Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How God Holds Us

 This picture says it all. 

 Here are two people that reached beyond the differences between them and loved each other deeply.
This is our Mr. J and my grandma.  A strong, kind, good woman that accepted the hardships in her life with grace and dignity.

The rest of the picture is just as beautiful.  A slight, curly haired boy with dark eyes stands with his hand on the shoulder of an old woman in a wheel chair and they look lovingly into each others eyes.  Though hers are dim and she can barely see, her memory is faded and spotty so that its difficult to remember names and faces, yet she knows without a doubt who is holding her hand.

A precious moment in time.  One that makes the angels sing on high.  These are the gifts of heaven, a glimpse into eternity.  The times that fill our hearts and mend the hurts.  A touch from the Divine.

We miss Grandma daily, and we don't know how long we will have Mr. J with us.  Riddled from birth with unanswered health issues, he is a miracle of  life.  But no matter what the future holds, we have been given moments like this, a healing balm for our aching hearts.

Be Blessed,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seeking Bloggy Vision

I thought this fish was cool, not sure how it relates =)

Flipping through blogs this weekend, I remembered why it is that I often feel intimidated to blog.  Looking at other blogs makes me feel empty handed.  Compared to these wonderful cooks, gardeners, happy wives, homesteaders, thankful moms, what do I have to bring?  What do I have that you might benefit from?  I think I have finally formed a vision of the gift that I have for you, and its one that really makes me smile (unlike our fish friend above-he is still seeking a bloggy vision -lol).  I bring what I lack.

I've got it all together!

I would love to have it all together.  To be organized, cheerful, energetic, the perfect weight, have time to garden, have an adorably decorated house....etc.  But I don't.  Just like most of the world, I struggle daily to hold it all together.  But that's the beauty of it.  I am finally finding that its in the very depth of the struggle that I am made whole.  God loves it when I need Him.  

We are thankful for the life that God has given us, and know without a doubt that it is what He has called us to.  But He called us in our imperfection, in our neediness.  Knowing what we are and how much we would stumble, He chose us to be the ones to walk this road.  It was not because of our gifts, abilities or credentials.  
These are difficult days that we live in.  We need to spur one another on in love, give a hand up in our brokenness and the soothing balm of a smile to the hurting.

This is true for every aspect of being a wife, mother or even a woman. But also true for adoption. 

It is my ardent belief that there is far too much "putting on a face" in adoption.  David and I are blessed beyond measure through our children, but we have and still are, enduring much heartache and pain.  I am the first to admit that adoption doesn't always bring difficulty, but I have also learned to NEVER judge those who struggle.  It is real and judging the family only brings more heartache and suffering.  We need to not be afraid to admit the struggles and encourage one another.  I don't blame the children, only the evil that wreaked havoc on their hearts, causing them to live in fear.  To lash out at the very ones that are attempting to offer them safety and love.

I want to share my heart with you, share my struggles, hoping you will be encouraged-never judged.  I invite you to contact me.  Share your stories, comments....whatever.  This is your place to feel at home.
Thats what this blog is about---thats my 'bloggy vision"  :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

