Tuesday, November 29, 2011

changed my mind

Remember when I said I was OK with the mess

Well, my house is currently a disaster, and I am NOT OK with it today.  Are you wondering why I'm blogging instead of cleaning?  Hmmm.  Let's just call it a tiny break. 

This person showed up yesterday to help with the silverware. 

I wonder if she changes diapers. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

'tis the season

And the kiddos are already in the mood!  Thanks to Aunt Gayle for the cookie tree kit, and to my mom for being willing to be covered in flour and green food coloring.  Better her than me.

I toyed with the idea of being a big ole scrooge, at least when it comes to decorating, but I have embraced my inner Martha and am now just waiting to see if the tree will survive the small Chinese explorer who has come to live at my house.  My "no"s are not exactly being met with joyful compliance, if you catch my drift.  So we'll see.  But we were happy to add one new ornament this year.

I'm also a little concerned about the welfare of my nativity set.  Things are already askew.

I do love my scrappy, $10 Target tree.  She cleans up pretty good. 

May our days leading up to the celebration of the birth of Christ be full of joy, new memories, and attention to all the things which really matter. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

OK with the mess

I've decided this is my new slogan for this season.  I'm gonna settle down with a cup of coffee and just get comfortable with the mess.  The emotional mess.  And the literal, physical, tripping-over-stuff mess that is my life.  Some messes you can conquer in a day; some you can't.  So occasionally you just grab your camera, literally and figuratively, and capture the happy (or not so happy, as I documented here) chaos of the moment.  Even if the floor is littered with K'nex and there's unfolded laundry spilling onto the floor. 

A spontaneous game of laundry basket ball, inspired by the hand-me-down kid's uniform in the dress-up box.

She's a surprisingly good shot.  And she's wearing her brother's clothes.

Can't always clean everything up all nice and pretty.  You just might see some of my junk--both literal and metaphorical, a fact which keeps me humble. 

The Absent Minded Professor designed increasingly harder levels for Hummus Girl.

Princess Firecracker is hiding under that blanket.  And Shu flashed the camera a rare and beautiful spontaneous grin!

She emerges from the blanket.   See the scar on her chin?  She burned it by putting her face on a hot skillet.  That's what she does when she's not eating blue crayons or putting Cajun seasoning in my coffee. 

And then she gets attacked by a tiny Chinese dude.

Shu decides he wants in on the basketball action.

The A.M. Professor is a fantastic older brother.  I'm so proud of him. 

On this day before Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for kids who, when no one is crying, whining, or being injured, delight in playing together.  I'm thankful for God's mercy.  And I pray He continues to open my eyes to the beauty and joy inherent in the mess. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

sunday snapshot: {good for a laugh}

I'm a little bit scared of him. 

Sunday Snapshot

Thursday, November 17, 2011


We've been practicing some "holding therapy" at our house lately.  Holding therapy has its critics, so let me add the disclaimer that I am writing only as a a parent to whom this came somewhat intuitively.  For us it simply means that I hold Shu tightly, only in specific appropriate contexts, rather than letting him cry or tantrum on the floor or alone in his room.  To put it mildly, he isn't a big fan.  (He isn't a big fan of a lot of things, such as doing what his physical therapist asks him to do or going to bed when he'd rather play, so he's not getting a vote on this one.)

I held him earlier today during one such episode.  There was a time not so long ago when I absolutely did not have the grace to do so, certainly not without internalizing much of his emotion in a very negative way.  As God is perfecting his love in me, I am increasingly able to pour it out on my son with fresh grace and with authenticity.  In other words, if given the choice, I'd rather not "fake it 'til I make it," you know?

Twenty-some minutes later, the screams and cries became the gasping, hiccupy breaths of a post-tantrum child, his head resting on my chest.  With a face still dripping with tears, he raised his eyes to mine and smiled.

Lather, rinse, repeat eight minutes later when my telling him no, you may not claw at mommy's mouth like that triggered more crying and more holding, but the calm and the smile came much more quickly this time. 

So it's working, I'd say...teaching a child who has known nothing of a parent/child relationship and who spent the first thirteen months of his life comforting himself that he can express his emotions safely in mom or dad's arms.  More importantly, I am communicating to him I will NOT let you go.  Cry it out.  Scream in my ear if you must...I can take it.  You are no longer solely responsible for soothing yourself.  You are mine forever, and you are safe and loved here.  Sometimes I pray or sing over him; other times I try my best to carry on with whatever I was doing previously, which today was an American History lesson with my oldest son. 

All the while I am learning more about my Abba Father who invites me into his lap to bring him my sin, my ugly thoughts, my pain, my fear, my hopes, my desires...myself.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me...Psalm 18:16
He never pushes me away.  He is not undone by my fleshly rantings, my unbelief, or my tears.  He welcomes me and I come.  The abiding there is up to me.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  John 15:9
I'm learning about holding from the master.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday snapshot: {Joy comes in the evening}

Tonight we took the three oldest kids to a farmstead for the anniversary celebration of a local house of prayer...not our church, but friends who are dear to us.  We missed the hayride (as Princess Firecracker reminded us the entire drive home..."Missed the hayride!  Missed the hayride!"), but nonetheless had a lovely time eating soup, chatting with friends, chasing kids in the dark, and roasting various things over the fire.

