A lesson learned and learned and learned again

20121231-090810.jpg We close out 2012 in Arkansas. As I look out the window at the snow, which slowly melts on the ground, I feel a similar thawing in my heart. It’s grey and gloomy, but the hope of Spring calls with promise. There are a few months before the grass will begin to green and the flowers bloom, but I know it’s coming. The snow and ice provide a necessary fertilizer. I just have to wait for the beauty to bloom.

It has been a hard week in more ways than one. My heart has been broken and twisted and squeezed and tugged. I have mourned mostly in secret because who wants to be around a killjoy at the holidays, right? But I’ve been sad.

You see, I have been to the orphanages. I know what they’re like. I have seen the children. And for more than half my life I have been waiting for the moment when I could bring one home. So this week has been a punch in the gut. Had we begun the process six months earlier, things might be different, but we didn’t and God had a reason for that. I don’t know what that reason is, yet, but I trust His timing even if I don’t like it.

As I enter into 2013 I believe God has laid the word “Wait” on my heart. This will be my challenge this year. I will wait upon The Lord. Hope is not lost. There is a chance the adoption will be able to proceed. But there’s a better chance that it won’t and I am waiting for God to tell me what He has planned.

I am praying for the little girl that is supposed to be ours. I have even begun praying for her by name. A name has been on my heart for some time now, but I haven’t had the guts to say it out loud. But this week changed that. I am crying out for her by name. I will share that name with all of you when I feel the time is right, but just know that I believe she is real and I believe she is out there waiting for us.

I haven’t written much in the last few weeks. Usually at the end of the year I post my top posts from each month as an end of the year recap, but I don’t have the heart to do that this year. I did, however, receive a report yesterday that revealed my top post of 2012. This was my most viewed post and it surprised me.

It didn’t get the most comments and it wasn’t passed around more than the others. But it remains my top post.

The title of this post? Hope is Slow.

I needed that reminder yesterday and today and for the rest of my time here on Earth. I will always need to be reminded that the hope that I long for is slow, but IT IS NOT DEAD! Hope is alive. Hope is real. Hope is here.

But hope is slow.

It’s fitting that that very post would be revealed as my top post in a time when I feel like hope is dying. It is right that it was revealed to me yesterday when I needed it most. It makes perfect sense that the words I needed to read again would come from the very trip and experience that pushed Lee and I over the ledge of doubt and gave us the courage to step forward toward adoption in faith.

Hope is slow, friends. But it is not dead.

Happy New Year.

To read all my posts from my trip to Tanzania with Compassion International, click here. This was the defining moment of my year. I will carry those lessons with me for life.

We Wait, We Weep, We Pray

UPDATE: So Putin officially signed this ban into law yesterday, devastating us and hundreds of other familes who were waiting. There is a thin thread of hope that they will allow families currently in process finish, but for us to be counted in that group, we need to be filed with the Russian officials before January 1. WE NEED A MIRACLE!

So officially, we are at a bit of a stall at this point. Yes, the law Putin signed states that effective Jan. 1, Russian adoptions are closed, but what exactly that means for those of us in process is unclear. The law is being challenged as it violates Russian Family Code and is against the Hague Convention on Children’s Rights, which Russia has signed. There is a petition with 100,000 signatures on it at the Duma asking the law to be annuled, but the likelihood of that happening is pretty low. With New Years and Russian Christmas on January 7, we likely won’t know any more until around the 10th of January. So we continue to wait and pray and hope that something changes.

On Christmas night, after the gifts had been unwrapped and the harried activities of the day ended, we put the kids to bed. The house was quiet and still smelled of cinnamon and love. I sat on the couch with a cup of hot tea and stared at the Christmas light and prayed.

Last week, Russia proposed a ban on US adoptions. I prayed for peace and for wisdom for the leaders. I wondered what our Christmas would look like next year. Would there be another child dancing around the tree? Would she be here? I prayed and I asked God to give me a specific word on the adoption.

Then I sat in the silence and waited.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe the tree to ignite in flames and a voice to speak to me? Maybe a sign or a phone call or something significant?

I didn’t get any of those. Instead the word “Wait” kept rolling through my head. At first I thought that word was coming from me, that subconsciously I was just telling myself to wait for God to give His obvious answer.

