Sunday, December 28, 2008

"But Baby Jesus..."

We are somewhere else in the south visiting family, but I wanted to post a quick story from Christmas Eve...

Every year, when I put out our manger scene, I put baby Jesus in a wrapped gift box addressed to everyone who will be at our house on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, Scott will read the Christmas story from Luke and then the kids puts baby Jesus in the manger.

This year, Abby was so excited to finally get to put baby Jesus in the manger. The time finally arrived and she and Mackenzie went over to do the honors. But as they laid Jesus in the manger, we heard, "But baby Jesus cold." Sweet Abby was distressed that baby Jesus didn't have on clothes and He was laying in a cold manger.

"Blanket for baby Jesus?" "No Abby, we don't have any tiny blankets." Not to be deterred, Abby pulled the cotton out of the gift box that He had been in and covered baby Jesus!


A little girl, who has probably never heard the name of Jesus until a few months ago, had such a tender heart for Him that she wanted Him warm. There was no room in the inn, but there was room in Abby's heart! I know she still doesn't grasp the full significance of Christmas, but somehow she understands enough to know that baby Jesus shouldn't be cold... I think in her heart, probably no baby should be cold.

A few weeks ago, she 'dictated' a Christmas letter for her daddy (she talks, I write) and she had me write, "Jesus loves me...I know!" Oh to have the incredible blessing of watching faith blossom in the heart of a child...

As much as she is enjoying the presents, she is also beginning to grasp the heart of CHRISTmas!

I'm going to take another break from blogging for a few days and I'll see you in New Year! Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The High Cost Of Adoption...In Perspective

As Christmas draws close, a thought has been percolating in my heart about the high cost of adoption. It’s interesting to me that in the many conversations I’ve had about adoption, the subject of cost is almost always discussed… “Isn’t it expensive?” “How much does it cost?” “We could never afford that.”

Yes, it is true that adoption depletes your finances…it takes your time…and it exhausts you spiritually and emotionally… And, it is always wise to count the cost…

But it occurred to me that, as the celebration of the birth of Jesus draws near, our Abba Father completed THE most expensive adoption in the history of mankind.

• He sent His precious Son, the one TRUE King, to be born in a manger…a stable…not with servants to serve Him and diplomats to honor Him…but with cows to moo at Him and donkeys to bray at Him

• He sent Him from outside of time and space into a place where He was confined by time and limited by space.

• He sent Him to serve us…to wash the feet of those who would betray Him…to feed those who would reject Him…to love those who would kill Him.

• He sent Him knowing that He would be rejected, mocked, ridiculed and killed… Sentenced to die the most horrible death we could ever imagine.

• And the most amazing thing of all, Jesus was pleased to do it… He gave His all so that we could be His brothers and sisters… so that we might share in His inheritance…so that we might experience the relationship that He shares with His Father (John 17).

I am so humbled…so incredibly grateful that it NEVER occurred to my Abba Father to consider the cost of adoption as too high…He willingly sacrificed His most treasured Son so that I might belong to Him forever!

Remember that as Christmas Day draws close…YOU are an adopted child of the King if you have believed that Jesus is Your Savior and don't forget that He paid the ultimate price to make you His forever. Yes, adoption is expensive…but why not pray about adopting a child this Christmas and honor the one who paid the highest price for all eternity for your own adoption?

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adopting Older, Part 2…A Dad’s Perspective

As promised, I asked Mr. Wonderful for his perspective on the harder parts of adopting older… Of course, he’s much more concise than I am, but insightful as always.

In a few days, I’ll post a part 3…I want to comment on a few of your comments, they were very thought provoking and I’ve had a few more thoughts myself.

From Scott…

“Can’t stress dying to self enough…accommodate them to the extreme because laying down boundaries that are needed will be lasting once they have learned to trust you. Most of what you try to lay down before earning trust is momentary at best and you find yourself further frustrated at having to readdress simple issues.

