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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

or TOTs as we like to call them.  I found a blog I think will become a great resource for you and……I will be writing for it as well.  This new blog is the creation of Carisa, homeschooling mom to two boys, one of them a tot, over at 1+1+1=1.  She has gathered together some moms with “expertise” in specific areas to create this blog focused on tots. 

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At Totally Tots, you will find spiritual encouragement (Get Real with God), ideas for teaching tots from the Bible (Bible Bites), funny stories and pictures submitted from other moms just like you (Giggle Time), simple crafts to do with your tots (Crafty Corner), health and nutrition tips for you and your toddler (Did You Know), homeschooling ideas and tools that are easy and simple to make for your tot (Simply Made), and tips from real moms on what is working for them (Totally Working for Me).  You should be able to find resource for all areas of you mothering life and even somethings just to encourage you as a person…imagine that …..we aren’t just mothers?!?!

Anyway, go check it out… currently there are some great resources for making February, the Love Month, fun and meaningful for your kiddos.  Also, take the time to submit one of the great things I know you are doing with your children.  I am always looking for new things to try and knowing that another mom with kids my age has tried it and it worked is always helpful. 

Look for me under, Get Real with God (encouragement for moms).  I am sharing the writing duties for this section with another mom named Heather ,who is taking the first several post.  I am busy now cooking up some posts on expectation and giving ourselves the grace that our Father gives us. 

I hope you will go check it out, add yourself as a follower and get connected with other moms and ideas that will encourage and inspire you as you grow as a mom. 

Post a comment here and let me know that you went and checked it out.  I would love to hear what you think.

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As many of you who have been reading my blog over the last few months know  it has been obvious I am sure how much I have struggled.  As I have walked through this desert time, this “mourning time” I have begun to see what, maybe, Christ had in mind for me. 

Shortly after returning home, in December, I was taking a little mommy break at Barnes and Noble. Perusing the Christian book section…… I came across this book by Henri Nouwen.  Ordinarily I would not have been familiar with him, but my dad had mentioned him quite a few times on his blog and had forwarded me some daily devotions from Nouwen’s website as well.  Anyway, Sunday morning, the boys were playing quietly downstairs, Brandon was trying to catch up on some sleep and I sat down and finally picked up, Turn My Mourning into Dancing (TMMID) and was blessed immeasurably just by the first chapter.  So much so that it has been ruminating in my brain for the last two days.  I even interupted Extreme Home Makeover last night to read everything I underlined to Brandon. 

I feel like I have experienced quite a bit of grief over my 33 years and through many of the experiences, I often felt isolated and alone….separated from people, as well as, God.  I tried as hard as I could to either change my circumstances, forget my pain, or stumble painfully along hoping that at some point it would go away and I would be able to move on.  I have spent many months at a time wishing away my uncomfortable circumstances, shaking my fist at God and or begging HIM to change my life. 

Even though I was raised in the church, I was not ever really taught how to deal with loss or hurt in a Biblical way.  In fact, if I am being totally honest… I think the church set me up for failure.  I think what I really learned from the church is that if you are a “good” christian you will not let your grief/loss/struggles get you down.  You will praise the Lord and move on.  You should ignore your pain because if you spend to much time in it you are sining.  I have heard every platitude possible, all well meaning I am sure, but useless none the less.  I think that the church places such an emphasis on being happy and that any sadness is not part of the Christian life.

Along the same lines… the world tells you that if life ain’t right get a new one.  If you’re not in love any more, move on.  If you don’t like your friends trade them in.  If you don’t like the body you have been given work harder.  If you aren’t happy, dig deep into your “inner” self and find your che(pretty sure I didn’t spell that right..oops).

Henri Nouwen points to another “way.” A way that resonates with me, oh how it resonates.  As I read the first chapter my tired heart (if we are honest aren’t most of us tired at heart?  After all this world is a hard place and offers up such challenges) was lifted up.  Don’t get me wrong I was deeply challenged, but also acutely blessed.  “Who is it that Jesus says will be blessed?” Nouwen asks, “Those who mourn (Mat. 5:4).”  Doesn’t just that very statement give you hope and peace? 

Here are a couple of quotes from the intro that touched me………. “By greeting life’s pains with something other than denial we may find something unexpected.  By inviting God into our difficulties we ground life-even its sad moments- in joy and hope. “

“Many of us are tempted to think that if we suffer, the only important thing is to be relieved of our pain.  We want to flee it at all costs.  But when we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently.  We become willing to let it teach us.”

