This Could Have Been My Life

Can I be really honest and transparent for a moment?  When Honeybee was in Ethiopia, there were some quiet peaceful days.  Dimples was at school, and my three little ones played peacefully together.  School with Ladybug and Boo was calm and pleasant.  My days felt full and satisfying.

A thought kept flitting through my mind, which I finally spoke aloud to my friend,  “You know, if we had stuck with our original plan, this would have been my life.”  We hadn’t planned to adopt older children.  We were sensible, we knew our limits.  We knew that two little boys would be just right for us.

But God had a different plan.  His plan was big and risky, at least in our minds.  Could we embrace it?  Did we have the courage?  The words spilled out and my friend and I laughed together, but my laughter was tinged with a touch of sadness.  Later that day I got this email from my dear, wise, friend.

I was just thinking about the comment that you said earlier about your secret thought of, “This could have been my life.” I just wanted to encourage you in your journey, because it hit me that no, it wouldn’t have been your life. Because had it been, you would still be restless and unsatisfied with a “normal” life, eager for the next change or challenge. So it wouldn’t have felt blissful and easy, but perhaps frustrating, living with the feeling that though life is swell, you’re not living up to your full potential, and somehow missing some of what God had for you.

As it is, your life is busy, full, and yes, stressful! But fully dependent on God, and with many great purposes. So, enjoy your short respite, but know that it is NOT a picture of what life could have been. It is simply a picture of what life is like every once in awhile now, when some of your very special people clear out to make more focused time with some of your other very special people! 🙂 You are a blessing and an inspiration to me (and yes, that does scare me!).

May God forgive me for thinking that I know what is best for me or that I know what my life would have been like had I made different choices along the way.  He knows my every thought and He alone holds my life in His hands.  While I may be tempted to desire “easier”, what I really want is to give Him my all…even when it hurts, is inconvenient, or exhausting.  I want to live each day surrendered to His good will for me.

Easier is not better.  Hard can be good.  And as one fellow adoptive mom said, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

23 Comments

  1. Jenn
    February 1, 2010

    Hi- I have been reading your blog for a while, but have never commented. I found it as I was preparing for my adoption and have enjoyed the learning I have gotten. I came home with my little boy from Ethiopia just over a month ago. As I was reading today the first thing that came to my mind was to say that you are an inspiration, but also to know that you may have not appreciated that moment if you did not have the others. I know I sometimes have to have God remind me to appreciate the simple moments.

    Reply
  2. April
    February 1, 2010

    Dear Lisa,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog, particularly this post. As an adoptive mom to a daughter from Thailand I remember experiencing this exact moment. I remember the day we met our daughter and she hit my four year old son over the head with a bundle of chopsticks and then promptly laughed after wards. There I was comforting the child I had held and carried since day one and here was an almost two year old little stranger who was about to rock our world. I wondered if I could do it, if God really knew what He was asking of us. Now I know that what he required of me was exactly what he had given me every day. Grace, patience, unconditional love. When I was feeling sadness of what could have been (and in my mind in those moments of what could have been were peace and more days of "easy") God was using me to my fullest potential-the person He created me to be instead of the person I was settling for. I am thankful for a God who sees past my narrow view of what happiness looks like. My children are my greatest gift and the challenges of parenting an adopted toddler have once again reminded me of God's unfailing love and mercy. He is so good all of the time!
    Thank you for your honesty and your desire to share your experiences.
    April
    http://www.intoourheart.blogspot.com

    Reply
  3. Jess
    February 1, 2010

    Lisa,

    First of all, I Love the new blog!

    Second, you are an inspiration to so many of us! We all have those thoughts, but when I do, I think of you. The challenges you face with such courage and strength… the love and compassion you show each of your children absolutely inspiring:)

    Reply
  4. Lisa H.
    February 1, 2010

    We've had the same sort of thoughts….When all of our big kids are busy somewhere else, and we thiink about how easy it would have been to go to dinner, or on a short get away or whatever….But, wow, your friend was right….Easy would get BORING after a while….

    And here's the other thought that came to me…Yes MY life would have been easier….But what about my THEIR lives…(my adopted kiddos)….How easy would THAT have been for them? Where would THEY be…..Obviously, you've thought about that, or you wouldn't do what you're doing, but it's easy to forget! So today I'll pray that God reminds us both of the difference our choices have made, for the good, in both OUR lives, and in the lives of our little people!

    a hug to you!

    Lisa H.

    Reply
  5. neely
    February 1, 2010

    love, love it! love your honesty and your willingness to be right where God wants you!!

    Reply
  6. Tracy
    February 1, 2010

    I'm not an adoptive parent, and I only have 4, but there's a fairly big age gap between my two oldest and my two youngest. I love them all more than anything, but I do find myself occasionally thinking what life would be like (simpler, more affordable) if we had stopped at two. It's hard to admit even to myself that I have these thoughts, but there you go.
    So thank you for this post.

    Reply
  7. Wendy
    February 1, 2010

    Thank you for such a real, honest post, Lisa. We're currently waiting for our referral from Ethiopia, but recently felt led to adopt a preschool boy in addition to the baby girl we're already waiting for. It's a struggle to think of accepting that challenge…yes, adopting a baby girl will change our smooth family routine we currently have with our three kiddos, but nothing we can't adjust to. But the throw a preschooler in the mix, and it may take a while for the chaos to settle, if it ever does! So we're praying for the courage to follow through on His riskier plan, if we have the opportunity. Your post reminded me of one I wrote in preparation of telling family we were trying to adopt two kiddos: http://familywovenbyfaith.blogspot.com/2009/10/cr… We still don't know if that door for a 2nd child will open or not (our home study writer is unwilling to change the home study at this point, until she sees we have our adoption financed-be praying on that for us, please), but if the door opens, we will run through it! Thanks for the encouragement!

