Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Man

Tomorrow my youngest child will turn 5 years old. Hard for me to believe......yes, part of it is from the simple fact that it is hard to see the years fly by but his birthday also reminds me of the fact that he almost wasn't "ours". We had to give him back to his birth family and trust that God would return him to us. One of the most difficult times in my life.
This precious little, brown boy was born to the birth mother of another of our adopted children. We heard the news that she was pregnant during the same conversation that we found our she was in jail again.....something to do with drugs. Since this has always been an open adoption we kept in contact with the grandparents and mom (when she was not using). I remember telling the grandma that we would take the baby in should the mom be unable to care for him in any way. There was a question at the time about who the father was but at that moment on the phone in my kitchen I just knew he was going to be bi-racial, a boy and mine. It was as clear as if God Himself had just whispered this information into my ear.
The day he was born I took my daughter (his biological half-sister) to the hospital to see him. She was four at the time and not sure how this little guy fit into the family exactly but she was excited to hold him. Birth mom was doing well, she was in a drug rehab and was able to keep the baby with her. They even provided child care for her when she was required to attend meetings. I began to doubt.....maybe I hadn't heard from God, maybe it was just me that wanted him to be part of my family. So, we rejoiced with birth mom and her accomplishments.
We were very surprised when the phone rang three and a half months later telling us that birth mom left the little guy at the rehab and couldn't be found. Grandma was calling to ask if we would still take him. He was there within a few hours and fit just beautifully into the family. We were thrilled.
So, we found ourselves adjusting to car seats, diaper bags and nights with no sleep again and we loved it! He was a special gift from God especially to me. When things would get hard parenting my RADlets, I would take the baby off somewhere and rock him. Just being with this sweet little thing would bring back my motherly, nurturing side and I would be a better parent to all my children.
Eventually birth mom came back into the picture and began to change. I was so happy to see that. I didn't want anything bad for her but it was a very bitter sweet thing for me to watch because I always knew that there was the possibility that he would go back to her.
Just after his first birthday, this possibility became a reality and he left us to move back in with her. One of the saddest days in my life was the day I had to hand my little boy over to her and watch her walk out my back door. It literally made my heart hurt.
I was crying one day, grieving the loss of my little boy and I noticed that my husband didn't seem as upset. I didn't understand.........he had lost a son just the same as I had. When I asked him about it he told me that God had let him know that our little boy was coming home. We just had to wait. God is so good to us to give us these glimpses to fill us with hope and help us in our walk of faith.
It took two months til he was home with us again and another two years before the adoption was final but he is now officially and legally "ours"!! I can't imagine this family without him. He is such a special little guy. Right now he dreams of being a superhero and leading an army someday. We are just so thankful that God led him to us! So, Happy Birthday, little man!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mine for Gold

People develop the same way gold is mined

Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold.

But you don't go into the mine looking for dirt.

You go in looking for gold!

We have had a week of shoveling tons upon tons of dirt just to survive. We have had illness and injury and attitudes and problems but in the midst of this horrible week God has shown me some very precious gold dust that has been mined in my children's hearts.

My oldest son, now a young adult, left work to come sit with me in the hospital the day his sister passed out and had a seizure. My daughter and I were both surprised to see him. How awesome that he was so concerned that he would give up a day of pay to sit with his mom and sister.

As he sat with us he began to catch us up on his life. He is now living on campus so we don't see him much anymore and it had been a couple of weeks since we'd last sat down to really talk. He began by sharing what God was doing in his life...how he was starting a Bible study with his roommate, forming an accountability group with five of his other friends and of his call to become a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I couldn't believe what a change I was seeing in my boy.

You see, this is the same child that just a few months ago was rebelling and arguing every time I saw him. He was blaming others for his mistakes and making some very poor choices. My husband and I were beside ourselves trying to figure out what to do. We had birthed this particular child and for 18 years of his life we'd been there guiding him, helping him. Now he was fighting us for all he was worth.

In the end we decided to let go. He moved out and we began to PRAY. As a parent this has been the hardest thing to do. But apparently it was worth it. We were able to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do His work and what a work it has been!

Now, this is not going to be the end of this story. There is still plenty of dirt to be moved and hopefully lots more gold to be found but it is a wonderful beginning. And an awesome encouragement to my husband and I that there is hope for our other children....even the RADlets. They may have a little more dirt to sift through but then again there might even be a bit more gold there too.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Writing on the Walls

Our oldest adopted child was adopted from foster care at age 10. As you can imagine he came to us with tons of baggage. So, when he began taking things from other people in the house, I wasn't surprised but I wanted to understand why he took things. He really didn't need to take things now, all his needs were provided for and he had things of his own like music players and toys. I soon learned that this was simply a coping mechanism that he uses when he gets stress.

As humans we find all kinds of ways to deal with the stress in our life. Some choose things like alcohol or drugs. Some choose some more socially acceptable methods like eating, shopping, watching TV, playing video games or hobbies. Some of these are healthy, some are not. But my son, for some reason, felt less stressed if he was plotting, stealing and hiding the things from us.

