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― C. S. Lewis

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary Sweet Alli part 3

To God Be the Glory Great Things He Has Done, So Loved He The World That He Gave Us His Son.....
When Alli and I were in the hotel, she mentioned to me on day 2 or 3 that she had this secret to tell me.  Honestly...my heart went into my throat on the inside.... I was afraid to hear her secret.  I was nearly panicked! I won't mention what I was thinking.  But I was GREATLY RELIEVED when she revealed her secret.
"I have this really bad side!" 
"You do!"  "Well, I have a secret to tell you too!"  "I have a bad side too!"

You should have seen the look on her face! LOL
I went on to tell her about the true nature of her bad side. EVERYBODY HAS ONE! EVERYBODY!
It is called a Sin Nature.
"Did you know that?"
She replied, "No." 
"Did you think you were the only one?"
"Yes".....
How very sad, that she felt so badly about herself.  How very sad that she had not understood that everybody has emotions and anger and fear.

We had many talks that carried into our home life. One talk built upon another until Alli acutally understood the gospel. 
There is NOTHING you can do to be good enough. Only God is good enough.  We lay our sin at HIS feet and HE carries us, bears our burdens and changes our hearts.

We began to pray with her every morning when she awoke.  And we began to see HUGE changes in her.  Most of our times were rather peaceful with a big storm in between.  It was a pattern we would see.

The pattern would be happy and calm, then work to slightly jealous, then irritated easily, then Kaboom!
This meant up a tree, or running to her bed or saying something rude.  
As we worked through this, we found ways that calmed her and ways that didn't.  We adjusted our approach and had many talks in preparation for the next time.  She participated readily in these talks and we always came to agreements on what was best to do.

In the mean time, we also explained to her (I have written extensively about this in other posts) how when your life is mostly Chaos, normal seems odd and unfamiliar.  We comforted her in the midst of her pain, reassuring her that she was going to make it.  We were ALL going to make it!

We spent our school days working on vocabulary and building reading skills.  She REALLY NEEDED to go back to basics.  And it has payed off!  She is almost ready to move into a more age appropriate grade.

We have learned so many things about our precious daughter this year.  She is KIND. She is SENSITIVE. She WANTS to obey. She WANTS to LOVE and be LOVED.    She just didn't know how. :(
Honestly, one of the worst things a person can do to a child is to make them feel that they are unworthy of love.  This happened to her over and over again. 

But in Scripture.... HE is worthy. We don't have to be. We are LOVED pure and simple.  Alli is loved not because of how she performs or what she does, but because she deserves to be loved.
She had never experienced that before.  It was hard for  her to accept. She tried to reject it.
The more she rejected, the more we loved.  And finally, she allowed the Waves of Love to roll over her fully.  She was overcome with joy and peace....and she asked the Lord Jesus to change her.

That was about 6 months ago.  
And WHAT A CHANGE!


We saw it immediately.  The struggle was less. The anger was less. And when we spoke to her about sin, she responded immediately. 
Our baby was HOME.... she reached a place of peace and rest that many people never achieve in a lifetime.

She is not perfect. Neither am I.  But oh the fellowship we have together. :) 

I took her out today for a special time. As we were talking she said, "Mama, I never dreamed I would make it to a whole year!"  "Now I KNOW I am here forever!" 
I told her, "And next year, it will be two years, then three, and before you know it, daddy will be walking you down the aisle!" 
She had this big, satisfied grin on her face.
Yes.... she is home! :)

This Sunday, our sweetie is going to be Baptized.  One of the things we ask our children to do, is to give a testimony in front of the church.  This is Alli's personal testimony. Written in her own words:

                                                                   My Testimony

I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus was the Messiah and that He died of our sins.  I believe that some people go to hell and some go to heaven.
I do not believe in Jesus because I do not want to go to hell, but because I know He is real and that He can change people, because He has changed me.

He has brought me where He wants me to be, in a good place and a family that is good to people and that trust in Him.  I believe in God! :)

I was in a hotel with my mom. I really didn't know about God, so I said that I had a really bad side. Mom said, "every body does, but God can change that if you pray to Him."
And then I was home and I learned more about God. I prayed every day and my bad side started to go away a little at a time.  I realized a pattern. If I did not pray the day will not be very good. If I did pray, it would be a good day.
I went to church with my family and I met this AWESOME Preacher.  He was really nice and I learned more about God. I said I wanted to be baptized.
I found out taht my bad side was because we are all sinners, and I felt really bad that we are sinners. I wish we were not sinners.  I found out that Jesus died for our sins and that He washes our sins away!
I felt bad about sin because God does not like sin and it makes Him sad. I do not want God to be sad. I want Him to be happy. And that is how I became a believer.
Since I became a believer my life has changed. I now trust my parents and God has helped me be part of a family.

