Hope abides; therefore I abide.
Countless frustrations have not cowed me.
I am still alive, vibrant with life.
The black cloud will disappear,
The morning sun will appear once again
In all its supernal glory.
Hope is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited
At the core there are really only two emotions: love or fear. Every other emotion or reaction stems directly from one of these two places. You are either operating out of fear or you are operating out of love.The Bible tells us that perfect love casts out fear…where there is love there is hope. Hope squashes fear.
therefore I have hope.
The Lord is my portion. But what does that mean?
1: an individual's part or share of something: as
a : a share received by gift or inheritance
b : dowry
c : enough food especially of one kind to serve one person at one meal
2: an individual's lot, fate, or fortune : one's share of good and evil
I am still learning what this means exactly, day after day of walking with Him slowly teaches me that He is all I need, He is my source of hope.
We recently walked through some difficult days financially. I begged God for this one thing and in the end I had to let that thing go. I searched the scriptures for His promises, something that would quiet my heart and reassure me that we would not hit that one milestone I was so afraid of….I read that He never leaves us forsaken, that our seed will never beg for bread but in my heart I knew He was whispering:
If you lose it all, can you still believe and know that I am enough? What if I say no again? Can you surrender this also, and still hope in me?
We didn’t lose it all but I did have to let go that thing that I treasured so much. It hurt, I won’t lie but you know what? He was, He is, He always will be enough.
The Lord is my inheritance, my good thing….I have hope because I have Him. And because I have Him I am enough because He is more than enough.
Hope has a way of turning it’s face to you, just when you least expect. You walk in a room, you look out a window and something there leaves you breathless….You say to yourself, it’s been awhile since I felt this but it feels like it might be hope.Hope does that sometimes. It catches you off guard, it takes your breath away, it reminds you: not all is lost…
A couple of weeks ago I cried myself to sleep. I am 37 years old but I went to bed bawling like a baby. We are now 15 months into this journey with Abraham and Isaiah. I have been so angry I thought my head would explode. I have been so dog tired I literally couldn’t take another step. I have been so discouraged by the behaviors I was seeing that I dreaded the morning. I have doubted myself. I have doubted our system. I have even doubted God. But you know what I have never done?
Regretted a single moment. Not.even.one.
Last evening I picked up two infants. Last night was long; up every hour with a newborn. This time we go into it with the intention of reuniting this precious ones with their parents… last time we knew that we were headed toward adoption. My heart aches for these parents and babies. May God heal and redeem…
I know, I know it sounds crazy. WHY would we take on two infants when we already have our hands full? I can’t explain. All I know is God says go and we go.
It feels like summer just got here and now it’s gone…as quickly as it came.
The days were full of lambs…
and lush pastures….
and attacking bottle babies.
Lots of smiles….
and of course, work!
The timer beeped on the oven just as I was walking through the kitchen. It’s been one of those days….one child is sick (and screaming) another child is upset that I left him at home to go grocery shopping (and screaming) and I am a bit sick myself (and considering screaming). Today was the second day of homeschool and the peaches absolutely could.not.wait one more day to be canned.
As is typical for me, I had wonderful plans for all that we would learn today. The children with their sweet cherub faces would look up to me with smiles, me, the doting mother meeting each and every need.
We have so many expectations of ourselves as mothers…so many lines that must be crossed or we declare ourselves failures. For a moment I was overwhelmed by that list left undone but I decided to look at the day in a different light. There are only so many hours to do all that must be done and in those hours I did so much more right than I gave myself credit for….
I spoke kindly when the child mashed his peanut butter sandwich into the table. Consequences were given but not with anger.
The peaches did get canned and the jam was made.
Everyone was clean (well, mostly) fed and loved on.
The dishes were washed and put away.
And the peach cobbler was delightful.
and I am addicted to food.
