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Chosen
by Valerie Wolff

Chosen is a monthly column written by Valerie Wolff, with a focus on parenting, which often reflects the aspect of adoption.

Valerie has two teenage daughters who were both adopted at birth.  She firmly believes that she was "chosen" to be her kid's mom, not only by her girls' biological moms, but also by our Heavenly Father. Valerie writes about her experiences as a mom from her heart, and with the belief that ALL children are gifts from God. In her spare time, Valerie is a part-time psychotherapist in her own private practice where she provides counseling to a diverse clientele.  She also has her own personal blog site, aptly named "I am my Kid's Mom." 


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A Sacred Thanksgiving
Valerie Wolff, November 2008

“Do not get tired of doing what is good.  Do not get discouraged and give up, for we reap a harvest of blessings at the appropriate time”.  --Galatians 6:9

I am certain that for all of us, at times, it seems like no matter how hard we pray, or how many sacrifices we may make, or how many good things we do, God just isn’t answering our prayers.  It is especially true for me right now in this season of my life. At times, I do feel like giving up, I am tired of always having to do the right thing, and I am very discouraged. But the passage above reminds me to hold on to my faith, as God has promised that He will reap a harvest of blessings for me in His own time.  I just need to be patient, keep on doing the right thing, keep on praying, and be strong during this difficult time. 

Thanksgiving is a time when we thank the Lord for the harvest of blessings which He has bestowed upon us.  That means we should also thank the Lord for the trials and tribulations in our lives, because out of those times come greater compassion, greater understanding and wisdom, and a greater love for God and others. 

When I read this passage, I'm reminded of a time 21 years ago, when I found out that I couldn’t have children. After a period of pain and depression and discouragement and wanting to give up, God chose to reap His harvest of blessings on me in the form of adoption.  God chose me to become the mother to two beautiful babies over the course of three years, and who are now beautiful young women. This gift of motherhood is the most incredible blessing I have ever received from God.  Even with the tumultuous changes of this past year in my relationship with my oldest daughter, I still treasure the gift of this woman child, and I wouldn’t want to give up on being her mom.  Now, don’t get me wrong--there have been days when I was so discouraged that I wanted to just give up on everything, but that didn’t mean I wanted to give up on her or my relationship with her.  I just wanted to give up because the pain was so great. 

This Thanksgiving will be a time of reflection.  I will be grateful for the blessings my family has received, the hardships my family have experienced, and God’s steadfastness throughout this most difficult time.  I will be grateful for the good times and the bad, the lessons learned, the love that we still share amongst each other despite the pain and agony we have suffered.  I will be grateful that God held me while my world crashed around me, and He put me back together so I could continue to function as a wife and a mother and a counselor.  I will be grateful for having the experience of having something so sacred being ripped from my life because it helped me to learn how to love and let go and forgive. 

This Thanksgiving I will especially ponder the wonderful blessing of the birth mothers of my daughters.  As my daughters approach the age of perhaps being able to meet their birth mothers for the first time, I pray that these wonderful women will look at our daughters  and say to me “Thank you for a job well done”.  I pray that I have not let them down in any way.  I pray that they have experienced a harvest of blessings from the Lord in their lives.  And I thank them for their selfless act of allowing me to be their kids’ mom. 

“This is the first measure of thanksgiving:  a thankfulness that springs from love”. 
William C. Skeath

©2008, Valerie Wolff

 

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Doing God's Will
With a Smile

Valerie Wolff, October 2008

“Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  Hebrews 12:14

Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile.” That goes against the grain of popular culture, which has the pursuit of personal happiness as its mantra and false message.

Recently, in a conversation with a young woman,  I questioned her about the choices she was making, which were going against the grain of all the values she had been taught, and which were going against God’s teachings that she knew so well.

Her reply was “Well, everybody tells me to do whatever it is that makes me happy.”  

