To Not Write is To Not Offer Myself

When did sitting down to write become so laborious and difficult? When did the words cease to flow?

To Not Write is To Not Offer Myself

When I began trying too hard.

While I believe excellent writing takes practice, lots of consistent practice, laboring through it just seems all wrong. It negates the reason I write.  Cleaning takes work. Discipline takes work. Even relationships take work. But writing? Writing helps me breathe better; deeper; more fully.

Writing is not work in the sense that its’ repetition is dull and mundane. The work is hardly noticeable, although it is there. It is subtle, but without its effort, I would cease to exist as I am. Writing is woven throughout the woman God created me to be. It's an expression of Him--an extension of His likeness, coupled with my identity in Him.

Writing helps me slow down and take in life. It forces me to pause and scribble down the moments before they flee. With millions and millions of moments passing by year after year, how will I remember? This life is but a moment compared to the eternal, but God is still here. How can I heed seeing Him when I am going through a storm if I have not left a trace? If I have not left words, like breadcrumbs, to lead me back to where I have been and where God has been faithful?

When I revisit times of uncertainty and see that God's prints lead me through the fog, I have yet another reason to rejoice; another reason to proclaim His glory.

To not write is to forget.

To not write is to not breathe in life.

To not write is to not offer myself.

To not write is to not reveal my testimony; my story.

To not write would be to reject His gift.

I can't not write.

I write to honor Him with what He has given me. I cannot hide it. I cannot hoard it. It builds up, bringing forth a burst, an explosion of kept memoirs that were never meant to be hidden or buried. It releases a flame of hope; of encouragement. It is designed to help untangle a messy life and try to understand it's contents. It's one way God uses to communicate with me. As I write, He speaks. He helps me figure things out. The puzzle pieces begin to fit together as each piece is laid out and identified.  Writing helps me figure things out, but also lays things down.

Ann Voskamp writes to the glory of God, and look how it has glorified Him:

:: Post originally published in 2011::
—God used my own words to speak to me today

On Adoption After Four Years Home

I share this update as a testimony to God’s glory and no other reason. If other adoptive families are encouraged by it, I am so grateful! But our stories are always God’s stories first and His glory should always be shared by His Spirit and how He leads.

If you would like to read more of our story, you can do so here. {I apologize in advance that the pictures are missing. When I changed blog hosts a few years back, they didn’t transition over. But I put a few progressive photos below.}

—-

I realize it has been some time since I’ve offered an update on how our Ghanaian daughters are doing after being home getting close to five years now.

The truth is, I can’t imagine life without them. They are so much a part of our family (and have been since the very first time we laid eyes on their photo), that it feels like they’ve been with us all along.

2012

2012

But that’s not how it feels for them. See, they were pulled from everything and everyone they knew. Although they had been anticipating our arrival to bring them home for 16 months, nothing could have truly prepared them for that reality.

While there have been many good changes, there have been many more hard ones. Many of the struggles are buried, even for them. It’s been 4 1/2 years of slowly digging those things out to bring them to light. It’s been hearing harsh words from one and silence from another.

It’s been the undoing of some beliefs about themselves to replacing it with God’s Truth about who they are (and this is always ongoing).

In Ghana 2013

In Ghana 2013

As a mother who has obviously never mothered adopted children before them, it’s learning to be sensitive to their traumatic past. It’s learning they won’t respond the same way my biological children will in certain situations. And it’s learning it over and over and over again. For a while, everything will feel “normal” and something will trigger and a struggle ensues without warning.

It means trying {so hard} not to take any mud-slinging personally but to get to the root of where that hurt is coming from and truly listening to the heart of my child.

The one thing I have been super fortunate with was the ability to find ways to connect with my Ghanaian daughters in ways that feel non-threatening but allow them to express their hurts and their needs with me. We keep a journal. Each of the girls (along with my other children) have their own journal with which we use to communicate some hard things. Or we use it when there has been a confrontation. One of my daughters often shuts down talking at all if she feels unsafe sharing (fight or flight). But she will write it down if I ask her to. And then I will write back.

