Helicopter Mom, You’re Creating a Draft


, , , , ,


Controlling for Take-Off

When my daughter was raising little ones, I first heard of the helicopter analogy. It paints a picture of a fussing, overly solicitous mom who is fearful to let Tommy toddler try anything new without the constant whirring of her benevolent blades. Then, just as the helicopter hovers over its occupants even after they have disembarked, so we often continue trying to control our children even when they are grown and gone, creating the kind of draft that causes our offspring to duck out of the way. The current is often so great that they feel helpless to be free of its influence—an influence that haunts them and continues to disturb their adult lives. If they do get away, they don’t come back.


We hover because we think we can preside over all the eventualities of our children’s lives. Of course genuine, responsible guidance is essential, especially to ensure the physical welfare of a small child. But we often go beyond what’s necessary, thinking that if only we stay near to oversee, then we will be able to make sure no evil befalls them.

We are often unaware that the draft we cause with our fussing actually blows our children off course and out of the wind of the Spirit who is directing their lives. Someone once compiled a list of a few examples of how our natural proclivities as mothers sometimes get in the way of the greater good:

•    Being a mother is wanting to pick up your children each time they fall, but teaching them to pick themselves up instead.
•    Being a mother is wanting to keep them from all hurt and harm, but knowing that they must be taught to take care of themselves.
•    Being a mother is wanting to give them the best of everything, but knowing they will value life more if they wait and work for many of their rewards.

My own mothering life is replete with illustrations of yours truly as Helicopter Mom. Many years ago, one of our sons was living alone some distance from us, where he was working just before going to college. From every communication I had with him, it appeared that his life was one catastrophe after another. Following one telephone conversation, I slumped down into the chair saying, “God, please do something.”

The response was swift and searing: “I will, if you get out of the way!”

I was dumbfounded. God could do it!—without my fretting, cajoling, or even sending care packages. And He did. In the heavenly Parent’s own good time, all the issues were resolved—car finally up and running, rent money provided, fingers healed from a nasty accident—and my son took another step on the journey of trusting the God who is everywhere, rather than a mother who is not.

Our love is limited and lacks the divine perspective. As such, our attempts to control can result in over-involvement in our children’s lives that ranges from the ridiculous, like the mother who wanted to go on her daughter’s honeymoon, to the more sinister situation of the son who felt constrained to call his mother when sexual temptation with his fiancée threatened to overtake him. Such was the extent of the toxicity in that unhealthy mother-son relationship. Kenneth M. Adams poses a piercing question for our consideration:

Did you have a parent whose love for you felt more confining than freeing, more demanding than giving, more intrusive than nurturing?

We are in a wonderfully privileged position, and we may well be our child’s best, and most trusted, friend. We do have the responsibility to be available to listen, guide, and model, but our best efforts cannot preside over every outcome. Our calling is simply to stand, confident of the supremacy of God as their perfect Parent. If we stand still, we do not create unwanted currents.

We do the best by our children when we cultivate calmness and model faith instead of fretting and manipulating. As we learn to relinquish our need for control, we are free to love more unconditionally and lend support, rather than running to the rescue. When we allow our children, no matter how little they are, to take responsibility for their own behaviors, we facilitate the flow of health, wholeness, and wisdom in their lives. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, an eighteenth-century writer, rightly said, “A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”

Let’s start early to lift off in our helicopters so our children can run clear of the whirring blades and have the opportunity to know only the wind of God’s Spirit as their guiding force.

Alice Scott-Ferguson is a Scottish-born freelance writer, author, and motivational speaker who lives in Arizona. She writes from her heart as a wife, mother, grandmother, and Christ-follower. Among other books, she is the author of Mothers Can’t Be Everywhere, But God Is : A Liberating Look at Motherhood, from which this post is extracted.


May Day Memory




The first day of May always reminds me of my mother and May Day flower baskets.

When my sister and I were little, Mother helped us make tiny baskets with handles out of paper cups on May Day. Then we filled the baskets with whatever flowers we could find — from neighborhood gardens, along sidewalks, and “wildflowers” from the vacant lot and alley. Then we’d sneak up onto the front porches of the neighbors’ houses, ring the doorbell, then dash behind a bush to hide. The lady of the house would find the basket of flowers on her door and exclaim how lovely and “I wonder who gave me these beautiful flowers?! That was sooo nice of them.”