    Reply
  8. Cat & Mark
    February 1, 2010

    That really hit the spot today. You have an insightful friend. 🙂 And very true. But don't feel TOO guilty for enjoying a little peace and quiet! ;o) Lovin' the new blog.

    Reply
  9. Sheri
    February 1, 2010

    Thank you Lisa and thank you to your friend. We need to hear this some days, don't we?! Well spoken!

    Sheri D.

    Reply
  10. Julie
    February 2, 2010

    Easier. Yes, but you would have missed the blessings and the miracles.

    I've missed you. I didn't catch the transition to the new sight, and we've been crazy busy in not a good way over here (ER, hospitals and kidney stones for Steve).

    I can't wait to catch up on all your wisdom. 🙂

    Love,
    Julie

    Reply
  11. Julie B.
    February 1, 2010

    Your new blog looks really good! Thanks for all the hard work. I look forward to checking it out more.
    Also thanks for the book idea ( yesterday). I plan to check it out. Have you read "Princess Warrior" by Princess Kusane Zulu? It is worth reading.
    Blessings,
    Julie B.

    Reply
  12. Melinda
    February 2, 2010

    Wow, what wise words! To be honest I have had plenty of those thoughts my self. But if I had never adopted, I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn't have the same relationship with Christ that I have now, I would simply not have a need for Him. But my life right now requires Him every minute of the day. It is hard, it is tiring, it is frustrating, but thankfully I don't have to do it alone. Of course it is also beautiful, rewarding and fun! Thanks for your insight and sharing so honestly. You are a blessing!

    Reply
  13. Jennifer
    February 2, 2010

    Wow! I needed to see this today. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  14. Donna
    February 2, 2010

    Just where I was the other day, looking at two getting married and one going off to college this summer. It would have been empty nest for us, but oh so boring. I know the thought, the fleeting thought, but life is so much more full for all of us now. Waiting for the go ahead to step out again…am I crazy, no I think it is obedient.
    thanks for your honest post.
    Delighting in Him

    Reply
  15. Lacey
    February 3, 2010

    Oh how I love honesty.
    We have six children – two adopted. Our oldest is 15 and the other 5 are all under 6 and there are days when our oldest is gone that I have that exact same thought but have never said it outloud to anyone for fear a non-adoptive parent woul dnot understand.
    How freeing to even see my thoughts in print.
    thank you!

    Reply
  16. jen
    February 3, 2010

    Oh, what a sweet, sweet post. Your friend is so wise! I wish I could say that I thought the same thing (as she), yet I really can only say that I totally related to your thoughts. Yet just like you said, in my head I know this is a good, good path for us…and when I snuggle those sweet kids at night, the hard day is so worth it.

    It's good to know I'm not the only one though!

    Reply
  17. Brianna
    February 3, 2010

    Oh Lisa I love this! So wise. It can be tempting sometimes to think how much easier life would be with, say, just 2 kids. Or even 3. But you and your friend are right. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
  18. Chris
    February 5, 2010

    I'm behind in reading…wow! you have a wise friend… that thought runs through my mind now and then..our youngest bio is 12, but look at all the people we would never have met…And I would think I know how to raise children…now I am still learning :^)

    Reply
  19. January
    August 6, 2011

    It is like I'm reading my life, except you have been there, done that and are now sharing your experience to help me on my journey. 🙂 I have always felt that women should share and support other women. That we can learn so much from one another. I love this post. I went from 2 to 5 kids in 3 years as we have 5 children 7 and under. Many days my husband and I look at each other wondering what we have done! lol. Your friend is so right though. Her words are very wise. I would be bored and restless and now I will just enjoy those moments of 'this could have been my life' knowing it really wouldn't have been and THIS is my life and what I wanted/want. Thanks again mama for sharing! 🙂

    Reply
  20. Kristen Nixon
    December 26, 2011

    Lisa, this is a great post and your friend was wise to send you that e-mail. I have an adopted younger brother with cerebral palsy. He required a lot of care as a child and he was a difficult teen. I often thought how nice and calm life would have been without him but that was not my decision to make. My mom needed more challenge and she got it. I think that God is pleased with her choice.

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 26, 2011

      Thank you, Kristen. I appreciate your words.

      Reply
  21. Ellen
    October 31, 2012

    I clicked into this post from the Top Nine box on your side bar. We're not currently fostering any children and we aren't adoptive parents, but we find ourselves living in a city in which we never thought we'd settle. We're at least 4 hours from grandparents by plane, the geography here in the South West is anathema to our Appalachian souls, and the close quarters of the city and its billboards are a far cry from unending, tree-covered Blue Ridge mountains.

    And yet…. If we're not *called* or *sent* back home with clear words from the Lord, there aren't enough radiantly changing leaves in the autumn or gardens full of sprouting vegetables in the spring to make up for the loss of Jesus as first place in our hearts. We have this One Life, and I am desperate to live it well. I YEARN for home!! May that yearning point me to heaven, instead.

    So even though we're not parenting kids from hard places, I'm resonating with your words to your friend, and I am grateful for her response.

    Reply
  22. Jessie Gunderson
    December 19, 2012

    Yep I needed to hear this today! His road ahead is strangely narrow because few have traveled it but I so want to go where He leads. The Lord is my rock and I am thankful to you for this honest post to remind me why I surrender.

    Reply

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