Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

The Attachment Disordered Christian August 27, 2014

Filed under: faith — Elizabeth @ 9:40 AM

I was recently invited to join a new bible study called Idol Addiction.  It worked with my schedule and was pleasantly lining up with a message series that my church was doing, so I accepted, although I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to be about.  I know that even though most of us aren’t worshiping a golden calf, we do have things that we put before God, and I was intrigued to see what I’d learn about myself.  I began to worry in advance about what unhealthy habits I would uncover.  Did I idolize food?  Social media?  Work?  What??  I wasn’t exactly looking forward to finding out, to be honest, because once I found out, I’d need to work on fixing that.  Gulp.

I had to miss the first week of the study, but my friend brought me the DVD to watch at home, and here is what I learned about idols and addiction.  Idols are something that you strive for and feel most secure when it’s in place.  Like image….wanting to portray yourself in a certain light.  Maybe a happy, well-adjusted, picture perfect (on the outside) family or marriage is an idol.  Aspiring to a certain level of financial security or possessions.  None of these things are wrong, but they become problematic if you can’t feel secure without them.

So now that the idol part is addressed, what about addiction?  (and I haven’t forgotten the attachment part, we’ll get there in a minute)  Well basically, we start with a desire.  Let’s use financial security as an example, because I think we can all relate to that.  Who doesn’t want financial security?  We have this desire, and we don’t take it to God, for whatever reason.  Maybe we think that’s a silly thing to pray about.  Maybe we just don’t believe that this is a part of our life that He cares about.  So we go about trying to attain this ourselves.  Through whatever means necessary.  That could be scrambling for more work.  Juggling your money like crazy.  Maybe even gambling.  This part is your addiction.  Working more or harder is not the problem.  The problem is that you didn’t take it to God first.  That you have this disbelief in your heart and you are trying to fix it yourself without stepping back for a minute to see what He thinks about all of this.

Now some adoptive parents in the room might be having the A-HA moment that I had.  Because here’s a little primer on attachment.  When you adopt a child, it is very likely that the child has had multiple caregivers through their life, whether through foster care or orphanages.  “Mommy” and “Daddy” are words that likely don’t mean anything to this child, because they’ve learned to take what they can get from whoever will give it.  In some cases, the caregivers are not reliable so the child learns not to trust adults at all.  In some cases, the child learns only to trust themselves.  If the adults have proven useless thus far, the child may believe he or she must survive using their own wits.  So when an adoption takes place, adoptive parents are encouraged to foster attachment with these children.  To teach them that I am Mommy.  He is Daddy.  And to show them what that means.  That means that we are responsible for feeding you.  You will always be safe with us.  If you need food, come to us, and we will always be here for you.  If you get hurt, we take care of you.  Adoptive parents, above all must prove to their children that they are reliable.  For this reason, new adoptive families are encouraged to keep their world very small, to cocoon with their children for awhile to help these attachments to take place. 

For us, personally, even years after the actual adoption, we have to revisit these issues.  When a large family gathering is taking place, I reach out to my family and remind them.  If my son comes to you for food, with questions, asking permission for something, please send him back to me or to his dad.  Remind him that we are here to meet his needs.  Sometimes I have to remove my son from a large, hectic situation.  I take him aside or go with him up to his room and make his world very small again.  I remind him that I am here and that I can give him what he needs.  But he needs to come to me.  I am mommy.

So as I watched this video, I realized:  I am a Christian with an attachment disorder.  I am not counting on God to meet all of my needs.  I am not trusting that He is capable or reliable.  So I go out and try to take care of these things on my own, through whatever means necessary.  Many times I don’t even run any of this by Him.  And as I scramble, He has to make my world smaller and smaller, until I realize, “OH.  I see.  You’re the solution.  I was supposed to be coming to you first all along”.

So I’m only 2 weeks into the study, but my takeaway so far is this: 

How small is God going to have to make my world before I trust that He is the one who meets my needs?

 

Riding With Strangers, Food Hoarding and the Cha Cha Slide January 29, 2014

Filed under: faith — Elizabeth @ 11:30 AM

Yesterday was just supposed to be cold.  Really cold.

Snow was predicted south of us (2-4 inches, which is a lot for South Alabama), but in Birmingham, we were just supposed to have cold.  As a matter of fact, Isaac had a field trip to a science museum yesterday.  The night before, I pondered (online) if his field trip may be delayed.  After all, there was a chance we may get a dusting of snow.  But even then the weather men said that there would be no problems on the road.

