Saturday, June 18, 2011

*gulp* F-O-R-G-I-V-N-E-S-S and an IDOL




Welcome this day to a piece of my heart that has been open, wounded, sored and then calloused and then revived! Did I loose you, walk with me a bit.
When the chief and I came back from our first adoption of little Ruby. I was ruined, gloriously but ruined from what I saw in Ethiopia. No longer were theses photos on the other side of my computer screen. I had seen faces, touched hands, and the memory of these burnt me. For a few years I had lost touch with the world around me. I did not want to be in the world around me. The only thing I can compare it to is being in a war (I was never in a real war) but my Father was and when he came back from Vietnam it changed him to the core. My mother says that he slept with a knife under his pillow. He was disturbed, never to be the same again.
In our time in Ethiopia we went to a Mother Theresa's Mission of Charity hospital. We were the first group to travel with our agency and the coordinator in Ethiopia wanted to show us the clinic. We were game with that, I mean how bad can it be? We left our children at the transition home and went to town. We were dropped off at the hospital that was behind a closed gate. She (the agency coordinator) got out chatted with the hospital director a French Doctor and then told us she has errands to run. PAUSE. Have you been in Africa to run an errand, now I know this takes ALL DAY! :) The French Doctor took us on a hospital tour, the doctors and nurses here were all volunteer workers. Many young adults mostly from Europe, with gloves on, and compassion in their eyes. We began very quick to smell something familiar and disturbing. Injera bread and rotting flesh. I know nasty. I can never forget the smell. We entered the hospice ward where we thought the French doctor would just pass. We ENTERED IT. The beds were full, full of dying people with full blown AIDS, I had never seen a person with AIDS before, and then Leprosy. There were beds and beds. Most of us held our breath, the stench of it would literally knock you over. All the while trying to not hold our hands over our face or even grimace. We exited, and thought that with the look of shock on our faces we would not continue through the halls of hospice. We went through a corridor, thank goodness. Then this is what changed us for forever. We entered the children's Hospice room. A familiar feeling of loosing our son Hudson drew tears to my eyes and a great lump in my throat. A sudden shock to my knees I did not want to be here, I did not want to see this, remove me and do it fast oh please. A child came towards us with open sores covering her body. Fleshy sores, she held out her hands to me, the closer she got the more alarmed I grew. What is going to happen she will give me her leprosy, oh my good God! She came closer and I realized this child about 7 was blind. Her eyes were almost closed shut she did not stop. She touched me and I pulled her closer and so did another young girl on our team she was an American teenager in Ethiopia with her mom to pick up her siblings. Talk about life changing for this teen. There were more kids, with more leprosy all craving to be touched. My sense of freak out was super naturally calmed.
We walked into the building full of children in cribs, crippled, blind, lepers, I can not tell you that my body just standing because Christ was holding me. It was as if I walked right into the Gospels in the bible itself. I wanted to cry from the top of my lungs, "JESUS HEAL THEM, Take my life, take me, heal them!" I looked around at the other parents, forgetting I was in a room with other Americans. Not a dry eye, and no words. We just had no words. I asked the French doctors many questions about there care. How will they be saved, who will help them, can they be adopted. He answered me Many of these children will die, we are doing what we can to make them comfortable with what we have. No one will adopt them.
What felt like hours in this room was probably only 30 minutes then our ride was here. No one spoke, not a sound. It disturbed me for ever.
All that to say, when I came back to the United States, everything I did, said, were tinged through what I had saw. The little girls face would come up in my mind in normal day circumstances. When I went to Bible Study and moms would ask for prayers for there busy schedules to not be overwhelmed with life because they had to much going on,I wanted to vomit. When I was in a circle of women and we would chat about mundane life, and one of them would complain about needing more room in their house maybe a playroom and a quest room, I wanted to scream "WHO THE HELL CARES; DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE YOU SPOILED BRAT!" I didn't yell it. But I just removed myself, I could no longer relate. It was a lonely place and I could only at that time relate to others like me who have been shaken into action.

