We found hope in surrendering.

In the Old testament it says that Abraham had been given a promise of a son. For Twenty-five years he waited for God to keep that promise. God kept his word and gave Abraham a son named Isaac. And then this happened in Genesis 22:2

“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”

Can you imagine what Abraham must have felt. He begged God for this son, he waited so long for this child and he finally had his boy, and now God was asking Abraham to give this child back to him?!  And somehow Abraham mustered up the faith to do just that. 

The Bible says it was a three-day journey that Abraham and Isaac took together. I wonder how many times during their journey, Abraham looked over at his son with tears streaming down his face knowing what was to come. 

For the last year we have cried, more like sobbed, with many of you, but to one person in particular, it has happened more often. I would tell her that I couldn’t do what the Lord was asking of us, that it was going to shatter me, shatter us and change everything and I desperately did not want it to change. Every time this conversation would come up between her and I, she would respond to me with, “I see a vision in my head of Abraham and Isaac and the faith it took for him to obey God.” And each time she would say this to me,  I would respond back with, “I do not have that kind of faith, I am not that strong. I can’t do this.”   I wonder if Abraham said something like that internally to God during his three-day Journey with his son to the top of the Mt. 

But still Abraham and Isaac eventually did reach the top of the mountain and In Genesis 22:9-12 it says, 

“He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy.”

A few Monday nights ago, Ben and I reach the top of our mountain. I was laying on our bed and Ben was on his knees next to the bed. With a pen in his hand and a document between us that we both knew once signed would change everything forever. The grief was unbearable. I started sobbing in ways I have never cried in my entire life. Ben was also crying and he didn’t know what else to do, so he prayed. He asked the Lord to give us strength to hand our son over to him and that we both knew that He loved our son more than we did and to help us to trust that.  Then Ben stopped praying and said, “I feel that the Lord is asking us to dedicate little man’s life over to him at church this coming Sunday.” So after talking for a while together and with others people we decided that we would take that week and on that Sunday we would dedicate him and his life to the Lord. We went to bed that night smiling and something was lifted from us for that moment because, we knew we had a few more days with him, a few more days before our hearts shattered in ways we can’t describe. But three days later on that past Wednesday, we woke up like any other day and seemly out of the blue things came to light and transpired quickly regarding him and about where he was staying. Everything got flipped upside down and by 4 o’clock that afternoon he was home, in our house for the first time in 18 months. We still do not know what the future holds for him or for us as a family. But we did find hope in surrendering. 

God didn’t ask Abraham to surrender because he wanted to punish him, but because He wanted to bless him. And God did exactly that. When Abraham surrendered to God, God blessed him above and beyond. When we surrender, God blesses us and in our case he blessed us with hope. This doesn’t lesson the pain or struggles of this journey but it does give us hope and a trust that we needed in order to continue on. So no matter what God does in all of this, we are learning to trust and believe it will be good and perfect because God really does love him more. 

So in this moment and for the last 12 days, we are a whole family, under one roof and my heart is more at peace than it has been the last four years combined.IMG_2611

I had nothing left

Four weeks and two days ago, I looked up to see the strongest man I will ever know, weak in his knees, filled with overwhelming pain and desperation. In that moment, I knew it was as bad as I had thought. We were drowning trying to save our son. Our other children were seeing their parents fading away in front of their eyes, lost deep somewhere in a broken, dirty, trauma filled trench, desperate to save their son. I didn’t know where to turn, or how to get help, I just knew we needed it. I had nothing left.

Four weeks and one day ago, I screamed out in desperation for help. I was sinking, losing and terrified. My breath was gone, my endurance had been pushed to a ability above anything I could ever have envisioned. I had nothing left, but an empty bed.

