Hope. {attachment issues}

Today I walked three miles rather than two. I was angry and needed the extra steps and the extra sweat. Truth is, that I have been angry all week. I’ve been mourning and angry and not handling myself well at all. it has been a slow build up of frustration and fear.

On my walk, I wrote an entire blog post describing our many hard days with a kid with attachment issues and the control and manipulative behaviors that go with them. I vented and cried and told you all about the times when I manage to be therapeutic and wise and kind and then about the times I am not therapeutic at all and cry and yell and react. I gave you a list of behavior tactics a kid like ours might use to gain control of his surroundings. I gave you some ways to handle them and a few on how not to handle them.

I came home and watered the garden, did the dishes, ate my breakfast and watched Downton Abbey and decided against actually writing that blog post. I’m far too in-the-mess to write about it the way that I really want to. My emotions are all mangled and twisted in with any bits of good wisdom I might have managed to hold onto.

So, I prayed instead of writing a very passionate and moving post. I prayed for this kid, whos anxiety comes out looking like and feeling like defiance and blatant disrespect. I prayed that we could be what he needs. I prayed that we could remember our training in the heat of the moment and that he would learn to trust us. I prayed that he would believe in and feel the comfort we are trying so hard to give. I prayed that we could love him unconditionally, although imperfect and human, as much like Jesus as possible.

I said yes to God’s good that He is doing here in all of our rooms. I Said No, to all the things that the enemy of all of our souls is trying to do. I decided that I could and would go on loving this kid even if I do not always enjoy him. Even if he is one kid with me and another, very charming and sweet kid with most others. I can (and will) continue to choose to love him and be what he needs using all the tools I can muster. That is the adult thing to do, the Christ-like thing to do. I can choose love with my husband or mother-in-law or brother when we are not seeing eye-to-eye because we are a family and I have committed to them- I can do it here too.

Someday, when my emotions aren’t so thick with frustration from the morning or the week(s) of wrestling with a ten-year-old who has gotten very adept in the use of many survival skills, I will write that post. I will share with wisdom with grace and you’ll feel all the love that I have for this kid because my words won’t be so heavy with the struggle. I promise.

This, however, is not the post that I wrote on my walk- or the one I have promised. This is the post that I needed to write, one of honest frustration felt and real hope clung to because somewhere out there, there is a mother or father who feels like they are going to explode. They feel maneuvered and pushed into a corner or duped and perhaps they don’t know how to share with others what is happening in their home without feeling or fearing that they will look crazy.

Here is the deal mom or dad- you are not crazy! But if you are not careful you will do exactly what this kid is pushing for you to do and is fearful that you will do and you’ll give up on them. Maybe you’ll put up a wall or disengage just keeping people alive without connecting to them. It is even possible that you’ll even leave them. Your need for survival kicking in too.

So, understand this, You are not alone. Many other parents in your shoes UNDERSTAND what you are going through and we are right there with you! Don’t give up on your kid(s) or on your ability to love them or your ability to learn what it is that they need. You can do this. There is help out there.

From anywhere you can get personal coaching here (their podcast is here).

More great coaching here.

If you are in New Mexico you can join this facebook group and find parent coaches here (👈🏼 full disclosure- I work for them as a family advocate in my region).

This podcast is great as well.

This group opens twice a year and is $15 dollars a month (or listen to their podcast here) you get access to video training and can chat online with their well-trained people if you need it, or go to their many forums to post questions and get feedback and loads of resources.

Great book on audible here or to purchase to read here.

And an article for your kid(s) teachers, here. This is a hard road but there is hope. Be Blessed adoptive and foster parents! You can do this!  God has got you and you are not alone!

~Tina

Run-ins And Open Hearts

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There is a trail that I walk most days. It is not a difficult trail but on it I can see the horizon in all directions, the open skies all around me refreshing whether or not those skies are blue or gray. Nature and open spaces have always made my heart happy and this trail never fails me. I’ve found that a good walk where I can 1. Be alone (which of course does not happen often) 2. Pray out-loud if I want to and 3. Break a sweat REALLY helps me manage stress. It took ages for me to realize that super late nights binge watching Netflix and drinking red wine and eating chocolate from a secret stash doesn’t really help me at all with my stress levels and in fact leaves me tired and unhealthy and so increases my stress. No judgment if that works for you though!

One day this Fall while I walked that trail I had a run-in with a runner (see what I did there?) that revealed something to myself about fear and growth. On this day I had the preschooler with me, which means that I was pushing the stroller, not my favorite thing but I think it helps my arms get a workout so yeah, there is that so yay. I didn’t know that he was on the trail with me. I had seen two other people out there with me that day.  Mental notes were made: I am not alone, one black shirt there, one gray shirt there. Check and check and I walk on determined to sweat.

