#weneedoneanother | part 1: it’s about you. it’s about me. it’s about us. together.

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Let’s start here…

This isn’t a neat, 5-easy-steps series. Although I’m not sure that anyone could really write a neat or easy post on anyone’s story, or on how to tell your child’s story. I’ve just been writing and writing as the ideas and thoughts and reflections have come to me. Words always spill out of me (just ask my husband), even when I don’t try and not always in an organized way! Eeek!

Something that is really important to me for you to know is that I’m still learning. I’m still evolving. I’m still on the journey. I’m still learning how to live from a loved place, a true place, a soft place. I’m still learning to trust. I’m still making sense of my own story – of the hard parts, of the good parts – and listening to how God wants to use it all and how I get to be a part of it. And, at the same time, I have become more comfortable with what’s inside me, I am OK sharing my story, I am practicing more vulnerability, I am finding my voice, I have experienced healing, I have witnessed God using what’s “bad” for good. And, the most beautiful and healing part of my journey has been that not only my view of God has expanded, but also his view of me. Oh, that feels so sweet, so peaceful, so safe to type that. So in my continued imperfection and questions and sarcasm and desire to right all the wrong, I know I can fall back and rest in this space, with him. And that is the place I write this from, to you.

Ahhh! I can’t even believe I’m gonna dive into these adoption-related topics over cyber space with you! (Later post on adopted person being known vs. feeling known via cyber space.) It totally humbles me. It totally intimidates me. I usually like to write about rainbows and unicorns, not hard stuff. OK, just kidding. But really, writing about the human heart is hard. And writing about the human heart in helpful, clear ways is even harder. And then writing about the human heart in helpful, clear ways, with an audience, is just plain vulnerable. But I’m willing. Because one of the best lessons I’ve learned in life is that sharing your story, what’s inside you, has the ability to help others feel joined and normal and seen and understood and free…to begin writing their own story, to find what’s inside of them. And that, friends, is a gift. It feels like pieces inside of us all begin being put back together when we listen, when we lean in, when we allow the mystery of humanity to be shared, together.

So let’s go.

Two consistent questions I’ve heard since I’ve stepped into the adoption/foster care world are:

“How do I tell my child his/her story?” and “What can I do to help my child heal?”

And often times, these questions come immediately after, “Hi. Thanks so much for sharing.” There’s no getting to know you or finding things in common or small chit-chat. It feels like a deep dive into an agenda – an agenda, I’ve come to understand, that has a parent’s heart for their child’s heart all over it.

And then the eyes – they keep looking at me like somewhere inside of me I must have a quick and easy and profound answer to give them. And I don’t. I give what I can, but I don’t have a quick and easy or profound answer to give. We would need a million cups of coffee (or coke) with hours and hours sitting on a couch or deck with really, really good food to feed ourselves. For days. Maybe months. Perhaps years. Probably a lifetime.

So for me, when I’m in the adoption world, a simple “Hello, my name is so-and-so and I’ve adopted so-and-so from such-and-such,” turns into something way bigger, way deeper. And I wish I could answer these huge questions. (You know these are huge questions, right?) Because I know deep down that you’re longing for your child to grow up in really healthy, whole ways. And if I could be of any help, give any clues, if my voice could help give voice to what’s inside your children, I would absolutely LOVE to do that. But I can’t. I can’t really do that in five minutes. So, I’ve been pondering and simmering and storing up the many thoughts that have surfaced since being “with” you all and blending it with and contrasting it with and balancing it with what’s inside me, my experience, my knowledge. In the midst of my daily routine with my family, my head has been spinning the past two-and-a-half years listening and observing and digesting all that my ears have heard. So many thoughts, new emotion, resistance, curiosity, shock, confusion, disappointment, gratitude, grace. And maybe even some love.

So, back to the questions.

I deeply respect that you are eager to learn, eager to do this “right,” hopeful for healing, open to telling the pieces of your child’s story that are hard and gruesome and messy in a redemptive way. That means you are thinking about it. That means you understand that there has been a rupture. That means you believe that the rupture can be repaired. That means you are aware that parents play a significant role in a child’s journey. That (maybe) means you get that there is more that comes with adoption than just the beauty of giving a child love and safety and a “forever family.” (Later post on this phrase.)

But I often wonder if you’re up for what it really takes – for your child, for you, for your marriage, for your family. Have you been equipped? Do you know your own story? Have you experienced your own healing? Have you witnessed and are you telling of the redemption in your own life? Do you believe that you are lovable? Needed and wanted, worth fighting for, worth being known? I hope so.

