Tag Archives: training

2 m.


I crunched out through the dry grass of our backyard and opened the rusty hook. The house came with a shed out back. Within the shed spider webs drape what might someday help me start a garden. Rolls of fencing and stakes twist with green hose. I rip a shovel from the dusty webbing. I drag it out to the bushes. Dead leaves of last year’s flowers lie motionless. Sticks of leafless seedlings protrude from the tan brush. A curious urge to clear out the deadness overtakes me. I lift the shovel and bring it down in a fast hack near the base of the tiny trees. I expected to only see dirt. I didn’t expect a surprise. Pinkish purple catches my eye. I lean down and see healthy bulbs growing through the piles of death. I hack and hack. I uncover more and more.

Death.       Life.       Growth.       Cycles.

Things look bleak. The landscape of grays and browns possess a chilling beauty. Yet they do invoke a sense of gloom. I am suddenly struck with the correlation with my own life. Old dried up patterns, now challenged, and being hacked at. Hope for new things poke out under all the death.

Two months have passed. In this land where the seasons change we watch the plants respond. I watch my heart, too, respond to the changing seasons of my life. I mourn the death of the passing. I scrape away the dried up cover. I let the tiny little evidence of growth I see poking through my character give me hope for the new yet to come.

 – – – also, this was my 1,000th blog post. hm.



Bravery, a Derivative

My Teen Girls in Uyuni

I really don’t feel strong or brave. Most days I jolt awake as the rush of nervous acid pours into my stomach. The aftereffects of the daily emotional roller coaster ride make me nauseated. The regrets choke. Thus, I have determined that bravery is not an emotion, it is a derivative.

As I share my story with a low voice, tears in my eyes, so many people tell me I am strong, that I am brave. They see me. They see the circumstances. Then they affirm strength??? I really don’t feel it. Oh boy do I wish I did!

I wince at their words, doubt trumps dauntlessness. I bury myself in my notebook. My hand trembles as I make it pull the jumbled words onto paper. My thoughts slow and calm comes as I think about bravery.

Forged in the fires of truth unhindered, time, and surrender comes forth words to define bravery. Definitions help me maintain realistic expectations of myself, and others.

> Bravery is not a stoic face to mask authenticity. Nuh uh.

> Bravery is not a bully who lashes out in fear. Nope.

> Bravery is not an ungodly holler from a maniac who runs reckless to sure defeat. Sorry Sparta, you can keep that crap.

Bravery: Life lived with strength derived from the assurance that 1. I am the beloved of God, 2. God loves everyone, and 3. His love in me enables me to love well.

So when my teenagers come to me distraught and fraught with emotions I can rely on the strength in me derived from the love infusion from my Father God. Then I can attempt to listen with empathy. I can speak, if I need to. Or shut up. I trust that God can love them well when my resources fail. I choose to engage, rather than cower and hide (which is my default mode, by the way).

So when the days topple on top of each other and mash with the piles to-do lists, and I breathe too quick, and my brain begins to spin like the tilt-a-whirl, I can stop the scared screamy sounds in my mind. I see the lips of my friends who tell me I am strong. Yes, I am strong, because this tangible weakness draws me to the source of my bravery. My bravery is a derivative of the assurance I am loved.

So when terrible scenarios of what-if replay on loop in the darkest corner of my heart I can crawl to that place and face the fears. In the past I have shut that part of me away as “bad” and “sinful” and “faithless”. With weak limbs and scraped hands I can do the next thing. Just do the next thing. And the next thing might be a simple flip of a switch on a plastic flashlight to shine a shaft of bravery on the damp, creepy parts of my soul. A simple task made nearly insurmountable by the paralyzed state created by my imaginations of what will be revealed. But my bravery is not brazen or foolish. True brave strength is surrender to Love. Love knows me. Love accepts me. Love sits beside that awful terribleness, and waits with me for the light.

So what do I do when I just do not feel so strong or brave? I cry. I fuss. I complain. I moan. And when I get that all over with I return to the assurance part of my definition. I can rest when I have been assured. Sometimes this blessed assurance comes from those around me. Sometimes the assurance comes from a song whispered in the recesses of my throat, sang with raspy tones. Other times gritty, holy stories or chunks of scripture assure me.

