Thursday, September 20, 2012

some trust in chariots...

...and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  Psalm 20:7

That's the verse that always comes to mind when I realize I've gone out driving and left my cell phone at home.

Remember life before cell phones?  I do.  I think they're terrific.  Super convenient.  Life-saving, even.  Glad I have one.

But what should my mindset be on those rare days when I leave home without mine?  Am I less protected?  More in danger?  Is God's arm less mighty to save?  Surely He would want me to be more fearful and anxious on those days, right?

I posted a photo last night of poor Shu, forehead swollen with mosquito bites.  He has very sensitive skin, regardless of the reason, and reacts swiftly and dramatically to bug bites.  Within a few hours, the swelling had gone down and he was fine.  Do you ever just know with absolute certainty that your kid is OK, even when you've set everyone else to worrying?  (Please don't think I'm not appreciative of all the sweet expressions of concern!) Yeah.  I knew he was fine.  And he is fine.  Gonna slather on the bug repellent from now on...but still, he is fine.  We adopted him thinking he had a heart defect (he doesn't), possible nerve damage that might hinder his ability to walk, not entirely sure about his future continence, not to mention the surprise of apraxia .  Whole lot of unknowns there.  So mosquito bites don't worry me too much.  Just sayin'.

If I am learning nothing else from becoming an adoptive parent--in addition to parenting the three, about to be four, children I gave birth to, it is this:

I am not in control; rather, I am utterly, completely dependent on God.  I mean that.  Entirely.  Desperately.  I. CANNOT. DO. THIS. IN. MY. OWN. STRENGTH.

I am a fool if I think that my own wisdom or knowledge or expertise will be good enough to turn these children into responsible, successful, Jesus-following people.

I am mistaken if I think that my own efforts and strategies and loving behaviors are solely sufficient to undo all the damage inflicted on Shu's soul through abandonment and a year spent in an orphanage and to fully rewire his emotions for love and joy and security.

At best, I live in exhaustion and constant stress if I think that my hyper-vigilance as a mother will guarantee that my kids are always safe, always protected, always healthy.

I know better.

I'm not talking about neglect or ignoring good advice or abandoning responsibility.  We have a locked privacy fence.  I have a cell phone.  I use seat belts and car seats.  I attend birthday parties with my five year old daughter and still bring my almost eight year old son into the women's restroom with me in public.  My personal preference is to deliver babies in the hospital.  And I even vaccinate them!  Shhh!  I have no trouble, in general, with trusting doctors, psychologists, safety researchers...all the good folks who shape and guide our parenting practices.

But there's a reason we see fewer miracles here in the United States than those in other parts of the world.  Those who don't have urgent care, or cabinets stocked with Benadryl, or cell phones with unlimited text, or health insurance, or any of the other countless things we have come to rely on.  Some people know experientially that there is no hope, there are no options, there is literally no life outside of the saving hand of the Savior.

If I really believe that my salvation comes by grace through faith, and not through my own works, why is it so difficult to believe the same for my parenting and every other aspect of life?  I can trust God to count me as righteous, but all the practical daily details are up to me, is that how it is?  Do we think that we earn "excellent parent" status in direct proportion to our level of worry, how closely we watch our children on the playground, how quickly we rush them to the doctor, or how many points the car seat harness has?  Does God chuckle--kindly, I hope--at our pitiful attempts to do His job for Him?

I don't know about you, but I cannot live that way.  I refuse to!  I refuse to impart a spirit of fear to my kids.  My relationship with the Lord, and everything I do as an outflow of that, is a, a 95/5 partnership, if you catch my drift.  I want to please Him and activate Him with my faith!  I can't un-live in this culture (well, not in the United States, anyway), with all its provisions and technology and medical advances; that's not necessary.  But oh, the cry of my heart is that Jesus would look at me and find complete trust.  That He would not say He was unable to demonstrate His power or goodness in my life because of my unbelief--whether for something as minor as an allergic reaction or blessing us with a bigger house, or something as major as cancer!  Even as I grow in wisdom and experience as a mom, I become more aware every day of my total reliance on God's mercy, His healing, His leadership, His provision and protection over me, my husband, and my children.  None of that is on me--it's all on HIM, the One who holds all things together.  The more deeply I absorb that truth, the more peace and joy I walk in.  Sounds pretty good to me!  Life is but a vapor; health and safety and security but an illusion--if not for the Most High, the Almighty God, my shelter, my refuge, my covering, my provider.  I will not pretend otherwise.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


My Chinese son is still focused.