I spent last weekend back home in the mountains as I mentioned. What I didn’t mention is that I was there to attend my step-father’s funeral. A man, who had he been able to break the addiction of too much, would very likely still be alive today. While I want to honor his memory, the sad truth is food killed him. And as I stood there in my mother’s home I had to admit….if I do not get this under control, eventually it is going to kill me too…
I am learning slowly and some days I stumble so hard I wonder if I ever will beat this…in fact I had almost come to the conclusion that it was too hard, I would always be in bondage. “I will just be fat!” I told myself. But the truth is this is really not about fat or skinny and it really isn’t even about the food. It is about me, who I believe I am and who God made me to be…
Ironically when the struggle was most fierce I came across this:
which prompted me to step out of fear and write this. This post, that I have considered writing 100 times, but I have been unable to because the pain of it is so raw, is more of a line in the sand than anything….a declaration to do the work that must be done even if the healing is slow.
Hello, my name is Rachel….and God is healing me from my addiction to food…
Recently I had a few well meant conversations with a few well meaning people who felt compelled to share their observations of a weekend/hour/minute spent with our oldest little (who is by far the most severe in terms of trauma behavior). In a nutshell they consisted of how well he behaved in their presence and then the usual “perhaps you are too hard on him”
“if you treat someone like they are bad…”
“you are always upset with him”
“he can’t move before you are after him”
This based on how kind, sweet and obedient these children are in the presence of others.
I understand the motives behind this, I really do….but lately I am not up for it. Lately I have been running like a chicken with my head cut off to fiber shows, visits with far away parents, my step father’s funeral in TN and when I am home the little is very angry. Understandably angry, I have been gone a lot; but until you’ve lived it….it’s really hard for me to listen to your advice. You just don’t understand. I can not explain to you adequately the exhaustion, the frustration, the grief that watching a child destroy the world around him (even at times himself) causes a mother.
Yesterday Todd and I both were able to be with the boys. We had some hiccups but it was a noticeably better day for me.
“Wow, today went really well! The boys were great!”
“Are you kidding me?” my husband said, astonished “They were horrible today. I had to correct them all day long. They are never this badly behaved with me.”
Yep. That paints a pretty good picture. The smiling child you see is not the one I live with…and most of the time that’s okay. Much of the time I understand the grief and sadness that compels him to punish me in the first mom’s place. But the words hurt. The judgments burn and honestly they make a hard job just that much harder. I know you want to help and I understand your concern but leave the advice to those who are trained to understand the wounds these children have endured. They have a therapist and case worker watching closely over them, they will not allow them to be mistreated. I am not doing this rogue, trust me. Please, Please understand that the behavior directed at me is not a result or in response to my treatment of them. Yes, I become overwhelmed at times but I love them deeply and I am doing everything I can to help them heal.
I love this post: The Whipping Mom I think she explains it well.
*linking up here :)
1. I love girlie things.
2. I had all of my kids at home except Josiah, he was born in a free standing birthing center. I have never been to the hospital to have a baby.
3. My first car was an orange Chevette with wood paneling with the word Woody on the back.
4. I was born in Opelika, Alabama
5. My legal name is Kachel, not Rachel. Someone misspelled it on my birth certificate.
6. Although I have spent more of my life in Michigan, I will never feel so at home as when I am in the hills of Sevier County TN.
7. If my husband would not die from shock I would have dreadlocks and several tattoos.
8. My husband is 15 years older than me. (This probably explains #7)
9. There was a day that I knew every single word to every single Prince song.
10. I hate crickets. I really hate earwigs.
11. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 36 years old.
12. I love to sing. I also play guitar. a little badly
13. I am superstitious. I can’t help it. I know that it isn’t bad luck to kill a cricket but I still can’t do it. And I as I said I hate crickets.
14. My Mamaw would have given me or my sister the spanking of our lives if we ever killed a cricket. or opened an umbrella inside. don’t get me started…
15. Jesus saved my life. literally. I’ll tell you all about it someday.
16. My nose is pierced. It was done in the pre-husband days so sadly it has gone the way of tattoos and dreadlocks.
17. I am
scared freaked out terrified of the dark.