I met someone today, you would have liked her.  Since the morning met me with grey, dark drizzle, I had intended to rebel against getting up at all. Tthen remembered that it was Friday, Womens Bible Study day at church.  So instead of chasing the kids out the door  for school and then climbing back under covers, I did my hour of Zumba ("It is the one that makes you sweat" and their are not kidding!), showered and rushed off to Bible study.
We have not been going to this church very long and the room was full of strangers.  In some ways I like that, its a clean slate.  General introductions were made and I found myself seated next to a woman who was a little older than myself, one who shares my name, but with a 'K'.  I instantly liked her, despite the unfortunate spelling of her name.  She was casual and easy going.  Almost plain, but there was enough of a sparkle in her eyes and smile to bring interest to her features.  There was a calm, strength in her manners, but with a gentleness that put you at ease.  I like her laugh.  It was almost a chuckle, but was heartfelt.  Laughs are important.  People who can't laugh easily make me nervous.  She laughed easily and it made me like her right away.
After the study, which was very good by the way (it will make going in the future so much easier-you can read between the lines there.), we shared prayer requests and I shared about some of the struggles we'd been having.  When it was over, Kathy turned to me and started sharing that her and her husband were both adopted.  As we chatted, she explained to me that they had been having a lot of problems in their marriage.
She described how he had been taken away from his mother when he was 9 months old because she was a heavy drug user.  He then bounced around in the foster system until he was 9 years old, when he was finally adopted.  Unfortunately, his adoptive family has since severed all contact with him. Which at first was very difficult for her to understand and made her quite angry. Since then, however, she has experienced many things that has led her to be much for sympathetic toward their strong stance.
They have only been married 3 years and over the past year he spent 3/4 of it in homeless shelters. It was clear that there were many others things she didn't dare to share with a virtual stranger. In other words, he has made life very difficult for her.  So much so, in fact, that she would have left him long ago if it weren't for the support she has received from the church body.
She confessed that none of his issues were apparent when they were dating.  It all came out after the wedding.  That he was charming and engaging to strangers, but quite the opposite at home. Unable to commit to a job, he was constantly unemployed. Do any of you recognize the patterns here?  Sadly, I have to admit that I do.  Her poor husband is likely struggling with attachment issues.
We bonded instantly as she found a comrade in someone that faces the same issues she does with her loved ones.  Her husband and some of my children have brains wired for self-preservation instead of intimacy.  Its the sad result of not having their needs lovingly met as babies.  Through no fault of their own, they didn't get nurtured, rocked, soothed, changed, fed when hungry or at least not in when they needed it most.  Their world was unpredictable and frightening.  Their little brains jumped tracks and went immediately into survival mode.  Adults were not to be trusted or relied upon,  Mommy isn't taking care of me therefore, I have to get what I need myself.
The unfortunate result of jumping the tracks in our brain and having them rewire themselves, is that they don't come back very easily.  Although people with attachment issues still innately desire to be close to others, especially a mother figure, they are still scared out of their wits.  They are afraid of being hurt, afraid to let you take care of them, afraid you might leave them.  If they give up control over their lives, they are letting go of their self-preservation tactics and they might DIE~!
I can't imagine what it would be like to be married to someone that struggles with attachment.  It would take a very special person to love so unconditionally.  Never able to really expect to get much in return.  My new friend seemed to me to be just the person for the job.  I admire her and I hope her husband can someday realize what a gift he has been given.  He will heal and grow and change.  He will find it within himself to surrender, allowing himself to be loved.  Because love is powerful.
Some time ago, God gave me a beautiful picture of what it would be like in heaven.  He showed me all my children around a table.  I looked at each of them and instantly knew that they no longer carried their scars.  There was a peace about them that I have never seen before.  They were healed....whole.  I hope she can see that for her husband too.
Your friend,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Behind the scenes

People are always curious about "how we manage it?" I'm never quite sure how to respond. Reality is that most of the time, life at our house is more of a controlled chaos than the well-oiled machine that I dream of it being. David is organized and systematic by nature. I am more… well, scatter brained-sort of a "sit down before you hurt yourself" type of gal. Even as a young adult my mother would send me to bed for the safety of all. I like to tell myself that I am doing better now, but managing a large family still does not come naturally for me. A caretaker by nature, I'm in my 'zone' when someone is sick. But see, that is where God is so amazing. It would be too easy if this came naturally. Working against the grain is where the real growth happens. A good sense of humor doesn't hurt either.

So, you wanted to know about our house, am I right? You thought that we had a roomy house for all these teenagers to stretch out comfortably in. That's ok, we get that a lot. The original house, that we bought 8 years ago, was a 1500 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath rambler built in 1977. It had the original orange shag carpet and heavy plaid curtains in the '70's autumn colors. We liked the house because its in a neighborhood where everyone has about 2 acres of land. Within the first two years, we cleared off some of the trees for more light, took out walls to make it more live-able, incorporated the garage into living space and added 12 feet onto one end of the house to make more bedrooms. Today the house is about 2700 square feet. Not luxurious, but functional. If we ever try to sell the prospective buyers will wonder why anyone would need such a large laundry room or two full stoves in the kitchen, but its how this family rolls. The only thing I really wish we had was a bigger master bedroom. Apparently, personal space for the parents wasn't a priority in the '70's! Our bedroom is only slightly larger than the kids' and our "bathroom" is barely big enough to turn around in-no bath (ugh!) That's ok though, it gives me something to dream of….an nice big bedroom with a sitting area and a bathroom with a soaking tub…someday.

Now, I know you have more questions rattling around in your head…let me know what they are and I'll answer them J

Ahhh...a day off with my best!

David and I at the port in Seattle.  Such a glorious November day in so many ways!

His laugh...it still captures my heart

Do you see a resemblance???  No, how about to any famous figures??
David said it looks like I had a bad lip job

Just to prove I am able to take a "normal" picture

This morning he sent a text after he left for work saying that he "wished it was yesterday"-me too!  But I am thankful.  It was what we needed.  The girls did a wonderful job holding down the fort while we were away.  Driving kids around, making dinner and even cleaning the house!  Everything was tip-top shape when we got home!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Praise God for Small Victories!