Husbands must be vigilant of your wife’s needs…give yourself grace to acknowledge you don’t know what to do sometimes either (more often that not for me!). Most of those things you learned about raising biological kids will be used…just not in the first six months. I didn’t like that because I worked really hard to learn all those things. What’s worse is the same is true of your wife. All those things you thought you were beginning to understand about what they needed…toss ‘em out and start with a clean slate. For you wives you can read that as…give your men some grace because now you have to start retraining them, too.

Don’t be afraid to lean on your older kids. They are more resilient, understanding, and loving than you can imagine. Take the time to explain the difference in what you must do for your new child. Compare and contrast and use the process of our adoption in Christ. The richness of that analogy is a never ending well of opportunity for teaching.

Revel in the opportunity to see your kids demonstrate what they’ve learned from you. This is a unique experience to see them in action in a way I don’t think parents generally get until the kids are much older. And usually it’s second hand because they are acting outside the home…in this case it’s every day and right in front of you. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to parent them and it’s not all great and you’ll find the need to exhort right behaviors at times. But don’t miss the moments when their heart shines through and you get to see a bit of who God made them to be…use it to encourage them and be encouraged and blessed by it yourself.”

Monday, December 15, 2008

Adopting Older...The Harder Parts of the Journey

This post has been simmering in my heart for a few days, so I thought I’d take a little time to write about the hard parts of the journey related to adopting an older child. I think it's hard for someone, who's never walked in these shoes, to really get how hard it can be... We go to church, to school, to work, to a friends and we look pretty well put together, so I think sometimes it looks easier than it really is. But it’s a hard thing to balance…

Easy is NEVER a word I would use to describe this journey, but full of blessings, absolutely. So even though the journey is hard, it is an incredibly joyful journey also. I think sometimes it’s just hard to balance the idea of joy in the face of difficulties, so it comes off looking ‘easy.’

Now, my desire is NOT in any way to discourage anyone considering adoption, or those of you about to travel, but it is my desire to create a realistic expectation, and maybe even to give an honest inside perspective to anyone who has never adopted… So, please don’t be discouraged… The joy is unimaginable, the rewards greater than I could have ever imagined, but the journey is hard…it’s just so worth it!

And by the way, if any of you have adopted and want to add something to what I say, just leave it in the comments and I’ll do a follow-up post and consolidate them all into one post.

First, it is so hard not to take things personally. You dream about your child for so long and like any mom, you just want to take them in your arms and start to love them. Realistically, you know in your head that your child hasn’t been longing for you, so while you’re mentally prepared for it to take time, your heart isn’t always so quick to catch on. Rejection hurts…parent shopping hurts…you have to fight hard with yourself to keep your own emotions, and even your pride, out of it.

That brings me to the second thing… Adoption is even more about dying to self than biological children. There’s no room for selfishness with these precious children, these children have been victims of an incredibly selfish and heartless world, so they need someone who will lay down their lives for them. This has been one of the hardest parts for me, but when I see the light in her eyes and the smile on her face when I set aside something I’m doing to color with her, you really get it…they desperately need you to choose them over anything else.

In the beginning, moms, you will need to do everything for them, putting yourself at their beck and call. I had to tell our older children, who could have been a great help to me, “Don’t do anything for her, send her to me for EVERYTHING, even a drink of water.” You will feel like you’re being manipulated, controlled, you’ll get frustrated, BUT remember you’re not being any of those things I mentioned, you’re just being asked to love a child and meet their every need, like has never been done before. And hang in there (remember my point before this one, death to self)…this does wonders for the attachment process.

And let me just say this, having biological children does not prepare you to adopt an older child. Throw out everything you think you know and just be a clean slate. Things that you did with your biological children can be harmful to your adopted child (hmmm, maybe we shouldn’t have done those things with them either, a little more grace never hurt anyone). But your biological children came out of the womb knowing they were loved and wanted, your adopted older child has been abandoned by the very person she trusted, maybe she’s been neglected, gone hungry, been cold and felt unwanted and unloved (and that’s just the beginning)…you have to be so careful not to reinforce those feelings or experiences in anyway. It is such a fragile process and sometimes the fragility of it can be stressful and emotionally draining.

