Monday, October 31, 2011

I lean into you

I'm living in the moment when trusting You means everything; I'm living in the moment when believing You means everything.  
I bow down in my spirit, I slow down for a minute and lean into You.  --Jon Thurlow
Father, this morning my need for You runs deep.  In my own strength my efforts are paltry at best.  I lean into You, into your mercy, into your loving-kindness, into your grace that covers all my gaps, all my inadequacies.  

I unclench the fist of my heart and surrender control.  I surrender to your relentlessly pursuing love.  I let You love me the way I want my son to let me love him--no fear, no resistance, no unbelief.

...and then he told me,  My grace is enough; it's all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.  Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.  --2 Corinthians 12

I'm choosing adoration today, along with Sara, here:
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

pee-pee date

Every once in a while I still get up in the wee small hours of the morning to meet Hummus Girl for a pee-pee date in the bathroom.  Yes, that's really what we call them.  Here's this morning's transcript:

HG = Hummus Girl
M = Me, Mom

Entire conversation is whispered.  

HG:  {referring to her pajama waistband} These are leaving patterns...square patterns on me.  I don't like it.
M:  {tired smile} Oh.  Hmm. 
HG:  In the past few days, when I've had to go poo or pee, the toilet paper has been like this {hand gesture} instead of like this.  I spinned and spinned it.  It's like a ferris wheel. 
M:  Oh.  Who did that, I wonder? 
HG:  I don't know.  I like it this way.
M:  Me too. 
HG:  Did you guys have popcorn last night? 
M:  No, we didn't.  Why?
HG:  'Cause I was hoping you saved us some. 
M:  Oh.  Well, I can make you some today if you want.
HG:  OK.  I hope you can try to make it buttery. 
M:  Goodnight, hon.  I love you. 
{HG and M return to their beds.} 

Even half-asleep, she's pure delight.  Love that girl. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

7 years!

Seven years ago I became a mommy for the first time, and for the most part, he's made it really easy to say yes to more children.  Happy birthday to The Professor, my brilliant and delightful son!  You were worth every second of my drug-free labor and delivery...and that's a conversation for another day.  I love you!!!

posing at the zoo

the sickly cocoon

wonderful big brother

an early present

the birthday breakfast of champions

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday snapshot: {The U.N. visits the zoo}

My brave, lovely, and excellent friend and I ventured out to the zoo (for free!) this week with our combined eight children, all under the age of seven.  I'll give you a moment to digest that.  We practically had the place to ourselves, which was awesome.  After an initial bout of crying, a good time was had by all.  All ten of us.  Can't ask for more than that!

The kids climbed into these circle thingys every chance they got.

The Chinese and Korean delegates

The day's highlight for Hummus Girl

Yep, my hands are full.

Sunday Snapshot

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

saying it just so

Am I the only person who worries about expressing everything just perfectly? 

Like this post, for instance, where I said Shu is still sad and angry far too often.  And maybe it came across like I can't believe he'd have anything to be sad about.  Which is so totally not how I meant it.  Perhaps I should have said I wish he weren't sad today.  Or I wish I understood why he's feeling sad today so I could do something differently.

I think parents who have adopted hold themselves and others up to far greater scrutiny than is merited or intended.  A friend is in China right now adopting her beautiful daughter.  Several times she has mentioned how this or that is "normal" or "to be expected," mostly referring to the children's grief, stress, fearful reaction, etc. at meeting their parents for the first time.  And she's absolutely right!  Normal!  But I wanted to share with her that "normal" can still make for a painful and challenging experience.   Discounting it in any way is unnecessary.  Another bloggy friend wrote this recently:  "Remember that while you read, please. Nothing is a surprise or unexpected."  [Disclaimer:  I have permission from this gal to blog about her comment.]  I suspected--and my suspicion was confirmed--maybe she was guarding against readers judging her, perhaps thinking her "caught off guard," as she writes about the tremendous challenges of bringing home two boys, each with a physical need.  As if any feeling of Sweet mother-of-pearl, this is harder than I thought it would be! should be cause for criticism.  Haven't we all had those thoughts about every facet of life???  My friend's comment jumped out at me because I instantly understood her felt need to add a disclaimer to her own thoughts.

