When my life looks like this:
And especially this:
Then I have to remind myself of this:
There are certain phenomena occuring within my home that I don’t understand. Maybe you can help me figure it out.
I would also like to share my two favorite quotes of the weekend:
Tia and Landon coming to me at 8:30 in the morning with big doe eyes: “Mom, we are weally, weally hungry. Can we have a snack?”
Me: “No, guys. We just ate breakfast.”
Landon: “But we are so hungry!” Collapses on the floor in tears.
Tia: “We need another breakfast.”
Me: “No. Guys, we only eat one breakfast. We’re not Hobbits.”
Lee dissolves in laughter.
Yesterday morning before church as I attempted to cover the bags under my eyes with makeup:
Me: “It’s really not fair that God designed men’s bodies to lose weight when stressed, but when women get stressed we get fatter AND we get zits.
Lee: “Yeah, that really stinks for you guys. You really shouldn’t have eaten that apple in the garden.”
So, tell me friends, what are some things that make you go “Hmmm…?” I need to laugh, so feel free to share the funny with me.
Join me today over at Together in 10 as we discuss really, really important stuff…namely, how a Little Black Dress will save date night every single time. I mean, really. That last statement simply screams for a winky face, wouldn’t you agree? 😉
Note: I wrote this post this morning, published it and immediately took it down. I’ve floundered all day about whether or not I should share it, or simply pack it away. Maybe I’m oversharing. Maybe I’m talking too much about adoption stuff. When’s it gonna get funny around here again?! C’mon, lady! Talk more about roaches, or your husband dissing Target, or dudes manning the tables at Victoria’s Secret!
MAKE US LAUGH!
I finally realized that this place – this little internet place – has become a great space for me to grieve and you guys are so freaking up for the challenge! (The challenge being my crazy emotional state, of course…) The fact is, it’s easier for me to unload my grief when I write it down, and you all have walked right next to us on this entire journey.
So here it is…
I dug through the old journals looking for a very specific book. It was the one I wrote in during my very first visit to Belarus and Russia as a fifteen year old. I wanted to feel the pages and read the words that the younger version of me looped in hapless teenage fashion nearly twenty years ago.
I wanted to see if maybe, just maybe, I had convinced myself of a lie all these years. Maybe I didn’t decide I wanted to adopt on that trip. Maybe I’ve worked up some sort of story in my mind that’s justified all these years of longing and desire.
I wanted to see if I was wrong.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find that journal. It’s somewhere in this house, but currently I don’t know where. But there were a stack of journals from the years following that first trip. Journals starting from the day I turned to sixteen to the day I birthed my first child. Pages and pages of history recorded.
I pulled out the oldest book and dusted it off. It begins on June 4, 1994 – my sixteenth birthday.
Most of the journal is slap your knee hilarious to read. Lord Almighty the angst I lived through in those days. They boys I liked, the confusion I felt. Most of my prayers centered around who I should go to Homecoming with and how to tell a boy I didn’t like him. *eye roll*
(Side note: Tia – please don’t become that girl. Stay oblivious to boys or, if you must notice them, just stick to trying to crush them at every competition.)
But then I came upon the one entry I feared I would find. Sixteen year old Kelli took a break from the perils of teendom and recorded a single, heartfelt plea:
Dear God. I love Russia. Can I go back there someday? Can I work with the orphans again?
That was it. That was all I found, but it was enough to remind me that I didn’t make this dream up. And as I flipped through the pages of the rest of the journals, the common theme followed me. A love for Russia and Ukraine. And prayers to someday adopt began to appear with regularity in the journals starting in 2000 – the year Lee and I got married.
The dream really was there a long time ago and today I am very, very slowly letting it go.
I don’t have anything to bury in the physical sense. I kind of wish I did. Would there be more closure if I placed this dream in the earth? I don’t know. Perhaps I will get to that point. Maybe I will do that eventually. Today I’m just coming to terms with it.
The very honest fact of the matter is this: Our Russian adoption is very, very unlikely to proceed. There are still diplomatic discussions taking place between our two countries, but Lee and I have come to a place where we must face reality.
I’m doing okay, really. I think I did most of my heavy mourning last week. This week I am simply…well, I’m sad (and a little bit foggy headed), but also hopeful. I am still very, very hopeful.