Nouwen says that learning the above will not be easy and he suggests 5 “movements” through hard times.  These movements make up the 5 chapters of the book.

#1- Chpt. 1-  From Our Little Selves to a Larger World-  I am just going to pull out some quotes that I found impacting and then comment when I feel compelled.

“How do we,” Nouwen asks, “make this shift from evading our pain to asking GOd to redeem  and make good use of it.”  Good question…. the key word for me was “asking”  … it is my choice to let HIM redeem. 

“We are called to grieve our losses.”  Amen!  Often I feel like I am the only one doing this and often I feel ashamed and like I am not “loving” or “trusting” God enough and that I am being a big baby.

 “Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us.  The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.”  I had never before made the connection that grieving my own losses helps me identify or connect with the loss that God suffered in sending HIS Son for me. See also…2Corinthians 4:7-10

“Facing our losses also means avoiding a temptation to see life as an exercise in having needs met.”  “We also like easy victories: growth without crisis, healing without pains, the resurrection without the coss.”  – This is me in so many ways.  How many times have I gone to God and said, “Lord, remove this suffering from me.”  Not that we can’t ask Him but letting that be the only thing I do is wrong.

“The way from Palm Sunday to Easter is the patient way, the suffering way.  Indeed, our word patience comes from the ancient root patior, “to suffer.”  To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.  For if we insist on continueing to cover our pains with easy “Hosannas,” we run the risk of losing our patience.  We are likely to bcome bitter and cynical or violent and aggressive when the shallowness of the easy way wears through.” Again, WOW!-  All you in the middle of adoptions and feeling the pull towards impatience… this is for you and me…..

“Instead, Christ invites us to remain in touch with the many sufferings of every day and to taste the beginning of hope and new life right there, where we live amid our hurts and pains and brokeness.”

“I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him.  I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more to see them as a means for GOd to make me ready to receive Him.  I let God live near my pains and distractions”  I want this don’t you?

“The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ.  Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.”

“Our choice, then, often relvoves around not what has happened or will happen to us, but how we will relate to life’s turns and circumstances. ”

“A key to understanding suffering has to do with our not rebelling at the inconveniences and pains life presents to us.”  I am so guilty of seeing all suffering as an inconvenience to me and more often then not mad about them.

Ok…. I promise only two more quotes…. I actually have to stop myself…. and by the way I haven’t even quoted all the things I underlined.

“But then we let our hurt remind us of our need for healing.  As we dance and walk forward, grace provides the ground on which our steps fall.  Prayer puts us in touch with the God of the dance.  We look beyond our experience of sadness or loss by learning to receive an all-embracing love, a love that meets us in everyday moments.”    

“Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.  If we turn to GOd, not rebelling against our hurt, we let GOd transform it into greater good.  We let others join us and discover it with us.”

I have always seen suffering and loss as something to be avoided.  Most often I have responded with anger, avoidance, pity parties, and the like.  What I am hearing through this book is, that while it is ok and even good and right to grieve, we must also make the choice to see our pain as a means for GOd to work in us.  Doing this connects us more to Him and in turn to the larger suffering world around us. 

I am not a scholar nor do I have any real amazing insights, I just wanted to share with you these amazing, freeing thoughts.  Please let me know what you think.

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Eyob, Traci

No, I’m not falling in love with another man (love me some Brandon), but actually with a little boy named Eyob.

 I had a moment today that I wanted to share.  We got a call from the drs. today and I wasn’t home (we were all taking a walk in the beautiful Utah sunshine) and so the nurse left a message.  First of all, no giardia so while that is actually good news, she also asked me when I was planning on bringing in Eyob for to redo his HIV/Hep B screening and then she asked me to call her.  Anyway, for some reason, even though we had planned to redo the screening on the advice of the infectious disease dr. we saw regarding the giardia,  I heard the nurse connecting the two.  Being lunch time at the drs. office I couldn’t call back for clarification. So I just went up stairs with a very tired little Eyob to put him down for a nap.  As I was holding him close and feeding him his bottle it hit me…..  I love this little boy and if something were to be “really” wrong with him I would be soooo sad.  It was such a great moment to realize that he has gone from “someone elses” child to my child in my heart.  For the last few weeks, as I have begun to change the way I talk about him and the way I relate to him, I have felt subtle changes in my heart, so today was just that moment of awakening for me.  I think that I have been holding him at a distance, afraid to be rejected by him over and over and it is such a relief to not be worried about that any more.  I am not worried about that with Sloan and Sean and I am no longer worried about that with Eyob.  He is just one of my boys.  Praise the Lord!  I know that there will continue to be hard times with him and that I will have to continually give my attitude to the Lord.  This is just a testament to how changing your actions first can change your heart.

