Gazing Upward



God is still using Dr. Karyn Purvis’ bible study guide as a huge blessing in my life, mainly in reminding me of concepts, facts, and approaches I learned pre-adoption that now need to be applied post-China. One of the most important points I’ve been reminded of is the need of adopted children to develop trust, self-worth, and self-efficacy. As a parent to Caroline, my role right now is to help her believe “I am safe, I am precious, I am heard.” (page 12 of Created to Connect)

Through awareness of Caroline’s history and needs, Dr. Purvis teaches that I can, with God’s help, lead her to healing and restoration. The challenging part is creating a balance of nurture and structure, and discerning which is appropriate for each situation. From a practical standpoint, I’ve realized that I’m more likely to be compassionate and employ the best approach when I’ve: (a) prayed that day; (b) had enough personal time to be refreshed. In fact, a child psychologist I once consulted said that the four most important things moms can do to maximize their impact is to get good rest, exercise, spend time with the Lord in prayer and study, and have an hour of personal time each day. Unfortunately, I tend to feel guilty when I take time to read, nap, or do something I enjoy. Because I can’t help but think of the bills I need to send, or the 4-day old emails I need to return, or the friends I need to check on. Then I’ll get the bright idea that I can cram all things into one day. So I make iced coffee in the afternoon, drink myself silly with caffeine, and try to stay up as late as I can still be productive. This lasts until 1:30 pm the next day when I crash on the couch during naptime and I lose valuable hours in the day to achieve the very things I hoped to get done.

Does anyone else feel the same way? This isn’t a complaint by any means…it’s just a question of how to balance everything and make personal time a priority when you feel selfish in doing so. At some point, a ball has to be dropped. And even when I’ve succeeded in simplifying our lives, the to do list seems endless. While driving the kids around to lessons has been a relatively new experience this summer, I actually enjoy the guaranteed down time that comes along with it. For instance, during Caroline’s piano lesson (the toddlers were at summer MDO), I had an hour to read and do my quiet time. I think I may like this development in our schedule!

Anyway….moving on! Caroline and I have had some really fun moments during the last few days. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with fondness for her. And what do you do when you feel love for your small child? You scoop them up, embrace them with a bear hug, and cover them with kisses and zerberts. I’m not sure that would go over well with my 12-year-old. So instead, I restrain my zeal and just look at her with crazed eyes and a goofy grin and hope she can sense how big my heart feels because she’s in our lives.

One of the challenges of adopting an older child is connecting her with friends, assessing talents and skills, fitting her into existing groups, etc. These are things that typically happen organically as your children grow up. In Caroline’s case, we’re essentially grafting her in to social, academic, and church contexts and opportunities. And with all the options and connections that have come up, I feel like I’ve got a bunch of puzzle pieces that I need to figure how to fit together. Does that make sense? Carter and Grace’s involvement in all these areas will happen naturally as they grow and develop and make friends each year. There is a great website that friend Kelly started last year called We are Grafted In, and it’s a great adoption resource. I never realized before now what a great title she chose!

We feel blessed that, despite the challenges, God is truly grafting Caroline into our family, and she seems to be taking to our roots. Kelly wrote an incredible blog post on grafting as a metaphor for adoption…you can read it here.

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.” (Romans 11:17, New Living Translation)
Have we really been home THREE weeks today? Impossible! 🙂


  • Comment by B-Mama — July 29, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

    These are beautiful thoughts, Kelly–sounds like He is giving you answers in abundance! As for the drinking caffeine to have an uber-productive evening–YES, that's my style too. I wish I could spread it out more, but I'm often too tired. Perhaps it is a season of life where short bursts are what's necessary? Possibly. In fact, I'm off to have my coffee now so I can get us ready to go away for the weekend… 🙂 God bless.

    *One last thing, my friend in town, Tracy L., and I made a connection through you when talking of adoption the other day. She mentioned a friend in B-ham from college and I finished her sentence with your recent story! God is good.

  • Comment by Katie — July 29, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

    Oh just hug her and kiss her! 🙂

  • Comment by Shonni — July 29, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I also love Created to Connect and get some much encouragement from K. Purvis!!! Still, it is a daily walk, and yes, I also feel guilty for letting myself rest…there is always so much to do.

  • Comment by Prentices — July 29, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

    Great post! It will be so amazing to look back after a few years together and see all the ways God knit her into your life. Laughing about your crazy eyes at Caroline :), you should try the zerbert thing and lets us know what happens!
    And don't be too hard on yourself, I need some caffeine after just reading about everything you've got going on! In fact…is it too late for some iced coffee now? Thanks!

  • Comment by Melissa — July 30, 2011 @ 2:38 am

    I have learned that my circle of responsibility is much smaller than it use to be. First,God, then my husband, then my children, then family and friends and ministry, which is about 15% of my time. So that does not leave much time for all the things I used to do when I only had one kid. Believe me this has been a big struggle. But for me I do not handle stress well, so I really do just focus on my children and my schedule and if other people fit into that in a day great. Every once in a while I brake my cycle, but for the most part our lives have become much more simple. I emotionally could not handle it any other way. But, everyone is different. I don't do a lot of service things or meals for people because we are just trying to stay afloat. Hopefully this is a season.

  • Comment by Melissa — July 30, 2011 @ 2:39 am

    Also, thank you for being so honest about Caroline! So great that you feel such amazing love for her. What a blessing!!!!

  • Comment by Kelly the Overthinker — August 15, 2011 @ 2:49 am

    Popped on over tonight to see how your family was doing and found this post and was so touched by your mention of my essay. I'm so glad it struck a chord with you — God certainly revealed some amazing things to me as I studied to write that.

    Day to day “stuff” is a real challenge. I haven't yet figured out the perfect balance. I'm shifting and changing and always trying new things to try to get things to work. For me, part of the key is letting go of expectations that I will get it all done and being okay with taking longer to do things and maybe even never getting a chance to reply to each and every email, etc.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment