Rest for Struggle

For my entire life (that I can remember) I remember yearning for the normal, consistent, boring family. I remember watching TV shows thinking “I’m going to have that life some day”.

Welp, here I am: a house full of kids, blessed to be able to (mostly) stay home, a husband who adores me (there must be something wrong right?) and that I adore equally in return. I legit go to bed every night thanking God for giving me so much more than I deserve. These gifts are not lost on me.

I also recognized something else in my life though. There is no normal. We have been through many transitions in our 11 years of marriage. We married young, had babies young, adopted, had a failed adoption, and gone into foster care. That’s just in our immediate family! I’m not even including anything else coming from outside my house.

I started to get pretty confident that I’m a cool cucumber (is that a thing?) now. We’ve handled it all, there’s nothing new to stress about anymore. Then Covid happened. Then school enrollment happened. Who knew signing your kids up for school could lead to eye twitches? (Thanks stress).

But then I remembered something: this is my gift. This life. This family. This struggle. Guys-in this life I’m marching with my eyes set on something much bigger, better even. It doesn’t end with today’s problems, or even today’s blessings.

Every transition or change in life should be approached with one goal in mind- to glorify Christ. Am I trusting in Him? Not just with my decisions, but to sustain me after those choices are made. Do I believe that if I made a choice I regretted, that God will use it for His good regardless, if I’m looking to Him?

Because that’s the truth friends: God is the end all. The decisions you and I are facing may seem huge, even overwhelming, right now. But they are still temporary problems. While Covid and it’s repercussions may last longer than we’d like, and it may effect more areas of life than we’d like, eventually it will end. When it gets to be too much, remember what you’re marching towards- Who you will meet at the finish line. In the meantime, let’s give grace and love each other.

I am not Against Cops, but I do believe Black Lives Matter

I don’t believe systematic racism is a myth. I do believe our culture has conditioned us to be fearful of blacks, regardless of whether or not we realize it. But I also believe majority of Cops go into the position hoping to make a difference and not to wrongly harm others. There are Cops I know who I would absolutely trust with my life. I don’t want my kids to fear Cops if they are ever in a place of danger and need help.

That being said, there is an undertone of systematic racism that has colored our history. I don’t think most people even realize they harbor feelings of it in themselves. I didn’t. Being raised in a small town, with little diversity, did not prepare me for becoming a multi-racial mom. I was bombarded with my own prejudices, prejudices I didn’t even realize I had.

I know I’m not the only one, and I do believe people of all occupations have the same prejudices as well. The black community is not safe until we address and change those prejudices. Prejudices that exist because we still take pride in the side of history that fought against equal rights of all persons in the United States.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t emphasize that even though everything right now is unstable, God is still good. He is still good when all that we count as comfort (or maybe just norm) has been ripped away. He is still good even though we are still having to address racism 60 years later. He is still good when uncertainty lingers and everything feels broken. George, Breonna, Ahmaud, and countless others, who have lost their lives due to racial injustice have ultimate hope that doesn’t lie in me or you.

Until then, we have been given a command to mourn with those who mourn. (Including the Cops trying to do right). And to stand for righteousness and justice, regardless of popularity.

Sports are good thing. Sports aren’t every thing.

Some of my best memories from high school are from my time spent as an athlete.  I remember listening to Blue Clear Sky by George Strait religiously while riding with my best friend to softball practice.  I remember being so exhausted the weeks we had 2-a-days that all we could do was sleep in between.  I remember the accomplishment I felt once I got my spiking down in volleyball after staying late with a coach several days to work on it.  To this day, I love the feeling of complete exhaustion after a workout.

My husband was twice (and probably then some) the athlete I ever was.  To this day, his reflexes and how quickly he picks up almost any sport he tries still amazes me.  On our honeymoon we went to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.  Since we have been married we’ve played on coed softball teams and sand volleyball teams together.  We thoroughly enjoy sports.

So, for several reasons (many stated above) we want and even encourage our kids to take part in sports.  None of those reasons include them playing at a higher level or for them to be the super star of the team.  Now, it’s not that I don’t want them to succeed.  I do.  But more than the destination of “success” I want them to pay attention to the work and journey they will be on to get to that destination of success.

I want them to develop life long habits of being physically active.  I want them to know what it’s like to work hard at a skill in order to master it.  I want them to feel that feeling of accomplishment once they do master that skill.  I want them to feel the camaraderie that comes with being part of a team.

