Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Complicated Dance

A friend of mine used those words to explain this part of adoption and I love the picture. Even now, in the waiting moments (curse you, waiting!) this adoption thing is dreadfully complicated, pitting so many of my emotions against each other that I am a mess. I want to be completely honest about this process because I think it is useful to the conversation.

Let me introduce her to you: Her name means Sunshine (so that is what I'll call her here). She lives in Lesotho, Africa. She will be four this summer.

I haven't yet seen a picture, but I can imagine her: dark skin, dark eyes, chubby cheeks, big smile. I'm already in love. A part of my heart is no longer in Michigan, but over 8,000 miles away.

There are some very real and unexpected emotions going through us right now. You should know.

First, Grief. I am so sad--for Sunshine and her birth mama. Abandonment is a universal truth in adoption. On paper, you know it's true. But seeing hand written words describing those circumstances, imagining how it hurt, it punches you in the gut and wants to rip your heart out. We grieve for Sunshine and her mama.

Anger. I am angry. I am angry at sin and a broken world and realities that make adoption necessary. I am angry at injustice and the fact that there are babies and toddlers and kids and teenagers who have grown up without a family. It is horribly ugly and unfair. It is the result of sin in the world and I lament.

Fear. There are two layers of this going on: One, hair. In American black culture, hair is a big deal. I can't even deal with my own girls' hair. Yeah, I know I shouldn't stress about this, but I do.
Second, I am scared to parent this little girl, to try to help her heal her hurts. Are we strong enough for the grieving of a young child? Because no matter how great an orphanage she comes from and how wonderful a family she enters into, there will be tremendous grief. I don't know if I am enough. I know I'm not enough. That's what Jesus is--but here on earth, I am his representative.

Excitement. Oh yeah. We are excited! We can't wait to meet her. We're talking about what dolls to buy and how to decorate rooms and what size clothes she'll wear. We're wondering what her personality will be like and how she'll fit into our family. We're thinking about traveling and meeting her and how to introduce her to this crazy crew. We are blessed, we are excited. If you ask, I'll probably talk your ear off.

Peace. This one is the weirdest to me and hard to explain. But Sunshine is being cared for at a fantastic orphanage. With people who truly love her. I go to bed at night in peace because I know she is being loved, fed, cared for. She has a strong attachment to her caregivers and they to her. While one would think this would make me anxious and jealous, I'm not. I feel incredible, soul-centering peace. In all my prayers for my child before I knew who she was, I prayed she was safe and loved, even if she was hungry. God answered that prayer in abundance putting her in the care of life-long friends. Just thinking about His goodness in this makes my eyes well up with tears.

Tired. I'm tired. These emotions are exhausting. Eric and I stay up late at night talking about Sunshine, our kids and us and what we know and how we feel. I fall asleep at night praying for her, dreaming about her, imagining her life now and what it will be. We still have a long journey ahead of us, lots of things to figure out and do, but the rest of life marches on with school and work and home.

It is interesting going through this dance, both the here and there, the now and the not yet.

So, there you have it. I told you it was complicated.

But it's a beautiful dance.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nothing is impossible with God

How do I even begin this post?

So many thoughts, so few words

In the past 24 hours, we have (finally) learned how God plans to add to our family. We are thrilled to announce the addition of a little girl to this crazy family.  There have been many moments of tear-filled eyes, goose bumps, excited screams, and confirmation.

We are:
     Awe struck
     The recipent of such amazing grace
     A bit scared
     Unworthy of such a beautiful gift

How do I put into words the feelings in my heart?
The inexplicable, unmeasurable, instantaneous love.

She's real, this child of my heart!

I have another Daughter. God, give us strength for the journey to come.

God has orchestrated a miracle beyond my comprehension. He saw my deepest desire, saw my brokenness, heard my heart and gave me a gift that I hardly deserve.

God, make me worthy to be her mother, to bind her wounds, to help her meet your Son and receive your grace.

There's so much left to know: a name, a birthdate, her history. We haven't even seen a picture yet. All those things will come in time.

For all the struggle to get to this moment, there are many more ahead. We want her home, now. We want to hold her in our arms and comfort her fears and dry her tears. We want to be a complete family, to laugh and play together. But those things are yet to come.

