Honest reflections on the blessings and challenges of family, adoption, and faith. I'm the mother of twelve by birth and adoption. Thirty-one years ago I married the love of my life. Once lost and now found, I've been brought to my knees by grace. I am passionately devoted to healing my children who came to me with broken hearts. Share the journey with me.
I’m enjoying doing these Live videos! The authenticity of unedited, spontaneous conversation appeals to me and I hope to you too. If you haven’t watched one yet, I encourage you to give it a try.
If you like these videos, please Share and Like them on Facebook. First, because it helps the information get to more parents. Second, Facebook is a tricky animal and will only put things in my readers’ newsfeeds if they have Shares (most importantly) and Likes.
I’m sending out a friends-letter this weekend. If you would like to be in my inner circle of readers, sign up! I send it every few weeks and it only takes a minute or so to read. I share links to recent posts (in case you’ve missed them) and other thoughts that aren’t on my blog.
Subscribe to my friends letter – it’s short and sweet.
Have a fantastic weekend, my friends. If you are in a hard place, know that when I record videos, I truly think of you – I picture you in my mind as I talk. We may not be sitting at my table together, but I imagine we are.
Much love – with courage and hope for the journey,
[Spoiler Alert: this was written following Season 2, episode 13, which aired on 1/23/18]
After nearly two seasons, the writers of ‘This is Us’ revealed more details of how Jack, the father in the series, died.
We watched him clean the kitchen while his wife slept, putting food away, washing dishes, wiping counters, and then turning off the crock pot. At least he thought he turned it off, but shortly after he left the kitchen, the crock pot burst into flames.
I turned to Russ saying, “You know what I really hate about this? He has no idea what is about to happen. He has no idea that in just moments his home will be burning and his family will survive but he won’t.”
I paused, my throat tight with tears, “It’s just like us. We got up that morning thinking we were going to drive Kalkidan to Montana. We had no idea our lives were about to change forever.”
This is the cruel reality of tragedy. It catches us when we least expect it.
Tragedy is a cruel beast waiting around the corner to devour us as we go blithely skipping by.
One moment we were happily going about our lives. The next moment our car was destroyed, tipped on its side. I was trapped inside and our daughter was gone forever.
I still feel confused. How did it happen?
Of course, I know we were rounding a dangerous, poorly designed curve on the highway. I know we hit ice sending us sliding into the oncoming lane. I know there was a car coming and we were in their path. And I know we collided, sending our car spinning and rolling.
Intellectually, it’s clear – although I only remember 1-2 seconds of the 15 minutes leading up to the accident. But I still can’t make sense of it.
Could we have protected ourselves from tragedy?
If we hadn’t stopped to drop the last Christmas cards in the mailbox would we have avoided the oncoming car? Could we have looked at the 1/2 inch of snow on the ground and decided not to go – but we live in north Idaho; what’s a 1/2 inch of snow? And if we hadn’t rearranged Kalkidan’s seat because she wanted to sit on my side of the car, would she have survived?
If I didn’t love God so much, I would be furious. But I do love him and that forces me to wrestle through the hardest questions. Why did this happen? Did he think we were strong enough to survive losing our daughter? Did he think our marriage was strong enough to take such a severe blow? Did he think our hearts and minds would stay intact?
On the hard days when flashbacks come and I feel weak, I doubt if we are strong enough or if our minds and hearts will ever be healed and whole.
If we can’t protect ourselves from tragedy, what do we do?
Ten Things I’m Learning About Tragedy
1.| Life can change in a moment.
2.| Love your people. Don’t leave apologies unsaid. Hug and kiss your family and friends. Say hello when they arrive and goodbye when they leave. Call your parents. Spend the money (and time) to fly to a friend’s wedding, graduation, birthday party, or other special event.
3.| Pay attention. Look at the faces of the ones we love, not at our phones and computers. When I finish writing this, I’m turning my computer off for the day.
4.| Be intentional with your resources: time, money, energy.
5.| Make memories you want to keep, not forget.
6.| Be the person you want your spouse, children, family, and friends to remember.
7.| Be generous. When it comes to time, it’s gone in a flash. When it comes to money, hold it with open hands and freely give. And when it comes to love, lavish it on people.
8.| Guard your heart against bitterness. Anger and bitterness will pull you into a deep pit. Pray. Ask friends to help you. Get good pastoral and/or professional help. Surround yourself with the voices of people who encourage you to love – friends, writers, musicians.
9.| Let tragedy instruct you. Don’t go back to living the way you did before, be changed in all the best ways.
10.| Remember gratitude. Be radically thankful for the good in your life – everything. Be thankful for the smell of coffee and the sound of rain on the windows. Be thankful for the little one who smiled big at you as you walked by with your grocery cart. Be thankful for friends who reach out even when you want to be alone. Be thankful for sharp pencils and pens with good black ink. Be thankful for the breath in your lungs.
Whatever you believe about God and whether he causes or allows tragedy, or if you’re not sure he even cares, this is what I know. He enters into sorrow with us. When my dreams fill with memories and I wake up confused, God is my comfort.
One day it will all be clear, but today, we move forward allowing tragedy to shape us, making us more loving, kind, generous, and thankful.
And to the writers of ‘This is Us,’ thank you for a show that reminds of the importance of family, love, and the essential value of doing hard work to heal.
I did a Facebook Live video today on Kids and Chores, with the entire second half devoted to kids with early trauma. I’m continuing to love this medium of communicating with you. I hope you like it too.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like videos, I hope you’ll still give it a try and imagine we’re sitting at my table together with mugs of tea, or in the case of this video, sitting on my kitchen floor.
I’m working on uploading all of these videos to my brand new One Thankful Mom YouTube channel. Who knew I would ever have a YouTube channel? If you have experience with setting up a YouTube channel, I would love to ask a couple of questions. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t mind offering advice.
