Welcome to The Whole House!

If you’re a regular reader, we hope you’re enjoying the updated look! If you’re new here, welcome! This blog covers adoption, attachment issues, homeschooling, parenting, and more! We’re glad you’re here! Feel free to read the most recent posts or just browse the archives.

Co-regulation & Self Regulation

Last Wednesday, I promised to follow up on my three points on Burden Bearing Mothers. Today, I am talking about number one.

Children from hard places CAN’T, Not WON’T bear their own burdens. They cannot self-regulate.

He ran through the house, knocking chairs over and books off the shelves. “I can’t get him to behave,” his mother said. She covered her face with her hands and wept. “I didn’t know adoption would be this hard. I don’t know if I can do this!”

Maybe you feel this way about an adopted, foster or your own special needs child. It seems as if the child is a cyclone of Dysregulated behavior. While everyone else sits quietly, he is constantly moving, rocking, pounding or getting up every two seconds. He just cant’ control himself. That is, he cannot regulate.

“A two year-old is adopted from an orphanage where she was underfed, under-touched, and neglected. From lack of stimulation, her sense have not developed normally. In her new adoptive home, she is bombarded by unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations, and she is bewildered by the social expectations in the unfamiliar environment. Her impoverished early life makes it impossible for her to keep up, and she becomes overwhelmed with stress and frustration. She expresses herself the only way she knows how-through tantrums and aggressiveness.”-The Connected Child

When and how do children learn regulation?

A child learns to regulate through co-regulation. Mother regulates for him first. She wraps him in a blanket when he is cold. She feeds him when he is hungry. Changes his wet diaper. Smiles when he is content. He picks up these expressions and feelings through the mirror effect.

We say a child is unable to regulate when he cannot control his impulses or doesn’t recognize the needs of his own body. He doesn’t recognize thirst or hunger because no one fed him regularly in his early life or he has developed sensory issues. He wears a coat when it eighty degrees or shorts when it is twenty. He has impulse control issues. He grabs what is not his. He stuffs food in his mouth that belongs to a sibling. We see these as ‘bad behaviors’ that we want to snuff out.

A child who missed out on the co-regulation steps of his early life cannot regulate.

Jacob is a great biblical example of the inability to regulate.

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[d])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Genesis 25: 19-33

Jacob had no impulse control. He couldn’t wait for food. He didn’t consider the consequences. We don’t know much about his early life, how he was parented, other than his mother favored him. We can assume from his behavior that he struggled with regulation. After Jacob sold his birthright, he spent much of his life in fight, flight or freeze. He ran, deceived and hid. And one night, God came to him and promised to watch over and care for him. Later, he wrestled with God. Literally. And he trusted God.

There is hope, Mothers, for the child who cannot regulate. For the one who is impulsive. The one who lies. The one stuck in survival mode. The one who does things that leaves us scratching our heads.

Each of our children are chosen, before the foundation of the world, in the mother’s womb they were formed. Don’t let the current behavior form prophecies of doom in your mind. Pray the word. Speak the word over your child while he sleeps.

What are some other practical steps you can follow to help this child?

  1. Food and water every two hours
  2. Ask him, “What do you need?” instead of “What’s wrong?”
  3. Give him words if he has none.
  4. Ask questions that activate the upstairs brain.
  5. Teach him some coping skills, listening to music,  jumping on a trampoline, journaling in pics, etc….

These practices sound simple, but children who cannot regulate need someone to do it for them. If they don’t recognize their body’s signals, they walk around slightly dehydrated and hungry. Asking them what is wrong makes them slow down and process. Don’t be in a hurry or think they always know. That is why we must give them words if they have none. It looks like you need a break, do you? that sort of thing. When the child is ready, move onto asking questions, “how do you think we could solve this problem?” Finally, teach him some coping skills that match his personality. This is self-regulation. Don’t ask a kid who is not keen on sports to use running as a coping skill. Mothers, you know your child, work with him until together you find something that helps. Be patient with yourself and the child. This is investment parenting, not drive through instant parenting. It is a marathon with lots of water breaks and great views. Enjoy the journey.

Linking up with Kristin Taylor for Three Word Wednesday, join us!

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Burden Bearing Mothers

We women sat in Bible study sharing our burdens. We didn’t get to the lesson. All of us had so many things we needed to process and pray for. The common theme? Our children. There is nothing like a Mother’s love for her child. There is also like a Mother’s burden of guilt if she feels as if she parented poorly or passed on some genetic trait that resulted in disease, sickness or depression. We Moms are burden bearing beings.

