Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Best Part

It's easy to miss it. That piece of my heart that sings. That knows each moment of a busy morning is important. That stops to breathe in the scent of the baby shampoo.  That understands the cry and the longing of a toddler and doesn't put him on a to-do list.

Tuesday mornings are one of the busiest times in my job. Moms bring dozens of little people in and we love them and teach them church is safe and hope they walk away with a little deeper understanding of the bible.  I always look forward to it but I find myself rushing through. Checking off my to-do list. Making sure diapers get changed, no one is screaming, and everyone is safe and happy on the playground.

Some mornings, though, I get the chance to savor. I would be lying if I said I like the stand back and observe approach. Most of the time, Sundays or Tuesdays, you'll find me in a classroom. I like to be "in the action." What's that? A baby is crying? Let me hold her. A preschooler is having a rough morning? Can I talk to him? Honestly, I maybe a little too hands-on sometimes. I love it, though.  I only get one or two days a week and I take advantage of them.

So the savoring...

The beginning of today was rushed. Filled with checking things off the list, making sure everyone knew all the pertinent information. Then it turned to discipline. Major, heart-wrenching discipline.

Little A was waiting. He was doing his best to try to make himself happy with other sitters. But each time he'd look over and reach for me, I didn't have the ability to take him yet. I'd say, "I promise, buddy! I'm there as soon as I handle this one more thing..."and then had to go back to the discipline and the rosters and the everyday stuff.

With less than an hour left, I grabbed Little A and we settled in.  He was finally happy to snuggle in my arms.  The back story is it's taken him a year to like me. Ours is a love that's rooted in hardship, in trust, in perseverance.

I held him and watched as he fought to stay upright. He was ready to sleep--something I've never seen him do in my care.  I put on my favorite lullaby on repeat and we rocked and swayed. I watched his eyelids get heavy. I watched him look to me and trust me enough to lose consciousness in my arms. And I prayed over him, praying God would help Little A to know how much he loved him. That God would build him and firmly root him. And I teared up. Thinking of how much I love Little A. What a privilege it is to build relationship with him on Sundays and Tuesdays. I wondered if he would ever know there was a 30 year old woman, waiting for her little one, snuggling him, so thankful for the hope he brought. When he's my age, he probably won't know me. But I pray he knows Jesus.

I read my friend Courtney's blog today. She's in Ethiopia.  She's visiting orphanages and seeing children in devastating circumstance. And she's loving them. Rocking them to sleep, singing them songs about Jesus. Praying over them. I may never know if she meets my little one. But I get comfort in knowing there are people out there, loving my little one like I would want to.

Today was one more reminder that my job is not valued in the eyes of the world. I won't get a medal. I won't even get the value of watching these children grow into adults and seeing how God uses them. But I get glimpses now. A reach and a snuggle. A kiss blown by sticky, chubby toddler fingers. A child who tells the Bible story to Mom without being prompted. And I know someday, when all the sadness has gone, I will see many of them on the other side and we can celebrate our savior together.

And my heart sings.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Grace--A Post About Waiting Two Years

Two years. Of waiting. Today.

So today could be a hard day. But as it turns out, we are so blessed it's actually a great, beautiful example of God's grace.  For those of you who haven't heard. let me explain.

I got a sweet letter last week from a woman in our church who told me she'd be praying for me at 3:30 today. It was a beautiful note, explaining her own adoption story and telling me how she would be praying for me today.

Well, I told a coworker about this sweet note and she pulled me aside to confess she'd been up to something. Something big.

Knowing today would be a difficult day for us, this sweet, precious friend of mine had asked those who know us to sign up for a spot to pray for us today.

Every thirty minutes. All day long today. Starting at midnight. People have been praying for us. And for IC (imaginary child).

People who know us well and people who don't know us as well. People who are related to us and people who feel like they should be we are so close.

She showed me the spreadsheet and told me it filled very quickly. Even the times in the middle of the night.  Of course, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing.  I'm trying not to cry now just typing about it.

I was already in tears when I started to realize some people had signed up as "So and So's Mom" and right then and there I lost it.  Something about seeing mamas we mostly know only by caring for their children praying for our child was just too much to bear.  Mamas who hand their sons and daughters over the door to my husband in the walkers room. Or know me from the hallway. I just can't. It's just too much. I don't know why but something about it just was overwhelming.

As I read through the sheet, there were some times that had three and four people praying.

I don't even know how to express feelings about this.


This is what grace looks like.

People loving each other. Loving us.  Taking time out of their day. Their night.  To pray for us.  We don't deserve this kindness.

But for grace.

I will treasure this document forever.

I can't pay these people back.  I wouldn't even know how to begin.


As E and I hit the pillow last night, we knew people would be praying for us as we slept. We prayed for them and thanked God for a community who love us so, so well.

I woke up today, knowing his grace really is new every morning.  E and I had a delightful breakfast together before work and still, I really could only think about everyone praying for us.

