maybe this is how it’s supposed to be

April 27th, 2010

we just finished dinner.  josh is at soccer.  the boys are playing memory in the living room.  amelia is doing her homework at the dining room table.  i am sitting with her, helping her when needed.

i don’t feel like a mom.  at least not the way i thought i would feel when i used to think about being a mom.  i feel somewhat disconnected, like this is someone else’s life.  and then i thought, “maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.”

maybe every mom feels this way.  maybe they don’t.  in some ways it’s like how i feel about being an adult.  every time i drop my second grader off at school i think, “how is it possible for this 17 year old kid to be trapped in the body of an almost 34 year old?  and i am dropping an 8 year old off at school?  i am not old enough, mature enough, responsible enough to be doing this.  this is crazy!”

i often wonder if my disconnected feeling is due to me being an adoptive mother.  i often wonder if i’d feel more connected had i birthed my children.  and then i think, “maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.”  and then i remind myself that it is supposed to be this way.  that God ordained for it to be this way.  that He made me, made my children, and then in His sovereignty, formed us into a family.

so i sit here at the dining room table, blogging and helping my second grader with her math homework.  and while i don’t know how i should feel, i do know this:  i wouldn’t want anyone else helping her(except maybe josh if he was home) and i am helping her because God made me her mother and i love her.

january 2010

March 9th, 2010

my last post was kind of heavy.  a lot of people in my life have been dealing with very heavy things lately.  infant death, a father on the verge of death, a grandmother in the hospital after an accidental fall, a mother who has been suffering from the effects of a stroke almost three years ago, job loss-the list could go on and on.  a lot of my thoughts are pretty heavy.  although, they are also very hopeful.  hmmm.

so, to avoid more heaviness, i thought i’d sort of do a month in review via pictures.  just random ‘life with our family’ stuff.  i’ve been having big thoughts, big awakenings.  posts for another day i guess.

so, here we are from january.  the kids watching a tow truck pull the neighbor’s car out of the snow, playing with amelia’s microphone(notice her adjusting it for wilbur as if he couldn’t figure it out on his own),  the gingerbread house the kids made with grammy and gramps(orville did not want to be in the picture),  the gingerbread house after our dog got to it, me (with a bottle of coke!!!) at fondue night, finally remembering to get a Christmas tree bag(after forgetting for the past three years) and joking it was for the kids(which they thought was hilarious!), legos, legos everywhere!, having mother/daughter night & breakfast with amelia, playing with fruit by the foot at grammy’s, josh rummaging through the island drawer at grammy’s(something he’s known to do at least once a year), our trip(eating subway for lunch)to a somewhat local mall so i could go to a bareescentuals boutique, josh and the boys pretending to fall asleep while amelia and i were in the bathroom(men!). 

i’ve been closely following my friend kate’s adoption journey.  she shares an amazing story.  she is a very gifted writer.  she just adopted an adorable little boy.  you should take a look.  her heart is beautiful.

advice?

October 16th, 2009

a sweet friend, who is  also walking the painful road of infertility and heading toward adoption, recently shared some of why and how her heart is breaking at this time.  how do we handle the time we missed in the lives of our children before they came to us?  she wondered if i had any advice for her.  i am sharing my response on here because i think it’s important for those of us on this journey to know that there are others of us who do understand.  each of us has our own unique journey to take, but we do share some similar experiences and heartache.