Thank you to so many of you who have been calling and writing. I really can’t explain to you what it means to me to be poured into the way you have encouraged me. One friend emailed last week and shared with me something I had never before considered. An excerpt from her email:
The words “wait” and “hope” are often translated from the same Hebrew word.
Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
The word “wait” there is qavah, which means “to look for, hope, expect… to wait or look eagerly for.”
May you, Lee, Sloan, Tia, and Landon take courage as you continue to wait and hope, because of the One on whom you are waiting and in whom your hope rests.
While it seems that my dreams of adopting from Russia are coming to an end, I’m not entirely sure my dreams of adopting a child are ending. I spoke with another dear friend yesterday who gave me the freedom to mourn this loss before immediately moving on.
Because this really is a loss. One doesn’t easily give up a lifelong dream. I am allowing myself the space needed to release this heartache before moving on. And in the meantime, we are researching our options and praying for a new revelation – a common dream.
The kids and I discussed this development yesterday and I was so concerned with how they might react. But they surprised me – especially Tia. After we talked about it, I stood at the table and brushed her hair. She is my child who locks things up inside so I wanted to pry a little to see what she was thinking.
“Are you okay with everything that’s going on with the adoption?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said with a nod.
“Good. If you want to talk about anything or have questions, let me know okay?”
“Okay.” She turned and locked eyes with me. “I’m just gonna wait for my little sister to come home…Hey Mom! Can I have some Nutella?”
You know how you mourn a dying dream? You lean on the faith of a child and you eat a little Nutella.
You can read more about our adoption journey here.
Let’s lighten things up around here a bit and discuss roaches, shall we? Let’s dicuss roaches and HOW I FIND THEM ALL THE FREAK AROUND MY BEDROOM AND BATHROOM!
That’s sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Join me in my horror. It’s super duper over here.
Remember when we lived in St. Louis and we had a problem with Cave Crickets, or as I like to affectionately call them – Satan’s minions? Well, I’ve officially decided that if Cave Crickets are the devil’s minions, then roaches are the verman that crawl about his feet and fetch his slippers at night.
That’s right. You read that correctly.
(Incidentally, I believe he keeps yellow flies as his pets. He feeds them and pets them and gives them pithy names like Betty and George.)
(On a related note: We clearly have issues with bugs.)
(On another related note: I’m fairly certain that I am raising neurotic children when it comes to multi-legged, scurrying creatures. You should see them run and scream at the sight of an insect. It would be funny if I wasn’t leading the pack of psychotic freak outs…)
What was I saying?
Ah yes. Roaches. They have become my nemesis. And don’t try to make them sound romantic and pretty by labeling them Palmetto Bugs. I Googled roaches to see if they provide any benefit to the ecosystem and do you know what I came up with?
DO YOU KNOW?!
Actually roaches provide a huge source of food for predator insects such as scorpions, spiders, crickets (some species are very carnivorous), centipedes, praying mantises, and other carnivorous insects. In additon, some animals prey on roaches such as lizards, birds, and birds. So, they fill a gap in providing a ready food source for a variety of animals and insects. As far as a helpful role in the ecosystem (other than being prey). They do not provide any helpful benefits. Roaches are scavengers and scavenge on rotting and filthy sources of vegetation and decaying meat. Because of this, they can also be plague carriers of various diseases. Which goes to show you how helpful they are to society.
To translate the above statement – roaches serve no real purpose other than to feed the other insects that bring me horror.
Now before you roll your eyes and tell me to stop being so dramatic, I would like you to look at this picture:
So that’s a roach.
Freaking roach in my freaking bed. I’ve killed two of them there – little perverts. Shortly after seeing this picture, my friend Carol felt it necessary to inform me of one of her nursing friends who had to dig a roach out of a woman’s ear in the ER once.
“But don’t worry,” she said. “That lady was sleeping on the floor. That’s how the roach got in there.”
THIS ROACH WAS IN MY BED!!!
I now sleep in ear muffs. Lee thinks it’s hot.
(Kidding. I don’t sleep in ear muffs. I just curl up in the fetal position with my hands pressed firmly over my ears. I haven’t slept well in a month…)
Not long after that, I opened the medicine cabinet in search of…well, medicine. As soon as I pulled the door open, the roach was standing there pointing a gun at my head. He was all “Tell me about it, punk.” I slammed the door shut and ran. He was found belly up a few days later.