We’d tingle with delight, sure that she had no idea who left them. Actually she had probably been watching through her window as we picked a few of her flowers to add to the bouquet. But she went along with the “magic” and really made this rite of spring special for us.

Thank you, Mother, for teaching me the joy of such simple things like surprising the neighbors with a few spring flowers on May Day.

Mother, Make the Most of Today


, , , , , ,

Pink-graphicAre you fully engaged in your current stage of motherhood? Or are you focused on getting through this stage of life and reaching the next, longing for personal space and time to pursue your own ambitions? Can’t wait for your toddlers to be potty trained so you can put them in preschool? Can’t wait until your teen learns to drive so you can do something besides commuting kids to lessons, games, church activities?

Remember: Today is the day the Lord has made (Ps. 118:24). The opportunity for bonding with your child, teaching him the values you hold dear, and just plain enjoying him or her and creating memories to cherish and build on, is now!

One author who speaks compassionately to these sometimes-challenging aspects of motherhood is author and speaker, Alice Scott-Ferguson. During the week leading up to Mother’s Day, Alice will be our guest blogger. She will share her motherhood-affirming and faith-affirming insights.

Watch for Alice’s guest posts in the coming week, and enjoy!

Whether you are nursing a newborn, mothering a house full of teens, or enjoying grandchildren, live in the grace-filled moment of God’s “now time.”

A Mother With Alzheimer’s


, , ,


“Can a mother forget … the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15, NIV).

I was in my thirties the day I was visiting my Grandma (pictured above as a young woman holding her firstborn twins). Now in her eighties, she lived alone since Grandpa had died. I lived close enough to enjoy occasional lunch-time visits with Grandma, and she always delighted in giving me news updates on all her family members (many of whom were in the pastoral ministry). That day I didn’t come for lunch, as one of her greatest joys—serving delicious meals to guests—had become too taxing for her.

This day I sat on her living-room couch. She stood nearby, pointing to a photo atop the old, upright piano.

“They tell me that’s my daughter. But I don’t know her,” Grandma told me.

“Grandma! That’s Aunt Cathy. She’s my daddy’s twin sister. She’s your eldest daughter,” I cried.

Grandma had always been so strong, bright, and capable. When things like this started happening, it took the family a while to catch on. Finally, one day one of my aunts received a call. Grandma had been found wandering, lost in a neighborhood quite a distance from her home. She was carrying Sunday School literature that she had the idea she should take to people in this new neighborhood. But she became disoriented, confused, frightened, and dehydrated.

It was not easy to get her out of her home, take away her independence, and finally have to place her in an Alzheimer’s facility. She resisted and we wondered what happened to our sweet, loving mother and grandmother. But with proper, secure living arrangements and medical care, she lived into her nineties. Though she could no longer say our names or remember anything since her childhood, and we struggled to make sense of the things she said to us, her face always lit up when she saw us coming. She knew we were “hers” and she seemed encouraged by our visits.

My father drove down from another state to visit her as often as he could.

In these situations we often ask, “Why, Lord? What good could possibly result from this?”

It was hardest for my aunts. But my dad actually received a beautiful, healing experience during his visits to his mother.

After she got past the belligerent stage many go through in early Alzheimer’s, the traits that came to the fore were her ministry mindset (she had been a pastor’s wife) and concern for other people. Her mind decided that if all these people had gathered in one place, it must be a church gathering or campmeeting time. And all these people would need to be fed! She talked about getting a bunch of chickens and putting them in a big pot to cook for these hungry people who were milling in the halls and sitting in the common areas.

Grandma had worked hard all her life. Daddy had probably never before had opportunities to just sit with his mother and be with her. I tell in Journeys to Mother Love about Grandma being “different” as a child because her father was half American Indian; about her beauty and gentleness but stoicism. How she never held Daddy on her lap as a small child. (He tells me he has no memory of being hugged or ever told the words, “I love you.”)

Now, after Alzheimer’s took away Grandma’s inhibitions, she sat close to him and reached over and held his hand. Even though she couldn’t say his name or talk about common memories, my father, now in his mid-sixties, experienced for the first time these expressions of mother love. A healing balm was applied to the painful memories of an emotionally-crippling childhood.

Our Lord is working through everything in our lives to bring us healing and wholeness. As our heavenly parent, he never forgets. He is ever mindful of us, ever reaching for us, ever expressing His love, even through the unlikely means of a terrible disease like Alzheimer’s.