Earlier today, I sat at a table, each chair was filled with therapists, doctors, high needs caseworkers, behavior coaches and family support therapists. I felt okay until I pulled into the parking lot, a instant sadness and grief engulfed me. I somewhat pulled it together and walked into the meeting. After the hello’s and small talk, our high needs laid it all out in front of me. I am not exactly sure when it happened or how, but as she talked, the room felt more and more as if it had been emptied of all the air or maybe it felt like there was too much air and the room was going to explode, I can’t quite explain it but it felt very real. As the room filled with that overwhelming feeling of pressure, I sat trying to listen to each person talk about their client or their patient, but all I was thinking about were his eyes, his empty bed, his untouched clothes and toys, his dry dinosaur toothbrush. I was thinking about my son. I felt such sadness in that moment, I wanted to leave, I wanted to be anywhere but there. I laid my head down as tear flooded my face and in that instant the room went silent for a moment. In these folders were information on therapeutic homes and they wanted me, this little boy’s mom somehow to pick the best home for him to live in. “It’s our home that’s best for him to live in,” I silently screamed inside. Eventually his team and I narrowed the folders down to a few that met his safety level and location. Towards the end of the meeting someone asked me if I had any more questions for the families and all I could think to say was, “will she pray with him, when she tucks him into bed each night, will she pray with him?” A response was given, “we can ask, when we meet her.” I then signed the papers needed and I walked out to my car where I cried the hardest I have ever cried in my life. I eventually went home, where I just couldn’t, so I put on my very dusty running shoes and started to run. I ran until all the emotional hurt turned to physical hurt. I ran until my head hurt as bad as my heart, until my shirt was as wet from sweat, as my face was from tears. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to feel this. This was not how my family was suppose to be. Love was going to fix him, my arms were the safest place and yet it didn’t and they weren’t. I had nothing left, so I ran.

A HTCT home is a family setting with high needs trauma training and safe guards put into place that the average family can’t or doesn’t have the ability to do. The goal of these places is for both families to work together in therapies and in personal life to help heal the child and his family, while also keeping everyone safe. It sounds good on paper, it’s not the hardest thing to admit that this is bigger than us and we need help. But choosing, sending and letting go, there are no words in any dictionary that can accurately describe the anguish and heartbreak that comes with those words. I had nothing left, but to choose.

Our son is so little and so innocent. He didn’t ask for this trauma or how he acquired it. He isn’t able to do any different right now and this is the safest place for him, we know that. Somewhere in this story there will be a chapter that leaves us all cheering and praising Jesus for the victory in little man’s life. I know our son’s story doesn’t end here, it just can’t. He is worth fighting for. This is our hope and we are clinging to it with all we have. So if you are skeptical or not emotional attached, please fake it in front of us, we need that hope and we need others to have that same hope. We need to set our hearts and eyes on the chapter that leaves us all breathless in a good way. Today we are sad and have nothing left but hope and somehow that’s okay.