That brings me to the next thing…this process is emotionally draining. Expect it…prepare for it…and then don’t be surprised when it’s even more than what you thought. There have been many days when I was at the end of myself, convinced that I had not one ounce of anything left to give. But I’ve learned something in all of this, that’s where Jesus wants us all the time…at the end of ourselves, completely dependent on Him.

Go into this expecting for it to take a minimum of 6 months, and for many much longer, for your child, and yourself, to really begin to settle in. As we drove to church, for the first time in a long time, I felt like the sun was coming out… There are still so many behaviors that I’m watching, being so careful not to put her in situations that she’s not ready for, but many things are really turning around too. Last night, when she got out of the tub, I was waiting with her towel to dry her off and for the first time ever she snuggled in to me and let me cuddle her in the towel for a few minutes. It’s been almost 5 months and that’s the first time she’s really let me cuddle her. That’s a really long, hard time for a mom’s cuddle instinct to be denied!

And remember this, grief is not convenient…it doesn’t have a schedule. Your child will grieve at the most inopportune times, at least according to our schedules… Put down what you’re doing and comfort them. Don’t assume misbehavior…look behind the misbehavior to the heart! I can’t tell you how many times a thrown book, a stubborn ‘no’, a defiant attitude has led to tears and those tears have paved the way for stronger attachment!

Here’s one that might be shocking, not everyone is willing to admit this one… God gives you a special love for your children while you wait, His heart for the fatherless; but, then there’s the process of growing love also. Let’s get real about this for a minute, when you adopt older, you are bringing a child into your home, a little person, that already has a personality, a set of behaviors, years of a culture behind them that has shaped their attitudes, a lot of emotional burdens that affect their behaviors, and the language barrier compounds it all. To expect yourself to be head over heels in love with them from the start is just not realistic. You have to give yourself time to get to know them…you have to allow time for the healing process to begin so that their real personality, unburdened by so many emotional pains, really begins to emerge…you have to give yourself time to fall in love and like with them. For a while, you will feel like you are living with a stranger…it’s because you are!

You WILL find yourself in situations where you don’t have the first clue what to do next. Pray…try to understand where their coming from and then love them with grace and patience and kindness.

Give yourself lots of grace… You will mess up, there will be things that you don’t think of and you’re caught completely unprepared for, there will be times when you just don’t have the words to comfort them and more than once, or twice or 10 times, or even a hundred times, your heart will break for all that they’ve been through. Cry with them…step into their pain, their anger, their rejection and tell them over and over how you love them forever.

Well, this post is getting too long… I think those are the big things for now… Like I said, if you want to add anything from your experiences, please feel free to do so in the comments and I’ll do a follow up post with your thoughts. I’ll ask Scott for his thoughts also and include them in the follow-up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting Personal...

Ok, I’m about to get really personal, but there’s something that’s been on my heart ever since my last post, so I’m going to go for it and hope that God has a plan for this post…talk about getting vulnerable…

But I can’t stop thinking about Abby’s need to belong…

I’ve only been a Christian for about 10 years. I grew up in the church, I believed in God but somehow I missed the significance of Jesus. In my mind, ‘religion’ was all about following the rules. I had no idea that God wanted to have a relationship with me and that Jesus was the only way that could ever be possible.

God finally got through to my heart when I was about 33, my grandfather Pop died. Someone said, “He was the man that was the most like Jesus they had ever known,” and that’s when it started to click…God wasn’t this BIG, BAD guy in the sky, walking around, ready to strike me with a lightening bolt every time I broke a ‘rule.’ If Pop was like Jesus, then He had to be humble, gentle, full of grace and amazing love.

I gave my life to Christ and never looked back… But those early years were so hard. I felt so incredibly unworthy. I had made so many bad choices. I was full of shame and guilt and I couldn’t imagine how God could accept me or love me so completely.

One spring God led me to a little book by Ruth Myers called “The Satisfied Heart, 31 Days of Experiencing God’s Love.” Each day I would sit on our screened porch and be overwhelmed at how much God loves me…I can remember many times, in tears, saying “But You know all the things I’ve done, You can’t possibly love me that much.” And each day, He would use His Word to reassure me… He pounded on the walls of my heart for days, assuring me over and over that yes, He did love me beyond measure.