Am I saying we shouldn't go into adoption with eyes wide open, especially when adopting a child with known physical needs and guaranteed emotional needs?  Oh my!  I read every adoption book I could get my hands on prior to our trip, and plan to read some of them again.  Research is great.  Having a medical plan in place is necessary.  Reading other people's stories, valuable.  That's one reason I try to be honest in my own blog--to let others see that loving a child to wholeness is an amazing and difficult process, and it may take a while, and It. Is. OK. 

All this preparation can't truly ready you for your own possible stark reality...and the surprise factor...of a child far more delayed or malnourished than expected.  Far angrier or sadder than expected.  A child who rejects one parent.  Attachment that takes many months or even years longer than you thought it would.  The undisclosed special need.  And how could you know?  There are blogs full of smiling, beautiful, seemingly well- and instantly-adjusted adopted kids.  And I'll just be real honest with you.  Reading too many of them really made me believe that instant attachment (even while still in China!) and immediate "wo ai ni"s, kisses, and trust are the norm for one, two, three months home.  That posting my dear son's sad face and being...yeah, I'll say it...surprised by how long it's taking for happy to outweigh sad is somehow maligning him or dismissive of all the progress we've made.

There are happy surprises too, you know.  A quick and easy attachment...yes, it does actually happen.  A heart defect no longer present (thank You, Jesus!).  The blessing of watching your children integrate a new sibling with compassion.  The joy of helping to restore a life.  A spirit enlarged and humbled by adoption and drawn deeper into the Father's heart and dependence on Him.

Some things you just cannot plan for.  That's the nature of this life.  Some things blindside you.  Some things take your breath away, the scary and the exhausting, the horrible as well as the lovely.  I want us all to have the freedom and grace to share our journeys if we choose to, unexpectedness and all, with transparency and honesty. 

Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 4:
As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.  My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
That's some free thinking, huh?  For now I'll just keep doing what He's called me to do, and saying what I think He's called me to say, trusting I am safe in His love and grace, and even in His correction.  You do the same.  
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
     Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139

Monday, October 17, 2011

you have won my heart

I got a precious half hour alone with my older daughter this morning.  We snuggled.  She drank milk; I drank coffee.  I read some Psalms aloud, the IHOP prayer room webstream on in the background.  She asked if Goliath was in the "Palms."

We were intimate with each other and with the Lord, and it was so beautiful.  He is drawing my heart, after decades of walking with Him, to go deeper still.  To allow Him to meet me in spite of the distractions.  To believe that He will, that He sees me, that His gaze is upon me, that He will not pass this mama by.  He longs to enjoy me the way I enjoy my girl--the spark in her brown eyes, her clever musings, her hand reaching for mine across our cereal bowls--though I cannot seem to comprehend this.

Jesus, stir up my hunger.  I want to echo the words of Psalm 42 with authenticity:  As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?  Cause the amusements of this world, the opinions of man, and my own exhausting self-judgements to lose their glitter, to pale in their benign triviality before the beauty and richness of knowing You deeply. 
I give you my affection, I give you my devotion. It all belongs to You.  Holy One, you have won my heart. 

I'm linking up here, and "Choosing Adoration" on Monday mornings. 
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Friday, October 14, 2011

he spoke

After four months of being largely silent, save for a bit of babbling and plenty of grunting, screaming, crying, and oh yes, laughing too...

...Shu has uttered his very first English word! 

Wait for it. 

Can you guess? 

Better grab a tissue. 

Here it is, in all its glory.


A perfectly delightful choice for a first word. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"stuck": let's compare

Do you recall this photo collection?  It happened again.  And of course I had to photograph it again.  So I thought it might be fun to do a little comparing. 

July 2011
August 2011
today--October 2011
What do you think?  Have we put a little meat on those legs in four months?  I tell you, they were wedged in there something fierce!  Here's one more stark contrast--not part of the "stuck" collection.  Look at those scrawny sticks!  How is he holding up his head?  The difference four months can make...astonishing.  

