Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tell Us About Yourself.....

It is the usual Back to School assignment that MOST kids LOVE!  They get asked to bring in baby pictures, tokens from special family vacations, favorite memory of growing up.  The kids very proudly stand in front of their classmates, show off their cute, chubby baby-picture self, hold up their Micky Mouse ears they got from Disneyworld when they were 4 years old, and then say, "I look just like my daddy."

George had this assignment today.  He moped around the house most of the afternoon yesterday looking for special things to put into a brown paper bag that "told the story of his life so far".   He grabbed a few things and I asked him, "What does this say about the story of your life?"  He never had an answer, so I suggested a few items that might tell his story;  I found a little ambulance match-box car and said, "You could tell everyone that you want to be a paramedic." I found a flag and said, "You could talk about how you loved watching the Olympics this year." 

Pretty much every idea I came up with, he discounted.

He put a few things into his bag, one of which was a small woven basket from Ethiopia.  I was very proud of him that he had chosen to bravely talk about how he was from Ethiopia.

I couldn't wait to hear how it went, but inside I KNEW it would be a disaster. 

He gets into the car, "I hate you.  I am the step brother and I  know in my brain you love Isabel more than me."

"Um....what?"

I told him that we would talk when we got home.

He said some more hurtful things and he needed to cool down a bit in his room before we talked. 

I thought, prayed...prayed some more and then walked into his room and asked, "Did you have a bad day because you had to share your story?"

Immediately, the tears started falling.  "I saw all these pictures of kids with their mommas and daddys and I don't have mine anymore and I just miss them so much."  He sobbed.  He was truly heart broken..again.

Again..he was reminded that he is different.

Again..he was reminded that he has experienced loss.

Again..he was reminded that his life story is not like all the other kids in his small town, SC school. 

Maybe some day he will thrive in this..but as a 9 year old...being different is NOT what George wants.  And so, he lashed out at me and the other kids today.  He wanted to hurt us again.

For the first time in our relationship, we were able to really talk about this.  He was so scared.  He was so ashamed.  He is convinced that the kids in school will make fun of him if they knew his story.  He won't even try..he doesn't trust me enough when I tell him that the kids won't laugh.  And so, he lied and said his dad worked for WalMart and made the basket. 

And the kids said, "Cool.  I want to get one."

They think they can meet George's dad at WalMart this Saturday.

Sigh.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting Ready for School

Excitement is in the air...the kids backpacks are filled with supplies...new tennis shoes are ready by the back door...and today, all during the day, the kids find out their schedules, teachers and classes. 

We have a few changes this year. 

Eleanor, however, has few changes. And for that, she is so grateful!  Eleanor has had so many changes thrown at her over the years, including the move down to SC this time last year.  She started at one school and within a week, it became crystal clear that this school and Eleanor were not a good match.  Three weeks into the school year last year, we moved her to an International Baccalaureate school and she is thriving.  It was a good year, and I watched this year as my confident, self-controlled fifteen year old daughter walked into sophomore orientation, waving at her friends and even being knocked over with a hug.  So, she will be at the same school, with the same friends and on the same schedule.  And she likes that!

Harry, as well, after being moved to a new school six weeks into the school year, is happy to be returning to the same school. 

The four littles are going to a new school.  One of the things I like about Greenville education is the ability to move your children to schools that fit their learning style or abilities.  George will also be enrolling at a learning center that will give him extra help several hours a week.  Joe and I are confident that he now has a great grasp of the English language..and now is the time to give him every opportunity to succeed in school.  Right now, he can read any word..but his comprehension is at the 1st grade level.  We MUST help him improve in his ability to understand..and so we are making the commitment to George.

They start Wednesday and are counting down the hours...I love how they all love school.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh...Ministry Life

I prayed fervently to God to use me...send me.  I especially wanted to GO...anywhere...everywhere.  Except, probably, South Carolina. 

Tomorrow, marks the one year anniversary of us meeting a jam packed moving van full of all our belongs at a house we would call our home.  And tomorrow, one year ago, was when I followed God...and my husband's job...to South Carolina.

For the past ten years, my prayer has been the same...SEND ME....USE ME.   I can remember, as a teenager, pouring over the Christian teenage magazine I received (can't remember the name of it!) and staring for hours at the advertisements for short term mission trips.  I would pray and beg God...why did you create this heart in me that LONGS to go?  Won't you please send me?

I know that heart-beat does not exist in everyone...in fact most people I talk to have no desire to go.  I don't understand that at all. 

I can also clearly remember the first time the Holy Spirit moved in my heart and said, "He WILL send you...do well where He sends you."  I started thinking....Africa?  Europe?  Surely He won't send me to....South Carolina of all places.