My prayer is that you, adoptive/foster parents, are on your own healing journey. That you are learning how to live from an identity grounded in truth, that you are finding what’s inside of you – your voice, your heart, your capability – so that the kind of eyes you are developing are the kind of eyes that can see what’s inside your child and lead him/her, walk alongside of him/her, through the places you know, in time, he/she will have to go. Instead of protecting your child from feeling pain, you’ll be able to sit with them, in it, telling them that you understand what it’s like to feel glad, mad, sad and scared, to feel shame. And along the way, because you intrinsically know what pain feels like and have entered into it and have allowed it to be used for good, you’ll know how to offer a voice that says, “You’re gonna make it. I’m with you.” And in the back of your mind, you’ll know it’s worth going backwards because it was there where you found the places that needed healing. It was there that you heard truth, that you felt grace, that you experienced healing. And when you get to do that – go on the journey with your child – it will change you. It will change both of you.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts the adoption/foster care community could offer the world because of the unique woundedness it invites into the home, because of how families are uniquely positioned to experience brokenness and suffering, which has the ability to create a deep longing for healing and wholeness, is that more and more people would become aware of how much potential there is for healing to take place, TOGETHER.

So, my friends, there are no simple answers or formulas to these questions. There’s no specific time frame. There’s no guarantee.

But, there is a process. And that process? Maybe…

It’s less about doing things “right” and more about how to respond to the “wrong.”

It’s less about if/then’s and more about what if’s.

It’s less about what parents are DO-ing and more about who they are BE-ing.

It’s less about being adopted/relinquished and more about feeling known and knowing love.

It’s less about getting your child to trust and more about learning what it means to trust.

It’s less about healing your child and more about a journey of formation.

It’s less about you, less about him/her, and more about you, together.

Go ahead and cue the rainbows and unicorns, but hang on and keep reading…

We all want a redemptive ending, right? But you know what? Redemption doesn’t just happen. When I think about the stories of Jesus, I’m always struck that for him to “make things new,” there had to be an old, a bad, a broken. He took the old and made it new. He took the bad and made it good. He took the broken and made it beautiful.

BOTH parts are always in his stories.

So maybe before we (or our children) can write and tell a redemptive story, we have to take a peek (or maybe a long look), at the old stuff, the bad stuff, the broken stuff. But looking at all of that – like REALLY looking at it – totally sucks. Why? Because if you linger for any length of time with stuff that doesn’t make you feel good, you may actually begin to see it. You may actually realize it’s real. You may actually begin feeling – the loss, the disappointment, the injustice, the ache, the sadness, the doubt, the shame, the anger, the resentment, the fear, the “my life totally got messed with,” the “my child’s life totally got messed with.” And because you’re human, when you feel that badly, you’ll want to flee. Everything inside of you will want to get the heck out of that place dripping with negativity and weight and despair.

And you can. We all can. We can flee.

Adoptees can flee. Adoptive parents can flee. We can all sprint past the hard stuff or take a detour or pretend it doesn’t exist (or matter). We never ever “have to” confront it. But if we bypass it, we’ll keep wondering why we still don’t feel OK, why we still don’t feel healed, why we still feel too much (or not enough), why all the money and things and people and vacations and working and exercising and drinking and eating and perfectionism never make us feel better. We’ll keep wondering if redemption really wins. And most likely, we’ll always fall back to relying on ourselves to make things better. Maybe we’ll even rely on ourselves to make healing happen.

So adoptive parents AND adoptees (and everyone else): no one – I repeat, NO ONE – can make you go on this journey or initiate this process. YOU are the one who decides to open yourself up for more – more awareness, more insight, more love, more grace, more intimacy, more freedom. MORE OF WHO YOU REALLY ARE. You don’t need a formula or a manual or that expert speaker (even though all of these will give insight), all you have to be – GET to be – is open. And then watch what God’s healing spirit can do.

Parents: there’s not a magical thing you can do to get your child to begin his/her healing journey. But you CAN create the kind of space where it is safe and secure to move away from and return to if/when your child chooses to go on that journey. (Later post on “the kind of space.”)

Adoptees: you’ll go on this journey when you’re desperate for something more than what you have, when all that you hold inside begins bursting and rupturing and not working anymore, when you’re open to finding more truth, more love, more grace, more trust, or maybe even more people.

