Monday, October 28, 2013

My New Mantra

My goal is not to be perfekt, but to acknowledge, accept, and reflect God's love toward myself and others...

Friday, October 25, 2013

I don't know how I put up with that man???

This morning Keith and I were emptying the dishwasher. I was handing him the mugs and he was putting them in the cabinet. He noticed my eyebrows go up and said, "Does that not meet your approval, babe?" I said, "No worries, I'll fix it when you go to work." Later he walked in the kitchen and saw me standing on a chair fixing the mugs. He said, are they all lined up the right way now??? I said, "One day you'll thank me for this..." hee hee. He just smiled and shook his head at his quirky wife.

Last night while I was cooking dinner, he was in the office pulling songs off youtube and playing them for me. He said, "Babe, listen to these songs, they remind me of you..." (I put the links to each song below.)

 Brad Paisley's, She's everything I ever wanted - (

Clint Black and Lisa Hartman's, When I said I do - (

Brad Paisley's, I live for little moments like that - (

As he played the last song, he walked into the kitchen and saw tears spilling from the corners of my eyes.  He hugged me and we slow danced. There is no greater blessing than to be married to  the one who really "gets you" and loves you just the way you are!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Here are some of my favorite websites...

Here are some of my favorite parenting websites: - Dr. Laura Markham’s website - The great parenting show (interview with Dr. Laura Markham... great info!) - This one has great Q & A's! Heather Forbes gives practical and genius advice that works. Read one article a day or week of hers, whatever works in your schedule. But you will definitely want to add this to your bookmarks and read every one of them. - This is where you can sign up to get Heather's daily reflections. They come to your email every day. Very short reminders that help you shift from parenting from a place of fear (which is prevalent in our culture) to parenting from a place of love. - These are short video snippets that Karen Purvis does. I've heard a whole 8 hour seminar from this woman and it changed everything about my parenting. Keith also listened to it and it helped us get on the same page. But these short video snippets will give you a glimpse of Karen Purvis and what she teaches. - This is Karen Purvis's website and is full of great stuff. - Bryan Post was in foster care as a child and now has foster children. So not only does he have all the degrees, but he has the experience to help defiant and out of control children. His wife is also an expert in the field. They both really know what they’re talking about. Bryan also has some great, short, practical videos on youtube. On his website, click "store" and you will find the book, From Fear To Love. This is a book you will want to order and read over and over again! You’ll also want to click "free stuff" and download the book, How To End Lying Now. It really works! It makes so much sense, I can’t believe I didn’t see that what I was doing was making my kids lying worse! This is Bryan Post's blog. - Great parenting Website!

All of these are free and you can read on your own time. You can also order their books or dvd's. To me these are some of the best therapists out there, they are free, and I can invite them into my home everyday if I want (through the computer). Sending our kids to a therapist one or two hours a week will not provide lasting change for them. It's the parents, their primary caretakers, who are with them 24/7 that need coaching and support so they can most effectively guide their children.
Each of these therapist came to my attention by different people at just the right time. I was initially seeking help with one of my daughters to help her through the trauma of her adoption. At that time, one of my sons was struggling through a difficult transition, and the traditional parenting method of shame/threats/punishments/consequences seemed only exacerbate the problem and push him further away. When I started seeing the wisdom in what these therapist were saying and how much in line with scripture it was, I started parenting all my children this way. Things didn't change over night, but day by day, little by little, it changed everything. It changed how I see negative behavior and how I respond to it, which changed how my children responded. It is so countercultural that it may sound ridiculous to you at first, but the gospel sounds that way too... love your enemy, turn the other cheek, bless those who curse you... I promise, this is powerful stuff. It's also great to have at least one friend that can walk alongside you through this. There is also a lot of support on their websites. You can chat with other parents going through some of the same things you are going through. Don't get overwhelmed by all this, just try to grab a moment here and there, or sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy reading this stuff. Make it part of your routine, it will be worth it. It will slowly change the way you think and feel, which will affect your actions toward your children, which will have a ripple affect on your entire household. Your home will become a safe place, a peaceful place over time. Don't throw this out if you are not getting quick results... true, lasting change is a slow process, not a pill that will fix everything overnight.

