Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Left Behind?

I called our adoption agency today. The waiting has been so hard and the dead line to hear about a court date has come and almost gone. I can not travel past my 36th week of pregnancy and I am now officially 30 weeks pregnant. If we were to hear of a court this week, the actual court date (aka travel time) would be 4-6 weeks from being notified of the court date. We were told two weeks ago that our file was just moments away from being submitted to court but that they were waiting for the children's birth certificates to be delivered the next day. As of today, this "guy" has not showed up to deliver these documents to complete our file. I was told that each time they inquired as to why he had not shown up with these papers, that he reported not feeling well or he didn't have time. This is a cultural "difference" that doesn't make sense to me. No one seems to know what the hold up is.

The hold up.

The reason I can't go has rested
solely on this one person who can't seem to get their shtick together. Are there not others who can do this? I just don't get it. The motivation (or lack thereof) of one solitary person is the reason I won't be able to hug my boys and look into their eyes and tell them face to face that their family is waiting for them back home.

Sorry to sound like such a downer, but crap, I am just plain discouraged. I guess there still is the minute possibility I will still be able to go but my hope is drained down to the last drop as days pass and my belly grows with this squirming blessing of a life. There are no regrets, just the hope that I could do and see everything....that I could see, touch and embrace our boys.

Steve will have to go solo and I desperately want to
Velcro myself to his body and go with him. I wanted to do this together with him. I wanted to be able to exchange knowing looks with him as we met our boys for the first time and then talk late into the night comparing mental notes. I wanted to share the awe of all that God has done as we embraced our boys. I wanted this to be something we talked about when we grew old with words like "Remember how tiny they were?" or "Remember how much we did not know?" and "Remember how God's hand was in all of it?" I wanted to see our boys faces when they realized we were real. I just ache.

I wanted.......

And this is where I have to pause. This is obviously not what the Lord has called for. Most of my disappointment is encapsulated inside the words "I wanted....." And this adoption has nothing to do about what I want. There is to be a purpose to why my husband will have to meet our boys for the first time without me. These speculations about why run wild in my head. The Lord is pulling me out of the equation and as much as I don't like this, I will accept it knowing that He knows better than I. I will trust. I will believe.

I will look forward. I refuse to have regrets in this.....I have no right to. God has planned this and I will never regret His plans.

I will look forward to life with our boys. I will thank our sweet Lord that these boys have a forever family with us no matter who meets them first. I will be grateful that the Lord has blessed us so many times with children that are so amazing. I will continue to be amazed at this thriving life forming under my heart. We have hit the lottery.

No regrets.

And most of all, I will look forward to the post that communicates why this "hiccup" was all perfectly planned and a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Back Door and Letting Go

It is so easy to open the front door to amazing people, behaviors and situations that seem to work and are pleasing at the time. It's where a lot of us receive big mysterious packages, long awaited government documents allowing for adoptions and mail from long lost friends. This is the door that cherished friends walk through to spend time chatting over a messy counter and undone dishes while kids run wild outside. The front door of our lives can let in so much joy.

But the back door is a different story. Everyone has one....not everyone uses it. For instance, let's evaluate that cool haircut that was so popular in the eighties. One remembers the compliments and the admiring looks as a result of the new do. But after a decade (or two) when it becomes the new mullet......it needs to be shown the back door. However, many people have shown that they don't have a back door in this regard and the hairstyle that won them so many accolades years ago, now has the younger generation snapping cell phone photos to take home to post on the Internet.

Or............ how about those jeans that now require you to lay down on your bed to button only to have you look like an overgrown sausage link when you return to an upright position gasping for air? But the memory of them fitting like a glove and attracting your current spouse just won't leave and you go into oxygen deprivation just one more time to have "the look" back. Unfortunately, "the look" now has vultures circling above due to your shallow breathing and stray hungry dogs licking their chops. After several children, topped with a few years and a belly that now resembles a Sharpei puppy, it is time to kick these national treasures out your back door.

