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Adoption Educating Our Children Family Parenting tips

Does your child run away? Parenting Tip # 12

 

Running away from your problems is a race you will never win…

Recently a mom contacted me about her teenage son who has developed the habit of running away when he is upset.

We had a couple of kids try that a few times and it caused huge stress for our family. It’s a heart breaking moment when your child runs through the door when you are in the middle of a parenting moment. If you want to experience mind numbing F.E.A.R., just watch your child go out the door in a fit of defiance!

Does your child run away? Keep a Journal {Mom of Many}
To download this FREE full resolution JPG word art, click the picture above.

Running away:

  1. Exacerbates the problem because you can’t deal with it if they aren’t there!
  2. Disrupts the family and scares the other children.
  3. Puts them, you, and your family immediately at risk legally (you never know what they will do on the run).
  4. Is unsafe for the child to be running around unsupervised.
  5. Puts the public at risk because the child isn’t thinking clearly.
  6. Is an act of rebellion – it must be addressed.

This was what I told the M.O.M. – in a nut shell.

I never did this but found myself wishing I had. Live and learn, right?

Does your child run away? Keep a Journal {Mom of Many}

  1. If your child has developed a habit of running away, be sure to call 911 IMMEDIATELY to let them know your child is on the run.
  2. Be sure to let your child know ahead of time that if they run, you will call the police. Be clear that you love them and will do it to protect them, you, the rest of the family and the public.
  3. Keep a journal EVERY DAY if you have a child that acts out. This will give you credibility if you run into any legal issues. Because I had NO PAPER TRAIL, my word was disregarded in time of crisis.
  4. Get a good support system that will come to your aid day or night. Fill in at least one trusted friend and your pastor so there are others who will back you up in time of crisis and come to your house if you need them.

I had a good support system in place just weeks before our last incident, so between them and the Lord’s protection, we were fine. But it could have turned out disastrous!

If you need support join our M.O.M. group. We get it.

Val @ Mom of Many

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Family Parenting tips Things I've Learned

Has your child rejected your faith? Parenting Tip #11

Has Your Child Rejected Your Faith? {Mom of Many}I asked my some of my newest M.O.M. members this question:

“If you had to name one parenting moment or a behavioral issues you couldn’t get victory over, what would it be?”

This is one mom’s question:

“Okay Val, I’ll give you mine – and I’d be thrilled if you have an answer: [How do you handle] adult children who turn their back on everything they’ve been taught about the Gospel? No victory yet with the almost 30-year old. I’m excited about the group and hope it will be a blessing.”

Here is my answer:

There was a time that I would just say, “Hope for the best and let God do the rest.” But now that I’m on the other side with several of my kids, I can say with confidence that you will see your child come back to God if he truly was saved when he was in your home. If not, then your example and training will give him a starting point that God will use one day to draw him to Himself. Either way you can have the confidence to know you have done what God put you in his life to do.

I have seen a good majority of our kids leave our home saying they would follow God only to run to the world and “enjoy” the sin it affords. BUT through the prayers of those who care for them and the fact that God doesn’t let go of His own, you can be sure that God will one day capture his heart. How long that will be remains to be seen, but realize that your job is done – God is in charge of them from now on.

Sometimes God sees a weakness in our child’s lives and allows them to go their own way to teach them something. But He will only let them go so far before He reels them in. You can trust God – He knows just what to do. I used to fear what would happen to my kids – feared their pain or loss. But I have come to treasure whatever God allows in their lives to change them. My trust in my God has tripled since I’ve seen Him work through my kids’ lives. I have a better understanding and know Him more. God changes us through our kids. That is a good thing. We can find solace in knowing that God knows what He is doing and we can trust Him.

The only thing you should do is keep your life in line as example and let God deal with the rest. Just love your son, accept him as he is and don’t push or question him. Let him know you are leaving him in God’s hands and you no longer are responsible for him. It will keep your relationship safe for him and leave him free to make the decision to follow God without thinking he is “giving in” because of you.

