Monday, April 20, 2015

Guest Posting at No Hands But Ours: The Burden of Expectations

Have you heard about No Hands But Ours?  This site is a great resource for adoptive parents, especially those who have special-needs adoptions.  Founded by adoptive families, there are many who contribute to No Hands But Ours.  I have enjoyed learning from fellow adoptive mamas.  I'm guest-posting over there about attachment in the first few months of bringing our children home.  

"I will always remember the first time I made an attachment blunder. My three children had only been home a week.
It was a traumatic moment for both my daughter and myself.  She was two and I was trying to “set limits” by telling her what she can and cannot do with the toys. She proceeded to “disobey” and so I said ....."  Continue reading over at NHBO.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Saying Goodbye and Empowered to Connect

A few days ago we had a sweet visit at a park playground with birth mom.  She is someone I hold dear and is a precious soul.  I wish I could put the love, protective instincts, and respect for her that has grown in me over the last five years into you so that you could know this amazing feeling it is to love the woman who birthed your babies.  Adoption has its messy parts and our relationship with her is most definitely that.  But the beauty of our relationship and how God has grown something so special between us is a miracle and I wish everyone could experience it's beauty.

At the park Alisa met a friend (which frequently happens because Baby Girl never met a child she didn't want to befriend :) and then I saw her immediately get nervous.  I asked her what was up and she explained she didn't know what to call me since she already called Birth Mom "Mom" in front of this new park friend.  I felt her dilemma of not wanting to confuse her friend and feel too "different", but I also wanted to assure her that it was totally OK to call us both Mom.  So I simply said, "You can call me Mom too if you want.  You have two Moms that love you :)."  Then my eight year old proceeds to explain she has a birth mom who "carried me in her tummy" and an adoptive mom who "takes care of me and I live with her now".
Play and swinging then proceeded as if nothing were amiss.

It was a wonderful, challenging, sad, happy day, and then we dropped her off.  We exchanged several rounds of long hugs and as the kids were all telling her "goodbye" over and over she said this:

"I will see you later.  I don't say goodbye."

Looking back I don't remember her ever saying, "Goodbye."  I realized what an impact that word has on a woman who had already lost so much, long before she became a mother and then lost her children too.

Goodbye.  There's really not much "good" about this type of "bye".

Instead she chose to see the hope in our next get together; "seeing us later" was something she wanted us to reassure her of in our last words.  If she focused on all the loss and leaving I think it might crush her.  It crushes me at times and its hard to breathe if I think about all the loss that has happened in their short lives, in her longer life.  And I bring my own loss to the table that makes for even more loss and it just keeps adding up.  If I focus on all the loss I cannot bear it.

Thankfully, I believe in Someone Who Can.

So I follow the example of my teammate, the other mother, and look to what I can do- not about fixing the loss but what I can do to point them and myself towards the One who can.  What kind of parent I can learn to be like that will help ease the loss and point them towards an eternal "see you later".  The day when all the loss gets wiped away.  Forgotten about.  When the loss becomes insignificant.

In the mean time, I hope to parent in a way that honors both the past AND the possibility of another future for them.  A future where they can freely express themselves and are not ruled by their loss and fear.  One of the most life-changing times in mine and David's life was our attending Empowered to Connect.  If you are in the Atlanta area, we are hosting the live simulcast here in Marietta, GA.  Details and Registration are here.  Dr. Purvis and the Empowered to Connect team have tested and true practical ways and things to think about that can help us be the best parents for our children.  This was The Thing that prompted us to open our doors to our non-profit a couple years ago and we so very much hope you can join us for this rare simulcast event.

If you aren't in Atlanta, please check out to see if one is near you here.  The details vary by location.  This conference is usually only offered a couple times at only three cities a year.  Don't miss the simulcast if you are an adoptive or foster parent.  And I would recommend any church worker, teacher, ministry leader, therapist, anyone who works with those from hard places attend!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The time I forgot the spoons

Today I forgot the plastic spoons in my kids’ lunches.  May seem like a non-consequential act, but I was in tears about it.

Let me set the scene:
Alisa, my oldest girl, had mentioned to me that the plastic spoons might need to be put in their lunch bags sine she noticed there was applesauce cups in their lunches.  Background: she fears I will forget things.  She comes from a history of people forgetting to take care of her in very important ways.  It’s completely understandable that she would be somewhat hypervigilant about spoons in bags.

However, I was annoyed.

I went into a speech about how I’m the mom and how it’s my job to take care of her.  “You don’t need to worry about things like spoons; that’s MY job- the Mommy!”  I wasn’t yelling, but I wasn’t sweet.  I was quite sure I packed them in their brown sacks since I made sure to pack them the night before so they would be ready to go for their field trip.

Sweet girl that she is, just apoligized and moved on.  I was satisfied that she chose to trust me in that moment.

And then an hour after I had dropped off the girls at school I found them.  Plastic spoons on. the. counter.

All I could think in that moment was that Alisa must feel so uncared for and all her fears of me not taking care would come crashing in on her and she would have a melt down at the Tellus Science Museum!

