i got it from my mama

Posted: July 20th, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 15 Comments »

When you’re going though adolescence, you tend to focus on the flaws in your parents more than the things you clung to when you were little. A kid at that age separates him or herself from the things a child would do. Like, be silly with your mom in public, or want her to tuck you in at night. There was a time you used to beg her to stay. Then she suddenly embarrassed you and you wanted her to drop you off down the street. Most of us don’t appreciate our moms until we become moms.

I was adopted when I was 10, so I was never a little kid with my mom. She started out with me feeling embarrassed.

Their religion bothered me the most. It was the source of every “no” and every time I got in trouble. It embarrassed me, so I fought to let everyone know that I wasn’t like them.

I moved out and grew up a little bit, but my life was a car with no wheels. I reached out for God and ultimately caused me to reach out to her. I was 19, unmarried and pregnant. I became a Christian and that made me feel devastated about my obvious damage. The sin was too fresh and it kept bleeding through the bandages.

As religious as my mom was, she had the best understanding of grace and God’s sovereignty of anyone I knew. However, I did not see that at the time.

She would tell me that “it was God’s plan to bring my child here. God did not make a mistake when He made me a mom. He did it on purpose.”

I would dismiss her as “just being a mom.” Of course she’s going to say that.

“You can’t turn everything around so that it benefits me.” I’d argue.

I grew up a bit more and developed my own relationship with God. I moved further and further away from not feeling pure and eventually my sin scabbed over. I made sure that everyone knew that I was not who I was. I did not believe my mom’s version of grace because it was too easy. There wasn’t a cubby for it in my religion. You had to do it the hard way.

Then I found myself so far off track that I knew I could never make it back to where I was. I turned my life upside down in a ditch that fell through.

I didn’t know where I was. I reached out to my mom because I couldn’t bear to not hear love in my Father’s voice.

She would tell me that God never asked me to punish myself. That I am allowed to look forward with hope and trust in God’s forgiveness. She told me that she believes things happen for a reason and that God has a plan.

I was angry at her. I thought she didn’t get it. That was until I remembered a different time she stood by God’s sovereignty.

Before I was adopted, my parents tried to have their own children. They wanted six kids and a farm. That’s it. My mom was 19 when she had her little girl. She named her Kassandra (Sandy) and fell deeply in love with her and deeper with her husband. Around the time they were pregnant with their little boy, Jeremiah (Jeremy), they found out that something was wrong with Sandy. She wasn’t developing properly. A few years later, they found out that something was wrong with Jeremy, too. And his was a little bit worse. Their kids had an unexplainable disease. When they were trying to figure this out, they got pregnant with their third. My mom had two kids in wheelchairs and innumerable questions. The third baby died in her third trimester. Then my mom had a hysterectomy. A few years later, Sandy died. She was eight-years-old.

This was all before she was 30. This was all my parents’ marriage knew.

When Sandy died, Jeremy started to die.

My parents have always wanted six kids. So, they registered to adopt. Not long before that, my own mother gave me up for adoption. I was nine-years-old when I watched her sign the papers. I had a little sister and two little brothers beside me.

When my parents got the first phone call from the adoption agency, they jumped at it. They didn’t care that it was a group of four siblings. Upon meeting us, it wasn’t even a question of “Do you want them?” Why do you think they drove 4 hours?

I’ll never understand what they were thinking. My two little brothers were farting and fighting like feral children, my love-starved sister would not get off their laps, and I would not let go of my foster mom.

When we moved in, their son, Jeremy, started coming back to life. He loved my little brothers’ antics and my sister doted on him like he was hers.

He was seven when we joined his family. He was sicker than Sandy, but he outlived her by six years My mom swears it’s because of us. Not long after Jeremy died, my parents adopted a one-year-old and his infant brother.

Six kids in all.

One afternoon, my mom was telling me about the pain she went through when she lost her babies. I remember asking her how it was that she could trust God even though He took her babies from her. I couldn’t understand how she could believe it was God’s plan.

She answered my questions by saying, “God knew you needed a mommy.”

She wasn’t a one-sided grace server or biased in her faith. She trusted God’s grace and sovereignty even when it meant that she had to be ripped to pieces.

God always has reason. Remember that when it looks like the end. One day you’ll look back and shake your head in amazement because you’ll really get it.

Stories of grace always leave a hole somewhere that only Jesus can explain. If you just focus on the negative, it’s hard to see that the God we all know as good to allow something that goes against what we would call perfect and good. My parents didn’t know what God had planned for them. I think that if God showed us what it would take to get us to where we want to be, we’d have a hard time following Him through it. God gave my parents their dream of six kids and a farm. He just didn’t tell them how hard it would be to get there.

