Monthly Archives: February 2016

You’ve Been Framed

Stephen recently went to the optometrist and came back with new glasses.
His eyes are pretty bad and if it weren’t for new technology he would
totally have the “coke bottle” look. But even so, he ended up returning
the new frames because he found they limited his peripheral vision.

Does that ever happen to you? I mean, you put on a pair of glasses through
which you will view your children, their trauma and adoption story, and
find you cannot see accurately, or you realize your focus is “off”–yeah,
I’m actually talking about me, but I figure you know that!

I am aware that sometimes I pick up unhelpful frames when I look at my
children. If I pick put the frames of criticism, I see that which
disappoints. If I look at my children through the frames of their behavior
in the moment that so often stems from their past traumas, it is easy to
lose my peripheral vision of the truly amazing things God has done in
their lives, and in mine.

But I have these grace frames that I prefer to wear. They are wonderful!

With my grace frames on, I can see accurately and move about freely
without stubbing my toe on some offense or spraining my ankle in some area
of lack.

In grace, I see my child as God sees him. I see with lenses that focus on
what God is doing and has done, rather than what still needs to be done.
My eyes begin to catch the lines of definition in his spirit, enjoying
what God enjoys about this treasured child.

And then I am able to say, “I see you!”–not to call out what is wrong or
missing, but to define and declare what is true. I have the privilege to
define my child, not by his current behavior, nor by his past orphan
status, or even by his present adopted status, but by his identity and
calling.

It is the nature of the enemy to want to capture you in the worst and
weakest moments of your life and then suspend you with that view of
yourself, and to constantly remind you “This is who you are!”–that is why
he is called the accuser.

It is the nature of God to capture you in the victory won by Jesus in His
death, burial and resurrection and suspend you in that view of yourself,
and to constantly remind you “This is who you are!”–that is why He is
called the comforter. (Greg Haswell)

You and I have the unique opportunity to be ones who speak into the
identity and calling of our sons and daughters. That is, we get to
constantly remind them who they are.

We pick out the frames of grace and start our own name-calling campaign!
We refuse to wear the glasses that can only see best what is wrong, what
is weak, what needs ‘fixing.’ Instead, we don those frames that catch each
one in his or her identity in Christ, viewing them as their heavenly
Father views them.

This is powerful parenting.
This is parenting in grace.
This is what love looks like.

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Beth Templeton

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband Stephen for 27 years. They have seven children, ages 18-24. Several years after giving birth to three girls God called their family to the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Beth’s heart has been deeply and forever changed as she has watched the love of Father God poured out on her whole family through adoption. She leads Hope at Home, a ministry dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord, go to Hope at Home.

 

But What About Our Other Kids?

“But what about our other kids?”

 

I hear that question all the time. I’ve asked it myself. And honestly, I think that’s part of being a good parent. We want what’s best for our kids, and we wonder what adding children to our families through foster care or adoption would be like for them.

 

Although I can’t speak for all families or children, I want to tell you a little about our experiences over the last two years. Although our youngest son was adopted, we received him as an infant, and our oldest was only two. As far as we can tell, the adjustment for everyone in that case was much like if I’d given birth for a second time. Over the last year, however, things have been very different.

 

When our 4 ½- year old daughter came to our family in November of 2016, she’d been in several families and had experienced things our boys never have. She comes from a place of hurt, just as many children in this country and around the world do. We didn’t know what it would be like for the boys to have a new sister with a different background, different race, and different behaviors. And those were legitimate concerns.

 

It’s been rough. They have struggled to love her, and at times, to even be kind to her. They’ve felt jealous and angry by the amount of attention she has required from us. They’ve been annoyed and confused by some of her behaviors, and I’ve heard several times, “I just wish it could be like it was before.”

 

I’ve had days where I’ve felt like I was in a constant counseling session… with my own children. I went from one room to the next listening and empathizing and talking and praying. But we’ve seen the light.

