Psalm 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands!
The dictionary defines favor as:
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
As I requested, my hubby and kiddos took me to the Chesapeake Bay for Mother’s Day. The shoreline at the Bay was made up large table-like rocks… The kind of rocks that beg to be walked on. As I hopped … Continue reading
Throughout the evening the words, “This has been my favorite Mother’s Day.” have escaped my lips more than once. As I speak those words, they are true. In between the times they’ve been spoken, this has been my most painful … Continue reading
In 1990, on the Saturday before Mothers’ Day, a group of birth mothers established a day to celebrate the fact that they had given birth to children who are being mothered by someone else. I am fortunate to have many … Continue reading
April 30, 2010 – God (and a friend on Capitol Hill) worked a miracle and got our family out of Serbia. http://bringinganahome.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/angels/ April 30, 2011 – God displayed his sense of humor by sending me back to Serbia on the … Continue reading
Psalm 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands!
The dictionary defines favor as:
Ellen Stumbo is another special needs adoptive Mama. She is an amazing writer and her blog is definitely worth following. Today she wrote a simple post called Ten things I want my kids to remember.
To my four amazing children who are growing up so quickly that it is often hard for me to breathe…. What she said.
It has been nearly four years since I got the call from my doctor telling me that I am cancer-free. In that four years, A LOT of living has happened. Living is good. God gave me life to be lived. He healed me so that I could get busy doing the things He put me on this planet to do. In all my living, I sometimes forget just what a big deal it is that I am healed. I sometimes forget all that I have to be thankful for.
And then… I open my laptop and see that Roger Ebert has lost his battle with the exact same kind of cancer that I had. And suddenly I remember. I remember the exact moment in 2010 when I learned about his cancer and then I remember the brokenness and gratitude I experienced in the wake of that realization. I remember that on March 10, 2010 I had a very real awakening to the gift that is my life. So I open my blog and search. There it is…
Thank you, God, for occasionally bringing me to my knees in remembrance of what you’ve done for me.
I’ve had many big gaps in my blog posts over the last year. I haven’t stopped writing. Life has just been a little ugly and the writing I’ve done didn’t need to be shared with the whole wide world. Some of that ugliness has revolved around Sofija. She has had big regression in her behavior and many new behaviors have shown up. Because of our history with having things used against her (and our whole family), I choose not to share the really hard stuff.
My dear hubby sometimes calls me “Tenacious K”. I don’t give up on things, people, ideas, goals. I just don’t. It’s a blessing and it’s a curse, but it’s who I am. In my tenacity to help Sofija reach her full potential and be the amazing world-changer God created her to be, I have read more books on attachment parenting and parenting traumatized children than most professionals who treat the children diagnosed with RAD and PTSD. Some of the books I’ve read were obviously written by people who have never actually spent time at home with a child who was neglected and traumatized early in life. Those books are filled with all these ideals of enforcing consequences and using reasoning and rational thought to parent your adopted child. Ummm….. have you ever tried to reason with an autistic child who is self-destructing? I have. They don’t really care what rational thoughts you’re trying to share and it’s almost impossible to come across as rational when you’re chasing them across the street and through the front door of a neighbor who has no clue who you are. “Come on, Sweetie. Let’s go home. It’s not a good idea to run away from Mama when we’re getting in the car and it’s never a good idea to run through the front door of a house where you don’t know the occupants or what weapons they protect their house with.” Sounds PERFECTLY rational… Right?!
The best books I’ve read are based on the premise that “Love never fails.” I have always told my children that they “are the only variable in any situation”. The variable in an algebra equation is the thing that can be manipulated and changed. None of us has any power to change another person. We only have the power to change ourselves. The books that have made a difference in my parenting skills are the ones who remind me that I have to change me and my reactions. They all say the same thing…. Everything I do is based out of love or based out of fear. the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear. If I want to react to my children on the basis of love I have to stop worrying about them making bad choices. I can’t be afraid of what other people think of them or of me as a mother. I can’t be afraid that they will make the same mistakes in life that I made. I can’t be afraid that every risky behavior is going to end or drastically alter their lives. Love and fear just cannot coexist. Period. 1 John 4:18 ESV There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
So…. I’m attempting to react to everyone in my house on the basis of love. This is not such an easy feat. I am the oldest of five children. I’ve always believed that I would not be heard unless I spoke loudly. My husband is Italian and our last name ends in a vowel. Yelling is what we do. But yelling is not loving. I can’t remember ever feeling loved when someone yelled at me. I want my children to always feel loved. I have to let go of my fear of not being heard. I have to let go of my fear that my children will fail epically if I do not speak loud enough to make them stop what they’re doing. Now that I think about it. I can’t remember my yelling ever being very effective at stopping them from making bad choices. It may have made them angry or given them a reason to be sneaky, but it certainly didn’t make them want to be good.
