I want to express a few thoughts and see if they resonate with any of you.
You may know that within our family we have special needs, attachment disorder (and reactive attachment disorder which is the upper end of that spectrum) mental health issues in addition to that; language delays, social delays; just all these special needs type things going on, and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and OCD , ADHD — and more alphabet soup!
What’s a mom to do!? I’ve learned that if you are all wrapped up in the family, the children, their special needs, and the relationships that attachment disorder has really put a negative spin on (with multiple kids and family members!) then it can really put you in a rotten space. If you have your own identity all wrapped up in the nature of being a parent of the alphabet soup, special needs, chronic illness and all that goes along with attachment issues that is.
The children are growing up and trying to forge their own identities. Some have additional issues with identity — identity crises — because of their past.
Now think about the parents. Moms in particular (and dads, I am not trying to exclude you but you know, I can relate most to moms).
What about your identity?
Your identity cannot continue to be wrapped up in the relationships and in the roles that you have — the roles that are changing — the roles that are up one day and down the next — the roller coaster ride that is this life, without some real damage, without losing yourself, without losing your own identity.
So, you MUST regain and/or hold onto your identity in Christ.
Your identity as God’s child.
Your identity as someone of value and intellect and purpose.
You can hold on to your true identity:
Whether or not a particular relationship goes haywire;
whether or not a particular illness continues or gets worse;
whether or not you have to deal with a mental health crisis that day;
whether or not behavioral issues pop up;
And whether or not other people judge you as someone who should handle things differently than you do, or should parent differently than you do, or is even the cause of some of the behaviors or issues with your children.
And so, who are we doing this for? Are we really just doing it for ourselves? No.
For our children? Yes! But not just for them.
If you are like me, then you agree we are really doing it for God.
And for our love of God.
And in obedience to God.
So we do it for our kids – yes, but as God gives us love and loves our children and our families through us he gives us the ability desire. And HE is the one we are really doing it all for!
He knows your heart.
He knows it all.
He knows these children.
He knows their background and he knows their needs. And furthermore, God is able to take them, continue to work on them, and maybe do it through you or maybe through other people or other ways. So it’s not all on your shoulders. Put it back on his, where it belongs.
That’s all of my rambling thoughts. I hope you ae encouraged. If you are, feel free to share and follow Yesterday’s Orphan for more.
Question: Are you attempting to live out YOUR PLANS for your life or GOD’S PLANS?
If your own plans, then why would you expect God to honor them? . . . Really.
At least are your plans in accordance with his Word? If not, perhaps some re-evaluation is in order.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and depart from evil.” — Proverbs 3:5-7
If GOD’S PLANS . . . how are you doing?
Ephesians 5:15 tells us “be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise” and the entire theme of the little book of Haggai is repeated again and again in the phrase, “consider your ways”.
As parents, we sometimes give our children warnings of what their behavior may lead to if they do not change it. Obviously, this is not a doom and gloom prophecy of the future, but an attempt to have them consider their ways and the likely outcomes SO THAT they will change their ways before it’s too late to avoid negative outcomes.
Correction is hard for us to take as humans. Some of us take it harder than others. It may be that with our adopted children especially, they need some careful building up in order to not be crushed by correction, or hardened by it.
O.Bible.org, in their lesson on the Ministry of Correction from the series on I Timothy, says that
“as a rule, the most effective correction takes place when the other person knows from experience that you love him.” (See the full lesson here.)
I think this is true with corrections from people as well as from God, himself! When we know and feel like we are loved and accepted, correction may sting but we will be less likely to ignore it or rail against it!
With adopted/foster/stepchildren (and sometimes even biological children) there may be a lingering question in their mind as to whether they are fully loved and accepted, at least at times. And so correction may feel more like overt rejection to them!
God gives warnings and consequences in order that we will consider our ways – – not give up thinking we have no hope – – but consider our ways so we can course-correct while there IS HOPE! With my children, I need to help them understand that correction is just that, an invitation and an opportunity to course-correct given out of love. And I need to accept God’s correction with that same understanding.
The book of Ezra gives us a ministry model and an example of how to continue God’s work under pressure.
I’ll share my outline with you, hoping it helps you as much as it is helping me in a variety of areas not the least of which is parenting when it is difficult:
I. God directs the outworking of God’s plan.
(Whether your ministry is rebuilding the Holy Temple as here, building a ministry for orphans overseas, or your ministry role in your own family.)
God moved the heart of the King.
(He can move hearts of those – – whether Christ-followers or not – – who have earthly authority in our lives.)
God moved the hearts of his people.
(He is the one who moves hearts, not me – – not you. We must not think we are the ones who are responsible for another person’s heart or resulting beliefs and behavior. We are responsible to God. He moves their hearts. I am no-one’s Holy Spirit and I must not become a stumbling block for them.)
God built the team.
(I don’t have to do the job by myself, nor do I have to stress over the needed help, and neither do you! God can bring just the right partners at just the right time.)
God provided the resources as the people acted in steps of obedience.
(We don’t have to have all the necessary resources in our possession to begin. Steps of obedience show faith in God’s provision on an as needed basis.)
God brought team unity.
(When there is dis-unity the work is thwarted. God is the great mediator and can bring conflict resolution when we submit to him.)
God provided housing accommodations, plus time to settle in.
( He provides for our basic needs so we can relax and fully depend on him, trusting that there is enough time and enough for our basic needs to be met in order that we are able to move forward in the work in the place where he puts us!)
II. God is FIRST! He is to be honored in first place above all.
(My family or other ministry or work is not first – – God is!)
- Altar built first – – before the other work began.
- Regular times of worship were held as well as special celebrations – – Times of worship and refreshment are necessary!
