Lighten Your Bag

Lighten Your Bag

 

In preparing for this school year each one of my children needed a new backpack.  The older two needed backpacks that could carry more books and supplies, my youngest had outgrown her themed backpack.  I shopped around for ones that would meet their individual needs.  Right before school started they each loaded their backpacks.  In this whole process of getting ready for the year I began to think of all the things I hoped they would leave behind.  Life has given them each so much extra baggage wrapped in pain, I often cry when I think back to the day I met each of them while remembering their circumstances.  I continue to pray that they will be able to unload some if not all the extra weight.  I realize that their stories cannot be changed and I do not begin to pretend that they will not struggle from time to time. As most mothers, I hurt when my kids hurt.  More than likely they will often carry more than they should have to. The loss of their bio parents and the neglect they experienced have created a weight that is difficult to put down without guidance and love.  Their losses are greater than most typical children their age. They carry an excess amount of pain that even I struggle to understand why my children should have to be weighted down so heavily.  

 

When I was in school I carried a lot of extra baggage myself, although some of the weight I carried was packaged differently it was labeled the same.  Loss, loneliness, the feeling of unworthiness.  I was a mother at 14 so my backpack was very full before I entered high school.   I had some friends but I didn’t have anyone that I could truly relate with.  Walking down the the halls with a very pregnant belly was a heavy load all by itself.  The weight that was in my backpack outweighed my unborn child.  No matter the plans that I believed would play out, and the support I believed I had, I felt alone.  Behind my smile was a very scared young girl.  I struggled to know where I belonged while in the walls of a school building.  On the days that I was reminded of all that had changed for me and all that would change, I loaded my backpack with shame and guilt.  I could feel it getting heavier and heavier each time I passed the teachers or peers that refused to greet me with kindness.  As I walked down the hall I would grab more and more guilt and shame.  By the time I was home my shoulders hurt from the extra weight I had packed in.  At home I tried to teach myself to unload and not place all those feelings back to carry again. The very next day I would start the process all over again.  

 

I would love to say that I have mastered unloading my backpack and keeping it light. The truth is that I transformed my bag all together,  It is smaller and it has different compartments to it.  It has secret pockets some with zippers and some with snaps.  In the new bag that I carry I do not allow myself to carry so much stuff.  In some of the secret places I have the tough stuff, it’s still there.  At times I can use it as a reminder of who I once was and to share it as a learning tool.  I also carry a bigger load of Grace.  This is carried in the biggest compartment of my bag.  I fill enough for myself and for others around me.  The beautiful thing about Grace is that it is light and fluffy.  It weighs very little and it covers over the heavy stuff.  I now have to dig through Grace first in order to find the smaller compartments filled with the heavy stuff.  I love grace, it brings beauty to my bag.  

I will encourage my children to make their backpacks lighter.  I will show them to carry Grace, compassion, and mercy by teaching them that they should not overload their bags, it will only bring them more pain.  I want them to share what they have in their bags, to take out the heavy stuff to expose it, maybe they will choose to leave it out realizing it’s painful weight.

As I watch them leave for the first time this year I whisper a prayer in each bag.  Asking God to guide and protect them.  

 

Even though my bag is now smaller and its contents are slightly different, I can use my past experiences to guide them in downsizing their loads.  I do not have the same kind of stuff that they have but I do understand some of their pains and I seek to understand the pain I have not experienced personally.    

 

This new school year gives my family opportunities to grow and to let go of weight. Putting down loss and feelings of loneliness and unworthiness.

 

Is there stuff you need to stop carrying around? 
Is there stuff you set down but then come the very next day and put right back in your bag?  

 

Together let’s take an inventory of these items and dig into why we continue to carry them.  Let’s take time to acknowledge our loved ones carrying extra baggage and help them unload.

 

I cannot imagine how much faster we will Keep Rolling toward our goals when we are free from the heavy load.

 

 

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.Follow me as I tread through.