I do not, and will not, push collegiate or even professional level sports.  If my kids end up playing at that level, that’s fine and I will support them in every way possible if they do.  I do fear by constantly pushing that with all of our children, we have made a generation of “every one is a superstar” and forgotten that it is beneficial for kids to be just good athletes that support their team and help them where they can.  When we set up those kind of expectations for each child, we set them up for disappointment because not every one can be the all star.

Last point of this blog: if you really want to make sure your kid gets into college on scholarship push ACADEMICS! It’s really not even comparable the amount of academic scholarships you can get to the amount of athletic scholarships.

 

Trauma from Foster Care & Adoption

All of our children that we have fostered or adopted, we have had since they were pretty young infants.  Many think that this helps you to avoid any type of trauma that the children would have otherwise endured had they been older when they came into our house.  While yes, it may help to avoid some trauma that they may actively recall, there is no kid that enters adoption or foster care that does not have some kind of trauma.

I even have another side of our family that some do not: we have both biological and adopted children.  It’s not an “either-or” thing for our family.  I look at my adopted children and am acutely aware of the plan God has for their lives.  That He didn’t mean to leave them as they would have otherwise been left in the world.  He used us for His purpose in their lives.

The same is true for my biological children, although I may not always realize it.  He gave them to the hubs and me so that we could raise them up to be more than what they started out as.  Not only that, He uses all of our children to make us more than we would have otherwise been without them.

I also feel heartbreak when I think about the things I will some day have to tell our adopted children, questions I will have to answer or stories I will have to tell.  Neither one of our adopted children physically resemble the hubs or myself.  They won’t be able to compare us to themselves when it comes to physical features.

They will have to deal with questioning why a parent didn’t want to or couldn’t raise them, because even though things are much more open with adoption nowadays, I never have been able to get those answers.  One of my children will probably never get those answers.  I know, since one of our adopted children is a bit older, that there are some tendencies that we did not nurture but are instead, part of that baby’s nature.

Do I say all of this to be disheartening? Absolutely not, however; I do want parents to be aware of situations that may occur and to be long-suffering with their children.  Now, in my mind it’s not much different than how I raise each of my children.  I try to stay (as best as I can) attuned to what each child needs or responds to the best.  Biological or not, they are not the same.  So it’s not really extra work as far as parenting; it’s different work.

I don’t have to make my biological children feel as though this is where they belong.  Where they were always meant to be.  Even though my adopted children have been here as long as their memory will serve them, we are not their only starting place.  Since our adopted children don’t physically resemble us, (and our biological children often hear how much they do), we find other ways to bring up commonalities.  If one loves a certain food we love, we point it out, “Oh, you like chips just like daddy.  You must have got that from him”.  Or “oh, you’re such a good baby just like your sister was”.

I am going to have hard conversations that I am already aware of and I don’t know yet the effect they will have on them.  I can’t really know until they grow a bit older whether or not they will have an emotional reaction to their first parents not being able to parent them.  With adoption, there is always heartbreak.  There is always some sort of trauma.

Trauma doesn’t look the same from one person to the next.  Some children’s trauma is more apparent than others.  It doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Regardless of the age the children joined your family, you must be intentional in parenting them.  They have to have no doubt that they belong in your family.  That may lead to some uncomfortable moments for you, but if there’s one thing parenting has taught me: it’s not about you.

As parents, we would do anything to make sure our children are well adjusted and loved.  Don’t shrink back just because it may look a little bit different than you thought it would.  Every kid is worth it.

If you don’t give that child a healthy outlet to figure out and express that trauma, they will develop unhealthy coping skills. While some may be more disruptive than others…please, they deserve that space and freedom. Freedom to not feel they need to hide or shrink behind their feelings. Freedom to not be okay sometimes. Freedom to know they are loved regardless.

Motherhood is not my Ultimate Calling

I wake up in the morning to either a baby crying or a kid (or kids) jumping on our bed.  I go to sleep after feeding a baby at night.  My days are marked by what time to pick my kids up, what time to drop them off, what events they have going on, what appointments may be scheduled, etc.  At this stage of life, much of my time is marked around my moments of mothering.

But, motherhood is not my ultimate calling.  If it were, what would that mean for my life when my kids are some day out of my house?  What would that mean for some people who never bear children of their own?  What would that mean if, Heaven forbid, something happened to my children?