2014 in Ghana

2014 in Ghana

One of my daughters often writes about just how hard her life here is. And while we may scoff at the notion that life here in America could be harder than life in a third world country, remember there is more to living then the ease and comforts that come with it.

While my girls now have clean water, plenty of food to eat and are no longer sick with anything other than a mere cold, their hearts (and brains) are not often in a state of comfort and felt safety. In other words, even though they ARE safe, they don’t always FEEL safe. And it’s not necessarily physical safety so much as it is emotional safety.

July 7, 2014 - the day they came home

July 7, 2014 - the day they came home

This is why adopted children so often lie. They don’t feel safe to tell the truth—even when it’s something silly {to us}. For them, it feels like life or death. This is something that I have tried to work with and wrap my brain around. It’s something I try really hard to remember.

Even adopted children need boundaries and consequences but they also need heaps of patience and heaps of understanding (because most of the time even they don’t understand why they lie or steal or act out). Trauma does strange things, not just to the emotions, but physically to the brain. Couple that with malnutrition (even the best orphanages cannot afford the best nutrition) and there are all kinds of deficiencies we’re working through.

Early childhood trauma shapes so much of who children are and who they become because those years are so incredibly impressionable and transformative as the brain develops and continues to. It takes much more time to undo the damage then it did to form it.

Anytime a child is taken from or loses a parent or both parents, it is considered trauma. It doesn’t matter if it happened straight out of the womb or as a teenager. The struggles of that loss still exist. They may reveal themselves in different ways, but they exist just the same.

Margaret and Christiana may have appeared to transition with ease into our family and into a new country {and in many respects they have} but much of their trauma is deeply buried. Not so much on the surface. It takes digging and asking questions and offering a safe place to be honest and raw in their own time. It also requires some extra effort to go out of your way to show them they are loved.

How have my other children transitioned?

I seriously could not have asked for better children. The evidence of the Holy Spirit is truly written on each of their hearts and I truly cannot take credit for that. Sure, Jonathan and I point them in the direction of Jesus, but ultimately it is them who grabs hold of it and allows God to work.

They have welcomed our girls in without a second thought or jealous bone in their body. Since the very beginning as we kept them informed of all the adoption process and delays that were happening, God worked in their hearts to love two girls they had never even met yet as their own siblings.

When they came home, Gabriella and Margaret were literally inseparable for a solid year. They were always at each others side, chatting away, drawing and playing together and became the best of sister-friends. Sure, Margaret has learned to have her own interests and hobbies, but they are a couple of lucky girls.

Does everyone always get along 100% of the time? No way. There are definitely specific children who tend to clash more often then others, but over the years they have learned how to handle such conflict and it happens less and less.

2015

2015

God’s original design was not for Margaret and Christiana to be torn from their family. But in this fallen and broken world, that’s just what has happened. So now, He is in the process of building something new and beautiful and strong {even though it’s painful at times}.

Are there times I worry about their future? Absolutely. But I don’t have to because I will never stop being their mother and I will never stop being there for them no matter what needs arise. There is no rush to sending them out into the world.

We first received the referral to adopt them when they were 6 and 8 years old. They came home when they were 8 and 10 years old. Today, they are {almost} 13 and 15 years old. While they’ve come a long way, they still have a long way to go, too. Just like the rest of us, we are always a work in progress.

If you have any questions or want to me to write about a certain aspect of our adoption, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018

How I Homeschool, Work From Home and Still Stay Fit

How can a very busy mom find time to stay fit and healthy? Learn how a homeschool, work at home mom fits it all in. Well, sort of.

Homeschooling and working from home each by themselves are enormous tasks. How about adding in staying fit?

They require a lot of time and mental capacity from me. It requires that I am organized and manage my time {somewhat} well. (Let’s face it, no one is perfect!)