God, hold her, every moment of every day. Keep her safe in your arms until she can be in ours.

Right now we savor this milestone.

We are are so very blessed.

The Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
Psalm 118:23&24

Sunday, February 17, 2013


For the past months, I have seen this progression in my own spirit. For the past few days, I have worked hard to say, "God has done it--and it is a beautiful thing!" But I have no idea what God has done yet. Truly, these are hard words to say....

But, we are trying to rest in the knowledge that this has been in God's hands all along. He has always had this journey, even up to this point.

And now, here we are, just a few days away from the meeting (on Wednesday the 20th, if you needed the reminder) that will, one way or another, determine the direction and look of this family. Although we have been waiting for a really long time, this is just the start of our "pregnancy". This meeting is our "ultrasound" where we see real little people for our family. We still have a long period of waiting before we get to hold them in our arms and bring them home.

I can't really tell you when we're going to know anything or when we'll be able to tell you. Actually, chances are good that by the time our day is officially rolling at our house, the meeting will be happening or over. But who knows when the news will reach us.

Today, God used the Sunday school lesson I taught to remind me. Together we learned again about how God keeps his promises: all of them, all the time. Even though the Israelites were scared about the Promised Land, they grumbled and complained about it, and they were punished for their grumbling, God still provided Manna every single day. His promises are good. His promises are true.

And this is my promise to you, faithful friend. We will let you know. At some point, you will share in our joy or our disappointment, as you have shared in our journey thus far. We just don't know when. Please be patient, if you think the waiting is killing you, think of what it's doing to us. And say an extra prayer. It could be a few days.

Already, we can say together:

Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!

    The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
(Psalm 118:15-16)

Friday, February 15, 2013

To remain encouraged...

Today, I hold on to this half of Psalm 118:

Give thanks to the Lords, for he is good;
      his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
      "His love endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say:
      "His love endures forever."
Let those who love him say:
     "His love endures forever."

In my anguish I cried to the Lord,
     and he answered by setting me free.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
     What can man do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
     I will look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord  than to trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me,
     but in the name of the Lord I cut them off.
They surrounded me on every side,
     but in the name of the Lord I cut them off.
They swarmed around me like bees,
     but they died out as quickly as burning thorns;
     in the name of the Lord I cut them off.

I was pushed back and about to fall,
     but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
     he has become my salvation.

Today and this weekend, I choose to focus on the promise and the call. I choose to think about the lessons that I have already learned. I choose to remain encouraged in the midst of uncertainty. I will trust in the Lord who has become my salvation.

And to keep me encouraged, I want to share two videos that have encouraged me along the way. I may just watch these repeatedly this weekend.

Be encouraged!

(note: the videos didn't load like I wanted, instead click the following links:

Children of God by Third Day

Kings & Queens by Audio Adrenaline




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Parenting is hard.


Image credit via Hallmark:

Parenting is hard.

Can I get an Amen?

Although there are pretty tough jobs out there, I'm thinking there is nothing harder than trying to parent well. If it's not one kid who is sassing you over every instruction, it's another kid who is willfully disobedient or not paying attention to you at all.

Yesterday was a hard parenting day.

I'm not gonna tell you how, but it was. Let's leave it at that. Someone ended up in their room before dinner ended and stayed there for the rest of the evening.

And then today, I glanced through this article and threw my hands up in the air.

It seems that there isn't much any person can do to parent well these days. No matter where I turn there is one expert or another telling me that what I know or do is wrong. But then turn around and a different expert is telling me that it's right. AHHHH!

And then there is the fact that regardless of how well I parent, how hard I work to overcome the inefficiencies in my own childhood, my kids will grow up with inefficiencies. There will be things about me that drive them nuts.  For as much as I work to teach them to make good choices, love & follow Jesus, eat good food, fill their minds with things that cause them to be creative and smart and informed, they may just choose:
to eat poorly and be unhealthy
to not care about cleanliness
to make bad choices
to be addicted to sex or drugs or alcohol or any number of negative things
to not follow Jesus (I pray not!)
and any number of things....

That is discouraging enough.

But honestly, as hard as parenting is, as real as the fight for my kid's hearts and souls are, there is nothing as frightening as a book about parenting an adopted child.


