Somewhere in the back of my mind I was preparing myself for the stark reality that the teenage years will come. That I may get a ''I wish you were not my mom!" vent after a tug war about why I won't allow our kids to drive for a while, or even date for that matter! Nothing could prepare me for the words I heard today from one of the ones on my tribe after asking from her a simple request of brushing her teeth. "You Are NOT my Mom!'' Me: "you want to try again with respect!'' Her: VERY CLEARLY "I said YOU are not my MOTHER!'' Me: asking all the kids to leave because I may be embarrassed at what comes out of my mouth next...all the while begging the Holy Spirit to guide me in this because I can Blow it, majorly here. Me: "Is there another person doing all your laundry, helping you with your homework every day, feeding you, providing for you?'' I am it!'' I am you mom!'' Her: Angry I could feel the daggers and I am sensing I need to calm down. Me: "Honey you have been adopted into a new family, that means that we are now your mom and dad, that never means we take over your biological mom and dad they will always have that place.'' Her: With this next phrase I was flabbergasted "I NEVER ASKED TO BE ADOPTED!'' Pause to gather my thoughts, pause because there is Nothing coming to my mind. Then it did. Me: "You are right, no one asked you, no one asked you if you wanted a new mother, no one asked you if you wanted to leave your home country, you have a right to be angry!'' Her: Staring at the ground tears forming in her eyes. Me: ''No one every asks us if we want pain, because the answer will always be NO. If someone asked me if I wanted my son to die the answer would be NO! But look at the blessings I have because God used his death for life. Its painful, It never stops being sad. BUT, it will get easier with Gods help. Your right, I am not your biological mother, I am not the mother that saw your first breath, or that nursed you. I am the answer to the prayer of that mother. She needed someone to come, to help, and she prayed and I am the answer to that. It hurts, it sucks sometimes. I know you didn't sign up for this. I am so so sorry!'' Me: "anything you want to tell me?'' Her: "I don't want to be your daughter!''......shatter slash right to the heart, I can go back to Ghana!'' This child would rather experience hunger on the streets than the sadness of her soul. This kind of pain must feel unbearable. Me: "This is no place for children, you can be killed, you can be taken and what would happen to E, you would have to take care of him too. This is not your job. This is a job of a mom and dad. I am sorry that this did not happen for you. God does not want that kind of life for you. For any of his children. Many of them die every day because of this. I know you know that, I know you have seen that." By this time I just think she has said what she needed to say and we may be done.
After tears and a softness and a hug. I made her apologize for the words. I am not sure if she meant the sorry yet, but I need her to know that I am still her authority and I am strong enough to protect her, but I do not wish for hard words to be spoken to me. This part stinks. This part is not fair. This part hurts. BUT there is Hope, I can not give up. God would never give up on me, even when I tell him "'Your not my dad, what kind of dad would do this. Would take my son away!'' He didn't give up on me. I am human it makes I will mess up with my answers to her, I proablly did so something I should have not or even used to many words. This is my first time. It makes me angry that a child has to go thorough this, Its such injustice. BUT its reality. Its also another Big reason why I am reminded of Gods mercy every day in my home. I am not expecting my daughters or son to rise up and say thank you to me, Its my hope. One day I would really like her to see how much I fought for her, how mchh my prayers for her were worth it. Till that day, Love Abounds.
If you know me well, you know I am not a fan of fictional books. I like a good make me cry book but in a way that really challenges my spirit to live out loud for Christ! God doesn't need a book to make his words convicting BUT, sometimes there are books like these that really make me want to yell ""YES..AMEN ...and preach it!'' The latter I believe is my new Southern coming out. Chief and I have been reading this book out loud to each other. Its not romantic people, we just have one copy and I don't want him to read ahead and he doesn't want me to loose his spot. See when I put it that way it takes the romance out of it. Okay scratch that last part we read to each other and gaze into one another eyes. If you have not read this book as yet....WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Read it. David is a pastor of a mega church Brook Hills in Birmingham Alabama. Here is an except from the back sleeve of the book ''Its easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. The would, he said, leave behind security , money, convenience, even family for Him. the would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their cross daily....But who do you know who lives like that DO YOU?''