And that wasn't all.  Picked up Shu from my parents' house where he reveled in the one-on-one attention.  We've had two really good days in a row...thank you, seriously, to those of you who pray for us.  Shared some quality time together before putting the kids to bed, and there was JOY in our home and in the heart of one little Chinese boy!  More, Lord!

Sunday Snapshot

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today's stats, so far:

27% happy.  73% anything but.

This morning, a brief burst of sunshine before the storm resumed.  Things are not OK right now (reminds me of this song), but occasional glimpses of his precious dimpled face, relaxed and at peace, fill me with hope for a future when those stats are reversed. 

I've been playing the comparison game.  You know, the insidious one that only makes you feel sorry for yourself.  Why is my child taking so much longer to adjust than so-and-so's kid?  Why is writing a blog post oozing with affection and adoration the absolute last thing I would ever dream of doing at this point?  Why can I not imagine wanting to do this again, ever?  Why is this a gazillion times harder than I thought it would be...still?  

Those questions are increasingly fruitless, as Dr. Husband frequently reminds me.  I am not parenting any one of the thousands; I am parenting the child God led us to.  All that he is now.  All that he will become on our watch.  I am his mom; there is no other.  And I cannot today transform myself into the mom I will be a year from now.  Cannot change myself at all, really, outside of the mercy and grace and relentless love of my Savior. 

A friend who is walking a similar road shared this nugget yesterday:  I'm learning that the culture of instant gratification we are surrounded by has affected me too, and that waiting in faith is a big part of being a mature Christian.

Yep.  She's right.  Some things don't come without a fight, or a long wait, or a good bit of sacrifice. 

Many years ago I said yes to Jesus.  Yes to the easy.  Yes to the hard.  Yes to his love.  Last fall I said yes to adoption, in complete naivete, but in full obedience.  Isn't that usually the way?  A lot fewer of us would do anything difficult...let's be honest...if we knew in advance all that it would cost.
Then [Jesus] told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way..."                   Luke 9:23    The Message
I'm glad I didn't know.  I might not have said yes.  That's just the plain, ugly truth.  In becoming Shu's mother, I have made myself a literal intercessor, placing myself between him and the enemy who had very different plans for my son.  Not necessarily the most comfortable spot if you'd rather not be a target for fiery darts.  But here we are in that spot, following Jesus.  Committed.   Whether attachment--and all the feelings of love and joy that accompany it--takes six more months, or six more years.  We said yes to our son.  Yes to the happy moments.  Yes to the tantrums.  Yes to healing his deep wounds even when I feel there's nothing left in me to give and I am tempted to run away to an easier life.  King David said he would not offer to the Lord a sacrifice which cost him nothing.  Neither will I.  Yes to the 27% and to the rest.  That's 100%.  I'm in.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

He sings over me

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

we're crying...we're crying...we're walking!

Yesterday ran the gamut from exasperation to exhilaration.  Dear Shu, who will turn 18 months old tomorrow, has learned to walk!  We are thrilled at his new achievement, and thankful for the Father's hand upon his little life, long before we ever knew him. 

Later, mom!  I'm off to see the world kitchen! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

surviving lunch, surviving the rest

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this post will be worth millions.  OK, 9,000 to be exact.  And I'm still gonna add a few actual words.  I was crazy (sadistic?) enough to capture on camera one of today's lunchtime episodes.  I say "one of" because it wasn't the only incident.  Sigh.  At the time it was my way of laughing rather than crying.  But as I looked back over the photos, I saw just how accurately it depicts the journey we've been on:  the honest-to-goodness, non-sugarcoated mission of transforming an orphan into a son, of restoring joy, peace, and security to a broken soul. 

This is every day in my house.  This is every week.  Today it was about me not feeding him the next bite while there was still unchewed food  in his mouth.  Tomorrow it may be about something else...ongoing fear and grief manifesting themselves in various contexts.  This is five-months-home-but-still-so-far-to-go.  This is the Father inviting us to cooperate with Him in the messy, painful, holy task of binding up the brokenhearted, loving when there's no immediate gratification, and laying our lives down in obedience.  This is parenting.

This is the journey we said yes to.  It's no sprint; it's a marathon.  And I'm encouraged by the "great cloud of witnesses" cheering me on as I run with perseverance.  Slow and steady, love will win the race. 

There's a prize waiting.  There's recovery ahead.  There's joy coming in the morning.  Not sure if he knows it yet.  But I know it. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011 is Orphan Sunday.  I will be attending this LIVE event here in my hometown!  You can participate by watching the free webcast at 6 PM Central Time.