Saturday, September 17, 2016

On Navigating Hard

I've mentioned before that we parent some pretty tough emotions and situations in our home. As much as we wish we could change our children's past, we cannot. Love does not heal and fix everything; I wish it did because if it did, we would be golden. Instead, love helps to navigate this life journey, gives room for healing, helps with maturing and growth, works through complicated feelings, and provides a safe a place to be honest. At least in our house that's the goal.

Recently we had a challenging night. A night that hurts and makes you mad - sometimes it's easy to stay with those emotions and just lecture. But this night, we stopped to listen to the heart, the hurt that motivated the breaking of trust. What we heard was not new, but that doesn't make it easier. Pain surrounding abandonment, feelings of loss, desire for knowledge...these motivated a bad decision. While those things don't excuse the wrong, it did bring a different response. We talked and slogged through a difficult conversation which involved tears and emotional vulnerability. We prayed and we acknowledged hurt. We affirmed and hugged and reassured.

In the end, he came back to us and said, "I'm really sorry I did that." And as we were beginning to forgive him, he said, "I really don't think you should forgive me. What I did was really bad." There in lies the truth - none of us deserve forgiveness, but it is given freely. We told him that we forgive him - ALWAYS - and love him unconditionally and nothing changes that. We parallaled it to the forgiveness and love that the Lord offers. There was peace, restoration, and another round of hugs. All of us the better for it.

These teachable moments don't just teach our children, they teach us, too. We learn more about God and who He is, we learn more about ourselves, and we understand our children better. While I don't wish any of the pain or hurt on my kids, I am incredibly thankful to walk this life journey with them. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I realized during our talk that it was exactly ten years ago this day that our lives were completely changed. We entered those orphanages so far away and met our first two sons. Our lives will never ever be the same...not just because we became parents, but because we can never unsee or unsmell or unknow what an orphanage life means. I'm thankful for that and I'm thankful for the kids who call me Mom. We are grateful to be their forever family.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Book Review + Giveaway!

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED - Karen is the winner! Congrats! The book will be on it's way from the publisher. Everyone else, thanks for entering and please go pre-order! 

Falling Free is a must-read! Giveaway at the bottom!

There are few books that I am interested in helping to launch, but when I learned that Shannan Martin was writing a book...I wanted in. Her words on her blog and social media resonate with me. Her life experience feels somewhat parallel to mine (I mean, we both have sons who came to us through adoption that we named Calvin and both of our families have gone through some hard shifting of dreams) and yet different - I wanted to know more. 

Falling Free is a well-written, convicting, faith-growing book. Shannan Martin carefully tells her story and the story of her family and God's incredible work in shifting their circumstances and ultimately changing their direction and dreams. Shannan's words show gentleness with unrelenting conviction that God has more for our lives than living the "American Dream." She masterfully (and with humor!) shares her experiences of moving to the "wrong side of the tracks" from their dream home in the country, to parenting a child in prison, to career changes and so much more.

Her chapter on hospitality left me convicted and encouraged. It's an area God has been not so subtly nudging me to grow in. "Real hospitality is more like the widow’s mite than Solomon’s purple robes. It’s the sharing of manna—that ordinary miracle— and the faith to believe we can love big with just a little." (Falling Free, Chapter 7) How can I not be changed by her humble example and challenging words? 

Shannan's strong faith and gospel commitment are clear. I appreciate how she honestly shares her heart with grace.  She challenges the reader to a deeper walk with the Lord, a better understanding of community, and a real view how the Gospel is lived out.

Mostly, I have an overwhelming desire to drive to Shannan's house and chat with her over chips and homemade salsa. To me, that is the sign of an excellent book. 

I encourage you to check out Shannan's book and blog! Both are well worth your time. Be challenged, convicted, and changed! 

I have two pieces of good news:
1) You can pre-order this title & receive some awesome free gifts! (I ordered my copy!)

2) I am GIVING AWAY a copy! The publisher has graciously offered me a copy for one of you lucky readers! 

TO ENTER: Please leave a comment with a way to contact you! That's it! I will close the entries on Thursday night at 10 p.m. and draw a winner. I will contact the winner and you will receive the book directly from the publisher. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

End and Beginning

Peace comes unexpectedly sometimes. I'm thankful for that. Our family journey is a journey of hope and healing, pain and redemption, hard and beautiful, loss and joy. A mix of all of that - often on a daily basis. 

In about two weeks, our homeschool journey will come to an end - at least for now. It's bittersweet. I have been so privileged to be at home with our children every day - teaching them and being taught by them. And yet it's time for them to go elsewhere for their education and for me to focus on being just mom. In many ways, I will always be their teacher and I cherish that, but juggling the full-time teacher/Mom role has not been easy. 

Spring Break Vacation to NC!

We searched and visited schools and thought we had found the school for us only to realize it just wasn't the right fit. No peace came with that initial decision. I lost many hours of sleep and agonized. So, we searched some more and when we left the school we chose, I knew. It was right. I had tears in my eyes because I knew that this school would provide the love, support, structure, discipline, and learning environment we needed.

All four of our sweet kids did their placement testing and interviews and were accepted. And with that, a new journey begins. We have had so many confirmations along the way which have made this decision easier. The older two shadowed for a day of school and came home excited which was such a relief. We will have two in 6th grade, one in 2nd grade, and one in Kindergarten. (As an aside - WHAT?! How do we have kids all in school and that old?!)

It's funny, really...I never ever thought I would homeschool and yet it was exactly what God called us to for several years. So here I am - losing an identity and community that I have enjoyed tremendously. It's weird and surreal. I know we will create new community and find our spot, but you know how new relationships are - awkward, hesitant.

I find myself excited for the kids (and me) and yet nervous - are they prepared? Thrilled for the change and yet dreading it - I will miss them!

This summer you might find me quietly weeping in the corner while soaking up every wonderful moment of summer. The transition is going to be tough for us all, but we are family and we will do this hard and joyful thing together.

I have peace.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

We Are Family

I so want to blog more, but life feels unblogworthy. We are weary. Parenting trauma kids is HARD. Progress is there, but it's two steps forward and 1-2 steps back. We celebrate the progress, we grieve the hard, and we pray - a lot.

Education choices, parenting dilemmas, and emotional challenges are just a few of the things that are overwhelming us right now. We have a another ear surgery coming up in March. We need wisdom and patience and grace.

When I look into the sweet faces of the kids I have the privilege of calling mine, I am filled with love. They are precious to us. As they seek comfort, curl up with us for a book, talk about their hopes and dreams, accomplish new tasks, conquer fears, and make progress on tasks that come so easily to many, I just feel blessed. They are ours - we may not be the neat and tidy, fit in a box family, but we are a family - faults, challenges, and all. We are my favorite.

I have found tremendous grace and encouragement in unexpected places and I'm so grateful. There is  much joy in our lives along with the heartache. I would never, ever, ever trade my children or our way of becoming parents for the world. As we muddle through the difficult, and the ugly, and the painful, we see redemption and love and acceptance. I can never pretend to understand fully the path my children have had to walk. One of them said to me recently, "Mom, I just wish you had been there the minute I was born." And all I can say is, "Me, too, buddy, Me, too." Sometimes we cry as we acknowledge the hard and sometimes we get mad, but we are glad that the current path is ours to walk together.

We had SUCH a blast with a family fun day just after the new year - the kids have mentioned it several times and are hoping for another big family fun day!

We took selfies at each of our fun stops - a day full of adventure!