"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Monday, November 19, 2012


The other night I cried myself to sleep at the realization that they were gone.  I am sure I will weep my way through this as well. 
Who is gone?  They are-our precious friends, the first twelve students from IBCZ.  The students Brian helped interview, drive to the school for their first class (all 12 plus their luggage and Brian in our landrover!), the students we grew with, who became big brothers to our children, who loved us and we them.  Who we had to say goodbye to, prayed with and for, had a happy reunion with a year later, sent letters back and forth to, become friends with on facebook. 
Now they are gone, their four years of training completed and ready to graduate.  While I am happy and proud of them, it is bittersweet in a way.
Since coming home 3.5 years ago, I at least, have kept up with them, reading blogs of people who have served or visited, looking at pictures and sharing on Facebook,  sharing letters…I have kept a little bit of a connection because they were still there.  A while back I decided that I would until they graduated, then I would really need to back away.  It was always a “pipe dream” to somehow make it back once before they graduated, or for graduation, but at the cost for our family to go…well, I’d have to win the powerball and I don’t play! (okay, I do every once in awhile-like when the lottery is $370 million or more, because my chances of winning are so much better as everyone else in the country is also playing…oh well, $1 to the wildlife fund I guess.)
The other night when I read that they had left the campus it hit me.  I don’t think I was quite ready to hear that as I was thinking they’d be there a little longer since graduation isn’t until the middle of January.  All of the sudden  it felt final; they were gone, and with them, a tie to that time of our lives.  I grieved because I always pictured myself there for their last day.  I grieved for my kids, who keep asking to go back, who don’t even understand what it means that this last string is now cut.  I grieve because I guess I feel forgotten, wasted, spent, changed in a way I didn’t want to be.  This wasn’t how this was suppose to end.
And yet I suppose I should be going through this grieving, maybe I should have years ago.  Maybe it would have been easier to have wiped it all away back then, but I couldn’t.  There is still a lot unexplained, unforgotten (unforgiven?) unsatisfying, undone, unknown, unanswered.  While there will always be good memories and friendships to remember, the ache will be there too.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"mom....who's that?"

This is Charles at the end of July. Now picture another one or so inches in the bangs up front.

Tonight Charles had his first haircut.  I picked up all the kids at church.  Hailey came out of her room, looked a second and said, "Mom, who is that?"

I know it has been a super-de-dooper long time since we posted anything.  Partly, that is because I have been a part of a Facebook Liberian Mamas group where a lot of conversation has been happening.  Part of it is laziness-Brian has written a thing or two, but I have to get around to typing it up!  A part is that as I do therapy with Joe, I am able to process a lot with the counselor so I don't have it in my head needing to get out.  And of course, there is just life.  Brian is crazy busy with work and now harvest, we started school and have the yearly appointments to get through. 
I know I am feeling this restlessness again (no, it is NOT about going anywhere-take a deep breath grandmas!), some questioning about things that are going on.  We'll see if they come out in words.  Thanks for still checking in, we'll get back to you again!  (no promise though of soon!)

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I use the joke often myself: “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine.”  But the reality is we as a society do have a large area we call “normal” when it comes to social behaviors.  Of course there are variations by region, by people/social groups and what not; but still-when you see someone who is outside the “normal”, you know it.  It may the red rooster hairdo, the clothes, the vehicle.  I don’t know, but I know you know what I am talking about! 

 Nope, we are not shooting for politically correct today :)

I would say that 7 out of my 8 kids fit into that “normal” category.  Most of the time of course; kids will be kids.  Some days are rough with them as well and their actions, some of the outfits they pick make me roll my eyes, but behaviorally anyways, they are pretty normal, and they look “normal.”

The 8th one would fit into the “normal” category is we were strictly going by pick him out of a photo normal.  And that, right there, is where so many parents of adoptive kids, traumatized kids, special needs kids get a lot of flak. 

“But he looks just like all the other kids.”   
“Oh, kids will be kids.”

Not only is this one a tough one to explain, it is very hard to deal with.  We joke sometimes that we wish the kid would put on his “hard day” sticker (ok, helmet) so it wouldn’t be so hard to handle his behaviors.  So when he is having a meltdown and transforms to a one year old rolling around on the floor, kicking his legs in the air like a baby, you could see the sticker and say-oh yeah, it’s a hard day; today he is not an 8 yr old. 
But alas, they don’t do that.  Sure, I know my child well enough to see when the day is going to be tough, and it is very tiring.  It is tiring to have to explain to anyone you may be with that day why you are doing things the way you are that day.  It is so hard when the day before he WAS a very “normal” 8 yr old playing with his friends.  Truthfully, I was actually a little relieved (?) when he had a meltdown before my parent’s anniversary party.  I honestly didn’t feel embarrassed or angry.  I was just glad that someone besides our household was able to see what we occasionally have to deal with.
And it is tough to not feel judged when you have to have these special parameters around your child, even on a “normal” day so that it doesn’t become an un-normal day.

