Monday, July 28, 2014

Can I find the words?

I type this up and delete it. I type it up with different wording and delete it again.

As a society, we have become brave with our words as long as we are hiding behind a screen while sitting on our sofas. We press the keys on keyboard hard and with passion. We use capital letters as we tear apart the idea of someone we've never even met. I'm not immune to the false sense of protection of the digital versus the in the flesh real live conversation. But.

...but today I wrestle with my words.

I want them to be kind and strong. Bold and careful. Loving and straight forward.

I'm going to attempt to share my heart. Can you please attempt to see it as that?

........

I've been asked many questions. I've had many discussions. I've not given the calm well thought out answer to the friend that I'd never want to hurt or offend. I've left conversations mouth shut not sure how to explain without becoming overly passionate or emotional. Most of the conversations start with something like one of these...

"When were you called to adopt?"
"How did you know which one to get?"
"Aren't you concerned for your other children? You don't know those boys."
"Why did you adopt when you already had four kids of your own?"
"You don't think everyone should adopt, do you?"
"I just can't see myself doing that."


I could go on and on and on. (Am I right adoptive mamas and daddies??)

Strangers. Friends. Fellow believers. Family. They all have questions, comments, and looks. I've been trying to come up with answers that are kind, but that convey my heart. Here are the verbal answers and a look in to my thoughts.

1. "When were you called to adopt?"

We knew God was leading us to adopt before we even had Titus. 

I didn't adopt because I couldn't have kids. Adoption has been the plan. It's God's plan for all of us.
 
2. "The boys evened out your family! 3 boys. 3 girls."

Neat how the number is even for now, but that wasn't our goal.

We didn't adopt to fill a void.

3. "I've never felt called to adoption."

"We aren't all called to adopt, but we are commanded to visit the orphan in their time of need!"
 I say it and cringe because I don't believe it with all my heart. I say it because it is what we say.  

I'm not saying you should adopt, but go and love on some kids and see if you don't want to adopt 40. Also, I wasn't "called" to be a mom. God placed that desire in my heart from a young age. I asked my 12 year old if she ever prays to be called to be a mom. She said, "No. I pray for my future husband and that I can be a good wife and mom. I don't think we are called to be moms. God just makes us moms."  EXACTLY! I didn't wonder if being a mom was a calling I was going to have. I knew God wanted that for me. I didn't sit back and say to my husband that we should wait to be called to "be" with one another to conceive, but I did pray for the little one that I hoped to conceive in the same way I prayed for the little one that I knew He'd place in my arms at the orphanage instead of the hospital. Same thing. I know some will disagree, but this is where I am. It is the same. God placed a desire in me to be a mom of many... Not a mom to many biological children that look like me and share a common ancestry. I don't care about a common ancestry. I care that we have a common family now with our adoptive Daddy.... Our Father in heaven! Oh, that each of my children would accept the gift of adoption as sons and daughters of the King!
 
4. "How did you know which one to get?"

We prayed that God would place them in front of us and He did.

They aren't puppies. These are my children. God guided our hearts and the hearts of our children to these boys who are my now my sons.

5. "Did you know you'd love them?"

Of course!!

I didn't ever think about whether I'd love the ones that came to me through biology. Do you think shared DNA equals love? I don't share DNA with my husband! I knew God was giving them to me. Period. I never wondered if I'd love the ones that came to me through adoption. I knew that Christ loved me first and that, in turn, I would love the blessings He placed in my arms.

6. "Aren't you concerned for your other children? You don't know those boys."

We pray for God's protection and His guidance for each of our kids.

Are you kidding me?!? I'm concerned about ALL my children. All six. I didn't know any of them before I met them. My four bios are sinners too you know!

7. "Why did you adopt when you already had four kids of your own?"

I had room in the van. Wink.

Children are a blessing. a heritage. a gift. The more children in my home the more children I get to share the love of Christ with!

8. "You don't think everyone should adopt, do you?"

See answer in number 3 above.

9. "I just can't see myself doing that."

See answer in number 3 above.

10. "Isn't having so many overwhelming?"

Yes, but worth every second. So so so so so very worth it.

