Tag Archives: hope

A Hallmark Christmas?

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It’s not even December 1st yet and already Christmas is in the air.  It is in the stores, houses don lights, and Christmas Carols are on the radio.  In the past, the idea of starting the celebration before the Halloween candy is all eaten bothered me, but this year seems different somehow. I, too, am getting caught up in the spirit.  I, too, have turned on the TV and watched back to back Hallmark Christmas movies.  What joy they bring!  The predictable plot, the fake snow, the twinkling lights that keep twinkling.  The unrealistic way that things just seem to turn out exactly as we want.  Always a happy ending.  That isn’t real life, or is it?

I have just had 5 incredible days with family.  It started with a wonderful Wednesday evening Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom’s.  All 31 of us and no one had to sit at the Kids’ Table as we rearranged furniture so that the table could wind its’ way through the dining room and on into the living room. Thursday brought another turkey with all the trimmings with my husband’s side of the family.  The traditional tablecloth was signed by all present and games brought laughter to all!  Friday was spend hauling boxes of tinsel and holly and baubles and lights from the basement as the decorating began. Saturday saw flour, sugar and colorful icing in my kitchen and dining room as almost 20 people decorated cookies with Christmas music playing in the background. Sunday dawned and we headed to church, Sunday school, and Children’s Christmas Pageant practice. (I can’t wait to show others what the kids are working on.) However, in Sunday School, we discussed how our expectations cannot be realized when we compare our lives to a Hallmark movie.  Many people get disappointed when they try to create the perfect Christmas.  Of course, since I was in church, I know the true reason for the season, and it is Jesus and not a Hallmark movie plot, but still….!  I want a happy ending and all the glitter and sparkle along the way.

OK, so Sunday afternoon, I hurry home to rush to get Kay dressed for Chicora’s Light Up Night.  She will be singing a solo.  The curling iron is plugged in and I need to run Paul to the church to dress for his part in the live nativity.  The sun was shining and as I drove through my small town, I saw some people hanging Christmas lights and others chatting on the sidewalks.  Are you kidding me?  This looks just like a Hallmark Christmas movie!  What a pretty day for November. My daughter is visiting from Denver and she gets to attend the light up night festivities with us.  We arrive to find the street blocked off and chairs filling the Post Office parking lot.  Local entertainers sing songs and the high school cheerleaders do a cheer.  Santa arrives and hears all the children’s wishes.  Hot Cocoa is served and over sized cardboard gingerbread houses occupy the center of the street showing off the creativity of our townspeople.  The live nativity is in the furniture store’s parking lot and the Legion houses the photos of our community’s heros who served and are still serving our country.  After snacking on food served by the high school volley ball team, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Rotary, we head to the front lawn of the Moose Lodge for the tree lighting.  First, though, lanterns are lit in honor of our military, our policemen and one for the hope of peace in our community and around the world.  The local priest leads us in singing O Come, O Come Emanuel and then the tree is lit to cheers and hardy pats on the back.  The committee that planned this has outdone themselves again. It all looks like a Hallmark movie to me.  My husband and I tease and look up into the sky to see if the big, white flakes will start falling and land perfectly on our hats and shoulders to complete this scene before the credits start rolling to signal the end.

This morning, I sit in my home….the boxes marked “Christmas” are only half unpacked with their contents spread on the floor and table, some need a bit spruced up before they can be called decorations.  The smell of cookies baking is gone but the bits of dough and the icing that has turned to glue is still on my counter. The scarves and earmuffs that looked so festive last night do just not look the same strewn across the couch and the ceiling in the kitchen is leaking and dripping into my sink from the bathroom above.  I’m thinking it might be time for a commercial break.  I didn’t see this scene in the movie where the lead’s name was Holly or Noelle.  Wait.  This isn’t a Hallmark movie?!  Nope.  It isn’t.  But with my Christmas colored glasses on, last night it looked pretty close.

Christmas isn’t always an easy holiday and many times it brings up painful memories and even sweet memories that now cause pain because people we love are the memories. Even this Christmas could be a difficult one for me.  We never know.  Life doesn’t give us any guarantees, but yesterday’s community event wasn’t a dream.  It wasn’t a scene from a movie.  It was real.

Yesterday in church we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath.  The candle of hope.  It is my hope that you will have some Hallmark Movie moments this season and that you, too, will recognize that they are real.

