Saturday, December 17, 2011

We're having a baby in July

I truly thought that would be something I'd never be able to say. The past weeks have been filled with wonder, disbelief, excitement and peace.

When we began the adoption, I began to work on my expectations of life. Like lots of little girls, I grew up dreaming of the day I'd get married and have children. When that didn't turn out like I expected, it was rough. The struggle with infertility lasted a while. We made a decision that, unknown to us at the time, would change our lives forever. We decided to build our family through adoption.

When that didn't work out, and our hearts were crushed, full of love for the four children we'd been Mami and Papi to for such a short time, I didn't know if I would survive. Most of the time, I didn't think I would.

It's been 2 1/2 years since that awful day we said goodbye. In these 2 1/2 years, my belief of who God is, who He created me to be, and my role in His kingdom has radically changed.

Grief has changed me.

Being a childless mother has changed me.

Trusting God in the middle of hellish circumstances has changed me.


When we first discovered we were going to have a baby, I was in complete disbelief. "Not me," I'd think, "I don't get pregnant."The reality of Gods great grace and mercy hit me hard. There was no way I deserved this. So many times I'd doubted Him. So many times I'd been unwilling to open my hands and trust Him in the middle of my pain.

And that is the wonder of God's grace. We don't deserve it. And yet He still gives good things to His children. For His glory.

All Glory be to God in the Highest!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Acceptance

It's strange how a big change in my job could have such an impact on my grief. But it has. Being back at a school with people I love dearly and who care about me, has greatly impacted my grieving. In a good way. I've at numerous interactions with my students that have forced me to confront my fears left over from parenting, and I now wholly believe I can be a good mom. The lies that my brain and the trauma encouraged have been "beat down" through experience.

And of course our church family. Being part of a church family who seeks to integrate suffering into the life of believers has been redeeming. No longer do I sit and feel like my suffering is something I should be "gettting over" because God has something better for me. Now I fully know that this suffering has been part of His Good story. I'm part of His story. Not the other way around.

I'm learning to accept the life that the Lord gives us, and it has been a time of peace.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sad, Mad, Bad: And me

First of all, I would like to say exactly what's on my mind. There are no words except these:

Life can be really shitty.

There. I said it.

My students at school live lives that make my soul hurt. They make me hurt for the four ninos. The lives they have and can't control make me so angry. The frustration that wells up inside of me, frustration that the adoption didn't turn out differently; we so wanted it too. With all of our beings. Seeing the response from kids at school that I wanted to see before. Embracing a child after they've been through discipline and are repentant. Feeling the joy of renewal and connection. I wanted that so badly with my children.

I rejoice that my students experience it. Yet I'm torn between the deep longing it brings for the ninos, and the joy I have with my students.

They kingdom come Lord, on earth. In my life, in my classroom, in every interaction I have. Because only You make this worth it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grief Ambushes and Kindergarten

Grief certainly is a companion one can't predict. It springs up in odd places and at seemingly random times. But I can't ever predict which factor will set it off, now over two years later. But the past three weeks have had overflowing grief. I am so thankful we attend a church where this is embraced as part of our humanity.

H turned 13 last Friday. That was really rough; is really rough. E should be starting kindergarten, and I'm teaching kindergarten for the first time. Lots of areas for grief to well up.

In terms of kindergarten, I feel strangely at peace about it. Strange because I assumed I'd be pretty nervous and am not nearly so as much as I thought I'd be. And the peace part is certainly different from what I've experienced in my job before. I don't think I could ever say I was at peace when school started. Which is strange too.

These kindergarteners are going to crack me up.  The first one I met announced, "I knew it! I knew you'd be pretty!"

Thanks for making my evening, little one!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Donors Choose

So I was watching Stephen Colbert the other day, and heard about this Donors Choose website for teachers. Basically, teachers can request needed materials, and other people or businesses can fund it.

So I set it up! Check it out!







Wednesday, July 27, 2011

California Sunshine!


Of course, what's a trip without picking up stones?


 Any Bachel.*r.ette fans? Does this look familiar? A certain date in Sonoma??


Monday, June 20, 2011

Good Memories

We just came back from vacation. It was wonderful. Our June memories will now consist of sad ones, but also happy ones. Happy ones borne of nearly two years of working through the grief, pain, sadness, myriads of feelings, and "sorting outs". It was a time to enjoy our life together as the family that the Lord has for us in the present moment.