One prayer from the book of Ephesians has brought encouragement.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”  –  Ephesians 3:14 – 21

Love and Peace.



Four Schools for Distance Study to become a Direct Entry CPM (Certified Professional Midwife)

I have narrowed my choices down to four schools. These provide distance study programs to become a Direct Entry CPM (Certified Professional Midwife). This path of schooling is distinguished by the fact that I am choosing to not become a nurse first.

These schools share a few things in common:

  • First 2 years – technical training
  • Second 2 years  – technical training, clinical hours, and attendance of a certain number of births with a certified preceptor
  • Finalization of the training – taking the NARM test to be certified

Ordered by preference, Est. total cost* ($US) for the 4 years of study

# 1 Institute of Holistic Midwifery, based out of Virginia, 10,300
# 2 Midwives College of Utah, 28,900
# 3 Nizhoni, based out of Michigan, 25,900
# 4 Aviva College, based out of Minnesota, 29,400

*Includes: application fee, administration fee, tuition, other school fees, NARM application ($1,000), book costs ($2,000), materials costs ($300)
*Not included: travel costs to attain the necessary clinical hours and attend the required number of births with a qualified preceptor

The U.S.A is playing catch up

My search pulled up so many fabulous programs based out of Australia, New Zealand, England, the Philippines, Belgium, and The Netherlands.  The midwifery situation in the U.S. seems to be tangled up in many political issues which has stunted its progression. It only makes sense for me to study with a program from the States because of my citizenship, paperwork realities, and financial aid options. For the travel requirements of the second half of my training the logical country to ping-pong back and forth from is the U.S.  so I might see friends and family while I am there.

As I continue to explore my options other more brilliant choices might present themselves – especially for the second half of my training. I am excited to see where this path leads, quite literally.


My realistic aim is to be enrolled to start classes August of 2015. That’s a year away. One year to sort out the financial side of things, apply (and get accepted), and find a way to get my hands on some text books. Doable, right?

Wanna help?

My natural inclination after so many years as a missionary is to invite you to participate in this journey with me. Thank you for doing that already by reading, showing interest with your comments, and for encouraging me along the way. I think a support group of people is so vital.

Another way you could help me out is to continue to pray for: clarity in my brain, creativity to solve the logistic realities, energy to see this through, provision, and connections with key people. Thanks for that!

I am really so very excited about this. DaRonn has been super supportive and encouraging, I love that! All my kids are happy for me too.

Toborochi Tree

This morning I had a revelatory moment as I pondered my favorite tree. I first fell in love with the tree during my time living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia so very long ago. My oldest were toddlers at the time and would call these trees ‘honey pot trees’ because they are swollen in the middles. In Bolivia this tree represents femininity because of its form and the pink flowers that fill their branches in the Spring. Even way back then I was drawn to a womanly part of nature. The deeper significance of that yearning has reassured me once again of the good path I am on.

Me next to a Toborochi tree April 2012, family vacation to Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Me next to a Toborochi tree April 2012, family vacation to Santa Cruz, Bolivia


I Want to be a Midwife. Now What?

When? Where? How? So many questions at this point. I am not without options. I just know I am facing a few challenges.

