Monday, November 26, 2012

It would be so easy...

to quit.

to just walk away.

to say it's too hard.

to decide that we were wrong.

Or at least that's what we tell ourselves. Because that is the answer that makes sense right now: since we have no idea what to do and we can't seem to discern answers and this unknown-kind-of-waiting is really hard, let's just quit.

Quit this waiting pattern that we have been living in for 18 months. Quit the money woes that accompany a process that has suddenly become more expensive than we bargained for. Quit the hard emotional work of preparing ourselves to bring home broken and needy children.

Then we take a deep breath.

Pause for a moment.

Remember that God is faithful even when we can't see or feel his presence. And He is good, all the time.

Trust that there are broken and needy children for our family. Trust that we are strong enough to withstand this. Trust that God is big enough to provide and gracious enough to bestow us with gifts we don't deserve.

And we take a step back from the edge of the cliff of our cowardice where we think that quitting would be easy. We begin to think rational thoughts again. We say to each other, "here are our options." And funnily  enough, quitting really isn't one of them.

As far as updates go: we are still waiting for some very specific answers from Lesotho. A clear 'yes' or a clear 'no' which will determine the course of our adoption. We don't expect these to come for at least a week, probably two.

Our prayers in these days have been feeble and weak because they are full of fear and desperate need. We are trying to hold on to the calling we received, but it is so hard because God seems silent. Would you pray for us and on our behalf? Pray for clear answers and discernment and encouragement. Pray for us as we try to navigate these emotions and still be good parents to the children we have right now. Pray that God gives us focus in the meantime (it's a busy season in our house--distractions make things tougher...)

And thank you. Because without friends like you, who love us and keep us accountable, quitting would be a whole lot easier.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The ties that bind

I come from a small family. Just me, my parents and my brother. No living bio aunts or uncles. Only one set of grandparents.

I have long said that my 'family' is bigger than those born into it.

And this past weekend, I had the privilege of meeting family that was mine, in a roundabout way.

We tried to blend in at church--the only one who succeeded was
Eric who looked very much like part of the community. 
Years ago, I had an aunt (who was married, but never had children). She passed away when I was still a child. My uncle remarried--to a woman who had three daughters close to my age. For a while they lived in Florida near my grandparents. But after a time, they converted to a Mennonite lifestyle/belief system and moved to northern lower Michigan. About 4 years ago they moved to a community of like-believers in Indiana, just outside of Goshen.

My aunt passed away 24 years ago--that was the last time I saw my uncle.

Until last weekend.

This past weekend, all five of us took a road trip to meet my three step-cousins and aunt. And to visit with my uncle.

To be honest, I had to manufacture a reason to go meet them. It's a bit nerve wracking, after so many years to make yourself known, to open up your flaws and family to new people. Especially since my grandparents have treated the girls as granddaughters for many years. I was nervous I wouldn't be good enough for their social standards.

But that was just silliness.

Me and Allie, Tammy, and Jacquie
We spent the night at the oldest two sister's lovely home. They welcomed us, accommodated our food needs, provided mounds of beautiful handmade quilts to burrow under. We stayed up late into the night trading family histories and current concerns.

We shared meals at my aunt and uncle's house and at my other step-cousin and her family's farm. We worshipped together. We recognized that while we practice our faiths differently, we share similar beliefs.

And they are beautiful women. Faithful women. Women I am proud to call family.

My kids with Caroline, Jacquie's daughter
Oh and the reason that we went to visit? They run a business that does long-arm quilting. And as a gift to our adoption, they quilted an applique top that I had put together to honor, remember, and have a tangible reminder of the people that God has used to encourage us on our adoption journey. It is such a gift to be able to hold that quilt again. And they did wonderfully beautiful work on it.

I proud to say they are a part of my family, because family is bigger than the people who share blood ties. Family is as big as God's love is wide.

The beautiful part is that kids are kids everywhere you go!
And they can have fun anywhere, even when playing in a pig sty.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Learning to wait, again.

What a strange, emotional week.

This week is almost surreal with the different incredible highs and lows.

On the adoption front, we know nothing more than we knew a week ago, except that it is clear we need to wait until after December 1 to get any answers at all. We have spent our week asking questions we don't have answers too and wondering if any chance happenings were supposed to be telling us something. We have opened our ears to listen and heard....silence.

I know who I am and waiting patiently without answers is very difficult for me. If there is a question or angle to inquire about, I will. In my humanness, I want to push--push our social worker, push government representatives, push, push, push. Force answers I want right now when it is abundantly clear that answers aren't for this moment.

Waiting is hard. This waiting is agonizing for me. I've had low moments, searching the internet for answers that aren't to be found there.