The past two months or so have brought about healing that is washing over in welcome waves. So very welcome.

No one wants to be stuck in grief. But I've realized that there isn't much one can do to make it heal any faster. It's different for each person, each circumstance. We aren't fixed. We are certainly different people than we were a couple years ago. There will still be grief. I still miss the children and their little smiles. But I have much more peace now. The negative emotions are fading.


Oh how welcome it is.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Did I really say that?"

I have been reflecting on my last post, and another one quite a while ago. Both of them make me go, "Did I really say that to the whole wide world?" And my immediate reaction is a flood of shame. The world is now aware of how deep my sin goes.

And upon further reflection, my decision is, that is a good thing.

It is good for me to see how deep my sin goes. Because then I can see my dire need for redemption, for grace, and for God's mercy to be given. I have discovered, that when I try to hide or modify others' perception of me in light of my sinfulness, I don't truly have a deep gratitude for the redemptive work Jesus has done. I do not have humility.

So if any of you reading this thought "Wow, that girl is a selfish whiner, " you're right. I am. The reference to the woman who lost her daughter was referring to someone I've never met (as if that makes it somehow "less" bad...it doesn't".  Basically, I was struggling one day with how long our affliction has lasted. I longed to feel community with someone else who's struggled like we have, to see how someone else has handled the grief and stress and shame and guilt. And initially I thought I'd found it. And then when I read about the healing that came from them expecting another child, I kinda lost it.

I was really angry with God for not giving me what I want. The clay telling the potter what to make.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"5 Times" and "I need something good"

I cried five separate times on Sunday. Not that it's a record for me, by any means. But it's out of the norm lately. Apparently life hasn't gotten the memo that after a traumatic experience and losing one's children, there's supposed to be a healing calm. Oh no. That memo missed his inbox entirely.

I went back to the psychologist a week ago. Over the past few months, I've realized that I'm able to integrate the story of the children into our life much more healthily, but other things have creeped in as a result of the constant stress of the past two years. While the Dr. is booked for a while, he did give me homework.

Gosh darn it. When will this strenuous mental processing end??? Huh?? Ever?? It's wearing me down.

We desperately long for something good. It's hard watching it come to others sometimes. That's the honest truth. To read someone's words of how a second child has filled their heart, been so healing, after the loss of their toddler. And I cry out inside, "Why can't that be for us?"

The intense sadness that used to be is now replaced by intense frustration and anger. The battle of feeling like we're "owed" something is never ending. Like we've put in our suffering chips and now should get something back for them. That isn't how God's kingdom works.

But how I long for something good. I long for it in my job. S longs for it in his job. In the expanding of our family. I want to feel a breath of fresh air. Like a new start. Something in life that matches this "new me" that is now me. But then I get scared and think hurt will bombard us like it did before.

Trusting God is hard. Really, really hard. I'm glad we have the story of the disciples. They got it wrong so much. But Jesus drew them in, even then.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sweet Memory

Driving home from work today, "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" came on my 40's station on XM. (Love that channel!) I happily hummed its winsome tune all evening. As I thought about it more and more, and recalled dancing with my sweetheart at one wedding we attended in particular, I had to agree.

Later on, I had another memory. Instead of a freshly glossed dance floor in the banquet room of the football stadium, it was a wooden floored room crowed with six people. A little girl was singing "Baila! Baila!" while jumping on the bed and begging me to swirl her around in the air, dancing to my made up waltz.

I couldn't get my breath, was lightheaded from the altitude, sick with a cold, and very nearly wanted to faint. But my daughter wanted me to dance with her. And so I did. And I will treasure it forever.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finality

I'm trying to write this, and i don't really know what to say. As is usual when I sit down to write. My mind keeps me awake at night trying to sort through all the thoughts of the day, and then accumulation from the week. It's like my brain is taking a pile of disheveled papers and is trying to sort them into the right file folder, all the while carefully creasing each file folder at just the right width for the papers it will hold, and making sure each tab is visible above the hanging file.

Ok, that makes me sound crazy.

The past week has had a few times when the finality of the adoption has shown itself. The first one was a dream I had where I was getting ready for work, and suddenly realized I didn't know where E was.