God cares for him. God cares for you and if they are important to you, that puts them at the top of God’s list – simply because you are important to Him. Don’t stress, just enjoy your son and let him feel accepted. Accept where he is and have peace about it. We can be sad, but we can still have peace. No judgements. It frees you and frees him. It’s the best place to be.

And BTW, your son hasn’t turned his back on all he knows to be true. God is firmly planted in his heart, he’s just not listening right now. But God is there – He hasn’t moved and never will.

God loves your son more than you do – that’s an awesome truth. Trust it.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

If you are in the same boat as this mom, be encouraged.

It’s not just a platitude. I’ve seen it and can tell you for sure, God knows and cares.

He’s got this.

Val @ Mom of Many

Are you interested in joining our M.O.M. Facebook group?

Click M.O.M.

Or click below 

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Ministry Musings Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

Ladies, YOU need to hear this… Listen up!

Hey ladies, my valuable, worthy ladies who love God and put yourself out there every day for others. Yes, I mean you.

Melody2 by Jesse Therrien from freeimages freesxc

I have something to tell you, something you NEED to hear. I’ve gotten so many letters, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, and frustrated, “I need to talk to you,” face to face encounters that I have to address this. Urgh.

There is something you may not know and I’m going to tell you right now.

So listen up.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You are who you are because God made you that way. That makes you special… special to God… special to me.

Yes, I mean you.

I see you day to day putting yourself aside and working for others, dropping by a vase of flowers for a sick older lady, changing diapers in the church nursery, going out to work to help support the family, caring your grandchildren, sacrificing for your children, washing dishes after a fellowship in your church, raising an adopted child by yourself, taking your kids to sports practice, blogging tutorials for strangers on how to save a dime, tutoring the student who just doesn’t get it, caring for a sick husband, encouraging others to keep going…

You do so much for others that I couldn’t possibly list it all. And yet, you are discouraged, feeling unloved and disrespected.

To quote a phrase in the Bible, because it is so simple yet profound, “These things ought not so to be.”

It makes me angry (yes, I can be angry and sin not) to see the women around me live discouraged, defeated lives because of how they are regarded by those around them.

It ends now.

Every woman who belongs to Christ (if you’re not sure, go here) must claim their position in Him, realize their value, and act like it!

No more questioning. No more letting people walk all over you. No more wondering if you can be used.

NO MORE!

You are not alone.

When you met Christ, you not only were forgiven, but you became brand new. You became His child, valuable and complete.

Did you hear that? You are complete in Him. He VALUED you enough to hang on that cross – FOR YOU.

So how is it that we wonder if we are enough? How is it that we question our value?

Um, no.

Right now you are going to realize you are valuable, complete in Him and to be regarded as such. No more are you going to accept the notion that you are not as good or capable or usable as that woman you think is better than you (or that woman that thinks she is better than you and lets you know it).

If someone tries to make you feel small, you just stand tall and tell yourself, “I am a daughter of the Most High God, I am valued, I am complete in Him.” Notice I said, “tries.” No one can put you in your place but God, and if you belong to Him, you are already placed in His hand and He is in your heart.

Repeat after me, “I got this.”

Photo by Stephen Davies freeimages

I don’t mean, “I got this,” as in “I’m perfect,” I mean, “I got this, I’m complete, I’m valued by God, I don’t need your approval, I don’t need you to put me in my place. I’m good where I’m at, in my God’s hand, loved and valued.”

Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop trying to compete. Just be whom God made you. Accept who you are. Realize your value. Stand up and say, “I got this.”

Being submissive doesn’t mean we are a little mouse that walks around afraid to speak. If you’re not sure this is true, go read in the Scriptures about how all the women that served God were strong, confident women with purpose.

Being a good woman doesn’t mean you stand by while others smack you around with their words or actions. Others will not respect you if you don’t respect yourself. Stand up and say, “I got this.”

One friend recently said, “I’ve decided I will just stay in my room when they are home.”

Um. No.

You are not going to hide. You are not going to step aside and let them devalue you, take advantage of your insecurities or let them make you feel unloved. You are the daughter of a king. You step up and say,

“I got this.”

