I've gotta give a shout out to Miss Erica, our amazing summer school teacher! Girl, you rock! Erica is a college student, studying to be a teacher...and have we got her on a crash course this summer :) I don't even know how this whole thing came about but for the Lord's intervention, and since He does all things well, we couldn't have planned this any better ourselves! Every morning Erica is in our kitchen at 8:30 am, her large tote full of books and cool learning gear. We are two and a half weeks into school and are seeing incredible progress, thanks to her skills and preparation. We're also pretty proud of her student! Erica had a two-week lesson plan made out when she started...and they completed all the work the first day! Now that she's got a feel for where Kooper's at, she's runnin' with it. The first week they refreshed and refined the things we'd been working on in home school, plus he learned to multiply by 2s, 3s, 5s and 10s. Now he's multiplying all digits, and is working on money, time and fractions. I'm so impressed with Erica's skills (and patience), and I'm very proud of my son! Erica, because of you, our boy will be ready for school in August. Down side, he wants to play the drums in band! Ah, what's a little more noise around here?!?
How in the world do we introduce our kids adopted as teens to the Lord? I suspect there are as many answers as there are adoptive families.
Disclaimer: I've said it before, and I'll say it again ~ "I am not an expert!" Just an ordinary working-inside-and-outside the home mom to 8 kids who rescue me daily from my selfishness. If you've read much of my blog, you already know my Source of strength, energy, grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. And that's what this post is about.
I desperately want my recently adopted teen to understand why we do the things we do...and don't do the things we don't. Recently in the adoption community there's been a flurry of advice, criticism, encouragement and awareness on matters and the manner in which we approach our adopted children. I've read a ton of it; some I have begun reading and stopped abruptly, some I have taken to heart, and admittedly some I have completely disregarded - because it's hard to digest advice given about raising adopted teens from those who have not 'walked the mile.'
The bottom line for us is that if we truly know the Lord as our Sovereign Father, we must earnestly seek Him in ALL things, especially raising our children. We can offer encouragement to families and testify about the victories He has given us and His faithfulness in the trials, but the specifics of what works for us may not be the answer for anyone else, especially regarding different aspects of child rearing.
I can't tell anyone else how to 'talk adoption' with their children, how to discipline, how to integrate culture, how to delve into their past, how to explain their placement in a family...or when it's appropriate to say, "I don't know." Even with our five China-born children the approach is different. I can only share what we've done, right or wrong.
I can't possibly know how they will feel when they grow up, what scars will have never healed, the wounds we unintentionally poured salt into... or if they will decide to be joyful despite their losses, and choose to receive the redemption.
Two things I do know ~ 1) We are imperfect parents, spending time daily in the Word so that God can transform our minds, help us to re-prioritize our choices and build our character and desires to line up with His. 2) Years from now I don't want my adult child having to ask the question, "You know that Jesus you talked about, why didn't you ever tell me how I could know Him?"
Ya'll know I accepted Christ at age 36 (praise Him for patience!!!), and I can't help but wonder why some of my friends who claimed to know Christ never shared Him with me. Not being critical; just sayin'. Not harboring any bitterness because I know He always had the best in mind for me!
But I digress. This is about introducing my recently adopted teen to my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus... and giving him the freedom to choose to believe or not, all the while praying that the Spirit would prick His heart.
We attend church and youth group regularly, but to our son this seems to be 'just something we do on Sundays and Wednesdays' with no real significance to him. Our family devotions are usually short-lived due to our frustration over an attitude of indifference (yes, I know that's our problem!).
We bought him a Chinese/English Bible, and he carries it but isn't interested in actually reading it in the service.
So, we are having summer school, and reading is an integral part of school...right?!? And I've got a teen who says he doesn't want to lose his Chinese, so reading his native language is part of keeping it fresh, right?!? And I've got a Father who desires that none should perish and has given His Son so that all can have eternal life by confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, so reading His Truth is the best way to get to know Him, right?!?
Only a few problems. We have a boy who thinks he knows best - big surprise! He refuses to speak Chinese at length in our presence. He refuses to read out loud. So when I announced that we would use the Bible for reading today, he hem-hawed around and finally got it, but then refused to read. At first he wouldn't tell me why he refused to read. I asked some very personal questions based on recent conversations, and the bottom line is he was angry because I was asking him to do something he didn't want to do.
