Friday, March 31, 2017

A Change in Attitude

I am a lousy sleeper.  When it comes to a hotel room.... lousy sleeping is amplified times ten. When it's your husband's birthday (yesterday) and your son's birthday (Elijah- today) and you are 9 hours away working a convention in Nashville, TN and they are not with you...well...  I'm sitting here at breakfast feeling rather sorry for myself. 

I'm feeling sorry for myself despite having my oldest with me.

I'm feeling sorry for myself despite a safe trip over here yesterday.

I'm feeling sorry for myself despite knowing that sitting on my counter at home is our completed homestudy.

I'm feeling sorry for myself despite knowing that that completed homestudy is making its way to immigration.

I'm feeling sorry for myself despite finding out this week that one of the Threesome Weesome's family was just submitted and will traveling soon to get him out!!

Do you remember my Threesome Weesome??
Well, Chester has a family and soon... soon... soon.. They will cross the ocean and he will know that he is loved best of all!


That leaves Two Weesomes ...

Byron and Joey.

 

Two wee little guys from John's institute who are waiting for a family to love them too.

While I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself... they are orphans across the ocean with no one racing to get them.  No one is looking at their pictures and whispering prayers over their heads. No one is plowing through the paperwork and pinching their pennies to bring them home.

No one.

 

Byron and Joey


I have no reason in the world to feel sorry for myself.

No reason at all.

Seeing their pictures this morning has changed my perspective!!

As I go through my day today... I'm going to be whispering prayers over both their heads that God would move in hearts today for these two boys.

As I go through the day today... I'm going to count the amazing blessings I have.  A husband and a son who get to celebrate another birthday. A finished homestudy.  A little girl across the ocean whom we love best of all.  Four sons.  Four amazing, loud, noisy, crazy, food-devouring, messy sons. 

I'm blessed and I am grateful.

I get to spend the day telling people about BiblioPlan. I love sharing about the work of our hands. I get the pleasure of having my oldest son working beside me. I am comforted to know that dad is taking Rob and Elijah and the little boys out for a nice birthday dinner.  There is a little girl across the ocean... I get to whisper prayers over two little boys...

I truly am blessed.

I am very grateful.









Friday, March 24, 2017

The Bureaucratic Machine Has Taken Over


We have been waiting all week.

For one lonely piece of paper.

In the entire scheme of things it's pretty insignificant.

We will look back on this moment in time and will remember it is as a moment of frustration but will also be able to observe it with the perspective that only the passing of time gives us.


Each day I have called the office that holds our paper hostage.  No person answers the phone. That would be too easy. Instead I pour my heart into an answering machine. Pleading for mercy to an inanimate object that could care less. Hoping that someone on the other end will push the button and care.

After days of talking to the answering machine I realized I had two choices. I could pray that the person listening on the other end will do something, or I could forget the answering machine and find someone in that building who will answer the phone.

I chose the latter. I went on the website and hunted and looked and finally I found another number. 

This time I got a real live person. Someone who cared. Someone who listened.  Someone who was rather embarrassed that I had been trying for days on end to reach a person in their department.

Within just a few minutes of talking to a real live person I learned that my paperwork had never made it.  I was dead in the water and didn't even realize it. We would have sat and sat and talked to a mindless answering machine for the next century without any response. 

Thankfully, the person on the other end of the phone kindly forwarded me to the person who does clearances.  And in a matter of minutes I was able to send our paperwork directly to her.

And just like that our moment in time has passed. Our home study should be merrily on its way next week to immigration and then we will wait again. And we will pray. And we will go through the frustration that is inevitable when you wait and wonder and wait some more. Because we are at the point in this process when little is in our control anymore.  The bureaucratic machine has taken over. We are at its mercy.


That's why we pray.


And that's why we make nuisances of ourselves by making calls and talking to machines and being persistent.


Because at the end of it all a little one waits.  Her waiting is very different than ours. Her waiting is the quiet, lonely longing of an orphan hoping that someone out there in the entire world would love her best of all.  Her waiting involves the endless days of the life of an orphan. Her waiting is real waiting. Ours sees the end and we anticipate with joy and trembling. Hers is dreary and sad.


We wait and we fight and we make obnoxious telephone calls and we talk to answering machines and we go through every single hoop required of us because we know that our waiting will end her waiting.


And that makes it all worthwhile.








“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."








Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Who Decides These Things?


Why? Why? Why?

Why do I need to have a state clearance from the state of New Jersey that I was never a criminal there when I have not lived in that state since 1984 and I have a clearance from two years ago stating I was never a criminal there?  Why does that piece of paper expire after a year?? Why???


Why won't they accept that paper?

Why must I get clearances AGAIN from every single place we have lived in the last 6 million years when I have lived IN THIS LITTLE HOUSE IN THE WOODS for the last 23 years???

Who decides these things?

I want to talk to them.