Guess where He has sent me...yup...South Carolina.  And He has taken my thoughts and expectations and blown them out of the water.  Not because of success or numbers or budgets...but because He has caused my heart to break over what breaks His heart.

His heart breaks over....single mothers struggling over the burden of choosing to feed her kids or pay the electric bill.  His heart breaks over....children who are neglected and left to fend for themselves.  His heart breaks over...the woman who continues to go back to the abusive boyfriend because she feels trapped and has no self worth.  His heart breaks over... a pregnant teen who's family has told her they are so ashamed of her they never want her to come home.  His heart breaks over...moms who make horrible decisions about their children and put them into harms way. 

Now..I talk to these women on a daily basis. And I am overwhelmed with the sadness.  I find myself often crying on Georgia Road. I don't know why...maybe because I am close to being home at that point and know that in my home, I will find respite and sanity and order and love...and after the days I have, I need that.

I cry because I know I let people down.  I know I fail some of them and can't do everything they want me to do.  And there are many days that I ask the Lord, 'Did you know what you were doing when you sent ME?'  Because I am so inadequate...so inexperienced...so in over my head most days.

Then, I get a letter from a mom in prison...and I am humbled to the core about what this ministry is doing for her.  Then, I get to take a truck load full of diapers to a mom struggling to care for her son with Down Syndrome. Then, I get to deliver groceries to that mom who was making the decision to feed her children or pay the electric bill. 

That mom wrote me a letter later that day...and she shared how words could not adequately express her gratitude toward the people who generously gave.  For that day...she had hope.

While this ministry life is draining and exhausting..I know that IS God's plan for me...to keep me humbly in a place that says, "I can't do this..it is impossible or me to do this," so that everyone, including myself, is constantly being pointed back to the Lord. 






Friday, August 10, 2012

Heart Wrenching Day

I knew the ups wouldn't last for too long..that is just the nature of this adoption.  And..the down time came the past few days.  They have been tough, as I sensed George trying to do many things to make us mad or push us away.  At one point, Joe and I looked at each other and said, "We are so over this roller coaster.  Can we just get off now?"

George had decided he wanted to live with our neighbors.  Why?  Because they get to play video games all day long...basically.  So, what nine year boy would NOT want to play video games all day long?  Not many, I realize this.  But what happens is more than George thinking this is a cool house because the parents let their kids play video games all day long..in HIS mind he thinks, "The parents love these kids more because they let their kids do whatever they want all day long.  No one to tell them to pick up their room.  No one to tell them it's time for bed. No one telling me how to act."

So George came home and announced, "I am not a Weldie anymore."  He picked a fight with Lincoln and literally let the other boys TRY to beat him up.  Thankfully, Lincoln is one tough cookie and held his own against the older boys.  George sat back and  watched and then sided with the neighbors.  Joe tried to talk to George about always siding with your family first...and George said he doesn't want us to be his family anymore.

Oh, the heart ache.  I felt like I did in the very beginning when words like that cut so deeply.  Why?  I just couldn't get over wondering why he was doing this...again...after we were having such wonderful days!

Joe had a long talk with him...so long that I had to open the door and say, "Too much attention."  Part of the RAD mind thrives on all things chaos and all the attention - even if it is "bad" attention.  Here was George getting just what he wanted.

But..it is also what he needed.  And quickly the cycle ran its course.

All the anger was then directed at me.  "It's all YOUR fault!"

"OK buddy..I am sorry you feel that way, but you are staying here in your room until you calm down and then you can find me on the back porch where we can talk."

15 minutes later George walks down to find me. 

"I am sorry, Momma."

I always ask for what?  I need George..and all my children for that matter...to be specific in their apologies.  They need to know what they are apologizing for, not just a blank sorry that covers anything and everything.

But, George couldn't answer that.  And so, I asked him to sit down right across from me so we could talk.

And then, I poured my heart out to George.  I shared with him how much I loved him and how I had given him everything I had...I had given him all the love I could possibly have for a child.  I have given him every ounce of forgiveness and grace a momma could have.  I have poured into him positive words of our future together.  I have not given up on him.  And then I asked him, "What am I not giving you?  Because if there is something you need, I need to know that. But...I need you to know that I have and am giving you everything  I can already."

His defense kicked in and he shouted at me, "Then just give up on me!"

I replied quickly and calmly, "I have never said I was giving up.  You are the one who always talks about giving up.  But, it is not me who says I am giving up.  Right?"

He nodded. 

I asked him, 'What is your last name?"

"Lema."

Another knife into the heart.

I do what I often do with George..and I take him back to the day his mommy took him to the orphanage in Soddo.  And I ask him, "Who saw you?  Who was with you?"

He shrugs his shoulders.  I think he knows, but he still wants me to continue.

