His Mercy

"His Mercies Are New Every Morning"

A Thought

In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

Prayer Quote

“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis


I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Any Unpacked Bags Updated

I wrote this post in 2008 , but wanted to repost it, as this topic was on my mind after a conversation I had yesterday.  
There are those in the adoption community that believe only a "professional" knows what to do with a child who has  a trauma background.  I disagree.  While I DO agree that there is a time and a place for counseling..... healing begins at HOME.  And before we can help our kids heal, We MUST deal with our own stuff.  Many times, we don't even know it is there, or we have learned to keep certain things neatly packed away in the recesses of our mind, and then, we get zinged and we have a PTSD moment of our own. 
It is an honor and privilege to parent our children in a way that brings them into a place of safety and healing.
I wrote this post about 3 years ago and a LOT has happened since then. SO, instead of rewriting what I already wrote.  Here is my old post. And then I'll add some more thoughts.  I apologize this is so long.

                                     Any Unpacked Bags?

As parents, our children come most of the time when we are young and foolish and in no way ready to be parents. That is how God chose to do it! :)
It seems that God has made a great effort to want us to be dependent upon HIM for every breath of life that we breathe and every step we take. Our inadequacy glaring at us each day caused us to run for our prayer closet and hang onto our Heavenly Father for the inspiration of the day, for the strength to get to the coffee pot, for the words we spoke and the energy our days required of us.

As our children got older and we were more comfortable with what direction they were taking, we relaxed a bit, as we knew that GOD had ordained their steps and our job was almost done. It was a time of thrilling enjoyment, seeing those flowers unfold into beautiful bloom. (yes,even with boys the analogy works)

Now, there are those crazy types that have decided to do it all over again! LOL You know who you are....

But the difference is: They come potty trained and talking back! They haven't learned your language, either unspoken OR spoken. They come with loads of baggage that needs to be sorted through and a tangled mess of ideas and hurts that give the feeling of continual untangling of Christmas lights. AHHHHH!!!!! You can throw the Christmas lights away and buy a new set! (don't tell, but I have actually done this before)

But our Children are not throw away. There is something new we must learn, like.....
timing, patience, kindness, careful untangling of a little life and unpacking of a bag so tattered that if you don't unzip it carefully it will fall apart.

So, we say to ourselves... this a different sort of kid. This kid didn't come with instructions.(even though we know very well our others didn't either)
If we are not careful, we can find ourselves looking through instruction manuals of a different nature that will offer loads of "man's wisdom", devoid of Godly wisdom.

Some books are great and we can identify things in our dear children in them, and they can offer help to us BUT without prayer and discernment, they can also be VERY, VERY dangerous. The same goes with counselors, and those who have made businesses dealing with emotional pain and baggage.
While some of the information and techniques used can be utilized in a positive way, some of it is just down right dangerous, and we MUST discern what is best for our children.
This very issue SHOULD bring us to our knees in prayer and to the Word of God for instruction, but slowly, instead, the phone call is made to the counselor, the books are re read and we forget Who our TRUE source of guidance is.
Don't get me wrong. I am not against reading of books, and I read them A LOT too. But it is a battle to remember to hold them up to the whole counsel of the word of God.
I am not against counseling either, as I think sometimes there are things they can offer for a parent to try, or offer advice to the parent themselves that they may need to work through some of their own issues.

What I AM against is the forcing of a child to face things he or she may not be ready to face. I am 50 years old, and there are STILL things in my life from long ago that I am JUST NOW, starting to comprehend. I don't think any amount of counseling would have helped me to see it any sooner.

I remember several years ago, after a very traumatic event in my life, a counselor at a church kept calling me. She kept trying to get me to come and and talk to her and she persisted to the point that I totally shut down. I didn't want to talk to her. I wasn't ready. I didn't want her prodding me for how I felt or act like she cared about me. I felt like one of her "projects" she had chosen to fix.
What welled up in me was anger, frustration and self thoughts of inadequacy and pain.

Why does SHE think I need fixing? Why MUST she bother me so?

I finally wrote a letter to her and the church pastor and asked him to please tell her to lay off. I didn't need her help. I needed to work things out between ME and my LORD. She is not my intermediary! I have no need of one.
She didn't back off, and I found sanctuary at a new church.

You know what happened? The pastor there was amazing. He was a little younger and the church was HUGE. ( I thought I could hide out for a while) He saw me and 4 little boys watching the worship team practice. I was so used to going to church early for music; but I was no longer fit.

That guy came over and sat down and showed me respect and kindness. He introduced himself and talked to each of the boys who were between 4 and 8. He never asked me where my husband was. He never asked if I was in need of anything. He just respected me as person, and then he went on his merry way. Oh I was never so thankful for a simple kind person to just treat me as normal.

