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“My car broke down. It won’t start,” son Hunter said. We were on the way home from a beach vacation. He was at least an hour behind us and we had no room in the car. None. No squeezing in.
Everyone has to get back to real life after vacation. No surprise there. Family vacations are full of fun and exhausting at the same time. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Biking, long walks on the beach, playing in the surf with grandkids Great fun! My issue? My expectations. After an jam packed full vacation, I expect to jump right back on the treadmill of real life. In my mind, I have on the cutest athletic wear, neon yellow running shorts, bright Nikes and a coordinating tank top. I see myself jogging along with a smile, everything is under control. My energy level is steady. I have a perfect school plan, meals planned and I fill my schedule with appointments. I bump up the treadmill to high speed.
Real life doesn’t wait until I get home and suited up and fill up my water bottle. He hits hard on the way home when our son’s car breaks down in N.C.. Calls and texts fly back and forth about insurance, towing and finally a hotel to spend the night in. I get a call from our drama director about the Scrooge production I assist with, nothing major or even negative, just another string pulling me back to real life too soon. The nine hour trip on the way home I consider sacred. I have a notebook out to jot down a to-do list. Reality should stay put until I get home. It doesn’t. Texts from daughter at home informing me that the front door is damaged. Puppy scratched it after getting locked out. Not pretty. Not what I want to come home to either.
My expectation for coming home and sailing through the week the way I planned it went down the drain. There were other complications that I won’t heap on you. The point is expectations. What are they?
Expectation-a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future:
I expected to come home to perfection. I expected to be full of energy. I expected to walk out the schedule that I had ordained. It didn’t happen. Instead, I came home discouraged, tired and overwhelmed. So, gals, where do we go from there. I felt my morning devotions slipping into an abyss of darkness. I couldn’t pray straight. It sounded more like complaining, followed by begging than gratitude and praise.
Guess what. God understands. He didn’t pull out His rod and whack me with it. Instead, he used it to gently nudge me. Every Bible verse fit my circumstance exactly. God knew exactly what I needed. When I was at my lowest and I had cried big crocodile tears to my husband, a friend text me out of the blue, “Hey lady….hope all is good. Thinkin about ya.♥” I texted her a list of prayer requests and she prayed.
The truth is God already knew my heart. He knew ahead of time what the circumstances were and how I would internalize them.
Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous,
But the Lord rescues him from them all.– Ps. 34:19
I often believe that I have to be doing exactly the right thing in order for God to rescue me. I can’t be impatient or stressed or ________. It’s just not true. We aren’t rescued because of our righteousness, but because of His. He makes a way because that is consistent with His character, not ours. He relieves us of our heavy burdens because He is not harsh, hard or pressing, not because we aren’t. Grace and forgiveness are free for the asking. His mercies are new every morning.
I had to cut myself some slack and rearrange my schedule this week. I cancelled a hair appointment, missed a PiYo class, all because I knew I needed rest. My boundaries and my values must line up, so must yours. Some of you reading this may think cancelling things or rearranging schedules because you are stressed and overwhelmed is irresponsible. Your inner dictator may yell that you must always be all things for all people. It isn’t telling you the truth. You must take care of you. You must know your limitations. I’m not talking about sitting on the couch and eating donuts for a week because you have a hang nail. I still homeschooled this week, throwing in an extra day for one missed. I still kept my commitments for Scrooge rehearsals, met the tow truck to get my son’s car towed, managed my home. The problem is ladies, we expect to be super heroes. We are not. We are just humans, living in bodies that need rest. They need a regular infusion of prayer and the Word. These bodies need other sisters praying for us, texting us, supporting us. We are weak and that’s not a bad thing.
but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My loving kindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me– 2 Cor. 12:9
When we are weak, we are insufficient, but His grace is sufficient. It is always available regardless of the situation. I will boast in my weakness. I don’t have it all together. Circumstances throw me a curveball and I don’t duck. They smack me square in the face and my pseudo in control life falls off of its pedestal. It’s okay. His power is being perfected in those moments. Jesus can handle my expectations and my reality.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday. Join us!
I was working in my flower garden, weeding while I waited for youngest son finish his breakfast and join me on his bike while I walkedran. My flower garden has been neglected this summer and the few minutes or half hours I get here and there to clean it up don’t do it justice. Anyone who knows me knows I love fresh flowers on the table and I LOVE my flower garden. I haven’t shown it the love it deserves this year. The Mile a Minute vines have been relentlessly choking out the flowers. I have yelled at them, jerked them off of flowers, bushes and pumpkin vines and they just keep coming back. So, I weeded and waited. I pulled starts of the Mile a Minute vine and wiped my sweat with the sleeve of my shirt. “I just give up, Lord! I can’t do it. It’s too much!” Then a patch of Black-eyed Susans caught my eye, blooming brightly in golden hues in the middle of the garden. Look at that, my soul whispered. Look at the beauty. Look at the victory. Look at the triumph, not the failures.
