Autumn always feels more like a new beginning to me than January. It’s probably my birthday in August and the time we spend away in Colorado. Returning home is a fresh, spring-like start for me (after the two weeks of dreaded re-entry, of course). I come home with plans and goals and energy, eager for work.

The reflection that vacation affords is becoming increasingly precious to me. Even with a toddler in tow one can’t help but go deep into those thoughts that have buried themselves under the busyness of every day activity. I love the absolute still of our valley – I have never heard such quiet anywhere else in the world. At times it’s disconcerting. Calling you to actually uncover thoughts and fears and hopes that are easier to keep hidden.

One such day I felt distinctly ill at ease with myself and my thoughts – easily distractable, unable to get at what I was searching for. My favorite place is at the kitchen table of our little cabin, looking out on the whole of the valley, watching the rain soak the wild flowers. I looked down at the stream, only yards away, and could hear my sister’s voice in my head. “I have never seen the stream that low,” she had said only a few weeks earlier. I had to smile to myself – every year one of us says that exact same thing. Or maybe it’s, “Has the valley ever been this brown? We need rain!” Or “This road is the worst it has ever been. Something must be done about it.”

All of my 33 years I have been coming to the same place and listening to my grandparents and then my parents and now my siblings have the exact same conversations. It is all an outpouring of our firm and devoted love for this particular spot – our favorite in all the world – a spot that means “us.”

Thinking these things I looked up at the mountains, majestic, grand and so familiar that I can trace their shapes now in my mind’s eye. Year after year I looked out on the same vast scene. Every year I was different. Every year my life had a different shape, a different feel, a different taste. But this scene – these mountains – this stream – they were always the same.

And then I thought of God, preserving His world through the generations, through history, through all of time from the Beginning to the End. Suddenly I felt safe. I knew myself to be absolutely secure, tucked away in the generations of God’s children. My own life with all of its joys and sorrows and defeats and triumphs is only a small, barely visible piece of His determined plan to bring His Kingdom to this world.

All I want is a place in that Kingdom – that’s all that matters.Image

Posted in Christian Ritual, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Greetings and a new beginning

Hello dear people,

I’m starting to feel like the Elizabeth Taylor of bloggers…switching hosts every few years as the whim takes me. Terribly sorry about that. But I have a hunch I might actually stick with this one. Unlike some of my wonderful friends I’m rubbish at posting pictures and it feels much more like a burden than a pleasure. I would much rather pontificate as the mood seizes me…for better or worse. WordPress seems like the perfect match. Besides, the apple program I was using decided to bail on me which means I lost some of your wonderful comments. Ergh.

Some of you have asked periodically for the writing I did in the months following the death of our twins. It’s all here – categorized under Ebenezer and Hannah. And if you’re interested in following our progress to Judah’s birth and adoption you can find that too. Thank you for reading!

Speaking of Judah we have decided he needs a sibling. When a couple decides to add one more to their family it generally involves something a bit more fun than paperwork. But c’est la vie – that’s our narrative and we are very grateful for it. It is an honor to be a part of the adoption world.

As God would have it, just a couple nights ago we had the pleasure of meeting new friends who adopted through the same agency we are now with. Watching them cuddle their sweet little baby, only a few months old, who has the same lovely dark skin as our Judah, reminded me that adoption is truly alive and making its mark all over the church.

After our first miserable adoption experience, when we flew home with empty arms and doubting hearts, a friend told me over the phone that once the Lord gave us that first gift of a baby I would be willing and ready to go through pain again and again just to adopt at least one more time. I honestly thought she was crazy. Now I think I know what she meant.

When I hold Judah, flesh and blood and skin and oh-so-beautiful eyes, I am feeling and touching and seeing evidence that God can indeed grow my family anyway He wants to. Judah is proof.

So…here we go. Homestudy #2 is halfway done (Yes, you do have to do another one for another baby – to answer the question we have been asked many times) and we’re praying for a sister or brother for Judah who currently reigns supreme and should probably be de-throned.

Posted in Adoption, Mommying | 14 Comments

Heroism (May 2012)

I have been thinking a lot lately about courage. Supposedly a better translation of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is the heroic woman. She is said to “laugh at the days to come.” That never made sense to me. Laugh? Why does it say laugh instead of, “she’s not afraid of the future” or some such thing?