"Jesus was there with you.  He saw you when you were scared and He held your heart.  He saw when you were hungry and when you went to bed alone and He was there. And at that moment, He spoke to Joe and Traci Weldie and told them, "I want you to go rescue one of my children who is scared and hungry and alone."  And Joe and Traci obeyed God.  They saw a picture of George and immediately fell in love.  And Jesus stayed right there next to George the entire time..until his new momma  and daddy could get to Ethiopia."

George responds to this familiar story with, "I wish I was back in the orphanage."

We talk about what that would really be like. 

He is quiet and then walks away. 

 I have no idea what he is thinking about or what will happen next, but to my surprise, he comes racing back onto the porch and falls into my lap sobbing.
"I miss my mommy so much. It hurts.  My heart hurt.  I wasn't ready to go.  I wish my mommy could come live here with us!"

And I remind George as I hold him and rock him gently that I love his mommy, too.  And that it is OK to love both mommies!  He seems to be so surprised by this notion and asks me "What?" many times.  I tell him over and over again that he can totally love both mommies.  And I tell him what I have often said, "Someday, your mommy and I will give each other the biggest hug two mommies ever shared."

George talked more about living with him mom and Grandmother. He often tells me his mom's tongue was purple and how that scared him.  He says his mom and his grandmother were so sick and he was so hungry.  He said, "You know when a tummy doesn't eat much for a long time, sometimes food can hurt the tummy and I would throw up."  I told him I knew that and that is why we understood when he threw up so many times when we were first a family. 

We stayed that way for a long time...for us....probably 20 minutes or so.  And he melted into my body the way all my other kids do..but he has never done!  He usually has been so rigid, not letting himself relax and melt into me.  It happened today.

It happened today.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Dream of Running Finally Gets Some Legs

In October 2009, I wrote a blog post about running.  At that time, I was homeschooling my four children and used to take every lunch hour to run a few miles in my neighborhood.  It was a boring run...literally running a city block around my house time and time and time and time again.  But, as I ran, I would pray about my new son.  I had only seen his face then..and I knew his name...and I had such dreams of what he would be like. 

I just KNEW he would be so sweet - that he would love to cuddle up with me and hold my hand.  I knew he would climb into my lap as I read night time stories to him.  I knew he would call me momma right away..and he would be my LOVE.

Back in October, I wrote this:

As I run, I now have visions of George running beside me some day. I know many parents who have adopted from Ethiopia who have had their hearts suddenly turned to distant running. I was inspired by the Olympics, seeing the amazing dark-skinned men and women race to the finish of multiple long distance races. These same athletes, when they walked into the opening ceremony looked stunned, thrilled, humble and truly blessed to be there. Immediately, I started rooting for them to "win it all"! I do think of George most of the time when I run. Will he enjoy running? Will he want to come out with me to just feel those legs getting stronger? Will this be a way we can bond?
I can remember crying as I ran, so sad about how long we had to wait for our son to come home.  I kept thinking someday, we will run together.

Then, George came home.  And he squirmed away from my touches.  He shook his finger at me and shook his head no when I said I was his momma.  He never wanted to do anything with me.

And I stopped running. 

Mainly because when I was gone, George would try to run away.  Or, he would stand in the front yard, pull down his pants and scream at the top of his lungs.  Another time, he destroyed his room, tearing apart every gift ever given to him.  I couldn't leave the house anymore and get that time to myself.

And then eventually, I just didn't want to run anymore.

Fast forward THREE years.  Three long years.  Three years of heartache, frustrations, disappointments and ultimately, resignation that my son is not who I thought he would be.  I needed to be OK with that.  I needed to trust that GOD, in His perfect plan, brought just the perfect boy to our family.  For three years, I have waited and surrendered and loved and forgiven.

Then...George asked, "Momma, can I go running with you?"

"Of course!"

My heart swelled within me.  I couldn't believe what was happening.  A dream that I had completely forgotten about suddenly began to sprout again.  Does he really want to do this with me?  Does he want to share this experience with me? 

I had Eleanor take a picture because I just knew this was a miracle in the making. 



So, we ran.  And boy, can he run!  He smoked me the entire way.  He was probably 50 yards ahead of me the entire run- but at every turn in the neighborhood, he would look back gesturing "which way should I go?".  When I would point one way or another to indicate a turn or stay straight, he would set his face again toward the "finish line" and run on ahead.  He often looked back...making sure I was still there. I would wave or give him a thumbs up each time.  And when we finally arrived at our home, he walked with me up and down our street to cool off. 

I told him how awesome he was.  We laughed about how fast he is..so much faster than momma!  He smiled and even blushed a bit as we joked about all the sweat rolling down his face.  We hugged.

And then, he ran off to play with a friend...but not before yelling over his shoulder, as loud as he could, "I love you, Momma!"

I love you too, son.