Saturday, August 24, 2013

And the TRUTH Shall Set You Free...

It has been two years since Isaiah and Ruth became a forever part of our family.  It's been a year since I've had the courage to log onto this blog.  A long, emotionally draining, grasping and clinging to the hem of Jesus's robe, kind of year.

At first I didn't post because I convinced myself that no-one wants to hear the ugly and the hard side of adoption.  

That isn't true.  

I didn't write because of fear.  I didn't want to be judged by those that had never walked the road of adoption.  My pride told me to keep quiet because I was suppose too have all the answers.  And after enough time passed, I just became to overwhelmed to write. 

I began to see our failings as my failings.  I saw every setback and emotional breakdown as something I wasn't doing right.  I saw every failed test as my inability to teach.  I took every lie I was told incredibly personally.  With every "My REAL, BIRTH mom loves me more!" I would lay a stone around my heart.  And the construction of my wall was going unreasonably fast.  

It eventually took me out.  I just wanted out, but I din't know how...I felt trapped.  I didn't want to get up and home school a child that was going to argue with me about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  I didn't want to pray for a child who was just going to spit venomous insults in my face.  I didn't want to discipline a child who was just going to steal again and then lie about it.  
My well ran dry.  There was no grace on reserve.  My love now had conditions.  I began keeping score.    

I knew it was wrong.  I knew what Karyn Purvis (the adoption whisperer as I lovingly refer to her) would say about this.  But what shamed me even more is that I knew what the Bible said about this.  I KNEW!, but I couldn't help it.  I was drowning and it was all I could do to keep my head above water.  

Well-meaning people asked and commented, "Oh how wonderful adoption must be!" "Heavens, your family is too cute!"  Or my all time favorite, "I would adopt in a heartbeat if we could get the kids ya'll got!"  (Yes, we live in the south and that is how we really talk.)
And I would find myself just methodically nodding my head saying the only true thing I held on to, "God is good."  It satisfied their need to believe that all was wonderful and it reminded me that I believe in a God that is sovereign and whose will is perfect and He, that called us to this, will carry us through.  

I don't think I'm alone in this struggle.  I know there are mamas and papas out there that are struggling to find that one thing to love in their child.  They are fighting the enemy through every thought condemning their child.  
This isn't a battle won over night.  This isn't a battle fought flippantly while standing up texting your BFF.  (Though you desperately need a BFF!)  

This is the kind of battle Ephesians 6 talks about...  

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it's against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  

Our children are not our enemy!  They are not out to  get us, even though that's how it feels in the flesh!  

Adoption is authored by God.  He is the only one that can redeem!  Not us.  He may choose to use us in the healing and the restoration of our children, but mamas and papas, I'll let you in on a secret that took me two years to finally hear... WE.CAN.NOT.HEAL.OUR.CHILDREN.  
We can not bestow upon their heads a crown of beauty where once only ashes lay.  We can not turn their spirit of despair into a garment of praise.  Only HE can.  

Please understand this was a very personal journey between God, myself and my incredibly resilient children.  It has been a time of refining and molding of my heart.  It has been painful and lonely.  But it's also been glorious.  The Lord has shown me that when sin increases in my children's life, my grace must increase all the more.  (Romans 5:20b)  He has very clearly shown me that He does not show favoritism and nor should I. God has shone a light into the dark parts of my heart; parts that needed healing and restoration a long time ago.  Parts that I would have kept locked up had I never been called to love two hurting children born not from my womb.  And for that I am, and will forever be, grateful.  

I am not at that magical, perfect place of harmony and unity.  But I see the light.  And as we travel this narrow road, I am continually humbled and reminded that we are far from perfect.  My kids are going to interrupt.  They may even tell me no.  One of them might roll their eyes at me (until they are set straight by their father and then come directly back to me to apologize.) :)   They may still grieve.  They may miss their birth mother and country so much that they lash out at me.  That's o.k.
Because I've learned that what's behind that anger is a gripping fear that he can no longer remember what his birth mamma looks like.  And that scares him to death.  
And what's behind her harshness is a fear of failure.  A fear of acceptance.  A fear of not being loved unconditionally.  