Alli

On Sunday, I will take a picture and then we will all go and celebrate at the famous
Chuck E. Cheese! :)

( for those new to this blog... I have chronicled the best I can our first year with Alli, who is originaly from Russia. She came to America at 9 and a half.  Unfortunately her adoption disrupted, and then her second adoption also disrupted. We are her 3rd family in the U.S. ( not including respite care and her birth family, and orphanage experience)  She is a living and true miracle. :)

See Parts one and two here and here.

Happy Anniversary Sweet Alli part 2


I asked Alli if she liked swimming.  Oh there was a smile and a yes!  And then there was sadness.  I don't have a bathing suit!
"That's ok, we can go and get one for you."
Her next response was, "I don't think I'm allowed to go into stores?"
"Why not?"
"Because I'll ask for things."
"Well, how about if we go into the store, and you try not to ask for things!"
"Ok"..... She was actually AFRAID.
There is more to that story that I will not go into here.  :(

So, we held hands and we walked into target. We walked down the aisles and looked at things, and then we walked out. :) 
"There, was that scary?"
"No."
"So do you think we can look for a suit?"
YES! big smile
And we went in and found a bathing suit.  We also found some tennis shoes because her shoes were too small. 
We were SO FORTUNATE! The Lord was SO GOOD TO US!  My dear friend JJ lives about 5 hours away.  She also has 2 sons, one from Russia and her newest son, from UKRAINE, who was also recently adopted through DISRUPTION! 
They came to the hotel on their way through town and Alli got to meet them. I was so happy!
We went to Dinner together and I remember E saying, in that thick Ukrainain Accent, "Hello! You will be fine! I too have been adopted by disruption!" "I too had another family!"  "I like my new family!"
He became Alli's hero! :)
During Dinner, she layed on my lap and cried a little, but we made it through dinner.  They had her favorite, mashed potatoes and gravy with extra gravy.

Of course after dinner we went to swim and both boys helped her to the edge of the pool like little gentlemen.  I think that little girl crush has never gone away. LOL
Our son and daughter in law and grandsons also came and spent a weekend with us. We had a wonderful time and the boys were a great distraction for Alli. :)

I realized that Alli had not seen much of her new State, so I wanted to make sure she got to see the museums before we left and learn more about where she was living. 

We went to several museums and had a wonderful time!



 We reassured everybody, that THEY needed to be nice and REALITY is, we will need to get used to each other.  There will be misunderstandings, but we will work through them. We are a team!
 And here is the first meeting in Dallas
 We had already made plans to go to Great Wolf Lodge, so we added a person, and went. We weren't sure if Alli was ready for such an excursion, but overall she did really well. She had some overwhelm, but we were able to work through it.  Sarah had an awful time because she had broken out in HIVES.  She was struggling with hives from about 3 weeks after Alli arrived. Honestly, I think it was an emotional reaction to all the changes, not a food allergy.  Alli was very controlling of Sarah in the beginning, and we really had to work through some jealousy issues.  We fully expected this, but it was still hard for everybody. 
When a child is so hurt, and so rejected, things don't just get better overnight!

 Alli won 1,000 tickets in the game room! Oh my was that a treat!
Alli really struggled with the loss of her biological brother and sister.  They were together until she was 10, but the relationship within her family was unhealthy... that is how they became orphans in the first place.
She misses them, but has resigned herself that they cannot be together.  ( I decided to show the entire picture, because it is elsewhere on the internet.... I have come across it several times.  So, here it is.)

One of the big things we had to work through, was the grief and loss of her families. She did not connect her behavior to her losses.  That was a tricky one.   They WERE related, but it was not her fault.  Explaining  to her that her behavior did not effect her standing in our family, but that it DID in other families was difficult.  She also had to learn that her behavior DOES MATTER. You cannot just act out when you feel like it.  There are ways to express disappointment, anger, fear, frustration, without having fits or tantrums or attacking others verbally. 