You are going to claim your position in Christ, say to yourself, “I belong to the King,” and take your place as a valued child. You are going to set your boundaries and claim your spot. It is your home. They are visitors. They will respect and cherish you or they will go.

I have a family of 5 living in our home and my 87 year old mother. None of them treat me like I am worthless. None of them push me around. None of them disrespect me. In fact, it is just the opposite. I have loved every moment my daughter’s family has been in our home for the past 5 months. I have gained much by having my mother in our home. We help each other, we laugh, we enjoy, we respect each other. When they move out in the next few days I will feel a loss. When my mother goes home to glory, I will feel a void.

If this is not the case with those around you, then you need to reevaluate your relationships, disconnect from those who do not value you and find some who do. Pray for a girlfriend who will uplift you and support you. Find someone who can encourage you and walk with you. Set your boundaries with everyone in your life and make it clear you know whom you, to whom you belong are and who you are not. And then tell yourself, “I got this.”

You are a daughter of the King.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You are who you are because God made you that way.

That makes you special… special to God… special to me.

And yes, I mean you.

Blessings to you,

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Musings Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

Brow Beating Believers

The path I have chosen with God’s direction has been enlightening. I have learned many things, especially the past few years. After 20+ years of dealing with “interesting children,” I’ve seen my share and then some of children tied up in a world of sinfulness. Not only have they sinned in record measures, but they have been sinned against in ways that would cause even the most experienced sinner to blush. I’m talking about the kids who were adopted out of families that did not regard them as precious jewels the way Christ does. They were broken as small children and grew up with that reflected in their behavior and thought processes. Nearly all of my children who were violated as small children by their birth families have fallen into great vast pits upon leaving our home and striking out on their own. Yes, you can sit back and judge them – or you can have great compassion for a fellow human being who experienced the worst the world has to offer and is trying to make sense of it. Sure, they could have leaned on the One who created them and could have trusted and obeyed Him, but for some reason their view was so darkened they were not able to look up at the light at that point in their lives. It is not for me to judge, though I have tried to reason the “why” of it all.

We tried to make up for all the “bad stuff” that they had experienced prior to coming into our home. It was certainly our intention to do so, but for some reason we were not enough. We gave them a safe home that had proper education, both spiritually and mentally, love and concern along with the discipline to train them in the right way to live. Did it “take?” No, not for the ones who were resistant to such things. But it was planted in their heads. That’s the key.  We’re beginning to see that for some of them, when the time is right and they’ve discovered that the world has nothing for them, they know where to look when they decide to seek God and all He has for them.

It’s obvious to everyone what a parent’s stand ought to be in the midst of their children’s life’s journey. They support the good decisions and don’t support the bad ones. They seek the best for the child. When sinned against, they are to be willing to forgive if the child is genuinely repentant. That doesn’t mean the parents have to support them when they aren’t living right, but they pray for them and give godly advice when asked. They don’t brow beat them or slander their name. They sit quietly by and wait for the child to see the light and welcome them back when they do. They do their best to advise them and try to teach them to keep their paths straight. If the child gets off the right path, the parent does not go off with them. They continue on, waiting for their child to return. If the child is living at home, the parent is to grab them and put them back on the right path in any way God directs them to do so. I’ve told my adult children that they have the right to choose whatever path they want to walk down, but to not expect me to go down with them, for I too have a responsibility to walk with God in the way He directs me.

But what is the responsibility of those who are not family, those who the child has sinned against? If they are believers, then their responsibility is the same. The only exception is deferring to the parent for discipline. Compassion ought to rule. We are in God’s family. Too often I have seen my children offend or sin against another believer and receive the same amount of offence right back. If we consider ourselves mature believers, then we ought to return love and compassion, not seek to “make them pay.”  We ought to consider what is the best for that child, not recompense for our offended pride. Brow beating someone into submission out of our so called spiritual standing as authority is not love. The desire to capitalize on their sin is as bad as the original sin we were considering. It is prideful arrogance – showing we care more for our hurt feelings than the offender’s welfare and spiritual needs. To not offer forgiveness and reconcilliation when there has been repentance is to curse the love of God. If the love of God dwells in us, we will love others. If it does not, we will allow our selfish desires to walk all over those we consider less than us. It is then at that point that we become the offender and turn God’s attention off the sinner and on to ourselves. That is not a place I would ever want to be.

