Saturday, October 31, 2015

Best of Facebook: October 2015

10/1/15: Click here to see post on FB:
Two years ago I was desperate and finally beginning to open up about our biggest and hardest struggles with our children. It seemed like every time I became bold enough to share the most recent tantrum or incident we had in our home I was told by fellow moms, "Oh, they are just being a kid. This is just a stage they are going through. All kids do that." Finally our youth pastor and his wife sat down and listened to us and the desperateness in our tone. A few weeks later he presented us with this book, he had found it, read it and believed it would be very helpful to us.

Now I had already read book after book, The Connected Child, The Whole-Brained Child, etc and read blog after blog. We had done years of counseling and therapy (including EDMR for a couple months which I do not hold a high opinion of). I was tired of bad news and hopelessness. I was skeptical that another book, another author could help me. BUT, this book was different and as I read it it didn't just give me more head knowledge and parenting tools but it fed my soul. It gave me a renewed view of my children. Not through my worn and weary, struggling to show love eyes but helped me view them through the eyes of Jesus who loves them unconditionally and sacrificially!

This book did change our lives. So much so just months after reading this book God called us to adopt our Sam from an adoption disruption who was diagnosed with RAD. God had shown us so much of His healing power in so little time that we extended trust in Him once again as we pursued another. The healing in Sam was very evident very quickly. He is a walking testimony of the goodness of God and such a blessing to us!

Just less than a year ago one of our children had an isolated incident that led to us having all of our children interviewed and and evaluated by two licensed therapists. I told them our past diagnoses of RAD, PTSD, ODD, ADHD and chronic enuresis. I told them briefly of the horrifying history of their lives before coming into our care. After hours in the office while they saw and spoke with each individual child they called me in the room. What they said to me had me in tears, "Ma'am, we have never met such smart, happy, focused, well-mannered and ATTACHED children as we have seen today. They have only been with you a short 3 years and they don't fit any of their previous diagnoses and whatever you are doing is amazing!"

"But it isn't me, they are healing despite my failures, it is Jesus!"

We often hear, "it takes a special person to raise someone else's children!" or "I could never do what you are doing." Well, I am not super-human for sure, most of the time I look around and wish I was as patient or loving or kind as so-and-so. So to be honest, if I can adopt and parent these kids ANYBODY can do it.

When people ask how do you do it, I say "I am not, it's Jesus." Our human love will never be enough to heal these kids, our human therapies will never be enough to heal these kids but these things coupled with the love of Jesus is what HAS healed my kids! That is why it has to be the followers of Christ that step up to the plate and sacrifically lay down their lives to give these kids one! We, the church, and our church congregations have got to step up and love these kids, our neighbors.

But love is not enough for the days after adoption. We must also be willing to become equipped in attachment parenting. Far too many adoptions are being disrupted (FL has a current disruption rate of 42%). We get emails and calls non-stop from some of these desperate families hanging on by a thread. Why? Because adoption is HARD. It is born in pain, grief, loss and sin. Adoption is a beautiful blessing but it is like a rose that takes time to grow from the ashes. What got us through isn't the skills we had to learn, the trainings we attended, the books we read or the therapies we sat through. What got us through and is getting us through is the unwavering commitment to love these kids regardless of their behavior. A commitment to pursue them as they push away from us with a supernatural love. Did we not run away from God, withhold our affections from Him, live our lives in a way that didn't please Him? But while we were in our sin He loved us so much He laid down His life for us. What pulls us through the hardest days is a deep desire, not to adopt or love, but a to be conformed into the likeness of Jesus by loving sinners the same way He did, with His very life.

Every year Brittney's school takes their special kids and their families to camp for 4 days. Brian wasn't able to come so me and these 7 kiddos attended and had lots of fun. Brittney's school bussed us to the FL Elks Youth camp where they put us up in air-conditioned cabins, fed us like kings and had tons of fun activities ready for us! The kids had lots of time in the pool, got to tie-dye shirts, participate in a ropes course, practice archery, ate lots of icecream and desserts, danced the night away and made smores at a bonfire! Here are some pics of our time.