So I sent the boys to school as usual (but with undershirts for warmth).  I met some friends for coffee.  As we chatted, we began to see flurries out the window.

“eek!  Snow!  So pretty!” we squealed.  Then we drank more coffee.

“Whoa!  It’s kind of sticking!  Cool!” we exclaimed, as we put on our coats to leave.

My friends, whose kids are in different preschools, both pondered picking their kids up early to play in the snow that we assumed would be brief and transient.

I decided I would go home and sit in front of a window and drink coffee while enjoying the rare view.  Then on the way home, I hit a patch of ice.

That’s strange.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.

When I got to my exit, I wondered why the van in front of me was just sitting there not moving.  Then I realized that its tires were spinning on ice.

Hmmmm.  I bet they will close schools early.  Maybe I should head there now.  I sure hope Isaac’s class stays put at the science center.

Just then my phone buzzed.  A chaperone from the field trip letting me know that the bus was going to head back to the school before things get bad.  Immediately after, a notice that schools are closing.

Please note, that things got unexpectedly bad in our city in a matter of about 15 minutes.  All children were at school.  All parents were at work or home.  Everyone was told to get their kids NOW, but they didn’t realize how bad it had gotten.  Wrecks were happening everywhere.  Cars were sliding off roads, into poles, into ditches.  Not because we are Southerners who can’t drive in snow.  Because the roads were sheets of ice.  Because it happened in 15 minutes.  Because the few pieces of equipment we have to help with these kinds of emergencies were deployed elsewhere.

I got to the school, thinking that the buses would be there within the hour.  I waited in the library and pulled up Facebook.  I saw this picture/caption posted by a local news agency:

“Take a look at the Birmingham Metro. I’ve NEVER seen so many accidents at once. BE CAREFUL.”

wrecks

Not really what you want to see when your child is on a school bus without you.  In the heart of the Birmingham Metro.  But I told myself it would be okay.  I prayed.  I imagined the kids eating their sack lunches on the bus to pass the time.  Then I realized that usually a chaperone carries the cooler of lunches in a separate car.  A quick text to the teacher confirmed it.  They didn’t have any food on board.

A knife in my heart.  But okay, at least they are on a heated bus.  Things could be much worse.

As minutes turned to hours, and the snow continued to fall on top of the ice, I realized that Isaac may not make it back today.  That even if he did, the longer that Matthew and I waited there at school for him, we would likely be stranded at school.  While grateful for a warm place to sleep, I began to panic about food.  I had a pack of seeds and dried fruit in my purse.  I allowed Matthew to eat half of his lunch, but conserved the rest.  I realized that if Isaac made it back, his lunch would still be somewhere else and he would be starving.  Anytime a volunteer came by with random snacks, I would swipe anything I knew my kids could safely eat.  A box of raisins.  An apple.  A bottle of water.  I refused to eat anything because I just didn’t know how long we would be there, and all I could think about was Isaac.  Hungry on a bus.

After a few hours, it hit me.  What if the bus runs out of gas?  Right now they have heat, but what if they are hungry and then cold?  I looked at the room full of children, and realized–they have no idea that their parents may have run right off the road trying to get to them.  They have no clue that they will probably be sleeping here tonight.

That pretty much did it for my calm.  I made sure Matthew was watching the library movie, and I skulked off between 2 bookshelves and cried my eyes out.  Matthew found me there a few minutes later, which freaked him out, of course.  I pulled it together as best I could and we read some library books together.

Around that time, I noticed that the library was nearly empty.  Where was everyone?  I walked into the hallway and heard music.  We gathered our stuff and walked into the science lab.  All of the kindergarten teachers were there and the PE teacher was leading everyone in the “Cha Cha Slide”.  The kids were having a blast and I almost lost it again, right there.  Because here were the teachers who couldn’t get to their own families, but were making sure the kids were occupied, loved, having fun.  My heroes.

After observing the party for about a half hour, the librarian came to get me.  “Is your child in Mrs. King’s class?”.  Yes, I said.  She grabbed my sleeve and just said, “come with me”.

My whole body went numb.  Did the bus careen off a cliff?  What is going on?  Where is she taking me?  She took me to the vice principal who said that Isaac’s bus was rerouted to another school, and that I should go there.  You know, on the roads that no one should be on.  They asked if I wanted to leave Matthew with them.