So how do I squeeze in working out 5-6 days per week on top of homeschooling and working from home without neglecting something?

It’s not easy but it’s not impossible.

The Struggle is Real

I love being home. I am a homebody through and through.

And the truth is, I often wrestle with going to the gym. I wrestle with guilt, with duty, with there always being something else to do.

Homeschooling takes a solid 3-4 hours per day, at least. Working from home is another 3-4 hours per day. Already I’m at 6-8 hours required of me. Let’s count that as my “full-time job”. But it doesn’t stop there.

I have weekly staff meetings at my church and a weekly homeschool co-op. That’s about 7 hours per week.

There is cooking. There is cleaning. There is laundry. There is parenting in between it all. There is shuttling children to different activities. The minutes and hours add up so quickly. And all of it is important. All of it is priority.

And despite what my mind wants to convince me of — the gym is a priority as well. Without my time in the gym, the other priorities don’t go quite as smoothly. Not to mention my attitude can go downhill without the “happy drug” {endorphins}.

When All of Life Feels Urgent

I struggle with taking time to go to the gym sometimes because I often believe there are more urgent things I need to be doing. And there are only so many hours in the day!

  • My office is a wreck.

  • My laundry remains sitting unfolded in a basket since yesterday.

  • I need to focus on a work-related project

  • My children are fighting too much today

  • I spent an additional 3 hours helping certain children with math

And yes, these things need to happen. But neglecting my health shouldn’t be the way to make it happen. In addition, the more days I miss going to the gym, the harder it is to get back there. I will just continue to justify why I can’t go.

The struggle is real.

Staying Aware of My Self-Talk

My self-talk is a large key to what I can accomplish. If I tell myself I can do something, I’m more likely to believe myself and take the steps to make it happen. But if I continuously tell myself “I can’t…”, then I won’t. I’ll somehow convince myself I can’t accomplish something.

Our thoughts have a powerful influence over us. This is why it’s so crucial to speak life! It’s not necessarily about “positive thinking” your way into something. Instead, it’s telling yourself the truth.

I also like the idea of aiming high. I like to aim for 5-6 days a week, because even when I can’t get to the gym that many days, I’m at least attempting to. This will at least put me in the gym 3-4 days on those weeks I’m super busy, which to me is still acceptable.

Make It Work For You

Busy mamas, I get it. I really, really do. It is a constant battle back and forth with choosing the best things. Taking care of our health should be on the list of “best things”. It will help us live a high quality and energetic life . Which to me beats getting through the days grudgingly, with little to no energy, and feeling yuck most days. Not to mention all the health issues I’ll be fighting off by staying fit and eating {mostly} well.

christin slade weightlifting

You don’t need to leave the house to workout. Do something you love so you don’t dread it. Personally, I love weightlifting and don’t love cardio. So, I head to the gym to pound some weights. I come home and my children can see the difference in my mood and energy levels. The comparison to the days I don’t go to the gym are night and day.

You don’t need to workout 6 days a week. Start with 1 or 2 and work your way up to a number that works for you.

It’s Not Perfect

The way I fit it in is I tell myself all the reasons I need to go. I remind myself why I go and how I feel when I don’t. Sometimes that means the laundry waits or someone else does it. My family is 100% supportive of my health & fitness goals so they help me reach them when I need it—often offering to do what I have to let go of.

It’s not a 100% perfect by any means. Like today, getting through math with 3 of my children alone has taken over 3 hours. It’s 3:24 PM and I have not gotten to the gym. {I was supposed to be up at 4:45 AM to go, but I didn’t sleep well last night, so I snoozed my alarm}. This is just reality. So I’m still figuring out if there is a way to make it to the gym some time before today is over.

Some days the laundry and emotional needs of my kids take priority and other days the mental health of their mother takes priority.

That’s just the way it goes. But I don’t give up. If I don’t make it, I try again the next day.

Never quit trying.

For His Glory,

Christin