Spur on Love » blog

We are soon approaching the two year mark since bringing our daughter home. The days and hours leading up to our gotcha day are still so fresh in my mind. I wrote this piece a few days before we met our daughter and wanted to share it with you. I pray it encourages you to take risks and trust God a bit more than you did before.

I am in over my head. The water is deep and the shore is out of site. And if I am honest, I am afraid.

Tomorrow, I will board a plane with my husband to travel to China. There we will meet a little girl for the first time, and she will officially become a part of our family through adoption.

I am in over my head. I am vulnerable. I am excited. I am terrified. I feel unworthy but so grateful. Every thought and emotion one could have…I am experiencing them right now and have been ever since we first started this adoption process eleven months ago.

This is risky. There are so many unknowns. Literally. We do not know this little girl that we already refer to as our daughter. We do not know the extent of her brain damage, which is the diagnosis from the doctors in China. We do not know what it looks like to parent a child who comes from trauma. We do not know how to speak Chinese and our nearly two-year-old daughter does not know English. The list of unknowns seems endless.

What we do know is that she is worth it.

She is worth the risk, the unknown. Because she, just like you and I, is a child of God, made in His image. He stepped down from Heaven to redeem us. To adopt us. You and I. To ransom us and bring us into the fullness of life by His blood on the cross. His sacrifice is my gain, it’s my life. And if He can do that for us, then we can step out into the waters of the unknown for her.

I find that He often calls us to step out into the uncertain. This faith walk is not always comfortable or easy. It is often difficult and messy. But God promises that when we obey Him, He will reveal Himself to us (John 14:21). The God of the universe makes Himself known to us when we step out in faith and do what He is asking. That reward is the best gift besides salvation that God could give to us. It is knowing Him that satisfies our soul and gives this life on Earth purpose. And it is because of that promise that I can press on in this present journey He has called me to.

I am in over my head. The water is deep and the shore is out of site…but I know it is there, even if I cannot see it. I could panic and try to will myself to the unseen shore in a frantic swim. Or I could pause. Turn my gaze up and float here. Remain here. Out in the waters. Trusting that if this is where God wants me, He will not forsake me. I am choosing love over fear, and I am encouraged by His promise that He will show Himself through this obedience.
I am in over my head. And here, I will remain.

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I am a reforming people pleaser.
I use to be so worried about what others thought of me and how my interactions with them made them feel. I would leave every conversation replaying my words over in my mind, scanning each of them for offense. “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that.” “ Did that come out right?” Well, that was a dumb thing to say!” “I must of offended them with that statement.” This inner dialogue would consume my mind until my next interaction with someone and then the cycle would start over again. It was crippling and made me fearful of even speaking to people.

Talk about torture!
This is not a pleasant way to live. It’s also not an enjoyable way to do relationships.

Yes. Let’s be kind in our words and guard our tongues. Yes, let’s love others well in both word and deed. However, being so crippled by the fear of pleasing man is no way to live.

Over the years my desire to please people has waned because my desire to please God has become greater. My current mantra that has freed me up is this: “Audience of One.” Everything I do or say goes under that microscope. Does this please my Father? Am I doing this for Him or to please man? This one statement has shifted the way I approach a conversation and has freed me up to love hard, be fully myself, and release others.

This is one of those foundational principals I need my kids to know. Speak, work, perform, dress, eat, play all for the audience of One, the One.

All too soon the world will impress on them and they will start to care what others think of them. I pray that they care more about what God thinks of them then anyone else. I pray they are able to be fully themselves, who God created them to be and not get trapped in the scam of people pleasing.

I will end with this story that illustrates the way I want to live.
My six year old daughter loves fashion. She loves creating and that includes putting outfits together. It brings her joy and comes naturally to her. I believe it is apart of her original design, who God made her to be.
She puts together crazy outfits that sometimes I don’t want to let her leave the house in. I confess I’ve had to force myself from asking her to change because the world has told me its not ok to wear your dress backward. Yes, she has done that!
Instead of crushing her spirit though I encourage her. She is not in a place yet where she wants to please the world. She doesn’t care about fitting it. She feels free to be herself and I love that. And you know what? I believe God loves that too! Seeing His kids fully alive and free must bring Him great joy. He came so we would have life, and have it abundantly and part of that is walking out in freedom in who He designed us to be and not stifling ourselves because we want to please man.

