Monday, February 28, 2011

Spoke Too Soon

George is back to his new normal.

He just told me how much he hates me because I am going to be volunteering in his classroom to help him with his reading. Actually, his teacher asked me to come in because she is so busy keeping him "on task" that she can't teach the rest of the class.

I went in on Friday.

Now, George is telling me he isn't going to school because I will be there. I explained that I am coming in because I LOVE HIM and really want to help him be a better reader and writer.

He says he doesn't want a mom who cares about school.

I am so angry again! What am I supposed to be doing now?

I hate that I come here whining and complaining again and again...but I am afraid if I don't vent somewhere, I will simply burst!


We seem to be making a little progress this weekend. Again, I am not naive enough to think we have cleared this hurdle, but there have been some good moments lately.

A few developments: We contacted a child counselor who is a Christian and specializes in attachment issues. She gave a lot of "free advice" over the phone (there ARE good people out there!) and led me to several websites and books that might help. Second, we reached out to a pastor and asked for help. Joe and I were talking and said, "This is huge for us!" You see, we are two fiercely independent, prideful, stubborn people, and it takes a lot for us to admit, "WE NEED HELP!" We are at that point and are ready to be totally humble.

My weekend started with reading a lot about attachment. I also read about natural consequences and how to react to George. He needs love, love, love. The oposite of love is fear and knowing that "love casts out all fear" was a key point for me to meditate on. Now, reacting to George in love does not mean there are no consequences to his behavior. Rather, the consequences need to be "natural". If he is mean and verbally hateful to me, the natural consequence may be that I don't want to snuggle with him the next time he desires that. I learned quite a bit in my crash course :)

On Sunday, we had lunch with some friends who are soon heading to Colombia as missionaries working with street kids. I won't even get into the excitement I feel about SOMEDAY taking the Safe Families model to South America.....but....maybe God is paving a way? Anyway, as the adults sat around the kitchen table, Joe and I opened up about our struggles through the past month. Tom ran to get a children's book, obviously excited to share something that might bring some light to our situation. He talked about how important it is to ask Jesus into the moment of hurt or trauma that George experienced. He shared how we can walk with George through those hard days in Ethiopia when his birth mom dropped him off at the orphanage and then invite Jesus into that situation. Through this exercise, Jesus can heal George in that place, and even "show" George that He as there in that moment, as hard as that may seem.

So, I began praying for a moment to really do this exercise.

And God answered that prayer.

All night long on Sunday, George was over the top lovey-dovey toward me. Stroking my hair, sitting on my lap, wanting me to wrap my arms around him. Finally, I told him that we needed to talk. It was time for George to understand the natural consequences for how he treated me the last month.

We began our conversation in George's bedroom. I sat on the floor and George sat on his bed. I wanted to bring him back to our trip home from the Dells. As I began talking about the things he said on that trip and how those words made me feel, George stopped me and said, "I don't remember that! I never said those things."

I went on, thinking this must be a manipulative strategy.

"Really, mom. I didn't say those things." He wasn't yelling, he wasn't angry, and he seemed sincere.

I'm not sure what I think - even now as I write this. Did he really block this out?

I continued, this time saying, "What IF you said those things. How do you think Mom would feel?"


"Yes. I have been hurting a lot lately from words you have been saying to me. Because I have been hurting so much, do you think I might not want to snuggle and hug?"

He nodded.

I asked him why does he think he might be so angry lately? He said he didn't know. We started talking about how I was his momma now and how much I love him. He got a tear in his eye. He wanted to talk about his Africa mom.

"Where is she? Is she in the ground? Is she in heaven? Why can't we take medicine to her? Africa needs our help!"

"I know Georgie, Africa does need our help."

"It isn't right that they have dirty water! It isn't right that my mom couldn't get medicine!"

He stopped. Then he continued quietly. "There was a time that I thought you were leaving me. Like my Africa momma."

There! We hit a key point -praise God! We talked about that fear and we asked Jesus to come take away that fear and bring peace to George's heart. It wasn't a long prayer, in fact, it was pretty short, but after that prayer, George was different. He hugged me tight, said he was so sorry for how mean he has been and then ran out into the living room to hug his brothers and sisters.

