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Archive for July, 2012

The Incredible Gift

I was sitting in the dark beside Half Pint’s bed as I stroked her hair and prayed silent prayers over her life and I realized how incredibly blessed I am.  I prayed God would continue to shower His love over her life, that she would grow up to be a warrior for His kingdom.  Sometimes we pray big prayers completely on faith without necessarily any hope that we may ever see our prayers answered.  But I have seen God do so many incredible things in sweet girl’s life, that I cannot help but believe with unabashed faith that God is going to answer my prayers.  This child amazes me!  There is not a greater blessing than to walk beside her and watch her grow.  Every day she asks more and more questions about the Bible and God and theology.  Try explaining the Trinity to an eight year old or answer questions like, “if a kid dies without hearing about Jesus will they still go to Hell?”  Everyone of the 100 kid Bible songs we have sparks a spiritual discussion.  What does it mean to love God?  How do we know He is near us?  Will He ever stop loving me?

God’s hand is on her life.  And why He chose to use me as the one to walk beside her on this journey is beyond me!  She was comparing the way the sun shone through the water at the lake to how it must’ve looked when Saul had his conversion and was blinded by a bright light.  What eight year old even knows that story?  And to connect something she sees in nature with a spiritual lesson is so beyond her years!  I have been praying since I attended the She Speaks conference last weekend that God would allow me to be a noticer of Him in life.  Somehow He is also imparting that gift on Half Pint.  She sees God everywhere!  The water from her swimsuit formed a heart on the pavement and she said, “there’s another love letter from God for me.”

And her heart is changing too.  She is becoming so compassionate!  Our neighbor friend came over and sweet girl colored her a picture just because she wanted the neighbor to know how much she loves her.  Yesterday my back was hurting and Lydia said to me, “I have a bucket of kindness, and I’m not afraid to use it!”  She doted upon me and looked after me and made sure she helped dust and pick up the house and clean the kitchen.  She still hasn’t mastered biting her tongue in public when she sees a person who is different, but her heart toward friends and family is extravagant.

People ask me all the time if I regret fostering without being married.  I’m beginning to believe it was by God’s design that Lydia and I are a pair.  Just the two of us.  And that I have no husband but Jesus to walk with me.  This way, I know with absolute certainty that I have done nothing to save this child.  I am a tool He is using.  I am providing a roof and a bed and food.  God is providing the healing.  The hope.  The courage to move on.

Today at church we ran into a couple of kids that Lydia had lived with in her first group home.  You would’ve thought it was a family reunion the way they ran up to each other and embraced one another!  But as I looked at these kids who, although reunited with their parents, looked so lost and hallow, I realized how abnormal my child is.  She is incredible.  And the work that God is doing in her life already is nothing short of a miracle.

I have been thinking lately about what is next, after Half Pint moves on to her forever family.  When I was at the conference I heard God say to me, “Lydia is part of the story.  But she is not the story.”  Meaning, maybe she’s the only reason I went through all the training and home studies and paperwork.  Maybe we are both characters in each other’s stories but ones that were just passing through.  I don’t know what is next after she leaves.  I don’t know if my heart has room for another kid or if I have the strength to pour into another child.  I don’t know if God is calling me to other ministry opportunities or if He is preparing me for a time of rest.  All I know is that I head Him distinctly tell me last weekend, “It’s time.  Be ready.”

So, Father, here’s arms held high and hands wide open.  Here’s surrender and trust.  Here’s thankfulness and blessings for all that You has already done.  I am so undeserving!

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Battles by Night

I don’t know if it’s the antibiotics I’m on or what I’m eating before I go to bed, but the last few nights I have had some pretty bizarre dreams.  I wake up in the morning completely confused, not quite being able to distinguish fantasy from reality.  I even checked my email this morning to make sure I didn’t really have a message from my boss saying I needed to lead our college meeting today.  My dreams have been weird combinations of people from all parts of my life: high school, college, work.  But I realized something the other day.  I don’t dream about Lydia.  She consumes my thoughts during the day, but at night, she seems to be hiding from my subconscious.  That is until recently.

I believe with absolute certainly that God still speaks to people in the wee hours of the morning through our subconcious.  I hope that doesn’t sound too weird, but He has spoken to me over and over again in my dreams.  He uses them to prepare me for things, I think, or to prompt me to pray for someone who desperately needs it.  I had a dream about cancer that haunted me for days the weekend before my sister found a lump on her breast.  I dreamed that one of my close friends had a miscarriage only to find out the next morning that her cousin was about to lose her baby.  This happens to me over and over again.  If there is a gift of dreams from the Spirit, I have it.  So when I have reoccuring dreams or incredibly vivid ones, I always pay attention and seek God in what they may mean.