David describes how we as Americans have manipulated scripture to fit our cultural Jesus. He tells the story about what is happening in his church a suburban mega church. Its amazing stuff!
We are not done yet. BUT, I didn't think I needed to read this book, I know PRIDE right, but I thought well I am living this out I am being totally RADICAL! BUT, here is the convicting part for me thus far. For a while now I have been carring a ''eyore, radical demeanor. Let me explain. We knew the Lord was calling us to adopt, we knew that it meant sacrificing everything, and we knew it meant that that would look like a daily devotion to Him, that every single provision would have come from Him. We knew and we know it is a dying to self daily picking up our cross and following Him. BUT, what was our attitude? We had come to the place where we felt like Eeyore. ''Woa is me, God choose us, yeah we get to be poor, and live like missionaries for HIM!'' Get my sarcasm. After reading a chapter about secret churches gathering in china and how my fellow brother and sisters risk their lives, every day to gather. The risk the danger of having their tongue cut off for sharing the gospel, for their homes to be taken from them. Here is what one of the young men said "I have told my family that I will likely never come back home. I am going to hard places to make the gospel known, and it is possible that I will lose my life in the processes'' another Young man added " But our families understand. Our moms and dads have been in prison for their family and they have taught us that Jesus is worthy of ALL our DEVOTION''
Have I shared with our children that THIS Jesus is WORTH all of my DEVOTION? Have I shown my fellow sisters and brother in Christ that the trails I should count as a blessing because JESUS is WORTH that kind of DEVOTION?!
HE SO IS WORTH IT! ...SO, Please read it take a look!!
AH the The tween age. Its the age before the a child turns 13, it ranges from 10-13 years of age. We are rocking the tween hood in our house and boy does it stink. Its like a Frankenstein meet Hulk.. It can go from 0-10 in a few seconds flat, 0 being even keel to 10 being crying at the craziest things. Yes they have begun. Its also the age when they find out they can really have an opinion and hurt you when they say it. Its vicious. I am not a fan at the moment of the tween era. Sometimes the world is too loud and so they feel the need to tune it out. This is where this begins. Oh whats that you say? You can not hear me...let me assist you in unplugging you. Whats that face about? I am just making it easier for you to ''get'' me! Its also the stage when playing with toys may not be so cool anymore, but I do catch him playing you know when no one can see him building the legos. Its the age when they no longer want to be walked into class or worse kissed in front of a teacher or friends. I surprise my kids some days and have lunch with them, its the coolest because the smile I get from them is priceless plus I have a secret addiction to school pizza. A-man my first grader always wants to hold my hand proudly showing his friends his mom, helping me with my platter and picking out my chocolate milk and handing me my silverware. The cutest! G always smiles and pats the seat next to her as to say ''come hang with me mom''. BUT J-Cool Cat looks at me, takes a few steps back and whispers ''what are you doing here?''....I bet if you listen very closely you can hear my heart shattering. Then I do what any mom would do ""Hey Js friends I am J's mom, Mrs. Teabo, so how is the day going for all of you....dudes and dudetes? Grovey man!'' and yes I do get a few chuckles and no none of them come from the cool cat himself.
He no longer cares to play at the park at least not for the first 10 minutes he has arms crossed as if he is too cool for school. Then about a few minutes later dad or I do a challenge ''I bet I can swing on the monkey bars longer than you!'' and its on, before you know it, who is playing. Ahh yes. Its also the age that little by little we begin to allow, things into his life that he has been wanting to do for a LOnnnggg time. For example Harry Potter. Our boy is an avid reader, the kid that has to finish reading the entire book before he gets to bed. Harry Potter has been one of those books that we have held back a bit, and now feel that he is able to grasp reality from fantasy. So, I have to unplug and this is sad take his book away some times for him to play. I hate doing that, but he can live in the book and not see the world around him, or take his shoes off at the beach and touch the sand. Oh goodness gracious its also the age we begin to discuss SEX. This one has been HARD for me. We both take turns to share with him details of the anatomy. NOT at the same time. He would die. His face usually turns bright red in color and he lets out a ginormous *sigh* whenever I causally bring it up. We tried last year and the boy would run, literally run, from us when we would begin. Now he sits through it and then ask the questions and then gives his opinion which is simply "that's gross, please don't tell me anymore!''