We made a small step forward! And we will continue to push forward - even if we occasionally find ourselves moving backwards every now and then. It is time for counseling - for all of us. It is time for healing - for all of us. God keeps bringing me back to Hosea and this is where I chose to sit:

"I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel (George); he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon." Hosea 14: 4 - 7

Friday, February 25, 2011

Transform Your Mind

Transform Your Mind.
You can find it by clicking on the word "here" :)

I love these tees -

Plan B

We are taking on Plan B.

George's behavior in school HAS to change. And his poor teacher is spending so much time re-focusing and encouraging and correcting George that she simply can't get to the other students as much as they deserve. I am usually on the other end of this with the advanced child longing to move forward and faster. Now, I have the child who is disruptive.

We vow to change this. We are going to DO something.

I am going to be coming into George's classroom 4 times a week to specifically work with George on reading and writing. We will have one-on-one time and I will also be accompanying him to Title I reading.

Joe and I prayed before I went into the classroom today. We anticipated the worst - George screaming and crying and running away from me. Being prepared for that, I was pleasantly surprised when he smiled and waved at me when I walked in. He wasn't thrilled that I was there. In fact, a huge lesson George has had to learn is that George's teacher and I talk regularly. I find out how he behaves at school, and I tell his teacher what is going on at home. This was a surprise to George and he isn't thrilled that we talk. But..this is what we have to do right now.

So, I sat down with George during reading time. The teacher calls up groups of children according to their ability to work in small groups with them. While she works, the other children are supposed to be reading or looking at books independently. Apparently, George often refuses to do this. That is why I am now there. I will keep George reading and focused.

Today, he flat out refused to get another book. I simply told him that was not an option. Slowly, he walked over the book shelf and grabbed another book. Like I said, he wasn't thrilled I was there, but he didn't cry or scream or run away - so I looked at this as a victory!

Plan B also includes counseling. Counseling for George and for Joe and I. Joe and I are starting to meet with a pastor, I will be starting to attend a post-adoption support group and we are getting George into a Christian counselor (an hour away - but worth the drive, I have been told). We ALL need someone to speak truth and love into our lives.

I have seen glimmers of promise the last few days as George has handled correction in a positive way. But then, I still get the angry words each and every day. I don't know why he is so angry at me these days - but here is a taste of what is going on this week.

George tries to eat a brownie for breakfast. I tell him no. Then I say, "Brownies are not breakfast material."


Today as I pulled the car to a stop at the elementary school, I say, "Alright gang, have a great day."


Praying Plan B works.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"When I'm a Daddy...."

This morning, as we were driving home from taking the kids to school, Lincoln announces, "When I'm a daddy, I want to be a garbage man because they get to stand up on the truck as it is moving! That looks so cool!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Public School Blessings

My children attend a public America. And...George prays with his teacher!


Of all the school districts, of all the schools, and of all the teachers God blessed George and our family with a believing teacher. And this is not a teacher who simply checks the box next to Christian. This is a teacher who talks with George about sin and needing to ask for forgiveness and prays with George. And then, she celebrates that those sins are forgiven and tells George how much she loves him and prays for him.


This points, yet again, to how much God loves George. God is not leaving George to navigate this mixed-up world by himself. God brought George to OUR family for a reason. And God put George with THIS teacher for a reason. God is really moving in George's life.

Yesterday, George needed to have some behavior corrected at school. Instead of simply writing sentences or having to "stand on the wall" at recess, George's public school teacher (!!!) asks him to stay with her during lunch recess to talk. They talk about the behavior in light of God's word. They prayed together. George's teacher tells George how much God loves him and how much his mom and dad and brothers and sisters love him. And then George asked this question...which I thinks speaks volumes for what is going on in his head.

"Mrs. P., what would happen to a little boy if his dad and his mom and his brothers and his sisters all died and that little boy was alone and sad?"

