The control freak inside of me wants you Doubting Thomas's to know that I've dotted my i's and crossed every t. I'm so much like you. Each morning, I wake my children with hugs, kisses, and silly songs. I also tell them multiple times a day how much I love them, carefully making sure to list specific traits I find particularly special. I've done it their whole lives. When they have a problem, I tune out the rest of the world to sit and listen. And when they take on a hobby, I whole-heartedly jump in with them. We eat dinner around the table, we only watch family-friendly TV, and we all know Jesus. My life has been a glowing case of text book parenting, so why do I have a child who struggles?
That's what I've been asking myself for twelve months. I've spent hours and days wondering if I might have had a better result with Natalie if I had parented her in a different way. My problem is probably glaring to you, but it wasn't so obvious to me until recently. This isn't about I, I, I or me, me, me at all. This is about Natalie. I am responsible for being me, and she, simply, is responsible for being she.
I became a mom in the extremely popular 'Focus on the Family' era when books like "The Strong Willed Child", "Parenting Isn't For Cowards", "Bringing Up Boys", etc. were akin to the Holy Bible and were touted in every Christian circle. Thousands upon thousands of us bought into it to the tune of millions of dollars in book sales. And in the wake of that well-intentioned
When Natalie returns on Friday, I'll hopefully be a better mom. I'll still belt out my silly songs, dole out hugs, and lord over what TV shows are appropriate for our home, but I will view my family and my own role in it in a brand new way. The old adage, "Children are a reflection of their parents", is a lie. Don't believe it. Children, instead, were created to reflect the Creator's plan and purpose for their lives. To believe anything else is pure apostasy, a rebellion of God's Word.
I still don't know why God allowed Natalie to be dumped in a run down orphanage by a teenage mom who was also an orphan, to endure electric shocks, and to be treated more like an animal than a human for the first three years of her life. I don't know what method He used to choose my family to be the ones to pluck her out and make her a part of our own family, and I don't guess I'll ever understand why He didn't spare her from Reactive Attachment Disorder and all the psychotic behavior that has accompanied it. But He knows. And He holds her future. For me, from this point forward, that is all that matters.
To close, Natalie, if you ever stumble upon this post, I want you to be reminded again how much you are loved and valued. Sweet girl, YOU HAVE VALUE! Reactive Attachment Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, while they are unwanted companions, do not define who you are. We will continue to persevere with you through whatever comes and know we will all get through this together. We are so proud of the hard work you continually put into your treatment and look forward to everything the Lord has in store for you. He is not capable of making mistakes; you have been perfectly created to be everything He wants you to be. Love, Love, Love you....
If you live in the Nashville area and have been praying for Natalie, I want to invite you to come to our church service this Sunday to celebrate her return home. Following the service, we'll celebrate with lots of sugary treats and allow friends time to greet her, meet her, and give hugs with words of encouragement:
The Refuge Church
2001 Campbell Station Parkway, Suite A-7
Spring Hill, TN 37174
When: Sunday, the 4th of May