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Abeyance?

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Really?  Where did that word come from?  Have I ever seen it before? What does it mean? Who knows? If I learn it will I ever be able to use it in a sentence? I am fascinated sometimes by words.  Words I didn’t know, words that I might use again in a crossword puzzle or a game of Words with Friends.  Czarina.  Another good word that might aid you in competition sometime.  Wouldn’t that one be fun to add to someone else’s Czar in a game?  But, I digress.  Today I want to talk about Abeyance.

This morning was a typical rainy morning in Western PA and I was at my dining room table doing my morning devotions. I read from the book of James in the Bible and was meditating on taming my tongue, familiar but something that is always worth repeating. I went on to read from a couple of other sources and ready from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young a devotion that started with, “Come to me with your plans held in abeyance.” Abeyance?  Is that a typo?  What does that mean?  I visited my Webster’s New Young American Dictionary because it usually presents information in an easier version for me, but Abeyance didn’t make the cut in this 1995 edition.  I then had to go to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary where I learned that Abeyance means temporary inactivity or suspension.  Hmmmm. Interesting.  But, as far as  a devotional, I wonder what that means to me.  Sarah goes on to explain that we aren’t to make plans, but we are to ask God to guide us through our day, doing what He wants us to do in his time.  OK, I get that.  I will try to do that.  As I pondered, meditated and studied more, I heard an odd noise, but didn’t really pay much attention to it.  It wasn’t that odd, I was just aware of it.  The coffee maker brewing? The bathtub draining? Just not sure.

My son came downstairs, grabbed his breakfast and before heading out, said, “Funny thing.  I fell asleep in the tub and the water ran over. See you later. I love you!”  Out the door he went.  I shrugged my shoulders and kept reading.  I even texted a friend about his parting words.  Just another day in the life!  After she replied that what I see as normal, others see as panic, I thought I should at least investigate a bit.  So, I headed to the kitchen where I could see the evidence of water upstairs on the ceiling.  I rushed upstairs to dry up the mess knowing full well that my son wouldn’t have done a good enough job when I was greeted with a dry bathroom.  No wet towels on the floor, no water, no mess.  He had done a good job mopping up the water.  He had done as much as I could’ve done.

What a gift that I hadn’t responded to the odd noise.  Had I been privy to this information earlier, the clean up would’ve entailed a lot of yelling, bickering and harsh words.  No doubt.  The abeyance I was granted to the situation helped me tame my tongue.  Both testimonies to why my morning routine is vital to myself and to my family.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.

That simple truth saved me a lot of grief this morning.  Thank You God!

 

 

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The Silly Games We Play

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Snap!  Oh, good one.  I check the corner of the sliding door on the linen closet and yes, sure enough, there it is, a party snap taped delicately in the corner of the door.  It surprised me just as it was supposed to do and these little wads of balled up paper intended to be thrown onto a hard surface to make a snap have been showing up in odd places of my home for 4 days now.  My sister-in-law strikes again and I have to say, this one has been a very clever prank.  One of her better efforts.

I can’t remember exactly when or how it got started, but the back and forth pranking may even predate me as this older sister and baby brother battle it out to be even more surprising each time. When I met the family there was a gag gift that was passed around each Christmas.  (A strange lobster like creature with Spanish Moss hair on a cork stand holding a flag? I so need to get a picture of that next year!) The recipient ended up storing it for a year and then regifting it to someone else the following year. I believe many families may do something like that, but this sibling group goes beyond that and each prank and each year brings on more surprises.  Sis has retired and my husband is semi retired now which give them both more time to be even more creative.  Their antics have given the whole family something fun to talk about and share with others.

One Christmas Eve we returned from Candlelight service and as 6 year old K is heading up the stairs she looks at our beautiful lit Christmas tree and exclaims, “We’ve been burgled!”  Instead of my angel on the tree, there was a strange tree topper sporting a ceramic dog head, long velvet dress complete with cowboy boots.  (This topper was bought in a store!  Where do people come up with these things?!)  To retaliate, the following year our family took life size ugly pictures of our faces and placed them as ornaments on her tree, those same photos wound up copied in multiples and appearing inside cabinet doors, toilet seat lids, drawers and even on display inside stockings on mantles.  Every time you opened a closet door, there we were! One Christmas our family strung marshmallows on fishing line and created a beautiful snow scene mobile (I saw it on a DIY Home program).  We hung this display from her ceiling on Christmas Eve and took photos of how pretty it looked.  It was a beautiful thing….until she turned on the ceiling fan when she got home and had tangled fishing line and sticky marshmallows everywhere!