Of course, she gave him the perfect answer, but that's not the point. The point is that this tape is running through the back of his mind over and over and over again. Oh, my poor son who is so hurting and afraid on the inside that he just can't love and trust me yet. Of course he is terrified of the "what ifs"! For several February's in his life he has buried a father, he has been taken to an orphanage and left, and he was then moved from that orphanage and driven 7 hours away to Addis Ababa to a new orphanage. 3 consecutive February's in a row his life was turned completely upside down! My birth children have never had ANY of these things happen to them, let alone 3 in 3 consecutive years.

This, again, is the reality of my adoption. It's not for everyone...and God chose George to be a Weldie...and God has not left us or forsaken us...He is simply asking me to not give up...because George is worth it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Do I Do?

Yesterday - another blow up. These are getting old. After things settled down, I was listening as Joe was talking with George in his bedroom.

"I need you to respect your mom," Joe said sternly.

"I don't want to!" George yelled.

That is exactly it. George doesn't want to.

And I am inches away from giving up...throwing in the towel...admitting defeat. Inches.

How can I keep going on this way? How can my heart take anymore abuse? How can George so adamantly refuse to "let go" and begin to bond with me?

I feel myself withdrawing. Feeling numb.

And then, last night, as Isabel and I played a game, George comes to me and asks, "Can I sit on your lap?"

And then he starts playing with my hair, "I love your hair, Momma."

Inside, I want cringe and I want to scream! Inside, I am so angry and disgusted. Inside, I scream at God wondering why He is allowing me to feel such pain.

And on the outside, I smile, I hug George and I tell him "Thank you. I love your hair, too!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Trip To The Dells

We'll Get There

This is just a quick thank you to all who are praying for us. Each day this week, we have witnessed a huge blow-up from George. Each time, he shouts out "I hate you! You are the worst mom!" And I have to literally count to 10 and then kneel down to George's level and tell him that no matter what he says to me, I am still going to love him.

He is going way overboard over things that usually wouldn't set him off. For example, he and Harry were fighting and I asked each of them to go to their rooms so they could settle down and then I would talk to them. George went crazy! He tore the sheets off his bed, threw Legos across the room, screamed....and said, "I hate you, Mom!" I went into his room and calmly (thank you Lord!!!) asked him why he was so angry.

"YOU make me so angry!"

"Well, what exactly did I do to make you so angry?"

"You send me to my room."

"And...what is so awful about that?"

" don't know!" (Said with a really angry voice).

"All I asked you to do was to go to your room so you could settle down a bit. I also sent Harry to his room. Did you hear me tell Harry to go his room, too?"


"Did I say you were in trouble? Did I say there was going to be a punishment?"

"NO!" (Again, still using a very angry voice.)

"Then what is so mean about asking you to get some space away from Harry, settle down for a bit in your room and then have a small talk with mom?"

"I don't know!" (Ugh..the whiny voice!)

"Was it mean of Mom to ask you to go to your room to settle down?"

"I don't know!"

"Yes you do...was it mean?"

"No." He mumbled this.

"Was it mean to say to me that you hate me?"


"You know, George, no matter how many times you tell me you hate me, I am still going to love you. I am never going to leave you. Now, it hurts my heart greatly when you continue to tell me how much you hate me, but I am always going to love you." I leave the room after telling him he can come out and play again.

About 10 minutes later, George runs into the kitchen and gives me a huge bear hug and says, "I am never going to say I hate you again."

I wish I could say that I believe him. I believe in that moment he thinks he will never say that again, but the reality is that we have a long, long way to go. We'll get there...only on our knees and in prayer. But, we'll get there.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Boiling Point

"Aaaggghhh! I hate you all! I wish you never chose me! You chose me and made my momma die! I want to go back. I miss them so much!"


"You take Harry to movie and you don't take me! You buy everyone shoes, I hate shoes, I won't have any new shoes until I am 18 and I don't care. They are idiot shoes! I hate it here! I want to go back to Africa. No one tell me I can't do this or I have to do that. You kill my mom. And I don't even remember my dad. He was my dad! Not you! And are a bad momma! I hate you! Everyone hate me, no one care about me."

We all sat in stunned silence.

Isabel started crying.