This squash was a topic of conversation for two days.
I won't use the O word.  But I'm thinking it.  I won't bore you with a dozen supporting details, but trust me, it's still an issue.  He no longer eats food off the floor, can sometimes avoid the pre-dinner meltdown, and is developing preferences, all good signs that his food anxiety is abating.  Yay!

Today, however, his behavior baffles me.  (It baffles me often, but this is only one blog post.)

I picked him up from parents' day out at noon, and explained that we would go home, wash his hands, and then eat lunch as we always do.  We came upstairs, washed his hands, all was well.  I'm so on-the-ball that his lunch plate was already filled and on his highchair tray waiting for him, all foods he enjoys and eats on a regular basis.  I slid his legs into the chair, and he began crying.

Why are you crying? I asked.  Do you want to eat?  [crying, not answering]  Do you want to eat your lunch now, yes or no?  He answered no.

OK, then.  Time for nap.  He went screaming to bed, but was asleep within minutes.

After his nap, we go immediately to pick up one or both sisters from preschool/kindergarten, eating an afternoon snack when we return.  He often talks about food throughout the entire drive.  Today was no exception. "Peanut, peanut, peanut, peanut, apple, apple, 'meek' [milk], 'meek,' 'meek,'" etc.  Am I glad he's using words?  Heck yes.  Is it a teensy bit annoying?  Uh-huh.  Do I sometimes ignore him, loudly carrying on a non-food related conversation with the other kids?  Yep.

So once again I put him in his chair to eat snack--remember, this is a child who went to bed with no lunch, nor is he ill--and he began crying.  Asked again, do you want to eat?  NO.  OK, then.  Down you go.

So he spent 20 minutes sitting at the end of the hallway, crying.  Had a few false starts, deciding whether or not he could be happy and whether or not mom means business.  (She does.) And now he's sitting contentedly on my lap while I type, sticking his hand down my shirt.  The snack window has closed, but I did allow him some water.  He's been part of our family for almost 16 months, he's well-fed, and he's learning along with his siblings that meal-time nonsense isn't on the menu at our house, pun intended.  (Would I have reacted the same way two months post-adoption?  Nope.) 

***Pre-Publish Update:  Same. Exact. Thing. At. Dinner.  Only this time we wheeled his highchair to his room until he decided he would, indeed, eat.  Which he now is.  Alone, as the rest of us are already finished. 

Wish I could say this was some rare occurrence in our house--navigating this kind of bizarre and contradictory behavior, questioning whether its source is adoption trauma or just the terrible-twos--but it's not.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.   James 1:5 
Don't know what I'm doing?  Lacking in wisdom?  Yeah, that's pretty accurate.

God promises to give wisdom.  Liberally.  That means plenty, people.  But here's the interesting part--raise your hand if, smack in the middle of a challenging parenting moment such as I described, you feel supremely wise and perfectly equipped to make the exact right parenting play?

No?  Me either.  I mean, sometimes I realize immediately that I've made the wrong call.  Sometimes I don't know that until much later.  And sometimes I don't see the fruit of great decisions or strategies until months, even years, later!  Talk about delayed gratification.

I'm wondering if receiving and walking in wisdom isn't largely an act of faith, like so many aspects of following Jesus.

I'm not going to choose perfectly every time, and I trust the Father to bring correction.  I'm a flawed human, yes, but one who has been promised wisdom, one whose mind is being transformed day by day, and one who has the mind of Christ!  All that is true, whether I feel it or not.  'Cause I usually don't.

I could second-guess my every single move.  (Done it.)  I could try to take the blame for every single one of my children's tantrums, outbursts, oddities, poor choices.  (I have.)  Or I can choose to actively believe what God says in His word, trusting that it applies in this most crucial arena of parenting, trusting that I have what I need in every crazy situation, including the grace to do the exact opposite tomorrow if need be.

Take heart, dear fellow baffled parents.