Nope.  We are all going to be together in this.  I’m not going to leave one child to get another.

We got to the car.  I mobilized prayer through Facebook.  It took the car 10 minutes to thaw out enough to try to move.  I tried to explain the gravity of the situation to Matthew.  I prayed aloud for supernatural safety.

He asked if we could listen to the “Frozen” soundtrack.

I prayed for patience.

We pulled onto the solid white road and got started.  Friends, I am here to tell you, that we had not a single issue.  The roads were clear of cars and we went oh so slowly.  I passed some cars in ditches, a garbage truck on its side, a car slammed into a pole.  I made it to the school with not a single slip.

Isaac ran to my arms, having been fed a hamburger patty, raisins and an apple.  We were together now.

Anything else we get today is bonus.

I gathered up my boys and a field trip chaperone and her son who needed a ride back to their car at the elementary school.  We piled in the van to go back to our elementary school.  We picked up a mother and son and drove them a few hundred yards toward their destination.  As we turned onto a main road, I saw a woman walking alone.  She wasn’t even wearing a proper winter coat.  “Where are you trying to go?” we asked her.  She was walking to the middle school……about 6 miles away.

It worked out because the chaperone I had with me was going to try to get to the middle school after I got her to her car.  And the two ladies knew each other.  Divine intervention.

We made it back to the elementary school with no issues again.  How this was possible in the earthly realm, I have no idea.  A close friend, who is also a neighbor called.  He had been walking up and down our road helping people who had wrecked or abandoned their cars.  I told him we were going to try to make it to the CVS near our house.  From there things get very hilly and wrecks were abundant.  I felt confident that we could walk the half mile home from there.  It would be miserable but doable.  My friend generously offered to walk to the CVS and meet us there to help me get the boys home.

Have I mentioned that Jason is in Florida on business?

We prayed over the van and the situation again before heading out for CVS.  We prayed that if there was anyone who needed help that we would be able to help them.  We were able to give one more woman a ride to her home.  We made it to CVS with no issues even though there were hills.  I was tempted to just go for it and try to get home, but reminded myself that we were lucky enough already.  We were together and safe and we didn’t need a wreck.

My friend met us at CVS.  We sat in the car for a while so he could get warm and so that we could prepare ourselves for the walk.  I looked at my kids.  Isaac was wearing slip on canvas shoes and thin, unlined athletic pants.  He had 1 cloth glove (his other hand is in a cast).  Matthew had refused to bring his scarf or gloves.  But at least he had on thick tennis shoes.  I had no gloves, but good shoes and a scarf and a coat.  I had 1 pack of hand warmers.  I gave each boy one to hold.  We got out, leaving backpacks and non-essentials behind.  We walked across the road and Isaac’s shoes were already soaked through.  This was not ideal.

Right then a huge truck pulled up and offered us a ride.

He drove us slowly and safely home.  Right to our front door.

Where Matthew promptly asked if we could play in the snow.

I wanted to lay in bed and sob.

My friend generously took Matthew outside to play while I texted and Facebooked to let people know we were home.  Safe.  Together.

So many of my friends didn’t have it as easy.  The 2 ladies I had coffee with both had to abandon their cars and walk miles through terrible conditions with children younger than mine.  All of our husbands just happened to be traveling.  The two other school buses on the field trip weren’t as lucky as Isaac’s.  One made it to an alternate school around 6 PM.  The other ended up at Children’s Hospital downtown for the night.

My sister in Atlanta was creeping along until 2 AM with my nephew in the car.  My sister in law was rescued on the interstate by a school bus in the middle of the night.

More and more are not nearly as lucky.  It hurts my heart and my spirit to hear the desperation on Facebook and to know there isn’t anything tangible I can do to help.

But I am praying.  And if yesterday taught me anything, praying is the most important thing I could be doing.

Please join me in praying for my city.

 

That Amazing Thing September 18, 2013

Filed under: faith,goals — Elizabeth @ 11:57 AM

You know that thing where someone calls you out of the blue?  A stranger?  And a conversation leads to a meeting, which leads to a job?  A job where you get to set your own hours, where you are given lots of freedom.  A job doing exactly what you love.

And then you get hired, officially hired on a Friday afternoon.  And you’re not sure of all the details, but you’re excited…..and then on the following Wednesday morning the fruits of your labor are ready.  And available for sale to the general public.

