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.

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Restoration for a Heart Eroded by Lying

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She stomped her foot and insisted she hadn’t gone in the house I had just watched her go into. Or was that me who stomped her foot out of complete frustration? (I can’t remember.) How could one lie so blatantly in the face of evidence clearly stating otherwise? They call it crazy lying and it’s probably the most common behavior SAFE (Step/Adoptive/Foster/Every other nonbiological) parents battle. I’m not sure I know a single SAFE mom who has reported differently.

SAFE children lie—a lot—like, every day. I’ve come to believe it’s not a moral issue for them; rather, it was a matter of survival that became a lifestyle. Think about it. In Russia not that long ago, Christians met in secret; the poor stole wood or coal to heat their shackish homes in the winter; and street kids told heart-wrenching stories in order to procure food. In impoverished environments, lying is simply a means for meeting basic needs.

Needless to say, once those needs are consistently being met in our homes, the habit of lying gets used for other purposes: avoid punishment, fulfill desires, or affirm a false sense of being in control (another practice necessary for survival).

But for us raised in an environment where basic needs were readily met and love cradled the needs of the heart, lying is taught as evil. To utilize it would result in uncomfortable consequences. Honesty, however, was a prized characteristic—a mark of respectability. Most SAFE parents were reared with this moral code deeply ingrained.

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So when you have a mom raised where honesty is exalted, trying to parent a child who learned lying is a necessity, battles, confusion, and heartbreak result. When that mom spends years having trust eroded, her view of the world is tarnished. She has learned to evaluate people through the grid of distrust.

This is the place I landed after fifteen years of parenting habitual liars. A place where I kept a guard up that said, “Yeah, right! I’m not buying that story.” And I didn’t like it one bit. An innocent, basic trust in mankind had been destroyed and it felt icky. I didn’t mind being wiser and more discerning; but I missed the ability to watch for the good in others instead of the bad. My youngest child moved out for good the summer of 2012. Four-and-a-half years later, I think I’m learning to trust again.

So what do we do when we swim in a tank of devious sharks? How do we keep from being swallowed by cynicism? Well, I’m still learning this and God has been gracious with me. I think it’s simply taken time for the beauty of others to soak back in.

I remember making huge strides in this recovery when I visited my parents in Ukraine. I met all these people with Russian sounding accents that were honest and upright. Part of my brain was shocked that such godliness could accompany that accent. I mean my frontal cortex was saying, “Well, duh. Not everyone is a liar.” But a deeper part of my brain took some time to absorb that truth.

My kids, by the way, rarely lie to us anymore. I suppose they don’t always paint an accurate picture about what’s going on in their lives. But since I’m not responsible for their choices anymore, their decisions don’t carry the weight they used to. And frankly, I have a pretty good idea about their lives and I love them anyway. They are maturing by leaps and bounds and I know little by little the need to lie in order to live or to impress others is slowly diminishing. They’ll get there.

As for me, I’m learning to take my cynicism to the Lord. I think I’m learning to love people even if they aren’t telling the truth. The Lord alone knows what’s driving their need to lie and I can leave that brokenness with Him. If God wants to use me to reach them somehow, then I have to start by loving them right where they’re at.

Maybe the key lesson for me, is that it’s no longer my job to confront the liars of this world. My job is to love them anyway—fully aware of their tactics—pray for them, and let God fix them.

If you have kids who frequently crazy lie, I would say just expect them to. Don’t take it as a personal affront. Call it, communicate it’s wrong and no longer needed, and implement disciplinary action. Be consistent and don’t back down. But also know that love and safety will eventually erase their need to lie. I say eventually because mine were adults before they got to this point.

One more thing. We’ve all done our own fair share of lying. Only God can not lie.

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I probably say it one way or another in everything I write—all needs are met in God alone. When you need to remember what Truth looks like, look to Jesus. Sink into His Word. Live there. It makes being a light in this dark world a whole lot easier.

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
(Psalm 25:4-5, NASB)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB)

Truth for a Heart Tricked by Lies

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If I’m loving enough, my children will trust me. If I’m consistent enough, my kids will obey me. But my kids don’t trust me and they often misbehave, so I must not be the right mom for these kids.

If I get up early enough, I’ll get all my work done. If I seek God enough, He’ll give me the answers I need. But my work is never done, so I must not be disciplined enough. And I can’t hear God’s answers, so He must be unhappy with me.

Life is horrible. I’m a failure. God has abandoned me.

These are some of the lies my heart believed. And at times my heart convinced my head, too—blurring my picture of God and distorting my sense of reality.

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How do you know when you’re being lied to?

When you start believing you’re the wrong mom for the job.

When you begin to suspect God is the bad guy.

When you see your children as your enemy.

When you feel trapped in inescapable misery.

When hope can’t be seen, even on the most distant horizon.

That’s when the Father of lies has messed with you a bit too much.

That’s when it’s time to tell him to “Shut up!” And that’s when it’s time to start speaking the truth—out loud. For every lie that assails at your heart, there is a scripture verse to divert it.

Here are just a few:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. (1 Corinthians 9:8, NASB)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV)

When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19, NKJV)

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12, NIV)

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9, NASB)

In fact, when I’ve struggled the most, I learned to not just look at God’s promises; I learned to look at God Himself.

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Who is this God who has called us to such parenting struggles? A God who sympathizes with our frustrations and weaknesses.

The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. (Genesis 6:6, NIV)

Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. (Psalm 103:13-14, NASB)

He is our refuge.

For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. Psalm 61:3 (NASB)

His love for us is infinite.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV)

He is patient with us.

The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth. (Exodus 34:6, NASB)

He will never abandon us.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)

Because of God, we do not need to be afraid or discouraged. It’s God who has called us; God who enables us; God who accomplish His purposes for us, and for our children. Our hope? It’s in the Person of God.

In fact, the truth we need to combat the lies hurled at our souls is the One who called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

So what lies are you believing today? How about setting your focus on the Truth that dissolves those lies?