Archives for the month of: April, 2013

Mother Holding Child's HandAll relationships go through seasons – friendship, sibling, marriage, and parent-child.  I realized today that I am now in the season of not only loving my children, but liking them as well.  With some of my kids, the ‘not liking’ season was short.  With some of my kids, the ‘liking’ season has been a very long time in coming.

I think all parents, if we are honest about our true feelings, have times when we simply don’t enjoy being with our kids.  Now for me, I don’t enjoy being with any of my children on Friday night.  That is when I am worn-out from a long week of being a homeschool mom and farmwife, and am ready to be my husband’s girlfriend for our Friday night date!  This is a 4-6 hour time period when I don’t want to be around my kids so I can get a break, enjoy having my husband all to myself, and be refreshed for the same routine in the week to come.  Frankly, our weekly date night keeps our ‘liking’ season going.  If we don’t have this time alone together, neither one of us is very likeable, nor do we like each other much.  We love each other, but liking has to be worked at.

The season of ‘not liking’ kids I am talking about is much longer than a few hours weekly.  It might be for one of those ‘teen’ years, like 14 for sons, or 15 for daughters.  You know, when nothing you say is respected, let alone obeyed, and the eye-rolling look seems to have permanently replaced the ‘rise up and call mom blessed’ look.  I have had those seasons with all of my children that are over 12.  Thankfully, that season passes when they spend more time away from home than at home.  Whether at college, or on their own as a working adult, they learn that their parents are indeed the wisest, most kind, most patient, most brilliant in the world, since they now know a whole bunch of unlikeable people who were not parented with New Testament love and forgiveness, and Old Testament commandments and discipline.  I got an email from my 19 y.o. this week that said “Thanks for everything and believing in me.”  Well, she gets it, finally!

With some of my adopted kids, I have had a very, very long season of ‘not liking’ that started way before the teen years, and continued for many years.  In fact, I think those years actually had 730 days, and the days had 48 hours, because the days and years seemed to drag on and on.  Honestly, at times, they were a complete nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from because I was awake while having the nightmare!  Death, destruction, and running away seemed to be the only answers, and those were my answers – from a capable, Christian, joyful, loving, optimistic, patient, smart mom!  Thankfully time heals all wounds, and the Lord walks us through those horrible, awful, want-to-forget-them-completely times.

Yesterday, while waiting in the car with one of these kids I didn’t like for a long, long time, something wonderful happened.  We actually enjoyed ourselves, just the two of us together, listening to music, talking about not very important, and also some very important things.  We were relaxed, we loved each other, and we liked each other!  It was mutual – I know this because I actually got eye contact without rolling eyeballs, smiles, and complete sentence answers.

Today, while working outside on one of our farm gardens, another one of these kids I also didn’t like – for even a longer time – was so enjoyable to be with!  We worked together, got our job done, did it well, had fun laughing at weird things (like deep holes in the ground that probably housed a disgusting varmit), and enjoyed talking about upcoming family events.  We liked each other!

Last Sunday, I sat in the fellowship dining hall during the service with one of my pre-teen kids.  This kiddo is going through some things that she can’t verbalize.  Her behavior tells of the sorrow:  overly bossy, manipulative, bed wetting, angry outbursts, and running to her dad and I nearly knocking us over as she grabs on to us and holds tightly in a hug for a looooonnnnngggggg time.  Once done, she sits in our lap and snuggles, wordless, until she looks at us with a smile and runs off again to be busy with something in her world.  Sitting with her, as I have been doing for a number of weeks since I discovered – actually God showed me in a moment of my desperation – that she needed this time alone with mom for nearly an hour every week, I realized I liked her.  It had been a couple of years since I felt that way.  Wow, that is an honest thing to say!  I loved her, but I didn’t like her sometimes, in fact for most of the time in an average day.

Anyway, my point is, that if we are faithful to ‘feed My sheep’ as the Lord commands us, He is faithful in giving us a heart to shepherd them.  A heart that not only loves them, but likes them.  My heart, being conformed to the Savior’s everyday, and letting Him mold it everyday the rest of my life, not only helps me unconditionally love my challenging children, but helps me learn to like them for who He created them to be.  Parenting is a lot easier, fun, interesting, and rewarding when we like the children we will be parenting the rest of our lives.

The conundrum is that the children who are the least likable, are the ones that need the most time with parents one-on-one.  The challenge is to put the parent-child relationship ahead of all other pleasurable activities that one certainly ‘likes’ more than the unlikeable child.  That is where seeking the Lord, trusting in Him, relying on Him for every breathing minute of your day comes in to play.  I need to remember that, and practice it purposefully.  I have found that if I want to do something I like to do, doing that with the child I don’t really like, helps us have a relationship that grows from unconditionally loving each other, to absolutely liking each other.  Just as 15 minutes daily practice of a foreign language, math facts, or a musical instrument helps you become very knowledgeable about that subject over the years, so too is relationship parenting.  Just 10-20 minutes of focused time, each and nearly every day, makes a difference through the years.  Eventually, the Loving Season, also becomes the Liking Season.