Three hours and some sore fingers but I am feeling pretty accomplished tonight! She kept looking in the mirror and saying "so pretty, so pretty!" She likes it so it was worth it! :)

We enjoyed having France 2 TV out today for our interview. They were very kind and patient with us and the kids felt like little stars for sure being followed around by a huge camera. I could tell that the kids were also intrigued by their beautiful language and accents, maybe after Spanish class we will take up French. :)

My favorite moment was due to English being their second language one asked, "Do you breed your animals?"
To which I said, "yes, we have bred some at times."
"Ah, so can we film you breeding the animals?"
"Um, well, if that is what you think would make good tv then I suppose...."
"Oh! I meant to say feed! Can we film you feeding the animals!"
"LOL, Yes! We feed all the animals everyday. We can film that." :)
We all got a good laugh at that one.

I came across a journal from 2012 that I had kept at the request of our counselor. Everyday it had a very short entry of what behaviors we dealt with that day. As I read through them I had forgotten some of the huge daily struggles we have worked through. I showed the journal to our big kids, "See this is why I was such a crazy mom when you first came, I didn't know how to deal with this kind of stuff."
Mirabel read it over, "Geez, I can't believe I did this stuff to you. We really were awful!"
"Yea, but you know what I was doing at the same time I was writing these daily journal entries?"
Mirabel smirked, "Crying and eating chocolate?"
"I suppose. At the same time that you were running away, hitting me, cussing me out and doing everything in your power to push me away I was getting fingerprinted and background checked and filling out mountains of paperwork to make you mine."

Adoption is the living gospel. For it was me who was that little orphan girl running from the love of a Father. Yet even in my fighting and running He gave up everything, His only perfect Son, for a chance to adopt me as His own. I now love Him, because He first loved me (1 John 4:19). Our kids love us now because we chose to show them a glimpse of our Father's love.

Adopt because you were adopted! Even when you don't "feel" it, love your kids because your Father loves you! Even though they push and push you away, pursue your kids because your Father pursued you! Even when it feels too hard to keep going, don't give up because your Father didn't give up on you! Even now, in this trial, in this struggle remember that He promises, if we love Him, He will work all things together for our good! (Rom. 8:28)

A young stranger was walking up our long driveway, something small and white let out soft cries in his arms. I walked halfway out to greet him, "Is everything okay?"

"Ma'am we had a goat and she just gave birth to this baby but she died right after. You have goats and we know you will take good care of her."

As I held this tiny little life now entrusted in our care I was reminded of the verse in Prov 12:10 that says, "a righteous man has regard for the life of his animal..." I am so thankful for the reputation that God has granted us in our community. A reputation that no matter the species, breed or color, if they are in need of a family they can find one with open arms here.

Welcome home baby Abba. I hope your place on our farm continually reminds us that God is "Abba, Father" to the orphan.

This is our baby girl, Abba goat. Yes she is dressed as a pumpkin! .... Why? You ask? Because it is freaking adorable!!!

"So you guys are in charge of all these kids?" asked a woman who greeted us as we visited a new church today.

"I suppose we are in charge of them...we are a family, these are our children."

We saw the pastor's eyes widen with curiosity as we came to the door to exit. The woman who greeted us earlier turned to the pastor, "They adopted ALL these kids! Seven!"

The pastor shook our hands, "Well, you certainly have your hands full!"

"Sir, we simply took the Bible quite literally when God said, 'pure and undefiled religion is to care for the orphan.'"

We took part in a local homeschool geography fair tonight. We studied China and the kids were able to present what they learned. It was so neat, there were at least 20 other tables to visit and each child got a little passport to fill up with stickers and facts from each Country or State. Lots of tables even had food from their location to taste. We brought freshly cut bamboo from our own bamboo forest on our farm to give away!

Since I have it all together we started this project at 11pm the night before it was due!!! Good thing the kids had been reading lots of library books on China for weeks and quickly cranked out some facts on a poster board! Anthony took charge of the board and table and the this morning I was quite surprised with how well they did all on their own so I spent 4 hours today creating and sewing costumes to bring our China table to life! God poured out His grace as always, we pulled it together and the kids had a blast!

Posted by Shannon

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