I know-we all need a little grace each day; for our kids, for ourselves, maybe more importantly for others who don’t deal with the kind of “normal” you do.  No, maybe most important for OURSELVES-tired, frustrated, worn out moms and dads!  Parents—don’t worry about what others think of you (or you think they think!).  YOU know what is best for your child at any given day, time, place.  And it’s okay when you get tired and just need them to be in their special place so you can have some rest or spend some time with your other children (and spouse!!) who need you too.  And it’s okay that you fail sometimes.  Failure is a great opportunity to have “repair” and “redo” time.  Lots of healing can happen in those times.  Grace.  Grace for yourself today.

Monday, August 13, 2012


“All day long I am reminded of my shame. My face is covered with it because of those who laugh at me and attack me with their words. They want to get even with me.”  Psalms 44:15-16 New International Reader’s Version

J had Brian read him these words the other morning.
The morning started okay, but the nervous system was definitely activated and running on high.  Numerous words were spoken about calming our engine down, doing the usual helpful things to get it calm, and yup, even some consequences were even threatened.  And still the morning continued to go downhill.  At one point it just became obvious that the potential risks of going to church were going to outweigh any possible benefits.  So the decision was made that Brian would stay home and I would take the rest to church (another post someday about how hard it is for me to be okay with that-that I don’t have to be the one to deal with everything 100% of the time).  This of course brought about the very thing we were trying to avoid (especially out in public).  I left and shortly after things settled down at home.  The list I left for him to do after calming down was finished and he began to read in his bible.

I am sure some would call it only mere “coincidence” that he ended up in Psalms reading these very verses, among others.  I can only surmise that God had a huge hand in it; for me and for him.

Anyway, he brought his bible to dad wanting him to read them to him.  Brian knew very well that he had already read them himself, so he wanted to know why he wanted those read.  “Because you didn’t let me go to church.” 
Now, one thing I am learning a lot through his therapies is the power of perception.  I have to be careful what I read/see in a situation, and then what I think he is reading/seeing, and then there is whatever he really is reading/seeing.  His perception and mine are very clearly different on many, many occasions and as we have had times where he is able to open up and talk about things, we can work together on healing the situations that he (or I) may be hanging onto that are not quite accurate. 
That day we also became aware of the fact that during a “situation” he does not remember what he was doing or saying; I maybe should have already known that.  His therapist says he disassociates once he reaches a certain point, so nope, he can’t remember much, and we want of course to try to avoid it getting there as much as possible.  As we talk through it he starts to remember.  It’s of course hard to know when he is faking the not remembering and conversely when he really doesn’t remember but is just agreeing that it happens because he thinks we want him to.
On this day Dad was able to have a good conversation about how we are trying to work with him to keep him safe, help him avoid embarrassment (he is keenly aware of the times he has acted out in public, even though he can’t control it) and how much we love him.

Me, well, that was great and all but I was struck with a 2x2 in the forehead with these verses.  I mean really, what are the odds that he would find these verses dealing with shame?  Something I had happened to be doing some thinking about.
Sometimes we do things with the best of intentions.  And yes, sometimes we mean to do them even though you know probably it won’t be helpful (to the/ child) but maybe will make you feel better…  

What am I talking about?  Yup, shaming.  What do I mean?  For me, sometimes it is just the “remember last time you did this and this happened?”  I also use my mask of sarcasm, “really, so when did I say that was okay to do?”  

Most of you will go “duh, that never works.”    
There are times though, that I bring up past incidents with various kids and I know it is a teachable moment and they will be helped by talking about the situation and it does.  

There are times too, where I want to remind the kids of past behaviors in an effort to avoid, or at least delay them for awhile.  With some of them it works, some not so much.  

And the ugly truth is sometimes I know it will do no.good.whatsoever. to bring up a past problem but I do it anyway because somehow it makes me feel…something.  Not better, not good…maybe more in control?  I don’t know what it is exactly.  I do know the line is very fine, but I also know it well and sadly chose to step over it.  I can hear a voice in my head saying “too many words” but I want to say it for my sake more than theirs.

Even more ugly, I have “attacked” my children with my words.  I hate it.  I don’t mean to, it just happens as frustration or exhaustion or disappointment or anger takes over and I vomit out all my feelings onto them.  There really is this moment where I do want to get even with them for how “they are making me”.  (“Cuz don’t I always tell them it is their own choice whether to get upset about something, and no one else’s???)  More than anything, it is my own feelings of (perceived) rejection, inadequacy and being unheard that I want to get even with, but it is triggered by something one of them does, and boom.  Explosion.

