So I heard the other day was “National Sibling Day” which I’m assuming to be similar to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day but not quite as nationally recognized. It got me thinking about my family. Not just about my husband and kids but the bigger picture. And what really makes a family, well, family. I am still learning about myself everyday and what makes me……….me, but as I am learning I always joke that there are two things I do know and have always known about this girl…the first is that I was adopted. The second being the fact I have always desired to be a stay-at-home mom and wife with a bushel of kids—both biological and adopted. So today, and for a while now, God has been nudging me to open up about those things…
When I was born, my biological mother made the most loving and then selfless decision one could ever have to make and that was to not only give me life, but then to place me for adoption. Growing up I always knew I was. And even though I always knew I was, there was times I tried to convince myself that I looked like the rest of my family, but I definitely didn’t. It just was what it was…and always will be. It didn’t really make me feel different despite that word, or looking nothing like my family, because I always knew I was loved and a still just as much a part of it as anyone else was. I will admit though, there have been times where it would be nice to know some of the history behind my adoption or who I get my insanely strong will from, but honestly, I can say I have never wondered why she did it. As a mother myself, I know it has to be the greatest act of love there is—to know that for whatever reason, you cannot give your baby the life you feel it deserves so you find someone who can. Honorable. Courageous. Selfless. I guess I have always chosen to look at the silver lining of it if you will. I have always been grateful. I know that it not only helped me to become who I am today (the good and the not so good), but it allowed me to fully understand God’s gift of family…because you see, had I limited my view of who my family was to only the blood related people in my life I would have been a real sad kid growing up…only to grow up into a real sad and probably bitter adult. Because let’s face it, until 8 years ago, I had ZERO blood relation to any of my family. By the grace of God alone, I now know what it is like to look at someone and physically see a bit of yourself in them. Does it change ‘how’ I love my kids them because they are biologically mine? Nope. I don’t love them more than I love my family from when I was a child growing up because they look somewhat like me. I might love them differently because they are my kids, but that has nothing to do with looks, genetics or how they were entrusted to me. God could have brought them to me in a cardboard box on my front porch and I would love them just the same. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful I was able to experience pregnancy and the things that go along with that, in fact if I could be pregnant all of the time, I would be. Seriously. I loved it. But I also know any of my kids ultimately aren’t really mine per say….they’re God’s and are simply entrusted to me for our short time in this world. I love them because they are a gift. No matter how He gave them to me.
I also truly believe God gives us family in many different ways…which extends much beyond the biological gene pool. Does it mean that those who are related to you by blood aren’t important? Absolutely not. Consider those an extra special blessing. 😉 Does it mean people who cannot conceive biological children shouldn’t feel sad about that fact at times. Absolutely not. Does it make the moments in my life when I tried to ‘fit in’ by telling myself I looked like the rest of my family disappear. Nope. So what does it mean? Well, for starters…be conscious of how you refer to people’s children. Please realize that referring to adopted children as not a parent’s ‘real’ child is extremely narrow minded and hurtful. Or perhaps you’ve heard people say things like ‘they have one of their own and one adopted’…….COME ON, you guys. How about saying, they have two children…one biological and one adopted. I’m bringing it to everyone’s attention because I realize that until you walk in someone else’s shoes or are at least made aware of the shoes others might have to wear it’s hard to think differently. And even when it is brought to your attention, it takes constant effort to guard your tongue. As an adopted child myself, had I ever heard someone say to me that my adopted parents weren’t my family or I wasn’t their ‘real’ child it would have shattered my world. Because that is what you are doing when you say things like that. And a child’s perception is their reality. So my reality would have been unimaginably sad. Not to say I didn’t go through sad times…because let me tell you, I did. But not because of being adopted. Not because I didn’t feel like I didn’t have family. Ultimately, I wasn’t sad because I wondered if I was loved. Because that’s what family is to me. Unconditional love. Corny? Maybe. But it’s true. It has very little to do with my genetic relation to anyone! That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact…
Fact #1 (the only one that has anything to do with being genetically related to someone): 33 years ago my Creator chose for my life to be knitted together in a young woman’s womb. I guarantee you, she loved me. But even beyond that, the biggest act of unconditional love began…which is God doing exactly what he did. Giving me life and giving her courage to place me for adoption. Boggles my mind to think that from that very moment, my adoption was already planned! I love knowing that. Knowing my adoption was His very best. His Plan A.
