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.