Lets skip a few years to today. The Lord has been doing something in my heart that has been hugely hard. He has shown me how much a good thing can turn into an idol. Even if its a noble, amazing, humble, righteous, and completely selfless. I read this a few weeks ago from my friend Laura. Little by little the Lord had been showing me, that in my desire to seek less of those around me because I can not relate I have became unapproachable. I have also alienated many around me because I felt they have alienated me for being this person. In the forgiveness that I have to walk in each day just like my friend Amy speaks of here she also mentions how the forgiveness has taught her not to hold grudges. Grudges are easy to have when you feel righteous in your actions. The Lord had asked Chief and I to do something BIG that would shake the foundation of our being. Bringing our kids home we have done that. We have had many criticalness come our way, and that is very normal for others following a grand call like this. It would be way too easy otherwise right? Since when has the Lord been for Easy?! What stands to great love is the ability to love and forgive when the words have slayed you, or not holding it personal because it is His to take offense. I took offense greatly. This is the part where some major surgery is in the works.
I am still this person, this completely crazy passionate for orphan care, Africa, and the poor, chica. I will always be this girl. This lesson my great God is teaching me is not to become less of that person. Its to become more of Him through this passion, with love, with forgiveness, and not letting it take over my entire thinking, letting HIM take it over. It can, some days it does. Its okay to be knocked on the side of the head, most times very necessary! I wish everyone could have been there in Mothers Theresa that day, for perspective. It won't stop me from sharing, reaching, educating about orphan care when I can. Our family was chosen to be a walking testimony after all!
It does change my heart for others that don't share the same compassion. The grudges in my heart have become almost non-existent to where I am free to love. Only because of Him.Forgiveness has washed away my bitterness and with the Love that has helped me with that, I am hoping that others on the other side of that grudge would also walk in forgiveness towards my offenses towards them.
humbled,
Nat

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is Love Enough?


I was introduced to a blog this weekend. Is it possible to be best friends with someone you have never meet? Because I am sure Christine from welcome to my brain meets the standard. Free spirited, courageous, CRAZY and she is what she calls herself a Therapeutic parent. A parent that has traumatized children and helps them heal while trying to maintain relationship by parenting in a therapeutic way.
She has a series of videos that I have watched all weekend. They are funny, they have made me cry, and they have made me feel connected with what we experience on a daily basis, shared by many parents with hurt kids. My favorite video, the one that got me right to the core, was this video she made about Is Love Enough .Christine quotes from 1st Corinthians the LOVE chapter. If you have read the bible plenty of time you have read this one. In her video she share she wants to love the way she wants to be loved. Genius, right. Only when she read it I thought about my new kids and it ached me to the core
"And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. " This I took as "even if you did what I asked you to do, even if you out of faith followed me if you have Not Love you have NOTHING!" ouchie.


Because this is LOVE:
LOVE is PATIENT
LOVE is KIND

IT is NOT:
Jealous Proud Arrogant Rude

It does Not:

Dishonor others Self-Seeking Not Easily Angered
KEEPS NO RECORDS OF WRONG Delight in evil

LOVE:
DEFENDS PROTECT ALWAYS TRUST ALWAYS HOPES
Preservers

Father. Help me love like I want to be loved.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I officially miss home.

Okay stop. I know what you are going to say, its my blog right let me just say it. Moving on is hard. Let me tell you the easy parts of being somewhere completely new.
1. No one knows you from Adam. So you don't have any one with preconceived thought of you that don't know you for who you are, and only from someones opinion. Or visa versa. So you never hear oh Natalie Teabo oh, I hear she is a blah blah blah or that she did fill in the blanks. I'm sure I may be guilty of some of those, but really I HATE girl drama. I may have a few years ago enjoyed being apart of gossip circles or even basked in the acceptance of some, or I am sure added to the girl drama. Not today I am over it, its overrated and we as Godly women should not fall prey to them, or if we do, learn from it, forgive, move on. So by being somewhere new you can present yourself with a new self and someday s that just feels awesome!

2. Its exciting. New adventures can be so exciting. Finding new places to shop, worship, meeting new people. It can all be a great way to share Jesus more. Love those!

3. The South is a bible belt. Values here are HUGE. I love this. Our school has so many christian families it really should be a Christian school, but you know its not. Its so refreshing to see that values are not dead in America. In Olympia its still there, but really face it we Christians are the minority. So sitting with my kids at the tables at lunch and hearing the kids compare bible stories at a public school, blows my mind.

4. MY FAMILY. Bar none this the my favorite part. We are at my parents home every single day or they are here. We share meals about three times a week. My dad can not go a day without seeing the kids. He checks my tires, tweak things that need tweaking. They take one kid almost every day. Free babysitting every Sunday night. NOT EVEN KIDDING. It freaks Frank some days he says "we should not bombard all your parents time, or lets now let them watch the kids for a while, it may be tiring them!" HA. Try not to let them, they will be over in a less than a day wondering what the heck happened.