Early in the week, a friend sent me this quote from Henri Nouwen.

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting
 that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control. - H. Nouwen 

At first, I totally glanced over it, not wanting to really read it. But over the week I have gone back over it time and again and found that open-ended waiting is what is being forced upon me, that i have to wait and trust and believe that God has something phenomenal waiting for me, for us, for our family. I am working hard to fight back my fears and not let grief for the process not overwhelm me.

There have been times this week when I simply wanted to go to bed, hide away, not think, sleep. Anything to escape the questions I can't answer. But I didn't. I might not have been a total champion when it came to parenting and home-keeping this week, but I made it.

And then God brought in a total, complete surprise. The editor who had asked for a portion of my work has asked for the rest of my manuscript. And that has me over-the-moon excited. My work was supposed to get a polite rejection, which was okay and what I had prepared myself for. So now, instead  of having permission to push my manuscript to the side, I now have about 6 weeks to start/finish a serious re-write/edit process. My brain is now completely scrambled as I think about how to accomplish this ginormous task--and have holidays, travel, school, and the rest of life thrown in for good measure.

But this is a gift of God's goodness. Although I still expect a polite rejection, it is a delicious distraction. I have plenty to do, plenty to keep my mind busy, plenty to do and think--so much that I don't have a ton of extra energy to focus on things in our adoption that I cannot affect or change.

This already is far beyond any of my 'imaginings'. I am remarkably blessed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Detour or Roadblock?

Have you ever watched the show "The Amazing Race"? It's a great adventure show where teams race against each other to get to different checkpoints at various exotic locale around the world. It's fun to watch teams navigate different languages, customs, and forced challenges as they race. Sometimes the teams need to make a choice between two different challenges and other times they have roadblocks placed in front of them to overcome on their way to completion.

I think adoption is a lot like The Amazing Race.

And this week, we have stumbled into a significant roadblock. Late Friday afternoon we were informed that Lesotho has signaled its intention to sign the Hague Convention for the protection of children in international adoption. With the signing of this treaty, Lesotho is seeking to ensure the protection of their orphans who are being adopted by increasing the number of checks on the orphan status of children and the intentions of the people adopting them. It is great news for the orphans of Lesotho.

It is not so great news for us.

If we are not already matched with waiting orphans by the signing date (12/1), we aren't quite sure what the future holds for our adopting of orphans from Lesotho. There are a number of options for us to consider (most of which are more expensive than we had planned.) We have made some preliminary decisions.

But we have many questions. And there are many things that we don't know. This could simply be a roadblock or it could be a detour.

News like this is never really welcome. We don't really know how to think and process through this because we don't have any answers. This serves to remind us how this whole adoption process is out of our hands. We have never been in control of it.

Today, I am thankful for the friends and family who have expressed faith where we have doubt, who have lifted up prayers when our lips are wordless, who have listened to the questions of our hearts, and have offered encouragements when it is so needed.

Today, I am thankful that the Sunday School lesson I had to teach was on how God hears our prayers. He may not answer in the time or way that we desire, but he always hears.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thoughts on Voting

Today as I waited in line to cast my votes for many, many things, I was struck by beauty of this privilege and of the community which I call home.

Today, I waited in line for about 40 minutes to cast my vote. During that time I saw a local school bring their 3rd graders in to sit and learn and observe the voting process. I listened to the business-type people in front of me complain about having to wait in a line to vote. I listened to the two women behind me (who I assume were mere acquaintances) talk about church and food and mutual connections. I watched as a first time voter proclaimed loudly that he had voted. I saw neighbors and church folk.

I was struck, for probably the first time, how remarkable that we in the United States have this privilege to elect our leaders. Black, white, mixed. Young, old, middle-aged. Rich, poor, middle class. We are all invited to take part in the democratic process. In that church basement, I was filled with pride that I live in a place with such freedoms, especially since I often take these freedoms for granted.

Yes, I am as tired as ever of the robo-calls, glossy paperboard mailers, fear-filled television and radio ads. But what a remarkable privilege.

I am struck by it even more as I realize how less than a generation ago, many of the people I share a precinct with wouldn't have been able to vote. Women haven't even had the right to vote for an entire century yet. People fought, went to jail, were fined, endured insults and harassment and threats for this right.

Even right now, many countries and peoples do not have this right. They get no say in how they are governed, how taxes are taken from them, or how they are represented. They fear threats, intimidation, or worse if they don't take the forced party line.

Even though I am eager for this to be done, for us to have conversations instead of sound-bites, to be able to work instead of campaign, I appreciate this opportunity to be grateful for the privilege that we all have, as American citizens.

I guess all this is to say, I cast my votes. Did you?