The Joy of Arrival

For me, becoming a mom has been a lot like getting to California. There was a decade of heart ache, disappointment, betrayal, loss, and grief before I arrived. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe your own journey hasn’t been all that smooth.

Still I arrived. And when I did instead of becoming easier life got a whole lot harder. I was finally living the call of God on my life. My mind knew that. But my spirit and soul were struggling. Some days were good. But most weren’t. I carried on. What else could I do?

I knew the pain from the journey to motherhood was holding me back from the joy of arrival. In the whirlwind of everyday life, there was never a good time to work through all that old stuff.

Being here in California, childfree, the Lord has my attention in a way that’s not possible at home. He’s taken full advantage of that opportunity. In the midst of jetlag, worry, and the residue of a complicated journey to our destination, the Lord has been unburdening me. We’ve revisited some key moments of heartache. His truth reframes them so when they hang on the wall of my life there isn’t the same pain.

Doing this sooner would have been better. I get that. I’m resisting the burden of guilt for not encountering Him ages ago. I could have. He’s always there – waiting. I should have. It would have made the past while much more life giving for my girls and me. I know. At least it’s done now.

There’s something about being here in California, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. There’s a freedom in not having the role of caregiver lingering around me. Even when my kids are asleep, with a babysitter, or in their class at church there’s a realization that at any moment I could be called upon to meet their needs – be their mom. That reality kept me from diving fully into healing my heart. It’s not a good reason. But it’s reality.

I won’t bore you with the details of how my heart got hurt along the way. It wasn’t one particular incident but a lot of big ones all put together. During worship at church on Sunday, Father God brought each to mind. He pointed out the pain I was still carrying and the lies I’d come to believe. Graciously, He spoke truth. Sometimes simple things like, “People make choices. Not always the right ones. But they make them.” He let me off the hook for some really bad choices people in my life had made. I let go of the shame I’d been carrying because their choices made me feel like I wasn’t all that loveable. If I was they would have chosen to build me up instead of tear me down. The cross came between me and those choices breaking the power of them in my life. That doesn’t change the fact that those were really bad choices people made that affected my life negatively. But it does release me from the pain of those choices. I still live in the reality of them. But I don’t have the carry the burden in my spirit and soul. I can move forward unhindered.

It’s amazing what the Lord can do when we take time to encounter Him. Getting here has been hard. But I’m glad I’m here – in California and in my life. I’m glad I pursued the call of God on my life. Being a mom was the dream He birthed in me 27yrs ago. It’s right that I’m here. It’s time to start living in the joy of arrival.

this is how we roll - fancy dresses while biking

this is how we roll – fancy dresses while biking

The Truth About Mother’s Day

Now that the fanfare’s over, let’s be honest. Mother’s Day can lightstock_82211_max_user_637824be hard for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons.

At breakfast Raine asked if I thought her birth mother was sad when she lost her. “I’m sure she was sad,” I answered. “Losing a child is very sad.”

“Do you think she cried?” was the next question. No doubt she did. She may even have been crying yesterday.

There are so many others who mourn on Mother’s Day – women who haven’t been able to have biological children. A friend in my teen years was adopted. Occasionally his mom and I would sit down for a cup of tea. I’ll never forget the day she broke down crying. She was completely devoted to her four adopted children. But there was still a sting that she hadn’t been able to give birth to them herself. Then there are women who have never obtained the title of mother in any form.

I read a post about one woman’s church asking moms to stand on Sunday. Flowers were given out in celebration of Mother’s Day. The past few years my church has given a donation to a charity caring for women in lieu of gifts on Mother’s Day. But when there were gifts, they went to all women over 18yrs. I remember the years of longing before I became a mom. I can imagine the sadness of being singled out on an already difficult day.

Then there’s the reality that, for some, there isn’t much to celebrate about their mothers. The truth is parents fail. Some in small ways, but others do so completely. Being a foster parent, I know this all too well. Not only do some parents fail to provide the love and security needed while their children grow up, they also fail to provide an example worth replicating. So, when grown, who do you turn to for advice? Who do you imitate as you raise your own kids? Besides being nothing like your parents, how do you know you’re doing a good job?

If your mom’s failed in big ways, a day celebrating her might just be too much. That’s the truth.

So if you know of someone in any of these situations, maybe next year ask them or the Lord how you can ease the pain of Mother’s Day. As glorious as it is for many, the day falls short of happy for more people than you realize. This year, for the first time, we were able to move past the pain and enjoy being a family. Praying for you if that wasn’t the case. Praying the God of all comfort will wrap you in His arms. Let Him reveal to you, the truth that you are loved.

Beauty for Ashes

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Adoption is an opportunity for the Lord to bring beauty for ashes. It can be difficult and messy, but there’s a distinct beauty as lives are woven together.

I have a friend who passionately advocates for international adoption. Her heart goes out to special needs children discarded because of their conditions. A great deal of factors go into that decision. It’s not as clear cut as you might think. Some families are unable to meet the financial requirements of medical care. With heavy hearts, they relinquish their child to an orphanage able to cover the costs. Whatever the reason, I don’t expect the decision is an easy one.

This week I became aware of an infant in my own country needing to be adopted. Because of his special needs, his family are unable to care for him. Canada has an exceptional government funded medical system. So it’s not the cost of medical care that’s brought these parents to this point.

Raising a child with special needs costs more than most people realize. For each family and situation the requirements vary to some degree. But without a doubt, it’s not an easy task. Perhaps this family is more realistic than most – recognizing their own limitations and reaching for something better on behalf of their child.

