His Mercy

"His Mercies Are New Every Morning"

A Thought

In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

Prayer Quote

“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis

Faith

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sisters

Anna and Erika..... Enjoying each other.
 They said they miss being together. (sharing the same room)
So now they are spending time together outside of their room. :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Conversation

Before bedtime:
Alli: "I feel like I'm starving!"
Me: "Get something to eat."
Alli: "I'm not hungry."
Me.: What am I supposed to do with that?
Alli: "I don't know, you're the mom, you know everything. :)
Me: "You're thirsty, get a drink of water!"

Anna's joke for me today:

"My dog is so lazy that she chases parked cars.  She has a recorded bark for when the mail man pulls up.  In fact she's so good at playing dead, I buried her 5x's."

( I think this was from the Jay Leno book for kids on how to tell jokes)  She couldn't remember where she got it. :)

And lastly, somebody googled "clothing stretcher" and landed on our blog here. <----   I wonder what they thought? :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Onion


I really like the correlation of the onion in regards to trauma.  The onion has a very thin paper shell layer on the outside that doesn't make your eyes water.  But it is dry and lifeless.

When you get to the next layer, your eyes really don't sting or water,  but that layer has a strong aroma.  The more you cut into your onion, and peel back the layers, the thicker they are and the more pungent.  Your eyes begin to tear up and it is hard to stand there and continue to cut that onion.
You want to turn away..... as it is hard to face.

With trauma, the surface doesn't seem so hard.  And you can function , on a surface level,  not dealing with anything.  But relationships can remain surface. 
And it is OK to stay there and rest.  After all, a runner doesn't learn to run a marathon in a day, a week or even a month.   It takes a long time to build up endurance.
Sometimes the deeper things are too much, and need to be left to rest a while. 

But that time comes when it is time to go back to work and cut some more into that onion.  Coming at it this time with the safety and security of  parents makes a huge difference because parents walk through it with you.  Looking at the scary things and sorting through them with better understanding can keep us from being haunted by the past.

This week with Miss Alli has been very productive in the onion/layer/discovery area. :)
Some things were shared from long ago in Russia that had been haunting her.  It doesn't shock me that she just might have some "issues" with what happened to her little life, and the events afterwards.

It is my prayer that someday, her bio siblings can step in that gap and help her to remember and process the things that occured when she was just 7 years old.  Another person's perspective can shed light on those memories; especially because they were  older than she was, and may remember things from an older child perspective.  Possibly they can fill in the gaps for her.

I don't know about you, but there are very few things I remember from when I was 7, and those things I do remember, I remember with the understanding of a seven year old.  However, traumatic things are catalogued and remembered in our brains as traumas, and working through them is important.
I am so pleased that our sweetie has used some of the tools we have given her to process her loss.
Her journal has proven to be a great asset to her.  Writing letters that may never be delivered, but writing them anyway, and video projects have helped her too.  She  made a a video gift<<<---- Linked for her sweet sister for her birthday in 2012.
She may never get it, but it made Alli feel better to make it.

She loves her bio siblings and misses them terribly.  She worries about them; if they are ok, or if they miss her or are sad or mad at her.  Those are normal feelings. 

Those questions in her heart may  or may not be answered in this lifetime.  I pray that no matter what happens, she will be able to accept her circumstances and remain steady, knowing that God is in control, and HE is enough.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Morning Devotion

This a.m. Papa led us in the morning devotion.  The verses lept from the page and filled my heart, and the hearts of my girls.

Proverbs 3: 1-12

Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart

My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success[a]
    in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh[b]
    and refreshment[c] to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

Papa told the girls, "Do you know that mama and I delight in you?" 
"Did you know that God delights in us?" 

To trust the Lord means we don't have to have everything figured out. We don't have to understand all the deep things that have happened in our lives.  He knows!  There is comfort in the fact that God knows, understands and has our very, best interest in mind to bring us to healing and refreshment.

Working hard with our children to bring them to a place of trust, instead of only trusting themselves  is a hard process, and our reproof or correction, is always intended for their good.  It does not come from a place of  anger or reaction because they have annoyed us.  Instead it is meant to lead them to the true source of life......the Living Word, the Living Bread, the gentle shepherd....Jesus Christ. 

In Christ, there is the refreshing water of redemption.  We can bask in the love, peace, hope and joy of our Savior.  And the things of this world are put into proper perspective.
The momentary sufferings in this life are like a fleeting breath in light of eternity.

Pressing forward!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Date Night

 They wanted us to kiss, but we just didn't want to give each other cooties!
We had a really nice evening at a restaurant that had great service and an outside patio!
It was pleasant enough to eat outside.   Love my man. :)

It's Bluebonnet Time

 It is a Texas tradition to get pictures taken when the bluebonnets bloom.  This year we took them by the lake where we swim in the summer.
 They are all growing up!
 
Love my girls! :)

Change Of Scenery

I wrote a post <--- link last year about how we implemented a change of scenery to bring about healing and peace. 
In the webinar I hosted last night, the issue of "Changing Scenery" came up, and I wanted to  expand on that concept to bring about better understanding.

