Wednesday, May 29, 2013

road trip, respite & 9-1-1 (not necessarily in that order)

so some of you may have known that i took a road trip out to iowa over memorial day weekend for my twenty year class reunion.  i've been looking forward to it for the last five years.  reunions have always been a great time of catching up, laughing, talking memories, and even a little dancin.  so to have it be my twentieth...i was not gonna miss it.  but choosing to go meant choosing to take all six of my precious ones which i knew would be a bit trying/testing for me because one-third of my kiddos do not travel well.  at. all. ever. no. matter. what.

with a lot of prayer, snacks, games, movies, books, pillows, blankets...we set out on the road.  and made it a whole ten miles before the first complaint was uttered from one of my "middles'" mouth and thus began the constant chattering/tattling/arguing which then lasted for a majority of the rest of the eight hours and twenty minutes.  i'm not even kidding.  you can ask my olders.  my middles, q and k, would not stop.  i remember at one point while driving in iowa still two hours or so out from our destination, my mom and dad's farm, i had hit my limit with the two of them.  i couldn't take it anymore.  telling q and k in a rather loud voice (probably would have been considered yelling) that,"it would be your fault if we got into an accident because i keep looking back in the rearview mirror to see what the two of you are doing to each other instead of watching the road" didn't phase them.  so i pulled out a new card, one i've never played before while road trippin...i pulled out the "nevermind waiting for a cop to show up if we get into an accident, i will pull this van over right now and call 911 and tell them i can't drive safely with the two of you in my van and ask them to take you and keep you until i can come back through and pick you up in a couple of days" card.  yep.  those are pretty much the exact words i said.  and you know what?  it worked.  for about one and a half hours they were quiet.  and i felt semi-sane while finishing the last leg of the trip.

the trip back home was not any better but i'll spare you the details.  except that i did tell them that if their behavior didn't change they will be visiting "ms. s", our respite provider, when we get back home.  apparently, that didn't matter to them or they didn't believe me because they seemed quite shocked when i drove by the school yesterday morning on my way to "ms. s's" house.  then the reality of what i said had sunk in and they both sat quiely (which hardly ever happens) the whole thirty minutes to her house.  i pulled into "ms. s's" driveway, walked around to open the door for them because i've learned i need to have the child lock on when driving with them to "ms. s's", walked them into her house, said our good-byes without hugs/kisses/tears, and i got on with my day...even a little israel training workout with some fellow israel team members.  {smile}

now some of you may be thinking, "what kind of mom are you?". or "can't you just cut them some slack?  they're kids, for cryin out loud."

but...

can i just explain respite to you?  it's not babysitting.  it's not punishment.  it's not daycamp or over night camp.  respite is a safe place for my "middles" to go to when i (and my family) need a break from their behavior.  respite is a safe place where my "middles" are reminded over and over that their family loves them and that the best place for them is with their family.  respite is a safe place where my "middles" are put to work to make restitution for all the exhaustion and craziness they cause the rest of us to feel.  don't worry it is not child labor.  but putting my middles to work causes them to think about their actions and behavior.  there hasn't been any "light bulb" moment with either of them, obviously, but it does cause them to think about their choices and consequences.  respite is a tool that helps the healing process for my middles.  it is not a magical wave of the wand and they're both healed.  it's helpful because it gives me as their momma some time to breathe and collect my thoughts and get my heart back where it needs to be.

so this morning when i got a text from "ms. s" telling me that k had wet her pants again (on purpose) and that the both of them were laughing and joking around because they knew i was coming to pick them up today because it's k's birthday tomorrow and "mom would never make us stay here when it's k's birthday"...i wanted to cry.  i did cry.  because my heart hurt for my middles and the reality that they still don't get it.  this is not some game to see how long they get to stay at "ms. s's" or trying to figure out when i'm coming to pick them up.   my heart hurts for them because all i want them to do is let me be their mom (and my hubby their dad).  that's all.  but for them, right now, that's too much to ask.

i will keep loving them. 
because Jesus keeps loving me.
in all my mess.
He keeps loving me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

4 weeks and 5 days and...on my soap box (just for a minute)

sorry if your're tired of reading a blog with two separate thoughts as the title.  well, sorta sorry.  that's just how this brain of mine works some times. {smile}