"Where is he? Where is E" I anxiously asked S. "Didn't you pick him up from daycare? What are they going to think of us leaving him there?"
"I picked him up, but I don't know where he is," S replied.

And that's where it all stopped. We don't know where our "son" is or the other son, or the other son, or daughter. And never will. Ever. If they're healthy or not. If they're loved or not. If they're safe or not. We'll never know.

The next day we received the dossier in the mail. As I cried, I realized something. They didn't feel like "my" kids anymore.

And here is where I need the script for this. If I don't feel like they are mine anymore, it's as if the whole experience is going to just fade away, never to be remembered again. Will people forget their names when I mention them? What am I supposed to do? How do I do this?

Then my mind turned on me. Are some coping mechanisms you've been using now unhealthy? Things that you've held onto for the past year, or six months that you needed then, but need to release now?

No one ever told me about this. The books all say, "cry all you need," "don't let others tell you where you should be in your grief." But they don't mention that at some point the crutches that were healthy for you initally, would become hindrances. It may sound like common sense, but....

Yesterday
My sister, nina and I all went shopping yesterday. The second half of this story is a very young teenage girl that my sister is tutoring. She is pregnant. Sister and I are planning a baby shower for her. We went to get the invitations and then to the baby aisles at Walmart.

You see, we were at Walmart because of some very dear people. People who unknowingly have been a blessing to many. Just about 2 years ago, I was the recipient of two "kid showers".  I was overcome with joy at impending motherhood, and overcome with gratitude for friends who were there with us to celebrate and to help us prepare.

When we returned home, I didn't think twice about the still unused gift-cards tucked away. It was probably a year later when i came across them. Believing that the right time would come, I just kept them there.

So when sister and I prepared to go to the store, I pulled them out. I looked lovingly at the "froms" and remembered how grateful we were to receive them. I put them in my purse.

We probably spent a good two hours in the baby section at Walmart. We headed to the register with our cart full of blue and white and green and brown. I pulled out my gift cards and one by one handed them over. Sister went home, I went home with nina.

We are going to shower this girl with love, love from countless people she'll never meet.

Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12: 29-31

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our Dossier Was Returned

After getting off the phone with my sister, talking about H and how a student at school makes me face unmotherhood everyday because I had her in 4th grade and had this post about her two years ago, I walk up to the door and see a large address with CHI's return address.

As has always been the case when getting an envelope from CHI, my heart began to do somersaults.

And then I opened it up. Our dossier had been returned from Colombia.

All those papers, carefully gathered and regathered and regathered with love, the epitome of being an expectant parent, staring me in the face, mocking my pain. Causing tears, creating emotional chaos, anger.

If I was a swearing person, this would be the appropriate time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another Dream

I had another dream the other day. This time it wasn't about the kids per say. In this one, we were going back to Col to adopt, but whether it was the same kids, or not is pretty hazy.

I don't do much with dreams considering my whole life I've had crazy ones, scary ones, and most of them I remember, and none of them have ever made sense...ever.

But it does make me quite melancholy the morning after one about the kids, or about Col.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Sundays are always tear filled days. I have an immense amount of bottled up emotion that the hymns and prayers unleash. 


Right before communion, we read this creed together, Heidelberg Catechism #26:


What do you believe when you say,
   "I believe in God, the Father almighty,
   creator of heaven and earth"?
 That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
      who out of nothing created heaven and earth
      and everything in them,
      who still upholds and rules them
      by his eternal counsel and providence,
   is my God and Father
      because of Christ his Son.
   I trust him so much that I do not doubt
      he will provide
      whatever I need
      for body and soul,
      and he will turn to my good
      whatever adversity he sends me
      in this sad world.
   He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
   he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.
The immensity of what I'm affirming, and the experience we've had walking through  adversity, and the experienced faithfulness of God bring me to tears. Everything within me believes He is Almighty and Faithful. 
We also sang "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go". 

And today I found this:
"History of Hymn
“O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” written on the evening of Matheson’s sister’s marriage. His whole family had went to the wedding and had left him alone. And he writes of something which had happened to him that caused immense mental anguish. There is a story of how years before, he had been engaged until his fiancĂ© learned that he was going blind, and there was nothing the doctors could do, and she told him that she could not go through life with a blind man. He went blind while studying for the ministry, and his sister had been the one who had taken care of him all these years, but now she is gone. 