I look at our adoption as the lifeline that was thrown to me.  It saved ALL my children from the demands and pretenses I put upon myself and my family because I felt the  weight of the world looking upon us.  It saved us from selfishness.  
It is teaching us compassion in a way that is very personal and real.   It has taught me that it's o.k. not to have all the answers.


I failed...and yet I'm still here.  Much to my surprise, it didn't kill me.  It made me stronger.  It taught me humility and submissiveness.  I experienced that His love truly NEVER fails, it never gives up and it will never, ever run out on me.  It showed me that His grace increased for my sin.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."


Thursday, July 26, 2012

NO Longer MIA

It’s July. Yes, I realized that the last time I blogged was in February. 
I needed to take a break to walk the new road that the LORD was calling me and my family too.   
In a nutshell:

In January, we pulled Isaiah from public school.   It was a very fast decision.  In the middle of the 1st week back after Christmas break, we prayerfully decided he needed to be home.  Friday was his last day.  No curriculums ordered…no clue what I was going to do…just trusting the LORD to guide us in regards to Isaiah. 
Shortly after that, Brian left a 17 year career with his construction company.  After a year of praying, researching, praying, testing, praying, reasoning with God and then finally submitting, he resigned to start a non-profit.  (More info to come on this later.) 

And then to top it off, like icing on a cake that you are too full to eat, we adopted a dog.  Why?  Because that’s what it looks like when you are fighting for the heart of a grieving child.  Did I want one?  NOT.AT.ALL!   But to see your adopted son curling up to your adopted dog and saying, “Ginger, I’ll love you forever because you and me, we are both adopted.  You are going to love it here because it’s the best family ever.  I’m going to play with you and feed you and tell you about Jesus so we can be together forever!” was worth every muddy paw and chewed up pillow we’ve had in the last 6 months. 

All of this going on while I was still healing from a surgery I’m not convinced I needed, and health concerns I still didn’t have answers to. 

I’m not going to lie.  Some days were very difficult.  This was all unchartered territory for me.  And keeping up with 3 at a school while trying to figure out how to home school one with some learning difficulties was…AHEM…difficult to say the least.

But you know the verse about the LORD’s strength made perfect in your weakness?  Well yeah, that’s how I survived – every moment of every day.  And when I finally relinquinshed and gave it ALL over to the LORD, my days got easier, my joy lingered and my hope returned.  I am treasuring those moments of laughter and celebrating the victories.  Why?   Because there is ALWAYS "rejoicing in the morning." 

Here are a few moments that are worthy of celebrating:

Though it happened before January, it’s too important not to go back to.  Jaxon had made the decision to follow Christ a few years ago, but every time we discussed baptism, he would say he wanted to wait for his brother to be home.  So on 9/11 at 9:11, 5 ½ months after Isaiah came home, our 10 year old sons, brothers who will carry the same last name forever, were baptized together.  
(I'm so sad but I can't get the pictures to download. :(  Just trust me, it was beautiful!)

In the spring, Jaxon received the Award of Excellence in Writing from the State of Texas for a piece he wrote on Diversity.  It was for the PTA Reflections contest.  He usually doesn’t show the initiative for writing, but he saw the topic and came home one night and said, “Mom, I think if anyone knows diversity, it’s our family.”  So he sat down and wrote about our family.  It was beautiful to see his heart so vulnerable and tender.   Very Proud Momma Moment!!

On March 18th, we celebrated our Gotcha day!!  I found a Caribbean restaurant downtown so we got all fancied up and had an amazing dinner that Isaiah LOVED!  Ruth just wanted chicken from Chick-Fil-A. J 

