Taking Her From The Streets

[Continuing my train of thought from yesterday …]

Moments of insecurity reveal my street-raised daughter to have a bark louder than her bite. As we learn Him, He teaches us about her and it’s here that we’re finding her gentleness.

Months ago, we started praying into her the opposite of what we were perceiving from her behavior. We weren’t looking to directly oppose what we saw, but as we asked Him for understanding into her heart, we realized that much of the whirlwind around her was borne from inertia. She had a dormant beauty that never had reason to surface.

And I’ve had too many years taking gulps of worst-case scenario expectations, lived-out. This time, I would try His perspective, first. We prayed it, said it, spoke it over her, and to her. And to ourselves. He was bringing forth beauty, refinement, gentleness. All the things one might say she wasn’t is what we believed He was saying she is.

And His Word speaks a better way.

One particular morning, Eden crawled into my lap and confessed yet another grievance. Hope was “hurting her heart.” It was not a surprise; I’d witnessed some of what she was referencing.

We talked it out. God was clearly using this to develop compassion in Eden’s heart for the broken. As we wrapped up our conversation I said, “Let’s pray and ask God how He sees Hope. Let’s ask Him to give us His eyes for her.”

We prayed, waited, listened.

Eden broke the silence: “Elegant. The word ‘elegant’ came to me, Mommy.” Though tucked away in a book we’d read months ago, it’s not a part of our everyday vocabulary. He spoke through the mouth of a six year-old babe to confirm the course we’d charted in prayer. He was making Hope new and even telling her siblings about it. Beauty initiated by Him, before our naked eyes could see it.

And He is doing it, friends. Under our roof is a greenhouse. It’s messy at times, this workroom of ours, but I can’t ignore the growth. Dirt giving birth to life. New shoots are everywhere and before long it’ll be spring.

I’ve heard from many of you whose stories take on a different shape, but the plight is the same. We share the scars of motherhood, both  for children who have been adopted, and those home-grown. You’ve cultivated the dirt and are waiting for spring. You have a Hope in your home and your heart sits, tentative about how to respond. As you wait on her — that “her” for you — might I humbly share some of His counsel to me:

Talk about her beauty, even behind closed-doors. Make it a part of your vernacular. “I can’t say that,” Nate replied to my bleak assessment of the situation, one day. He saw the end, where I was taking stock of the beginning. Nate has been the gatekeeper of our language. I need this.

What we declare — out of fear — in private becomes much easier to believe in her presence. To be her advocate, even closed-door conversations need to come back to the beauty He is bringing forth. To be her advocate, our understanding of her future must be rooted in the promises of His Word. There is no true advocacy apart from Him.

And the power of life and death lies in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

Pray up and in. Adoration was the tool He gave me, early, for this task. To tear down the walls of lies around her heart and life (maybe even spoken over her before her birth) you must first erect Truth in your own life. Battling this blind, is not knowing who He is over your life and your family.

The only perspective that will stand, is His perspective.

Pray His Word back to Him, say His Word back to Him, paste it over your life. And as it takes root in your heart, which it will — because it’s alive — you’ll find it easier to pray it into her.

His Word will be her reality if you just open the door. Morning, noon, and night. It’s waiting. He’s ready-available to re-write your understanding.

Ask Him how He sees her. All day long you will be tempted to be the thermometer on her life. Her behavior has calcified how she sees herself and the enemy is hot on your trail to make you believe the same. In your pain, do not indulge your fear. Much of what you “feel” may actually be in direct opposition to what His Word says is true.

There is no better time than now to sit cross-legged in front of your fireplace, with moleskin journal in hand and a perspective ready to be molded, and ask Him the question that will unlock her heart: Father, how do you see her? Be prepared to take note … with your life.

Tell her who she is and set up memorials around when she walks it out. Behind ten of Hope’s missteps is one heart-move towards beauty. We celebrate the one. When it comes, we acknowledge it, that night we recall it, the next morning we lift it up as the first step in a pattern that will come. “Hope, remember how you cleared Caleb’s plate for him yesterday? That was awesome! Are you ready to do that again today? Let’s ask Jesus to show you more opportunities to love your siblings well today.”

It’s likely she lives covered under a blanket of shame — she’s been telling herself or hearing others remind her what a problem she is. You get to be Jesus’ eyes and search below the dirt for early signs of growth.

Don’t be afraid to respond to and discipline for the ten. “He disciplines those He loves.” (Hebrews 12:6). Teaching this kind of love — His kind of love — is not pretending there isn’t a chasm of sin to cross or fantasizing a person into reality. Love stares deep into dark and through dark to find beauty. She needs to know you know her dark, and that it will not stand, in order to trust you when you tell her you see beauty. Isn’t that so with us and the Lord?

She needs to know and expect your loving-but-firm response to her sin, as she’s desperate for another’s guardrails on her life. Kids long for guardrails — unchanging guardrails, the same ones yesterday as there will be tomorrow. Children were never intended by Him to control their surroundings.

