Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Breaking Strongholds




I am starting Breaking Free by Beth Moore today. I don't think it is a coincidence I am doing this study for such a time as this. I started the study 2 years ago and stopped about 4 weeks in (schedule conflicts with meetings), and regrettably never finished it. But, in hindsight, I think God was waiting until NOW for me to do this study.

On the way to church, my brain was telling me over and over again how much of a failure as a mom I am. I just read a FB post of a dear friend whose adopted son called her his angel. I rejoiced for her, but inside my heart shattered into a million pieces. Why can't my adopted son feel that way about me? Why am I still struggling with the SAME issues 2 and half years in to this adoption journey?



George sucks the life out of me. If I am not disciplining him, I am doing homework with him. If I am not doing homework with him, he is causing problems in another room and I have to go settle things. If, by some miracle, he is in a good mood, he is clinging to my leg, rubbing my arm, holding my hand and talking incessantly to me. Either way, it's all about George. All the time. He takes and takes and takes...and my other children are starting to really resent us both. Spending two hours on homework with George means the little ones don't get read to and the older ones have to figure out their work on their own. Constantly talking to George - because he demands to be constantly talked to - means I don't have time or energy to talk to the others.

Just last night, we were on the driveway drawing with colored chalk. All the kids are drawing and all the kids want to show me their creations. But George DEMANDS it by calling my name 17 times....loudly....even if I am in a conversation with someone else. I am trying to talk to my neighbor and he is screaming "Momma!" literally 17 times until I look over at his drawing.

And what does George give in return?

Nothing.


All of the other 5 kids take. But they also GIVE. They give genuine smiles and they truly care how my day was. They sit with me and listen and laugh and share. They hug me goodnight and tell me how much they love me.


Now, I know parenting is NOT about what our children give us..but come on .. can I be honest and say that any relationship is about give and take? When one person is just taking....the relationship suffers.


So.. the devil has been telling me for a while now that I suck as a mom. I haven't been able to reach George - so I must be a loser. I am not giving my other children what they deserve - so I am totally incapable. Other moms can do it all. Other moms can adopt and their lives are rainbows and cupcakes.


My life is chaos...loud fighting before school, losing kids in the new neighborhood, a giant dog tearing after the innocent family walking by....pure chaos.


So, I drive to Bible study fighting back the tears but convinced that I have been just horrible as a mom!


I get there...NO ONE even smiles or says hello. I try to register (a computer kiosk) and that doesn't work...but there is NO ONE to offer help. Defeated, I sat outside the large group room. I debated leaving. At one point, I even walked down the stairwell to reach the parking lot. But something pulled me back.


If you have ever done a Beth Moore study, you know there is a video component of her teaching. I sucked it up, slinked into the room and took a set in the back row.


And then God spoke to me.


Through Beth Moore.


"A stronghold is when you are mentally preoccupied by something."


Failure as mom. Should have never adopted. Settling for unhappiness for the next 15 years.


These are the preoccupations of my mind lately. Probably for the past 2 years!


I didn't think there was a stronghold in my life. Typically, my "strongholds" have been pride, selfishness, etc. So, when I thought about doing this study, I checked my little box that said, "My name is Traci and I struggle with pride." But, maybe God has really worked on that in my life - for I am surely not the same woman I was years ago who thought she knew it all. No, my stronghold was my belief that I am FAILING.


I AM in bondage. Bondage is anything that hinders me from the ABUNDANT and EFFECTIVE spirit filled life from God.


John 15:8 says, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

MUCH FRUIT.


God does not want me to live in bondage to my belief in my failing. His glory is that I bear much fruit...that I love my children so abundantly that THEY reflect that love. I want the world to see that I am HIS DISCIPLE. And through being His disciple, there is much fruit.


This is not going to be an easy time for me. I feel that I have finally come to the breaking point with my relationship with George. I need to trust that God has this all figured out...and there are certain characteristics, though patterns, parenting styles that need to be broken in order for God to work.

I hate feeling like a failure...and I know God does not condemn with labels like that. But, I know I need to start breaking some strongholds.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Can't Seem to Be The Grown-Up

I admit it....I am selfish and can be a total brat sometimes. I think of myself all the time. I hide chocolate from the kids...well, maybe that isn't so bad?

Seriously, I am still - yes, still struggling with my feelings and love toward George. I can say that I truly love him now...but most days it sure doesn't FEEL like love. It feels like TOLERANCE.

I tolerate his whining and his ever present bad attitude. I tolerate his wetting the bed every single night. I tolerate his defiance about every small issue. I tolerate his selfishness when it comes to food and things.

And some days...in all honesty...I don't even tolerate. I get angry and frustrated.

Is two and a half years long enough?

Obviously, it isn't with George.

We had a heart to heart talk last night. It started in anger because he lied...AGAIN. He lies all the time. He also has decided that his role in our family is to boss everyone else around...with lies. He went outside and told Lincoln and Anna that it was time to come in and go to bed. It was 6:30 and they had just gone outside from dinner. They were clearly upset...with me...and came in crying.

They told me what George said. George stood inches from my face screaming, "I did not say that!" I asked Harry to verify and he said that yes, George went outside and told the little ones they had to come in and go to bed.

I told George I would not put with up lying and that he is getting into a bad habit of lying to me.

He stormed up the stairs, screaming, "I'm a liar and you hate liars so you should just get rid of me."

After he settled down, I went into his room to talk to him. And then...it came out....he hurts everyone around him because he doesn't want to be hurt. He told me that if he is the "bad guy", then he won't get hurt.

I asked him how that is working for him?

Not so well. We are ALL angry at him. We are ALL frustrated with him.

There are days and moments where George is a sweet boy who laughs with us and is kind. But the mean, selfish boy is what dominates his character most days. And instead of being the grown-up, who understands the incredibly hard life from which he came, I pout and cry and have pity parties. I cry out to God shouting, "I am SO SICK OF THIS!" I still wonder WHY God chose George for me....

I don't know how to break the bad character that so desperately clings to George's soul. I don't know how to convince him that being the "bad guy" is not going to do any good in our family. But, George is dead set on hurting others before we hurt him.

How do we change this?

Only through the LOVE of GOD. Before we adopted George, I did not know the love of God. I did not know about the LOVE that transforms and encompasses and heals. I know God is asking me to be that LOVE to George...and I FAIL time and time again! Oh, Lord, forgive my weaknesses and my inablity to LOVE the way You do! Teach me to LOVE George all over again. Teach me to FORGIVE and to EMBRACE George with a healing LOVE.

It's the ONLY WAY.






Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Kids are My Idol? What???

God got my attention yesterday. After whining and complaining for days...He finally stepped in and made a point.

I have been making my kids an idol.

Typically, I would scoff at that - I don't idolize my children.

What God taught me was that I am CONSUMED with them.

I think about them all the time - how are the doing in school? Are they making friends? Are they getting enough to eat at lunch? Are they behaving? Are they being good for their teachers? How did they do on their quiz? On and on and on.....

I wouldn't say I worry about that. I wouldn't say that can't function during the day without them.

I would say they CONSUME most of my quiet thoughts.

And that is WRONG.

God wants me to meditate on HIM...be CONSUMED with HIM.

God reminded me that those 6 children are HIS. I should know this better than most - for I have two that I call my own even though I did not give birth to them and did not raise them for the first 5 years of their lives. Yet, I call them mine. Really, all of "my" kids are God's precious children. He has entrusted their care here on earth to me and that's it....He does the rest.

He watches over them day and night. He sees what they are doing. He provides. He teaches. He guides.

Today...my thoughts are going to be CONSUMED with my FATHER.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Living in a Foreign Land

Where ARE we?

Joe and I have looked at each other recently and asked that question. We look around and are baffled by what we see, hear, and smell. Everything seems so different from what we have known.

This move has been monumental. Huge.

We have moved across the country...multiple times...but this time has been the biggest move so far. I believe it has to do with our large family and the ages of the children. Before, there were only a couple of kids and they were still at home. Change was slight...really...just location, but our lives remained pretty much the same. The middle of California was not so unlike the midwest, and Wisconsin was definitely close to how Joe and I both grew up.

But here? DIFFERENT!

Slow..... accents I can't understand..... terms I have never heard (doubl' ought????).... slow..... loud, dark church...... schools that are SO different.....slow..... crazy driving where people come to a stand still when it rains.....did I mention slow?

I had decided to pick up my kids from school each day. Bad idea. Apparently, you have to line up to pick up your kids 2 hours in advance. Yes, you are reading that correctly. The first day of school, I thought, "Oh, I will leave about 10 minutes early to be sure I am there when they get out." HA! Little did I know that most moms in Greenville have NOTHING to do other than sit in their cars and wait for their kids to get out of school - I was about 100 cars back that first day - took my 35 minutes to get through the line and pick up my kiddos. Now, multiply that by 3 schools and you will see how I have been 3 hours of each afternoon here....sitting in a long line waiting to pull up to the designated pick-up area.

So, I said, "Enough of that craziness! The kids will ride the bus home."

The middle school put Harry on the wrong bus. He spent over 3 and a half hours riding a bus that wasn't his! We had to call the police to find him because the bus company didn't answer their phones.