 I want to tell them that it is absolutely crazy that two clearances - one from New Jersey and one from Texas - are keeping us from finishing our home study.  Rob was last in Texas in 1983???  Really?? 

It's nuts.

We are so close. We have been single-minded focused on getting through the mountain of paperwork as fast as we possibly could and we are so close.  Our home study is in final review stage and could be mailed off in a matter of days except for those two crazy pieces of paper.

Why??

I get that clearances are important. One time doing them is fine.  We did them two years ago. We were cleared in all the states we both lived in.  Seven states total. But redoing them two years later... that makes no sense to me and I really really think someone out needs to have their head examined. 

Seriously.

I'm heading for South Carolina to the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville tomorrow.  I'm praying all the way there and back that TX and NJ kindly clear our names so that we can be one HUGE step closer to our little girl.
















Monday, March 13, 2017

Don't Ever Tell Me...

Our little girl with the boo boos on her knees?


The one who gripped our hearts 2 1/2 years ago and set us on the journey that brought John home?


She was on the Angel Tree this year.


She was on the Angel Tree.


We knew she was available. After we returned home with John she was relisted on Reece's Rainbow. We knew she was relisted but there was no way we could go back.  No way. We were never ever doing it again. I stopped looking at the children. I never ever looked on the pages for the girls. Out of sight out of mind.  Easy.


Until this Christmas. Someone out there picked her to be on the tree. Someone cared enough to put her on the tree so she could find a family. Someone was advocating for our little girl. Someone was willing to yell and shout and cry out for a family for an unknown child across the ocean.  Someone loved the least of these.


And we love the Angel Tree.


Which means that both Rob and I were actively paying attention to the tree.  Just about every day.  And she was on the tree. Her little face. Her same boo boo knees. 


There was no way.


That's what I said.  No way.  I told Rob that God would have to do a MAJOR WORK in my heart for me to commit to adopt her.


Not because I didn't want her. I absolutely wanted her. I wanted her in the deepest part.  If only someone would drop her right into my lap.


I didn't want the process. I didn't want the stress. I didn't want the paperwork. I didn't want the fundraising. I didn't want to jump off the cliff and trust God.  I didn't want to cry again.


I was the one who said no.  Me.


Rob was ready to jump as soon as he saw her on the tree.


Don't ever ever tell me that it is always the women who want to jump first.


I said no.


I couldn't see my way past the terror and the stress and the paperwork and the fundraising.


He didn't push. He didn't manipulate. He didn't argue. He didn't try to convince me.  He understood my trauma. He understood my resistance. He let my no be no.


Okay. Maybe he manipulated a tad.


Like when I suggested that we split the little boys up and put one of them in the bedroom we painted for our little girl. He said no. He said it meant the door was closed. He couldn't handle that.


Oh my. Don't ever tell me...  That was the day I stopped with the closed heart and started to ask God to change my heart.


But I wasn't telling him.  I was super super quiet about those prayers.


Then he dropped the bombshell that completely upended my Jonah ship.


We were finishing our book.  We were doing the final touches. Which meant we needed to dedicate it.  He asked me if I had any ideas.  I actually had forgotten that detail. My brain went blank. I had no ideas.  I could not come up with anything which is highly unusual for me.  So we put it off. Or at least I thought we put it off. What I didn't realize when he asked me was that he had his own ideas. Ideas he neglected to share with me.


Until a few days later when I remembered the dedication and asked him what we were going to do.


It was written.  If I didn't like it we could change it.




We dedicate this book to the daughter who got away.


At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:


“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
— Job 1:20-21






Dear Lord!  I sat down and wept. Rob's heart laid bare. To the daughter who got away.  Our little girl. The one who said no. I would never ever change a word of that dedication.  God gave. God has taken away. No matter what, He is to be praised. So much said in those few verses.  The deepest deepest belief in both our hearts. We worship the One who has given. We worship Him who has taken away.

How could I say no with Rob's heart laid bare?  How could my petty fears stop us from at least trying again? How could I let fear keep me from experiencing more of God's grace and blessings.



A few weeks later we jumped off the cliff for our little girl with boo boos on her knees. We started the process. We contacted our social worker. We started filling out the forms. Then an e-mail. She has been adopted.  She's gone.  Forever to us.  She's in a family but not ours.  Found and lost and found and lost again.  How can it be? 

How can it be?



Our older sons had said yes. Our social worker had said yes. Our hearts had said yes.  Dear Lord, please! What do we do?


Have you seen Mary?


Mary?


Of course not.  I haven't looked at the listings for the girls in a very very long time. I especially wasn't looking for LITTLE Girls. So no.  I hadn't seen Mary.  I had no idea she existed.


Mary.


No, we hadn't seen Mary. We hadn't seen her, but we see her now.  We see her now.


We know loss. We know there are no guarantees. We know that the road we are on will twist and turn and possibly rip our hearts to shreds. We know we could lose her. We know.  But God is good no matter what, whether with torn robes in grief and anguish or sweet rejoicing. Faith is faith. It is a stepping out into the blackness, believing that God is ever-watching, ever-loving and ever-providing all that we need to take each step.








