Thursday, June 23, 2016

Writer's Block

I've got a small case of writer's block.  I always assumed it would be in the form of just having nothing to say, but that isn't the case.  In my case, I have so MUCH to say that I'm unable to organize my thoughts.  Do I write a post about adoption?  Do I write about grief?  Do I write about PTSD in those who have lost loved ones?  Do I write about bullet journaling?  Do I write about sending a kid off to college?  Do I write about being a mother in law?  Do I write about the 2 officers in as many weeks killed by drunk drivers in my area?  Do I write about the officer who was shot to death in Louisiana?  Do I write about being an officer's wife?

You get the point. 

I wrote recently about how God helps us handle the impossible when we're called to something.  And, I also wrote in another post about my Littles and how their lives are still hard, all these years later.  At some point, I do intend to elaborate on adoptive issues like they have, and different ways you can adopt, and cope with things etc.  But, I think today, in the theme of "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called"  I'll touch on our decision to homeschool the Littles.

When we were going through the foster/adopt process we were already homeschooling our oldest children.  We started homeschooling them because they were not being well served by the elementary school we are zoned to.  One of my sons had been bullied for 2 years at that point by another child, and the teachers were given very little power to do anything about it.  So, we made the decision to homeschool and see if that was better.

Over time, what I learned about homeschooling is that it doesn't at all look like what I thought it would look like.  We were not, in fact, stuck at home by ourselves all the time.  Actually, I had to learn a very important word when it came to socializing: NO.  We found ourselves with so many opportunities that we had to learn to work first, play second.  This was a good lesson for us all :) So, over time we got into a rhythm and all was well in the homeschooling world.

Here's the number one most important thing about homeschooling for my family:
Homeschooling is about relationship first, academics second.

What I found, was that the number one benefit to us as we homeschooled was the change in our family.  We became extremely close as a family, and the time we were able to spend as homeschoolers, learning together is some of the best spent time in my life.  As I now have my oldest son married off and in college, and my second son heading to Baylor University in the Fall, I am overwhelmed by what a blessing it was to be able to spend that time with them.

With my Littles, however, we have sent them to a Charter School in the area.  Because, remember what I said above?  Homeschooling is about relationship first, academics second.  My Littles have a host of things going on that cause them to be a lot to handle.  My energy level definitely does not match there's.....  And when our energy levels don't match, we break down.  I've had to really sit down with myself and decide if more time is better for our relationship, or if less time is better.  For the past 2 years, the answer has been that less time is better.

But God, right?  You've heard me say this so many times...  But God.

Over the last couple of months my youngest (who has struggled behaviorally in Kindergarten) (he talks too much) has been having meltdowns almost every day.  When he melts down he says things like, "I'm just a stupid kid", "Everyone Hates Me", "I'm a bad kid".  When I say melt down I mean melt down.  I have an appointment for him to see a psychiatrist in July, because he was getting so bad I was getting very, very worried that something is very, very wrong.  His behavior grades in school were going down, and he as coming home on red, orange, or yellow every day.  They use a color system at the school for behavior.  You start on white, and if you're caught being good, you move up- Green, Blue, and then Purple.  But, if you're caught doing something wrong, you move down- Yellow, Orange, and then Red.  You can move your clip down for not standing in line, for talking out of turn, for touching the wall etc.  In theory it sounds good, except it really doesn't work for all kids, and for my two kiddos who struggle with self-worth, it REALLY didn't work well.  Every time my youngest had to move his clip down he internalized that he as a bad kid.  This did not help him improve his behavior.    So, while he was never doing anything really bad, he did end up on red quite often, for talking out of turn.  Oh and also he has impulse control issues related to the Sensory Processing Disorder that cause him to talk when he hasn't had enough sensory input.  In fairness, he can talk A LOT. 