~Catherine Lawton

A Letter to Mom


, ,


Dear Mom,

I am writing your birthday letter early this year. I have so much to tell you, and it can’t wait until June. The sad news is Dee had a stroke. I couldn’t talk her into taking better care of her health. She is improving every day. I know how fond you were of her—your first grandchild. I appreciate how much you helped me when she was born 73 years ago.

Now, the good news. Remember I told you I was writing a historical novel? It is finished and accepted by Rockinghorse Publishing, and printed! I bet you would love it. Do you think that is an odd name for a publishing company? I do, but it is easy to remember. Water Under the Bridge is a work of fiction, but a lot of it mirrors our life when we lived in Claypool, Arizona. I tell about the time we went to see the first aeroplane, and also the couple in the book had to convert the parlor into a small store because of the Great Depression. I also mention your voting dress and how it got its name.

I already told you how I was published in an anthology, Journeys to Mother Love. Well, it is selling well. One of the nine authors whose stories are in the book, Ardis Nelson, contacted me by email. She is also writing to her dead mother. It would be nice if you could find her in Heaven, don’t you think? Ardis and I are becoming friends. Ardis promised to pray for Dee and for my joints. Isn’t that sweet of her?

Oh, yes, Larry is getting married this month. They wanted me to fly out to Oregon for the wedding, but I’ve decided against it. The last time I tried to fly, Missouri had a snow storm and we were stuck in the airport for 12 hours. The first plane we boarded developed problems and we had to get off while they tried to repair the damage—with no luck. What an unpleasant experience.

You get a chance, beam down and we’ll attend Easter services together. That would be a blast. I’m going to the covered bridge again this year. Leave me a message, if you can—maybe plant a wildflower on the spot where you rested the day we went there with Lewis, or place a rabbit close by. But no copperheads, please.

My eyes hurt. I’ll close for now. I love you and will soon join you and all the others whom I miss. Tell Irene when you see her—tell her I’m coming. Soon!


 ~Verna Hill Simms

The Power of Sharing Your Deepest Secrets 


, , , , ,

Sad and lonely woman's face

Secret shame keeps us isolated

My parents and I were in Las Vegas the first time I shared my abortion story with them. We were there for some fun and cheering up. I had just returned from South Korea, having traveled there with my husband to teach English as a second language after we graduated from college. But now I was home from that year, my husband was still in Pusan, and we were getting a divorce. I was feeling like a failure and hurting because I suspected my husband of infidelity. I felt abandoned—just like I had felt when my unborn child’s father had told me he wanted to break off our relationship six months after we had chosen abortion for our baby.

My parents and I sat in our hotel room, talking about my failed marriage and how I felt about it. The conversation trailed off and my mom filled the silence. “Honey, I just don’t understand what happened to you. You left our home with all kinds of self confidence, but somewhere between then and now, you seem to have lost it all.”

I looked down, not really knowing what to say. I knew what had happened to me, but I had never shared it with my parents. Abortion had happened to me. I had gotten pregnant, chosen abortion, and decided I was damaged goods. The baby’s father and I had broken off our relationship, and I had met and married a man who didn’t always exhibit the highest moral character. Now, a year later, I was getting a divorce.

“I never told you guys this, but….” my voiced cracked as the flood of emotion swelled. “I got pregnant when I was a freshman in college and I had an abortion.” My silent tears began to fall. Never once meeting their eyes, I continued, “I thought I didn’t deserve anyone better, so I married Sam.”

My parents both sat in stunned silence. When I finally mustered the courage to look up again, my mom said, “You know we don’t think any less of you for making that choice, right? I probably would have suggested the same solution. But you should have told us. You shouldn’t have had to go through that alone.”

“I was so scared to disappoint you.” I said. “You were so proud of me for going to college. I didn’t want to ruin all my chances at a bright future.”

“We are proud of you,” my dad said, “and this doesn’t change that.”

My tears fell freely now. All I could manage to say was, “Thank you.” I got up from where I was sitting and hugged them both. I had imagined this conversation in my mind so many times, and this was the best scenario I could imagine. There was no judgement, only concern and love.

We talked more about what had happened. Sharing details with them was uncomfortable, but it was freeing to no longer carry such a big secret. At least they could understand now why I had seemed to lose myself.