When he would take something we would tell him that what he took was no big deal........it's a thing that is replaceable. To us the big deal was the honesty and trust we needed from him. We would tell him that he needed practice in telling the truth and try to get him to confess. Most of the time this only led to a stand off between parents and child (probably not the best parenting technique, but we learn as we go). One stand off lasted days upon days upon days. Finally, when he returned what he'd taken, I handed it back to him and said, "Here, you can have it." He didn't take it from me so I sat it in a prominent place in his room and picked up a pen to write something on his wall. (I can hear the collective gasp from both of you who read this blog regularly) He was as puzzled as you and watching me with his mouth open. I wrote in large dark letters........."THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!!!!!"

That was not the only time I wrote on his wall. I wrote a personalized version of Jn 3:16 there so he would know that and understand that Jesus loves him. I wrote Jer 29:11 there so he would be reminded that God has a plan for his life....that includes hope! Every time a scripture applied to something that happened and I wanted him to remember it........I wrote it on his wall. By the time he moved from that room there were probably a dozen or more verses written graffiti style on his walls.

My son is changing rooms again next Friday and this treatment facility will allow him to decorate. I know that they would never allow writing on the walls but I am thinking how I can get the scriptures up where he will see them and read them. I'm thinking the other kids and I will be making a lot of posters for him to hang in his room.

Psalms tells us to hide God's word in our heart and if my son won't open a book to read it and get it into his heart..........maybe he will read the writing on the walls!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Joy of the LORD is My Strength

The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
Oh, the joy of the Lord is my strength

He fills my mouth with laughter and I sing ha ha ha ha
He fills my mouth with laughter and I sing ha ha ha ha
He fills my mouth with laughter and I sing ha ha ha ha
Oh, the joy of the Lord is my strength

I learned this simple child's song in my Tiny Tots class in church, more years ago than I want to admit. The third verse was always my favorite.....just a series of "ha ha's" until the joy of the Lord is my strength part. Once you start "ha ha"-ing you just have to laugh right?

For years I thought it was just a fun song. Eventually, I learned that it was from scripture. As much as Christians in my life encouraged one another with these words, I figured it must be in the Bible a lot so I was surprised at what I found when I went to look it up. It is only in the Bible once and that's in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. (Neh 8:10).

I guess I began to wonder so much about this verse because it seems like an oxymoron to me. How is laughing strong? Why isn't it the "power" of the Lord is my strength? Or the "righteousness" of the Lord? Or the "justice" of the Lord? So, I started reading Nehemiah.

Now, I knew Nehemiah was famous for rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem but this passage of joy and strength does not refer to the building of the wall. After the wall was built, Ezra the priest, brings out the Book of the Law of Moses and reads it to an assembly of all the people from day break til noon. The people are so moved they begin to weep. Then Nehemiah gets up and tells the people, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

A lot of bad things have been happening here in our household lately. I am still having problems breathing due to asthma. Three of my children are sick with a virus. One of our dogs broke his leg and has to be in a cast for six weeks. My husband is feeling a familiar pain that may mean another kidney stone. Our oldest RADlet is being moved from one treatment facility to a lesser restrictive one and is stressed about the change. My husband is working two part time jobs while trying to find a full time job. I could go on with my list, but I think you get the idea.

How do I feel about all that is happening in my life right now?! I am at PEACE! I think that is the main idea about the this verse. The "joy" is a peace from God that says, "No matter what happens, God is good and He's gonna make sure I'm OK." There is a huge inner strength in that. I know I can get through this day because God is there to give me peace and that inner pleasure (not always an outward yeeeeha kind of joy).

So, no matter what your day holds...........the JOY of the LORD is your strength!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Have you ever thought about breathing? We generally don't do we? This act of breathing involves several of our organs....our nose, mouth, diaphragm, windpipe, lungs, bronchial tubes.
But most of the time we don't even know we're doing it.

Lately I have noticed my breathing a lot. I have developed asthma and for the past few weeks breathing has been a difficult thing. My husband and children listen to me breath to see if I need my medication. They worry that my breathing may become too labored.

Breathing....it's so simple, even babies do it. Yet it's so complex, it must be explained in a biology text and most of us won't get it.
This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence
Living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word
Spoken to me

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm lost without you
God's Spirit living in me....His Holy Word. These should be as common and simple as breathing and eating. I've had my medication tonight and I'm physically breathing easy.......time for a Spiritual breath.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dumb Questions

I remember my mother asking me, "Do you want a spanking?!" Dumb question. But as a parent myself I have asked a lot of those kind of questions...."Do you want me to stop this van?!" "Are you going to eat those vegetables?" "What do I look like?" (I do not want to hear the answer to that one from my children!:)

There are questions in the Bible that can be added to this list. One of my favorite questions is in Exodus chapter 8; during the plagues when Moses asks Pharaoh to pick the time he should pray to God to get rid of the frogs. One would think that would be a no brain-er....NOW. But Pharaoh says....tomorrow. You've gotta be kidding! Why would you want to live with a frog invasion for one more night?! A seemingly dumb question with an absolutely crazy answer.