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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The Mental Illness Ride

The past couple of weeks my family and I have been on a mission to declutter our homes.  The plan is to rid our lives of things we no longer use nor need.  I have made it a mission over the weekend to fill at  least four black trash bags and set them aside for a future garage sale or donate to our local thrift store.  I met my goal quickly as I started to clean out my linen closet.  Old sheets, pillow cases, blankets, curtains and pillows quickly filled these bags.  Why oh why had I held on to all of these things?  I hadn’t opened this closet in a while and I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that were about to consume my heart and my mind as I began to sort through the piles.

In this closet held bedding that I had purchased for my son’s when I was preparing for their adoption and for them to move into our home.  I remember buying two of the same so that at four and five years old they would know  they would always be equal in my heart.  Just recently I noticed that my youngest son had found his blanket to the bedding and as was using it.  It makes me smile to see this almost 6 foot tall, 16 year old wrapped in a blanket he’s owned since he was 4.  When I found the second blanket I did not smile, I cried.  I was taken back to the time that I would wrap my then five year old in it on cold winter nights.  I closed my eyes to fight back tears as I can remember the forts he would build with not only this blanket but with all the others I came in contact with.  Some of these blanket forts I would imagine would be built as a place for him to “get away.”  I now see how much he need that.

In June my oldest son will be in residential treatment for three years.  I never thought his recovery would take this long.  The scars and the pain he carries began to come out in ways that we as a family sought for professional help.  In my mind he would be in treatment to deal with his pain and we would be reunited as a family 6 months tops.  Not the case at all.  It has been an emotional roller coaster.  One that once you think the ride is coming to an end and that the restraints that hold your body  will be released, well now we are talking this ride backwards.  Hold on because at times we are hanging upside down.  I personally hate roller coasters at amusement parks and in life.  I have prayed many many times for this one to stop.  God answers is not yet, my work is not done.

As I hold on to my son’s blanket I allow myself to cry for him.  Not for me but for him.  If I feel uncertain at times what must he feel? His pain runs so much deeper than mine.  His trauma is to the bone.  I cry because I want him well and i don’t understand God’s timing in all of this.

I DO NOT understand but I have faith.  I have not given into the lie that he will not get better.  He may not ever be 100% be he will get better.  He may not be healed to perfection but he will in time be restored.  God has a plan for all of us and he has a plan for my son.  I Trust!

I will keep one of his childhood blankets and I will keep it handy as I ride this roller coaster called mental illness.  I will hold on to it with my faith and hope.  My son is currently in a new treatment center one that I believe will give him the kind of air he needs to grow.  Giving up is never the answer.  Life is beautiful and one day soon my son’s head will rise up as well as his hands while the restraints holding him in the roller coaster are released and he will get off ready to conquer.  

Never give up God has a plan for us all.  We are here for a reason.  Keep rolling on!

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.Follow me as I tread through.

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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Mother’s Day

This week is Mother’s Day and I will start by celebrating my motherhood in Orlando Florida.  I am attending the Christian Alliance For Orphans Summit.  The day after I arrive back in Colorado I head to a woman’s brunch where I have the pleasure of sharing my story. What a week God has planned for me. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you lovely moms.

At the CAFO summit I will have the opportunity to be with many carrying the same passion as I have. The passion to help the fatherless.  My prayer is that I can gain more tools and knowledge on how to help my children through their trauma.  All of my children have experienced trauma at the loss of their bio parents and siblings. Most adoptive children do. The trauma comes out in each one of them in very different ways. Some of them will go through additional trauma as they age. As a mother I want to be able to hold and guide them through it.  I can’t take away the pain but I pray to be a source of comfort.  I can only imagine how my heart will ache at some of the stories I will hear.  I am preparing myself, tissues will be packed.  I can also imagine how uplifted I will feel when I hear success stories and when I am in contact with many families that understand my daily battle.  The battles of helping my kids feel whole when they have a void in their hearts.  A void caused by abandonment, neglect, abuse,loss and the feeling of not being good enough.  I am ready to see what God has in store for me and my family but am even more overjoyed at the work He is doing in other children’s lives.  Please pray for our children and for me as I travel.

