I'm looking for some elves. Seriously.
Every year I remember how hard Christmas was for our family during the "hard place" years. Each day was hard enough on this journey and then comes the season when we're supposed to give….
But my giver was done give out!
Not only that, but my easily overstimulated child was like on steroids the whole month of December with the excitement and anticipation of Christmas. Excitatory neurotransmitters were flooding his brain like a tsunami and keeping a lid on the chaos was next to impossible. How does one plan, shop, cook, and think of others when you are barely able to survive one day at a time?
As I think of adoptive parents who are on similar journeys, you now have access to much better education about trauma-informed care. Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI)® is readily available to read about or watch on dvd through The Institute of Child Development at TCU. We are blessed to have parenting tool boxes full of strategies and knowledge to help kids heal.
But I think what is sooooo lacking is still practical, real life help. Jesus-with-skin-on kind of help. There's just not enough of Mom or Dad to go around. And there aren't enough people who "get it" and have even an ounce of a clue as to how hard every day life can be. If you're a parent learning how to successfully connect with your kids on this trauma journey, a topic you'll hear a lot about is self-care. But how do you get it? How do you rest, exercise, eat healthy, and make time for some laughs or a date night when your life is constantly being consumed by a child whose needs are so great and so costly?
That's where I feel our adoption ministries and churches need to step up their game. We can all talk about recruiting to adopt and starting an orphan care ministry because indeed the numbers of the fatherless in our world are overwhelming. But isn't it time to better support those who have answered the call to adopt? Isn't it time we offer well-equipped child care workers who can give these parents some respite? Isn't it time we recognize when a family is in crisis and mentor these parents so they don't lose hope?
So this Christmas I'm looking for some elves. Instead of buying toys this year for a needy family, I'm going to give some practical help to some parents that are in desperate need of self-care. I'm going to recruit some friends that can be elves to a hurting family this Christmas. If you or someone you know would consider being an elf, here's just a few things I'd like those friends to help with.
Elf-Care for Self-Care:
1) Provide safe, trust-based babysitting so Mom and Dad can have a date night. If you are local to the DFW area, I can train you in the basics of caring for a child from a background of early harm.
2) Give gift certificates such as: restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, golfing, manicures, pedicures, massages, makeovers, etc.
3) Create a Sensory-Safe Santa event at your church or community center that is quiet, dimly lit, crowd-controlled and has some calming activities/areas so kiddos can enjoy the fun without hitting overload and risking a meltdown. Wouldn't it be great to have a Santa picture that didn't include tears?
4) Cook and deliver some meals to lighten a parent's load during the month of December.
5) Offer to help a family decorate their home for the holidays. Don't forget to offer to go back and take it down - preferably before Valentine's Day. (Yes, I've been there!)
6) Offer to help with house work, yard work, or chores that are on the "never can get to it" list.
7) Host a movie night at your home or church for the high-risk kids so Mom and Dad can have a much needed night of fun with their biological or lower-risk kids.
8) Offer to be a Santa's Elf shopper for a parent who can't get out to shop.
9) Take up a cash collection for an adoptive family who is overwhelmed with medical and therapy bills.
10) While you're running errands like cleaners, post office, grocery store - pick up the phone and offer to do these errands for an adoptive family that is struggling.
11) Host a Mom's night out with the gals or a Dad's night out with the guys to provide some fun and fellowship.
12) Bathe this family in prayer and remember how hard their journey is twelve months out of the year.
If every church, civic group, or ministry picked one or two struggling families to help this Christmas, it might just turn around some families that are about to give up. Who do you know that could use some Elf Care? And, if you're the family who needs help, let others minister to you knowing that one day there will be a season where you can pass it on.
"But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." ! Corinthians 13:13
So who's in?
P.S. Don't forget the chocolate!