18. My mom still lives in Tennessee. She is hoping to sell her house and move up by me and I am irrationally upset, to the point of tears. My papaw is down there and I can not bear the fact of leaving him alone although he has been dead for close to 20 years. She needs to move up here, I just don’t want to sell the house. I am silly like that.
19. I am incredibly silly both in the way of #18 and in the general understanding of silliness. I can crack a joke anywhere, anytime.
20. I hate to cry, not even a little.
21. I WILL NOT watch a movie that will make me cry. I have never seen Titanic, Schindler’s List, Faith Like Potatoes, or Courageous for that very reason. See #20.
21. I hate seafood. I went to Red Lobster once. I had a hamburger.
22. I am a sugar addict. Not in the “oh shucks, I have a sweet tooth” way, more in the “I am killing myself with food” way. I was recently told that I need to treat sugar the way an alcoholic treats alcohol. I am desperately trying to do that.
23. I find it offensive when people use the words “foster care” “foster” or “adoption” when referring to pets. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. I think we need to care for them well and I honor the depth of joy and am deeply grateful for the blessing of irreplaceable companionship that they bring to our lives but, I fear that using the same language to describe caring for an animal as well as caring for a child minimizes the pain and grief the child experiences.
24. I am a little scared you will hate me for typing #23 and now I feel like I need to use even more words to defend my position and make you love me again. I love words and for people to love me.
25. A friend once told me “You are water. He is the container.” That perfectly explains me and my husband.
My sister and her children spent the week with us. Soon the fundraising begins, the nitty gritty of details….the end of life in America. I want to beg her to stop. I want her here, safe, without a gazillion miles between us. I want to watch her children grow. I want to hold their hands. I dread that much of who they will be will unfold for me only in pictures and email and phone calls (and that dependent on just how much access they have to the technology required to reach me here.) I don’t, however. I sit silent with their decision, this heavy call. I understand some of what it means to live a yielded life even if it tears my heart….
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple…
We had a lot of conversations this past week. Many words spoken, contemplating the call of God. Her as she and her husband prepare to move her children to Africa, away from all they know and me, as I teach my children to love the hurting as we raise children of trauma (who despite all the wonderfulness that is very much a part of who there are, are grieving in very difficult and exhausting ways). What does it mean to live beyond yourself instead of for yourself?
Here is my body, broken for you…
I wish I could put this jumble of thoughts in some coherent string of language that made sense but I struggle. The sacred and the mundane often bump heads and we are jumbled around in the middle trying to figure out where we fit. But of one thing I am convinced: when Jesus called his followers to take up their cross he was not referring to a charm that dangled around a chain on our necks. I believe with all my heart that when we refuse to lay it all down for the sake of our Savior we are not withholding some needed thing from our God, but instead we are withholding from our own selves the very thing that leads us to true joy. When He calls us to suffering it is not to harm us, but instead to heal us….
O Shepherd. You said you would make my feet like hinds' feet and set me upon High Places".
"Well", he answered "the only way to develop hinds' feet is to go by the paths which the hinds use.”
― Hannah Hurnard, Hinds' Feet on High Places
The screaming continues. Some days I am really okay with it. Today, I am pretty sick of it. Today I want to throw therapeutic parenting out the window and I.want.to…..SCREAM back. I want to forget all I know about trauma and love and God and I want to think only about me. The truth is sometimes I want to lose heart.
I whisked the non screaming children outside to breathe the air and the grass. A moment to step back and reflect. Remember. A moment to reset. Intention. We sat in a circle each of us for a moment of peace and affirmation. We listened to Rich Mullins remind us that it really is okay to be small. It is okay to feel powerless and just because you feel the fear it doesn’t mean you have to embrace it. We spoke about value and love and all that God feels for us. I’ll admit it, today was a little harder than others but I was able to acknowledge the fear and then step away into hope and back to love.
