Yes, She’s My Real Sister

I tend to write heavy stuff because I feel it’s essential we shine a light on the issues we’d rather keep in the dark.

Sometimes, though, encouragement is best gained from someone who points to positive experiences. Someone like Katie Carper. Besides the fact that her writing captivates me, and besides the fact she’s another owner of dark curls, Katie is also an adoptive mom. But mostly I’m intrigued by the fact that she brings to her children—and to us—lifelong experiences as a sister to three adopted siblings.

How refreshing to read the perspective of a child impacted by adoption. I hope you’ll find the same enlightenment from her story that I did.


Yes, She’s My Real Sister

Mar 27 Sisterhood is Real

In the early 1970’s, my parents learned that they would not be able to have any biological children. Though they had always considered adoption as a way to grow their family, this devastating news led them down that road sooner than expected.

After adopting two boys, Dad and Mom thought to increase the estrogen level in their home, so they adopted an infant girl. She was a dark-haired beauty with olive skin, full of giggles and spunk. They named her Melanie.

Ten months after the birth of my sister, I was born. Seems doctors can only make predictions regarding procreation. The Long family now swelled to two boys and two girls.

Growing up, I struggled to connect with Melanie, my almost-twin. I did not value our differences, made more apparent as we shared a bedroom. She was not bothered by a bit of clutter; I was a neat-freak. At 9 pm, she grew more animated while I crawled into bed. She often hit snooze; I jumped out of bed to beat the sunrise. Melanie did not stress over academics; I had mild panic attacks before every test. She was the optimistic extrovert; I was the overthinking introvert. She excelled in music; I began to sweat when pressured to publicly sing “Happy Birthday”. She had dark, silky smooth hair like Selma Hayek; I had a thick, course mane, like a brunette Ronald McDonald.

We were never mistaken for sisters. Strangers were stunned to learn we were siblings and even more confused to discover we were just ten months apart. Despite our conflicting personalities and interests however, I always thought of Mel as my big sister. I was happy to share stories that began with these two endearing words: “My sister…”

Over the years, many have asked, “So, is Melanie your real sister?” Real sister? What does that mean? Was that word a subtle attempt to cheapen Mel’s role in my life because we weren’t sisters by blood? Was it a question born of curiosity? Or did it reveal an ignorance in matters of adoption-speak? Whatever the reason, each time I was asked, I felt the need to explain myself, to provide concrete evidence that we were siblings, to prove to some jury that she was my legitimate sister. I imagined we were caught in a scandal, our sisterhood finally exposed as a fraud. Several years passed before I could name that feeling as shame–shame that we didn’t share the same womb, family history, physical characteristics, or core personality.

I’ve come a long way since those awkward, painful moments on the other side of that insensitive question. Time, adoption resources, and talking with other adoptive families have helped me to feel less alone as I’ve worked through those feelings of shame. I now have only deep gratitude for how God made us sisters through the pain and beauty of adoption.

I feel privileged to have enjoyed such a rich childhood, full of memories with my big sister, my only sister. Her feet kicked my own in the double bed we shared as kids. Beneath the handmade quilt and cool sheets, her brave hand reached for mine when late night thunderstorms scared me stiff. Those same strong hands yanked my thick hair during our knock-down-drag-out fights. Her fierce green eyes lost their sparkle when faced with my cruel words. Her stifled snorts only encouraged me to make her laugh harder when we got the giggles in church.

Melanie has always been and will always be my real sister. When we connect, we share real hugs, real laughs, and real stories while we sip our real blueberry wine over a real game of Scrabble. Regardless of the insensitivity of others, we know with certainty that our sisterhood is real and no one has permission to diminish that truth.


20170327 Katie CarperKatie Carper is a recovering people-pleaser with a strong sense of justice and a deep desire to include the excluded. She’s grateful for coffee, laughter, and this adventurous life with her husband and 4 kiddos. You can find her at katiecarper.com where she blogs about community, faith, adoption, and special needs with hope, humor, and a good dose of snark. She also shares snippets of her life on Instagram.

Sometimes Love is Fierce

Lord, does your word support the idea of kicking our children out? How can I know if it’s the right thing to do?

We battled this decision with each of our children as we came to the point of feeling we were no longer helping them move forward into adulthood—and the cost of them remaining in our home was too high. That “tough love” part of parenting sure was heart-wrenching. Hard, but necessary. Never entered into quickly or thoughtlessly. Followed by hours … days … months of prayer, motivation questioning, and Scripture searching.