Recently they have been preparing me for battle.  That scares me some, but excites me in other ways.  In every battle, I always know Who is going to have the final blow, so I rest confidently that God is the one wrestling, not me.  Last week on one of our bad nights when Lydia couldn’t sleep I had a nightmare about the devil fighting for my child.  It was a horrible dream filled with demons and crying and fear.  In the middle of my sleepiness, Lydia ran into my room telling me she was scared because she kept seeing monsters moving around her room.  You cannot tell me that’s coincidence.  Satan was fighting hard to scare her and God showed me through my dream what she was battling in her mind.

The last two nights have been dreams of more battles; me trying to save Lydia from her abuser, me trying to save her from our house as it burns down.  Me, always trying to save.  We have had five really good days together; both our attitudes have been night and day different from the past several weeks.  Her behaviors have been polite and appropriate and respectful; I have been patient and calm and rather pleasant.  But I’m always holding my breath waiting for the bottom to fall out, and maybe in a way my dreams are Satan trying to win again.  He hates our good days so he tries to haunt our nights.

It’s thundering like crazy outside and Lydia just came into the living room scared to be alone.  I put her back in bed and explained that the thunder and lightning are simply conversing with each other.  She said they are Satan and God fighting.  That would certainly explain the increase in thunderstorms lately.  Her analogy gave me a good chance to tell her about the amazing victory we have in Jesus and that He has already won the battle.  Wasn’t I just blogging about that?!  That’s so God!

But, anyway, I’m hoping (and need to start praying!) that these dreams are just signs that God is fighting hard for my sweet child.  But in the meantime, I need to get ready to fight too.  I am a Christian which means I am a warrior.  Raising this precious child is a battle.  Satan wants her bad.  I’m praying I will be a good member in the army of Christ, that I would be shielded with His Word, and that He would train my arm for battle.  It’s going to be a big one, but God always wins.

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I’m not going to lie, I don’t like therapists.  I know, that doesn’t really make sense since I was a Psychology major in college and have done my share of counseling at the Crisis Pregnancy Center.  But I discovered having my own kid that a lot of things about therapists are a little off.  I feel like the money we spend on our therapist would be better used to buy groceries or new clothes for Half Pint or shoes for me. When I first met the therapist that Lydia had been assigned to, I knew she was a little eccentric.  She wore big hats and flashy dresses.  But I was willing to give her a chance.  After all, she had her own practice so she must’ve done something right, right?  But I didn’t like the way she talked about Lydia.  She talked about her multiple personalities and how they exhibit themselves through Lydia and how we need to train all her parts to work together cohesively.  I may just have an undergrad degree, but my kid does not have multiple personalities.  Oh, she’s smart and knows how to manipulate situations and act certain ways to get a reaction, but she is always in complete control of her self (or selves…).  It all just seems a little too New Age for me.  But I tried to sever ties with our therapist and look for another one myself.  I hit wall after wall.  Even our local sexual abuse and trauma center had a month long waiting list. So after a few weeks of no therapy, I contacted Ms. Big Hat and began meeting with her in my home.  At least I didn’t have to waste my gas anymore to visit her; she started coming to see us here.

But last week caused me to about blow a gasket.  She kept asking Lydia which one we were meeting with today and who she was and Lydia was like “I don’t know a Lydia” totally playing it up.  She acted like a baby and was completely disrespectful and vulgar.  The more Dr. Hat told her she had multiple selves, the more she acted like it.  As soon as the Dr. left, I told Lydia to stop acting like a baby and she said, “Yes Ma’am” and went about being her positive self.  Today I tried to be proactive and told Lydia she needs to be her “normal” big-girl self and she said “But I like acting crazy when they are here.”  Exactly my point.  Acting.

Did I mention Dr. Hat had an intern?  Yep.  And last week he just sat there and didn’t do or say much while Lydia was saying inappropriate things and acting out and while Dr. Hat just kept adding fuel to the fire.  This week he came alone.  This week therapy took a completely different turn.

I cannot believe how much God’s hand is over Lydia and her life and the path He is taking her on.  The intern that met with us today is such a God-send!  Despite being a male, Lydia has completely bonded with him.  Without Dr. Hat here, we had such a good session where Lydia listened and participated and acted her age.  I was able to talk to Mr. Intern about how I was feeling about the other therapist and he even said that he thinks sometimes her 30 years of experience can cloud her judgment.  I started asking him questions about how to encourage sweet child to continue growing and moving past her trauma.  He believes in discipline and love (the same two banners I fly over my house).  I could tell he was trying to beat around the bush on something so when he asked me what my world view was, I was relieved.

