Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Love Never Fails.

This post has been a long time coming. I have started it in my head a million times, but just couldn't put it together. However, this blog is my journal. It is a place for me to express my thoughts and feelings. Something I have a hard time doing. I am one of those people who likes to just put all of the 'icky' things away and sort 'em out with God and God alone. I have a tendency to only blog about things once they have already been dealt with. This method ensures that no raw emotion is spewed all over the page. It also makes, in the end, a very nice, well thought out, post that I can wrap in a little bow and present for the viewing pleasure of those who are nice enough to read my ramblings. This one....not so much. No pretty bow. Not thought out. Just raw emotion. This is hard.

When I chose to adopt Amber I knew that God had called me to do it and I was anxious to do it. I loved her and wanted to provide her a safe, loving, home. I saw things in her. Good things. She was making positive changes everyday. She was growing in her relationship with Christ and our family was adjusting to our newest family member. Things were still hard, but there was hope. We had ups and downs as any family does, but I certainly didn't go into this adoption with rose colored glasses on. I knew that adopting a child at 13 years of age was not going to be an easy road. There would definitely be challenges. But, I also knew that God was in control and He could get us through anything.

Amber's behavior began to get increasingly worse over the next couple of years. She fell away from God and began doing things that she knew were not allowed in our home. She exposed my youngest daughter to things that she should never have seen or heard. My eldest daughter and Amber began to fight constantly, mostly because of how Amber treated me. Physically...Amber was a beautiful 15 year old girl, but mentally she was a 5 year old throwing a 2 year long, continuous temper tantrum.

I work with teens. I knew she just wanted to be loved. She was crying out for attention and willing to go to, just about, any length to get it. She began telling people that I was abusing her. It got her the attention and sympathy she was looking for, I suppose. I found this out when one of her boyfriends refused to look at me. He was a pretty nice kid and we got along pretty good. Then, all of a sudden, he wouldn't even talk to me. After they broke up I found out, from his mom, that she had told him all kinds of awful things about me. No wonder he couldn't stand me. She had made me out to be a monster that abused her and refused to let her go see her dying grandmother (neither were true. She hadn't even asked to see her grandma and her grandma wasn't dying). I also noticed that some of the adults in our church that she had become close to stopped talking to me. Still, I understood that because of her background this is the way she had chosen to get people to 'love' her. I took her to get counseling.

She did well with the counselor. For awhile. I could see some progress and things looked like they might be OK. She seemed to really like him and her behavior had gotten a little better. I don't know what caused it, other than Satan himself, but suddenly she refused to go to counseling. She said it was stupid and that she wouldn't go and I couldn't make her. She was wrong. I could've made her, but what was the point? She had already made it very clear that she liked the person she was and did not want to change. She was lying, manipulating, stealing, and even becoming violent with my youngest daughter. I tried desperately to figure out why anyone would want to live their life like that. For Amber....she felt it worked for her. It was all she had ever known. Her biological mother was the same way. It was 'normal' for Amber and she was convinced that being a manipulative, lying, theif, was who she was instead of what she was. She had bought the lie that Satan had sold her and she was owning it proudly.

I had kept her biological mom at a distance for most of Amber's time with us. I noticed, early on, that Amber's behavior became unbearable after speaking with her mom. However, the bonds of mother and child are strong and her mom found a way to get around me (even after I disconnected our phone and got rid of our internet). As they began to build their relationship, my relationship with Amber began to unravel even faster. She wanted to me to give up my rights to her and allow her to go back to her mom. I partially caved and told her that she could stay with her mom for this school year, but reminded her that I am still her legal mom and that I would be in the picture. Both Amber and her mom thanked me for allowing them the chance to be together again. While I was unsure about the decision, I knew something had to change for the benefit of the rest of my family. The past couple of years with Amber had taken it's toll on us physically and emotionally.

A week into Amber going to live with her mom, I received a phone call from her mom and her boyfriend stating that Amber had run away. They wanted my help. There wasn't much I could do, so I called Amber's cell phone. She answered. We talked for a few minutes and I encouraged her to go to her mom and let her know where she was. Turns out, Amber was throwing a fit because her mom had placed her on restriction. Unfortunately, Amber's way of dealing with things is to run. Although she had never run away from my home physically, she definitely ran away from me emotionally. A couple of weeks later, Amber called me and asked me to emancipate her so she could legally be on her own. In the state of Iowa, emancipation of a minor can only happen if that minor is getting married. Since she wasn't, this wasn't an option. She then asked me to give up my rights as her mother. I told her that I would not do that. I explained to her that I would never give up one of my matter how bad things may get. My exact words were...."I'm not that kind of mom!" I meant it and she knew it. She was not happy.