But here’s the thing, we know that we are wired for relationships, right? So, you don’t have to do this alone. You could, but that would be pretty lonely. Safe, but lonely. Since healing and wholeness is a life long process, you’re going to need different people at different times for different reasons. People bring perspective and insight and laughter and good distraction and encouragement and a deck with lights and summer slush and on and on and on. Invite people in. Let me clarify: Invite safe people in. Take all the cheerleaders you can get. Take all the love and support and kindness you can get.

So, friends – let me be at least one person who will say to you:

YOU CAN DO THIS. YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO DO THIS.

YOU WERE CREATED WITH THE ABILITY TO DO REALLY, REALLY HARD THINGS. 

YOU ARE WORTH FINDING MORE OF BECAUSE THIS WORLD DESPERATELY NEEDS ALL OF YOU.

YOU HAVE THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE ON YOUR SIDE.

So, let’s do this. Together. Not just the adoptive parent. Not just the adopted person. Us, together.

So whether you need to start writing or need to keep writing, know that the story is going to be so, so good. It’s just going to take some time to write it.

#weneedoneanother

MUSIC: I love music. It moves me, so I’m going to try and give you a song or two for each of these posts. They’re songs that have meant a lot to me because their messages have been so strong. And, music touches the soul like nothing else.

So just click and listen. Don’t watch the video because videos with words and moving backgrounds can be distracting. And cheesy? For real, close your eyes, and listen.

Mended by Watermark

Healing is in Your Hands by Christy Nockels

NOTE 1: Please know that in my mind as I type this I’m thinking, “Eeeek! This is A TON!!!!!! A ton that I’m downloading on you, a ton that I’m inviting you to, a ton to process, a ton of work. Offer yourself loads and loads of grace as you continue to read these posts. Take in what you can for where you’re at. I didn’t know all of this at the beginning of my journey. I probably would have never been open to going “inwards” if I had. This is what I know at almost 40 and I’m still learning and soaking in and digesting and understanding and experiencing. And most of all, still healing. God takes us at the pace we’re able to move. He’ll never take us where we’re not ready to go. He’s good like that. He’s gentle like that. He loves you right where you’re at. Promise!

NOTE 2: I’m not a child or adolescent or abnormal (what an awful description) psychology expert. Nor am I an “adoption” specialist. These posts are not therapeutic or professional advice (even though that part of me is always part of me). This is from my own personal journey and some big picture thoughts on the two questions above. There are hundreds of adopted person’s experiences and paths of healing that we can all glean from and learn from and apply. This is only my two cents in the million dollar answers everyone wants. I’m “one voice giving voice.” My hope is that at least something small will resonate with you and/or your child’s story that could be helpful, that could help initiate more healing and wholeness, and more belief of how much we need one another’s stories and perspectives and gifting and healing.

viva la woodchip.

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I did it. I went camping. This INDOOR girl spent four days – FOUR days – in the OUTDOOR world. For the first time. With two children. Without their daddy. And we survived. Amen.

So…a few reflections:

DO camp with another mom who is an expert at camping because she owns basic camping necessities like a grill and a griddle and a real tablecloth with clips that hold it down to the table and special toilet paper and a wine bottle opener and an overall state of calm and confidence.

DO camp with another mom who has children near the same mental and emotional and physical ability that your own children have. Because if you do, you will both be managing similar meltdowns and quarrels and conflicts and whining for that $1 toy gem at the camp store. And, you’ll both observe how good it is, in this culture, to remove your children from rectangles and watch the sun kiss their skin and smile at all the humorous things they do and say. And, most importantly, all of the children will go to bed all at the same time.

DO search until you find a camper that meets your basic physical and mental needs – like a queen size bed and bunk beds and bathroom and kitchen sink and microwave (just to name a few). Your internal well-being relies on this. Trust me. (Yes, someone somewhere makes these types of lovely campers!)

DO ask for a camp site that is next to the playground, across from the bathrooms/showers, a skip and a hop away from the pool, and that has an eye-sight view of the massive trampoline pillow where the children will expend much of their 12+ hour energy. (I’m assuming that ALL campgrounds would have these parent necessities.)

DO choose the PERFECT weather week – like mid 70s/low 80s. Because this could make or break your camping experience.

DO choose the week when most of the bugs and mosquitos that surely swarm around every camp site fly away to visit another campground or your friends’ homes. This, too, could make or break your camping experience.

DO pack tons of liquids and snack foods because you and your children’s bodies will constantly feel the need to ingest more than it normally requires. And, most importantly, bring Coke and M&Ms. And, bring ingredients for summer recipes like fresh BBQ Chicken Salad and Limonada de Coco, because it will help you feel special. It will remind you that you really are on a “vacation.” But, do make these when all the children are running around the campground making new friends and spinning around on the merry-go-round, so that you can eat in peace, so that your taste buds can savor every delicious bite, so that you are able to feel each little lime-y coconut-y slushy piece of ice slide down your throat.

DO bring lots of firewood, because making a fire each night is a MUST in the world of camping (along with s’mores). And then, after the children are nestled in and then out like a light because they’ve jumped and ran and biked and swam hard all day, pull up your new, red Costco camping chair beside your friend’s chair, stare into the fire, and start talking – about things that matter, about things that don’t. Talk and laugh and be silly and serious until midnight. Or 1 o’clock. Or 2 o’clock. Because in those 3-5 hours, you can cover A TON – like friends and family and in-laws and parenting and your story and decorating and finances and how life is so very wonderful and so very hard and how important it is to be gracious truth-tellers and what it’s like to feel like you’re “too much” and bucket lists and what you’re learning and how you’re failing and how you hope your children will grow to be lovers and doers of good and how to offer yourself as a wife whose husband knows she loves him and is grateful for him and how the people camping next to you talk really, really loud. Basically, you can solve most of the world’s problems in those night hours. So…

DO have your first camping experience with a friend who is fun and neat and organized and flexible and experienced and silly and honest and open…to all that life has to offer. And, who will invite you into an experience that will give you perspective of the OUTSIDE world and perspective on all the things you unknowingly take for granted about your INSIDE world. And, who will post funny pictures on Instagram and tag you as you sit 1 foot away from her. And then laugh about it. And, who will partner with you in an experience that reminds you that you’re capable – of doing new things and hard things and unlikely things…for yourself, for your children, WITH your children. And, who will play her radio ALL day on a station that has ALL the songs you know, so that at any moment you can raise your thumb to your mouth and break out singing and dancing and partying, like it’s 1999.

And then, pack up, go home, wash everything really good and know…that at the end of the day, it’s OK to say, you’re a hotel girl. Hands down.

#VivaLaWoodchip

 

summer slush.

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Sitting on a deck in the summer? The best. Sitting on a deck WITH someone? Even better. Sitting on a deck WITH someone, WITH a good summer drink? Heaven.

I’m not a huge “drinker” (I would choose a coke over most anything), but when I decide to sip a little, it’s gotta be good. Because I’m picky. Someone introduced me to this delicious, subtle alcohol tasting slush years ago, and it’s still my all-time favorite summer slush. And it’s SO easy, so doable, so worth sharing.

So gather your friends and introduce them to this. And then laugh and tell stories and enjoy one another!

Apricot Brandy Slush

7 cups water + 2 cups sugar – bring to boil and let cool, making sure all sugar is dissolved.

2 cups water – bring to boil and add 4 orange pekoe tea bags and let cool. Squeeze out tea bags and throw away.

1 can frozen lemonade + 1 can frozen orange juice + 1 pint of apricot brandy.

While the two pans are boiling, mix the last three ingredients together in freezable container (I use a 9/13 covered pan). Add cooled sugar water and tea. Stir. Freeze overnight (I give it a good stir after a few hours, but you don’t have to). Spoon into cup, add some diet 7-up, stir until slushy.

VOILÁ!

 

 

kindergarten? check.

K Celebration 2014

Ahhh! It’s my first “end of school” week. All the marvelous 7.5 hours a day with her gone and just me and the little guy or me by myself, are winding down. Fast. Shoot!

I’ve absolutely and totally LOVED this school season – all that’s been a part of her world, all that’s not been a part of my world in those 7.5 hours. And I say that in a very grateful way, in a way that says I can be a mommy who absolutely adores my little girl, while at the very same time also be a mommy who absolutely can feel worn out by all the needs of my little girl.

Both/And.

I think about ALL that each adult person has offered her this year – academically, socially, emotionally, physically. And I’m grateful.

And I think about ALL that each little person has offered her this year – friendship and fun and social skills. And I’m grateful.