I suppose if we’d never second-guessed our boundaries, if we’d never wondered if we were too strict, then we’d probably been too weak—the lines drawn too softly.

As parents we should question ourselves at times. We do make mistakes, after all. Another look allows us to examine our child’s behaviors, objectively evaluate appropriate consequences, and review our own responses as well.

When in doubt, I found it helped to hold my discipline choices against God’s word.

Though a great example as a long-suffering father, God’s discipline wasn’t always pretty: pestilence, famine, sickness, and death. And, He did kick His children out, too. Several times. Starting with the Garden of Eden.

But this is what’s amazing to me. Sending His children into exile is part of God’s gospel story.

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God knows we have to come to point of realizing that our sin is so wretched we do not deserve to even dream of His presence.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
Psalm 24:3-4 (NASB)

There is none righteous, not even one.
Romans 3:10 (NASB)

It’s only when we reach a place of humility and awareness of our need, that we can turn to Him for salvation.

Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lip.
Isaiah 6:5 (NASB)

And only when we truly repent can we begin to experience the breadth and length and depth and height of His love.

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-29 (NASB)

Our children need this too. They need to come to understand that we love them so much we’re willing to do the tough stuff in order for them to grow and have a fulfilling life.

Sometimes drawing a child close and holding them while they hurt is necessary. Sometimes guiding them through a maze of tough decisions is. But sometimes we have to put away the smiles, stand firm, and mete out the discipline.

And, sometimes, our absence needs to be felt.

The nice thing is, when we do withdraw, God remains near.

He may be quiet—a gentleman who refuses to barge in uninvited. But He’s there. Always.

And that’s why we can sometimes take a step out of sight. Sometimes we need to retreat to a place of rest. Sometimes we need to shut our ears to complaints. And as we do, we can be assured God is always with our children. He always has been—even before we came into their lives. He always will be—long after we’re gone.

“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:24 (NASB)

And you know what else? God is very, very patient. He’s not swayed by false pleas for reprieve. He’s not deceived by manipulative fake obedience. He will stand His ground and wait … and wait … and wait … until His child is truly repentant. And then He’s instantly there to scoop His children close, dry their tears, bandage their wounds, and lead them in His paths of righteousness.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Acts 3:19 (NIV)

Even though we had to tell each of our children they had to move out, we always kept a door open for repentance. None ever moved back in to our home, but in time they each moved back into a loving relationship with us.

You see, sometimes love must be firm, determined, even fierce. But love endures all things because love always hopes (1 Corinthians 13:7).

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

I Just Want to Hold You

I’m not a crier.

Or, at least, I didn’t used to be. But one day my quivering voice confessed to my mom the realization that I’d never hear an enthusiastic toddler sing “Mommy,” as he ran to me, his arms reaching wide. I was wading through grief after coming to the awareness that I’d never be my children’s first mom. My arms would not likely be the ones they’d long for.

Have you been here with your nonbiological child? When all you want to do is hold them tight and tell them how precious they are—and have them believe it. To see that belief reflected in their eyes; and hear it in their voice; and watch it as they walk through life.

This desire is one of the strongest for any mom. But some of us have become painfully aware it’s not a desire that will necessarily be fulfilled. And so we find our arms achingly empty.

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This desire. It’s innate. It’s a God-image part of us. It mirrors Father God’s base nature.

This I-long-to-hold-you characteristic of God is seen throughout Scripture.

The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
Deuteronomy 33:27a (NASB)

We see it depicted in God as our shepherd in Psalm 95:7 (NASB), For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Psalm 23 describes Shepherd-God as the provider for our every need: places of rest, nourishing food, refreshing drink, restoration for our souls, guidance toward righteousness, comfort in the darkest places of life, safety from our enemy, empowerment for our calling, abundance, goodness, mercy, and eternity with Him.

And can’t you just picture this from Psalm 116:1-2 (NASB)?

I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

And how about this image?

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
… He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
Psalm 91:1-4 (NASB)

In fact God delights in our presence so much, He is never far away.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
…You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
…Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Psalm 139:1-12 (NASB)

God is intimately aware of this longing in our hearts to draw our children close.

He smiles with us those moments we stand in moon-lit rooms, gazing at our sleeping cherubs. His heart swells with ours as we cheer from the bleachers and applaud from the auditorium. His heart aches alongside ours when a defiant one turns away from our instructions.

But one thing He does not do is embrace the emptiness that Satan’s lies have attempted to forge. Because this Father knows there is always hope. Always. Hope.

