Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Desperate

Dear Ones:

I don't think this will be a favorite post of mine. I am in a desperate place. Parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has always been hard. We have fought and fought for our girls. Multiple and weekly therapies for the last 8 years. Deciding to homeschool when they were drowning at school. Countless hours of prayer. Research and reading until your eyes and heart want to explode. Up until last week my fight felt determined and this week it feels despondent. Over the past year one daughter in particular has been acting out destructively. It is to the point now where she requires constant supervision and still somehow she will finds the one second your back is turned to destroy something. It has gone from occasionally to daily and even several times a day.

I have felt attacked but thought I am not going down. Not now and not from this. But I am feeling drained and hopeless. I am so tempted to check out and surrender. It doesn't feel like anything I try or pray about makes any difference whatsoever.

A good friend of mine had a good description of how this feels. It's like this is my job. To be the absolute best mother I can be. To make a difference in their lives. In all the lives of my people. But her destructive behaviors are like my performance review and it feels like glaring hopeless failure. I'm tired and exhausted and desperate for a shred of hope. I am on this FAS island and there is no sound or sight of rescue.

We are waiting on a referral to see a behavior specialist and then it is a long wait to even be seen. Please pray we will get in sooner rather than later.

I need prayer. I need some Aaron and Hur's in my life to hold my arms up. I need to see clouds of hope forming in the sky. I need to hear the whispers of God come close to me. Honestly right now I don't see or hear anything but depressing discouragement. I hate waking up at night because my mind will betray me and it will look for hope and find none. Then it's wake up and do it all over again.

This doesn't feel like me. I usually am scrappy and I find the hope to be found. But I feel like I have gone down. I want to stay there if it means the attacks will stop. But they don't. Then I am just face down in the dust.

I am sorry to be like this. I am ashamed to even be here. Please pray Jesus will lift my dusty tear stained face off the ground. Please pray he will help me get my fight back. Please pray he will send his rain. At the very least a cloud for me to focus on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Calling

Good Morning Dear ones:

It my time with Jesus lately he keeps taking me back to my calling. I think because I have lost myself because of discouragement. For as long as I could remember my deep hearts cry and desire was always to be a mom. And the Lord blessed us with four amazing sons. It was also a part of my desire to be a mom through adoption. To be a mother to someone who needed a mother. Through that desire two little girls were given to our family. The adoption process itself wasn't easy. It took a failed international adoption, and three years in the foster care process before the dream came to fruition. To be exact it took 4 years, 2 months, 1 week and 4 days to finalize our first adoption. There were giants to fight through that process and since the girls became ours there has been giants like I never imagined we would encounter.

You see both of our girls have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This is permanent brain damage. The suffer from a number of issues. The hardest ones are the hidden ones. The look like everyone else but are at least 3 years behind academically. Struggle to tell the truth. Struggle to have any impulse control or make good decisions. Gravitate to what is wrong. And this is daily and constant. And can be so exhausting and is always hard! These are just some of the lions and the bears we fight daily. Somewhere in the fight I lost myself and my hope. When you don't see your progress and feel like you spin your wheels in mud and go no where you kind of want to just stop spinning. It is so hard to pour yourself into a life and not know if you are making a shred of a difference. So you start to look for other things. Things that will make you feel like you are making a difference and then the things you are walking away from suffer. I have honestly doubted and wondered if we bit off more than we could chew or if we had made a mistake. Seriously doubting if I was the mom for this F.A.S thing. But God keeps bringing me back to my calling. And this word pictured from my Pastor this morning was God confirming it once again. Bringing me back to where I need to be. I am called to be a mother before anything else I can come up with to feel like I am making a difference in this world. Circumstances with F.A.S are completely different than how we had to parent our boys. The giants are way bigger than I ever thought they would be. But the calling is the same. I just need to be consistent in my calling. I feel my passion returning as I let this truth sink in. I am guaranteed the same power. The same God that brought us through challenges and giants with our boys and through the adoption process for the better and the worse will be with me.

As my son Elijah told me, I can't control what F.A.S brings into our lives but I can control my response and honestly I have been failing miserably lately. And as my other son Noah told me, I need to write down my wins, otherwise all I see are the never ending daily lions and bears we fight.