So, as this was going on, I was feeling the Lord poke me about homeschooling them.  My conversation with the Lord was something like this:
God:  Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me:  Are you crazy?
God:  Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me: There is NO way I can handle THIS and not completely destroy our relationship.
God: Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me: I don't want to.  I want some time to myself.
God: Maybe you should homeschool them
Me: Maybe the separation is making it harder on him, but maybe being together will be harder on me.
God: Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me: I don't know if I can handle homeschooling FOUR, and most specifically, these two....
God: Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me:  I've noticed since school has been out, the joy has started to return to William's face.  He's had almost no meltdowns.
God: Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me: I've noticed Shea and Will getting closer with each other, less fighting, but I still don't know if I can handle this.  I'm barely holding on right now.
God: Maybe you should homeschool them.
Me: Ok, God I think you want me to homeschool them (duh lol), but I'm really scared, so I'm going to trust you to equip the called, because I do not feel at all like you are calling the equipped.

So, there it is.  Next year, I will be homeschooling the 4 kids.  I'm both terrified and excited.  And, as I'm making peace with this decision I'm looking forward to how it will help them bond more with each other, too.  Adoptive families have a lot riding on bonding. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Gotcha Day

Today, 5 years ago, we adopted our babies.  For those who are new to my blog, we went through the foster system and ultimately adopted.  Going in, it wasn't actually our plan to adopt.  You see, when we started the foster journey it was because my cousin was struggling at being able to care for her children.  Being 1500 miles away, I was able to do very little to help her.  So, we decided to get licensed to help other moms and dads here who were also struggling in our area. 

As we were licensed, we were filled with anticipation.  I knew that I had a lot of love to give to children who needed it.  I knew the power of love and believed that with enough love we could move mountains.  And, in a way we do.  These kids came to us broken.  They came to us with various different issues.  We loved them.  And we loved them.  And we loved them.

For years now we have loved them with everything in us.  They have made huge strides and appear as if everything is fine now, but it's not.  Shea still struggles with fears that cause her to try to control people around her, and not let me be the mom.  She still struggles with feeling safe and believing that she will always have enough food to eat.  She's been with us since she was just 5 1/2 months old and still the effects of her trauma affect her.  On the outside, she seems like a very strong  willed little girl, one might think she just needs to be tamed.  But what isn't seen in the fear behind that strength.  What isn't seen is the brokenness that remains.  It doesn't consume her as much as it used to, maybe doesn't define her like it used to, but it's still there.  It still causes her to be a little less resilient to certain things, and causes her to struggle with her own self worth.  She still fights battles others don't understand.  Love isn't enough to just make her all better.  It certainly helps her, but my fantasies about just loving these kids better was just that.  There are lasting effects that we still deal with many years later.  William struggles with self worth very deeply.  No matter how passionately I love him, he still feels unloved at times.  He still feels like he doesn't have value.  I tell him every day just how amazing I think he is, I rejoice with him through his victories, hold him when he falls short, tell him how important he is to my life.  How important he is to everyone around him.  Still he feels as if he isn't valuable.  Somehow lesser.  No matter how much we have overwhelmed him with love we have been unable to rewrite his inner tape.  There is nothing like holding your child who you adore, while he cries and screams that he is not loved.  As I'm holding him, crying with him he is unable to accept my love.  Other times he's full of joy.  We just never know.

Why am I telling you this on Gotcha Day?  Because I believe adoption is so important.  But it's important to know that it's not always easy.  It's important to know it wont all be perfect just because the adoption is final.  It's important to know it will be hard. 

But you know what?  Hard things produce great rewards.  My reward is in knowing he's safe.  He's loved, and I believe he will overcome this.  She's in a place where she can blossom, and be safe as she lives out her life and learns how not to fight with those around her.  No matter what we love these kids.  No matter what I will do everything in my power to keep them safe from harm.  They will be clothed, fed, encouraged.  Some days it takes everything out of me.  Some days I'm filled to over filled with love.

If you have thought about adoption, I want you to know I'm happy to talk to you honestly and frankly about the ups and the downs.  I want to encourage you that it will be hard, but worth it.  I want to implore you to make a difference in someone's life and know that their life will not be the only one changed.  I want to remind you that it is a calling, and when you are called to something, you need to believe that God will take you through it.