And you’re like, is this really my life?

September 18, 2013 073

And you know that every bit of it was God?  Because you could never have done this on your own.  You wouldn’t even have dared to dream it.

September 18, 2013 077

Yeah, that’s pretty much where I am right now.  Shocked.  Grateful.  Proud.  Humbled.  Excited.  Nervous.

THANKFUL.

 

Generosity on Display April 23, 2013

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that,faith,friends — Elizabeth @ 12:17 PM

It’s not something I talk about much online, but for almost 9 months now, I have been doing some specialty baking for friends and family.  Once I started baking grain-free for us, other people got interested, and it kind of snowballed from there.  Until recently, I was using any money I made as profits to buy newer, more efficient kitchen tools.  But once I got my kitchen up to par, I felt a new desire growing in my heart.  The desire to give.  The desire to bless others with my excess.  My initial thought was to use some of the money I was making to buy healthy food to donate to vulnerable families.  This is something that I am very passionate about and it made sense considering that I made the money initially by selling healthy food.

While I did feel a green-light from God about the food donations, I also felt like he was telling me to bless someone else first.  There is a family nearby (The Hammonds) that I have met twice, and I knew that they were working to adopt 2 children from China.  I really felt like God was wanting me to give them the first bit of money I had to give.  So I was obedient to that urging.  And I sent them a check.

The very next week, The Hammonds held an online auction for fundraising.  They listed things that people donated to them, like scarves, jewelry, children’s items.  And I bid on some small things that I didn’t really need.  Then one day, they added a piece of art to their auction.  The art was valued at $175 and right when I saw it, I knew it was mine.  I just knew it.  It was a picture of that ride you see at fairs or carnivals.  The one with swings, and when you ride it, you feel like you are flying.  That was always my all-time favorite ride.  I had a visceral reaction to this art and I wanted it.  The bidding started at $45 and I bid $50.

The next day, someone outbid me and I upped my bid to $65.  Please bear in mind that I wasn’t gushing about this piece of art during the bidding process.  I was just posting my numbers and hoping I would win.

And then the day before the auction was over, someone else bid $175.  Her post talked about how much she loved this and how this was always her favorite ride.

I did not have the money to outbid her, and she seemed to love it so much that I figured even if I did, she would outbid me again.  So I let it go.  I wasn’t devastated, but I was a little sad…..although I was very happy that someone was giving $175 towards the adoptions!!!

Let me stress here that The Hammonds do not live in my town.  We met at an adoption banquet, and we only have one mutual friend (who I also met at the adoption banquet), who lives in a third city.  So I did not know any other people who were participating in this auction.

A few days went by, and Erica Hammond (the adoptive mom who held the auction) sent me a Facebook message.  She said, Guess what?  Wendy, who outbid you on the art, wants to give it to you as a gift.  She has already paid for it.  She just wants to bless you with it.

I do not know who this Wendy is, and she doesn’t know me.  But she felt God telling her to do something, and she obeyed.  And I am humbled.  And now this hangs in my living room……

april 23, 2013 119

a reminder that God really does care about the desires of our heart.  A reminder to listen when God asks us to step out in generosity.  A reminder of the goodness in people when it feels like there is evil all around us.

Thank you, Wendy.

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38 NLT)

 

The Story November 9, 2012

Filed under: adoption thoughts,and that's how I feel about that,faith,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:24 AM

I’m not embarrassed to admit that as a Christian, I still struggle with understanding things–great big theological things and even some day-to day issues.  I still have a lot of “whys” and I think that is okay.  I don’t necessarily need the answers myself, because that is basically the definition of faith, believing even when you don’t understand.  Most of the time it is enough for me to know that I may not ever know the answers during my time on earth.  That is fine for me.  But it is harder when other people question me….like people who are not Christians, who want me to have the right answers.  Or when I need to explain things to my children.

Adoption is one of these issues for me.  Adoption is wonderful–it sets the lonely in families.  I know so many beautiful families formed by adoption.  But I hate that it has to exist.  I hate it.  I don’t know how to answer these questions, of why.  I don’t like the neat little stories, tied with bows, told to children, that end with “you were made for our family”.  I just don’t believe that.  And yet, in the same breath, as a Christian, I do believe that God always knew that Matthew would end up in our family–that we would raise him.  This was written since the beginning of time.  But God didn’t make Matthew for us.  I’ve never been able to get on that train.