 

Do they still fight? Yes, like most kids probably do. Do they still get jealous? Absolutely. Sibling rivalry is alive and well. But now, they function as three siblings, not as two brothers and a stranger who moved in one Friday.

whitson

I was looking at Project Zero’s website a few months ago, and my kids came to sit by me. They saw a sibling group of five and another of two and asked about them. I explained that the kids needed a family, and do you know what they said?

“We can do that! Let’s go get them.” Then they tried to convince me that having two (or five!) more kids wouldn’t be a big deal at all. Bless ‘em.

 

God is working in their hearts.

 

Last year, our oldest son brought home an assignment from school that God used to show me He’s already redeeming our daughter’s pain and the difficulties we’ve all experienced through these years.

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Matt and Becca write about marriage, parenting, and life through the lens of a married couple, parenting team, and pastor and professional counselor. They share hope and restoration by giving a glimpse into their lives- the failures, the successes, and the brokenness and beauty of everyday. You can read more of their writing at WhitsonLife.

The HOW of Adoption: {People Ask/Say all the Time}

Family-Photo-Ankerich

You can imagine the stares and questions we get when we walk into a place with all our littles. And the head shaking that ensues when we share about CallaAnne! I know! I used to be the same way when we were a family of three girls and bigger families were near. The same questions popped into my head that I will share below and little did I know God had MUCH bigger plans for our family than we would ever imagine.

Giving God control of your thoughts changes your life and gives you blessings you NEVER saw coming!!!

People ask us all the time HOW in the world are we able to handle this adoption life God has given us and at times its hard to put into words. My husband Scott chose this topic today and hope together we are able to give hope to anyone called… you just have to say yes.

People Ask/Say All the Time:

“How in the World do you handle all those children?”

God is First: We don’t handle them. We love them with God’s help. First and foremost, a relationship with God is foundational to all successes in life. Being in step with God’s will brings strength, guidance, and assurance all is well. Everything begins with prayer and as long as Scott and I are praying together, God keeps our hearts, thoughts, and actions aligned. Each time we have gone forward with an adoption, we BOTH had to know it was the right decision for our family and the only way we knew that was communication with God and each other.

It is NOT easy to move forward. We usually describe it as an elephant in the room. We know it’s there but we don’t discuss until we’ve prayed and have a decision. My prayer is always for God to press on Scott’s heart what is right and true. All in time, we come to the decision by allowing God to be First!

We can handle all God has called us to because it is His plan and He is First!


 

“How do you love so many at one time?”

Love each other like crazy: Scott says all the time we are able to love all our children because we love Each Other like crazy!!! Marriages need to be strong to handle the many facets of adoption. There is no way we could do this without each other. Complete submission and dedication in our marriage comes before the needs of our children and after following God. We are best friends and share everything. There are times when you feel you can’t go one more second and it is in those rough patches, a spouse can make all the difference.

I have sweet precious friends that are single and raising beautiful families too. I know they are surrounded by amazing people that support them in their journey as well. It boils down to putting your trust in the One whom has called us to this life. He gives all of us what we need for each day we wake up.

Scott and I certainly give God the glory for the Love we are able to pour out on so many and love each other well! 


 

“Well you all certainly had to be Called to adopt all those kids!” 

Being Called: We are ALL called in James 1:27 to look after orphans and widows. That can look so different for you and me. Our family was called to birth and adopt our children. You may be called to foster, support an orphan or orphanage, support a family adopting, or whatever you hear God telling you. The bottom line: You have to be Listening and Willing!!! We adopted our Chinese children because God showed us their faces and they were waiting for us to come. We will go until they are all home and we will know that being completely surrendered to God’s will.

We certainly did have to be called to birth and adopt all our children because God ordained it all!!!


 

“You sure do have your hands full!” 

Hearts Full: Yes our hands are full but mostly our hearts. When you are living a certain life, it’s not something you think about in tiny parts and decisions. It is a daily flow and rhythm of living and loving. It is being and doing the necessary things for everyone to stay alive and thrive. As basic needs are met, love begins to bloom because everyone is learning to be a family and feeling secure. When we are out and about, it does look like my hands are full especially walking through Target with six kids riding on the shopping cart, but there is strategy behind that practice and a whole lot of work back at home that brought us to this place. Love does not come easy or fast. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears come first.