Since then, for the past 15 years, I’ve been finding myself again. One thing I’ve discovered is telling those you love your secrets has an amazing power to free you. We keep secrets because we are afraid of rejection and judgement. But the truth is our secrets imprison us more than someone’s rejection ever could. At the end of the day, if a loved one can’t overlook a bad decision we’ve made, that is their choice,  but we don’t have to allow that to control how we feel about ourselves. Their choice does not define who I am.

Keeping a secret could, however, prevent me from being honest with the ones I love, thereby limiting the intimacy in the relationship. If you never share your whole self, both good and bad, how can you ever fully open your heart? You might not be able to count on a loved one not judging you for your past mistakes, such as an abortion. Free yourself from the secret-keeping anyway.

~ Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton

“You’re Just Like Your Mother”


, , , , , , , , , ,

Mom's visit

Just like my mother: a rare photo of my mother, me and my oldest son, 1996

“You’re just like your mother!” Those words and that fear have been engrained in my mind and my psyche throughout my adulthood. They were like a blemish on my face that screamed for attention every time I got a glance of myself in the mirror. Not literally, but that’s how often the message surfaced.

I didn’t want to be anything like my mother! That comparison brought too much embarrassment, too much shame. After all, she was mentally ill.

My fears started as a teen. Whether you’re an adult (who once was a teen) or the parent of a teen, you know the feelings of embarrassment that can arise. As teens start to separate from their parents, test their independence, and explore who they are, they veer away from parental input and advice. They don’t want to be seen with their parents. And they certainly don’t want public displays of affection!

A recent episode of “The Goldbergs” addressed this very uncomfortable situation in a comical manner. Beverly, the mother in this sitcom family, which takes place in the 1980s, is always intervening—or interfering—in her teenage children’s lives. It is humorous and most often embarrassing— as you can see in this short, video scene: Beverly Catches Erica Hanging with the Cool Mom.

Fast forward to the present day and age of social media where the tables have turned. I’m now the parent of 17 and 21 year-old sons. Is it cool to be friends with your children on Facebook? And if you are friends, is it OK to ‘like’ or comment on their posts?

In my family, there is an unwritten rule: no tagging and no comments. Uploading photos are a rare treat for me. In other families, I’ve seen how they bring the good-hearted ribbing and familial connection that they share at home into the online community. I do respect the boundaries established in my family on social media interaction, although it does take some fun out of the experience.

I’ve come to realize that any embarrassment that my sons may feel due to my maternal behavior is normal. I don’t want to project the embarrassment I felt related to my mother’s behavior onto them or fuel the voice inside my head that says, “You’re just like your mother!”

However, my embarrassment with my mother was more than the normal parent/child phase of growth and maturing. My embarrassment and shame was rooted in private and public displays of her mental illness. I witnessed some pretty erratic and unhealthy behaviors from my mother during my teenage years. At times they can still haunt me.

As I wrote in “Walking my Mother Home,” my story in Journeys to Mother Love, I experienced huge identity revelations and healing with the passing of my mother in 2011. What I realized then and continue to see in new ways since her passing, is that I am just like my mother. I’ve had to separate the good traits from the bad ones. And I’ve learned to embrace those parts of me where she made a positive influence.

Four years later, I can proudly say, “It’s OK to be like my mother.”

Have you been embarrassed by your parents? Have you ever embarrassed your kids? Where are you on the spectrum of becoming just like your mother? We’d love to hear a little of your story in the comments below.

~Ardis A. Nelson

Adopted Siblings ~ A Special Closeness


, , , , , , ,

From this picture, you'd never know they get sideways with each other!

You’d never know they get sideways with each other from this picture!

At age ten and seven, my sweet children have just begun to bicker. You know, incessant arguments about nothing. I guess I should feel grateful that it took them this long (some kids begin way before this), but maybe that’s why this behavior hurts my heart so much. Growing up as an only child, I always longed for a brother or sister and felt so lonely without a built-in playmate. My husband, on the other hand, can’t remember a time when his only brother ever wanted to play with him. My husband was always just the annoying little bother. Sadly, he and his brother never really outgrew this dynamic. Worse yet, their relationship potential was tragically stopped short when my husband’s brother passed away before his time. Now he will never have a chance to feel what it is like to have a close sibling. While I know my husband’s scenario is unfortunate and hopefully not the norm, it still lingers in the back of my mind each time my kids argue with each other. I am certain my husband’s parents tried to foster a good sibling relationship between the boys. Somehow, though, it never worked. I don’t want this for my kids. I want them to stay close throughout their lives and to value each other.

