Saturday, June 28, 2008

How's it going with my adopted son? That's a long slow road, but we are on it. How has the internal work I've been doing with him impacted our family? Here's a scenario from yesterday concerning Pooh Bear. As the baby and only girl of our family, she's not so interested in growing up and handling things herself, so we're working on those skills.

She's been involved in a camp this week and missed Thursday when the camp t-shirts were given out. We searched through the leftovers, and to Pooh's horror, the smallest size was an adult small. She's about the size of an orange oompaloompa, so the enormous shirt will not flatter her on performance day. She pitched a nice fall-on-the- floor-in-a-heap-crying-fit when she imagined herself on stage swallowed by a mass of powder blue cotton.

Pooh Bear:"Mommy! This will make me look awful. Can we go somewhere and find other sizes?"

Me:"Miss Kim sent us here to look. Since these have the camp name and date, I know they are the only ones like them around town."

Pooh Bear: "I'll feel so stupid wearing this in front of everyone! It will go to my knees like a dress, but it's supposed to be a t-shirt. Find me a new shirt!"

Me: "Wow, honey. You sound mad! And look, you're crying. Are you sad too?"

Pooh Bear:"Yes!"

Me:"I don't have anything to do with the t-shirts, so you'll have to tell Miss Kim you are mad or sad that there aren't anymore your size. See what she says."

Pooh Bear: "I can't do that! I don't know what to say."

Me: "That's easy. Miss Kim I'm so sad, because the only t-shirts left are way too big for me." The lights are on for me. I knew if I didn't make her say this to Miss Kim she'd have stewed all day and taken it out on the rest of the family in grumpiness. It's where unresolved anger goes for her and really anyone else.

Pooh Bear: "I can't!"

Me: "I'm sitting down in this chair and waiting until you tell Miss Kim what you are upset about."

Pooh Bear tried to whine to me about it, but I refused to interact with her. I looked straight ahead with an accepting face. She moved onto Miss Kim. She spilled tears, and I saw the two embrace. Miss Kim looked with great compassion at Pooh Bear, and she suggested that we try to shrink it in hot water. Mr. Randy said she could sleep in it as pajamas. The change in Pooh Bear's demeanor was instant. I could literally see relief and peace come over her, and she practically skipped to our van with the giant shirt hanging from her arm.

Oh, this letting children solve their own anger in the moment is powerful. I could have said those same things about shrinking the shirt and pj's with much less effect. She found resolution and peace with the person with whom she'd lost it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thomas Merton Quote- oh how it fits my day

If there is no silence beyond and within the words of doctrine, there
is no religion, only religious ideology. For religion goes beyond
words and actions, and attains to the ultimate truth in silence. When
this silence is lacking, where there are only the "many words" and
not the One Word, then there is much bustle and activity, but no
peace, no deep thought, no understanding, no inner quiet. Where
there is no peace, there is no light. The mind that is hyper-active
seems to itself to be awake and productive, but it is dreaming. Only
in silence and solitude, in the quiet of worship, the reverent peace of
prayer, the adoration in which the entire ego-self silences and abases
itself in the presence of the Invisible God, only in these "activities"
which are "non-actions" does the spirit truly awake from the dream
of a multifarious and confused existence.

-- Thomas Merton
Honorable Reader: Reflections on My Work
(a collection of introductions Merton wrote for
editions of his work published in other languages)
edited by Robert E. Daggy
New York: Crossroad, 1989; p 115
I find the Gospel to be counterintuitive which may be a reason I am so drawn to it. I don't particularly like the reactions which come so naturally to me- revenge, lashing out, negative judging thoughts of others, being incredibly self scrutinizing. Thank God for a way around myself to the person I want to be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I do not linger in those places I do not want to stay. I can wake up each new day hopeful that I am created in the image of a Good and Kind God. I can live in that Image myself.

Yesterday, I had this conversation with my son. Here's a little background before I begin. His adoption issues have created in him a rejection of self. He runs like his pants are on fire from pain and lashes out with whatever verbal whip he can find lying around at anyone following after him trying to catch his broken heart. He has no sense that pain can bring positive change, so he lives in a solitary world of denial and disconnected fantasy. He does not own his anger, because he's so very afraid of further rejection, especially from me his second mother. He'll clinch his fists, stomp his feet, turn red in the face, and yell, "I'm not angry!"

