Empowered To Connect

Posts by Lisa Qualls

I Cried and Nobody Came

By:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My son, Ebenezer, has an extreme fear of bees; when he sees a bee, or even a fly outside, he runs into the house and refuses to go back out. It isn’t difficult for me to understand why. When he was 2 1/2, he followed his brother into the pasture to feed the cows, and stepped on a wasps’ nest. The wasps swarmed him, and as we ran to help, we were all stung multiple times. Ebenezer had 35 stings. It was a horrible event for all of us – in fact, just writing about it makes me recall how terrified I was.

I’m currently reading The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson; it has given me so much to think about. Chapter 4: Kill the Butterflies! Integrating Memory for Growth and Healing is packed with fascinating information about the brain and how to help our children process memories. Making sense of their memories helps them better understand their thoughts and feelings in the present.

I Remember Summer

By:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When I became a mother, I wanted summer days to be relaxed and fun. With a larger family, there was more work to be done, so my children had significant chores, and yard work to do, but there was still plenty of time for play. Stacks of books to read, afternoons at the local pool, and sleeping out in the yard were foundations to our days.

This summer my desk is stacked with lists of activities, charts for chores, camp registration forms, and appointment reminders. As I’ve been working on plans for this summer, I recognize how differently I approach summer as the mother of children from “hard places.”

Meditations on a Messy Life

By:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You know those people who always seem to have it all together? They look great, their children are well behaved and dressed in darling outfits, their homes are decorated and lovely, and life seems to be going along swimmingly? I used to aspire to be like that, but that doesn’t seem to be God’s plan for me. It’s not that I’m admitting defeat or saying that I’m giving up on a tidy life, rather I am accepting that our path is messy.

When we love people, we invite their brokenness and mess into our lives. Mess is inconvenient; it takes our time, energy, and sometimes money to make it better. Despite our efforts, the mess cannot always be fully contained. It spills over and touches the people who dare to stand near.

Giving Voice to Our Other Children

By:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dr. Karyn Purvis speaks about the importance of giving children “voice,” and we have embraced this as we’ve loved and cared for our children from “hard places.” But what about the children that were already in our family? Did we neglect to give them voice? Did we fail to meet their needs as we desperately worked to help our most traumatized children?

I can tell you that we did, and it breaks my heart to acknowledge it. In March 2007, we brought three children home from Ethiopia. One of them brought severe challenges that turned our family upside down. Our home, which had once been a very happy place, was now in constant tumult. And the children already in our family suffered more than we could have imagined.

In many ways, we failed them. In our effort to bring healing to our children from “hard places” we created a “hard place” for our other children. In our effort to give our children from “hard places” voice, we neglected to give our other children “voice.” This is the hard truth.

It Takes a Team

By:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Adoption and foster care bring new children into our families and we open our arms to receive them. What we might not expect is the way our circle may enlarge beyond our immediate families. Since adopting our children, our world has expanded to include many others who have become very important in our journey and in our lives. We have learned that parenting children from “hard places” takes more than Russ and I can give on our own; for now, it takes a “team.”

Let me share some of the members of our team in the hope that it may encourage you to think about the
support your family needs.

Seeing Beyond Mad to the Sad

By:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I don’t know about you, but I’m not fond of those moments when my child stomps away in a huff, or crosses her arms as she looks at me. She is mad, and my initial response is to be irritated. As she setttles deeper into “mad,” I can feel myself pull away from her. I get short with her and find I don’t want to look in her eyes.

I need to stop.

This is the crucial moment when I need to stop the “mad cycle” and see it for what it really is.

She is sad.

What If I’ve Done it All Wrong?

By:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I would venture to guess that nearly every parent of a child from a “hard place” believes they have done it all wrong. As the recent Empowered to Connect Conference came to a close, a dear friend shared that she and her husband were both hopeful and disheartened by what they had learned. They held back tears of sorrow and regret as they wished they could go back and parent their children differently. Russ and I have also wrestled with these thoughts and are saddened by the knowledge that some of our efforts likely increased our children’s trauma rather than brought healing.

I Used to be a Good Mom

By:

Monday, April 4, 2011

I was pouring a cup of coffee when my friend called. She asked if I had a minute to talk and when I answered, “Yes,” her resolve quickly faded and she began to cry. She told me about a conflict with her newly adopted son that had occurred the night before. Despite her best intentions, she was convinced that she had failed to handle it well. Then she said these words that made me catch my breath – they were all too familiar: “I used to be a good mom.”

How We Found Help in the Midst of Crisis

By:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In this short video, Dr. Purvis highlights a number of strategies for helping families, many of which we used when our family was in crisis. The over-arching theme is that we cannot parent children from “hard places” alone. As she says, we need to “pitch our tent” with others who understand and turn to them for help. As we struggled to find our way, we learned that we needed a “team” for our daughter because we could not meet her needs and the needs of our other children at the same time. We were exhausted, emotionally and physically, and we were stressed beyond belief.

But there is hope. This is our story of how we found help in the midst of crisis.

Together on the Ledge

By:

Friday, December 17, 2010

ETC Team Note: Holidays and other special occasions often present unique and unexpected challenges for adoptive and foster families. In this story, Lisa provides some very helpful insight into how parents can anticipate these challenges and respond with compassion, understanding and in a way that brings about a deeper sense of connection with their child.

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and has always been a treasured day for our family. We love a Christmas tree with sparkling lights, stockings stuffed to their brims, meaningful gifts, and lots of special food. But with the addition of our children from “hard places” we have found it necessary to learn new strategies to successfully celebrate holidays together as a family. Last Christmas was a day of extremes which contained so many lessons for me that I wrote them down that night hoping to make a better plan when Christmas rolled around this year. This is how I began.

How many times do I need to remind myself: Children with a history of trauma/neglect must eat every two hours.