When a child gets stuck in a negative behavior or as BCLC calls it, a "negative feedback loop",  the point is that they are truly STUCK.  They do not know how to stop, or how to change the direction they are going.
That is where we parents come in.  We have to guide them to a place of felt safety so they can let go.
Many children who are "stuck" suffer from PTSD and truly "feel" threatened when they act out.
This could be on a conscious level or a sub conscious level. 

Changing the scenery is NOT a logical linear act.  For us, it may seem is,  illogical.
Because bad behavior in our minds = consequences.  "You do this, I do that."  It is a tit for tat scenario.  So just "deal with it"..... "If you don't want consequences, don't act out!"

We can find ourselves becoming drill sargeants passing out consequences in a continuous flow and suddenly we become combatant enemies. 

If you don't want this, I know I don't, then how can we bring about permanent change?  
                                                 Get out of the loop! 
     So, how do you do that?  You change the scenery.  When I say "change the scenery"  I am not talking about taking somebody shopping and buying them gifts to make them stop yelling at you.
That is called bribery!   That is what you see in the grocery store when a child is screaming at the top of their lungs and the parent opens the crackers or chips the child is demanding and gives it to them to make them stop.  This is not only bad for the child, it is also modeling stealing, because those chips have not been payed for!

Changing scenery has a purpose.   The purpose is to get the person who is stuck, out of stuck mode.
Just like a car that is stuck in the mud and needs a tow truck to pull them to safety, our children need us to pull them into safety.

Rocking, walking, going to a park to breathe in the fresh air and smell the flowers, can breathe new life into a very weary child and a very strained relationship. 
If this action takes them from a place of rage to a place of safety and love, you have begun the first steps towards healing.

Even with a child who says, "I don't care!" as they hurl words of pain towards you.   Your response to  them, putting yourself aside, and getting them out of that loop will bring them to a place of caring.

So I ask, if a child is raging for hours, and you have a tool to use to bring calm back into their life, why not use it?  Is it rewarding bad behavior to take a walk?  I don't think so. 
When we think this way it is because we are not looking at the whole child and only focusing in on the negative behavior.   The behavior is there for a reason.  The child is dysregulated.  To participate with them in a regulating activity can bring them to a place where their brain can function well and when they are ready, give you opportunity to lead and guide them. You can do this through  role play, offering new tools to help them keep from going into full meltdown,  and reassuring them you are on the same side. 
Consequences that are not natural, do not connect with the illogical mind or even with the logical mind.  
A child will not be able to connect, "Because you didn't do your homework, you have to go to bed 15 minutes early.  Or, "Because you were snotty to mom, you lose your video games for the day."
These types of consequences don't really teach and lead to understanding and improvement. For the dysregulated child, they can actually cause the child to spiral further out of control.  They may feel that they are being singled or mistreated.

Relationship is of utmost importance.  Building relationship through natural consequences can lead to a stronger relationship.   If you child didn't finish homework, the natural consequence is a bad grade.
You can offer compassion to them, and then say, "You know, I just bet you can do better next time!"
"I know you don't want a bad grade!"  "Maybe we can study together tonight."  And suddenly, homework is no longer a battle, but driven by the child's desire to do well.

If a child talks back or uses snotty talk, of course it must be addressed.  But for a child who is stuck,  how you address it is so very important. 

We have used the "change the scenery" tool now and then. It is not something we have had to do often, and I want to emphasize that behaviors do change.  Healing does take place and you will not be in a mode of constant meltdowns and upheavel forever.  
Things will get much better as relationship solidifies.
Also remember that grief can come in waves, and sometimes old behaviors can return briefly.
It is then we can get caught off guard and not do what is best.

A little about our own words:

"Good for you! You calmed right down!"  "Thank you for rocking with me. I love it when we rock together."  "Why would you act like that?"  "How dare you talk to me like that!"
As you learn about your child's struggles, remember that your words of encouragement go a long way in helping them to healing.  Words of discouragement can cause them to remain, stuck.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seven Years

One of the workers there saw that she had potential.  She worked with her, teaching her how to walk and talk. 
We did not meet this woman on our trip to get Erika, but we met her two years later when she tearfully came up and hugged us and shared with us how worried she was when Erika left. She was so thankful that Erika was doing well and thanked us again and again.  It is strange being thanked, when we feel so thankful. 
Erika is a treasure.  She was hidden from us for nearly 8 years, but God knew..... He was with her.
I do not understand suffering, nor do I pretend to.  But I know that Erika knew how to pray. She felt the presence of God in that awful laying room.  She remembered, and told us when she learned to speak English.
I remember when Papa Dima
went with us to the orphanage he asked her, "What are you thinking about today?"  She said, "I'm thinking about Jesus."  It wasn't until several months later that she fully understood the Gospel, putting the pieces together of Jesus coming as a baby, dying on the cross, and taking our sin upon himself.  But when she did, tears began to flow out of a thankful heart.

Erika was smart! She knew that we were not the same people who had picked up Sarah nearly 2 years before.  She told us, "You aren't them."  We had to explain to her about Sarah's disruption with the other family, and then showed her pictures of Sarah and Anna, and she poured over them with reserved excitement.  Her smile was so precious.... a nervous smile, one that was holding back out of uncertainty, yet wanting to let go and break free.

