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!

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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The Women’s March

The Welfare Rights building was crowded. I stood on the threshold, fresh from the Catholic school around the corner and looked for my mom. There she was, deep in conversation with a woman, her arm around the her shoulders. The woman wept. There seemed to be a lot of tears shed here. Women, afraid, hopeless came for encouragement, support, and direction. Some of them had been abandoned by men and had multiple children to care for. Another raised her sister’s children while she served a jail term. It was the mid-seventies and Mom was a stark white face to the sea of African American faces full of fear and hopelessness. Mom served these woman because she understood where they came from. Her brand of feminism meant woman should be able to feed and clothe their children when a man left or a woman couldn’t take care of her own. I got to know some of these woman in my after school visits. Those who had gotten help stuck like glue to the center, encouraging, wiping tears, giving bear hugs and helping others navigate the world of jobs and paperwork. This was my mom’s brand of feminism. Reaching out to the broken hearted. Meeting physical and emotional needs.

 

We watched and excerpt of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech in church on Sunday. It was refreshing. With tension running high in our country, women marching all over the world, we needed a refresher, not even a week after his day. It can’t just be a day, it needs to be a way of thinking and a way of life. It’s not a day to tweet one of King’s quotes and then forget about it. We can’t heal as a nation until we are willing to step out of our comfort zone, to pray and create bridges instead of walls.

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“And that is something that I must say to my people who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not he guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not “seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom” by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” -Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream speech

This nation is full of bitterness and hatred. With  President Trump sworn in, riots and women marching. The tension and anger are palatable. What should the Christian’s response be to this be? Not one of self-righteousness or Bible flinging orgies on social media. What would the response of the great Martin Luther King be? He would oppose physical violence and I’m not talking about the protesters. I’m talking about the body of Christ. It is not our job to tell others who are hurting, who are in need, who feel afraid and threatened by the future that they are wrong. Instead we should be asking, as I have always taught my kids, What can I do to help? Or you journalists or writers, pull out your key questions, Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Ask these. Who are these people? What do they fear? When do they think these freedoms will be removed and how? Why do they feel threatened?

Everybody has a story. Every person that marched or protested has a story. Their lives are just as valuable as anybody else’s. They have a voice that needs heard. Let us not be the ones who say they have no rights, that they don’t matter.

Abortion is wrong, I believe that wholeheartedly. I state that to be clear on my stance. Not everyone marched for Planned Parenthood. Some marched because they have been sexually abused. Some women are rape survivors. Some were just afraid that their rights would be stripped away. Some have been abused and mistreated by men. Some have had abortions and feel a deep shame. Each women who marched has value. Their soul cry needs to be heard from the White House to the church pulpit.

Loving each other as Christ loved us does not mean we condone the sin, it means we love the person. We celebrated the sanctity of human life on Sunday, all the while choosing  which lives matter. That cannot be so.

“God loves everybody-including those who radically disagree with Him. And He expects His followers to do the same.” -Pastor Wayde Wilson

God is a God of justice. He is not deaf to our cries. We must cry out to him for justice. We must be ‘HIs hands and feet. For the widow. For the orphan. For the abused. The neglected. The brokenhearted. The captives to this present darkness.

“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

We Christians don’t need to throw our beliefs at others in order to win them to Christ. We need to hear their heart’s cry. We need to meet them there. If we Christians are persecuted, let it be for righteousness sake, not for yelling matches on social media. Let us stand firm in our convictions and at the same time be ambassadors for Christ.

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,

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, … Isaiah 61:1,2

Like my mother in the Welfare rights building, let us preach the Gospel of good tiding to the meek, the poor, the afflicted. Let us, like Christ bind up and heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the physical and spiritual captives.

*More on Christian women and feminism on Friday, join me for Feigned Feminism Friday (it’s back)!

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor and Three Word Wednesday! Join us!

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What Success Is…

 

I love the New Year, fresh and crisp as a winter wind. I love the new journals. The new business planner (that I still have no idea what to do with). I love the new Word. I feel refreshed and renewed. Christmas decorations have been put away, except for the greenery I couldn’t stand to put away.

greeneryI take off at a sprint, ready to accomplish all, whatever all is. Sometimes it’s as if I am playing whack a mole, no matter how many books I have read on goal setting and essentialism. Life just doesn’t always work that way, unless you have no family, friends or never get sick. With my personality, I must be careful not to make goals a god. Success is Not an Accident and Essentialism are a few of my favorite books on success and goal setting. I recommend them. They have helped me weed out things that aren’t essential. I have a better idea of how to set measurable goals. I have a definition of success. It’s not what I would have defined it as when I was in my twenties or even thirties. It’s not about knowing the right people, money or wearing the right clothes. And, grab onto your seat, success is not always about achieving your goals. Success is not about being able to do everything. It is more about being able to do the thing that is before you well.