So there you have it friends, if you think about it pray for me, I find myself utterly at a loss of connection unless there are things I find I can connect with him, and its becoming harder and harder to find. I want to be uber cool but maintaing my mom hood can sometimes be a total joy-kill. Plus he thinks I am so uncool for loving Phil Collins or Duran Duran...that band was Sick yo, whats he talking bout willis?! I am so down with talk in this crib. SIKE!
Dr. Karin Purvis a well know child's physciatrist taught me a little trick from her book the Connected Child. Its called a DO OVER. When your child has said something disrespectful in asking something of you simply and calmly say with smiling eyes ''darling how about a do over, this time with respect!''
I often wish I had some do overs of life. Anyone? anyone at all?
Here are some of my top 5s I would LOVE to do OVER.
1. Baby wise book...I despise this book now. I SO disagree with the whole theory of letting your child cry things out. I did baby wise with my second child and regret it. My baby should have had me at his beckoning call and never had to question if I was going to be there. Its the silliest thing that I say this now, but really if I can do a do over, I would say thank you for the women that suggested it, never suggest it to any new mamas and snuggled my baby more much more. No such thing as spoiling a baby.
2. Telling people when I have been hurt all the time. DUMB. There is something to be said about letting things go, most times those feelings are all made up in your mind and the person did not mean it the way you took it, or was just having a bad day. Grace is much more needed in the world, than a person letting you know every single time they have been hurt. I can not even believe I was that person and sometimes that person in me tries to grab at me and say ''they'' should know ''they hurt'' you ''they'' were yucky, ''they'' were not nice at all, ''they'' were manipulating, controlling blah blah. Really now I have come to realize that I live for Christ and Christ alone, and I should expect persecution, and I should be content when people hurt me for his name sake. Its a tough one, but if I can take back the complete waste of energy I have poured out crying over hurtful words said to me especially for doing something I knew God was telling me, I so would be good!
3. Laugh more. Don't take things so serious. Life can be so serious, laughter is good medicine and those times that I should have just laughed with my family instead of taking things so serious would have really been helpful to all.
4. The need for approval. Wow, God yanked this one from under my shoes big time. He had me do something complete crazy and ''un-approvable'' (is that a word) we adopted two more kids into our home with a tight budget, and one son that had some needs. Looking back I can see how much my need for approval had left me feeling lonely, hurt, rejected, unloved, and unwanted because we didn't have all hands on deck to put it that way. God took me through that entire process to take away my need to be liked, supported, wanted, and approved by everyone all the time. There is something very wrong with your life, if everyone approves of your decisions. Shake the boat a bit buster. If I could take that need away I would have saved myself some major heart ache and sorrow. But I guess I would not feel the way I do now.
Two my favorite quotes
The true gospel is a call to self-denial, It is not a call to self-fulfillment'' John Macarthur
Security is mostly a superstition...it does not exist in nature, life is either a daring adventure or nothing '' Helen Keller
5. Tried harder at family times. My MIL has a big heart for her family and her dream is to always have everyone together all the time. We shared the same dream because that's how I was raised, family is everything. However life and seasons get in the way and it had gotten really hard to get family together and I think along the way we just kinda accepted that and gave up. It ached me, I wanted so much to have the Stuart Little family scenario where everyone shows up at each play for the cousins and that my nephews and nieces would just be dropped by without question or checking the schedule. I could have enforced it more. Like threaten to kidnap the kids from school if they didn't bring them or something :) I just gave up and chalked it up to being busy and life.
