Not The House (and what comes with it) But The Home

I am now an empty nester – one of those women who carry photos of her children and grandchildren to bore others with because she is no longer overwhelmed with noisy, energetic (and sometimes cranky) children underfoot.

I cannot claim to be new to the experience of being an empty nester – mainly because I believe that every time a child leaves home an empty nester experience occurs. Yet, all of those empty nester experiences and observations of my children as adults have taught me some invaluable lessons:

•    Cherish all of the teaching moments with your children – especially the ones that come at inconvenient times. And…make an effort to create as many of them as you can.
•    In order for our teaching moments to be effective they must be backed up with our example.
•    Take time to have fun as a family…and do it often. Laughter and giggles are important!
•    Teach children responsibility and how to work (even when it’s easier to do it yourself).
•    Teach children right from wrong, morality, the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. They do not automatically absorb it.
•    Dance lessons, music lessons and sports are all wonderful and have their place but they need to have their place and not rule schedules or a family. All too often families lose the connections they should have with each other because they are spending every spare moment effort funding the lessons, traveling to practices/games, and living life on the go.
•    A parent needs to be a parent and not relegate authority over the home to the children. The angriest and most emotionally unhealthy children I have ever seen are from families where those children were allowed control of their families.
•    Daily expressions of love are invaluable to building relationships and a loving family.
•    Skip the expensive toys and electronics and encourage children to play and use their imaginations. (The best toy in the world is an appliance box!)
•    A large fancy house does not have an increased ability to make a happy family.  Many shacks have been better homes to children than mansions have.
•    Children do not learn to be successful by being coddled and indulged. They learn to be successful by learning self discipline and how to work.
•    The most important things parents can do to provide security for their children is to make their marriage a priority. Date nights are important and the courtship that initiated the family should never…ever end.
•    Don’t wait to do things with your children until your children are older. It may seem like lots of activities would be easier if you just wait until they are older but the most critical time to build relationships with them is when they are young (and those activities take the most effort).
•    A house does not make a home.
•    Building a home is not done with walls, mortar or nails. A home is built by two parents who love each other – who are committed to each other and the work and effort it takes to build a family.  A home is built with hugs, teaching, tears, a few scraped knees, kissing boo boos better, discipline, work, trips for ice cream, chores, water fights, attending church together, family dinners and more. And somehow…even when we are so exhausted that lifting a finger seems a monumental task – we must do it all with love.

Building a home out of a house is tough demanding job. The hours are grueling and there is no monetary compensation. However, “the toughest job in the world” has amazing rewards. I feel and experience those rewards every time I walk through the door of my house and sense all of the laughter, love, and memories that have been created and shared there, spend time with my sweetheart (who is still my sweetheart because we have made each other a priority), share in the successes of my children, and gather together with my loving, energetic, and sometimes mischievous family!

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Friendship and Love…

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love Hubert H. Humphrey

I have been touched recently by the importance of friendship. I am very blessed to share my life with my best friend. He is my husband and sweetheart 🙂  Because I am blessed with that constant arrangement, I have often been more lax about developing and maintaining other friendships in my life.

It’s not that I don’t value friendship – I do. It’s more like I put those relationships on the back burner more than I should have because my needs were already being so well met by my husband and family.

I don’t know what exactly penetrated my heart recently, but I have become more intimately aware of the great family, we as a human family, are. We need each other and we need to support each other.

We all have a profound impact on each other – both small and large.

Friendship, in whatever forms it presents itself in our lives should never be taken for granted. It is a gift that once given, must be guarded like a rare jewel and nurtured like a priceless garden. I am making it a goal in my life to be more friendly to strangers and to reach out more often to my friends that I am blessed to have.

What about you? Has it been too long since you have talked to your best friend? …or have you been in contact recently, but have not taken the time to let them know how important they are to you? Are your best friends your spouse and children? Are they halfway around the world and in harms way? I hope you will take just a brief moment and reach out to a friend today!

Today’s story shares the importance of unselfish friendship. I hope you will enjoy!

A Touching Story about Friendship

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island.