This morning I discovered Orange Rhino Mom. This woman has four boys and she set out on a mission 421 days ago to not yell for an entire year. 421 days later… she’s still not yelling. Her journey is amazing and filled with great life lessons. If you are thinking about starting this love-based, non-yelling journey with me, I encourage you to read her Q&A on getting started and 10 Things She learned When She Stopped Yelling at Her Kids.
And then… if you’re really serious about joining me on my journey, I encourage you to go to THIS LIST. Print out several copies. Laminate them or put them in page protectors and post them in all the places you are likely to have your buttons pushed. People, if we can’t find a loving alternative to yelling out of the 100 options on that list, then we have absolute confirmation that our children are not the source of our anger or lack of self-control.
Let’s get busy loving our families.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS…
Eight years ago today, a woman who had four older children that were all being raised by other mothers, showed up at a hospital in Belgrade, Serbia, in labor. I do not know her pregnancy story or her delivery story or what led to her being transferred to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks following delivery, or why she never came back to see the baby she delivered. What I do know, is that in a nation where the abortion rate is nearly triple the birthrate, she chose life for a baby girl who would eventually find her way into my heart. She gave my daughter life.
My own eighth birthday was one of my favorite. My Mom bought me the 2-piece bathing suit I’d been eying at the local department store (Godchaux) and my grandmother bought me the biggest frilliest blue dress I’d ever seen and put my hair up in Princess Leia buns. Lots of cousins and friends and aunts and uncles were there to celebrate me. I clearly remember feeling special and loved.
Today, my goal is to give Sofija that same assurance. I want the little girl who does not have a clear story of the beginning of her life to have a clear knowledge that she is a gift from God. I want her to know that she is incredibly, unconditionally, loved. I’m making her the chocolate cupcakes and macaroni and cheese she requested and I’ll gladly buy her a big bag of funny-ons (Funyons).
I wish I could thank the lady who gave her life. I wish I could tell her that no matter how hard it was to carry Sofija in her womb and deliver her into this world, she did the right thing. She did a good thing.
In honor of Sofija’s eight years of life, I ask that you take a few moments and read THIS POST by fellow special needs adoptive blog Mommy Adeye. James 1:27 NLT Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means CARING FOR ORPHANS and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (emphasis mine)
Sofija still wears the scars of being left in her own waste. Her voice closely resembles someone who smokes a carton of cigarettes a day presumably because of the countless hours she cried as a baby with nobody to respond to her cries. She carries the emotional wounds and subsequent behaviors of a child who lacked nurturing in the crucial early years of her life. And yet…. she is a gift. She has blessed our family and everyone who has the privilege of knowing her. I believe that she has an amazing life ahead of her.
Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Thank you, Sofija’s birth Mom, for giving our daughter the gift of life. Happy 8th Birthday, Baby Girl! It’s an honor to have you call me, “Mama”. I pray that today you feel special. That you feel celebrated. That you know without a doubt, that you are incredibly LOVED.
"A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest!"
Seven and a half days. That is how long Ana-Sofija has been an American. Eleven days is how long she has legally been our child. As I listened to her screaming for me to come get her some yogurt this morning, these numbers seemed just silly.
Someone traveling to Ghana next week to get their daughter needs some input on getting their visas. If you’ve adopted from Ghana or know someone who has, please comment with an email address. Thanks!
I just read this really great post over at www.snagglebox.com. It’s titled 17 Things The Princess Bride Taught Me About Autism Parenting.
Read it. Learn. Enjoy.
Growing up in south Louisiana is a privilege. I’ve been around the world and I’ve experienced no culture, food, or people, quite like those of my home. In south Louisiana Mardi Gras is a season. Much like Black Friday and tree sales initiating the Christmas season, I grew up with king cakes, parades, and Mardi Gras balls initiating the Lenten season.
As a little girl I wanted so badly to be Catholic. I was just about the only kid in elementary school who didn’t ‘get to’ go to catechism. We were (still are) non-denominational Christians and listening to the other kids plan out and talk about their catechism carpools and the mean nuns left me feeling like a red-headed step-child (no offense to my ginger friends). I wanted my own rosary and I wanted to see my friends get hit on the back of their hands with a ruler by a nun when they talked during prayer.
I eventually got over the desire to be Catholic and decided to just embrace the parts of Catholicism that I found enjoyable and comforting. Even so, not living in Louisiana for more than twenty years means that I’ve missed out on being immersed in the season. For many years I whined about missing the parades and having to make my own kingcakes. And then, a few years ago, I realized that I was not only missing all the fun aspects of the Mardi Gras season, but I was missing the reverent aspects of the Lenten season as well. Although I had been one of the few non-Catholic kids in school, just living in Baton Rouge meant that I didn’t have meat in the cafeteria on Fridays and that I didn’t have school at all the week of Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. And, even though my Mom would explain to me every year from the time I was six that I “didn’t have to”, I still gave up something every year for Lent. I had to have something to add to the playground conversations and to be honest, I liked the discipline of the giving up. I still do. I fast from various things at various times throughout the year and I am always blown away at the really BIG WAYS that God shows up when I’m giving something up and replacing that something with Him.
