Monday, November 13, 2017

Our First Failed Adoption and what God showed me.

In honor of National Adoption month, I thought I would go way back to our first failed adoption.  You see it is very much a part of our journey and it has shaped me profoundly into the woman I am today.

The story begins like so many, it is an ordinary day, late fall I believe, and the phone rings.  On the other end of the line is my brother.  We don't talk on the phone often, so it is an unexpected call right from the start.  He tells me his girlfriend is pregnant with twin girls, and her other children are in foster care, and the babies will be placed in foster care, too...unless they have a different plan.  He asks me to adopt these babies.  As you can imagine the details are a little blurry, and this is my story, exactly how I remember it.  I know I talked to my husband. I know we prayed a lot! I know we decided to say yes.  I know we met with my brother and his girlfriend.  I know we met with a lawyer.  I know we made arrangements to bring home two baby girls.  I know my boys were excited.  We made arrangements for a Pastor and his wife, in the area where my brother and his girlfriend lived, to bring the girls from the hospital to their home, where we would meet them.  We had everything prepared except for two car seats, diapers and formula.  We thought we were ready.

That's when the second call came...this time from my mother.  I have no idea how much time lapsed between the first call and the second.  It was enough to believe that we were really going to adopt two little girls, and we were preparing to bring them HOME.  Some how during the conversation my mom let me know that my brother found out he could get custody of the babies and bring them home, and we would not be adopting them after all.  I never heard a word from my brother.  The anger, the hurt, the disappointment, all the emotions you could imagine raced through my soul and mind over the next few days.  How do you tell your sons 9 & 3 that they are not going to be big brothers after all.  How do you look at the crib, changing table, little girls clothing that you prepared, and not reignite the flames of anger and hurt??

The babies were born about two weeks later, a little premature, but healthy, and my brother did indeed take custody of his daughters and bring them home from the hospital to live with him and their mother.  These were his daughters, after all.

A couple of weeks later, our family was preparing for an Easter get together and I would see my brother and his daughters for the first time.  As I prepared, my emotions were running my show more often than I even realized.

One of those beautiful Spring days just before Easter I was push mowing our front lawn and rehearsing in my mind all the things I was going to tell my brother.  And reminding myself of how much I had a right to be angry!!  After all, he didn't even call me.  We had met with lawyers, and Pastors, and planned, and purchased, I had to explain all this to my boys.  He hadn't just hurt me he hurt my children.  He left me to call the lawyers, pastor's wife, box up clothes, take down the crib, etc.  I was building my case, argument, after argument, and I was going to tell him ALL of it when I saw him at my parent's house for Easter! I convinced myself I had every right to be angry, look what he had done to me! to my family!  Yes, yes, I had a right to be angry, and I was hanging tight to that right with every lap I made with the lawn mower that day.

Then I heard God's voice...not an audible voice, but his still small voice in my soul.  His Spirit speaking deep into my heart.  "You have no rights, you are a slave."  I had been attending a ladies Bible study and we had recently studied "being a slave to righteousness." I stopped the mower and went inside to look up the verses.  (Romans 6:15-23)  I read these verses over a couple of times, before I returned to mowing.  It was true, I gave up my rights to follow Christ.  I was no longer a slave to my will and emotions, but a slave to his righteousness.

"But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. 
Now you do those things which lead to holiness and result in eternal life."
  Romans 6:22 NLT 

I would be a slave to whatever I chose to obey.  I could hold onto my "rights" and become enslaved to them, or I could trust God and let Him deal with me, my brother, my family, all of it.  I chose to let it go.  I chose to accept that I had no rights, I did not get to stay angry and try to make my brother "pay" for what he did, or "feel" how bad I hurt.  This was not my battle to fight.  I swallowed hard and accepted what God was telling me.

So, I went to my mom & dad's for Easter.  I wish I could say I was gracious;  I wish I could say I was excited for my brother and his girlfriend and couldn't wait to see the baby girls; I can't say that.  What I did was keep my mouth shut!  I kept my distance,  I was cool and avoided any "real" conversations with my brother (with anyone).  I didn't rush in excited to hold my nieces, in fact that day I only held one of them.  I only held her, because my brother proudly deposited her into my arms.  He had every reason to be proud. 