May seem dramatic, but those were my thoughts.  I cried.  I felt terrible.  I felt shame.

I hold myself large in my mind; my actions are weighty and too important. 

He is bigger than my mistakes.  I am learning to hold both the true weight of my faults and mistakes in one hand and His covering and forgiveness in the other and forgive myself.

If you have a need to forgive yourself for something you did as a parent today, please do it!  You have been covered!  And no matter how much your actions loom large, they are never bigger than Him and His ability to overcome!

I am not responsible for who I am.  He is responsible for His creation- He gave me my identity.  I did not create myself.  Nor can I create for myself a better or worse identity, true identity.  My identity comes from Him alone.
Since He is the "I AM"; I am the "you are"- no qualifiers or quantifiers.

Therefore, I am not my actions.  My actions or misactions are not who I am or who I am not.

Please hear that today dear mother, loving dads.  You are!  You have been made and created for pleasure and a purpose.  I hope these words encourage you as you tackle the mistakes you make and the challenges of parenting.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sweet recipes for your Valentine

Spent today looking back through the archives to find some ideas for my Valentine's Day weekend alone with the kiddos.  Thought I would share some of my favorite finds from over the years.  [I also noticed I have a thing for beets when it comes to recipe development ;)  Which is great for my health since they pack in tons of fiber and antioxidants with their rich purple-red goodness!]

I rarely use eggs and never use dairy, soy or gluten in my baking so all these treats are friendly to all sorts of allergies.

For the kiddos, a deceptively healthy Big Pink Smoothie (shhh! there's vegetables in there :)  I will make this one Valentines Day's Breakfast.

These Gluten-Free Red Velvet Mini Cakes are wonderful if you are going for something a bit more fancy.
I just might make one for just me this weekend :)

Paleo Friendly Treats:

Cherry Surprise Ice Cream would be nice, but you might want to use frozen organic cherries this time of year.
 Chocolate Cherry Almond Blondies
These are Paleo AND Vegan friendly, which doesn't come around too often ;)
Grasshopper Cookie Pie could be my favorite recipe I have made myself.  I have re-made this one more than any other recipe.  This pie also fits the bill for Paleo or Vegans as well since the filling is no-bake and dairy and egg free.  You can also use peppermint essential oil in this if you want to replace the peppermint extract and since it's raw, you still get all the digestive benefits of the peppermint oil.
For the Healthier Chocolate Lover 
Hope you all have a wonderful Valentines Day holiday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Candles and Story

If you know me or follow this blog, you may have heard or seen me speak about connecting with our children.  

Connection: the melding of hearts after a hard-fought period through muck and ugliness and heartache to get to a place where you are on the same side, the same team.

Easier said than done, right?

I have an amazing opportunity this weekend to share with some Created for Care adoptive mamas who I know struggle, as I do and have, with this whole connection thing.  As I have been thinking and praying about what it is that I am to give them, my story is what keeps coming to the surface.  Few things are more powerful than story.

Jim Gaffigan says it best when he talks about being a parent of multiple children, "Imagine you are drowning, and someone hands you a baby!"  We became parents of three- all at once- no time to get used to holding just one child up in the pool, much less all three :)  While this sentiment is hilarious and mostly true, it also sheds light on the reality of the feeling of overwhelm I had when my children first came home.

All the thoughts were swimming.  Can they heal?  Can I heal?  Will they be able to read/learn/calm/write/be social?  Will we find and grow into a connection with each other?  Would I ever feel sane again?

Amidst all of this time of floundering and struggling, there was a small voice that answered, "Yes" to all these questions.

And this is my hope for you, if you are in this floundering time, this time of overwhelm and fatigue, know that He also has a "Yes" for you and your children.  This is not the end of your story...

And as a testimony to His "Yes" for me and my children, we had a fun, relaxing day where directions were followed, laughter had, eye contact was celebrated, and relationships deepened between me and my two girls.

And we made candles!  These we really easy and I let the girls pick out which oils they wanted in their own candle.  And we thoroughly enjoyed each other :)

diy candles

Makes 4 1/2 cup candles
  • 2 cups natural soy wax (a bag of this is usually available in craft stores like Hobby Lobby)
  • 1/2 cup small mason jars
  • 4" free standing wicks (also available in craft stores)
  • Essential oils for scent- you do have to use a fair amount per candle- we used 10-12 drops per candle.  Here were some combos the girls came up with, but the possibilities are limitless:
    • Spearmint and Peace & Calming
    • Joy and Forgiveness 
    • Peppermint & Thieves
    • Grapefruit and Peppermint

  • Melt all the wax into a double boiler
  • When liquid, dip the bottom of the wick and press into the bottom of the clean mason jar
  • Then fill with liquid wax
  • Add essential oils to each individual candle
  • Cool in refrigerator or freezer for faster cooling time
  • Trim the excess wick with scissors and light
  • You can dye them with natural dyes.  I used beets for these, but next time I think I will just do white ones 

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