Our precious baby girl, whose name should be Joy, turned 7 in May. And she got a full, invite-the-class, kind of birthday party.  I have never let the kids invite more than 5-10 kids, but Ruth’s face just lit up at the mention of all her “best friends” in her Kinder class playing with her at her party. Obviously I couldn’t say “No.” J But I couldn't say "Yes" to 25 kids either, so we compromised - she could invite all the girls in her class.   She insisted on a swim party!
Ruth with two of her favorite friends from school.
Oh, how I treasure this little girl! 
The last few months have brought a shift in the relationship between Chloe and Ruth. They got along from the moment they met, but it’s become something deeper lately. And it’s absolutely beautiful to watch. So much so, that I find myself saying yes to things that I would never have condoned prior to adopting. For example, sleeping together on school nights.  Even when I say, “Not tonight,” I find them like this… 
They have their own secret sister dance that is adorable. Their baths take over an hour because they can’t stop talking and playing long enough to wash. Chloe will sneak snacks to Ruth when she senses a meltdown is on its way. They have a formed a bond that brings tears to my eyes just typing this. This is Jesus…plain and simple. And it’s humbling and inspiring and its beautiful.
And then May came and our summer league swim season started. For the next 2 months, I loved on and coached 182 swimmers, including all my 4!! This was an amazing season and I couldn’t be more proud of each and every swimmer. And once again, I’m left with tan lines that someone my age shouldn’t be sporting. J Isaiah finished the season with the Most Improved award in his age group. YEAH!!


Me and the other coaches, after winning the coaches relay. :)


"But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refue in times of trouble.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely." Psalm 59:16-17

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Flames

Valentine's Day was flaming hot at our house last night!
...just not in the way one might assume.

Yesterday was a little crazy with kids activities overlapping, so at 4:15 I showed Brian what needed to be done to dinner and out I ran to take Ruth to swim lessons.
(Yes, I totally see the irony that I'm taking my youngest to swim lessons considering I teach and coach 180 kids in swimming so please don't point that out to me.) :)

I was running a few minutes getting home because of this...
Ruth passed 2 levels and got to ring the bell and receive her ribbons. 
YEAH Ruthie!!

So I walked in at about 5:15 and looked outside to see this...

So I went and grabbed the fire extinguisher so Brian could do this...

Apparently, putting olive oil on heart shaped hamburgers is NOT a good idea if you are going to grill in an open flame. 

I LOVE my exciting, never-a-dull-moment life that the LORD has blessed me with!!  Hope ya'll had a happy Valentine's Day too!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our Weekend...

Happy New Year!  Yes, I'm still alive!  And I have SO much catching up to do!  And I fully plan to go there.  Later.
It's been a rough couple of months.  No, that's a lie.  It's been a hard year.  There is a verse in Psalms that says, "...your Word is a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my path."  I haven't been able to see my path.  I barely have enough light to illuminate the steps for my feet.  And as the year progressed, the light seemed to grow dimmer.  I ended the year with a surgery that humbled me like nothing before has.  And I will write about that later.  This particular blog is not about that.

The last few months we've had No Time on the weekends for us - for family, for life, to enjoy each other, for laughter.  Brian has either taken the kids somewhere without me because physically and emotionally I just haven't been up for anything, or we were being dragged through this rat race we are calling life and our obligations no longer belonged to us. 
Both of these last two things have changed. 
My fog is clearing.  My joy is returning.  My body is healing.  And we are taking our life back.  No more <insert evening activity here>.  No more <insert weekend sport here>.  Nothing on the agenda.  That feeling alone can give you years back to your life.  It's Freedom.

So Saturday morning we realized that we had a completely free weekend!  N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!  And it was an absolutely beautiful day!  High in the 70's and sunny.  I needed to be outside!  So I suggested camping.  Granted, I've been camping once in my adult life and it was without children, but I thought it sounded fun.  Brian couldn't get a campsite anywhere the day of, so we threw that idea out (I think that was the LORD just watching over me). :)  Then I suggested Enchanted Rock.  It's a beautiful place in the Hilll Country.  It's also a vertical climb, on your own legs, of at least a mile.  Brian quickly reminded me that a week ago to the day, I had been in the hospital and there is no way that he would let me go.  I argued my point.  He won.

This was my 3rd suggestion... 
Isaiah and Ruth had never been to the Zoo so I knew this would be fun for them! 

I actually remembered to take pictures so I'm just going to let the pictures tell our story...

The Reptile House:
Yes, Chloe, that's how your mother feels about snakes too...
Chloe did this with every-single-animal!  She might have more pictures than me!

Look at the bonding between siblings!  Only the LORD can do that.
It's an Okapi.  Which poor Isaiah just couldn't quite understand.  He thought is was 1/2 cow, 1/2 zebra, 1/2 horse, all with the neck of a giraffe.  I have no idea where he got interpretation, but that's what he came up with. 

