Friday, June 19, 2015

Love Bombing 101......

It's someone's birthday today - someone else will have a toddler dance on their last overtaxed nerve - and across the street a slamming door will change a life forever.  If we are aware and care about the people clustered around us we will feel the ripples in their lives and be able to honestly join them in both their joy and their sorrows.  Our lives are richer for having done unnecessary but meaningful things  that demonstrate to others that they are precious, worth going out of our way for and loved by us.

At our house we call it Love Bombing.

And it happens to us and is done by us all the time.

Like on the day when I am so tired, so worn thin, so overwhelmed that I only want to curl up in the corner and cry - not make dinner ONE MORE TIME for 12 people.   I go to the basement freezer hoping to find a stray bag of chicken nuggets....and discover 3 pans of lasagna?  Boom!  LOVE BOMB!!  Planted by a friend a week earlier - encouragement received today- at the perfect moment.

Or a card arrives in in the mail tucked between the bills - that says 'life is hard - don't give up.'  Boom!

Groceries brought to the house, or a friend that drops off the leftovers from a party and a Home Depot gift card with a note that might say 'some things you can fix - your toilet is running - get to it girl!'  Boom...Boom..Boom!

Sometimes we Love Bomb peoples cars.....(and disrespectfully call it "Car (love)Bombing")  leaving birthday balloons and silly cards on them or meals slid into unlocked vehicles.  At times it might me iffy - are 12 zucchini in the passengers seat a sign of love or hate?  Depends on how you look at it?  I choose LOVE.

How about Love Bomb Texting? 90 seconds and you can let how many people know you care about them and what they are experiencing in their lives today. 

Amazon?  Bam!  Score with that one.  Send a favorite book. Or a gift card.  McDonalds drive through? Pay for the person behind you or pick up a chocolate sunday for your elderly neighbor - you KNOW they will be home when you get there and they will be thrilled that you remembered they are alive.  Because they are alive - and they would love to know you thought of them.

Love Bombing is contagious.  It's easy - and it can be free  - shoot one of the best Bombs that was dropped on me this year was by a friend moments before a hail storm -and he probably doesn't remember doing it at all. He looked into my eyes and said 'you are truly beautiful.' 

Not in a creepy way - but in a -I see your heart, I know you,  and have a word of encouragement for you way.

Who can you Bomb today?

Where are you intimately connecting with other people in ways that demonstrate  you know and are known beyond the polite social chatter of facebook or the hall at church or work?  Where can you intentionally target others to bless them in unexpected ways because you love them?  Trust me Love Bombing matters - on the hard days those simple things  help hurting people keep going and amplify the joy of those who are celebrating.  Be blessed and be a blessing today. Go!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Learning To Dance In The Rain.....

Life hasn't always been hard - about 8 years ago I wrote a post concerned that my lines had fallen in pleasant places and I was becoming too soft with a life of leisure.  I have always been nervous about complacency, ease, a lack of trouble, drifting or that sort of neutral place where too many Americans find themselves too tired by the exercise of their daily life to 'do' or care about people or things outside of their own 4 walls.  I was taken to task by a few girlfriends over that post - which is just fine - that's why we are - and I hope will always be close friends - because we tell each other the truth.  That was a season to rest in the peace and prosperity - keeping my mind and skills sharp for the challenging days that were yet to come.

Sort of like a soldier home on leave during a war - or the July here in Minnesota.  Both are lovely things - but both will end - and we know that what comes next is not so pleasant. (Even after 20 years I can not say I appreciate the thoughts of -20 below MN winters....I would much rather read about it that live it!) 

But half the year it is snowing here ...and sometimes the hard things don't just end so I decided last summer that I needed to stop ducking my head and trying to endure half my life until the 'bad thing' was over - and I need to figure out again how to find joy in the journey through the hard seasons.  Be they weather, marriage, parenting or whatever.....because I used to know how but somehow I forgot along the way.

And it was time to change that.

So I painted the entry hall bright yellow and put this quote over the archway to the main rooms. 

And we we have been working on living it ever since.

Instead of curling up in balls of sadness or fear - we try to find ways to celebrate or delight.
Instead of giving up or giving into apathy - we stay aware and intentionally care.
Instead of freezing when we are overwhelmed - we pray and take action.
Instead of becoming numb and withdrawing- we are laughing or crying or simply talking.