We all face giants from time to time. We are all small sometimes. We cower….so weak and the problem loams so big. Load your slingshot friend, take courage and don’t give up now….God’s got this.
I'm gonna tell you a story
That you've probably heard
And at the risk of being redundant
I'm gonna tell you something
That may not thrill you
But it could not hurt
Well it comes out of the sacred
Writing of the Israelites
It's the story of David
And how he slew Goliath
Well now the king of his country
He didn't trust in him much
And so to David's alarm
He tried to fit him in his armor
But the thing was so heavy
David couldn't stand up
So he left it by the river
Where he gathered five smooth stones
I guess it's safe to say he figured
He wasn't going out alone
He's not alone
What trouble are giants
What's wrong with being small
The bigger they come
You know the harder they fall
When you're fighting for Zion
And you're on the Lord's side
Well I think you're gonna find
They ain't no trouble at all
No trouble at all
No trouble at all
Now there must have been some laughter
Among the Philistines
At the sight of this scrawny little shepherd
Coming out to meet the record-breaking mammoth of a man
Who was a killing machine
But it didn't shake David
'Cause he was smart enough to know
It's more the size of who you put your faith in
Than the size of your foe
What Trouble are Giants- Rich Mullins
I am the Sherlock Holmes of mothers. I spend my time watching my children’s behaviors and trying to translate for them. In my best moments anyway…in my not so best moments, well…not so much. But even in my failing, God speaks…
One of our littles is struggling pretty significantly. We have had to tighten the boundaries, make his space a
bit lot smaller. We limit his interaction with others and we limit his choices. Everywhere he goes, he goes with mom or dad. Our goal is not to punish him or “ground him” but instead to eliminate those choices that he really can not handle right now. It is overwhelming to him right now to decide to not hit or throw rocks so we take those decisions out of the equation so that he can be successful. Occasionally we give him a bit more freedom as a trial run. Much of the time he only lasts for a few minutes before he will let me know through behavior that it is just too much. Developmentally he needs to take a step back. Yesterday, I attempted to get some yard work done and let him try out a bit of freedom. In the end he spent most of his time outside sitting on the porch with his hands in his lap. I have chosen to stop being frustrated by his way of communicating and instead develop a sense of “hearing” that I did not have before in which I draw from my own experience with childhood trauma and most importantly lean heavily on the leading of God.
“I am curious Abraham…what are you afraid will happen if you just follow the rules?” Silence
“Are you afraid I will forget about you?”
More Silence then…
I understand. To trust that I will be there even when the world is turned up down is hard. To trust that God hasn’t forgotten when it feels like the sky is falling is hard. Sometimes I want to pitch a fit too…just in case He has forgotten me.
“Let try again, do you think you can follow the rules?”
So we do (try again) and he doesn’t (follow the rules). Not even two steps from the porch he stops to attempt to pull up a paving stone.
“What did I tell you to do?” I admonish, hoping to get him back on track before he goes too far off the rails….and I suddenly realize…
Those words, they were meant for me. God was speaking again, this time through my own mouth.
“Rachel, what did I tell you to do? Why are stopping on the way? Why are letting the enemy distract you? Why are you focused on so many things except the one thing that I have called you to do?”
He has shown thee oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee. To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God. Micah 6:8
I remember as a child, my mother combing my hair….putting it up in pigtails or some such. I remember that I would cry and fuss.
“It hurts to be beautiful baby girl.” she would drawl in that southern belle voice of hers that still breaks my heart. So much pain in that voice.
I remember, and it makes me wonder….how many times do we miss the beauty for the pain?
I think of the beautiful families that I know walking a dark road, I think of the last year and just how hard it’s been…how many times have I asked the Lord to remove the pain? How many times do we begrudge the work that the Lord is doing because we do not understand, because it is too painful.