  1. Age – Just turned 38. I know we never stop learning. I feel like my body and brain are up for this. I do feel also some urgency to make this happen sooner rather than later.
  2. Geography – Bolivian midwives are few and far between in the city of Cochabamba. More practice in the villages and rural areas. Not impossible to access to get some hands on training, but difficult. No formal midwifery training is to be found in all of Bolivia (correct me, please, if you have other information). If I were to work alongside a practicing midwife in a village I wonder if they would accept me, culturally speaking.
  3. Education – I have a high school diploma from the U.S. and one year of mission school training. No medical background, whatsoever. Many of the distance schools I have seen online require a basic nursing or paramedic degree as a prerequisite.
  4. Realistic responsibilities – My life is here in Bolivia: as a missionary, as a mother of 5 kids still at home, as a wife supporting a man who works to provide for the family. My seriousness in choosing now to pursue this passion (that has been steadily growing for about 8 years now) dramatically affects each of those realistic responsibilities.
  5. Baby steps – Right now I am gathering information from around the globe about how this can become a reality. I’m researching online. I am talking to people in the field. I am blogging about it in hopes to get some feedback. I made an Amazon wish list of 30+ textbooks and books I want to obtain based on a few different reading lists that distance schools made available online. I’ve begun to crunch the numbers for textbooks, distance training, etc.
  6. Apprenticeship – It seems that most programs are about three years long. Some you can start from zero, like I am doing. All require time and experience spent under an approved practicing midwife, which I totally want to do, but it seems that none are close by, thus demanding I place myself in a physically different location for a significant amount of time.  (I did meet a Bolivian midwife. For a upcoming blog I will be speaking about midwifery in Bolivia.)
  7. Money – This part stumps me, but doesn’t stress me out. Training, textbooks, and travel are all costly and necessary for this to happen. And right when we are trying to figure out about launching our three oldest kids in a few short years. Hmm. Somehow, though, I have a feeling it’s all going to work out.

Do you, my handful of faithful readers, have any questions for me? Are there some challenges I am not seeing that you would like to mention? Do you have any suggestions for overcoming these difficulties?

journey The process which has brought me to this place of action is very precious to me. I don’t want to skip any step because I know all of them are important. Ambition and zeal got burned up in my younger years. Patience and persistence will be my strength as I walk out this journey. I am grateful for those following me, walking this out alongside me, and helping me to birth this desire. Thank you!


Realities Bolivian Women Face

Please take a moment to look at these statistics regarding violence against women in Latin America. The data on Bolivia saddens me deeply.

 (Click on the graphic for a clearer view.)


http://visual.ly/track.php?q=http://visual.ly/violence-against-women-latin-america&slug=violence-against-women-latin-americaViolence Against Women in Latin America

by HSNews.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Efforts we specifically contribute to in order to change the realities that Bolivian women face are:


1. The way we are raising our own children with an awareness of human rights, though they live in this culture


2. The way we are raising the children (boys and girls alike) at The House of Dreams Orphanage with an awareness of human rights, helping them change their expectations even though their backgrounds attest to this struggle


3. Providing equal opportunity employment in our office, the K-12 school we founded, and at the bowling alley we own thereby breaking the stigma against women and giving other employers an example of the positive outcome of empowering women


4. Educating boys and girls at the K-12 school with morals which defend human rights


5. Giving women equality in leadership roles at our church thereby diminishing the message of a lesser role in society communicated throughout history in the name of religion


Get involved in being part of the solution. Start by informing yourself of the realities. Then consider how you can help lower these dire statistics. Pray for us as we live amongst those who desperately need hope, that we can bring the hope and salvation of Jesus Christ even in the darkest situations.


Pray for me, specifically, if you would, as this topic keeps coming up in my heart. I have some ideas of ways I want to contribute to the current plight of women in this nation, but I desire clarity of timing and direction.


Book Club ‘Free of Charge’ – Chapter 3 and Interlude

free of charge

How can we give? This question follows the previous chapter which explored ‘How should we give?’ In Chapter 3 we take a look at the human tendency to use giving as currency. We give expecting something in return. Or we give to assuage a guilty conscience. Or we give to be seen and admired. In effect, we have a tendency to give … to ourselves. For in each of these examples we benefit from the gift.

Miroslav Volf says:

“Whether we give in order to extract goods from others, win praise for magnanimity, put a fig leaf over our moral nakedness, or feed some raging beast inside, in one way or another our generosity often proves wither counterfeit or impure. We give to ourselves, in whole or in part.”

Delving deeper into the inner realities of our heart condition we find sin. The author focuses on three key aspects of sin at play when we attempt to give: selfishness, pride, and sloth.

Volf continues:

“So can we counter the effects of selfishness, pride, and sloth and make our giving pure? Not before we land in God’s perfect world of love on the other side of this world’s history. Only when, in communion with God, we become the perfect image of God as individuals and communities, will our giving attain purity.”