Fact #2: A short time later, my Dad and Mom who adopted me, loved me from the moment they laid eyes on my squishy newborn face because I was theirs. Not by means of conception, but due to the same ultimate reason…God’s unfailing love and design.
Fact #3: Seventeen years ago at a pivotal time in my life after my adopted Mom died and life was a little rough, I was given more family. They lived across the street from me and took me in as a daughter and loved me because God showed them I needed them and beyond that, needed HIM.
Fact #4: Sixteen years ago, God introduced me to my husband (who won’t admit it but I’m pretty sure loved me from the moment he laid eyes on my face too…this time though not due to its squishy appeal) and to this day he loves me not because I am the perfect wife (because I’m far from it) or what I do for him but simply because he loves ME.
Fact #5: With my husband, came more family…
I could go on and on about how God has richly blessed me with family that might be other than what most might consider ‘real’ family…but aside from that there is a greater point here I want to make sure I don’t miss. That is WHY I believe it is important we open our view to how we define family. Because ultimately, I believe it affects how we view God and our relationship with Him. I also believe it can and does affect others and how we show love to them. Open your hearts….your mind will follow…..God’s gift of family is much greater than our human limited definitions and minds. Someone out there needs that gift. Someone needs to be shown God’s unconditional love in the form of being family to them just as people in my life did for me. My adoption and ultimately the people he placed in my life to be my family was never His second choice for my life. It was always His Plan A! So now I believe it to be my…and really your responsibility to show others love in the form of being family to them. Allow God to use you as a vessel to be His Plan A for someone else! Or look around you today. Who are your people today that might not be ‘really’ your family by worldly vision by ultimately are family to you in the bigger picture of things. Thank God for them today and perhaps even go out on a limb and thank them!
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5
Consequences. Who likes them? I mean really? When was the last time you said YES to a good ‘ole fashion spanking from your mom for doing something naughty? I’m going to tell you something right now…NO ONE likes them. Not at the time any way. The other day I had to follow through with a consequence to my 7-year old rule follower which allowed me to think about so much more…
In order to fully understand the depth of this situation, I think you have to understand a bit about this little boy. My son. You see, he is passionate. He is brilliant–detail and mechanically minded—to the tune of being able to tell you specific colors, patterns or numbers on anything! He’s critical. Sensitive. Competitive. Talkative. Sweet. Bossy (I think that might be an oldest child thing). And he is so amazingly compassionate when you get underneath the ‘I’m a tough guy’ exterior that it would make your head spin. Honestly, he’s so much like me it’s not even funny. So to say we butt heads from time to time is a fair statement…but after that head butting, we can pray, cry and hug it out like nobody’s business! What was I getting at again? Oh ya, consequences. Well this past week his bossiness came out in full effect which caused him to make a poor choice towards his sister. Long story short, he ended up storming up to his room (not because I told him to either) and SLAMMED the door. Now mind you, a few months ago I informed both of them that slamming doors will not be tolerated in this house (which came after a door slam from his sister during a different incident) and their bedroom door would be removed if it happened again. It is not how we deal with our anger—no. matter. what. It’s just one of those things in my book up there with hitting, yelling and name calling. Although I will say, name calling doesn’t quite make my skin crawl like the thought of the others…I guess I can tolerate a good ‘poopy head’ thrown around before the doors being slammed or someone being punched. Don’t ask me why. So, as I paced in the kitchen I thought to myself, CRAP! Hudson. Seriously?! For something so minor and avoidable, it turned into this…now I have to follow through because I know he knows better (his memory is like a vault) and because I know now is not the time to go back on what I said. I believe that would be more detrimental than following through with the consequences…if not now, then down the road. So out to the garage I went and calmly I walked upstairs to his room. Didn’t say a word. Started unscrewing and remembered that my husband so graciously forewarned me after the first door slam incident that IF I ever needed to take the door down, it is completely unnecessary to unscrew every hinge because you can just tap on the bottom of the pins and they will pop right out. Thank you, Justin. So you remember that sensitive and passionate part I told you about? Well, as I’m doing this Hudson is sobbing. Asking me why I’m doing that and that he didn’t mean to and is so sorry. “WHY? MOM! WHY?” I couldn’t even look at him, it made me so sad and heart broken to have to do this because I knew he was sorry. He’s my rule follower. The one who does everything in his power to make sure I’m not mad at him…at least not for very long. But, I knew he DID mean to—whether it be in the heat of anger or not. And I also knew he already knew why I was doing it. So I had no words. None. I just sat quietly attempting to get this job done while he calmed down. After a few minutes I’m beginning to wonder why this ‘tapping of the pins’ my husband told me about wasn’t so simple. It’s like Hudson knew what I was thinking and just needed to rub it in…”Mom, why is it taking so long?” Well buddy, that’s a goooooooood question. Tap, tap, tap…surely, I can do this I thought. It’s simple Keeley, keep it together. Obviously, it wasn’t that simple for me and Hudson could see that I was struggling. Do you remember that head spinning compassion I mentioned earlier? Well, he begins helping me. He holds the door up to make my job easier and so I wouldn’t hurt myself in this process. Really?! As he’s holding the door, sniffling and fighting back through his tears he looks at me with the saddest eyes and says, “Mom, I’m so sorry, would you please forgive me? And when you get done would you please come sit with me and snuggle?” Oh my. If I wasn’t already having a hard enough time following through with this, now it’s solidified. I’m breaking inside. My instant reply, “Buddy, I completely forgive you. And yes, let’s do that.”