Help me see the beauty, Lord,
Help me sort out the victories and not pass over them.
Help me celebrate those victories.
Raising children is a lot like taking care of a flower garden. It sometimes get overrun by weeds. Those weeds are behaviors. If we focus on the behaviors, we miss focusing on relationship, on connection. We’re always pulling at the weeds, jerking them around with our words, “Stop that! If you do that one more time, I will ______!”
“Can’t you ever act your age?”
“When are you going to learn how to read? Everyone your age knows how to read!”
Every time we focus on the behavior, we miss the Black-eyed Susan in the middle of the garden. If we focus on the vine, we it chokes out the joy. Especially with raising children from hard places or a capital letter syndrome, there will always be regressions, there will always be survival mode, peeking at us from behind the last victory, the last ‘redo’, the last ‘asking instead of telling’ the last five minutes or five days of regulating. If we are looking for those vines, we will find them. If we focus only on them, we will want to give up.
I’m reminded of the Parable of the Sower when I weed, I have always thought of myself as a seed fallen on good soil kind of gal, until I reread it.
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.-Matthew 13:22
What is all of this focusing on behavior or checking the lists of what your child should know? It is worry. It is fear that God is not in control, something else is. When we worry that after a great day, regression is around the corner, then we are choked, our lives unfruitful. When we are led by the deceitfulness of “I got this. I can parent on my own,” as if we have the wealth, the pride that expelled satan from heaven. We cannot parent fully until we take it to the cross and give it to the one whose burden is light. He can make a way where there seems to be no way, no matter what the circumstance. He can grow the a bouquet of Black-eyed Susans in the middle of a garden of Mile a Minute vines.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor at Three Word Wednesday. Join us!
My eldest son had come over for a few hours and helped me hang some outdoor lights for a party.
“I want to move back home and go to college.”
This wasn’t the first time he had brought this up. He had been renting a house with roommate and working in a respectable job and being diligent. He just felt stuck. I had been praying for this moment for years. Not that I think everyone needs a college degree to be successful in life, just the fact that he wanted to better himself. To move forward in his adult life, so he was prepared for marriage and a family.
Adopted children often get a lot of flack for not entering the world of adulthood at what society thinks is the proper time or missing it altogether. I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to what adopted children can or cannot do. They can become independent barring, any severe neurological or physical challenges. The misunderstanding or flawed expectations come when raising a child from a difficult beginning, understanding that the child is half his chronological age emotionally and then blatantly expecting that child to magically adult at eighteen, nineteen or even twenty.
Children from hard places find it difficult to push through physical or emotional pain to success. This is often because pain before (emotional, physical or mental) has only yielded more pain or more negative circumstances. Like a young girl I knew who cleaned her family’s whole house regularly and meticiously , but was not allowed to sit at the dinner table with the rest of the family because her step-father said she was not his ‘real kid’. Do you think she had a positive picture of sowing and reaping at home?
Or the child who was beat up in the middle of the night in the orphanage. He may overreact to someone grabbling his elbow or a sweat bee sting. I’m not talking about sensory issues, I am referring to the ability to push through minor pains for major victories. It may be the pain of sore muscles for awhile when a kid joins a sport team. Children from hard places may view the pain as a message in their brain that reads, “I can’t do this! I shouldn’t do this!” or may assume because they can’t do things perfectly the first time that they are a failure.
Here’s another example of my teen son with a power washer. He had the machine set up and ready to go. I had done all of the power washing of the patio around our pool and asked him to do a small section. I thought he would enjoy it because he is meticulous when it comes to detail. He struggled with a few issues, the hose fell in the pool, the electrical cord was headed in the same direction. The machine shuttered because it hadn’t had time to build up pressure.
“That’s why I don’t do this! I shouldn’t do this!”
I explained that I had the same issues with the power washer. Kids who struggle with pushing through because of the foundation of their past don’t need talk therapy, they need affirmation therapy. Don’t ignore your child’s fear of pushing through. Acknowledge it. Talk about it. Recognize it and put it it’s place. Help them move from flight, fight or freeze in the downstairs brain to the upstairs where sense and reason reside.
Help them with time and patience come to conclusions such as:
- Nobody can do things perfectly the first time.
- My muscles hurt from swimming laps, I’m not dying.
