Friday, March 29, 2013

The Ceramic

In the morning bustle, I grabbed two coffee mugs--one for me and one for him. I knew he had eight minutes to leave. Ten if we pushed it, he told me. I rushed the mugs over to the pot, trying to bless him with good brew to get him through an early morning. As I passed the sink on my way to the coffee, the porcelain crashed against the ceramic and in an instant, the mug was in shards all over the ground.  He rushed out and quickly swept away the remains of the accident. Of the mess.

He got to work on time, if you're wondering. And I hopped in the shower. I heard a clinking. As I toweled off, I realized what it was--she, the big pup, had a piece. I grabbed it away from her--a task considering how much she wanted to hold on to it.  Who knows why.

I dressed in my funeral best. It is, after all, the day of his death.  Black with a pop of color. My favorite color. Because I love him too much not to wear color, even at the recognition of his death.  I went on with my makeup. I heard the clinking again. This time I didn't immediately recognize it. I made my way to the kitchen and saw her with another piece. As I lunged for it, she backed away. It had punctured her gums. The piece was shiny and red as fresh blood covered the metallic color.  She really didn't want me to have it. She was hurt but she thought keeping this thing, this remains of a mess, was hers to keep. That it would provide her...something? Fun? Enjoyment? Control? I could tell by the way she shuddered at my touch she was afraid to let me have it. She may have known the pain but she was too scared that my touch would only cause more pain.

I waited until she relaxed and grabbed the piece from her, getting a glimpse of the laceration on her front lip.  She wouldn't let me touch it.  It was too fresh.  After a few seconds, she realized the thing she wanted so badly to keep from me was the thing that had caused the pain in the first place.

As I sat to write you all this morning, she was still standing in shock. And now? Just moments later? She is playing fetch with abandon.  Coming to me, realizing I took the bad stuff and gave her freedom to play with things that are hers for the taking.  Not the painful shards of glass that will leave her hurting.

I hope today, as you make your way to a service (and I hope you make your way to a service), if you are holding on to something painful, you will recognize it for the pain it holds in your life.  Do you have such a tight grip on it, knowing that control may mean pain but being too afraid of the alternative to surrender it to the kind hand who will make you whole again?

" But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Today we celebrate a life well lived and a death not deserved.  We put on our funeral best and recognize we, with our shards of ceramic and mess and desire to keep our lives separate from him, we nailed him to a cross.

Today is hard. It's like the death of a loved one. It is the death of a loved one. Though I know it took him, and me, to a better place, it's hard to sit here and realize today means death. Even if better is coming.  I tried to talk to God about my feelings about his son's death today and found myself on the brink tears and unable to put anything into words.  This death and resurrection thing? It's easier when  you keep your distance. But it's not better.  Today, I grieve the loss of a family member, a friend, a man who loved me so much that he gave his life to take my shard of ceramic that pierced me and would have killed me.

Sunday, we celebrate the hand that took the pain away. The body. The blood.  The funeral today? It is short-lived, my friends.  We don't have to suffer, to be afraid, to wonder what will happen if we let it go. We can rest in his promise that he will take it and we are free to run with abandon. To chase after him and him alone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Little Man Letter

Hey Little Man,

I know it's not a Monday. But I missed you. Please don't think I don't write to you because I am not thinking about you. Certainly that is not the case. In fact, sometimes I don't write to you because I think of you so often. It makes it silly to sit and write you a letter because you are always in my thoughts, right there with me in the adventure. Other times I don't write you because you are so near to my thoughts that it hurts to think this will be one more letter in a series that won't make it to your "memory" book for years.  So why don't I write to you every week? Because you write your way into my life every day.  But I always, always love you.

Today I am sipping coffee and doing housework and reading before I head to work. Dad is at work. The dishwasher is humming. The washer and dryer are whirring. Coldplay is playing and the TV is off. And it is so quiet, aside from Gabby rooting around looking for pieces of last night's dinner on the floor. It's here where it's hard to even imagine how you'll change my life.  How this time of quiet and solace and peace will seem like it never had time to happen. And I think after all this waiting there will be a piece of me that wishes it never did.

Even now, I can picture your curly head zooming around my feet with matchbox cars.  I picture the way you'll run up, asking me to tie your shoe, breaking my train of thought. The way you'll help me load the dishwasher and in your helping it will take us twice as long but we'll be together.  The way I'll leave a little earlier for work to get you where you're going. The puffy way your coat will surround your hopefully growing belly and the way it will take us a while to get it zipped because you won't want to stand still.  And we'll giggle together and learn each other and hopefully fall more in love with Jesus together.