PS…. I did call the doctor back and they were not linking the tests with Eyob’s current poop problem, they just wanted to make sure the order was there when I brought him in.  Actually, Eyob still has the giardia antigens and so we are working on getting to the bottom of that, but the rest of the fam is free and clear.  I feel confident and so does my pediatrician that the HIV/Hep B tests done in Ethiopia before we brought Eyob home are correct and reliable, but it is always a good idea to have a local lab redo them.  So… don’t worry for us in that area.

On another note… I wanted to make a disclaimer…….  Brandon was concerned when he read my last post that people would think that I am endorsing the book A New Earth and I wanted to make it clear that I am not.  I have not read it yet and infact, I am reading it with a heart open to hear from the Lord.  I actually, went to Brandon before I bought the book to ask him if he thought it was ok for me to read.  I have always been hesitant to read things that I am afraid might be in conflict with my faith in God.  I think part of that is my need to be the “good” christian girl and follow a certian set of rules. However, while I don’t want to compromise my faith, I do feel like I have a discerning heart and that God will show me what is right.  I am mostly interested in reading this book because it is causing a stir in the “world” and I know that many of my fellow MOPS moms and other friends will be reading it and I want to be ready to answer questions or point people to the truth.  I already have a page full of questions in my journal that I will be asking myself and God while I read it.  So that being said….. I am NOT at this point encouraging anyone to read this book, but will discuss it on my blog after I have begun reading.  How was that for a disclaimer?

Also, watch, tomorrow, for my first chapter synopsis of Henri Nouwen’s book, Turn My Mourning into Dancing.  This is definetly a book I feel confident recommending….. especially if you are struggling with some loss or grief in your life right now, no matter how small.  I started writing the post last night, but I need to shorten it down a little.  I may be a little long for some of you readers.

Anyway….. I am encouraged today, by answered prayers and I hope that all of you who have been praying for me will be encouraged as well.

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So this has been a pretty uneventful week…..  I did some major house cleaning. All the way down to cleaning the trim and it felt really good to just dig into it.  THe boys have steadily been feeling better which has been nice.  Eyob is doing better physically everyday and has been sleeping through the night for the last week.  It is awesome, however, it seems like when one sleeps the others wake up.  AHHH!!!  We are still waiting on test results to find out what is going on with all the poop.  Hopefully, we will know something soon! 

For Christmas, Brandon gave me a gift cert. for a mani/pedi combo at a local spa so yesterday I cashed it in and spent two very relaxing hours getting pampered. It was so nice.  He also gave me some  cash and I got to do a little shopping which was also fun. SHopping alone for myself…. AHHHHH..  My hubby is great isn’t he.

When I first started blogging almost a year ago I seemed to think in terms of blogging.  I was always thinking.. this would make a good blog post or I could write about that.  Well, since bringing Eyob home I haven’t really felt like that, I am sure for good reason, but I have missed that feeling… that swirling around in my brain.  Blogging for me is more than a way of keeping in touch with family and friends, it has been a way to process thoughts, use my brain, to practice writing, and an outlet for my heart.  Anyway, I have been thinking about a bunch of different posts that I am going to write over the next couple of weeks so I thought I would give you a quick synopsis of what is coming up on Further Up and Deeper In.

Book Reviews-  Henri Nouwen’s Turn My Mourning Into Dancing (get this book!!!!)  I can’t wait to talk about this book!  More on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World–  I have learned so much that I am looking forward to passing on. Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth–  Oprah’s Book club choice for the month and the subject of an online class she will be teaching over the next few weeks.  THis book is the fastest selling book in the world right now.  WHy????  One question I have about the book (many more that I will write about in it’s own post) but….. is this book so “close” to the TRUTH that it is causing or going to cause people to miss Christ?  The Shack by William P Young…… This novel/allegory is making it’s way around the US and changing lives… I want to see what the hype is all about. Maybe you will too.

****   I was thinking about all that I have learned about Eyob in the last 3 months and then remembered the old book or  poem… Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten…. and I thought I might have fun doing a serious of posts on what I know about….????

