Saturday, August 22, 2009


Tomorrow is my daughters tenth birthday. This is one of the children we adopted so I wasn't present at her birth. Birthdays like this are bitter sweet for me because it reminds me of all I missed out on in her life.

This particular daughter was born ten weeks early with three types of drugs in her system. She really should have died that day but that wasn't in God's plan. She has grown and matured so much in the past ten years, her problems that were there at birth are now just a memory. That amazes me!

Ten is a big deal in the Hopkins household. All ten year olds in our house get a letter on their birthday from mom and dad. This letter not only tells them how much they are loved by God and their parents but it encourages them to become all they can be. It reminds them that they are an important part of God's plan. We try to point out where they've come from and the potential we see in them.

We started this tradition with our oldest son, a birth child, when we saw how hard it was for him during his 'tween years. It meant so much to him that he immediately wrote his sister a letter to tell her how special she was to him. Seeing that showed us that we were onto something.

Now each child in our family gets excited as their tenth birthday approaches. They eagerly anticipate the letter that mom and dad will write specially for them. Last year when another one of my daughters turned ten we sat at the table and read all the ten year old letters from my oldest son's to our newest ten year old.

So tomorrow we are looking forward to a breakfast of Monkey Bread and bacon as ordered by the birthday girl and some special time around the table reading ten year old letters. Then next week we get to do it all again for our next ten year old. Thanks to adoption we have two girls who will turn ten this month. They are only eight days apart. Our "almost twins" give us twice the fun!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Childhood Memory

Lately I've been reading some books on writing, trying to improve my skills. One book recommended a practice exercise of writing about a childhood memory. I remember doing this as a highschoool student and as a teacher assigning my students this very same exercise. How very different these two experiences were.

When I was the student writing about a childhood memory, it was wonderful to be able to go back in my mind to the small farm my grandparents owned. The house set pretty far off the road and was nothing spectacular but in the back was a natural play land for my cousins and me. Grandpa had a strawberry patch with the biggest and best berries I've ever tasted. (Grandma would fix them with sugar and milk, if they made it into the house). There was a small hill for rolling down, a path to hike and trees to climb. I loved that house and I especially loved my Grandpa. One of my earliest memories is a time when I was supposed to be taking a nap but instead I was watching Grandpa mow the yard with his "baby tractor". Writing about that was fun for me.

Remembering the good experience I had remembering my childhood and writing about it, I asked my older children to write a story about their earliest memory. This writing exercise for them was healing but not much fun. When I assigned this I didn't think much about the early memories of my adopted children. They didn't have much they could or wanted to remember from their days with their birth parents. What they did remember wasn't pretty. One of my kids talked about her first memory....a ride in a police car after being taken by DCF from their apartment. There were memories of a younger sibling climbing on the roof, of being scared and trying to keep the toddler from joining her sister out the window. Memories of feeding the baby peanut butter so it would have something to eat while waiting for birth mom to come home after spending the weekend at the bar. And on and on go the sad tales of these kids. A simple writing assignment brought up so many memories and so much pain. Pain that I can not even imagine. However walking through the pain with them has brought so much healing.

As a family we are learning to praise God for memories, good and bad. We are also gaining the courage to uncover more and more memories so we can work through them and be stronger in faith and character on the other side.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Celebrating the Small Victories

This is a big year for us....this year our youngest is in kindergarten and for the first time in about 14 years I don't have a baby or toddler to entertain while I teach the others in our home school. Guess that would have to count as one small victory and yet it saddens me. I miss having a little one.

Today was the first day of school for the new school year. This year I'm trying to start slowly and get the kids used to the routine little by little. So this morning we slept in a little and didn't start school til about 10am then did about half of what we will do when school hits full swing. Sleeping in certainly counts as a victory!

I wasn't sure what to expect out of the kids as far as excitement level and behavior. I figured it could go either way.....they could be greatly excited and well behaved cause they can't wait for this induction of knowledge OR they could buck the system and complain all day that the public schools haven't started yet. Much to my surprise neither scenario happened. The children got up, got ready and we began school without any major blow ups or whining but no dancing and singing either. Another v-i-c-t-o-r-y.

But the largest victory of the day was my little RADlet who did her school work without a meltdown!! Not one!! Even when she missed problems in math she did not groan in frustration, throw the pencil or tear the pages out of the book. We have made some fabulous progress here!!

So in honor of our small victories I would like to sing a song I learned in church as a child. (Thanks Chuck, for teaching this to me....I still sing it and think of you. Someday I will join you in Heaven and we can sing it again together:)

V is for victory, shout it out, it's a glorious word
V is for victory, it is our through Christ our Lord
Some days may be dark and drear
In Christ the way's all clear
For we have victory, victory in Christ our Lord
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y victory, victory
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y victory, victory

As I sing, I'm doing "the dance"!! Something you are probably glad you can't see;)

What small victories do you have to celebrate? I would love to share in the celebration with you if you'd like to share.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

God is Helping Me Handle It

Today my five year old son pooped in the potty! I know, by five that should be old news. Most of my friends kids had that down at two.

But my child is adopted and though we've had him most of his life; he has suffered abuse that has caused him to act out and be less mature than others his age. Being too young to get much help from talk therapy, we have tried to just be patient and understanding about his problems. We use stories and play to help him know the way he should behave.

This morning after his father had helped him in the bathroom, he came to me to tell me that he had made it to the toilet. He was grinning ear to proud of himself. He looked at me and said, "Mommy, I didn't even get any in my underwear. God is helping me handle it!"

Out of the mouths of babes..... To hear him say that was such and encouragement to me. He is "getting it" and he knows where his help comes from.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Monday, July 20, 2009

You Don't See What I See

It was fall when I was at a friends house and asked to have a picture taken of the two of us. She put up a good fight but in the end I got my picture:) She talked with me later and confessed that she hates to see pictures of herself. But all the flaws that she sees I don't. When I look at that picture I see a wonderful woman who listens to me and understands. Someone who is loving and caring and giving. She just doesn't see what I see.

Well, over the past few weeks, I have tried my hand at drawing. My friend is a talented artist and as I was texting her one day, I mentioned that it would be nice if she lived closer and could give me art lessons. That was my first mistake because she didn't let distance stop her from teaching me art. Now, I am enrolled in the PROMISE school of art!! I sent her a photo of what I want to sketch and she is giving me pointers. I also have to scan and send her samples of my artwork. To be very honest I am sometimes quite embarrassed for her to see my scribbling. But she looks at them and with love tells me what I need to work on. Last week I was telling her how I felt about her seeing my work. She said, "Keep it up because you don't see what I see."

I hate it when my own words are used against me. Well, not so much in this case. I love that she sees something in my pictures. It makes me look a little closer, trying to figure out what it is she does see.

So, here is one of my sketches.....what do you see?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Though None Go With Me

I just got done watching a movie called "Though None Go With Me" and as I type my eyes are full of tears.

The main character in the movie made a commitment to God as a young adult to follow Him unconditionally. Like the song... though none go with me...still I will turning turning back.

Through out the movie she suffers many losses and questions her faith but continues to follow Christ. At the end of the movie her best friend throws her a party to let her know just how much her life has made a difference. There were people there that she had inspired when she taught Sunday School, a man she counselled in the hospital after a car accident, her granddaughter and so on. It was very touching when she realizes that the little things she had been doing all along did matter even though she never left her small town.

Guess I'm feeling just a little jealous. I think that many of us may not know til heaven what a difference we've made in others lives. That's what makes this journey so hard and keeps us so dependant on God. Maybe if we did know it would go to our heads and we would think we did it under our power not Christ's. I don't know....still, I would love to know if and how I've affected others...for the good (some say I'm a bad influence:)

Although there are very few who have taken the path I have chosen, I can't say I'm alone. God has blessed me with a wonderful, amazing man that I can't imagine life without. I wonder if I would be able to go it alone...that I don't want to find out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It Could Be Today!!

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

I guess those words are only encouraging if you know where you're going. If, like me, you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you will be one of the ones caught up with Jesus in the air to join Him in the clouds......these verses are extreemly encouraging!!

Somedays are just harder than others to get through down here, so it is good to look up and see a cloudy day and could be today!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Don't Fight These Hands that are Holding You

When I first started this blog I wrote about how I am God's RADlet. I suffer from attachment disorder just like my children. I am not as bonded to God as I would like to think nor do I respect and love Him the way I should. How much rejection has He suffered from me alone? Then multiply that by how many other of His children may be like me. Wow.