Here's an article I got from Heather Forbes:

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic 
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IVTR) under disorders usually first 
diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. RAD was initially introduced to the 
mental health community some 20 years ago. Since that time, much of the information 
regarding this disorder has painted a dismal and often dangerous picture of these children. 
Books and articles have compared children with RAD to serial killers, rapists, and hard- 
core criminals. Intensive and often physically aggressive therapies have been developed 
to treat these children. Additionally, unconventional parenting techniques have been 
taught to parents in order to control these children—children referred to as “disturbed” or 

The main premise of RAD is that the child cannot socially connect or attach to others in 
interpersonal relationships. Behaviors inhibiting attachment to caretakers are often 
demonstrated by children diagnosed with RAD. Some of the behavioral symptoms 
published in literature include the following: oppositional; frequent and intense anger 
outbursts, manipulative or controlling; little or no conscience; destructive to self, others, 
and property; cruelty to animals or killing animals; gorging or hoarding food; and 
preoccupation with fire, blood, or violence.  

Wow! Read that list again. Many of these behaviors sound downright frightening. It is 
hard to imagine that a child can do these things. Yet, while these behaviors certainly 
appear abnormal for anyone, especially a child, they are actually quite reasonable 
reactions to the experiences these children have endured. Read on…. 

There are many life events that can cause attachment trauma between the primary 
caretaker (usually the mother) and the child. These include an unwanted pregnancy, 
separation from the birthmother due to adoption, death of a parent, premature birth, 
inconsistent caretakers, abuse, neglect, chronic pain, long-term hospitalizations with 
separations from the mother, and parental depression. Such life events interrupt a child’s 
ability to learn to self-regulate through the relationship with the parent.  

Typically, when a baby or small child is in a state of stress, he cries and the parent attends 
to the child’s needs, whether by feeding, rocking, or simply holding him. Each and every 
one of these interactions with the parent plays a critical part in assisting the development 
of the child’s neuro-physiological control system—the system that allows the child to 
return back to a calm state. It is truly through this parent-child relationship that we as 
humans learn how to self-regulate in order to stay balanced and easily shift from a state 
of stress back to a state of calm. This regulatory mechanism within us is not “online” at 
birth, and brain research has shown that it takes up to thirty months before this part of the 
brain is fully developed. Within this thirty-month timeframe, a well-attuned parent has 
connected with this child to calm his stress response system thousands, if not millions, of 
times. How critical these first thirty months are to a baby! It is through the parent-child 
relationship that a child’s self-regulatory ability becomes engaged. This internal 
regulatory system then sets the foundation for the child’s neurological, physical, 
emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social development.  

When a child does not receive loving, nurturing care, the child’s ability to develop a 
sufficient regulatory system is severely compromised. In cases of severe neglect and 
abuse, the child’s life is literally at risk. For these children, their internal survival 
mechanisms become activated, dedicating all the body’s resources to remain alert in 
“survival mode.” These children perceive the world as threatening from a neurological, 
physical, emotional, cognitive, and social perspective. These children operate from a 
paradigm of fear to ensure their safety and security. Hence, we see an overly stressed-out 
child who has difficulty interacting in relationships, who struggles to behave in a loving 
way, who quite often cannot think clearly, and who swings back and forth in his 
emotional states due to an underdeveloped regulatory system. While perceived by most 
professionals as dangerous, a child with RAD is essentially a scared and stressed child 
living out of a primal survival mode in order to maintain his existence.  