"I don't care about you, Isabel! You better run because I am going to hit you!"

Isabel screams for me. George has picked up the seat belt buckle and has raised his hand to hit Isabel with it.

Joe pulls over the car. We get Isabel out of the back seat and she crawls onto my lap in the front seat.

George screams. It is like an animal. Unrecognizable.

Joe quietly says, "George. We love you..."

"No you don't! No one does!"

Joe repeats. "George, we love you. We all love you. We all hurt for you."

George continues a seriously wounded animal.

That's it. I have to do something. I get out of the front seat and climb into the back and simply wrap my arms around my son.

"Oh, momma! I miss her so much." George starts to sob.

And then he tells me this story..."My Africa mommy love me so much. She gave me a shirt and pants. They were ripped. But they were good shirt and pants. She tried to give me clothes when I was cold. But I was still cold. She made me a good breakfast every morning." Then he stops and chokes up. "But, I never said thank you to her."

The tears are streaming down George's face and all I can do is hold him and tell him that mommas know that kind of stuff. I tell him that most kids don't tell their mommas "thank you", but we know they mean it.

"I miss her. And I miss my Africa father. But I don't remember what he looks like anymore."

The pain was almost unbearable for all of us as we sat in the Suburban....stunned at what we were going through. We had just gone through an hour of extreme rage directed at us - so many hurtful words came pouring out of George's mouth that we just didn't even know what to say. He attacked everyone in the car verbally, intentionally trying to wound us all. And then, we all heard his heart breaking as he got to the core of it all.

If we try to walk in his shoes for a minute, he experienced great poverty and death. And then, one day, his mom who he loved so much just left him. And he is so, so sad about that. More sad than I could ever imagine.

George calmed down, relaxed in my arms and then said, "I want to give my mom a present. I want her to know that I know she was a good momma. Can I give her a ring? Where can I get a ring?"

We had just spent a wonderful weekend in Wisconsin Dells! We played and laughed and stayed up late. And George had moved so close to me! He held my hand on long walks. He sat on my lap for long stretches of time. There was no fighting...there really was LOVE! I thought to myself - we have really turned a corner. And then, as we were deciding on a place to eat on the way home on Sunday afternoon, George snapped.

"I don't want to eat with you."

We were pretty surprised. Where was this coming from?

We get in Denny's and George scowls at me. I ask him to come with me to the bathroom so we can talk. On the way to the bathroom, he throws himself on the floor and screams at the top of his lungs. I pick him up and get him into the bathroom where he continues screaming as if I was whipping him. I couldn't believe it.

So, I said, "We need to go to the car. You and I can eat in the car," and as soon as we get through the door, he bolts across the parking lot. Joe chases him down and eventually gets him to settle down. George joins us at the table and picks up a knife (thankfully a butter one!) and starts to try to cut himself. I lose it, crying. What is going on? We just had such a nice weekend!

We all decide to just get through lunch.

Joe takes George to the car while the rest of us use the restroom and finish up. Apparently, during that car time, George let loose with a vicious diatribe. When I got to the car. Joe is visibly shaken. And we pray.

Lord, help us! We have no idea what is going on! You have to help us....

And that is when the screaming began and the terror shook us all.

We still don't know why today George mourned, and I mean truly mourned his losses. But something triggered this emotional release. I have never heard him cry like this. And I have never felt so much heart ache FOR HIM. Thank God, I didn't make this about me. Thank God, for the past few weeks of searching for help and for answers which led me to think that maybe all this rage is really covering up great hurt. Thank God my heart broke for George. Thank God for Joe who knew to stop the car and simply tell his son how much he loved matter what was said.

As I write this, about three hours after this amazing episode, George and Lincoln are crawling around the house pushing police cars and fire trucks, playing happily. As soon as we exited the car, George ran to Isabel to hugged her and said he was sorry. And he has come to Joe and I several times with huge hugs and heartfelt apologies.

Joe and I have begun talking about how important it is for George to really mourn his parents. We are talking about a church service - or a time where we gather all the people who are important to George and celebrate his birth parents, and also mourn their passing away. I don't know...there isn't much "out there" from other parents in our situation. But we know that George needs a way to say goodbye...and to say thank you to his momma.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Where Is The Love?