The two survivors who have been a good friends, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island.

He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.
As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered “

Moral: For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us (Congregational Prayer). Value your friends, don’t leave your loved ones behind.

Today’s story is shared from the following website: http://www.videoinspiration.net/blog/short-stories-about-friendship/

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The Heart of a Man…

It’s not the size of a man but the size of his Heart that matters Evander HolyfieldToday has been a busy day filled with lots to do and (thankfully!) the energy to do it all!Therefore, I am going to keep my comments brief! I hope you are having a wonderful day and that you are inspired by today’s story!

Big Feet and Big Heart

It was an unseasonably hot day. Everybody it seemed, was looking for some kind of relief, so an ice cream store was a natural place to stop.

A little girl, clutching her money tightly, entered the store. Before she could say a word, the store clerk sharply told her to get outside and read the sign on the door, and stay out until she put on some shoes. She left slowly, and a big man followed her out of the store.

He watched as she stood in front of the store and read the sign: ‘No Bare Feet’. Tears started rolling down her cheeks as she turned and started to walked away. Just then the big man called to her. Sitting down on the curb, he took off his size-12 shoes, and set them in front of the girl saying, “Here, you won’t be able to walk in these, but if you sort of slide along, you can get your ice cream cone.”

Then he lifted the little girl up and set her feet into the shoes. “Take your time,” he said, “I get tired of moving them around, and it’ll feel good to just sit here and eat my ice cream.” The shining eyes of the little girl could not be missed as she shuffled up to the counter and ordered her ice cream cone.

He was a big man, all right. Big belly, big shoes, but most of all, he had a big heart.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.skywriting.net/inspirational/stories/big_feet-big_heart.html

 

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Love…Does it Make the World Go Round?

Love doesn’t make the  world go round; love is  what makes the  ride worthwhile   Franklin Jones

Today I am sharing a lengthy story. I hope you will take time to read it. I have two children with attachment issues. Over the next few months, I will be addressing some of the issues that children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and their families deal with.

Some believe that love overcomes everything. I truly wish it did. What I do know is that love is essential and needs to be sought. However, with the knowledge that love alone cannot help children with RAD, more knowledge needs to be shared with the world about the needs and care that an infant needs and the life long issues that lack of appropriate care creates.

I hope you enjoy today’s story!

My Battle with Attachment After Adoption

Over the years, I’ve written many articles about adoption. Those articles have often taken a passionate stance for the orphan, especially those whom experts dub the “functional orphan,” ones who may technically have a parent somewhere but remain unparented and empty. My passion is  twofold. The first is practical, in that if we as pro-lifers are successful, we will be left with 3500 orphans a day. I’m not okay with that.

But my second reason is personal, a story I only shared publicly for the first time on Orphan Sunday, and which I share here now because I am learning my story is less uncommon than I thought, despite my unique circumstances. I’m learning that as a group of pro-lifers, unless we are prepared to deal with the reality of the problems that may come our way, we will have little reason to argue against abortion, for we must be willing to nurture and love, at personal sacrifice, what we claim should not die.

My story begins in a manger in Bethlehem, but that’s where most of the similarity with a more famous Bethlehem manger birth ends. I was an orphan, abandoned on the city streets. There I was found and taken to the Holy Family Hospital, which calls itself The Crèche, another word for manger.  When I would speak publicly about my story, saying I was born in a manger in Bethlehem was a captivating opening line– a lighthearted quip, masking the darkness on the other side of that adoption, my dark secret.

It’s that side people today need to understand, both to reduce the fear of adopting “unknown” kids as well as to empower them to deal with it and eschew the internet horror stories, which are often written by people who overgeneralize.

My mom died with the secret of how she acquired me, the lies on my adoption papers, and her real reasons for taking me.  I was likely a child to an unwed Palestinian woman. I was found in the West Bank/Gaza Strip, the wrong side of the tracks from birth. I don’t know if I was left literally on the street or left on the doorstep of the hospital/orphanage like a cheesy orphan movie, but Fr. Emil, the head of the court that facilitated my adoption simply said in 2011, “you were collected from the street.”

