We Are Better Than That

A few months before the election, a male coworker told me he wanted to talk with me about my views on politics and asked if I could meet him in his office.  I was like, “Sure…?”  To be honest, as I walked into his office, I felt like I might have just entered into a lion’s den without knowing if it had a lion waiting to devour me.

He said, “I want to understand why you feel the way you do about politics and why I think you may be voting the way you are.”  I could have said, “Well, it’s kinda none of your business” but instead, I shared with him about my own life experiences (some amazing and some traumatic) that shaped my personal views and concerns regarding politics.  He shared his concerns as well.

Our views were pretty much opposite with the candidates, and he said a lot to me. However, do you know what wasn’t said?

  • He didn’t refer to me as a political label.
  • He didn’t tell me I am un-American because my views differed from him.
  • He didn’t question my faith or call me out for “not being a real Christian”.
  • He didn’t tell me that my opinion or concerns were invalid.
  • He didn’t make me feel unwelcome or not worthy of having a voice.
  • He didn’t call me “lazy”, “looking for a handout”, etc…
  • He didn’t disrespect me in any way, and I didn’t disrespect him.

As our conversation ended, he thanked me for having this discussion. We knew we hadn’t convinced each other of voting in a different manner, but we also knew that the point of our conversation was not to do this. We both walked away with a deeper level of understanding about each other’s political and social concerns.

I have thought about this conversation often in the past month or so, but most recently, this week after seeing all of the discourse via social media regarding the election.  My coworker and I still get along (SHOCKING!).  We still have mutual respect for each other (NO WAY!), and we actually work quite well together (SHUT THE FRONT DOOR).

If there is anything that we can learn from this crazy election cycle, subsequent new President, and social media nonsense, it is this:

We have a LOT of talking to do, and not just via comments on Facebook or other social media outlets.  I mean real conversations where we seek to understand and not just to respond.  We carry far too many misperceptions about each other. We won’t understand the why’s of what makes a person feel strongly about a particular subject unless we’ve actually engaged him or her in conversation about it.  We need to remember that we all carry life experiences that shape the decisions we make.

usa-1149896_1280

We are Americans.  Let’s not allow the very freedom of democracy to split us apart.

We are better than that.

 

“I’m Helping the World”{my daughter’s 7 Billion Ones story}

For the past year or so, I’ve been involved in a movement born from the vision of a local professional photographer, Randy Bacon.  The movement, “7 Billion Ones” is fondly referred to as the “YOU Matter” movement.  Randy Bacon is the visionary behind it.

7 Billion Ones captures the stories of life and is accompanied by breathtaking portraits of the storytellers.  I shared my own life story for the project and found that not only is Randy an amazing photographer, he is also just an all-around awesome human being who values each and every person he comes in contact with.  I strongly encourage you to check out the 7 Billion Ones website.  It is powerful, humbling, and completely confirms that we are more alike than different.

The week before Christmas, my 8-yr-old daughter came up with one of the most endearing and uplifting ideas she has ever had.  I was moved by it but not completely surprised.  She has always had a generous spirit and a soft spot for homeless people.  I shared her idea with Randy and out of it, came a day that she and I will not forget.

 

7billiononesrandybaconhomelesshomelessness

Photo Credit:  Randy Bacon (www.7billionones.org)

 

Here is the link to her story:  I’m Helping the World  Please take a moment to read it.  I’m sure you will be blessed.  I know I was.  Spending the time with my daughter on that special day was simply incredible.

Children have a way of frustrating us at times, but they also have a way of amazing us.  Her act of generosity did just that, and for that, I know full well what a blessing she is in my life and the lives of others.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

Foster Kids & Family Vacations {Adoption.com article}

‘Tis the season for holiday travel and planning vacations!  Vacationing while providing foster care to children may seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.  For many children in care, taking a vacation is an awesome experience filled with memories.

Here is an article I wrote regarding some helpful tips when planning your family vacation:

Click on this link:  Foster Kids and Vacation

Happy Travels!

Caroline

Reasons You Might Be a Perfect Parent for an Older Child Adoption

Considering adopting from foster care or through another avenue?  Here is an article I wrote for Adoption.com regarding reasons that YOU just might be a perfect parent for older child adoptions.   Blessings!  Caroline

Click on the link to read:

You Might Be a Perfect Parent for an Older Child

Six Things I’d Like You to Know About Adoption {adoption is not perfect}

November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the US.  It is a month when we celebrate and advocate for adoption.  Being an adoptive parent myself, I fully understand the highs and lows of it.  If you are considering building your family through adoption (especially after years of infertility), here are a few things I’d like for you to know.