“advice?  oh, i wish i could just take this away from you because i know how painful it can be. it has been all encompassing for me.  i feel a loss for the child i never had and i feel a loss for what i missed out on with the children that i do have.

i, just about an hour ago was sharing with a dear friend that i have spent time over the past 6 years grieving a baby that will never be.  it seems so absurd in some ways, to say goodbye to something i never had.

and, there are many days, and sometimes multiple times a day, that my heart breaks for what i missed with my kids.  sometimes i look at their sweet faces and get so sad because i didn’t know them as babies.  in a lot of ways i can’t even imagine amelia and wilbur as babies because there are no pictures of them before amelia was 3 1/2 and wilbur was 1 1/2.  with orville we have pictures from when he was 2 months so i know what he looked like, but i never held him or bathed him or smelled him.

i know that while i missed so much, i get to be a part of more than anyone else.  who my children become will be because of how josh and i work with the Lord to raise them.  and from the moment they came home, until the moment they return to the Lord(or the moment i do)i am the one they will call mom, the one they’ll cling to when they need something, the one they’ll rejoice with when something wonderful happens, etc. sometimes thinking about all of this helps me, and sometimes it doesn’t.  but, for all i did miss, there is so much i get to see.

this adoption/infertility thing really is crazy.  it is.  it just flat out is.  there are moments it makes total sense and then there are moments where i can’t figure out anything at all.  and somehow, in the midst of all of the craziness, is our God.  the God of the universe.  the God who made me, made josh, made amelia, made wilbur, made orville, made you, made your  husband, made your little one.  He is there.  and He knows exactly what He’s doing.

and while most of me gets that, there’s a big part of me that doesn’t.   and then i remind myself that it really has nothing to do with me.  it’s all about Him.  and in His infinite wisdom, He has a plan that is good for me and josh and amelia and wilbur and orville and you and your husband and your little one.

and most importantly, i know He loves me and i know He loves YOU.  and i know when my heart is breaking and when your heart is breaking, His breaks too.  and He watches us and listens to us and sends people to hold us because that’s what He’d want to do.

if He were physically here i have no doubt that He’d scoop you up into His arms and say, “child, I love you.  I am so sorry this is so hard for you.  I know your heart is breaking.  I know sometimes you struggle to take one more step.  but, trust Me.  lean on Me.   I have a plan for you.  I know it doesn’t all make sense now, but someday it will.  I promise.”  and He’d wipe away your tears.

remember when you shared these jeremy camp lyrics with me?  “there will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears.  there will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face.”

what a journey!

interpretations

September 28th, 2009

i am in a new Bible study this fall.  we started up two weeks ago.  as sort of an icebreaker,  we read a short article and discussed it.  i had little to say, mostly because i was in awe of the different interpretations of the content of the article.  some people took it one way, some took it another way.  some people read into things, others took it literally.  some people’s thoughts matched mine, others varied a great deal.

as we studied the Word last thursday night, i was again noticing all of the interpretations.  for some of the questions, i had no answers.  for some of the questions, i changed my answers as i listened to others explain their answers.  for some questions, i totally disagreed with the answers of others.

on my way home from my study, i was thanking the Lord for the opportunity to be a part of a group where different interpretations can be shared and learning and growing can take place.  and then it struck me that what He has done in my life is so clear that there is no room for interpretation.  at least not in my eyes.  and i was overwhelmed with gratitude.  and i thanked Him for making His course for my life so obvious.  i thanked Him for doing something so obvious in my life.  i really can’t blindly pass by unexplained infertility, the calling to adopt, or the three little ones who live in my home. i know He can do subtle things to get our attention, to direct us.  i thanked Him for doing something clear for me.

i don’t understand.  why infertility?  why abuse?  why neglect?  why a broken home?  why a broken family?  why?  oh, why?

i don’t need to understand.

“for My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord.
“as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
isaiah 55:8~9

if you trace any part of this story, it all points to Him.  if you take it back to the beginning, it begins with Him.  if you look at the big picture, you see Him.

during my conversation with Him, this song came to mind.