My ultimate calling in this life is to give glory to God.  In whatever situation I find myself in, I am called to give glory to God. In 1 Corinthians 10 we’re reminded “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.  That means whatever situation I find myself in throughout life, I can use it as a means to bring God glory.

Currently my main way of giving glory to God is through my mothering.  (As I stated above, with 4 kids, much of my time is spent mothering them).  What does that look like for me?  It’s doing my Bible study in the morning while the kids are still laying around and half of them are in school.  It’s listening to podcasts and sermons while doing dishes, cleaning, or feeding a bottle.  It’s CONSTANTLY praying for me to receive the tasks I’ve been given to do, in a God honoring way.

You may find your job fills most of your time.  You may be a full time student who finds yourself immersed in books and studying.  You may find yourself at a stage in life where you are caring for elder family members.  You may be a lucky grandparent who gets to watch your grandchild during the day.  Your situations will change throughout life.  Whatever your situation is, our calling is all the same- Do All To The Glory of God.

Adopted

I found myself sitting with baby K earlier this week making an “About Me” poster for her Preschool class.  We put her birth date and birth location.  She is the only one of my children who wasn’t born where we all live.  It seemed weird writing it, it felt like writing that made her different from the rest of my kids.  I know, I know, she is adopted.  She is a different race.  So obviously she LOOKS different from the other kids, but I feel like all of them look different from each other.  Sure, you could look at our biological kids and see some of mine and the hubs physical features in them.

I never have felt like they were any more destined to be in our family than baby K though, just because she was once adopted.  There has never been a doubt in my mind that she was destined, before hand to be exactly where she is.  Just like my bio kids.

It’s funny how much we put on “physical traits” to mean that a child belongs to a family.  Some biological families don’t even resemble each other, but when I write her birth location and when I am out and about with my family, I know that people view her as the one that “was lucky to end up in our family”.

Here’s a little bit about the luck that baby had of getting into this family.  She was brought into this first world by a momma who knew she couldn’t provide for her.  She was hand picked, by her first momma to join this family.  She was wheeled directly into a separate room after birth, while being comforted by a voice she didn’t recognize.  She lived in hotel rooms (with her family) for 2 weeks before coming home.  She has dealt with horrible asthma, that we can’t get answers to, since she was a newborn.

Truthfully, while I’m telling you her story, I could do it for any of my kids.  I could tell you how my first child screamed so much when he was a baby that I took all my maternity clothes to Goodwill when he was 3 months old.  I could tell you that I struggle daily with him believing he has to share this house with his sisters.  I could recount the story of #2’s birth and how she or I could have not come out of the operating room when she was born.  How I struggle now for her to not take everything so personally.  My youngest may physically resemble our family a bit more than baby K, but he was left at a hospital a couple of hours old.  He was welcomed into his home after a brief stint in 2 different hospitals.

I say all that to say this, we all have somewhere that our story began.  Biological children are not a formula to ensure the ease of their life or your family unit.  I find this most encouraging because I’m adopted too.  I came from a background of someone who loved myself more than most all others,  someone who lived in several homes growing up, someone who hasn’t always tried to have good relationships with those in my family.  I was someone who did several things I was ashamed of as I grew older.

Then I was adopted.  I was adopted into a family where “in Jesus Christ, you are all son’s of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26)  I was welcomed into a family, not based on my race, gender, economic status, or any other means.  I was welcomed because Jesus sought me, before the beginning of time, to be an heir with Him.

My story is different from yours.  My story is different from my husband’s, my childrens’, my friends’, but that’s only part of my story.  That’s only where it began.  Now we are brother’s and sister’s with each other, not because I was lucky or because I met a criteria.  Simply because I was chosen.  My brothers and sisters don’t all look like me either.

All of my children were handpicked to be in this earthly family.  It doesn’t matter that one of my children was born in a different state.  It doesn’t even matter that two of the four are biological.  They are brothers and sisters.  While their beginning was different from the others; they all ended up in this family.  Not on accident.  Not because any were lucky.

Because God chose us to steward each of these lives and raise them up to send them out.  Not for my husband nor myself- but for the One whose family they will ultimately end up in.  That family is for eternity.  I hope and pray to some day call them my brothers or sisters in Christ, because ultimately that’s where our family is headed.  This too, is just our beginning.