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.
Well this post is LONG LONG LONG overdue. I meant to write it many times and then life happened. Today I had the chance to sit outside under a big oak tree, sip ice tea and watch my kids run and play in the sprinkler. There was a wheelchair parked on either side of me and I just soaked it in. It was great. It lasted about 4 minutes before “someone” needed something, but those four minutes were bliss 🙂
We have said soooo many times that there are zillions of things we could have NEVER imagined about our family. But double digits…. we never imagined that… then again, God does say He will give us more than we can ask or imagine 🙂 Yup- He did. We have 10 kids!!!! what??? really??? when did that happen? Life flies by sometimes really fast. I feel like just a few months ago we moved to Texas, but its been two years next week! wow.
So just yesterday- 24 hours ago we brought home our newest addition- Jadon Emmanuel Martin, age 6 1/2. Just 10 weeks before that we brought home our other newest addition- Jaron Christopher Martin, age 6.
Here’s Jadon Emmanuel- age 6 1/2: (his name means Thankful God is with us)
Here’s Jaron Christopher-age 6: (can you tell his name mean’s to cry out with rejoicing ?) 😉
As you may have known, the boys knew each other from school, even though they were not blood related, they were destined by God to be brothers.
Here is their reunion just yesterday when we brought Jadon home. This picture was snapped by Mrs. Farley the second we wheeled in the door:
I just LOVE this picture. For so many reasons. I just love Jarons excitement when he saw Jadon wheel in!!! I love that everyone is circled around celebrating. I love that they are both holding their daddy’s hand. I love that our wonderful friends, The Farley’s, were there too. (They are an adoptive family too) I love that our family verse Ps 37:4-6 in hanging on the wall in this picture (thank you Nikki- you’re awesome for making that). I love that Joanna is just staring at her daddy with this big grin as he grins!!!!
Some of you may be wondering- wait a second last I checked you had adopted little baby girls back in CT, what has happened since then. Well first I’ll show you those “little baby girls” now and then I’ll give you their brief story.
This is Joanna (age 5) and Jaron sharing her kitty with her new brother. And Sarah (age 6) helping in the kitchen. My how they have grown!!!
So way back in October, we went to Florida for an adoption match meeting to see if our family would be a good fit for Jaron. We went in knowing we would say yes- everything had been so clearly orchestrated by God, the writing was on the wall. But the officials needed to say yes. So on October 16th, 2014. They said yes. And we went to meet him the next day. During that visit, we found out about ANOTHER little boy who needed a forever family too.
Then, jump ahead to December 16th, 2014, when we had an adoption match meeting for the other little boy. They said yes. And Jill flew down to meet him and spend time with the first boy, while Sean watched the kids.
It took some time and lots of paperwork! About 7 months time for each boy, which is a little long, but shorter than if it were a foreign adoption. 🙂 All in all, we made a few flights there to visit the boys. Then we drove as a whole family down in May to pick up Jaron in person. That was a fabulous journey and we even got to stay with amazing friends (The Whiddons) and family (The Williams). It was soooooo hard to only pick up one boy and leave the other behind. very sad.
If we look on the bright side, it gave us 10 weeks to really know Jaron better and for him to know us, before we went and got Jadon. Since, we had just driven clear across country 10 weeks prior, and early in October, we opted for Jill to fly and get Jadon while Sean stayed home with the kids. There are only so many road trips you can do in a year… (and we have a special wedding of a friend coming up) so we preserved our days this way.
We will be celebrating our DOUBLE DIGITS growth later this fall in late October when TX weather is beautiful and the boys have settled in. THAT will be some shin-dig!!!! (Keep your eyes open for that)
Here’s the whole crew:
Jacob- age 14 1/2, avid cello and piano player, bee keeper, chicken raiser, entrepreneur, and lover of statistical analysis projects with his dad at work. Great encourager and big brother. Always helping fix things around the house- which is really important when you have lots of siblings the break stuff.
Sophie- age 13, die hard animal lover, extremely hard worker, servant’s heart, awesome cook, takes care of the goats on our farm. You would never have to ask- she would willingly die 10 times for each of her siblings.
& Sam- age 12, goofball, ham, never met a stranger, always eager to help
Josiah- age 12, TOTALLY wants to become a cowboy. If he is indoors too long, we all know it !
Joel- age 12 (well in one month) – Year 11 was huge for Joel, began initiating conversation/speech, choose to potty train (I write this to give parents of special needs kids hope) and LOVES making pumpkin and apple pie, takes care of the pigs on our farm.
Jamie- age 10 1/2- our resident puzzle princess, learning how to climb stairs and couches with only her arms are her big accomplishments this year!!!
Jadon- age 6 1/2- loves music and just discovered listening to extra loud crickets in TX is fun!
Sarah- age 6- her life is a musical- her whole life- did we mention WHOLE life 🙂 she helps Jacob with the chickens and loves the sprinkler. This year she learned to read! She is such a great helper in the kitchen and is learning to help with breakfast everyday!!!
