Community support. Let’s be a village of change.

We all have things that ignite our souls and also things that send a justifiable rage through out our bodies. For me they are both of the same thing. Injustice to children and the pursuit to help children. This is undoubtedly my life’s purpose. Any one of us can get on social media today and see so much anger behind what people strongly believe in (usually political these days.) Everyone has a passion, a conviction and a drive in them. But I think there might be better ways to fight our battles and that is together. We as a community can ignite actions for real and tangible change. Change that will help so many families and vulnerable children in our very own communities and back yards. From the beginning of this storm our family has been in the fight of our lives against a system designed to fail families like ours. While simultaneously also fighting against mental illness that is bigger than I ever knew possible. We have heard over and over how our situation is so unique or there aren’t protocols in place for families like ours. We have been told over and over that no one knows what to do. We have fought to clear our names, fought to keep our family intact and now we are fighting a fight that is so big, so powerful and perhaps intimidating that if it wasn’t for the truth that God is bigger, I would have surely crumbled by now. But here’s the thing. We are not the only family in this situation. Many don’t raise their hands and publicly say “me too” and I don’t blame them at all. The ridicule, the judgments, the lies and slander, the false allegations, wrongful charges and so much more that came upon our family with standing up against our very own Goliath has been beyond what most of you know about. There really are SO many of us. So many families that said yes to bringing big traumas, devastating abuse, horrific neglect, and some of the most severe complex mental illnesses one will ever experience in their lifetime into our homes. Families that adopt children from super hard beginnings don’t need your judgment, they need support from an educated community. These families are not the problem, they are fighting desperately to heal the child filled with the devastating problem. You can give real and tangible help to these families by showing your support. Showing up when many others have walked away, because the journey is long. I will never stop fighting or be silenced about the injustice of our story. Because it’s not just our story. It’s a story so many families are living or more appropriately said, barely surviving through.  So here is how you can be part of change for families and children like ours in your very own community. If you can’t foster or adopt children, please support the families that are. We are not saviors or heroes. We are ordinary families with callings on our hearts in which we said yes too. Here is my dream for my community. If you’re in the mental health system, a first responder, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a pastor or personnel in the legal system, please educate yourself and your work place on what severe complex trauma and mental illness in children really looks like in a family setting. Don’t just read books or go to classes that teach about reactive attachment disorder, disassociate identity disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, sociopathic tendency or so on. Talk to the families living with these very real, preventable and devastating mental illnesses. Dig deep with your time, love and resources to learn, support and engage in ways that will really help them. By helping the family that are being the cast around the child filled with trauma, you are helping to change generations to come from more trauma and preventable mental illness. All of which will forever change our communities for the better. This problem is big, devastating and affects families in every state and corner of America and beyond. If you know a family that has adopted children from hard beginning, even if you don’t see the trauma first hand, go today and tell them you see them and you are with them through this long, beautiful and sometimes devastating journey that God has called them to. Ask them questions, learn ways you can help, listen to their hearts for their children and respect the boundaries that must be put in place for everyone’s safety.  And if you already have a purpose that is bigger than yourself. I support you, I see you and I’m proud of you for chasing after it. People with a purpose bigger than themselves inspire me and people that come along side others to help carry those purposes further along are true saints and the kind of people I want and need in my community. Imagine how beautiful and strong our communities would become if each of us picked something that God has already put into motion to get behind and support. To help ignite the fire of change and be part of something bigger than any one person could do alone. Maybe I’m naive and thinks the impossible is possible.  But my heart believes strongly in the notion that my pastor Ed Waken often says, “When a lot of people do a little, much is accomplished.”  We as a family are going  to accomplish something bigger than ourselves, so no other family ever has to be in this horrible situation and separated from each other. Families belong together. I strongly believe that education is our first step in achieving this goal. I can put professionals and families in your path for you to learn more and help enable change for one family and child in the trenches of trauma at a time and let’s watch and see what God will do.

08937E83-D94B-4233-BF9D-5A4EF20C35DE

 

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

….no mountain unturned


Would we still say yes to being our little boy’s parents knowing all that was in store for our family?  
Goodness that is such a loaded question. One I have sat and thought about, on some really hard days. On one hand, if I never met him I would never have fallen in love with him. So maybe not saying yes might have been much easier at the time. On the other hand, if I never met him, I would never have been able to love him and that is equally as devastating to think about. But I did meet him and I did fall completely in love in love with him. So here we are and this much I know, I will never regret loving him but loving him is the easy part. The darkest and most painful days of our lives have came with bringing trauma into our lives and home. We have second hand trauma from living in the chaos mental illness brings. It’s not our son’s fault, not even close. Which makes some of the choices we have to make even harder. My childhood of abuse doesn’t hold a flame to the anguish of the last couple years has brought our family. As a women, your identity to a degree is wrapped up in being a mother, at least it is for me. The nurturer, the safe place, the person that fixes the boo-boos, the one her child runs to when they’ve had a bad dream. But I can’t be that for him and it’s so dang painfully hard. As his mom, my arms should be his safest place and they are actually his scariest place. No matter how much it is explained to him, his basic instinct kick in and his soul screams, ‘moms can’t be trusted.’ Which is ass nine backwards for most of us to comprehend, but his early years taught him it was true at a primal level. So each day; I wake up and still choose him, I choose him over my own selfish needs and wants. I choose to do the hard things over the comfortable things for him. I choose my other children too and place our family as a priority above all else right now. I choose to put on thick skin and fight the clueless people trying to hold us back as we are trying to push forward. Daily I still choose him. We have to leave no stone or mountain unturned in the fight to save our son and hopefully I will have a heart that is at peace of knowing we have done everything within us to give him the life he always deserved and hopefully that life will be something beyond what we ever could have hoped for him. IMG_1391

Victories and Struggles

Your child’s story is his to share….

It is and much of it is also our story.  Trust me only those closest to us know the deepest and darkest parts of our story. There are valleys of sadness that aren’t shared, mountains of victories left unsaid, days of desperation that only a few have held us through. Moments of great grief that I was literally carried, like, physically held and carried by family and friends, because I Just couldn’t. There are things ahead of us that most know nothing about. But I strongly believe our lives are meant to be shared and I hope I always share our story with dignity and truth, without compromising anyone’s own story. Sharing the hard parts comes with sharing the good. Isn’t it deceiving just a little to only share the victories and blessing, while leaving out the valleys and the storms? I have shared very openly of my childhood of abuse but I also left out a million pieces to the story and yet, what I did share, helped many, healed myself deeper and led me to a healthier and better version of me. A book came from it, a non profit was started and friends were made that will hopefully last a life time. All because I chose to share my heart. We live in a world of secrecy, privacy and where we only share what is safest with those that are safest. But what if our stories have bigger purposes than just for ourselves to learn from? What if what we walk through can help another person? Would you share differently if you knew it would? I know for me personally I am drawn to people that let folks into their own struggles and not just their victories. I share our world openly, because that’s me, I enjoy writing, I love what it has done for me personally and I love you all enough to let you in. One day I hope to share more of it and I pray it helps someone that’s also in the trenches of life. So many of your struggles and victories have blessed me and encouraged me to do more, love deeper and be braver than I was the day before and I am thankful you trusted me enough to let me in. Sharing parts of most areas of our life isn’t a bad thing, it’s an okay thing to do, even if it’s a little terrifying. Each and every time I have shared a part of us, I have always been scared with being so vulnerable, but so far, I have never regretted letting folks in.FullSizeRender