Lately a song has been running through my head a lot. A song that makes me think of the ways I reject God. It's by Tenth Avenue North called "By Your Side". The song is as if Jesus were talking to us and the line that always gets to me is the one that says....Please don't fight these hands that are holding you. My hands are holding you.

Guess it just makes me think of all the times I have fought Him. I'm sorry, God! Thanks for always being by my side.

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away
Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?

Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night
whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
Yeah My hands are holding you

Look at these hands, and My side
They swallowed the grave on that night When I drank the world’s sin so I could carry you in And give you life, I wanna give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I’ll never let you go

Artist: Tenth Avenue North
Copyright Credits: Album: Over And Underneath
Written By: Jason Ingram, Michael Donehey, & Phillip LaRue
Copyright: © 2008 Peertunes, Ltd. / Grange Hill Music / Windsor Way Music / Phillip LaRue Designee

Friday, July 3, 2009

Birthday Surprise

For the past month I have been ready to burst at the seams. I have wanted to write about a fun journey I've been on to surprize my best friend for her birthday. But I was afraid that she would read my blog if I mentioned it here. Now that her birthday surprise is over I can tell you about our special day.

About a month ago, as I was texting Teresa about coming to my house for a visit, I got the idea to drive the two hours to her house, get her in the car and bring her back to my house as a birthday surprise. You see, I've lived in this house for four years now and until yesterday she had not been able to come for a visit (that might have something to do with the fact that she has 10 kids and a husband to care for). So, I contacted one of her young adult sons to help arrange babysitting and made my own childcare arrangements. Then began to plan.

When I walked into the resturant, I saw her sitting with her back to the window, having breakfast with her adult son. Elijah saw me immediately but her view of the door was blocked by a room divider. I told the hostess that I was meeting someone for breakfast then dialed Teresa's number. I saw her pick up her phone and flip it open as I walked toward their table. I tried to keep the excitement from my voice as I asked her what she was doing. Still thinking I was in another state, she explained how Elijah had showed up that morning and offered to take her out to breakfast for her birthday. "So, where are you?" I asked.
"Cracker Barrel"
Smiling I walked closer and asked, "The one in Middletown?"
Now standing in front of her I said laughingly, "That's funny 'cause that's where I am!"
With that she looked up and saw me. Not knowing what to say she stood to hug me. Then a knowing expression crept over her face and she turned to her son. "Did you know about this?!"
He nodded and explained how I had called him a month before to ask his help with planning and provide babysitting. "Because," I added, "You are leaving with me. We are going to Indiana for the day. I'll make sure you back to your house tonight."
Elijah finished his meal quickly and left us to our special day.

I'm glad to report that Teresa seemed to love the surprise and we had a wonderful day. Best birthday ever was how she described it. Time with good friends is to be cherished.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Mother is Coming! My Mother is Coming!!

I adore my mother. Honest, open, fair, generous, hospitable, talkative....these are all adjectives that describe my mom. But when she comes to my house things get stressful.

My mom and I are opposites in so many area. She is a "Martha" busy in the kitchen. I am a "Mary" visiting with the guests in the other room. She is neat and organized. I am a free spirit. She is the detail person. I'm the one with the big ideas. Both personalities have their good qualities but they are very different.

With eight kids, a husband and a plethora of animals, our house is rarely clean. It is not filthy and will not be condemned by the health department but it is not picked up either. My mothers house is always in order, always picked up with things rarely if ever out of place. When my mother comes to my house you can imagine why there is stress.

Even at age 43 I still want to make a good impression on my mother when she comes. I try my hardest to get things picked up and the house looking like there is some kind of order to it. When I begin this task, I feel overwhelmed and get cranky. This makes it hard for my kids to enjoy the anticipation of waiting for Mamaw and Papaw to get here from Florida.

When my children are told to help clean the house they will almost always ask, "Who's coming over?!" (OK, I realize that in and of itself shows that I have a housekeeping problem.) When they find out that Mamaw is coming the groan is loud and long. They know that this means even more cleaning and putting away than we would do for just a normal guest.

By reading the title, you may have figured out already what is going on in my house right now. My parents are on their way up North and we are getting ready. I have sounded the alarm, "My Mother is coming! My Mother is coming!" and the children are working as they groan.

I know that once she gets here all will be well. They love my mother as do I. We just don't like preparing for her arrival.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Missing Sherry

I believe that God puts people in out lives for a reason and sometimes just for a season. That's how it was with Sherry. Meeting her was definitely a "God Thing".

She, like everyone else in the church, noticed me pile into the pew in front of her with all my kids, week after week. My husband being the minister meant that Sundays were like single parent days for me. Unlike all the other church members, Sherry and her husband noticed little things about us as the fact that my eyes seemed tired and my kids were just a little more rambunctious than others. She asked God how to help and got an answer she didn't expect.

During a sermon one Sunday she passed a note to me that read...."Can we take your kids home with us and bring them back tonight?" She explained that she felt God leading her to help me in this way. I was shocked but, at the time, that is exactly what I needed.....a break from the chaos. So, after the service, we handed our children over to a couple who had no children of their own and no real experience in the area of caring for kids.

As odd as it all seemed, my children quickly fell in love with Sherry and her husband. I believe the feeling was mutual because soon after that the kids began weekly visits at Sherry's house. We called these "Sherry Days". My week consisted of Sunday, Monday, Sherryday, Wednesday...etc.

Not only were the kids taken with Sherry but I was finding her to be a wonderful friend and found myself looking for excuses to go to her house without kids. We would talk or read the Bible together. And because she loved the outdoors we would find our selves in the garden or watching animals on her property. Those were wonderfully calming days in the midst of some very tough times.

During this difficult part of our journey, these two wonderful people became an extended family for us. They joined us for Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays. This relationship was a breath of fresh air for me. Soooo much was going on with our RADlets, that I was feeling overcome and overwhelmed. God knew what I needed and in His goodness He provided.

But like many things God gives us, this was only for a season in our lives. Sherry got sick and the cancer made Sherrydays difficult. We drifted apart and although I try to keep in touch, it's just not the same. My home is much less chaotic now but still I miss those days and I miss Sherry. I understand that I don't NEED that time as much anymore. God gave me Sherry only for a season.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Longer Than I Expected

After our little "graduation celebration" with our therapist I was thinking that maybe this RADical journey of ours was close to an end. Most of our RADlets are like different children. Those who have met them in the last year would never ever believe the things we have had to live through. Our children are happy, healthy and generally fun to be around. They are far from perfect but now most of our issues are just normal kids things.

However there is still that one RADlet. He has decided that since he can't live at home with us he doesn't need us at all. He is trying very hard to get us, his family, out of his mind. Now, I guess, we are at a different part of the journey....a very challenging part. How do we let this RADlet know that we still love him and consider him a son? How do we make sure he feels a part of the family when we only see him once a week?.....when he won't even call home? At times I feel like giving up but I know I can't. I can't give in and give him what he wants. I have to hang in there and be creative in coming up ideas to help him feel like he is still part of the he is still wanted.

I guess I'm learning that this RADical journey is a marathon. Although six years is a long time and was long enough for healing my other children, it was not long enough for my son. He was in and out of foster care for ten years, so maybe we are half way there. Maybe once he has been in this family for ten years or more he will realize that we are not going to ever give up on him. I've heard that it does take that year for each year of abuse. Right now I'm just wishing there weren't soooo many years of abuse.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Leader in the Making

Our oldest son is a youth ministry intern for the summer at a very small, country church. He is young but has always been beyond his years. He was ready for kindergarten by two but we held him off til four. By six he was campaigning against abortion (and yes, he knew what it was and why he was against it). At nine he was into the elections and had collected signs for our yard. We said he could stay up to find out who would be our next president but eventually we had to send him to bed and explain to him what hanging chads were. When he became a teen, he thought he was ready for the world. I know that all teens think they know everything but this son went way beyond that.

This past week his church did VBS and I took my little ones. We stayed at his house for the week. (that is...the house, owned by the church, that they are letting him live in for the summer....aka....the parsonage) Although from the outside this looked like a house, the inside was more like one huge dorm room. The only thing in the fridge....2 pot pies and a pack of hot dogs. In the cabinet were snack foods. The beds were unmade; there were clothes along with x box games and DVDs on the floor. A few books and Bibles were on tables near by (that part was encouraging:)

Don't know what I expected. Maybe I thought since he'd always been so much ahead of himself in life that he would keep his house a little more.....clean and organized.