That was the turning point.  I told him how I believe in God and that life is meant to bring God glory.  I opened the door so he could tell me that’s exactly what he believes.  So, not only do I now have a new therapist, I have one who loves the Lord, who prays for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and who believes that true healing can only be found through Christ.  I am so excited about how we can team tag ministering to Lydia together.  And I’m almost giddy with how active God is involved in this.  Intern even said he doesn’t believe in coincidences.  He doesn’t believe it’s an accident that Lydia is with me and that he is her new therapist.  God can do so much through this new connection!

Ah, how I wish I could write more eloquently to recount all the ways God is moving and to capture appropriately how wonderful He is.  These days I’m just trying to write down facts so someday I can look back and remember and so I can see the fingerprints of God all over this amazing story.  What a story it is turning out to be!

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I’ll keep this one short, but I had to write about the moment I met the wonderful woman who is hoping to adopt Half Pint and her brother.  I just KNOW God is working this one out because of how many details He has already taken care of!  Elizabeth* is the picture of the mom I was hoping Lydia to go home with.  She is sweet and loving and beautiful.  She braided Lydia’s hair and painted her toenails and played with her.  Not all adoption stories are like this.  In fact, most are not.  But Elizabeth loves the Lord and has been seeking Him and has been on her own journey as she has prayed and wept over her family and these children.  She is brave.  She is courageous.  She is strong.  Elizabeth and her husband have two adoptive children already and while they were looking to adopt more, she could not bear to take another baby or toddler knowing that her own family members were in a group home waiting to be adopted.  She is scared out of her mind but walking very much in obedience.  I was overwhelmed once again at how much God has His hand upon the life of Lydia.  He has taken great pains to provide her with Christian families and support.  

Lydia’s aunts Elizabeth and Sarah both came to bring her back to me.  They were going on and on about what a different child Lydia is!  Praise God that they can see it too!  Elizabeth was worried about how she was going to restrain Lydia and help her through her behaviors; Half Pint was a saint for them!  Lydia even used her good manners and told them that I had been teaching her to be polite.  So proud of that girl!

So, all that to say, it became very real the moment I looked at Elizabeth and heard her story and the scriptures God brought her to.  I know it’s just going to be a couple of months before I hand Lydia off to her new forever family and my heart is not ready for that yet.  But what an amazing privilege to have gotten to meet Elizabeth and KNOW that she is seeking God and loves this child!  I am so in awe of my Savior and thankful that He continues to show off through this journey.  Keep it up, Jesus!

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Take Two

“Come, let us return to the Lord.  He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us; He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds.  After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.” – Hosea 6:1-2

I just returned from a two day retreat in the mountains where I have been begging God for days to meet me.  I have been exhausted beyond words and needed to hear a word from my Father.  So I packed my bags and hopped in the car with nothing planned but where I was staying Friday night.  I dropped Lydia off for her family visit and spent the past 36 hours just me, God and the crisp mountain air.  I played all my melancholic, sentimental music so I could just for a moment let all my senses get on the same page.  My mind and heart have been struggling lately, and I just needed my ears to hear the sounds I was feeling.  I laughed.  I cried.  I rolled down my window and flung my hand out to feel the breeze kiss my skin.  I stuck my head out and yelled at the trees soaring by.  It was meant to be a sound of freedom and release, but with my cold it sounded a lot more like an attempt at yodeling.  So began my day waterfall hopping, hiking, and centering myself back on Christ.

God met me in so many moments this weekend.  I randomly found a beautiful spot by a lake tucked away in the mountains where I sat and journaled and prayed until the thunder rolled in and the rain engulfed my body.  God met me as I hiked around Whiteside Mountain, as I explored the town of Cashiers, as I drove and drove and drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway.  He met me on beaten paths through the hills and at the foot of a waterfall.  God took me down roads and around corners, the whole time allowing His beauty to just sweep over me.

It’s hard to explain, but the mountains are my healing place.  I don’t even need to “hear” from God, per say.  I just go and He offers me more tangible love and forgiveness and wholeness than I could get anywhere else.  I love feeling small surrounded by the mountains.  Perhaps it’s a way God reminds me that He is the One who is BIG.  I love the stillness and serenity the defines the mountain air.  I wish I could just live there and drink it in each morning.  Life is so simple there that it was easy to forget about the stress of the last few months and just rest.  Real rest.  Soul quenching, life giving rest.

I know two days are just enough to start filling my cup up again.  I know I’m not where I need to be, but I had some good conversations with God and trust that He will be faithful to do what He has promised through His Word (and that I would be faithful with what He told me!).  I’m trusting Him for complete restoration.  Not just for me, but for sweet Lydia too.  Oh, the verses He brought me to for her!  Who would’ve thought the book of Hosea held so much for the two of us!?  I planned on reading Hosea because I have been feeling so much like Gomer lately.  But God allowed the book of Hosea to really speak to me about His power of restoration and love, far beyond the guilt I have been feeling.