Approximately a week later, I received a call from CPS (Child Protective Services). Amber had filed child abuse charges against me. I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely wrecked. I was sad, scared, angry, confused, and every emotion you could think of all at the same time. Like a small child throwing a fit because they didn't get their way, this was her last ditch effort at getting out of my home permanently. The worker came to interview me and we talked for about an hour. Amber was claiming that I had punched her in her head and bruised her shoulder.....3 months earlier. The worker was very nice and reassured me that he was pretty sure she didn't have a case since there were no witnesses and no marks that were documented. I told him that I wasn't worried about it because I hadn't done anything. Then, he gave me a choice. I could bring Amber back into my home and attempt to continue to parent this child or I could sign her over to the state. I knew in my heart that this child could never come into our home again.

I signed the paperwork and have been playing the waiting game. Our court date is November 4th. Almost 2 years to the day that Amber's adoption was final. I have no idea if Amber is still with her mom or in a shelter. I am sure I could find out by picking up a phone, but the truth is....I don't want to know.

Everyday seems to be an opportunity for God to teach me something. That is one reason I haven't written about this. I am staying 'still'. I am straining to listen for His voice while rebuking the voice of Satan who spends most of his time telling me that I am a horrible parent, a horrible person, and even worse....a horrible Christian.

I am not angry at Amber. She has learned to do whatever it takes to get what you matter what the cost. I am, however, sad for her. I worry about her future, knowing that her future is no longer (as if it ever was) mine to worry about it. I don't regret the journey I have been on, but I am so very sad at the outcome. I pray for her daily and still consider her my child.

As I picked up my subpoena the other day, I was not prepared for the flood of emotions that would come. To be honest, over the past year, I have really had to pray to God that He would fill my heart with love for her. I knew I didn't like her very much and was afraid that maybe my love for her was gone, too. God answered my prayer. As I signed the court papers I was so overcome with love and emotion that it took my breath away. I hesitated slightly as the last couple of years seem to play like a movie in my head, flashing between scenes of laughter and tears. In the end, I knew I there was no other choice.

The Gospel has been presented to Amber. She knows God and better yet, God knows her. I believe, without a doubt, that His Word is never returned void. She can run from me, she can run from her biological mom, she can even run from herself, but she can't run from Him. Love never fails.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

May Bling?

Jordan, my youngest, was very excited to show me what they have been doing in her youth group. Apparently they have been talking about beauty. Right now, it seems, they are focused on outward beauty. Things that women/girls do to make themselves more beautiful on the outside. Knowing the youth leaders well, I am guessing that this will lead to inner beauty in the near future.

While I was home for lunch today Jordan whipped out a list she wanted me to look at. It was a list of beauty products that are available. The list was quite long! As a matter of fact my eldest daughter, Samantha, and myself were quite surprised at just how many beauty products there are. Jordan's list wasn't even complete as Samantha and I could think of several that weren't on there. However, I was also surprised at how many products I hadn't heard of.

One of the first products listed was May Bling, listed right under Mary Kay. I sat puzzled for just a moment before this little song played through my head:

'Maybe she's born with it....Maybe it's May Bling'

It suddenly dawned on me. It's Maybelline.

Samantha and I couldn't help but laugh. Jordan even chuckled when I explained that it had nothing to do with 'bling'.

I love how God gives us little giggles throughout the day. Special memories to look back on and blog about. How I adore time with my girls.

Monday, October 13, 2008

After the Aftermath

The night before I wrote the post entitled 'Aftermath', I had a dream. Now, typically my dreams amount to nothing. They are usually very random and I can't remember much about them. However, this dream seemed different.

I was walking along a bridge. It was more of an overpass and maybe I was running, I don't remember. There were a lot of people running on this bridge as there was a flood that was beginning to swallow up everything. The water was getting higher and we were running to safety. As I began to reach the top of the bridge I looked down and saw hundreds of people screaming and crying in the flood water. There were also people who had succumbed to the water and their bodies were floating. I don't remember anything after that, but I know that the water never took me under and that I survived. When I awoke the next morning that dream was heavy on my heart.