He later apologized for being upset and we talked about it. He told me his 'friends' told him they didn't understand the Bible or God and 'people in China no reading this.' Hate to break it to you, son, but people in China are reading This! This has been a common theme for us ~ our son's perspective of China and the US are based solely on what his friends have told him.
Once I explained to him that though some people in China, just like the US, don't understand or believe in God, there are many who have come to believe through reading the Bible. I told him that I cannot and will not try to force him to believe, that God has given us the free will to choose, but as a Christian and as his mom, it is my privilege (and obligation) to share with him that God loves us, no matter what, and because of that love, He gave us the only Way to eternal life through Jesus, because we simply can't be 'good enough' to get to Heaven.
So today we read (in Chinese and English) the Roman Road and talked about it. And we will read it again tomorrow...and the next day...
I don't know what works for you, but if you've walked this mile I'd love to hear about it. I don't even know what works for us... but today this is our trial and error approach to teaching our son the Truth. Good thing God's got our back!
I've really been reaching for something to say. Is that a sign that my blogging days are nearly over? Nah!
I thought about giving you a run-down of how everyone is doing...you know, like one of those Christmas letters you skim over and stuff back in the envelope. Okay, I'll keep it brief.
In the last week and a half we've made 2 trips to the ER, had 1 surgery, a graduation, a graduation banquet, a youth end of school party, 3 dentist appointments, summer school/tutoring, painted the kitchen ...and someone shaved his Mohawk.
For the record, it's just hair, and I don't mind if my son expresses himself through his hair...even if it exceeds clearance in the vehicle and happens to be red :) Did I mention it's gone now?!?
As for Kaeleb's recovery, he's in that horrible window of time where the inflammation is causing the most pain, and he would prefer to sleep the day away, especially since waking up means Mama's going to give him the same limited choice of foods and more medicine. Poor baby.
Thanks for kudos on my kitchen ~ I really love it! After the second coat I was secretly hoping my hubby would run out of paint so I could get a slightly darker color, but no such luck and it turned out fabulous!
But the real reason I'm posting at this ridiculous hour is ... well, me. God is changing some things about me, and I'm in dire need of change.
I'm going to spare the specifics because I know God has this all worked out, though I've not been enlightened with the details. A little more than a year ago we began a season of trials. Actually, the season began before that, but we first noticed the evidence about a year ago. Though we've allowed the Lord to weed and prune as He pleased, it has seemed we've been plowing an infertile field. The last week has brought many conversations, even more prayer and searching for answers. I honestly don't know if we'll ever have an answer to why we are in this season, but I trust completely that God will bring us through it. Not around it, not over it...but through it.
While I want to scream, "Enough already, I've got it; let's move on," I know there is more to learn. Some days it seems He has entrusted us with so much it's overwhelming. Mostly I feel completely unworthy of the life He has called me to. I am so grateful, so humbled...and yet, I struggle for control. So He is teaching me to be more grateful, more humble and more joyful in ALL things!
I can't shake my devotion from a few days ago. It was as if He whispered the very words I needed to hear, just when I needed to hear them. See, it's no secret I'm stubborn (my dear husband would say that's an understatement), no secret I like control, and I'm proud. It's taken me half a lifetime to realize I AM NOT in control! And you know what ~ I'm okay with that! I submitted my life, relinquished my rights to 'self,' surrendered my dreams to the One who is in control and has been all along (I've just been too proud to recognize it sometimes).
Because I'm a believer does not mean I will have a life without trouble. In fact, O.C. says it this way, "I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there." There are some circumstances right now I wish would quietly go away...but instead of wishing them away, I can see that these things do not separate me from my relationship with God! Not tribulation, not anguish, not famine, NOTHING!
When I am at the point of discouragement, doubt and casting blame, instead of asking, "Why, Lord?" I will say, "Show me, Lord, how to honor You in this struggle; guard my tongue; keep me upright; teach me what You will, and help me to do the part that is mine to do."
"'Out of the wreck I rise' every time." ~ O.C.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:35
We are home, and kaeleb did beautifully! He was so brave, even with the drug-induced spiders prior to surgery:). He is now enjoying the life of unlimited popsicles, pudding, jello, yogurt and noodles. Thank you for praying. I know you were ... Because when we returned home to the clan the house was still standing, there were no obvious signs of trauma, everyone was dressed and fed, and 1 teen finished his second week of summer school with an excellent report from his teacher! God is good! Off to spend some quality couch time...