I am going to be getting back to Wordless Wednesday.  More pics…

I have never been “Tagged” so I thought I would do my own and tag a few of my blogging buddies… so look out friends.

Reflections on Adoption…

and more…. so keep checking back….

 Also, a blogging friend who reached out to me during those first dark weeks when we got home from Ethiopia with Eyob, just returned from getting her little man.  I thought you might be interested in reading about some of her experiences.  I was telling her in an email that her posts take me right back to ET and Hannah’s Hope.  I can still taste, smell, and feel it in my heart.  Reading her words and about her experiences make my long for ET deeply.  Read her posts and enjoy.

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depression, any kind really, but specifically Post Adoption Depression (PAD) or Post Adoption Blues (PAD as it is sometimes called, is that it doesn’t make sense.  You have worked hard to bring this child home, you have waited many months, sometimes years, spent lots of money and you have chosen this child and when he/she arrives you don’t feel like you thought you would.  To the outsider, your depression seems strange, foreign, and even stupid or silly.  To you it seems……. real and startling and scary. I have only experienced situational depression one other time in my life, that I know of, and that was during an awful time in our marriage… in a lot of ways that depression made “sense.”  This PAD stuff doesn’t.  

The thing about depression is that it isn’t rational.  I can hear all the things that people are saying, “Don’t forget this is a spiritual battle and Satan doesn’t want you to be successful.” or “Remember Eyob’s grief is greater and more important at this time then yours.”  or “God is using this experience to make you into the person he wants you to be.”  ALL, and I really do mean ALL, good and true words.  Words that, if heard through a cloud of depression, really only sound like words.  I know the truth behind these statements and statements like them.  I have seen God work in my life and I “know” in my head that He will prevail again, but the thing about depression…. is that it doesn’t always feel like that.  Yes, yes, I know that feelings are not everything and often they aren’t even true, but the thing is they are real and they do affect me (us).  Not dealing with them is where we get into trouble. 

The thing about PAD is that it is unpredictable.  Some days I feel good, like I can cope or more than cope and other days… WHAM!!!! I don’t want to cope and I don’t want to get out of bed. (Fortunately, I am the person who always does what they are “supposed to do” and most people, especially my little men frown on staying in bed all day, so arise I do.)  Sometimes the cloud hovers all day and sometimes it is lifted after a simple conversation with my husband or a friend.  It is the unpredictability about it that is hard.  Most of the time it doesn’t really have anything to do with Eyob. 

The thing about PAD is that it doesn’t look the same for everyone, but is actually experienced by more adoptive parents than I ever really thought possible.  One article I read said that PAD affects more than 65% of adopting mothers.  In 1999, the author, surveyed 1300 adopting parents to see how widespread PAD really was and this is what she found…..  “77% of survey participants with PAD reported that they suffered their symptoms from two months to over one year with 45% suffering for six months or more. 85% of sufferers reported that their depression affected their health in some way (serious weight gain/loss was followed by sleep disturbances and headaches), 70% felt that PADS had interfered with smooth transitions and bonding with their new children.   Wow!!! Can you believe it?  SO why is it that I have never heard of this before now…. I am guessing it is because most people, if they are like me, feel ashamed that they aren’t “handling” what should be an amazingly, beautiful time as well as they expected themselves to or as others expected them too.  Maybe some people don’t even realize that what they are dealing with is real or they don’t know how to give voice to what they are feeling.

Well, in effort to “deal” with my feelings I am going to continue to blog about what I am going through and how I am getting through it.  For today, getting “through it” involved research.  Below you will find links to several articles that I have found regarding PAD.  I hope you find them interesting and informative. 

By the way, those of you out there who have given me much needed words of wisdom and prayers… thank you and just because I am feeling the things I am feeling doesn’t mean that I am not reading and heeding the things you are saying. 

Article– @ A Mother’s Charm

Article– @Adoptive Families

Article– @ Adoptive Families Association of BC

Article

Article-@International Heral Tribune

Article-@ WCBSTV

Book– on Amazon.com 

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For Eyob

Eyob

As I laid in bed this AM not sleeping of course, because that would be too much to ask for, I started to think about what Eyob will know about this time when he gets older. Will he want to hear about the frantic packing and planning we did before we went to get him? Will he want to know about our trip? Will he want to know how we felt and what we thought about as we waited for him this last year? I think he will. It will be his “birth story” if you will. His birth into our family. So I am trying to write it down, not just on the blog but on paper so I don’t forget it.
One of the things I have read, while reading about adoption this year, is that it is very important for adoptees to feel like they are a part of the extended family even if something were to happen to their parents. Often they do not have the same sense of security in their extended family and friends network that biological children in the same family do. They often grow up worried about what would happen to them if their parents were to die. So lets start right now helping Eyob feel secure in our family. Would you help me?????

