A Child’s Faith

“Mommy, I prayed and said sorry to God for my selfish heart.”

This while I am still stewing over our rough morning. While I am letting anger stir my heart and ruffle my spirits; while I am scrubbing with swift, firm strokes and avoiding her eyes.

At these words I had to stop. I turned to look at her.

Her eyes had lost the stubborn, pouting expression of earlier and now were clear, bright and eager to connect with me.

My heart skipped a beat, and I was immediately humbled. She had reached the point of repentance before I did. She had recognized her failures and reached out her hands for grace. Why was I, the one entrusted to teach her, still stumbling around in my muddy sins? What makes me so reluctant to come before my Saviour with humility and eager longing for his grace?

I have learned so much from these children God has entrusted to me. I know now, why Jesus spoke of a child’s faith. My daughters are so eager to believe! They are so in love with the Jesus they have just met. They are concerned about others, asking… “Does she have God in her heart?”

When they first heard about Jesus death on a cross for us they grieved in a way I have not experienced in a very long time. They love to pray and easily give credit to God for the good things that happen in their lives. They are in awe of the stories in the Bible. They often comment that they are so glad they have come here so that they could learn about God.

Those moments remind me why we’re here and why we chose to adopt our daughters.

But I always imagined myself teaching and instructing them, and though that certainly is a part of it I was completely unprepared for the questions they ask, the prayers they pray, the startling insights and the humility they bring to our discussions.

They are so eager to learn!

I never expected to witness such beautiful faith in my children. I expected to spend years teaching them without seeing a lot of evidence they were truly embracing my faith. Instead, I am in awe as I see that they already have their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that He is present and real in their lives. They have asked Him into their hearts and I truly believe He is dwelling there…teaching, convicting, loving and guiding. This is only the beginning of their journey with their Saviour but I pray that they will never lose the vibrancy they display right now. I hope that they, unlike me, will be eager to reach out in humble repentance for His grace. I hope they will always be in awe of how big and awesome He is!

And today, humbled by my daughter’s words, I am led by a child closer to my Father’s heart.

Thank you, Jesus.

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Songs of my Life

I have always loved music.

The times when my heart is too full to find a way to speak, I can usually find a song that cracks that wall and brings a lump to my throat.

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

Sometimes it’s the lyrics,

sometimes it’s the music,

sometimes it’s the beat.

Some people have comfort food.

I have comfort music.

I don’t necessarily have a favourite genre. I enjoy a variety of styles and flavours.

There are songs that always, always dissolve me to tears…and there are songs that will make me smile and laugh all alone in my car on the worst of days. If you were to examine my favourites you would probably laugh out loud at the oddity of them being on the same list.

There are songs that take me back to a specific time and place…sometimes it was a random moment of happiness and other times it was a moment of searing pain where God came to me.  Through the haunting melody, through the steady beat, through the soaring harmonies, chords, lyrics and breaths.  I could go back and bookmark my entire life with songs.

I am so thankful God gave humans the ability to create music; to be able to weave together the threads of our souls and express it in so many different ways is an absolutely mesmerizing gift!  More than that, I am thankful God chooses to come to me through music so many times. To gently soothe the aches, to nudge me into joy, to remind me of truth and to invite me to worship all that He is. Artists take the most beautiful, painful and important aspects of life and translate them to music because they know there will be many more people who will connect with their experiences.

Someday I will write them all down…that list of a thousand songs that walked me through my life from as far back as I can remember.

AF

When Things Aren’t Fine…

I called a friend the other week.

This friend has walked this path I’m walking…adoption, change, testing, fear and insecurity…before me.

This was her advice.

“Learn to be OK with things not being OK.”

And she has modeled it beautifully.

I needed to hear that.

I needed to be reminded what success really is.  Not everything being ok, but wading through the trenches that will lead us to security, trust and a forever together.  My girls don’t need to be acting like everything is ok right now, because it isn’t.  They are grieving, they are struggling to believe, and they are fighting against all the messages their brains want to tell them.

That’s ok.

“I am not telling you that it is going to be easy, but that it will be worth it.”

-Unknown

My job is not to make it all go away…to run my hands over it until it’s smooth as silk.  Instead, I need to be willing to walk them through the hard questions and feelings.  I need to be willing to hurt a bit alongside them as I admit I cannot fix it all.  The goal is not to attain perfection to someone else’s eye, but instead to meet my children’s needs.

“Things aren’t the same & that’s fine.”

-Unknown

I was looking too hard for a solution to make it all go away.

We still struggle to navigate the little ins and outs of each day and try to find ways to make this time easier.  There are special scarves tucked around anxious faces, special stones in a backpack pocket, special songs, special baths, special crackers and special cuddle times.  There are important phrases, important moments, important stories and important prayers.  We read books, talk to people, ask for help and sometimes just make a giant mess of things.

But a huge relief sweeps over me when I remind myself…it’s ok for things not to be ok.