Things were sounding pretty dark until I got to the part addressing ‘Transformed Attitudes’. Much emphasis was given by my mom during our upbringing on our attitude. She used to do ‘attitude checks’ rather frequently to help us be aware of the motivation of our heart at any given moment. I heard a pastor once say, “Attitude is almost everything.” And the old saying goes, “Your attitude will determine your altitude.”

The author says this:

“Giving depends on the proper attitude toward three things: towards things we possess, towards others, and towards ourselves.”

Things – our relations to things changes ones we truly understand that everything has been given to us by God.

On our last trip to the United States with all the children (we have 5) the generosity of my Uncle and Aunt shocked me. After thanking them profusely for allowing us to used their mini-van to drive around various states for three months, free of charge, I was speechless and choked up. My Uncle looked me in the eyes in total sincerity and said, “Everything we have was given to us by the Lord. It was His in the first place, so if anyone has need of it we are glad to give it because it was given to us by God. Our home, our cars, our time, our table, are all for His service.” This was the first time I had seen such genuine generosity. It filled me with ease and an overwhelming desire to follow his godly example.

This quote sums up this idea with precision:

“Earning and possessing are not just a bridge between our desires and their satisfaction. They are a midpoint in the flow of gifts: from God to us, and through us to others. We give because we have been given to; we don’t let other simply fend for themselves because we haven’t been left to fend for ourselves.”

Others – we can consider others as the intended beneficiaries of God’s gifts.

A new kind of board game has emerged in which all the players compete against the game. They work together in strategy and cooperation to beat the enemy. It is a thrilling experience to join together in a common cause with your friends or family for an evening, instead of passing the time trying to beat the ones you love.

A new attitude towards self – without being “more-than-enough” people, our wanting will always outpace our having, and we’ll end up perpetually exhausted and forever dissatisfied.

“A rich self has a distinct attitude toward the past, the present, and the future. It surveys the past with gratitude for what it has received, not with annoyance about what it hasn’t achieved or about how little it has been given. A rich self lives in the present with contentment. Rather than never having enough of anything except for the burdens others place on it, it is “always having enough of everything” (2 Corinthians 9:8). It still strives, but out of satisfied fullness, not out of the emptiness of craving. A rich self looks towards the future with trust. It gives rather than holding back in fear of coming out too short, because it believes God’s promise that God with take care of it.”

Gratitude … contentment … trust

At this point a thought struck me, “Is there enough love in me to love abundantly? The logical answer is: yes. God and His love infilling me is enough and more than enough to make me a generous lover.” Amen! This frees me up to enter into the flow of love. I don’t have to muster up feelings or put on a mask of faked love. I can trust that He has loved me, and that love in me is more than enough to spill out into the lives of the people around me. There is no scarcity of love. He gave love freely to me, I can give love freely to those around me.

Thankless ingrates. This festers in me at times. I don’t want to give because the gift is unnoticed or under-appreciated. This goes back to the start of the chapter about giving … to ourselves. Which is pride. Volf clears things up very nicely when he says:

“We are not disrespected by ingratitude; our pride is not injured. The ingratitude of recipients wrongs not us but the gift-giving God.”

There you go! I don’t have to worry about. I place the recipient and their own attitude in God’s hands. Anything that I gave them was given to me by God in the first place. So I am not offended – I pass that over to God. He can interact by His gracious mercy with the others as He sees fit. He doesn’t need me to defend Him. He is strong enough to handle that. To hear this, as a recovering control freak, brought great relief to give freely.

As Jesus said, “freely ye have received, freely give.” Yes, and amen.


The Interlude serves as a dramatic and heart wrenching introduction to the second half of the book about forgiveness. It stirs profound questions about the capacity of the human hear to truly forgive in the face of impossible circumstances.


This book is quite heady yet balanced by truth told in anecdotes. The quotes from well known and highly respected individuals underscore the impact of the points the author makes. I also very much appreciate the thorough involvement of the Hold Scriptures as he leads us on the path to a truer realities in the way we give and forgive. I recommend the book.


Expect Acceptance

Expect Acceptance birds 1

The sun hangs hot and low in the West and our neighbor feeds the birds. He shuffles out in his neatly pressed button up shirt and pleated polyester pants. His white hair ruffles in the breeze as he tosses the crumbs on the walk. Steady and sure, though slow and old, he turns and returns to his home. Maybe he watches perched from a window, but he doesn’t stick around outside. When I see the birds flocked for their daily feed I slow my steps and watch a while.