I go to the high school open house, anxious to redeem a bad day. We go to English class - looking forward to hearing about Eleanor's loves (reading and writing). The teacher welcomed us in and then said, "I don't have anything to say, so do you have questions."

Uh....what?

So, I ask, "What are the books you will be reading?" She gives me a run down - 90% of which Eleanor read LAST year.

I ask, "What kind of writing projects will you be working on?" She answers, "Not much."

We sit in silence for a few minutes and then Joe says, "Well, I guess that's it, " and stormed out the room.

Go on to Science where we are told first thing about how they don't have enough money, they off to math where the teacher says she hasn't had time to work out her policies so she doesn't really know what to tell us.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Oh, and then Sunday. I attended a rock concert - complete with smoke systems, strobe lights and sound levels that caused ringing in my ears. And, this coming from the girl who LOVES concerts - I mean loves, loves, loves loud music, strobe lights and smoke. But on Sunday morning? I had no idea when to sing or even if we were supposed to sing because I couldn't even hear myself think. I looked over at Eleanor and tears were streaming down her face. She looked at me and asked, "Where ARE we?"

I feel a bit like the writers of the Psalms who were held captive in a foreign land asking, "How can we sing?" I KNOW where I am supposed to put my trust and my hope...thank God I know that because this has almost been enough to crush my spirit. I look around and wonder, "God...what do you want me to do here? I feel like I am in a foreign land and I can't even begin to minister to people when I need the ministering now."

And as I write this...God brings to mind the last sermon I heard at Elmbrook. Sweet Elmbrook. Sweet Jill Briscoe. She taught us about the widow and the little pot of oil. I have heard it before, I have even read her book, but it obviously is a lesson God wanted me to revisit. I am like the widow - I have NOTHING to give, NOTHING to offer because I feel so empty. Yet...I am not empty and out of faithfulness, I need to start pouring out my oil.

I don't even know where to start. Oh, yes...I do know... my neighbors! When we arrived, our next door neighbors told us this block was "stuck up" and nobody cares about anyone else. We are going to change that. Already, we have asked neighbors to come outside. And last night, there was a rousing game of kick-ball that took place with some of the neighborhood children.

I'll just start here and see what God does next.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tough Day

Yesterday was hard on the kids....

All were tired...many were grumpy...most were hot....some cried...a lot.

Isabel is in a class with 18 boys and 4 girls...and the other girls already know each other and didn't include Isabel at all.

Eleanor - well, just imagine going to a brand new high school, recently moved (like 2 days ago) from out of state and being 14. She is not happy. I haven't seen a smile for a while.

I begged God in the car this morning...I cried out to Him and said, "You are faithful! You WILL answer our prayers! Please don't allow my girls to hurt so much anymore!"

Why can't ONE nice girl reach out to them?

Sigh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

AWOL

I know! I have been a horrible blogger lately! Honestly, I am up to my eyeballs with un-packing right now. We made it safely to Greenville and have jumped right into our new lives. All six kids started school today - this momma is a bit nervous, but keep taking it to the Lord.

I promise to catch up soon.

Until then, please visit Feet 2 Our Faith - the blog is on the side - right over there...these dear friends of mine are in Uganda and you will be inspired by the stories!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do You Know?



I apologize for not keeping up with the blog writing lately....I have been so busy. We leave next week and I have an entire house to pack on top of caring for 6 children and a huge dog.

But, even in the midst of thinking so much about my self, my children, my things, my new house, my drive to South Carolina....God has successfully interrupted my thoughts of my self to remind me of the horrible drought taking place in areas of eastern Africa.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are being affected. Predictions are deaths in the millions.

While we argue over spending trillions of dollars and debt ceilings, children are dying in Africa because they can't get enough food to eat.

While we purchase back to school supplies and new outfits for picture day, mothers are holding their starving children and praying that God would rescue them.

While we sit in air conditioned homes watching hours of television, families are seeking a small bit of shade while swatting the flies that are hovering.

Do you even know this is going on? Do you care?

I am asking myself this.

We were telling George about the famine, knowing that if he were still in Ethiopia, he would be affected. He lived in the far southern region of Ethiopia and surely, he would had suffered. He did not have a father to protect him or fight for his survival. He had a mom who was sick and dying of AIDS. How could she possibly find food and water for him?

The people that are dying are women and children.

George was starving even without drought conditions. I can't imagine the suffering he would be enduring if he was still there.

If you can do something...or if God is pulling at your heart to do something...go to World Vision and see how you can help.


The famine in Africa is REAL to me. I have seen the conditions...I can't imagine them being worse...but they are.



Pray. Give. Care. Tell your children.