Post Cards have come through the mail letting us know that our Herpes tests have come back clean, toilets have become lawn ornaments, ceramic frogs have visited bath tubs, balloons have filled rooms, signs have been put on display in yards, rice in beds, hidden remotes, cans without labels, the list goes on…

We just returned from a trip to Punta Cana and the sweet sound of “snap” that greets us makes us smile.  Probably as much as the gold fish in her drinking glasses made her smile when she returned from her last trip.  We are all getting excited around here because she leaves today for Florida!  We have 5 full weeks to give our plans serious thought and implementation!  This is a good reason to lock your doors…..and leave your key with a “responsible adult.”

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Home

This weekend, my kids are coming home.  For a precious 36 hours I should have all 5 of my kids in the same place at the same time.  I cannot wait.  I doubt they can understand my anticipation because I can barely understand it myself.  What exactly will it look like for them to be all here?  Something special?  No, not really.  Actually, I hope it looks very normal.  I expect to see unpacked bags in the living room, bagels left out on the counter and wet towels on the floor of the bathroom.  I will be barely able to follow a conversation as each one speaks over the other and their volume has to increase with each story told. I see the TV on, the iPhones in their hands demanding their attention and they will try to scramble out of here to meet friends, not holding the visit sacred.

But it isn’t really sacred.  It is home.  It is supposed to be comfortable, casual and feel just like a warm fleece bathrobe after a bubble bath.  I hope they walk into this house and breathe a sigh of relief.  Not noticing anything special, but just noticing home.

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.–Isaiah 32:18

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Reactive Attachment Disorder – What is it?

My recent post,Reactive Attachment Disorder stinks! created some buzz among my readers.  Those who have a child with RAD, understood and probably felt some relief knowing that others are in the same boat.  Others, those who know my son personally, find it very hard to believe that life in my home is as difficult as it is sometimes.  He simply does not display these behaviors around others.  BUT, that doesn’t mean that it is not true.

I am the parent of a special needs child, however, my kids’ disability is the inability to receive love from his parents.  This makes treating this disorder extremely difficult.

While researching for a fact sheet or a tip sheet on Reactive Attachment Disorder, the shortest one I found was 3 pages in length.  Who wants to read that?  Even those of us in the trenches get bored with all of that, so it is my hope to share some information, the Cliff Notes of RAD – In a nutshell:

Paul has RAD which means that he did not develop an attachment with his primary caregiver early in life.  This lack of connection influences his physical, neurological, cognitive & psychological development. It produces ongoing feelings of rage, deep shame, a lack of trust and a fear of attaching to anyone. He has an inability to understand cause and effect and a compulsive need to control everyone and everything. He has difficulty regulating his emotions and his behavior.  His fear, rage & distrust is so bad that he may explode when a limit is set or a line is drawn.  He truly believes that he will die if he is not in control.  He was deeply hurt, afraid & lonely as he survived severe neglect.  He developed strategies to survive this time in his life and those strategies are to manipulate and control any situation he considers unsafe.  The battle for control is constant.

So, if I ask Paul to put his shoes on…he may feel out of control.  He doesn’t put his shoes on so that he can control that situation.  Even the smallest of things.  If asked to put his plate in the sink, he may put it beside the sink to remain in control.  If you don’t live it every day, you may not even notice the little ways in which he controls things.  Some subtle attempt to control can be interrupting, asking someone to repeat themselves even when he heard, mumbling, ignoring, fidgeting, refusing to put forth appropriate effort, & telling lies.  Children with RAD often maintain control by demonstrating learned helplessness.

You may never see Paul rage.  He’s not angry at you…he’s not even angry at us, but he is angry at the situation of neglect that he experienced and he will take it out on those who love him the most now. You may get the opportunity to see some of the other symptoms:  Lack of guilt or remorse, blames others, difficulty with cause and effect, stealing, lying, manipulative, lack of empathy, poor impulse control, overly friendly to strangers, mood swings, tantrums, refuses to do assignments or does them poorly, & has abnormal eating habits.

