The Story in the Middle of the Night

 

Lately, God has been bringing to my attention some things I need to know regarding my children who are adopted, two of which are older and not home with us yet. I’ve been praying He would help me know all I can in order to help them transition and heal. I wanted to share this particular topic with my friends and family, and thought this blog might be the best way. Thank you in advance for reading and those of you involved in the lives of any adopted children, I pray this touches you like it is touching me.

We adopted one of our daughters seven years ago, when she had not even reached her 1st birthday. We were elated to get a baby, and I remember thinking, “Oh, we are so lucky to get a baby because she’s too little to even remember her past life or have any traumatic effects from it.” But little did I know, as well as this sweet girl adapted to life in a new family and home, of course blossoming with healthy food and daily nurture, she had impressions on her brain and for lack of a better word, heart, that would never lift. Now, at the age where she can cognitively grasp what the first year of her life really was and all that she lost in it, there is grief and that shows itself in many forms. God brought the education we needed to help her navigate through the feelings that she couldn’t put words to before…but it is a process, and one we will always be in to some extent. I was incredibly clueless about what was going on inside of her precious heart and mind.

Can I go a step further in vulnerability and transparency here to say that I actually have been angry at her for not being more grateful? How many times have I thought, “But you have this now, you have us now, don’t live in the past. God rescued you! That’s what you have to focus on!” For those of us who came from somewhat stable backgrounds, that thought might make perfect sense if there’s at least some sensitivity added to it. And also, the Bible tells us to rejoice in all circumstances and be thankful, right? Well…

God wanted me to really get this, so He woke me up in the dead of night with a story.

This is the first time I’ve really grasped what an adopted child goes through and how it changes them on the inside, regardless of what they are told or even know in their head to be true. As you read this story the first time, try not to make comparisons with adoption, just read it as if you were truly the main character. Imagine this with me, please:

You are a young adult, living with a significant other. You have a job and while things have never been easy, you think you are doing okay. You’ve never moved, you’ve never really seen past your community where you work and live, but you have familiarity and you like it. Voices, scenes, your daily routine, and ultimately that significant other make up your life. But one day, you lose your job and there are absolutely no other opportunities available. You loved that job. It gave you such a sense of identity. It was your thing and you felt good about it. Now it was gone and before long, you have to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy! Has it really come to this? You always had this sense of “things will work out”, but it slowly ebbs away as you begin living on the street. Worst of all, your significant other that you had been with as long as you could remember, leaves, weeping. You think if they’re sad to leave, then why don’t they stay with me and weather this storm? If they want to be with me, why can’t we do this together? But they can’t and you end up in a group home with a hundred other adults that are also in the same boat.

You feel an incapacitating weight that daily drags you down as you try to figure out what happened. You have no pieces to try to put together, you have nothing.

Time passes in this exact situation, and you learn to make it through the days. Circumstances reinforce the thoughts and beliefs that have taken hold–that you don’t deserve better or that hope only leads to disappointment– although you do your best to not think or feel anything at all. Others in the group home leave, going away and never coming back to tell about it, always with a new adult who came looking for them all smiles, usually of a different color skin and total gibberish of a language! Your friends do seem glad when they leave with these people, so you begin to hope you’ll have that happen to you, too, even though you really don’t know what it’ll mean on a day-to-day basis, what it’ll truly be like.

And one day, it happens. All of a sudden, there is a person clearly interested in knowing you and taking you out of the holding pattern you’ve been in. You don’t know very much about what is changing, you just know it’s going to be a big change and you are going to have a significant other again. You can tell this by the way they’re looking at you and even hugging you, and that makes you feel good, but you remember feeling good before and where did that get you? You have forgotten what it felt like to have a job you loved and earn your own living, that sense of pride. You have forgotten what it felt like to never question if your significant other would leave, that sense of calm and confidence. You have forgotten what it felt like to not live in the past and future; you don’t even realize you forgot how to live in the present.

You are in a whirlwind of new everything for a couple of months. Everyone around you is celebrating, everyone is asking you if you like your new clothes, your new room in your new house…even your new significant other is looking at you in expectation, like aren’t you thrilled?  As an adult, you’ve had enough life experience to understand you are in a better situation. Yes, you grasp that. Having nothing was horrible. The group home stunk. You are glad you have a job again! You are relieved you have plenty of food! You are enjoying the warmth and kindness and attention of your new significant other!