As we sat and snuggled I realized that this was much more than just a huge lesson for him in understanding that I say what I mean and mean what I say, but for me as well. It showed me that this is exactly what God says to us. His word. His truth. He lays it all out there. We know not to lie. We know not to steal. Cheat. Idolize. Murder. Covet. Etc. Etc. We had laid it out there for our kids. They knew there would be consequences for slamming the door. Not because we have a list of rules for them to follow but because they made the mistake once…advised of the fact that what they did was not okay, and there would be a consequence if they did that again. And now, because they know it’s wrong, it has become an act of sheer disobedience and is not OKAY. Period. So what favor would I be doing them by not serving the consequence? How then, would they ever learn the pain of disobedience? Because as we get older, our consequences surely become much worse than your door being taken off its hinges. I truly believe God delivers us consequences when we deserve them—and I don’t know about you, but there are times I count my blessings and His grace for my repercussions not being any worse than they could have been! I know, just like Hudson, there have been many times I have gone against Gods word…….been disobedient to Him…….and then pay the price for it. Yet I have the nerve to cry, WHY? WHY GOD?! WHY? Only to then come to my senses, ask for forgiveness just as my son did, and then rest in His arms which gives me peace. Do you think God enjoys delivering consequences? I don’t. Because I know He loves me even more than I can love my own son…it pains Him more than it pains me. Yet, it is imperative I reap what I sow.
So why this? Why consequences? Simply put…because it’s not something people like to talk about. I’ve noticed something lately and that is many people like to walk around with their head in the sand. Myself included in that bunch for a very long time. I didn’t like to think about my choices—good or bad. I merely existed. Living my life for none other than me. Moi. Myself. Is that disobedience? Many might argue with me on this one, but the answer is yes. When we live life for ourselves, our consequences only get worse. It starts with simple things like getting your bedroom door taken off the hinges for slamming it…to speeding tickets…getting fired from a job…failed marriages…the list can go on and on and will get worse and worse. This I know from personal experience. But the biggest consequence we have to consider is the one that comes when we take our last breath. No one likes to think about it, but I challenge you today to do just that. Ask yourself, where do I stand with God? Better yet, close your eyes. Picture yourself standing before God and ask Him. What are my consequences for living for myself? Rarely, if ever, seeking your wisdom? What are my consequences for choosing my way and not yours? I guarantee if you are willing to listen, He will tell you.
I did. I asked Him for guidance regarding Hudson’s seemingly simple act of rebellion. And today, four days after the incident…God is telling me to extend my son the same grace which has been given to me. The same grace and mercy I have received for all of my acts of rebellion towards not only my parents, but towards HIM. The same gift of forgiveness that ultimately comes from the life, death and resurrection of HIS son. So today, I have a door to put back on its hinges and a son who will be reminded that he is not only loved, but forgiven.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…
So for those of you detail oriented type people…myself included in that group…you might have noticed my first blog post started out by saying “A blog without a name.” That’s it. No further explanation, no definition, no fancy way of tying that in to my post what-so-ever. So let’s address that for a minute. When I first started writing that day, literally, that’s the first and only thought that came to my head. How can I write a blog I moaned…I don’t have a name for one—heck, I didn’t even fully know what it was going to be about so how on earth could I come up with a catchy www.thisisbrilliant.com address? I almost was going to make it www.blogwithoutaname.com. But then this internal battle was raging inside of me……..God is going to show me something. No, He’s not. This isn’t even from God. But as quickly as I was to say that, He came back to me even louder (not quicker, since apparently I still need to work on my patience) as I sat quietly reading one afternoon and reminded me…YES, this is from me and YES, I am going to show you something. So, with slight (okay, since some of you don’t know me yet on a personal level—I suffer from a bad case of sarcasm…the word slight here really means HIGH, HEAVY and IMPATIENT) expectations and I got excited that by the end of that post He was going to show me what the blog name should be. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I was heartbroken. Literally. I was so excited about this work we were doing together and since evidently, like my previous blog stated, I’m a slow learner and for some reason, no matter how connected I am to God, no matter how much I ‘know’ better…I still struggle with thinking my timeline and ways are best…aka control. So of course, in my typical fashion I was about to scratch the whole idea. Oh, that’s real mature Keeley. You don’t get your way, so let’s just quit all together. Classic.