That said, I love Paul.  I knew I was meant to be his forever Mom after just a few weeks of knowing him.  I knew I could make a difference in his life.  We’ve come a long way…yet we have a long way to go.  Please keep us and all those who are parenting children with this confusing diagnosis in your thoughts & prayers.  We need them.  Thank you for understanding that this disorder just might be something you will never understand.

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“I Don’t Think That’s a Good Idea.”

OK, so I had to come clean with my 8 year old and give her an interpretation of the statement, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  I told her that anytime she hears this in the future, she should just interpret it to mean, “No!”  And, seriously, I need to learn that lesson too.  When did it become easier for me to make things an option for my kids than to just say, “No?”

A couple of examples from last week that prompted me to share this with you:

While packing up her back pack for school, she puts her sheet music from her private music teacher in her homework folder.  When I asked her about it she explained that she often likes to sing at indoor recess.  I highly doubted that she did, and said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  I assumed she would take the music out, throw it on her school desk and come home without it.  I was right.  She forgot the music at school so did not have a copy to take to her lesson that evening.  I was justified in giving her an “I told you so,” but it didn’t help at lessons that night.

The next day, she came downstairs wearing a too-tight pencil skirt&  high heeled sandals.  It was about 30 degrees out.  Remembering to “pick my battles” I reasoned that her Dad was driving her to school that day and I always meet her at the bus stop after school, so really, she’d only be outside in the cold for a very short time.  But, I did say, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  She assured me she was comfortable and wanted to wear that favorite skirt one last time before passing it on.

That day I was giving a talk at a Mothers of Preschoolers group on “Being Bravely You.”  I explained that Mothering takes a lot of bravery.  We have to be brave to let go and to let our children make their own choices as they get the opportunity to so that when they are older, we can be brave and watch them go.  I even spoke about how brave we have to be to let our children choose small things and even how we have to bravely watch them fail sometimes.  I mentioned Kaylee’s pencil skirt and high heels that morning and how I had to be brave to let her Dad drive off that very morning.

Fast forward to Bus pick up time.  My husband was spreading limestone on our mud filled driveway, so I wasn’t able to drive the car to the end of the lane.  I walked out to meet the bus.  The day had warmed some, but was still pretty chilly when she stepped off the bus.  In her heels she wasn’t able to navigate over the large chunks of new limestone that now donned our lane.  She was cold and wanted to hurry home, but couldn’t.  Knowing I was partially to blame for her choices, I decided to carry her on my back, but with the tight pencil skirt, she was unable to straddle my back.  I had to pick her up in my arms to carry her up the hill and out of sight of the cars driving by.  When we were out of view, I hiked her skirt up to her waist (to her horror!) and made her climb on my back to make the trek the rest of the way to the house.  We were quite a sight with her cold, bare legs dangling and my huffing and puffing as I ran.

What does “I don’t think that’s a good idea” mean?  Doesn’t it really mean that we already know it’s not?  As Kaylee and I try to learn to equate “I don’t think that’s a good idea” with “NO!” I hope you’ll challenge yourself to review what you mean when you say it and then spare yourself the grief and just say it.  “No.”  “Don’t do that!”  “It’s NOT a good idea!”

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Snapshots in My Mind

A few weeks ago, as I sat in the choir loft at church, I looked down at the two children who were listening to the children’s sermon.  It was my eight year old daughter and her 18 month old cousin.  They were sitting on the front pew and little Ella was listening as intently as I have ever seen her.  Even the Pastor mentioned how she appeared to be taking it all in.  When it was time for the prayer, my daughter put her arms around Ella and took her hands in her own to show her how to fold her hands in prayer.  They were both dressed in black and white and it looked like they were posing for a picture to be used as an advertisement for a church or something.  It was a perfect scene and I so wished I had had my camera to take a picture.   I took a moment for prayer myself.  I prayed that God would allow me to take a snapshot with my mind of that very moment so that I could always remember these two little girls, their innocence, their sincerity.  I looked at them with intent and clicked a button in my mind.