With this understanding, the term “attachment-challenged” becomes more appropriate to 
use with children instead of the traditional label of “RAD child.”  In times of stress, this 
child is challenged to connect and his ability to make connection is restricted.  In fact, we 
all become attachment-challenged to some degree when we’re stressed.  Reflect for a 
moment on the last time you were overly stressed: How did you react when someone 
tried to interact with you? Be honest! Perhaps you had difficulty interacting 
appropriately. Stress causes confused and distorted thinking, and it constricts us 
emotionally, leaving little room for relationships. Thus, a child with a traumatic history 
who is living in a stressful, fear-based state, simply is not capable of nor equipped to be 
in a relationship. From a behavioral standpoint, a child living in a state of fear simply 
cannot act in a loving way. The frightening behaviors listed above are only external 
reflections of the internal fear and chaos within these children. They are simply behaviors 
that are intended for survival. 

Treatment for the attachment-challenged child needs to address this internal fear. When 
the child’s stress state can be soothed, and the deep wounds driving the fearful behaviors 
can be acknowledged, the child has an opportunity for healing. Yes, healing is possible, 
but it takes intense work and many, many repetitions of positive experiences to 
recondition the body’s reactions. It is also essential that the therapeutic attachment 
techniques and parenting paradigms enlisted for these children be grounded in 
neurological research and based in love and compassion. Such techniques can offer ways 
to create peaceful environments within the home that work to recreate safety and security 
in the insecure foundations set within these children.  

A word of caution from the author: Some therapists specializing in attachment therapy 
work from a fear-based platform and recommend techniques that are confrontational, 
aggressive, child-centered instead of family-centered, and fear-based. While these 
techniques sometimes offer short-term results, families using them are often faced with 
more severe long-term pain and challenges. Many of these therapies and therapists have 
separated themselves from dangerous techniques that have resulted in the tragic death of 
children in the past; however, they continue to lack compassion and are grounded in fear. 
Some examples of these techniques include instructing parents to force eye contact with 
their children; have children do excessive chores to feel a part of the family system; send 
children to respite care out of the home for making poor choices; give up their need to 
communicate love to their children; and put locks on the outside of children’s doors to 
keep them “safe.” When looking for appropriate interventions for families, be alert to 
these specific techniques. 

Be aware, as well, of techniques that talk in general about gaining control of a child and 
viewing the child as manipulative. These techniques are child-blaming, parent- 
controlling, and devoid of scientific research. It is counterproductive to feed more fear 
into an already scared child. When seeking help, it is highly recommended that you have 
a thorough understanding of the basis for each therapy being considered.  

When parents first begin realizing that they are dealing with an attachment-challenged 
child, they have likely already experienced many severe and disruptive behaviors in their 
homes. In these experiences, they themselves often begin to slip into their own fear and 
see the child as a threat (at times so threatening that they simply want the child out of 
their home, forever). Because the behaviors can be so intense, it is easy to lose sight of 
the child’s reality—that of a young person living in a world of pain, fear, and isolation. 
Resources are available, and hope for these families is real. Suggested resources on the 
Internet include: 

1. Beyond Consequences Institute: 
2. Center for Victory:  
3. Child Trauma Academy: 
4. Therapeutic Fairy Tales:

As a therapist specializing in working with attachment-challenged children, I am 
overwhelmed by great sadness every time I initially speak with a parent seeking help for 
their family. This sadness stems from the realization that all of these wounds and pain 
could have been avoided. Babies are born in a spirit of love, but it is life’s circumstances 
that shift them into a spirit of fear. All it takes to maintain this spirit of love is high 
quality care giving; it takes an emotionally available parent to create a secure and loving 
base for a child. Attachment Parenting in the formative years, from conception to three 
years old, sets the foundation for all future relationships, and it gives the child’s body’s 
own internal regulatory system the opportunity to develop to its fullest. The old adage, 
“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” says everything in the context of 
Attachment Parenting.  

If you’re currently struggling with a child(ren) exhibiting symptoms of RAD who’s early 
beginnings were far from nurturing and secure, I want to encourage you to have hope.  