Let me tell you how my life has been playing out over the past few weeks.

George hates me. Well, I am sure he doesn't, but that is all he shows me these days. Disdain and hatred. And when he is done being hateful toward me, he wants me to snuggle up with him on the couch, or hug and kiss him goodnight. And I don't want to.

This is the ugly side of adopting an older child. The ugliness of a child who has no idea how to love, and a mom who resents that child for not knowing how to love. It is a vicious cycle.

George acts like he is owed everything. Moms are here to serve and not to guide. Moms don't tell boys how to act or what they can or cannot do. Moms make food and clean clothes. And George thinks he should be given whatever he wants. And he believes he deserves everything he wants.

We are going on two years of this merry-go-round. You know what a merry-go-round is like. You think, "Oh, this is going to be fun! I am going to chose the best horse." And then you get on and it's is fun...the first time around. And then it keeps going and the annoying music keeps droning on and you see the same faces at each interval every time you make that exact same circle. Over and over again until you are nauseous and can't WAIT to get OFF!

That's me right now. I just want off the merry-go-round. I want to get on another ride...WITH George! I don't want him out of my life...but I long for this behavior to be out of my life. And believe goes both ways. I am faced...everyday...with someone who is hard to love. And I mean really, really hard to love.

So, this morning, George is cracking his knuckles and he is picking at a bad nail. I have asked him nicely over and over and over and over again not to do either of these things. "George, sweetie, your nail will never heal if you keep picking at it."

"How do YOU know?" He asks with hatred in his voice.

"Buddy, it's not good for your hands to always be cracking your knuckles."

"You don't know anything!" He states with disdain in his eyes.

"You know, I have been asking you to stop doing these things now for how long?"

"A LONG TIME!" He screams at me.

So, I try to tell him that a Momma's job is to guide her son. I try to tell him that if I didn't care, I wouldn't be going over these things with him. I tell him that a mom who loves her son will always be leading and directing him. I ask, "Are you listening to me?"

"I can't listen to you." And then the blank stare comes over his face and he sets his eyes on some imaginary scene in the distance. And I lose him, again.

Earlier this week, I took all five kids to the store to buy then all new tennis shoes. Being on a budget, and having a big family, I give the kids several choices of shoes. We simply can not purchase the most expensive shoes in the store. And four out of the five totally get that, and they don't complain and they don't even ask for more. Not George. I give him his selections and he pouts. He won't even chose. He keeps going over to the Spiderman shoes - you know those over the top, gaudy-as-can-be shoes that are bright red and black and have flashing lights everywhere and stripped laces and probably even make a noise as you walk. I have never gone for those shoes...and of course, that is what George is drawn to.

"You never let me get what I want. You always make me chose from stupid shoes. I don't even want new shoes. I will wait til I am 18 and have my own money."

Fine. I take his shoes back and leave the store with only 4 new pairs of shoes.

We get in the car and George starts screaming, "You are a bad mom! You are so mean to me. I am going to call police and hope they take you away. Bad mom!"

And then this morning, I read "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

And this is where we stopped this morning. And these words have been like a banging gong in my mind....what is the point of only loving those who are easy to love? Christ is commanding me here - not suggesting, not saying "Traci, if you feel like it, why don't you TRY to be perfect."

No, Christ is commanding BE PERFECT. This is not perfection in my every day activities...but perfect in love. Loving the way Christ has taught us to love. This love is always forgiving, always turning the other cheek, always choosing to love my enemy. And I hate to say it, but some days George is truly my enemy. He hurts my heart so much and I wonder will we ever get to a place where he trusts me and loves me? I have to be OK with the answer that it may never get to that place. Wow. Can I really say that I will love him even if he never loves me in return?

I want to be able to say that. And I know that Christ is asking me to do just that. But it is so hard! I let God come into my life and turn everything upside down. And God is still doing just that. Some days I scream up to the heavens and say, "ENOUGH!" But then, I calm down and realize that God is doing major heart-work in my life. He has taken a selfish, prideful woman and is making her into a woman who simply loves.