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This is a Powerpoint Presentation outline for a talk I will be giving late April 2013 during a local symposium for adoptive, foster, and kinship parents.  It is in conjunction with several other county agencies and community organzations.  The presentation will be a prelude to our first monthly meeting of FAMILIES BY GRACE, a new local orphan care provider support group.  The Icebreaker titles introduce a hands-on skill builder I will be teaching to parents, so they then can teach or use with their children as a parenting skill to promote communication and relationship building.desserts

One of the icebreakers is about selecting your favorite dessert, and what your selection can tell others about your personality.  For me, I like every kind of dessert, so I’m not sure what that says except perhaps I am an overachiever and enjoy life to its fullest ?

Shari’s Powerpoint ‘Raising Other People’s Kids’

 

Grammy 80th Birthday photo McMinn Family with Grammy, PoppyAfter taking a year and a half hiatus, I am back to blogging about Christian adoption success! Life gets in the way of our dreams and desires, and the Lord teaches us things while we take a break from our activities. What I have learned in almost 18 months of not writing on this blog, is that Orphan Care is still very important to me and my husband, and we want to be encouragers to Christians who feel God’s call to provide foster care and/or to adopt.

This year I am homeschooling only my adopted children, with the departure to college of my youngest biological child.  Although I miss her and our other grown children who live and work on their own, I must say that things have settled down nicely and my adopted kids are all at really wonderful points in their lives – which means they are easier to parent, and a blessing to be with.  The ups and downs and hard-work of the last 11 years have been tiring, and sometimes terrifying, BUT God is good and He has brought all of us to a great place.  Each of our 5 adopted kids profess faith in our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, are bonded strongly to our family, are doing well in school, and most important, have developed love, joy, and character.  There are a few things we are all still working on, but I can say I look forward to getting up in the morning to be with my kids all day long.  This is a tremendous encouragement to me, my husband, and all those folks we try to encourage regarding adoption.

Our good friends have taken in a 2 year old boy and we are tickled with his progress. Of course it has been a huge change for their family, very tiring, and at times chaotic, but when I see that little guy, I know the Lord is doing an amazing thing for him and his new forever family.

I have also become friends with a woman who does foster care. She inspires me that at our age, we can still make a difference in the lives of kids, whether for a short time, or on a permanent basis.

Cary, my husband, and I have decided to start a local support group for orphan care providers, that will be based on Christian principles. God has orchestrated all of the details, and our first monthly meeting will be in May. We have a facility, have received some grants we applied for, and have promotional materials we designed and had printed. We have been sharing them with adoptive, foster and kinship families, and are excited to be used by the Lord in this way.

At the end of this month, I will be giving a presentation at a local gathering of child care providers, including foster, adoptive, and kinship parents, regarding our new support group.  I have put together a powerpoint as an outline, and will upload it onto this blog for interested readers.

We had the opportunity to host 7 South Africans for one overnight last month here on the farm. They are singing/dancing ambassadors for Horizon International, a Christian organzation sponsoring AIDS orphans. It was a treat to get to know these humble young men whom Christ has redeemed from the devastation of the pandemic that is killing millions of Africans. Again, God uses every opportunity to help those He loves, died for, and was resurrected to save.

I’ll end today’s post by recommending several excellent books that I have recently enjoyed reading, all promoting the cause of orphan care.

I Beat the Odds, by Michael Oher. The subject of The Blindside tells of his childhood of neglect, his joining the Tuohy family, and his acension into the world of professional football after earning a college degree. Told in a truthful, poignant, yet private personal way, this book is full of the reasons that Christians should do the right thing and provide orphan care, and also excellent improvements that could and should be made in the foster care system. Mr. Oher is a gentlemen through and through as this is not a celebrity ‘tell all’, but a revelation of his life, and what he is now doing to help others in similar situations. Excellent for orphan care providers to understand where their kids might have come from, and for social workers to learn some things to do, and not to do, when trying to help kids.

Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis. Wow! This is an inspiring book and not just for young women. How far should Christians be willing to go in order to obey James 1:27?  Katie traveled across the world, but also left a comfortable life in order to adopt a van load of girls, change a whole community, and love the unlovely because she loves Jesus Christ!  At 55, I was encouraged to fight the good fight and never stop. I was also reminded that just loving my kids every day is the most important thing I can do.
Living by a Leap of Faith; Tom and Debra Ritter. Real life account of a real life family doing real life things on a super-sized level. Precious, precious, precious is all I can say. I wish I had read this years ago before I started adopting. This family is living proof that God provides for those He calls to follow Him. Written in an easy to read style, with many practical suggestions and ideas, this will encourage every Christian family to consider adopting, not just one child, but many.  An absolute treasure, and I wish they were my neighbors.

Adopted for Life; Russell D. Moore. A Southern Baptist Seminary professor, Moore speaks about his adoption journey, and encourages the Church to be more engaged in orphan care. This is a must read for church leaders, and men will appreciate a Dad’s point of view and heart. Scripturally based, the book challenges Christians to follow God’s call to vist orphans in their distress – to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

All of these books are worth purchasing for yourself, your local library, and especially for a friend or family member whom you want to encourage to begin, or continue on, their adoption journey.

PS:  One of the many things I did on my hiatus, was to develop two websites, with blogs, for two of our family businesses.  Please feel free to stop by!

http://www.blessedcreekfarm.com

www.expandinghorizonsmedia.com

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