Monday, June 6, 2016

Moving past grief

Last year at this time we had placed one of our boys in a boarding school.  Another of our sons had chosen to leave us and return to his birth family. Though we had not experienced death, we were mourning the loss of two children.  Our hearts were torn apart by sorrow that seemed to never end.  It was a longing to hold them in my arms one more time.  It was a giving up of hopes and dreams. It was an ache that went on and on.

When life has does one live in the new normal?  A year later, I still don't have all the answers.  I can tell you the things that helped me the most.

Let yourself grieve.  Our family counselor and a good friend both told me I needed to let myself grieve.  I didn't have to be strong.  That was freeing for me.  And I did grieve.  Some days all I could do was cry.  Even now as I write this, tears surface.  I don't cry as often now.  Most weeks are good.  However, there are still times it hits me hard.  Just last week as we headed on a family trip to Arkansas, I wept.  I remembered our last trip to Arkansas.  I remembered our boys being with us and the good time we had together. And I missed them.

Learn to live in the moment.  I could not manage to look ahead.  It overwhelmed me.  I learned to take each day a moment at a time.  I did not know how I could go on another day or another week, but I could do what needed done in that moment.  One day at a time is literally how I functioned.  Yes, I did miss some things because I didn't plan ahead.  But I found it was ok.  God holds all the tomorrows.  I had to do the best I could with the day I was living in.

Let go of the past.  For some time the "what if's" controlled my thoughts.  What if I had done this or what if I had done that?  Would things have turned out differently?  Those questions will literally paralyze the human spirit.  They took away my will to go on.  I could not change the past.  I could only give it to God and ask him to make the best of the effort I had given to our children, and ask him to redeem my shortcomings.

Hang onto God.  When my world was in turmoil, I realized the only sure thing in life is God. Everything else can be gone in a moment.  Prayer and Bible study became a priority.   I was desperate to talk to Him and hear from Him each day.  Through the time I spent with Him, God granted me the strength I needed for each day.  I could not have made it without Him.  God was enough, and I would be ok.

Lean on your friends.  I have been used to being the one who helped others.  Instead I found myself in desperate need of my friend's help.  Mostly it was prayer support I needed.  There were times I would be praying and trying to get a handle on my emotions but simply couldn't.  At those times, I had a few friends I could text and ask to pray for me.  Their encouragement and added prayers to our Father got me through when I couldn't find the way on my own.

Even a year later writing this is hard, it brings fresh waves of emotion.  However, the emotion is also mixed with joy as I see what God has done in the past year.  Perhaps my journey through sorrow will help someone else.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

Sunday, March 27, 2016

My Chains Are Gone

Amber's favorite Bible story always has been Paul and Silas.  She loved to hear her daddy read the story because he did it with all the dramatic effects.  They would sing and pray while in prison, and the whole bed would shake during the earthquake.  Then Amber would want him to read the story again.  

As I reflect back on Amber's life I realize how much she has lived this story.  She had been chained by fear for years...imprisoned in a cell with no bars.  When she was just three years old, I would wake up at night to hear her singing "Jesus Loves Me" in a quavering voice.  She would feel alone, sad, and trapped.  She sang to the one who loved her.  She had many a sleepless night, but she talked to God.  As an older child when her heart was troubled she spent hours outside on her scooter listening to Christian music and singing to God.  Singing and Praying while in prison.

We experienced an earthquake last year, but it freed her from the prison.  I see a young girl emerging with a strong faith in the one who sustained her.  I see a confidence that comes only from God. 

I just went to a student led conference at the middle school with Amber last week.  She articulated her thoughts well.  She confidently presented me with work she had completed and a report card with straight A's.  Amber has come so far from the little girl who needed speech therapy because we could not understand her.  Meeting her now, no one would ever know learning to read was difficult for her and spelling was near impossible.  I walked away from the conference giving thanks to God for how far she has come and wondering where he is taking her.

God has freed her.  She now can sing, "My chains are gone.  I've been set free."  

Feeling thankful for resurrection power!


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Flower of Motherhood

Working in my kitchen
Hearing children's voices at play
Feet thumping up back steps
Door thrown open
Four year old palm grasping treasure
Plunks it upon the counter

A crushed dandelion
the first this spring
gazes up at me
Excited words spoken hurriedly
"Hey, mom, I picked this dandelion just for you."
Then back out the door he dashes

Only an hour later I look upon the bloom
Now withered with petals curling inward
And it hits me
Time is fleeting
Little boy today
Grown tomorrow and gone

Many a dandelion bouquet
Handed to me over the years
A pure expression of a child's love
Laid down to wither
Not fully appreciated
Put aside thinking there will always be more

Wanting to cherish these moments
For tomorrow is flying by
Let me hold this flower of motherhood
And soak up the love it contains
For the days of dandelions in grubby hands
Are fading as the sun begins to set

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Feeling Different

Our Avarie Faith
soft springy spiral curls
sparkly dark chocolate eyes
infectious smile
skin a soft brown

Our Avarie Faith
bright questioning mind
flare for the dramatic
feels deeply
longing for love and acceptance

Our Avarie Faith
music speaking to her soul
body set in motion
rhythm pours out
emotions released

Our Avarie Faith
eyes searching
noticing the differences
wondering where she fits
why she feels different

Our Avarie Faith
asking the hard questions
"Why were there slaves?"
"Why do they like him better then me?"
"Why did he think that joke about black people is funny?"

Our Avarie Faith
life as it is in her world

As a white mother of a beautiful African American bi-racial child, my eyes are seeing things through her eyes now.  Things I never saw before or felt, I see and feel now.  I used to say prejudice and discrimination no longer existed.  That is not true.

My first experience was shortly after Avarie came to our family.  I took her to a doctor's appointment.  The receptionist was slow to get to me and treated me in a cold disdainful way.  I didn't think much other then she wasn't very friendly.  I filled out the papers and took them back.  She noticed I didn't fill out the family history.  I marked it as unknown due to impending adoption.  The receptionist's tone changed completely.  "Oh, you are adopting.  How wonderful!  She is a lucky little girl."  I was somewhat perplexed by the change from cold to warm and friendly.

It didn't take long before I noticed that when I was out alone with Avarie that it seemed at times people avoided me.  However, whenever my husband and I were together, people we did not know would even approach and say things about how wonderful it was that we adopted.  Why the difference? Why would it be different if I was her birth mom and not her adoptive mom?

Kaishawn is Avarie's half brother by birth.  We had them both in foster care for six months before we could move on to adoption.  One lady pulled me aside and said, "You are going to change his name when you adopt, aren't you?  Kaishawn sounds... you know... so black.  He doesn't look black if you keep his hair short."  I was horrified.  My jaw might have dropped.  I am not sure.  Kaishawn doesn't have as many resemblences to his African American roots.  He has blond hair and blue eyes.  Nevertheless, he also has African American roots, and it is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. 

Avarie is almost seven now.  She is smart, observant, and sensitive.  I pray for wisdom as I guide her through these murky waters of racism and prejudice that unfortunately are still alive and well.  I pray we can teach her that her identity in Christ is the one that truly matters.  I pray she can overlook and forgive those who do not see the world through God's eyes.  I pray she can stand up and say I am one of the many beautiful colors in God's rainbow of people. Then in the last day we will stand together, my white skin next to her brown, praising God around his throne with those from every nation.

From God's revelation to John:
 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation , tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God, 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb." 
Revelation 7:9-10 NIV