My other Mother’s day excitement is the opportunity to share my story with a church in Burlington, Colorado.  I am blessed that I was asked to be a guest speaker to a group of women.  I have been working to condense my story in a way that encourages to never give up even when the situation looks hopeless.  In reliving my personal struggles God reminded me how far I have come.  I laughed and I cried when I reminisce about my past.  My past with the good, the bad and the ugly. Preparing to speak also made me realize how many different hats we wear as women. I sometimes wonder why He trusts me in so many different roles and relationships. God created us to be special in a very powerful way.  I pray that I leave a lasting impression of hope, mercy, and grace. May these women understand the pain I felt when I finally dropped  to me knees only to be shown that I had to lift my head in order to see my Savior.  

God has been and will continue to bless me with not only the gift of learning how to serve better but also with the invitation to share what I have learned so far.  As he continues to open these doors I will enter in with a willing and grateful heart.  God has created me to Keep Rolling On!

 

Need Mother’s Day ideas?  Follow our Mother’s Day board on Pinterest!

Norah

Norah

A wife to a man in wheels. Sharing my life with all of the struggles in hopes to open up the highways of understanding, compassion, love, and hope.Follow me as I tread through.

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

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Easter- The Day I Became a Big Sister

easter

Living in Colorado the weather on Easter is always questionable.  Some years it is a beautiful sunny day, other Easters snow covers the ground, or sometimes it is rainy and cold outside.  There are years when the Easter egg hunt is done indoors.  But my favorite Easter was sunny with a faux rain shower.  It was the Easter I became a big sister.

I spent most of my life being an only child. I grew up quiet without siblings to torture and without siblings to torture me.  I spent my days playing alone or begging my parents to play with me.  I didn’t know how to play fight or wrestle.  I did not ever get to black mail anyone.

By the time I hit high school my parents were barely turning 30 years old.  I could not leave them all alone after I graduated.  My parents needed someone to love and care for.  I couldn’t be an only child forever.  When they started the process of adoption I was beyond happy for them.  My dream of being a sister was finally coming true and my parents dream of expanding our family was finally a reality.

At 14 years old I met my brothers for the first time.  They were 4 and 5 years old.  The moment I saw them I fell in love.  I knew they were my little brothers and that they belonged in my family.  It was far from the official adoption day, but it was fate, I could feel it in my heart.

After months of visits with the boys and mounds of paperwork, the adoption process was getting closer. Our very first weekend together as a family was Easter weekend.  My brothers visited with little bags that had their names stitched on them.  Inside the bags held little suits, ties, and dress shoes.  They looked like little gentlemen.

We went to church the first time as a family, the five of us.  We were a family that day and all the days forward.

During church my brothers got antsy since they were in a new environment and around so many strangers.  Even though we were a family we were still partially strangers.  We didn’t know what they liked to eat, what they hated, or their sleeping patterns.  We only knew they were cute little boys who needed a forever home.  In the middle of church my dad took his new sons to the car wash because he could feel them getting uncomfortable.

At the car wash one of the boys pressed the button to open the van door and water poured into the car.  The boys were soaking wet.  They came back to church drenched and giggled as they walked in.  I turned my head to see my cute little brothers in their suits covered in water.

That is an Easter I’ll never forget, the Easter I became a big sister.  I learned patience that weekend and I finally learned what it was like to become a sibling.  My brothers are 10 and 11 years younger than me and I will always try and protect them.  I will always be their big sister no matter how much taller than me they are.  I will always think of them on Easter Sunday as the two little boys who stole my heart 12 years ago.

What’s your favorite Easter story?  Share it with us!

Adoption Story From the Adopted

Hi, I am Jason and I am going to be writing this as a guest writer for The Wheels of Grace.

jason

This is going to be the story of how adoption has changed my life to what it is now.  I was taken by the state of Kansas at the age of 2. Not because my parents were bad parents, they just weren’t ready to parent a child. My biological dad has two degrees in computer science, he was a very smart man but didn’t make very smart decisions which lead him going to jail.