Me: (I sat with a present wrapped with a bow on my lap but never referred to it) So, what do you think about anger, buddy? What comes to mind?

Son: I don't like it at all. What's in the box?

Me: You'll find out later about the box. Why don't you like anger?

Son: Anger hurts other people
Me: How about you? Does it hurt you.

Son: Yes.

Me: So do you believe anger is all bad, nothing good about it?

Son: Yes!

Me: Oh, my dear one. I am so sorry. It's a mother's job to teach children all about anger, and I see that I have failed you terribly.

Son: What ARE you talking about?

Me: I must have never told you that anger is a gift from God. I'm so sorry.

Son: What?!

Me: God created everyone with a capacity for all kinds of feelings to help us. Anger is a wonderful tool God gave to each person. It's just like a sword. How can we use a sword to hurt?

Son: (totally engaged because he's real boy who can't resist any conversation about weapons) They can cut people. Wound.

Me: Yes, anger can cut and wound when we are careless with it. How can a sword be a good tool?

Son: It can protect!

Me: Yes! I used my anger to protect you when you were a baby. Though I will always love your mother, she lived a very dangerous lifestyle, and when I heard about her jumping out a window to escape the police, I became very angry. What do you think I thought of when I heard that story?

Son: About her jumping out a window with me as a baby. I could have been killed.

Me: I couldn't let that happen, so I insisted that you be adopted to a safe home.
Is there ever a time to yell in anger?

Son: No.

Me: How about, "Don't run into the street! A car is coming!"?

Son: Yes, but I never do stupid stuff like that.

Me: Oh, honey. For you, yelling, "I'm angry!" might save your life.

Son: What? No way.

Me: Remember how you and I have long conversations and it takes 15 minutes for you to get to "I was angry, because you wouldn't let me go to my friend's house, so snuck your phone to text him"? What if you just yelled, "Mom, I'm angry! You never let me do anything!"?

Son: No. I shouldn't yell.

Me: You're gonna have to practice using the gift of anger even if it feels wrong. Texting without permission is manipulation, and that is a much more self destructive and dangerous than expressed anger. Telling or screaming at me, "I'm angry" instead of taking your anger out sideways would a huge leap forward from manipulation. If you have to yell it, so be it. I'm going to have to practice not flinching and allowing you to feel something you have been afraid of for a long time. In fact, when you yell, "I'm angry" you're getting hugs and cheers. I need you to practice, so we'll both be ready. You need to see my eyes looking at you and loving you in the hard times. Try it.

Before he began, I warned my other children, "Hey, guys. _____ will be yelling at me, but we're just practicing. It's all good." Laughs and hugs all around after he belted out, "I'm angry, because you won't give me poptarts!" Inside the present I had on my lap at the beginning of the talk is the word "anger" and a coupon for a trip for ice cream as soon as he is able to implement this skill for real. He's dying to know what's inside the box.

I wonder if this might sound like utter nonsense to you, but I believe it's a key to my son's heart. I wasn't joking when I said I failed him, and now we're learning how to make amends together.
Check out what Amy says about literacy, and what April has to say about what rocks her world.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beginnings of the 40 Day Fast

Brant has something to say about where God lives.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I don't want to say too much so as to honor my son, but I wanted to record a conversation between us today. I mentioned this is our summer to wrestle his adoption issues to the ground with him. I am quite literally studying and administering intensive therapy methods concerning bonding, and the raging tiger trapped within my beloved son has sprung from its' steel cage onto my weary back. He and I are spending huge chunks of our day in "time in". It's quite the opposite of "time out". When he's not peaceful, his consequence is to spend time with a pleasant and centered me. Staying pleasant and centered in a thunder storm of emotion brings me to my knees, again quite literally.

Today he started explaining to me that he has come to understand what all this "time in" means.

"Mom, it's like the main character in Eragon, in the book Eragon, who must stay on a stump until he learns all there is to life, because this is the method of his teacher. Eragon's kind of like me, learning by observing all the things around him. His teacher watches to evaluate Eragon's potential. You're watching to see my potential."

