One of my favorite parenting tools is scripts. Did you know that when a child is upset her ability to process language is greatly reduced? Scripts are short, concise, easily understood phrases. They’re used to move a child toward optimal behavior through play and nurture.
Because a script is easy to understand, parents don’t have to come up with all of the right words to say. In the same way, children become familiar with the simple phrase and understand its meaning. This helps them feel safe and builds trust.
When you pre-order The Connected Parent, you can download free posters filled with scripts you can use to lovingly guide your child and establish a culture of openness and respect in your home. Plus, you’ll get an informative video showing you how to successfully implement these scripts with your family.
Hello, friend! Are you easing out of quarantine or sheltering in place? For me, it feels more difficult to figure out what to do now that restrictions are changing.
I have big news coming about the book, but let me fill you in on family first!
Since I last posted, Annarose returned home from Mexico for the duration of quarantine. It was very hard for her to leave but the board of her organization said it was time. It’s a joy to have her home. We’re spending lots of time together and even tackling some projects like painting the living room. She also has a gardening job and is enjoying working a few days a week.
Russ and Isaiah have stayed on their regular work schedules. Claire is wrapping up her senior year of high school and working two days a week as a barista. The boys are finishing school and eager to get out to see friends and play basketball. We’ll see how soon that can all happen.
I’ve continued working a lot. With preparations for the release of The Connected Parent, a weekly podcast, the Hope Circle, interviews, and more, my days are overflowing.
And just to make life more exciting, I completed a program to become a Certified Enneagram Coach! The Enneagram is a fantastic tool for personal, relational, and spiritual growth. More news about this to come.
With The Connected Parent coming out in a little more than a month, Harvest House Publishers is gearing up for a big book launch. We’ll be forming a Launch Team soon to help spread the word about the book. I would love to include you! Watch my OTM Facebook page for information, or shoot me an email to let me know you’re interested. [email protected]
Here are a a few resources I’ve created in recent weeks:
Trauma Free World – Learn why you might lose compassion for your child and how to get it back.
I wish I was one of those people who dreamed of loved ones in heaven. It’s only happened a couple of times since we lost Kalkidan. This was one of those times.
Our family was gathered around a table. I was sitting at one end and the table was long with so many of us together. We were talking and laughing when Kalkidan ran into the room.
Shouts went up, “She’s here! She’s here! Kalkidan is here!”
She ran to me, crawled into my lap, and rested her head against my chest. I kissed her forehead, my cheek brushing against her curls.
For a moment I felt warmth and joy, then I felt myself begin to surface from sleep, and I realized it was a dream. I tried to hold on to it, to sink more deeply into the dream and let it flow on, but it was gone.
I wanted to reach for Russ, rest my head on his chest, borrow some of his courage, but I also didn’t want to wake him when his alarm would do it soon enough.
I drifted back to sleep.
I woke again in the morning with a deep sense of sadness.
Today (10/29) is Kalkidan’s birthday.
This should be her senior year of high school and she should be walking next to Claire at their graduation next spring.
But even as I type the words “should” I sense that’s not quite what I mean. This all should be true, but only if I can have my own way. The fact is, I don’t get my own way, I can only walk in God’s way.
His plans are better, even when I don’t understand. I bend my knee to him– I trust him.
But that surrender is not easy; sometimes I have to fight for it. I’m reminded of a story in the gospel of John. Many of Jesus’s disciples had turned away and he asked the twelve if they were going to leave too. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, you are the holy one of God.”
I see no other way than to trust Jesus, the holy one of God. I can’t imagine living through a tragedy like this without him. But that doesn’t change the reality that grief is hard.
C.S. Lewis wrote,
No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.
Grief is an animal I can’t control.
Sometimes it’s powerful and overwhelming; I feel crushed under its weight. Other times it’s a small wave of sadness that almost feels right and good because it means I haven’t forgotten.
The first two years after we lost Kalkidan, I was overcome by a feeling of fear. Or maybe it was a sense of confusion, like it just couldn’t be possible. To be honest, I still feel that way some days. But there was fear and a sense that the world was no longer safe.
C.S. Lewis goes on to say,
I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in.