I wondered in my heart if, indeed, she was happy, given she was going against all that she once held so dear. I wondered what had happened that caused her to lower her standards and get caught up with people who were encouraging her to participate in activities which she never would have dreamed of doing before. 

At one point in time, she would have cringed and said that there would be NO way she could ever be with a person who asked her to do things that went against her morals and beliefs; at one point in time, she would have remained faithful and steadfast in her faith and her beliefs. 

But staying holy in this day and age is very difficult. There are so many pressures from different areas—from peers, from TV and the movies, from society in general, and even from older people who are still caught up in the old “if it feels good, do it” mentality. 

To remain holy means to seek out people and sustain relationships with those who have similar beliefs and convictions. Convictions which hold to the fact that it is imperative to follow God’s will at all times, and not be a slave to your own desires. The true Christian ideal is NOT to be happy, rather, it is to be holy

The temptations out there are great. The promise of happiness, if you do what your heart desires, is the prevalent message—from engaging in premarital sex, to spending a lot of money, to drinking and smoking and doing drugs, to pornography, to addictions. But as Campbell Morgan points out, “Holiness is not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome temptation.”

So, how does one overcome these temptations? Through God’s grace and through prayer. By surrounding yourself with other Christians. By going to Mass or to church on a regular basis. By joining Bible studies. What one doesn’t do is stay close to people who are leading you astray.  The longer you engage in sinful behaviors, the easier it is to continue on with them because your conscience is rubbed away a little bit more each time you participate in them. Your soul grows further away from Christ. 

There is a connection between sin and sorrow, between holiness and happiness. Making godly choices makes a person holy and happy. Ask anyone who has been entrenched in ungodly behaviors—are they happy? Is the young woman I mentioned above truly happy? Her eyes are very sad. She’s angry at God. She feels disconnected from her family because her behaviors not only hurt her relationship with God, but also her relationships with her family members.  That disconnection is very painful to her, even if she doesn’t recognize it as such. What she needs to realize is that God is willing to take her  back into His fold. Her family will welcome her back wholeheartedly. All she has to do is ask for forgiveness and get back on track again. 

“The holy man is not one who cannot sin—a holy man is one who will not sin,” per A.W. Tozer. It’s a conscious decision to sin or not to sin. God’s special gift to us is holiness. It is ours for the asking, if only we follow His will. 

Let us pray for those people out there who are struggling, wanting to follow their own desires rather than God’s will in their lives. Let us pray for those people who find it hard to break free from the shackles of their sins. Let us pray for parents who are trying to teach their children God’s way, while fighting against the message from the world’s way.  For without holiness, we will never see the kingdom of God. 

Holiness is the state of the soul in which all the powers of the body and the mind are consciously given up to God. 
—Phoebe Palmer 

©2008, Valerie Wolff

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Nurture
Valerie Wolff, September 2008

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” 
G. K. Chesterton

The beginning of a new school years signifies getting back into a routine, having an overscheduled appointment book, and the constant juggling of not having enough time to fit in everything which needs to be done. The pace of life quickens during the autumn season, just as the days begin to grow shorter. We send our children off to school with high hopes that what they are being taught coincides with our values and Christian way of life, but down deep, we know that is not always the case.  That is why it’s so important to begin the process of educating our children at home when they are just infants. We place those seeds of wisdom and knowledge in our daily interactions with our children, such as the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, and lessons from the Bible. Then we nurture and protect those seeds, so that when they are sent out into the “real world” they will have a solid foundation of faith to stand on when they begin to absorb the lessons which are being taught by the teachers and by the interactions with other children.