He used verses like, Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” An everlasting love…for all eternity, even when He saw me in my sin, He loved me…

Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions ever fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Compassion, even in the depths of my sinfulness? WOW!!

Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." That one blew me away…He takes delight in me…He rejoices over me!

He led me to different passages where I would re-write them with my name in them, seeing more and more just how personal His love for me was…

And then, Isaiah 49:16, “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.” All of His love came flooding through in the realization that I was engraved on the palm of His hands…that the cross was the ultimate demonstration of His unfathomable love for me…

So what does that have to do with my experience with Abby that I wrote about in the last post? Everything!!

I am an adopted child of the King and I couldn’t fathom myself worthy to receive the kind of love and acceptance that He was offering to me…

And it got me to thinking…More than likely, Abby’s struggle is much like mine. She definitely hasn’t done anything to feel ashamed of, or unworthy of, but to a child…a child who was abandoned at an older age… I have to imagine that her fears and insecurities maybe aren’t that much different than the ones I had.

Even though she did absolutely nothing to bring about her circumstances, does she really understand that? Maybe someday, but probably not yet…

So I need to follow the example of my Abba Father, I need to reassure her of that love over and over…even when she doesn’t get it…doesn’t seem to want it…in fact, flat out rejects it. My love will never compare to the love of my Heavenly Father, but I trust that He will let His love flow through me and He will heal the wounds of her heart just like He did me.

Healing was a process with me…healing will be a process with Abby…it will take time, it won’t happen because we resolve one situation…sooner or later, there will be another struggle…but that’s ok…

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

What a gift to be given the opportunity to comfort as I’ve been comforted…You know, God didn’t have to work it out that way…He was more than capable on His own…He just simply chose to!

He truly is the master of attachment… He takes broken, wounded children every day and makes them forever His!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Why You Howg Me?"

The whole thing with the photos, that I wrote about the other day (Adoption Moments That Break Your Heart), has continued to plague Abby. She just couldn’t seem to get past the fact that I had Mackenzie with me when she was a baby.

I found her watching us quite often…especially when we hugged. I wandered what was going through her little mind. I think I feared that she looked at mine and Mackenzie’s relationship as something that was unattainable for her, that somehow she felt excluded.

I think we’re all familiar with the feeling…you join a new group and you see these amazing friendships that you long to be a part of, but somehow don’t think it’s possible because of the history they share. I don’t think Abby thought through all of that, but I do think that insecurity is something innate in us, or at least many of us…that desire to belong, yet feeling like we might never. I can only imagine how much greater it is in a child that has been through so much.

Well, Tuesday morning, I hugged Abby before she went to school. She backed up from me, sat down on the stool and said, “Mommy, why you howg (that’s how she says hug) me?”

How do I even begin to describe the emotions of that moment…desperately searching for the words to explain? “Abby, I hug you because you are my baby and I love you.” “But Abby not your baby, Abby a little girl…Mackenzie your baby.”

At that moment…I was speechless and God wasn’t providing me with any words…I had to trust that He meant for me to stay silent.

That night, she was tired and asked to go to bed early, so I had a little time with just her. And again her fears and insecurities were evident… “Mommy, Mackenzie your baby.” But this time, I had something to say, “Abby you’re right…Mackenzie came to me when she was a baby and you came to me when you were a little girl, but I love you both forever. You are my little girl.”

That brought a BIG smile… “Zack my big brother…Nick my big brother?” (She’s never referred to them as ‘my’ brother before) “Yes Abby, we are a forever family. I love you forever.” And with that, I got a BIG hug! And finally, she seemed at peace!

I guess Abby just needed the assurance that even though she didn’t join our family in the usual way, she was still just as much a part of our family…that she really did belong. And, I guess she just had to process through some pretty hard things to understand, in her own way and in her own time... healing is a hard process and there are no doubt some wounds that need to be healed in her heart.

I’ve read a lot to prepare for our adoption, but let me say, while books are great, it’s as much, if not more about preparing your heart as is it about preparing your head. Yes, I gained valuable insight into attachment, it made me very aware of things to watch for and it made me think very differently about parenting, but before all of those things could change my behavior, my heart needed to change.