I'm still not done with the clothing bit. Many husbands have a t-shirt (or two) that they love so much, that they vehemently refuse to retire them. I am talking about the ones where there are stains from who-knows-what and numerous tiny holes from too much bleaching. It is important to note that these innocent holes are big enough to allow sprigs of chest foliage to poke through making their chest (or back) look like a dog with mange (if you squint really hard). No question about it, fling the back door open and toss this diseased and suffering possession out....when he's at work.

I would go into the example of my husband's prized,
unused 20 year old juicer and my "almost-marriage-ending" trip to Goodwill with it.....but I have to save some material for another post.

From humorous examples, we can all see the need for a back door in our lives. But, if you know me well enough, you know that there is a serious side to this as well. Back doors can be an unpleasant part of our lives. They are the doors you use to go through when you realize things need to be changed or taken out like....the garbage, shoes too foul smelling for human lungs, a pet that needs to relieve itself, a dessert that needs to be eaten in secrecy or a private conversation with a spouse that you don't want the kids to hear........

But on a more symbolic level, it is the location where we need to decide what stays and what goes in our lives. Many of us fear change, pain and the unknown so a deadbolt locking the door from the outside is implemented. We hang on to possessions, behaviors, beliefs and people that are begging for us to unlock the back door and to be let out.....but we hold these things hostage because we don't trust what our life would be like without them. Can you imagine what a household or a life becomes when things are let in but never let out? It comes to a point where one can not let anything in anymore......there is just no room. The word rancid and stagnate come to mind. It is my opinion that this grain of sand causes the pearl of hoarding. The fear of letting go. The lack of trust that better is yet to come.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

But not letting things go is like holding a struggling, scratching cat. It would have been easier just to have let it jump off your lap when it needed to go.

When the deadbolt is taken off, sometimes it feels really good to let the obvious things go........this is when it is easy, freeing and fun. But what about the situations that you want to hold on to like the dream that you realize may never happen, an addiction that has helped you cope.....(or at least you thought it did) or a life long friend or family member that no longer wants it to be "life long"? For me, this has been the hardest part of keeping my back door unlocked....the friends or family that have chosen to walk out through it.

I guess the big question is, once you take the deadbolt off, how to decide when to use the back door and what you will let out of it. Here is my well researched and profound answer:

I don't know.

.... And as many times as we have a sense and an obligation of what needs to go, there are many times we don't have this. I mean, think about what Abraham must of felt or thought when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his only son. I am sure this was not something he thought needed to go out the back door of his life. Or how about Ezekiel and the mandatory loss of his wife for symbolic reasons in his prophetic ministry? How about Job? If you asked him beforehand, do you think he saw the need to lose all he had and loved dearly out the back door of his life just so God could prove a point to Satan? Or even better yet, how about Mary and the potential loss of her reputation and life due to an unplanned pregnancy and then the eventual violent death of her firstborn son. Do you think she had a sense that all of this needed to go? Do you think any of these biblical figures realized that keeping their back doors obediently unlocked would leave a legacy affecting generations down the road......and for Mary's actions, an eternal legacy on which we can rest our future hopes?

This post is inspired by a situation that is causing pain and reflection for me. It is being used to remind me that many times we to have open our back door and let the wintry cold air of loss come through our lives in order to move on. In no way to I have this "back door" stuff perfected and nailed down. It has caused me to re-evaluate what needs to be fought for, changed and left behind. Yes, the back door is being used even as we speak and I will trust it is for a greater purpose.

So what is it I really want to say with this post?
Keep the front door of your life inviting and your back door unlocked. Trust that the reason things or people leave through it contains a future value or blessing that may be unknown to you. If you are insistent on keeping your back door locked, realize you may be fighting against the very life the Lord has planned just for you.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Of My Favorites

The following is some writing I did four years ago in a blog that flopped because of my negligence. But as I read it again, I realized that it was one of my favorite posts. So, here's to recycling!

My family and I were at the pool the other day. I was wading at the edge of the pool supervising J, R and D splashing away like puppies. They adore the water and it brings me such joy to watch them be so carefree. Whenever I am in a huge throng of people, I like to survey all of them. I usually pick one or two that pique my interest and I check up on them every once in awhile either because their behaviors intrigue me or they are just plain weird looking. I treat them like visual blogs during my stay.