I have said two words to myself a lot over the last 5-6 years. “I can’t.” And when I think about the circumstances it’s almost laughable how I proceeded to do exactly what I had just said I couldn’t do. Each time I was afraid – sometimes I was terrified – sometimes it was more of a panic deep down in the gut. Sometimes I was facing a particular event; sometimes it was just another day of life that I didn’t think I could live. Every single time I said, “I can’t,” and then, suddenly, I could and I did.

Yay for me, right? Not by a long shot. (Insert snort.) I didn’t have a choice. Ten times out of ten I would have changed my circumstances in order to avoid what I was afraid of. If there was any heroism involved it was rooted in my panic stricken pleas to Jesus: “Please don’t leave me!”

I suppose courage doesn’t mean simply living through something that makes you afraid. Courage means carrying the burden of fear with grace and dignity. Courage means fearing God more than circumstances. Courage means laughing (laughing!) at whatever the future holds. I long for courage.

I think there is a proper kind of fear in a Christian’s heart. When Jesus said, “don’t be anxious about anything” I don’t think He was saying don’t ever be afraid. He was human. He knew fear; He lived with it all His life. After all, He knew what His future held. It doesn’t make sense to tell a suffering and afraid Christian, “Don’t be afraid. Everything will be ok.” Seriously? Sometimes things are not ok.

If it’s not unfaithful to be afraid then there has to be a faithful way of handling fear. There seems to be a very deep chasm between being afraid and laughing at the days to come.

But maybe there isn’t a chasm. After all, the heroic woman will have plenty to fear. As soon as she becomes a mother a whole world of fear opens up to her and that’s where she has to live – she doesn’t have a choice. Having started my journey to motherhood with infertility and loss I was introduced to a world of fear earlier than some, but it’s the same world. Bearing fear as a burden was something I started doing before Judah. But having him now has only brought more fears into my heart.

I suppose that’s where courage comes in. Courage has to start with honesty. There are things to be afraid of and that’s just the way it is. Courage is acceptance. Courage is fearing God more than circumstances. Courage doesn’t say, “No big deal. I’m not afraid.” But courage also doesn’t say, “I can’t.” Courage says, “If you want me to, I will.” Courage is praying for strength and then living like it has been given. Courage gives the laughter because whatever is coming is not unknown to the One who brings it.

Or, to put it simply and much more eloquently: “What time I am afraid I will trust in you.”

Posted in Adoption, Ebenezer and Hannah, Mommying, Suffering | 2 Comments

All about…the journey? (February 2012)

Maybe you have heard this like I have: “I’m all about the journey.” I have had this said to me before and in years gone by I would nod sagely and say, “Yes. All about the journey. It’s not about the end. It’s about HOW you get there.” It sounded so, well, romantic, to be all about the journey even if I had no idea what that meant or looked like.

But there’s a problem – one that is becoming increasingly clear to me: I’m NOT all about the journey. In fact, I’m so not about the journey I would happily skip it just to get where I want to go. I am a self-avowed task-oriented, git-her-done, tick-it-off-the-list, drive-you-crazy kind of person. And I do! Drive you crazy, that is. At least I drive my poor husband crazy with my lists and my plans and my “just this last thing.” I can’t be happy until the job is done.

You probably can see where I’m going with this. Parenthood is, at least in my own very limited experience, all about the journey, all the time. I could make lists like “change diaper; make lunch; clean up lunch; play; nap; feed; clean up; play.” Seriously? Or the list could say, “Keep Judah alive today.” Or, better yet, “Keep Judah happy and keep myself sane.” Not bad, but not exactly catering to my tendency to organize my life and everyone else’s lives into neat little lists of tasks and achievements.

It’s becoming clear that I have to change myself on some fundamental and vitally important level. I have to become “all about the journey.” I have to re-center my energy and commitment to learning a person: a person who is not a list of jobs or a checklist to be completed by the end of the day; a person who has his own challenges, his own gifts, his own personality and whose parents have the mind boggling job of figuring out those challenges and gifts and personality. And I’m starting to get the feeling I’m never going to have it all figured out. “Figure out parenting.” 

All about the journey. Well, yes, I guess I have to be. So, now I tell myself that if, at the end of a long and tiring day, I know my son just a little bit better; if I understand him a little more; if I loved him at least as well as I could, then I can check the box on my list. The only thing is, tomorrow it’s the same list and the same box. “Love Judah.” (Maybe I should add something and make it a list of two: “Love Josh.”)

I have had it said to me a million (A MILLION) times, “Enjoy these early years. They go by so fast.” OK. So add that to the list. “Enjoy. Love. Change a diaper. Learn. Change another diaper.” If I can be all about the journey now, I’ll end up at the end of it probably wishing the box wasn’t ticked and the list wasn’t completed. But journey or not, it will be nice to be done with the diapers.

