Resolutions

You may be surprised to know that this week, the very last week of ever year, right between Christmas and the New Year, is very important to me. I may even consider it my favorite week of the year.

It is the week that I contemplate the year almost gone and consider the year about to begin. It is the week that I make plans, create calendars and decide on my New Year’s Resolutions. It is the week I dream dreams, catch my breath and gather my courage

I know, I know, some folks think all that is pointless. But, as for me, it helps me to focus. It helps me to decide what really matters to me. It helps me prioritize. It turns my face in the right direction.

For a couple of years I’ve sorted my goals into categories. Those who enjoy a good spread sheet or a planning book will appreciate my method.

My categories this year are –

Spiritual Growth

Physical/Mental Health

Relationship Mending

Financial Stability

Writing/Author Projects

I don’t know about you but with life zipping by at the pace of a race horse, if I am hoping to just get around to things when I can, well, those things don’t stand a chance of getting done. I need a list. I need reminding. I need goals.

As a #momofmany, I do a lot of cooking for a crowd. I have had to learn to put a few things on the back burners of the stove while I concentrate on more pressing matters that need my focused attention. That’s kind of how my lists and plans and resolutions work for me.

One of my life-goals for instance is to visit Israel. That’s not going on the list for 2018. It’s just not going to happen. But it will one day, another day.

Y’all! It’s going to be 2018! And the truth is, we have no idea what it will hold. I can attest to being surprised by a number of people and events of 2017. So, I know we can’t be making these lists in concrete. We will have to be flexible. But, as I’ve heard it said many times, to fail to plan is a plan to fail. I believe that.

If you want to read your Bible every day this year, find a reading plan. Our church (Church of the Highlands) offers a online One Year plan. YouVersion has several to choose from. There are loads of options.

Do you want to save more money this year? Open a savings account. Want to get out of debt? Cut up some credit cards. Need to lose a few pounds? Schedule time at the gym. Hope to have a better marriage? Better health? Better job? Better future? Prioritize and bring those things to the front burners of your proverbial stove.

No matter how you choose to spend 2018, make it count. Every one of the 365 days, every one of the 8760 hours can matter. They can matter to you and to the people you love. They can even matter to total strangers as you invest in missions works or charities.

I’ve lived long enough to have learned a few things. The best things in life usually don’t just happen. We have to participate, on purpose and help make them happen.

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ABCs of Adoption – Part 8

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m still blogging about the ABCs of Adoption. Today I’d like to share a bit about our oldest adopted child, Josiah.

I’ve often said that he would be the perfect poster child for older-child adoption. He joined our family when he was eight years old and he has debunked many adoption hesitations. I am choosing the term hesitation because, I believe many more people would adopt if it weren’t for things they don’t understand that cause them hesitate.

I want to show you a few pictures of Josiah with his brothers. One of the four of them is related by birth. Some folks would refer to him as Josiah’s ‘real’ brother. But I wouldn’t say that to Josiah if I were you, he would not agree. They are all his real brothers and nothing will change that.

I want to tell you something else about Josiah! Today is his birthday and in ten days he is getting married! This is the youngest photo we have of Josiah. He was six years old and cute as could be.

I’m not going to say we didn’t have some rough days. He had to learn to trust again. There were some moments of frustration for him and for us as well. But he was worth every difficulty that accompanies adopting an older child. He is a treasure.

Now, he is a hard-working, well-adjusted young man who is a talented musician and a minister of the gospel. He shares his testimony of healing and Hope often. And in ten days he will marry! I’m so very happy that he is happy.

I’m so very happy that we took a chance on him and even more importantly, that he took a chance on us. Older child adoptions have a factor that others do not. The child can choose too. They have a voice and must agree to the adoption. We chose each other.

ABCs of Adoption – Part 7

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m the mother of seven adopted children, five of whom are presently teens. So, let’s talk about adopted teens. Surely that can’t be as simple as ABC. You’re so right.

They test you and rebel against boundaries and are stubborn and have emotional outbursts sometimes…just like any other teen, adopted or not. And that’s the truth.

But it isn’t necessarily because they are adopted, it’s more likely because they are trying to figure out growing up…just like any other teen.

As parents, we hold on tight to the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ and we buckle in for the ride, praying all the while.

Can adopted teens have unique challenges and special issues. Yes, just like any other teen can. Will some of these issues result from past hurts and disappointments? Yes, just like any other teen, or any other human being, they will need to learn to forgive, move on and heal.

I think sometimes we are too quick to attribute a teen’s struggles to his or her adopted status. Raising teens is about as complicated a task as you can tackle. About the time you think you’ve figured it out, a curve ball reminds you that you haven’t.

Too many times, we over scrutinize our children and ourselves because our family was formed through adoption. We might feel that we have something to prove to the world of onlookers, perhaps people who didn’t approve of our decision to adopt in the first place.

If you are determined to get it all right all the time, as a parent, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you think you have control over choices other people make, including your teens, you are bound to be sorely disappointed.