Then I realized it was coming from Him. The word “Wait” was rolling out of my heart and repeating on a loop in my mind. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Yesterday, Russia’s parliament unanimously voted to uphold the ban and still I chose to wait.

 

Wait.

 

Today, Putin has said he will, indeed, sign the bill. Today I wept. They were hard, hot bitter tears. Our paperwork officially went to Russia just this week. We were right there - right on the cusp and I feel heartbroken and sad. I told you recently I have been fearing the floor would drop out from under this whole process…

And yet still I feel that I must wait. I don’t know what this means for our family, I really don’t. Just thinking about telling my kids that there’s a chance this won’t happen brings on a fresh crop of tears. I’m sad and I’m scared and I’m confused, but I will wait.

This doesn’t change the fact that I feel our family is incomplete. This doesn’t change my desire to adopt. It doesn’t change my deep, deep love for the country of Russia, for the people, for the culture. So many things have remained the same and so I wait.

What will God do? We have a mountain of completed adoption paperwork. Do we go to another country? Adopt domestically? Wait and see if things open with Russia? I don’t have answers to any of those questions. So I must wait.

And while I wait, I will probably cry. And while I cry I will definitely pray.

We are headed into a new year. There are so many possibilites. I am waiting to see what God has in store.

 

Will you pray for us as we wait? And please pray for the 750,000 children who are currently living in orphanages throughout all of Russia. They are the true victims in all of this…

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. May your day be blessed and filled with love and mercies as we power into the new year.

2013.

I think this is the year we’ll finally see the hover board. Because we are officially living in the future.

Love you all!

20121225-111034.jpg

Today I rest

It has been a crazy hectic few weeks. On top of kids being sick, finalizing adoption paperwork, preparing for Christmas, a birthday, working, and all the other craziness of December, Lee has been traveling almost non-stop, which leaves one weary Mama.

We’ve made it. I haven’t always handled everything gracefully, but by and large it has been a lovely Christmas season. That said – I need a break.

I get this look in my eyes when I’m about to snap. It’s kind of a manic, wide-eyed, get me out of the house before I break down mentally and spend a day on the couch eating Nutella with my fingers and staring at the wall sort of look. Lee knows it well. So tonight he is sending me to a hotel at the beach.

Alone.

By myself.

I’m sorry, but did you hear what I said? I AM GOING TO A HOTEL ALONE!

Are you jumping up and down, clapping your hands and girl shrieking like me?

I’m taking my computer and plan on working on my book, because I haven’t had time the last couple of weeks and it’s been driving me crazy. I’m going to order room service and sit in the hot tub and be totally crazy tomorrow morning and sleep in…until, like, 8:00.

So forgive me while I head off and merrily skip through the house. There’s laundry to put away and crunchy floors to clean. There are Christmas parties to attend at school and I think it’s time I got the car washed. I have one more Christmas gift to buy and the dog needs a walk and I should probably put something in the crock pot for dinner.

I can think about doing all that with out mentally shutting down because I’M GOING TO A HOTEL BY MYSELF TONIGHT!

Amen?

And we all said amen.

(PS – Please pray hard about this situation in Russia. It’s so tenuous right now. This thing is going to go all the way up to Putin and right now nobody can really read which way he will lean. But if he signs it into effect, Russian adoptions will be effectively banned beginning January 1st. What that means for us is still a little unclear. No one is sure if he will give a twelve month clearance before shutting it all down, or if he will effectively close it down completely.

Where yesterday I felt peaceful, today I am nervous. Pray for  the situation. Pray for Putin. Pray for the hundreds of thousands of waiting orphans. Pray for our family and all the families like us who are so close. Thank you!)  

Onward and Forward

We did it.

 

Yesterday we mailed out a package filled with every detail of our lives to the capital building in Tallahassee for apostilling. From there (and barring any major mistakes on my part) the package will head to our adoption agency, most likely by the end of next week. I have one piece of paper that needs to be apostilled in the State of Arkansas and I’m waiting on one more document that will need apostilling in the State of California.

And then?

Then our dossier is complete.

COMPLETE!

As in done.

Finished.