John 8:7  “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” 

Galatians 6:1  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

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Musings Things I've Learned

How Can One Stay Warm?

As I am sitting here thinking about my good friend Loretta, I’m wondering why it is that I can be so free and open with her. I’ve come to the conclusion that she is one of my “safe” friends. She listens, she comments and then she makes it clear that she is compassionate and supportive regarding my situation. She doesn’t hesitate to remind me of Scripture and/or reality as she sees it (in case I’m NOT seeing it) but she does it in a “I’m your friend no matter what” type of way. I will never fear to open an email from her. I will never have my heart turn over if I see her name on the caller ID. If I received a letter from her I would be anxious to open it. I have a few friends like that. I hope that you, my reader, can say you have some friends like that too. If we are acquainted, I hope I am one of those friends in your life. Through this latest set of trials, I have strengthened my resolve that when I’m on the other end I’ll exhibit the same type of “safe” friendship. As my friends go on this journey with me through my blog, I’m finding many just like me.

I’ve been getting emails like this, “This was encouraging to me. I parent the way I do for my children, not other people.  I noticed you wrote it on the 18th – that was an especially tough day between me and my most “challenging” child. Thanks for sharing. Love you.” It’s emails like that that “float my boat.” They make me think that what I have gone through may one day be used to encourage others. You are not privy to them because they have been sending them in private emails, but you do need to know that there are others out there that are struggling just like we are.

You are not the only one. I am not the only one.

Oh, sure, we come off as individuals who are strong and have it all together. Well, we are strong and we do have “it” all together, but sometimes we can’t remember where we put “it.” Today was one of those days. So, guess what I did? I got on my email and shipped off an email crying out to the Lord via my friend. I know it sounds silly, but godly, loving people can be mouthpieces for God. Sometimes we forget that God works through us. US! We who love God and walk with Him are used of God to help others get through this world – because this world is tough!

I am weak, but He makes me strong. I lack wisdom, but He makes me wise. I am speechless, but He gives me His words. I am empty but each day He fills me up. I am self-centered but He lends me his compassion and I can keep it only if I give it away. I am flawed but through Christ I am made perfect. I am impatient but He makes me longsuffering by reminding me where He brought me out of – you know that mirey clay? Well, we were all down there sinking into the pit at one time and He threw us a life line.  But now I have the responsibility to pull others out as well. It’s our calling – both as Christians and as women. We need to be compassionate and caring to others. If we’re not then what good are we? WHAT GOOD ARE WE?

I know we’ve been taught to present a good face in public, but if we never tell others about our failings and shortcomings, then how are we going to be encouraging to others? If you know that I lose it once in a while and falter in my faith, and cry out to God out of fear, then maybe you can too and not feel like you have failed. Remember, Prov. 24:16a “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” Yes! Just men fall! And they do it seven times! Wow. So, am I saying that even the most put together, confident, eloquent person that we see in the front extolling the virtues of a godly life even has bad days or even weeks? YES! Do they fall? YES! The difference between them and others is they get back up again and go on to continue serving and fellowshipping with God and others. So the difference is whether we get up again – not how perfect we are perceived to be by others!  Let’s help others get back up again rather than just kicking them as we walk by. It seems I’ve been spending an awful lot of time down on the ground lately. How about you? It’s refreshing to look up and see a helping hand that looks like Christ’s.

Ecc. 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”

This world is too cold to go it alone.

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Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

To the Heartbroken Believer

To be honest with you, I really didn’t feel like going to church yesterday. We’ve had a lot of heartache in our lives lately and the ol’  “lock the doors and draw the blinds” feeling had crept back. There are days that I just don’t want to be with people because the heartache is so great. But believing God’s Word, I went to church just because I knew He expected me to. My, was that a great decision! Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t go to church just because I didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned that those days are the days you really need to be there because God has something good waiting for us.  So off I went yesterday, with a heart filled with lead.

Our pastor started out Sunday School with a riviting discussion about how this world is uncertain and was on a roll the rest of the day. When I left my heart was full, but not of lead. It was full of the confidence that God will do His perfect work and that He’s pleased with my faithfulness. It was full with the amazement that there are people who love us no matter what, that they have an obligation to love us because that’s what real Christians do. Wow. When I got to church and looked around, all I saw were loving Christians. And I knew that if I told them everything on my heart, they’d hug me and tell me they loved me and would pray for me.  That’s what church should be like. It should be a place where even the greatest sinner can find refuge. I’m going to share some pearls of great price with you that Pastor Ron gave us.

He began by telling us to not tust in uncertain things like riches, position, etc. Then he went on to say that we ought not to avenge ourselves, but we need to trust the One who knows everything and is longsuffering. Often our first reaction to being wronged is to strike out, but God’s first reaction is to use the situation to draw that person to Christ. He tells us to be patient and let Him handle it. Personally, I have a hard time doing that. I’m a “fixer.” Most of my days are spent trying to make paths straighter, fix errors and draw new lines, encourage a better way, catch wrong and make it right, etc. It can be very tiring and discouraging to act the keeper of others and on a day that I was very weary of doing so, Pastor Ron showed us Scripture that told us to keep being faithful and patient, to keep going and not quit – to endure.

James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Frankly, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that He would take the pain away, to make everything right again and bring peace into my life – NOW. But that’s not what I’ve been told these past few days. I’ve been told that hard things are good and that I need to remain faithful, forgiving and not quit. I’ve been told to sit back and let Him work and to endure through it all.

James 5:7-11 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

One of my sons told me lately that he felt some people hated him. Real or perceived, it is still real to him. I assured him that wasn’t true, to no avail. Satan had recognized these feelings and really did a work on him. Bitterness can destroy, and that’s what it nearly did to him. I guess it’s a challenge to me to make sure no one around me feels the same way about me. My son’s future service to God is the fruit that I’m supposed to wait for. I’m to be faithfully guiding, forgiving, encouraging, teaching, disciplining, etc. and then let God work. I can’t always see fruit. I don’t see my efforts being used or appreciated. So, in my humaness I want to quit or despair. God tells me to keep on and endure – that He will work and I must trust Him.

Those who faithfully endure, forgive, speak the Word and suffer affliction with patience will need to endure to be happy (James 5:11).  He reminded me that God is merciful, so we need to be merciful. We can’t see the big picture, but God can. We only see a small snapshot and judge from there. God see’s and knows the outcome and what to allow or do to bring about our good and His glory. We ought to trust Him just on that fact – He sees down the road where we cannot. We just want the pain to go away. We just want it to all work out. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to wait – but we must if we want His perfect work.

God also knows when His cup is full and it’s time to show his wrath. But it’s not for us to decide or do. He is waiting for fruit to grow – even through bad times, so He can reap the harvest. And remember, He lets the tares grow up alongside (evil men) and will one day burn them after He takes his fruit out (believers) and has His own secure and safe. I don’t like the tares.  I spend my days rooting them out, watching for more to grow so I can get at them before they overtake us. I wonder sometimes why God doesn’t help me root them out completely, but He says He doesn’t want to do that because they have their purpose in our lives. I don’t get it or want it, but I trust He knows best. A lady once told me that the hardest people to be around are the ones God uses to root out the tares in our own hearts – for if we were only with people who kind and loving, we’d never uncover the sin that lurks within. I think she is right. It’s easy to be kind and loving back to those who are a blessing, but those who try our patience and hurt our spirits are the very ones who uncover our unloving, selfish side. If we never see it, how can we get rid of it?

