Adoption – One Year Later

A week ago we quietly celebrated the one year anniversary of Amania’s homecoming.  And when I say quietly, I mean by cleaning out the garage and going to soccer and otherwise living normal life.  Because it was needed.

Fifty-four weeks ago we were making plans and preparations for our quick trip to Haiti to bring our girl home.  Fifty-four weeks ago we were worried about parasites, language barriers, bed wetting, night terrors, RAD, food hoarding, and a dozen other worst-case-scenarios we had read or heard about along the way.  Fifty-four weeks ago, we had no idea what the next few days would look like, let alone the next year.  And a one year anniversary seemed a million years away.

We came home and she settled right in and all those things we worried about turned out to be nothing.  Parasites were treated.  Her English skills grew overnight it seemed.  Bed wetting, night terrors, RAD….all those things were non-issues, needless fear.  Praise. The. Lord.

And yet the past year hasn’t been without struggles and tears and wrestling.  And there were struggles we didn’t expect.  Struggles not directly related to our new addition, and yet connected.

There were the unexpected opinions of others who suddenly felt they could (and should) weigh in on how we run our family and our lives.  There was the Mama Bear reaction in me as I watched the world swarm around our newest family member (for months after she came home), all the while ignoring all of our other children who are all old enough and smart enough to know what was going on.  There were the struggles of our bio girls as they adapted and accepted this new family member – helping them feel valued and loved, while helping her assimilate.

And then there were my own struggles.  Some I’ve shared here, some I haven’t.  And those I haven’t are simply because I just haven’t had words. I do not understand my own struggle to connect with this child, how she has what appears to be a perfectly natural and healthy relationship with everyone else in our family circle, except me.  How our relationship is still so stiff and forced and awkward.  How I’m not a kid-friendly mama.  I love love love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but I’m very German and we are utilitarian, functional, efficient, not particularly cuddly (at least that’s my impression of us).  Unless of course you like cuddling with porcupines, which is what I often feel like around small children.  (True confessions, right here, friends!)  And the level of guilt and shame that I feel admitting all of this because Godly Christian women are all supposed to think young children are the best things since Jesus Himself, or so it would seem.

There has also been the unexpected toll taken on our marriage because of my unexpected and unexplainable reaction to Amania’s home coming – the depression, the disconnect.  And I feel like our marriage has been through the ringer and there are days I wonder if it will ever be the same.

And I haven’t said much here about our journey with her home because I honestly haven’t known what to say about the emotional places we’ve been.  As someone in our family reminds me, she is doing so much better than we ever expected and things could be so much worse.  But the fact is, this is my reality. This is where we live.  And while I’m thankful we don’t live in “worse”, this is by no means easy.

I have been praying about this post for weeks, maybe months.  Because I don’t want it to be about me, but I am, without a doubt, the one who has struggled most since Amania came home.  And right now, I don’t know if I will even hit publish, because I feel so vain, so shallow, so dysfunctional for these struggles I’ve had.  But as I prayed this morning, asking God for words that were transparent yet redemptive, He reminded me that this too is redemption.  This process is His continued refining of all of us.  This struggle has been a struggle for our whole family and He is working out something good.  I don’t know how long it will take for Amania and I to have a “normal” relationship, but I do believe with all of my heart that one day we will because our God is a God that redeems the broken.  He makes beauty from ashes.  He restores the years the locust has eaten.  And I think about how our adoption, my adoption, cost Him everything and why should I expect that this adoption would not also cost me more than money, time, and energy, but also a greater breaking of my heart, that I would know Him more and be more like His Son.

And I don’t know how long this process will take, but I will wait quietly on the Lord to restore and renew and make us all whole again.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten….
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.

Joel 2: 25-26

For His Glory ~

Signature

 

When You’re Feeling Desperate

I’m not sure what happened today.  We survived our version of March Madness, which ended last night with the girls’ choir concert and art show.  And apparently my brain knew that was as far as I had to make it, because today I crashed.  We all crashed sort of.  It didn’t help that we woke up to cool and grey and rainy.  (Dear Lord, please, please, please, can we have a handful of consecutive days of sunshine and seventy and no wind?  Please?  Many mamas I know would rejoice and sing praises, which I know we should be doing anyway, but still.)  It was a day that would have been good for everyone just staying in bed.  And it was the first day, all year I think (which would definitely be a new record), when I honestly wished I could go enroll all the kids in school.  I fantasized about full days at home, in the quiet, cleaning, writing, reading.  I know that’s not at all what it looks like when your kids are in school, but let me enjoy my little fantasy for now, please.  Really, I just want to deep deep deep clean my house.  And that can’t happen during school.  And it’s starting to make me batty.  We only have a few weeks left, so I really should be thankful, happy, and content.  But for some reason, today, I just couldn’t do it.  I wanted to hide in my room.  But you can’t hide in your room when kids need to be driven all over town all day long.  And it could be the mouse droppings I keep finding all over my basement that are driving the urge to deep clean and the twitchy feeling inside because I just.don’t.have.time to do it.  That could definitely be contributing to this sense of overwhelm and that my house is gross.