I must say that when I went to the church, the people all had good things to say about the job he'd done so far. Guess there really isn't a correlation between the way he keeps his house and the way he does his job. He apparently is a good leader, just not a good housekeeper.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Things We Do For Love

I have one sister who is five years older than me. When I was in high school (in Ohio) she was already married and living in Georgia. About once every six weeks or so my mom and dad would torture me by dragging me on a road trip. We would pack up the sedan, dad driving, mom riding shot gun while I held the pooch in the back seat. The drive was a little over nine hours. If we left as soon as dad got in from work on Friday and drove straight through we would make it just in time to hug each other hello and good night then go to sleep. After church on Sunday, it was a quick burger then back in the car. Once we drove the nine hours to see a special program at my sisters church and drove home the very next day. CRAZY!!

Well, mom and dad, today we did something equally as crazy. We got our entire crew up and ready then drove two hours to hear our oldest speak for 15 minutes, stayed to eat lunch with him then got back on the road for another two hours.

He is a youth ministry intern and preached his first sermon this morning. Proud doesn't begin to describe what I felt today. To see my son in this capacity and hear him speak, I would've driven nine hours like my parents did way back when.

All the time in the vehicle however can make one a little loony. That was the case today. I turned around in my seat just in time to see my five year old licking his shoe. Yes, literally! I simply said, "Please, don't lick your shoe." Then I turned to my husband and said, "That's something I never thought I would be saying as a parent." He smiled, I chuckled then we both broke out into a roaring laugh. I grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and began a list of things we never thought we'd have to say as parents but have actually had to say to our children.....
1. Don't lick your shoe.
2. Don't eat the deodorant.
3. Don't put socks in the wall.
4. Help me find the turtle in the pool.
5. Don't poop in the creek.
6. No bodily fluids of any kind on the walls.
7. Don't flush the the toilet.
8. No more reading're grounded.
9. Don't color the dog.
10. Call the sheriff, there's another horse in our yard.

So, what have you said to your children that you never thought you'd have to say? I would love to hear your additions to this list.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Little Miracle

My wonderful husband and I spent several hours at the hospital ER last night with one of our daughters. That happens when you raise kids. Thankfully, this time it was nothing serious.

The question the nurse asked was really quite simple.....Does she have any medical conditions? As my husband was telling the nurse how healthy this adopted daughter is, my mind went back to the day I met her.

On Sept. 23, 1999, I was notified by our social worker that there was a baby girl in the hospital scheduled to be released the next day. She was to come to our house as a foster baby. I was told she had some medical difficulties and was asked to meet with a nurse in the neonatal nursery to learn how to care for her. With in the hour, I was headed to the hospital with two toddlers in tow.

This baby, who is now our daughter, was born 10 weeks early, weighing only 3lbs and 7oz. She had some serious lung problems and couldn't suck and breath at the same time. She also had three different types of drugs in her system at birth. The first month of her life was spent in a Children's Hospital fighting for her life.

The day I met her was her one month birthday. She was still hooked up to monitors but was now breathing on her own. The feeding tube had been removed. The nurse showed me how many sucks of the bottle she could have before she needed the bottle taken from her mouth to take a breath. I sat there a little frightened by the idea that this child couldn't breath while drinking her formula. As I was carefully feeding her and watching the monitors closely, I notice that her coloring began to change. She literally turned blue in my arms. I called the nurse, who handled this fragile little one so well. The nurse patted her back and got her to breath again.

She did come home to live with us the very next day and without any monitors or medical devices of any kind. That first year was difficult. We were at the ER again a few months later due to her breathing problem and her low body temperature. There were other problems.....eating issues, like not being able to tolerate milk based formulas or milk as she grew older. She also had acid reflux. She had many colds and ear infections as the years progressed.

As I listened to my husband last night tell about how healthy she was, I realized he was right. For the past five years, she has had no major issues. No problems relating to the drugs....not even a learning disability.

She does have a real stubborn streak that I try to remember was what kept her alive as a baby. She is a fighter and has a real willingness to live life to the fullest. My baby isn't that fragile little thing anymore. She is almost 10 years old and as healthy as any child her age. She is a real miracle!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Amazing Parents?

As I left to do an errand this morning I took my five year old with me and instructed the others to clean the house while I was gone. When I returned I found the children watching a movie and the house.....well, it was better but not totally clean. I asked my girls if they did their very best work on cleaning the house or if they did just enough to get by. They said they did just enough and seemed to think that they didn't need to do anymore. I reminded them of Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Then I asked them if Jesus were coming to our house in the flesh would the house be clean enough. I got some silent stares.....hope that means they got it.

OK, so, those of you who know me well, are probably asking the same question my children asked when I told them to clean the house....."Who's coming over?" Today it was a therapist to talk with us about our RADlets escalating behaviors, which is the real reason the girls didn't want to clean the house. They are tired of social workers and therapists coming to the house interrupting our day.

I like this therapist, she seems to know what she's talking about. We've found that is not always the case with therapists. She also considers the fact that we know our son better than she does, so she asks us questions and listens to the answers.

Today she gave us a compliment that I found hard to take. She praised our parenting. Right now I don't feel like a great parent. I feel like I am just doing enough to get by. She, however, sees things differently. She compares us to other parents she's worked with and she is amazed. She tells us that many other parents would have just given up on a RADlet like ours.

I have to admit that I have felt like giving up on our oldest RADlet but children are not, I hang in there and try again. That shouldn't make me an amazing parent, that should be the norm for parenting. I don't feel like we are doing anything spectacular.....just being a parent.

I am sooooo glad that God is an amazing Father and hasn't given up on me. I don't believe he has given up on my RADlet either. At any point if my son decides to reach out....I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt the God will be there for him, running to him like the Father of the prodigal.

Monday, June 8, 2009

To those of you who prayed for us last week as we faced court with our RADlet....Thank You!! That was one of those things we never imagined doing as a parent, and yet we felt a great sense of peace. I know that was God answering prayer.

We were given a gift in the court room that day....a suspended sentence and probation. I just hope our son sees it the same way and uses this opportunity for all it's worth.

Things would have been so different for him if......
if his birth parents would have done their job
if the system would have put them in appropriate foster homes
if the foster parents treated him with the same respect as their own children
if the therapists would have recognized his RAD earlier

Remembering where my children have come from still angers me. RAD is a horrible thing to have to deal with. It is easy to prevent but oh, so hard to cure. So, tonight work on a little RAD prevention for me. If you have children, laugh with them, hug 'em, kiss 'em and talk to them!! But you probably already do that don't you:)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stress and Mowing

I was push mowing the yard yesterday, something I don't do often now that I have teens. As I was mowing I noticed was quiet (except for the sound of the engine), no kids yelling, no phone ringing, no beeps telling me laundry was done or dinner was ready or that I had a text. Oddly enough it was pretty peaceful. I was alone with my thoughts and prayers.

My thoughts took me back to another time when things were more simple. A time when my decisions and mistakes didn't affect quite so many people. A time when my stress was a little less. A time when I was the teen and not the parent of a teen.

I know I gave my parents a hard time about doing the yard but, truth be told, I kinda liked it. It was a time I could think and pray. I began to talk to my Creator and sing praise songs as I walked the yard. It was a good time with God. After a while my parents began to notice a change in my attitude. Spending so much time with God had made me more like Him. Pretty Amazing!!

Fast forward many years to when my husband and I first adopted our sibling group of four. We went from a family of five to a family of nine overnight and our house was in chaos. I tried to make sure it was organized chaos but honestly that didn't happen very often. On those occasions that the stress of life got too much, weather permitting, I would get on our riding lawn tractor and mow our two acres. It reconnected me with God and brought me back to a peaceful state.

I'm glad I got the opportunity to spend that extra time with God yesterday. This week holds more stress than most. We have to appear in court with our RADlet. It is good that I was able to do something that could get me to that peaceful state before my stress levels got out-of-hand. Could it be that I have learned a thing or two through the years?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Country Kids

In the summer of 2005 we moved from Ohio to Southern Indiana. To do this we had to sell two houses in Ohio and buy one in Indiana. God is good!! He allowed us to sell and then buy a house without having to pay a real estate agent.

Finding a house to buy proved to be harder than we had originally thought. First of all, we needed a house big enough to sleep ten people. Your average three bedroom, two bath ranch would not work. Five bedrooms would be about the least we could work with; seven would be preferable. That narrowed the search down quite a bit.

