A season for everything

Dear lost, found, claimed, free yet bound child of mine,

We made it ~ today you are 18 years old!

In this family that you were grafted into I believe we have ALL had periods of wondering if we would make it, and yet today is here and you are free.

There are many emotions and thoughts running through me today ~ the image of you the first time I met you, an adorable blond haired, blue eyed little boy climbing into my minivan in a parking lot. I’ll forever remember you buckling your seat belt and then immediately putting on a Batman mask and cape, quietly staring out the window all the  way to our home, a place of respite within the foster care system.

So many memories, remember the day you went and pulled up all the utility flags that had been placed that day in a yard down in the cud a sac!? Or the times you got on your hands and knees to let little Geradaldo climb on your back to get on the trampoline? How about the end of the school year parties, stromboli and that orange salad I sometimes make? I recall one evening holding you in the big brown chair (one of the few times you let me hold you) watching TV thinking my love and arms could finally protect you for good. A mother can dream, can’t she?

We’ve been through a lot over the last ten years. We’ve seen Mount Rushmore, been to an island on the ocean, a farm in Kansas, the cold and snow of Minnesota, the music in Nashville, the heat and humidity of Georgia, and probably a few trips I’m forgetting. We’ve encouraged you to run and wrestle and workout. You’ve made us proud as you worked to overcome so much.

Things have been more rough than maybe either of us expected. I’ve sometimes used tones and words in ways I’m not proud of. I’ve not always known what to do, say, or respond, so I’ve had to wing more than I expected in situations I wasn’t familiar with. You’ve sent words, attitude and items sailing across the room too many times. You’ve longed (all the time I’ve known you) for your birth mom to love, support and protect you as God intended. I get that – despite her role in your beginnings; I believe longing for the love a mom is instinctual and hard to overcome.

This day I’ve been all over the board, from seeing glimpses of your adorable towheaded dimple-faced self in my mind, to feeling bitter and resentful for all we’ve been through, especially these past few months. My heart has felt broken open with love for you today, as well as angry for the rejection you shove our way. Last night I wanted to yell at you and hug you and not let you go. But the time has come when we must, and we will, give you that for which you have been asking for for so long with your words and your actions, freedom to live your way.

This is what I know today ~ you’ve grown a lot from that scared little boy who hoped his Batman cape and mask could shield him, to a young man who knows in the deepest part of his heart that God is his rock and his shield. I know that you know to your core that God has a plan for your life – and that those plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. And I believe you understand that when you call on God and come and pray to him, that he will listen to you. That when you truly seek God with all your heart you will find him. I know that at one point – (maybe three :) ) you have given your heart to Jesus, and this is truth: He will never leave you or forsake you. Never. He loves you. Deeper and wider and more fully than you know.

Know that this family, mom, dad, two great sisters and an awesome brother, is yours. In the eyes of God we have become one. Mark 10:9 says what God has joined together let no man separate. I know that’s referring to marriage, but I believe to my core that God joined us together. “We” (the six of us) were a part of his plan in this fallen world we navigate. It’s hard, buddy…it is. I don’t want to leave a sugary or hard message here, but in an attempt to remind you of the whole picture, I record the good and the ugly…our story is both.

I pray for you as David prayed for one of his sons, that those who come upon you will be gentle with you for our sake. I pray that if you come upon hardship the Lord will be your protector, and that you remember always that you are loved, not for who you are, but that you are.

your mom

More than pictures

Fifty-nine days ago the move to Marshall was official, and for each of those days I’ve been capturing a photo of at least one moment that has made me happy. I suspected the 100HappyDaysChallenge would be a good discipline for me as I adjusted to this new season with it’s many, many changes. At this point I can report that it is valuable and centering to intentionally look for one thing, view, moment or person each day that makes me happy.