I want to be more like my daughter. Free to be myself. True to my original design and focused on my audience of One. May everything we do and say and wear be for the audience of One.


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I have a simple remedy for a bad day. This remedy is another one of those things I need my kids to know before I die. When you are feeling sad, rejected, disappoint, depressed, or have a case of the “blahs” shift the trajectory of that day with gratefulness.

Yep. That’s it.
Start listing things you are grateful for (I have a journal dedicated to just this) and see what happens in your spirit. It doesn’t have to be huge and obvious things. Of course we are grateful for our families and the roof over our heads and it’s totally good and right to claim those. Don’t forget, though, to add the little things to your list such as the extra five minutes of sleep you got this morning, the bird singing outside your window, or being able to drink your coffee when it’s HOT (and all the mommas with kids under the age of 4 said “AMEN”).
It may be difficult at first to count your blessings when you are smack dab in the middle of really difficult things. Hard times will come and it’s ok to have the emotions and feelings that accompany hardship. But don’t stay there, dear one. Don’t give the enemy any more power than he thinks he has. 
With every grateful proclamation you are taking one step away from darkness and into the light. The Bible says to, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4).  Catch hold of that marvelous truth! When we declare what we are thankful for we are drawn into the presence of God! Feel like God is so far away? Start to speak out what you are grateful for and watch God meet you there!
Gratefulness shifts the atmosphere. It softens our hearts and reminds us of the nearness of God. Getting after grateful is a powerful way to kick Satan in the teeth and draw near to your Creator.
Do you have a grateful journal? How and when do you use it?
And as I continue to participate in a writing challenge with some friends I would be honored if you would take a moment to check out these blog posts below. So proud of these women for taking a risk and writing even when it seems scary and exposing.
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I feel this desperate need to explain my child to new people.

New friends, new teachers, new church nursery volunteers all give me slight anxiety since I have yet to inform them about my kid. Okay, okay. Let me be completely transparent: it gives me major anxiety!

I fear that five minutes in my little one will throw a tantrum or hit or ignore authority and will be immediately labelled “the bad kid.”

You see, they may realize that she was adopted, but they do not know her story. They do not know her past which directly correlates to her present and her behavior.

Her past is not an excuse for her behavior. We do not let her get away with all the things and do not expect others to just give her a free pass. However, knowing about her past does help bring understanding and empower those in her life to better care for her and even avoid some of her behavior triggers.

So here is my struggle: how much do I share?

Do I reveal all the details of her personal and painful story? Do I give them a dissertation on the long term effects of trauma? Do I explain the ins and outs of attachment disorder? Or do I stay silent and let them go in blind? Even more disconcerting, will they believe me if I do share and will they take the information to heart?

I do not know the right answer. I am just here to say that my toddler hits sometimes. She also can throw a huge fit, usually in a public place which leaves all eyes on me. She often withdraws from social interactions which appears like a disregard for authority. All these behaviors are connected to her past and the trauma she endured. Unfortunately, I do not have 10 minutes to explain this to every watching eye as I walk through Target dodging her swing hands aiming for my face. But, oh how I want to. I often long for people to understand instead of judge.

This is uncharted territory for me. I am smack dab in the center of these unknown waters with no perfect answer in sight. What I do see, however, is other people out here treading water right along with me. I did not see them before. I confess I was blind to them before I joined them. I feel like this struggle has given me a peek behind the curtain, a small glimpse at what many moms and dads experience daily. Parents with children who have special needs or serve disorders or emotional delays or physical disabilities who are always on guard for their babes. The desire to advocate and educate is strong but collides with the longing for our babes to be free from any and all labels. You can’t seem to have one without the other though.

My daughter has a strong need to control all situations because she spent her first two years of life feeling unsafe. I want people to know that she is not fighting for control out of manipulation or pure defiance but because she feels unsafe and does not know how to trust people. I want them to understand her attachment disorder is a real condition and not just label her a sad little orphan or a difficult child. A child who comes from trauma may not appear physically to be affected by their past and that leaves a huge gap for behavior to be misunderstood and inappropriately handled.

What is a mom to do? Do I run down the halls of her preschool waving a huge flag that reads “Attachment Disorder” or do I sit back and hope that the principal doesn’t call me into the office and explain that we need to find a new school for our three year old?