Its just so nice.
Here are the things I miss back home

1.My friends. Oh my sweet precious friends, that I ache for in the deepest of my heart. I am meeting some new buds here and I truly love them. BUT, do you know those friends that make imprints in your heart forever, those treasures, you know who you are. The ones that can call you and just by the tone in your voice can know what is happening in your life. The ones that have gone through major heart ache with us loosing our son Hudson, those that stuck to us through healing, through just being there. Those. Miss them, like crazy.

2. Other side of family. My nephews, oh my heart. The cousins love missing that. Miss the kids just playing, exploring and growing together. Other sisters, brothers, mother, and father.

3. The mountains, the apples, the water, the small town (Olympia is a small town!!) the closeness of everything. My favorite stores being so close, if they opened up Whole Foods Market I would be back in a jiffy ;)!! The river, the rain. WHAT?! I said the rain. I am a freak, I know. The Neighbors cause we had the best ones. The dentist, the eye doctor, and the hair cut lady. My favorite barista at Starbucks. The clerk that new my kids names at Safeway, she probably thinks something tragic happened, because I never had the heart to tell her we were moving. The walks by the Capital lake, the cider at the Cider Mill, the Turkey Jerky from the farmers market. Waving at friends cars when we passed each other in traffic. The lack of bugs, snakes and heat.

4. The comfort of my own house. I miss my house. Mine.

Someone told me before I moved (a military wife, who moved 12896 times) that everything about a place you never saw you will miss when you leave.

There take some pity with me, drink it. There be done. the end. Life goes on.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Parenting a child with symptoms of RAD


Parenting a child with RAD Reactive Attachment Disorder symptoms can be exhausting to say the least. We don't have an official diagnosis for our daughter adopted one year ago from Ghana. However we have read countless books that tell us she is textbook for this diagnosis. We do believe her to have a mild form but we are still in the midst of many many hurdles.
Our girl has come a LONNNGGGG way from the beginning. Our first few months alone we both did not know what on earth we were doing, how to do it, and we had even begun to fall into a very dark place. Its was easier to just fall into despair and shut the world out because of not knowing how to cope and where to even go. Alas, I am one that does not fear the doctors couch ;)! To the couch we went for a few months sharing our frustration learning to cope and to help heal our daughter and ourselves. One year later to the date and there are still episodes, though they are far in between, they still exist and when they arise its is as if the last year was worth nothing and in that moment you feel like there in no progress. That moment is short lived when you realize again the little girl with her arms crossed in front of you saying she has no love in her heart for someone with messy hair like me, and pants inside out (today I had my workout pants on yes inside out) and for someone who is so hateful and mean like me, is a hurt child who love has hurt her. Why would she want love, it hurts. Our daughter is capable of love, let me tell you, when her arms are around us with a genuine spirit its a love that is so full with everything inside. Until the moment comes when fear has let in, this is too much love, I can not handle another moment, I will do something to push it away, even if all is well.
For instance today we had a scenario like this.
I am a mean mom I make my kids do two math sheets a day so Gs was on her second sheet before any kind of media is plugged in. We were working on skip counting. Here was the problem
___, 60, 61. The answer we all know would be 59. She was stuck here at this number, I suggested she make a number line from the number she knows comes before which in 50 and then count up. Here is where it started. "I don't want to do it that way!" me "fine, is there another way that can help you?" She is just staring at the paper and arms become crossed and I just show her by example how to start. She finished the number line to get the missing number 59. BUT, arms crossed and now she has become just mean to her siblings. I say you may need to go chill out and compose yourself , I can come with you. No movement just hard stare at the ground. Me "G really you seem to need some calm time or just time to collect yourself." I gently remove her from the chair and begin to walk her upstairs where I am anticipating the volcano to erupt. It does. It goes on for about a half hour. Yelling to my face. Hurt words like "I have no love in my heart for someone like you!" "My Ghana family were so much better than this one!" 'Ghana is a better place!" Here is a blog write up from G and Es village. It will haunt you. "My mom loved me and held me you have no love for me!" "You love all kids much better than me. why do you even want me?!" " My life was great in Ghana I had clothes, a better room, much nicer mom. " Look at you sitting with your messy hair and your ugly shirt and your pants backwards" (yes those were all true!) I sit through her countless vent adding my two cents in-between. Her words can now come out and be clear hurtful but clear. When she first was placed in our home this venting would come in other forms. Lying (we still work on this, but not as much!) stealing. Three times I was asked to go to the Target counter to purchase things my purse had strangely had inside. Earrings, bracelets, the ones that have the metal tag that alarms when you leave. I was the lady who said "I didn't put that there,really!" From stealing things from family homes and friends homes. Food hoarding, manipulation this is still something we struggle with but I am way faster at recognizing it and managing.