Yes we have our hands full but our Hearts are the fullest and our life meaningful. 


 

“How are you going to send them to college?”

Confident: Educating our children is a one day at a time adventure. Two of our children have graduated college and living beautiful productive lives. One is in college now chasing the destiny God has laid before her. Six are home learning as we do life and I don’t worry about their future. God meant for them to be in our family and He is molding them into what He wants them to be. We spend much time reading the Bible and discussing how the stories apply to our lives then have time to actually practice them.

I LOVE our home life and confident God has their futures all figured out… I don’t have to be concerned with that just now. (Jer 29:11)


 

“Well you won’t ever retire, will you?”

Commitment: Choosing to have children is a lifelong commitment. It isn’t a choice made that ceases once they graduate college or get married or have their own kids. We are still extremely involved in our big kids’ lives and wouldn’t want it any other way. When we brought our children into our family, we committed our lives unto them. Our family hinges on this amazing scripture: 1 Peter 4:10, ” Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” Where in the Bible do we ever see someone retired?

Scott and I will probably never have the retirement most people will enjoy BUT we will live our lives completely and fully to the measure God has set for us through our Retirement years.


“What do your big kids think about all these little kids?”

Sacrifice: We tell in our adoption story the amazing way our big girls (little then) wrapped their hearts around bringing home little EK when she was just 11 months old. None of us imagined we would soon have 7. There is no way adoption would have worked had they not been FOR it. Being for it doesn’t mean easy either. It is hard to be a child in a family and more being adding yearly but God covers that too. Our big girls have changed and matured so much through watching and accepting their little siblings into our family. Our littles are SO very blessed to have our littles in their lives. ALL of our children are SO very blessed to have so many to love them.

God did a mighty work in our big girls’ hearts when He brought us to adoption and we can’t imagine life any other way!


 

“You sure are blessing those kids and just so proud of you!”

Our Blessing!: The opposite couldn’t be more true. As much as we are blessing our children choosing them for our family, THEY are blessing us more than we can even put into words. We are different because of them. There are days when we are in awe and fright of maybe missing life with them and other days we wonder WHAT in the WORLD did we do. :) But when all settles down and we remember the calling, we are the ones being blessed just for saying yes!

Blessings always abound when you say yes to God! 


 

In the end, we can’t imagine standing before God and Him saying,

‘What in the world were you doing loving all those children?”

 

What’s your biggest fear in raising a big family? Trust God. He is OVER it all!!!

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2015-11-12-16.43.29-2Shay Ankerich is mom to nine going on ten kids (seven from China), wife to Scott, and a homeschooling mom.  She loves Jesus, adoption, blogging, reading, photography, and crocheting. She might even be writing a book but it seems to be taking a lifetime to finish. You can find her writing at A Beautiful Symphony about Family, Home, Adoption, and School.

Beauty in the Chaos

Sometimes I have to search to find beauty in the chaos that can sometimes describe my life.  Although we’ve found a new normal through this last year of major transitions, I sometimes feel like I’m in survival mode while trying to do life.  I know beautiful moments pass by unnoticed because I’m too busy to see them.  Or because I see them as interruptions, instead of invitations to slow down.  There are precious moments every day.  But when I allow myself to get caught up in the busyness and survival, these sweet moments aren’t seen.  With an overflowing plate, it’s easy.  Easy to focus on the never-ending to-do list.

The three loads of laundry that need to be folded.

The toilet bowls with rings in them.

The unfinished school work.

The homeschool planning that still needs to be done.

The toys always scattered about.

The dinner that’s rarely prepared in advance.

The walls that need painting in our new home.

Or the guilt about the extra screen time the children get while I’m simply trying to catch my breath.

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Sometimes though, I glimpse the beautiful.  The simple fleeting moments that don”t last long, the ones I miss if I’m not looking.  The ones that remind me to live more in the moment.  To allow the interruptions to slow me down.  To simply be still.  To take in the beauty around me, especially amid the chaos.  And to rest in knowing that He has me exactly where I’m supposed to be.

He says,“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.