Although sleep came easy tonight, I couldn't wait to share how things turned out yesterday, I had to get up and write while it was still quiet.
So, my little juvenile delinquent spent most of the day in his room.  He didn't even come out to ask for food, instead he walked to the gas station and bought himself a frozen hamburger-yuck!  I guess he figured that I wouldn't be willing to feed him when he didn't go to school. He ate it outside and that was about all I saw of him all day.  I did make a point of leaving his bedroom door open while I made phone calls inquiring about the law regarding children going to school, calls to the school counselor and to David regarding the situation.  He got to sit in his room and listen to us taking his stand very seriously.
The day went from bad to worse when the rest of the kids came home from school.  They came in tattling on each other about bad bus behavior and verbal bullying.  Very frustrating!  Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than when I hear my children have been putting other kids down!!!  I sat them all down and in my, "I'm mean business" tone (less effective than I imagine it is) told them that they would be walking to school from now on if they couldn't ride the bus nicely.  An empty threat, but it buys me time to think of a real one, and was literally all that I could come up with considering the state of mind I was already in.  And really only made the kids angry at each other for tattling and at me for being a control freak.
There has been a dark cloud hanging over our house for months now and it descended like a fog yesterday.  You could feel the dreary, damp anger and discouragement clinging to everyone in the house.  It felt like it was getting darker by the minute.  In an attempt to just get away, I grabbed my coat and headed out for some fresh air.  I had vainly hoped to walk alone, but was met by my 15 year old tattler, ready to vent some more.
I allowed him to walk one lap around our neighborhood with me, if he came up with a solution instead of more problems.  I'm full to the eyeballs with problems.  Shockingly (not) he had no solutions, so I went one more alone.
When I got home, my homemade french bread was cooling on the counter and that crock pot lasagna was done.  I asked the kids to help make the salad and set the table.  We have not been sitting down together for dinners lately and it was a perfect night to change that.  Besides it would make out little delinquent realize what he was missing in not choosing to be a part of the family.
Just as we finished up, the "bus bully" came to me and apologized for not being respectful to me and others.  Great move!  This precious child does NOT like to admit when he is wrong and really does not like anything that feels like relationship building.  WOW!  Breakthrough!
Now my fake smile has a hint of realism and my slumping shoulders just lifted a little...
I was expecting David to come home and sit down to dinner with us, instead he had decided to take the bull by the horns and have a 'man' talk with Mr. Hooky-SUPER!
So, while they drove off to have dinner out together, we all sat down to a nice dinner around the table.  In an attempt to break through the gloom, I decided to have each person say something nice about the others at the table, one at a time.  It was so sweet!  Even the 'bus bully' and the 'tattler' lost their titles and became brothers again.  Our new little princess who has been struggling to find her place in the crowd thanked everyone for making her feel so welcome and for letting her "be a part of the family".  Yep, mama had tears...
It was incredible.  I took the opportunity to finish it up by praising and encouraging each person at the table.
Meanwhile, David had an amazing time with our other son.  Who will now lose his title of Mr. Hooky.
When Daddy asked him where he would like to go to dinner he said, "Uh, Dad...I don't think that I deserve..."  David interrupted him and said, "Nobody's asking what you deserve son.  None of us deserve anything that we have.  I'm asking you where you want to eat together".  David then suggested that they eat at a somewhat expensive Thai food place that is considered VERY special.  This is an especially wonderful treat as we rarely eat out.
They had a great time and David was able to break through the hurt and anger that had been driving the poor behavior.  Together, they made a plan for the future, talked about what kind of man he wanted to be when he grew up, cried and bonded.  Golden stuff, right there!
There's so much more that they talked about and shared, but I have to go shower now.
Lets just say, David is such a wise, wise man.
What does the Bible say?... "Giving them a garland of praise for ashes"
Smiles :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Me taking my son to school-lol

Clipart: Cartoon Bird Catching A Frog

One way or the other, he's GOING to school tomorrow!

What now?

So after a sleepless night, I wake to a 12 year old boy refusing to go to school. We have struggled with behavior problems with this child since the day he came almost 4 years ago. What frustrates us more than anything is that he has such amazing potential. He is a born leader, charming and engaging marred only by his utter disregard for authority. What to do now?
Time is ticking until he is in high school. The consequences for bad choices at that age is much more severe, often following you for the rest of your life. How do you make a child "care"? He doesn't care about school, he doesn't care about his family, he doesn't care about other peoples feelings, he doesn't care about God. The things he cares about are his Ipod, his clothes, keeping his white tennis shoes spotless, girls, movies, etc. He was born cool. Quite literally, he has it "going on" and he knows it. So what do we do with that?
Our choices seem to be...