Ah. My little grasshopper. You are onto something big.

Reflection- not punishment. Space to be and feel deeply. Modeling respect. Hope. Healing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm serious. Not joking. I am honored to be part of this year's 40 Day Fast at Inspired to Action. The truth is I blog somewhat selfishly about my microscopic corner of world, but these folks want to make a difference in the Kingdom of God on earth. I don't take it lightly that I'm allowed to get on the train with them for these upcoming forty days.

Justice and compassion may be my most favorite words in the English language. The forty day of fasting puts feet to both words. Everyday from June 23 to August 1, a blogger is chosen to fast and blog for a ministry close to his or her heart.

My day to feature a ministry is July 11 unless something needs to change. I'm praying and working on my entry already. I'm hoping to create suspense when I say I'm not going to tell you just now about the ministry I want to feature. Just know that there's none out there like this innovative and engaging group of people serious about coming alongside the broken to heal.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just when I think I've already been to the best celebration ever, Meredith Lee puts on another fabulous shindig. The woman knows better than anyone how to gently coax out the very best in people.

Our antique hanky quilt making brunch to say goodbye to Mac was unparalleled. Great food- individual egg bakes, buttery grits, fresh fruit, basil tomatoes, morning cocktails, hazel cream and almond pastry, scalding coffee, mint ice cream with a delicate square of semi-sweet chocolate inserted. What more could a girl want? Splendid table- glass bottles for water glasses, yet more starched floral hankies for party favors, square lit candles, sundry petite vases of red-tipped yellow roses, crisp white tablecloth and napkins, white plates and serving dishes. Inspiring women- the character and grace of each astounds. Lovely and heartfelt stitching- I'll post a picture if I'm sent one soon. The finale? A glorious garden tour with fresh sprout giveaways. I inherited a spreading black-eyed susan vine, Meredith Lee basil, and grand holly hocks.

Not one soul wanted to leave.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

since i'm waking up ever so early with the summer sun, i have the morning to myself before my children rattle their little bones from slumber. my quiet time directed me to enjoy the Lord with singing and dancing. i didn't want to wake anyone so I stuck on my ipod and relaxed on the couch to my favorite everything tunes which I haven't done for a while.

so comforting. so peaceful. so moving.

peace's old cat, who largely ignores me most days though i love him to pieces, jumped up on the couch with me. He made the house shake with his thunderous purring. i understand when anne lamott compares the Holy Spirit to a cat- fully present on Her own terms.

i felt like making noise, so i stepped outside on my inviting long porch to avoid waking the quiet sleepers. a cardinal greeted me from my rosebush. two bunnies stood motionless a few feet away. a hen and a rooster rounded the bend of the house walking toward me. the cat came out with me. i giggled thinking that i was supposed to be having time alone, yet all the critters had gathered around me like i was singing A Happy Working Song from Enchanted. The dewy meadow outside my front door fit the song, David Crowder Everything Glorious.

i found myself distractable and loved this morning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Peace remembered yesterday the thrill he got as a young child from calling the public library's Dial a Story. He noticed Pooh Bear learning to use the phone lately, so he went online to find the phone number after all these years. He drew and colored a sunny landscape picture on the computer and put typed the phone number in a fun font smack dab in the middle of the green meadow on the page. Peace printed it and presented it to Pooh Bear with great majesty. Together they turned on speaker phone and dialed. Giggles everywhere as the cheesy voice read The Teeny Tiny Woman to them.

It's a mother's joy to have a teenager interested in pleasing his little sister without any kind of prompting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

i have never been taught to embroider.
today i wish i had.

my dearest grandmother knew how to transform the edges of a simple white pillow case into a work of art with brightly colored thick thread. my husband's mother or grandmother would have willingly lent me their brilliant wisdom concerning needlework. i mourn them all staring at the cloth beside me.

a gifted friend came up with the most delightful and thoughtful idea of making a delicious quilt of delicate antique hankies embroidered by hand with personal messages for our dearest friend who has moved out of town.

i'm paralyzed by fear and inadequacy just now.
my hand is not trained nor steady.
the hanky selected for me to embroider is already quite lovely. will my poor craftwomanship ruin it's elegance?
the words i've chosen to sew took but a few prayerful moments to discover- she and i share so much in common.
now the task is at hand, and i don't know exactly how to start.
i may begin the work by spending time in my garden of all places.
the labor there always teaches me something necessary on the inside.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kristen tagged me to write 10 weird things about myself. How fun~!

