Anchored Joy

Joyfully bringing healing and wholeness to our adopted kids

Red Sea Moments

Tracee WagnonComment

I just glanced and realized I haven't blogged since May 3rd.  What a whirl wind the last 5 months has been!  Our family up and moved from our home for the past 8 years back to my husband and my hometown this past July.  When we got orders from the Air Force I fully intended on blogging through the ordeal.  And then life happened.

First it was taking time to fix up the house and sell it, then get the ministry we built handed over to new directors, then the actual move which didn't go anywhere near the way we planned, and of course getting settled in our new town which is never easy with kids and especially not easy with a child that struggles with attachment.  It's hard for me to adjust and make new friends, I can't even imagine how impossible it feels to her.  So we've had some struggles helping all our kids adjust, our Warrior Girl especially.

I think as moms we tend to feel the need to fix it all for our kids.  As if it is totally up to us to be all they need, say the right thing at the right time, and make things easy for them.  God has really been showing me how unhealthy this kind of thinking is.

One thing I love about our Creator is how we can read the same story in the Bible dozens of times and each time a new truth is revealed to us.  Lately God has really been pinpointing a moment early in the Israelites journey to me.  By pinpointing I mean this one moment just keeps popping up everywhere.  One of those, "Ok God, I get the hint" kind of things.

In Exodus 14 Moses leads the Israelites away from Egypt and they end up with the Red Sea on one side and the Egyptians closing in on the other side.  And of course they fully trusted God to provide a way and never panicked once.  No, that's not what happened.  They fully panicked! Like an animal cornered. They panicked and lashed out at Moses.  

The Israelites were in a prime spot for God to show up and prove His faithfulness to them, yet they didn't see the situation that way at all, all they saw was the impossibleness of it.  

I don't know about you, but I often am just like the Israelites.  When I wind up in a situation that feels helpless I tend to panic.  "How can I fix this?  How do I get out of this?"  I feel stuck between the Egyptians and the Red Sea.  

Since our move I have felt this way with our Warrior Girl.  And actually if I'm honest, I'd say I've felt this way longer than that.  I stopped partnering with God for her healing and started feeling like it was all on me.  Moving just highlighted all the areas we struggle in once again and brought us back to panic mode.

Instead of remembering that between the Egyptians and the Red Sea is the prime spot for God to show Himself faithful, I have been trying to find us a way out on my own.  But God has been reminding me of what Moses said to the Israelites.

The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.  Exodus 14:14

There are a few different versions to the end of that verse.  King James says, "And ye shall hold your peace" and the NIV version states, "You need only be still."  Basically Moses is saying not to do anything and by anything, he means anything.  God has it under control.  

This is so hard for us, to fully rely on God without trying to fix the situation ourselves, isn't it? Most days I feel like my child's healing is balanced on my shoulders.  If I don't do things just so, the right tone, the right words, the right amount of affection and touch, the right type of discipline... It's just too much!  Yet, here is God saying, "I know EXACTLY where you are and EXACTLY what you need, just be still, hold your peace and close your mouth! I am going to show you my faithfulness and might."  

I imagine Him looking down on me with compassion and love, waiting so patiently for me to realize that I just absolutely can not do this on my own.  Healing my daughter is a completely impossible thing for me.  No support group or book will give me the tools or answer, the answer is found in Him alone.  Moses could not have parted the Red Sea on his own.  Without the power God all Moses would have done is slam a stick into the ground.  In these Red Sea moments we can not do anything to save ourselves.  We need our Savior to work on our behalf. We have to set aside our panic and trust that God already has the end planned and it all works out for our good.  

So that is what I'm working on.

I would love to know I'm not alone in this!  Tell me about your Red Sea moments in the comments below.

Spiritual Warfare in Adoption: Keep Yourself Filled

Tracee WagnonComment

A couple days ago I wrote about the adoption being spiritual warfare and how God had told me to fight for our daughter's heart.  Today I want to share one of the most important tools we use - keeping ourselves filled.  

One of the most important things foster and adoptive parents need to practice is "self care" - making their own needs a priority.  Most foster and adoptive parents we know really suck at self care.  Why is this?  

Self care feels selfish.

It's true... we have this idea that taking time for ourselves is somehow selfish.  How can I possibly leave a child who struggles to trust me, with a stranger?  (This is when a good support team is crucial, but that's another blog post in itself).  How can I take a small nap while the kids are napping, when the dishes are spilling over the sink and Mt. Laundry is starting to block the laundry room door?  How can I spend time with Jesus when there's so much to do and so little time in the day?

Self care is very important but today I am only going to touch on one aspect of self care - Keeping yourself filled with the Holy Spirit.

I think the fastest way the enemy takes a foster family out is by making them too busy for God. Foster and adoptive parents give and give of themselves constantly every day.  It isn't just a child they are gaining into their lives, but also case workers, lawyers, CASA, possibly bio parents and other bio family, therapists, etc.  They are also bringing into their home all the hurts and trauma the child has been through, working hard to help kids overcome very deep fears and establish a trust based relationship, which is extremely difficult when just about every other adult in their lives has let them down.  