I wish I could say that was it...we lived civilly ever after.  But a couple weeks later we received another phone call.  I cannot even remember who made that call, I think it was my mom, but I don't really remember.   I do remember that the call shattered us all.  One of the twins (the same one I held briefly) had died of SIDS.  The loss of a tiny life touches us all, so deeply.  We gathered a few days later for her funeral.  Two things I remember about that funeral.  The devastation of the tiny little casket with an even tinier lifeless body in it, and her sister crying in the same room.  I also remember putting my arms around my brother and sharing a sincere embrace as I whispered, "I am so sorry for your loss."  Because I was. 

I praise God to this day that He knew so much better than I what to say and do with my brother.  If I had shot off my mouth and voiced all the hurt inside to my brother that Easter weekend, I would have ruined Easter for my family, but most important I could never have been able to wrap my arms around my brother and sincerely, share his grief, and acknowledge his great loss. 

I learned forever that God's ways are so much better than mine.   I also learned that rights and freedom are not the same thing.  I had a right to vent my anger.  My brother had a right to take custody of his daughters.  But because I listened to God and lay down my perceived rights I was free to love my brother and stand with him on a very sad day in all of our lives.  I was free too, of years of guilt that would have followed shooting off my mouth and then losing this tiny life. 

I can honestly say that while I still struggle with my "rights" I rarely make decisions based on my rights...I look more honestly, and compassionately at the other persons rights and point of view.  I am more free to love others than if I never walked this path. There are lots of wounded hearts in this world and everyone of them needs to heal and be set free. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Amazing Faith

Recently, someone told me my faith was amazing.  What she did not know was at that very moment my faith was very, very weak.  My immediate thought,"if she only knew..."
My faith had become a small ember buried under  the ash of old wounds, the ash of forgotten hurts resurfaced, the ash of doing hard things,  the ash of longing unfulfilled.  The ashes smother and block out the fresh winds, that can spark even the smallest ember into a roaring flame.  

On top of the ashes someone has thrown new logs...the logs of everyday tasks, the logs of the mundane, the logs of unanswered questions, the logs of waiting for answers, the logs of not enough hours to complete the daily tasks. The logs wait for the flames to lick at them...consume them and bring the light and warmth, but the ember struggles to stay alive.  

Perhaps this is amazing faith
Perhaps the tiny flicker that can receive a fresh wind, a new stirring and leap into consuming flame is still amazing faith.  The amazement is in the potential not the size of the ember.  It still glows however faintly.  Still carries the capacity to light, to warm, to set a blaze all that it touches.  
Stir up the ashes oh Lord, Blow them away so your fresh wind can awake the ember. 

Consuming fire rise to tackle logs of daily life, turn the logs into life giving moments.  Turn the darkness into light, the cold into heat.  

Take my small ember and use it to light a fire.  Amazing Faith.  I believe my ember is enough.   

Friday, February 12, 2016

When I really, really want to quit

not one fighter in my boys bucket was surrendering...
I had to create my own flag.
Sometimes a voice in my head says, "I can't do this anymore." Sometimes sadly the voice of my lips says the same thing.  sigh. This morning the voice in my head was followed by another one, "but you will."  Yep, I will...I don't always know how, but I get up again, I put one foot in front of the other, I have one more heart to heart with one more of the wounded hearts.

I don't know if my words are reaching their hearts, I don't even know if their ears are listening, but I keep saying them. The battles are real.

My husband watches war documentaries (a lot).  One common thread I have seen is the military starts to lose ground and many times finally lose the war when they are fighting on too many fronts, also when they have very few if any allies. This seems to apply to chasing wounded hearts, too.
When several wounded hearts are struggling at the same time.  The days become long and wearisome.  My strength is depleted with no pauses in the battle I start to suffer battle fatigue. Couple this with a lack of supplies, no allies to come to my aid and redirect the battle fronts, and I start to lose the war. That is exactly when the words "I can't do this anymore" enter my head and pass over my lips. I am ready to surrender, admit defeat, and settle for whatever terms will bring peace to my home.  Only a heart of determination, a faith that God has called me to do this and He will rescue all of our wounded hearts if I just stand my position, keep me from throwing up the white flag.  