This move has gone more smoothly than I anticipated; the level of peace I continue to feel is unexpected. A friend recently told me I look “so good”, I’ve thought about that compliment a few times. ( Who wouldn’t want to replay that kind of compliment!) I believe that living apart from Kevin for two years was more stressful that I acknowledged, even to myself. We did what we knew was best for Erin and never looked back, but being together is what we were meant to be, so I think some stress lines have disappeared simply because we are reunited. (Truth be told, I’ve also discovered a really  great new make-up foundation, so there’s that!)

On a recent photo a friend remarked that our town seems perfect. When I read that I knew it was time to write a reality check post, lest the #100happydays project projects a false sense of perfection! Let me say that I am engaged in and appreciating the Happy Days challenge, but like that really good make-up foundation I recently discovered, the project may be responsible for making me look better than I really do.

it is wellThis blog is about real life. My heart is to be encouraging by writing about all of life, so let me get real with you today. First, things truly are going well. Second, there is an issue that has been hard, really hard. It’s regarding our youngest son and it’s all sort of tricky to talk about. The bigger picture of life in our new town is that he has been making some decisions and crossing some lines that have caused us to make some difficult decisions and reinforce some lines. Much of it is not pretty and there is no filter to apply that would enhance the picture. I share this because it’s more of a panoramic view, and considering I share my life with others I want to be honest, not deceptive, even unintentionally.

It’s hard to be in a town where no one knows you. Or your family. Or your history. Or your story…or your character. Walking through this would be easier in our community of sixteen years, but that is not our reality so we walk on being challenged to do the hard, right thing. To seek God and not justify, or feel the need to explain, or to be understood. To lean not on man, but on God who knows our hearts. For me, this is sometimes hard, hard stuff. I share this here not to garner words or sympathy or even prayers (though I’d never turn away a prayer!) but to show more than the scrapbook pictures of our life.

The thing about social media is that it’s part of our picture, not the whole picture. Think about our scrapbooks, we pick the best pictures to fill the pages, the things we want to document, record and remember. I never went around taking pictures of my house when it was a disaster or shot videos of my kids arguing, but those things were also a part of our lives.

For forty-one days I will continue to document one thing a day which brings me a sense of peace, joy or a happy feeling. It will remain a very good and important daily discipline, helping to remind my soul that it is well.

He Can Move the Mountains

In the course of our adoption journey, when I have been at the end of myself, with nothing left to give and seemingly nothing at the bottom to even scrape, God would give me this song ~

Everyone needs compassion
a love that never fails
let mercy fall on me…

~ and something within me would stir. When at church, I’d glance at our angry boy standing in the front row, right across the aisle from our pastor, and despite my anger, frustration, sadness or emptiness, I knew those words were true.

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save

I could feel the mountain inside of our boy’s heart and mind. It was a massive, seemingly immovable barricade. The weight of that mountain and it’s jagged cliffs were hurting him, and me, and the rest of our family. It was impeding forward movement.  Each time I heard those words I was reminded God could move that mountain, that He was mighty to save.

So take me him as you find me him
All my his fears and failures
Fill my his life again…

Those are the words I would sing.

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King…

In my darkness I could sing for the glory of the risen King.

In October of 2012 my husband flew 1,500 miles with our boy, leaving him in a program that was to allow him time and space to mature and heal. 1,500 miles away. In a foreign country. On a mountain. It was the next thing that was presented to us in our journey. It was not what I had expected. It never occurred to me when we adopted him that we would send him away. But maybe, just maybe God knew He could trust us to make this hard, right choice. I don’t know that, but I wonder.

CMA ChurchMany months later when Kevin and I flew down for our first parent visit, our boy was still angry. The last day of our visit was a Sunday and we went to church with him. The church is on the campus of the academy; a simple but beautiful little church. The pews face a wall with a large window, and out that window is a stunning view of a very large mountain. As I stood next to our boy with his own mountain, the visual was not lost on me. An obscure verse we read on a screen recently while visiting a friend’s church in Denver  ~ which spoke to me about our boy ~ was now put up on the screen in this little church facing the mountain, while I sat next to our boy. “OK, God, I see you.” I thought. Then the worship team led us in “Mighty to Save”. My heart lurched and tears streamed down my face, I put my hand compassionately over our boy’s hand with a love I hoped would not fail him; he stood there rigidly. But I was at peace because I sensed God was once more affirming that He was in this whole thing.