This wasn’t the first snapshot that I’ve taken without a camera in my hand.  I remember another occasion where my older daughters were playing in the sandbox.  They were probably 5 and 3 and they were just chattering and playing nicely.  I remember looking at them through my kitchen window while doing lunch dishes and wanting to remember that moment forever.  When would it ever be like this again?  They were both wearing pink and they were smiling and giggling as they dug.  I took the picture for my memory.  Years later, when my oldest daughter returned from college for a weekend, I looked out the kitchen window and saw them sitting in the sand box.  The sun was shining and their long, lanky legs were bent, they really didn’t fit in the box, but were seated on the edge.  They weren’t giggling, they were talking very seriously while they watched sand trickle out of their hands.  Again, click, Lord let me remember this moment.  My daughters, still friends, still in the sandbox.

Today I drove to the end of the lane to get my youngest on the school bus.  With a cup of tea in hand, I sit in the car and watch her board Bus #13 every day.  Our routine.  I watch her greet the driver, walk back the aisle to the 4th seat on the right, she slides in and she looks out the dirty window and waves as the bus pulls away.  Click.  Lord, let me remember this moment.

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We Got Nothin’

When our children are little we begin the dance of them doing something wrong, and us parents supplying a consequence if one doesn’t naturally occur.  We can call it training, discipline, survival, whatever.  Most of the time, this little dance results in a parent feeling like they are doing a job well and a child learning to conform to the household rules.  (NOTE:  Consequences do NOT work for any child who has experienced trauma; I have one of those kiddos but this is NOT the kid I’m talking about.  This is about your “typical” kid.)  At around 2 years of age, we start with saying, “no” followed by some time spent in time out.  The consequences match the age and progress to include time away from video games, no sleepover, extra chores, etc.  However, eventually, our children will age out of this system!  Usually when this happens, we parents are totally caught off guard.  We don’t see it coming and then, Wham!  There it is.

This happened to my husband and I 9 years ago.  The evening is in my memory as clear as the stars were on that summer sky that night.  My family was attending a picnic/party at my sister-in-law’s campsite near the river.  The local town was having a festival and my daughters wanted to walk to town by themselves to check out the attractions.  I was content at the picnic visiting with friends, so after a lot of discussion, we decided this would be an okay thing for the girls to do.  We gave them the rules and the curfew time and off they went.  At the appointed time, my 12 year old arrives back alone.  Now dark, she had to walk a path along the river alone.  Small town living protects me from thinking horrible scenarios as a first response, but at the suggestion of “well meaning” others, they did pop into my head.  Where was her sister?!  It seems they met up with some friends and got separated.  My sister-in-law had children older than mine so her and her friends were very familiar with this story.  Sixty people at this party wanted to activate and go and find my daughter.  I was going through the typical emotional cycle.  Worry.  Anger. Fear.  Worry. Anger. Fear.  We sent out a couple of young adults to look and they returned with information that my daughter was last seen with a certain boy.  A High School Senior with a reputation.  Oh dear.  So, we can stop worrying about stranger danger, but we can still worry.  My husband and I headed out in the car and didn’t get very far when we see a silhouette of a couple of teens holding hands walking toward us on the road.  Behind them fireworks are blasting in the sky (I couldn’t make this stuff up!) and it feels like a scene out of Grease.  Our headlights make it apparent that this is our daughter with a boy that I refer to as “Ashton Kutcher” cute.  As they walked closer I looked at my husband and in that moment recognized it and said it. “We got nothin’.”  There is absolutely no punishment or consequence on the planet that will make this High School Freshman regret breaking the rules, ditching her sister and worrying her parents to spend time with this boy.  This was one of those times as a kid that the crime is SO worth the punishment!  The rebellion is a rite of passage and though I didn’t condone it, I understood it.  My husband and I had nothing.  Our daughter was safe and no consequence we imposed would matter.  We had moved beyond the “disciplining.”  She would be making her own decisions from then on out and we had to pray that she made good ones.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were consequences.  She had to call her best friend and tell her she wouldn’t be going on vacation with her the following day.  We both cried.  She cried because she would be missing the trip and I cried because she was growing up.  After that moment, my perspective changed dramatically.  We parents can guide, train and try, but in the end, our kids will do whatever they feel they need to do.  We don’t “got nothin’,” we have the opportunity to walk down that dark road sparkled with fireworks with them.

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