4 weeks and 5 days...
is exactly how much time my hubby and i have left to prepare for our trip to israel.  i CANNOT even believe it's coming up that fast.  where did all those weeks go?  what happened to all the time i was going to spend reading, reading, reading, memorizing, working out, reading, etc.?  ahhhh!!!!

last night was one of our israel team prep times.  our team met downtown grand rapids and then walked over to bel knapp park.  but before getting to the park we had to climb 6-ish flights of stairs and then back down...TWICE.  hokey pete!  after all the working out i've been doing (or what i thought was "all" but apparently not enough), i felt like such a loser.  huffing and puffing up the stairs, pushing through the burn in my legs, telling myself, "i can do all things through Christ".  i wanted to die.  oh but wait...we weren't done yet.  nope.  just gettin started.  after the flight of stairs we meandered over to bel knapp or a.k.a the "x".  have you ever been there before?  if you haven't let me explain the scene...it's a grassy, very steep hilled area with a huge asphalt "x" in the center of it that also is on an incline.  can you picture it?  once we arrived, our leader took us down one part of the "x" and then turned around and marched us right back up the steep incline.  got to the top.  took a drink (or two or three) of water from our camelbacks and then did it again.  and again.  and again.  i thought my head was going to explode...it didn't, thankfully.  can i just be honest with y'all?  that workout/training messed with me...physically (obviously), but also mentally and spiritually.  it made me wonder if this trip is really a good idea.  if my hubby and i are really supposed to go?  i watched as other team members effortlessly hiked up and down and ready to do it multiple times.  i heard from other team members how much reading they've done (remember the list?)  and how much packing they've started and things they've bought for the trip and i. about. wanted. to. cry.  because i don't have as much reading done as i'd like.  i have bought NO-THING for the trip aside from hiking shoes and socks.  and the training/working out, well...i was sick.  fred was sick.  it rained.  and rained.  and rained.  so all that excitement at the beginning of has slowly turned into "what in the world was i thinking?".  there's the problem, "i".  me.  i'm not the one who so graciously provided for this trip, God is, through the generosity of a couple who also are followers of Jesus.  and He's also the One who arranged for my hubby to take the time off work.  and arranged for our six kiddos to be farmed out to different friends (who i hope will still be our friends when we return).  {smile}  still have a few details about the kiddos to work out but all in all...we're set.  so why?  why do i question whether or not we're supposed to go?  'cuz i'm human.  and i have control issues and trust issues.  and i see what's going on around me and forget that God is Sovereign. and that His plan is perfect. and that His grace is enough.  i know deep down beyond a shadow of a doubt that my hubby and i are supposed to set our feet on israel ground.  and i know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will meet us where we are while we're training and when we're hiking our butts off in 100+ degree weather.  He's the Shepherd.  we're His sheep whom he dearly loves.  trusting...and uppin' my workout/reading/memorizing.

ok...here's where things might get kinda ugly.  i may even offend some of you...that is not my intention.  what i hope you will hear is my momma's heart as i'm learning to parent kiddos i did not give birth to and raise them to find their identity in Christ and understand how much He loves them no matter what.

soap box...
as most of you know two of my kiddos whom i did not give birth to have behavioral issues.  my daughter, k, was diagnosed with RAD last year.  and recently, my son, q, was diagnosed with "relational disorder" - basically, his role was as a parent (even at 2 1/2 years of age) before he came into our care so since they've been part of our family my hubby and i have been seen as a threat by him.  so we butt heads a lot with him.  and we hear from his teachers at school and sunday school what a great kid he is, so smart, such a leader, a great helper, a great worker...praises.  which i don't disagree, at all.  i've seen him in a certain setting where he is those things but at home he is a different kid.  almost like dr. jekyll and mr. hyde.
here's what i want you to know and hopefully understand, if or when i share with you the struggles i'm having with k and/or q and the difficulty i'm having in mothering them and connecting with them, it doesn't help my momma's heart when your reply is, "oh yeah, my son/daughter does the same thing or something similar."  nope.  not helpful.  here's why: you gave birth to them.  there is a biological connection to your children.  there's a bond that was formed even when that embryo was growing inside you for nine months.  you've been given a head start.  not even a head start.  'cuz i can't catch up to you.  i will NEVER be able to form that kind of bond with my adopted kiddos.  as much as my heart wants to, it won't happen.  they were hurt, broken, neglected at such a young age that all they see me as is the other person who might leave them just like their birth mom.