In my own life, it’s my worst experiences that have brought about the things I thank God for the most. Your faith has to be challenged before it can grow. Having your faith challenged is gut wrenching.

The following picture doesn’t have much to do with my message, but it made me laugh. πŸ™‚



15 Comments on “i got it from my mama”

  1. 1 Leah said at 5:25 pm on July 20th, 2011:

    yay! I can leave a comment!

    This post is comforting for me. I really struggle with my current situation of not knowing why God is allowing me to hurt so much. I miss your blogs, but I know you're working on a new book. I really like the way you make me think and the way you help me understand God's love for me.

    Please keep writing. I'm praying for you as you write your new book. I can't imagine the process.

    love you, sister!


  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 5:30 pm on July 20th, 2011:

    Thanks, Leah. πŸ™‚ I love the book writing process and it's comforting to know you're praying for me.

  3. 3 Mayah Rainy said at 5:33 pm on July 20th, 2011:

    I can completely identify with what you said about what adolescents go through with their parents. And you're right. Now that I am a mom, I have a great relationship with my own mom. I've even apologized to her for what I know I put her through. She was awesome, she told me that she did the same to her mom.

    Great post!

  4. 4 Jenni S. said at 5:36 pm on July 20th, 2011:

    It's hard to remember that God is sovoriegn and that He has a plan when my plans seem to be falling through all over the place. I can look back on my life and see that it's true, just hard to remember when you're going through it. One of the many reasons I am thankful for people like you. You help feed me when I am about to pass out. πŸ™‚

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 5:39 pm on July 20th, 2011:

    Mayah, that made me smile. πŸ™‚

    Jenni S.: thank you. πŸ™‚ Just working on another aspect of your story.

  6. 6 Shannon said at 1:47 am on July 21st, 2011:

    thanks for the laugh this morning w/ that pic!

    "God has his reasons." that met me right where I am this morning! xoxo

  7. 7 Traylor said at 7:46 am on July 21st, 2011:

    Great post as always, Serena! That picture is fantastic! I'm going to save it for use at a later date!

  8. 8 Alyson said at 9:36 am on July 21st, 2011:


    I have been reading your blog for some time now and have been waiting to comment. I was abandoned by my mom at 18 when she announced she was in love with another man to our family. For a year, we had to live as a family anyway, just waiting for her to move to be with the other man (a week before my parent's 25th anniversary). I fell into a pit of darkness (was not a believer), got married for a year, was miserable even at the alter. Separated within that first year, met another man during that time, committing adultery (still not a believer) and married him and am still. I have been a believer now for 14 years, redeemed and living in LIGHT. The pain of my past comes up often, but I am reminded who I am and no longer. Fast forward to a year ago, hubby and I on the same night were brought to our knees to become foster to adopt parents. We have two bio girls, 10 and 8. We "thought" we would only consider children under 8, but the Lord molded our hearts to look at older children. We now have a 14 yr. old girl whose parents TPR'd 2 years ago. It is *hard* for us all, but we have committed our lives to the Lord for HIS purposes until He returns or brings us home. Our past is really messy and ugly, but b/c of it all, He is using it for His glory to change the life of a girl entering into young ladyhood. You are an inspiration. Thank you for bearing all. It is sad that people don't share their lives out of fear. I hid for many years out of fear of judgment. Not anymore…..

  9. 9 Serena Woods said at 9:58 am on July 21st, 2011:

    Alyson, I'm sitting here in tears. πŸ™‚ thank you for letting me peek into your life. Beautiful.


  10. 10 Melissa said at 11:29 am on July 21st, 2011:

    As a mama of older adopted children, this post warmed my heart in a special way. So glad God brought you and your siblings to such a special lady!

  11. 11 Heather said at 11:58 am on July 21st, 2011:

    Thanks for letting us comment again. I read every post. God is using your story and words to shape my heart. It's so humbling, but I am so very grateful. Blessings to you.

  12. 12 Rachell H. said at 12:45 pm on July 21st, 2011:

    Thank you for being so willing to talk with me online. I don't know if you write everyone back, or if you have someone help you filter your emails, but I so appreciate you. You really make me feel heard and that you care.

  13. 13 Anni said at 1:18 pm on July 21st, 2011:

    I read every post you write and this is exactly what I needed today. πŸ™‚ It always seems like you are writing for me.

  14. 14 Eileen said at 3:19 pm on July 21st, 2011:

    What a beautiful transparent post. Thank you for sharing this. So many of your words resonated with me. You next to last sentence, "In my own life, it’s my worst experiences that have brought about the things I thank God for the most. Your faith has to be challenged before it can grow." I needed this as well. I did not appreciate grace until I recognized it was the only thing that could save me.

  15. 15 Tracey said at 4:50 pm on July 23rd, 2011:

    Hi Serena, thanks for sharing your beautiful words and life with us!


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