Give That a Thought

While at the store the other day with my daughter, a lady stopped me and said, “Your daughter looks just like you. You sure could never deny her!” I thanked her for noticing us, wished her a good day, and even thought, “There are some days I’d like to deny…..” I’ll just stop there!

It is funny, you know. I get told often how all of my kids resemble me in someway. Sometimes, I see it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I definitely “see myself” in them, though. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you know those moments when your child says something in just a way that you are quickly reminded of how you must sound when saying the same thing? Yep, these are the times when I realize how much of an influence I make on my kids. It is also a reminder that if our kids can repeat some of the things we say in our not-so-fine moments, then they can surely remember the things we say when we are at our best.

There are also moments when your child does something out of love, or speaks incredible wisdom that stops you right in your place. These are the times when I catch a glimpse of myself in the kids, or am taught a lesson by them.

To the sweet lady at the grocery store who stopped to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, Thank You. As a parent through adoption, I get tickled by it, and find such a great sense of how truly awesome and purposeful adoption really is.

I love that in many ways my kids look like me, and my husband. More important, though, is the thought that every action or word we say as parents strikes even deeper in the hearts and minds of our children.

In so many ways, they are a reflection of who we are.

Give that a thought.

God Won’t Leave You In It {the wilderness of parenting}

Several months ago, I was contacted by an author regarding contributing for a devotional for adopting moms.  I was asked to write a five-day devotion, and agreed to do so.  The book is now out (future blog post to come about it).  I’ve been reading through parts of it, and came across this from one of the other contributors.

In the weekly devotion on the topic of love, she writes:

“Sometimes I feel as if I’m doing this all wrong. Being a mama is hard. My dishes are piled in my sink as I type this. I had to dig through dirty clothes that were in the floor to find pajamas for my baby because the flu has overtaken our house this week. It’s Monday and I haven’t bought groceries for the week. Toys are scattered all over my living room and if I hear Mickey Mouse Clubhouse one more time, I think I might scream.

However, these are insignificant to the despairs you might be feeling today. Loving children that come from hard places is difficult. You might have numerous therapy appointments scheduled this week. You might feel as if you’re the only parent who is still having trouble bonding with your child. You might feel as if this calling to adopt has taken you out in the wilderness and left you with nothing but pain, like Hagar. But God didn’t leave her there.”

Wow. Yep, this one completely jumped out at me. Life seems like a vast wilderness, sometimes. Parenting does, too. So thankful, though, that God does not leave us in our messes, and on our own as we tackle life.

If you are feeling as though your own parenting journey has become a wilderness, take heart. While the journey may be difficult at times, God won’t leave you in it alone.

Check It Before You Wreck It

My eight-year-old son was starting to get a little snippy with his sister, and soon, I heard my husband say to him, “Check it before you wreck it.”  As my husband came into the kitchen, I said, “That was a good one.”  He then began to tell me about a teenager on his caseload who has been exhibiting behaviors that could very well lead her into more troubles.

“I told her that she needed to watch how she is acting, and she then said, “Check it before I wreck it”, my husband said.  We both acknowledged that was quite insightful coming from a teenager who is prone to having behavioral problems,

“Check it before you wreck it.”

These words have been on my mind tonight.  How many times have we all wrecked important things in our lives simply because we did not check ourselves first?

And then, I think about my own life experience.  There has been many moments that I completely failed as a human being.  My anger, jealousy, or selfishness have all gotten in the way of making the best decisions, acting in a way that honors God, or restoring things that are broken.

When it comes to parenting, I’ll admit that I am far from perfect.  My children test me on a daily basis.  My oldest son and daughter are like oil and water in that they tend to aggravate each other most of the time, and our youngest, well…he’s almost three…so you know how challenging that can be.

Have I checked myself before I’ve lashed out in frustration towards my children? Have my words cut at times, instead of heal?  Have I truly checked myself before I’ve wrecked whatever it is that I’m dealing with?

I think about our relationship with God.  There is really not a lot that we can do to totally wreck it, except for perhaps turning completely away from Him and denying Him.  How precious that is…to think that even during our biggest fumbles in life, and our crazy wreckage that we leave behind, the Lord still welcomes us.

“Check it before you wreck it.”

Maybe we could all learn a lesson in this.

Check your desires before you wreck your marriage.

Check your loyalty before you wreck your friendship.

Check your temper before you wreck the trust with your children.

Check your motivations before you wreck your career.

And, check your heart before you wreck your life.

Little Reminders {how my son’s story encouraged my heart}

You know those moments when you think you *might* just be failing as a parent? Well, if you pay close attention to the fine details of life, you will be reminded that you may just be winning in this whole parenting journey.

My soon-to-be third grader son wrote a story for a school project. The story involved two friends who set out to find a castle with lots of precious jewels. They wanted to get rich. They found a castle full of gold, diamonds, silver ,emeralds ,and other fine things. They thought, “The people at this castle must be rich!”

However, soon after entering the castle, they were approached by an angry mob so had to run away without the riches. They ended up trying to find their way home, and found a deserted island instead. On this island, they came across a lonely, lost and stray dog.

They took this dog in, named him “Sparkey” and taught him how to fetch and play. Instead of setting out to find more riches, they decided to keep the dog, love on him, and teach him other tricks.

At the end of the story, my son wrote, “By the end of their adventures, they learned a good thing. Even though they were not rich, they had a dog, and that was better.”20150522_141653

Now, I know that my son’s story alone does not completely represent how I might be failing or winning at parenting, but gosh, it sure made my heart happy. I told him that I loved his story, that I was so happy that the characters kept the dog, and that they realized that being rich would not mean as much as helping out a stray animal. My son smiled. I could tell that he knew he had written a good story.

What his story means to me is this: Sometimes, when I consider all of the challenges of parenting, when I wonder if I said or did the right thing, and if, perhaps, I am in need of a “do-over”, I receive little reminders that, just maybe, I am getting this whole parenting thing right.

This Momma (who happens to love animals) received the best and warmest feelings today while reading through her soon-to-be third grader’s story.

Friends, if you struggle with the daily challenges of parenting, remember this: Kind gestures and words you speak can resonate loudly in your child’s heart.

Whether it is other people or animals, the opportunity to teach compassion for every living thing, to show mercy even when it is not deserved, and to raise children who are aware that the little things in life really can be the big things, is truly a gift.

Be encouraged. Be intentional. Be yourself. After all, isn’t this what we want our children to be?

End of the School Year Gift Idea for Teachers {Teacher’s Poem}

With the end of the school year upon us, my children asked if they could give a gift to their teachers.  They decided they wanted to give their teachers a candle this year.

After purchasing the candles, I decided to write a poem to go along with it.  candleteacherpoem

Here is the poem that I wrote for the gift:

Each time you light this candle, I hope you think of me, 

For summer’s come, school is out, may we enjoy the days with glee.

Thank you for teaching me to learn, live, and laugh,

And, thank you for advocating on my little behalf.

The light that burns within us all is brighter than the sun,

It is something that does not extinguish, it cannot be undone.

A teacher’s impact on young lives will never really fade,

Thank you, teacher, for this past year, now I’m off to the first grade!

Since my children are in different grades, I simply switched out the grade they entering so that I could use the poem for both kids.  Their teachers were surprised by the gift, and my children could not have been happier to give it to them.  I have saved the poem to use in the years to come.

If you are looking for gift ideas to give teachers, consider writing something that is heartfelt and personal.  Teachers give so much to our children day in and day out. Gifts and kind words are just a few ways we can express how much we appreciate them.

If you would like to use my poem as part of a gift for your child’s teacher, please email me or comment on this blog.  Have a great summer!

Blessings!

Caroline

Jars of Clay {God’s Greatest Treasure}

It had been a rough week with our daughter. She’s extremely sweet at times, but at other times, she can be quite difficult. As we left for church last Sunday, all I was thinking is how much I just wanted to crawl back in bed.

My daughter wanted to stay with us for the worship songs before she went to her Sunday school class. Although I really wanted her to go to her class, I know how much it means to stand together with your child and worship God.

Soon into our service the song “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong Worship was sung. The song uses part of the song “Amazing Grace” in it. Although I was dwelling on the issues of the week, and the problems we had just right before we left for church, I began to listen and hear my six-year-old daughter sing,

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

My daughter has said for several years that “Amazing Grace” is her favorite song. I sing it to her every night before she falls asleep. As her little voice sang the words, my heart was punched.

A little further along in the song are these lyrics,

“You take our failure. You take our weakness. You set Your treasure In jars of clay. So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be Your vessel. The world to see,Your love in me.”

As I tried to sing the words, my mind and heart were interrupted by the thoughts of my daughter, my other children, and my own life. Soon, I was wiping tears away.

During the song while listening to my daughter sing, I was convicted at the very existence of my daughter, and all of us.

Broken vessels.

Wounded. Weak. Full of failures.

Jars of clay.

God’s greatest treasure.

Did you read that? Inside of us is God’s greatest treasure.

Despite our failings as we walk this Earth, and despite our histories, our greatest regrets, and our current circumstances, inside us dwells the greatest treasure of all.

Friends, if you are feeling less than what you wished you would be, confused by your circumstances, or perhaps, that you are not worthy of love, remember this,

YOU are GOD’s TREASURE.

Isn’t that something to cherish?

Dear Infertility (Part 5)

Dear Infertility,

I caught myself thinking about you the other day.  I mean, honestly, how can I not think about you when I’m surrounded by the gift of adoption?  It seems odd, you know.  I used to suppress you, ignore that you found me so young in life, and try with every ounce of my being to not allow myself to believe that you were a big deal.

But, here’s the truth.  You were a big deal.  Through a random illness and subsequent surgery, you changed my course of life.  I entered into a world of barrenness that not too many seemed to understand at the time.  I was just a child, and of course, did not understand it, either.

How dare you push your way into my life.  

I did not invite you.  I did not ask for you to happen, and yet, my life had to be saved.  It is ironic, isn’t it?  The surgery to save my life rendered me unable to give life.

I found myself wondering about what my birth children would have looked like.  I also thought about what their personalities would be like, and if they would struggle with the same challenges that my children have.  I also thought about what it would have felt like to carry my children in my body, to nourish them, to provide them with all that they needed for a healthy development, and to hold them close to my chest after delivering them into this complex and amazing God-created world.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  My life is now built on a solid foundation of faith and love.  You, however, are like quicksand.  A foot-hold cannot be found in you.  You suffocate, swallow, and take…just take.  That is all you seem to know how to do.

And then, I thought about all of the others (far too many to even count) that are in the throes of trying to stand up in your quicksand.  I thought about the ones who are just learning of you.  They had their life planned out.  They desire to have a family, but you seemed to slither your way into their lives.

How dare you.  How dare you push your way into their lives.

It is funny, you know.  My life is no longer determined by you.  And, I have the hope that you will no longer determine the lives of countless others.  Oh, you will keep on trying, won’t you?  You will keep on kicking and screaming until they surrender.

However, I need to fill you in on something.  That something is called the ‘human spirit’.  You see, giving in does not come easy for most of us.  Throwing in the towel, surrendering, and giving up does not feel good, and it certainly is not a trait that we embrace.  If anything, it goes against the very core of our existence.

Dear Infertility,

So here’s the deal.  Why don’t you take a backseat for a while?  For over thirty-two years, I have carried you, and no offense, but you are kind of heavy.  You are also far too heavy for the ones who are just discovering you.

My children, you know, the ones I thought I would never be a Mamma to, are just as exquisite, unique, and loved as I thought they would be.  You did not dictate my life, despite your efforts.  You did not win.  Oh, I know how you must hate that.

I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  

And, just to make you feel as small as I once felt, I celebrate, CELEBRATE, every single adoption that occurs when couples, who have you hanging on to them, take the courageous step and become parents.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  I thought about how different my life might be if you were not in it.  Do you want to know something?

Without you, I would not be able to encourage others who find themselves on the same journey.  Without you, I would not be able to embrace how God had it all in His hands.  Without you, I would not be the mother of three amazingly challenging, and precious children.

Dear Infertility,

Why don’t you dwell on that for a while?

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives {Adoption.Com article}

I recently wrote an article about one family’s story of their adoption from Ethiopia for the website Adoption.Com.  As I was writing the story, I was moved to tears from the imagery of the words of the mother.

“When we picked up our kids at the orphanage, I remember pulling into the compound, the taxi pulling in through the locked gate, then kids flooding out of the house, running toward our car. There were probably 40 children there, climbing on us, saying “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Surely, there is more that we can do as a world full of beating hearts and stable homes.  Whether they come from Ethiopia, China, or are in the United States Foster Care system, there is no excuse for children growing up in this world without a family.

Consider what you can do.  Get inspired.  Do something.

You can read the article by clicking on the link below:

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives

Wow, God. Just wow.

There are some days that parenting is just like, “Whoa, God. Where in the heck are You? I mean the kids are driving me crazy!”

I worry about their behaviors. I wonder if my children are the only ones acting like this. I visualize massive failure as a parent.

Then, there are other days where it is like, “Wow, God. I feel You in the warm embraces of my young ones. I see You in their innocent and beautiful faces.”

I cherish the sweet moments of softhearted notes left for me. I hear their whispers of curiosity about life, and I realize that I am a good-enough parent.

Most of all though, I realize that parenting is not black and white. It is not even grey. It is full of color.

There are over-the-moon moments when I think to myself, “Yes! That lesson was learned!” There are also moments when I cry into my pillow saying, “No…no…this cannot happen again.”

These are the moments when I realize that maybe God is the most present.

For in these moments, I catch just a glimpse of the complexity of our relationship with our Father. There just may be moments when He thinks, “Yes!” Yet, there also may be moments when He thinks, “No…no…not again.”

At the end of it all, one thing is certain. Parenting requires daily attention. It requires humility, admitting our own faults, and faithfully remembering that God’s got this.

He knows our struggles. He also knows our children’s struggles.  He, too, is a Father. Remembering that, my soul says, “Wow, God. Just wow.”

Adoption at the Movies {Adoption.Com Article}

Foster and Adoptive Parents,

Do you ever watch a movie with your children and become uncomfortable when the topic of adoption comes up?  How about when the theme of foster care and/or adoption is negative?  

There have been moments in movies when I have wondered what my kids were thinking when these themes come up.

Well, there is a way that you can now get a review of movies from the adoption perspective!  My friend, Addison, has a website solely devoted to reviewing movies in order to help foster and adoptive families.

I wrote about this in my article on the Adoption.Com website. I hope you find his reviews beneficial.  I know I have!

Click on this link to be taken to the article:  Adoption at the Movies

Blessings,

Caroline