Whether your child is a toddler in the midst of potty-training, a sassy-mouthed young child, a teen with an attitude or a young adult struggling to find their place in the world, don’t take the delays, the stumbles, the carelessly flung words personally.

We all want the very best for our children and hopefully we’ve done our best to give them every opportunity. But the bottom line is they get to choose whether they will take those opportunities or take a more difficult path. It doesn’t mean we have failed as parents or that ultimately, they will fail when all is said and done.

Take courage, keep trying and cling to hope. Don’t let moments of confusion, angst and upset define your relationship with your teen. There are far more good moments than bad. Do your best and trust God with the rest. Take advantage of every tool and resource available. And don’t give up, whatever you do, don’t quit trying.

So, yes, I guess it actually is as simple as ABC. Actions, Bravery and Consistency. That’s the ABC’s of parenting adopted teens.

ABCs of Adoption- Part 5

Relationships are so very complicated. People can have personality clashes, old wounds that haven’t healed, memories that haunt or resentment and unforgiveness. And then sometimes people just don’t care or won’t even try. 

On the other hand relationships are so basically simple. People who are willing to tolerate differences, who have forgiven, grown, healed. People who care a lot and won’t stop trying no matter what. 

Whether it is marriage or adoption or siblings or in-laws, relationships can be complicated at their worst and as simple as ABC at their best. 


Two of my sons are marrying this fall season. One of my new daughter-in-laws uses the hashtag #tistheseasontobemarried and I believe she must be right! These young couples are committing to love each other and prefer each other and to be in a binding, legally and spiritually, relationship. 

Adoption is that same sort of commitment. We commit to love and protect and provide and prefer our children. It is a binding, both legally and spiritually, relationship. So what if it doesn’t work out?

It is a terrible tragedy when relationships fail, marriages end in divorce or adoptions are disrupted. There is sure to be plenty of pain and hurt. But we all know that these things do happen. Love is risky. People are people. Relationships can be complicated. 



So why in the world would we even try? Why would we marry, adopt, love or commit when there is such a great risk involved?

Because there is also such great hope! So many great possibilities! So much potential!  Relationships, people, marriage, family, adoption and love are all worth every ounce of any risk involved. 

Family is a relationship of commitment, both legally and spiritually. Family begins with two people, who are not related by blood or biology, committing to one another, both spiritually and legally. And sometimes it grows by the birth of children, and sometimes it grows by the adoption of children and sometimes it grows because we choose to open our hearts to people we love and cherish, just because we want to. 



Many times people hesitate when considering adoption, wondering if they can love a child that is not biologically theirs. What if it doesn’t work out? What if the relationship fails? What if there are personality clashes? What if a million things?

If you are going to focus on the ‘what ifs’ you’re going to live a life full of fear and that’s no way to live. If you are going to avoid any emotional risks, you’re going to live a life of loneliness and that’s no way to live. If you refuse to see the possibilities, the potential, you’re going to live a limited life and that’s no way to live. 



Whatever you do? Whatever you choose? Whatever you decide? Don’t let fear, regret, past experiences or failed relationships cause you to give up on love. Love has never and will never, give up on you. 

So Loved 

Yesterday my five youngest children and I made a one-day, out-of-town road trip and I was the driver. It was a very beautiful and happy day spent with lots of folks we love. 


Naturally, on the drive home I was doing a lot of thinking and pondering. Things like, never ever give up on the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish. His love is the most powerful force on earth and can change situations, people’s hearts and the direction of a person’s life. I needed that reminder. Maybe you did too. 

Another truth that is stamped on my heart was verified yesterday. There’s an old adage that says you can’t pick your family. I’d like to firmly disagree. Yes you can. Marriage is a perfect example. A choice to be family is made. Adoption is another example. A choice to become family is made. But there are other examples as well when no judge declares anything at all. Instead hearts declare belonging to one another because we so love them. 

You may not can choose who you are related to by blood, but you do get to choose your family. I’ve chosen well. Not only by marriage and adoption, but also by relationship. By caring and loving and praying and connecting and communicating and hoping and helping and sometimes the biding of time, by so loving them. 


During the next few weeks I will be in four different states visiting family. I will see two dozen family members. I am blood related to less than half of those, only nine to be exact. And yet, they are all my family. 

How can that be? I’ll tell you clearly how. Because love trumps blood, love trumps hate, love trumps differences,  love trumps distances, love trumps circumstances and love even trumps the law of the land sometimes. Relationships are formed when commitment is made, time is invested and choices are lived out. I so love them. 

Today I am loving the beauty of love. The choices we make, the lives we live, the paths we walk and yes, oh yes, the families we have!

Below is a photo of a few of my most beloved family members. I don’t share a single drop of blood with any of them. What we do share is love and let me assure you I so love them!


Below is another photo. This one is a photo of my mother and sister with whom I share blood. Guess what? We are family, not because of blood but because of relationship, precious memories, laughter and the bonds of love! I so love them. 