After just one day with an irregular person we’re  ready to smash them! But look how long God took to destroy the earth in Noah’s time – 12o years it took Noah to build the ark and all during that time, he preached repentance to the people. God gave the people of the world 120 years to get their life right and in the end only 8 people were saved. Now that’s longsuffering. How an I do any less? What do you think were the percentages in that story? Yet God thought those 8 people were important enough to save. I suppose that ought to tell us how important we are to Him. We are often criticized for being too longsuffering with our children – yet others criticize us for not being longsuffering enough. We learned a long time ago that we just need to follow God’s direction and not man’s, because we get conflicting judgements from those around us. There is a reason God gave us these kids – and for better or worse, we’re going to work for their good, point them the right way, and when God says, “Hands off,” we will let them go. Then it will be time for Him to take over completely and we are to back away. It’s hard, but we know it to be best.

Sunday God told us to be patient for His work to unfold in the lives of our kids, to endure and be a good example of patience in affliction. OK. One more day I will do what I’ve done for the past 25 years. One more day I will give Him the reins and watch Him work. One more day I will trust His timing. One more day I will accept the twisted heart and heavy weight that threatens to crush me. It is my choice and I choose Him.

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Musings Spiritual Truths

Bad is Good

I got another surprise from God’s Word this week. It was a particularly hard week for family news and I was just a little taken back. Pain isn’t my thing, so when it comes, I resist it like the plague.  When I turned on my MP3 player and listened to my daily Bible reading, imagine what I thought when I heard the verses below. It certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear from God the morning after a real heartbreak. He amazes me constantly on how very righteous and wise He is. He shouldn’t amaze me – I already know He’s an awesome God. But with my finite mind, I guess it’ll happen as long as I investigate who He is and what He can do – for me and others in my life. I’m really glad He is mine and I am His.

Eccesiastes 7:1-9  “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

Ouch! My advice to all? Forget human reasoning – it’s faulty and foolish.

Categories
Adoption Musings My Kids

Just a Cup of Water

At my Thursday night Bible study one of the ladies asked prayer for her son-in-law that had some personal problems. She said she was tired of putting on the pretense of having a “perfect” family and was coming clean. She was tired of hiding for the past 25 years all the problems and difficulties just to put on a happy face so she wouldn’t be judged as a bad parent.

Ditto that.

We’ve had our problems. We have adopted some kids with emotional, physical and mental problems. I’m sorry if some people can’t handle that. I’m even sorry if they don’t like our family. But you know what? I do. I like my family. I like how diverse it is. I especially like having the different races. I actually feel sorry for the families that have all white kids in it. I think that’s boring. I feel sorry for families that have easy, compliant kids (I’m jealous at the same time!). They will never know the thrill of seeing their kids find God through the pain and heartache of reconciling their past.

We’ve had kids punish us for the pain that their birth parents inflicted on them. But I’ve also had the same kids call me up years later and tell me through tears that they are sorry, and thank me for adopting them because they were glad they didn’t have to grow up in their birth families’ homes. I’ve had kids complain to others about how mean we were as parents and swear they’ll never have anything to do with us when they move out. I’ve had the same kids come back and tell us we did the exact right thing in how we disciplined them and kept them safe during their growing up years. I’ve had kids tell me they hate me and then just a year later put their arm around me and tell me I’m the best. I’ve had children threaten me with knives and then just a couple of years later tell me they miss me and want nothing else but to come home. I’ve had children tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about only to call me up years later and tell me that they’ve been hearing my words come out of their mouths! I’ve had children go around telling my friends, coworkers and even my boss that we were abusive and then just a couple of years later turn around and confess they had lied out of bitterness that had welled up in their soul years before we adopted them. God is so good, and each time one of our kids makes a turn around and gets their life right, I thank Him for it.