Why? Because when it comes down to it, He’s the first parent. He’s also the last parent. He is our Creator—He is our children’s creator. Author. And Finisher. The final say-so.

And whether our children want it or not—whether we believe it or not—His arms are eternally long. Our children are never out of His reach.

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Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1 (NASB).

Pushed into the Deep End

{Oh, the stories! Stories of heartbreak, confusion, disillusionment, and despondency. Not just my stories, but others have them, too. Stories validate our feelings. Stories give us hope. My story of parenting five children adopted from Russia is shared often in these pages. But what about the stories of other such moms? You’ve simply got to hear them! The struggles we all identify with are present in their stories – along with the hope that not all is lost.

Today, I have the privilege of sharing words of wisdom from Sarah E. Frazer. Sarah understands the struggles of parenting a nonbiological child; but she also believes God’s Word. Sarah shares her stories and her hope beautifully. I’m so grateful she’s allowed me to share them with you today.}


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Appalachian summers are filled with heat and humidity. 70 degrees feels like 90. On the really hot days, our family would pile into the minivan and drive three minutes up the hill behind our house. Mom would park at the bottom of the hill. My brother, sisters, and I would pack-mule it up the concrete path. Chlorine and 90’s music greeted us as we walked through the entrance to the city pool. The teenager behind the counter would smile, and pull out our family’s membership card. We dumped our snacks, towels, and blow-up rings in our usual spot: next to the baby pool, but within view of the deep end.

The water, cool and blue, beckoned us to jump. My ten-year-old brother would run to the deep end and climb the high ladder to dive into the 12-foot section. I was content swimming in the shallows. Even though I was a good swimmer, the dark blue water frightened me. I didn’t like to swim where I couldn’t see the bottom.

Sometimes my brother and his friends would sneak up behind me and push me into the deep end. I never found it humorous. I was always mad about it. I didn’t like the feeling of not touching. Panic creeped into my heart as the water lapped beside my neck, seeping into my mouth.

I wanted to know what I was jumping into. I still do. I’m a planner. Last year, I had a plan. As we began the adoption process, I was pretty sure I was prepared for the unknown, even planned for it. I thought I was ready for whatever God’s plan was for our family. But I wasn’t.

As I sat on a lumpy hotel bed in the middle of Zhengzhou, China, I realized I had just jumped into the deep end. And I was mad. The water of fear rushed around my face. I tried to grasp onto truth, but I felt my fingers slipping. God had called us. We had chosen this. But I felt pushed. Pushed into the deep end. I thought, This is not what I signed up for…..

Even a year later, I remember the feelings of drowning. The rushing water of uncertainty, creeping up and over into my comfortable life. It wrecked all of my hard work. Destroyed my plans.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11 (ESV)

In the middle of my ocean of fear, I couldn’t praise Him. One day I might praise God, but not today, I thought. I held out my hands, empty of praise and found a friend’s hand. Community surrounded our family. We knew the waters were deep, but God had not abandoned us. Until we could touch the bottom, they jumped into the water and held us up.

Living in the deep end, with the waters of fear looming close, brings me more to my knees and to Scripture than ever before. And to my friends. I poured myself into God’s Word and prayed every day for strength. I began living one day a time. It was all could handle as I treaded water. 365 days later, I’ve realized that’s ok. Our God provides just enough. Enough forgiveness. Enough strength. Enough hope. I’ve come to see a change in circumstances will not bring praise, only the truth of God’s Word and trust in His plan.

And slowly my anger melted into praise. Praise to the Father and Son who has revealed how deep His steadfast love truly is – especially while I learn to swim in the deep end.

Oh the river it rushes to madness
And the water it spreads like sadness
And there’s no high ground
Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees
Sara Groves

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:7-8 (ESV)

I understand that the deepest part of your heart just wants this hard place to be over. I ask you to walk through whatever circumstance you are facing one day at a time. You aren’t alone and you are made to be exceptional, right here, right now. I wrote a book about living in a new normal and finding grace for the moment. The Glorious Ordinary is an invitation to study God’s Word in your everyday life. You can find daily strength, joy, and peace when you look in the Bible. Read more about the book here.


20170227-sarah-picAs a momma of littles and wife to a busy husband, Sarah spends her days making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, reheating her coffee ten times a day, and sneaking quiet time with her earbuds to drown out the screaming. Sometimes she worries her sticky tables, cluttered counters, and crumby floors are not enough. Maybe she’s not enough.