But then… grace is given.  A huge blessing of this incredibly hard year has been the learning of “repair” work.  How an apology and a hug and an “I love you” can heal a wound.  The kids have gotten pretty good about letting me know when I need to repair something I may have missed as well-hiding under the covers, talking under their breath as they walk away, tears…and they have extended to me so, so much grace that I have not given to them.  Amazing grace, amazing kids who teach me amazing lessons.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

let the bidding begin!!!

Here is the link to the "Christmas in August" fundraiser for the Early Trauma and Attachment Annual Meeting.  The auction lasts for 3 weeks, closing on August 22nd.  All monies raised go towards the scholarship fund for mamas going to the retreat.
Airfare/gas money, room rental, goodies, etc... all add up.  I know some women will pay close to $1000 for this one weekend to relax, rejuvenate, reconnect so that they may go home and continue to give the best care they can for their children from some pretty hard places.
There are some fun items like baked goods, "Wonder Woman" items, jewelry, electronics, just lots of goodies to choose from.  Take a minute to look through.  The bidding has already begun!
Thank you for supporting some awesome, hard working mamas and letting them now they are NOT alone!

(If you would like to help without bidding on items, there is a "donate money" link you can follow as well!  Thanks!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


For those of you who aren’t my friends on Facebook, I just signed up for my first ever 5k run.  I don’t remember if I wrote about it last summer or not, but I was planning on doing one last year with the two oldest girls for school.  Well, starting off running 3 weeks after giving birth and running everyday was.not.a.good.idea.  I ended up on my back for over a week and have had some pain every day since.
Regardless, my body has wanted me to run, it’s like a walk isn’t fast enough.  I go ever other day and up to about 2.75 miles in 33 min or so.  Yeah me!  Oh, and that thud?  Probably ever teammate and coach I have had hitting the ground in a heart attack.  Me, the fat girl who couldn’t even run maybe a quarter mile without needing to walk…

Anyway, today just after 1.3 miles or so, I got a stitch in my side; and it grew and it grew and I was beginning to doubt if I could even get to back into town without walking.  So I prayed about, asked for healing, rebuked it even :) !  And then I started confessing some sin that came to mind.  I didn’t notice the pain so much, but it was still there, and even more, I made it the full 2.75 miles.

What lessons did I learn?  Well, I was reminded once again that my sin has consequences.  Sure, there is forgiveness, we can restore relationships, but there are still hurts that will linger; we can’t forget the pain we received/caused.  

And my sin caused pain.  Jesus suffered way more than a little stitch in His side for me, for my sin.  

And when the day is going down the tubes, when I don’t know if I can make it until bedtime, God is STILL with me.  He reminded me HE NEVER LEFT, even through all the pain, the hard times, the hurts.  He has not left my side.  I just need to call out to Him, ask Him for help.  Will He make everything go away?  Probably not, but He will walk with me through it; help me get to the finish line.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Up to this point, I (we)  have not really written too much about our adoption struggles.  Scratch that.  I have a few times; I just have not posted them.  I actually have an anonymous- you won’t be able to find it unless I tell you-blog that I started. But even there I have only written a time or two. Two reasons: FEAR and RESTRAINT.

Restraint, because I know myself well enough to know that I often dump out all my thoughts in writing and some of it just shouldn’t be read by anyone but me.  So, sometimes it is better not to write anything at all, or post if I am not sure the line is very clear.  And I don’t know if I have been in the right place for it anyway.

FEAR, because well, I am human.  And I don’t have too many friends as it is :), and I have my own self-worth to work through.  This blog is read by family, friends, people at church; who exactly I don’t know, but people that I see.  I read and get support from other bloggers and facebook friends-that is like a whole other community.  And I don’t know if my two communities are really ready to collide.  I fear a collision that results in less friends of physical contact; more (perceived) looks/judgment from people around me, with more online friendship emphasis.  Which is okay I guess too, but let’s face it-I still have to “face” people in my physical community.  

At the same time, I know how I have been helped HUGELY by the testimony of so many other “trauma mamas.” Because of that, among LOTS.AND.LOTS.OF.THERAPY I am nowhere near where I was a year ago.
A year ago, I vividly remember crying at a dear friend’s table as she told me that sometimes disruption is okay.  I can’t remember the exact reasons she was giving, it doesn’t matter that much.  But I was just sitting there and bawling and trying to figure out anyway to ever make it okay.  I knew of course that it wasn’t (in our situation, for the reasons I had).  Maybe God just used it as the real wake-up call I needed to get US the help WE needed to keep going forward. 
And over a year later now, things have changed.  Are they still super hard?  OH.YEAH. We are in the midst of a two month or so regression that is sucking the life out of me.  But I am handling it much better, the behaviors aren’t as bad or as long, and it just doesn’t feel so overwhelming.all.the.time.  But yeah, it still sucks.