“Successful people are those who have learned how to consistently apply God’s laws in their lives. They ascribe their achievements to focus, hard work, strong relationships, perseverance and the blessings of God.”- Tommy Newberry

I love this definition of who successful people are. We can’t always control our circumstances. Sometimes our list of goals get sidelined while we work on the business of living. Does that mean we aren’t successful? Of course not.

A mother working on a project to make her home more beautiful and comfortable is interrupted by sickness. Is she still a successful homemaker?

A writer working on a manuscript puts writing on hold to participate in a community project is still a writer, right?

A health nut who teaches about the blessings of whole foods and the benefits of exercise gets knocked flat by an immune system disorder. Is what she teaches still true?

I’d love to measure my success by a bar graph or a beautiful circle graph with bright colors. It doesn’t work that way. Often our path to success may seem as if we are running from the snake in a zig zag pattern (like my mama taught me). That’s what we see. That’s not what God sees.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,

And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Proverbs 3:5,6

When I trust in and rely on the Lord, I have to throw my own insight and understanding out the window. Every day I must get up and acknowledge the Lord. I must recognize Him and say, “This is your day, Lord, what would you have me do with it?” The truth is, I pray in warp speed, acknowledge my plans and start a frantic frenzied race to the end of the day. I am, shoulders hunched, with frayed nerves, pursuing a success that never satisfies. Success is doing the will of God on the path He has placed before you with the strengths and weaknesses that He has bestowed on you. Success is not about being perfect. It’s about being obedient. It’s about acknowledging Him, recognizing that He is ultimately in control. If my plan falls through, I can be assured that He is has a better one. What about you?

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

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An Autumn Treasure

The morning chill settles over my home and the fragrant smell of fresh coffee with a dash of pumpkin spice steams on my night stand and I am thankful. I haven’t always been a fan of autumn. I seemed to focus on the negatives or what I was leaving behind instead of the positives. Shorter days. Cold. Rain. See, depressing?

We see those posts on social media-the negators. They always seem to want a season other than the one they are currently in. That sort of thinking is a set up for disaster. I know. Been there. When it is snowing, we want ninety degree heat and sunshine. When it is ninety degrees, we want snow, a fire and a good book. This sort of discontent bleeds into other areas of our life.

If only my child could read…

If only my children were grown…

If only my children were small…

If only this adoption was final…

If only…… is a key ingredient in the recipe for discontent.

We must enjoy the season we are in now or we won’t enjoy the next season. Contentment is something we must practice. We earn and learn it. It’s not bottled and sold on Amazon. It is hard earned, but free!

11 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]-Philippians 4:11-13,Amplified Bible (AMP)

Paul wrote of being content while in prison. He learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. We can practice contentment in every season, whether we have plenty or are in difficult times. We have the secret of facing life, whether we have abundance or are in need. And when we practice this contentment, we can do all that He has called us to do, because He strengthens us and empowers us. We are “ ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace”.

How do we practice this contentment?

  1. Give thanks in every season. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Find something to be thankful for. A sunrise. A brisk walk. A text from a friend.
  2. Find something to love about the season. When my grandmother suffered a brain tumor and my mother brought her home to nurse her, the season was difficult for all. One thing I loved about the season is the strength of our family and how they seemed to pour in and out of the house like a healing balm. Grandmother was never alone and she was showered with love.
  3. Embrace the season. I was out and about the other day and it was chilly. I should have brought a sweater, but I hadn’t. I changed my thought from I’m freezing to this is invigorating! It makes me feel alive. Maybe your season is waking parts of you that you were unaware of. Maybe through your difficulty, God is showing His glory reminding you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Or maybe you are in a season of abundance and you haven’t noticed because you are too busy to stop and notice the blessings.

I pray that you will find something in your current season that gives you peace, that you find true contentment. If your heart is broken today, I pray healing and please be kind to yourself. Some seasons are for grieving and we must be thankful for tears. Some seasons are so full of joy, we must be careful not to miss them. Wherever you find yourself, He is there.

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

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The Neglected Garden

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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!

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Adopted Children Adulting

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!

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My Typewriter Journey

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. 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!

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