In an effort to NOT turn back to old ways, I am being more aware of my thoughts and emotions…which is all new to me and rather uncomfortable at times…but this was one of those times that needed examination. Why was I so quick to turn my yes into a no? Why was I thinking that despite knowing my 100% truth—God is good all of the time and can be trusted—that I needed to question Him? Why, why, why. Funny, when I just typed out those three why’s—the word whiny came to my vision. Weird. Okay anyway, as I sat for about a week, stewing in my thoughts and internal battles I realized something. I’m scared. Scared of judgment. Scared of being vulnerable. But most of all, scared of being hurt. You see, when the brain experiences a trauma you can get three responses. Fight, flight or freeze. For me, I have a tendency to flight. My brain has taken its traumas and decided the best thing to do is avoid new ones all together—-i.e. being hurt—so even though I’m not about to experience a trauma by saying yes to this blog…my brain sees differently and was already trying to protect me. Which, ultimately is a real nice thing for it to do—but right now, isn’t the time. Because what this comes down to isn’t a head issue…even though my brain thinks differently, I still know better. Okay, hang in there with me…I’m not as crazy as that just sounded. Okay, maybe I am…but really, show me one person you consider normal then we’ll talk about crazy. What this comes down to is a heart issue. My brain, as brilliant as it wants to be to try and protect me, just can’t right now. Why? Because the brain cannot outsmart the heart.
God loves to speak to the heart which makes so much sense, since that’s where He resides. Many of these internal battles we all have are between our mind (sometimes my worst enemy) and our heart. Human logic vs. faith. My mind has a hard time understanding why I would knowingly enter into being vulnerable with the possibility of being judged and ultimately getting hurt—but my heart reminds me that God works best through brokenness and pain. Authenticity. Which ultimately, brings me to the name. Embracing the broken. I decided I wanted something that everyone could relate to. Everyone. I know not everyone is an alcoholic or struggles with addiction. I also know not everyone is a mom. Certainly, not everyone decides to homeschool their kids. But one thing I do know is that EVERYONE is broken. Either right this second, two days ago, or 10 years ago. From this brokenness comes many things—but one thing I heard recently and want to hone in on is the term scar tissue. Sure, I thought, that makes sense for a physical injury. But think about that more for a second. Scar tissue is defined as this: 1.c
Since God is the one who disciplines us and sends us trials—He is also the one who can take the hardship and pain of those events and turn them into something for His good. My brokenness and scar tissue is going to be used for His good. It might create some judgment from my peers, or vulnerability of my scarred heart and most definitely some pain—but gosh darnit, that’s a heck of a lot less costly than the repulsive abyss I was headed for in my addiction and protective state of mind. And let’s face it, we’ve all been broken in some way, shape or form…have we healed properly or much like I was, have we even begun to heal in the way He needs us to in order to glorify Him? Do we even want to glorify Him? If not, what’s the point of all that pain? Let God redeem it….He’s the only one who can.
Embracing the broken. Interesting. God embraced my brokenness in the depth of my addiction. I didn’t see it that way at the time, but I sure do now. God doesn’t ask us to love people only when they’re whole and healed with Him…He asks us to love people right where they are because that’s what He does. Embrace them. When you are moving toward your calling of God there’s nothing left to do but embrace your brokenness and watch Him work. Brokenness isn’t weakness…it is great strength when used properly. My mind tells me it’s weakness. My heart tells me it’s strength. So, which is it?
Mind vs. heart. Human logic vs. faith. One has to be the winner. I might be a slow learner about some things…but not this. I choose heart. My answer is still yes.