Monday, March 11, 2013

School Friendships

One area where I am beginning to see Cupcake blossom is in the area of friendships.  It's been a long road, and we haven't arrived yet, but we've been taking some giant leaps in the right direction.

In the world of "hard places", peers are seen not so much as playmates, but more as competition.  One day, years ago, Cupcake and I looked at a picture of the kids in her orphanage.  There were 2 girls and a boy, along with Cupcake.  It had been a small group home.  As I pointed to the girls and named them, I asked her if she missed her friends.  She turned in anger and cried, "They were not my friends!"

I had always thought that the kids in an orphanage would stick together for self-protection.  Some do.  But the reality is that orphans are literally all alone in this world.

Let the gravity of that truth settle in your soul.

The concepts of friendship and mutual enjoyment of a relationship were not even on the radar screen.  There was no foundation on which to build friendships.

How does a child overcome that kind of deficit?

At first, Cupcake had no use for peers.  She was always attracted to adults or teens (especially pretty ones).    At times, she was able to relate to older or younger kids (and always babies), but kids her own age...nothing.  She has had some very good neighbor friends (thanks to their patience, maturity,  and forgiveness), but relationships with the kids in connection.  In Kindergarten, friendship was a foreign concept.  In First Grade, she tried to have friends (subordinates, really), but they didn't quite know what to do with her powerful personality.  Second grade brought her one faithful friend, but she didn't live nearby, so they never got together outside of school.  That brings us to this year.

All of a sudden, we have turned a corner!  After almost 5 years of steady coaching on the normal give-and-take of friendships, something clicked.  This year, she has 3 very good friends in her class.  They invite her for playdates!  They regularly come to our house.  They like her!  She likes them!  It's awesome!  :-D  All four girls are best buddies with each other.

I have noticed that the sweet, perfect-family, picket-fence-living girls tend to avoid my baby, and sometimes, they're downright mean to her.  (I'm sure they've been on the receiving end of her meanness, as well.)   She can't relate to them.  They can't relate to her. 

But these girls, all three come from their own hardship.  They understand that life can be tough.  Each girl has depth of character.  They all live lives of grace, ready to forgive and move on after a mess-up - not expecting perfection, but anticipating reconciliation.  We could all learn a lesson from them.  

I can't tell you how thankful I am that these girls have entered our lives!  They are each a special blessing!

And I am so proud that my daughter is able to maintain friendships, even when I'm not there to coach!

How about you?  Are friendships hard for your kids?  What have you done to help foster genuine friendship?

Blessings to you,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Happy "Half Your Life" Day!

March 7th is a holiday for us. It's a quiet, one-time holiday with only a casual observance.

But in my heart, I'm breathing deeply at the summit of an impossible mountain, smiling sweetly at the vista all around me. I am standing on the continental divide of Cupcake's life. I can see way off behind me, the distant lands of a distant land. Nearer are the foothills of pain and adversity, the early days of her adoption. The valleys were wrought with paralyzing fear at times. I survey the many smaller summits that we have already scaled - many of them seemed as impossible to ascend as this one.

But here we are.  One thousand seven hundred and forty-seven days.  We are today standing at the implicit peak of Cupcake's "Half Your Life" day. Starting tomorrow, she will have been longer with us than she was in Guatemala. Time and memories are now on our side.

As I look ahead into the future, I see many more summits will be coming our way.  There will be valleys, dark and gloomy. More prominently, I see the breath-taking beauty of God's handiwork. Everywhere before me, there are glorious images revealing God's tender-loving care, His redeeming nature.  In the end, it will be a beautiful picture and an amazing adventure.

For now, I'm basking in the possibilities.

Blessings to you,


Saturday, March 2, 2013


Admittedly, I'm not always the brightest bulb on the tree.

Sometimes, I wonder how I can go from sweet communion with Jesus, one minute I'm asking Him to make me a patient, godly mother, the next, I'm barking orders at my kids with no grace.  Or how I can miss the obvious.  Or how I can know in my head that a certain strategy is not going to work, I see where this is going and it's not good...and yet I persist.  I hear the still, small voice and ignore it.

But somedays, God gives me something that I need for the day and I actually make the connection and follow through with the application.  WIN!

Today, I had a moment of clarity.  I'd like to share it, since they're so few and far between.  (That way, I can relive my little triumph whenever I need a boost.)

This morning, I knew the fridge was completely empty of lunch-packing food.  It's been empty all week and we've been scrounging.  I decided it would be a nice day to visit Cupcake at school for lunch.  We had some leftover soup that would be nice, hot, and very tasty if I brought it straight from home. 

While Cupcake was getting ready this morning, I was checking faceb00k.  I read this great article on children with food insecurity.  It talked about how kids who have known hunger are not sure if there will always be food.  This insecurity comes out in all sorts of behavior - hoarding, stealing, over-eating, pickiness, poor table manners, lying, etc.  The key is to understand that the food is not the issue.  The insecurity is the issue.  Work on the security.

Now Cupcake's teacher wisely has a policy of letting the kids have snacks throughout the day whenever they feel they need it.  They have a very late lunch, so I usually pack 3 snacks a day - 2 for the morning and 1 for the afternoon.

So, 30 seconds after I step away from the computer, Cupcake informs me that she took 3 clementines for a snack.  She had already packed her 3 snacks for the day.  I started in on the schpeel.

 "You don't need 6 snacks.  Three snacks are enough..."

Then I stopped.

I remembered that I just read an article about this.

The lightbulb went on.  Oh! That glorious lightbulb!  :-)

In a gentle voice, "Cupcake, are you afraid I won't come to lunch?"

Softly, her eyes not meeting mine, "Yes."

"And you were making plans in case I didn't come?"

"Yes." With a smile.

"You can take them."


"You bet!"

She ran off to school yippy-skippy.  We had a nice lunch.  She ate all 6 snacks.  She came home happy, ate a good dinner, and seems very relaxed and contented. 

Trust is built one lightbulb at a time.  One day the whole tree will be lit up.

Blessings to you,