But what you have learned and what you have become cannot be turned off. You’ve learned to emotionally, physically, and socially survive by not getting too excited about anything, by not getting attached or used to anything, anything at all! In that group home, every possession was destroyed, every friend left, every bed room changed, and nobody ever asked you how you felt about it, not to mention all that happened before the group home life. So, yeah, you’re enjoying things for the moment and to a certain extent, but then a shadow falls over your face and while everyone else is celebrating how great this is–because it is great–you just feel scared and sad, and angry that you can’t just enjoy it, that you can’t just toss the past in the past and believe that it is a new day. There’s a fear of jumping in with both feet only to lose it all again. There’s a fear of messing it all up, so that creates a fear of even trying to connect with your significant other or to do a good job in your new occupation. All the feelings of those terrible years are stored deep inside and they come out whenever a situation in your “new life” even barely resembles those experiences. You don’t realize that’s what’s happening, but you do notice that you don’t have the same reaction to things, good or bad, as others do. You eventually get to the place where you know the facts by heart: I’m loved, I’m taken care of, I have a good life ahead of me. But when you’re all alone, you’re really not sure.

Thank you for “going there” with me. I hope something in this story made it real to you, like it did to me. And what we can’t fully understand, we can believe anyway because it’s true, like it or not.

It is my deepest prayer that my girls would have total healing and complete victory. I pray that someday they could be so strong in their faith and belief in God’s love for them that they could say, as Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers yet someday became ruler of all Egypt: “What my enemy intended for evil, God used for good, both for me and to save many lives as well.” We all have wounds that eventually lead to beliefs about ourselves, God, and the world. But when those wounds happen in childhood, the healing takes incredible bravery, patience, perseverance, and help from others who are in for the long haul with that child. 

Please remember this when you are with my children.

As a speaker at the Empowered to Connect conference said last year: “My children bled before they came to me, and they shall not bleed under my care.”

I know it’s hard to know exactly what that care will need to look like, or what you can expect from them. So I say, don’t expect anything. Receive them as they are right now. Don’t judge them for what they feel. This may be a one-sided love for awhile. Give with no strings attached, really. Just love them and if they’re not acting loving toward you or others, take them aside and pour your love on them even more. And please remind me to do the same.

Thank you so much for reading.

A Little Look

I don’t really know where to begin. I am choosing to restrain myself from writing about everything all at once…in fact, I have a new goal in blogging that some of you will be really happy about! 500 word cut-off! Whoo!

That was 40 right there. Wow.

So, Jack and I went to Haiti this summer & spent two weeks getting to know the girls that will someday be our daughters. It was wonderful & weird, precious & difficult, all at the same time. Once that trip was completed, other pieces of the process could begin, so we were thrilled to finally be at that point.

We came home to a whirlwind of summer plans with our girls here (ages 7 & 10), and then they began school just a couple of weeks ago. I quickly dove into beginning and updating lifebooks for my girls, studying Haitian Creole, taking care of my inner life, and teaching music lessons while they are gone during the day.

One thing that has made all the difference in the world to me is my daily prayer time. I’ve been using the resources The Power of a Praying Parent and The Power of a Praying Wife to pray specifically for the people under my care. I genuinely feel like I am living out Philippians 4 that tells us the peace of Christ will guard our hearts and minds as we present our needs to Him, with thanksgiving. I’m thankful that every need I bring to the Lord He knew about, and my prayers are more about me reminding myself of His awareness, power, and love than anything else! It’s a truly remarkable difference. I am not afraid anymore. I’m not afraid of not praying enough or not remembering to say exactly the thing I’m asking for in exactly the right way. Oh, how small in my eyes that makes my God and how big in my eyes it makes me! The truth is my Father has got “my people” in the palm of His hand, and that absolutely includes my girls in Haiti and my girls in public school. He has so much restoration and solace for their souls, and my prayers are simply in agreement with & gratitude for His already-great plans for them.

We are currently waiting for our Authorization of Adoption, which usually takes 4-6 months, which means we should get ours between the end of October and the end of December. We’re praying that God will spur people in Haiti to make this process happen in a more reasonable time period. After that Authorization comes, there is another 6-8 months of the process.

Proverbs 21:30 tells us (and this is no isolated verse here!): “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

I don’t know what God wants to do in the seen realm about this adoption process, but I have no doubt in my mind (and am seeing with my own eyes) that He is the One in control & that He is providing for every need.

Take joy, little children, we have a good Father!!!!!

 

#HowToBuild: Why We Fast

A couple of months ago, I wrote a short blog series called #HowToBuild, about building ourselves up in our most holy faith. I wrote about being in the Word, prayer, worship, and about the enemy. I cannot even tell you how attacked I was after writing that blog about the enemy! The Lord really did allow Satan to sift me, like I wrote in the most recent blog, about Jesus and Peter. I felt dazed and confused for awhile, knocked down and not knowing what hit me. I came to the Lord and His Word but in every way I just felt unable to concentrate and get anywhere. And because I saw how valuable fasting can be in times like this, when things in the physical realm are unbearable and life in the spiritual realm doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough, I want to tag on another blog to that series…

Why We Fast.