Some days I want to pull the covers over my head and pretend it is still night and that I don't have over a dozen eggs and a stack of pancakes to cook. I don't want to say that and you say no to adoption because it is hard so I don't mention this or the late nights kneeling beside the bed of my children until after midnight assuring them that I do love them. I want you to say yes to adoption in spite of it being hard because what's really hard is knowing that there are kids that don't have a mom pulling the covers over their head to hide for five more minutes. What's really hard is hearing stories of my nine year old taking care of his two younger siblings from sun up to sun down while his dad and brothers worked even if he was sick and how scary it was to go to bed before they got home and how he would tell his brother to stop crying so no one would hear they were alone. What's hard is knowing the fear, the hunger, the sadness, the pain, and the lack of hope that millions of sweet boys and girls go to bed with every night. They pull the covers up to hide from the thought of another day alone, another day in an orphanage, another day stuck in a crib with no one around to love on them, another day of crying and no mommy to hold them until the hurt in their heart subsides. THAT is hard. What's hard is that I can see them. I can see their sweet feet in shoes that fit for the first time. I can see their joyful smile as they get a small gift. I hear their voices singing in my head. I feel their hand sneaking in to mine when I'm not even looking. And that is hard. It's hard because I desire to love each one. I desire to sit by their bed and pray for them as they drift off to sleep. I long to give them good morning hugs and kisses. I can imagine filling their plates full of yummy food. I smile at the thought of hearing them join in to "Sing unto the Lord a new song!" like James and Azriel did as they filled waters at dinner yesterday. 

Adopt.

Do for one what you wish you could do for many!
Brothers eating peaches :)







Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I will celebrate.

I typed the title of this post and now all I can do is sing in my head...

I will celebrate
Sing unto the Lord
I will sing to Him a new song

That has nothing to do with this post. That's just a glimpse in to how this brain of mine works.

....

I WILL CELEBRATE!

One morning, many many months ago, Matt and I woke up in a room with our new sons. Isaac (now going by his middle name of James) and John Terry (now just John) pretended to be asleep long after they actually woke up. I gave them some clothes to pick from and they quickly got dressed once this mamma left the room. They are no longer shy. at. all. John's 5T clothes were big. He came to us in 24 months clothes because he was so skinny. Then, there was Isaac James. The clothes he wore were ones I had bought and been given for Joel. Joel (7) was one of the two boys from the first sibling set we had been matched to. They fit James who had on paper just turned six. After seeing his muscle build and seeing his abilities combined with the way he carried himself, I guessed he was nine. Matt said seven or probably eight. Both of us knew that he was not six. (See our Uganda pictures here)

Fast forward to last week and the first dentist appointment in the good ol' US of A. Our dentist is great. His techs are great. Matt told them our desire to see if while they were looking at x-rays etc if they could please give us a better idea of age. John - 5 years old. Spot on. James - 9 by the x-rays or 10 by visual examination of molars. Not spot on... Off by 3 to 4 YEARS!

I just want to mention here that his age doesn't matter to us. We had been approved for children up to 10 years old because we were willing to go up to that age in a sibling group. We wanted to know for his sake.

When Matt got home from the dentist, I didn't react in the way I wish I would have.

"I'm 10!" James said as he grinned with excitement. All I could say was "wow." When I got the whole story of x-rays, molars, and the like, I was for sure I wanted him to be 9 and not 10. My reasons were both selfish and logical.

He doesn't behave like he is 10.
He is so short that people may not believe he is 10.
He is only doing 1st grade work and I don't know if I can help him to graduate with his peers if he is 10.
He'd switch classes at church.
I'm not ready for him to be 10.
He would drive before Emma!!

Speaking of Emma. She took it pretty hard that we might let him be ten years old. She has always been "second in command" and was concerned she would loose her position and responsibility in the family. After explaining that James would have to earn those things just like she did, she was okay. I was not. Thankfully, Matt, James, and I all ended up on the same page with this...

James is 9!!!

We celebrated and encouraged him that skipping a few years isn't such a bad thing.

6...7...8...9 Made with love by his siblings.

Waiting to blow out his first candle to celebrate his "I know how old I am" day!

6

7

8

We sang for his 9th and he was a bit embarrassed.

Grandma will help us find his face.