I love Chesterton’s quote because it shows the value of passing life’s  lessons within a family context.  As mothers, we are our children’s most important teachers because we spend those critical first five years with our children, modeling the Christian faith to them, teaching them how to treat others, instructing them about manners, helping them to see the beauty of God’s creation and how they fit into His plan, and teaching them that there is a right and a wrong way of doing things.  These are the lessons which they will carry on into their adult lives, and subsequently, they will pass them on to their own children. Henry Brooks Adams said “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”. The same holds true with us being our children’s first teacher.  Our influence will affect many generations to come, and we will never know what kind of impact we have had at all. That is why it is so important that we approach each and every day with a prayer on our lips that we make this day a day in which the Lord directs all of our actions and words so that we can have a positive influence on our children, guiding them through their daily activities so that they can make choices based on their Christian upbringing as they grow and mature. 

This year, my youngest enters her senior year in high school and my oldest is a junior in college.  It’s an exciting time for my youngest as she makes decisions about her future.  It’s a time which is also filled with a touch of melancholy as her childhood draws to a close and she faces adulthood.  The transitions she is going through are exciting to watch, yet some anxiety is present as I watch her standing at the beginning of independence.  My oldest is switching to a new college and switching majors, and thus she is facing some major transitions as well.  I am certain she will excel in her new major, yet I know she must be feeling some anxiety as she starts out at a new college.  She is moving into her own apartment, thus giving her a lot of independence where she will be making her own choices and decisions which will have life-long implications.  My prayer for both of my daughters is that they stand firm in their faith, and that they remember the lessons I tried to instill in them over the years.  My prayer is that what they have learned will keep them on the path towards  goodness.  They must now seek out not only book-knowledge, but the knowledge of what God’s will is for their lives.  I pray that they are able to discern His will through prayer, and then embrace what His direction is for them. 

My job as a mother is far from over as my daughters go through this transition.  I must switch gears now, however, as they cross the bridge from childhood into adulthood.  I am learning how to let go, when to intervene, and when to pray the hardest!  I have learned that I must hand my children back over to God, and trust that He will keep them safe in His graces as they grow and mature.  So, I am still learning lessons myself, even though I have been out of school for a very long time.  I pray that I remain open to learning new things until the day I die.  I pray that my girls will continue to come to me for counsel when they are facing a rough time  or a tough decision.  I pray that their future holds many, many wonderful experiences, and that they learn how to place their trust in God as He directs them through life’s lessons. 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  Proverbs 1:7 NIV

©2008, Valerie Wolff

 

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Irreplaceable Treasures
Valerie Wolff, August 2008

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not healing, nor curing... that is a friend who cares. 
~Henri Nouwen

These past three months have been very difficult for me on many different levels – emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  Through it all, I have come to realize that I could not have done this alone.  I could not have faced those moments of despair and tremendous anxiety without a friend to just hold me. This kind of friendship understands and accepts without having to say a word.  A friend’s presence is all that is needed. The physical contact, the warm embrace, the loving glance conveys more than what any words possibly could. 

My friends have been a constant, steadying influence as I have ran the gamut of emotions – from anger to sadness to despair.  They have not tried to say things in order to make me feel better; rather, they knew that there were no words which could possibly make me feel better.  Their presence steadied my mood swings, and gave me the strength and courage to get through each and every day. 

I truly felt God’s presence within each encounter I had with a friend.  I felt His spirit work His magic of calming my fears, drying my tears, holding on to hope, and healing my breaking heart.  My friends taught me a valuable lesson on what being unselfish is all about. – they set aside their own time, dropped everything, whenever I would call. 

My closest friend is my husband.  I can honestly say that this crisis has deepened and strengthened our relationship in ways I never dreamed possible.  His uncanny ability to put things into perspective when I was literally losing it is a gift from God.  This reminds me of a quote by Robert South, “A true friend is a gift of God, and He only who made hearts can unite them.”  Our hearts, which have always been united in marriage, were united on a deeper level of friendship through all of this.  And I fell in love with him all over again. 

I have always recognized the value of friendship, but now I have learned how to truly treasure my friends. They are irreplaceable.  They are worth their weight in gold. I can see the face of God in every encounter in which I have with them. And so, I say, thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul, my dear friends. You have saved my life time and time again over the past three months.  Just know that I’ll be there for you should the need arise. God bless each and every one of you. 