We are doing new things all the time - dancing, drumming, singing, biking, exploring in new ways - stretching who we are and what we can do.  Oftentimes with an edge of sadness, but also with an understanding that we are no longer waiting for the storm to pass before we start again - we are out there splashing in the new puddles together.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weeping May Last Through The Night......

I have been a mess in church again lately - bad enough that I had to pitch the regular mascara and inherit my girlfriends super-dooper waterproof,   wont make you look like a raccoon after the sermon stuff instead.

It's a throwback to last summer as I learned to walk into the sanctuary each week - not confident and at home because I was home with friends.  But dreading that others would point out the  hard reality that something -someone critical -was missing from our row of 13 - and ask things that pierced and caused rivers of tears to flow.

Or even worse.

In the horrible catch 22 of the situation  -

They might ignore the gaping hole -
and say nothing
in discomfort or simply assuming the best.

Those rivers of messy tears sent our closest  friends running for piles of Kleenex, cups of water and drew them nearer to hold children and wrap loving arms around us. 

Our little rowdy section of the sanctuary looked more like a pile of puppies than individuals in tidy rows on many Sundays as we grieved the gap together.

It did my heart - and the hearts of my children good to be so well loved.

Time has passed. Summer, Fall, Winter, tears are not so frequent  now - not so easily stirred by words or comments that I am carried away in a flood of emotion or paralyzed by thoughts of loss or the future.

These Spring tears are ones brought forth in joy and utter amazement at what God is doing in his church and in this still painful but healing season of or life.  Psalm 30:5 promises that weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  

The tears I shed today are grief mixed with overwhelming-overflowing Joy.

I am watching the dawn rise over all of us and weep in amazement at the beauty of how the church I have called home for 20 years is taking a new direction - one I have tasted and trust is worth walking.

Tim Cain wreaked my Mothers Day makeup (thanks Tim :) as he preached Feasting With the Poor this past Sunday.  I sort of held it together until the benediction with only a few random Amens! and Yes! - but I was a goner when he raised his hands to bless us and spoke words that poured over my heart and into my soul like cool water to a man left in the desert.

I have walked both sides - of wealth and poverty - of serving and being served - and love how each has changed me.  How each has changed the way I see people, things, pride, shame, ownership, rights and a most of all of my own brokenness and total inability to earn the love of anyone.

 Love is freely given and received- or it is not love - it is never conditional -it is not withheld and it is never used as a tool to control .

Jason Meyer preached Fooled by False Leadership on April 25th and rocked the doors off the safe polite world of domestic abuse through the two ditches of  hyper-headship or its twin passive/aggressive behaviors and neglect.  Even writing about it now has me cracking out the Lavender and Peppermint oils and rolling both on my wrists.

I thought I would be safe this weekend and risked a little eye liner.....fool that I am I ended up with smeared face again.  When God is so powerfully at work I might as well just give up go with it - Victors song was it.

"Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
You wear the Victor's crown
You overcome, you overcome."

It's all good - its all messy.  And Joy has come in the morning.

Friday, May 8, 2015

It's Ok To Not Be 'Fine' : Confessions of A Closet Trauma Mamma.........

Parenting is a hard job.
   not for the timid or the lazy.
Parenting kids who have experienced trauma or neglect
   is hard times a whole lot more.
Because to be done well we must feel/taste/know
    another persons pain and loss as closely as our own.
We breath it in-
            and breath it out
                    and learn how to not let it own or control us
Even as  it tints the colors and shapes the directions of our lives.

Which is amazingly hard to accept - much less embrace.

No one told us what it meant to become
         a Trauma Mamma
Though they may have hinted
         at the truth
Or maybe not
          because they were trapped
                inside their own cycle
                    of 'I'm fine'
                         'We are fine'
I've been there.
It's easy to pretend.
Because the journey is different for everyone.

It depends on where you start
How you think
Who you journey with
and what you believe.

And no one thinks 'it' will happen to you.
After all.....
Love is enough-
Good parenting methods are enough-
Faith in God is enough-
A solid marriage is enough-
Consistency is enough -
Aren't they?

What do you think?
Can we control the outcome of our lives?
Can we control the choices other people make?
Do we tell God how to glorify his name?
I don't.
I tried.
Like Job - I've learned that some things
demand weeping and ashes
and some things are simply unexplainable
and best answered with silence.