Jaron- age 6- loves to laugh and be silly, loves music and helping outside in the garden. Loves to swing and learning to walk across the room to the piano 🙂
Joanna- age 5- born with a huge heart and genuine love for her siblings, especially her new brothers. She loves animals, mostly baby ones, singing songs and dancing. She takes care of the ducks on our farm- all by herself with NO help (she would want to be sure you know that). She has named all 16 of them with fabulous names life Puff Noodle, Princess, Momma, Necklace, Fritzy Poo, and more 🙂
That’s all for now….. until the fabulous Miss Alma calls again 🙂
We know that in America it’s called a “women’s issue” or a “personal choice”, but in our family it’s a question of creation, the Creator and our responsibility to it.
Below you will find a link to a recent article about this and it’s impact on marriages. Thank you Jeff and Tricia for sharing your testimony!!!!
Read it here
So many families and their children are blessed because of your witness and commitment!!!!
Thank you Jeff and Tricia! It’s always great to read some good news.
We moved in last November. We intended to write all these fabulous blog posts on life and happenings around here…but we all know where the road of good intentions leads 🙂
SO here’s a recap/ overview of life thus far in Martin Land.
We’ve had multiple visits from the cutest cousin on earth, Hudson, who was kind to bring along our Aunt and Uncle too 🙂 We enjoyed teaching him how to feed the animals.
Sophie bought a new puppy, Angel, who was part border collie. As time went on it became clear that Angel’s daddy was a dachshund!!! Yes, she never really grew legs but did get much longer 🙂 She is now full grown and plays frisbee like a camp (even though she’s just 3 inches off the ground).
Then we thought, why not just get more dogs. ha ha. But yes we did, for the farm of course. Two Great Pyranese puppies to join our already full grown Grt. Pyr.. Our full grown one is named, Bagel, of course. And the other two new puppies (now 7 months old) are Chai & Benedict (as in eggs). And we HAD to include a “rear view” because great pyranese puppies have the cutest fluffy butts ever!
The kids have built mobil chicken coops, put up fencing, built barn stalls, planted fields of sunflowers, built raised garden beds for our veggies (raised high for all kids to reach and no dogs to sleep in), built many bee hives (Jacob has 8 now), and so much more.
The sun rises every morning in our back yard and shimmers through our farm like gold dust. It’s just awesome.
Sophie’s new cow gave birth to a sweet baby boy, and our hay guy brought us a baby jersey bull that someone had dumped on the side of the high way!!! So now Sophie milks the momma, loves on the baby, and bottle feeds the other baby!!!
The little girls are hatching baby chicks- such a joy!
The kids bought out the paint section entitled “bold, not boring”, and repainted our playset and added pavers and balance beams too! It was such a fun project, and a great time spent with our new friends the Giblins.
And that is just the beginning of it all………….
Well I had been having some of those days. You know, THOSE kind of days. Days when you think you are not doing the best job you could. Days when you’re tired and blah and just don’t feel like it. Days when go through the motions waiting for nap time to come, but it doesn’t. Sure we would all like to have “awesome mom” days everyday, but lets face it. There are days that aren’t always awesome. Well, I was having some of those days and they were starting to stack up on each other causing me to have not the most stellar attitude around 🙂
Oh sure, I could post all the days that are AWESOME, full of laughs, giggles, and grins. We have lots of those days. They’re great. But frankly, when you’re a parent there are going to be days that have more discipline in them than you’d like.
So, knowing life wasn’t going to fix itself, I got up early one morning, Sean was away on a business trip, the kids were all in bed, and I was trying to read my Bible to set my mind on things greater than myself….. when the sun interrupted me! It was a rainy gloomy morning to start. Perfect for enjoying hot coffee and a little scripture reading before kiddos run wild through the house. I sat next to this rainy window and BAM the sun seemed to jump out of the clouds. It was sparkling off of all the rain still falling. So, I ran outside and this is what I saw at 6:00 am………….
God makes many promises to us in Scripture. The rainbow is a reminder of that.
He will never leave us. He will always give us what we need. He will always give us strength and wisdom when we ask for it. He will teach us His ways so that we won’t stumble. He will set us in a wide and spacious place because He delights in us. He will give us the desires of our hearts when we commit our ways to Him. and so much more.
I love how perfect God’s timing is. I love that on THAT day I got to wake up with a electric rainbow to energize my day. Not yesterday. Not the day after. THAT day- perfect timing.
Families have traditions.
Big ones and little ones. Sometimes you even make new ones. Since living in Texas we have stumbled upon a new tradition in our family. It happens every night at dinner, the kids ask Sean “Daddy, how many babies were saved today?” and he always has an answer.
Today OFL reached 800 babies saved!!!!!!!!! Over 100 of those babies were just this past month in April 🙂 If they keep it up at this rate with out any growth they will save 800 more this year….but if they grow every month 🙂 Man, we love math like that!!!
Now we know that the ministry at Online For Life is much more than that and it runs deeper in the lives of individuals they reach out to, but for our littlest kiddos, they don’t get counseling women in crisis, marketing, development/training of pregnancy centers, or national strategies to blanket cities in godly pregnancy centers and wipe out abortion city by city….
….they get babies. Cute, adorable bundles of life that grow up to be brothers and sisters. So that is what they ask Daddy- how many babies Daddy how many today?