Our church attendance has been hit and miss over the last several months. We switched churches AGAIN in January as we've had a hard time finding the right place to call "home" here. Then Kennedy started competition season, Frank deployed, Kellsey swallowed batteries and well... life got nuts. We went when we could, and Kass got involved in the girls Bible study with her youth group, but even church for me was a half effort for the first time in my life. I haven't really tried to make connections or invest myself. I haven't joined a small group or started serving. Part of that reason is I didn't want to have to get too real with anyone. I didn't want anyone to know how badly our family is hurting.
We went to church on Sunday and I sat down for the last part of a four part series. I missed the first three, so I wondered how much I would even get out of it. However, our pastor sucked me right in. I needed to be there. I pulled out my phone and started typing notes as fast as I could. Here's some of what I wrote...
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
A few months ago, a friend (who I'm not even sure is a friend anymore) said to me, "You know, you always seem to be looking for the 'next thing' with Kellsey for things to get better... first it was her starting preschool. That didn't help. Then it was moving to Colorado. That didn't help. Then it was starting school THERE... that didn't help either... when are you going to see that nothing is helping?"
She was right. I was saying exactly that. I kept thinking that if our situation changed, Kellsey would be able to bond with our family. If she had some time to socialize with peers in school, it would help her learn to socialize at home. If we got her to better doctors in Colorado who would listen to me, then we could get her the help she needed. When all those things happened and I still didn't get the results I hoped for, I changed my hopes to the next "thing". I kept pushing, and we were all suffering for it, especially Kellsey.
"Direction (not intention) determines destination. But often times it is the things or people who get our attention who influence our direction."
That's clear as mud, right? ;) The decisions we make determines the direction and the destination of our lives. (Duh) Four years ago we were heading in one direction... walking merrily on our way when our attention was grabbed by this organization called Reece's Rainbow. All of the sudden, the direction of our whole family skewed completely off path... that's not necessarily a BAD thing... There's lots of time the direction of our lives have skewed. Many of the choices we make skew the direction of our lives. Back in 1997 this strange boy told me I was beautiful and later that night I agreed to go to a movie with him. That choice skewed the direction of my life and as a result there are four more people on this planet. :) In 2008, we made the decision to adopt a little girl with Down syndrome from Ukraine. Our intention was to bring home this little orphan and give her a family and love and a life she never would have had in an orphanage. The direction we ended up taking was much different and it was determining the destination of our lives... all seven of our lives. And that destination was looking bleak.
"Every path has a destination. On every path that leads to destruction, there is always something powerful, and those are the things that lead to our greatest regret."
Regret. I don't want to regret one minute of my life, especially my life as a mother. I know I have made mistakes. I know I WILL make mistakes. But at the end of my life, I don't want to regret the time I did (or did not) spend with my children. I don't want to wish I did things drastically different. I pray that they will say, "She loved us. And she taught us the love of Jesus." Over the last two years there are several things that I wish had happened differently either by chance, by the actions of others or by my own actions. I could make a huge long list here of "I wish I had" or "I wish I hadn't"; "I wish they had" or "I wish they hadn't" but it makes no difference now. It's the past that set us on the path that we have been on. Were we on a path leading to destruction? I believe that yes we were. We have been a family in crisis. Every single one of us has been hurting in our own ways. Because this is the internet and my children deserve some level of privacy, I'm not going to delve too deeply into that, but we all have some healing to do now.
"You respond to where you are. Friends respond to where they're afraid you'll go."
My response to the last two years with Kellsey has not been healthy. As she rejected me because of RAD, I rejected her. Not at first. At first I tried. I mean, I tried really, really hard. I gave it my all. I tried as hard as I knew how to love her and get inside her head and make her let me in. I figured I have four children here who I adore and who adore me. This should not be so hard! I know I'm a good mother, so I just need to try harder! But after several months, I wore down. And Kellsey and I began this pattern of rejecting one another. I took care of her, and medically I fought for her. I think I became almost obsessive in my drive to keep her safe as we learned of all her medical issues. I was terrified that she would aspirate or overheat or injure herself and so I exhausted myself trying to protect her because then, if she wouldn't let me love her, at least I felt like I was still being a mother to her. I kept her safe at the expense of my other children. When I confided my exhaustion in my friends, they were appropriately concerned. How they handled that concern came out in different ways. It has strained some friendships while it has allowed other friendships to grow as they have committed to walk this painful path with me. I responded to the pain I was feeling over not bonding with my daughter and my friends responded to the hurt they saw not only in my eyes, but in Kellsey's eyes. They were worried. And to the few that stuck by me during the really, really hard months, I thank you.
"The decisions we make determine the direction and the destination of our lives. It's impacting our future and the future of those under our care."
Every decision that Frank and I make determine the future of five little lives. We made the decision to bring Kellsey home from Ukraine. The direction and destination of our lives forever changed that day. I won't say that it was a BAD decision, it was just a decision that took us on a new journey. We had no idea what that journey would hold for us. We've learned a lot along the way. We learned that love is not always a two way street. We learned that not everything is black and white and not to judge what you don't understand. We learned that Christians can be some of the most judgmental people in the whole world... and some of the most loving. We learned who our true friends are. We learned that family is more important than anything. We learned that we need to take care of US, all 7 of us, and not worry about what the outside world thinks. We are accountable only to God and no one else. Only He knows the destination of our lives right now and we are relying on Him as He guides us in all the decisions we make.
And that is what I learned in church on Sunday. Kinda glad I went... ;)