Yesterday, I sat down and downloaded a few songs I have been wanting on my ipod.  One of them was “The Story” by Brandi Carlile, a song I have always liked, but I’ve never really had time to listen to the lyrics.  I played it over and over again and began to learn the lyrics and sing along.

You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess
No, they don’t know who I really am
And they don’t know what
I’ve been through like you do
And I was made for you…

And I started to cry as I finally came to a place where I could make a little more sense out of our story….out of adoption.  Matthew wasn’t made for us, or for me.  But Jason and Isaac and I?  We were made for Matthew.  When Plan A fell through for Matthew, we were here, and God had prepared this family to be exactly what it needed to be.

Jason, so kind and with a seemingly never-ending well of patience.

Isaac, so loving and empathetic.  So willing to take Matthew’s hand and be his buffer to the outside world.

And me, so structured and stubborn.  God knew Matthew was going to need the routine, the traditions, my unwillingness to give up or give in.

I think I understand now.  Maybe not perfectly, but just a little better.

Thanks, Brandi.

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true…I was made for you

I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby, I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do
I was made for you

You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess
No, they don’t know who I really am
And they don’t know what
I’ve been through like you do
And I was made for you…

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true…I was made for you

Brandi Carlile “The Story”

 

Sunday School Pays Off in Spades July 18, 2011

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that,faith,Isaac — Elizabeth @ 10:18 AM

We picked the boys up from their Sunday school class and were walking down the crowded hall with the all of the other families. Isaac was a few steps ahead of me and another child from his class (we’ll call him Stinky) walked next to him. Stinky looked at Isaac, pulled the Dum Dum lollipop from his mouth, looked up at his mom, and said, “I don’t like him” (pointing at Isaac).

I was stunned at this punk kid. Stunned at his punk mom, who didn’t seem nearly as horrified as she should be, seeing as she wasn’t horrified at all.

For a second, I thought that Isaac didn’t even hear what he had said.

But then, Isaac stopped walking and leaned down so he was eye to eye with Stinky. He put his hands on Stinky’s shoulders and said, “Well, I still love you!!!!”, then he trotted off happily down the hall.

Whereas my first response was anger, indignation and frankly some (probably unfair) judgment directed toward Stinky’s mom, my son was the perfect picture of Christian love.

This motherhood gig is relentlessly humbling.

 

In A Whispered Prayer June 28, 2011

Filed under: adoption thoughts,faith,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:16 PM

Matthew has been praying.  It started a long time ago, at the dinner table–he would say the singing prayer that Isaac learned in church preschool (God our father, God our father, we thank you….).  As the boys got older, we’ve encouraged them to try “talking prayers” and we taught by example.

Isaac caught on quickly and now he does long, rambling prayers every night.  Sometimes I find myself about to keel over from hunger or call a stop to the whole thing before dinner gets cold, and then he will say something so heartfelt that I am suddenly choking back tears.

Matthew’s talking prayers started with a very self-conscious and hurried, “Dear God, thank you for our food.  Amen.”.  As we encouraged him and applauded his efforts, he branched out into “Thank you for our food.  Thank you for our love.  Amen.”

But in the past week or so, he has come out with some long and rambling prayers that put Isaac to shame.

Mostly his prayers make me chuckle because he repeats himself a lot, and you know that he is just thinking of words to throw in there.  It’s very cute.  Tonight’s dinner prayer went a lot like this:

Dear God, Thank you food.  Thank you love.  Thank you breakfast….boys and girls….toys…..feed the pets…..trains….breakfast…..eat it all…..family…..breakfast……………..in Jesus’ name, AMEN!

We also pray with each boy at bedtime, and because Matthew really won’t engage with me at all in any adoption talk, I find that’s a good time for me to put it out there.

I always begin by thanking God for Matthew, and thanking God that we were allowed to adopt him and be his family forever.  When I’m done, I ask him if he wants to pray.  Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t.  It’s all good.

Tonight, he asked to pray before me.  This was new.  Here’s how it went:

Dear God, Thank you food.  Thank you love.  Thank you toys….wonderful day….thank you Isaac vitamin…..thank you school….thank you dopt me…..thank you me Isaac together forever…..Jesus’ name I pray.  AMEN.

——————————————-

Dear God, Thank you for helping him understand.