Expect Acceptance birds 2

Three or four kinds of birds come to eat the crumbs on the painted blue path on Pachamama Street.  Black, yellow, grey, and dappled they prove the old adage birds of a feather flock together. That saying came to mind during a conversation. We tend to choose to spend time with people like ourselves. This translates into a filter or lens which determines our worldview. It also builds the assumption that those around me think like I do.

Expect Acceptance Lost Lose Love 1

One of the core factors of my species of personality is a tendency to categorize and judge situations and people. I default to ‘black and white’ or ‘right and wrong’. This comes in handy at times when concepts need to be organized, goals set, or outlines made. It trips me up when I let it lose in my relationships. I am learning to appreciate the browns, golds, greys, polka dots, plaids, rainbows, and iridescence surrounding me.

In this discovery process a new way of seeing things came to me. Three strong women spoke to me truths that picked at my layers of suspicious cynicism. God hasn’t given up on me yet; for that I am so grateful.

“The majority does indeed extend to you grace, love, and mercy beyond condition.”

“You are loved by many.”

“I love you.”

Expect Acceptance Lost Lose Love 2

It sounds so simple, so pure. Yet, for me to lay aside my previous assumption that most people were looking at me to scrutinize, criticize, and classify (which I lament to inform you is my go-to mode when interacting with others, an error which I hope is corrected soon) does imply a difficult task. Because it is not a task! That’s the tricky part.

My task oriented brain wants to DO something. In this case I cannot DO anything about it. I need to BE. As I embrace the truth that I am loved I can BE the beloved. When I know in my soul I am accepted I can BE accepted. When I assume that everyone I interact with wishes me well I can BE well.

Expect Acceptance.

Accept Acceptance.

Extend Acceptance.

Live Expectant of Acceptance.

Anticipate Acceptance.

Grab grace.

Attract attitudes of acceptance.

Tractor beam trust.

Magnetized with positivity.

Positively magnetic personality.

Gravitate to goodwill.

Go with goodness.

Give grace and goodness.

Try trust.

Be beloved.

Be blessed.

Trust your True Love.


Assume doom no more.

Kindle kindness.

These catchy phrases need to be the crumbs that daily feed my belief belly. And it starts with being aware. I want to be aware of God’s unconditional acceptance of me. As that seeps into my soul I can then be a carrier of grace to others. So be it, Father.

The talks with these women plus a good dose of journal writing landed me on an interesting word trick. One of my journal sessions ended in one little word at the bottom of the page: lost. A couple journal sessions later a word appeared on the bottom of the page: love. How did I go from ‘lost’ to ‘love’? We used to play those word games where you change one letter at each step to go from one word to another in the fewest steps possible. For me to go from ‘lost’ to ‘love’ took two steps.

Expect Acceptance Lost Lose Love 3

lost –> lose

When feeling lost I need to surrender. Lose the self-righteousness, pride, and self-sufficiency. Lose the strenuous trying. Put tying on trial and choose to lose.

lose –> love

When I lose myself in surrender True Love tells me, “I love you” and gives me back myself with value and worth. I am accepted just the way I am. I am free to accept others just as they are in true love.

Expect Acceptance birds 3

Do you struggle with trust? Do you assume, like I have so frequently, that others are constantly judging you? What has helped you to connect with others deeply in unconditional love? 


Persuasion Obedience

Persuasion means to win over with sweetness. A fine line divides persuasion and manipulation.


My mental wiring prohibits me from seeing a difference. I guess it comes down to motives. Since motives are a heart issue, persuasion and manipulation might look identical viewed by an outsider, thus my difficulty in distinguishing the two forces. I’ve also heard that manipulation is playing on the emotions of another for solely selfish gain. In contrast, to persuade another does involve an emotional interaction but the motives are for mutual benefit.