I can’t conclude my thoughts without adding this. The MOST important family decision you can ever make will be to become a part of the family of God. Choosing to be adopted into His family, as His child, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ will be the most life-altering decision you ever make. You know why? Because of love, once again, because of love. He so loves us. 

Friends Matter

We all know the importance of family in our lives and the tremendous impact that family has upon us, both good and bad. But there is another extremely important group of folks that we get to choose, unlike who we are related to. It is our friends. 

Our pastor has said many times ‘show me your friends and I’ll show you your future’. And every time he says that I say AMEN! It’s the truth, our friends can change the course of our lives. 

The Bible has a LOT to say about friends. Parents have SO much to say about friends. Teens are determined to defend their friends. Even to a pre-school child, friends matter. Relationships can be ruined by the wrong friends. You can have opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise with the right friends. 

What is a friend anyway? That word like many others has been diluted to the point of little value. Like the word love for instance. We say we love tacos and we love a song and we love all kinds of stuff and people. We have school-friends, FB friends, work-friends, internet-friends, church-friends and some of these friends we hardly even know. 

A true friend is someone you can share your dreams with and know they won’t laugh at you. A real friend is someone you can confess your failings to and know they won’t shun you. A genuine friend is someone who will hold you accountable while holding you up. A friend worth having is one whom you will call when you’re in trouble and need help. 

A friend can be a great treasure. They might loan you a twenty, watch your kids or listen to your troubles. They may help you with your project, tell you when you’re wrong and love you anyway. They can encourage your heart and challenge your soul. Friends matter. 

A friend can also bring you low and urge you to do things you know are wrong. They can flame the fire of your dissatisfaction and justify your bad choices. They might insist that you join them in the pigpen and wallow in the mud with them so you are as stinky as they are to prove you are their friend. 

Consider who you have surrounded yourself with today. Who do you exchange ideas with and have discussions with? Who are you allowing to influence and impact your future, your family and your choices? 

Perhaps we should all consider our friends carefully and the consequences that may result. Friends matter. 

Rewrites

I’m admittedly new to this author adventure. So, I’m learning a LOT along the way, so very much. Sometimes I learn what not to do by doing the wrong thing and realizing that did not work. I’ve decided that writing a book is a lot like living your life. Here is what I mean. 

I had a lot of down time as I drove about ten hours yesterday returning from a mini-vacation in Florida with my girls. We enjoyed ourselves so much and even though it was very windy, enjoyed our time on the beach. It was so windy that there was a good bit of sea foam. There were dragon kites being flown and kite-boarding being enjoyed. The wind is a powerful force. It can move the water, it can lift a person off the ground if they capture it, it can also, suddenly, change directions. 

  
My daughters both slept a good bit and the van was quiet and I began to think about my current book that I’m working on. It is the second of a trilogy all of which I’ve already written in first draft form. As I contemplated the rewrites that needed doing and the changes I wanted to implement, I came to a startling conclusion. I need to completely change the ending of book two. I am so fond of the way it ends at present that this is a big deal for me. As a matter of fact, it’s the perfect ending to lead to the third book. 

So, why am I rewriting it? Because the winds have changed directions. Because I’ve decided to include a fourth book which must be inserted between book two and three. This changes everything. This means a lot of work. This means extra effort, rearranging, going back to the storyboard, remapping, etc. I don’t have to do it, nobody can make me do it, I choose to rewrite the ending so that I can expand my story. If I am to include this fourth book, a rewrite is required. 

Ok, not sure if you followed all of that, it doesn’t really matter if you did or not. Here’s the point I want you to take away with you today as you read this. 

Life has a way of demanding rewrites. 

Just about the time you have it mapped out in your brain and rather counting on things ending up a certain way, WHAM! Out of no where, things go awry. 

I bet you that almost immediately a moment came to mind as you read that. Maybe it was a grievous loss of a loved one. Perhaps it was a life-altering disease. It could have been a divorce, a prodigal child, a career change, a terrible decision on your part or the spiteful behavior of a person you thought you could count on. Whatever it is, it has changed everything, including the ending of your story. 

Now, you may not have chosen this calamity, this curve ball and you may feel a bit disoriented that things aren’t turning out as you expected they surely would. But you do have choices. You get to decide whether you will stubbornly stand your ground and insist things must be how you are convinced they should be or whether you are willing to rewrite and create a beautiful new story. 

Y’all, listen carefully to your heart. If it is hurting it may be angry, it may be sad, it may be sorrowful. Listen to your heart and then when you are done listening, roll up your sleeves and get busy. Maybe go back to the original story board and move some moments around. Write your rewrites in pencil, just in case you need to make more changes later. Rethink what really matters. Consider what can be changed and what, no matter how much you wish you could, can not be changed. Then, find your courage and find a new ending or a new beginning or a new twist in the story of your life and let the rewrites begin. 

After all, rewrites can be an opportunity to improve your story, make it better and more complete. Today is your opportunity. Today is the day you can begin again, head a new direction, write a different ending.