My calling, like yours, they may be different, but they require a great amount of faith. So I thank God for showing up for me. For speaking truth to me and getting me back on track. Adopting my girls will never be a mistake. It may be incredibly hard and lonely at times. But the mistake would be to abandon my calling. To give up. God never said it would be easy. But I do praise him for saying he would never leave or forsake me.

Today Lord Jesus I am coming back to my calling. Thank you for being with me. Thank you for forgiving my failures. Give me your power to fight the F.A.S giants and may (F)etal (A)lcohol (S)yndrome become (F)ulfilling (A)lmighty's  (S)tory... not even my story Lord but Your story. Help me play my part in the story how you want me to play it, in Jesus powerful name. Amen

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short

Dear Ones:

The days are long but the years are short. I have used this phrase often throughout my parenting years but it has never felt more real or painful than it does right now. It is just after 5:00 am Tuesday morning and in 24 hours my firstborn son, Elijah is moving to Montana. I woke up at 4:30 and as soon as I was alert I sighed a deep knowing sigh. I knew I was not going to be able to go back to sleep. I couldn't escape my emotions. Not even for a couple more hours until the sun rose and life rushes in. I begged God please don't let me be awake right now. I laid there still until wet hot tears started to soak my pillow and I couldn't hide my sniffles anymore.

So here I am sitting in the dark downstairs and the only light I feel and see right now is my keyboard.
I have stuffed the feelings long enough. And what a conglomerate mess of feelings it is. Joy, Pride, Excitement, Guilt, Grief...

As a little girl and young woman my main heart hunger was motherhood. After Eric and I got married we had such a rough start together that we waited on some healing before we tried to be parents. Then in 1994 it happened. Two lines showed up on my pregnancy test and I was ecstatic. Sadly a few short weeks later I had a miscarriage. So many emotions like today to muddle through. I still remember sitting on my mauve couch in our small Bible college apartment desperate for comfort from our loss. This was one of those times I opened up my bible and there right in front of me was 2 Kings 4:16 and I read the words:

"About this time next year, Elisha said, you will hold a son in your arms." So I scribbled December 29th, 1994 next to the verse. Then on December 27th, 1995 Elijah Caleb Selent, my son, was born.

Motherhood has been so much more thorny and at the same time so much more miraculous than I could have ever imagined.

Elijah has been one of those kids that has such a kind and tender soul. I tell him often that he is one of the kindest people I know and I mean it. Kindness is his superpower. Although at times he would doubt his gifts or that God had something in store for him. I NEVER have. I just always hoped and prayed it would be in the same area as me. That as life took him from my home to his own somehow it wouldn't be that far. That God would grant my hearts desire and we would still see each other face to face on a regular basis and then we would just add more beautiful faces to the mix. A wife. Grandchildren. All of which I would get to be a part of somehow. Now I am facing distance. Not a days drive distance but across the country distance and the ache is real and it is powerful.

I know this is not a drill. I know since the day he was born this has been our job to prepare him to go and as I look at the man he is today, all though far from perfect, we have done a pretty amazing job, in spite of ourselves. As I share these things I know it can sound like I am all that matters. I have had comments from others that make you feel guilt on top of the pain for even feeling the grief. So let me share that I do realize this is not all about me. It's about a wonderful young man who God designed with amazing kindness, and incredible love for others, and strong passion to make a difference for His kingdom in this world. And like I said earlier, I never have and never will doubt that he will be used in exciting and dynamic ways. To say that I am proud of him almost feels too feeble. There is a quote from Andy Stanley that I have had written on a chalkboard in my kitchen for years:

"Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise."

Elijah I have to believe those words. I have always struggled with feeling like I had something to contribute but looking at you and the man you have become, I feel like mouth dropping wow. You WILL do amazing things for God. Fresh Life was prepared in advance for you. Dad and I dedicated you to the Lord as a baby and you have done so well up unto this point and there is so much more in store for you.

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

As Hannah asked the Lord for a child, I also asked the Lord for you Elijah.

"I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give Him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27&28

This is a difficult transition for me. As I have always said. I love you and I like you. Your one of my very best friends. I miss you already. But you were made for such a time as this and I am beyond proud.

Thank you God for letting me be Elijah's mama and for using me to bring him to this point. Hold my hurting heart and comfort me and keep him in your hands when he's no longer in mine.