Emotions are the grays to my black and white brain. Yet brain matter is gray, you say. Ah ha. Very good. I do not deny the need for emotional connections with other humans. I simply confess that navigating the immense waters of emotions has been a learned practice, and I have fallen over board too many times to count. Growing up I had more guy friends than girls because I was more comfortable with the straightforward nature of the male. Girls and their unpredictable, undefinable, unsteady moods and emotional swings scared me.

Connect this rejection to emotional displays with parenting. I now understand that my tendencies to be firm and unwavering with my children can come off as cold. Yes, I know the strengths of being a dependable, predictable, stable parent. I am grateful for the good that has come from that aspect of my personality as I have been raising my kids. Yet, I understand that there are also downfalls to such a strict parenting method.

One of my children in particular has proven this. The pattern of defiance against my firmness has been a pain in the neck. I have developed a large bit of resentment towards this person as we butt heads in a way unlike I have ever known before. With my other children obedience is understood as a duty. They obey because it’s the right thing to do. For this other child, the rules are very low on the list of priorities. Obedience seems to be optional.

An ongoing discussion I have been having with friends and family has to do with the obedience of my children, especially in my absence. This one kid is pretty sneaky and tends to disobey when I cannot be seen. This has bugged me! So I have been talking about it every chance I get.

One person suggested I strip back the rules to only the very bare necessities. Yes, this was helpful. Not so many lines to defy has helped us to get along better.

Another observation came through on facebook that has stuck a profound chord with me.

“Obedience is a a heart issue. Disobedience means you haven’t gotten to [the child’s] heart.”

When I read that I knew instantly this was the key. Yes! Now the vital task: understand this and figure out how to apply it.

With a number of issues at hand the opportunity to learn a new facet of parenting presented itself quickly. The child misbehaved. Instead of reacting as I normally would I traded in firmness for sweetness. Oh my! It felt so disingenuous. So insincere. So fake and contrived! I thought to myself – who would ever fall for this load of crap! I thought for sure I would have a child laughing in my face.

I was so wrong. Instead of a defiant child the walls seemed to melt. Compliance came readily. The behavior began to turn around. Kindness connected our hearts. I now call this new learned method: Persuasion Obedience.

The key? I visualized other role models in my life being kind to their kids. I saw with my minds eye what they would do in my place – and I copied that. Because, I know that this Persuasion Obedience is very natural to many, many mothers.

This new approach, heavy on the emotional awareness side of human relations, did not come naturally to me, but the positive results in our family life have reinforced in MY behavior the usage of this method. Whereas before my focus with my children was on correct behavior we have entered into a more well rounded reality. Behavior is a result of a heart connection. The difference has brought more peace to our home.

Could this truth be carried into our relationship with our creator? You bet! Even though it comes naturally to me to obey out of a sense of duty, there is a more profound connection with God when I choose to hear His heart and become persuaded of His truth before I act. Performing out of a sense of duty can lead to pride. Being persuaded by the connection with my Father’s heart leads only to acts committed humbly from a place of love. I desire this deeper connection with God. I trust Him to teach me how to navigate these deep waters.



Where There is No…

A famous missionary book is “Where There is No Doctor”. Later a couple more came out to complete the set of self-help handbooks for workers in the developing world. “Where There is No Dentist” so your teeth don’t fall out of your head. “Where There is No Animal Doctor”, let’s not forget about Sparky! (sidenote: shoulda been “Where There is No Veterinarian”, but whatevs.) And finally “Where There is No Psychiatrist”. Why not Psychologist? I always get those two mixed up. I’m just crazy like that. (ba dum bum – ching!)

Confession: I haven’t read ANY of them. (gasp!)

Granted, we live in a metropolitan area. In the highly unlikely chance that we ever go rural, I’ll get ’em all and cram. Oh yes. Since there have not been any weather reports predicting a snow storm in hell, I will continue to rely on the professionals in our lovely city.  We have doctors, dentists, vets, and both of those P word dudes.

I trust my Spanish for explaining symptoms to a doctor. We have about a half a dozen dentists in our church, so that is covered. When our dog was having seizures as a puppy we were able to communicate just fine with the vet and he got us the meds our poodle needed. Shep is fine, so that worked out. Now, when it comes to psychiatrists and psychologists, I start to squirm.