“oh the Glory of it all is
He came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all

oh the Glory of it all is
He is here
for redemption from the fall
that we may live
for the glory of it all”
glory of it all ~ dcb

He came here.  He rescued us.  He provided redemption from the fall.  ALL so that WE MAY LIVE FOR THE GLORY OF IT ALL.

this story.  my story.  His story in me is all for His glory.

this seems to be a major theme in my life lately, realizing and understanding it’s not about me at all, but that it’s all for His glory.  though i have known this for a long time, it’s an entirely different thing to attempt to grasp it.  i pray i am somehow able to do that.  that i am somehow able to take myself out of the equation.  i pray that when people see our family, they see Him.  i pray that as our children grow and learn, they see Him too.

i surrender all

September 21st, 2009

i am so behind on this thing.  i could blog multiple times a day.  i learn so much from my Lord, my husband, my children, my friends, my church.  i am beyond blessed.  if only there was more time.

i feel like i am in a new season of life.  i have been so down for so long, but as the Lord continues to lift me up and continues to bring people into my life who are Christ centered and wisdom filled, i see a great deal of change taking place inside my heart and my mind.  “from the inside out, Lord my soul cries out.”

in the midst of all of the internal changes, the Lord has given me another opportunity to serve Him.   years ago i let Him know that i had a desire to have a ministry.  i didn’t know what that looked like.  where would it be?  to whom would i minister?  after all, what did i have to offer?  what could i share?  my life had been fairly easy, then turned suddenly difficult, and though i was undoubtedly in the center of His will for my life, it was a very hard place to be.   but He called me to a place where He saw a need for someone like me.

He called me to lead our church’s ministry to mother’s of infants and young children.  yep, you read that right, mother’s of infants and young children.  He…called…me.  not the mom who had the baby two years after she got married and then had another one two years after that.  He…called…me.  ME.  the infertile one.  the barren womb one.  the mother of three adopted bi-racial(i know you know color has nothing to do with it and trust that you get what i am saying) children.

HE…CALLED…ME.

and when He called me, He called me loud and clear.  He called me out of our church’s adoption and foster care ministry.  He called me out of a leadership role in our Sunday school class.  He called me to lead a group of women who get pregnant and give birth to babies.  is He crazy?

for years He knew the secret longing in my heart to be a part of this elite group of women.  for years He knew i so longed to simply walk in the room where the elite group meets.  for years He knew there was nothing i wanted more than to be a mom.

when our kids came home, i earned the right to join the group.  i remember clearly when i first walked through their meeting room doors.  it was hard for me to contain my emotions when i filled out my registration card, from barren womb to mom of three.  it was overwhelming to know i got to be there.

sure, it was hard to sit around a table full of women complaining about breastfeeding, being up in the middle of the night, pain during labor and delivery, etc, etc, etc.  but i was so excited to be there that i was able to block out the complaining.  and at the end of the first year of my attending the group, i volunteered to be a part of the groups committee.

i was assigned the job of “craft helper”.  i would assist the craft person on craft days, showing people how to do the craft, answer questions, etc.  and maybe sometimes she’d need me to run to the store to get extra supplies.  i basically ended up doing nothing most of the year.

towards the end of the year, a new leader was planning her committee and i told i wanted to stay on board.  i requested that i have at least a little more responsibility.  a few weeks later she called and told me that after much prayer and seeking, she would like for me to be her co-leader.  i told her i’d need some time to pray about it and discuss it with josh.

i was honored.  first, this leader is someone that i had admired for years.  i met her in the college ministry at our church and just always thought she was neat.  i would see her and think, “i bet she’d be great to be friends with.”  now she has presented me the opportunity to work by her side for a whole year!

second, i was being asked to help lead the ministry to young moms.  that meant that in a year, i’d be the one leading.  ME.  the infertile one.  the barren womb one.  the mother of three adopted bi-racial children.

i said yes.  i agreed to be the co-leader for one year, and then the leader for the following year.  now, we are in that year.  i am now leading our church’s ministry to mother’s of infants and young children.  ME.

the week before our ministry year started, our women’s ministry director held a communion and commissioning service for us.  we sang some songs together, one being i surrender all.

“all to Jesus i surrender
all to Him i freely give;
i will ever love and trust Him,
in His presence daily live.

i surrender all,
i surrender all;
all to Thee, my blessed Savior,
i surrender all.”

as i sang these words, i was thinking, “what does this look like in my life?  how does this relate to this ministry i am leading?”  with my eyes closed, and my head bowed, i thought, “wow.  i really did have to surrender a lot to get to this point.  my dreams.  my desires.  my fertility.  my womb.  my plans.  my will.  i really did have to surrender all.”  i was again overcome with emotion.

our meetings started two weeks ago.  things have been going really well.  our numbers are up from years past and it seems like people are pretty excited about what is planned for the year.  i love this!  but mostly i love watching the Lord’s plan for my life unfold.  He has done things with me i could have never imagined.  He’s taken me places i would have never been.  He’s opened doors that may have always been closed.

surrender seems like the hardest thing to do.  we want what we want, when we want it, how we want it, etc.  He has things He wants for us too.  He knows when He wants us to have them and how He wants us to have them.  for our good, for His glory.  knowing this has made it easier for me to surrender.  and watching His will for me unfold has made me so glad i let go.

but, i was still struggling with why He’d choose me for this ministry.  enter a Christ centered, wisdom filled lady.  i spend some time sharing my struggle with her, trying to make sense of all that has happened in the past few years and how it relates to my role in ministry.  she shares this with me:

“we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that
suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character;
and character, hope.”
romans 5:3~4

some of these young women may need to see what it looks like to suffer and persevere, and build character, and gain hope.  maybe i can show them.

worth it all?

August 18th, 2009

“i don’t understand Your ways
oh but i will give You my song
give You all of my praise

You hold on to all my pain
with it You are pulling me closer
and pulling me into Your ways

now around every corner
and up every mountain
i’m not looking for crowns
or the water from fountains
i’m desperate in seeking, frantic believing
that the sight of Your face
is all that i need
i will say to You

it’s gonna be worth it
it’s gonna be worth it
it’s gonna be worth it all
i believe this
it’s gonna be worth it
it’s gonna be worth it
it’s gonna be worth it all
i believe this

i don’t understand Your ways
oh but i will give You my song
give You all of my praise

You hold on to all my pain
with it You are pulling me closer
and pulling me into Your ways

now around every corner
and up every mountain
i’m not looking for crowns
or the water from fountains
i’m desperate in seeking, frantic believing
that the sight of Your face
is all that i need
i will say to You

it’s gonna be worth it all
i believe this
it’s gonna be worth it
it’s gonna be worth it
it’s gonna be worth it all
i believe this

You’re gonna be worth it
You’re gonna be worth it
You’re gonna be worth it all
i believe this
You’re gonna be worth it
You’re gonna be worth it
You’re gonna be worth it all
i believe this”
~ rita springer

this song was pretty much a daily part of the beginning of my infertility journey. i didn’t understand what God was doing or why He was calling me to something so different from what i wanted. but, i trusted that it would be worth it in the end if i just trusted His plan for my life. over the past three years, this song has come to me every once in awhile, always taking me back to those early days of wondering and waiting.

just recently, it has come back again as i face a whole new journey of wondering and waiting. parenting my children who experienced abuse and neglect early in life is a challenge to say the least. and recently that challenge has been quite difficult. i find myself again telling the Lord that i don’t understand His ways. i don’t understand why He’d allow my children to go through such pain. i don’t understand why He’d choose me to parent them. i don’t understand any of it.

somehow, through my pain, i am getting closer to Him. i do believe that all of this is going to be worth it. but i don’t think i will understand until i do see Him face to face. face to face with my Maker, my Master, the Lover of my soul. the Maker and the Master of my children, the Lover of their souls. the One who will somehow take all of this pain and all of this mess and turn it into something beautiful. something beautiful that will bring Him glory.

