Monday, December 15, 2014

Enough



Lately, the enemy has been poking at all my insecurities as a mom.  All my shortcomings and failings and guilt are resurfacing and to be honest, at times it fills me with fear.  I start to become afraid of what God is asking me to do next. 

Chris and I have been talking a lot lately about what is next for our family.  We feel God leading us toward foster care once again.  And it scares me.  I'm afraid I'm not enough.  I'm afraid I won't be patient enough, loving enough, kind enough, gentle enough to add another child from hard places to my home.  But as I thought through all my fears the other night, I heard the Lord whisper, "But all of those things you think you don't possess enough of, are the very fruit of My Spirit." 

Oh yeah.  As Christians, we possess His Spirit, He lives in us.  And the fruit of God's Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  The very things I need.  The very things I'm worried I don't have enough of. 

But this is not some checklist of character traits I need to somehow come up with.  These are the things that God's Spirit produces in us because that's what He does, not because I deserve it or because I'm focused enough or strong enough or had enough of them to begin with.  Simply because that's what the Spirit does.

So we don't need to be afraid that we aren't enough for whatever God is telling us to do.  We aren't.  But He is.  And His Spirit will produce those fruits in us and THAT will be enough.


In what area are you afraid you aren't enough?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 19: Men

Today's prompt for the Knit Together By Adoption series sponsored by Mixed_Beautifully is "Men."  So I want to say something about adoptive dads.


I have an incredible respect for adoptive dads.  Children from hard places often have a distrust or even fear of men.  I have watched my husband walk a hard road with both of our sons.  They distrusted him for no fault of his own.  They rejected him for reasons completely unrelated to him.  Yet he pursued them without faltering.  He loved them unconditionally from the beginning.  He took the rejection, the pushing away, and he didn't give up.  He put his own needs on hold until his kids were able to trust him and to love him back. 


May God bless and strengthen all adoptive dads!  You guys rock!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remember



Did you all know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month?  All month I've been enjoying perusing Instagram, finding other adoptive families to "follow" and reading how adoption has blessed so many.  Individual family stories differ, but there are similar lines that run through them all and it's always a blessing to find shared experiences. 

Mixed_Beautifully is one of those Instagram accounts I have discovered this month.  She has been hosting a #knittogetherbyadoption "hop", shall we say, where she gives an adoption writing prompt for each day.  I have enjoyed responding and have found beautiful and inspiring words on other accounts.  I thought I might respond to some of the prompts on the blog as well, because the purpose of National Adoption Awareness Month is to raise awareness, right?  And the prompts are just so thought provoking!  If you don't already, follow me on Instagram here.

Day 11's prompt is Remember.


In the world of adoptive parenting, I have found that making an effort to remember is incredibly life-giving.  Chris and I strive to remember how far our kids have come.  Because oftentimes in the day to day of adoptive parenting, especially the early days and during any periods of regression, it can be so easy to only focus on the current trials and the current situation.  And that can seem overwhelming and hopeless on certain days. 

But when we make ourselves stop and remember, oh, what perspective we gain!  What encouragement we receive!  Sometimes, during a rough patch with my kids, I stop and remember what we've already accomplished with them.  I'll tell myself or my husband, "REMEMBER how ______ used to be our normal?"  "REMEMBER how our child used to do _______ every few hours and now it's only once a week?"  "REMEMBER?" 

And that sacred act of remembering inspires us to keep going; keep struggling and trudging and inching along because one day we'll look back and remember this current issue as one more thing we overcame together.  And that is really what parenting children from hard places is: overcoming together.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall

Does it feel like November to you?  I think it's just now starting to for me.  We don't get FALL where we live...we get fallYou know what I mean?  It stays relatively warm here until about the week of Thanksgiving and then it gets cold.  So the leaves go pretty quickly within a short span.  But this week, I'm noticing much more vibrant colors coming out and more leaves on the ground and I love it.  Even though it's 76 degrees. 

Chris and I got away for a whole weekend, you guys!  This was a first for us since we became parents.  There've been a couple of times that we got one night away, but never a whole weekend!  Glorious.  We stayed at a little B&B just outside of Yosemite.  We spent Saturday exploring Yosemite, which is GORGEOUS this time of year.  Pops of yellow everywhere! 

 
 
I mean!!  We hiked, we oogled and ahhhhed.  We saw three deer.
 


Do you know what I think one of the hardest adjustments to parenting is?  People always needing something from you.  Right!?  My guys are 5 and almost 5 at this point and so they are becoming much more independent.  But up until this point, it's been just constant need, right?  Someone always needs something from you.  From the moment you are awakened, until your head hits the pillow, and then even throughout the night.  So to have a full day where no one needed anything from us was glorious. 


But alas.  Back to normal life.  It was good to see our boys when we came home yesterday, and that itself is a blessing.  Sometimes we need that time apart so that we can get to the point of missing our kids rather than wishing we could get a moment of quiet, you know?  J-Man was all snuggly last night so I know he missed us.  He climbed up next to me on the couch and put his arm around my shoulders and we just sat.  E wished he could stay with Nana and Papa longer. 

This week's full of photo shoots, dinners with family and friends, church, and adoptive parent support group.  Plus prepping for a baby shower my mom and I are throwing for my sister-in-law on Saturday. 

I'm starting to feel the crazy of the whole month.  Something big is happening every weekend.  I'm trying to keep a level head and just enjoy instead of getting stressed out by it all.  Any tips on how you do that during the holiday season?  I'd love to hear how you enjoy instead of stress!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!



Happy Halloween!  Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

All Things Pumpkin

This weekend we ventured a couple towns over for a really neat pumpkin patch that has a steam train, which my train-obsessed-4-year-old adored.  My parents treated the kids to a train ride and hay ride, and we bought a couple pumpkins we're planning to carve tonight.



After the pumpkin patch, my parents kept the kids so Chris and I could go on a date.  We haven't been on a date in months and it was so good to have some time just the two of us.  We saw a movie and grabbed some Chipotle.

Yesterday we took a day to rest.  Chris found someone giving away free barn wood on Craigslist so we went back a couple towns over and loaded up my father-in-law's truck.  Why?  Because we have these ideas of building things lately.  We want to take junk and make it beautiful again.  And old barn wood fits that bill just right.

Today I got all domestic for a few seconds and baked a loaf of pumpkin nut bread.  It just came out and it smells divine.  I'm pretty excited about it.

Halloween's a'comin!  I think we're actually going to take the boys trick-or-treating for the first time this year.  They always put on their costumes and stop by each grandparent's house to get some candy, but we have limited it to that because they get very fearful with all the d├ęcor and costumes and whatnot this time of year.  In the past, we've had barely any sleep for a week after Halloween without even trick-or-treating.  But they've grown a lot and I think they can handle it this year.  We'll just try to avoid houses with any scary decorations out.

Halloween is also the anniversary of my husband being cured of cancer.  I think this is 11 years.  We usually celebrate with chocolate eclairs and candles.  I'm looking forward to that!

Are you looking forward to Halloween?  Any special traditions you have?

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.
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