God is so good and giving do-overs we never know,he just may give us some. BUT we are so different going through trials and life journeys sometimes its healthy to look back and not necessarily have regrets but just know how different we would approach things now. In a healthier way with more grace, and mercy and love.
G just a few months after being brought to Eban house Ghana 2008
I have written about my new girl home almost 8 months, and have vaguely shared about the struggles we have encountered with her and the ways we are learning about how to parent a child into healing. We keep things on a need to know basis but some things are too good not to Give God the Glory for and some things I want to share so that some of you know there is HOPE. Small bits of Hope where you can see a sweetness inside a hurting soul.
Over the weekend I shared that I attended a conference to encourage moms on adoption. I meet a woman who sat and listened to me share my struggles at home. This woman adopted 4 kids from Spokane Washington's foster system and by the Grace of God those children are still in her home and she is still alive! She used the Nancy Thomas When love is not enough system for three years. Nancy spoke well of her in her sessions, so I knew I could trust her judgement.Her case was extreme, I do not mean to scare people about older children adoption. Its amazing, but there is work to be done in your own self and you will get the runt of it. This new friend of mine K has given me her text number and wanted to to text her twice a day, she will walk me through the struggles. One thing I shared with her specifically is that night time there is something that takes over my child, in a way I do not know what and how to apporoach her. It always seem to end in a power struggle, she can not control her emotions and is like a toddler that in bouncing off walls. I often walk out of the room to gain composure to then try to get her to calm to read a story. But every night there is something.
K shared with me that I must assume that something happened to her at night, or that night brings back flash backs of something that rings loudly of fear and fear needs to be talked about. So this is where the excess talking, the can not control emotions flaring come into place. She is trying to not think about it. Oh my heart.
K said the best thing to do *this is from the Nancy Thomas book When Love is not Enough* is make her fear smaller and smaller, right now its huge. Then she explained exactly what to say to G and how to approach her if there are different responses. I needed to try it!
I will share with you my experience the night I got back from conference.
We are in bed and G is laying down but her body is hanging off the bed and she is singing and asking the silliest questions "mom where is the bed, when you say lye down, where is down!'' I began to pray because my level of patience wears thin when this starts. I say to her
Me: ''G I want you to listen I have something very important to share with you~!''
G still bouncing. I continue "I know you have had a hard life, I know there are things that you are afraid of, I know things have happened to your heart, talking about them will make them small and smaller.....are you wanting to share with mom!''
G: totally perplexed but I have her attention ''...no it didn't!''
Me: praying because I know I can go just a tad bit before she shuts out.
Me: '' G, this weekend there were moms with kids that were adopted from all over and their moms have shared that they had a hard time with sleeping also''
G: sitting up now ''were any of them from Ghana?''
Me: ''no!''......."But if any of them were from Ghana, why do you think they would be scared?''
G: ...pausing..... ''They would be scared, because the miss someone!''.........Bingo!
Me: "who, G, who would they miss?''
G: ''They would miss 1st mom, and then they would miss Her Grandmother (the fictional took a female role all of a sudden...hmm!) and her grandfather, and her friends!''
Me: ''I would too, why else would she be sad"'
G: '' She never got to say goodbye to her mom, that makes her so sad!'' *gasp*
Me: fighting the tears "that would make me sad as well...what else you think?''
G: ''She would be angry that her mom and dad never came back for her, like they said!''
Me: Holy Jesus hold me because I am about to loose it ''That would make me angry as well G, very angry.''
G: all on her own "She would think her new mom and dad didn't like her, that they would send her away, because she was not nice!''
Me: ''Oh G her new mom and dad ADORE her they LOVE her with all that is within the want to see her get daugheher heart healed. If you ever see this Ghana girl I want you to know that she is Loved and wanted!''
G ''Mom what is that word when you don't really know how you feel, like messed,?"'
G "Yes, she would be confused about something.''
G: ''She wants to love both moms, but she feels bad,!''