God is my greatest allie, my supply, my hope, my rest when I am weary.

However, I am realizing I need to have a battle plan. I need to finish well.  Thinking of war strategies, and battle plans, I realize I am not doing all I can to ensure victory and protect my troops from unnecessary losses.

The danger of fighting on too many fronts is that supplies become quickly depleted.  Time is the first "supply" depleted in the battle of wounded hearts.  I have found a few things that help free up time for the melt downs, the heart to heart talks, the bridge building, the snuggles, the tears, etc.  Menu planning is HUGE for us.  A lot of time can go into the feeding and care of nine people.  When there is something in the crockpot already the little scrimmages and even some larger battles don't deplete or throw off the day's battle plan.  When it's 4:30 and someone is falling apart over a homework assignment or the bickering is overwhelming, it is usually because I have no idea what I'm feeding the troops or I waited too long to start the preparations.  I need to find more ideas for when this crisis and my lack of  planning collide. Calling out for Pizza isn't always an option :-) Another sneak attack on my supply of time is definitely the internet.  I need to manage this time more wisely, sigh.

What about Allies? Have I identified all of the possible allies around me?  I think I fight way too many battles alone.  Do I have to? Are their ways to have more people come along side of me and build up the troops without dividing them?  Something I am definitely exploring very soon, like today and over the next few days as well.

What about R&R?  I don't think I take near enough breaks from the battle front to replenish my weariness.  I NEED to make intentional time to refresh my body, spirit, mind, etc.  I do take time each day to have a quiet cup of coffee and read a bit in God's word.  I read other good books, a little, a paragraph at a time while using the bathroom, anyone relate?  I try to take a short cat nap in the afternoon 2 - 3 times a week.  There are a lot of battles in the afternoon and evening.  I need this little replenishing of my strength.  I just don't think I step completely away and take care of me enough.

I need to remember also Who is fighting for me.  2 Kings 6:16-17 "'Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." Lord, give me eyes to see how much you are fighting for all of us!

I definitely need to make a new battle plan. This is a new perspective for me. I hope it means I will have fewer "I can't do this" moments.  I hope the strategies will help me fight another day.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

This is what a week of wounded hearts looks like

The wounded hearts are real and so are the daily and weekly struggles.  This is our journey right now. This blog is my way of sharing, being transparent, and journaling the journey, so I can look back and see how far we have come.  Because I believe God will truly heal our wounded hearts. 

My wounded heart is struggling...I look back and can see so clearly that I am no longer the same person I was 20-25 years ago.  I am thankful for that, I don't know where that girl would be today.  But the truth is she is still a part of me.  Anyone else find it harder to forgive yourself than others?  I have regrets, I have to figure out how to embrace my past, because it has shaped the woman I am today.  God met me in that mess and changed my life forever, but these wounded hearts I live with have triggered thought processes that are still a mess.  Seeking God's wisdom and grace to sort out the mess is hard work and sometimes so painful I can't stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks.  All the while helping the other wounded hearts to seek the same healing.  I have finally settled my heart and mind that I CANNOT fix these broken places even though more than anything I want to see us all whole.

My husband is lovingly being forced by God to deal with hurts that are 30 years old.  His old fears and wounds have been in control of his life for so long.  What coping methods did he use in the past that need to flee for his mind and heart to be truly free? He walks this journey almost alone I can stand with him, but I can't go where he needs to go.  God is there waiting. 

Our fourteen year old is hard working, easy going, but the wounds are real.  2016 could be life changing for him.  We would love to adopt this child, but his heart is struggling with identity.  We would love to give him a new name, but that means losing 14 years of being called by another name.  How does someone so young choose what is best for them in the face of all this one decision could mean for the rest of his life?
Found this gem yesterday at our local Salvation Army.  A real treasure!
Eleven year old read it and proclaimed, "I don't get it"

Our eleven year old professor is struggling to find his voice, his sense of humor, to navigate middle school, etc.  He is very bright, but the true absent minded professor.  He cannot stand any kind of correction, so he argues every point as far as he can.  If he is wrong in any area, he is unworthy in everything. (his perception of himself - not mine).  It is not all struggle I watched him brushing his 10 year old sisters hair a couple of nights ago.  These two fight about everything!! "She's humming too loud" "He is looking at me." etc. This tiny little moment brought hope to my momma heart.  We are becoming a family!