In time, the Lord brought things to my heart and I poured my heart our to HIM. Later he provided me with a friend to share with, but it had to be with HIM first!

Why do I say all that?

Because I think so many times we are on a mission to "fix" our children. We are on the fast track to make them whole, and in the process, we may be missing God's timing, and our children's timing.
They may not be ready for things to be discussed. They may just need to chill and be loved just for who they are, with all their quirks and unpacked bags. They may need us to soak that scab in love so it gets soft and doesn't hurt when it comes off.

(sorry for the gross analogy)

I remember when our Anna came to us and decided she wanted to be a baby. She went through the birth process all on her own, curling up under a blanket and being "born" and then snuggling up and I gave her a bottle of warm milk and swaddled and rocked her. THIS WAS NOT INITIATED BY ME OR ANOTHER PERSON, though I have heard of it being done; this was initiated by HER!
She was 6, and after she finished, she looked me straight in the eye and said, "YOU ARE MY MAMA!" It was like she birthed herself into a new role in the family. She was REALLY part of a family and chose to identify herself in that way.

Well, along came Sarah and guess what? After about 6 months.... she did the exact same thing. I thought... how interesting. They have both done this and they are the ones who have initiated this. I felt honored.

When Erika came, she was a little older (almost 8) She of course loved being rocked and sang to, and because of her physical problems, she could not curl into a ball under a blanket on my lap, but she wanted to. We tried some different things and so we just announced that we had a new baby. I held her in my arms and talked to her just like I talked to the boys when they were newborns. "Oh, look at her Mike, she is just BEAUTIFUL"! Look at her hair. Look at her eyes! She is ours! We prayed for her and we gooed and gahhed at her and she snuggled up, just as the other girls did.
She actually went a little further and she would catch me in the hall and grab me and then pretend to nurse! YIKES...... She was fascinated for a few weeks about if her brothers were nursed etc. I explained to her that not all babies are nursed, so though her brothers were nursed with mother's milk, Tim wasn't able to latch on because of being preemie. She was preemie too.

These things happened over time. We had incidents with each girl of disturbing behaviors, but saw those as bags being unpacked. And the longer we loved them, the longer we respected them, the longer we were able to reach them, the more those behaviors disappeared.
As we have been able to instruct them and lead them to Christ.... they have continued to grow and are now learning to ask HIM for help and comfort along with mom and dad.
The words placed in their hearts, the love that has been planted is growing and each of them, are shining in their own ways.
All bags are NOT unpacked. But in God's timing, it will happen. God's timing evokes change from the heart. It is welcomed and does not bring resentfulness and anger.
His timing brings about repentance and healing.

If it were up to me.... I'd want everything fixed today. No YESTERDAY! But God is multi-layered. He knows that I need to continue to learn patience and kindness and a big helping of MORE forgiveness.
AND.... as He helps them unpack their bags, He shows me that I still have some bags to unpack too, and so we do it together. :)

So,  here we are 3 years later, with another little girl under our roof. We have 2 teenagers and in 2 weeks, we will have 2 12 year olds also. :)    I remember so well, when we first started this adventure in life, Anna was 5.  I counted the years until she was 13. "Just 8! " I thought to myself.  We lost her first 5 years, and almost 6 of Sarah's life and almost 8 of Erika's life, and a full 11 years and one month of Alli's life!
According to some books, MANY books, the losses our girls had, the lack of instruction, the lack of nurturing, the abuse, the anger, the rejection again and again, should have led us to believe that they were lost causes.... chaff, forever to be labeled RAD, or some other sort of label.  But according to THE BOOK, it says, "I will make all things NEW!" "I came to heal the broken hearted."
Instead of disaster,  I am the delighted mother of 4 young ladies who are caring, loving, compassionate, nurturing, sweet TEENAGE and TWEENAGE girls.  I am so GLAD that we did not listen to the books.... or in some cases FOLLOW the books....
Praise the Lord. He is the Lord of new beginnings, of starting over, and of healing our deepest and most personal burdens.  I have come to understand over the years, God's mercy in my own life, and His wisdom in allowing me to go through so much personal pain.  It was meant for what I do today. It  was meant to prepare me for the life I have now.  I fully believe this to be true.  There are MANY times that I can relate to my girls, because of my own personal past.
Thank you Lord for answering my "Why" prayers. :)

So, as we continue down this journey called Life, I am so honored.  I am so in love with my husband and with what the Lord has called Mike and I to do....I  love all of my dear children.
And the more we unpack, the richer our lives become.  I am one LUCKY mama. :)


Keri said...

fantastic post. I am always newly surprised at how similar our girls are. Nastia did a very similar thing when she first came home, not initiated by me..it was her alone.