This morning in Sunday school we talked about another of those questions in the New Testament. In John chapter 5 Jesus is walking by the Pool of Bethesda, sees the crippled man, stops and asks him, "Do you want to be healed?!" That would be the only reason he would be laying there waiting for the waters to stir. Everyone by that pool had come there because they wanted to be healed. They looked at it as their last chance. These were the people that the doctors of the day couldn't do anything else for, they weren't getting any better but perhaps, they could find healing in this pool.

Do you want to be healed? I know that you may not be physically ill but we all have hurts, hang ups and habits that we need to be healed from. And sometimes the fear of changing; the fear of the unknown; is more scary than the hurt we are feeling at the time. We would rather stay in our comfort zone (as bad as it may be) than to leave the comfort of the know to be healed. You won't really change for the better until the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change.

We have a RADlet that loves his comfort zone. He has had so many chances and yet I'm still not sure he's ready or even wants to be healed. This is a very sad thing for our family. We all want him to be healed. We are all right here to help him to be healed. We would do it for him if we could BUT it all boils down to his choices and his answer to this very important "dumb" question....do you want to be healed?!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Strange Bonding Rituals

We live in Southern Indiana and this is a sight we see on a daily basis....hay. Seeing this brings back a strange memory of a dozen or more teens on a church bus going to some sort of youth activity. My husband of less than a year was driving the bus while others of us sat around talking quietly (which, thinking back on that now, was unusual in and of itself).
All of the sudden a booming voice yells from the back of the bus. "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I jumped and grabbed my chest, other girls screamed. My husband held tight to the steering wheel so as not to run us off the road.

We turned back to find two boys laughing and pointing out the window. "Look," said one of them, "it's hay!"

David and I have come a long way since that first youth ministry in the late '80's but that is one tradition we have resurrected with our children. Now it is not a 66 passenger bus we drive filled with teens it's a 15 passenger van filled with Hopkins'. Each child and/or adult waits with baited breath to see if he/she can "get" the other family members on a "hay".

There are a few rules....this can only happen once per trip, there has to be an actual hay bale in sight and certain spots (that have been way over used) are off limits. But this has been our game now for a least the last four years. And my kids play it well...........so do I;)

Year before last, we went on a field trip with our home school group to an apple orchard. Having a 15 passenger van, and only 8 children, I offered some other families a ride. So, we all piled in the van, strapped in the little ones then began driving and visiting.

I had been having problems relating with one of my children in particular and as I was driving I saw my opportunity to "bond" with her right then and there. I was speaking with the mom in the front seat but politely turned to her and said, "Excuse me," then I turned to my right pointed out the window and yelled, "HHEEEYYYY!!!"

My kids laughed and told me how well I had played the game. For a second there I didn't even think about the other families in the van.........that is till I glanced beside me to see how white the mom in the front had become. She took her hand off her chest and pointed her finger at me and said, "Don't do that again!!"

I guess the point is that attachment and bonding are individual things. It doesn't have to be something mushy and sappy, sometimes it can be just plain fun. This is an experience we share with our children and no one else. My kids will never again look at a hay bale with out thinking of us. And I wouldn't be surprised if one day I am sitting in a car with a grandchild of mine hearing him/her yelling "Hey" trying to "get" Grammy.

HHHEEEYYYYY!!!! How does your family bond?!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I was bloggin before bloggin was cool:)

Five years ago, my husband and I adopted a sibling group of four children. One boy and three girls that all shared the same birth mother. The oldest of the group was 10 and the youngest 3. We had never in a million years thought of adopting older children.....too much baggage! We'll God apparently thought we needed luggage because he arranged for these children to be an official part of our family in less than seven months from the time we first met them.

After they moved in, we began to try to unpack the bags and figure out the best way to help them adjust. We were told that none of them had attachment problems, that they were just normal children that needed lots of love. (cue the music, set out the tissue and hang the "be a foster parent" banner). But this is real life not a movie or a sappy TV commercial and that kind of love is HARD WORK.

Our newest members of the family liked us well enough, I guess and were happy to be in a home with other kids to play with; but they didn't really know us or trust us so..... how do you help them deal with the hard issues of the abuse they've suffered, the loss of birth family and foster family and friends?

Since I could find no how-to books on this at the library, I came up with my own idea......a book that my oldest adopted child and I could write back and forth in. I bought a simple notebook and a special pen and began to write to my new child from my heart.....a blog so to speak.

"This notebook is going to be like a silent conversation

between you and your parents.

This is a chance for you to communicate

to us some of the hurts and frustrations

you feel trying to fit into this family

and remembering your birth family.

Sometimes it's easier to write those

memories and hurts down than to

face someone and tell them.