Ruth LOVED the fact that she had an Elephant on her shirt and kept yelling at the Elephants to look at her shirt.  Too Cute! :)
She also kept asking for a pet elephant.  She wanted to ride it instead of drive in a car.
The Elephants kept spraying themselves with dirt and the girls would yell, "STOP!!  You're getting yourself all dirty!! 
They are going to make you take a bath if you don't stop!"
The Hippo did this...

Which made Ruth do this... :(


And because every trip to the zoo must end with our traditional train ride...

I have to share this picture of Chloe and her beloved daddy. 
I just love the joy on her face!

And this was the rest of our weekend...

And games!  Our favorite right now is Apples to Apples, the kids version.  Our weekend was all about Family.  We had Fun.  We Laughed.  We made Memories.  The kids put away 11 loads of laundry WITH a good attitude!  We ended our weekend with the boys last flag football game on Sunday night.
As I type this, I realize I really want a farm somewhere.  I want my mom to grow all our fruits and vegetables.  I want some of these:
I have NO idea what they are, but they look cute. And really, really soft!

I want a crystal clear spring fed creek that runs through it with huge oak and pecan trees for the kids to climb in and explore for hours.  I want Colorado scenery with Texas weather.  I want a little white school house where I can teach my kids their subjects from a biblical worldview.  We were made for fellowship so I want other families that we can do life with.  I'm not talking about some freaky compound that will end in a gun and fire standoff... (Waco - 1990's). 
I'm talking about simplicity (with electricity).  Slowing down (but still keeping a car).  Being able to to leave for a month on a mission trip to Africa WITH our children.  
You hear adoptive mommies quote James 1:27 ALL the time to prove their point - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..."
But there is a second part to this verse that is equally as important - "...and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
That's what I want.  That's what I want for my children.  To teach them to be in this world and love this world and fall head over heals in love with the Creator of it all, but not become polluted by the world. 

So who's in?

Oh and by the way, this is my fantasy so make up, shoes and bras are optional.  :) 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday Isaiah

Today is Isaiah's 10th Birthday.  And here I am - sitting at the exact same table, on the exact same computer, at roughly the same time, drinking coffee probably from the same cup, as I was last year.

Just for reminiscing purposes, I went back and read my blog entry from this exact moment a year ago - Happy Birthday Isaiah

And I decided to write a birthday letter again...

To my dearest Isaiah,

Today is your 10th Birthday!!  I know you are SO excited to be 10, so let me officially welcome you to 2 digits! 

Not unlike last year, my heart is burdened.  But I'm not burdened with sadness.  I'm burdened with excitement and anticipation!  I'm writing this while you, sweet boy, are safe and sound upstairs, still sound asleep in your warm bed. 
I'm ready for you to open your eyes and see the balloons that are adnoring the stairs! 
I can't wait to see the look on your face when you open your presents! 
I can't wait to make your favorite breakfast and take you to lunch! 
In truth, I can't wait to spoil you with our love and time today. 

You have waited paitently through every one of your siblings birthday.  You've seen their balloons, their favorite foods, their presents, but never once did you show a spirit of jealousy.  You have a heart that is so incredibly rare Isaiah.  It's a pure heart.  It's a compassionate heart.  It's a kind and generous heart.  It's a loving heart.  You would give up anything for your siblings or your friends.  You sincerely empathize with those around you that are hurting and lonely.  Remember the puppy at the pet store?  You had a nightmare that night.  Not because the puppy was was sick and dying or someone was hurting it.  You woke up crying because that puppy was all alone in his kennel and you were devastated that he was feeling lonely.  OH!  It breaks my heart that you still so clearly remember and identify with lonliness.  But maybe the feeling of lonileness breaks your heart so much because you now know what it feels like to belong and to be wanted and loved and you wanted that for the puppy.  Was that it sweet boy? 
Oh my boy, my prayer is that you NEVER lose that!  That this world doesn't rob you of how Christ made you!  That the enemy's lies, which form in your head, never take root in your heart!   