Some days I wonder where is the love?

It is only in Christ. If I walk even a half-step away from Him..the source and author of love...I will fail. I have to stay so intimate with Christ that love is just oozing out of my pores. There is the love. The love that never fails.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I missed many days on my Love Strand. It has been a really, really hard week. But, I just had to share this amazing story. Please read and be ready to be inspired!

Monday, February 7, 2011


I love Ethiopian food. I am so glad that our family has embraced food from around the world - loving the spices! This is doro wat, red lentils and a traditional potato/carrot side. I made this for Ethiopian Christmas and we all enjoyed if I could only make injera!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


My computer sits on a desk that sits under a window that looks out the back of our house. Many times as I write, I pause to look at the beautiful scene God has blessed me with. Lots of trees. A winding river. And, the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen in my life Eleanor has nicknamed our back yard "Sunset Hollow" - because this is what we consistently view each evening.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Friday, February 4, 2011


Gunnar! Our little puppy has grown up to a 110 pound lug :) He has become so loving - always wanting to be right there with us, which is not so easy when you are a 110 pound dog. He is the typical German Shepherd..always protecting us and so loyal. We are are happy that we decided to finally get the dog we have always dreamed of. We LOVE our Gunnar.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Someone emailed me this. I don't know what blog it came from - but oh, my. My heart stopped as I read this! This is George these days! So, so angry. But, what I learned is that he is really sad. Understanding my son...that is love.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not fond of those moments when my child stomps away in a huff, or crosses her arms as she looks at me. She is mad, and my initial response is to be irritated. As she setttles deeper into ”mad,” I can feel myself pull away from her. I get short with her and find I don’t want to look in her eyes.

I need to stop.

This is the crucial moment when I need to stop the “mad cycle” and see it for what it really is.

She is sad.

Sadness has woven its way into her life in ways you and I can hardly imagine. Imagine her in an orphanage as a small child feeling sad; there is no mommy to say, “Honey, come sit with me. Let me hold you.” No, when she was sad, she learned that it felt much better to be mad. Mad felt good, sad felt overwhelming and unending.

She lived where there were few adults to carefully watch over her and guide her through her feelings, so she protected herself by being mad. How did she cope? She turned away from the adults and became bossy toward the other children. She felt some relief from the sorrow that had been building up in her heart. She was in control once again; nobody could hurt her.

She kept account of wrong doings, slights, and disappointments, which she carefully filed in her brain. She could hold a grudge like nobody’s business. Stories of days of refusing to speak to a certain teacher or nanny were told to us. Refusal to eat, work, or make eye contact were not uncommon for her.

Then she joined our family and we saw a child who was easily angered, tried to control the other children, and was stubborn beyond reason. And disrespect? We weren’t sure she even knew she was supposed to respect us because she sure didn’t act like it.

When I remember where she has come from, I can and see past her “mad” to the real “sad,” I can hold myself in a nurturing mode and keep building those bonds of attachment. I can speak the truth to her: “Honey, you look angry, but I can see that your heart is actually feeling sad.” This is often all it takes to break through the mad.

Saturday we had a moment just like this. I talked frankly with her about my love for her, the love of Jesus, and His power to heal her sadness. I encouraged her to let go of her “mad,” even if it meant feeling those deep sad feelings. She turned her eyes from me and I waited. It wasn’t long before she said, “Mommy, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for being so naughty. I know you love me. I’m just sad that my Mom died and you never had your Mom die so you don’t know how bad it feels.”

Her “mad” turned to “sad” – we’re making progress.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Love = my husband, Joe. I love this man more every year that goes by. I love this man for the silly, goofy guy he is just around me. I love this man for his passion that is undeniable. I love this man for how he makes me a better woman. Love = my man.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Challenge

I have been challenged to take a picture every day for the month of February that represents "love". So, here is my first picture. Joe's mom got the boys matching pjs, and Lincoln and George just LOVE being "twins". In fact, they get so excited when they are going to wear their "twin pjs". I love that these boys think they look like twins :)