I've learned to love my kids -
    not passively
            but actively
fiercely and with the strength
      that comes through knowing them
I have no regrets
      And I would do it all again.

I do, do it all again - Every morning
Gearing up for the battle -
Not against them
NEVER against them
     but for them.

For their hearts
For their trust
For their future
Knowing that this day matters
because they matter (which just might be my next tattoo 'because they matter')
declaring to myself
that they are worth fighting for
worth being nakedly uncomfortable for
worth dying to the selfish pieces of  myself for.

Worth claiming the title
 Trauma Mamma
(one I used to mock)
learning how to deal with my own stuff
so I can deal with theirs
and healing can become as natural to us each day as breathing.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Why Having A Keurig Helps Me Be A Better Mom......

Two months ago someone at church blessed our family with a cute little red Keurig.  It isn't industrial level and somehow - even being used 8 - 30 times/day it is still working great.

I love it.

It makes me a more relaxed mom and is helping me get back to being be more of the 'yes' mom I want to be - more of the 'fun' mom who isn't simply reacting and overwhelmed in the moment because there is simply no margin left for simple things like hot drinks.

Pretty good for an inanimate object - don't you think? :)

Yep - this absolutely works for me - since I can pick up coco and hot/cold cider on clearance at our discount stores ($2.99/18 box is perfect) fill the hot drink cupboard with them - and then when the middle or younger crew says 'can we make a hot drink' I can say, 'Sure!  Why Not?'  Instead of freaking out because I know the pantry/table/floor is about covered in sticky mess copying what will look like a killer round of Next Food Network Star gone terribly wrong.

Because using the Keurig is that simple.  Turn on - pour water in top - put pod in slot - close - put cup under spout- push flashing button.  Sure they can mess it up. But so far they love it - and I love it - and the stress/anxiety level over this piece of life has simply almost evaporated.

Thanks to whomever bought it for us.  It has been a wonderful gift!

Shh....The Kids Are Sleeping.......

This morning I smell like grilled meat, cherry popsicles and good honest sweat. I should have taken a shower last night but the line was too long - and the towels were too wet so I fell into bed and slept hard until 1130pm instead.  Then I had another chance at the shower - since I needed to trouble shoot the fact that the A/C wasn't running and the temperature in the bedrooms had risen to 82'.  But even with the super easy fix (turn furnace back on with switch) I still didn't do it. Nope.  This is a happy stinky mommy and I wasn't going to chance waking up the exhausted kiddos just so I could wash - I counted the cost and found it not worth the risk of disrupting some seriously good sleep by running water and breaking their rhythms.

You see - after 15 years of disrupted sleep (2-3x-night.) And 5 years of trauma/drama impacted sleep (even worse) I am ready to let this crew rest at almost any cost.

The good news is that it is happening.
These kids - all 11 of them - are sleeping more regularly!
And some are even sleeping in.

If you have kids with sleep issues don't give up - things might change in the future - but it may also be a very long (tiring) road before you get there. 
You are not alone.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Adoption - Sink Your Roots In Deep....

I haven't posted on adoption in a long time. Not because I don't have anything to say - but I have been caught up in the slow process of maturation and understanding more clearly what adoption really is about.

Like realizing that simple truth that marriage isn't about the engagement and wedding -
we have to realize adoption really isn't about the process either.

It's all about the months and years and tens of years that come after the papers are signed.  It's sleepless nights, surprise diagnosis and crazy twists to life's journey that take you into places you would have never dreamed possible.

It's good - because it is life fully lived.
But it is also very complex.
Because it starts in a place where a tragedy occurred for a child.
Where something happened that disrupted the pattern of their life -
either pre-birth or post, which forever changed their trajectory.

As much as we (I) want to pretend it is otherwise
adoption always begins in a place of pain.
Maturity is teaching me I cant ignore this
any more than  can ignore any other pain in my children's lives.

Because for me to ignore is to invalidate the ache in their hearts
which is real
and that would be so very wrong.
Because I love them.

I'm learning not to fear their wounds or ignore their suffering -
but to enter in
to weep
to grieve
to hold the hope-light for them while they find their own ways
through the darkest valleys of questioning
who they are
why this happened
and what comes next.

 I love adoption with a passion
but its not that same obsessed naïve dating type of relationship
its more of a long-haul front porch rocker - married for 50 years and haven't killed each other yet sort of thing.