“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."











Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Room in Their Hearts



Rob and I were adamant - no more. We weren't going to adopt again.

These two sons of ours who have walked through our adoptions with us through thick and thin... they knew better.


When I approached them 5 weeks ago to drop what I thought was a bombshell... they just laughed. 
Yep.  Figured.  It was bound to happen.
They knew.
They knew.  And both of them... they were all-in...
Go Mom. Go Dad.
They knew.


We worried seven years ago when we considered adoption.



We didn't want adoption to hurt them. We didn't want adoption to rob them of our time and energy.  We were fiercely protective of them.  Elijah was 12 and Ben was 15 and we had never been away from them except when my mom died. 

They were the highlight and focus of our lives.



Aaron's adoption broke every rule in our book when it came to caring for our children.  Because of crazy circumstances, we left our 12 year old and 15 year old alone at home with their granddad next door for 6 weeks.  That wasn't the original plan. The original plan was for 5 days.  But that adoption took a crazy turn that no one expected, and we ended up across the ocean trying to convince a judge that adoption was a much better option for Aaron than living in a soul-sucking mental institute.



The hardest hardest part was only getting to talk to them for 10 minutes a day on Skype (goodness the internet has come a long ways in the past 6 years).  How many calls was Elijah tearfully asking when we would come? How many calls did we listen as Ben tried to reassure us in his young boy's voice that he was holding it all together.




 Adoption should have wrecked them after that.  When we came home they should have said never, ever again. 


But when we saw a little girl they both said go. Go.

And when grief washed over us it covered them as well. They lost the sister they longed to have. Their hurt was deep and they too struggled to give voice to the loss. But with arms open they welcomed a brother into their family. And despite living in the trenches with him these past many months, they love him deeply and would fiercely protect him against any foe.


They should have said never again. 







They should have told us no.





Instead, they laughed. We figured.  It was bound to happen.

Go.

Go get our sister.

Priceless sons who have twice now changed places at the table to make room for little brothers.  They laughingly are already planning on the new seating arrangement. Precious young men who are willing to share what we have for the least of these.  Big brothers who have room in their hearts for one more.

There are no guarantees.

They know this.  Grief could be our companion again.  The process could derail.  We may risk all and lose again.

They know this. They know the crazy. They have experienced the pain. They understand the cost.

Despite it all, they are standing tall beside us.  Risking as well.





Go, they said.


Go.






“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."






Monday, March 6, 2017

In Our Never Again



We fell in love with her picture over 2 years ago. 

A little girl with boo boos on her knees.

We hadn't been looking but as soon as we saw her we fell head over heels in love.  Our table suddenly became big enough to add in one more.  Our hearts were definitely big enough. But just when we were ready to jump, she disappeared. She was no longer available for adoption.

Days later, another little girl appeared.  A beautiful brown haired little girl with the saddest eyes.  So with joy and excitement, we committed to her.  Our hearts longed to bring her home.  We prayed and waded through the paperwork and raised the money and all the while we worried.  We worried we would lose her.  We worried that someone would snatch her away.  We worried that the door would close in that country of unrest. We worried. 

But it never ever crossed our mind to worry that she would say no.

She was a seven year old little girl.

How could she say no?

Why would she say no?

We loved children. We had a good home and had much to offer her.  We crossed the ocean to get her. We loved her. We wanted her.  We laid our hearts bare before her.

She said no.

Fear. The unknown. Wanting what we could not offer.

She said no.

No. Nyet.

It wrecked us.

I will not lie.

We left that orphanage gasping for breath.  We left with our hearts shattered in a million pieces. 

We clung to the Lord in our grief as we made our way back to the capital to decide what we would do.  We crossed the ocean for a little girl.  Our hearts longed for a little girl. We chose a little boy

It was a Godly choice and the right one.


That didn't make it easy.


Eleven years in an orphanage is hard on a soul. We went from grief to the trenches.


The trenches were deep and in the worst of it we vowed we would never, ever do it again.


Our grief we hid. The hurt too painful and the wounds too tender. We lost a child but there was no funeral. We lost a child who told us no. We lost a child but gained a child. Wasn't that God's plan? Shouldn't we be satisfied?


Yes. No.  We lost a child.


We crossed the ocean and lost a child.

We gained a child.



Days. Months. A year.  More. Grief nipped at us.  The memories of those five days crashing down on us at times.  A hidden loss only the two of us could completely share. 


Never again. We vowed never again.

Never ever ever again.


And here we are.


In our never again.


But not never.


Because God, in His gentle kind way has called us. 


We are risking again.


We have found space for one more.

We are crossing the ocean for a little girl.


Knowing the risks.


Knowing the agony of loss.


No longer na├»ve.  Moving forward with trembling knees.


We are adopting again.






“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."