The sound that the wheels of the stroller made were the loudest. Tiny stones pushed aside by the turning wheels leaving two lines to show just where we’ve been.
The sound of the toddler and my music from my phone because I guess I took my ear buds into the house? On this day the air is heavy with the promised afternoon rains. I’m praying just above a whisper for the team that we are taking from our church to Asia this Summer ((Yay!!)). I am Praying for myself and for my Husband, for our hearts. I am asking Father for wisdom and courage. 

The four-year old is singing songs from the Trolls movie. The wheels are turning and the stones are being pushed aside. The gray sky hangs all around me. I am focused on my prayers. Then, he flies past me, the runner that I did not know was on the trail with me. His feet beat at the tiny stones hard and the sound startles me as he passes. So much so that I cry out like a frightened old lady,   “Ohhhhhhh!!” This of course startles him (poor fellow) and I hear him, “Oh!!” and after a moment to gather our respective whits we both call out an apology. His, less mortified than mine, I am sure. I’m so embarrassed.

As he runs on his way and I push the stroller ahead of me I continue to pray but I keep an ear open and an eye out for him. I don’t want to be startled again. So I am praying as I walk and listening to my girl sing her songs and ask her questions and feeling the stones move as we go but I am keenly aware of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e else on the trail now- especially the runner. After another half mile on the trail I know that he is coming back around soon and so I keep looking back. Checking.

The runners second pass goes without a hitch. I was aware of him coming up the trail behind me. The third time he passes the breeze has gone away and the sun is hot on my skin and I have lost myself again in my own thoughts and this pass does give me a little start. Not enough for any embarrassing yelps but Just enough to get me thinking about fear. About how I work hard at knowing what to expect because I struggle with the unknown. I struggle with fear, I always have. I am remembering something that I heard recently though and I am connecting dots on the pretty tiny stones all along my path.

The week before at Bible study Pastor Mike had asked if we were reactionary or proactive in our walk with Christ. Honestly, I think that I am both. Sometimes when the unexpected things fly past me I react and panic and fly off of handles. Other times I am prayerful, strong and full of hope and wisdom. I’m growing, really I am but growth takes time. I am thinking that the unexpected will come by on this trail I walk: as a follower of Christ, as a wife and mom of three bio kids, one adopted wee one and one soon-to-be adopted big kid. I might cry out in fright or I might be ready for it (enough not to freak out). Either way I can keep on walking and make the choice to not let being afraid or embarrassed throw me off the trail.

These days the unexpected things flying past me that make me catch my breath are many. When my oldest tells us about getting bullied or when the son we are just beginning to know struggles. I hear the startling footfall on the stones around me at the thought of leaving my 8 year old at a birthday party without me or taking my first team to Asia. Everyday bringing its own surprises. My careful planning and the unexpected promise to mingle beneath the gray skies all around me.

Here is the thing though. I walk that trail almost everyday (and I really have to fight to get out there) because I know that it is good for me. I need it. It is to take care of my heart and the body, the body that God entrusted to me (and I’ve been total crap at taking care of it most of my life so yeah). I don’t like to sweat. I hate that the older I get the harder it is to do it. I don’t like the feeling of the extra pounds when I try to jog. I don’t enjoy the pain of exercise at all. I do love how I am and feel after. It is good to get my blood pumping and the my body moving. No matter the discomfort and the pain it is good and helps me to manage stress. It is also obedience to care for this body and heart. It is here where the stones start to take another shape…

Hubby and me, we have struggled in isolation for a time. Sometimes it is just how things are when you move city so often. It can be difficult to let people in, to trust people enough to really know you and to take the time to really get to know them. It can become what you do by default. We craved fellowship but we let it fall to the bottom of our list of priorities. Babies, work, moving and starting again – the basics was all we could handle. We clung to each other which was good but we also needed community and we knew that we did.  We prayed for strength and wisdom to change and grow and at some point in life that change came. Something planted, watered, sun and time and growth. Walking with Jesus transforms.

These days we live with open doors. It doesn’t come natural for us but our capacity to love others, to let people in and to live in our community has expanded greatly but it has taken time. Nine years ago it would have been a solid no from me. Let me keep my babies safe here in our little home. Seven years ago it would have given me a stress rash, wait I can’t control the new. Four years ago it would have only been babies, I know how to handle babies, and this year it is ten-year old boys and college students and church people. I’ve thrown my hands up in defeat and danced in the freedom of it. Our hands coming unclenched, hearts softening, minds changing and room was made for others…

Honestly, opening our doors and hearts to others is hard for me. Sometimes I just don’t want to do it because a closed home is less complicated, safer, quieter and easier. I’ve prayed for Father’s heart for ages and man oh man did He deliver. Obeying Father’s call to care for the vulnerable IS to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. An open home (full of Joy a friend said recently) is a surefire way to discover Father’s heart yourself and for the whole world!

The unexpected flying past me on this trail of life (yeah I did that) may frighten me. It may give me a start and make me catch my breath but the unexpected will be found beneath the footfall of obedient feet, willing hands and open hearts and by the grace of our Good Father, I am down. How about you?

~Tina