And I'm so glad you wrote about your own "readiness" to deal with things on your own time. I wish every parent could read that and remember. So so many try to force their kids to face what they are unable to face. some with the greatest of intentions, of course...but the damage is done.

I loved this post and am glad you reposted it:)

Annie said...

What a brilliant, insightful post!!! How I agree! Everything in its own time. That takes love, care, intuition, acceptance, empathy.

When Anastasia was younger, and clearly in need of tools to bond, I'd read about using the bottle and "babying" them, and so forth, and to tell you the truth most of it totally grossed me out. I could NOT imagine suggesting such a thing to her! And, honestly, I think if I had, it would not have gone well....but one day she found an old pacifier of Lydia's in a drawer, and was messing with it. I could tell she wanted to try it out and I washed it off and said, "Go ahead! I bet sucking on a 'plug' (as we called it) is so relaxing." And then playfully I called her my baby, and so...bit by bit we DID do the "baby" thing. A few days later she even asked why there were baby bottles on the upper shelf of the kitchen cabinet. I brought them down and once or twice she cuddled up and had warm milk. It didn't take much. For us I think the very best experience in this way, was one night when [I swear] the Holy Spirit prompted me....something just came over me....and I began a meditation "If you had been my baby...and I talked in great detail about all the things I would have done and said, and how I bet she looked, and how she would have cried, how I would have held her......" I went on for probably 30 minutes and in that time I really thing some powerful things happened. None of that could have been accomplished because I'd read it in a book that afternoon; it had to happen at the proper time.

We do have a magnificent counselor now, but frankly, it reminds me a lot of going to Church on Sunday. That is intense, and gives focus to your faith life, but is all on a continuum with what goes on the rest of the week.....our counselling session, likewise, just seems to jump start the discussions we have every other day of the week.

ArtworkByRuth said...

Great post. There are times when even my husband has to ask me to stop trying to fix HIM! :) Some of us are thrilled by the process of working through problems, others are exhausted. There has to be a balance. All we can do for our children is to create the opportunities for openness and connection which can lead to processing. However, if I always waited for them to initiate, some of them never would :).

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, we are just starting the process and I've been so afraid of the issues we will face. But, God knows all and heals all in His time, thank you for reminding me of this!

Christie M said...

Michelle, thanks for posting on our blog. Welcome to the adventure! :)

Amy Bennett said...

I love this post, thank you. My biological daughter is going through stuff that I want to "fix" and we're also in the process of adopting that I'm just sure we'll need to "fix him". Thank you for opening my eyes on the process and reminding me God is our true Counselor and guide.

Christie M said...

This comment is from Mike:
One thing I thought I could say was that the closeness we develop with the girls, which includes the rocking chair, singing to them, etc... is probably the stimulus that led the girls to WANT to be your baby! Bottle feeding and baby cuddling might better be seen as a confirmation of their bonding and acceptance of their new parents, and not some experience they must go through no matter what. BCLC's ultimate goal is for the kids to be confident in parental love; love that is not a hypocrisy, but grounded in true unconditional love and acceptance. Second, and this is something I think we need to strengthen, is to uphold a high Spiritual standard.
When you say disrespect is not an option, or ignoring, stomping off, or backtalking, etc... These are efforts to instill spiritual values that promote community and fellowship. To uphold high standards is Not a problem, thus we can post the top 10 commands!, but how we get from disobedience to TRUE obedience is a path wrought with pitfalls and detours. Our responses to these setbacks must be proper IF we are to expect proper responses from the kids. Mercy and Compassion are only real in light of the High spiritual calling we have. We parents also have our own crosses to bear. How this filters into our lives is what being spiritual is all about. To grow in our spirits towards Godliness will be life to all of us and soothing water and food to those around us. I believe this is what God intends for His people in this time.

We shouldn't worry about WHEN they will stop doing things, even if it is asking for the [gulp] bottle! I know you agree these are just part of growing and I always remember your question, 'How many adults do you see doing that?', or "They won't do that when they're at college.' The point is the kids actions are expressions of their fears and passions, and when they are safe and satisfied they will cease the bad behaviors. Our problem is the really nasty behaviors, and how liberal can we be at home? We need to not be afraid of the behaviors, but allow the kids to freely express themselves and encourage discussion. For kids from other countries, this is compounded by language and culture, and they need truckloads of compassion to get through it. [And we need a strong bond with the LORD]

There is no perfect path, only the perfect goal, Christ likeness. Our paths are tailored by our passions for this world and things of the creation, but if properly directed for the kids, and pursued for the adults, our end will be satisfaction in Christ and the things of the Spirit.



You Are Still Holy