It hurts to be beautiful baby girl…
We have felt led by the Lord to take another direction, not necessarily a different one but one that takes us further than we expected to go…we have walked where we felt led and the way looks dim. It’s seems a little crazy. It is all wild and wonderful when played out in our heads but real feet walking a very real road get blisters sometimes, they hurt, they stumble. We get tired, we get cold and lonely and sometimes we care nothing for roses because we have been too pricked by thorns.
Beauty hurts, baby…
Today, faced with indecision and the temptation to despair I remember the roses, I remember that beauty comes with a cost and I remember that He makes all things beautiful in His time. Once more I bow my head to the pain and I submit to the husbandry of the Father knowing that all He has for me is good. And once more I say yes, even if in saying it I tremble for fear of what that means…
The phone is ringing and I want it not to be ringing. I want it to not be noisy at all cuz right now, right this minute God and I are having a pretty intense conversation about all this love stuff and how 2+2 does not at this moment equal 4. My phone is the wonderful type that says in a delightful monotone, metallic voice who is calling at the moment. “Call from @#$!, Call from @#$!, Call from @#$!” (Okay it doesn’t say a curse word but it feels like it, and that is what I feel like doing when I answer it)
A couple of days ago I waxed eloquent all about the glory of love. But today, when the rubber meets the road I feel like love has crashed and left me sprawling all over the highway. Right now I feel like I have put in my coin and God keeps flashing “OUT OF ORDER! MAKE ANOTHER SELECTION” at me. And to top it off there’s the kid in the pantry trying to convince that he is not sneaking food and I am seriously thinking “Eat whatever you want cuz I’m done feeding the lot of ya!” I mean I’m all excited about laying it down for the least of these, until the least of these start screaming in my face.
This must be what dying means….sometimes you just have to keep doing what is right, until it feels right. True love has very little to do with how you may or may not feel.
May I be broken bread, may I be poured out wine
May I incarnate, Your kindness Lord
Spend my life Jesus, anyway You please
Whether on great things, or what seems small
Your will done your way
Your will done your way
Your will done your way
I will not fight You
Take me past the line that my heart draws
I will not fight You
Take me beyond the laziness of my thoughts
I will not fight
Lead me further than I've gone before
I will not fight You
I'm abandoned to Your call
Do not let there be, any part of me
That’s untouchable, unreachable
Let my delight be, living out Your dreams
Washing dirty feet, and kissing yours
God let Your dreams come true, dream through us
God let Your dreams come true through us
Broken Bread- Rend Collective Experiment
I have often thought I knew what love was…I have often been wrong. God has been revealing it to me slowly because He understands I am frail and because He knows that love is a frighteningly powerful thing.
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32
He is showing me that loving means dying. To truly love I must no longer think of my owns need or desires but I must move in the best interest of others despite what it costs, trusting that He will provide. I have often struggled with the verse that spoke of turning the other check. Does Christ literally mean that I do not defend myself? Does He really expect me to allow myself to be a doormat while others use me?
For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. John 13:15-17
When we first began with the boys I was a hot, tired mess. I cried myself to sleep for fear of what the next day might bring…how much more screaming, raging, biting, kicking, cussing can I take? Then I began to do as Christ instructed, I allowed love to do the work. When self cried out (as it often does) “this isn’t fair!” “you shouldn’t be treated this way” I ignored it’s pitiful cries. I get tired easily but love can take a lot. As self dies the labor becomes easier and love given away, multiplies. My littles are unsure what to do with love. Screaming does not move it. Tantrums do cause it to run. And despite their best efforts I see they are oddly attracted to it. Once an angry detestable thing, I was nothing more than the “giver of all rules and punishment”. They saw me as the thing to fight against but now love has made me beautiful to them. Slowly I see them less inclined to turn to strangers for help in their cause against me, slowly, ever slowly love is making me trustworthy.