Two years ago(ish) when we started this journey, we were required to read a number of books on parenting, multicultural families, attachment and bonding, and adoption. We started with this workbook, which we did together. That was great. (Yea, we can talk about all these things--we've got this!) And then we went on to other reads. We started multicultural (yeah, we can do that, have you seen where we live?) to adoption (yeah, things can be tough, but we can do that) to attachment bonding (oh no, we can't do that, but that won't be us). We skimmed through them because we still thought we were awesome parents--our kids hadn't yet showed us the depth of their (and our own) brokenness.

In the two years since that time, I have become far more aware of my flaws and strengths. When you are more aware of such things, reading the one adoption book that has been widely recommended to us, The Connected Child, will totally freak you out.

Everything about parenting an adopted child who you are trying to attach to is different than the instinctive way we parent the kids we have now. Discipline, food, attaching, everything.

And after you have a bad day parenting, the idea of a new kid, whom you don't know, will totally freak you out. (Listen, I'm just keeping this real. Maybe you don't like my terminology or I'm not saying it quite right, but it's different. And sometimes different, all by itself, is just hard.)

If anything scares me right now, it's the idea of failing in parenting a child who has already lost so much. It's the idea that maybe we're wrong, maybe we aren't cut out for this. The needs and demands are sharp and the learning curve is steep. I don't think I'm up for it. The coward in me wants to walk away because of how hard I'm afraid it might be.

But I won't. 'Cause I know that regardless of the children in my home, parenting is just hard.

Lord Jesus, help us do this well.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Your will be done

I wanted to write something wise and deep for this blog--to let you know that we are okay, to tell you that we are hanging on in spite of the many roadblocks in our path, that we are waiting anxiously yet peacefully for the 20th. My thoughts are all jumbled, they run together well in my head, but not so great on paper.

But I have tried, now 4 times, and the words are more than inadequate. They come out whiny, childish, and selfish.

So, let me just say this:

We are a blessed family. In the next two weeks we celebrate two of our wonderful children. We celebrate the love that we have for each other on Valentine's Day. We have the privilege of being surrounded by many (some we see, some we don't) who love us and are praying for us. We have the privilege of participating in our church's 24-7 prayer week, where we will pray that God's light break through darkness in our lives and our world.

Sometimes this journey seems very lonely. But we're not alone.

We are incredibly blessed. And grateful. And humbled.

But we are also challenged. That in this time of waiting that we still live well. That we continue to prepare ourselves (financially, emotionally, spiritually) for the life we desire--the one that includes a couple beautiful children not of our bodies, but born of our hearts. That we not dwell so much on our trials that we forget to see and support the trials of others.

Being in a place of waiting for God's will to be born out is challenging. We have many questions that we don't have answers for. We both toss around a bunch of "what ifs." We try not to borrow trouble from tomorrow, today has enough of it's own. Sometimes we're successful, sometimes we're not.

Ultimately, it is our prayer: "Your will be done. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

And if in any way, we can be a part of your kingdom coming, let us do it joyfully and without restraint.

Thursday, February 7, 2013



After 22 months, why does 5 days seem like such a big deal? 

Last night we were informed that the scheduled matching meeting in Lesotho has been postponed until February 20th. It was previously scheduled for the 15th.

I am still processing this news. And while it seems like a rational being would be able to say "huh, okay, they need a few more days to get everything in order." I am no longer a rational being regarding this adoption. I'm trying to say that, but 5 days feels more like a death knell than a promise. I can't offer you any more without sounding a bit like a hyper-emotional, overly-sensitive lunatic. 

We are continuing to wait. Please continue to pray. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013


My head and heart are just pure mush these days. I can't keep anything straight. I am forgetting all kinds of things. I can't seem to keep coherent thoughts in my head. I can't focus and you can forget about any sort of motivation to get concrete work done.

I may not be actively thinking about it every moment of the day, but this matching meeting is heavy on my heart.

There is so much to do in the next two weeks--our lives are full! February is traditionally a big month in our house. There are two birthdays to celebrate and lots of activities surrounding Valentine's Day. I need my head on straight. I need to get some things done.

There isn't much else to say. And if there was, it totally slipped my mind.