Be consistently consistent, it’s her safety.

Treat her like the daughter she is, not the orphan she was is the motto in our home.

When her behavior makes you want to retreat, take that as your cue to engage. Restoration love isn’t threatened by sin, it’s activated. When you take a step towards pouring out what you don’t have, He pours in. Give her the love your flesh can’t conjure. Give her the love that requires His overshadowing. He will surprise you, I promise.

Press in. These days are not her days to grow if they aren’t, first, your days to grow. It isn’t “when you get through this” that you’ll find Him. Now is your greatest opportunity to thrive.

These incidents are not accidents and the heart-pain they reveal in you is bigger than your circumstances. As He heals her orphan heart, He is healing yours too. Both are on His radar.

Slow down. Pour out to Him; He can handle your chest-heaving cries. And receive. He has gold for you in this season. And that gold is a greater depth of communion with Him.

And, finally, tell the story. His story. His final word is never doubt, despair or destruction. The testimony of Jesus is being written on your watch. Speak it out as such. When you get the look of pity from a friend who doesn’t quite understand your pain, tell her you are blessed, because you are.

Mamas, these are not your worst days, these days are fodder for a work that will leave you forever changed.

Perspective is everything.

And we get to turn in our frail human constructs of God for His. This is the best of times.


Second photo compliments of Lucy O’ Photo.

View All Posts

13 Responses to “Taking Her From The Streets”

  1. christina felten on

    Sara, this post was right on! thank you for being such an encouraging voice for those of us who need daily doses of perspective. this is a concept that we need to dive into with our daughter. trusting in His healing!

  2. Cindy on

    So good, and so helpful, Sara. We’re dealing with some out-of-the-blue regression with K right now and it is so hard. Praying for God’s vision here and for you there.

  3. Apple Plotnick Jannotta on

    Hi Sara and Nate,

    Lovely post! I’m sharing your site with some friends who are thinking of adopting as well. I love your beautiful writing style Sara, and please tell Nate I said Hi and I just got married two weeks ago today! 🙂

  4. Lisa on

    Beautiful and Inspiring.

    We have been home for six months with our Sons 6 and 10, and are hoping to have our daughters, 7 and 8, home by June.

    I am both excited and afraid of the changes that will take place. We were blessed to have not run into any of the issues so many families experience with older child adoption. Life is smooth right now, full of a lot of love, laughter, and fun. That of course is not to say there are not “moments” but they are natural child/parental assertion to be expected moments.

    I have a feeling in my heart that when we bring our baby girls home things will not be nearly the same. I don’t mean the natural transition that comes along with growing a family, but that my girls will be wounded in such a way that we will encounter what, up until now, we have not had to experience.
    I feel as if God is preparing me for a rough road ahead, and I am so thankful that he is doing this. I am not a doom and gloom momma, I don’t go down the road of self fulfilling propecies that are negative, but this feeling is more of a certatinty, as if we had an ultrasound and the Dr said your child has this, or that. It seems factual to me. I am ok with this, because I know that come what may it is all in Gods plan.

    This is one of the many reasons I absolutely love reading your thoughts, experiences, and feelings. Through you God is preparing me, giving me strength, reassurance, hope, and perspective.

    My prayer for you Sara, is that you continue your writing. You touch many, many lives, and are making a difference in this World.

    Thank You,

  5. Erin on

    I love this post. I even took notes!! We’ve been home 1 month from Ethiopia with our 2 beautiful daughters, and this post is right on. So many of the thoughts I’ve had and such truth to combat lies.

    Thanks so much!

Recent Blog Posts

The Illusion of Fame

My sister was on homecoming court two years in a row. For many, that means nothing, but when you grow up in middle America (where the best of life happens under the Friday night lights), homecoming court makes celebrities out of seventeen year-olds. I was in the seventh grade then. And I knew I wanted to follow her. This was…

Hidden {… but not unseen}

Sometimes you need to live a moment three, or four … or seven times, before you see that it’s purposed. We were 23 minutes late for the party that was only planned to last for two hours. I know, because I counted each minute that passed and had eyes only for the digital clock in my car at every single…

Why the Times You Feel Unseen by the World May be the Best Times of Your Life

“He said He loves me, Mommy,” my daughter Hope told me as I tucked her in, her words whispered with her hand to her mouth and cupped around my ear. Apparently, it was a secret. And I remembered her first dance recital, not long after we’d adopted her. She had practiced her routine in and out of class for a…

At 40, What I Would Say to My Twenty Year-Old Self

My diploma was still in an unopened manilla envelope on my apartment desk when I stood in front of a crowd of 300 sets of smiling eyes to tell them about what I’d committed to doing for the rest of my life. Though I didn’t say it in so many words, at twenty-two I knew I wanted to change the…

Jesus Calls You Beautiful

When I heard from Dee Brestin that she was writing a book about His love for us as demonstrated in the Song of Songs I thought: “I have to get my hands on this book.” And it did not disappoint. Several times as I read the pages of her book it was as if He was near enough for me to…