- It’s okay to make mistakes, it is how we learn.
It is through reaffirming that the child is feeling pain or stress (yes, I’m sure your arms do hurt, you swam for a long time) to a reasonable and logical understanding (your arms hurt, but you aren’t dying, you will get stronger). These concepts move a child into his upstairs brain and need to be reinforced in the early stages of adulating which begins at home. Yes, your part time job is hard. You have to sweep floors and that takes time and energy, but you did it. You can keep doing it. Or that online class is giving you a lot of work to do, but let’s not quit. Let’s break it down and decide what to do first. This translates into college or moving out of the house years when you say, yeah, you have to pay the bills first and then you can go out to eat. These sound so simplistic and so easy to grasp, but for a child from a traumatic beginning, they are not. The concept of cause and effect is muddled by early experiences. The ability to push through to victory must be coached and affirmed in the same baby steps that would have occurred had they been with you from the very beginning. You are going back and filling in the gaps and redefining the world with your child. Be prepared to continue to assist for years to come. Don’t stress or compare. Enjoy the journey and celebrate victories! Adulting is difficult for all of us and a child from traumatic beginnings need encouragement and understanding. He may need help longer than other adult children.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor! Join us!
I sat at my desk waiting, while the little circle on the computer turn around and around. The words seemed to be on a two minute delay. I shut the laptop and went on to something else, frustrated and at a loss. I had been working on two, no three writing projects. That moment, I was working on revisions on my second book, a series of articles on adoption issues. I am writing my first novel for teens.(More info on upcoming books in a later post!) Number three is my website. I write articles on adoption, childrearing, organization, family and also type up my workshops or notes for speaking engagements. That’s a plethora of words to say that I rely heavily on technology every day.
After that particularly frustrating moment, I had an idea. Why not get a typewriter? Hubby Jerry was outside working on some yard work and I went out on the deck and yelled, “hey, do you mind if I order a typewriter?”
“Sounds like a great idea!” I ran back up to my office with visions of Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) floating in my head. I couldn’t wait to start typing on a typewriter! I ordered a manual. I didn’t want to be dependent on electricity or the internet in order to write. I just wanted to write. I had reverted to pen and paper going through yellow legal pads like my toddler grandchildren go through wipes.
My typewriter arrived (thank you Amazon Prime) and I did some practice sentences to warm up and realized my hands needed some more muscles. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it and I pulled out the latest chapter I had written and typed it up. No distractions. I couldn’t pop open another tab or do some last minute research. I couldn’t tweet, fiddle with Pandora or check Facebook. Just type. It’s been one of the best disciplines for me. I make note when I need to look something up. I don’t look it up then.
The truth is, several people have tried to help me get back on technology. My daughter lent me her Mac. I brought it home and plugged it in, the cord popped, smoked and fried. Are you trying to tell me something, Lord? Then my son’s girlfriend loaned me a hot pink computer that I am typing on right now. Interesting thing, I did not touch the computer for a week or so. My website has been pretty silent and all I keep hearing in my head is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. So, I have been, plunking away, chapter after chapter. Only three left to write (and two of those are outlined).
This portion of Scripture kept coming to mind:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.– Matthew 18:8-10
Sometimes things happen in my life and I view them as punishment, when they are actually discipline. I needed to step back from my technology habit and cut it off for awhile, it was causing me to stumble in my daily walk. I wasn’t viewing porn or watching R rated movies, I was just wasting time. And wasting time can be a sin. The Word says that we should not be vague, thoughtless or foolish, we should instead be diligent.
Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], 16 [b]making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is.- Ephesians 5:15-17
I was deceiving myself into believing that flitting around through social media and other people’s blogs was sensible and diligent, when in fact it was robbing me of the true will of the Lord which was and is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.
Maybe you seen the handwriting on the wall clearly and aren’t as hard headed as me, if that is true, than God bless you, sister. This article isn’t about the evils of technology, it’s about letting anything get in the way of what God has placed in your heart to do. He has given each of us a God-sized dream and a measure of the talent we need to complete it. It our job to walk carefully, making the most of our time and increasing our talent through thought, study and discipline.
I pray that my mini lesson has helped you in some way. Although my webpage has been on pause for awhile, I know it is a season. I will come back to it when the time is right. Don’t be afraid of seasons. They are natural and normal. Don’t look at what everyone is doing to measure yourself by, use the ruler of the Word and you won’t be led astray. If you need to, cut some things out. Re-evaluate. Write down your mission statement and your goals and pray over them. Study. Pray. Don’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit directs you to do something that no one else is doing!
Joining Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday! Join us!