Every day I beg God for wisdom to know how to love my daughters in the way they need to be loved right now, and then the strength to do it.

“When it feels like everything is falling apart, God is usually putting it all back together.”

-Unknown

Right now I need to focus on what my kids need, not on how all their messy stuff is coming out.  When there are tears, anger, overwhelming sadness, defiance or ridiculous insecurity…what is the real message?

“You can’t punish grief.”

-Lisa Highfield

I’d love to just breeze on by sometimes and pretend it’s just what it looks like…but we all know in reality things are rarely as they seem.  Of course…the tricky part is still figuring out when those moments are that it is exactly what it seems!

The bottom line is…right now my 8 and 5 year old are struggling with BIG emotions that would challenge anyone, so much grace is needed both for them and for myself.  It can be devastating to face my own failures when the stakes are so high.  I want so much to do this well.

I stumbled across this verse and it made me smile.

“She is clothed in

DIGNITY

and

STRENGTH

and she

LAUGHS

without fear of the future.”

Proverbs 31:25

“Learn to be ok with things not being ok.  Remember…every moment you pour into their lives now, is one moment closer to security.”

Thank you.

We will make it!

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 

-Unknown

Go Team Freeman 🙂

Perhaps.

Beautiful encouragement for this week 🙂

Mom Life Now

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“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” –Fred Rogers

This world is filled with hurt and pain, darkness and suffering. If given enough time, despair and hopelessness can consume your being just thinking about it. Then, in the midst of the dark, there are found these glimmers of light, pure and beautiful torches, shining bright.

How I long to be one of these lights, these “helpers.” I am ready to go, to make a difference in this hurting world! Yes, I am going to be the torch, bringing hope to those in need!

I look down at the snotty faced little boy pulling at my leg. I pick him up and reach for the tissues. I hear the glass shattering in the kitchen, my daughter shouting my…

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Messy

In case you were wondering if I’d disappeared…I haven’t.

I’ve been hiding out here; licking my wounds.

Trying to re-establish which side is up.  Trying to get up the courage to say something;

something honest,

vulnerable,

real.

We were doing so well…

and I knew it was too good to be true, this positive  momentum we were coasting on.

It’s not so much one big thing as a build up of little things.

It’s that pile of little things that makes you feel overwhelmed, like a laundry basket full of mismatched socks in the hallway.

 

A doozy of a head cold hit our home about a week ago and so for a week now I’ve been blowing noses,

doling out cough candies,

drinking hot tea,

and dragging my body around the house.

There’s been a lot of shortcuts.

A lot of excuses to do anything but vacuum.

A lot of weariness,

movies in the middle of the day (with the excuse that I am folding laundry at the same time)

and wandering around doing absolutely nothing.

That’s the back drop.

 

At the same time one of our daughters is dealing with a lot of anxiety as she transitions into her new school.  I always wondered what it would feel like to have to leave your child crying and upset at the school gate.

Now I know.

It’s awful.

Yesterday I came home and sobbed into the phone to my husband.

This wasn’t just a few worried tears at the gate.  This was a full blown panic attack.

Fear in her eyes,

feet running after me and a screaming cry.

Tell me how you could leave that without your knees trembling and your throat clenched tight?

It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy school…she does!  By the end of the day she comes running to my arms with a smile and a “Mommy, I had a perfect day!”  But being away from me for such a long period of time and watching me walk away without her is very traumatic for her.  What gets me is that I let myself believe our attachment was strong and secure enough to handle this.  I should have known.  She’s my little worry box.  She’s been attached at the hip to me all summer.  We’ve only been a family for three months.  Of course she’s upset when I walk away from her.  Even though her head knows I will be back at 3 o’clock, her heart and emotions are screaming that she is being abandoned.  I am able to write this because this morning was the best morning we’ve had in a long time!  After a few trial and error methods I hope we have found some good solutions.  Our lovely principal and a few of the teachers have bent over backwards for us, and I am so grateful for this.  Their compassion is sincere.

Admittedly, though, I’m discouraged.

Both the girls are revealing some major attachment needs right now.  It’s exhausting just thinking about it sometimes.  I want to love them the way they need to be loved, but the reality is it’s hard!  I often fail to take advantage of the moments when they need reassurance of my love.  I like to have a plan…but you can’t schedule love into your daily duties.  You can establish special times to meet those needs, but there are always going to be the moments you didn’t count on or prepare for.