I want to apologize for not posting regularly lately, but with the recent shift in the international adoption community to focus on negative aspects of adoption and the ongoing debate of God's role in adoption, I have felt the need to distance myself from the internet for fear I might say something that is politically adoption-ally incorrect.
I also fear that the focus and debate may discourage prospective adoptive parents from pursuing adoption. Nuf said!
If we are abiding in Christ, living a daily, growing, intimate relationship with Him, we will hear God's voice ABOVE all others..and we will be compelled to obey. Nuf said!
No, I don't have all the answers, I make my share of mistakes and ask daily for forgiveness. I am learning that the grace the Father extends to me in boundless measure is meant for me to extend to others. My hope and prayer is that my children will extend that same measure of grace to others and to me when they are grown.
I also think it's easier to give advice than to live it. If I feel the urge to criticize, I start chanting, "Walk a mile...walk a mile...walk a mile." The more I seek the Lord, the more in awe I am, and the more I realize I DON'T know. Sometimes I think we pretend to know more than we really do by criticizing or giving advice to those walking a different mile.
As God always does, He gave me passages this week that have spoken volumes to me. "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be discouraged. Deut 31:8
"Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope." Psa 119:49
"Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." Psa 36:5
"For God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience." Rom 11:29-30
I am not the giver of hope, but as His child, I cheerfully consider it my obligation to share the One who is! Whatever He is calling you to, seek Him and avoid the influence of this world, because it will surely be contrary to His will.
This is my front flower bed - SAD, isn't it! At one time I had beautiful flowers and small shrubs. Then we had a goat 'problem.' That was four years ago. Since then I haven't had the time, money or inclination to do much about it...so I just shrug at my sad flower bed.
But look closely at what IS growing here! We are cultivating mercy, grace, sharing, hope... ...and these blossoms are much sweeter than any flowers I could hope to grow. And that is TRUE! The last weeks of school are always crazy, and this year is no exception. But today we took care of some housekeeping items. Early this morning I caught up on work, then the kids 'helped' me clean house, wash bedding, pick up the limbs from last night's wind storm, do laundry and plan our menu.
I say this only because I have a habit of setting unrealistic expectations for myself and grumbling when I don't meet them.
Lord, please help me not to be anxious about the things I need to finish, but rather rejoice in the things you've allowed me to accomplish!
We had a whirlwind weekend which included celebrating Kambry's 4th birthday at Grandma's house. Happy birthday, sweet girl!
The dahling heels every girl must have! The practical shoes she needs. We had a weeny roast. Smile, Brother :) We marveled at God's creation. We hugged a tree. This tree is in the running for the Forestry Department's 'largest' tree. I love the country! One of God's unique creation, the horned toad. We devoured a LOT of some food. We wrecked Grandma's house. And on Sunday we dedicated 4 children! I am blessed!
Whether you've had the privilege of celebrating many, celebrating a few, this is your first, or you are still waiting - I wish you Happy Mother's Day!
My family spent the day with my mama, and what a blessed day it was!
To five birth mothers in China, thank you for choosing life and allowing me the privilege of being called Mama! One thing I learned last Monday is that my newest 14-year-old Treasure has never known anyone he considered Mama - until now. What better time for this to be revealed than the week of Mother's Day. That's my God! Whether your celebration is large or small, may you be blessed!
We crammed as much as we could into a 48-hour stay, including 2 visits with Karla and Amy at Lifeline A trip to Joe's after a loooong appointment at UAB. All four of us earned it!
Emily was a trooper the entire trip!
So sad, it's the last crab leg....but notice who's got it!
These two were travel buds!
We also got to visit the Bennett family who traveled with David and April, and the Ferrills who are in the hospital with their sweet Kevin (he needs our prayers!). And during our UAB visit, April scouted the bargains at K*hls, so we made the obligatory trip back to snag some new dresses for the girls! Birmingham is a beautiful city...unfortunately we didn't take any pictures of it:(
As for our visit to the International Adoption Clinic, we've decided in order to protect our son's privacy, we won't be sharing details. I can, however, highly recommend the Clinic and the International Adoption team. Thank you for your prayers.
Stay tuned as Clayton is working on a post from the Dad's perspective. I can't wait!
We are almost home! Thank you for your prayers. We had an amazing time in Alabama. We met new friends and reconnected with old ones. Our visit to UAB was very fruitful and such a blessing. I will share more later, but tomorrow I'm gonna be loving on my babies! Thanks again for praying. Emily was a trooper and we had a blast. Kooper and I are ready to see Daddy and the kids!