This ten year old girl is in such a hard place. The reason her brother was brushing her hair? She can't look at herself in the mirror.  I brushed her hair in front of the bathroom mirror, she would not look in the mirror at herself, at all.  I asked her, "what do you see when you look in the mirror at yourself?" After a long pause her response, "a dirty blanket"  How does a momma hear these words and not reveal the piercing of her own heart?  How does a momma respond to such shame and brokenness? I know the things that left her feeling dirty, before she came to our home at 22mos, but at ten years old it is not time to discuss them with her.  The dirt and shame have nothing to do with the princess she was created to be.  They are not the dirt and shame I struggle with because of my own choices...she simply had her innocence stolen.  I grieve the loss of what my daughter could have been, should have been.  For now I remind her that things happened to her before she came to this safe home and none of it was her fault.  Too simple, too shallow, to reach the deep wounds of her heart, but God...

blanket forts and clean laundry...

Our nine year old strong, bossy boy is wetting the bed again, almost nightly.  While making English muffins this morning we had a brief moment to talk about this...he misses his birth mom, doesn't know why she walked away, wonders if she is ok.  Oh sweet wounded boy, how do I tell you again that I don't know why she walked away, I can't know for sure if she is ok, I still believe she loves you and misses you.  I am here and I won't leave you, please, Lord don't take me from him. He is full of stress and worry... no nine year old boy should carry such pain.  He blames himself for so many things and tries to be helpful and be good because the fear tells him he has to or other people will leave him, too.  I whisper softly, once again, "Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. You can trust him." 

Our eight year old boy is a mess.  He is in everyone's business and insisting on having his own way even if it is at the expense of the relationship.  He is trying so hard to make a good impression, a willing helper (on his terms), but he must have the last word, he must be involved in every situation in the home.  Why?  Maybe King Baby?  His whole identity was the baby when he came to our home.  This identity was so fierce that I couldn't baby him.  I had to set such strong boundaries and expectations that I think he lost so much of his childhood.  How do we get that back?  Maybe he needs more snuggles, more time to just be little, but time marches on and third grade is no place for a 3 or 4 year old. 

That leaves a five year old and a two year old.  Their hearts are stronger than most of us.  Their wills are equally strong. They play, they fight, they make blanket forts, they pull each others hair... I carried the two year old upstairs to take a nap, and she yells over my shoulder to her sister, "love you, hon." These are the treasures.  These are the gifts that encourage my momma heart to strive for another day, to pray, to seek, to trust, to believe.  

This is our journey.  Our places to leave stones of remembrances, so we can look back and praise God for all that He has done!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

National Adoption Month

Since we currently have four children who are adopted I could not miss this opportunity to share about adoption.  Adoption will be a huge theme on this blog.
This year I am going to share a short video clip from last November.
I had minor surgery two days before sharing this message, my voice is shakey, and so was I, but I think my heart comes through loud and clear.  

This year I am the one struggling to believe how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  I do not have to be loveable.  I do not have to perform a certain way.  He just loves me because I'm His child.  My own words are a powerful reminder to me of my place in His family.  
My own wounded heart has been remembering old wounds I honestly had completely forgotten,  Dealing with new rejections has a funny way of bringing back old memories.  These are the wounds my children, my husband, my family, all of us deal with in one way or another, and they are the wounds I long to have healed by the only One who can heal the broken hearted.  


Friday, November 13, 2015

a glimpse into who I am

This is an old post from facebook. It will give you a very small glimpse into my wounded heart.