I went through a time where I didn’t fast often at all, because I couldn’t really remember why it mattered. Honestly! I had this idea in my head that fasting was pretty much like holding my breath until God gave me what I was asking for, like “I’m not going to eat until that person is healed!” Um…I didn’t think that was quite right.

But in the sifting, in the disappointment and fear, it began to be really clear to me by God’s grace that I had to find a way to get more of His truth and power in me. Not only could I not be the wife and mom and witness I wanted to be if I did not have more of His Word and truth and love in me, but I could not survive on the inside, in the place where joy and peace was so desperately needed.

It’s clear to me now that when I am inconsistent in patience and love with my family, really the problem behind this is my inconsistency of coming and being filled by the living Lord Jesus and all His goodness.

That requires time. That requires attention. That requires setting aside escapes. That requires setting aside distractions. So for me, that requires fasting, and personally I fast from things like social media and Netflix because I know that’s where I go when I can’t handle things going on in my life. But what do I really need when I can’t handle things going on in my life, when I’m really hurting? I need Jesus, the same Jesus Mary and Martha cried to when their brother died, the same Jesus who looked with compassion on the masses. I need fellowship with Him and understanding of His parables. I need to know what I can expect from God, what happens when I pray, how to pray! I need to know He loves me, that others have suffered and made it through, and what faith really is! Sure, I’ve heard a lot of it before, but yesterday’s manna is stale. I have to gather, today, my portion.

Fasting is not about getting what we want in our prayer life.

Fasting is not about holding our breath, thinking if we take this drastic measure, He will do what we ask. He’s going to do what we ask if He wants to, I don’t think we have to fast to make it happen. (Maybe I’m wrong?)

Fasting is about prioritizing our spiritual nourishment for the marathon we are in, with great expectation that our inner and outer man will reflect the strength, wisdom, and peace we gain from Him.

Fasting is about feeding the spirit, which sometimes requires starving the flesh. It’s about focusing on the invisible, when we would normally choose the easier route: focusing on what we can see and touch and be quickly comforted by.

I’m at a place in my walk with God where I don’t have exact time frames of fasting, exact goals or beginning or ends, because then it becomes about the outer man, and my own self control. I want fasting to be about gaining a heart of wisdom, a life that chooses Him because I see the bounty there as opposed to what I would end up with if I spent that free time in another way. He wants to set our feet on higher ground, to look at our problems from a platform set up outside of the situation, rather than drowning in waves we can’t get our heads above.

Whatever it takes to get to that place, and stay at that place, oh, Jesus, give us grace to do it!

Finding Peace and Purpose in Our Battles

I have been really silent for over a month. Not just on the blog, but in my home and my relationships. I’ve texted with some friends but have had days where I only said a few sentences. I just feel quiet, and my mind and heart are full of pause. They are also full of prayers.

Some friends I know and love have had loved ones pass onto eternity, as always, in a quick and shocking way.

Some other friends have had little ones in the hospital, hurting and scared.

Some have had surgeries, new medications, life on hold and upside down.

I have had an extremely hard time with fatigue through the summer, then the whole month of September was on the couch or bed due to an urgent health matter (which is healing and going to be fine).

Battles both literal and figurative raging around the world.

You can see why the pause, and why the prayers.

Here are some of my thoughts in the silence:

*There is peace in surrendering what we wanted the journey and outcome to be. If we can bow to Him, there is peace there in that humility.

In this wellness battle, I have peace because I know that I know that I know that God gives both the sunshine and the rain. He is sovereign over my life, every single aspect of it, from how I feel to the day I die. To me, any thing less than this would mean God is less powerful than the enemy, than the world, than me. I feel safe in God’s hands, and if He is not freaked out by the difficulties in our lives and the limits those difficulties put on us, then I won’t be either. I gave Him my life. This is where my talk meets my walk.

*He isn’t asking more of us than we can give.

In this past month, I also came to grips with the fact (again) that if God actually wants something out of me, He’s going to supply everything I need for that task or I am in no way required to do it. I tend to fill up my calendar with good things as soon as I feel well, then the sickness comes and I feel terrible in more than just physical ways…guilt, confusion, weariness, stress. The Lord is freeing me (again) to only serve with the strength He provides and take joy that my life and accomplishments belong to Him, not me, so how much or what I do isn’t really “mine” to worry about. It’s His. He’s slowing down the pace for me because I needed intervention in that! 

*Where do I place my trust? In my supplements and self-discipline?