I think it is especially important since they are both adopted. My ten-year-old daughter is just now beginning to ask deeper questions about her adoption, about her birth parents, and about her birth. I work really hard to answer every question as honestly as possible, letting her know there are no “off limit” questions. I am under no illusions, however, that both my children will always feel secure enough to discuss the things they wonder about. I am hoping there will come a time when my daughter and son can talk together through these types of adoption-related issues. I’m hoping they can be traveling companions on the road to reconciling their birth stories and their adoptions. Perhaps this deep hope in my heart makes it even harder for me to hear them argue. I know they will need each other in ways that perhaps biological siblings don’t.

Hanging out together in the snow

Hanging out together in the snow

As “Love and Logic” parents, my husband and I usually handle their bickering with a “get along together or play apart” type of approach. So far they always choose the “get along together” option. That is comforting. And they still have lots of fun together and most times can put aside their differences. I’ve heard many different tactics for handling conflict between siblings, from the “get along shirt” to having them hold each other’s hands and tell five things they love about one another after a fight. I haven’t adopted any of these. For now, I just talk to them about how lucky they are to have each other and about protecting each other’s hearts. And I pray—a lot.

~Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton

Removing Rocks and Hard Places


, , , ,


About the time I was compiling the stories in the book, Journeys to Mother Love, I met Jasona Brown, a woman experienced in prayer for inner healing. Jasona has so much to offer in this area, that I want to introduce her to our readers as our first guest blogger:

Guest-Post-logoby Jasona Brown

Catherine, I can relate to so many parts of your story in Journeys to Mother Love because He has ministered to me in similar ways: speaking through Scripture, healing my memories, and even using dreams to bring healing to my soul. He is so beautiful and faithful! Thank you for sharing your story.

Being both a daughter and a mother myself, I know that these relationships are so complex and often fraught with tensions and obstacles. We all need the hope that our failures, shortcomings, and deprivations can be healed and redeemed, and can even be used to lead us into deeper fellowship with the only One whose love is perfect.

I love to hear of the many and varied ways that the Lord ministers love and restoration to our hearts.

We don’t get healed, though, just to be healed, but also so that we can bear “much fruit” in God’s Kingdom: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last,”( John 15:16). To the degree that we are unhealed, our ability to love God and others as He created us to do is limited; wholeness, especially the joyful kind, frees us to love as He calls us to love. And if we can love our mothers well (honor your father and your mother), we are well on our way!

I love how the apostle John says his joy is made complete by bringing others into the fellowship with the God of love that he has found: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete,” (1 John 1:3-4).

I pray that Journeys to Mother Love will create in others a desire for healing and the hope to seek the Lord regarding their mother-wounds.

Jasona Brown is a wife (her husband is a pastor) and mother (two girls and one boy) living in Colorado, a long ways from where she grew up in Washington state and Alaska. She is also a seminary graduate with a heart to help people experience joyful wholeness through inner-healing prayer. She blogs at http://thedeepestlove.com/. Jasona’s forthcoming book, Stone by Stone: Tear Down the Wall Between God’s Heart and Yours can be pre-ordered at Amazon by clicking this link: http://amzn.com/1939023572.Stone-by-Stone-coverIn her book, Jasona shares what she has learned through personal experience and years of ministering to others, that when a wall of stones blocks our heart from fully receiving God’s love, we live a stunted Christian life. With Stone by Stone she will help us identify and remove ten stones that may block our intimacy with the God of love including guilt, unforgiveness, and unhealed memories, so that we can live in the joy as God’s beloved sons or daughters.

A Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Conflict-free Christmas Dinner?


, , ,


One of the family Christmas Dinners in my past, when I was a mom but not yet a grandma.

I guess all families hope for a conflict-free Christmas Dinner. We hope the children will leave their new toys and come to the table willingly. We hope certain extended family member won’t bring up certain memories (as they always do). We hope Grandpa won’t say a blessing before the meal that goes on and on like a sermon (and like this sentence) while the kids peek at each other and stomachs rumble and mouths water and Mother worries that the food will get cold.