After a bit of investigation into the matter, I realize I’m not the parent for Male hands with babythis baby. I’m praying for the family the Lord has prepared for him. I pray their paths cross quickly and effortlessly. I pray the Lord will bind up the broken hearts of his birth family. I pray he and his adoptive family are knit together – making true, lasting connections. I pray that he is loved and able to accomplish everything the Lord has planned for him. I pray he encounters the joy of the Father who created him. Praying he is clothed in beauty as he journeys through life.

 

Perseverance

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You may have noticed I’ve been posting on Sunday & Wednesday lately. This week I’m a day late. I’ve been busy getting ready for a mom 2 mom sale this weekend. I have a little coffee & tea business (www.believebistro.com) but that’s a whole other story.

Today I’m back to talking about Raine – who used to go by Sloane in this space. Since the pretense with Athena’s name has ended (Saying Her Name), I thought I might reveal my other daughter’s true name as well.

About a month after the adoption, we started seeing the girls’ birth grandparents. I knew them from visits when Raine & Athena were still foster children. If you want all the details on our situation you can review Open Adoption Part 1 & Part 2.

In the greater scheme of things, I know our connection is immensely valuable. In practicality it’s been challenging. Raine is generally very wild during the visit. And afterwards we endure several days of tantrums lasting hours on end. She screams about how much she hates me and wishes she could be with her birth mother again. The encounters bring to the surface intense emotions generally bubbling under the surface.

At times I’ve considered putting the visits on pause – offering Raine more time to come to terms with her situation. But she is immensely eager to see them. So instead my mom and I have collaborated on things to pray. And I’ve added my own parents to our get togethers. The two couples get along famously. My goal was to show Raine that she has one family who love her. So the past few times we’ve been one big happy family – all of us except Raine that is. She remained agitated during and distraught afterwards.

In an unrelated moment of frustration, I asked Raine, “What can I do to help you?”

“You need to pray a lot more,” she quickly answered.

For the most part she’s resistant to me praying with her. But after that statement we began praying before she went to bed. And I started having her list three things she’s happy about at the end of each day.

This past Saturday we celebrated Raine’s birthday with her birth grandparents (a little late, but their schedules are quite busy). My parents weren’t able to make it but I trust my mom was praying for us.

During the visit Raine was relatively calm. Even her grandmother noticed a big difference. Afterwards I was ready for the onslaught of anger. Instead we sat together looking at the gifts she’d gotten. When bedtime came around we made the list of what she was grateful for. “That you love me every day,” Raine exclaimed. The distance that normally crept between us after visits with birth family wasn’t there.

There haven’t been any outbursts or meltdowns. Raine’s continued to be content and emotionally stable.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Hebrews 10:35-36

Raising my girls can be challenging. There are times my confidence fails me. But in this area I’m glad to have persevered so that Raine, Athena, and I can receive the benefits of their grandparents love for us.

 

Just My Type

Today my daughter, Sloane*, turns 6. She’s brave and fearless. Social workers cower in her presence. More than one has said, “I’m afraid of what she’ll be like as a teenager.” Let me declare with absolute certainty – I am not afraid! I’m incredibly excited for the teenager Sloane will become.

It’s hard being a kid – especially for someone as powerful as Sloane. Long before she came, long before she was born, the Lord gave me a glimpse of the call on her life. She’ll need to be fearless, I realized. My prayers that she’d be completely free of the fear of man have been answered ten fold. Sometimes that’s good. When I told Sloane how nervous I was preparing to speak at church (see The Single Life) she couldn’t understand why. Other times it’s not so good. My friend was watching Sloane recently. Sloane hit her little boy with a bat. My friend’s husband – who is a fairly intimidating man – told Sloane to give him the bat. She stared him down to see if he was really serious. Thankfully he didn’t back down. Eventually Sloane relented, but without a trace of fear or intimidation. She just knew she’d met someone who needed to be obeyed. That’s the role I play in her life. I’m someone who needs to be obeyed. Most of the time she does just that.

I love who Sloane is – she’s just my type.

A birthday tradition at our home is a new outfit (usually a dress) with the WP_001002 child’s age painted on. I found this shirt saying just my type quite some time ago and knew it was the perfect birthday shirt for Sloane. I turned it into a lengthy dress which she’s very excited about. This mommy favours long dresses and Sloane wants to be like me.

Just after her 3rd birthday Sloane came to me. Soon I will have known her for 1/2 her life. Though there are challenges, I strive to look past the present and see where the Lord wants to take Sloane (and me…..we’re on this journey together, after all!)

I’ve loved her as a 3yr old, a 4yr old, a 5yr old, and will love her forever more. I look forward to the day she can step into her dreams. God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. I understand Sloane’s frustration in waiting.

Recently I was watching a documentary on food scarcity in America called, Room at the Table. Knowing she’s American, Sloane was especially interested in the heartbreaking stories. It wasn’t long before she had a solution to the problem. “People need to grow their own food. The kids at school could do it then take the food home for their moms to cook.” Effortlessly she executed a plan for getting organic seeds to schools and teaching kids to grow. It was a brilliant plan! Detail oriented, Sloane had it all figured out. That was last month – when she was 5.

Sloane is always exploding with business and humanitarian ideas. I understand. That’s how I’ve always been. Though I love my daughter immensely and enjoy the stage she’s at now, I look forward to when she’s a teenager. I’m eager to help bring some of her dreams into reality.

In the meantime we’ll keep on dreaming.

Sloane, you really are just my type. Happy Birthday!

*name changed

the birthday girl in the dress I sort of made

the birthday girl in the dress I sort of made