Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mom Guilt: Adoption Edition

Have you read Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel?  I'm on my third time right now!  I read it once in high school, once in college, and yesterday I felt like the Lord told me to read it again.  It's all about grace and how we're all just beat up bedraggled ragamuffins who desperately need it.  It's about accepting our neediness and celebrating how gracious and loving our God truly is.  It's a must read for Christians, I think.

The truth is I've been stuck in this pattern of guilt and shame for a while now.  Parenting children from hard places, children from traumatic pasts is by far the hardest thing I've ever done and at times it has brought out the worst in me.  I think it was Jen Hatmaker who basically said that while parenting is like holding up a magnifying mirror to your worst self, adoptive parenting is like that times ten.  There's a section in Wounded Children Healing Homes that talks about shame and guilt surrounding adoptive parents who have been through extremely difficult times with children from traumatic pasts.  "They intended to adopt a hurt child and nurture him into a whole person.  Instead, they are less parents than jailers, less nurturing than controlling, less accepting than rejecting, less loving than hating.  What kind of monsters, they wonder, could feel such anger toward a child?...Adoptive parents cannot be expected to be superhuman, but they may feel guilty for things said or done in anger during explosive moments with an angry child.  After all, the typical reaction to anger is more anger, and breaking this cycle can be exceedingly difficult."  Adoptive parents, have you been there? 

And we've come so far since those extremely difficult times.  But sometimes my failings as a mom still bother me.  As I was struggling through guilt once again this weekend, God whispered to me to re-read The Ragamuffin Gospel.  I felt like He was telling me that I don't have to justify my sin, I don't have to compare myself to others, I don't have to try to make myself feel okay about my failings.  I can own those failings and know that I am forgiven and washed clean.  It's the fundamental principle of our faith and yet when we sin after spending our entire lives as Christians, we sometimes convince ourselves that it doesn't apply to us anymore.  After all, we should have it more together by now.  We should be further along in the sanctification process.  We should be practically perfect by now, shouldn't we?

But the point of Christianity is grace.  Grace when I realize once again that I still have a sinful nature at war within myself.  Grace even though I've been following Christ for 25 years and figured I'd have it more together by now.  Grace for us "who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to the faith."  (Brennan Manning)

So during this season of life, I need a reminder that "our trashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace." (Brennan Manning)

This is so good.  It is such good news!  Like I said, it's the foundation of our faith and yet somewhere along the way it sort of dulls into the background of the Christian life. 

"The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves.  The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception.  It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us.  As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me...I don't need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him.  I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness." (Brennan Manning)

I love it!  I need it!

Manning quotes Julian of Norwich who said, "The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love."

The enemy loves to pick at my guilt and my shame.  He loves to bring it up again and again and again.  Will you join me in refusing to let him?  Let's throw off that guilt and live gladly because of the knowledge of God's love and grace!

Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Selfish Ambition

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." - James 3.16

Selfish ambition.  That's what the Lord is talking to me about today.  Are my ambitions selfless or selfish?  Do I write on this blog because I want my name out there, or because I want recognition, or because I want people to think I'm a great writer?  Or do I write on this blog to help and serve you guys, the readers?

That's a big question that requires some soul searching.  And it's a question we can all ask ourselves.  Whatever it is we do, whatever we're passionate about, whatever keeps us awake at night...is it about our selfish ambition or do we have an ambition to help others?

My husband is a writer, too, and so we've been talking about this lately.  Why do we want to write?  It cannot be for our own fame or renown; it must be for the glory of God, helping and serving others.

This is particularly difficult in a culture that promotes and praises selfish ambition, isn't it?  To really lay down our lives, pick up our crosses, and follow Jesus is completely opposite of what our culture deems good and right and maybe even healthy.

What if we didn't choose the easy life?  What if we didn't choose the life that got the most for us (the most fame, the most money, the most comfort, the most vacations, the most followers)?  Rather, what if we chose the life that did the most for others?  It would require a lot of sacrifice.  Picking up a cross usually does.  But Jesus asks no less of us.

Let's ask the Lord to replace our selfish ambitions with selfless ambitions.  Let's chase hard after a life that serves others rather than ourselves.  Easier said than done, yes.  But with God, totally possible.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Way We View Our Kids



I just started reading The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine.  Have you read it?  It's been on my "to read" list for years and I finally borrowed it from Reach's Lending Library at our last adoptive parent support group.