An alternative school/living situation such as; boarding school, military school, therapeutic school-all running us between $2000-$6000 per month

Homeschooling him; which didn't go too well the first time but may have better results the second time. Which would include tutoring at Kumon. But would it be enough to turn his attitude around-I wonder??

Send him for a long vacation to see his mom in Ethiopia. Maybe a visit with her will help him realize the opportunity he has here.

Go Crazy!!

Do nothing, just wait and see if he turns his attitude around

I made a bunch of phone calls already today. Investigating what our options are. It doesn't look real promising yet, but we will keep trying.

On the up side- there is a wonderful smelling Lasagna cooking in the crock pot. When all else fails....eat well! LOL

Awake again. It seems I haven't had a full nights sleep in weeks. The depth of my loneliness has come to consume me, a familiar reality. The old struggles roll together with the new, piling hurt and frustration and worry, one upon the other in a suffocating blizzard of emotion. I can't catch my breath. I can't sleep. tears flow in aggravating endlessness. I long to reach out to someone, to pour out my heart to anyone that would listen. But the heartbreaking truth is that there is no one. I know all too well that there is no one.
Time and energy spent tending the hearts of my children has replaced the efforts of tending friendships, and there lies the void. No one that knows me, no one to listen. Even if I did feel that I had payed ahead in a relationship enough to call upon the account in my time of need, the likely response to my hearts cry would surely be that we had ' brought this upon ourselves'. Words I can't bear to hear as I gasp for breath.
So here I sit, licking my own wounds and feeling trapped. I need a break so badly but can't go anywhere because we never know when Miss A will have an "episode". I'm worn out and tired of feeling afraid of her. Every time I hear her voice raise even a little, my hands instantly start to shake involuntarily. My heart begins to race and in an instant I am on alert, ready for what may come. Will I ever get over it?
The last "episode" was especially traumatic for me. I was alone with her and in the hour and a half struggle to keep her from doing more damage to the house, or running out into the road, my knee was injured. In her psychotic state, she doesn't recognize that I'm hurt and continues to fight me for another hour or two. We have been through so many similar scenes over the past year. Times when she has tried to hurt us or herself. I don't know why this one was particularly difficult for me to recover from. Maybe because of my knee, or the fact that I was alone, but more likely because I had been hoping that we were on the road to healing.
Hope is powerful. It carries you along in the darkest hours, giving strength and direction when none can be found. Now the dark reality that she probably will not get better consumes me in its hungry path. I don't really know how we survived the last year? The scars are still fresh in each of us. Mental illness is ugly and incredibly frightening. How long will we have to go on?
She is 16 now, will it be until she's 18? How will she ever live on her own? The added complication of being developmentally delayed, makes it impossible. She can't even read a label, let alone understand what it says. Any option for living somewhere else is far beyond out means financially. We have 10 other children to care for.
Here is where I hear the judging voices saying, "with that many children, you were bound to have this happen" or "you made your bed..." All of which is true. Except we believed that we were obeying God and we still do. Knowing that you have followed where God has led certainly helps, but doesn't preclude the need for a sympathetic ear in the hard times.
As I sort through the jumble of issues that have poured down on me over the previous months, I can't help wishing that the world would just stop long enough for me to process each thing. How I long for a vacation, even a weekend away...but I know that it would never be enough. In the end, everything would still be here, waiting. Besides, we can't leave Miss A.
I have spent hours on end sorting through the various governmental agencies trying to determine the services that are available to her now and after she turns 18. They consider us an "at risk" family (a title I never imagined we would have) and want to help us out any way they can. Yet, all good intention fall by the wayside when budgets are cut to save a drowning bureaucracy. There is nothing for us. Not even respite care.
Now, there are some families that would take her for respite. But really, I have a hard time trusting anyone's credibility that says they would willingly take our mentally ill, developmentally disabled, behaviorally challenged, RAD, ODD, etc, etc....daughter!! I say that tongue-in-cheek, but the truth is, she's still my daughter and I care about her well-being and a person would have to be insane to choose this!
I should probably go to bed now. Its 4 am and I'm back on duty in a couple of hours. Thanks for listening. As I say good night (or good morning, rather) I want to say one last thing. As difficult as this all is, I love my daughter. I don't like her illness, what we have gone through is yucky, but I do love her and will continue to stand by her (forever!), I'm thankful for her and will choose to believe that God has a plan in all of this.