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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at www.susanwanderer.com 



My Stomping Grounds

Trauma. The heart-ache, the wringing of hands, the fast paced beating of the heart, the quickened breathing, the nightmares, the moments they can't be still because their mind is filled with the life-movie that is played over and over and over.

Kids-from-hard-places, who have been adopted (or haven't been adopted), have experienced trauma.

When their thoughts quiet down from the day, their perceptions of their homeland and their actual memories collide into this backpack of trauma and emotions they constantly carry around, strapped to their back.

They begin unpacking that backpack at random times.

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Some kids unpack it at bedtime... when they are most tired and most confused from an already busy day.

They try so very hard to make sense of this life.

At night, when the memories arrive and the tears begin to fall, the unpacking process begins as that heavy backpack is unzipped.

Some nights, they joyfully grab the good memories and celebrate those. Other nights, they yank out the confusing-memories. And their heart tries to understand.

They ask question after question after question.Their confusion and heart-break creates moments of tangled-self-preservation: Anger, Tantrums, Hurt.

Trauma-Mamas begin grabbing any form of answers they can find to help their child unwind the tangled perceptions and hurt.

I pray under my breath for God to rescue my words and bring life and healing for my kids’ hearts.

I remind them that when we don't know, God does.
I remind them that when we are confused, God brings clarity.
I remind them that when we feel unloved and unwanted, God unconditionally loves.
I remind them that God’s goal is to Rescue and Redeem and Restore.

While my heart breaks over the backpack that kids from hard places carry around, I remind myself what it says in the gospel of Matthew when Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Sometimes the mind and heart need rest from the burden of worry, the burden of hard memories. I hold tight to that passage in Matthew because Jesus offers rest for the burdened. Rest for the weary.

As kids from hard places grow and mature in their years, and counselors provide wisdom, parents give love and a village links arms in support, their backpacks will still be full of memories, but it will hopefully not be nearly as heavy with burden.

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