(While the cave crickets always took on the personality of a Japanese warrior, roaches are more like tough Italian mob bosses. No, I haven’t been drinking. This is how my mind works. Roll with it.)
Last week we saw a rather large roach high up on our bathroom wall. I think it was the Godfather of them all. He kept opening and closing his wings like he was going to parachute down on my head while I showered. We just left him there because sometimes I feel like denial is better.
If you ignore a problem, it goes away, right?
That was a week ago and there had been no sight of the Godfather since. Until last night. I made the mistake of letting Lee order me a chai tea latte at 5:30 yesterday, which means I was still wide awake at 12:30 last night. I stumbled into the dark bathroom and just as I rounded the corner, he was there.
The mob boss.
He scattered around in an effort to throw me off his trail. I think he was trying to make me dizzy so I’d stumble and fall and he could attack more easily. But what he didn’t know was I wasn’t alone this time. I ran shrieking to Lee that I’d found the leader of the pack and with shoe in hand, Lee ended the life of the roach who has been watching me sleep at night just waiting for an opportune moment to burrow into my brain.
In an effort to shake off the horror, I’m going to the beach today.
See how I did that? I turned and rolled and sifted it all around until a trip to the beach was both justified and warranted.
Happy Monday to you all. *wink, wink*
Let’s talk about something happy today, shall we? Let’s explore a dream that is actually coming true for one of my favorite families on the planet.
When we moved to Tampa a year and a half ago, we got an email from my aunt and uncle who live in Orlando encouraging us to reach out to friends of theirs in our area. “We think you’ll enjoy them,” they said. So we called them and on Labor Day of 2011, we went to their house for the first time (which was a five minute drive from the house we ended up buying) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kevin and Jenni Keiter became a lifeline for us in our difficult first year here. We met with them weekly for a Bible study and they walked us through the dark days that followed our life being turned upside down. Together we all began to process and move toward living a life less encumbered with the confines of tradition. We began to break free and explore what living a radical life might look like.
We decided to take faith seriously and we got to cheer each other along the path toward living in freedom.
Jenni is an amazing photographer, a home schooling mama extraordinaire and has one of the sharpest wits I’ve ever met. Seriously, her humor is the best! She and her family have embarked on a dream trip and I couldn’t be more proud of them and in awe of their faith and their willingness to obey, even when obedience seems kind of crazy. Today, Jenni is here to tell you a little about what they’re up to.
From Jenni: Hi all! Several months ago, my husband Kevin and I took a step toward a life long dream and last week, we pushed off, along with our three children for a year long excursion around the United States. We sold our house, my smokin’ hot minivan, and at least a third of our possessions. We farmed the kitty out to a wonderful neighbor for the next eleven months and moved into the “Bob T” (Big Ol’ Bahonkin’ Trailer) on January 5, leaving the state of Florida for the adventure of a lifetime.
Everyone wants to know why we are doing this. Why give up all the trappings of a great life and work so hard for a 12-month odyssey? We’ve tried hard to come up with our “elevator answer.” You know, the one you can use to explain your mission in 20 seconds or less. But most of the time when people ask me I feel like I can’t come up with anything better than, “Um, because we really like s’mores?”
In truth, we know exactly what we are after. It’s just not a short answer and I’ve found more than a few people don’t truly want to hear it. I can think of at least two dozen reasons not to do this, but at the end of my life I doubt a single one will seem good enough to trump the regret I would feel if we didn’t. We are doing this to be together as a family in God’s AMAZING creation. We want to experience the gift of our national park system while it still looks like something worth saving. And probably the biggest reason is to show our children what it means to live counter-culturally: to turn away from the relentless pursuit of “more and bigger” and instead seek our heavenly Father and His will. He has never failed to speak to me in big ways when I get out in the wilderness.
Of course God, being the ultimate pursuer of hearts has not remained silent, waiting for us to hit the woods. The preparations for this adventure have been very difficult. If you think moving is stressful I can assure you that moving into an RV (by way of six different locations in twenty days) will teach you a new definition of chaos.
In the moments when I am cranky and tired I remember that field of wildflowers in Olympic National Park.