Then there were other considerations we needed to keep in mind as we moved with our little RADlets. They have a tendency to be very (how should I say this?.....) dramatic. When they go into a rage they try to get other adults on their side. They would love nothing more than for another adult to come "rescue" them from their parents when they are being disciplined. So, they sometimes scream so loud and shrill that it sounds as if they are being murdered when they are punished.

Our RADlets have been know to scream things like, "Stop! You're hurting me!!" when we are taking them by the hand leading them to their room. Or "You won't let me to eat!" when we tell them they can eat what we fixed for dinner or not eat but we aren't going to make anything else.

The things they say and the way they say them are disturbing. If I were walking by a house and heard this kind of screaming, I might call child protective services. So, we made the decision to live in the country where our neighbors wouldn't be close enough to hear the screaming, think we are abusing the children and call 911. That narrowed it down even further.

We found two places we thought would work. One was a little further out and had more bedrooms; the other had a larger living area and an out building that we were going to turn into a "little red school house". In the end we choose the one further out, mainly because of price. Looking back we can see that God lead us to this house. It had a room right off the master bedroom that was perfect for bringing home my "little brown baby boy":) and it wasn't close to neighbors at all, so our RADlets could scream in their rage without us parents having to worry about calls to CPS.

One of our RADlets was a runner. Not that he ran track or cross country as a sport. He took off when he got mad. Living in the country was a blessing for him. He could run into the woods and hide for a while without hurting anyone or anyone hurting him. And his screaming didn't bother the wildlife....some just joined with him.

Now we are to a point that if we moved I would not think twice about getting a house in town. My most severe RADlet is residential treatment and my others have healed to the place where this is not even an issue. Amazing!! How far we have come!

I was sharing this with the children the other day, hoping it would encourage them to know how much they had improved. One of my girls, turns to me and says, "Thanks for the complement, mom, but if it's just the same with you, I'd like to stay in the country!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

You Reap What You Sow

My oldest is now finding that this verse is true. He's heard it all his life but it is just now becoming real to him. When he lived at home we would tell him that he would someday regret the way he was speaking to and treating his siblings. "Someday" came this past Monday.

He came to the house and for the first time in several weeks we had all eight kids under the same roof. (What a blessing!:)

We celebrated this momentous occasion by taking the all the kids to McDonald's. While sitting in the play area watching the little ones play, the teens began to "rag" on the oldest. I tried my best to mediate but to no avail.

Later, right before my son was leaving to go back to his house, he and I were talking about the attitude of his younger siblings. I was trying to help him to understand how they feel and let him know that I would continue to talk to the teen girls about this. He looked me in the eye and said, "I know I am just reaping what I've sown."

It's moments like those that make me feel good about the job I've done as a parent. They let me know that he is maturing and that he has learned something from his dad and me. I am proud of the man he is becoming. I know many adults that have a hard time admitting things like that about themselves.

The key for him now is to begin to sow good seed. It's not too late. My children can, and I feel very sure that they will, become close friends as they all grow and mature. I can't wait to see that happen and to watch how they relate to one another as adults.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Following The Son

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see; eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. (from Romans chapter 1; The Message)

Yesterday one of my daughters came to me after Science, all excited over something new she had learned. "Did you know," she began, "that plants will grow towards the sun?!" (I love how kids think that they are the first person in the world to learn or figure out something). I assured her that I did know that about plants. Her comment to me was, "That's dumb. Plants should just grow up."

I had to think about that for a minute. Maybe she was right; but then again, God created this world to lead us to our Creator. Maybe plants following the sun is a lesson for us. No matter where a plant is placed it will reach out for the sun. Do we reach for God's Son no matter where we are placed?!

I tried to use that as a teaching moment for my precious daughter to learn about how we should be like the plants and always follow the SON! I'm not sure if she got it but I will never look at a plants the same now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Looking Back to See How Far We've Come

When we first adopted a friend of mine suggested that I begin a journal. She thinks that someday I should write a book. I don't know about the book, but I did take her advice and began to write down just the normal happenings of the day. I'm so glad I did because sometimes it's hard to tell how far you've come until you look back.

My last blog was about my "graduates" and today I found myself reading some of my journal from 2005. Wow! My little RADlet has come soooooo far!!

In 2005 we moved to a new city and state. It was tough on the kids.....especially the RADlets. Even after the rest of the kids had started to make new friends and settle into a routine our RADlets just kept showing their anger. By the end of the year they had literally torn holes in their walls.

Today I read about a time when my littlest RADlet had been given socks to sort and was watching TV instead. I took her and the sock basket to her room and told her she could come out and join us when the socks were sorted. I thought if she wanted to sit and look at them until she decided to fold them that was fine. While she was in her room she decided that there were too many socks so she began to stuff the socks into the hole in her wall. I didin't even notice it at first. A couple of days later we were looking for socks to wear and one of the other girls said somethings about socks in RADlets wall. When we finally went ot investigate we found 138 socks in her wall. She had to do a push up for each sock found (not all at one time...over a period of a couple of days).

The next time we asked her to do socks she was put in her room and told NOT to put them in the wall. (Funny, I never, ever dreamed I would have to tell a child of mine not to put their socks in the wall:) This time she put them in her air return---160. More push ups.

She also once took the register out of the floor and threw it at her teenage brother who was babysitting her. He took it away from her but the cat got into the air duct. When I got home we ran throught the house lifting the vents and calling the cat. We tried milk, string, food. Nothing seemed to work. He was lying just out of reach, watching us call him and purring very loudly. Finally the teenager stuck his arm into the air duct up to his shoulder and grabbed the cat which now looked like the worlds biggest dust bunny!

I can laugh about all this now, although it was anything but funny then. How much we have grown since then!! This little RADlet is one of my "graduates". Praise God!! I can't imagine her doing any of those things now. She has made such a turn around.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Well, it's that time of the year isn't it? The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer and kids are beginning to think about the end of the school year. Graduation time!! There will be those graduating from pre-school, kindergarten, 8th grade, high school and college. The tune to "Pomp and Circumstance" flows through my mind while visions of caps and gowns march across my memory. Although I only had two graduations (high school and college), I remember them very well. They were celebrated and I was honored!

This year two of my children are facing a graduation of sorts. This is not the kind of thing that one sends out invitations to or puts on a mortar board for, however I couldn't be prouder. Both of my girls have worked very hard to get to this point and they deserve a celebration.

Two of my girls have healed to the point where they no longer need to be in therapy!!! They have been working with our family therapist for a couple of years now and last week we got the news that they would be able to make it without therapy now. Awesome!!

Our Doctor is taking us out to a restaurant and buying us lunch to celebrate. No funny hats or gowns, no "Pomp and Circumstance", no parties or presents, but it is a milestone just the same. I hope that they know how proud we are of them. I want them to feel honored. Maybe I should buy them a card and present it to them at lunch. Hmmmm wonder if Hallmark makes a card like that?! "Congratulations on Finishing your Therapy!" I don't know.... Guess I'll have to create one of my own:)

Way to go, girls!!! Now on to the next stage of life!

Friday, May 22, 2009


83% is not a bad score. I would be OK with that if I got it on a test. In our home school we say that if you can get an 80% on a test you have learned the 83% would show competence.

5 out of 6 sounds pretty good as well. We see adds on TV telling us that 5 out of 6 dentists think this toothpaste is the best. If we win 5 out of 6 games in a season of soccer we feel pretty good about it. After all, it's only one loss and no body's perfect....right?!

Sunday morning in Sunday School class we began talking about dysfunctional families and how hard it is to break the cycle. It was suggested that since I have had success in breaking the cycle in 5 out of 6 of my adopted children I should feel pretty good. I don't. What about the one that can't or won't break the cycle.

It reminds me of the something Jesus said about sheep...
"Suppose you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it?" (from Luke 15; The Message)

I know how the shepherd feels. I am so happy that my bio children are healthy emotionally. I am ecstatic that my six adopted children have healed (or are working on it). But at the same time, I grieve my one child that is not healing and seems to have no desire to heal.

I want so badly to help him, even to do it for him but that's not the way it works. He has to want to get well. So, I wait and pray and pray and wait some more....maybe someday like the shepherd I will have reason to celebrate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This morning I did something that, I'm ashamed to say, I haven't done in a while.....I started my day reading God's Word and praying.

Fact is, I've been a committed, involved Christian for more than 30 years and yet I still find it hard to make sure that I have special time with God everyday. Why is that?


