Friday, May 31, 2013

This is my story…

The question comes up at times….
Why are you doing this?
I must admit there were times I wondered myself.   Especially in the beginning.   The beginning was hard.   The beginning always is it seems….
A year under my belt and I have learned a lot.  Mainly I have learned this: I am beautifully inept, a delightful mess;  I am often misunderstood and at times misrepresented but I have this great big Daddy God.  From the blue streaks in my hair to my too big thighs, I am a bit of a conundrum but  He loves me immensely and  I am just crazy enough to believe that when He says do it, He means it and still childlike enough to believe that where it matters, He will not let me fail.
It wasn’t always that way.  God had to work hard for me.  Tucked in the mountains of Tennessee, feeling alone and unloved, and because of trauma in my childhood, I learned to fend for myself.  My nose was pierced before it was cute (we are talking the 90’s baby) and I could cuss out a sailor.  I was angry.  I was lost.   And I was determined to need no one. 
During a particular ugly time I vaguely remember my step dad going to church.   I didn’t think much of it at the time.
One day I went to church.  That day changed my life forever.  At the risk of sounded more like a kook then I already do I will say this: God spoke directly to me.   He literally called my name. 
Inexplicably my step dad quit going to church and he certainly was not going to go to the little black church down the road from our house in Sevier County, TN.   Life continued on as it has a tendency to do.   I learned and I grew and I joined the choir.  I still miss singing in that beautiful choir even if, according to them, this silly white girl clapped funny. 
One day, out of the blue I looked out at the crowd from the choir box and there sat my mom and my step dad.   Elder Page leaned back and whispered to me:
“I know that man sitting with your mom”
“You do?”
“Yes.   He came here one day.  During the altar call he came down and asked for prayer for his daughter.  I have been praying for her ever since”
I was that daughter.   This little white girl was sitting behind the man that had prayed for her faithfully and that one day had the privilege of leading her to Christ…singing in the choir in his church, the only black church in Sevierville, TN that I am aware of  in 1995.
All that to say this:
I was adopted by God.  Not because I was beautiful or talented or even slightly attractive but because of His great love.  And because of His great love I am compelled to love.  When I look at these children I see myself, I see my sister and I see Daddy God reaching down to save us.  I remember that He has restored the dignity that was stolen from us and I remember that He gave so much.   How can I say no to His call?   In my weak moments I must admit that there is still a small voice in the very core of who I am crying out “More, God, more of you…” but the whole of me is frightened of what that will cost.   May God cause that small voice to become a deafening roar so that even those who are near may hear it too…may I learn to stop fighting and start dying.
Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….James 1:27
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
I would love to hear your story.   Leave a comment, link your blog, drop me an email.   Tell me what is amazing about you…

She Does Justice

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Someone Stop the Ringing….

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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This, then is love…

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When it feels like the rain just might not stop….

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.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sometimes it’s all very big and scary….

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

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Foster/Adoptive Mom Survival Guide: Resources

Here are some things I love.  Things that keep me sane.

RAD Mom: A great resource if you are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder. 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

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Foster Care/Adoptive Mom’s Survival Guide: Expectations

or as my cousin used to say: Don’t should on yourself!

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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Foster/Adoptive Mom’s Survival Guide: Self Care

*I am not a therapist, nor do I play one on TV.  I have just been there, doing that and this is what has helped me.  Run it through your own filter.  Use what you want, ignore what you don’t.

**Self Care is important for anyone dealing with trauma, etc.  If you are battling anything (loss of a child, chronic depression, etc.)  this may be helpful.

The one thing that I have learned that has helped me survive the trauma involved in dealing with traumatized littles is this: Put your own mask on first.   Whatever your role in life, women tend to be very good at one thing: caring for others and very bad at another: caring for themselves.  We burn the candle at both ends and then find ourselves depressed and feeling defeated.  Taking care of yourself is not selfish.   It is necessary.

Here is what self care looks like for me:

  1. Learning to articulate my needs…and to stop feeling guilty for having them.  I am a recovering traumatized kiddo myself (more on that later on the blog, all I will say now is God is amazing!) and children learn quickly when needs are not being met: do not complain.   They do not learn that there is a difference between expressing a need and being a brat so they stuff.   Those big feelings do not go away they just scream louder in different ways.   I can not teach my children to define safe boundaries or express their pain properly if I do not learn myself.  God created us with a need for community.   We are not whole without other people.   In a practical way it means I stop hoping everyone will read my mind.  I say what I need.  I ask for a hug, whatever I need in that moment without apology and without regret.  I give myself permission to need someone else.  I am not a rock, I am not an island.  I am a woman loved by God and desperately in need of all that He has to offer.  Perhaps you had a lovely childhood but there was a message sent (maybe unintentionally) that you better just “suck it up Sally”.   Stop.  Don’t suck it up anymore, lean on the people God has placed in your life.  Sometimes we lean, sometimes we hold up…it’s the cycle of life.  Be in balance and practice both.
  2. Embracing who I am in Christ.   This looks different for everyone.  For me it began with simply accepting that I am really pretty much the bee knees in His eyes.  My circumstance does not define me, He does.  I will not beat myself up at the end of the day anymore than I would beat up one of my kids.  Nope, I am not perfect but He never asked me to be.  He asked me to be there and just show up and I am rocking that pretty good.   Yep, the kids scream like banshees some most days and I used to take that on.  I was stressed and shaken, I blamed myself and convinced myself that if I was a better mom these littles would have been able to stop the daily trauma drama.  Now I tell myself the truth: God called me here.  Right now at this moment to do this thing.   I don’t know what will happen in 5 minutes, I might blow it, but that’s His business.  And it doesn’t really matter… He will love me anyway
  3. Escaping the chaos.   My peanuts like chaos.  It is what they understand.   Survival skills work best in chaos. I step away from it.  It looks different at different times.  Right now little #1 seems to be triggering left and right and he quite literally can not leave my side.   I still take time to escape.   Today I turned on the video monitor (oh how I love my video monitor), put him down for a nap and I took my hoop outside and blared the music.   I hoop danced my heart out.  I listen to music that heals me and empowers me and I move to it.  I look like the village idiot but my groove is back and I am ready to give again.
  4. Bringing the silliness back.   Healing is serious stuff but we can still laugh our way through it.  Have fun again, it’s okay.   If you were brave enough to do anything what would you do?  Do it!   It doesn’t have to be silly but if you feel silly doing it, do it anyway.   You only have this moment, don’t waste it.   Tonight I will be at a belly dancing class if anyone wants to join me….

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lambs for Sale!

We have a whole slew of IDF and IDF/CormoX lambs available. Here is a peak at just a few:

                                          #125 Cormo/IDF Cross Ewe (twin) born 4/18/13

                                          #101 Cormo/IDF Cross Ram (single) born 3/25/13

                                          #101 Back View


                                          #137 Pure IDF Ram (single) born 4/7/13

                                         #134 Pure IDF ram (single) born 4/6/13
There are lots more out in the pasture! These buggers do not like to have their pictures taken :) Email countingsheepfarm @ for more info.

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