In your last Birthday letter, I said that your birth mom loved you, but she was unable to care for you.  Oh Isaiah, I never knew how true those words were!  Though I can't imagine how incredibly hard it was for you and Ruth that day daddy and I met her, I will forever be grateful for those minutes with your birth mother.  For now I also know why she chose the name Isaiah for you.  Isaiah, we CAN GIVE YOU SOME PART of your history!  Do you know how important that is?!  

I also realized that I never went back and told the story of how that money came back to us.  (You'll have to read here first to understand... Happy Birthday Isaiah)  (Well, short story version is that a complete stranger that I sat next to on the plane, as we were returning home from meeting you, mailed us a card and a check written out in the exact amount your present cost!  How crazy cool is that?!  God is SO GOOD!)

Isaiah, your smile lights up a room!  Your thirst and curiousity for life and everything all around you is contagious!  Your passion and your prayers is something I truly admire!  Your willingness to help is something I wish was contagious (for your brother and sister!) :)  You love and defend the Aggies as if you had already been to Fish Camp.  You have a natural athletic talent that is so awesome to watch.   

Happy 10th Birthday Isaiah!  We Love you and are so proud to call you our son.  I can't wait to see what this next year holds!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Isaiah's Bedtime Prayer

It's been a while since I've blogged.  And if you relate the absence of blogging to the possibility that my life turned upside down since school started, then you would be correct.

But something happened tonight that I want to both share and remember.

Our bedtime bible story was the story of baby Moses.  We read it, discussed it and then I prayed.  I then asked the kids if any of them wanted to pray.  Here is what ensued...

From Isaiah:
Dear God,
My daddy tells me all the time that I'm going to do great things.  Now I believe him.  I'm adopted just like Moses.  You saved his life because you had a plan for his life.  Because he was going to grow up to do something great for you so you kept him safe and alive.  Now I KNOW I'm going to do great things because you saved me and my sister Ruthie.  You saved our lives and gave me the best family ever.  I love my family God.  I love my daddy and my mommy and my brother and my sisters.  God, you gave me the bestest family in the whole world.  Thank you.  Thank you that when my birth mom couldn't take care of me, that you had another mom for me.  And thank you so much for my daddy.  Thank you that he plays with me and he teaches me all the stuff I don't understand, like rounding, but now I do, because my daddy taught me.  And thank you that my mom always makes me food and washes my clothes.  God I really, really do love my family.  I have the best family... 

And on and on his prayer went for about 7 minutes...EVERY WORD thanking God for us - his family.  For giving him a better life. 
When he was done, I couldn't even utter the word Amen because I was too choked up. 

I'm not going to lie, it has been a rough few months.  But in that prayer, all the tears, the heartache, the frustration that has been piling up in my heart, all of the hard stuff no one talks about in non-adoption circles - ALL of it paled in glimpsing the security he feels in knowing he is wanted, love, provided for and CHOSEN.  Not just by us, but by a God that loves him fiercely.   All of it paled in comparison to seeing a little boy feel the love of a Heavenly Father.  In that moment that Isaiah realized Moses was adopted to be kept safe, his wall of insecurity shattered. He knew he was also chosen to be kept safe until God is ready to fulfill His purpose in Isaiah's life. 
A new identity is slowly being bestowed upon Isaiah's head.  It hasn't been easy, but with each victory Isaiah has, my character is being refined and my heart is learning what true unconditional love and forgiveness really is. 

Thank you Lord, thank you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Be a Little Girl

Daddy, will you catch me if I jump?
And Daddy, when I ask this, I am really wanting to know so much more. 
I'm asking, "Will you always be there for me?"
For you see daddy, my heart is still so very tender and I need you to protect it as I heal and grow.  
And when my tears come, hold me in your strong arms, for that is where I feel the safest. 
And when I don't understand something, your patience and compassion are what is helping me to learn. 
Daddy, your love is teaching me to...



You see daddy, what I'm really learning is to be a little girl again.  
A little girl that's delighted in, for I've never had a daddy whose attention I captivated.   
You daddy, are teaching me that I am a beautiful, precious and irreplaceable child of God
that is worthy of love.
So Catch me when I jump Daddy...

And hold me tight...


And I will learn to dance for always and forever...

" bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes..."
Isaiah 61