That invisible blanket was very real in the early years – I was different after the accident. Nearly five years later, I know I will never be the person I was before losing Kalkidan. There is no getting back to the way it was before, or who I was before. I’m forever changed.
And that feels right to me.
Some of my children have gotten tattoos as symbols of how they have been changed and what God has done. One tattoo says, “it is well” the other “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” I don’t have a tattoo, but I’m marked by changes in who I am and how I relate to the world.
Of all the things that weigh on me, I don’t want Kalkidan to be forgotten. Her life shaped mine in so many life-changing ways. Her life may have touched you too.
Today we are remembering Kalkidan. Thank you for letting me share her with you. #rememberingkalkidan
If you have lost someone you love, I’m very sorry you are walking through this too. I send you my love.
Way back in 2008, I was drowning. Our first three adopted children had been home for 18 months and the needs were far beyond my capacity to meet.
I was scared, sad, and feeling alone.
Our agency had a private group where parents communicated. I’d been following the story of one mom who was sharing the really hard things they were going through. Even though I didn’t say it in the group, I felt like I understood.
One weekend when Russ was out of town, everything fell apart and I needed to talk to someone – but I didn’t know who.
Nobody could possibly understand.
Then I thought of this young mom in the group. We were complete strangers, and she was more than a decade younger than me, but I knew her name.
And I knew she wouldn’t be surprised by anything I shared or what I was feeling.
I felt a little crazy, but I posted a message in the group asking if I could talk to her and she replied with her phone number.
So I called. I think I managed to say, “Hi, this is Lisa,” and then I began to cry.
That call launched a friendship that is still precious to me. We’ve walked through so much together, lots of hard, but also lots of everyday life. We talk about kids, recipes, marriage, Jesus, and school options.
We both adopted once more after that call, so we supported each other through the ups and downs of the process and then bringing a new child home.
Two summers ago on our family road trip, we got together at her family’s homestead. It was so much fun to see our kids play together, eat together, and have fun. We even snuck away for a walk – just the two of us and her baby.
Friends, we need each other.
Since then I’ve found so many dear friends in the adoption world. Their lives may be entirely different in many ways, but as adoptive and foster moms, we understand each other.
I could share so many pictures and stories but this post would get far too long.
For years I’ve said I wish we could gather around my table with coffee to talk, share our lives, pray, laugh, and maybe cry a little. The fact that we’re spread all around the world makes that difficult.
So,I’ve created the next best thing, a sweet place where we can gather, a place that recognizes the hard of adoption and foster care while also celebrating the beauty.
The Hope Circle
I’ve created a membership community where you can renew your hopeful, courageous heart and become the mom you’re meant to be.
If you’re weary, discouraged, or feeling alone, this group is for you. I offer hope rooted in Jesus, mentorship, and real-life strategies. Best of all, we do this in community with other adoptive and foster moms.
I love this group so much. It’s the very first thing I check when I turn on my computer in the morning. In my own way, I’m having coffee with my friends.
In order to keep the group connected and maintain a safe space, Ionly open the group from time totime and there are a limited number of spaces available.
The group will be open to new members Sept. 1-14 and then will close again for an undetermined length of time.
I spent many hours putting together a page with lots of good information about the group, so I won’t repeat it all here. But please take a look. If you have any questions, email me and I will answer ([email protected]). This group is my top priority.
That call I made all those years ago, the one where I couldn’t talk because I was crying so much, it taught me something. We cannot do this alone. We need moms in the adoption world walking with us, friends who won’t say things like, “Oh, that’s just boy stuff,” or “All teens are like that.”
While many foster and adoptive parents love their kids and are working SO hard to be great parents, the feelings of “liking” can slip away in the face of fatigue and continual challenges.
Last spring I taught a breakout on this topic at a large adoption and foster care conference. The room was packed; parents could see they were not alone in this struggle.
The good news is, there are reasons rooted in brain science for these feelings. You’re not a bad parent, so breathe a big sigh of relief.
In the breakout, I taught about Blocked Trust: what it is, how it happens, and why it matters. Blocked Trust results in changes in our brains making it hard to keep caring and feeling connected with our kids. This is called Blocked Care. Lastly, I taught about ways to overcome these challenges and renew our compassion for our children.