  1. Even with the joys of adoption, there is sorrow.  You will find that you love your child or children so much that you grieve for their life stories.  You know that they have come to you after a tremendous amount of hardship and despair of their birth parent(s).  With adoption, comes loss.  Helping your children understand and grieve this is part of your responsibility as a parent.
  2. You won’t and can’t have all of the right words at the right time.  People may say things to you that just throw you off.  You usually find the right response hours later and after the moment is gone.  There are also questions and statements that your children will state at the most random of times.  Just be prepared to not be prepared times like this, because they will happen.
  3. Adoption doesn’t stop at the declaration of the Judge.  I’ve said it before, but in many ways, adoption is an evolutionary process.  As your children grow up, they will yearn for answers from you, and they will want to know more about their histories and birth families.  This is natural and should not be taken as a negative.  Your children love you.  They just want to know more.
  4. You will have moments when infertility still sneaks up on you.  Let me give you an example.  Recently, I spoke at an infertility conference hosted by a local church.  I had prepared what I was going to say and tried to stay on target.  About mid-way through, I found myself struggling to hold back tears.  I said, “I would not trade my kids for anyone else’s.  I just wish I would have carried them in my body.”   This statement was not planned.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  These feelings and waves of emotions will stick with you long after adoption.
  5. You have to be flexible and adaptive in your approach to parenting.  As much as family members adore and deeply loves my children, I still catch them saying things like, “You never acted like that as a child.”  Typically, the way we parent is either very similar to our parents or it can be the exact opposite (if raised in an abusive, neglectful or troubled home).  I recall being a sensitive child and just the thought of making my mother cry was enough for me to stop whatever I was doing.  I’d like to be able to parent the same way or have the same expectations of my children, but I’ve learned that I cannot and must not do this.  I’ve had to adapt and be flexible about my expectations and approach to parenting.  What works for my friends’ kids or worked for me as a child, won’t work for mine, and that’s okay.
  6. Adoption is so amazing.  There is a deep joy that dwells within you when you look at the children whom God picked for you.  It is hard to describe and a bit ironic in how you just know that your kids were meant to be yours.  Is it perfect?  No.  Does it always go smoothly?  Absolutely not.  However, it is hard to deny that adoption is an amazing and incredible experience.

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we should focus not only on children and older youth in need of adoption and adoptive families but also on the authentic and honest sharing of experiences and lessons gained through adoption.

Adoption is not perfect, but my friends, neither are we.

Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. {my response about Trump’s victory}

Like a lot of Americans, I woke up on November 9th feeling a bit shocked about the result of the election.  Before I go any further with this, please know that I am not anti-Republican at all.  My thoughts have little to do with which political party won.  I honestly wish that, in American politics, we did not know which party the candidates represent.

I grew up and still live in the Midwestern section of the USA.  I was taught to work hard, respect others, and that democracy matters.  I completely respect everyone’s right to varying political differences.  I guess I’m just bewildered and a bit fearful about how this whole election went down and weary of our soon-to-be President.  It was probably the worst and most divisive one I have experienced in my adult life.  That is quite sad to me.

I spent some time praying, thinking, consoling with others who shared their concerns and fears, and, with a sense of humor, talking to my parents about building a bunker as part of our Thanksgiving Day festivities.  (I mean…just in case, right?!)

I believe that love does trump hate and took the time to randomly message a friend of mine to let her know that I love her, cherish her friendship, I admire her tenacity, and to encourage her to continue reaching out, in love, to the homeless population in our community.

I listened to the song, “Man of Sorrows” and it just kicked me right in the gut.  I wept.  I thought of Jesus and the kindness and mercy He showed to those who differed from Him.  I praised Him and sat in awe about the power of love that He has shown in my life and in the lives of so many others.

I thought about how He approached the woman at the well.  He knew her history and current situation; yet, He did not shove her away.  I recalled His interaction with the leper.  He touched him.  He did not run from him.  He did not fear him or reject him.  I thought about His healing of the blind man, and His seeking out the woman who touched his garment.  I know that the Savior I believe in and have entrusted my eternity with never turns away from the hurting and the least of these.

As we head into 2017 with a new President, my deepest prayer is that we will choose to turn away from fear.  We will run like Christ did towards those whom others have shunned.  We will stand in faith and belief that our witness can make a difference.  We will not stand for hatred, selfishness, exclusion, or discrimination.

As a result of this election (and other issues going on around the world), I will continue to intentionally teach my children that living out faith by showing kindness, being merciful, fighting for justice, and walking humbly is what our country and the world needs.

We need Jesus.  We need to be His hands and feet.

We need to prove to the world that we want to love as He did.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8

 

7 Billion Ones {The “YOU MATTER” Movement”} Adoption.com article

About a year ago, I met with professional photographer, Randy Bacon and his wife, Shannon.  I was asked to share my story for their project, 7 Billion Ones.  Since meeting the Bacon’s, I’ve become more involved with their project.  7 Billion Ones is now a movement and it is absolutely rich with humanity.

I wrote an article for Adoption.com about this movement.  You can read it by clicking on this link:  7 Billion Ones {The “YOU MATTER” Movement”}

I am a firm believer in the truth that everyone has a story to tell.  Everyone has a story that matters, and we can all learn from each other.  Whether it is substance abuse recovery, domestic violence, life-threatening illness, suicide, adoption, or any other life experience, there is always something to be learned from another person’s walk.  Sharing ourselves with the world promotes empathy, understanding, wisdom, healing, and connectedness.

Please go check out the article and stay a while on the 7 Billion Ones website!

Blessings,

Caroline