I’m learning to release the beliefs in this life that once kept me tethered. Perhaps, the most confining of these beliefs was the one that placed a large amount of importance on what others might think of me.
I’ve spent a good part of my life in work that goes hand-in-hand with public critique and opinion: television ratings and rankings, book reviews, and feedback down to the color of my blouse. It’s part of the territory.
I’ve been told that I’m too humble with my words; that my writing needs more sex appeal and less God appeal. I’ve been judged, by some, for being an adoptee who has also adopted. And, judged, by others, for writing books that express a beauty in adoption. I’ve been celebrated for my writing, and I’ve been castigated. I’ve learned a lot about life, through the experiences of both.
If you could have your perfect day, what would it look like? Would your day be filled with the rush of business matters, making phone calls, or ticking away at that to-do list? Would you disappear from sight and take to binging on social media?
What would you do?
I pose this question to myself, as well, as we welcome in the month of June. Summer is upon us; kids are getting out of school and I sense the excitement of an expansion in time. The days are longer, and I even get a break from filling school lunch boxes in the early morning hours! This, alone, fills me with an anticipation equivalent to that of flying off to some tropical island! There’s just something about the summer months and the marvelous thought of slowing down.
Difficult to place.
These are the three words that social workers used to describe me while in the care of the United Kingdom’s foster care system. In other words, these three little words equaled one giant judgement about my worth. The social worker assigned to my case believed that finding a family for a child like me would be, yes, difficult.
I was seen as “illegitimate” and “ethnic” within the system. My foster papers described me as the “extra-marital daughter” of a woman who indulged in an affair with a “dark man.” Adding, “The child is dark, like her father.”
May is National Foster Care Month. As a former foster child, as well as an international adoptee, I’m often asked about my nationality. In other words, people are curious as to where I originated, what my heritage is and to whom I once belonged.
Believe me, I have been — in my lifetime — ultra curious about these things, as well. In fact, the journey of discovery has taken me along paths to unknown destinations, and to unknown parts of myself.
The experience of seeking out adoption truth is like putting together a puzzle with vital pieces missing. Empty holes. Empty spaces. Those hollow places in the heart; caverns created by loss.
How much are we willing to sacrifice in an effort to put back the pieces of a shattered-self? What are we willing to risk? How can we revive the dormant parts of who we once were, as adoptees, prior to being removed from our first lives?
I love a hug, and recently I read an adorable children’s book that expresses all the many different types of hugs there are in this great, big, wonderful world.
Bear Hug, by Caroline B. Cooney is a delightful journey into the many ways we can give hugs and receive hugs.
A little bit about the author: Caroline has created over ninety Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. Bear Hug is based on a verse that Caroline wrote for her own children, who are now grown.
I was planning to write to you from Africa this week, only, God had other plans. It’s a long story, really, so I’ll try and break it down into one, simple paragraph. Here goes!
I was booked on a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, leaving on Thursday, March 23rd. While connecting through Atlanta, all of that changed. On two consecutive nights, my flights were bumped. To make matters more interesting, the airline could not get my family on another Johannesburg bound flight until the next Monday or Tuesday, which put us some five days behind on an already tight Spring Break schedule. How could we keep this holiday moving forward?
Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong. Ephesians 2: 19-22
A friend once told me, “There is no coincidence that the words story and store are only one letter different.”
The story we tell ourselves, and the memories we hold in our minds, directly impact how we store away, or perceive, life and our place in it.
All too often, the memory — the story — takes precedence over God’s truth. When the world makes us feel so very unloved, unimportant and insecure, we forget just how much we are loved by God.
In other words, sometimes we’re so focused on our own suffering that we block out the memory of God’s ever-present love.
We get stuck within the wound…
How you came into this world is not who you are.
I mean that! There has never been a more important time to make clear, to every adoptee living and breathing today, that you are not the sum of your earliest circumstance.
So often, we can become trapped within the earliest story of our lives. I call it the “primal story.” It’s real and, for adoptees, the primal story can relay messaging that we are not safe, loved, wanted, or worthy of being heard and seen.
He wants them to know that they are not alone in this life. And, so a man named Mohamed Bzeek takes them in. He opens his arms to terminally ill children who are part of LA County’s foster care system. Bzeek knows that the children are going to die, but he brings them into his home, anyway, and loves them like they’re his own.
I read about Mohamed Bzeek in a recent article within the Los Angeles Times. Reporter Hailey Branson-Potts shares the story with compassion and dignity. The fact that Bzeek, a Libyan-born Muslim, takes these children in when no one else will is pure example of living love out loud. This, in itself, is enough for me to write a response to. Only, it is how Bzeek values these children that is the focus of my thoughts.
“Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 22:39
I didn’t take to the streets of America on Saturday, for the Women’s March. Please understand that I am a strong advocate for women — a believer in our unique capacity to heal much of what is hurting in this world. A very large percentage of my work is focused on inspiring women to realize the vastness of their potential.
I’m also in full support of free speech and the right to demonstrate peacefully. This freedom is not one shared by all governments. In other words, it’s a gift. Still, I chose not to walk…at least not on the streets. I walked, instead, in the garden around my home. I wanted not to be with the masses, but to be only with the Messiah — to take in his presence in what feels like very uncertain times.