After the conference, Melissa and I brainstormed ways we could share this information through The Adoption Connection to really help parents overcome the challenges and renew their compassion. We worked hard to create new resources and I have good news.
In 3 days, understand why your child pushes you away, why you’re not a bad mom because you’re losing patience, and shed the feelings of shame and guilt. There is hope, and you can regain that compassion!
If you want to learn more and continue taking concrete steps toward rebuilding compassion, you’ll have the opportunity to join our intensive, From Apathy to Empathy: How to Regain Compassion for Your Child and Yourself. More on that later – but I have to say, it’s going to be good.
For now, I encourage you to sign up for this simple FREE 3-Day Compassion Challenge to begin reshaping the hope you have for your relationship with your children.
If you have a friend who needs encouragement, please share this with her. We want to give hope to as many moms as possible.
Russ and I are with some of our kids on Whidbey Island at our favorite place in the world. Most of the older kids arrive this weekend. This is our final summer at the lovely home we’ve enjoyed for ten years.
I’m trying very hard to focus on gratitude for this beautiful home shared with us by our lovely host, but I find tears are often close. This was a gift given to us during the hardest decade of our lives and I’ll always be grateful. I’m going to miss it terribly.
It’s hard to imagine anything this good ever happening again. But God’s plans are so amazing; I’m trusting He’ll lead us into this new season of gathering as a family.
Does your family have a special gathering place? Do you camp? Rent a home? Gather at a family member’s house? I’m wide open to new ideas. Leave a comment for me!
Money is a tricky subject and every family manages it differently. I’m trying something new with Greenlight.
My oldest is 32. Not to sound all nostalgic, but money was simpler when she was growing up. No phones. Lots of chores done for the sake of our homeschooling family. No allowance, but we met needs as they came up. She and her siblings earned money babysitting and later had jobs.
There is a 20-year span between my oldest and youngest – a lot has changed.
My youngest kids are now 12 and 14. They’re growing up in a radically different world and somewhat different family. They go to school, play lots of sports, go to the local pool and gym with their friends, attend athletic camps, and are generally busy outside of our home.
This is different from a standard debit card because I preloaded my parent account and now I can transfer small amounts (even $1) as often as I like. The money is immediately added to their cards.
We don’t pay them for basic household chores, but when I offer an extra chore, like vacuuming my car, I can pay them without scraping together loose change! That’s a game-changer for me.
And with a wedding at our house next month, there is plenty of extra work to be done, which means money to be earned.
Want to go to the movies with your friends? Ask mom for a paid chore.
Need money to pay for lunch at a basketball tournament? Mom can put extra cash on your card. If you want to spend more than she gave you, check your balance and see if you have enough.
With a smartphone, kids can check their Greenlight app to see the current balance on their cards and track their purchases.
How many times have I asked, “Where did that $5 go?” and been met with, “I don’t know.” Now we’ll know exactly when and where it was spent.
There are lots of other features:
Money can be put in permission-based categories such as “spend anywhere” or spend only at a specific place.
Track chores and pay automatically.
Money can be divided into categories of: spend, save, give.
Real-time notifications so you know where and when your kids are spending money.
Lost cards can be turned off with one tap on the app.
When my boys have cash, it disappears quickly. I hope this slows them down because they’ll see more clearly the value of their work. How many weeds did I pull for this money? Do I really want to spend it on candy at the pool?
They’ll also see how quickly money is gone if they forget to pack food for an event and spend it on snacks.
This could be even more useful for kids who struggle with impulsivity or who are easily tricked into giving their cash away.
We’re trying it for free for 30 days. Will it be worth the $4.99/month fee per family? We’ll decide at the end of the summer. I expect it’s going to be a bargain for the stress it lifts off me.
We’ve had a lot of tension over money because situations pop up all the time and I never have cash. I hate being the mom whose kid rides to an event with someone and they end up buying food for my child when they stop after a game. Or I scrambled for cash but didn’t send quite enough.
This will help with birthday money from grandparents too. A portion can go on the card for spending and the balance will be saved for something special.
Greenlight is brand new to us, but I see the potential for it being really positive.