Image 3-15-17 at 11.27 AM

A broken season of healing

Broken times, call for broken words, ramblings and tear smeared ink. Do you ever have so much in your brain and heart that you HAVE to sit down and write it out, or you may explode? Because you feel like talking about whatever it is that is weighing you down is too exhausting after you have repeated your words 45 times a day for weeks and even months, to doctors, nurses, therapist and state workers.
So, today as my house is calm, quiet, safe and a few of my little humans play next to me, I will spill my heart and I am sure share more than I should. But what do we have to lose?
Our home is filled to the brim with love, like crazy, I couldn’t breathe without you in it kind of love. There is no place like home to me, the people God filled this home with, are my tribe, my safest place and have my heart completely. I love the crazy noise, the laughter and 98% of the time, I love how perfectly the kids fit together like a glove and I am not talking about OJ’s glove, but a perfectly tailored glove. Even as I write this, I can’t help but smile thinking how awesome our kids are. How much they have made this house a home and how blessed I am to be their mom. I am sure all of that sounds beautiful and what so many folks thInk of when adoption is brought up, because it is. Adoption is beautiful and at the core of God’s heart. But there is also another side, a broken side, a hard as hell side to adoption, a side most of us just don’t want to talk about for so many reasons.
Trauma.
The absolutely devastating trauma some of these kids go through, is life shattering, DNA changing and crippling to name just a few things. There is a secret society of moms and dads that none of us wanted to be part of, but there are thousands upon thousands of us. The tired and yet very determined parents that are fighting to save their child’s life, all while being aware there is very limited help and understanding out there.
We have spent the last year and a half learning about abbreviations like, RAD and ODD. We have tried to educate friends and family as much as we can. We have spent the last five days between home and a hospital, between eight parts of our hearts being at home and one part being away. Although, it is the safest and best choice for us all right now, we are broken at this decision, our hearts are bleeding and we are so dang mentally exhausted. We want more than anything to see our child through this pain to the other side of his trauma and yet, it’s becoming painfully apparent how deep and hard this road is going to be. He is worth it, our other kids are worth it, our marriage is worth it and peace in our home is worth it. But here, here lies a gut wrenching hard spot to be in as a parent, wanting your missing link to be home in its rightful spot in the family, while also seeing the difference your home has when that child is away. Guilt, shame and brokenness, those are the words hanging around Ben and I. They hang around reminding us of those moments we feel a sense of exhale, as we also feel a sense of not being able to breathe, because our baby isn’t home. There is just nothing like it, no amount of PS MAPPs training classes, well intended and informed people that walked this lonely, hard road before us can prepare a Foster and or Adoptive parent for what severe trauma will look like in your home. There is also no class or preparation that will prepare you for the fight you will have inside you for that very same child either. The natural momma/poppa bear that will come out of you, all while guilt, shame and brokenness are dancing around simultaneously, is immense.
Our family is on hold right now, we are in a moment of stand still and yet moving at a fierce speed. Have you ever road The Gravatron at the state fair? Is that still it’s name and is it still even around or did I just age myself? I use to love this ride as a child. It’s a circular ride that looks like a spaceship, you go inside and it moves so fast that you stick to the wall from the gravity racing around you. You are moving so fast that your body literally sticks to the wall and yet when you get off the ride you realize you never really moved anywhere. That’s where we are. Somewhere on that ride moving fast and yet not moving at all. One day we will get off this ride and we will move on to the next, but for now this is the ride we are on and sometimes it makes me want to puke and other times I go on for a second and third ride.
Do you all see how much I trust and love you? I just let you into our home, our hearts and the hard broken places, not just the rainbow and unicorn parts, but those places we like to pretend don’t really exist. Thanks for loving us so much and giving us a safe places to be, sit and even cry with us. Those gifts are priceless. There’s always extra seat on this ride and if you can stomach the speed and dizziness of it, please come sit next to us and join us. Life would be impossible if we didn’t have the friends and family we have. God set us up long before this season, knowing just what we would need and it included you!

Healing may look different for him

I struggle.
That sentence on its own is and could be the beginning and the end of this writing. It’s how I was feeling and wondering how to over come it all. I struggle with so much lately, well lately, might be an understatement, perhaps, more like the last 34 years, but who’s counting, right? I want to be open, transparent and vomit some of my heart on a few of you safe folks, with what I am going through, but in that lies the real struggle. Sharing my heart would mean, sharing my children’s lives, pains and exposing their brokenness and as a mom, I want to be the holder of their pains and that is hard to do sometimes, because holding on, means not letting go and I need to let go. I have three children with pretty big special needs, two of them have more obvious abilities, and one has an invisible illness. Mental illness, sucks, it’s hard, it’s invisible and devastating to walk through, but as a mom, to watch your child walk through or really be stuck in the depth of this illness is heart breaking and a level of frustration I can’t even begin to explain. It has brought me to my knees, rage, tears and back to joy and some times I go through each of those emotions in a single day. The amount of trauma some children have walked though or better yet barely survive through in order to have so many broken pieces is heart breaking for me to grasp and I thought I knew trauma. I mean doctors at one point in my life, labeled me with all the letters of the alphabets. Healing has mostly been attainable for me, but can or will healing always come? Will healing come to our small innocent children that never asked to be filled with all the inner turmoil they carry inside of them? What if healing looks different for them, what if it doesn’t come the way I beg God for? What will our lives look like, feel like and be, as the years past?
After the last while of asking God, “will this get better,” and feeling as though I am failing daily at parenting one of our kiddos. No, really, I mean failing for real, whether I really am or not, that’s how I feel so often. Recently while sitting in a doctor office for another one of my children, I started crying to the doctor about my fears, my failures and my heart to help one of my children win at life. This Dr. probably wanted to prescribe me some happy pills but honestly, it was what I needed, I needed to cry, vent and feel validated and then walk out knowing, my child will see healing one day. Maybe not how I want him too or maybe even better than I could have hoped for, but he will see healing, he will! I know this, because I know he will always know love, unconditional love, he will never again feel the pain of unthinkable abuse, neglect or the fear of not having Ben or I meet his basic every day needs. He will never have to question if he belongs, if he is wanted or how deeply he is being prayed for. His mind might not know how to trust all these thing just yet, but day by day, year by year, his heart will begin to see that he can trust and let his hyper vigilant little body relax in his momma’s arms that are so desperately waiting for such a chance.
I said I always wanted to be open and I do, I really do. Its been life giving to me to be more transparent. Adoption for us has been one of the most beautiful roads we have ever been on and yet, some of the deepest pains, lost dreams and many tears have entered into our lives over the last two years. Somehow, mental illness isn’t talked about as easy as other illnesses are. Maybe, it’s because it makes us feel weak or there was something we could have done differently, maybe we feel like we haven’t prayed hard enough for healing or maybe it’s just too damn painful to talk about but, we need to start talking about it, because it’s real and it’s stealing lives and breaking families apart and if I have breath in me, I will not let it win in our home. One day, maybe not for awhile, I will be able to say just how far he has come, how deep he loves and how big he trust, all while being wrapped up in my arms. There is always two sides of every story and every story has the beauty and heartbreak, sharing both is equally as healing and life giving.