He had been a brilliant student, some say that if he hadn’t went blind he could have been the leader of the church of Scotland in his day. He had written a learned work on German theology and then wrote “The Growth of The Spirit of Christianity.” Louis Benson says this was a brilliant book but with some major mistakes in it. When some critics pointed out the mistakes and charged him with being an inaccurate student he was heartbroken. One of his friends wrote,“When he saw that for the purposes of scholarship his blindness was a fatal hindrance, he withdrew from the field – not without pangs, but finally.” 


So he turned to the pastoral ministry, and the Lord has richly blessed him, finally bringing him to a church where he regularly preached to over 1500 people each week. But he was only able to do this because of the care of his sister and now she was married and gone. Who will care for him, a blind man? Not only that, but his sister’s marriage brought fresh reminder of his own heartbreak, over his fiancĂ©’s refusal to “go through life with a blind man.” It is the midst of this circumstance and intense sadness that the Lord gives him this hymn – written he says in 5 minutes! Looking back over his life, he once wrote that his was “an obstructed life, a circumscribed life… but a life of quenchless hopefulness, a life which has beaten persistently against the cage of circumstance, and which even at the time of abandoned work has said not “Good night” but “Good morning.” 


How could he maintain quenchless hopefulness in the midst of such circumstances and trials? His hymn gives us a clue. “I trace the rainbow in the rain, and feel the promise is not vain” The rainbow image is not for him “If the Lord gives you lemons make lemonade” but a picture of the Lord’s commitment! It is a picture of the battle bow that appears when the skies are darkening and threaten to open up and flood the world again in judgment. But then we see that the battle bow is turned not towards us – but toward the Lord Himself!"
from http://www.igracemusic.com/hymnbook/hymns/o08.html


I can identify with Matheson. Very much so. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crisis Reconciliation

C S Lewis describes how grief returns upon itself in crazy twists and turns where one walks through a terrain and is confused because they've already been there before. One wonders why they're passing through again. And then there's the brain's remarkable protective functioning of being unable to process more than one "issue"-the most life-threatening one- at a time in traumatic situation.

So then, add in the spiritual crisis too, and you have one enormous mess. The very idea that this mess is going to get sorted out whether one likes it or not is VERY overwhelming. How in the world does one even proceed?

I literally feel like my brain has become a spiritual and psychological experiment. Just when I feel I've reconciled one teensy string, another huge ball of tangled mess is violently thrown in and that string is suddenly tangled into hundreds of others.

I wasn't even aware of these lurking "sorting outs" that were coming my way. But new things have caused a whirlwind of them. It's remarkable how God uses community to bring us into closer communion with  him.

I made the statement to S a few weeks ago that "I feel like my head is coming out of the abyss and entering humanity again." But it feels like Blast From the Past. I'm coming into the same town, but everything is different. But instead of the town being the "different," I'm the different. I'm having to reorder everything.

It's quite a feeling when one suddenly realizes that the past- however -many- years have felt like being "dead" and now one feels "alive". And that "alive" now has completely different qualities than it did before. And that scripts for this "alive" are completely in God's hands.

These new things are causing me to address two things concurrently; to hold them in tension with the answer a complete mystery. Suffering as an integral part of life with Christ, and the prayerful response borne out of humility as a result of suffering.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Friends and such

I am so thankful for each and every person that has stopped to send us an encouraging email, or leave an uplifting comment, and for friends who listen.

I am so thankful for you. For the ones who aren't reading too.

You mean the world to us!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mysterious Prayer

Prayer confounds me. I can't really remember if it did so before, but at this point, it's a complete mystery to me. So to put it into a narrative to maybe make some sense of it, here it is.

I've mentioned before how we saw the powerful working of Almighty God while in COL. But let me back up even more.

In August of 2008, we requested a homestudy update for 4 children. Our social worker was generally very concerned about families adopting more than 2 siblings. She asked us to do a lot of things, and then we waited. I remember a time talking with my mom where she asked what I wanted them to pray for. I remember thinking one thing: for the committee to approve us for 4 children. And so with a choked voice at the realization of how much I wanted those four children, I replied, "Pray that the social workers will approve it. My heart couldn't handle if they said no."

Even now when I look back and think about it, I don't get a sense that I prayed "wrong." But I don't understand what happened after that. The previous 2 years we'd been waiting, we kept on believing that if the Lord wanted this to be, it would be.