In the empty places of her heart, Sarah has found God is enough. Enough to satisfy all of our longings. Enough strength to do the work He has called us to do. Enough hope to lighten the dark path. Enough grace to cover all the mistakes. Enough joy, even for just today. Sarah invites you to join her @sarahefrazer.com as we study God’s Word in our ordinary days!

Twenty Years Ago Today

“Isn’t she beautiful?” he said with a gleam in his eye, and a tremble in his voice I’d never heard before. “Isn’t she beautiful?” he kept saying over and over.

Squatting before her in a cold, dark Russian orphanage, I couldn’t answer. This seven-year-old chatterbox in a deep blue dress scared me. I would soon become her mom. “Oh Lord, help! Am I ready for this?”

The next day a 30 pound, five-year-old, blonder than blond, boy ran into my arms. Tears filled my eyes, as the adults around me sniffled. Now this I could handle. But he was the scared one—appearing confident but too afraid to look us in the eyes.

Moments later, at the third orphanage we visited, he ran ahead of us to greet his brother whom he hadn’t seen for several months. His brother, eight-years-old, didn’t have as much time with us as he wanted because he had to keep little brother out of all the toys.

A few days later, we became their parents. Three children at once.

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That was twenty years ago today. Twenty!

Though I can’t tell you our twenty-year story, I can give you a rough outline. We’ve all been scared. Disappointed. Grieved. Angry. Beyond done with it all. But yet here we are today. Closer than I dreamed possible. Loving. Appreciating. Applauding.

Bang your pots and pans; blow your kazoos; whoop and holler; dance ’til you can’t breathe. It’s a day to celebrate.

Celebrate three amazing people: Katya, Sergei, and Misha.

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Katya is now a wife and mother of three. Almost every time we talk she thanks me for adopting her. She and her husband are working hard to move forward in life. She makes me so proud.

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Sergei, that little tiny blond, is now a husband and father of almost three kids. He no longer lives nearby but he gives me a long, hard hug whenever we meet.

 

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Misha, now a father of one he unfortunately rarely gets to see, is a favorite uncle to his nieces and nephews. He’s a hard-working, respected employee of close friends of ours. And, like his siblings, he loves to hang and chat with us as the hours speed by.

Those first years were so hard. You know, like those first ten years. All the stuff kids with attachment and fetal alcohol issues can throw at you, they threw. Lying, stealing, disobedience, rage, and all manners of acting out not suitable to discuss here.

I wanted to quit more times than I can count. I wanted to disappear. Sometimes jail seemed better than living in my home.

The early adult years were only better because now their misbehavior was being handled by landlords, bosses, the police, and judges. Their acting out happened somewhere other than my space.

Yes, raising them was far harder than I ever dreamed it would be. But there was so much good, too. Homeschool fieldtrips. Mealtime laughter. Vacations west to national parks. Camping on Lake Superior’s north shore. Remodeling a house. Birthdays and holidays. Accomplishments celebrated. Skills developed. Maturity happened.

These were the things that smoothed over their rugged foundations. And in time, the foundations have held firm. We love them more than ever—and they us. Our little chatterbox in recent years told us she learned how to parent from our example.

Does it get any better than that? Not much.

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
Isaiah 58:10-12 (NASB)

This restoration process is no easy thing. It’s dirty, exhausting, painful, and discouraging. But when we keep working—stone upon stone, layer on layer, day after day after day—I promise—God promises—we will witness that light in the darkness, that soul-deep satisfaction, and that inexplicable strength. It’s being faithful in the little things that repairs and rebuilds and refreshes.

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Someday, like me, you will look back and be able to say, “Yes, this thing we’ve done is very good.”

When Foundations Are Messy

The Originator of life stood resolute. Heartbroken, but resolute. He loathed what He had to do. But do it, nevertheless, He would. Love demanded He do so.

He would take them seemingly backwards—as if before the beginning of time. Back where rebellion was cast down—banished from perfection—exiled from His presence. He would drive them from the garden—His children no longer having a home.

But love would allow, that unlike Lucifer, someday these creatures of the dust would have opportunity to return.

To repent.

To turn around and come back home. Not back to the garden. Rather, to a new home. Where moth and rust could not destroy. Where grace and truth would illumine the halls. Where love and peace and joy would adorn the walls.

And so it began.

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Laying a groundwork that made sense to these dust-filled minds, called for stories. Stories and stories, laid like stone upon stone. Each stone-story allowed evil to show it’s true face. Abel and Cain revealed murder and abolishment. The sons of Cain and Seth multiplied and grew so vile God ordered a total washing. This cleansing was an important part of the story but it allowed evil to think it had won. So God vowed to never flood the earth again, giving wickedness room to continue to draw many away from Him. And so many began to claim someone other than God as their father.