Happy Gotcha Day my sweets.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

God Can Make Your Past Give Someone Else a Future

"God can make your past give someone else a future"...... 

Christine Caine said those words last night at a concert I attended with 3 dear friends of mine.  Christine Caine and Kari Jobe were both there for their #LiveUnashamed tour.  This night was absolutely overwhelming.  I went expecting a good concert, and a worship experience, but I did not expect to be completely overwhelmed by God.  By the end of the night I was exhausted, but cleansed.

Many of you know I have had a LOT going on over the past few years.  And, specifically in the last 5 months a WHOLE LOT.  People ask me all the time things like, "How are you even surviving?" or say things like,  "I don't know how you get everything done," and I don't actually know the answer for them......  or I didn't....   But, last night Kari Jobe and Christine Caine had a question and answer session before the concert began, and someone asked them the same question- "How do you fit it all in?"  The answer was so simple: 

When God calls you to something, He will give you supernatural power to achieve it.

Long ago God called me to be a mother.  At first, it was just to my oldest son Auston, and then my son Gregory, and that was the biggest joy of my life.  Growing up with a mother who was unable to connect with me for various reasons left me feeling alone a LOT of the time.  Do not misunderstand me, my mother loved me, but we are unable to communicate with one another.  As I grew into an adult the division only became worse.  My mother fights battles that I don't know, and it is very sad.  There is a lot of pain over the years.  Over time that pain became too wide and our relationship with each other all but stopped.  Let me say this, there is never a time in a woman's life when she doesn't need her mom.  You don't grow up and stop needing your mom.  If there's a breakdown, no matter how much pain is there, it still doesn't change anything, you still want your mom.  I lost my mom very close to 15 years ago.  Some days it feels like yesterday, and others it feels like a lifetime.  I do not understand why we had to lose each other.  If I had my choice, it would not be this way.  And before you go thinking it can't happen to you, or that my mom must be some kind of monster, let me assure you she isn't.  She is a wonderful counselor who has helped many, many people, and specifically helped literally hundreds of women escape and heal from Domestic Violence situations.  Many people credit her with saving their life, and they should.  She is absolutely amazing at what she does.

So, why?  There are so many things in this life that we will simply not know the answer to.  I will say, that that void in my life as produced a lot of fruit though. 

"You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he's doing today" Genesis 50:20 CEB

Through this brokenness I've learned to truly lean on God.  He is the ONE who sustains me when people fail.  and they do.  I've learned to give love when it hurts.  I've learned about walking away in love.  I've had to trust God and let go.

The disintegration of my relationship with my mother left me with an empty hole, love that had no where to go.  Here we were, living the life, 2 fantastic boys, happy marriage, house, car etc.  We had everything we could want.  But I had an emptiness.  So, I began crying out to God.  And, He told me that we should foster children.  He showed me that there are so many children out there who for one reason or another are not receiving the love they need from their mother just like me.  And, if I could make a difference in just one of their lives, show them God's love, it might help us both.

So, we became licensed for foster care.  And shortly after adopted 2 children....  Well, I say shortly, it was over a couple of years...

And, I began to see the fruits of what Christine Caine said last night: 

"God can make your past give someone else a future"...... 

It's work.  It doesn't come easily.  It's messy.  It's beautiful.

Then, in January of this year we became the proud parents to two more children...

"God can make your past give someone else a future"...... 

Every morning I get up and I'm mom to 6 kids.  It is exhausting.  It's scary.  It's overwhelming.  It's my calling.  I know each day how important it is to be fully engaged (and I fail All.THE.TIME), and I know how much these kids need me.  I know, because I know what it's like to lose your mom.  And I know how it hurts.  And how the hurt never goes away.  But I also know God is the ultimate healer and he will redeem even this in their lives as well.

When we go through hard things we often cry out to God to ask Him to stop the hard things.  Maybe we're doing it wrong.  Maybe we need to let the hard things come, and cry out to God, "God, how would you use this to give someone else a future?".

Love, Semalee