So when we heard back that the committee had approved us, it was exhilarating. And then the blow of our homestudy agency closing and our homestudy update being delayed...and delayed...and delayed. But really, after 2 years, what's a couple of months? But it worked out.

Ok, so fast forward to spring of 2009 and we're trying to figure out what day we can request to meet the kids. S has an exam that he can't miss, or else he'd repeat a whole year of his program. It all works out, amid the bumps. Another tangible example of God working in our midst.

And then we get to COL. What I once thought, believed, experienced is completely shattered. I had no words to pray with. If ever my soul cried out to God, it was then that it began. I could only trust that the Holy Spirit was interceding. But this did not work out...the way we wanted it to.

And then we came back home.

Prayer was one thing: a constant plea for rescue. Slowly, after a few months, praying the Lord's prayer was something I could muster. It was as if I couldn't even comprehend anything for a while, and then the Scripture that has been part of me since childhood slowly was accessible.

But the line, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," sticks with me. I still can't pray anything but that.

Recently, someone asked if they could pray for something specific. I replied that i don't feel that's what the Lord wants us (me and S) to pray. I believe He wants our continued prayer to be to walk with Him, not matter what He brings. The person asked if it was because I was afraid to hope. Not an easy answer there. "Hope" in the "belief that good things will come" is quite tempered for me now. Not in a cynical way (well, sometimes it's cynical) but tempered by experiences that have forever changed me and the way I view life. So I replied I don't feel that's in line with what the Lord wants me to pray.

So, among the other confusing spiritual facets, prayer is thrown in the jumble too. And as I reflect on the statement I made to my mom, I can only respond in frustration to God, "What ARE you doing?"

Because the truth is my heart couldn't handle it. My human heart has been broken to bits. Only a loving God can restore it. And there may be parts that are never quite the way they were before.









Saturday, February 5, 2011

Random

1. if you have pets, do you see them as merely animals, or are they members of your family? 
Family, yes, in their proper place as our animals.  Children, absolutely not. Don't ever refer to me as the "mommy" of my dog! 

2. if you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?
To go to Tahiti!

3. what is the one thing most hated by you?
Snakes

4. what would you do with a billion dollars? 
I really don't know. I'll cross that bridge if I come to it!

5. what helps to pull you out of a bad mood?
Depends on why, but ice cream works at times. :)


7. what is your bedtime routine?
Brush my teeth and put on my pajamas.


8. if you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner? 
At church. He was the Sunday School teacher.

9. if you could watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be? 
Watching my husband turn steel into a piece of art.

10. what kinds of books do you read? 
Mostly nonfiction

11. how would you see yourself in ten years time?
I don't do that anymore. It's pretty apparent that what I think is not what the Lord has planned!
12. what’s your fear?
Never being a mom again.

13. would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit outer space?
Mmm, no. I have no desire to go to outer space.


19. if you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?
Coconuts. Evidently they're an excellent choice when one is in a survival situation. ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Agony

All alone, this word brings gut reaction. We think through our lives and name times we have experienced it. We know friends who are experiencing it.

Our world is in agony. Our world needs redemption; for God's Kingdom to come in the here and now.

Sunday we learned that our friends gave birth to a son, three months premature.  His tiny body is suddenly having to work in ways it's not even developed for yet.

And so the parents wait. They love him knowing risk.

We love, but we love with open hands. Our love does not equal possession, ownership, or control. We want it to. We want to cling to those we love, and in some way prolong our sense of security.

But God is not safe. Our trust in Him does not give us the "get out of agony free" card. Instead it promises us a life where we will experience agony. And this is where we can live God's Kingdom and walk through the agony with each other.

God IS good. His goodness is, at this point for me, quite amorphic. I see His goodness, but I find myself most often unable to articulate it.

I find it after the agony. A quiet sense that He is Lord God Almighty.

But I don't understand His ways at all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sometimes...

it's all too much. Sometimes all one has is the resolute "I'm trusting God because He's good, who am I to tell Him what to do." Over and over and over and over.

Maybe if I tell myself this enough, I'll actually think it, instead of just knowing I need to think it.


 But I trust in your unfailing love.
      I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
 I will sing to the L
ord
      because he is good to me.

                   -Psalm 13:5&6