9 years old. James, we love you and can't believe how fast you went from six years old to nine years old!! :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The lines have been drawn.

I haven't blogged as much lately. Not for a lack of having something to say or share. Not because I'm too busy. Though, I have been busy with my crew, our car breaking down (twice), selling one of our business locations, with schooling, replacing a hard drive only to find out the optical drive isn't reading the recovery disk, a Tough Mudder, with parenting, a homeschool convention, a birthday party or four, and celebrating Father's Day. That's life.

And in between all those things, I have been encouraged and discouraged... full of joy and down... lonely in a room full of people and had my heart filled up with just a few people around.

I have so much I think you'd like to hear, but first I need to know where the line is. What line? The imaginary line made up by people (that may or may not exist) to tell me how much of my life I'm allowed to share.  The line that is the border between protecting my family and trusting that our story is not ours to keep and alone learn from.

I think of the Bible stories. What if the details had not been shared?

Adam and Eve were in the garden. They had to leave the garden.

A big flood was coming. God told Noah to build an ark. His family got in. When it was over, he saw a pretty rainbow.

Sampson was strong. Then, he was weak. Then, he was strong.

Jonah traveled by fish to Nineveh.

Joshua defeated Jericho. 

David was a king.

The details make the story! The mistakes. The heartaches. The joys. The triumphs. The sin. The shame. The promises. The glory. The gritty details that none of us would want shared with everyone for thousands of years after we died.

Okay. I have delayed enough. I say all that to say that I am going to share what I feel led to share. How you take it and what you think about how much I tell is beyond my control. Frankly, I'm not here to do what the world says to do... their imaginary lines won't hold me back. Not anymore.

.................................

It's been 7.5 months since the first time I hugged them. I loved them before that. Much like I loved all the others before I held them in my arms the first time. Since that day in November, I have been asked many times how we are doing and how the boys are doing and how all the kids are doing together. I typically answer "well" and I mean it. Well.

I look around and see struggles that others have endured or are enduring. My struggle is less so that means I'm doing well? I'm lifting and carrying two 50lb weights and that lady is carrying two 100lb weights. We both have our hands full. We both are struggling. Hers is a heavier load. For. Sure. But knowing that doesn't take the weight away from me. It is still hard. That's where I am right now. Struggling. I'm of good cheer. I know "it could be worse." I know that this is a season. But it's stinkin' hot during this season and I'm smiling with sweat stinging my eyes.

We have death because of sin. We have orphans because of death. We have two boys that we call sons because they were once orphans. I won't ever forget that. Pain and loss was a part of their lives before they entered our family. I'm not their only mother. My husband is not their only father. My children are not their only siblings. Virginia is not their only home. Our experiences with them are not their only memories. These facts are the things that race through my mind as they attempt to show love and attach or as they act out in disobedience and push away. These facts are what I try to use as a filter to how I react. I know I see them as I my own now... How? Because I don't treat them like I do your kids. I give much more grace and mercy to your kids. I'm not proud of that. It's just a fact.

I have questioned more and more lately not how I look at them, but how they look at me. I would love to say that I know they love me and like me and are happy to have me as their momma. I do see that side sometimes... and then that look in their eyes for me fades as they put up their wall again.

I made suntan lotion and one of the boys pushed it off the table on to the floor on purpose. When I asked him why, he wouldn't answer. I rambled off a bunch of possible reasons and asked my other son if I had done that to something he made how would he feel and he said, "I would think you don't like me." The boy who had done the offense then said to me, "I don't like you." Ouch. Is it how he feels or is it him repeating? Either way, it hit me and I responded the only way I knew how.

...I'm sorry you don't like mommy, BUT I'm going to love you and show you in every way I can...

and then I told him how I try to show him I love him

... I know you have people and places that you miss. I know you have stories that you haven't shared with me yet. I'm here to listen. I'm here to talk. ...

and then I didn't talk

I waited

I listened

and the son that I hadn't even been talking to began to share with me new stories and his true emotions

and then today he wouldn't look me in the eyes again



That's how we are doing. This family that God placed together is trying to follow our new house rules and we have hope because God is good all the time and All the time God is good.

Current House Rules:

Do Good.
Listen.
Talk.
Be honest.