight, as I was putting our other kids to bed, Miss M, who is our troubled son’s biological sister and who is currently winning a long battle with an attachment disorder, got really serious.

“Mom, why did you adopt us if it was going to be so hard?”

“Girlie, we’ve talked about this before. Everything that’s worth doing- everything really important – is hard.”

“Do you wish you could change it?”

“Sweetie, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go back and not adopt you, because then you wouldn’t be my daughter.”

I walked over to her bunk bed, reached up, cupped her head in my hands, and planted a few kisses right in the middle of her forehead. Those big brown eyes as dark as chocolate were sparkling with genuine joy as my voice filled with tears and I said to her,

“You are mine. Forever and ever, you are mine. No matter how hard things get, you are my girl. Forever.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“Love you, too. Now go to sleep!”

There was a time, less than two years ago, when I no longer had any idea what I was fighting for. When I felt like giving up. There was a time when that same little girl that hungers so much for her Mama’s love and approval couldn’t get through the day without throwing a tantrum about something, without hitting or biting or screaming, couldn’t let her guard down long enough to show us the real Miss M that she kept hidden inside.

There was a time when all things felt hopeless, when every thought of our daughter brought on panic and despair, when constant talk of her dominated our marriage, and when we couldn’t see God working through all the pain and anger and frustration.

There was a time when I couldn’t see the scared, broken little girl underneath all that spewing hatred; the little girl that I now love with all my heart.

I am convinced that there is a terrified, broken little child inside every traumatized, angry, unattached child.

Inside my son.

It’s that thought that allows me to feel sorrow for him tonight, in an out-of-control rage against people that he doesn’t know and have done nothing to him. How scared and panicked and all alone that little child inside must feel! And as silly as it sounds, he’s never been without my husband and me when he’s been in one of his rages. Does he care? Does he feel abandoned? Does he even notice?

I know God is working in this situation. I don’t know how yet, but I do know that when all seemed lost with Miss M, He showed up in amazing ways…in His own time. He’s healing my daughter. He’s changing who I am. He’s strengthening my marriage and my faith and my family, and best of all, He’s reminded me what – who – I am fighting for.

That scared, broken little boy or girl inside every traumatized child is His precious child. Not ours, but His…created beautifully and wonderfully in His image and for His glory.

And they are people worth fighting for.

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Lisa Barry

I’m married to a man that makes me laugh so hard that I usually end up in tears. He was saved four years into our marriage, and then we turned our union over to God and His plans. God took our offer and blessed it with four children in two years (two through the foster care system and two through good old-fashioned baby-making), and then (surprise!) gave us another little biological squirt three years later. If you did the math, that’s five children in five years. Did I mention I’m insane? No seriously, God is good. He’s gently leading me down the paths of mothering, partnering with my incredible, Godly husband, dealing personally with impulsive ADHD, homeschooling, and helping our adopted kids overcome Attachment Disorders. I’ve got a long way to go, and most days I wonder how God could possibly love me with the absolute abandon that He does. I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed. I write about my life and my journey to overcome the worst of myself. Feel free to visit, but don’t expect perfection…the only good in me comes from Him.