I would say the bulk of our year, especially in the beginning, was in untangling the hurt and mess of her past, and helping her learn to cope and look forward to her future.   We had times of feeling defeated and triumphant.  Times of confusion and times of clarity.
Convincing her that she REALLY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ENGLISH well enough was a huge breakthrough.  Getting her to TRUST once again was a huge.  Children who have been hurt and rejected over and over and over again, have a tendency to have major TRUST issues.  This causes major LOVE issues too.  Alli was considered to be RAD, and I would say she definitely WAS at one point.  BUT at this time, I would no longer consider her RAD.  Just as Anna healed, she is healing.

She is VERY attached to us and expresses her love and affection for us.  She is no longer as REACTIVE as she used to be.  Oh my! For awhile, it was often, and then as she learned other ways to relate and communicate, it   began to spread out more and more, and now it is minimal. 
I would say the majority of the time, she is as sweet as can be to everybody.  And is well within NORM for any sibling issue.  Sadly, this was not the case in her previous families.
About Sibling Issues:
One thing that both Mike and I do not ever let go, is an issue with siblings.  If there is discord, it can effect the entire family.  So, it is dealt with right away.  Alli has learned that siblings can be best of friends. They can disagree and not be angry or argumentative.  They can do different things and that is ok. It is not a rejection of one wants to ride a bike and the other wants to roller skate.  She has learned that it NEVER works to accuse another.  (We do not correct behaviors in front of each other. If we need to talk to more than one person, it is in private, and the other person is never discussed. Meaning we talk to Alli about Alli, and Sarah about Sarah. etc.  We do not talk with Alli about Sarah or Sarah about Alli.)  We will deal with the issue directly related to the person in question. PERIOD.

This was hard for her to accept at first, and we got a lot of "but...she did this or she did that"......
And we would repeat.... Yes, we know. We are talking you about what you did. :)

Over the year Alli taught ALL of us that we can be stretched to love more, to be patient more, to be kind more and to reach out to each other more.... pray more.....ALL of us! 
I have watched the relationships form this year between all of the Noelles and it has been amazing to watch.  They have each struggled and triumphed and found a place of peace and comfort  with each other.
Probably one of the most interesting things about this year, (that is not about Alli) has been watching how Anna has related to Alli and all her hurts.  Anna could really relate to Alli and  TOTALLY understands her.  Anna would often talk to me and tell me things that were very helpful in trying to reach Alli.  The two of them have a very special bond.  Anna really stepped up and became a dear big sister to Alli.  Alli really looks up to her.
TO BE CONTINUED.......

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary Sweet Alli part 1

This was Alli a few months after coming home.
Last year at this time, we were minding our own business and had no idea that God was going to intervene in our family  once again and change it forever.  Last year at this time,  the little girl we had been told about the October before, was fading from our memories, other than to pray for her now and then.  We had been told the opportunity was not there, and all was over.

And then, On March 1st we got a call.  "Do you remember the little girl we talked about last October?"
"Yes"
"Are you still interested?"
"We were never NOT interested. Why?"
"You need to be in NC tomorrow! ASAP. "

I was in shock.  We were doing our school work on a non eventful day, and suddenly, our entire lives were turned upside down!

"WOW! TOMORROW?" "Don't we have time to drive?"
"No, you will need to fly."

And thus began our Journey into adoption for our 4th Noelle; Miss Alli. :)
Suddenly we were given details and information that we didn't know all about before. I was packing, looking for airline tickets, talking to excited girlies, planning for meals, and schooling, and transportation.... all at one time. 
And before I knew it, I was off on a great adventure ALL ALONE!  We couldn't do it any other way.
It was exciting and scary!  I was going to a place I had never been, renting a car, driving to a mysterious office and then, by that evening, meeting our daughter for the very first time.

In my mind, I was wondering, "What will she do? How will she react?  What makes me think I can parent her?  Is this really happening?  What if she won't come with me?" 
As I rented the car, I was shaking, LITERALLY SHAKING!  And then, when I turned on the vehicle, the radio was already on, and already set to a station. 
I started to drive and over the radio came on "It is well with my soul" and another song about Peace.... and then a sermonette on Peace and trusting the Lord.  And that is when I knew that I knew that I KNEW, we were going to be ok.   The Lord was with me.  With us.  And even though we knew we had a huge road ahead of us, and that it would not be easy, it was the path that the Lord has chosen for us to travel down.  There is a security and peace that comes in the midst of a storm, when you know the Lord is holding you. Literally HOLDING you. :)

As we pulled up into the Walmart Parking Lot, we couldn't see the car we were looking for.  The attorney called the couple, and they explained that we were at the wrong Walmart.  The attorney continued driving another 15 minutes until we got to the right one.  And there, we pulled into the garden section of the parking lot.
How strange to pick up a child in a parking lot. :( 

I asked them if they would join us for dinner and they said no.  I understand, I guess.  I wasn't thinking about them really, but about Alli's transition and how it might make things a little less blunt to sit together and then at least have some conversation first.  But no.... they started putting her bags into the back of the car, and then, it was done. There was a quick goodbye and we drove away.