I’ll be live on FB again tomorrow, Thursday 1/25, at 8:30 AM (PST), talking about shame in the parenting journey.
If you would enjoy a more personal email in your inbox every few weeks, it’s easy to subscribe. It only takes a minute or two to read and it’s content you won’t find anywhere else.
Subscribe to my friends letter – it’s short and sweet.
Have a great day, friends. Be sure to leave comments and suggestions for me.
Last night we had pizza and movie night with Eby and Wogayu. The girls were gone for the evening, so it was only four of us; it felt so odd!
I didn’t love Despicable Me 3 (I’m not sure I even liked it), but the scene of the “dance fight” struck me as very funny. When the movie ended I challenged Wogayu to a dance fight – he thought I was kidding, but then I started doing a goofy dance and he looked at me like I was crazy. We all started laughing and somehow I got even sillier and dancing got – well, worse.
Russ pulled me close saying, “It makes me happy to see you like this.”
I looked at his eyes and felt a rush of love – it’s possible for us to feel happy. Our hearts are capable of being light.
With kids from “hard places,” we often feel the weight of our lives. We tend to be focused on the challenges and what needs to happen next. And as parents who have lost a child, sadness always swims around us.
This morning I read it again and remembered the importance of this for our children. They need to feel our delight over them, especially when it may seem our attention is focused on instruction and correction.
It may not seem like much, but having pizza and watching a movie each Friday is a small step toward lightening up. I’m also trying to be more playful, which doesn’t come naturally to me. I bought Suspend and Banagrams because they require minimal setup and can be played quickly – my kind of games.
The thing about joy is we need to want it.
Don’t choose to stay in darkness under a blanket of grief; look for glimpses of light.
Our kids need us to seek joyand lead them to it.
They also need to know we enjoy them and they are “fun to be around,” which is one of our goals for the younger set.
Sometimes (not often enough) we watch goofy YouTube videos just to enjoy laughing side-by-side. Like this one [caution: sexual references at about 5:00 if you want to mute.]
Science Experiments w/ Professor Robert Winston - YouTube
Happy weekend, friends! I have a new post coming Monday morning, but I want to share three things with you now.
1.| My friend Mike Berry, has a book coming out! For the next 16 days you can pre-order Confessions of an Adoptive Parent and get all kinds of bonus content. I had the honor of reading an early copy and writing an endorsement for the book.
2.| I sent a friends-letter this morning to my inner circle of readers. If you would enjoy a more personal email in your inbox every few weeks, it’s easy to subscribe. It only takes a minute or two to read and it’s content you won’t find anywhere else.
Subscribe to my friends letter – it’s short and sweet.
3.| I have a new video on Facebook. It’s a longer conversation about marriage and I answer questions from viewers about managing our home. You can find it, and other videos, on my One Thankful Mom Facebook page, or you can view it here:
I hope you will take a moment to watch, comment, and even share. I love speaking and I can share so much more with you if I do live videos in addition to publishing here.
If you have topics you would like me to cover, questions, thoughts about how I can do this better (and even how often you would like to see Live videos), please leave a comment or shoot me a message (email@example.com or via my OTM FB page).
I don’t know how to change the image above, but the thing about Live is it is unedited, unscripted, so I’m not going to stress about it. This is me at my table talking to you.
Your feedback is a blessing to me.
Press on in the journey, my friends. We have each other and an amazing God who loves us.
Last month I was unpacking Christmas decorations when I noticed a small gift tag in the bottom of a box. Written in a child’s handwriting were the words, “Awesome Samuel.”
Two Christmases before, one of my children wrapped packages of Tic Tacs and labeled each one with a custom tag. Apparently, I saved some of them in a little stack.
Pretty Awesome Mom
Coolest Dad Ever
Doctor Noah is in the house
Pretty amazing! You know who! (the child wrapped their own)
Some of our kids don’t have much of a filter. Am I right?
We try to model kindness, sharing our thoughts and feelings without hurting others. Sensitive kids instinctually understand this. Kids from “hard places” (or with other challenges), may need to be taught.
With young children, we can help them practice the right way of communicating feelings and thoughts.
When kids get older, it is trickier. They have to want to learn.
A counselor told us we should work with our kids on being “fun to be around,” even using those exact words. Imagine how powerful it is for a child to hear, “I like you; you’re fun to be around.”
I want to be able to say that honestly to all of my kids.
We’re trying to create a lighter, happier atmosphere, instituting a consistent Pizza & Movie Night on Fridays, playing more games, reading aloud with my one who loves it.
I’m not a fan of reward charts, and generally speaking, they don’t work for kids like mine. That being said, I’m seriously considered creating a Kindness Chart. I would divide the day into three chunks: before school, after school, evening. Each day when a block is navigated with kindess, a check (or star, or sticker) would go in the box.
But this is where it starts to break down for me. What is valuable enough to my children to be a motivating reward that won’t also be too financially costly for me? And deep down, I really don’t want to do this – I just want them to be kind and respectful.
And then there’s the being consistent part.
But I’m getting desperate enough for kindness in speech and actions that I may have to take the plunge.
I just had a thought, maybe it should be a Kindness & Respect chart! Yes!
I don’t have incredible wisdom here, but I’m guessing you have similar stories and thoughts. Parenting is downright complicated. Parenting pre-teens with significant trauma histories can leave a mom flummoxed, exhausted, or in tears.
The Christmas when we received gifts with these special labels, I’ll be honest, we laughed. We have to keep a sense of humor on this hard road of parenting – sometimes we may laugh until we cry, while other times we just cry.
I want to choose joy and laughter.
Will you share a story with me about your family? We’re in this together, friends.