I am sure the answer is somewhere in the middle, but I am caught in this tension and I have a feeling I will be here for a while.

Here is my plan for now: I will advocate for my daughter when it is needed and extend grace to those who care for her. And I will leave room for this to ebb and flow as needed. And most of all I will pray for wisdom. Man, could I use all the wisdom when it comes to parenting.

What I do know is that I am not alone in these thoughts and feelings. There are many parents out there yearning for people to understand their kids and not just judge them or slap a label on them. We love our kids and we desire that the world would see them as we do.

To all you moms and dads our there advocating for your kids, please know I see you. You are doing a good job and loving your babes the best way you know how. I know your kid is awesome. Keep graciously telling those teachers and childcare workers how awesome they are and what works best for them so they can continue to be awesome. 

How much do you advocate for your children? When do you decide to share information and when do you hold back? I would love to hear from you. We are in this together.


Speaking of being in this together, I am excited to share with you some more posts from the writing challenge I am hosting. This is our second week of writing together and I am so proud of all these ladies for stepping out and sharing their words with the world. Click on their names to read their work. Be sure to comment on their posts to spur them on!







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  • September 19, 2017 - 9:39 pm

    Terri Laurent - Renee,
    This is beautiful. So raw and real. When you painted the picture of parents out there treading water, that image was so vivid. I think that is how many parents feel. I can tell you that I even feel that way with adult children sometimes. I’m praying wisdom for you. God called you to this unique set of circumstances and He has prepared you. He’ll show you what to do.ReplyCancel

Welcome to the first post in this series entitled “Things I Need My Kids to Know Before I Die”. I know what you are thinking, “that is a strange topic for a blog series!”  Click here to learn the heart behind it and it won’t seem so crazy. 

Before I start I will say that these posts are not written in order of importance. Ordering them just seem too daunting for my brain. However, if I could only tell my kids one thing it would be this: love God and love people. The end!

But since I am not dying today I am able to tell them more, so I will start with this:

Call people up! Call out the gold in them. Speak life and destiny over them!

Words are powerful and what we hear starts to grow in our hearts. If we hear shaming statements such as “you are weak”, ” you are too much” or “you can’t do that” then we will begin to believe those lies. They will spread like a disease and cripple us. Those lies prevent us from walking out in our design and God given purpose.

We will not participate in that type of poison! Those voices are already loud enough in our world. Instead, let us be chain breakers and speak truth and potential over others.

Call them up!

This is what God did time and time again in the Bible. He would literally call people to their destiny by changing their names and calling them by their purposes. Come, on! Now that is good stuff.

He spoke hope and promise over a childless man by calling him Abraham, which literally means “father of a nation”. He did this way before his wife was ever pregnant. He called out the gold that was to come!

He declared position and authority over Peter when he proclaimed him “the rock” that God would build His church on. What a powerful word to speak over this man who would first deny Jesus three times before walking forward in this destiny as the rock!

Call people up!

How can you daily apply this? We often can see the gold in others that they can not see themselves. We simply have to speak that over them. Tell your husbands what you see in him. Proclaim the lovely you see in your kids.  Speak life and destiny over your friends and coworkers.

Here are some examples:
You are a leader.
You are such a giver.
You are a wise person.
You are creative.
You are a good friend.
You are kind.
You are brave.
You are a good listener.
You bring joy everywhere you go.
You are a risk taker.
You are a good writer, speaker, teacher…

It’s that simple. It’s not about vain flattery. It’s about calling out what you see in others that so easily gets lost in a world pointing out our faults and lack. Said in simple terms, since my babes are 7,6,and 5, just tell people what you like about them.

What a beautiful way to love people. Call out the gold. Call them up and watch them rise to that calling!

I am honored to end this post by sharing with you inspired words by some dear friends of mine. These are brave sisters who said “YES” to a writing challenge I am currently hosting. These ladies are writers, and bold risk takers who are doing this challenge even though fear and doubt may be telling them not to. They are putting themselves out there and sharing their words and hearts. Please take a moment to encourage them and CALL THEM UP by clicking a link below and reading their work. Your comments will make their day and spur them on in their call to writing.

Click on each name to read their blog post for this week’s challenge.






Lets be a tribe of people who call people up!

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