I just had to share this because he's so sweet and darling. Can't wait to see him as a dad.

I put the link on our chain.  Here's the verse I chose for the 24th month of waiting:

Phil 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but through everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, submit your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Today marks two years of officially waiting for our referral (that phone call where they'll call and tell us they've matched us with a child). Two years since our paperwork was sent on an airplane to Ethiopia.

Pay no attention to the backpacks and laundry baskets that have overtaken our whole house:)

I went back today and read our announcement post, where I told the world we were officially accepted into the Ethiopia program for our agency.  On that post I said we thought it would take between one and two years to bring our child home.  We've seen lots of changes to the program in the past two years and it's become clear that original timeframe was a little off base.

Or a lot.

In some ways, I can't believe it's been two years since we sent our paperwork to Ethiopia. In other ways it seems like it's been forever.  Here's one thing I know:

I am not the same woman who stood at Fed Ex two years ago and dropped the most important paperwork of her life into an overnight express envelope.

I was told the wait would change me. It has. My heart looks different. My life looks different. My desires look different. But one thing hasn't changed:

I can't wait to bring home our child.

Of course, the idea of who our child is has changed a little. Or a lot.

My expectations of what that process and the challenges that will lie within have changed a little. Or a lot.

But ultimately, God has grown our hearts more for his desires and to care for his people.

We don't know how long we'll keep waiting but we sure can see how far we've come.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. To each and everyone one of you who hold us in your hearts. We are waiting for our child but we are not waiting for our blessings. We are already blessed more than we can even hold. Thank you for blessing us. Thank you for your prayers.

"Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An update by way of iphone photos

This is where I admit to you that I haven't blogged in a month because I desperately want to blog about something adoption-related. And I think many of you want an update.

But there is no update to be had. As Ethiopia goes through one more set of changes in procedure, nothing is really happening in the way of referrals.

Oh, lots is happening in our lives. Just nothing with the adoption. So in some ways it feels like we're in one of those holding pattern phases again. Desperately hoping someone, anyone will get a referral so we can be renewed in hope.  We're mere days from the 2 year mark. Don't worry. I'll blog on our two year mark. But, alas, we are in the "trust God and be still" part of life.

I got a letter in the mail today. From a family in our church. They told me they'd be praying for me on Monday. They told their story of waiting for their son and how it worked out. It was so beautiful. It's easy to feel like people are only with us for the exciting parts of the journey. It was great to be reminded that our family and our Father are present in the quiet moments, too.

So, I thought today being the 13th (our favorite day around here, in case you had forgotten) I should post. And what makes a better post after a one-month absence than an iphone dump. So in no particular order, this is what is happening in our lives as we try to live on and not wait in suspense, knowing that real life is happening in every moment and not just the adoption-related ones.

OK you caught me. This one was adoption-related. Our 23 months post. We added one more link to the chain with the verse that's been keeping me sane lately. Psalm 18:30 "This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him."

Good thing the chain is cute. The wait is so not.

Oh yeah. The football. So very much football.  If I were to describe my fall it would go like this:  run, football, work, /repeat. 

As it turns out we are good this year. Like, seriously good. Who knew? Not even we did at the beginning of the season but we keep winning so that's a lot of fun. A lot more fun than last year. We're even talking SEC championships and stuff.  Of course, there's no hope for winning that one. Sure would be a lot of fun to play, though.

Cute best friend, right? Right. We both like vests, natch.

No, we didn't move. Orphan Sunday was November 3. In an amazing turn of events our church gave around 200 backpacks to one of our local foster care agencies. So what I'm basically saying is I've been inventorying backpacks in my awake free time for the past few weeks and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

We were blown away by our church's support for foster care. One of the things I specifically prayed for after attending Summit was to develop a greater support for foster care in our community. We've got a long way to go but this was a beautiful step.  

As I unpacked and checked backpacks, it went like this: open pack, cry at the generosity of people, pack it back up and pray, go to the next one.

This was, by far, the best Orphan Sunday I've been a part of. I am still praying God will use this and it would be great if you could join me.

This is Jerry.  No, not my husband. The dog. We have a new foster puppy currently. He's adorable and very stinky. We love him dearly and hope he finds a great new home. And in no way do we secretly want to keep him. We definitely want him to find a great home.

Unless we keep him. 

I kid. I kid. We can't do 3 dogs right now. My head would explode. So if you know a great family who wants a crate trained, potty-trained, beautiful, super sweet and snuggly dog who growls at ALL THE THINGS, contact me.

And finally, we got to see Eric's aunt late last week. I had never met Auntie R. That's mostly because she lives in Nepal. And has for the entirety of our marriage. So it was so cool to meet her. And a bonus: I found out E has some blue-eyed genes in his family line. So you're telling me there's a chance...

And that's about it for our lives right now. They're full. We just need to remember that. Full and beautiful. And not dictated by a wait.

I keep saying. Over and over and over.