Oh how the Father’s heart hurt! Though the children thought they knew great pain, none felt the pain the Father did. None wanted to gift love in a way the children could absorb deep into their souls—only to have attempted gift-givings scorned and rejected. And so He continued laying the groundwork—letting the story play out, scene by excruciating scene.

Two thousand years into the story the Father began to call out a son through Abraham. And the story narrows, separating evil from good. And in His goodness, Abba began to show His own face.

As Jehovah Jireh, He abundantly provided—even when a wasteland was all that could be seen.
As Jehovah Rapha, He healed every wound and disease—applying balm to afflictions of the heart.
As Jehovah Nissi, He became their banner—their rallying cry, the standard that ignited allegiance, and the confidence that victory was certain.
As Jehovah Mekoddishkem, He set His children apart and made them holy—and wholly His.
As Jehovah Shallom, He bestowed a peace that passed understanding.
As Jehovah Sabaoth, He fought and won every single battle His children faced—as long as they obediently trusted Him.
As Jehovah Raah, He shepherded them—holding the young ones close, guiding, protecting, and feeding.
And as Jehovah Tsidkenu, He provided the sacrifice in Himself—paving the path to righteousness with His own blood.

He was all these things and more. Yet to truly know Him as such, these children had to suffer. They had to learn to need Him—desperately so. Because He had created them in His image, they were strong and capable, wise and loving. It would take hard, hard lessons for them to learn that though beautiful and resilient, without Him they were marred and lusterless; inept and insufficient.

And so, these children repeated the cycle:

obedience … abundance …

self-reliance … rebellion …

punishment … brokenness …

repentance … obedience.

Over and over. The Father had to allow this pattern to turn into a familiar story. The stone-stories: generation after generation, layer after layer. For another one thousand years.

And then in silence He let it sit. Four hundred years of settling—like petrified wood. A foundation. Rock solid. Glazed in tragic beauty.

Ready, this foundation had a hole in it. A Messiah-shaped hole. Soon the silence would be broken and the Chief Cornerstone would be placed. And a new building would arise.

A building of living stones. A temple—a permanent dwelling for God to be with—IN—His people. A HOME for the Father and His children to dwell—to commune and laugh and eat bread and drink cup—for eternity. Eternity—the front side of the story started long ago. The completion of cycling. (But not the end to the stories.)


Before we get too excited about the redemptive side of parenting (the finishing work) we need to first talk about the foundational part of parenting. That part where we watch our children experience for themselves the stories that lay the groundwork for everything else.

The learning to trust Mommy and Daddy would provide for their every need. That booboos would be kissed and bandages applied. That family provided an identity and a place to belong. Slapping hands taught boundaries. Disobedience led to discipline. Obedience brought reward. Truth and grace. Independence yet reliance. Numbers and ABC’s, colors and shapes—building blocks for the quickly growing mind.

These are the stones we expect to place in our children’s lives. We were prepared to do so. But what happens when someone else has laid that foundation? What happens when that foundation is sandy in places and glass-sharp in others. A foundation that’s uneven and causes our children to stumble. A foundation cracked and fractured by years of instability. What then?

These are the foundations my children had laid in their lives. How I longed to bring in the jackhammer, drill it all up and start over. But that was impossible. As I moved across the floors of their lives, I too often stumbled. I too was lacerated by the jagged pieces of their souls. I reacted in anger at something they very well had no control over. And truth is, neither did I.

No, but what I could do was do a little sanding down, leveling out, and filling in. And it took years. Years! I’m not sure I witnessed stabilization until my children were well into adulthood. Sometimes they—we—still stumble a bit.

So what was the sander, the equalizer, the filler I used?

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Truth. God’s truth. Truth about Him and all He could, and would, do in their lives—with and without me. Truth about the real enemy—and the limit of his reach. Truth that God was their Father—always had been; always would be. Truth about God calling me to be their mom. Truth about God’s love for me and His enabling power to accomplish the tasks He’d placed before me.

Truth found in Scripture! God’s promises. God’s heart. God’s rock-solid faithfulness.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)

When the Lies Creep In (by Jenny Marss)

Oh, the stories! Stories of heartbreak, confusion, disillusionment, and despondency. Not just my stories, but others have them, too. Stories validate our feelings. Stories give us hope. My story of parenting five children adopted from Russia is shared often in these pages. But what about the stories of other such moms? You’ve simply got to hear them! The struggles we all identify with are present in their stories – along with the hope that not all is lost.