Even with this perceived affirmation I wasn’t confident we would ever see this mountain move. But I also knew my Savior had the power to move it. I prayed through that song that God would take him ~ with all his fears and failures and fill his life.

When we returned home my heart was heavy. That first Sunday as I stood in our church I pictured our boy in his church so many miles away. My mind wandered to that mountain out the window and the one within his heart. Then our worship team led us in “Mighty to Save” and tears streamed, I was reminded once more that my God is mighty to save.

On March 22, 2015, after two years and five months, in which our guy   s l o w l y   completed the program, he stood next to me in our home church once more, no more than a few inches separating us.

I quickly had this little conversation with God as we stood to worship:

I know you brought our boy home. I know it’s true because he’s standing next to me. But right now, right here, it would be really cool if our worship team led us in “Mighty to Save”.

Wait…sorry God, it seems I’m always asking you, “Please give me a sign so I know that it’s you.”  I don’t need another sign. I have it ~ the sign is life size and standing next to me. Only YOU could have moved the mountain within this boy. I am grateful. I do not need more of a sign than that.

I started thinking of God telling Moses “…this will be the sign to you that it is I that have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Genesis 3:12

I was at truly satisfied and at peace.

And then our worship team launched into “Mighty to Save”. I felt my knees go weak and there was no stopping the floodgate of tears as my husband reached for my hand. How could God be so compassionate to me? I don’t deserve it, yet he takes me as he finds me, all my fears and failures and fills my life with the lyrics and timing of this song again and again. How Great is our God?! Oh yeah, we also sang a chorus of that at the end of Mighty to Save.

Thank you, God for your compassion and love that never fails. Thank you for your faithfulness and providence over these many years and in the years to come. Thank you for the healing you have done in this boy that you grafted into our family. May we shine your light and let the whole world see, we’re singing for the glory of the risen King!

(We’re on day 8 of the reunification and it’s going well. He has matured much. He actually wants to be here now. He finally trusts us. He’s letting us in. I’m not naive, I’m aware there are likely to be challenges along the way, but with the mountain moved, the journey likely won’t be on such rugged terrain.)

Mighty to Save by Laura Story
How Great is our God by

Coming Home

It’s happening. After two and a half years, our boy is coming home.

Yes, I am excited.
Yes, I am a little anxious.
Yes, I am confident.
Yes, I am at peace.

After his being away for so long, it does suddenly feel like it’s all happening quickly as I hurry to wash sheets (we’ve been using his room as a quest room), make sure I have a jacket that will fit him in the car (the winter weather we have is quite different from the warm weather he has been living in), and plan a menu that will bring him sweet reminders of our home.

On top of all that this week, I took my youngest, Erin, on her final college visit on Monday and yesterday she has made her decision for the fall. It’s all a little emotional here for this momma this week.

Last night Erin and I went on our first weekly dinner date, just the two of us. We needed a plan to maintain our bond and dedicated time together once Kyler returns, so weekly dinner dates it is! It’s my job to balance his needs and her needs. Before he left for the program things were chaotic and there was MUCH focus on the squeaky wheel that was coming off the wagon. She needs to know that in her last few months before she leaves for college, when her emotions are also all over the board, that I’ve got her back and she has my attention. Then there is my oldest, Courtney, who is graduating in a few short months from college. She is in a phase where nothing is exactly solid, where her whole life is about to change, so yeah…I need to be there for her too. And of course, Zach, my 20 year old, going to school 10 hours away…he sometimes also needs me.

Today I am pondering and resting in the timing of the reunion of our family. Courtney and Zach, though at separate universities in different states, are on Spring Break at the same time…and they are both coming home. Courtney is traveling with me, what a great blessing this is to us. My mother-in-law is traveling home with Zach and will also be here when we arrive back home. Kevin took the week off from work and will be with us all week as we re-establish this family unit. I believe the timing is not coincidence. I believe it is a nudge from God reminding me he’s in this. And of course he would be, he is the one who grafted this broken branch into our family.