This particular day, only one family caught my eye. I saw them out in the deeper water, a mother and, what seemed to be, her around-four year old son. The mother, a young
blond woman with her hair up in a pony tail, was completely and lovingly absorbed in her son whom she was cradling in her arms while going up and down gently in the water. The aspect that kept my gaze, was the amount of time this child was letting her do this without squirming or yelling out in joy. Any active, normal 3 to 4 yr. old boy would have been holding on for dear life or ready to jump out of her arms. But this boy acted like a new born in the way he rested in his mom's grasp. He had every characteristic of a healthy boy...no contorted face, nor twisted limbs and no jerky telltale movements that would indicate otherwise. But as time passed, I realized this child was special needs and his Mom's gentle care made this more clear. The Mother was so beautiful in the way she was soaked up in her son. Her face held the expression of a face you might see on someone getting a good back rub. I could tell in their world, no one else was at the pool that day...just the two of them. As she exited the water, it also came to my attention that she was heavily pregnant with another child.....which, of course, only added to her beauty. She then joined two other children, (one younger brother and a much older sister) and her husband who took the child from her arms, kissed him, and gently placed him in a stroller. He stood over his son for awhile just talking to him in a cooing and adoring manner. Could this family become any more beautiful to me?

I felt a strong urge to talk to this woman. She went back into the water with her younger son and sat herself down in the shallow part. I walked over to her vicinity with my little ones and gauged whether she was approachable or not. You can tell if someone has no desire to have contact when they avoid eye contact at all costs. This woman had a kind smile, which I took as a good sign. I ventured to ask when she was due to which she responded in several months. With my growing belly, she asked the same and the conversation was then ignited.

We spoke of children, the number we had, the ages and names. Trying to relate, I mentioned my own memories of the joys and struggles of having my fourth. I then took a risk and told her I had noticed that her son was special needs and how I had enjoyed watching them have a good time in the water. (Let me preface the rest of this account by saying that I can not tell you how many times the Lord has put it on my heart the desire to talk to certain individuals never knowing why. But inevitably, I end up being blessed by these very people the Lord puts in my path. When listening to this woman talk, I knew I was supposed to be exactly where I was.)
She nodded her head and said, "Yes, he is special needs." Then there was a pause and she continued, "You know,.... he was born completely normal. But at 18 mos. he contracted a viral form of spinal meningitis, and because he was so young and his immune system was so immature, the virus settled in his brain permanently." My heart went out to her. I felt tears secretly well up that would never surface. I imagined what it must have been like to have a vibrant 18 mos. old that could walk, say a few words and give big juicy kisses...only to have it all stolen away in days, unexpectedly and horrendously. But I knew she had more to say so I remained silent and nodded my head. She went on, "We have been told that we don't have very much time left with him, as the virus is just going to get worse....maybe 1 to 4 years. It's been 2.5 years already, and we just don't know. For a long time, we didn't want to leave the house fearing something would happen and then we realized it was going to happen whether we waited for it or whether we continued to enjoy him and live our life. Many people have even questioned our having more children.....but this little boy has made us not be afraid of life but want to thirst after it. He has been a blessing, why wouldn't we want more?"

Preach on sister.

I knew there was something special about the way she was swimming around in the water with her son. I was watching someone who knew time was limited with the little life in her arms. The scene now had added meaning now that I knew the circumstances. The way the father gently placed his son, with a kiss, back in the stroller with words of comfort now meant more. Here was a family yearning for the blessing of more time and taking advantage of every second.

I need to learn from this.

I have met people in situations like this before. I rarely feel sorry for them. But more often than not, I feel a sense of awe, respect and curiosity at the way they handle it. There have been circumstances in my life that I would not wish on anyone else nor would I want to experience them again....but I can tell you, that I am so grateful I had the experience of going through it. Many times (such as the one I am portraying) these people feel the same way about their terminal circumstances. They wouldn't want anyone else to go through it nor would they want to go through it themselves again, but they feel absolutely blessed to have learned what they have and to have earned renewed perspectives and priorities.

At the risk of sounding completely nuts, I have to admit not only a sense of awe of people in terminal situations but a sense of jealousy as well. Just hang with me here. I don't want the circumstances they are in by any means. When people are in these situations they are thrust at the feet of Christ and have the opportunity to experience his mercy, grace and comfort on a level that can't be attained without that type of circumstance. I am jealous of the opportunity to get that intimate with my creator not the pain and loss imposed by the circumstance. They also have an opportunity to witness this opportunity to the world and their lives can scream out His love and hope in all circumstances. And you know what?

People will listen. They inherently know the need to.

Tell me. If you were put in front of two people one dying of brain cancer and the other having no competing struggles........would you not listen more closely to, and examine the life of, the terminal patient in the quest of drawing out some kind of wisdom or perspective they have gained though their trials? You would do this because you know that this person has had the opportunity to experience God at a much deeper level because of his circumstance. I am not saying all people with terminal circumstances have chosen to experience the Lord in this way.....some have thrown in the towel thinking they were cursed. Others, the ones I am talking about, have used it to be blessed and to bless others beyond belief.

They are

Now, I don't know if this family at the pool knew that they blessed and inspired me. I highly doubt it. I wish I had the chance to tell them. I will pray for this opportunity and for them. But walking away from the pool that day I looked at my children differently. We all have limited time with them and the people we love....we just don't know the time frame God has chosen. This family just happened to know their time frame with a little more certainty. My desire is to treat my family like that woman treated her child in the pool......with total adoration and with a sense that time is precious and limited.

I want to live life like it's terminal but with the joy of knowing it's eternal.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Book I Can't Write.

I can't tell you how many times, people (especially my husband) have strongly encouraged me
to write a book. Nice idea in theory. Does it attract me? Maybe for the fame, money and adoration because we all know that I would make the Top Ten Best Sellers List right? .....only if I write about foolishness.

Honestly, the idea frightens me
. I've had some say I should write about parenting.


Because you know the moment I do, one from my group of pride and joy will prove wrong e
very theory I have published. I will have egg on my head, a child in the state penitentiary making license plates and my book would be given away from people's yards as kindling. Who am I to even give advice on parenting?? I feel I have no right. If asked, I'll give an opinion, but to write a book? I have been humbled too many times to feel I have a corner on the market of raising children. I may have 9 children, but truthfully, I know parents of less children that have the gift of parenting that needs to be written about. Don't get me wrong, I love parenting but I am imperfect like everybody else....and I am not done. My apologies to my children far outweigh any awards I deserve in this area. You will not see me at Borders signing any parenting books soon.

Others have suggested that I
write a book on nutrition and health. Wait, let me put down my deep fried Snickers to explain why this won't ever happen. Nutrition is important to me. In fact, I find this topic spellbinding .....but I am inconsistent at living out my convictions. I talk a good game, but when it comes right down to it, I live by the 80/20 plan. 80% of the time we eat decently and the other 20% of the time you will witness our family eating out of the troughs of Golden Corral, basking in the fries of Mc.D's or picking up the $5 specials at Ceasar's Pizza....only to have our meal be chased with gummy bear Sundaes. Our family blessing for these "20% meals" usually consist not of asking the Lord for nourishment but for protection. Ask me anything about health and nutrition, and I will have a well researched and valid answer. And I truly believe everything I say with a passion. Watch me live it out and you will find me lacking and promising it will get better when I get my act together. The problem is, I lost my act a long time ago and it is currently listed as one of America's Top Ten Most Wanted. Nope. Won't be autographing any books on nutrition either. Nachos and diet coke anyone?

Another suggestion has been to writ
e about my life with having so many children and adopting. Great topic.

Won't do it.

I can't write about this; this story is not even finished yet! And honestly, by the time I do figure thin
gs out enough to write about it, I'll be kissing the basements of anthills . So, I don't foresee my life being separated by chapters and told in between numbered pages....unless someone else is crazy enough to write it.