And I think about ALL that each caretaker has offered this year and I want to give a shout out to YOU – marvelous you. Thank you for what you’ve offered your kids this year: the someone’s-gonna-lose outfit picking process, packing lunches, getting them to school with or without teeth brushed or hair combed, managing crabby mornings, getting their buns in the car or on the bus, saying NO to yourself because you needed to say YES to their sports and music and taxi ride schedules, the hours of helping with homework that was SO like 20+ years ago for you (that you now realize you needed very little of), and all the other stuff that happens in between this stuff.

Whether you’re a “traditional” parent, single parent, grandma/grandpa caretaker, full-time working parent(s) – you’ve done your best. They made it. WE made it.

WE ALL ROCK!

Let’s step into this last week, these last days, with a sense of pride and gratitude because WE DID OUR BEST with what we had to work with. And that’s what matters.

So as they sing their end-of-the-year-program song or walk across that stage, stand up and cheer and clap and smile…for them, for you.

HAPPY END OF SCHOOL 2014!

 

life at six. a letter from her mama.

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Dear Skyla,

Girrrrl…happy birthday! My heart is smiling as I watch you skip into six with all the passion inside you. This day…you’ve been ready for it forever! It’s amazing how you, my sweet girl, look forward to turning another page, another chapter of your life. You can’t get there fast enough. And me, your mama whose nearing forty, wants to keep the page secure and in place – for you, for me – because right now, the innocence and wonder and softness of this world feels just right for you, so natural.

I wanna stay. You wanna go.

There’s something in you pulling you forwards. There’s so much in me that pulls me backwards.

You and me – we have this little dance we do. The pieces of who you are draws me in, shapes the way I embrace mothering, and keeps taking me to places I’ve never traveled before. Our relationship reminds me that I’m brave in really ordinary ways, just as much as it reminds me of all the ways I can get stuck, all the places that still need healing. And then the parts of me that spill out onto you…they’re shaping you, too. I see it show up in how you talk and how you move, in what you care about and don’t care about, and in your little, big personality.

We dance, we disconnect, we come back together, over and over again.

And about this little, big personality…it intrigues me, it ignites me, it infuses into me. I see you. I notice you. I’m learning what it means to know you – what frightens you, what delights you, what hurts you, what your heart needs to soar, how your body and brain crave to feel protected.

You have this charm that makes those closest to you want to stay right beside you.

You have this intensity that goes into almost everything you do, which keeps your independence and strength fiercely untouchable. (We believe this will become an asset someday.)

You have a curiosity and wonder about the world that makes the simple, everyday things in life new and alive, waiting for you to discover and understand.

You have this certainty – that life and people are for you to embrace, wholeheartedly, with conceit.

You have a desire within you to feel safe – with your surroundings, in relationships. You always have. It shows up in unpredictable and surprising ways, knocking me off of my feet, just as much as I presume it knocks you off yours too.

You have this sincere honesty that never makes us question what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling. It’s up front and forthright, learning to wrap itself with grace and kindness and respect.

And then there’s this vulnerable and tender part of you. Sometimes I forget it’s there, but I see it. Oh, girl! I want you to know how much I see this part too. When it shows up, it melts away all the hard that comes with parenting in a matter of seconds. You let me in to the most true and sweet places of your soul, and it feels so good to be right there, with you. And even if it’s just for a few fleeting minutes, I hope something in you knows that during all the moments that this part of you is tucked away, it’s so worth it to wait for those few moments where it feels like we’re together, when all is right in the world.

And ohhhh, those milestones you reached this past year: switching from four wheels to two, losing your first three teeth, learning how to read, memorizing Christmas program songs, navigating around on the computer and iPad and TV, practicing “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” and “Let’s start over,” and the way you’re just about to finish all-day Kindergarten with flying colors. Each progression is part of growing up and being human, yet each one in it’s own way comes with great bravery and perseverance and a new kind of freedom, both internally and externally. We celebrate these accomplishments and feel gratitude for what has needed to develop and mature in order to execute each experience.

Oh, Honey Bee, there’s so much I want to show and tell you about the world – to protect you, to prepare you, to help you learn what it means to offer your truest, most best self. Yet what I’m learning, what I’m being humbled by, is that you have to experience the shortcuts and mountains, the edges and crevices, the tension and restoration, yourself. I keep being reminded that this parenting journey isn’t about carving out a perfect path for you. I think Jesus had something up his sleeve when he gave me to you and you to me. However his sovereignty impacts us, I know that what we’ve shared in these six years, he’s using to make my heart soften so that I can awaken to my opportunity, not duty, to teach you less about “my” world and more about “his” world, and how he invites you to jump into it with all of who you are. He’s so good like that. And however it happens, as I parent you differently from my own experience, there’s this profound sense that God is mysteriously reparenting me in the fragile places where I need a bit more nurture and grace and love. Wow.

