Redemption

bath tub

Who gets saved sitting in a claw foot bathtub? I thought.  Sitting on the closed antique pull-string toilet, where I found myself so often in the last year, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the story that this would be for him.  You see, James regularly goes to that old bathtub to sit and think.  Sometimes he goes when his behavior requires some extra thinking time.  Sometimes he goes to get away from the world for a bit.  Sometimes, he takes a clipboard and gets his schoolwork done back there.  Most of the time, that’s the place where we have the hardest and the best conversations.  So, I suppose that it makes sense that he was sitting in the bathtub and I was sitting on the closed toilet when he said, “Mom, I need to talk to you about being saved.”

We’ve had the conversation several times now, but I could tell that this time was different.  There was an urgency in his voice and I had the feeling that he was serious about it this time.  As I began to talk to him, he said, “Mom, I know that I have to believe with my heart and confess with my mouth, but I’m just….I’m just….well, I’m just so bad sometimes.  I just can’t get it right.”

Haven’t we all felt like this sometimes?  My heart went out to him, knowing what it’s like to feel the weight of your sin.  I think it’s particularly so for kids like James.  I think they not only carry the weight of their own sin, but also the weight of their past, and the weight of sin that isn’t even their own.  So, I talked to him a bit more explaining, and then Dad came in and climbed in the claw foot tub with James and took over the talk.  Yeah, it was quite the sight.

After a while, they came out of the bathroom and announced that James had accepted the wonderful gift of salvation.  I don’t think anything is a better moment for a parent.  Birth is amazing, but this rebirth…it’s better.  And for a child that wasn’t naturally born to me, it was almost like a make-up for that missed time.  Isn’t God crazy good like that?

He is in the business of redemption…sweet, beautiful redemption.  And nobody does it better.  No one could orchestrate this scenario.  No one could ever dream up being saved in an old bathroom in a schoolhouse.  Just God.

We have prayed for that moment…many times over, but I know that it’s not by our strength or power that he was saved.  It was by the grace of God.  It was God who placed him in a Christian foster home.  It was God who placed him in our home.  It was God who gave him family and extended family and a church family and friends who prayed for him.  It was God who gave him a story that paralleled our story so perfectly.  It was God who used trouble to lead to restoration.

“…and I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”  -Hosea 2:15

door of hope

It was God who chose James Wood.

So today, with joy and gratitude in my heart, I have to recite one of my favorite passages:

“I will show my love to the one I called Not my loved one.

I will say to those called, ‘Not my people’,

‘You are my people’;

and they will say, ‘You are my God.’

-Hosea 2:23

Lighten Up

 

I was being played…like a fiddle. Like a fiddle on the song “Devil Went Down to Georgia” actually. You can talk to any adoptive parent, and they will tell you that their child goes through cycles.  They will do really well for a while and you will feel like you’re making progress, and then, sometimes slowly, sometimes in warp speed, they will head downhill.  Behavior will take a turn for the worse, and a lot of the problems that you thought were over, rear their ugly head once again.  This is typical.  What’s that saying in Ecclesiastes?  “There’s nothing new under the sun…”

flower 2

That’s where I was going wrong. Tim had been telling me this for some time now, but it’s much more fun to pretend like it’s your idea, right?  Anyhow, the problem was that every time he went on a downhill slide, I was surprised, and let me tell you, being surprised that a kid misbehaves is like walking outside in the wintertime and being surprised that it’s cold.  Kids are going to misbehave.

So this time, when the downhill slope began, I was once again, surprised. And because I was surprised by it, I went down with him.  Now, I’m not saying that this was the only reason for my meltdown.  It wasn’t.  But, it certainly pushed me over the edge.  A week ago today, I left school feeling utterly defeated.  I had failed as a mother.  (If you watch The Goldbergs, say that in a Beverly Goldberg voice).  So I sat and pouted about all my shortcomings for a bit, and I felt so defeated that I didn’t even feel like talking to Tim about it.  I knew that the only way out of this feeling was to go to The Source.   The Bible.  I needed to hear from God.  So I turned to Hosea, and I read the passage that gets me through every single time:

“There I will give her back her vineyards,

And will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope….

…I will betroth you to me forever;

I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,

In love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness,

And you will acknowledge the Lord.

….I will show my love to the one I called, ‘Not my loved one.

I will say to those called’ Not my people’;

‘You are my people’.”

-Hosea 2: 15, 19, 20, 23

clouds in sky.png

Every time I read this passage, I am reminded of why we chose to adopt. I’m reminded of the fact that we wanted to give hope to a child who had been robbed of it.  We wanted to add to our family through this beautiful process called adoption.  And through it, I am learning more than I ever imagined.

So after I read Hosea, I sat down and made a list of all the behaviors that James tends to fall back on. I realized that all of those behaviors were attention-seeking.  So I could see pretty clearly from my list that he’s craving attention by the barrel-load.  Unfortunately, this is an impossible situation for parents with more than one child.  When you have a child that craves infinite amounts of attention, you will never meet their need.  It’s a situation of a person trying to fill an emotional need through you instead of through God.  It’s absolutely exhausting, but it can be better.

Once I had my list, I announced to myself…”I will not be surprised by any of his attention-seeking behaviors. This is what he’s craving, and I know that.  There’s no surprise here.”  So, beside each behavior, I wrote what I would do in response to that behavior. I made sure that my response was not giving attention, but simply cut-and-dry dealing with the issue.

For example:

If James doesn’t get his way, and starts slamming things and crying…I will calmly tell him to go to the bathroom (his favorite quiet place…he likes to sit in the clawfoot tub) until he collects himself while I go ahead with my work.

There was an entire list of things. However, since I had determined to no longer give him negative attention, I knew that I would have to give him some extra positive attention.  So I also wrote down a list of things that I can do to provide him with the positive attention that he really needs.  That list included writing him notes in his assignment book, taking him to breakfast, etc.

We’ve been at this for a week now, and I have to say that our days have been as smooth as butter. It was time for me to lighten up…big time.  I had been so focused on progress that I forgot to enjoy the present.  I was so zeroed in on his future that I had forgotten to just enjoy being his mom.

This past week has been absolutely delightful. I have to tell you a funny on James.  I had noticed that he had suddenly gotten really bad chapped lips, so I had been treating him for a couple of days for it.  Yesterday, I was wondering aloud how he got that level of chapped lips in the summer time just out of the blue.   He said, “I know how it happened…I was sucking on half of an egg shell and this happened.”  I inspected it closer, and sure enough, his entire chin was purple and red.  It wasn’t chapped, it was bruised!   My child had a gigantic chin hickey!  I laughed so hard tears were rolling down my face.  I laughed every time I thought about it.  It was the cutest, funniest thing I think I’ve ever seen.  I’m so glad that I decided to enjoy motherhood more and stress less.  I might have missed the great comedy in that “chapped lips” fiasco!  So my advice for all adoptive parents and all parents:  Lighten Up!  Enjoy your kids.  They’re pretty hilarious after all!

tree in field