We all have them. Mine come in the form of children, the computer, my husband, and friends mostly. These can be wonderful things....blessings from God but the devil uses them against us. He plants them there right in front of us so we have to push them aside to get to God. (Hopefully that's not a literal push and no one gets hurt:)

In the mornings my distraction comes in the form of sleep! It is just plain hard for me to get myself out of bed in the mornings to begin my day with God. Wow! That sounds pathetic! But it is true.

Right now I am reminded of Psalm 5------
Give ear to my words, O Lord
consider my meditations.
Harken unto the voice of my cry,
My King and My God.
For unto Thee will I pray.
My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning.
O Lord, in the morning
will I direct my prayer
unto Thee and will look up.

Father God,
It is morning and this is my prayer.....that I will look to you not just now but all day long!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Momma's Boy

Don't you just love toddlers and preschoolers? They get so excited about the littlest things. My youngest loves to greet me at the door with a huge hug, yelling "MOOOOOOM!!!"

This doesn't just happen when I've been gone for the weekend. This occurs many times a day. When I've left him with his teenage sisters to do errands and return home after just a few hours, he's there running to me. When I pick him up after being in class at church....big smile, running hug and "MOOOOOM!". But it also happens when I come in from walking the dog or getting the mail......even when I come out of the bathroom. He is always soooooo happy to see me.

This one fact makes me feel successful. When he was brought to our house I had no idea how long he would be with us. At first I was told it would just be a few weeks. I had, at that time just one goal for make sure he was attached! I was just beginning to deal with the effects of RAD and I was determined to make sure that this precious little boy never, ever had to deal with that problem.

Praise God!! It worked!! He may be hyperactive. He may be spoiled. He may be "all boy". Sometimes, he may even be mean spirited and selfish. BUT he is not a RAD!!!!!

So, every time I come home to a little boy holding his arms out and running to me or even when I am late getting somewhere because I had to stop at the door for 5 hugs and 5 kisses....I will praise God that this little boy knows love. He is able to give love and receive love.

Thank you, God!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lord of Lords

Although, I am not very good at it, I like to write music. I have been doing it since I was a teen, just as a way of expressing myself. Most of the time these songs lay in the back of my mind, hidden behind the to-do lists that are ever present.....that is until something happens that brings the lyrics to the front of my thoughts. Since most of my songs are about God this can prove to be a good thing.

Lately this song has been on my mind. So I thought I'd share.

Lord of Lords

Sometimes I feel all alone
No one's there; no one seems to care
The people I depended on
Let me down again; they walked away

BUT you are the Lord of Lords,
Creator of all things...still You care for me
You know my thoughts, I can not hide from You
You are the King of Kings
and still have time to hear when I pray
You sent Jesus to die to show how You care

Sometimes I think You test me
Take away the people that I'm leaning on
To show me all I need is You
You're the Rock I should stand upon

'Cause You are the Lord of Lords,
Creator of all things...You're my strength
In my weakness You become so strong
You are the King of Kings
And always there in good and in bad
You're in me; I am in You; We are one

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just Do It

A liquor store near our house has a sign out front that changes on a regular basis. It has funny quips and semi wise sayings that we read (then explain) to the children as we drive past. Last week the "Beer Sign" (as the kids call it) had a saying that made me really stop and think. It said......."A terrible thing happened last night......nothing."

Well, I guess this "terrible thing" has been happening to me for the last 10 days. I am struggling emotionally and have been doing ......nothing.

Now, don't call CPS on me. I have done all the necessities----fed the kids, gotten them to the places they needed to be, given them school assignments, graded their school assignments, put them to bed at a decent hour etc.....

But I find myself napping in the afternoons, sitting in front of the TV in the evenings not even really watching, not doing the normal things I enjoy (like blogging). Even wishing the kids soccer game would be canceled or that I could find an excuse to get out of taking them to karate.

Our pastor is preaching a sermon series based on the book "One Month to Live" by Kerry Shook. This week we are reading and talking about leaving a legacy. That is done by living intentionally.........something I haven't been doing lately.

I need to intentionally spend time with the kids playing and reading and talking.....even when I'd rather be napping. I need to make myself interact with friends and colleagues in the evenings not sitting in front of the TV. If the soccer game is cancelled I need to play Wii with the kids to help them not be so upset. I need to do karate with will be good for my body and my relationship with my daughter.

OK, now I see what I must do,the question is....How do I get motivated?!!!?!!!

Wish I had some great answers on that one but I don't. Maybe Nike had it right when they said.....JUST DO IT!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Prayer Meeting

Not too long ago I blogged about how difficult it is for me to open up to others in a group setting because most people don't know how to react to what I have to share. They give me the "deer in the headlight look" and do the "push back".

But last week, I found support from a group of moms that was very unexpected....but awesome!!

It was a Mom's night at a friend's house. I wasn't extremely excited about it but I knew I was expected to be I went. I'm sooo glad I did!

I was feeling a little down and not very open at all. Guess I was having a bit of a "pity party", but once I got there, had a cup of coffee and began to laugh with the ladies, I felt better.

I sat around the table with four other ladies (and one sweet little baby:) drinking coffee and eating cookies. One moment we were laughing 'til tears were rolling down our cheeks and the next, the conversation turned serious. Everyone was giving their opinions about the economy and way the nation seems to be going downhill, even sharing how God is using them to change things.

Well, at that point I began to open up and share. Instead of being stared at, one of the ladies looked me in the eye and said, "How would you like people to react to you when they hear about your family?" I began to cry. No one has ever, EVER asked me that! I wasn't at all sure what to say. I took a minute to think about it. In the end I just said that we needed prayer and acceptance. Maybe not in those words but that's what it boils down to.

I don't want to feel like an outcast. I don't want to feel like people are talking about our family in whispers when we pass. I don't want people to feel like they can't ask me how things are going. And I don't want to see that disapproving look in the eyes of someone who has just found out about our struggles.

Before I was even able to stop crying, someone suggested that we pray right then and right there. And let me tell you these ladies know how to pray!! I haven't been prayed for like that in years (if ever).

I left feeling uplifted and like I had others walking along side me.....even though they admittedly don't know first hand how I feel or what I'm going through. They are just willing to accept me and pray for me. I can't tell you what that means.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I was reading another mom's blog today about "firsts" and "lasts". "Firsts" are generally celebrated, cheered and looked forward to.....first steps, first birthdays, first day of school, etc... This mom talked about how "lasts" kind of sneak up on you. They may even escape your memory. For example, I don't remember the last time I brushed my teenage daughter's hair, tied my ten-year-old's shoes or picked out clothes for my eleven-year-old. It just happened gradually, no fuss, no fanfare.

For some of my children, there are a lot of "firsts" they don't remember or have not even been told about because no one was there to cheer or celebrate or document these special times for them. They don't know when they said their first word or took their first steps. There are no pictures of their first birthday or their first hair cut. A few of my girls really grieve over this loss. They often ask me questions like "What do you think was my first word?" or "How old do you think I was when I first started eating baby food?" or "Do you think I was bald or had lots of hair?".

For me this is sad for a couple of reasons. I hate to see my children so sad....when they are sad, I am sad. (guess it's a mom thing:) But I am also sad for me. I'm sad that I wasn't able to be there to cheer, celebrate and remember these things for them. Sad, that I missed out on part of their childhood. Sad, that they had to have a lot of "firsts" that they never should have experienced at all. Kids should not have to remember the first time the police came to the door to take them to a foster home or the first time the social worker interviewed them. It makes me sad to think of the life they had before adoption.

When we moved about four years ago, I remeber that one of my little RADlets became very scared, almost confused, at the idea of moving. We talked about it and to be honest I don't remember a lot about the conversation except that she said something about "switching mommies". I couldn't figure out what she meant for the longest time til I realized that the other times she had moved was from either from her birth mom's to a foster home, or from one foster home to another and then to our home. She had never just "switched houses" without "switching mommies". I guess that was a "first". The first time she had moved and not "switched mommies". Not really the kind of "first" you photograph and call the relatives about but a positive one none the less.

I guess the moral of this story is......sometimes you have to look hard for something positive to cheer about and celebrate.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nobody Knows

I haven't added to this blog in a few days but I know I should be writing. As I've said before it is therapy for me and right now I feel myself slipping back into that pit. The pit of depression and despair. The place where all I can think is "why me" and "if you only knew" and "nobody knows the trouble I've seen".

Tonight we sat in Bible study and talked about relationships and forgiveness. The woman on the DVD talked about forgiving the man who was responsible for her son's death and I began to cry. When it was over we were led in discussion questions. I wanted to share what was going on in my head but who would understand?