Back to the room: My turn to talk me still fighting my inside because at this moment, I may get some stones thrown at me, but I wanted to do what was done with me if I spoke to my mom like that, we are Hispanic, you NEVER disrespect your elders, unless you want to die, I would get my ass whipped. At this moment her whole goal is to get me vexed to the point where I loose control of my own self and then she has won. "See you can't control me, and I can control you." It would be a loss of relationship for me to open up a can, she would have gained power and then it would be a loss because really she doesn't really know what she wants. So traditional parenting does not work here. Actually the parenting we have learned from books before does not work for our biological kids at all either.
So here were my words again fighting my anger inside because I do not want her to see that she has vexed me for real " Wow, you had a ton to say. I agree on so many of those even though you were not nice in your words about my pants, my hair etc. I can see that you are so angry you want me to hurt with you, I can see that you want to push me away!" Arms still crossed and there is even some eye rolling going on, a harsh very hard look. Its not G. Its a really ugly hurtful person looking at me.
"You are right I can be mean to my kids. Especially when my kids are being disrespectful I can take things away at that may seem mean. I may push you to do your best and that may seem mean!" Her shaking her head to agree with me. Good we are both agreeing on something.
"Your dead wrong about something. My love for you is HUGE, I adore you, I want you in my family always. I know you are sad and your hurt feels so BIG. I know my love for you is scary!''
Come sit in mamas lap. It came a time when I did not even want to touch her during these moments, I wanted far from her. Some days she won, for my sanity sake. Not this time. Arms still crossed face still harsh, body stiff. I begin to rock her. A very tall child I rock her, her body begin to lessen her tension her voice becomes like a still small voice, when I ask "how is your heart now?" a sweet whisper "good". Mind you these outburst have lasted two hours at a time previous and mind you I have four other kids to care for that walk in and interrupt. I find it gives me a calming point to breath to then focus back. God is good to me ;)!
We sit in this position for five minutes I then say to her "you have said some things not nice to mom, can you apologize for this?" very small voice "I am so sorry for being disrespectful." I then tickle her, wrestle her to the floor, and ask her to smell my arm pits (she said I stink too!) Humor can decipher so much tension. She giggles I see her pretty pearly teeth, there is a genuine hug back to me. All is well again. UNTIL the next trigger.
We have decided to get professional help with her. Its hard looking for a therapist that specializes with adoption. Talk therapy does NOT WORK. These kids have made up stories about the new families that have landed some social workers to remove kids because they believe them. Finally we found a therapist that will come to our home. HALLELUJAH, can you hear me singing. I feel like I am managing just on OK, I want to be awesome and I want to help her be able to share her pain in a productive manner that can be beneficial to her and us.

I know what you may be thinking, why on earth would anyone go through that much trouble? I never can do what you do. I have been told many times, even by close friends and family. Let me tell you something. Ready for my secret " I CANT DO THIS EITHER!" My knees are calloused from begging for Gods help. For Him to break my heart with compassion for her, to have eyes to see her insides and not the yucky mess only. I remember thinking I made a huge mistake in the first few weeks. In my solitude of depression I remember feeling "do I even hear the Lord?!" He lets me sit there without answer for a little while. Then a multitude of love comes over me, a peace floods my body that is not of this world. A voice in my heart says"I have called you to this, You can not do this, You will fail many times. I CAN DO THIS, I WILL DO THIS, I am here, always, I have chosen you for this, I have chosen them for you. In this the Glory will be mine. You have been asked to be used by me for My Glory not your own. You will be called blessed because of ME.!"
I go through the trouble Because the Lord is Lord over me. I would not have chosen this life for my own horn blowing, I mean would you?! I now wonder who needed this more, me or them? My heart has broken to be molded by God even more through this.
So I encourage you if you are in my spot, get help early. I was too busy sulking in my own self pity to get a move on a get on the help. It seems like no one understand you, they may not not. BUT seek help for your other kids. I am lucky to have family rescue me for my own sanity. If you don't have that find awesome friends that can help.
If you have a friend with a child with these symptoms. HELP THEM! They can't do this without a community. Remember the proverb it takes a village. It really does. Help without judging them.
Here is a resource if you are in the Metro ATL area. Attachment and Bonding Center
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Pray for sweet Abby Riggs!!