This is the life of a momma ~ my momma life, your momma life; balancing needs of others, knowing it’s all going to be OK, even when you can’t see your counter-tops. Pausing in the midst of a swirling season of motherhood and treasuring up all these many things and pondering them in your heart.

Today I’m carving out moments to do just that, because tomorrow I begin the travel to go bring our boy home.

The Dreaded Adoption Anniversary

Though I had been at it for four years, I could never get the celebration of the adoption right for our boy. I tried cooking his favorite meal ~ a tradition for birthdays in our family, that didn’t hit the mark. I tried baking cakes, he didn’t care. We tried keeping it low key, more of an acknowledgement than a celebration, to no avail. So each time I got nervous as that adoption anniversary rolled around, ‘How would I screw it up this year?’ I wondered. And to be totally honest, I also wondered why he was so resentful of living in a family that was so good to him, who loved him, cared for him, and provided the first safe place in his life.

This year was different.

We are now at the two year mark of him living away from us. At the 15 month point of the program he began a journey leading him more and more into healthy thinking, less destructive choices and he seemed to turn toward relationship with us. As the 5th anniversary of the adoption drew closer he began to bring it up, “October 8th is coming up.” he would proclaim. “My adoption anniversary is coming up.” His drawing our attention to this date was unchartered territory…‘Proceed with Caution’ my spirit seemed to say.

We had our weekly Skype session on the 5th anniversary of his adoption into our family. That day we had our first open, honest and mature conversation about why this date never felt very happy. Except it did on the day of the actual adoption ~ oh, what a happy day that was. Although in retrospect, maybe he truly wasn’t very happy that day. The truth is ~ although he gained a family who loved him and would be there for him, he also lost a lot that day too. And he was not quite 11 years old, how could he possibly understand all that may have been coursing through his mind and heart.

I remember being cognoscente of the losses ~ his mom, living with his siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Even if they weren’t healthy or safe, they were his. They had known him from the beginning. He had learned how to navigate daily through treacherous waters and had to learn where to put his feet.  I knew he also lost camping, country music, cooking that was familiar to his palate, even living out his given birth order ~ he was second oldest in a sibling group of five, now he was the youngest in a group of four. Somehow I just believed that the love, safety, consistency, stability, and community would be enough to offset those losses. I knew he lost a lot and I wished none of it ever had to be taken, a family being split was not in the original plan for the family. But wasn’t it good that he landed in a safe and loving place? He was likely too young, too immature, too damaged by his time on this earth to ever communicate all that was swirling around within him.

He was adopted at an age where he clearly understood who his mom was, craved her arms, her scent, her voice and laughter. He was old enough to know he didn’t want ME to be his mom, he wanted HER to be his mom. He wanted her to be his safe and secure place. He wanted his own family, not ours. Although in my mind I got it, I’m not sure even I could grasp the emotional enormity of it all…for either of us.

Anyway…October 8, 2014 he wanted to acknowledge his adoption. He reminded me of some of the things we had done for him, of which he told me were very nice, one thing I had even forgotten. After living in an environment with other boys who also had great struggles, issues and problems, and family styles, he went on to tell me he realized he was indeed lucky and blessed to call us his family. I didn’t feel over the moon with joy, I didn’t utter ‘Finally!’ in my soul, I just felt peace. Sweet, quiet peace.

This is our continuing adoption story. It’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s evidence of the grace and faithfulness of God. And it’s beginning to turn the corner.

Not to be Mocked

All through the Skype session last week with our youngest and his therapist, these were the thoughts going through my mind ~ This isn’t going well. He’s disengaged. He doesn’t seem to care. He’s apathetic. He’s responding but with no conviction. This is where he spirals and sabotages progress. He’s so close to the next level, but could blow it this week. Oh my goodness, help me Jesus to help him see something new. It was an emotionally exhausting hour.