1. If a dessert doesn't involve chocolate, it's not a dessert.
2. My porch swing. garden, and bed are my most favorite places in the whole world.
3. It takes a lot of emotional work for me to like someone like myself. Hmmm.
4. I read many books at one time. Currently, I am reading four.
5. I still don't like donuts or sweet rolls. Never did.
6. I only like to play Scrabble if I win.
7. I love to crank up the Bono and Mary J. Blythe version of ONE and sing at the top of my lungs- even if other people are listening. Just so you know, my voice often cracks and strays far from the tune.
8. My twentieth anniversary with my true love is in August. People staying married and happy about it this long must be weird.
9. I chew an awful lot of Forever Fruit Stride gum.
10. I generally never watch movies twice, and kids movies don't usually impress me. I watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium three times now, and I could watch it many more without ever tiring of the story.

Play if you like, and let me know so I can read your post.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Conversations from the Minivan

Pooh Bear: Mommy, I keep forgetting to ask for my dolphin back that I left at my friend's house. I miss my dolphin.

Tater: You miss a dolphin? Don't you have a million other plush toys?

Me: She does want to be a dolphin trainer when she grows up. (!?not sure why she has chosen this particular career path at this point considering we are nowhere near saltwater, but at seven she does have time to change her mind?!)

Peace: Plush? You mean stuffed. When a toy is plush, that means you can press it, and it will talk.

Me: What?

Tater: Plush means stuffed, goofy!

Me: Yeah, Peace. One can describe carpet as plush. However, if you walk on plush carpet, let's hope it doesn't talk.

Peace: (in a squeaky high pitched voice) Ouch! Stop stepping on me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Crack Up

Last night at swim practice, one crazy dad and son I always enjoy appeared for the first time this year. The dad, Merk, boasts a free spirit, a gentle heart, and country boy attitude to the core. He has his own engaging language and way.
Me: "You got a garden this year, friend?"
Merk: "True, does a bear poop in the woods?"
Me: "Well, where else would a bear poop?"
Merk: "We're eating broccoli the size of tires from our garden."
Me: "Got a problem with my yellow squash shriveling on the vine."
Merk: "Needs calcium. Get the tablets at the co-op and work 'em into the soil."
Me: "With what?"
Merk: (with a growing evil grin) "Hoe around, like you always do."
Me: "Nice."
Merk: "How are all them boys of your doing?"
Me: "Good. Is your boy still sweet, or is he mean like you yet?"
Merk: "Darlin', there are two things that ruin a boy. Gasoline and perfume. He hasn't smelled either yet."

Monday, June 09, 2008

3 for 1 special

The doctor ran a three for one special today. Wise One has been struggling with a cough, had a strange infection near his hip, and a bonus plantar wart under a middle toe. The doc took care of all three with cough syrup for raspy hack, antibiotics for the infection on the leg and bronchitis, and frozen nitrogen applied to the plantars wart. Good deal, aye?

It's hot as blazes and we have our first swim meet this evening. Hoping I don't melt in the sun as I judge races.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I dig social justice. When someone comes up with a brilliant idea, the world needs to hear about it. Penni gave these ingenious people a shout out, and I want to as well.

The folks at the SAME Cafe(So All May Eat) serve their customers a delicious organic lunch, but that's not all. If one cannot pay for the healthy meal- one may work for an hour doing prep or clean up. How is that for progressive?

Check 'em out and support them in some way if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Who else is waking up with the sun and the roosters? Today I got out of bed at 6:15 a.m. for no good reason- except that I could not sleep another minute.
What's up with the fam? Since summer is the time for me to fight household clutter and neglect, I'll be working on the garage and accounting next. My joy is still in the promising sprouts and fruit appearing miraculously all over my garden, and new chicks peeping out from under proud mother hens. Buck and I are also in the throes and trenches of researching and implementing proactive solutions to adoption issues arising in our home. Tough stuff. I'm mentally and spiritually fighting each moment to stay strong, and most of all, kind.