Today I am full.  Very full. I’m on the verge of tears right now.  Some happy.  Some sad.  Some overwhelmed.  Some tired (lack of sleep will get you too).  But most of all my tears come from JOY, but not the happy kind of joy, the deeply satisfied kind of joy.

It’s one year ago today that we brought home our newest daughter.  On every level her adoption broke the rules, broke our comfort zones, broke our “plans”, broke our pre-conceived notions of pretty much everything. It’s not like we went in blind- oh no.  We knew exactly what we were doing. We were adopting a 15 year old young lady, with a traumatic past, medical challenges, behavior issues, reactive attachment disorder, and more!

BUT, BUT, BUT….

We were ALSO adopting a 15 year old young lady with a heart, a mind, a soul and a future. A big future that depended on US as her parents.  We knew it would require so much out of us, we knew it would be hard, but we were willing.  We were as ready as we could be, to climb the mountain, to scale the obstacles, to push and pull and PRAY.

Of course we knew that this would change us.  Every child you have changes you. We had done this before, this sweet young lady was child 11 in our home.  So, we had really done this before. We knew it would change us, but we just didn’t anticipate HOW MUCH it would change us- FOR THE BETTER.

That’s why my heart is soooooo full and I am on the edge of tears, because I have been changed.  A LOT.  I have been transformed, and God used this sweet young lady as an agent of change in my life.  God used her to dig out MY junk, to dig out MY issues, to expose MY weaknesses.

Trauma does that.  Stress does that.  You can either look at it or turn away from it.  When you choose to look at it deep and long- you will be transformed. You will start to see your own wounds and weaknesses as you help someone else look at their wounds.

Time and time again, this is how God works in our lives.  He uses trials to transform us.

It’s our choice how we respond.  Do we choose to respond willingly or by digging our heels in?

You see, on the outside I had learned to have self control, learned to be strong, and learned how to have a good response in trials. But just because you have learned self control, does NOT mean you are exempt from having your buttons pushed.  And adoption of kids from traumatic past will do just that.  PUSH EVERY SINGLE BUTTON YOU HAVE– ones that are showing and ones that are hiding.

Our past adoptions had taught me to face it head on.  Deal with it.  Embrace the challenge.  Step up to the plate because in the end I would grow and the child would be changed for the good.  But that doesn’t mean its easy for me, it means I just know its the right choice and I should do it.

Now, as I was raising our newest daughter, who struggled with huge outbursts of rage and fear, I was faced with a choice.  How willing was I?  Day after day, hour after hour with screaming and yelling and anger and stress — how willing was I?  VERY WILLING even though I didn’t like it, I did it, willingly.

THAT’S IT RIGHT THERE.  being willing to endure.

Trauma will teach you that.  Endurance. Willingness. Strength.

So very soon I came to see that MY insides MUST change if I was going to help her change.  MY stress, MY anger, MY fears, MY weaknesses– MUST BE DELT WITH– and PRONTO!!!

I longed to be a strong assertive leader with a calm and peaceful spirit.  A spirit that was not tossed about with the waves of stress or change.  But that does NOT come o a silver platter.

I began to pray more and more.  SHOW ME GOD.  Show me where I need to change, show me where I am weak, show me how you have designed my entire life to come together at this very moment and equip me.  And Lord, please fill me with a peace that is beyond MY ability.

You know what?  He did.

I found myself, there on the bathroom floor, holding our raging daughter.  She was melting down over anger of lies from her past, reality was hitting hard, life was turned upside down and she wanted it and hated it all at once.  I kept holding.  Tightly.  Honestly, mostly so she would not injure herself or me.  But also, because I knew she needed it AND SO DID I.

Touch is hard for me,  well at least that much.  I’m not the warm and fuzzy type who snuggles for hours with her kids.  I’m the task oriented type.  The type who goes for a challenge and conquers it.  So this much love, this much touch, this much excavation of my soul was hard.

All the while, in my mind I kept singing in my head to myself “It is well with my soul”- and praying that it would truly be well with my soul from the inside out.

Day by day.  I was there in the bathroom again and again and again, holding her while the screaming raged on and on. The older kids in the house would take the other children outside or the other room, turn on music and have a dance party.  They were learning too, how to respond to stress.  How to NOT let it govern you.  How, even in their young lives, that they have CHOICES — CHOICES of how to respond to someone else’s stress and NOT letting it become their own stress.

I would say to her, “Show me calm and Show me quiet” …. we will leave the bathroom when you are “Calm and Quiet”.

Don’t we all know, you can be quiet on the outside and have NO CALM on the inside.

So we sat and sat and sat.  Until both of us learned to be calm and quiet on the inside first.

So today is THAT day.  May 10th.  One year, deep and long, very full of emotions.  A journey. On the outside it looks like an adoption journey.  But the truth of it is– it’s a journey of a the soul and deepening of faith.  A journey of continuing to trust that God does not make mistakes.  A journey of “It is well with my soul”.

No matter how hard, I would do it again 1,000 times. Because both of us have come out transformed.  We are still on a journey.  A journey that helps both of us embrace the life God has given us, no complaints, no regrets, just gratitude for the gift of transformation.

So, today I am full.  Very full. I’m on the verge of tears right now.  Some happy.  Some sad.  Some overwhelmed.  Some tired (lack of sleep will get you too).  But most of all my tears come from JOY, but not the happy kind of joy, the deeply satisfied kind of joy.