Every day foster and adoptive parents are pouring parts of themselves out into the lives of these kids.  Waking up to a new foster child screaming because he doesn't remember where he is. Pour. Taking 45 minutes to sooth and coerce a child that has been sensory deprived to put on jeans and a t-shirt.  Pour.  Getting to the CPS office for a visit and then parent doesn't show so the devastated child screams and kicks for 30 minutes before he finally goes back into his seat. Pour.  The worker calls and mom can meet tomorrow so the day must be completely rearranged. Pour.  Learning that the child you've had in your home for 9 months will be leaving in 2 days to go to a family member that has stepped forward.  Pour.  Finding pee on the carpet in the corner of the bedroom.  Pour.  The mad 2 year old that doesn't understand he needs to be safe so he constantly tells you his granny, who neglected him, is going to beat you up.  Pour.  

And soon you're just completely empty.  You have poured and poured and poured and you're so busy pouring you've completely neglected to refill again.  Maybe you refill on Sundays, but even if you're not a foster/adoptive parent, or even a parent at all, filling only on Sunday is never going to sustain you through the week!

When we are in the midst of the spiritual battle of foster care and adoption, we must be constantly filling ourselves.  We must be (and I'm preaching to the choir here) in constant communication with Holy Spirit, allowing Him to fill us and pour out of us as we go through our day.  Some days it isn't even enough to get up early and spend time in the word.  We may be empty again before noon!  We have to learn to live with the Spirit flowing through us minute by minute, a constant connection with Heaven.  

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  {emphasis mine}

Read that again.  This is the will of God for you!  He wants to fight this battle for you.  You are the vessel He will use to fight for your child, but you need to be in constant communication with Him to keep the vessel full!  Jesus called the Holy Spirit the "helper" (John 14:26) and in this battle we need The Helper to be ever present.  

I love how Jason Johnson says that we are not the heroes in foster care and adoption, Jesus is. When we are giving of ourselves, out of ourselves and not allowing Holy Spirit to flow through us, we are essentially casting Jesus aside and putting the expectation of "hero" on our own shoulders.  When we allow the Spirit to flow through us and guide us, keeping ourselves filled to overflowing, we not only are allowing Jesus to be the Hero, but we are also showing our precious children that they too can count on Jesus in the tough moments.  We are modeling trust to them.  We are showing them that there is no fear in the Kingdom.  These are things the enemy truly does not want our children to know.  When you are filling yourself to overflowing, you are fighting for your child!  When you're too busy to fill yourself, it's really not possible to use any of the other tools either because Jesus is needed in every tool we use against the enemy.

How do you keep yourself full every day as you battle for your child?

Join me next time (hopefully tomorrow) as I talk about the next tool - Standing on God's promises.

Spiritual Warfare in Adoption

AdoptionTracee WagnonComment

"Adoption is Spiritual Warfare"

I keep seeing this statement.  If you follow some of the prominent adoption pages on social media I'm sure you have too.

My first thought on seeing this was relief.  Relief that I wasn't alone in my feelings on adoptive parenting.  Many days in my home I am fighting a battle for my child's heart.  

Furthermore, I've learned that I'm either gaining ground or losing ground.  There is no "cease fire" from this battle.  If I'm not actively engaging and gaining ground, then you can bet the enemy is advancing against my child, filling her head full of lies, stealing back the ground we'd already won.  

When I see this statement though, I do wonder if many adoptive and foster parents are left with the question - 

"If adoption is truly spiritual warfare, then how do I respond?"  

In the early days of our foster/adoption process, we were fairly new to church.  I had gone to church as a teen, but had fallen away during the early years of our marriage.  My husband did not grow up in church, and though he believed in God early in our marriage, he didn't fully give his life to Christ until around the time we began our foster/adoption journey.  So we really were baby Christians.  Had you told us that we were about to go head first into battle, we probably wouldn't have believed you, or had any idea what to do about it.  Many families are ready and prepared for the fight, but we were not.

While I have not specifically studied spiritual warfare, over the next few posts I would like to share some of the things that have helped our family in this battle, as well as a few things God spoke to my heart in the early days.

When we first realized that our sweet Warrior Girl's behavior wasn't actually strong will, but a deeper issue, God spoke a few things to my heart as I desperately sought answers for her.  I remember the Lord reminding me what kind of life she had come from, full of chaos and neglect. As I pondered what her life would have been like, had she continued in that life, it was a very bleak picture.  I heard the Lord say, "As much as I have a plan for her, so does the enemy.  He liked her where she was, in that destructive place and now that she is in a home where she is taught about Me, the enemy is angry.  He will not give her up easily.  You have to fight for her."  It wasn't only an issue of trust vs. mistrust, but also a spiritual battle.

(If you're wondering if the enemy having a plan is Biblical, consider 1 Peter 5:8 "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.")

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  - Ephesians 6:10-13

Be strong in the Lord, put on God's armor, stand firm.  

Please join me tomorrow as I share some tools God has given us to war with Him in the spirit for our daughter.