And I love…the way your affinity towards your brother keeps growing, how you make him laugh so hard, how you teach and tell him what to do and what not to do, how you help him and care for him and play with him. I’m grateful for how everything that you are adds to all that he is, and more. And, I love that all of who he is, adds to all of who you are. I love my Korean/Norwegian/Dutch sibs. So much.

And that daddy of yours…you draw him in. He’s so proud that you’re his daughter. He tells me late at night when you’re all tucked in and sleeping. I love hearing him talk about you and what enters his life because of your life – the challenging and confusing and hilarious and entertaining and special things. I’m so glad he talks to me about all of these things, because that’s what makes me know he sees all of you. The eyes of his heart are wide open, and I watch him offer something I wish I could do more of…so much grace, so much acceptance, so much presence. Girl, you’ve got your daddy’s heart.

So, year five leaves you stepping a little more away from our influence and protection. We’ve watched how the “outside” world grabs at you in subtly powerful ways as more experiences have found their way into “your” world, defining what’s cool and what’s not, new words and “bad” words and hurtful words, clothing style and lifestyles, peer pressure and paradigms. They just come in, unannounced and uninvited – through technology and public places and people. We pray for God’s divine discernment in how to respond rather than resist. We pray that your heart will be open to all the good that we have to offer, alongside of all the good the world has to offer. May you know, deep in your soul, what you have to offer – in friendships, in our family, in our community, for the kingdom. And, as the world flies by you or sticks to you or confuses you or pleases you, may you lay your head down on your pillow each night knowing how good your heart is, how loved it is – by him, through us.

So, together we skip right into six, with you. Taking all that has been with us, and allowing it to to complement and be used for all that is needed for this year, a new year. There are parts of me that wish we could stay right here, in this season, but onward we go. And maybe on the way, we’ll get a glimpse of Elsa’s Ice Palace, or maybe first grade, or maybe new friends, or maybe even more love.

So, let’s go, girl!

Love you…so, so much.

Love, Your Mama

***My song, this year, for you: Never Grow Up (Taylor Swift)

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friday.

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Here’s my contribution for Restoration Living’s Lent and Easter Prayerbook. May this day, this weekend, take you to new places. Deep places. Holy places. May we all be aware of and awake to how life circles around and in between both brokenness and beauty, pain and joy, death and life, as we learn how to live and breathe and love as resurrection people.

The ache, deep inside, that comes flooding into your heart, rippling over its surface, down and in between each layer – it hurts. It consumes. It permeates…everything.

Suffering – the strike of disappointment and its unwarranted process of making you aware that there’s nothing you can humanly do or offer to make your pain go away; the stark reality that we live in a broken world.

We fight it.

We numb it.

We hate it.

But it’s there. The rupture between goodness and badness occurs, and we’re left with pain and heartache and questions – with darkness.

The light hasn’t arrived yet. The beauty hasn’t risen yet. The new day hasn’t come yet.

And so we sit, in the darkness, holding out our arms, crying out for something more, something better, a sliver of hope. When will it come? When will HE come? The God who promises to turn ashes into beauty? Where is he?

Could it be, that he, is IN the suffering? Could it be, that he, would actually meet us there, in the despair? Could it be, that he knows all too well what it’s like to cry out with all that he had left? Because on that day – that Friday – in all of Jesus’ humanity, he stepped into the darkest of darkest places, and entered into the most wretched suffering. For us. With us.

He sees…you.

He aches…for you.

He grieves…with you.

That Friday marked history forever. His acceptance to suffer in that way, on that day, sent a message to the world about his heart for us, for you, in epic proportions. A message that says, “I am with you…IN the suffering. Let’s go there, together. I want to show you my heart, my love for you, there, in it. And then just wait…just wait to see what I have for you. It’s coming – new life, new hope, a new day. The story isn’t over yet. Death doesn’t win. But first…let’s go there, to the broken places, to the dark places, together. I’ll be right there, beside you, because you’re mine. You are my beloved.”

Perhaps the more we enter into our suffering, the more we’ll long to taste resurrection, new life, hope. Maybe the depth to which we feel pain is directly related to the depth to which we feel joy.

Because you see, Jesus had to go through Friday, before he could get to Sunday.

a few little words.

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I love opportunities to write for good causes and places and spaces, and I was so grateful when Jedd Medefind (President, Christian Alliance for Orphans) asked me to write a short piece for Becoming Home (Barna Group – FRAMES Series). I very much appreciated that he was willing to include an adopted person’s voice and perspective in this book. That speaks volumes!

I was asked to capture my “Listen” speech from Summit 9 in a few paragraphs. Well, you know me, I’m a woman of many words and that felt impossible! But, you don’t really tell someone that. Right? But, you can and do nicely ask for more than 150 words. Right?

Well, I asked, I submitted, the editors took off and did their hard work, and the book was published.

And, as any writer would, when the complimentary book arrived at my home, I was elated…to see my name, on that book. And then I opened it. And then I read it (my piece first, of course). And it was different. And, as any writer would, I checked my original submission to compare what was sent to what was printed. Yes, indeed, it was different. Minutely different, but different nonetheless. And, as any writer would, I felt mis-represented. I didn’t like the differences. It didn’t feel “right.”

And what didn’t feel “right” wasn’t that the words and phrases were changed and rearranged, (I understand there’s an editing process and I really do believe that people will “get” the message), but the WAY in which my words and phrases were changed and rearranged…THAT’S what didn’t feel right. Because to me, it’s been very, very important in how I use my voice, in how I use my words, in the adoption and foster care world. And, as any writer would, I care very deeply about each and every word. Because what words you say and how you say them can change a tone, a meaning, a nuance, a message. Right? And in writing, that matters. Well, at least to the author!

NOTE 1: It’s OK if right now you’re thinking, “Carissa – get over yourself and your words” because I often say the same thing to myself. HA!

NOTE 2: There’s no blame on anyone for the changes. It’s just what happens in the editing process. And, the changes don’t take away from the message that the adopted person’s voice, his/her story, is one to be listened to and responded to.

So, those changes? Seriously. No big deal. But, here are my words, my original words. We’re working on changing them for the second print, but for now, you get to have them. Because I want you to have them. From me.

I encourage you to read Becoming Home. I so enjoyed knowing more of Jedd Medefind’s story and heart and insight as he uses his position and platform and passion to invite the “church” to become conduits of safety and love and healing and hope. And, because it’s important to keep the conversation going about what it means “to care for, to preserve, to keep, to take care of…one another.”

May we continue, to listen, to one another.


Listening…it takes practice.

What does it mean to listen to the heart of an adoptee? How do you hear what’s really being said behind the voice, the eyes, the behavior? How do you begin hearing those who hold a wound from before they can remember – a wound that birthed a deep longing to feel significant, wanted, loved?

Us adoptees, we’re like you…worthy, loveable, capable. Many times, though, we’re defined as voiceless, helpless, forgotten. But, we’re not. We are people who have a story to tell, a voice to offer. We’re learning to trust, and are being healed. We have hope. We don’t need you to rescue us, we need you to see us…the beautiful parts and the broken parts. We need you to remind us of who we are, who we were created to be.

We need you to listen to our hearts…our loss, our heartache, our journey, our restoration.

And then respond.

No, you don’t have to. You get to.

You get to model vulnerability, cultivate courage, build trust, offer grace. You get to show a real-life, real-time picture of Jesus, of his heart…for the orphan, for the world. And then, as that relationship becomes a two-way street, something sacred and beautiful and healing can happen. A space is created where transformation can take place…for all.

You, me, us, them…we get to be in this together. This is the call to the church: to love and be loved; to step into what God is already doing among us, through us. We, the church, get to offer healing and truth and hope – to one another – with a posture of humility and openness and presence as we share our stories, our hearts.

But first, we need you to lean in, be still, be present, and listen. It’s then when something miraculous and mysterious will happen. It’s then when we will begin to embody what it means to connect and trust and feel safe…with one another, with God.

May we all become good listeners…to all of the story.

Because if we do, it just might change…all of us.

**Original submission for Becoming Home: Adoption, Foster Care & Mentoring – Living Out God’s Heart for Orphans (Barna Group – FRAMES, 2013). Written by Jedd Medefind & David Kinnaman; RE/FRAMES by Francis Chan, Jim Daly, Ruslan Maliuta, David Platt & Carissa Woodwyk.