Like Tiny Tim’s mother, the cook hopes her “Christmas pudding” or whatever special dish she attempted for the holiday will turn out and everyone will like it.

As a mother, and now a grandmother, I have often been the Christmas Dinner cook. I know how Mrs. Cratchit felt. And I know the joy of a holiday meal together around a festive table with candles burning, spicy and savory scents wafting from colorfully prepared dishes, the best silver clinking on pretty china, and the children, who are eager for dessert, allowed to drink out of fancy crystal goblets.

But this is the first year that I, to avoid conflict with special diets, had to adjust my usual holiday recipes to accommodate my husband, who must eat gluten-free now, and my granddaughter, who is on a doctor-ordered diet of no sugar or lactose.

We had ham dinner. I couldn’t use the packaged glaze that came with the ham because it contained both gluten and sugar. So I mixed my own glaze of honey and lemon. It helps that we have a lot of honey from our backyard beehive. I used honey in several of the dishes, including the gelatin salad and the dessert, both of which were much less rich than what I’ve usually served. (I have always made pies before — pecan, apple, and pumpkin with whipped cream).

My family scarfed down the food without qualm — and even the children asked for more salad and dessert. So I’m going to share these recipes with you in case you’d like to try them. Here they are:

Sparkling Gelatin Salad

In a saucepan pour 4 cups Cranberry-Cherry Juice (unsweetened, 100% fruit juice). Sprinkle over that 4 packages of Plain Gelatin. Stir over low heat until dissolved. Add 1/3 cup Honey and stir till dissolved. Stir in 1 cup Sparkling Cider. Chill till partially set. Then add: chopped, unpeeled organic Apples, sliced Bananas, and some coarsely-chopped Pecans. Mix and pour into a gelatin mold. Chill. Just before serving, unmold the salad onto a pretty, round Christmas platter.

Baked Honey Custard

In a mixing bowl, slightly beat 4 Eggs. Stir in 1/2 cup Honey, 2-1/2 cups Milk (I used coconut milk), 1/2 teaspoon Salt, and 1 teaspoon Vanilla. Mix well. Pour into six custard cups. Place cups in a shallow pan and pour 1/2-inch of hot water around them. Bake in 350-degree oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1/2-inch from edge comes out “clean.” Sprinkle with Nutmeg if desired. Cool, then chill in refrigerator and serve cold. You may want to serve the custards along with a plate of Christmas cookies.

Our Christmas dinner (which we celebrated a few days early this year with our daughter’s family) was conflict-free also, in the sense that no one had to worry about whether or not they could eat the food.

Because we love our families, we keep making adjustments.

Merry Christmas!

~ Catherine Lawton


I’m re-blogging A.R. Cecil’s post as I’m trying to recall my own best childhood memory of Christmas. I’m having a hard time doing that. One single memory doesn’t stand out in my mind. “Christmas Past” in my preacher’s-kid memory is a blur of preparing special music, sewing new dresses, buying/making/wrapping gifts, baking and decorating cookies, hosting the church people in our parsonage home, Christmas services at church, candy for the children, then… taking quick trips to a relatives’ home where we could “let our hair down” for a family day of feasting and exchanging gifts.

What is your best childhood Christmas memory?

Journeys To Mother Love

(Painting of a snow scene by Monet) “La pie – The magpie” by Monet

On that Christmas Eve, my little sister, six years younger than I, had been sent off to bed. She went gladly, since she thought Santa wouldn’t come until she was asleep. I wasn’t a bit jealous that I wouldn’t have sugar plums dancing in my head; I got to stay up and help bring the presents out of hiding and place them around the tree. My other two siblings, full-fledged teenagers, were watching Perry Como’s Christmas Special in the den.

Mother, Father and I did a good job of displaying the gifts and filling the stockings. “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” could be heard from the room down the hall.

“Are we going to get snow for Christmas?” I asked.

“They’re saying we might get a dusting,” Mom replied.

Soon my father, who had worked all day, retired for the night; and…

View original post 419 more words

Walking In Faith Through Adoption


Birth pangs (or adoption woes) are forgotten in the joy of a child

Walking my dog in the field today, I was thinking (and praying) for a young couple who are just beginning the adoption process. Looking back on my experiences, I know a lot can go wrong.