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
- Proverbs 27:17

©2008, Valerie Wolff

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His Commands
Set Us Free

Valerie Wolff, July 2008

For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love to serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this:  Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Galatians 5 13-14, KJV

This freedom which God has given to us is also known as free will.  Along with free will comes the ability to make our very own decisions, and accept the consequences of those decisions.  Along with freedom, comes responsibility.  As George Bernard Shaw said, “Liberty means responsibility.  That is why most men dread it”. 

As parents, it is our responsibility to help mold our children’s characters so that as they get older and make their own decisions, they will understand the gravity of making the right decision, and the consequences each decision has.  Not only do they need to be taught how to weigh the pros and cons of each decision, but also how each decision will affect their relationship with others and with God.  The guiding principles of each decision we make are found within the Ten Commandments, and one of them was mentioned in the verse from Galatians above.  Does this decision I am making serve one another and the Lord, or does it hurt others and the Lord?  Some people argue that following the Ten Commandments actually inhibits our freedom of choice, but in actuality, it enhances this freedom because it eliminates all of the wrong kinds of choices we can make, thereby allowing us the freedom to choose wisely and without fear of sinning or hurting others.  Brigham Young was once quoted as saying, “True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what is right”.  

As Christians, we are called to use our freedom wisely.  In Galatians, we are asked to use it not to choose sin, but to choose the righteous path of love.   Freedom in Christ is the  freedom to love. 

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.  Psalm 118:5 (NIV)

This Fourth of July, we are reminded that our nation was founded by a group of Christians who were seeking to form a nation based on a foundation of religious freedom.  Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of  Jesus Christ!  For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here”. 

It serves us well, then, to remember all of those who sacrificed for our freedom – those who followed Christ’s example by giving their lives so that we could be free.  It’s important to keep all of these men and women in prayer, and to live each day with their sacrifice as our guiding principle to not take our freedom for granted.  To do any less than that would cheapen their sacrifice, and would dishonor their memory, and would make Christ’s and their sacrifice less meaningful. 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) 

©2008, Valerie Wolff

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A Good Daddy
Valerie Wolff, June 2008

What is a “good” father? I like Billy Graham’s definition the best:  A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.

Without fathers, where would we be? 

During this current crisis in my little family, my husband has once again proven what a truly wonderful father he is. His job has always been to protect his “little” girls, and he is trying his hardest to do just that right now. Both of us want to hold tightly to our oldest daughter to prevent her from harm, but the harder we hold, the more she resists.  So, we’ve had to let her go – yet, at the same time, my husband is helping to guide her through some very important steps as she asserts her independence. We have given her a strong foundation, and now the rest is up to her. As Anne Frank said, “How true Daddy’s words were when he said, ‘All children must look after their own upbringing’. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

I marvel at my husband’s  wisdom. I hurt when I see him cry. I lean on him – he has been my rock through all of this. He has proven his love for our family over and over and over again throughout the years – by unselfishly giving of his time and his devotion and his blood, sweat, and tears just to provide and care for us. Never once have I heard him complain about how many hours he has to work in order to give his family what they need – security. Never once have I heard him say that his time has been wasted on being a father and a husband. Never once have I heard him say he wants to give up and just walk away. His commitment to us is unfailing, and that has allowed me and our girls to live securely in the knowledge that he will be there for us, no matter what.  He’s an amazing man. 

He is a godly man, and gets his strength and courage from the Lord.  He prays fervently for our children, so that they make the right decisions in life and so that they follow God’s path.  As we watch our oldest stray from the path which the Lord has set out for her, rather than giving up on her, her father has decided to do the right thing – even though she doesn’t appreciate it or understand it – he has decided to keep her best interests at heart even though others are not doing so.  It pains him to see what she is doing right now, but ours is an unconditional love for our daughter, and we will be here when she needs us as she falls.  He shows great compassion for her, as it states in Psalms 103:13 (NIV), “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”  We pray that our daughter begins to feel her father’s compassion, begins to fear the Lord and start to shun the sins of selfishness and pride, and begin to make her way home to her family and her Lord.  It would be the best Father’s Day gift that my husband could ever receive – a humble and contrite daughter who wants to be a member of the family again. 

©2008, Valerie Wolff

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God's Answer
Valerie Wolff, May 2008

“What do girls do who haven’t any mothers
to help them through their troubles?” 

~Louisa May Alcott

I lost my mother when I was at the very vulnerable age of 14. Throughout the rest of my tumultuous and painful teenage years and on into young adulthood, I had to find my own way through the maze without a mother’s tender touch, or her wisdom, or her love, or even her nagging and preaching. I was a lost and sad little soul for so long. 

So, to answer the question above from the author of “Little Women,” this girl had a very difficult time without anybody there to help me through my troubles. I was actually jealous of my friends who had their moms, and couldn’t figure out why they complained so much about them! 

Several years later, after being a mom for 16 years, my oldest daughter became ill with lupus. I remember asking God “why?”  Why did TP have to go through all of this physical and emotional pain?  Why did He choose me, out of all of the thousands of adoptive moms out there who could have become TP’s mom, to be THE one? 

He answered me in a way which has humbled me ever since.  He told me that it was because I had what TP needed the most in a mom—that I was chosen especially for TP because I would be able to help her through that particular storm in her life, and help to make her stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

A few months ago, when my youngest daughter faced turbulent times, I went to the Lord again and asked him why DQ enourmous crosses to bear, and what I could do to help carry the weight on her shoulders  Again He replied that all I could do for DQ is to just be the mom that she needs me to be—loving, kind, supportive—and that He’d be right there next to me, giving me the strength to get through the challenges I was facing with all of DQ’s problems.  

And now, I am going through what is probably the most difficult trial of all with my oldest daughter refusing to accept my help, my love, my guidance, and turning her back on all that we hold dear in our life—our faith, our values, our family. What hurts so much is that I would have given anything in the world to have had a mom at her age, and now she is so ungrateful for anything and everything I have ever done for her. She is rebelling, she is angry, she deliberately tries to hurt me with her words and actions. 

Yet, through it all, I am reminded that I am still HERE to help her with her troubles, if she so chooses. The door is always open for her return. I am reminded of God’s answer that He chose me to be her mom—and that my job isn’t finished yet by any means. This is just another one of the storms of her life which I am supposed to help her through. But I feel so helpless this time around.  

I am going through this persecution of sorts because she is still so angry about her illness and how it affected her in her most vulnerable years, she is still so afraid to be alone that she’ll do anything to hang on to things and people which lead her astray, and even though she is healed physically she hasn’t healed emotionally from her illness. And she is taking all of this out on me. I have to stand here with broad shoulders and take it all in, just as Christ did when He was being persecuted, and then I have to forgive. And forgive. And forgive again. And always, love her and be there, just in case she needs me. 

So, on this Mother’s Day, I am thinking of my mom, whom I miss so much.  I certainly could use some of her motherly loving and comforting and touch. I'm watching my younger girl slowly heal from a ton of pain and blossom into a beautiful young woman. And with pain and anguish in my heart, I'm waiting with bated breath for my Prodigal daughter’s return. Such a myriad of emotions, which I am sure that each mother has gone through at some point in her life, but I happen to be going through all of them at once!

On this Mother’s Day, all I can say is be grateful for your children when they are young and sweet. Be grateful for your children when they are healthy or ill. Be grateful for your children when they are good and virtuous, or when they have taken the wrong path. Our jobs as mothers are to love and let go—and be there when they return. 

Eventually, I'm certain, that each of my girls will come to realize why God chose me to be their mom. And maybe they will turn out to be a “mean” mom, just like me.  But what I’d really like to know is if, in 30 or 40 years from now, they'll miss me as much as I miss my mom. 