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Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.-Galatians 6:2b,3 The Message

This verse was my theme song when I was in college. I thought I had to bear everyone’s burdens. I heaped them on my back and carried them. I jumped up when anyone needed help at anytime. My mom noticed the pattern and shared some teachings with me on having a ‘burden bearing personality’. Turns out, we can take this burden bearing a little too far. I’m glad she shared those with me while I was young because after marriage, children and then adoption, I slipped back down into the pattern of burden bearing too much. Again and again. Some experts call this co-dependency. It can lead to compassion fatigue or physical sickness.

If we read this verse in context, we find a balance-

For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults]. Galatians 6:6

We Moms can take comfort in this. Burden bearers can only take on so much. Each person must deal with their own choices, the fruit of their labor, of whatever sort that is. Good or bad. Sweet or sour. Moms, as much as we would love to save our family from negative consequences, we cannot. As much as we would love everyone to have a perfect life, they can’t. We live on an imperfect world, where people make choices that determine results. Not only that, but the word says to bear the burdens, not to pour yourself out for another by wrecking your own health. If you are bearing the burden of passing on a genetic defect to your child, I’m sorry. I’ve been there. It stinks. But, feeling guilty doesn’t change it. It just weighs us down.

As for adoptive/foster/special needs Mothers, we need to take great care in self-care.

“Because a parent has compassion for a child he feels with him. He enters his pain from his point of view. Entering into a child’s pain comes at a great emotional cost to the foster or adoptive parent.” –The Traumatized Child

Let me end with three reminders for us Moms.

1.  Children from hard places CAN’T, Not WON’T bear their own burdens. They cannot self-regulate.

2. Bearing our children’s oppressive faults means co-regulation. Children get their cues from  us. If we lose it every time they can’t regulate, they will stay in the cycle of being Dysregulated and we will join them.

3. We adoptive/foster/special needs parents must maintain a delicate balance of being co-regulators, attaching at every possible moment but being detached, not co-dependent.

I’ll be delving into each of these three topics for the next three weeks. Watch for number one next Wednesday!

Feigned Feminism Friday-How Did Jesus Treat Women?

She stands at the back of the church. She heard the altar call, but she’s not sure she should go forward. She can’t make her feet move. She’s rooted in shame. what if these people knew the truth about me? About the abortion. About the sexual abuse. They would probably throw me out the door. I’m not worth it. I’m not worthy of love. So, she turns and leaves carrying the same burden she walked in with.

Maybe this happened at your church. Maybe mine. Maybe it was you.

Feigned Feminism Friday

Let’s look at how Jesus responded to women instead of how culture has treated them. We can’t hang the character of God on the hook of history. We must study His character by examining His ways, the written accounts of His actions.

Theology + Evidential Method = Truth

Therein we will find Biblical Feminism.

John 8 records the account of the woman caught in adultery.

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Note the conversation between Jesus and the woman.

Jesus-Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?

She- No one, Lord!

Jesus-I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.

Later, after the women left, Jesus addressed the crowd,

You [set yourselves up to] judge according to the flesh (by what you see). You condemn by external human standards] I do not [set Myself up to judge or to condemn or sentence anyone.

Jesus didn’t judge or condemn her. The scribes and Pharisees wanted to stone her. They caught her in her sin and did not offer kindness or compassion. They only offered condemnation.

Let’s be honest ladies, every movement begins because there is an injustice. We can all agree that women should not be oppressed, neglected, enslaved or abused.

Feminism was birthed through the labor of many women who suffered injustice, including those Jesus spoke to, the woman caught in adultery. We are tempted to ask, where is the man? And I have some other questions, who bursts in the door when two people are having sex? Did they allow her to dress herself? Can you imagine the shame? But, Jesus didn’t shame her. He didn’t heap the law on her head. He treated her with kindness and compassion. He saw her wounded heart.

 That’s God’s character. He looks past the behavior and sees the heart. He saw down into the depths of that woman’s soul. He said, in essence, I see you, I see your shame. I love you. I do not condemn you. Go and live a life worthy of the value you possess.

Women are hurting. They don’t need a new law. They don’t need platitudes or judgment. They need Biblical Feminism that sees the heart, recognizes the shame, the pain and says, Those don’t define or confine you. You are loved. You are valuable .The way you were treated by man or other women is not WHO you are. Those are injustices that happened to you. Jesus offers forgiveness and compassion. He believes that you, dear sister were worth dying for. Go and live a life worthy of the value you possess.