When I feel suffocated by the lack of order as we live out of bins and suitcases I draw a breath to discover I can clearly remember the one I inhaled at the summit of a Colorado “14er.”
When I think we will never finish the work (still working on this rig, even seven days into the trip) I can see the palette of reds and ochres that paint the desert southwest.
These moments of refreshment can only be from God, His voice reminding me that He is here in all the madness regardless of the GPS coordinates or where my feet are currently planted.
So I invite you all to come along with us, live vicariously through our blog (if I had a dime for everyone who has said that I would have about $2.70!). Learn with us, laugh with us, seek the Creator with us. You can find us at Dareyou2move.com. We hope to hear from you!
So there you have it! You will want to follow along because what they’re doing is awesome, Jenni is wickedly funny and as you can see, her photos are awe inspiring!
I’d like to go on record with saying that I am so far entirely unimpressed with the year 2013. Really, I’d be fine if we skipped it. Like an old hotel, I’d like to move straight from floor 12 to floor 14. Bell hop? Anyone?
It’s been a rough few days and I have the bags under my eyes, the twisted muscles in my neck and the knot in my stomach to prove it. I look at the calendar and I look to the heavens and I wait. Because things have to go up from here.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
“I’ve always thought of those words in the context of believing in God…But that morning it seemed the One Who Loves us whispered that part of faith is also about believing that our obedience makes a difference – when we can’t see the results.”
The past few days were hard for more reasons than one. I talked my kids through the events that have transpired over the last few weeks and it broke my heart. I sat with my nine year old as anger and pain and doubt clouded his crystal blue eyes.
“Why would God let this happen?”
“We have a good family and we want to love a little girl who needs a family. Why wouldn’t God let us love her?”
“Why do these bad things happen?”
“What’s going to happen to those kids in the orphanage?”
His questions were great. They were deep and real and honest and beautiful and I didn’t fully know how to answer them because I have the same questions. So I told him.
I told him everything I’ve been telling you and myself for the last ten months. Hope is slow. It’s so slow that sometimes we can’t see it.
I told him that God promises to be the Father to the fatherless and we have to believe with a faith beyond our sight that He is there with those children. We have to believe that they experience God in ways that we never will because He is all they have. We have to trust that He hasn’t forgotten the children – all the children – around the world who are waiting for love.
We have to believe and in this moment, we must build an altar for our kids. We must set a place for them to look back on and remember. We must guide them in this thing called faith that so often requires blind action.
Officially, our adoption is not yet terminated. There is still a thin thread of hope, but that thread gets dimmer each day. I feel like I’m preparing to lose a child. I imagine that this is much like it feels to miscarry. We haven’t given up hope entirely, but we are preparing ourselves to move on.
But can I share the miracles in this story of ours?
Friday, after I listened in on a call from the Department of State for adoptive families in process, I hung up the phone discouraged and defeated. I sat next to my husband and sobbed in his arms. In that moment I felt like it was over completely.
You see the thing is, I’ve always thought I would adopt a child from Russia. I’ve been waiting for so long for God to give us the signal to move forward, but I never once doubted that He would. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t bring home a Russian child. Not once.
But Lee, my steady and wise husband, has a different vision. He has a passion for adoption…not just Russian adoption. To him, whether the child comes from Russia, India or America doesn’t matter. This brought me a lot of comfort, particularly because the idea of adoption was initially difficult for him to embrace. He had deep reservations, but in the course of this past six months, God has really opened up an excitement in Lee about the beauty of building a family through adoption.
Later that night, I sat down and opened an email from an old college friend who didn’t even know all that was going on inside my heart. This is part of what it said:
I’m writing to you because God has been sending me clear messages for you. I’ve been praying for you all and following along here and there on your journey. And every time I read one of your posts, I get an image of Christ riding in, like a soldier redeeming this situation for good. EVERY TIME you write something about the current situation in Russia or your heart breaking over the possibility of loss, the words “promise” and “redeemed” come flashing in my brain. I immediately get a sense of urgency to tell you that God will follow through on the promise He has given you. He is good. He has made a promise to you. He planted seeds so long ago in your heart for this country and for the people there. This horrible situation will be redeemed. His promises will be made known to all who know you and hear your cries.