The single greatest piece of advice about this process came from a child psychologist who knows a lot about attachment… He said, “Sharla, the Bible is a story of attachment. God is the master of attachment, look to Him and you’ll be fine.” And you know, he was right…I have learned, more than ever in my life, to depend on my Heavenly Father to give me what to say and how to say it, even when to say it.

I so wanted to fix it for Abby, to make it all better…but God knew that she needed to process this in her own heart…and then He gave me the words at just the right time. I hope this is a lesson I can take and apply in the rest of my life.

Sometimes I just want to barrel into a situation and say what I think needs to be said to fix a situation…to right a wrong…but I need to learn to pray and wait…to trust God to open doors and provide the opportunities (just like He did at bedtime) and then the words to go with the opportunity (just like He did at bedtime!)!

I am constantly amazed at what happens when I remember to live in humble dependence on Him!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Something Is Really Bothering Me...

I hesitate to write this entry, but something is really bothering me, I really think I need to go here, so here goes… something is missing at the heart of the church. Oh…there are definitely exceptions, but by and large, there is just something missing.

It used to be missing in me…and in far too many areas, it still is, I still have a long way to go, but God has clearly been doing a work. Let me give you an example… When my cousin S. and her husband adopted their precious little girl from China, I just didn’t get it. I was happy for them, but there was something missing in my heart. I wasn’t nearly as interested as I should have been, until God called us to adopt.

After we decided to adopt, S. and I discussed people's lack of interest, and we’ve experienced much of the same thing through our adoption process. I could say the same thing of my trip to Africa, last year with Nick. People, in general, just really weren’t that interested. S. experienced that after she took a mission trip also.

Tonight, Nick and I went to a David Phelps concert (if you don’t know who he is, click on his name and check out his website…he has the most amazing tenor voice you could ever hope to hear) and he has a heart for Africa.

He is a representative for World Vision and tonight, he just poured out his heart. You could clearly see the heart of Jesus shining through his compassion for the African people. But I was stunned as I watched people get up and wander to the lobby…go to the bathroom…etc. I sat in my chair, fighting becoming a puddle in the floor…I wanted to weep at his stories. But that doesn’t mean anything special about me, before I went to Africa and saw it for myself, I probably would have been the same way.

I realize that God gives each of us different burdens and passions, but do we have to experience adoption…go to Africa…into the slums…or the prisons…wherever, to have a heart for the things that God has a heart for?

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

And through Jesus’ example, we clearly see His compassion for the poor and needy… He didn’t intervene in every situation that was brought before Him, just like we aren’t called to take up every cause that comes before us, but I do think that our hearts should reflect God’s heart….His compassion…His mercy.

I am so sorry for the opportunities that God has put in front of me that I have missed because my heart was too hard, because I didn’t have His heart for the things He cares about. I’ve failed to pray, to be interested, to support others walking a path of obedience that clearly reflected the heart of our Abba Father. My heart’s desire is that He would change that in me…

But what are we failing to teach in the church? Why is it that my condition of the heart is more the norm than the exception? I don’t think we have to go to Africa…experience adoption…etc. to have a heart like His…I think that ultimately, it’s about growing in our relationship with Him. The more we know Him, the more we become like Him.

Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”

I think until we develop a passion for knowing Jesus that mirrors Paul's, our hearts will continue to be hard to the things that are near and dear to the heart of God.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Blessing of 'Cyber-Friends'

I have to say, I never in a million years dreamed of being friends with women I’ve never met. I even admit that there are times when I step back a moment and think it’s a little odd that I have such a special place in my heart for women that I’ve never laid eyes on in person…I can only imagine what our husbands must think!!

But this morning I was reading in my new devotion and God so touched my heart with the blessing of my ‘cyber-friends.’

