4 Lessons in Love

Twin girls often sing and play instruments at the front of our church. Their music reverberates through the air and envelopes the room. My daughter fixates her eyes on them and absorbs the sounds. On a random Sunday service, my daughter’s eyes sparkled as a realization hit her. “I want to play music and perform at the front of the church,” she proclaimed.

I naturally signed my daughter up for piano lessons. Excitement filled my thoughts: Our untouched piano will finally be used; she’s going to love playing it; what a great way to start her music journey.

That was four years ago.

I knew piano lessons would change my daughter’s life. I didn’t expect it to change mine. The teacher poured love into my daughter’s soul during challenging moments. Witnessing this taught me life-enriching lessons in love. Here’s what I’ve learned:

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3 Truths About Practicing Gratitude

I met up with a friend for lunch and later chit chatted on the phone with another friend. “I hate cooking dinner,” I found myself complaining. Their responses surprised me.

My friend who’s a single mom with two grown children replied, “I remember enjoying making meals for my kids. I’m lonely now and it’s far too easy to succumb to peanut butter sandwiches.”

My other friend with a challenging teenage son replied, “I’m so grateful my son ate dinner with me for the last three nights. It’s nice to see him come out of his room.”

This made me think: It’s easy to be grateful for big things. I often thank God for my family or for answering prayers. But what about being grateful in mundane tasks or even everyday challenging situations?

“Time for bed,” my husband hollered to our daughter after I ended my call. The sharpness in his voice told me it was past her bedtime. Silence filled the air. My body tensed and I charged downstairs. Angry thoughts flooded my mind: It’s late. What does she think she’s doing? It’s time for bed.

My recent revelation about gratitude popped into my brain which stopped my thoughts from spiraling. This allowed me to breathe and enjoy the moment when I spotted my daughter and son together.

“Mommy, mommy, watch my dance moves,” she pleaded.My teenage son, aka the DJ and want-to-be body builder, played her pop music while she busted some funky moves and he lifted weights. He even played their song.

The interaction between them soothed my spirit. They were enjoying separate activities yet engaged together. I delighted in the situation and then redirected my daughter to bed. She closed her eyes and fell into slumber while mine opened and awakened to the benefits of gratitude. Here are 3 things I discovered:

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4 Proactive Strategies to Help with Outings

“I have the best idea,” my daughter exclaimed. “We can go shopping!”

Panic struck me. No Way. Get out of this situation. Think of something fast.

“Please, please, please,” my daughter begged. “It’ll be a mommy and daughter day.”

My mind raced over past experiences: The time she frenzied over a gazillion clothes. The time she cried and insulted me because she didn’t get what she wanted. The time she had a meltdown and refused to leave the store.

“I’ll even bring my own money,” she pleaded.

My heart pounded but the desperate desire in her eyes softened my will.

“Okay. Fine. We’ll go.” I dreaded the outing but resolved to be proactive and to use some strategies from a book titled The Connected Child. They worked.

Here are the strategies and how I used them: Continue reading “4 Proactive Strategies to Help with Outings”

How to Find Hope Beyond Labels and Doctors

I slumped in my chair as I listened to the doctor speak. “Your daughter’s unpredictable behaviours and social difficulties will reappear once she returns to a mainstream classroom……There’s no point in making a referral for her Fetal Alcohol Effects. Her brain is impaired and can’t be fixed…..Your daughter isn’t a candidate for effective ADHD medications due to her Tourette’s.” Then came the blow: “There’s nothing more I can do for her.”

A cloud of gloom threatened to envelop me. The weight of despair was ready to consume me. The bleak future the doctor painted could have easily left me feeling hopeless. But I couldn’t let it. I fought back.

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3 Ways to Fight the Good Fight

I remember the day well. Our third family therapist in three years greeted me and my husband with a smile as she led us into her office.  I forced a smile back but my frowns, crinkled above my nose, likely betrayed my true thoughts. Will you be the magic one who can help us make our adopted daughter behave?

Reality sunk in over time: There are no perfect solutions or cookie-cutter strategies. Every day is different, every situation is different, and behaviour issues change.

As parents, we are in this for the long haul. So how can we fight the good fight? Here are some thoughts based on 2 Timothy 2:3-6.                          Continue reading “3 Ways to Fight the Good Fight”

The Role of Compassion in Attachment

I thought my nine-year old daughter and I were in a good space.

“Mommy. Watch me do my gymnastics.”

I “ooohed” and “aaahed” as I watched her twirl and twist her body in ways I could only imagine doing. She soaked up my attention and beamed. Our half hour together felt blissful. But then, her mood changed. Continue reading “The Role of Compassion in Attachment”

5 Tips to Bring Out the Joy Between Biological and Adopted Children

“Count to 40,” my daughter hollered to her older brother. Then she turned her attention to me.

“Mommy. Mommy. Where should I hide?”

“Right here,” I said. Her eyes lit up and she squeezed her skinny 9-year-old body into the kitchen cupboard.

Footsteps came thumping down the stairs. “I’m going to find you,” her brother teased.

Giggles emerged from the kitchen cupboard.

“Aha. Got you,” he declared.

My daughter grinned from ear to ear. “My turn to count,” she squealed, and the game continued.

Whether it’s my 13 or 14-year-old son playing this game with their sister, it always delights. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my children happy and getting along. I’ve worked tirelessly to achieve moments of harmony between my biological sons and my adopted daughter. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve learned some lessons along the way. They include: Continue reading “5 Tips to Bring Out the Joy Between Biological and Adopted Children”

6 Tips for Navigating Openness in Relationships

I switched schools in fourth grade. Nervous excitement consumed me on the first day. I wondered, What will the kids be like? Will they be nice? Will I make a friend?

Meeting my adopted daughter’s paternal grandmother reminded me of that day. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and my mind raced. What will Grandma be like? Will she be nice? Will we connect? Continue reading “6 Tips for Navigating Openness in Relationships”