I remember sharing with Christians in small groups before. I began to talk about our family and the difficult times we've had with our RADlets. Most of them just sat silently, mouth open with that "deer in the headlight" look in their eyes. They didn't know what to say.

Tonight I decided that it was best not to share at all but ended up crying all the way home. My poor husband.......

Right now we are in a situation that might even lead us to be witnesses in a court case. I am upset with the authorities in this case. I do not believe they are doing the right thing. When I was talking to my best friend about it she said she would pray for them. I said I probably should too but I don't want to! I haven't forgiven them yet nor do I have any desire to.

Yes, I know this is a bad attitude and God is working on me. Someday, I pray that I will be able to forgive.......for their sake and for mine.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Learning Things the Hard Way

This weekend, I watched my son's band play at a place called The Solid Rock Cafe'. As I watched him I began to wonder when he grew so tall and became so talented . I know this will make me sound really old, but it seems like just a yesterday I was teaching him to read.

I tried to teach him music but he was much too stubborn to learn from me....he had to do it on his own. I remember sitting him down at my piano trying to get him to play. He said he didn't want to play piano. He wanted to play drums.

We bought him drumsticks and a drum pad to learn on and told him that if he did well on that, we would buy him a used drum set. It never got to the point where we needed to worry about buying a set.

Then he found an old bass guitar and we bought a "how to" video for him to watch and learn from. I tried to help him but when I got further ahead in the book, he got mad and quit.

One day he saw a group of high schoolers that came to our church to play and sing. He said, "Mom, next year I am going to travel with that group and play bass." I said something like, "Sure, you should try out for the group. The audition will be a good experience for you."

After that he spent a lot of time with that "How to play Bass" video and got pretty good. He passed me up. But still, I encouraged him not to get his hopes up when trying out. Well, he made that group and was in it for three years. Now he is in college playing drums in a band . It just amazes me.

When I think back, he always had to learn things on his matter what it was he was learning. He didn't like listening to others who have gone before him and know more. I'd like to say he picked up this quality from his dad, but that would be a lie.

How much easier would things have been for me if I had just been able to listen?! I have gotten better about learning from others as I have gotten older but I have to wonder if God doesn't look at me in the same way I look at my son, shaking his head saying, "My child, you always did have to learn things the hard way."

Friday, April 24, 2009


Last weekend I was able to go to a Woman's Retreat with my sister at her church. Thanks to my wonderful husband and son for watching the rest of the kids so I could get away. It was a wonderful time of rest and renewal for me and I kind of dreaded going back home.

You see, my little RADlets have a problem when I leave and their routine is changed. When I come back from a trip, even if it's just one night away, they have a way of making me pay for being gone. I remember the first time David and I went away for a weekend and left them with family. They were great while we were gone. We praised them for the good report and the way they acted for their aunt and uncle and grandparents. We didn't expect the RAD behaviors we got for the next week. They were wild for us.

It didn't take us long to learn what to expect when we got home from a trip. And when I returned home this time, I expected some of the normal RAD behaviors. What I got was quite a surprise!! One of my little RADlets had made me a card. This in and of itself wasn't surprising because she is very creative and loves to make things for people. It's what the card said that was a surprise.

The front of the card said "To Mom.....#1" The inside said, "I missed you. I am glad you are home." And there was a picture of me and her with some hearts.

I know that all mothers get gushy about cards their children make for them but this card was so special because is shows healing and attachment. She missed me and she even admitted it to me! Now that is a really something to come home to!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Little Piggy

"The mundane can become magnificent if we're plugged into each hour and each other."

from "One Month to Live" by Kerry and Chris Shook

This quote made me think of some of the mundane things we parents (especially mothers) go through on a daily basis. They seem so insignificant.....the changing of diapers, the feeding, the kissing of boo-boos, the playing referee, the teaching....all those things that cloud our days and our thinking. These things are hard to get passionate. I mean who gets excited about potty training or washing dirty faces?! I do!! Those are the times that encourage bonding and attachment. Those little things that we do daily because we are good parents. The things that we never get thanked for, the things that we will never get a medal or trophy for....those are the things that really count. But no one notices until they are missing.

Five years ago this June we brought our youngest child into our home. He was three months old, extremely outgoing and totally adorable. After the paperwork had been signed and the social worker was gone, I laid him down on the floor on a blanket to do what I have done with all my babies....count fingers and toes.

He was laughing and cooing so I began to play "this little piggy" with him. I noticed that this attracted an audience of my seven other children. Some just wanted to play with the baby but others looked at me with that "your stupid" look that children have and asked, "What in the world are you doing?"

You see some of my children had never played "this little piggy". They had never heard of it before. When they were babies, no one sang to them, told them nursery rhymes, played "this little piggy" or "peek-a-boo" with them. Those silly little mundane things that we would never think of as important suddenly were hugely important. My kids had missed out on that special kind of attachment that should be a normal part of growing up.

So, right there in my family room my kids, some as old as 10, took off their shoes and we played "this little piggy". I know it sounds strange but it was a very special time of bonding for us. I grabbed those big old smelly feet and looked them in the eye and cooed at them saying, "This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home!" And my elementary aged children laughed just as hard as the baby.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A letter from My God

I went to a women's retreat this past weekend and when we came in on Saturday morning this letter was sitting at our seats.

Do you realize that I came here to meet with you?
Do you have any idea how much I love taken I am with you?
Do you know that I have never forsaken you...nor will I ever reject you?
Do you realize I knew everything about you the day you were conceived?
I anticipated your life and planned for it.
You do have an enemy...but it is not me.
He wants you to think it is.
I am for you!
Do you think you need to prove yourself lovable to me?
Deep down inside, are you trying to earn my love and attention?
As you strive to love Me more, do you realize the key to loving Me more
is to let me love you more?
Do you resist Me? Do you run from Me? Why?
To whom have you compared Me...and with whom have you confused Me?
I'm not like them.
I know what's happened. I know what's on your mind.
I know the plan for how this turns out well.
I alone know how to prosper you through this.
My eyes and My affections are on you right now.
Quit trying to be strong. Let Me be strong for you.
I love you unashamedly. Even now My banner flies over you.
Everyone in the heavenlies knows how I feel about you.
I'd leave you blushing over my love for you....
If you'd let Me.

My RADlets are learning love from me....I need to be learning love from Him!! He is perfect love. And perfect love casts out all fear.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
Matt. 7:7

You do not have because you do not ask God.
James 4: 2b

Ask. It doesn't sound like a hard thing to do. People do it all the time. If you want something, ask. If you need something, just ask. It's not rocket science. So, why is it so hard for my children?

The only answer I can come up with is.....control. When you ask someone for something, you are giving them control. You are giving them the opportunity to say, "No". They are in control of if you get what you want or need and when you get it. You are admitting that the person you are asking has authority over you....that they have the control.

RADlets have issues with control. They want to be in control of everything because they feel they can't trust anyone. For our kids this came about because of neglect. In the first few years of their lives they had needs that weren't met by the adults that were supposed to be caring for them. My children ended up having to meet their own needs. They soon learned that they couldn't trust adults. Even now after almost six years of living in this family and having loving parents that do take care of their needs, there are times when my kids revert back to their RAD when they are scared or nervous.

This has been happening a lot recently with one of our RADlets. She gets sad or upset when things change (like an older brother going to college or mom taking a weekend to go to a woman's retreat) but doesn't know how to voice what she is feeling so she acts out. One of the first things we begin to notice is that she begins to do things without asking. This happens especially when mom is gone and her teenage sisters are in charge. Guess I can understand that to some extent....I hated it when my sister was in charge and I wasn't even a RADlet.

Guess this leads me back to one of my first posts about being God's RADlets. How many times do we try to figure things out on our own without asking God? I know I do it all the time. I intend to ask God. Sometimes I even tell other people that I am going to ask God. But then I end up trying to work it out myself. Asking God seems to be a last resort.

Does that mean that I have control issues? Maybe. But I know, that I know, that I know, that God is ultimately in control of me, my family, this world and the next. He is the creator; I am only the created. So, I must go now and ask God what he wants for me and what I should do for Him tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I was sitting in the library with a girlfriend while our children were in story time and we were chatting, gabbing, talking, enjoying adult conversation (whatever you want to call it) when she said something that brought back, what must have been, a bad memory. She shook her head from side to side and said, "Etch-a-Sketch". When I looked at her funny, she explained that she was trying to remove the memory from her brain the same way you remove a drawing from an shaking it. I love it!!

I firmly believe that even though you may not be able to control what thoughts cross your mind there is a way to filter those thoughts and only dwell on the ones that are positive and Godly.

Lately in our house we have had lots of negative thoughts that have translated into negative behaviors. So, I have pulled out the etch-a-sketch theory and tried to use it with my children. The other day one of my girls looked at me and said, "I can't do it. It's too hard" I looked at her and said, "Etch-a-Sketch". She giggled and hid her face behind her hand. I told her I was serious that we were going to wait and not do anything until she shook that thought right out of her head. She went through the motions of shaking her head but I wonder if she really was able to put that thought out of her head....I hope if she didn't do it that day that she will learn how to someday.

They just don't understand how damaging thoughts like that can be. I want them to try, even if it is hard and to realize that they can do hard things. I want them to be realistic in their thinking and know their strengths and weaknesses. But I don't want them beating themselves up over their weakness.....after all when we are weak; He is strong!!

I love the "whatever" verse in Philippians....whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, what ever is pure, what ever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things!

So, thank you to my "Dear" friend who taught me the Etch-a Sketch theory....we are trying to put it into practice. Shake out the negative thoughts and dwell on the "whatever" things!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Psalm 136:1-5

Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to Him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by His understanding made the heavens
His love endures forever.

I love this Psalm. In college we sang it....the worship leader or soloist would sing a line then we would respond with "His love endures forever". At verse 10 the psalm begins to list specific things that God did for Israel....delivering them from Egypt, giving them their promised land and freeing them from their enemies. And every other line throughout this psalm is..."His love endures forever!" God has been so good to us throughout this RADical journey of ours.....I could make my own list.

To the One who gave to me my spouse
His love endures forever
To the one who saved our 1st born son
His love endures forever
O give thanks for provision
His love endures forever
To the one who gives (birth) and takes away (miscarriage)
His love endures forever
To Him alone who gives new life (another birth)
His love endures forever
O Give thanks for how he worked things out
His love endures forever
By His understanding placed this family here
His love endures forever
To Him alone who created adoption
His love endures forever
that would show us a picture of His family
His love endures forever
To the God who shows us how to love
His love endures forever
To Him who made us ONE family
His love endures forever

Hallelujah, Hallelu
The Lord Jehovah reigns
He is the same from age to age
His love will never change!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Month to Live

Our church is starting a study called "One Month to Live". It is based on a book by the same name written by Kerry and Chris Shook. Tonight we met with our small group to discuss the introduction and watch the corresponding DVD. This is going to be a great I wish I had done years ago. How would this have affected my parenting skills? Would it have made more of a difference in my little RADlets?

"Looking at old tombstones, I can't help but recognize that entire lives are now reduced before me to two dates and one little dash. Some monuments include facts or sayings, Bible verses or poignant memorials, but each person's life really comes down to what transpired between those two dates. it comes down to what's in the dash." (pg 5 "One Month to Live" by Shook)

Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are, help us to spend them as we should" (TLB)

We were challenged to live for the next thirty days as if the doctor had just told us that we only have one month left to live. We were asked to think of five things that we would do different. Three of them had to do with parenting my children.

I am happy to announce that one of those things I was able to do with the children when I got home tonight. When the children were little we would tuck them in and pray with them every night. Even when we first adopted and had seven children we would go to each room and pray with the children that slept in that room before they went to sleep. As the children grew and began going to bed at different times we got lazy about it and just sent them to bed. But if I had only one month to live I would hug them, tell them I love them and pray with them every night....and possibly more than once during the day as well.

I think if I had only one month to live I would yell less at the children and try to play with them more. I wouldn't care how the house looked (OK so that wouldn't be any different than it is now:) I would spend more time with them and listen to them more. I wouldn't want their last memory of me to be one of me having a temper tantrum.

And the reality is that we don't know how much time we have left. I may only have twenty days left to live or two or maybe another sixty years.....only God knows. I just need to live each day as if it is my last.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Pray For

In 2002 I had three children but wanted more. I felt God leading my husband and I to adopt again. (At this time, my husband did not necessarily feel the same leading but for some reason, God seems to speak to me about adding children to this family before He speaks to my husband:) As I began to pray about this, I found a web site that had pictures of children in my state that were waiting to be adopted. I would look through these photos and pray about the children while my oldest child would stand looking over my shoulder and ask questions. He too was convinced that we should adopt, so he began praying as well.

At the time I was not looking at older children. We thought the best thing for our family was to adopt children that were younger than our children. Our son, however, had different ideas. He told me that he wanted a brother that was his age. I tried to explain the baggage that such a child would have and that we weren't prepared to handle those kind of problems. But our oldest child, whom we taught to pray, began to talk to God and ask for a brother his age. I would hear him praying and just smile because I thought I knew God's answer to that prayer. How wrong I was!!!

God made it very clear to us that we were to adopt not one older child but a sibling group of four older children. The oldest was 10 at the time, his siblings were 9, 5 and 3 (the same age as our youngest at the time). All of them had been in and out of foster care since the oldest was in diapers. They came to us with issues that we hadn't even heard of and sets of luggage not just a bag or two.

This might be a good time to point out that God did a number of small miracles to get these children into our home. The first was providing us with a larger house that had enough bedrooms to house seven children. This particular house sat empty for over a year and six other people that tried to buy it during that time but all the deals fell through for one reason or another. By the time we put an offer in they were so excited to sell it that they accepted our offer even though it was ridiculously low.

The next miraculous things God did was work in my husbands heart for him to be open to adopting four more children. He wasn't keen on having such a large family at first. Then once I saw the kids on that adoption web site we noticed that they were from the same county we were and their social worker was the same worker we had. When I called our social worker, before I had a chance to ask her about the possibility of adopting the four children she asked me, "You wouldn't be interested in adopting a sibling group of four would you? I've got these kids and I think they would fit into your family perfectly."

And in a system that is so slow it took us two years to finalize our first adoption, these four children were having weekend visits at our house within three weeks of this phone call to our social worker and after four weeks of weekend visits they were living with us. Six months later they were officially adopted.

After the adoption was final and the "honeymoon" period wore off we began to see RAD behaviors pop up. As we struggled with these issues and behaviors our oldest came to me complaining about his RADlet siblings. I felt it was my motherly duty to remind him that he had prayed for a brother his age. It made him stop and think.

I have always heard that saying...Be careful what you pray for, 'cause you just might get it. But it has never been illustrated to me so well as when my son prayed for a brother and got one with issues. I think my oldest is at the place now where he understands that God is using this experience to help him grow and be better able to minister to others but it took a long time for him to get there.

So, what are you praying for?!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Abundance of the Heart

"...the Lord does not see as man sees;
for a man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart." 1Sam. 16:7b

"...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Matt. 12:34b

No one but God can see into our hearts and know if it is filed with love or hate; wisdom or foolishness; pride or humility. But other people can get a glimpse into our heart by seeing what comes out of our mouth and by watching our attitudes and actions.

Think of it as a pitcher. If the pitcher is full or milk, what will pour out of the spout? If it is full of water, what will pour out? If it is full of gasoline, what would you expect to come out of the spout? If it is full of poison, would you expect water to pour out? That makes perfect sense to us....right? Well, if our heart is full of love, what will come out of our mouth? If our heart is full of hate, what will come out? Or if our heart is full of foolishness, what then?

To change what comes out of our mouths what has to change first? Our HEART! How does that happen? God! We pray to a God that hears and answers our prayers. We also need to get into God's word and let the living, active word of God that is able to judge thoughts and intentions of the heart change us.

I originally wrote this to one of our RADlets to get him to think about how he could change. Tonight when I re-read it, I realized that I'm the one that needs to change my heart. Too many times as I am raising these special children, I look at what comes out of their mouths and try to change them myself. I tent to focus on their attitudes and their problems and their mistakes. But recently I have been reminded of my own bad attitudes and short comings. I need a change of heart, maybe more than the children right now.

Father God,
Please, help me to change my heart.
I want it to be full of love for You and for my family.
Thank you for giving me these children to take care of.
They are each so special to me and to You.
Help me to love them and not let their special needs get in the way.
Help me to get into Your Word hide it in my heart...
where is will overflow out of my mouth!
I love You Father!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Surreal Day

Today was one of those days that seemed like it belonged in a movie and not in my life. We've had a number of those days in the past few years. I'm sure others have had those days.....maybe it's the day when the doctor says, "It's cancer".....or the day when your car was hit by the truck.....or the day your house caught fire.....or the day your teenage son ran away.....ours almost always have to do with our RADlets and their issues.