*Just a note, the Christian feminism does not accept domestic abuse or false concepts of marriage. More about this subject in another post!

 

Orphans and Refugees

The airport was crowded and noisy. The four year little girl old slumped over weak, with a high fever. The toddler threw his bottle on the floor and it shattered instantly. The two young boys were restless. The grandfather/professor tried to keep them contained while their father gathered belongings. They had just arrived at Chicago O’Hare after a ten hour flight from Poland. The family rode the escalator down one flight and then it happened. They were detained. Sent to an room with a glass window facing the passengers hurrying by. One more short flight before they were to their new home. One more hour on a plane and Mom and siblings would be at the other end.  Officials looked at the passports, stamped Poland and asked questions.

This was my family. My new children. Fresh from Poland. Detained. My husband, exhausted from the long battle, months of paperwork, six weeks of waiting in the states after a five week stay in the orphanage with the whole family (four prospective siblings plus our three bios). We had jumped through every hoop. Dotted every ‘i’and ‘kept our papers in order’ as we told by our attorneys in Poland. The kids had gotten all their immunizations in one day to come to the states. They were a special kind of refugee, immigrants coming home to be part of a family of immigrants of Poland, two generations removed.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I have a heart for the orphan. God gave me that heart through life experience and an infusion of His character. I can’t take credit for it.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, -Isaiah 61:1

That is the character of Jesus. He came for the meek, the poor, the afflicted. He was sent to bind up and heal the brokenhearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives. That is His heart and should be ours too. If it were up to me, everyone would adopt or foster. Maybe you have a heart for refugees, not because you want to be political, but because you have had life experience with them. Two lovely ladies I know have a heart for the refugee. They staged a march at our local courthouse. Not a protest, a march.

One of these ladies is my niece-in-love, Carly. She said of the march, “The heart behind it was just to show love and solidarity for refugees. I genuinely believe that people are people, and no one is more important than another. I can’t imagine if we were in a time of crisis and were turned away by our neighbors, so I’m not going to do that to anyone else. I just was quietly standing up for something I believe in. I just read something that said “I… received both kind pushback and a chorus of glory hallelujahs. Trying hard not to consider either response more than I consider Christ.” That’s my response right now; that I put my God-given heart out there to represent Him in the world, and whether or not people were swayed one way or the other by what I stood up for is not my thing to worry about, but to keep my focus on Christ.” Isn’t she amazing?

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“Whether you believe that refugees should come to the United States, whether we should make places for them in the other areas, all of us have to realize that there is a problem in our world, and as fellow humans, we’re responsible to solve it in some way,” march organizer Rachel Ellis said.

Rachel works as an ESL teacher in a university setting . She  teaches  grammar and composition classes, and has also lead the conversation partner group. She has taught students from China, South Korea, Haiti, Togo, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia, among other countries. She shared many stories with me about her students and what they mean to her. I don’t have room to share all of them, but I love this one, I’m sure you will too:

The first day I walked into the office to begin training, I met a young Muslim girl. Through our limited conversation, we learned that we are the same age, had been married the same month, and that our husbands share the same name, roughly translated. This encounter left me filled with hope, amazed at the divine encounter God had used to reassure me. This same girl is one of my most precious friends. She has invited me into her home, loved me, prayed for my son, and now, in a few short weeks, will give birth to her own son, a lifelong friend for my baby.

Rachel shared with me her purpose of the march-

“The march, for me, wasn’t about a political statement. I believe that in this age of social media and news bombardment, we so often lose sight of the concrete. In debating “issues” and “ideologies,” we often lose sight of the very real people affected by our arguments. I look at the example of Jesus in the Bible. The Pharisees were all about making sure that the ideology of Jewish law was followed. The law was given by God to the Jewish, and there were reasons it made society work well. Jesus said he hadn’t come to abolish the law and prophets, but to fulfil them. He obeyed the law, yet also didn’t lose sight of the real individuals affected by those laws. For me, this march was an opportunity to set aside political issues. To acknowledge that real people in various refugee situations around the world, Christian, Muslim, Jew and others, are in dire threat of death every day. It was an opportunity to say to the community, we may disagree on what to do about these people, but we all acknowledge their humanity and their dignity. We all agree they need our help. That’s why I was so focused on providing practical ways to help refugees, no matter how that help comes. My heart is that people would remember that the love of God through us does not run out. Just like my love for my husband did not diminish, but multiply with the birth of my child, I can love both the veteran on the street and the refugee in the Middle East. Compassion does not have to be an either/or issue. It is simply allowing the love of God to overflow into our lives, so we have more to give.”