Several years ago, I found myself in the same situation, waking up every morning 
wondering how I was going to make it through the day.  In learning more about my 
children and understanding that their behaviors were driven from a deeply wounded 
place, I was able to parent them in a way that allowed healing to begin.  Yes, it is hard 
work and it takes endurance and faith, but creating a peaceful home is possible! 

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW 

Heather Forbes, LCSW, is the co-founder of the Beyond 
Consequences Institute, LLC. Ms. Forbes has been training in the 
field of trauma and attachment with nationally recognized, first- 
generation attachment therapists since 1999. She has been active in 
the field of adoption with experience ranging from pre-adoption to 
post-adoption clinical work. Ms. Forbes is an internationally 
published author, with her most recent book titled, Beyond 
Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-based Approach for 
Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors, 
endorsed by Sir Richard Bowlby, son of John Bowlby. As a 
speaker, her passion for families is known throughout the nation. 
Ms. Forbes consults with and coaches families both nationally and internationally who 
are struggling with children with severe behaviors. Much of her experience and insight on 
understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and attachment-related issues has come from 
her direct mothering experience with her two adopted children.  

Also, some of Keith's and my favorite spiritual websites are:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My new favorite quote!

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
                                                                   Albert Einstein

Each one of our children is so unique and special in their own way. I hope they see the beauty and giftedness in that. It's a tragedy that so many of us grow up comparing ourselves to others that have different talents or trying to live up to someone else's expectations, according to what they or society deems valuable. It only leads to feelings that we can never quite measuring up. We end up concluding that we're not smart enough, talented enough, or good enough. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Variety is the spice of life. How boring if we were all the same.

Part of the beauty of our individuality is that it brings us together because we need one another. With all of my sisters, I know who to go to for what... 

There is nothing smart little Nat can not do. She seems to have the ability to juggle many things at once. That girl will plan a sister's weekends in nothing flat. She's the life of the party and always keeps everyone laughing with her wit. She has undertaken the insurmountable task of helping her older sisters stay young and hip. God help her. Natalie brings out the fun side of me like no other!

Jeannie, who is only 11 months older than me, will be the first I call when I get a new wrinkle or another gray hair. I'm like, what the heck??? We commiserate all our woes together. She's also the one I call when I move furniture around or buy new panels for the windows. We share our love for decorating. She's also the Martha Stuart of the family; she can cook and entertain like nobody's business! 

Big sis, Dawny, is my go-to spiritual guru. She's also the one I call for advice when my kids are going through something hard. Her kids are just a bit older than mine and she can always relate and calm me down. Her gentleness, patience, and compassion knows no end. She's an inspiration to me because she continues to discover more of her hidden talents. At age 50, the artist in her emerged! 

Of coarse I can't go through all the sisters and leave out our sweet Ginger. Although she's gone ahead of us to plan our family reunion in heaven, she is our bubbly, happy, positive, encouraging sister. It's impossible to be sad in her presence because she will lift you up. I still go to her in my mind and heart and feel her wrap me up in her warmth! I always go to her when I need a hug!

Why is it that we tend to look at others strengths and suddenly feel our weakness? I don't think that's what God desires for us, but part of our fallen natures here on earth. I hope to encourage my children to choose to celebrate everyone's uniqueness, including their own, and to listen to that still small voice inside of them to find their own personal genius!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Old voices in my head...

Lately, I've noticed a negative voice in my head.  This voice always seems to harshly correct or "disciple" me. I didn't even realize it was there. Maybe I've just grown accustom to this abusive voice. This time I noticed it when it said, "Don't be defensive, Don't be overly sensitive, Don't be ridiculous!" Sure sometimes I do need to let my defenses down and be open to hearing something; but sometimes the right thing to do is to "defend" myself. 