At the end of each session, he and I get 20 minutes alone to just talk. Most weeks, at some point I pull out my all-time favorite devotional My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers and read to him for that specific day. It’s bizarre so God-like how the days seem to match up perfectly each time I read to him from the book. So last week with nothing else to say during our alone time, I suggested we look at September 17th in the devotional and see what it says. It was once again amazing.

After an hour of speaking wisdom, asking questions, listening for clues – all to seemingly no avail – I read the devotion for that day and everything changed. He got it – he was being tempted by something that matched his disposition perfectly, and when he gained that understanding he independently put together a three-point plan to address that temptation for the coming week.

To reinforce his plan I put this on my Facebook: Prayers requested for the youngest who has a temptation before him. Praying for God to strengthen his hands, mind and heart for the very important work God has him on the wall doing. (Nehemiah 6) He identified a way out – may it be so.Thanks friends.

I squirmed when hitting “post”. I struggled when many friends from far and wide said they were praying, and when many more hit that “like” button, letting me know they were in it with us. What if he falls? What if he chooses the very thing that his disposition is vying for him to do. What if he steps in familiar ways that set him back?

We’ve been down this road so very many times with our boy. Pleading with God. Endlessly asking others to pray for him. Years of waiting and hoping and praying, and praying and praying. Was it even worth asking for prayers for this one – for this week – for this temptation? What if the temptation is just too great and the report is “Thanks for praying, but he fell.”? What would that say about God?

Ahhhhhh…and there it was. The question I had to answer. ‘What does that say about God?’ It didn’t take long for the question to become ‘What does this say about me?’ What is my disposition vying for me to do? Was it to rely on God’s performance in this situation? What if our boy fell? Would that change who God is?

These words floated through my mind ~ God cannot be mocked. (Galations 6:7) True. I believe that. Whichever way this week goes, whatever our boy chooses, God will not be mocked. Someone may be trying to mock my faith, but God will not be mocked. So I spent the week rooting myself in truth. God is faithful. God has provided – in too many ways to count, our boy will get there, even if he takes the   l o n g   way home. Pray matters, in Revelation 5:9 it says …Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. So yeah, really…prayers matter. God will not be mocked. I may or may not understand what unfolds this week, but this week will have no bearing on who God is. It will reveal parts of our boy, and parts of me will be revealed, but it changes God not. So it seems our son wasn’t the only one being tempted last week.

I had no idea what I would walk into today when the Skype session began. I wasn’t surprised to find our boy’s spirit somewhat downcast, but as we talked through the hour, it was all good news. During the past week he had taken no action that set him backwards. It sounded like he stayed on the wall and did his work. As we attempted to convey to him that he is doing such good work, he seemed unconvinced,  saying “It’s just going so slow.” Yep. It is. But it’s going. We have forward movement, stay on the wall, I encouraged…you’re doing it. I cried. He seemed to wipe some tears.

Moving forward when you’re used to backward can feel unnerving, uncomfortable, unfamiliar. We’re not sure just where to put our feet and its tempting to put them back in the old tracks that have paved the way to where we are. Last week he overcame the temptation that was thrown at him, this week – of course – there is a new one. Maybe it won’t beckon so large, maybe he’ll feel more comfortable traveling in this new terrain, but we’ll be reinforcing him with our prayers as he slowly moves toward the place he is supposed to be.

And whatever happens next week and the week after that, in my life and in yours, in triumphs and tragedies…God will not be mocked.
He is good.
All the time.

Hope Rising

photo(13)It had been a  l o n g  and discouraging 19 month journey with our youngest.

At the end of May, Kevin and I went and spent some days with our boy who is so far away. It was an amazing visit – he was engaging, relational,  entering into healthy conversations, reading devotions to me, laying on the bed with me while I read the Bible to him. We hiked, laughed, shopped, ate pizza, enjoyed ice-cream. It was just so good.

We came home and he dropped back into the sludge again, but not as deep and he didn’t stay there long; it didn’t panic us, we expected this.

He seemed to look up for the following 8 weeks ~ 8 amazing weeks.
He walked into the most healthy mindset we had ever seen from him.
We saw his actions match his words, and we felt his spirit reach for ours.