Most families don’t experience these things – because they chose the safe route. We didn’t. We chose to care for other people’s children when they chose to not do it themselves. We took broken, damaged kids and tried to turn them into loving, responsible, Christian young people. OK, so shoot me for trying. Yes, those who have judged us as failures haven’t seen what we’ve seen. They haven’t experienced what we’ve experienced. They’ve not walked in our shoes. They’ve not seen the victories amidst the failures. They’ve determined in their mind that if our kids don’t learn to follow God perfectly before they are 18 then they must not have been taught properly or we had to have mistreated them in some way. Well, some day the truth will be revealed and all those who judged us so harshly will see their mistake. But then, you know what? It will be too late. Their chance to love and support our family will have passed and both of us unfortunately have missed a blessing. They have missed the blessing God would have given them for being kind to a struggling family. We missed the blessing of having someone love and care for us in the midst of a difficult journey. But God knows, and has fortunately made up for it by loving us through it all and shown us spiritual truths that not many have had the privilege to see.

We have a great family. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I am confident we’ll all be together some day and relish in God’s goodness.

April, you are one of my best friends and thank you for showing us how blessed a parent can be. I miss you more than I can put into words. Thank you for giving me two angels that make life worth living. Your solid faith has encouraged me.

Lauren, I miss you so and am very glad we have a good relationship. You have so much talent and strength – I know you are going to do great things for God. I just love talking with you. You are like a buried treasure.

Katie, when I think of someone loving God, I think of you. I am so very proud to tell others about you. You are like a gem of the highest price to me. Raising you was a true blessing. You’ve got it all and someday someone will wake up and realize it!

Jesse, we hope that your searching will one day bring you to your perfect place in life. You have grand ideas and goals that if realized will make a difference in the world. God and your family are waiting.

Devin, you are an example of true regeneration. You remind me of why we adopted. When I think of you, I think “success.” Thank you for discovering that you love your parents. You’ve made it all worth it. You are the “miracle of adoption” proven.

Nathaniel, you are destined for great things. We have enjoyed watching you pursue your position in the Marines and hope God can use you to reach others. Your family misses you.

Andrew, thank you for caring about your family. I have always known you loved us even when you were fighting for your independence.  I have always adored you. You have a special gift of drawing others to yourself and making the most sober person laugh.

Marissa, you will always have a piece of my heart. You were the one we all thought would go on to do great things for God. You have given me a precious granddaughter that is like a piece of heaven to me.

Daniel, you have come so far. You had no language for years, but now you talk circles around everyone. Your potential is astounding and have proven that hard work can transform a person.

Mollie, you are beautiful and talented. We miss you and hope some day we will be close friends. Every day I hope you will call and tell me that you love and miss your family and want to come home.

Jillian, you are my body balm. God chose you to be my happiness. You are one of my favorite people in the whole world. I miss you more than I can say. I am proud of who you have become.

Jonathan, I love your love for children and find it a precious gift not everyone has. God gave you a special heart that He can use to do great things. You are going to make a difference in the world.

Jacob, your calm peaceful sense of living is an encouragement to me. When I saw you give your heart to God and live for him it renewed my faith in God’s success in changing hearts. Your spiritual growth has increased my faith.

Levi, your talent and enthusiasm for life has brought us such fun. Seeing you love your sisters has brought new life into our family and given me hope. I am so excited to share a love for art with you and can’t wait to see what you do with it.

Caleb, I am so looking forward to having you back home and part of our day-to-day family living. Remembering your sense of humor and laugh are enough to make me smile. We have such hopes for you.

To all my children who are living for and loving God, thank you – you make life worth living. To those of you who are seeking Him, I pray you find Him – He’s right beside you, just turn and look. To all my children who are running from God, slow down and let Him embrace you – there’s peace and joy in His presence.

I will never forget those of you who have truly loved us…you have made some very weary travellers in this life feel the love of God and have the strength to bear up under the trials of this life. God will bless you for your love and support.

To all of you who judge us as being unworthy to be in God’s ministry, it’s your loss. To all of you who do not love my children, I pity you, for children are considered the most important in Heaven. To those of you who think we should not have adopted “interesting children,” well, all I can say is, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41 The rewards are great – SO WHAT if I have to wait until I get to Heaven to enjoy them! Where are YOUR treasures laid up? John Greenleaf Whittier sums it up for me: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.”