The circle of life is mysterious. And my legacy, I hope, will be one of simply being “my kids’ mom”. 

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed”. ~ Proverbs 31:28

I want to especially thank my kids’ birth moms. May you have a blessed day, and know that you are in our prayers everyday. 

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Springtime Promise
Valerie Wolff, April 2008

As I am writing this column about springtime, a blizzard is swirling, hurling snow and wind against my warm and snug house. Spring seems like such a long way off. But its promises beckon me to contemplate the next season--the promise of new birth, of an awakening of the earth from the dead of winter into the aliveness of spring, of shaking away the dirt and mustiness of my life and opening up to God’s refreshing light and His promise of a new life with Him.

Spring offers us the chance to start anew, to let go of the past, and to plant seeds for the future. As a mother, I have had to “plant seeds” within my daughters as they have grown through many seasons--from sweet little babies, to temperamental toddlers, to curious kids, and to turbulent (yet terrific!) teenagers. Some of these seeds were tossed to the side, others have already blossomed, and many are still taking root. This natural progression of growing through seasons can be painful, at times, but exciting to watch and challenging to manage. 

I am reminded of a verse from Psalms 126:5, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”. There have been many tears shed as I have tried to sow the seeds of wisdom and discipline, but now I can see where those tears were well worth the pain because my daughters are becoming beautiful Christian women who bring joy to those whom they touch. They have learned that suffering consequences--while not “fun”--has helped to build their character and shape their values.  “Sow for yourself righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord.” - Hosea 10:12  

My daughters are in the spring of their lives, where their whole lives lie ahead of them, full of promise.  It is their time to begin sowing their own seeds, and to seek the Lord in their lives every day. 

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vine with the tender grape, give a good smell.  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away”.
~ Song of Solomon chII, v. 11-12

So, arise, my loves, my fair ones, and follow God’s springtime promise of everlasting life by following his commandments and allowing those seeds of love and faith to blossom in your hearts and souls.  I shall watch over you and pray for you and love you for now and forever, and delight in watching you grow strong in God’s graces. 

©2008, Valerie Wolff

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God's Little Girls
Valerie Wolff, February 2008

Twenty years ago, we were in the process of waiting for our first child to be born. We knew it was going to be a girl, and we knew exactly what her name was going to be.  The lawyer cautioned us about not preparing a room for her, because he said he had seen where adoptions fell through, and thus if that happened to us, a completed room would only be a painful reminder of not having a child.  But, my husband and I had  such peace about the process of adopting this child, and we knew in our hearts that she would be coming home with us to stay. The love we had for her already was amazing, and we prayed for her safe delivery and her mother’s physical and emotional health throughout the months ahead.

On the first day of spring that year, our daughter was born.  The name she was given was her great grandmother’s name, and to this day, it is a name that she wears with pride.  She has grown in beauty and grace, knowing God’s love, knowing her birth mother’s love, and knowing our love and our families’ love.  This love has helped her through many crises – physical and emotional and spiritual – and has brought her to her childhood’s end and womanhood’s beginning. 

Our second girl was born almost three years later towards the end of winter, and when we picked her up from her foster home, there was a blizzard outside.  When our first daughter laid eyes on the baby, she walked over to her little sister, patted her on the head and said “I want her, let’s take her home”.  And thus began their sisterly relationship, based on the oldest being very overprotective, and the youngest being fiercely independent – hence, creating a “loving” atmosphere of constant bickering and yet extreme loyalty towards each other.  This daughter, too, has known the love of God, her birth mother, her family and her extended family – and she has grown up with the knowledge that love is not based on the color of a person’s skin.  During her childhood, she faced many obstacles, and as her childhood is drawing to a close, she has grown stronger knowing that she is a child of God, adopted twice.

I’ve often been asked how I can love another woman's child as if she was my very own. That question often puzzles me, because love is love, regardless of whose blood is flowing in a person’s veins.  The minute I saw each of my girls – even before that time – I loved them with a strong and protective and fierce love.  As an adoptive mom, I know that I have been given a selfless gift from another woman – her own flesh and blood.  I honor that gift each and every day by keeping her in my prayers, and by raising her daughter with the same motherly love she has and in a way which would make her proud of her daughter. When my daughters go to meet their birth moms someday, I want these special women to know that their daughters were loved as if my daughters were “my very own”. 

I’m standing now at the end of their childhood, and I’m learning how to let go. When they were little, I vowed I would never let go of them, but now I know how unrealistic that vow was because it was based on fear and not on love.  I must let them go, so that they can embrace their lives as their own and touch other people’s lives with God’s love inside their hearts. 

©2008, Valerie Wolff

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My Beginning of Always
Valerie Wolff, January 2008

A soft whisper speaking to my soul. A gentle tug on my heart.  A beckoning to return to Him, to seek His truth and wisdom and guidance in all ways. A quiet reminder to turn all things over to Him--to let go and let God. 

The past few years, my faith has been tested on many levels. There were times I wavered, or was overcome with anxiety and fear and doubt, or was consumed with exhaustion and anger, or isolated myself from others, because I didn’t have the energy to reciprocate or give anything back to the relationship. But lately, I have noticed that God is speaking to me in ways which are letting me know it is time to renew myself and allow Him to touch that part of my soul which is so afraid and angry.  It is time for me to overcome this huge obstacle of  exhaustion and to start anew in my faith journey with Him by my side.  It is time to replace the suffering with hope that He will be here with me, every step of the way, as I make some necessary changes in my life.  As it says in Romans, 5:3-4, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  NIV

I must admit that I am tired of all the trials and tribulations. I must admit I haven’t prayed as faithfully as I should have through it all. I must admit I didn’t sit still and just try to listen to what God had to say to me. I usually just plowed ahead and did what I thought was the right thing to do, because I needed to feel in control of my situation that was so much out of my control. My husband losing his job and as a result almost all of our financial resources, my daughter developing lupus and almost losing her life, my youngest being so psychologically scarred from being the victim of racial prejudice, and my physical and emotional turmoil--all of these situations I had absolutely no control over. I am now to the point, though, where I realize that I can’t hang on to these events anymore and use them as excuses for not being able to open myself back up again to God’s loving embrace.  He wants what is best for me, and what is best for me, is to give up being focused on “poor me”.  He wants me to stop being so selfish and to challenge myself to reach out to others to help them through similar situations rather than isolate myself. He wants me to find joy and hope in my life again rather than to face each day with a dreaded sense of resignation. 

My New Year resolution is that I will vow to look at each and every new day as my beginning of always.  “The beginning of wisdom is silence.  The second step is listening”. (Author unknown).  What I resolve to do is begin each day with a prayer to ask God what His will is for my day. I will end the prayer with a period of silence so that I can then truly LISTEN to what it is that God has in his plans for me. For truly, if each day is my beginning of always, then I must do His will so that my “always” will be spent with Him in eternity.  

Carl Brand once said “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending”.  I can’t change the past decisions and actions I have made, which may have hurt God or people whom I love or even strangers I’ve never known. But what I can do, is live with the realization that each decision and each action I do make have the power to affect the ending of my story. I can choose to live with bitterness and anger, or I can choose to live with gratitude and compassion. I can choose to live in isolation, or I can choose to reach out and give of myself. I can choose to be exhausted, or I can choose to ask God for strength and courage to face each day with enthusiasm and joy. I want my “ending” to reflect God’s glory in my life, and so I begin this new year with hope that I can serve God in all ways and to find His purpose for my life. 

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”.  James 1:2-4

I wish you and yours a blessed New Year.  Thank you for blessing my life with your support and love. 

©2008, Valerie Wolff


 

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