There is a lot of controversy in our nation today. Well, that’s what we are shown. Or told. This quiet, peaceful march was on the local news in a totally different light. It was called a protest and the one sign that happened to be negative made the news. This greatly upset the organizers. We Americans are marchers. That’s what we do. We marched for freedom against the tyranny of Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. We women marched for the right to vote. We marched for Civil Rights. We march for life. And as Carly said, pro-life means every life has value.

I don’t have the answers to the refugee crisis. Rachel offered a pamphlet that gives some suggestions about what you can do. You may be surprised to hear that she says to start with your community. Love the people there. Serve them. The homeless. The foster child. I love her spirit and heart.

Practical Ways to Help Refugees

  1. Donate to organizations where you know the money will reach refugees. Make sure you know where your money goes! Check out: Preemptive Love Coalition, International Refugee Committee, Save the Children, World Relief
  2. Volunteer with organizations or agencies helping resettle refugees in the United States.
  3. Educate your families and friends about the refugee crises in various countries. Do RESEARCH and find out the FACTS.
  4. Befriend an international friend in your area. Invite them to dinner, offer to help practice English, learn about their culture.
  5. Advocate for refugees by speaking positively on their behalf to the government officials, clergymen, business owners, etc.. Try not to argue with people, but just provide facts and show your support.
  6. Plan a fundraiser.
  7. Pray for refugees. Pray for peace, for safety and for them to never give up hope.

If you need some balanced news on the refugee issue, check out Preemptive Love Coalition’s article here.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday, join us!

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Dear Son or Daughter

Dear Son or Daughter,

I see you tangled out there in the web of the world, not sure where to turn or what to believe. You learned the scripture at a mother’s  knee, reciting Bible quiz cards or copying scripture verses. Remember the time you each make a story book based on a parable? Or the time that you put on the your own Easter program in the backyard complete with a cross with your brother tied on it. There are so many memories. So many days that you thought would last forever. But, they didn’t.

Or maybe you didn’t have the foundation of family. Maybe you have been surviving on your own because the people who were supposed to parent you were never parented themselves. They are stuck in their own stuff and don’t know how to love. So, you grew up feeling unwanted, unloved and alone.

Now, you’re out there in the world, trying to find your footing. Maybe I should have told you it would be cruel and harsh. I should have told you that temptations are so well, tempting. Not everyone was raised full of family and tradition. Some had a rough go and they will take it out on you or ask you to join them deep in the mire of depression. They cover their pain with drugs and alcohol. They don’t go to the feet of the cross.

Some of those people are Christians, or they claim to be. You call them hypocrites and rightly so. They are. Just more wounded wallowing in the world. You join them because you aren’t sure who you are, what you believe. You’re in pain. I can see it on your face, in your eyes. There’s no peace there. No comfort. I want to give you a hug and tell you it will be okay. It’s okay to ask the questions.

Just a reminder or maybe no one ever told you- you’re valuable. You are loved. You are unique. You have a gift to give the world that no one else can. God has given you a purpose. Maybe you don’t factor God into the equation right now. Maybe you have done some things that make you think He won’t forgive. Not true. Maybe you don’t know how to get back. He’s there waiting for you. He will forgive. He loves you right now. Right where you are.

Could you try something? Try it today. It may sound a bit crazy, but do it anyway. Set up two chairs. One for you and one for God. Then sit in yours and talk to Him. He will show up if you will. Just tell Him what’s on your mind. He can handle it.

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Once you meet with God, you’ll discover something amazing. You’ll find out He does more than just listen to you; He has a plan–plans to prosper you, give you hope, and always shed light on your great future. But to know these plans you have to stop and listen.”- Bob Beaudine

Could you try it every day for a week? What’s the worst that can happen? I’m going to leave you with these three disruptive questions:

  1. Does God know your situation? YES.
  2. Is it too hard for Him to handle? YES.
  3. Does He have a good plan for you? YES. (From 2 Chairs The Secret That Changes Everything)

I know, it’s hard to believe, the God who created the universe wants to talk to you. He is ready and waiting. He hears your cry. He doesn’t turn a deaf ear to you. When people abandon you and life gets messy, God is present. He’s waiting for you. He loves you.