The other day, I came across Beth Moore’s 90 day devotion on Jesus… I wanted something different and what better devotional than to think about Jesus for 90 days, especially leading up to Christmas. This morning, she was writing about the moment after the angel told Mary that she would give birth to the Savior…

“The most revolutionary news since Eden’s fall: “the Savior is on His way.” Announcing the soon coming Messiah, he offered the stunned adolescent an almost out-of-place slice of information. By the way, ‘Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child…’ How like God! In the middle of news with universal consequences, He recognized the personal consequences to one girl…How tender the God who shared with her through an angel that someone nearby could relate.”

And then Beth Moore writes, “Women…we long to find someone who has been where we’ve been, who share our fragile places, who see our sunsets with the same shades of blue.”

And I immediately thought of my cyber-friends! Adoption is a truly unique journey and I think one that’s very hard to understand and appreciate if you haven’t been there. It can lead you to some pretty deep places in your heart and it is such a blessing to be able to share it with either those who are interested or those who can understand…

This journey has touched my heart in ways I’ve never dreamed… If you had told me a year ago that I would be pouring out my heart on a blog on the internet, I would have thought you were crazy… If you had told me a year ago that I would share friendships with women I had never met…I would have thought you were even crazier…

But here I am… I wrote last week about my family and what a picture they are of the church as God intends. But I think the adoption community is also… I watch on my own blog, but especially on the blogs of others who are walking through hard places, how the community circles around and prays, raises money, and encourages… I’ve been inspired by the faith of so many of you and I’ve been encouraged by your words of encouragement to me.

Thank you friends (and family) who take the time to read and to comment. I love knowing you’re out there, even the 'silent ones'…I love knowing that there is someone sharing my fragile places…my moments of wonder…my sunsets as well as my storms. Thank you for the inspiration that you are to me as you share your own journeys…for the glimpses you give me of God’s power and faithfulness…His love and grace! I can’t wait to meet you in heaven someday (if not before)!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Adoption Moments That Break Your Heart...

I’ve struggled all day with whether or not to post this… I so want to be careful to protect Abby’s privacy, and yet, I feel like life was meant to be shared, that we have so much to learn from each other. The Bible says that “iron sharpens iron.” So, I believe in transparency, in sharing my own struggles (within reason of course), in hopes that maybe someone else might be challenged to rethink some of their own attitudes.

Older child adoption is a challenging journey, but also the most amazing blessing. God has given me a love for writing and my desire is that as I share this journey, someone might be encouraged to take a leap of faith and adopt an older child…or that God, might see fit to encourage another who is walking a similar path.

In any case…for the time being, I will continue to share the ups and downs of this journey, prayerfully considering each story that I share so that I don’t cross a line that Abby, or any of my family, would feel was too far… I do ask all of my older children for their permission before I post and I always ask myself, will I be comfortable with Abby reading this someday and knowing that I posted it publicly…

So, having said that, I will tell you about one of the moments that broke my heart…

I knew they would come, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I thought for sure with the language barrier that we would be several more months away from confronting some of the harder issues of adoption… But that was not to be… It caught me by surprise last night and it broke my heart.

You see, Abby found my stash of photos of the kids from when they were younger. She pulled out old photos from our Disney trip, of early Christmases, even of me with my grandfather Pop. For some reason I was surprised in her interest in times that she wasn’t a part of, but then perhaps this is part of the attachment process…of beginning to love us enough that she wants to know more about us!

Hmmm…now there’s a thought…I guess that’s a lot like it is in our attachment process with our Heavenly Father…the more we know Him, the more we want to know Him.

Well anyway, I left the office and went to cook dinner…but apparently Abby continued to go through the pictures.

At bedtime, I was sitting talking to Abby and all of a sudden Abby made the motion of holding a baby and said, “Mackenzie your baby.” I was confused, and then she said, “Pictures mommy.” And I realized, she had found pictures of me with Mackenzie when she was a baby.

My heart lurched…I will never be able to show her photos like that…I will never be able to show her what she looked like as a baby…to assure her, with more than just words, that she was loved and treasured.

But then she said, “Mommy kiss Nick when he a baby.” “Abby, if I had had you when you were a baby, I would have kissed you too. But God has made you my baby, so now you are my baby too.” “But Abby not a baby.”