I guess what makes today different is that it involved a friend of the family and not just our family. This person was affected by our family's issues and I feel partially responsible.

I am so thankful that this person is a Christian and in God's hands. This friend is OK with what ever God has in store. I thank God for a peace like that!!

James says to consider it joy when you face trials of many kinds. That's a tough one. I don't feel very joyful at the moment..........I am working on peace but joy is not there right now. God, may You help me find that joy.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fear of Failure

Anyone else out there have a fear of failure? I have always had this problem.....I remember in elementary school having to do our class spelling bee. I was (and still am) a terrible speller (thankfully, now I have a spell check on my computer). I just knew that eventually I would embarrass myself by spelling something so ridiculously wrong that everyone would laugh at me. So, I came up with a plan. I decided to avoid the embarrassment by missing the first word on purpose. I told everyone in line that spelling bees were dumb and I didn't want to do it so I was going to miss the first word so that I could sit down and not have to participate.

I could give you a list of things that I have quit or not even started because I was afraid to try........because what if I did try my best and FAILED?! Would others laugh? Would they look at me different? Will they still love me?

There have been many times as a mother that I have felt like a failure. When parenting my RADlets I feel like I fail more than I succeed. The fact that one of my RADlets is living in a treatment facility and not at home with us, could be looked at as a FEELS like failure.

I have to keep reminding myself that God has a different view of success than we do. Our failure and our weakness allow others to see His strength and success. If I knew I could handle parenting these special children on my own I wouldn't need Him. The fact that these children are healing and making progress is a credit to God not me! I am just the instument He is using.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I heard my son's voice today for the first time since he moved to a new treatment facility. He sounded so sad. I guess since this move was to a less restrictive, more home-like environment I thought that he would be happy. But he informed me today that his new freedoms are boring and he misses the staff from the old facility.

Mark Twain hit the nail on the head when he said "The only one that enjoys change is a wet baby". It doesn't matter if the change is good or is different and different is uncomfortable.....and uncomfortable doesn't feel safe.

Mark Lowrey says his favorite scripture is....."this too shall pass". If things aren't looking good for you right now..........this too shall pass. If things are going great for you right now..........this too shall pass. We may not like change, but that is the one thing in this life that we can count on.

I haven't heard my son sound that sad in a long time. It reminded me of the first time he had to be hospitalized. I was not prepared for how I would feel as a mother. It was heart-wrenching to see my 11 year old in the hospital gown, no glasses and tears running down his cheeks. I snapped a mental image of him in that moment just as the door between us was closed and locked.

So, today I have no long stories or words of wisdom I'm just a mom who's sad because her son is sad. Before I hung up the phone I told him to hang in there that it would get better. I know from my 42 years of experience with life that things will eventually get better, but this is a tuff life lesson for any 16 year old, especially one with attachment disorder.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living With Commentators

It happened again today. I was asked "the question". No, it has nothing to do with my age (I'll be 43 this month) or even my weight (all I'll say about that is I'm 20lbs less than I was at Christmas!). This question has to do with my children and seems to be a favorite of those just getting to know our blended family.

An acquaintance looked at my daughter this evening and said, "Isn't she 'yours'?" What she meant was, "Isn't she one of your biological children?" "Did you give birth to her?" "She looks like you." But she didn't know how to express it without using that possessive language. You see I have worked very, very hard to let my kids (ALL my kids) know that they are mine. We are one family and I don't like them to hear people talk about my biological kids as "mine" and the others as "adopted".

Adoption creates unique challenges and stresses, so does having a large family. Many people we don't know very well, or even at all feel like they can ask questions and make comments on our family. We get things like...."Are they all yours?" "Are any of them related?" "How do you do it?" "What about their "real" mom?" "Are you crazy?"

I guess no matter where you are in life there are commentators. It seems that the more different you are, the more you deviate from the norm; the more comments and questions you get from total strangers. And my family is definitely different. We are a large, adoptive, racially diverse, Christian, home school family. So, I suppose that those looking in from the outside are just curious.

When this happens I have chosen to correct the one asking instead of ignore it. I try to do this in love, without making the one questioning feel embarrassed. I do however want to educate them about more positive adoption language. Using terms like 'birth mom' instead of 'real mom' or 'birth child' instead of 'my own child' are just more pleasant for the adoptive families.

Now, allow me to clear things up for you......I have eight children. Yes, they are all mine even though I only birthed two of them. Yes, some of them are biologically related as well. Two of my girls are half Mexican and one girl is part Cherokee and then there is my little African American/Caucasian boy. The rest of us are European in decent (as far as I know). We adopted so many children because it was what God wanted us to do, and No, we are not crazy! On the other hand we are not saints either...........just Christians who were given a ministry and are doing their best to fulfill it. If you have any other questions that I didn't cover you'll have to e-mail me. I promise to answer honestly, but in love!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Our Blended Family

When you hear someone talk about a blended family you usually think about a widow or someone who has experienced a divorce, then gets married again and with that, brings to this second marriage maybe children, or an ex.

In our case our blended family is from adoptions. Our family is comprised of three sets of biological siblings all tied together through us, the "real" parents. This has been a challenge for us from the very beginning to unite them into one family, instead of it becoming an "us verses them" kind of thing.

At first this was a daily problem. We heard things like, "You can do that to MY brother" or "Don't you say that about MY sister!" This just broke my heart, because as the Mom I truly loved each one of them and couldn't stand seeing this separation.

After five years of all 10 of us living under one roof, I am happy to say that this is not a daily issue for us anymore. We, most of the time, function as one big family. But then there are times, like birthdays and holidays, when we see or hear from the birth families and it starts again.

This past weekend we celebrated the birthday of our youngest child and invited his birth mom and two older birth siblings to the party. They are so grateful to be able to be a part of his life and to share times like this with him. I am glad that he knows his birth family and is able to get a sense of his heritage, yet it is hard. Hard on both of his moms; hard on all of his sibs (bio and adopted) and hard on the extended family.

About a week before the party we start with snide remarks about the birth family from the other kids. Questions about why this birth family does this and why doesn't his birth family do that. By the time the party was here there were a few hurt feelings. I wish there was a way to avoid this but I haven't figured it out yet.

Today my son asked me a question about his birth mom but he called her "my mom." I immediately corrected him and told him "I am his Mom." Maybe it shouldn't have been such a big deal but it hurt just a little. He said, "You know what I birthday mom."

I wish there were an easier way to blend this family but the fact that there has to be a blending is a sign that we are on plan B. Plan A is how God intended families to man with one wife raising their children. But God is such an awesome God. He knew there would be death and divorce, so he came up with a way to have a family even when things weren't perfect...plan B. As wonderful as adoption is you can't have it without having a loss. For the adoptive child, loss of the birth parent. For the adoptive parents, loss of the birth experience and prenatal bonding. For us the loss of many years of childhood with some of our children.

As hard as plan B is; I praise God that he created it! You see, that's how I got into His family. God had only one "birth child"..........Jesus. The rest of us all enter the family through adoption. So, we could look at the church as a type of blended family as well. And sometimes it's just as hard to get the church to work together as one family as it is for our special blended family.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blogging for Me

I have written one of those Christmas update letters every year for eighteen or more years now. Every year I print it out and put it in a file to save it with all the previous years. Almost every year as I sit down to begin the writing process, I pull out this file and reminisce about my life with my husband and kids. Each letter is just a small snipit of what happened that year but each one brings back so many memories.

This past year I was in my room reading these letters when my two teenage girls walked in and asked me to read aloud. We had so much fun reading and reliving all the good times and the hard times we've had together as a family.

This is probably a little more important in an adoptive family such as ours because we haven't always been together as a family. There are years we read about what happened with my husband and I and our biological children knowing that our adopted children were not in a good place that particular year. So, the best years are the ones in which we all share the memories. Like the first Christmas after we adopted four of our children.....or our youngest child's first Christmas.

Because I know that these letters will be saved and re-read every year, there are things I include in them that may not be as interesting to those who recieve them in their Christmas card but I am writing them for me and my family first and foremost. I do pray that others who know and love our family will enjoy them as well.

I have begun to look at my blog as the same. As I write down my thoughts, feelings and lessons learned it is like therapy for me. I certainly hope that other mother's of RADlets will be blessed by what they read and I pray that I will be an encouragement to them. I even have dreams of one day writing a book that will minister to those raising RADlets....but for now I am writing for my own healing.