My mom she just wasn’t able to take care of me because she had some mental disabilities. The state didn’t let her take care of me because she was incapable of taking care of a kid on her own.

I didn’t know what was going on because I was so young.

The stuff I do remember is being put in the system and traveling from foster home to foster home. Out of all the foster homes I was put in I remember a foster home in Burlington, Colorado. The kind foster parents were Jan and Bob Churchwell. Most of their family were adopted by this lovely couple. I was going to be a part of their family until they introduced me to a family from Yuma, CO. That was the Sanchez family. They came down to see me and they did end up adopting me. But, before adopting me they had to do lots and lots of paperwork.

Whey they did adopt me I remember having to drive all the way to Denver to the court house. We had to wait a while before our case number was up. It was hard to stay still being a 4 year old boy. So we played Uno which made the time seem to go by much quicker. When it was our turn, we went into the courtroom and ended up being adopted that day.

I remember taking a picture with the Judge and then afterwards we went to Chuck E. Cheese and played.

After that we headed back to Yuma, Colorado where I still live today with my adoptive family.

 

Jason Sanchez was adopted at age 5 and is now 16 years old.  He often jokes that he isn’t adopted.  In our house we believe in talking about adoption openly.  Adoption is a positive word that can change, not only the lives of kids, but the lives of their adopted families as well.   Don’t forget to participate in Orphan Sunday this Sunday November 8th.  You may have the chance to change someone’s life.

Keep Rolling On

 

Desire of a Father

the-desire-of-a-father

Where does the desire to adopt child come from?  Is it because one wants to start a family or grow one? Is it because one can’t have children and this is the only way that it could happen? Or is it one feels that they can make a difference in a child’s world that is in need?

 

I was faced with having to answer this question. At the the age of 18 I thought that I had all the time in the world and that there was no rush. Little did I know that the path to a family was not going to come to me in the convention way. There would be nothing conventional about my path that I would be forced to take. At the age of 18 I was shot and my ability to walk was taken away from me, forever. At this crossroad in my life I struggled with the idea that I would never walk again. Anger, regret, and the nagging question in my head of why I survived to live in a wheelchair, beat at my mind like a boxer hitting a punching bag. Guilt found a way of working itself into my mind clouding my head with the thoughts that this was happening to me because of my past. I had reached a point in my life that I could not handle the situation I was in and I had to let it go. The darkness had won. I lost the will to fight.

 

Matthew 11:28-29

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

The Lord revealed himself to me in my darkest moment and showed me that he had path for me to follow. The first thing that he did was to open my eyes to the person who had stood by my side through all of the darkness and hard times. My best friend my angel, Norah. Then he took away all of the anger, regret, and guilt and placed love, peace, and forgiveness in its place. The night that I was shoot, I not only lost the ability to walk, I lost the ability to have children. I was saddened by this because this was truly something that I knew I would want someday.  But this was not the way the Lord wanted me to experience it. The path he had for me was adoption.

 

I was filled with the desire to open up my family and home to whatever the Lord sent my way. His plan for me was to share my life with 3 kiddos that were in search of a family. I now know that having kids doesn’t make a father, raising them does. There’s nothing in this world that comes close to the joy of me becoming a father and the happiness that has was given me. I can make a case that the worst night of my life was the beginning of the best thing that ever happened to me. My eyes were opened to the beauty that surrounded me and I was given a family and the responsibility of a father.  It’s easy to think that my kids got the better of the deal but in reality I hit the jackpot.

 

I encourage anyone that is considering adoption to first make sure that the desire you feel is coming from the right place. This isn’t an easy path but it can be very rewarding and fulfilling one.

 

All I can say is that I am a better man because of my kiddos! My mission in life is to show the world what the lord has done in my life and how he has blessed me.

God alway makes a way, all we need to do is hold his hand and let him lead us.

Remember to Keep Rolling On

Don’t forget to join us for Orphan Sunday November, 8th or find a way to help a fatherless child.

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