It's by the same people that made the TBRI training I told you guys about, and it's a lot of the same principles.  The first chapter has really struck a chord with me in how I relate to and view J-Man.

Lately I find myself just annoyed with him, to be totally honest.  I'm tired of the disrespect, I'm tired of the hurts, I'm tired of the mean words and the anger (we're going through an attachment regression so things have not been great lately).  And I think I treat him like I'm sort of tired of him.  And that's not good.  Maybe it's natural in this extreme parenting, but it's not good.  Sometimes we go through phases as adoptive parents where we aren't receiving much good stuff from our kids.  There's not a lot of positivity, loving words, reciprocated smiles, etc. to sort of outweigh the bad and the ugly and the hard.  And those phases are difficult.  That's where we find ourselves now.

The Connected Child asks you to imagine you had raised your biological child in a healthy, loving home until he was 4-years-old.  Then one day, he was kidnapped and kept for several months where he was neglected and abused.  Miraculously one day, you get him back.  How are you going to treat your child?  How are you going to view him?

You're going to view him with compassion.  You're not going to expect him to just shake it off, move on, and be the child you knew several months ago.  You're going to expect it to take a lot of time, nurturing, therapy, etc. to help your child process, heal, move forward, thrive. 

Well, that is largely the situation we find ourselves in as adoptive parents, isn't it?  Our children come to us from hard places; places of neglect, abuse, abandonment, deprivation, malnourishment, etc.  We have to view them from a place of compassion.  We have to be on their team, us and them facing the world together.  We have to be their ally.  Not us against them.  But us with them.

I follow an Instagram account called humansofny.  It is an absolutely beautiful journalistic approach to learning people's stories in a short memory and a photo.  Right now, he is in South Sudan interviewing people at the Confident Children out of Conflict Center.  This is a place where displaced children go.  He interviews the director and she talks about the way some children treat her with hatred when they first come to the center.  She says,

"But I feel blessed by the hate.  Because I know it's part of the healing process.  And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I'm glad it can be me."

Wow.  That humbled me. 

What if I could view my son like that?  If my son needs someone to hate, to be angry at, SO THAT HE CAN HEAL, I'm glad it can be me.  Profound.

So today I'm trying to look at J-Man through lenses of compassion.  I'm trying to see HIM more than his behavior.  I'm trying to make it very clear to him that I'm on his team, that I'm his ally.  That's it's us facing the world together.





Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Are You There?



Hello!  I'm going to be honest and tell you that I would like to hear from you guys more often!  Some of you leave a stray comment every now and again and I so appreciate those, but for the most part, things are pretty silent on your end around here.  Have you guys noticed this? 

So today I would like to ask YOU  to talk!  Some of you have been avid readers for years (thank you so very much!), some of you pop over once in a while from Facebook or Pinterest and some of you may be here for the first time today.  Whatever your God Found Us You story is, would you please share something (anything!) about yourself in the comments section today? 

I would just love to know a little bit about who you are and what brought you here and if there's anything you want me to talk about on here.  Please.  PLEASE.  Share something with us.

It can be like one of those awkward ice breaker games you used to play in youth group!

Thank you!  And thank you for reading!

Have a faboosh Tuesday, people!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy Weekend!

Do you ever look at pictures from a year ago just to remember and see the differences a year makes?  I love to do that!  This picture was last August.  Making s'mores at Grandma & Grandpa's house!  Love it.


Happy Labor Day weekend everybody!  This is the first 3 day weekend my husband has had in years!  Thank you very much, owning-your-own-business!  When you run a gym and you only get paid if you train and everyone for some strange reason wants to work out on their day off, you don't dare shut down for a 3 day weekend!  But now, he works for a company that does close on Labor Day so we are excited for 3 days off!  Also, it's E's first 3 day weekend from school and he's super excited too! 

We don't have anything huge planned.  Just relaxing.  We got some donuts this morning because E immediately got dressed upon waking and when Chris asked, "Was there something you wanted to do?"  he promptly replied, "Get donuts!"  How could Chris say no?

The boys are watching Ninja Turtles and Chris is tackling some project in the garage (I think he's making a guitar...always something with that guy!).  We're having some friends over for a bbq this evening.  And Chris is going to take the boys dove hunting at some point this weekend.  Before you stop following my blog, let me just tell you that Chris is starting to hunt and fish for the purpose of getting free range meat for our family!  We are learning a lot lately about the effects on our health from eating industrialized meat and we are thinking hunting could be a great option for us to not fill our bodies with antibiotics and soy from non-wild animals.  (I realize that sounds quite hippie!  But hey, I'll be honest, we drive a Subaru and we try to eat organic!  Now I've shown my true colors.)


By the by,

Have you checked out the blog Live FabuLESS by Jodi Furman?  I love this blog because she scours the internet every day finding the best deals so you don't have to!  I'm always finding fabulous deals on Amazon from her.  Just today a couple of Transformer Thermoses arrived for my boys, they are super stoked, I'm hoping it will encourage them to drink more water, and I got a great deal on a great brand.  Check her out and you're welcome!


Chow!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pray

I've learned so much in the past couple of years about the power of prayer.  Are you a praying person?  I've seen God do miracles in response to prayer.  I've been encouraged through prayer.  I've received hope through prayer.  I've received wisdom and inspiration through prayer.  I believe that prayer is powerful.

This week has felt heavy.  All around there seems to be pain and fear and loss.  I don't need to go into details because you feel it, too.  Maybe the loss and pain are directly affecting you this week.  Or maybe, like me, it's a little more indirect.  But either way your heart is breaking. 

We live in a fallen world. 

There is pain, there is disease, there is heartbreak, there are tears, there is loss, there is fear, there are bad guys. 

One of my sons had a dream last night in which bad guys took him.  Earlier this week, one son asked, "Bad guys aren't real, are they, Mommy?"

I ignored his question, in all honesty.  Because they are real.  But I don't want to tell a 4-or-5-year-old that.  I don't want them to be afraid.  Ever.  I want them to trust me and God to protect them.  I want them to take action to make the world a better place and to help other people.  I also want them to come to me when they do feel afraid.  I want to hear about their bad dreams.  I want to comfort them in those times of fear and sadness.

And I think it's the same with God.  He doesn't want us to be afraid.  He wants us to trust Him.  He wants us to help people around us who are hurting.  And He wants us to come to Him, to pray when we feel afraid, distraught, helpless.

So often we say things like, "All we can do is pray" or even, "I want to do more than just pray."  As if it's some last resort or some weak words we throw up at an empty heaven.  I am a total believer in human beings taking action.  I also believe prayer is one of the most important "actions" we take.  God listens to prayer.  That never ceases to amaze.  He hears. 

"I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy." (Psalm 116.1)

It is evident in the Bible that prayer changes things.  That God listens.  He hears the cries of the brokenhearted.  And it moves Him to action.  It even changes His mind at times.  That, my friends, is absolutely incredible.

So today, when we feel helpless, when we feel overwhelmed, let's PRAY.  Let's cry out to God for mercy.  Let's plead with Him.  And let's do this in faith that the Lord hears, that our voices reach Him. 

Let's act too.  Let's actively love each other.

But let's not forget that prayer is powerful, that prayer changes things.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lately

Chris started his new job last week and we are loving the schedule.  After 2 years of owning his own business, leaving for work while the rest of us slept, working split shifts so that he was gone every evening 8-4:30 is feeling dang good!  Being home together as a family every evening is such a blessing and we are really enjoying it.  He is also feeling much more present when he is here because he's not constantly thinking about his business.  When you own your own business, you basically always take work home.  It can become very consuming.  You're always thinking about making ends meet, advertising, social media, connecting with clients, expanding, all that good stuff.  He is so relieved to just show up in the morning, go home in the evening, and not have to think about it.
 
 
 

J-Man is really into making things lately.  This is a birdhouse he concocted all on his own.  He hung pictures on the walls for them, painted it a little, and put flowers on top to attract them.  (I think E actually brought him the flowers and I'm not sure who thought of putting them on top).  Yesterday he was asking me for wires so he could make an invention.  Chris gave him some this morning and little wiry inventions are popping up all over his room, hanging from light switches and doorknobs.  It's pretty cool to see this new interest and creativity forming in him!



I'm thinking about planning a little romantic getaway with Chris sometime in the near future.  We've been talking about it for a while.  We haven't gotten away just the two of us for more than one night since we became parents 4 years ago.  Our last romantic getaway was for our 5th anniversary two years ago and it was only one night.  I know this isn't terrible or anything, but 2 nights away together sounds amazing!  So I'm scouring Travelzoo hoping to find a great deal somewhere.



That is all for now.  Thanks for stopping by!

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