So, I may start writing some more about our struggles.  There is a growing adoption community in our area.  And the one thing many of us have never talked about (out loud) before are the hard things, the things no one wants to tell you because they don’t want to sway you out of adoption.  Or they are afraid because it will look like they aren’t good enough, or should never have adopted anyway because they aren’t qualified.  Or (my favorite) if God was really in it, it wouldn’t be so hard for you. Or because they are so lonely they don’t even know who to tell.  How do I know?  Because I have been there, I sometimes am still there.  

I may only be one little, tiny, baby step ahead of where someone else is right now.  But I don’t think I am supposed to keep that to myself either.  Honesty, putting it all out there is what we have always done on this blog; adoption may be the next step in our walk of faith that we are suppose to share.

Monday, July 9, 2012

ETAAM: Early Trauma and Attachment Annual Meeting
Christmas in August Auction! Fundraiser

A chance for moms to refresh, rejuvenate, connect...feel they are not alone!

I am SUPER.DEE.DOOPER excited to be going this March! If you have any items you'd like to donate for the auction, let me know...I can ship them with mine if you are local.


Friday, June 29, 2012


Today while making supper a thought struck me.  I ruminated on it a bit on my walk and a blog post happened…

I was just thinking how very often God DOES give us our heart’s desires.  He knows they are not maybe His final plans for us, but He gives it anyway in order to teach and prepare us.
I know I need to better explain that, and I will, but I want to be careful so I don’t have to deal with the comments about Africa being whatever based on anyone else’s whatever.  Africa was a part of God’s plan for us and I will.not.ever.doubt that.

There were things going on just fine in our lives 5-6 years ago.  God was working in our hearts and minds, especially Brian’s and things were happening and busy and sailing along.  But in some ways, we were stuck, caught in a rut of day-to-day-that’s-about-it-living.  Nothing wrong, but nothing too super either.  We were tied to the dairy farm and there weren’t many options outside of that, not that we were looking either.
So I strongly believe it was God who caused the stirring of restlessness in us, both at the same time, for the same thing.  

Long story short, we were in the process of preparing, moving to, living, and then moving back from our time in Zambia.

God gave us our desire to go and do “something else”.  He used it to train, prepare, cause reliance upon Him, show His faithfulness, His provision, to teach us what we needed to know so that He could have us back here doing what He wanted us to do and be okay with that-content with that. 
I personally am feeling a peace and contentment I haven’t felt for a long time.  (I know some of it is things being worked out in therapy with J as well.)  Sure, we are feeling the pinch of space in our house and yard, and there are some concerns and desires out there, but for the most part I really am feeling okay with where we are “at” right now.  

I also know I wouldn’t be feeling this way if we hadn’t gone and did what we did.  Brian wouldn’t be doing what he is doing now (well, none of us would), we wouldn’t be living as we are now.  So many things would be different.  Yet, there are a large portion of things that are the same as they were, way back when.
I think God allowed us to follow our desires, be able to use them for His Glory, and at the same time use them to teach us to be content with where ever He will have and use us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


(more from before...)

While talking with J’s therapist one day I mentioned a specific pain I was having at specific times (got that :) ??)  She asked me if I had ever had any post partum depression or anything medically “happen” during any of the kids’ births.  I of course said no, I couldn’t think of anything.
Later I mentioned it to Brian while we were eating and he said, yeah you had PPD bad after a few of the girls.  I laughed.  Yeah right-me?  I sure couldn’t remember anything!  I kept laughing as he reassured me I did.  He then spoke of times when I would be in bed crying when he came home.  My laughter soon turned to tears as I asked why I couldn’t remember any of that.  In the next second I did-not specifics, but I did remember a time of crying and saying I just couldn’t do it all and he was holding me, comforting me and telling me it was alright.
From what I understood from the therapist, our bodies/mind hold a lot of memories; but it has its own built in safeguards so that we don’t remember more than we can handle.  (Sorry, that doesn’t sound very scientific and I don’t have all the facts swimming in my head to pull out.  I am very left brained, analytical, logical and all that-but I haven’t had the head for it lately.)
Not to make that sound weirdo, but I can see it.  I have the mommy guilt/super mommy thing going full on.  I am often complemented and affirmed for being able to be so organized, handle so many kids, etc.  Sure, I will admit that I can do those things.  But it soon became that if I couldn’t, something must be wrong with me.  Or the kids-they have some big problem.  I don’t remember ever thinking that of course, but it was a nasty root that took hold.
Well, along comes the “year of therapy” with J—occupational, speech, play therapy for him and counseling for me to deal with it all as well.  I wrote about my “mommy issues” back in December some, really processed through some things and healed a bit.  Then, when the time was right, I was able to handle this memory-admit, see, really feel through what was going on back then instead of just disassociating from it.  I know I wasn’t ready before!

And by the way, I haven’t had that specific pain to speak of since.