Me: Praying hard that I don't end up a puddle on the floor "G, they same way moms can make space in their hearts for more than one child, you and this Ghana girl can make space for both moms. I would never make you choose, I would never want you to not love her, I would always want you to feel what you feel for her, with freedom.''
G: Laying her head on my chest lets out a big sigh and stays there for 5 minutes.
People, we don't have a lot of money. We struggle, we are not brangelina. BUT Is this not what Christ calls us to? Heal the broken hearted, to rescue the fatherless.
Adoption may not make sense to some. It may seem foolish to some as well. I really don't care anymore. This is worth it!!!
A-man, oh how this boy brings tears to my eyes. Good ones, bad ones. This kid came to us at a massive 9 lbs 12 oz grew in the hospital to 10 lbs (instead of loosing) and has grown in crazy amounts over the last seven years of his little life. He has some obstacles we are working through together. BUT...BUT He is doing amazingly well in school. We love that he is loving to learn. To get this kid to go to school, it has always been a battle. When I would arrive with him at school, red faced and hair all out, the teacher would just know. No explanation. Oh but at school he is so sweet and an angel...tiff! Our new school has impressed us so much, and he is excelling in his work. Yesterday he wanted to tell me all out Theodore Roosevelt and his achievements, he shared with me about Harriet Tubman and how he thought she was great for all the slaves that she helped freed. He is doing Math....people this is big! He is reading small books but he is reading. He has new goals that the teachers (he three in his care :) are pushing towards and the best part they believe in him. We do miss our Centennial Teacher, but oh this teacher I just love! He is loving our new rule: I learned this at my retreat. We put the smaller kids down first and for now G girl we are treating as a little younger and so we are allowing the big boys to stay up with mom and dad longer. It gives him a sense of calm and safety that he has been needing. Oh my heart just swells for this kid!
Photo taken By Erica, becuase I was to lazy to bring my camera down ;0
I was blessed to share the weekend with 250 adoption/foster mamas. It was amazing to be around women that get you! Created to Care started in the heart of a sweet new friend here in Georgia ,Andrea. I meet her at the adoption conference in Austin and began to follow her blog when I saw that she was thinking of doing a retreat for mamas, and that it would be in Georgia I was ALL OVER THAT ONE! The retreat was going to be for 25 moms and the Lord multiplied it to 250 women all that have desire to get encouragement and knowledge on how to help heal the children placed in our homes or going to be placed in our homes, and a bonus was to be together with some radically moved women that hear Gods heart beat for these children.
We listened to amazing women speak such as Susan Hills a scientist at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta who adopted 7 children from Russia after her 9 year old son was killed by a car, during a family bike ride. Her story of God redeeming her life and multiplying it was inspirational. Also Nancy Thomas from When love is not enough, with her beautiful sense of humor and wisdom as she fostered 101 children from the foster system that are highly hurt children. At one time Nancy had 7 psychopaths children in her home. She loved them back to health in miraculous ways and has written a book about the system they had in place for them. I have began to read the book and I am blown away by how it has helped me, in just a few days. Cried with happy tears as we listened to Amy Monroe from the ministry tapestry speak on how to openly speak with your child about their adoption and how to help them find a voice when others ask questions or speak about them when they are right there. (Some people can really be clueless!) Enjoyed and laugh till my sides hurt when another African American mama spoke on hair care for african children. Oh it was VERY educational. I have been messing up my girls hair NO JOKE! My room matesErica and Angie kept me up till 3 am so it was not a sleeping retreat but it was wonderful to share with these women my heart in tears and laughter. And God is doing something over this weekend. I can not share details as yet. BUT stay tunned to something awesome. NO, we are not adopting people, you can slow your heart rate down ;)
This here is our little dude man E. He is a pistol and has personality with a capital T! E is now in preschool full time and on his first day of school. He went into his memory box and pulled out his Ghana shirt. He wore it good he wore it proud! E goes everywhere with his red converse a friend gave him. And goodness sakes he lost his first tooth ever in our home! E what a blessing you are to us kid!
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