I remember a time not too long ago, after being wounded, I became extremely sensitive to what people would say to me. The church I was a part of assigned each person a discipling partner, just to make sure no one fell through the cracks (or maybe it was a way to have more control over the body). This particular church was structured more like an organization... elders and staff were over large group leaders, who were over small group leaders, who were over small groups. Then each individual was assigned a partner (one person over you and one or more people under you... unless you were at the very bottom of the barrel because you were a new or struggling disciple.) If someone was over you, it was because they were "more spiritual" than you, so they were given authority over you to "disciple" you. Basically, they could put you in your place if you didn't agree with them.  The higher up people were, the more spiritual they were thought to be. 

One of my partners (pretty high up) was extremely harsh and controlling. I felt I could never do anything right. I was constantly corrected and put down. My motives were always questioned and my reputation tainted by her rumors. After being offended over and over again, my boundaries constantly being trespassed, my voice not being heard, having everything I said and did be twisted into lies, and being treated with no respect, her lies slowly became my truth.  I began to hide inside a shell to protect myself. I didn't trust anyone, not even myself. My personality changed. I became timid and lost all confidence. Even though that person is no longer in my life, I'm realizing I've allowed her voice to continue to abuse me. 

For several years now, God has been walking me out of all that mess and healing me. He's showing me how safe I am in His love. He specifically asks His children not to lord over one another, but to love one another as He loves us. To love as God loves is to love unconditionally. It's sad that we have to clarify that true love is unconditional, but real love can be nothing less. What we call love today, is not love. To love unconditionally is to love others, and ourself, right where we/they are, not where we think we/they should be. When I notice that my thoughts toward myself or another are unloving, unkind, judgmental... I try to ask where those thoughts may have derived. It could be coming from an old wound God wants to heal, or maybe he wants to reveal something knew to me that he wants to walk me out of. I believe if I lean into Him, his spirit will continue to give me insight and walk me into greater freedom.

I noticed after coming out of the religious environment I was in for most of my adult life, one of the ways it change me was that I had become extremely judgmental. Being judged, taught me to judge. I judged everyone (including my kids, my husband and myself). I resembled "the accuser" much more than I reflected Jesus' love to myself and others.  God, in his grace, has been helping me discern the difference in His voice and the voice of the accuser in my head. Satan's voice always shames and accuses me and others. God's voice is always kind and gentle and full of grace. He's in no hurry, but patient with me and looks at me with kind eyes, full of love and compassion whether I'm at my best or worst. Religion doesn't allow us to love people at different places in their journeys. It teaches us to manipulate and control people and accept them when they do what's right rather than patiently walking along side them and loving them where they are as we trust Father to lead them out of their sin into healing and freedom.

Lately, I've started paying more attention to the chatter in my head. I've noticed a bad habit I had formed of shaming myself when I'd blow it.  I'm learning to bring it to God and let Him help me sort it out, rather than beat myself up. It's much more productive to look to Him and what He's doing, rather than to focus on my sin. He's much more gracious with me than I am with myself. In fact, my sin really isn't an issue for Him... He's already dealt with it on the cross. The only issue with sin for me now, since I trust Christ as my savior, is the painful consequences sin itself brings. That's why God warns us about sin, because He doesn't want us to suffer the natural consequences that sin brings. When I used to sin, I used to be terrified that I'd lose my salvation. What freedom understanding His grace has given me! The good news is that since I couldn't possibly be sinless, God (in Jesus) took care of that for me on the cross. (Rom. 3)

Now I interrupt that voice and say, "Where is this coming from God? I know that You only hate sin because it hurts us and You don't want harm to come to Your children. Walk me out of this." The more I get to know God and see that He is not the accuser ready to throw me into hell if I sin, the safer I feel to come out of hiding and be honest with him. I say things like, "So, here's where I am God, there's a big part of me that doesn't even really want to overcome this sin right now, but because I trust You that this is not Your highest and best for me, I ask You to grant me both the desire and the ability to change this in my life."