As I began to get ready for work, I wondered if God was trying to tell me something. I don't analyze my dreams often, but I felt as though this dream was different. I continued with my morning routine which included, unfortunately, a heated discussion with my youngest daughter. I always hate starting the day with an arguement. It kind of sets the tone for the day, doesn't it? I left the house, upset, went to work and began my day. While on the phone with a client, talking about something totally unrelated, the word aftermath ran in my head as did the scene from my dream. Because I am very impatient I was guessing that God meant the aftermath of my arguement with Jordan. Although I didn't lose my 'cool' so to speak, she was crying and in the past my words have left an aftermath of destruction. Hence the post.

Since that post there have been floods that have tried to pull me under. None of which I am ready to share right now. However, I do believe that dream was related to what was going to happen in my life. I believe God gave me the word Aftermath as a reassurance. To let me know that there was an approaching storm and it was a storm that would pass. That the water would never take me under and that I would survive. A reassurance that He is always my Bridge over troubled water.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Quick to Judge

I have been astounded at the number of cases in the news about parents leaving their children in the hot car. Sadly, a vast majority of the time, those children succumb to the heat and lose their lives.

While I am ashamed of this, I must admit that I have judged those parents. I couldn't believe anybody could be so irresponsible as a parent. Obviously, that would NEVER happen to me. I am above 'stupid' mistakes. Right?

I was visiting Girlymama's blog today and received a nice, hard, God thump! You know...the one that smacks you right upside the head and knocks you off of the very tall pedestal you have placed yourself upon? Yea. One of those.

If you have ever been prideful enough to judge another parent (or anyone else for that matter) for a mistake you would NEVER make, please stop by her blog and read this post. I guarantee you will see things in a new light. Although God has been trying to teach me this lesson for about, oh, 7 YEARS, it was another reminder to me that God calls us to love......not judge.

Thank you Girlymama for the walk in your shoes. They were a little big, but I hope to fit in them when I'm all grown up:)

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Mothers Hands.

My grandpa had 'old' hands. He was old, but his hands were always older. They were always more wrinkled than the rest of him and the skin on his hands was very thin. A scrape to his hand would cause a large portion of skin to just tear off. His hands were always bruised.

I remember when I was younger I would tease my mom about her hands. She inherited my grandpa's thin, wrinkly skin. I used to stare at her hands for long periods of time and try to smooth them out. Of course, at that time my hands were young and firm. I was so afraid I would inherit them. Last night the subject of her hands came up again. We were with friends and she was explaining why she has large purple bruises on her hands. As I sat looking back and forth between her bruised hand and my hands that were beginning to resemble them, I couldn't help but praise God.

See, those bruised, wrinkled, hands of my moms are the same hands that have hugged me when I have been at my lowest. They have reached up and dried tears from my eyes. They have fixed me lunches and bandaged boo-boo's. They have held all 3 of my children and sewn up their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. They have made halloween costumes and crafts for my house. They have held my hands while giving birth and while going through surgery. They have stroked my hair as I have laid on her lap. They have cleaned my room, done my dishes, and ironed my clothes. The have clapped for me and disciplined me. They have held me up when I couldn't do it myself and they have let go when I needed them to. They have tucked me in, felt my head for fever, and they pray for me.

I no longer dread inheriting my moms hands. As a matter of fact, I pray I do.

Happy birthday mom.

I love you.........
To the moon and back!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No. I'm not dead:)

As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged much lately. No reason in particular other than I have just felt 'quiet' lately. A lot has gone on in my life over the past month and even though I would like to share it, I don't feel as though I am ready. However, I do miss blogging very much. So, I will attempt to blog about every day happenings this month just so I can stay connected.

ACORN performed during our church services last week and they were incredible. They really led the congregation in Worship and didn't just 'perform'. It truly brought tears to my eyes. Our Worship director, Julie, liked them so much that she invited them to play every month that has a 5th Sunday. See, 5th Sundays are typically known as 'Hymn Sundays'. Julie so loved the contrast between the older hymns and the youth music that she would like it to become a regular 'gig':) They will play again in November. I will definitely try to have video! I totally forgot last time. I was so nervous for them!!!!

Some of you have asked about my last post 'Aftermath'. Some of my friends have asked me where it came from. Why did I write it? Was there something going on? There is more to that post and I'm working on sharing it. I am still waiting for God to reveal some things to me. As soon as I can piece it all together I will post about it. Just know that I, too, am anxious to know what it was about:)

My youngest daughter became a 'woman' yesterday. Ahem. I am hoping that you ladies will know what I am talking about because if I actually write about it she will disown me I promise you! I can't believe it. She is my baby and the time has gone by so fast. I sat and watched her sleep last night and wondered where the years have gone. Another chapter in her life. It makes me sad and joyful at the same time.

I will post a less random post tomorrow.