I guess what I'm saying is I can't wait for you to get here. In the waiting I think of how different life will be and I hope you'll be patient with me.  This family thing--it's going to be new for you.  Or at least THIS family.  Well, all of it is going to be new for you. English and puppies and snow and all kinds of new food.

But do you know what we haven't talked about? How THIS family thing? It will be new for me too. Your dad and I are a family to be certain. But we will be a whole new family when you arrive.  And I will need some help adjusting, too.  Little Man, if you were here I'd ask you to give me grace. I'm going to screw up a little. A lot. I am going to be selfish when I need to be selfless. I am going to think I'm doing the right thing but it's really not going to be. I am going to get frustrated when I should really be patient. And so, we've got a lot to learn together.

I love you, little guy.  Dad and I are currently figuring we'll meet you in a year and a half. Maybe two years. Yup, that's how much you're worth it. We keep trekking.  You're worth it to God, too. He sets the lonely in families, you know. And do you know what he knows that the world doesn't know? The lonely? It's your dad and me too. We're lonely without you. We know you belong here with us. And we can't wait for him to set you in our family and us in yours.

Praying for you on this snowy Wednesday in March. Love you, IC.


Monday, March 25, 2013

That Time We Went to Church In A Blizzard

Let me start by saying I had this post all but done and I added another photo and deleted the whole post. In the words of my husband: harumph.

Here we go again. From scratch.

I never put too much stock in weather forecasts. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes they're wrong. I'd seen the radar and wasn't convinced. So when I woke up Sunday morning to frost on the ground and giant flakes pouring down, I was a little surprised, despite all the warnings.

I had a conversation Friday with the pastor who happened to be preaching Sunday. We lamented how snow often falls Saturday night. He promised he'd be preaching no matter how hard the snow was falling. So after looking out my window, I continued putting on my makeup and getting ready. I did switch my plans from heels to boots. Other than that, things were pretty much going along as normal.

Against objections, I convinced E we should take one car to church. So we both hopped in the Camry and started along the ten minute drive to my work. This is what our drive looked like:

That photo has not been doctored, my friends. This was us at an intersection. And I have no idea which intersection because, well, look at it!

So as E cautiously drove (like a rock star I might add--he wasn't shaken at all by the lack of visibility or the iciness or the roads) I fielded texts, emails, and calls from volunteers.  All of whom (except one--shout out to Heather) were saying, "I can't make it!!" And who could blame em. Please reference above photo.

Then the texts from coworkers started. I was running late but the coworker who'd already gotten there said she was still shaking from the experience.  Um, yeah.  But we arrived a little late and in one piece. At 7:30, my usually bustling church had about 10 people in it. Here's the outside snow:

I hopped into the wing to see if anyone was there and found a few lone, brave souls.  By the time I had done a quick once-over, I got an email saying we would have the 8:00 service but the next two would be canceled. So I rallied some computers for our volunteers to watch our one and only service and we gathered around for a church "snow day" of sorts.

Shout out to my brother's girlfriend. It was her first Sunday to volunteer as a sub in our ministry and at 7:50 she arrived and announced, "So sorry I'm late!" I was shocked to see her in the midst of all the snow and when I told her this, she commented, "Of course I'm here. I'm from Nebraska." Point taken. Come to think of it, another of our volunteers who showed was from Nebraska as well. Anyway, that's dedication. First Sunday to serve, full of snow, show up anyway.  Let me also state she took her front wheel drive car home in the snow, against my protest. Texted me quickly to say she was home. Rock. Star.

Here's where God's providence becomes amazing. We ended up having about 100 people in church yesterday and I had about 10 volunteers show up, out of the 25 scheduled for first service. Talk about awesome.  In fact,  I sent some to church because we didn't need them all.  We opened 3 classrooms and had a snow day.  I got to stick around and feed a baby a bottle so you know it was a good day in my book.

Seriously, though. It was just a wonderful day to build community.  

Once we'd cleared out the wing and turned down a rather kind offer to take a suburban home, E and I trekked back in the Camry. Here's us stopping at Hy Vee to get pizza and Redbox movies. (Side note: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Big Fan).

Yeah. Eric is just wearing a light jacket. What you can't see is I am wearing his heavy down coat because he said he didn't need it. It came to my knees.