I still do not understand love as I wish and more often than I care to admit self gets free reign but now that I am acquainted with love I desire to see it fully realized in my life. What rules and structure were unable to accomplish in months love did in weeks. Yes, we still have rules, we still have structure, in fact not much on the outside has changed. But on the inside….the transformation is nothing short of miraculous.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing….And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3,13
Sometimes you feel like you are drenched through but the rain just keeps coming. You want to hide in your bedroom and cry but the children need breakfast, and the house needs cleaning and the bills need paying. And the promises of God seems so far away in the midst of the mess and the storm.
You doubt yourself, and (if you’re honest) you doubt God and it all seems confusing and hard.
Everyone wants to give up sometimes…but the magic happens when you don’t.
Sometimes the sacred gets lost in the mundane and we forget who we are….who’s we are. Fear seems so big because it stomps it’s feet and in wishing we were more we forget that He is enough.
The thing about anniversaries is that they always come back. They are big looming beasts to these littles who, although cognitively they can not articulate or understand them, react nonetheless. It’s May. One whole year since they transitioned here, to their fourth and final home. The feelings are big and the behaviors are scary.
One, the younger, is doing quite well actually. He is learning to play well with the other children and does so often without supervision. Hugs are kisses are enjoyed, even sought after. Snuggle time with mom is special for both of us. He is beginning to feel safe and loved.
Not surprisingly, it is the older son that is struggling. Hugs and kisses are scary things…hard to trust. Too much and he is sent spiraling out of control leaving us both confused and wary. The screaming will start and we will be cleaning up pee again. It would be easy to compare the two and label one good and one bad. It would be easy to give up, to cover my wounds and raw nerves and leave him, withdrawing the affection that he is so frightened of, so unsure how to respond to…
It would be easy to answer fear’s call and protect myself.
But that’s not love.
So right now, I am acknowledging my need for a break. He is in his bed, safe. I am upstairs breathing in God’s grace, caring for myself. Perhaps I will knit all little, perhaps I will get the hoop spinning but whatever I do I will celebrate me and I will celebrate who God is in all of this.
Then in a bit, I will get him from his bed and I will enter his pain again for as long as I can handle. I will acknowledge it and I will help him find words to take away the fear of it and I will pray. I will speak truth over him….
You are loved. You are wanted. You are valuable. God has not forgotten.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.” Is 49:15-16
Here are some things I love. Things that keep me sane.
RAD Mom: A great resource if you are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder.
www.homeasoftplacetofall.blogspot.com Seriously good stuff here. Her words resonate with this trauma mama in a profound way.
Christine Moers on You tube Take a deep breath and watch her videos. Just try it, you will feel better. Promise.
This blog. Written by a foster child that aged out…it is very insightful. Yes. there is language…might as well get over it now.
This book. Nancy Thomas’ methods have changed our home, for the better. We modify to fit our littles but the premise is the same.
Compelled by Love by Heidi Baker Not necessarily about foster care/adoption but specifically about sacrificial love.
Risk is Right by John Piper Because it is. This book reminds us that we were made for more than white picket fences in suburbia
Expectations. Everyone has them and they are not necessarily a bad thing BUT they get in the way sometimes. So much of life is about perspective. Realistic expectations are key.
When we first started on this journey I expected to instantly feel overwhelming love for these littles. I didn’t. You know what I felt? Frustration because of the constant pushing. Fear that they would always be this out of control. And tired, I was really, really tired. What I thought I should feel and what I really felt were not lining up.
The tyranny of expectations didn’t stop there. I expected my bio children to be kinder, more compassionate. I expected my husband to anticipate when I needed a break. I expected the 3 year old to stop peeing all over my house (guys we are not talking accidents here) and certainly the 4 year old should be able to control himself for just 5 minutes while I use the bathroom right?
Wrong. Expectations were running the show and I was frustrated, overwhelmed and disappointed.
Enter grace. It doesn’t mean that you expect less, it is just that you hope more. You accept where you are, where they are and you enter the moment. You will mess up, they will mess up but the great big God who does all things well does wonderful work in broken hearts. Expectations demands results now, grace waits for the best, understanding that the healing takes time. Expectations are bound up in self. Grace is bound up in God.