Observing the symptoms ~ Treating with love

 

There is a different kind of love story developing in this journey of ours, that I never expected. When someone goes into fostering, they know there will be children to love, most with severely broken hearts, but at least for me, I didn’t go in thinking God was going to push me and by push, I mean hands on my back, as my stiff legs and feet are dug deep in the dirt kind of push, to love the biological parents to all the children that we will be blessed enough to love on. Often these parents are the ones that have broken the children we are tirelessly trying to help mend back together, often these parents are angry, broken, filled with bitterness and yet I know they each love their children to the absolute best they know how, even if that looks different to how we may give love. God from the day we brought our first little one home, spoke directly to my heart, asking me to love the bio parents, even when almost every fiber of my being wanted to scream at them, lash out at them, or simply wished I wouldn’t have to deal with this side of the story. God spoke, he pushed, he showed, he led and day after day, struggle after struggle I continue to see glimpses of His promises shining through. Then there are set back and I want to quit, to not walk in love, to just be raw, real and say everything that my heart wants to scream. That’s about the time God slips his sweet, gentle, kind, yet firm voice back into my raging heart and whispers how these parents have their own broken story, their own heartaches and their own need for love and understanding. I think it was Oprah Winfrey that said, “The greatest human need is to hear someone say, “ I hear you and I see you.” They need some control, some love and some grace thrown their way just as the rest of us do. They need to see Jesus in us, as desperately as these babies also do and at times that is a hard pill to swallow, because if I am completely honest, they scare me, they have the power to break my heart as deeply as their own hearts are breaking right now, two sets of parents that love the same child to the absolute fullest each knows how. There has been days in this short eight month journey of ours so far that I have genuinely fought with God, saying he couldn’t possible know what he is asking of me. To love the sweet victims, even when they bring ragging fits, broken screams and terrified hearts in to our home has felt like first nature to me, but loving the ones that caused the pain, that is hard, that isn’t natural, but the more I observe the symptoms, the more I see how to treat them, with a large heaping dose of love. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. If ever I have needed to pray for love, peace and understanding it’s now, because one day these children will need this part of their story and my heart needs too know that I have preserved the integrity and love of their ever after. I think this part of the story is were I want to close my eyes to and fast forward, scared of what I may see and what He may ask of me. I guess I just need to keep asking for a little more understanding, a little more grace and a lot more love, because the days I have, have made all the difference in the world. How many of you have been asked to love someone, to sit with them in their brokenness, even when it doesn’t feel natural. Have you started? It’s hard and it sucks at times, but you just might see what I am slowly and often reluctantly learning