“i don’t understand Your ways
oh but i will give You my song
give You all of my praise”

this journey is my own

August 7th, 2009

when i stand before the Lord,
i’ll be standing alone
this journey is my own
still i want man’s advice,
and i need man’s approval,
but this journey is my own

why would i want to live for man
and pay the highest price?
what would it mean to gain the world,
only to lose my life?

so much of what i do
is to make a good impression
this journey is my own
so much of what i say
is to make myself look better
this journey is my own

why would i want to live for man
and pay the highest price?
what would it mean to gain the world,
only to lose my life?

i have never felt relief
like i feel it right now
this journey is my own
’cause trying to please the world
it was breaking me down
it was breaking me down

now i live and i breathe
for an audience of One
now i live and i breathe
for an audience of One
now i live and i breathe
for an audience of One
’cause i know
this journey is my own

why would i want to live for man
and pay the highest price?
what would it mean to gain the world,
only to lose my life?

you can live for someone else
and it will only bring you pain
i can’t even judge myself
only the Lord can say, “well done.”
~sara groves

parenting is never easy.  well, i should say i am guessing it’s never easy, because i really only have my experience to speak from.  i have struggled with parenting since the day my kids came home.  i have spent a majority of the past three years questioning every decision i made, every word i spoke, every look i gave.  i have spent many mornings lying in bed wondering how i’d make it through the day.  what would we do all day?  where would we go?  should we go anywhere?  should we just stay home?  should i expect them to play on their own?  should i always play with them and/or direct their play?  is it okay for me to work on big projects around the house and expect them to leave me alone?  should i allow them to pitch in?  can they play in the backyard while i am in the house?  do i need to be outside with them the whole time?

once i was out of bed, i found myself on the phone throughout the day seeking advice from friends and relatives.  i just wanted to know if i was doing things the right way.  i knew others were going through similar things and i wanted their opinions.  i knew others had gone through these things before me, some many years ago, and i wanted their wisdom.  then i always needed to follow that up with a call to my husband to see if he agreed with what i was doing.

i was making myself crazy.  most of these people(except for my husband) didn’t agree with what i was doing and offered advice that was contrary to how i wanted to raise my children. they would say things like, “you’re too harsh! you have too many rules! i just have a different parenting style. i just don’t care about as many little things. you need to let them be kids.” recently(i don’t know why it took me so long) i had an amazing realization, “why am i seeking advice from these people? none of them have ever adopted any children, let alone an abused and neglected child. and most importantly, three of them at one time. how can any of them judge my parenting?”

the above song immediately came to mind. this journey is my own. i am the only one living in this situation day to day, moment to moment. i am the only one who can parent these kids the way they need to be parented. if that weren’t the case, God would have placed them somewhere else. somehow, in His divine, and i think kind of crazy, wisdom, He knew they needed to be here. i don’t understand it, but i have to trust it.

i have to trust that i am doing things the right way. sure, i’ll make some mistakes, everyone does. but for the amount of mistakes i make, i get just as many compliments, if not more. i can’t tell you how many times, yes i am bragging, we have received compliments when it comes to our children. we are frequently stopped at the grocery store, walmart, or target. people just want tell us how well behaved they think the kids are.

and one time the boys and i were getting the van’s tires balanced and rotated and an older man came over to us to tell me how much he admired my parenting. he said he had been watching us and he thought i was doing a great job and it showed in the boys and their good behavior. and another time i was desperately seeking new jeans and the poor boys had to endure me trying on 8 pair. when we left the fitting room we passed a lady who said, “i heard some good things in there. they are so blessed to have you as their mother.” wow. totally unsolicited compliments. and i appreciate them so much.

i wish that those moments trumped the bad moments. the moments when i feel like i am a total failure at parenting my children. the moments when i feel like they could have ended up with a better mother. the moments when i wish i could erase the last three years and start over, knowing what i know now.

but i have to remind myself(constantly) that things are how they are supposed to be. i am the mother my kids are supposed to have. i am parenting them the way i am supposed to parent them. and no matter what other people think, good or bad, this parenting journey is my own. and when i stand before the Lord, if i need to answer for my parenting, i’ll be standing alone. this journey is my own.