My daughter was a high-risk adoption because her birth father disappeared before he could sign his consent papers, leaving no forwarding address. Her birth mother signed her consent but later tried to rescind. She was in prison at the time she gave birth for multiple felonies of possessing drugs with the intent to sell. Three weeks after the birth, she contacted our lawyer to let him know she wanted her baby back. She and the birth father had re-kindled their on-again, off-again relationship and now wanted the chance to raise their baby together. Considering his criminal history and hers, there was no way we were going to let that happen. Even though it was a long fight, God provided witnesses who demonstrated she had been fully aware when she signed her consent for the adoption. The father’s parenting rights were terminated and almost one year after we had first taken her home, our daughter’s adoption was finally finalized. Even though the long legal battle was costly, God provided all the money we needed.

A little less than three years later, my son was born nine weeks premature. We were told he would need to stay in the hospital until his original due date. We had planned for a two-week stay in his birth state to complete his adoption. A two-month stay seemed inconceivable. This was compounded by the fact we had no guarantees that he would not have any long-term damage from being born so early and no plan for how we would pay the high costs of the NICU. We adopted him on pure faith, believing God had called us and trusting He would, once again, provide for our needs. After only two weeks in the hospital, our son was able to come home. His birth state paid most of his medical bills and he has had no long-term consequences from his premature birth. Once again, we saw God work miracles to His glory.

But even knowing all that can go wrong in an adoption, I would do it all again. While my husband and I joke that we had trial-by-fire adoptions, these experiences grew our faith exponentially and made us who we are today. So I can pray for this young couple with insight, asking God to shield them from the trials, while at the same time knowing He will protect them if trials should come.

In some ways, these difficult circumstances are like the birth process. Pregnancy and delivery may be hard, but the rewards so outshine the difficulties that we soon forget them.

~Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton

A Journey to Brother Love, Part 2


, , , , , , , , ,

With my brothers in 2014

My brother and I with our half-brother (center) in 2014

In the post, A Journey to Brother Love, Part 1, I shared how as an adult I was shocked to learn I had a half-brother. I only met him once, 18 years ago. The opportunity arose to meet him again recently. I didn’t want any regrets, so I traveled to see him.

From the moment we were reunited, my brother was friendly and open, even greeting me with a hug. It felt very welcoming. He is a charming and engaging man. Yet for me, the time spent together was surreal.

What do you say? How do you communicate with a brother who was raised by maternal grandparents since he was two years old because his mother died and he was abandoned by his father (my father)?

Does he even want relationship with me (us)? After all, we were the chosen family.

My parents were married for 17 years before they divorced. I was nine years old at the time. I had my own wounds. It took me years to work through them and forgive my father.

My brother is on his own journey of healing and forgiveness—as are each of us five siblings, from three different marriages. We share the same father and the same DNA, but we all have carried different wounds from the generational curse of abandonment in our family.

I don’t have any wounds related to my half-brother, only compassion for what he endured and experienced, not knowing his earthly father. He has had to come to terms with two dramatically different tales of his abandonment.

Where was he on the spectrum of forgiveness and healing, I wondered.

Except for one private conversation we had where he recounted to me the story of his miraculous reunion with my father after 52 years of separation, our conversations weren’t really about that. I listened as he talked about his previous marriage and painful trials with his adult children. Every time he talked I could see and hear my father in him. My half-brother wasn’t raised by him, but my father is unmistakably in his DNA.

At the end of our visit, I still didn’t have the answers I sought. So I invited him and his wife to walk me into the train station to say our goodbyes. I didn’t want any regrets. I prayed and let my heart lead the way.

The conversation that ensued was perfectly ordained by the Lord. It started off tearful for me as I admitted I am a sentimental person. I think we both said what we needed to say and cleared the air about our own personal father wounds. I already knew I wasn’t alone in my struggle to overcome my past, and I wanted him to know he wasn’t either.

The icing on the cake for me was being able to share with him my sense that our father was at peace in heaven. Shortly after Dad died, I had a poignant spiritual encounter in church while praying. Shortly after that, Dad acknowledged that he hadn’t “been there” for me. The veil had been lifted for him and his denial was gone. That encounter was very comforting to me, and I hoped sharing the memory with my brother would bring him some healing and closure also.

So was my family visit for my healing, or my brother’s healing? I think it was for us both.