Thursday, April 20, 2017

I'm Starting To Get It

Hi there Dear Ones:


I wanted to tell you about how Jesus loved on me BIG TIME today and how it removed some blinders from my eyes also. This week we came back to homeschool after our week long Spring Break. My girls because of fetal alcohol syndrome struggle so much with their education. In fact it's because of their struggles we made the decision to homeschool. I homeschool year round so as to help retention as much as possible. I can not even tell you how many times I have felt completely inept for the task. A couple of days ago was one of the hardest homeschool days we have had in a while. I have said many times that parenting a child with FAS is similar to living a Groundhog Day scenario.

In a moment of discouragement I posted on facebook how we were having a hard day and I asked for prayer for my girls and for myself. I received lots of sweet comments and prayers that I know got me through that day. One comment in particular though grabbed me. It was from a adoptive Mama like myself ahead of me on the journey. Her son has FAE and her words went right to my heart and they meant more than any other words written that day, simply because I knew she knew. We began to private message one another and the wisdom she shared with me having walked the path ahead of me brought me so much help, peace, reassurance, understanding and confirmation.

All I could think about was Jesus really doesn't leave you alone. And then it hit me. You hear things all the time like there is purpose in your pain and to be completely honest with you that statement has always rubbed me the wrong way. There has been some pain in my life I would throw my fist up at God and scream no thank you, pick someone else, because I hated it so much and wanted ZERO to do with it. But today God allowed me to see more clearly than ever before on this purpose of our pain.  I felt such a hope and a healing as this Mama took her time with me. And then I started to get it. As I am a bit further along in my struggles, as she was in mine, I find the purpose there. Someone is coming after me. Jesus loved on me big time through her and I am going to be used by Him so He can love on somebody else big time through me.

This is one of the ways that all things work together for good I am sure of it! This is why we don't do life alone! This is why our relationships are precious and we need to protect them fiercely with every every fiber of our beings. This is why I strive to be authentic as I walk my path because someone is coming behind me.

Thank you Jesus for every ounce of your enormous love you poured out on me today. Keep me tender and sensitive so you can bring purpose out of my pain. Thank you that nothing is wasted with you! Your a good good Father and I am loved by you! Never let me miss the opportunity to be your hands and feet to be used by you to love others. I want to make the devil pay BIG TIME for every bit of pain hes brought my way.




Thursday, December 22, 2016

Shameless Authenticity From A Special Needs Mom

Hello Dear Ones:

Over the course of my life what has always ministered to me most is authenticity. People who are willing to risk laying themselves bare before others. Putting away the masks that make us look good, for the sake of looking like we have it all together. People like this have always brought me so much comfort. Like a warm cozy blanket on a cold day, authenticity can envelope you and let you know you are not alone in this world. That is my hope as I reveal a messy part about me today.

Do you know the quote by Eric Liddell "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." That is how I feel when I write. Especially when I share my true vulnerable authentic self. So today as I sit at my keyboard I take that risk to be shamelessly authentic again.

Last night as my husband and I laid in bed together I asked him a question. Out of the prayers you have been praying, what prayer would you like to wake up to tomorrow and have it answered? He blew me away with his answers. He had BIG faith filled prayers that made me feel a little ashamed that I didn't have that kind of big faith. I feel more comfortable with the prayers that there is a possibility that they will actually happen. That somehow I can actually rely on myself and work it out. So impressive right? But I am being transparent here.

At the top of my prayer list is a struggle I have been wrestling with for far too long and relying on myself has proven over and over again to fall flat. As I opened up about what has been weighing me down tears streamed down both sides of my face soaking my pillow.

Years ago a seed was planted in my heart to adopt, and that seed sprouted and blossomed into reality. I yearned to be a mother to someone who needed a mother. Motherhood was a part of my calling that I felt the absolute most passion for and actually felt good at most of the time. God had created me to be a Mom. So the dream was now a reality six times over with four sons and two daughters.

Our adopted blessings didn't have a birth mom that took care of them from the moment of conception. They were in fact permanently damaged by drugs and alcohol and now live with the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. This permanent brain damage completely stripped away every single parenting tool that worked so well with our boys. The day in and day out battle with these hidden disabilities can make you discouraged at least and feeling utterly hopeless at worst.