Last year, in the Lenten season, something amazing happened. While I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana caring for my grandmother, my dear hubby was home in Virginia studying all things Easterish. I returned home to find a mezuzah attached to the frame of our front door and a book laying on the kitchen counter telling how to prepare the Passover Seder. My former Catholic, very Italian husband, got in touch with his Jewish roots. He found a desire to honor the beauty of Christ’ life, death, and resurrection in physical, tangible ways.
As dear hubby and I gave homage to all things Christ-centered last spring, we talked to our children about the Lenten season and the crucifixion and the resurrection. We reminded them over and over that all of it was for grace. That Christ did not just come to earth and live as a man and die FOR us, but AS us. We told them that he felt pain and misery and abuse so that we could let go of those things when they happen to us. We told them that he was tortured and beaten for every wrong thing that any of us would ever do. We told them that he conquered death so that all of those wrongs would not have the power to dictate how we live our lives. We told them that he died for our freedom. He died for our redemption. He died because he loves us. He died for grace.
Romans 8:38-39 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We’ve told our children these things over and over throughout their lives. This year, as I pulled out the Mardi Gras beads and bought the supplies to make a kingcake, I found myself burdened for my children. Yes, they know Christ. Yes, they know what this season is about. Even so, I found myself burdened because I desire for them to fully grasp just how big God’s grace is. I know that I had no clue at their ages. And unfortunately, my lack of understanding led me to believe that choices I made could never be forgiven. I actually sat in my room and cried one day this week over pain that I saw in one of my children’s eyes. God, let them know! Let them know how BIG your love is. Let them know how BIG your grace is. Give them total understanding that NOTHING can separate them from your love. Amen.
I love that Ash Wednesday just happened to be the day before Valentines Day this year. The day we began to honor the 40 day fast of Christ came the day before we celebrate love.
John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I’ve been in search of tangible ways to teach my kids about grace. When I was giving up something for Lent as a child I do appreciate that my Mom made it clear that I had free will and that I did not have to. But I really wish she had taken the time to teach me what Lent was about. I wish I had known that the “giving up” was in honor of what Christ gave up for us. I really wish that I had had some tangible symbolic activity that I could connect to scripture as a reminder that freedom and love and grace are mine for the taking. But I didn’t. And now… I have a chance to redeem my story. I have four (not-s0) little people in my care that I CAN provide with a tangible symbolic activity that can be tied to scripture. In my endeavor to find that activity, I came across this blogpost by Ann Voskamp. Read it. Be inspired. Build a box.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, we had a little party at our house. Instead of having people sit around and discuss or write down their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and resolutions for 2013, I gave everyone a couple of index cards and a pen at 11:30pm. I asked everyone to go find a quiet spot and write down ALL of the things that they would like to leave behind in 2012. And then… just before midnight, we put our cards, one-by one, in the fireplace and watched them burn. Today, I am building a repentance box. For the next six weeks our family will write out every single bad choice that we make. And just before midnight, on the Saturday before Resurrection Sunday, we will turn our sins to ash.
Happy Season of Grace!
I received the following announcement from the anti-trafficking organization in Serbia. Every victory counts and this one is a BIG WIN! I can’t wait to be travel there in May and speak at a conference on human-trafficking…. God is moving mountains!
First instance judgment issued to an organized criminal group for trafficking in human beings
Special Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade, Serbia has issued first-instance judgment finding four persons guilty as co-perpetrators of trafficking in human beings, Article 388 Para 7 in connection with Para 1 and 3 of the Criminal Code of Serbia. Members of the group are accused of recruiting girls from Serbia on several occasions during 2011, transferring them to Italy, where they were kept against their will and sexually exploited. For less than a year, six girls, including two who were underage, fall victims to human trafficking in this way. The court sentenced the accused M.M to prison term of 15 years, whereas Ž.S was sentenced to 13 years, P.T. to 10.5 and V.Đ. to 10 years in prison. If the judgment becomes final and enforceable, they will also be required to pay the amount of EUR 55,000 to the budget of the Republic of Serbia on the account of gain acquired through committing the offense. This is one of the strictest penalties rendered to human traffickers in Serbia so far.
Work on this case is an example of successful cooperation of the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime, Counter-Organized Crime Service and Higher Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade. Since appropriate penalizing of perpetrator is necessary in order to combat human trafficking, we hope that this judgment will be affirmed by the higher court. This is the first human trafficking case accepted by the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime after long time. As trafficking is a serious and organized crime, we hope to see more examples of good practice in prosecution and punishment of human traffickers.