June 2011

And in case you're wondering why you see lavender and flowers in his crib...well...certain things take a backseat when you have four kids under the age of seven, three of whom share one bedroom.  Appropriately gendered room decor is just one of them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday snapshot: {a hike in the woods is good for the soul}

We went to a state park yesterday morning with my sister-in-law and her man friend, who just happens to be my husband's best friend from high school.  Their romance is a lovely story of redemption, which I will not tell here.  But trust me.  It's cool.  And it was wonderful to be with them.  We ended up hiking at least five miles and were there a lot longer than we intended to be.  The kids (mostly) were absolute troopers, the day was gorgeous, and we came home tuckered out, in a good way.

Dr. Husband (the debut of his new nickname!) managed to coax a smile out of Shu.

But then he spent pretty much the rest of the day looking like this.  The evening too.

I know that we are moving in the right direction, but my heart breaks to see his sadness.  A peaceful day, surrounded by family, gorgeous weather, being held in mama's arms...and still, sadness was the default.  Four months home, and he is still sad and angry far too often. Last evening he preferred the comfort of pulling his shirtsleeve up to his little lips over that of snuggling in my arms on the couch.  He did not want me, or at least, he only wanted me on his own terms, terms to which I am often completely oblivious.  This is a child who has lost so much, and feels so much that he cannot articulate.   I see with fresh clarity that he does not yet understand that I am his mommy...that I have so much more to offer than his sleeve...more to offer than his orphanage existence could give him.  We have come a good way down the path, but the road which leads to healthy attachment, love, and trust stretches long ahead of us.  And there is nothing to do but walk on.


On a lighter note...Dr. Husband had to try out his Tarzan moves.

Desperate for a decent family pic, I deemed this one good enough, leaf in the face, ugly black baby carrier, and all. 

I love this man.  I really do.

The view from the top.  It was worth the climb.  A fitting metaphor, I think.

Sunday Snapshot

Friday, October 7, 2011

today's balance sheet

  • Losing my temper this morning because my four kids can't play together in the princess tent/tunnel combo for more than 45 seconds without someone crying or yelling. I did later apologize for yelling, but not for being mad. 
  • Shu screaming his death-scream at home school co-op, successfully competing with the noise level of the other 23 rowdy children in the room, because I took away from him an unopened water bottle.
  • While wearing said screaming child in his carrier, the sensation of warm urine soaking into my shirt, the result of his past-due-for-a-changing diaper. 
  • Finally (finally!) making it out to the van only to realize Princess Firecracker had pooped and had to be changed on the van floor.  The poopy diaper rode in the van with us on the way home. 
  • Listening to Audra Lynn's Fading in the van, loud enough to drown out any hypothetical ambient noise which might have existed at the moment.  
  • A good, albeit way too short, chat with my friend Sarah, another home schooling mom.  (Let's just be honest.  Co-op is for the moms.)  
  • The youngest three children going down for naps with nary a fuss.  And actually napping.
  • Finishing book 2 of The Hunger Games, and putting book 3 on hold at the library, and being only #7 in line, which, considering I was #93 in line for book 2 but got the book within a week, shouldn't take too long. (Did you follow all that?  And do you love these books too?!?!) 
  • My own private story time with Princess Firecracker who woke up first from her nap.
  • My wonderful husband, who needs his own nickname, will be home in two hours.  
  • This verse:  The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.  For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:13-14.
So come and take my dust; come and breathe your breath of life.  Come and take my ashes; shine your beauty, shine your beauty. --Audra Lynn Hartke, "Fading"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

wildly entertaining

After lunch today, Shu spent a solid 40 minutes alternating between unrestrained glee and intent fascination.  The cause?  This.

The older kids were reflecting light off a library book near the window.

And I think Shu could have watched it all day long.  He clapped. He stared.  He tried to reach the light.  He was as vocal as I think I've ever heard him...LOUD...and happy. 


And he stood up and sat down and stood up again so many times, his little noggin' got super duper sweaty. 

One can never predict the unexpected delights an afternoon may bring! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday snapshot: {almost 7}

My buddy lost his third tooth this week.  I got to be the tooth extractor, a task I secretly enjoy.  The fourth is about to come out too...just in time for Halloween! 

And somewhere along the way he learned to ride without training wheels.  Maybe I was blogging or something?  

Later this month he turns seven, which means seven amazing years of parenting a truly spectacular kid.  I love you, son!  [He will read this later.  He always does.] 

Sunday Snapshot