so instead of trying to relate, can i ask you to pray for q and k, and me?  and for all the other mommas out there who are mothering kiddos they did not give birth to.

so instead of trying to relate, can you just nod in agreement or say "i'm sorry to hear that", sincerely?

and also, i give you permission to say to my face, "girl, you are just plain off your rocker!  get a grip!"

in His grace.

Friday, May 10, 2013

sympathy cards pt. 2

remember the sympathy cards i mentioned here.  since then they've been sitting on my kitchen counter in the same bag i brought them home in.  i would pass by them every day, all day long, wondering "what in the world am i going to do with them?" even though i knew full well why i bought them in the first place.  but i can't make my heart feel sympathetic even when my brain is telling me to. does that make sense?  so there they've sat.  all this time.  until this morning.

this morning came after a hard afternoon and evening with my "middles".  this momma who was so full of gratitude all day yesterday quickly slid into the mindset of "how can you do that to me?  don't you see i'm trying to help you?  don't you understand that i love you and want what's best for you?"  it got kinda ugly.  both "middles" went to bed either upset or in tears.  and this momma took off and drove around to think.  pray.  breathe.  and then came home and went to bed early too exhausted to do one more thing.

so back to this morning.  for the first time this week, i had my quiet time with Jesus on the couch in the back room with my cup of french press coffee, a pillow, a fuzzy blanket, my journal, and my Bible.  as i started writing in my journal, confessing the ugliness of my heart, Jesus tenderly led me to think of q and k's birth mom.  maybe it's because mother's day is coming up.  or maybe it's because He is trying to do a work in my heart towards her.  but as i sat and thought of her and how hard it must have been to have four children/babies removed, my heart broke even more at the loss that q and k have experienced in not having their birth mom around to care for them.

and that's when i walked into the kitchen and picked up the bag with the sympathy cards inside and i went back to my quiet place, took out my pen, and started writing in each of the cards.

now what i wrote was nothing profound or life-altering for either of them...they are 8 and 6 years old, for goodness sakes.  my prayer is that what they read out loud from their cards would be truth that they can go to when they are feeling sad, or mad, or scared.  and this is the truth i wrote to them, paraphrased, "i love you.  and will always love you.  but i know that you are sad that you aren't able to be with your birth mom, t.  and i'm sorry about that.  and i'm sorry about the times when i'm a less than perfect mom for you.  sometimes i get confused and don't understand how to be a mom to you.  but i pray that with Jesus' help i can be the mom that you need me to be. love, mom"

it wasn't a hallmark moment.  nope.  just me, q, kiki on the couch reading sympathy cards as m was standing next me upset he didn't get a card and j was in the kitchen screaming for his breakfast.  is there really such a thing as a hallmark moment, anyway?  i'm gonna say, "no".  i'm learning, "no".  and i'm learning that God, the Creator of the universe, Abba does not waste anything.  He uses the good, the bad, and the ugly.  why?  for His glory.  and because He loves q, k, m, j...and me in all our ugliness, brokeness, fit-throwingness.  His mercies are NEW every morning.  bless Him.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

full and yet so empty

i don't know why, really.
but it's been one of those "pass me a kleenex" days.
not because of allergies.
no.
but maybe because...
today
as i look at my j who turns two
and listen to hillsong's "He is Lord"
and read a blog post, "dear moms of adopted children" about being an adoptive momma
and still processing all that i learned from summit9 orphan conference in nashville, tn
and praying for some friends of ours who are closer to bringing their little girl home from across the ocean
and praying through my church's weekly prayer requests and praises
my heart is full.
full of gratitude
to be where i am
to be who i am in Christ
to be a momma to six kiddos (two bio., four adopted)
to be a wife to the most patient man EVER
to be learning that it's not about me but all about Jesus
to be broken
to be empty and desperate.

thank you.  Jesus.