So far it seems that you are trying to forget everything

that's happened to you in the past and kind of shut it out.

But that hasn't worked very well

because those feelings eventually

surface as anger towards us.

So, let's try sharing in this way to see if it helps."

That was Jan. 12, 2004......my first entry. It proved to be a very good tool. I did the majority of the writing but this child was allowed to keep the book in his room at special times to just read it and be comforted by the words of his parents. We haven't done this in a few years due to other treatments but I still have it and like to get it out and read it. It surprises me sometimes the words that God gave me at the time that this child needed comfort. It also encourages me to know how far we've already come in this journey.

From the beginning we have talked about forgiveness and love with these children. They have a lot to forgive and much forgiveness to receive but don't understand how to get there. Later that January I wrote .....

One thing that will help us get through

problems is forgiveness.

Now, forgiving someone doesn't mean that

you think what they did was OK.

Forgiveness is a change in our

attitude towards them.

The Bible says to "love your enemies,

bless those who curse you ,

do good to those who hate you,

and pray for those who

spitefully use you and persecute you." (Matt 5:44)

That's hard to do....I know.

Right now I'm having a hard time

forgiving your foster parents for

things that happened to you

and your sisters while you lived there.

You are my children

and it angers me when I see things

that could have been prevented

but weren't. It's east to get angry

then to let that anger turn

to bitterness and the bitterness

if left unchecked can lead to hatred.

I'm trying not to do that. I don't want that

bitterness and hatred inside me.

Those kinds of feelings and attitudes will only hurt me.

I heard someone say that unforgiveness is like

drinking poison and then expecting our enemy to die.

So, I am working on forgiveness.

We are all still working on forgiveness. Now here we are 4 years later with so much more to forgive and so much more for which to seek forgiveness. But we are making a constant effort to keep the poison of bitterness out of our lives

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Have you any scars or wounds from helping others?"

In our home school we are studying allegories. For those of you who need a reminder....an allegory is a story that has an underlying meaning different than the surface meaning that is told to teach or explain something. "The Chronicles of Narnia" would be a good example of an allegory and I have just finished reading "Pilgrims Progress" to my children....an allegory about a Christian's journey to the Celestial City.

But just today I was reminded of another allegory written by David and Karen Mains. They have written a series of short story allegories and put them into books. Tales of the Kingdom; Tales of the Resistance and Tales of the Restoration. We have them all and I highly recommend them.

In Tales of the Kingdom there is a story called "Two Noisy Knights". These two knights were old and one was farsighted, the other nearsighted and they seemed to bumble through life together. They thought of themselves as Rangers who fought for the Kingdom and had great adventures. But really all they did was give the cheer and sing the song and try to claim the victory with the other Rangers.

One day they literally run into the baker, knock him over and trample his bread because they thought he was an enemy. The baker took this to the Ranger Commander and the old Knights were brought before Him. The Ranger Commander asked "Have you any scars or wounds from helping others?"

What a strange things for Him to ask. Why would helping others give you scars and wounds? I had to think about that for awhile. But have you ever heard anyone say that....Hurting People; Hurt People?!? That is so true. I live with hurting children and I can tell you that they do indeed hurt others, quite often. They will lash out at whom ever happens to be standing closest...which is usually me.

You can't help someone who's hurting
without getting hurt yourself.

These few bold statements may not hit you like they do me. They have just stayed with me and are a comfort to me when dealing with my children. Many times while parenting these kids, I have felt like I was the one abused and used and hated. And that is the truth....I was or am...BUT, you can't help someone who's hurting and not get hurt. These are my battle scars. Through Christ, I am a warrior NOT a victim!!

The story of the Noisy Knights goes on....Ranger Commander tells them that the Kingdom is not noise but power! His power! He lets them know that they can find their own place in the Kingdom but they may not take the place of others.

So, in the end, the two old knights live by the gate and tell the great stories of the adventures of the real Rangers. They give tours to new comers and rides to children. They are very happy and very content with their own place in the Kingdom.

Many different levels of wisdom here in this story but today I need to hear Ranger Commander telling me that I'm not a victim............just scarred and wounded in the battle of helping the hurting!

Teaching A Bird With Clipped Wings to Fly

"Most birds were created to fly.
Being grounded for them is a limitaion within their ability to fly,
not the other way around.
You were created to be loved--
for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation.
Living unloved is like clipping a bird's wings
and removing it's ability to fly.
Pain has a way of clipping our wings
and keeping us from being able to fly.
And if left unresolved for very long you
can almost forget that you were created to fly in the first place."
--W. P. Young--
God has entrusted my husband and I to be caretakers of a few birds who've had their wings clipped by pain. For them there is the pain of rejection and neglect by birth families. There is the pain of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional and verbal) from a system that was supposedly created to protect them. And now they are in the place where they have for gotten that they were created to love and be loved in the first place so they are experiencing the pain of learning to love.
There is a cycle of trust and love that children learn in the first few years of life. They first learn to trust mom and dad to take care of their needs. When the baby cries, mommy picks him up to feed him or change him or rock him. He then knows that mom can be trusted to take care his needs. But what about the babies that cry and no one is there to pick them up? Or the ones whose mom will sometimes come to pick them up then at other times will come hit them to get them to shut up? How do these little ones learn to trust anyone? The answer is they don't. If they can fight hard enough to survive they learn that if they don't take care of themselves no one will.
During the second year of life, most babies learn that mom and dad can be trusted to keep them safe. So, when sweet pea goes toddling toward the road, daddy will grab her hand and tell her no. Maybe he will even swat her little bottom to keep her from running into the road (better a soar bottom than an injured or dead child). This teaches the child that daddy will protect her and keep her safe. But what about the child whose daddy isn't there to keep her from climbing onto the roof at age 3. Or whose mom isn't there to tell her to stay home and not wander in the street? How do these children learn that adults will keep them safe? They don't! They learn that they need to be in control of everything.
When I remember these things it is easy to love my children because I can feel the pain they've been through and understand why they act the way they do BUT life (at least life in our house) is not a series of calm, reflective events that cause me to think constantly about what they've been through. At our house life is what we like to call...organized chaos!
I'm not thinking about their pain when I walk in their room and find dozens of socks stuck in a hole in the wall because they did not want to match them and fold them. I'm not thinking about their pain when they are mad and smearing boogers on the walls of our house. I'm not thinking about their pain when they are stealing from the 4H treasury or hiding knives in their rooms or ripping apart their siblings toys. I am much too self centered in those moments to think of anything but my anger and inconvenience. How dare they come into this home that we have so graciously provided for them and tear it apart like this. We don't deserve this.
A few weeks ago our pastor said something that has stuck with me and convicted me. He said that it is easy to ACT like a Christian but much harder to REACT like one. Think about that. How do you react when others are unkind to you? It's easy to be kind but another thing altogether to react out of kindness when someone has just been mean to you.
So, the real reason I stuggle with loving these kids is not because they are difficult kids (althought they can be) but because I'm out of touch with the source of love....GOD!
1Jn 4:7&8 says.....
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another,
for love comes from God.
Anyne who loves is born of God and knows God.
But anyone who does not love does not know God
---for God is love. (NLT)
If I am in touch with God (who is love) I will be able to react in love when these little things happen around our house.I don't always (well, almost never) like hearing that the problem is with me and not someone or something else but this is where I am right now on this RADical journey....learning that I need to once again draw near to God so that he will come near to me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Ides of March

Yesterday was the Ides of March.....as Shakespear would say....BEWARE!
In our house it marks a sad day but not because of the death of Julius Ceasar. That was the due date of our little one that died before we ever got to meet him/her.

Some may not understand why we remember that day....they say it was only a fetus....at least you didn't get too attached...you were able to have other children....it's not like losing a baby to SIDS or having a still birth. But if, like us, you believe that life begins at conception, you know that my husband and I lost a BABY! A real, live, growing human being, created by God Himself that even had a heartbeat if only for a little while.

If you've had a miscarriage you understand the grief that parents go through. It is a time to grieve not only the child lost but the dreams lost. I sometimes envy parents of still borns....at least they got to hold their child and know if it was a boy or girl....they have a body to bury and a grave to visit....others actually acknowledge their grief.

There is a picture that hangs in our home of Jesus holding a small child. I love this...it reminds me that my baby is being well taken care of, in the arms of my Savior and My God. A few years ago, we actually named this child and I wrote a song about the wonderful day when we will meet him/her in heaven. So, this is for you Jaymee Zane.........until we meet.....

Little child of mine, I want you to know
though I never saw your face, I love you so!!
Your Dad and me had plans for you
But our hopes and dreams weren't granted,
still God will make a way for us someday
I'll be there, wait for me; I'll be there

I'll meet you at the pearly gate
Then I'll see you face to face
Together as a family
We'll worship God around His throne
We'll have eternity, together as a family
When we worship Him around His throne
Wait for me; I'll be there
Wait for me; I'll be there

Little child of mine, Oh, how my arms ache
To hold you close to me and feel each breath you take
But I know that you're well cared for
In the arms of my sweet Jesus
And God will make a way for us someday

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Glimps of Light

Galatians 6:9 (New International Version)
Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Raising special needs children is not an easy task. There are so many times that I feel that task too daunting. I get overwhelmed. That's when I like to look at this verse.........it encourages me. "Don't give up," God says, "You will be rewarded....but not til the time is right. Not til the time is perfect according to Me which is very different than what you may think."

But I know (and am still learning) that God is good, ALL the time. And sometimes he gives me little glimpses of my reward. A tiny speck of light to show me that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Yesterday, He gave me two little specks of light. Two short conversations with two of my children to let me know that my husband and I are doing something right. We are leading them toward Christ and they are growing in their relationship with Him even if it is a rate slower than what we had planned.

While in the car with one of my teens a Jeremy Camp song came on the radio (you gotta love KLOVE:) My daughter asked me to turn it up because this was her favorite song. As I reached for the volume button, I heard her singing in the back......There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face But until that day, we'll hold on to you always.

Then quite spontaneously she said, "Ya know Mom, listening to the song just makes me so anxious."
"What are you anxious about?" I asked still paying more attention to the road than to what she was saying.
"That day, Mom!" she said as only a teen can with the eye roll and everything:)

I smiled in my heart knowing that she too was anxiously waiting to see Jesus. What a good feeling to know that we have that shared goal. I silently thanked God for that little glimmer of light as I finished listening to the duet between Jeremy and my lovely teen.

Later in the evening when my preschooler was getting his pj's on, I was distracted trying to help my husband find the tool he needed to fix a bunk bed so two of my other little ones would have a bed to sleep on. My little guy came to me asking for help with a zipper and said, "I know something, Mom."
To which I replied, my head still in the junk drawer, "I know you do, Buddy, you know a lot of things."
"No, Mom, I mean I know something about God"
Turning my attention to him and zipping his sleeper I said, "Oh, OK. Well, tell me what is it you know about God?"
He looked at me and said without hesitation, "If you go near to God, He will come near to you."

Wow! Out of the mouth of babes. Wonder what made him think of that right then? Wonder if God was trying to tell me something? Wonder if he is still trying to tell me something? Right now is a rare moment in our house....it is quiet! Everyone is asleep but me and here I am on the computer.......hmmmmm......maybe I need to go near to God right now because I do so much better in life when He is near me.

Look closely today and see if God is giving you a glimer of light and be thankful even if it is just a tiny speck. And if you'll excuse me I think there is someone who wants to talk with me......

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stories of Acceptance Part 2

Yesterday I shared that for each of my adopted children I have written a story to show them how loved and accepted they are in this family. We believe each child, birthed or adopted, was planned by God Himself to be a part of our family but we know the that birth children feel this much more than those who joined this family through adoption. Some of these stories are simply a retelling of how God worked to get them into this family but two of these stories I believe were given to me by God to help these extreme RADlets know they are loved and wanted. I shared Chad's story yesterday, today I would like to share Felicia's.

The Day You Were Born
A story about Felicia
written by her Mom who loves her very much
If I had been there on the day you were born, I'd have been the first one to hold you. The doctor would have wrapped you in a blanket to keep you warm, then handed you to me. I would've held you close and looked into your eyes and said, "Welcome to the world, Little One. I'm your Mommy and I love you very much!"
Daddy would've been close by waiting for his turn to hold his new little girl. He would've sat beside me and stroked your hair (what little of it you had) and said, "I'm your Daddy. I love you and I'm here to protect you."
We would've sat close together and held you between us while we told you about your brothers and sisters that were waiting anxiously at home to see you.
About JD and how he loved to talk and had told everyone he knew that you were on the way.
About how Chad loved slimy things and had already named a pet frog after you.
About Sarah and Jenna and how happy they were that you were a girl and not another yucky boy.
We would've also told you about your grandparents and how excited they were to have another grandchild. That would've reminded Daddy that he hadn't called anyone to let them know you'd been born.
So, he would jump up to call the family. He would be so proud to tell all our relatives.
While he was on the phone I would've cradled yo in my arms and rocked you and sang to you the special song that I wrote as a lullaby for my babies.
Close you eyes; go to sleep and dream of something good
Dream of fields to run and play in and great big trees to climb
Dream of Mommy; dream of Daddy too 'cause they have dreams for you
They pray you'll know the God who loves you so
And watches over you
We would've been so excited to get you home. Daddy would have driven to the hospital to pick us up while the rest of the family waited t our house. Mamaw and Papaw would've be there with the other kids. I'm sure your brothers and sisters would be watching out the window to get the first glimpse of their new baby sister.
Once we got inside with you they would all have been gathered around wanting to see you and hold you and play with you. I'm sure it would've been loud (our family usually is). Maybe, you'd have been a little unsure at first but after feeling all the love everyone had for you, you'd know in your little heart that you were HOME.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stories of Acceptance

With each of my adoptive children I have written them a story to let them know that they are loved and accepted by our family. For some of them it is simply a retelling of how they first became a part of this family. But there are two stories that I really feel were given to me by God to let these extreme RADlets know that they are loved by and belong in this family. I would like to share them with you. Here is the first....tomorrow I will post the second.

One The Day You Were Born
A story about how Chad found a "Forever Family"
Written by Chad's "Real" Mom
On the day you were born an angel was talking with God. "Look at that beautiful, strong baby boy, " said the angel, "You do such good work! He's perfect and precious and innocent."
"Yes, he is," said God admiring His work.
"And look how his mother looks at him. She loves him so." noticed the angel.
"Yes, she does," said God.
"This is the way it's supposed to be."
"Yes, " said God.
On your 2nd birthday the angel returned and asked, "How's the boy?"
"See for yourself," replied God.
"Wow! Look how big he's gotten. He's even walking now. Hey, who's that other little baby?"
"He has a sister now. She was born just 7 months ago," answered the All Knowing.
"He'll be a good big brother won't he?" inquired the angel.
On your 6th birthday the angel asked God, "Where is the boy and his sister? I see his mother with her friends but where are the children?"
"There are 2 sisters now with another on the way. The children are over there being taken care of by this foster family," answered God Almighty.
"This is so sad. This is NOT how it's supposed to be. What will happen to the boy now?"
"The boy is strong and I have a plan!"
"But why would You let this happen?" inquired the angel.
God smiled at the innocent angel and replied, "You know that I have given my children free choice so I will not make anyone do what is right. They must choose to do it for themselves."
"Yes, but are You sure they are able to handle the gift of free choice? Your children seem to choose to hurt one another more than they choose to love. Maybe You should decide for them,: said the angel.
"Perhaps," said God, "But think about how it feels when someone chooses you!"
"I understand. Will anyone ever choose the boy?"
"I have a plan," whispered God.
"I trust You!" replied the angel.
On your 10th birthday the angel came back to God and asked, "How is the boy? Has anyone chosen him yet?"
"Take a look," said God.
"There he is and are those his sisters? My, how they've grown. That family they are living with is that the family that's chosen him? They're talking about adoption. What's that?"
"Adoption is finding a "forever family" and no, this family is not in my plan. Listen to the prayer of that woman over there," and God pointed to a woman in Trenton, Ohio.
"She's asking for a bigger house with more land. What does that have to do with the boy?"
"Keep listening," said God.
"OK. Now she's talking about adoption. She wants You to send her children to adopt. She wants to know what children You have picked out for her. She says she's willing to do whatever You want. Hey, is that where You're sending the boy?" asked the angel excitedly.
Yes, they will be his "forever family."
"But what about his sisters? Where will they go?" the angel wondered aloud.
"The will go with him."
"But the woman already has 3 children."
"Yes, and adding 4 more will be difficult for her but I will give her the strength to deal with them. I have already blessed her with a strong and kind helpmate," explained God.
Before the angel left,God said to him. "Come back next year to see what I have done."
On your 11th birthday the angel returned. He was the boy with his new "forever family". It was a big, loud but loving family. They had their faults but the boy and his sisters fit into the family like peices of a puzzle. God had said He had a plan, it looks like God knew what He was doing. Then again He always does.
The angel looked at God and said, "You do such good work! This family is strong and loving and perfect for the boy and his sisters! And look how the parents look at him. They both love him so. This is how is is supposed to be."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Space

About a year ago I was blessed to be able to attend an adoption conference specially for social workers, foster parents and adoptive parents. I was a bit nervous about attending by myself but there was no way David and I could both get away. (After the third child babysitter were hard to come by and now with eight we are lucky to get away once a year to celebrate our anniversary:)
As I came in for the morning session I saw an open table and sat down. Soon the place filled up and I was sitting with seven other people I had never met before trying hard to make conversation.....wishing all the time that David could be there with me.
The speaker got up and said something about how early in the morning it was and that we needed to stretch. So, reluctantly we all stood up and went through her calisthenic drill. By the time we were finished none of us were standing behind the chair we started at, the place at the table where all our papers and notes were, the seat whose back held our purses, the space that we were (even after only 15 minutes) were calling ours. She asked us to be seated in the chair that was directly in front of us. Most of us looked around a bit first, eyed our purses and stuff then hesitantly we sat down and tried hard to keep our minds on what our very knowledgeable speaker was sharing with us.
It is amazing how uncomfortable that was for all of us. I was already feeling lonely, missing David and not knowing anyone else there but now I felt uneasy and even cheated. I wanted to get everything I could out of this conference and I am a note taker but my note pad and pen were across the table. Should I reach across and get it or maybe ask that person to hand it to me. But if I did that would I offend the speaker? Would that be a distraction to the others? After about five minutes of straining to listen and take in all Juli Alvarado had to say, one man raised his hand and asked what was on all our minds. "Could we please return to our seats now?"
Ms Alvarado asked us to describe how we felt right at that moment. She said that it only took us a matter of minutes to get that attached to a plastic seat and for us to see how upset we were when it was taken from us. Then she asked us to think about how our kids felt every time they were uprooted from one foster home and taken to another. Some of my kids tell me that there were times when they went to school and came home to find their suitcase packed, sitting in the living room and a social worker there to take them to another foster home. I can't really even imagine how that must have felt for them.....but thanks to Juli Alvarado I now have just a little hint.
You might want to check out her web site.....www.coachingforlife.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

Idle Hands are the Devil's Workshop

Recently one of my RADlets was ill. This little one had a fever of 103 degrees, was rushed to urgent care and diagnosed with strep throat.....a very sick child indeed. It was a mixed blessing for us as parents. We hate to see any of our children sick and hurting but when they are sick even the RADlets become loving and cuddly---- sitting with us, lying their head on our shoulder and giving us hugs freely. Daddy and I were eating this up:)
Then after about three doses of antibiotics it stopped abruptly. This child who just a day before had been so reluctant to leave our side was now yelling at us and the other children and being down right mean. When I began to ask about the problem I was told that it was due to boredom. As my little one began to feel better but was still restricted to the indoors boredom set in and this was frustrating.
Sorry, but that made no sense to me. When I am bored I may fidget, doodle, rock back and forth, become quite chatty with anyone that is in listening range and I may even just break out in song for no reason other than to entertain myself but I can't think of one time that I was mean to someone just because I was board.
Also this being mean thing.....I am the first to admit that I can be mean myself. But generally I do this when I have a problem with some one. When I'm mad or hurt or feel betrayed.
We tend to take this being mean thing personally but I'm now beginning to understand that for the RADlets that's not always the case. I spoke to one of my older RADlets and asked for an explanation of this strange phenomenon. I was told that it is better to get a lecture from mom on your behavior than be bored. It is also apparently better to plot against a sibling just to see their reaction than to be bored. To them it is better to tear up property (theirs or something that belongs to someone else) than to be bored. Boredom must be one of the worst things in the world to a RADlet.
So, maybe my Granny was right when she said "idle hands are the devils workshop". I guess my job now is to make sure that my little RADlets don't get too bored. Wonder how I can do that?! I'm sure I'll think of something.....after all a house that has ten people living in it always has some spots that need cleaned right:)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

God's RADlets

Some of my children have attachment disorder (reactive attachment disorder to be exact). We just simply call it RAD and our children who have it....RADlets:)

Children with RAD have not learned the love and trust cycle that most learn by the time they are three. You know....the child needs something so he cries, then mommy hears him and gives him what he needs. Some of our children came from foster care and were tossed from family member to family member before they entered "the system". Then they were tossed from foster home to foster home. There was no stable person in their life to teach them love and trust so they live life trying to make it on their own. We live life trying to give them what they missed out on when they were babies.

The behaviors our RADlets learned---lying, steeling, manipulating, cheating, fighting, hoarding etc.... kept them alive in the neglectful homes and institutions they were in but those are also the behaviors that keep them from attaching to a REAL family.

Those RAD behaviors can get really ugly at times which is why I was offended when I read an article that suggested that we are God's RADlets. It compared us to children who have not fully attached to our Father. "How can that be?" I thought, "I am not like that!" but then I reread the symptom list of RAD and was humbled.

Those with RAD are:
*superficially charming----some may call if being fake but we're not like that are we?
*controlling----OK, now you're getting personal! Yes, I do try to control things instead of turning it over to God.
*argumentative-----we would never argue with God now would we? or argue with God's other children about the Bible, TV shows, the carpet in the church building?!?
*hyper-active, yet lazy at performing tasks-----busy but non productive. Sound familiar?
*frequent tantrums of rage-----how many of us have silent adult tantrums when we don't get our way?
*constant chatter----if this weren't true God wouldn't have had to remind us to "Be still and know that I am God"
*hording----my kids hoard food, instead of trusting that we will give it to them, is there anything we hoard because we don't trust that God will provide it for us?
*have an attitude of entitlement----does this apply? Don't we sometimes think we deserve God's blessings because we have been a good Christian for so long?!
*fascination with blood, gore, fire, evil, etc...I would say...sin-----we too have a fascination with sin. We sometimes try to get as close to that line as we can without going over it. Sin is fun for a time....if it weren't we wouldn't be drawn to it.
So.....are you one of God's RADlets? I will leave it up to you to decided for yourself. I will have to say that I am, like it or not. But trying to learn attachment and love from my Father as I teach attachment and love to my children.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Love them like Jesus

A few years ago one of my favorite bands Casting Crowns came out with a song called "Love Them Like Jesus". It is a song about how sometimes there is nothing you can do for someone but love them....not the gushy, mushy, warm fuzzy kind of love but a love like Jesus has for us. The chorus of this song says.....
Love them like Jesus, carry them to Him
His yoke is easy; His burden is light
You don't need the answer to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side
Love them like Jesus
As I heard this song for the first time and really listened to the lyrics I began to cry. I thought of my children. I am constantly trying to guide them, correct them, teach them, prepare them, counsel them, fix them, pray for them etc...etc...etc...but what God really wants from me is to love them and to be quite honest, that's not an easy task.
You see, God gave me some very special children. Some of my children have attachment disorder.....they don't know how to love. Loving someone who loves you back is easy (or at least easier) but loving someone who doesn't love you is tuff! But my job as the parent of a RADlet (a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder) is to teach them love...how do you teach them? Buy loving them.
Isn't that what Jesus did? We love because He first loved us. 1Jn 4:19