Number One, I trust Jesus for my righteousness. I say that because I sometimes think, “If I was more perfect, if I was more disciplined, if God didn’t have to ‘teach me a lesson’ (I don’t believe that by the way)”, then I wouldn’t have this recurring health condition that seems to hinder my life.  False. Jesus alone covers me with righteousness and right standing with God. I don’t have to do extra, in fact, doing extra would nullify my faith in the work of Grace! May that never be so! I’m on God’s “good side” because of Jesus, period. Number Two, I trust the Holy Spirit for my power to produce fruit, because any good that comes from my life (sick OR well) is from Him. And Number Three, I trust my Father for my safety. In the palm of His hand, I can know nothing comes my way that He did not allow, and because He is good, I want what He wants. I’m all in with Him, all in. If I trust Him with my children, my future, my home in Heaven, I must trust that if He wanted things to be different in my body and life right here and now He would bring that desire to fruition! He’s my Abba.

*When I’ve done all that is in my power to do for wellness- in wisdom and knowledge, prayer and praise- I can rest and enjoy the life that has been given to me.

In our wellness battles, we always have things to be thankful for. Personally, I’m thankful I don’t have to work a full time job. I’m thankful I have a husband, precious and somewhat self-sufficient daughters ;),  a great church, and so many friends that I keep leaving people out accidentally when I’m asking for prayer support! I’m thankful I have a quiet home and a fairly simple life. I’m thankful that the ministries I’m involved in are not overwhelming but peaceful and completely powered by the Lord. Not being able or allowed to do the many other things I am saying no to actually open the door to things I forget are so important. Right now, that’s relationships. Sitting down for more than 5 minutes with people. Hearing God’s heart in prayer instead of running down a quick list. Do you know how hard it is for me to just sit still and snuggle with my kids? It’s a challenge, and I think that’s sad! While God allows this trial in my life, I pray that I learn how to do that and not let a day go by where I refuse that gift.

Someday the Lord will deliver us from our battles, in one way or another. That relief will be sweet. But until then, I want to make sure that I realize there is no waiting to live. His Presence, His will, His relationship with us, His daily mercies, the things and people He has put in our laps…that’s all NOW regardless of our various trials. There is no waiting to be in His will, waiting to be thankful, waiting to be free, waiting to live. It’s now or never!

A New Year!

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I love the new year!! Even though winter isn’t my favorite time, I really love starting a new year of possibilities and ideas. My daughters will turn 9 and 6 this year; that I cannot believe!! My husband and I are going on an awesome trip, a gift from a loved one…a very loved one, haha! My best friend is having a baby. There are some other exciting things happening, too, that I’ll blog about in the months to come.

Along with the new year comes…drum roll…resolutions! I can’t say that I really have any resolutions this year, just some direction on what I want to make sure I focus on. And one of the things on my list of course is wellness. I lost 20 lbs in 2013 by going essentially wheat and sugar free, and I am so thankful! I want to keep that going, and possibly lose a few more.

I’ve been talking with people lately who would like to get started on a real-life plan such as what, by God’s grace, I did last year, and I have a few suggestions–nothing I haven’t blogged before, but here we go:

1-BASIC: Exercise 15 min a day. If I can’t get up and do it in the morning, I try to squeeze it in before dinner or even do yoga before bed. My favorite exercise is lifting weights, walking, and yoga. I think exercising almost every day is better than long hard workouts 3 x a week.

2-GETTING STARTED: Compile a list of why you’d want to go off of sugar and wheat. Do some research and see what it is doing to your body. Eventually, you’ll look at bread and think, “Hmm…white, puffy, I don’t want to look like that…or feel that heaviness in my tummy either.” There are dozens of reasons to go off this stuff but you have to find the ones that resonate with YOU. I don’t eat wheat because I know I can keep my weight steady by not eating, because when I got off of it I stopped having any acid reflux (within 6-8 weeks), and because my digestive system is so much happier, just believe me. I don’t eat sugar except on special preplanned occasions with friends and family because it steals my vitamins, overloads the work of my pancreas and adrenals, gives me infections, makes me want more and struggle with self control issues, makes me gain weight, puts a tire around my middle, and keeps me from living in the victory of health and clarity God has for me. Other people go off meat or dairy for these same reasons. How do these foods physically make you feel? You get to choose to stop eating them if you don’t like the way your body reacts! If you believe in your reasons, even if you mess up, you’ll keep going back to what is best for you. You have to take care of yourself!

3-HOW TO: Get an accountability partner or group, and tell them your intentions. Make a commitment to let them know when you went off track. Get junk out of your house. Have lots of good food you do like in the house, always have an alternative to fill the void of foods you are eliminating. Also, learn your triggers and try to work ways around them. Decide a date you can have what you want, for example a summer vacation. Chances are, after eating poorly for a day you will be craving how you were feeling before. One more thing, know those scripts you tell yourself, like, “Well, I may as well eat that, because I didn’t have time to exercise today anyway so it’s just a bad day overall” OR “I can have that because I worked out so hard” OR “I deserve this! I’m a free woman!” The fact is: Freedom is being in control of yourself and reaping the benefits.