I love writing. It is very cathartic for me. And most of my writing will only be about what I am learning and with what I am struggling. I pray this encourages others and at times brings joy.... but I will never claim to be an expert....not by a long shot. I am still in my own learning curve. I am still grossly imperfect. But I enjoy this life thoroughly knowing that I have been claimed and that I am loved. And if I ever write a book, it will be because the Lord has my back on it. And I will definitely list Him as the co-author.

Really, all that I know to be true 100% of the time could fit under windshield wipers in the size of a tract. And for its reference it would list God's word and the love and sacrifice of Christ. For any success that I could w
rite about, in this amazing life, is due to the love God has liberally lavished on me and the grace and mercy I have not ever deserved. I can not take credit for this, much less write a book and claim the knowledge as my own. Look at the Bible...and you will see the best book ever written. And if you like His book well enough, He will do one better than signing it.....He will sign your heart.

Monday, December 05, 2011

No More Wondering!

In my last post, I stated that I knew our boys had gotten their care packages and I was wondering what they could be thinking.

I know! I know!

Today in my email I received our monthly updates for Ephrem and Anteneh. I opened them, and behold, there were pictures of them opening their gifts from our family! There were also snap shots of them trying to put together the lego projects we sent and when I looked closer.....they both were wearing the survival bracelets our children had made them.

As I read the report, it was stated that the eldest, Ephrem was "glowing" as our letter was read to him. And the youngest, Anteneh, was so excited about his package, he ran around the orphanage yard showing what he had gotten.

I so wish I could show you the pictures; I ache that I can't. The pictures portray them looking at the photo albums. The very albums that were prepared on my kitchen table with love. Something I touched....they were now turning over and over in their delicate hands and pondering. They have been reached..."Houston, we have contact!" They told their "social worker" to tell us that they loved us and couldn't wait to meet us. Oh, they have no idea how mutual this is. No idea.

All of our lives are going to be so different in a couple of months. At times, I am sure we are going to wonder what the heck has hit us. Here we are Lord, we are ready......bring it on!!!

Friday, December 02, 2011

I Wonder..

About a month ago, I sent off a care package for my boys. It was sent via another adoptive Mom about to meet her daughter for the very first time. She left with hopes of being able to see our boys too.....only to not be allowed to enter the orphanage where our boys reside. She ended up handing the package to our agency's representative to give to them at their monthly visit. This should have happened in the last couple of days. It had two photo albums of our family (one for each), two Lego cars to assemble and two survival bracelets made by our children. We also enclosed a letter to the both of them inviting and welcoming them to be a part of our family.

I know that they have it by now.

I wonder.......

what are they thinking?
do they understand what is happening?
will pictures be taken?
will their stuff get stolen?
will they treasure the package or just set it aside?
what did they think when they saw our pictures?
are they scared?
do they dream about us?
are they wearing the bracelets we gave them?
are they safe?
are they hungry?
can they still love?
will they let us love them?
have we given them hope?
when will we get "the call" to meet them and touch them for the very first time?
when will the waiting end?

and so much more......

I was talking to my dear friend today who is very experienced in the adoption realm. She has adopted a total of four times and has been such a treasure to turn to in our adventure to adopt. Not wanting to sound half cracked, but wanting to share my heart, I admitted today I felt as though something big were happening behind the scenes in regards to our adoption. I have no proof, just a feeling. I asked her if she had ever had this same crazy premonition, feeling or intuition during any of her adoptions. I loved her answer: "Thea, you definitely have the heart and intuition of a true adoptive mother." She went on to say that there had been many times that she had had this feeling in her own adoptions only to be spot on with events that had happened. This comforted me and excited me. I am going to mark this date. Today is December 2, 2011. It is also the date, 18 years ago, that my sweet husband asked me to marry him. Who would have even guessed we would be where we are now : 9 kids, one one the way, the adoption of two precious sons....and waiting.

Absolutely, stunningly amazing.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Absolutely Pointless.

Please let me warn you beforehand that this post has nothing to do with adoption or any deep "Aha" spiritual moments. In fact, this post has no redeeming value at all. I'm just going to have a little fun here.

