Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Coming out of the Desert

I keep having to remind myself that this is real. It has been 9 years of dealing with the behaviors that come with attachment disorder. Truthfully I had resigned myself to 9 more years until I assumed our daughter would follow through on her plan to "run away" at the age of 18 and that would be it. I honestly saw it as a prison sentence at times. I know that doesn't sound "pretty" but believe me not much about these last 9 years has been pretty. So now suddenly, for about a month now, our daughter has started to open up. I see her as slowly beginning to blossom. She has not had one of her outbursts or rants for a month now. I have even gone away for a week with our 2 oldest children on a missions trip and came back expecting her to be angry at me for being gone. (for abandoning her) I've been home for a week and a half now and things are still calm. There have been brief moments, like when she felt like she messed up her summer reading assignment, that she started to get mad at herself, but we were able to talk about it and she calmed right down. Today we even talked about me talking to her new teacher about coming into her classroom and help out. That way if she starts to feel overwhelmed or stressed (usually when she doesn't understand the work or thinks she is going to have a lot of homework that she won't be able to understand or not be able to finish her classwork on time) she will have me there to help her out. She was very relieved at the idea that I would be there for her. (This is counter intuitive to what we had been thinking. She seemed fine in school but then seemed to lose it at home. I had always thought she was just combative with me due to the attachment disorder and the thinking that she felt she didn't need me.)The therapist has recently suggested that our daughter has stress over being separted from me all day and that the reunion at the end of the day is at first a relief but then she is angry over the fact that I hadn't been there for her.)

So here it is 9 years later, and finally there is a glimmer of hope. The other kids are adjusting to having her as a SISTER rather than as someone who lied, stole and pretended to be all nice in public while at home she was a screaming, ranting mess. Suddenly there is giggling, playing together and yes, even normal sibling bickering. ALL of which I welcome.Suddenly family time is truly FAMILY time not 6 of us doing something and she had misbehaved to the point of not being included. Believe me it is not fun to go out for ice cream with 6 of us getting a treat and one (yes the obviously adopted child) being excluded. Talk about feeling like you are being whispered about and judged. Truthfully NO ONE could have judged me harder than I judged myself. I constantly second guessed myself when it came to parenting her. I am sure it will continue. It was so difficult having a daughter that not only rejected me as her mother but also whenever (rare as it was) that we did connect, she felt that love as something she had to protect herself from.

So it has been 9 years in a desert, wandering through this thing called attachment disorder, lost, thirsting for something that could help, seeing mirages and then being bitterly disappointed when the reality of the situation slapped us again, wanting desperately to escape. Today I have tasted the refreshing relief of water. Our daughter is not cured, but there is relief for now. A time of finally seeing her. That has been the hardest part for me. Not knowing HER beyond her pain and defensive wall building that she did to protect herself from feeling loved. Now I am beginning to see her and know her. I realize that there is a long and bumpy road ahead of us. I am trusting that God will continue to walk with us and be in control. This time of coming out of the desert is something I wasn't expecting. I honestly didn't see an end to this feeling of being lost and wandering. Now I can begin to see that we might be coming out of the desert much sooner than I had thought. This is such a blessing. I had hoped she would have some time as a child. That she would not lose her entire childhood to this disorder. That she would feel loved and trust. A few weeks ago she said that she looked forward to a time when she could tell her children about how she overcame this. How it had been a rough time but she got through it and it turned out good. I look forward to that time too.

Read more: http://www.mylivesignature.com/wizard2_2.php#ixzz0hibhVBrM

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thoughts After My First Missions Trip

On Saturday I returned from my first missions trip. It was through Youth Works and was based in Harrisburg, PA. Our church sent 7 adults and 28 youths on this trip. I was blessed to attend with my two oldest children. 
Going into the trip, I thought it was going to be a fun experience for the 3 of us to share together. God had other plans. I did not have either one of my children in my work group, so we basically saw each other in passing at meals and in between activities in the evenings. It was an interesting experience to let them go like that. 

For me, I experienced friendship, acceptance and got to know some great youth and amazing people in the Harrisburg community. I met Sue and Vern who just pour out love, support, and everything they have back into the community, reaching out to those who fall through the cracks in society. What was even more amazing was to watch how their "family", those that used to be homeless but now live in the homes Sue and Vern own, pour back into the community themselves. They reach back to those still living on the streets and offer a hand in any way they can to help them get off the streets. The homes are a safe haven in a very rough part of the city. (Sue referred to it as the "ghetto" herself) One of the big "take homes" for me was how much I could do differently with the same 24 hours that I have. Something as simple as just putting out free vegetables on a table for the taking. There were also the "ugly" sleeping bags. Sue and Dan (a family member who used to live on the streets) explained that a nice sleeping bag could be sold for money or could be something you would be killed for. The solution is to make these "ugly" sleeping bags that are very warm and are filled with items like a hat, scarf, a hymn, hygiene items and a pad to keep the moisture from the ground from soaking your sleeping bag. These sleeping bags are very warm and are made with love. I can only imagine how comforting it must be to snuggle down into a hand made "ugly" sleeping bag, knowing that the love of Jesus was with you. Sue and Dan gave me one and I look forward to making them with the youth group at our church and sharing them with others who live out on the streets. The one other thing that struck me was that some of the "ugly" sleeping bags were made smaller and out of fabrics for children. There are children out there sleeping under the bridges that we drive by and over. Makes it a little easier to give up some of my time to help make these sleeping bags when I think of the people who will be sleeping in them. 
A rolled up Ugly Sleeping bag. Notice the ties used to tie it up.

Inside the UGLY sleeping bag are items to help the recipient.

Our group also spent some time playing BINGO at a home for the elderly. It is amazing how much joy the game of BINGO brings to someone. The time we take to talk with someone who does not have visitors is such a small amount of time for us but is so meaningful to them. Just helping out to wheel people down to the sanctuary for Hymn singing is such a help to the workers. They dedicate their time to help people during this time in their life when many others avoid them or get too busy to visit them. It only takes an hour to help out, to smile, ask how someone is doing, to just make some sort of contact with someone, to just show that you care about them, but that small amount of time out of my week can make such a difference. 

That is what I discovered this week, that just being present for others is more than enough to make a difference. To show another person that they matter and are worth caring about is all that it takes to spread God's love. That is what I learned about how I can use the same 24 hours in better ways to share God's love. I am not always going to be God's feet by going under the bridges to search out the homeless, but I can be the one who puts together "ugly" sleeping bags with our youth group to be given to the ones who do go to the bridges. 

Each one of us can be used by the Holy Spirit to do God's work and pour out His love onto His children.