Today, I have the privilege of sharing words of wisdom from Jenny Marrs. Jenny understands the struggles of parenting a child with attachment issues; but she also believes God’s Word. When I read her thoughts a few months ago, something deep inside me said, “Yes!” I’m so grateful she’s allowed me to share them with you today.


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I wanted to write a post about our little family’s Advent traditions this morning. I wanted to share something light and straightforward.

Yet, here I sit, my hands hovering above the keyboard. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. I refill my coffee.

I check my Facebook notifications one more time.

I start a load of laundry.

I’m avoiding the words I need to write.

The words pulsing through my head. The ones I can’t quite grasp, the ones just out of reach. I know I need to find them and they need to find their way through these tapping keys. I know because of the long discussions with fellow mommas and the text messages and the email steeped in sorrow I received this very morning.

The thing is, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to share the hard while still protecting my girl. And, honestly, I wonder why I need to share any of this. No, no…that’s not entirely true.

God keeps whispering, you’re not the only one.

And, maybe, just maybe, there is one who needs to read these words today and rest in the simple truth that she isn’t alone either.

So, how do I say this? How do I say that my daughter, the one who has been here under my roof and in my care for two and a half years now, still doesn’t understand that I’m her momma?

Yes, she knows the words. Yet, she doesn’t know.

In adoption circles, this term is called attachment. A strong, secure attachment is the pinnacle of achievement for us adoptive mommas. It’s the measuring stick we use to determine our ability to implement “connected parenting.” The style of parenting we studied about at the workshops we’ve attended and in the videos we’ve watched (repeatedly) and in the stacks and stacks of books we’ve read.

A faulty attachment is the equivalent of a faulty parent. You see the lie, of course. It’s clear when typed out in black and white. Yet, when you are living in the lie, you slowly start to believe the whispers of the enemy. You start to believe you aren’t good enough. You start to believe you really and truly cannot do this. You start to believe you heard God wrong. You start to believe that all of the people who have loved and prayed and advocated and donated and sent gifts and cheered at the airport will see through the veneer and find out that you are a fraud.

They’ll see you as you are: a momma who desperately wants her baby to love her back. A momma who tries and tries and tries. A momma who shuffles schedules and bills in order to get her girl the professional help she needs. And, a momma who eventually closes off bits and pieces of her aching, rejected heart. A momma who lets resentment and anger and fear and frustration and heaps of guilt creep in as the days pass into weeks and into months and into years.

I’ve been walking through a process called Chavurah with a small group of dear friends. Chavurah is a Jewish tradition, translated from Hebrew meaning Fellowship. Chavurah is traditionally a small group of like-minded Jews who assemble for the purpose of facilitating prayer services, sharing communal experiences and Jewish learning. In our case, we aren’t Jewish, yet we are applying the practice of gathering each week to focus intently on the gospel and the working out of the Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven in our daily lives.

This week’s practice has us shifting our mindset to one of a rejoice prayer. According to A Guidebook to Prayer:

“Rejoice prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude. It lifts our eyes to the hills from where our strength comes. It reconnects us with God who delights in our praise. By praying with gratitude we are lifted in spirit and we are given a broader perspective. The Holy Spirit comforts us and reminds us of Jesus’ love. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to see beyond trials to the power of the cross to turn on the light in every place of darkness.”

As in life, this post will not have a tidy bow holding it together. I don’t have the answers, I know the brokenness in this world and in our little love’s past is abundant. I also know love is greater than fear. And, I know each day is a new opportunity to practice love and to pray for healing. And, certainly, I know the Holy Spirit gives me wisdom to see beyond these current hard days straight to the power of the cross. I absolutely know He alone can turn on the light in every single dark, desolate corner of her heart and mine.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. {Lamentations 3:22-23}

There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. {Deuteronomy 33:26-27}

Because of God’s tender mercy, the light from Heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to the those who sit in darkness and to in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. {Luke 1:78-79}


20170130-jenny-marrs-web-resizedJenny Marrs is a wife and mom of four. She is passionate about fostering authentic community, social justice and adoption. She loves deep conversations with close friends, thrifting and sipping from a steaming mug of fresh pressed coffee on her porch swing. She blogs at Blessings & Raindrops where she encourages her readers to seek joy in the midst of the ordinary and relentlessly pursue hope even when brokenness is abundant.