And last fall I read this book and it’s been sitting here waiting for me to share my take-aways and today seems like the day I need a good reminder of all the goodness inside that points to the goodness of God.  So here we go….

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson – My Take Away

My kids don’t need to see a supermama.  They need to see a mama who needs a Super God.  That maybe being the mama I wanted to be wasn’t so much about being more but believing more; believing and trusting more in the God of Hagar and Ruth and Hannah, the God who sees me, who nourishes me, who hears me and answers.

That godly parenting isn’t ultimately a function of rules but having a relationship with an ultimate God. That godly parenting is fueled by God’s grace, not my efforts.

That maybe it all comes down to this:  if I make God first and am most satisfied in His love, I’m released to love my children fully and most satisfactorily.

 

Above all, I need to remember that ‘good’ motherliness has nothing to do with how God sees me.  Nothing.  I am pleasing to Him on my good days and my bad days.  His love for me never wavers…and never will.  Because I am His.

 

Remember, a woman who is alone in motherhood becomes a target of discouragement for Satan.

 

It is vitally important for women to learn how to think biblically for themselves instead of being enslaved to other people’s thoughts and opinions.  To truly follow God with everything in our lives, we must learn to develop discernment.

A happy mom who is secure in herself and at ease in her life is a rare gift that children love and appreciate.

Determine for yourself what you hope to be the outcome of your family.  What legacies do you want to leave for your children?

So….all of you precious moms who will read this, be yourself; be the best and most excellent and most righteous self you can be, but live in the freedom of God’s call and design on your life.

 

 

All soldiers are trained to expect and anticipate war, so they are not surprised when the battle starts.  Moms need to understand that this is the reality of life with children in a fallen world.  Getting angry and upset for children being selfish and demanding creates stress and havoc in the mind, emotions and body of a woman.  Prepare yourself for the battle and accept the limitations of your husband, children, and home – and of yourself.  And then determine that you will, in time, subdue your home, overcome in the fight for the hearts of your children, and find God’s joy and blessing through your obedience.

 

The ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations for our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.

 

Voices of culture and expectations of others will always lead you to a feeling of inadequacy or a need to perform.  Either they give you permission to compromise ideals or cause you great stress by not being able to accomplish unreasonable and impractical ideals.  God has never required more of you than you can possibly accomplish.  So if you feel overwhelmed, it can often be because you are living by someone else’s expectations.

There are countless other snippets of wisdom I could pull, but I will close with these quotes from Chapter 13 in the book, words I needed to see again tonight….

Enjoy yourself.  Cook food that you love.  Play music that inspires you.  Buy flowers and candles because they please your heart.  Celebrate life in your home in the ways that bring you pleasure.  Cultivating the art of life in your home not only brings you happiness, but it makes your home a lively, fun, fulfilling place.  Most of all, enjoy life and celebrate it every day.  God created pleasure just for us, so live in  that blessing.

I can get so bogged down in all I have to do that planning beauty and adventure is just another thing that takes work and will exhaust me.  And that might be true, but it’s better than drowning in the mundane.  It’s better to put some energy into getting into life than letting life just happen.

Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better I’d have come running with a bucket. (Nancy Spiegelberg)

Don’t neglect to see the beauty of the life around you while being overwhelmed by the duties of life.

[God] is wild, way beyond our control, and more interesting than we can imagine with our limited minds; but far too often we live in the mundane and don’t see the miracle of the moment because the eyes of our hearts have become blind to His reality.

If every morning you look at your child as a gift from God, a blessing that He has bestowed today, and thank Him for that blessing, you will approach your children with love, patience and grace

I often see women who have become so used to a substandard life that they cannot see that they have become empty, shallow, and impatient with the real live human beings right in their midst, who are longing for love but are also so ready to give back generously.

Learning to be patient and really listen to them when I was exhausted was a commitment I had made long before finding myself in such situations.  I had resolved beforehand to focus on saying words of life and encouragement when I really wanted time alone; to use a gentle and respectful tone when I was tempted to express anger.  It was out of the belief that these commitments mattered  to God that I made them.

It was as though God gave me these children, so that I could grow up and become all the He had designed me to be.

And I really could quote pages and pages and pages more.  This book was a balm last fall and has been again tonight as I flipped back through it.  If you are a weary mama who desperately needs hope to breathe, I highly recommend this one.

For His Glory ~

Signature