I know that it’s a good thing these things are coming out so soon, because it means they are starting to feel safe.  Some kids take years to get to this point.  I also know it could take years before they’re ready to let go of some of their anxieties, fears and coping mechanisms.  We’re used to pushing children forward toward success, but sometimes regression is the only way to move forward.  When anxiety gets in the way of a child’s daily routines and functioning it’s tempting to turn to medications or other band aids to cover the messy places…until you remember all the good reasons for her to be anxious.  Do you really want to cover it up again?  When your five year old is craving the care and attention an infant normally receives, it is not first instinct to cater to those desires.  After all, it’s a sacrifice to take the time to feed, bathe, rock and hold a child who is perfectly capable of more mature behaviour.  But realizing that five homes in five years chips a pretty big hole in the brain’s ability to attach puts things into perspective.   See, there are such good reasons for going that extra mile, but still it is my job to act on this knowledge and so often it means sacrificing my own comfort or desires.  I am selfish.  I don’t like to make my aching arms reach out, my weary ears listen, my disoriented mind calm.  I don’t like sacrificing my time, my energy and my routines.

I am also a control freak.

It’s hard to let the mess happen and stay calm.  It ruins the image of perfection I like to show other people.  It tears down the confidence that bolsters my steps.  It’s hard to admit out loud that I don’t know what to do and to have other people observe the trials that turn out to be major errors!  I think we all cringe away from pain – in ourselves and in others.  We encourage the cheery surface conversations that make us feel put together and in control of our lives.  Another’s pain and messiness sets our teeth on edge because it’s uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s because we know that acknowledging their pain means we then need to care.  We need to let our own hearts take a beating.

Empathy.

Sacrifice.

Humility.

I am thinking about a song I haven’t heard for years:

 

“Love them like Jesus

Carry them to him

His yoke is easy, his burden is light

You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions

Just know that He loves them

And stay by their side

Love them like Jesus.”

-Casting Crowns

 

I want to love this way.

I want to love my children without needing all the answers to their hard places in life.  I want my love for them to be an outpouring of grace, not a rewards system.  I want to be able to see hurt and confusion in their messy places, instead of only my own frustration.  I have so much to learn.

But in the middle of all my failures there is light!

Despite everything I am doing wrong and all that I lack…my children are finding Jesus!

He doesn’t need me to have it all together in order to reach them.  They are growing and learning so quickly!  Their innocent young voices speak His name with honour and adoration.  Their eyes glow as they talk about Him being inside their hearts.  They feast hungrily on the stories, songs and truths we feed them.  They ask questions, talk to their friends and make statements that surprise us.  They are connecting the pieces and making it their own, despite all that they don’t yet understand.

If there is nothing else, at the end of all this I hope that my two beautiful daughters will know that God is so much bigger than their Mama.

I hope they will always feel awe for all that He is and that they will see with clarity the transformation He makes in people’s lives.

I hope they will bask in His grace for us all and that His love will fill in the gaps that I have missed.

Wading through the messiness of these days sets me on edge and the truth is I could really use a date night with my husband.  But we haven’t quite reached the point where we have approval to get a babysitter for the girls, though I hope this will happen soon.

I should be diving into God’s Word to give me air each day now that I have quietness, but it’s hard to make my mind settle.

In another couple weeks I’m sure the pieces will all come together and our lives will hold a steady rhythm again of people, activities, routines and even emotions.  The girls will settle into school, I will know a routine of my days there as well, the weather will decide what to do and health will return for a while.  (If that is too long, I’m sure my sister time on Friday will help me maintain my balance for now! 🙂  Yay!)

Until then, I will try not to balk at the stretching or let the guilt overtake me.

I will try to learn the lessons here for me.

Also…I will put vacuuming on my list for the third day in a row and truly do it this time!

AF

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Day of School 2014

I can’t believe I am actually sitting at home alone right now, while my daughters are down the street at school. It felt so strange to kiss them goodbye and leave the school this morning, knowing I wouldn’t see them again until 3:00 this afternoon.

As much as we were all looking forward to this day, last night as I prepared for today a wave of panic hit me. How could I leave them in someone else’s care for 6 hours every day?! I will no longer know all the little pieces that make up each of their days and be able to track their emotions, activities and habits. After spending nearly every waking minute with them for the past two and half months, it’s quite the switch.

The girls woke up excited and eager this morning, but by the time we hit the playground and watched the flood of kids fill the yard, I could see them starting to worry. Luckily parents are allowed inside on the first day, so I tried my best to distract them while we searched out the few kids we know. But when the bell rang, Akeisha immediately burst into tears and clung to me while Alexa’s blue eyes turned large and solemn. By the time I left half an hour later after getting them settled into their classrooms they were both fine. Alexa sat proudly with her peers, glowing with excitement. Akeisha was a little less confident, but had reacquired her excitement for school and with a few more hugs and kisses was ready to face the day on her own.

So I walked home. Alone. I wandered around knowing I should be busy but feeling a little distracted. The quiet is really nice, it really is. I think I’ll take a walk later…or a drive…some excuse to pass the school and hopefully see both the girls happily playing with their friends.

I’m excited about the routine.

I’m ready for the quiet.

But I’ll miss my girls.

This is a good thing. It feels nice to look forward to 3:00.

Out with the old, in with the new.

AF