My journey with my new-found brother is just beginning. It took my Journey to Mother Love followed by my Journey to Father Love to find it. When our journeys are bathed in our Heavenly Father’s love, it will end with healing and hope; because His DNA is what really binds us on our pathway to wholeness.

~ Ardis A. Nelson

A Journey to Brother Love, Part 1


, , , , , , , , ,

1996 Reunion

With my father and brothers in 1996

Recently a new pathway of healing opened up to me: a “journey to brother love.”

My father married many times and had children from multiple wives—my siblings being the last. I grew up knowing about an older half-sister, but never met her. I didn’t know about a half-brother I had until 18 years ago when my father reunited with him after 52 years of separation.

I was in my early 30s, just starting my own family when my father called to tell me about my half-brother. It was an ‘Oprah’ type story of amazing coincidences that led to their reunion.

I felt like my world had been turned upside down.

My father invited me and another sibling to meet him. The half-brother lived across country and was making a trip to our area. I eagerly obliged, or maybe obeyed is a better word. This was in my pre-recovery days when I was still holding onto the past, carrying a lot of anger, and searching for my father’s love. Now I had to share that love with some long-lost family member.  My resentment must’ve leaked through in that one and only meeting.

My father remained in close contact with his new-found son over the years. They had several cross-country visits. I occasionally heard of their trips together. Each time I nursed my internal pangs: “But what about me?”

Since that time, I’ve spent many years of healing and recovery work to get to a place of forgiveness and love for my father. My dad even helped with some family history while I was working on the final draft of my story in Journeys to Mother Love. Unfortunately, he passed away a month before the book was released.

My half-brother couldn’t make it to our father’s memorial service. My stepmother (not his mother), ordered an autographed copy for me to send to my brother’s wife. I had experienced even more healing and forgiveness with my father wound with his passing. With that fresh perspective, I decided to send a letter to my brother, along with the book.

Here’s an excerpt from that letter: “I think each of his (my father’s) children carry a distinct Smith* mark in their DNA that we had to overcome as his children. And just because we had more physical time living with him, it doesn’t mean we didn’t carry familial scars. I say this to you in the hopes that you won’t let any of those feelings get in the way of continuing to stay connected with this family.”

Soon I received a nice note from his wife telling me how much she loved the book and that my story touched her as she grieved the recent loss of her mother. We continued our communications, but there was no direct response from my brother.

Then a few weeks ago I got a call from my stepmother that my half-brother and his wife were going to be in town. I was invited to come home for a visit. At first I declined due to an already full schedule. But thoughts of my brother and our disjointed family connection kept surfacing.

Did I need more healing or was it for my brother? I needed to know.

So I set aside my work and hopped on a train across the state.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post to find out how this Journey to Brother Love ends.

~ Ardis A. Nelson

*Surname changed to protect family privacy.

Honesty about Our Struggles is the Best Way to Help Each Other


, , , , ,

KATIE cover photo

It has been too long since I posted a blog, but I was encouraged recently by an anonymous reader. She thanked me for helping her understand how her past abortion was still impacting her life. Like me, she’d spent years thinking something was wrong with her, never connecting her emotional struggles to her abortion. It saddens me how often that is the case. In the name of women’s rights, we have tried to convince women that there are no negative consequences to abortion. For some, this is true. But for others, it is not.

Strength to you, my friend, and thank God you can finally start putting the pieces together! For true healing to take place, we must first understand what needs to be healed. In post-abortion stress the pain gets camouflaged in so many other things. It’s easy to miss the connections.

For instance, I struggled with insecurities about my motherhood for years. It took a crisis in the life of one of my children for me to finally realize that no matter how hard I tried to be a great mother, I couldn’t protect my children from every pain, accident, or evil person out there. The process nearly sank me because I had been trying so hard to prove to myself that I was a good mother. Admitting that I couldn’t protect my children from evil meant admitting, in my mind, to another failure as a mother.

I know it sounds trite and naive, but I really believed I needed to do everything right. It finally occurred to me that my struggle wasn’t about the crisis in my child’s life. My struggle was about how it made me perceive myself as a mother and how my past abortion affected that. When I finally put all this together, I was able to work through my feelings much more effectively. Looking back now, I can see how irrational trying to be perfect was; but at the time, I didn’t understand the underlying motivations for my behavior.

I continue to share my story because of women like this. And, here’s to more women being honest about their struggles after abortion. It’s the best help we can give each other.

~Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton