Mama, what's better, to born kids or adopt them? My stomach hurts at the thought process that brought about that question and the fact that the comparison never seems to fade in her mind. I tell her how blessed we have been....how God really gave us the best deal ever. Not many people get to give birth to children AND adopt.....not only that but God let us have sons AND daughters....we really have it all! I try with my words to speak to her heart....to somehow convince her that each of my children are a treasure, not one more than the other. The conversation moves to other areas of her heart....friends, kids saying mean things at school, God. She told me about a friend asking her why she was nice to one boy even though he was mean to everyone. You have to give him a chance, my God tells us we have to love everyone, was her reply. She told someone else that when you are beautiful inside, you are beautiful on the outside. I could see the struggle inside as she shared with me. Trying so hard to live out what she is coming to believe for herself....pain from what others think....the pressures of fitting in versus being true to yourself and your convictions. I want to be friends with them, she said, but I want to love God.....it feels like if I choose to be like them, then I forget God and I don't want to do that. Intermittently were apologies for taking so much of my time to talk and then the truth, that she felt as if I probably wouldn't want to talk with her so much because after all she's so much younger than me. How do you make one see how special, loved, and valuable they are? Loving them in your words and actions, through hugs and kisses and through providing for them, spending time with them, sacrificing for them....teaching them, forgiving, loving, forgiving, loving loving.....and yet still not enough? This is such a small glimpse into this girls amazing heart (she is currently asking us to send ALL of her hard earned money to her family in U, I just had to throw that in there). And this is her true heart. The sweet, happy, outgoing, caring, eager to help girl that many of you know and love.
And some have witnessed some of the harder times...because you know, no one can bear the burdens that come with such loss and trauma for so many years of ones life on their own, without help and time and endless love no matter how misunderstood and sometimes un-reciprocated and un-received it may be. Someone once said to me, during a time when the pain was coming out and we were not handling it as one may expect......you know, a hug goes a long way. Oh how I wish it were so easy. How I wish we could hug it all away....love it all away. I get it, people don't understand....I wouldn't have either until I lived it. And I read the books, watched the dvd's, did the training, took the tests. You've probably heard it before, but it is not to be taken lightly when people say that all adoption comes from great loss, and that is only the beginning for so many of these children. It is the most unnatural thing to be separated from the one who carried you and brought you into this world. Even children who are adopted at birth often feel the effects of that traumatic experience! And for those who aren't....the loss just continues....especially for those placed in institutions. Can you imagine not even having a concept of what family looks like.....longing for it because every child longs to have someone to call mama, someone to call daddy....but not even really understanding what it all means. And as if those losses were not enough, to then be mistreated and treated as a burden. Adoption is a blessing....God calls us to it....but it doesn't erase all of the pain...all of the damage and trauma. In many ways it brings about more loss.....loss of one's country in some cases, loss of language, of the only thing they've ever known. And often times family is not at all the ideal fantasy they had long since dreamed of. So yes, there is another side to these children that often seem so happy....so sweet....a pain so deep that it will often take years to work through. And sometimes it looks really ugly...sometimes it means time away from the ones that love them....sometimes it is so painful for everyone involved. But it does NOT define them....it does not take away from the incredible people they are....it does not make them suddenly unworthy of love and family.
I've had many days where my frustrations in one area of my life have led me to react unfairly in other areas. It's human nature...sinful nature....I hate it, but it's true. It's reality. It never feels good to be on the receiving end of that frustration....and sometimes it makes you angry.....it's not fair. It's painful and it can take a toll on everyone in a family. We have so many ups and downs around here, and a lot of days that reflect this reality. And we pray for compassion, wisdom and healing. God is faithful....we have seen so much growth, so much progress. We have had so many joyful days, weeks, and months together as a family despite the pain that often rears its ugly head. I share pictures of our family often for friends and family that live far away so we can remain connected. The smiles in those pictures are genuine. The good times are so good. I think it's probably best that I don't share the ugly ones.....I'd rather not have everyone see a picture of me with smoke coming out of my ears as I try not to blow it. But there's also the importance of being real. If you think that the smiles mean we have it all together.....that we just somehow are such great parents that we erased all the pain of our kids traumatic lives, then you are incredibly mistaken. I love my family, I wouldn't change it for the world. I would love for some things to change...for the pain to be erased....for my children to all find their worth and value in who they are as children of the God of this universe. Thankfully God doesn't leave us on our own to figure that out....He's there beside us every step of the way. And sometimes, He allows things to happen for reasons we may never fully understand....or we may just really not want. But I know that He works all things together for the good of those who know Him (Romans 8:28) I want more than anything for my family to be together, in harmony.....I want to go to sleep knowing that each of my children are safely tucked in their beds, there's just something about that thought each night that makes me overflow with gratitude.
God has been working on me for years with my worrying and anxiety.....I have been amazed at the peace I often feel when I would previously have been a mess. And these past days have challenged me more than ever. It seems my body is bent on reacting to the anxiety as it normally would, but I found myself confused at how I felt mentally and emotionally. As if I wasn't feeling.....what was wrong with me, why wasn't I a wreck? But doesn't God tell us to be anxious for nothing! Surely He knows we are going to encounter trials since He tells us we're going to! But no, be anxious for nothing....and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds. (Philippians 4:6-7). Talk about faithfulness, God is so good. I have had my moments of despair.....I've had moments where I've let my mind start to go down that spiral....but through it all, God has reminded me time and again of His goodness, of His faithfulness, of His love for me and my family. I just can't fathom how people do this without God.....how do you truly live in this fallen, dark world with any amount of joy and purpose without knowing God? I wouldn't want to know me without God. And in these hard moments are also reminders of how He has prepared us for such a time as this. Through past jobs that maybe weren't where we wanted to be at the time.....through years spent mentoring teenagers through tough times even when it was out of my comfort zone....I'm so thankful that He sees the big picture, has it all laid out from beginning to end, and just asks me to trust...follow....obey....lean on Him.
This past week has been a blessing. That's hard to say because it's also been horrible in many ways....but I truly know that this sequence of events was a way to bring us to where we need to be.....a place where we will have the help and support we all need. God doesn't waste anything....He uses everything for good! As I went through some things this past week, I found a book in Keira's room that I'd forgotten about. It's called "My Child My Princess: A Parable about the King." I remember sharing it with Keira when she first came home, but I couldn't really remember the story line so I opened it up in the midst of the mess around me and started to read. The story begins with a little girl, the daughter of the King, running away from home in defiance and then returning, so broken and ashamed. Despite her insisting that she was no longer a princess, but rather just like the others, the King reminded her that she belonged to Him, always. This would not be the end, problems would come again, but each and every time He would open the door to her again and love her forever. I pray that each of my children would know that they are princes and princesses.....children of the King....and that no matter what this life may bring, that they will know our unconditional love as a reflection of His.
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Thank you so so many of you who have prayed for our family this past week, I am humbled by the way that so many of you have reached out and offered encouragement to us. It means so much....we have felt your prayers and are so very thankful. Many of you shared scriptures and reminders that were so helpful in keeping our focus in the right place. This was one of my mom's devotionals that I read a few hundred times :)
I AM TAKING CARE OF YOU. Trust Me at all times. Trust Me in all circumstances. Trust Me with all your heart. When you are weary and everything seems to be going wrong, you can still utter these four words: “I trust You, Jesus.” By doing so, you release matters into My control, and you fall back into the security of My everlasting arms.Before you arise from your bed in the morning, I have already arranged the events of your day. Every day provides many opportunities for you to learn My ways and grow closer to Me. Signs of My Presence brighten even the dullest day when you have eyes that really see. Search for Me as for hidden treasure. I will be found by you.
Jeremiah 29:13-14 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”PROVERBS 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge,and underneath are the everlasting arms.He will drive out your enemies before you,saying, ‘Destroy them!’