It was 10,000 prayers answered.

Then the descending began again about 4 or 5 weeks ago. Suddenly he didn’t care once more – he was making poor decisions (but not his worst decisions). He expressed a fairly hopeless mindset and seemed disconnected again. This time, I fell too. My heart has been heavy and I have felt discouraged.

I’ve turned and leaned into God. I’ve taken the line “And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on you, Jesus you’re my hope and stay.” to heart. I’ve had to go back to what I KNOW and have experienced as true ~

  • God has been faithful in our 8 1/2 years with our almost 17 year old son.
  • God has a good plan for our boy.
  • Although I feel like 8 years is long-suffering, it is not.
  • There are others who walked longer, more painful and utterly confusing roads.
  • God Himself has renewed my heart and hope for this boy too many times to count. I am not this sustaining on my own. I grow bitterness and resentment and exhaustion. God wipes it all away over and over and plants seeds of hope, love and steadfastness.
  • I believe God gave me a vision several years ago of this boy standing in freedom as a young man. He’s getting taller and older – I’ll hold that as hope as he stretches into young manhood.
  • I cannot give in, give up, quit. I will stand in the belief that he will heal.

Today I prepared my heart for our weekly Skype therapy session; lower my expectations, meet him where he is, don’t get ahead of him in this process. Last Sunday at the end of our weekly call I asked him three questions – What is the hardest part of being you? What is the best part of being you? What does God think of you? Today he opened the session with telling me he was prepared to answer my questions from Sunday – and then he did. His answers were honest and well thought out. He went on to hold a healthy, pretty vibrant, connected, open, honest, eye-contact, hour session. He told me one of the students was going home – early. His perception is that the boy’s parents were taking him out of the program early. Curiously, I asked if he thought we should take him out of the program early…he said “Probably not. I want to feel like I accomplished something. I don’t want to waste two years.”

June 2013And a light began to shine again.

19 long months of a lot of dark.
8 weeks of light and hope.
4 weeks of holding my heart so it wouldn’t bottom out.
1 day of hope rising again.

My heart is full. I can hear freedom calling.


Unexpected Life

Tree with LifeSometimes life shows up in unexpected places.

While walking my dog last night this tree stopped me in my tracks, it made no sense. How does this fresh & vibrant burst of life spring from what appears  to be dead? So many analogies to be made here, right? Especially if you follow Jesus – who happens to be all about bringing life from death.

Our son – many miles away, is beginning to display growth sprouts out of places that honestly were appearing to be dead, and so I found this tree an incredibly encouraging picture. We’ve seen our boy make right choices for periods of time before, “behave” if you will. But I’m feeling that is not what we are experiencing right now – I believe we may be seeing new growth. Actual new life springing from some dry and dusty places.

So, this tree…it created a meaningful and beautiful depiction for me. Not just of my son, but of me. I used to be the “dead” tree, but then I developed a relationship with Jesus. A relationship begun by a simple request that I knew I didn’t understand. At a Hearts at Home conference 15 years ago I sang the words “Come into my heart Lord Jesus” I prefaced those words by whispering, “I don’t really know what this means, but I know I mean it.” Some of my dry and dusty places were brought to new life after that whisper and song.

As I look at this tree I am aware that there are likely some places in me still that could use new life. I am reminded that even as I watch for and enjoy the new life beginning in our guy, I need to ask God to search me and know my heart – seeing if there are dead places that need new life within me.


The Great Thing He Never Told Us

We never get good news from our youngest son. I’m not a fan of the words “always” and “never,” but I believe “never” applies here; he just does not like to share positive news. Now — if there is bad news, or somebody (including him) chose very unwisely, we’ll hear a-l-l about it. If he discovers a hole within the program he is residing in currently, he will be all over telling us how he discovered the hole in leadership, training or supervision. You name it, if he found a weak spot, we will most certainly be quickly in the loop on that!

Recently in a meeting with the director of the program to talk about our son’s progress, he asked if our boy had shared some positive news about a choice he had made not that long ago. We, of course, had heard nothing of this news, so he went on to tell me the scenario that had unfolded. It was incredibly encouraging news — a decision our boy made all by himself that would have made us so proud of him … but he never told us. I was caught between encouragement and frustration.

While we were visiting him the next week we told him we had heard of the decision he made, and that we were very proud of him for making such a healthy decision for himself. He offered a little window of insight into what was behind that decision; incredibly, it was all intrinsically motivated. He knew he was making a good decision for himself. In a group where everyone chose one thing, he chose another.

I realized that the very thing that had frustrated me — him not sharing his good decision with us — in a way, is one of the very things we are parenting to. One of my highest goals in parenting isn’t that my kids will make decisions to please me (or anyone else), I want them to learn to make decisions that are good and healthy for their own sake. There will come a time (and has come a time for our college kids) when obeying and pleasing us is not what matters. The end goal has always been that they will make wise decisions that will be beneficial to their own bodies, minds and souls — regardless of who knew or didn’t know what they did … or didn’t do.

So he never shared with us the great thing he didn’t do, that’s OK. As much as I could have benefitted from that little golden nugget, what matters most is that he made a good decision in a not very good situation. It seems I am encouraged after all.

Letting Go While Not Giving Up

This seems to be an ongoing theme in my life as a mom. Surrender is the focus and central component in parenting our youngest. Tomorrow marks the 19th month of his placement in a program to which we have sent him, with the goal of giving him time and space to learn, grow and heal in a safe environment. The simplified timeline of his life is — biological home, foster care, adoption and now life in a private structured program.

There is no perfect program anywhere, if there were I’d spend insane amounts of money to get him into it … but I’d want a guarantee of his healing and freedom from his past; and in life we all know there are no guarantees. Another truth is, even if there were a perfect program, it doesn’t mean he would be different. I want so badly for him to be different.

He is such a smart and intelligent kid. He can be kind, generous, witty and gentle. So I’m not talking about wiping away who he is, I’m speaking of rewiring lines that were laid deep by people and circumstances that have convinced him of things that are not true. Nobody can be trusted, everyone will let you down, I only have myself, I need all the power, I will be in control and more, all have the potential to destroy him — and his future.

I spent eight years fighting for him, but since March I’ve surrendered him in a higher way — to God, who really is more equipped to battle for him anyway. I’ve always trusted God for our boy, but I hadn’t fully surrendered — our boy’s now, and his future. Surrender doesn’t mean I’ve given up — my love for him is intense, he’s been grafted into our family, he can reject and deny that, but nothing can change that. I literally do not know how to give up on him, sometimes it seems as if that would be easier, but I cannot do it, I don’t know how. When he frustrates and hurts me by his choices and words, I breathe more and allow him room to soak in those choices and words. This is his story and as he writes it, he needs to figure out where to make the edits.

I’m still invested in the process; I had a meeting this morning with the director of the program, asking some hard questions of a good but growing program. Before I entered that meeting I prayed I would be guided in my questions and responses, that I would only use words that would be beneficial. I left feeling peaceful and hopeful. Oh the stretching and growth that takes place through surrender.

Our boy said some things yesterday during a session that caused me to feel frustrated and anguished, without surrender I would likely still be holding those feelings today. Through this process I am learning — over and over and over — to let go of the things that are hard to hold. His path may not look the way I had hoped it would look, and I’m getting OK with that. I want him to write a new book, he’s not ready. Oh surrender.

I will soon get on a plane and go to my boy to spend time with him face to face. Yesterday, in my heightened feelings of frustration, this trip wasn’t feeling appealing. (Not very lovely of me to admit, I know.) But because I haven’t given up, I’m back to the place I need to be — longing for some time with my hard, kind, frustrating, lost boy.

Sweet, sweet surrender…

This post was originally published over here.
I wrote Giving Up vs. Surrender one year and 23 days ago. I thought I had surrendered him completely. It causes me to wonder where I will be in another year and 23 days…you can read that post here.