Into the hands of Russia. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

And now we don’t know what will happen. Will Russia close? Possibly. If that happens we will take a little time to breathe and are open to exploring other adoption options. But they might remain open. This whole political stand off may pass on by and if that happens, then we are that much closer to seeing this thing through.

So we wait and you know what? Waiting isn’t a lot of fun. It just isn’t. I want to know. I want to know now! I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to see what kind of blessing might be at the end of the unknown.

I’m so human and so impatient.

A friend reposted this video the other day and it’s served as a good reminder for me. This was made a few years ago and yes, that’s Sloan you see in the video. He was around 6 when they shot this at our church in St. Louis. Besides being an awesome and adorable look back at him and all the other kids I love so much, it’s been a good reminder that even when waiting is hard, there are rewards to patience.

I want my cookie now. I don’t want to wait for two cookies.

But I will wait. I will wait and I will work on patience and grace and love and peace until we are presented with the next step. I will wait for the blessings.

 

What are you waiting for? Can I be praying for you in the wait?

Speechless

I haven’t had the heart to write this week. Between Christmas, birthday, a traveling husband, the flu, the tragedy in Connecticut and some adoption drama, I have felt a bit boggled and crazed.

I walk from room to room in my house with a very clear purpose in mind and by the time I reach the bedroom, I have forgotten why I went there. My brain is scattered and I can’t remember the most minor of details. The pantry is nearly bare and the fridge is empty of all but a few leftovers that have been in there for…well, for too long.

In the midst of all this chaos, I am trying to sit still – to breathe. I’m trying to keep perspective. I’m trying to spend more time on my knees and less time listening to all the noise.

Every day this week, I’ve put my kids on a school bus and sent them to a place that should be safe, but instead has become a warzone. Yes, our school is secure. But so was Sandy Hook. Yes, it probably won’t happen here. But it wasn’t probable there, either.

I got a sweet email from Sloan’s teacher this week assuring us that she loved our children and would do anything to protect them. I sobbed as a read that because she shouldn’t have to feel that way. Teachers shouldn’t have to think about how they will protect their children if a gunman comes in.

Teachers shouldn’t have to think about taking a bullet for a child.

The shouldn’t have to! But they do have to. I shouldn’t have to worry about my children being safe in school, but I do have to. My children shouldn’t have to walk into a building armed by policeman and doors locked tight.

That’s prison. It shouldn’t be school.

I think we’ve all lost a little innocence this week. Or maybe we were never as safe as we thought?

These things have served as a distraction along with the fact that Congress passed the Magnitsky Bill this week. I don’t really understand that bill, but from what I am reading I understand why Russia feels outraged. And Russia’s retaliation is to threaten to shut down adoptions.

Will it happen? Who knows. This is political bantering at its finest. Unfortunately, the collateral in all this back and forth are the children lying in orphanages.

Right now I am not panicked by the thought of adoptions closing down. I feel a peace. I truly believe that if God wants us to adopt a little girl, He will bring us a little girl. If He doesn’t, I will wait expectantly for what He does want to do with us. I don’t believe our family is complete yet and that is where I find this comfort.

But while I feel a peace, I am also in constant prayer over this. It is on my mind at all times. I’ve never felt more out of control as a parent and I have to cling to the One who I believe is in complete control. I have to focus on Him because if I don’t, then a blanket of grief and fear begin to close in and I feel like I’m going to suffocate.

I’m not a person prone to fear or doubt. I count it as a blessing that God has knit a unique measure of peace inside me that has always given me the ability to trust, to believe and to not wallow in the fear of the unknown. But this week has shaken me a bit. This week I’ve had to keep things simple. I’ve had to sit and think and ponder. I’ve had to focus on Christ as Lord and let everything else fade away.

Truly He taught us to love one another

His law is love and His gospel is peace

Chains will He break, for the slave is our brother

And in His Name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of hope in grateful chorus raise we

Let all within us praise His Holy Name

Christ is the Lord

Oh Praise His Name forever

His power and glory

Ever more shall reign

Day of Silence

Delightfully Five

If I could describe this kid in one word, it would be DELIGHT. Parenting him is a delight. He is a delight. Loving him is a delight. Last night, I kissed the four year old goodbye.

Today, I welcomed a five year old.