I’m hoping that these two days I’ve been away will allow me to start with a clean slate with Lydia.  Kind of like a “take two” with her too.  I want to be a picture of the Jesus I met in the mountains, not the troll I have been lately.  Lord, please continue to engulf me in Your grace until Lydia and I are both fully revived and completely restored.

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An Adoption Letter

Dear Adoptive Parents,

This week I have the chance to meet you.  I’m not sure I’m ready for it, but I’ll get to put a face with the names and find out who you are and you will get a chance to meet the mom who has taken the last two months to love on your child.  We will have a moment to sit down, maybe sip some coffee, and talk so I can find out more about your story and who you are.  But before then, I wanted to give you a chance to know more about the girl you will be taking home with you in a few months.  I want to tell you about Lydia.

Lydia is the most amazing girl I have ever known.  Every person who meets her instantly falls in love.  She is special.  There are so many things about her that are completely unique and extraordinary.

Lydia is smart!  She remembers EVERYTHING and stores it away in her “memory box” in her mind.  She will repeat things you mentioned two months ago; a story you told about your past or a comment you made in the check out line of the grocery store.  She hears and hangs onto every word.  She forgets NOTHING.  She learns quickly.  She can read at a level beyond her grade and loves practicing spelling words.  She wants to know the definition of anything she’s uncertain of.  And she’ll remember.  Lydia is very literal.  If you say something, she wants to know exactly what it means.  She will point out irony.  Explain things to her.  She’s a quick learner, so be ready to challenge her.  She learned how to ride a bike in less than a hour and has picked up tunes on the piano without any help.  Make sure she gets piano lessons.  She’s exceptional.

Lydia is compassionate.  She has an enormously tender heart!  She is sensitive towards others and wants to be friends with everyone.  She’s emotional because she loves deeply and feels rejection and abandonment easily from others.  She can read your face and your tone and your actions.  Make sure you are careful.  She constantly wants to make sure we are okay and healthy and well.  She is quick to apologize.  She knows when she has wronged someone and wants to make it up to them.  And she will make it up to you!  But she also carries around guilt.  Make sure she knows she’s forgiven.  Make sure she knows your love is not conditional.  Give her lots of hugs and kisses and tell her how special she is.  She needs to hear those words.  And she will love you more than you deserve.

Lydia is sensitive to the Spirit.  She talks about the things of God like one who has walked with Him for decades.  She knows scripture.  She loves to read the Bible and listen to songs about Jesus.  She asks all kinds of spiritual and theological questions.  Be ready for them. She’ll ask about God at any moment; while you’re driving her to school, while you’re cooking dinner, while you’re reading her a book.  Be ready.  She loves God!

Lydia is creative.  She loves to color and write.  Mostly write.  Always have pen and paper ready for her.  But don’t ever criticize what she has written.  Journaling helps her process her thoughts; talk to her about what she is writing.  She wants you to know.  She is a great story teller.  Listen to her words and help her explore her creativity.  She doesn’t know how exceptional she is.

Lydia is strong.  She has had to deal with a lot and walk through some pretty hot fires.  She can handle truth and understands exactly what you’re saying.  Don’t lie to her.  She longs for truth.  But always remember she is a little girl.  No matter how strong she is, make sure you are always ready to comfort her.  She needs to be held and loved.  She needs to be told it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to be a kid.

Lydia is funny!  Let her be goofy sometimes.  She is silly and will make you belly-laugh.  Try to have a sense of humor even when you’re tired.  She likes to make people smile.  Give her boundaries, but make sure they are broad enough for how special she is.  Teach her new jokes and laugh at her old ones.  Have fun with her.  Play games and chase her around the yard and use your imagination.  Take time to put the laundry on hold and play with her.

Lydia is active.  She needs space to run around and get all her wiggles out.  She doesn’t like watching TV; she would rather play a game or do a craft than sit still.  She loves to swim and be at the lake.  Make sure you give her time to roam around and explore.  Spend time being active with her.  She needs you to be a part of her life.

Love her well.  You are being entrusted with an incredible gift.  See her as that and treat her accordingly.  She is phenomenal.  Do not for a moment think she is just a regular kid.  She is exceptional.  Spoil her every now and then.  She needs it.  Read to her and tuck her in at night.  Oh, and she likes to be sung to and have her back rubbed.  Sing to her, even if it’s off key.  She’ll love it and tell you it’s the greatest thing she ever heard.  Because that’s just the way she is.

Give Lydia all the love you can muster up and then pray to God you can give her even more.  Never take her for granted.  If you love her well, I promise you she will be the girl who grows up to change the world.

She’s already changed mine.

With a full heart,

Lydia’s Foster Mom

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