There is a series of books (Pathway) that my seven yr. old reads to me for home schooling. It has a very "Amish" feel to it. I purchased these books at a time in parenting where I believed I could raise my children as pure as the driven snow and I thought Amish books were one of the tools I would use to raise my perfectly untainted children. As you read, you never get to see the faces of the main characters. This really gets to my kids. All the dolls are made out of cloth and wood and the boys' toys are home made trucks and wagons. Some of the situations portrayed are so pure, innocent and handled with such simple language that it brings me great delight.....to make fun of. Let me be honest in saying that my inner dialogue while reading these stories is
anything by Amish, simple or pure. My children have no hope.

For example, in this book there is a boy named Peter who acquires a little puppy which he aptly names Rover. Rover is loved but eventually proves he is 100% puppy by single
handedly destroying at least one possession of every character in the book. Here is an excerpt of an unfortunate event involving Rover and Dad: The blue words are the actual word but I couldn't help but to color commentate in red.

Rover and Dad

Rover looked for something to play with. By and by he saw Dad's shoe.
(uh oh Rover)

He started to play with it. Rover played and played wi
th the shoe. Up it went and down it came. Then it went up again.
(Your future ain't look'n so bright little doggy.)
Soon Dad's shoe had a hole. But Rover still did not stop playing with it.

(about right now is when you might want to kiss your furry butt good bye.)

Dad came out of the house. He looked all around. "Where is my shoe?" he said.
(Here's a clue Amish guy: think "chew toy", your shoe and euthanasia and you'll be close.)
Then Dad saw Rover. He saw his shoe, too. "No, Rover," said Dad. "NO! NO! NO!"
(REALLY?? This is all he could think to say?? My v
ersion would be oh so-o-o- unprintable. Oh, I forgot, this guy's Amish.)
He ran at Rover.
(Hmmm. A Dog Whisperer kind of move?)

Rover did not play now.
(There is nothing like an Amish dude running after you that quells the desire to play.)
Oh, my, no! Away he ran as fast as he could.
(Rover's very first act of intelligence)

He ran to his hole under the house.
(a.k.a. future burial site)
Dad came to the hole, too. He found Rover. "You are a bad dog, Rover," he said.
(again, not the verbiage I would have chosen but I think we have already ascertained that I am not Amish nor the author of a second grade reader.)
Dad pulled Rover out of the hole. He took his shoe and did something. He did something to Rover.
(Something? SOMETHING?? Yes sir-ee he did. "S
omething" is the obvious code word for Daddy-o taking out a big can of Amish whoop--- and beating the living snot out of our little friend Rover)
Rover did not like what Dad did. (Darn toot'n) He ran into his hole again.....He was not a happy puppy.

Needless to say, Rover never played with Dad's shoes again. Lesson learned. On to the next chapter.

You know, I thought it would be interesting to relay one of our family's "discussions" through an Amish-Pathway reader kind of way. Here we go: (Now see if you can't resist going un-Amish on me and want to insert your own red commentary!)


It was a nice day. The sun was shining. It was early and Sam was making his breakfast. Sam was not a happy boy.
Sam was having a hard time being kind to other people.
Dad was up early too. Dad was singing. He was happy. Dad told Sam to do some work. Sam said some words that were not happy.
"No, no, no Sam. Do not say those words. They are not nice." said Dad. Dad talked about school. Sam did not want to talk. Dad talked about how to say nice words. Again, Sam did not want to talk.
Finally, Sam wanted to talk but he did not say good words. He said cross words. Now Dad was cross. Dad did something to Sam. Sam did not like what Dad did. He ran to his room. Dad went away. He went away to work. Sam stayed in his room. He did not want to play. He was not a happy boy.

Like Rover, there was eventually a happy ending to this story as well. I am sure any "red commentary" you mentally inserted had much truth to it and hopefully some humor to boot. Explaining things simply to me never works. I have to mess with it some how. To have written the above so simply about killed me......there is just so much more between the lines.

So...there you have it, my post with absolutely no wisdom to impart nor any edifying value. Totally and utterly pointless and I enjoyed every second of it!

Have a good day!!!