Someone recently asked me to “write my story”. Our story is both written for us and by us. It is the sum of God’s will plus our choices. 
As I have been pondering this thought a few things have come to my mind. First, I know how my story will end, no I don’t know how I will leave this earth, but I know when I leave this life I will spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven. I know my eternity is secure. What I can’t even begin to write about is how long I will be here, who I may have to say good bye to before I leave, etc. When I was in highschool I visited New York City. It was an exciting City! I remember saying, “I hope I have a job someday that brings me to this city a few times a year on business.” I have never returned to New York City, the closest I’ve come is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. 
When I was in college I wanted to be like Mary Tyler Moore, single career woman with a cute apartment, complete with a sunken living room. I did have a cute apartment with a raised bedroom, so you stepped down into the rest of the apartment from the bedroom, but my days as a career woman ended before I finished college… 
If you asked me way back then where I thought I’d be in my 50th year of life, I would have had a lot of ideas: traveling, snuggling & kissing a grandbaby or two, probably still working somewhere earning a paycheck, to spend at the Mall, more time for sewing and crafting, and for me. If that’s your life, good for you, but God certainly had a different story written for me to walk out. 
Almost every job I’ve held has prepared me for this “career”. I have been a waitress, a receptionist, a bookkeeper, secretary for quality control, a CNA, a home health aide, I’ve cleaned houses, I’ve worked in grocery stores as a cashier and a deli clerk, and babysitter, etc…. these jobs remind me of some of those “before they were famous” articles. The beauty is I use these skills all the time in my “real life”. I spend my days cooking meals, clearing tables, changing diapers, answering phones, scheduling appointments and sometimes rescheduling them, washing laundry, cleaning house, doing dishes, wiping noses, washing hands and faces, etc. etc. My days are full, my days are busy, but I wouldn’t trade this life for any of those old dreams and ideas. They were the best kind of dreams for a young woman to have, but this woman has seen living out God’s plan is so much more fulfilling. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is exactly what I was 
made to be! 
Every day is an adventure! Many days I can only cling to God’s promises and pray I can make it until bedtime. Being totally dependent on God and His strength and mercies is an amazingly good place to be. 
But, what about the part I am responsible to write? I can’t even imagine what my future will look like, there will be moments of delight and awe weaved together with heartache and loss, but what else??? 
I hope I will love like Jesus, more each day. I hope the people entrusted to me will feel safe with me, at all times. I hope to actively participate in my life choice by choice becoming a healthy person, spiritually, but also emotionally, mentally, & physically. Hoping is not enough to “write” my story I have to actively decide and act according to God’s will and my desires. So this day (tomorrow is another day) I choose to honor my commitments well, to tap into the Holy 
Spirit’s power to love better, to be vulnerable in the face of fear, and to be present in this moment, and to be kinder than I might feel. I will renew my mind with God’s word and other good books. I will seek wise counsel. I will choice by choice eat better and exercise more. I will pray for God’s wisdom and supernatural power to help me to love when fear and hurt make me want to do anything but love. I will ask God to help me take captive every thought, so my mind is free from junk and lies that defeat me before my feet hit the floor. 
And most of all I will fail again and again, but I will by God’s grace get up every time I fall. God wrote my story. It is finished! I get to walk it out in cooperation with Him every day, moment by moment, choice by choice. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Let's Begin

Almost every week someone tells me I should write a blog, or "when you write your blog" or even "when you write your book."  This is the beginning, it is my journey, my story.  While I hope it encourages and blesses others it is mostly for me and my family.  This is a far bigger learning curve than just writing a facebook post, so here's to small beginnings.  
All my life I have chased wounded hearts.  I chased my mom's wounded heart, I chase my husband's wounded heart, I chase my children's wounded hearts, and Jesus has chased my wounded heart.  I don't claim to have any answers for the wounded heart, except for Jesus, I simply seek to share our journey.
Our home is BUSY, so I will not commit to a blogging schedule.  I will simply share the journey. Some posts will be about the current day, some will be reflections on the journey before I started blogging.  I will seek to share my heart and be transparent in every post.  
Our current home consists of nine people.  Mom, Dad, four boys 13, 11, 9, & 8, & three girls 10, 4, & 2.   We have dentist appointments, eye appointments, meals to cook, laundry, homework, and all the other stuff that families deal with everyday. We also have weekly counseling appointments, wounded hearts are messy.
My plan is to introduce you to the wounded hearts, and share the stories that weave our lives together.  Eventually, I will learn to add pictures and the fun stuff to my blog, but since the beginning of it is the important thing, lets begin!