There are just some holes in our heart that no human being can fix…I trust that my Abba Father will be who He promises to be…the One who binds up the brokenhearted.

Later, Scott was telling me that as Abby looked at the photos, she found several years of Mackenzie’s photos from her birthdays. As she looked at each year she would say, “Mackenzie have another birthday.” Finally Scott said, “Abby, Mackenzie is 10, she has had 10 birthdays. You’re 6, you have had 6 birthdays.” To which Abby responded… “Abby only have 2 birthdays.” Only twice in her sweet life has anyone celebrated her birth…her precious entry into this world. How can that not break your heart?

When May 8th rolls around, Abby will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her life is celebrated…that we are so thankful that she was born into this world…that God entrusted her to us! I can’t wait for her to have another birthday!

I know that there will be many other moments that will break my heart as she is able to reveal more and more of her life, as understanding awakens in her heart for all that she has missed. But, I also trust that God will bestow on her a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3)… And I trust that He will equip us to walk through each one of these moments with grace and compassion. I am so overwhelmed that He has allowed us to walk this amazing journey with her…what a privilege.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting Off The Train Track...

There are times in the adoption journey, when everything feels so fragile…last night was one of those times. It was a crazy evening, I didn’t feel good so I wasn’t on top of things, I had a really hard lecture to give today, Zack had soccer practice and Scott had a deacon’s meeting… Dinner was kind of a free-for-all. I had actually planned ahead on Sunday night and made enough for left-overs, so I knew the older ones would be fine…

When it came time to eat though, Abby wasn’t hungry, so I thought, “ok..later”. Later came and went and I couldn’t get her to eat. Finally, about 7:45, I told her 30 minutes to bed time, so she needed to eat, “Abby not hungry!” (She won’t use personal pronouns for some reason.) Thinking that she was like my others who went through stages like this when they were younger, I took her at her word and figured, she really wasn’t hungry.

But then bedtime came and she looked at me and said, “But Abby not eat!” Yeah…haven’t we been having this conversation all evening?! Now remember, I really didn’t feel good and I was frazzled, so patience wasn’t my long suit for the evening.

And I was automatically thrown to do what I would have done with our biological children, send them to bed without dinner, they won’t starve after all. BUT, thankfully that still small voice that whispers thoughts in my heart that are so vastly different than what I’m thinking at the time, nudged me and said, “You can NOT send a child to bed hungry that has gone to bed hungry before!” DUH Sharla!!

Sometimes I feel like I’m on a train track…I respond to situations without thinking, almost as if by rote. But adoption changes that completely! These precious children have lived such different lives than our biological children. I so get that with my head, but putting it into practice in every situation can be so challenging…. It requires a very conscious, intentional parenting… It requires that I get off the train tracks.

But it makes me wonder…what would all of my life be like if I got off the train tracks? What if I started making conscious, intentional decisions in every single area of my life, even in the day to day details, like how I discipline our children…in what I ate…or in how I spend money…or my time? What if I stop letting life just carry me along? I bet some things would be different!

Thankfully I was aware enough to hear the gentle whisper and I got off the train track that was on its way to becoming a train wreck! I fed her toast and a banana and she was happy! But afterwards, I have to say, it felt like it a narrow miss…this process does feel so fragile right now. I know God is big enough to cover my mistakes, but He doesn’t always take away the consequences…I think a mistake like that would have set us back in our relationship and we have made so much progress.

It definitely showed me how differently things can turn out when I get off my everyday train track to nowhere! This morning, she got right up and when it was time for breakfast we had a fun giggle that she was eating toast and a banana again! It was one of those, “just you and me” moments…no one else would have appreciated what we were giggling about…and that turned in to a sweet, unexpected moment of bonding!

Monday, December 1, 2008

An Amazing Adoption Story Unfolding...

I have a blog buddy who is leaving this morning for Africa... She is on her way to pick up two of the most precious children and it is truly a God story! If you'd like to follow along, her blog is A Place Called Simplicity...

You can catch up on the story by looking in the right hand column under Important Posts...there's 7 parts to Our Wild Adventure and it's worth the time to read it...

Happy Monday!