I'm still an adoption advocate
but my words of advice for parents are no longer simply
'how' to do it...the details or 27 easy steps of adoption
now I point toward the future..
"Relax, sink your roots in deep, water your soul today - so that you will be well prepared for all that is to come.  Because hard things will come - it's part of life - it's part of adoption."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Learning To Be Ackward Again....

Currently I am parenting four teens and three other kiddos who are straddling  those awkward  cusp years from 10 and 12 years old.  I have a new appreciation for their social challenges as I learn the 'rules' of being married but separated or single but not single and constantly put my foot in my mouth as I learn to walk a new road.  After almost 20 years of being solidly married I had forgotten how hard it is to figure out how to act in new situations -how to answer hard but innocent questions and how it feels to make horrible social blunders.

This is really good for me as a mom to so many teens.

Like being thrown back into the tank of humility and reality (which can be those high school years )so that I can remember to have a little more empathy when helping my kids navigate the overwhelming task of maturing and discovering who they are.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Parenting Classes - EXACTLY What I Needed......

I'm taking parenting classes.  Wait.  First I have to confess that I 'failed' - as in couldn't even do the homework in - and had to only be a background stalker during one I tried to take last summer when our family drama was too high.  ME.  Compulsive, class loving student type couldn't even get the basics done for a Parenting FASD class that I really wanted to participate in and went to extremes to register for over a camping weekend before the spaces were filled. (Yes - I did drive around the woods looking for internet service on my phone so I could register :)

Couldn't do it, no way, no how. 
Not one-more-thing.
It was really good for me that I was not able to just 'pull myself out' of the reality of daily life to do it. I was totally out of margin for the first time and needed to learn how to walk there - and survive.

So I dropped out.

But this Spring I have enough margin to try again.  We are currently on week 3 of an 8 week mentoring and support session led by Stacy Manning- the Minnesotan who wrote "Adoptive Parent - Intentional Parent" the book which helped clarify my own understanding of the need for intentional parenting.  In this season of life it's exactly what I need to be relationally intentional with my crew - and with myself.

If you feel stuck in your parenting - if what you are doing isn't working or you see results or patterns in your home that concern you - may I encourage you to talk to a friend, pray over it, make a change, take a class or read a book that might help lead you in a new direction?  Be brave - visualize something better and start moving toward it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Progress Worth Fighting For.....

Last night I read in Stephen Josephs  book on PTSD that 'One in 5 families is predicted to experience major trauma in any given year' (What Dosent Kill Us, p11 +-)  It seemed extreme until I started reading what constituted 'trauma' and realized that our family could be labeled a walking trauma train.

We have experienced huge household moves - 4 in 18 months which totally rocked our world.  Add to that disruption of the biological family through 8 adoptions compounded by the breakdown of the adoptive family through separation of the parents. Then add in tough realities created by pre birth organic brain damage  related to drugs and alcohol as well as related side issues of depression and anxiety and it starts to sound bad?

OK - honestly it sounds horrible.
Like a train wreak, where you are scared to open your eyes because there might be bodies laying all over the place.

And there have been days when I have been tempted to hide under my covers - afraid of what daylight might show. 

But this is where trust comes in-
and its close relatives
Love and
Its where the path divides
and I remember to start by taking one breath.
And testing what is true.
Because the Bible
isn't just a book of rules telling me
how to live
it whispers over
and over again
just who I am.
(Chasing Francis - love that book!)

My names are written there
Beloved....which I have written on my right arm on my left
Redeemed.....which should be smack on my forehead.

The list goes on and on and on....and I am filled with it until I cant stand it anymore.
And I have to overflow.
Not with bitterness and sorrow - but with a flood of joy.

Its not truth like a magic wand
or false promises that there will be no suffering

Please no.
That is not hope
its smoke.
The pain is still real
The trauma is still true
The hard daily reality is still grinding
and there are consequences that must be dealt with.
But there is also deep abiding joy
and new growth.

A future were wounds become scars
and stories are woven together in ways which tell
of plans I could not see
when we walked one day at a time
through darkness and uncertainty.

So I throw the covers off
And commit daily
to becoming an expert in trauma.
A title that no one really wants
like 'cancer survivor'
because to claim it -
you walk it first.

But leading my family in survival
and teaching each one
how to thrive
how to grow
how to learn
from hard things
instead of being defined
or destroyed by them
is progress worth fighting for.