She told me that she never thought anybody would ever come for her. She cried at night after each child left or had visitors. She had none, except Papa Dima who had been coming for a couple of years to minister to the children twice a month.


She couldn't believe it was her turn, and in true Erika fashion, she was sweetly relishing and enjoying the moment. 
(at the Atlanta Airport, a new American Citizen)

That is something I really admire about her.  She doesn't forget to enjoy the moment, take it in, smell the flowers and ponder it in her heart. 

We didn't know all the physical needs Erika had, nor the ones she would have.  It didn't matter.
She is a person, not a list of disabilities.  What we have found is that she is more abled, than disabled! And she is more abled than many who do not have any physical disability!  She is lovely inside and out.  There is nothing she won't try, sometimes to a fault. :)

(Erika standing on her own for the first time after her feet amputations)







 She loves to play guitar....


She is a good teacher.

Erika we love you more than you will ever know! Happy Familyversary!




Monday, April 22, 2013

Hamsters and Healing

I wrote about 2 weeks ago that Miss Alli was all upset about hamsters.  It was one of those times where she got very dysregulated when she was told no to having a hamster in the house. 
She has wanted a hamster for a while, but her upset 2 weeks ago was not really about hamsters.
You can read that post here. <----and then here.<----

I have nothing against hamsters, nor does Mike, but we didn't feel she was ready to care for one inside, AND.... her behaviors were also showing us that something else was going on.

One thing that we have always done is keep short accounts.<---  That means, we do not linger on or choose to remember all the wrongs a child does in the moment.  I'm glad that God forgives us and He too keeps short accounts. :)  When we are forgiven, he does not throw our sin back into our face!

Miss Alli apologized 2 weeks ago for her behaviors, and did not expect to get a hamster.  But daddy asked her, "Alli, why do you want a hamster?"  She told him all the reasons why, and he once again, let her know he did not believe she was ready for one inside the house. 
What he did ask her to do was to write a few paragraphs on "Russian Hamsters" and why she wants one. 
She did exactly that, and with much effort!   She learned all about caring for them, what they eat, what temperatures they can tolerate and more.

Yesterday, after church, Mike said to her, would you like to go with me to the store?  They came back with supplies to build a hamster cage that is well made, together!  I was pleased in my heart just watching the two of them work all afternoon on a very cool outdoor cage.

They are not quite finished. The door needs to have hinges put on and she needs to get a wheel.
She is being very patient.  No begging, no demanding.  But oh so excited that a Russian Hamster will be joining the family.  She will be paying for the hamster, food and supplies.  Papa provided for the cage and made sure it will be cat proof. :)

This was a very good lesson for her!  Two weeks ago was so different from this past week. 
We are rejoicing in her success. :)

(I didn't get pictures of them making the cage together. :/  But they worked so well together I was just enjoying watching now and then from the window.  From beginning to clean up, it was a joy to see.)


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Randomness

Today has been a relaxing day in the Lord after such an emotionally exhausting week   in the United States, first with the Boston Bombing, then the lock down of Boston and police chases, and then with the huge explosion in West, Texas.  West is not very far from us.  Some of the people in our church felt that explosion.

At church, our dear elders spoke sweet words of comfort.  We were given a list of names of first responders who had died, and prayed for their families and we were encouraged to give from our hearts to help those in need.

Daddy and Alli are building a hamster cage for an upcoming Hamster.  He asked her to write a report on why a hamster would make a good pet, and include information about hamster care.  She fulfilled that, and so he is turning it into a good Alli-Daddy bonding time. :)

Sarah is getting ready to enter the Chess Tournament once again at the Home School Book fair in May, which means I get to play a lot of chess!  And then, we got in a couple of games of backgammon.  She is an amazing backgammon player. I wish they had backgammon tournaments at the book fair!


Bella our dog has learned to play ball by herself!  She cracks us up when we watch her pick up her ball, run across the yard, drop her ball off, run back, get a drink of water and then head for the ball again and repeat. LOL

The girls and I enjoyed singing hymns today while we were playing games and even came up with some harmonies that worked!

I caught Anna looking like such a pretty lady, sitting on the couch reading. :) 


Erika is making a notebook of all my recipes.  Most things I do not measure, but just put things together and they seem to work. 
 I made a Lemon Cake a few weeks ago that everybody loved, and yesterday, as I was making one for a pot luck,  she made me tell her exact ingredients.  Soooo the recipe is now written down!

I also made this cleaner. 
I am planning to try it tomorrow.  It has been in the jar 2 weeks.  Time to strain and use. :)
It is made of grapefruit peels and vinegar.


I think tonight, we're just going to hang out together! I could totally do the Swiss Family Robinson thing! :)
I'm looking forward to a peaceful week!

Tree Climbing

 This is the one I did get that I must have saved!    Erika, Alli, Sarah and a friend Caroline all holding hands.
 Alli challenged me to give it a try.


 It is quite a work out to inch your way up.
 At the top
Holding hands with Alli.

You Are Still Holy

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