She ended her message with a beautiful prayer that I have printed out and read over and over. Because I’m so heartbroken right now that I don’t know how to pray. But her prayer gives me the words to lay before the altar.
My heartache goes beyond the potentially failed adoption. There are other things mixed in that have worked together to form an emotional tsunami. But this one thing I know – God is good. He has not left the throne. Right now, I cling to the fact that our faith must be manifested in obedience. Like the quote mentioned above, we have embraced our faith through obedience and we are learning more and more each day about what it means to live courageously – even when the steps of faith don’t look like we thought they would.
We took a risk in moving forward with the adoption. It was a step of faith. It was obedience. And in our obedience God has worked miracles. I pray He’s not finished. I pray that the redmption of this story does include the completion of our adoption.
But I’ve no doubt that our family’s story is not finished yet. I believe my friend’s vision. I believe that God has redemption in store for us and we wait in expectation with hands held high. And when it is all said and done, no matter what the outcome may be, we will build an altar of remembrance.
We will look at our children (all four of them?) and we will point to these days and we will say, “Look, kids. Look at what God has done. He is faithful!”
Pray with us?
Today’s post comes from my internet friend, Nicole Unice. Nicole reached out to me a couple of years ago after reading my blog and realizing we are basically the same person living in different parts of the country. I love making friends with people who share common ground.
Nicole is a beautiful writer and a speaker. In her new book, She’s Got Issues, Nicole explores the ordinary issues that are keeping you from the full and free life you were meant to have. I would encourage you to read today’s post and be blessed. This was exactly what I needed to read after what has been a terribly difficult and exhausting weekend. I needed to hear that my brokenness is being met – that I am not forgotten.
Thank you, Nicole, for encouraging us all today!
From Nicole: I wrote this post a while back, and I find it strangely comforting. To be encouraged by God is one of the best gifts he gives us in this life. If you are brokenhearted today, my prayer for you is that you would boldly and desperately ask God to make himself known to you, and I will join with you in faith to see Him answer that prayer.
I woke up, ready to go back to bed. I felt like I had a giant swab of cotton wrapped around my head. I shuffled around the kitchen like a zombie, mumbling at the kids and chugging coffee. No particular reason. Just fuzzy. Low. Sad. Teary.
My husband is a morning person and almost immune to bad moods. He might as well whistle “zippety do dah” as he springs out of bed, he’s so cheery. But on this day, not even his sunny disposition could lift my spirits.
A few minutes later, I’m dragging around our room, avoiding the children and trying to will myself to not crawl back into the bed.
“What’s wrong…” he says.
“I don’t know,” I say.
What is wrong with me? I wonder.
“I know what’s wrong,” I say, five minutes later, teary, “I have nothing to look forward to. I feel like I work from the second my feet hit the ground until the second I close my eyes.”
Now I’m gaining steam.
“OK, you know how you hate to write (he hates to write. even emails.) Imagine if you are working hard at something you don’t like, and someone is deleting every line immediately after you finish it.”
Then I cry.
Because that is how I felt that day. Like days were endless amounts of work, me running, others coming behind me and deleting everything that I do. Endlessly serving with no return.
This is not a good place for a mom. Or a ministry leader. But this is the place I was in. And like a dark cloud inching across the horizon, this mood threatened to steal my joy and my hope, and even my faith, at least for one day.
The morning drags, the tears continue. The diagnostician in me wonders if I am depressed. Do I meet ten of the twelve required criteria on the DSM-IV manual? Am I sleeping too much, eating too little, enjoying nothing?
As I leave the house that morning, I whisper a desperate prayer.
“God, I don’t have the strength to seek help or encouragement today. If you are real and you care about me, would you care for me today? I need you to show yourself–in a word, or a person, or somehow.”
It’s 9:30AM. I’m having coffee with a dear friend–more crying–more wondering if I need medication–and I get this text, at the bottom of the screen:
What else can I say to that? Except that I felt loved even when I couldn’t ask for it. I felt encouraged, and not because I have wonderful people in my life (although I do).
But because when my heart is broken I feel God.
He is so faithful to me with his presence. Maybe not in his answers or in his gifts or in the things I call “blessings”, but in the reality that my brokenness always calls his presence.
And that’s worth looking forward to, for the rest of my life.
Click here to read more of Nicole’s encouraging words.