After our grocery stop, we headed back home through the snowstorm. Here are some photos along the way:

I'll say it again: my man did a great job navigating that snow in our little Camry.  But we live in the county. Not the city. And we live on a hill.

So when we turned onto our actual street. We got, how do you say, stuck going up the final hill. So my dashing husband got out, I put the car in low, and he pushed us up the hill and into the driveway. Where I promptly got us stuck sideways in the drive. Exhibit A:

But no one is complaining about that. Because we got home!  I will state as I made dinner that night, E shoveled the driveway and put the car in the garage. Married life. It's the best.

As we made the pizza, I hopped online and watched the service. I am blessed to work at a high tech church where they stream the service and then put the full service in archive to watch at will. See:

It was for sure a fun adventure of a day. But since we've had three snow storms this winter (more than we've had total in our other 5 years in our town) I'd like to think this is the end of the road for the snow. For a while at least. I'm looking forward to killing things in my garden and getting outside with my dogs.

Either way, I'm thankful for our fun blizzard adventure yesterday. And in case you're wondering, official reports say we ended up with nine inches of snow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Casting Crowns Concert

Our social worker emailed me earlier this week and let me know of a fun opportunity to represent our agency at the Casting Crowns concert this week. Because I am a huge fan of our agency, I rearranged my schedule and made it work.

I found out that I was to be the only one at the table until intermission when Eric got off work. That made me a little nervous but years on the road at admission fairs had boosted my confidence a little.

I arrived at 5:30, in search of a man named John Michael Hall. I walked in and asked for him and he was right there. As it turns out, John Michael is 14. As it also turns out, his dad is the lead singer for Casting Crowns and his mom is the tour manager. John Michael and his sisters hit the road with his parents throughout the tour and John Michael's job is to set up the Show Hope/ America World table a help set up the World Vision tables.

John Michael showed me the ins and outs of Show Hope's materials and America World's (though I had a pretty good handle on AWAA's info packet. I have to admit it was a complete throwback to see the baby blue, shiny info packet we had mailed to us three years ago when we were researching agencies. So many of the countries have changed. So many fewer in this packet... But I guess that's just international adoption for you.

I staffed the table by myself til intermission and only got some reaction. At intermission Eric showed up. Good thing, too, because people started asking LOTS of questions. It was so fun to see people full of questions and hope and uncertainty. They asked so many of the questions we did when we started the process. John Michael came by several times to give us the thumbs up.  

After intermission we sat together in the lobby and watched the concert. That is, until, John Michael came out to thank us and give us a CD.  We were incredibly grateful. Then he popped back by and noticed we were getting really into the music, sitting on the floor of the vestibule. So he found some seats and ushered us in to the concert.

That is a 14 year old kid who has been taught hospitality and kindness to others, I tell ya!

Here's a shot from our seats. The concert was BEAUTIFUL!

After the concert we talked about adoption with couples for quite a while before I finally started to pack up the brochures. John Michael arrived and helped us pack up. Not before I convinced him to take a picture with us.

It's funny how adoption has become such an overarching facet of our lives, even before we have a referral. This is just one more example. I'm hoping Casting Crowns makes a stop on tour in a few years so we can introduce John Michael to little man. Then we'll know we've come full circle.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sixteen Months DTE

Yes, I am a few months behind. So we're catching up today. Sixteen months. Sixteen!!

I haven't put a verse on in three months so here is what I did today:

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you may have trouble but take heart. I have overcome the world." John 16:33

"The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 37:39

"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results." James 5:16

I'll be's hard to put chains up right now. We are sixteen months in. And if the numbers tell a truthful story (which is never certain) we're not halfway.  And yet.

We truly have come a long way. We started at 71. We are currently 42. We have moved pretty far, actually. And there's so far to go.

We were explaining to some new friends that we have this room. Full of toys and a chain link and books and heck, there's even an unassembled crib. Those pieces together are hard.

Then there's this present life. The one where we had dinner with said friends last night on a whim and didn't get home til 7:30. The one where we are headed to Justin Timberlake in Chicago because we can do things like that. The one where I'm writing this at 7 p.m. and dinner isn't finished and we are leisurely enjoying our evening.  And I remember it's all a gift.  All of it.

The Waiting.

The preparing.

The Before.

And of course, we are already certain the after.

We are so thankful for our present circumstances. We wouldn't have planned it this way. And that's when I remember I'm so thankful for a God who aligns my every step and doesn't withhold any good thing.

Sweet Sixteen.

We're blessed.