- Regular sacrifices were made, despite fears about dangers from surrounding people.
- Holy Day Celebrations were held.
- Praise Celebration was held at 1st milestone.
- Dedication and Celebration at the completion of the work.
III. Work is done orderly.
(While people, kids, even I may balk at rules and routines, it is the orderly way that wins the day.)
- Time for planning and preliminary arrangements.
- Chain of command was established.
- God gave discernment of whom to partner with.
IV. Opposition to God’s Work – – Expect It!
(I must not be surprised at opposition or let it dictate my course! Kids will push back! So will others. I must be prepared and focused on my goals – – God’s goals for my work, whether it’s parenting my special needs children or other work.)
- Extreme opposition
- Lengthy delay
- Patience with readiness and Attentiveness to God’s Guidance (not always apparent to outsiders)
V. God Turns OPPOSITION into OPPORTUNITY & BLESSING on His People & His Work
- Bravery to obey God & resume the work
- Tactful honesty to authority & trusting God
- God’s Favor
- Work completed with God’s Favor & blessing (Yes! There is a time of completion awaiting and this work will be a done deal. Another phase of life will open up. The long-range view can help with perspective on days when you feel bogged down.)
*God directs the outworking of HIS PLANS!
*Honor God FIRST!
*God is ORDERLY and his work is to be done orderly.
*EXPECT OPPOSITION to God’s work.
*Remember, God turns opposition into OPPORTUNITY and BLESSING on his people and his work.
Gods Plans – -> God First – -> Godly Order – -> Opposition – -> Opportunity & Blessing
KEY: For us to stay in this trajectory we must continue to take steps of faithful obedience all along the way. What is God asking you to do in faithful obedience today?
You may not feel prepared, ready, eager, or confident. You may not have a clear path. There may be obstacles and opposition. You may feel fear and trembling! You may not understand why God has “allowed” something that seems way out of line to your way of thinking.
Take the step anyway. — Trust Him. — Then . . . CELEBRATE! Celebrate when you look back and are able to see more clearly how HIS plan has been set in place and fulfilled.
I hope this peek into my Bible study has been helpful to you. Parenting is hard. Parenting kids from trauma backgrounds is extremely hard. We can work hard and feel like we aren’t making any progress. Or worse, going backward.
I encourage you to #1 make sure your plans are God’s plans, and #2 consider in what ways you may need to course-correct. Then #3 take a step of obedience – – Today.
Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions. As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools. We have begun using some fantastic natural products in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.
Hit Reply (e-mail) or Contact me above or below (blog) if you want to learn more about our toxin-free natural-based personal care products and dietary supplements and how they can help your family, too.
Never give up hope. And don’t give in to isolation and despair.
This is my advice to the adoptive/foster/step-parent who finds yourself in an ongoing storm that seems to engulf them with no way out, like a spinning tornado that keeps hurling debris at you.
The new book by Mike Berry, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, has been one of the Love-bombs God has recently dropped on me as he shows me an ever-widening break in the storm clouds that have permeated my life for a while. Mike uses the analogy of a storm in the book (no wonder I relate so well!) and the reality that the sun still shines, even though hidden temporarily by the storm clouds. (He puts it way more elegantly – – so you really need to read the book to get the full heart-boosting effect.)
Being on the launch team for the book was very timely as it arrived just when my husband and I were/are stretched thin and enveloped in a struggle to find a way to deal with one of our adopted children and get them the help they need while keeping everyone safe – – an increasingly difficult and frustrating process as this child’s difficult behaviors were rapidly escalating. Reading the book during this period has given me a helpful re-grounding and perspective. When your world spins out of control, to hear from those who have “been there done that” and come out on the other side, PLUS who have the same faith and values is HUGE!
The over-arching premise of Confessions . . . is that “You are not alone.” And it is a message of hope. Isn’t that what we all need, what our children need, when we are in the middle of an ongoing storm? We live in an area where tornados are sometimes a threat. We learned to go to an interior room without windows whenever a tornado threatens. We also pray. And we monitor the weather radio. We have not had a tornado hit our house, but have had friends and family who have. Thankfully the damage has not extended to loss of life, but that is always a concern and possibility. Growing up with the threat of tornados I have not felt fearful of them since I can remember. I tended to feel secure in our routines that I and my family would be okay. Not because I am unaware or in denial of the devastation they can cause, but because of my faith in God, and the many times he has provided protection.
What procedures do you take to get through the difficult storms with your kids? Just like when severe weather threatens, prayer is number one. But also, gathering together (rather than dividing and isolating ourselves as we may feel like doing) can help us and our children feel calmer and confident. So WE need to be calm and confident – – and that comes with faith and the disciplines that as Christians we lean on and embrace even more in the storminess. Remembering the storms we have faced before can be helpful. And hearing from those who were hit and suffered damage, but survived can give us hope. Keeping our ears alert to any changes – for the better or worse just as with weather emergencies can help us know what to do and when. Certainly having our emergency plans in place can help us weather these types of storms as well.
We recently had a homeschool group field trip to a local fire station. We learned a lot about their duties and capabilities such as that here, each fireman was trained (or training) in paramedics as well and that each firetruck was outfitted with the same equipment as the ambulances except a bed to transport someone to the hospital. In learning about community help for our daughter, I had to learn what was (and was not) available from the different sources in order to navigate the best path and plan for her. I am happy to say that we now have the beginnings of a plan in place for her and I am seeing a bit more sunshine as the clouds are opening up. The sun really is still there, shining all along.
I received no compensation for recommending this book and my opinions are entirely my own. I was thrilled to get the book (and journal) free for previewing it and highly recommend it to you as well. Get your copy here.