My adoption papers, which call me “Catherine,” say, “The name and whereabouts of Catherine’s father are completely unknown.” I didn’t believe that for a long time. In 2011 the court officials, the Latin Patriarchate in Jordan, told me they likely lied to push the adoption through. At 6 months old my adoption was complete and I went home with her, in Jerusalem.

And never, ever in my life, not one day, did I feel loved.

If you have children, you know what happens with newborns. They cry: they get fed; they get held. You stare in each other’s eyes and fall in love. Parents bond. Children attach. The first few months of  babies lives with their parents are probably some of the most precious. That bonding/attachment happens at the deepest level then.

The first 6 months of my life my mom apparently came to visit me, but not enough to establish a primary connection. Whether or not the frequency of her visits was her fault or not is irrelevant; the only question was, to whom did I attach? I wasn’t abused that I know of. I have no information on my in-utero development. Science tells us that matters. Palestinian culture tells us a woman pregnant out of wedlock may be killed to avenge family honor. All I know is I never attached to a primary caregiver, and it made life difficult.

Usually the stories are about crack addicts and promiscuity. Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) who never get a family, never get to attach in the right ways, seeking all the wrong ways, doomed to destruction. Your local prison population houses many poorly attached folks. Few adults really live well enough to analyze it, to overcome it. Some of us make it, but the ache lingers, indescribable.

My life was a tale of trying to fill a hole. I grew up wild and free, did anything I wanted to, dropped out of almost every year of school and conned my way into the next year (except 7th grade where they had truant officers). I shoplifted from Sears at 14, got arrested, thrown in juvenile hall because no one could come get me from the police station, started smoking then—a habit which continued to over a decade until I had a vision of Jesus and never smoked again.

In between were a couple homeless shelters and drug overdoses, not because I wanted to die, but I wanted to live and didn’t know how. I was kicked out of my conservative church at 13 for being too wild, and took a proficiency test at 15 to get done with high school so I would stop getting beat up by bullies. In college at 15, I dabbled in everything that looked interesting. It’s how I lived all of my life. I floated until something looked good, then honed in like a hunter finding her prey. I’d take anything that would satisfy for a season, whether school or work or friends or food. But if that something looked like a mom, then my life was reordered because maybe she would love me, want me, emotionally adopt me. Maybe then, the torment would end. Maybe then I would be safe.

I’m not unlike many adopted late or to families who didn’t know how to love them. Most of us never had words for it; no one would talk about it. When I was growing up, people said adoption screws you up. Lots of adoptees I knew were a mess in all the ways we describe someone as messy, from anger to rebellion to drug abuse to promiscuity.

I grew up with the idea that adoption was bad. At 15, I was against adoption. I just knew a bunch a screwed up kids. We were adopted; we were a mess. Therefore, adoption was bad. As a syllogism it failed. In my broken mind, it was the only answer I had. My own adoption had cost me a family, something from which I never recovered. I wanted to, but my brain and my heart could never connect. Attachment, the joy of the parent-child relationship, seemed my curse. The truth is, adoption is good, adopting kids with attachment issues is really good, but it must be informed and deliberate because adoptive parents need to address the holes. The prognosis is good when it’s addressed, even in older adoptees.

When you aren’t attached to anyone you never feel safe. I could handle not having a family like all the kids I knew, but I couldn’t handle the hole that seemed to be hollowed out inside me. It’s the worst kind of orphan mentality because it feels floundering, detached from everything, a state of living so vulnerably that the only survival mode is to erect permanent walls because anything that flies by might hit you. Might kill you.

And ironically, while I couldn’t attach, detaching was easy. I could make anything disappear if it was out of sight.  With attachment disorders the actual part of the brain affected is the orbital prefrontal cortex That is the part that regulates images. Faces. There is a phrase I use a lot: Faces and voices. Without consistent faces and voices, it was easy to make things go away. Unfortunately, that also meant I could never internalize the good. Later I met people who loved me, who expressed it, but unless they were reminding me often, it faded. Every time I saw them again, I needed them to speak first, needed to be sure they had not changed their mind. Internalization was my greatest desire and more elusive than a unicorn.