I cannot imagine being Alli.  I still shudder at how she must have felt. How VULNERABLE children are!  I asked the attorney to stop so I could get into the back seat.  I climbed into the back and began to talk with Alli, asking her what she liked.  I asked her if I could rub her back, she was tense, and she said yes.  I reassured her that I would keep her safe.  She had no reason to believe me.  I reassured her anyway.
video
                                    (Distracting ourselves in the hotel, waiting for ICPC paperwork)
Those 2 weeks in the hotel were invaluable! We had a lot of time to talk and get to know each other, without the distractions of normal family life.  She knew we were going to face that soon enough, and for HER, it had never been good..... only heartbreaking.

to be continued......

Sunday, February 26, 2012

LOVE

We have been through a very tough week around here.  Circumstances took over our lives.  Yet, The Lord was Faithful to ALL of us.  Each of us had difficulties to face, personal mountains to climb, different, yet the same. 
I had to concentrate on Erika, away from home. I poured my love into her as she faced some scary things.  My heart was also at home as the other girls were without us.  I worried, "How will they do with us gone?" Alli was very scared at the notion of Erika having surgery and us being gone.
Anna always misses us when we leave, and she had to be the big sister this time.  Sarah, well Sarah is just Sarah. :)  And then Daddy had to hold everything together.
Our dear friends also LOVED on us and took the girls each day so that Mike could work and I could relax.
What amazed me, was that everybody pulled together.  Anna stepped up to the plate, and filled those very big shoes.  Alli responded positively and trusted the Lord to get her through the rest of the week without us.   Mike was patient and kind with the girls, and managed to talk with Erika on the phone too. 
They each did THEIR part in the family, so that Erika and I could concentrate on the surgery aspect of life last week.  What a BLESSING they were to us!  They EACH showed TRUE LOVE and support for each other and for us.  I am so thankful.  My girls truly exemplified Corinthians 13 this week.
We should never lose sight of the incredible result of TRUE LOVE. 

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious or puffed up. It does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in TRUTH. Love BEARS all things, HOPES all things, ENDURES all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS.



And as our Pastor this morning so eloquently spoke about love and what it TRULY looks like... I was encouraged.  (Erika insisted on going to services this a.m.)
True love does not find joy in another person's failure.  It does not wish for another to have hardship. It truly is KIND and ENCOURAGING.... In the End.... the only thing that will last, when we get to the other side..... "LOVE".  The true kind.
 Our sleeping angel.  She is in our room right now, just in case she wakes up in pain or needs the bathroom.  I just love my sweetie.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

We Are HOME!

 Arrival at our room.
 School days never get a break.
 The amazing menu!  This is just 2 pages of menu items. There were more!  The hospital now has room service. When you are hungry, you order, any time of day until 6:00. 
 A room with a view:




 Erika's bracelet said, falls, so we wrote "Forgets" on mama's. :)
 Getting ready to go.


 The Elevator Ride

 The X rays
 The Man! (Dr. Herring)
 Erika and Robert  (he makes legs)
 Erika and Pastor Justin
 Dr. Herring again
 The other Dr.... (learning with Dr. Herring.  He likes "hips and spines". :)
 Visiting with sisters and daddy


 The nicest nurse in the world!
 Mama and Anna




 Miss Wanda.... (she also makes legs)
 Kiley... a friend from Camp.

 This is the intake area.
 And there she goes with the anesthesiologist.

 Back in our room after surgery.
 The morphine pump is doing it's job. LOL
 Visits from some very special people. :)
 Anna came in and fell into my feather bed. She misses me. :)
 Alli trying out Erika's new transportation.
 Erika received a Raggedy Ann and Andy Doll, handmade by some very special volunteers.
 Anna still misses me. :)

 Good byes from Daddy.
 Mommy and Erika did our best at Art Work. These will be fired next week and we can pick them up when we go back in two weeks. :)
 Piano lessons in the child life room.
He is a really nice man.
And here is where the doc said, we can go! :)
video
Erika has pictures from inside the operating room believe it or not. LOL

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