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Dear Parent of a RAD Kid,

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Oh Dear Sweet Parent of a RAD kid,
I write to you as I would write to a friend, because even though I don’t know you, you are my friend. This journey you are on is not for the faint of heart. It was your heart in many cases that got you into this situation. Many children with RAD are adopted and come from trauma backgrounds and you and your good heart just want to give this challenging child a chance. You were called to meet a deep need for a child in need. Your intentions were right. Your intentions were pure. They still are. I know. But, your reality has changed. You have gone the route of conventional parenting, conventional medicine and anything else described as typical and your child has not responded. No matter what you attempt, traditional or non traditional, he seems to be on a different path. He is. He is coming from a place of trauma. His brain is different, his responses are different. There are loads of people who are trying to help him (you’ve hired so many you can hardly count.) There are loads of people trying to figure it all out. (Because quite honestly, this Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis is extremely fascinating if you aren’t living with it.) So, lots of people working on this. Great. But, YOU, it’s YOU I want to talk about. YOU dear parent in the trenches with me. You need to spend as much (if not more) time figuring out how YOU are going to cope. He will be instructed and taught and given tools to deal with his mental health. Will you? Will you take the time to listen? Will you read books for your benefit or will you spend every hour of every day researching ways to help him connect the dots. I want to encourage YOU to work on YOU.
As a parent of a kid with RAD I recognize the ups and downs, the good and bad, but I also recognize that it appears (after 15 years of effort) that little changes. Little changes regarding his behavior. His behavioral goals appear to be the same though now they are attempting to be mastered by a teen instead of a toddler, but really, very little has changed. An unknown author once said, “Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.” Dear struggling parent, I plead with you to get this. “Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.” So, you have probably been trying to change your child, trying to change your parenting, trying to change your situation and maybe….just maybe, those things can’t change, but I assure you, something is changing…YOU! You are not the person who started on this journey. You are learning and growing each day and your reading this post this far says you are interested. You are engaged, you are trying and you are doing. Has his behavior changed? Maybe not, but you have changed. You might not be able to see it now, but I promise you, if you have stayed faithful to your mission and your family, you are a success! You are a better person because of all of this. You are more caring than you ever dreamed you could be. You are more patient than you ever thought you’d be asked to be. You are parenting this difficult child and you are doing a great job of it. Now, I’d like you to attempt to embrace this change a bit. I encourage you to start working on you and start now. Spend some time studying your behavior, your goals, your future. Yes, your child still needs you and you will continue to work on those same things for him, but don’t forget to seek them out for yourself too. Get help. Get rest. Give yourself time to think and to process. Give yourself a break. Give yourself hope. Get yourself a friend who understands. Recognize what this disorder has done to you and for you. I sincerely want the best for your child, but equally, I want the best for you.
I want you to have hope. Hope that something good will come from all of this. That changes will occur, but I want to caution you that the changes might not be in your child, they might be in you….and would that be such a bad thing?

God Bless you as you go forward on this path. You are not alone.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.    –Jeremiah 29:11

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The Fellowship of Suffering

Andy Stanley alerted me to this term though the concept has been very familiar to me.  He claims the Fellowship of Suffering is defined in a statement that “There is a natural bond between those who have suffered deeply & similarly.”  I totally agree.  There is nothing worse than a person saying, “I understand” when they obviously don’t.  However, each situation of suffering is different for each person.

I remember when my father died when I was 16 and a junior in high school. Many of my friends paraded through the line at the funeral home and obviously, no teen knows what to say in these situations.  But, Jody did.  I don’t know why, but she just seemed to “know something.”  Had she lost before?  She didn’t chatter, she didn’t even try to say something profound, she just said, “sorry.”  She seemed wise beyond her years.  Having stood in that line at the funeral, I began collecting “sufferings” for my fellowship.  Though I sincerely believe I’ve led a charmed life, I have experienced pains and frustrations too.  I would like to share my Fellowship of Suffering Categories in case you ever need someone to talk to.

Death of my father unexpectedly when I was 16.  He was 50 and died of a heart attack.

Love those who have had traumatic brain injuries and recovered.

Miscarried my second child.

Fostered many children and know the pain of letting them go into unsafe environments.

I have waited up for teenage drivers.

I have received a call from the police to come and pick up said teenage drivers.  (Won’t squeal and tell which one!)

My kids have left home, made choices I didn’t support, gone days without calling & have exhibited risky behaviors at times.

I have known the pain of my adopted children longing for answers.

I deal with mental illness on a daily basis.

I live with the damage of abused children and the effects it has on their lives.

Fortunately, my list doesn’t seem very long to me, unfortunately, I’m sure it will grow as I continue to live and love.  That’s what life is all about.

There truly is a bond between those who have suffered deeply and similarly.  I appreciate every person who experienced my pain prior to me who said, “I understand.”  I now look at events in my life and view them as how I will be able to use them for the good of someone else.  Though it stinks to go through a suffering, it can be redeemed when you are the one giving the hug and saying, “I understand.”

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Filed under family, Inspirational, Life, Trauma-mama