I have never been to see either one of those for a consultation. I’ve had friends who work in both of those fields. I think they do fine work. I think they are important. Okay, I did have a psychological evaluation during the adoption proceedings. So I have met with a shrink once. Evidently she liked my drawings of a family of animals and a kid in the rain, and she found my answers to “what do you see here” satisfactory enough to allow me to have her stamp of approval as a capable mother. But on my own initiative to deal with an unresolved issue – nada.

That’s not to say I don’t need to. Oh, there have been plenty of times when I was sure I was losing my mind. I could have benefited from one at a few specific times in my life, I think. But here is why I have never sought out help from a Bolivian professional in these fields: I don’t trust my Spanish to really speak authentically and therapeutically about heart issues. Now that there’s Skype I suppose if I really wanted to invest the finances into sessions with an English speaking therapist I could make that happen.

In the meanwhile I tend to my mental health through:

  • Talking with trusted friends
  • Informative and instructional reading
  • Prayer and other spiritual disciplines
  • Regular “exhaling” activities like: jogging, photography, blogging, trekking, travel, etc.
  • Frequent dates
  • Handwritten journaling
  • Asking for support and help from friends and family when I feel I need it
  • Staying connected to people who will speak up if they see me heading to cooky town (aka: accountability… but that is such a mathematical word, blech)

washington kids september 2013So, we are an adoptive family. Thus, it is a tough line to walk when almost EVERY book, article, and blog on adoption emphasizes the importance of dealing with every issue with the help of professional therapists. From eating habits to bonding to attachment to you-name-it the pattern stays the same: here is some advice, here are some anecdotes, now go seek professional help. I get it. I really do understand. I do. But that has just not been the reality for us.

This causes me to rely even more heavily on the strategies I have placed in my life when I come to a rough patch. Since we stepped foot in the adoption world there have been some pretty rough patches. To assign a comparative percentage of rough to smooth in our adoption journey would be depressing and require too much mathematical thought. Math, blech. So we keep walking, right? Right.

Yesterday evening I experienced something truly miraculous with Kaitlynn. A connection was made between her and me that surprised me. I am so grateful for all my friends and family who listen, pray, and advise me as I learn how to be Kaitlynn’s mama. Dozens of people at specific times have provided just the word or time or grace I have needed to get through that day or that hour or that minute. I can never say thank you enough. I truly believe that this amazing support system is meant to receive all the credit for this connection that happened last night.

I say miraculous because this is the kind of connection that I have been waiting for, hoping for. One of my favorite parts of being a mama is having real talks with my kids. Each phase of parenthood has their perks – but when they reach the age of being able to have a proper conversation with me I am thrilled. Kaitlynn’s first language is now English. She will be 6 years old in December. I see now how key this element is in our relationship. We have had a few conversations where she expressed non-mimicked thoughts, those have been great. But what happened last night went deeper.

For the first time, of her own volition, she began to share with me stories of her life before she became a Washington kid. She was very emotional. She sat beside me on the couch and spoke very low with a sincerity I have not seen before. Story after story came pouring out. I listened so hard, trying to remember every detail so I could write it all down. I knew this was important.

After I put her to bed I rushed to get my pen and notebook to record our talk. I was so excited! Yet I knew that a portion of what she shared was fantasy. That made me curious. I whittled down my online search in order to find a clinical article to help me understand what just happened between us. My search landed on a very well written and very specific piece entitled “Birthparent Romances and Identity Formation in Adopted Children“. Fascinating. Spot on. Highly informative. For her age and her development level this behavior of telling stories mixed with fact and fiction is completely appropriate. Beyond that, it is a healthy step in her personal identity formation path.

What excites me the most is the connection she and I made. We connected. Thank God. Really, thank you all who helped us get to this important point. I am just so very grateful and happy.



Banished from Bolivia – Going Public

For the first time “in print” I talk about the travesty of our banishment from Bolivia.

An excerpt – –

The regret tally marks scratched on my soul still burn. What could we have done differently? In retrospect the list is enormous. At the time, though, I believe we did the best we could with what we knew. I would like to dress this up with a bow and a pretty ending…”

Read the rest on A Life Overseas: ‘Banished from Bolivia

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banished from bolivia