Lately I have been in the worst case scenario with one daughter in particular. It started going down hill after a $16,000 plumbing disaster in October that is still in the process of repair as I sit here and type. She daily lies,  and is sneaky. I have been exhausted with it all. No time away seems to be enough to refill my mom gas tank. I find myself just wanting distance and then immersed with an overwhelming sense of guilt and failure. Didn't I desire this assignment? Didn't I pray for this? Didn't I once celebrate that this dream was no longer a dream but my reality? What has happened to me? And why do I even make this about me anyhow?

I often times think in my mind that so many others would do this assignment soooooo much better than me. Someone more kind, more patient, more equipped. Someone more trusting of Jesus and not so self reliant. I fear that her birth mother damaged her brain and I will end up damaging her emotions. Who would ever want to be raised by a Mom who makes it about her anyhow? That is the antithesis of what motherhood should be.

It's so very hard to feel like your doing a good job when everything you try to teach or instill doesn't stick. It's groundhog day almost every day. This may be part of why I have been frustrated but its not why my pillow was soaked last night. I just am not proud of the truth about me. I am not proud that this is even a struggle. Where is the Jesus in me? Where is the love that covers a multitude of sins and the lying down of my life for another? Where is the who cares what others think about me and my family but the as unto the Lord and that's all that matters part of me?

Yesterday I saw a video clip on FaceBook by Pastor Craig Groeschel and this is what he said:

"What's true about you now, doesn't have to be true about you later. His power is stronger than your past and His grace is stronger than any label."

So my tear soaked pillow was a cry for help. Please change my truth Lord Jesus. Please take away the label of bad Mother that I have embraced. Pastor Groeschel said to name the label something different. I remember years ago changing F.A.S (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) to F.A.S (Fulfilling Almighty's Story)  I think this writer needs to get back to that. But also to surrendering the authorship to the writer of my story and the writer of my daughters story. I don't get to write our story but I do get to write about how the true author designs it to happen. I choose today to drop the bad mother label and pick up the shamelessly authentic mother who doesn't quit label. The mother who fights not against but for the Fulfilling of Almighty's Story. As soon as I typed those words my body took a deep breath. Yes this is my true authentic self. My son Noah has a friend Ryan that posted these words on Instagram yesterday "Authentic air is just easy to breath." How true that is! So I inhale and exhale this authentic air and I breath in the hope that what is true about me now, won't be true about me later.

"Forget former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43: 18 & 19

Praise the Lamb who makes all things new!

  (license)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happy Two~ty~five

 This post is for my husband:

 I have this photo of the speed limit sign because it symbolizes a good memory in our family. When my oldest son, Elijah, was toddler we were out driving and he saw the speed limit sign and said "oh two~ty~five." But it also represents the number 25. Tomorrow we will celebrate being together for a quarter of a century as husband and wife. This is longer then we were apart before we met.

We don't have the typical love story. We met and got engaged on a whirlwind. Eighteen days after we met we were engaged and 2 months later we had vowed to love each other until death did us part. It started out more like I want to kill you!

We were in no way prepared for this commitment. We were two broken kids looking for the other to fill up our deep voids in our life. To be blunt our first three years of marriage were filled with horrible fights and ignorant misconstrued views and impossible expectations. It was Hell on earth to put it nicely.

Somehow God put good people and lessons in our life that taught us how to get along. How to not hate each other. To in fact become friends and best friends at that. Still progress is slow isn't it at times? Some hurts are so deep it requires surgery to heal. And when something doesn't heal it can get infected and infection can wreak such havoc.

For a very long time both of us were being consumed with nasty infections of the heart. Eric battled sexual addiction to medicate pain in his life. This was like bacteria to my heart infection of not trusting. I know in my husbands life he had heart wounds from before he even met me and bad habits were in place before we even were together. For me I never felt like I was anything special. This led to sooooo many years of desperation to find something or someone to make me special. I just wanted to be a princess for someone. But because I never was or rather I looked to anything and everything to make me feel this way, other than my heavenly father, lets just say trust issues became my middle name. I didn't trust men. I didn't trust God. It became my job to take care of me and I failed miserably.

All of this brokenness came to a head over the past two years. We moved to Charlotte and I was convinced that being in a great church, that I could trust in that, to fix my husband battles... right? Wrong. I am not saying that there isn't value in going to a great church, there is extreme value in it. It brings you closer to Jesus but it is not a substitute for Jesus. I hope that makes sense. I am pretty sure if we had not been in a great church that we would have disintegrated into complete family destruction.

We had to come to the point where the roots of our issues were faced and dealt with head on. Putting a band aid on a bullet wound just wasn't working anymore.

I think most people plan big trips or celebrations to celebrate their 25th but we had to invest in us in order to have a 25th. We actually went away to intense counseling for two weeks. This involved 6-8 hours of counseling a day individually the first week and the same together for the second. God showed up in undeniable ways. We did the hard work of getting down deep to those roots that was the source of our heart infections. I was able to move from bitterness to compassion with Eric in his struggle. One phrase I will never forget is pain seeks pleasure and my husband was in a whole lot of pain. And for me personally I realized I can not go on mistrusting God and trying to take care of myself. I. Am. Not. A. Good. Savior. I am learning to trust him more and more. As Lysa TerKeurst says, "God is good and God is good at being God."

I thank God for helping me re focus on who the real enemy is in my marriage. I thank him for his faithfulness to never leave or forsake two broken kids. I thank him for his grace and mercy and redemption. To give us all those things and help us to give it to each other.

I know this is so untypical for an anniversary post. I guess I look at it as more of a victory post. Eric my love we have been in the trenches together and we are still standing, so to God be the glory. Now may the next two~ty~five years together be such a throat punch to the devil. These two broken vessels will continue to make progress! We will live loved! First and foremost by the lover of our souls and then for each other.

Thank you Eric for not giving up! Thank you for being teachable. It always has been and remains one of your greatest strengths. Thank you for being more than a conqueror with me. Ours has been a messy love but this vessel promises to keep connected to Jesus and to allow his hand to make every mess into a message. Happy Two~ty~five my love and next year let's renew our vows to each other and go swim with some pigs and make more good memories together to add to the speed limit signs of this life we have together!
















photo credit: Shot Up via photopin (license)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pain and Purpose

Hi Dear Ones:


Sometimes you cry so much in a day that your eyes look like baboon butts. Today has been one of those days for me. Have you ever been so low that it took significant effort just to attempt getting up? I didn't even want to go to church tonight. I mean for one, my eyes looked like the provided picture, but my broken heart made my eyes not seem so bad.

My sweet Zion encouraged or rather talked me into scraping myself off my soaked pillow and off to church tonight.  Pastor Larry Brey was our speaker. He talked about how God made us and declared us good but so often we call our soil bad don't we?

He spoke about The Path, or what others do to you.  You can have paths worn out in your life by people and often times by those who are supposed to be looking out for you. Pastor Brey said "The pain of the path will drive our decisions. Fear and anxiety are just emotional pacing. If all you have is the pain of the path you never see the purpose."

I have had the pain of betrayal in my marriage so huge in my minds frame and to be honest with you the mention of there being any purpose in this pain has stirred so much anger in me. I have not wanted to find purpose in it. I have wanted to run so far away from it because I don't want to feel this painful path. I don't understand it. And the sting is inexplicably tender and constant. It has changed who I am and my gut tells me I was made for more than this. But maybe that is where the purpose comes in.  I have just been so completely terrified to let go and trust God to help me find the purpose. I mean hasn't he allowed this pain to go on for almost 25 years now? But something tonight as I sat in that church said if I never let go and trust and try to find the purpose in this mess then I am going to be worn and beat down forever.

Then came The Rocks, This is what you do to yourself. This is what is below the surface in your soil. The bitterness. L.B. said if you don't do something with the rocks they become weapons for you to throw at other people. You decide to have rocks of resentment or stones of celebration. In other words: Take your rocks and make a pile of them so they can be a memorial of God's faithfulness instead. THIS is what I want! This is the ground I need to work for me and mine. And trust me it is going to take some work.

Finally there was The Thorns,  These are the things we were never designed to deal with like sin. These things are outside our authority. But Jesus wore a crown of thorns when he died for our sins.

My life has some worn out paths and sweet Jesus I ask you right now to help me find the purpose. How will others come to you because of this pain? Give me the faith frame to see it. As Pastor Steven has said. Faith may not guarantee your outcome but it can transform your outlook. So do it Jesus. Open my eyes. Show me your purpose. My life is also full of some nasty rocks. Help me do the ground work. Help me heal so I don't hurt others. And the Thorns, thank you for taking them, and help me be as you designed me to be.

I needed you to speak to me so desperately tonight Lord Jesus. Thank you
for letting me hear.


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