Nothing I could ever explain helped anyone to understand. I am highly educated; I spent years writing and speaking publicly, but I couldn’t explain what it felt like to be in a prison of RAD. I got a lot of canned answers the few times I did tell. “You need to attach to Jesus,” some said, conveniently ignoring the part of the Bible where God says it’s not good for man to be alone—before there was any record of sin. So the religious comments didn’t work. “You need to make a decision to act in spite of your feelings” said the amateur psychologists. They didn’t understand it was beyond feelings. It was more like cancer, destroying cells that give life; it was like telling me to out-will cancer.

Theoretically, a child at 6 months could pretty easily attach to a single caregiver once adopted. Why that didn’t happen is not clear, but my mom wasn’t affectionate or loving, not ever; she simply didn’t know how to be, and we had no resources. I have no memories of her looking me in the eyes with love, of embracing me, of tenderness. So the only conclusion I can offer as grown-up-Susan is that I went from multiple caregivers in the orphanage setting, who probably were very good to me, helping my mind stabilize to some degree as an infant, to one caregiver who didn’t give care. This happens often with foster children who arrive to homes this way.

At first when I learned more about attachment and even had a professional confirm it, I told others thinking that this would help them understand. What ensued was one of two things. I’m still not sure which was worse. Either people got scared and suddenly pulled away and/or passed me along—or they tried to deliver me from some demonic power. And because I wanted to be wanted, I didn’t chase the former—and I always gave into the latter. A friend once likened me to an abused wife, who kept going back for more out of a desperate need to be loved. He was probably accurate in his assessment, and my intelligence told me to stop. But my heart I was captive to a curse. I knew nothing else.

This is the (preventable) story of so many orphans, unidentified, labeled as difficult, and research tells us, often mistaken for having ADHD. It’s the story of the somewhat trendy phase of adoption that glamorizes the sweet baby, but forgets the older child. And it’s probably the story of many of the 100,000 plus kids in foster care today who need to be adopted. It’s a hard story. We like simple answers. Pithy tweets make us feel profound. But the fact is that there isn’t an easy answer for these kids, whether they are victims in the womb, or they are traumatized by life after that, from badly screened adoptions, bumping from foster home to foster home, or simply from those who don’t understand.

If being pro-life is being pro-child, then we have to recognize that in a fractured society where thousands exist as at least functional orphans that many will have issues with attachment and their lives matter. Some will have problems with it, and some, like me, will have RAD and believe they are not worth fighting for. For multitudes of kids, they are aware they are not the first choice, not the one people want because maybe they have a notation of “Reactive Attachment Disorder” in their files. Or perhaps worse, there is no notion since it often goes undiagnosed, and then stunned parents feel trapped, or worse yet, send a child back. None of this furthers the reality of being pro-life. We must walk out of fear and into the hearts of these children.

I don’t know what it feels like to be connected in a familial way, though I have some dear friends. It’s an odd, unanchored feeling, but beyond that it is a feeling, a mission, if you will, that I must help fight for others who can be rescued as children. If we are pro-life, we must stop passing around children, stop rejecting the ones with problems too difficult for us, stop valuing our lives over theirs and jump in with our eyes wide open. Thousands of kids need us–they need to attach to us so they can see the value of their lives, and, in turn, see the value of life so one day we will have an answer to the classic pro-choice question:

Story shared from the following website :https://www.liveaction.org/news/my-battle-with-attachment-after-adoption/

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It’s Not How Much We Do…Doing It With Love

It’s not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing. It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into the Giving Mother TeresaWhat we do every day makes a difference. All of our kind deeds,  all of our kind words, and even all of our kind thoughts make a difference.

I find that in working with people, many understand the impact and influence that others have on them but it is more difficult for them to understand the impact and influence they have on others.

As you read today’s story, be sure to think about the small, maybe seemingly insignificant ways that you make a difference for others!

All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/05/21/4-short-stories-change-the-way-you-think/

 

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