Here’s what I need……. would any and all of you who read and feel led please comment to this post about Eyob and what you are thinking and feeling about his adoption. Welcome him home and tell him how he is going to be a part of your life. Even if you are far away you are still a part of the network of friends and family in our lives and Eyob needs to know that you will be there for him as well. Even if it is only a sentence or two with your name. Maybe a scripture verse or a prayer you have for him. And even if you don’t know our family please add your thoughts. I will print this out when we get home and add them to his book. How wonderful for him to know the love of extended family and friends.

If you don’t feel comfortable posting this on the blog you mail email them directly to me at btarms@hotmail.com. Please be brave in posting just a few sentences for this beautiful brown-eyed boy!

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I don’t want to get in the habit of censoring my blog, nor do I want to feel like I have to respond to comments that people make in defense of myself.  However, this time I am going to.  This is MY blog, MY heart being laid out, and MY life that I am writing about.  This blog is for no other purpose than to stay in contact with my family and friends and to write……   This is not a platform or stage for anyone else’s agenda.  SO on that note I am going to make a response to what seems to have been a very touchy subject.

We are not taking a mother’s child away from her…… she made the decision, free of coersion many months before we even knew about baby E.  When I said we don’t know the birthmom’s whole story that is true.  I have not sat down with her and talked to her personally.  I hope to do so with the help of an interpreter when we go to pick up E. I do, however, know much of her story and because of legal reasons am not allowed to post any of her person information.  Besides the legal reasons, we are choosing to keep our son’s personal history between us and him.  If he wants to tell her story someday he will, but we will not be sharing it with other people. So please, those of you who think you have it all figured out, don’t judge.  There is a story, we do know it, and it is hers (E’s birthmom).  My post the other day was to say that I had been selfish in my reaction to her and God showed me that. 

I believe that God is ALL about family, but sometimes, through many reasons, the families don’t look like the one’s we want them too.  Family isn’t always a mom and a dad, but sometimes it is.  In our case, E along with our two other boys will have a mom and a dad.  In other cases,  it is a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a family friend or a foster family.  In Ethiopia, it can be a sister or a brother standing in as the mom or dad.  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and have an obligation to love one another.  That was my point.  Because of circumstances, some out of E’s birthmoms control, and some choices she is making, she and I will be forever tied together because of our son.  That was what my post was about.

Yes, our agency does everything they can to keep families together.  She has not been coerced.  She was offered aid.  As Nat, said, there is a sponsorship program, there is counsel for the birthmoms, many of whom are giving up their children because they are dieing of AIDS, starvation, TB and such. Our agency provides relief and takes an active role in trying to leave the country they are in a better place.  But have you read Ethiopian statistics. If not here are a few:  Keep these in mind when you are choosing to be critical of me for “taking” a child away from his birthmom.” One in ten children die before their first birthday• One in six children die before their fifth birthday• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.•   E’s mom is making a decision to save her child from being one of these statistics.  Does that mean she wouldn’t love to keep him?  I honestly don’t know, but I imagine that every Ethiopian wishes the circumstances in their country were different.  The more we know about Ethiopia, the more we fall in love with the people.  Because our son is from there and because we feel like God has placed a calling on our lives for the people of Ethiopia, who knows maybe we will go back there someday.  All I know is, that for now, this is what God is calling us to do. 

I have no idea the pain that goes into giving a child up for adoption, for whatever the reasons….. however, I am a “birthmom” too.  I do know what it is like to give birth and to love a child beyond anything you can imagine.  I know what it is like to want the very best for my child.  The only thing that seperates me, as a mom, from E’s birthmom is that I can only imagine the pain she is going through to give her child up.  I didn’t have to make that choice, but I can understand her pain.  My husband and I are following God’s call on our life to love a child and we can’t wait to bring him home.  In bringing him home we also realize what he will be leaving behind and hope to always be able to share that with him.  

I feel like I could go on and on in response to some of the comments being made, but may be less is more.  It is obvious, that some people commenting do not have the whole story.  Thanks for reading.  We will move on to a lighter subject tomorrow.

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