Dear God, I love this kid.

Humor me as I walk you down memory lane…

 

2007

 

 

2008

 

Side note: I’m sorry I ever dressed you like this. It was wrong, but sweet heavens it makes for awesome pictures…

 

 2009

 

 

2010

 

 

2011

 

 

2012

 

Ah! That smile! And those freckles!

 

Happy Birthday to the most delightful 5 year old I know!

(Now please, for the love of all things holy, stop growing. Just stop. Enough. Stay right here…)

I weep for them

I tuck them in tonight and the hugs are just a little longer, just a little tighter and just a little sweeter. Hot breath against my cheek as I breathe in deep. That one smells like vanilla yogurt, her snack of choice. The tall one smells like Dimetap, the result of a flu bug that’s taken hold.

And the little one.

The baby.

The one who turns five in less than 48 hours.

He smells like the outdoors. Dirt and sweat and bundled energy mingle and swim and it’s him that brings the knot in my gut – it’s his giggle in my ear that brings a wave of nausea. He will be in kindergarten next year. He is 42 pounds of innocence and youth. He is them. They were him.

And in a single breath, they were gone.

I wander to my bedroom and step into the closet. Gifts are shoved behind the door, waiting to be wrapped and tucked beneath the tree. Gifts that I poured over as I determined what would be the one thing that would make his eyes sparkle. I look at the gifts and I weep.

I weep for the mothers who are looking at the unwrapped gifts tonight. The gifts that will never be opened. The gifts that will remain untouched. The sparkle that will never appear again.

I weep for them.

Motherhood is a sacred kinship. It is a sisterhood unlike any other. We are different, each one of us, but when we are mothers, we are the same. We breathe our babies deep. We rock them at night and memorize the crease beneathe the chin, the freckle on the center of the nose, the cowlick on top of the head.

We trace their lips and kiss their fluttering eyes.

We sing and rock and we know each sound. We know the serious cry, the offended cry, the hurt cry and the frightened cry. We put barbeque on this plate, ketchup on that one and hot sauce on the last one because we know. When they’re knit inside our wombs, they are knit directly to our souls.

It’s motherhood.

And when the sounds stop, we all weep because we feel it cut deep inside – so deep we can’t even breathe. The smells don’t fade and their voices echo in our hearts. Tonight, I listened harder, watched closer and committed it all to memory. I felt it in the depths and when the room grew quiet and the breathing of the three who hold my heart grew steady, the pain in my heart cut like a knife.

Tonight I weep for them. The mamas and the babies. The quiet that will never cease. The hearts torn wide open and laid bare. I weep for them.

And as the tears pool hot in the corners of my eyes, I whisper a prayer.

Sweet Jesus be near.

There’s no sense to be made of this. There is no policy to be set. There is no explanation that will quell the silence and the pain that floats and storms inside the quiet.

The quiet.

The quiet.

There are only tears and prayers as together we weep.

I know them. They are me and I am them.

And tonight I weep.

Please Watch This!

Tia has the flu, Lee is out of town and I haven’t done one single thing to prepare for Christmas or Landon’s birthday (which is this Sunday). So my brain is scattered right now. too scattered to write coherent thoughts, but not so scattered that I couldn’t stop for a minute and marvel at this amazing family.

This, my friends. This is why we’re adopting. This is the perfect picture of what God has done for us, of our redemption.

He sought me.

He rescued me.

He gave me a name and an inheritance and a place to call home.

He took me from the pit where I was without hope and He gave me the title “daughter.” All I have is His and it’s all from Him.

This is adoption. This family is the face of adoption. Grab a Kleenex before watching this and prepare yourself. The tears will probably start to fall around the 3:20 mark.

(PS- I don’t know why the video is laid out so wonky. I can’t figure out how to fix it. Sorry!)

(PPS- If the video doesn’t appear here for you, then please, please, pretty please click here and watch it. I really want everyone to see this.)

I also had the privilege of sharing some of my thoughts on adoption yesterday over at 5 Minutes for Mom. It’s not a lot different from what I shared here yesterday, though I do include some tips for ways we can all encourage adoptive parents. Please feel free to pass the article on.

As always, thank you for taking this journey with us. We are honored to have you here.