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Kingdom Work (October 2011)

I was unprepared for how intensely private mothering is. So much of it is just you and your baby, behind closed doors. When I go grocery shopping I love to push Judah around in the cart, taking pleasure in the passing glances he gets from admiring strangers. They see a happy,  (mostly) organized mama and a happy, (sometimes) calm baby.

There are so many private battles within our home that seem to determine the nature and character of my work and life. I’m not talking about my battles with Judah (although there are some of those, of course!). I’m talking about all the battles I fight in my own heart to be the person I’m supposed to be and the mother Judah needs. I face a million opportunities, all day long, to choose life or choose death. And all day long Judah is directly affected by my choices. He is completely helpless in this. He is not only unable to remove himself from my choices, but he is also entirely unaware of his position of helplessness. If I choose not to love him the way he needs to be loved he suffers, whether he knows it or not.

I am sobered and humbled by this reality. I know I can’t change it. That’s the way God made parenting. What else can I do but pray for mercy, over and over and over?

It occurred to me that being a parent, though perhaps a more stark reality, is no different than any other calling. We fight battles in our hearts every day, all day long. We either choose life or death and others are always affected by our decisions, whether we like it or not.

Sometimes I live in the big questions of calling and career and my place in this world. I will probably always wrestle with those questions from time to time. Now, however, I’m living in the day to day battles – a different sort of calling, just as important and just as tiring in its demand for perseverance. My mom would say, “Honey, you have to live there and you have to live here.”

I came across a quote this morning. You know how sometimes a sentence or paragraph will suddenly shine a big spotlight into your heart and something that was dark for so long is suddenly illuminated? This simple paragraph helped me to see where I should be living, as a rookie mom.

“Every kingdom work, whether publicly performed or privately endeavored, partakes of the kingdom’s imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every motion of repentance, every gesture of concern, every routine engagement, every motion of worship, every struggle towards obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything which flows out of our faith-relationship with the Ever-Living One, will find its place in the ever-living heavenly order which will dawn at His Coming.”

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10 Years (August 2011)

That picture was taken last week right after we had finalized Judah’s adoption over the phone with a judge in Florida. If you had been there and blinked you would have missed the entire thing. That’s okay – Josh keeps telling me Judah’s REAL gotcha day happened several months ago…

Ten years of marriage seems pretty significant, don’t you think? A big milestone – proof that the vows taken by kids on an August day in Tacoma really weren’t a joke. And, believe me, we were kids. Fresh out of college, all kinds of plans and dreams. The world was at our feet and we were going to take it by storm. And we did! St Louis, England, Scotland – moving every few years, meeting all kinds of people, traveling, traveling, traveling.

We celebrated our fifth anniversary traipsing around bella Italia, eating pasta, drinking wine at the Acropolis and roaming the streets of the most beautiful country in the world. We had hardly a care in the world – the biggest burden was “The PhD” and that was well on its way. It wasn’t yet time to worry about where we were going to end up after Scotland and we loved our lives, our friends and our church.

Now, five years later, our lives have been turned upside down by pain and the reality of looking for God when He’s nowhere to be found and then, suddenly, finding Him and finding joy. Josh has a “real job.” I am a mommy, and Judah, who didn’t even exist last year, has changed everything.

We spent our anniversary evening in Woodland Park, about as small town as you get in Colorado. The first thing our waitress said to us was, “We’re out of pork, beef and chicken…would you like fish?” So, instead of pizza from Napoli we choked down dry fish. I wondered for a moment if I really did wish to be in Italy, trying on the feeling for size – it’s a familiar one after all! But it didn’t take me long to shed it. I wouldn’t change a thing. Ten years of loving the same good man, and of proving the faithful love of a kind Father. If ten years means a good life, a beautiful little boy to love and even more happiness with the guy I married when I was just a kid, then I’ll take it. Dry fish and all.

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Stories (June 2011)

Here I am again…still loving my little blog and loving all you dear readers and falling in love with my darling. I have to say it still fills me with amazement that the Lord gave us such a beautiful little boy.

When we began reading about adoption we heard from books and social workers and many others that people will say rude things about us and our baby and learning to deal with those rude things is a part of the living in the wide world of adoption.

I suppose it’s still coming – I mean, everyone is thoughtless about things that haven’t directly affected them, right? But I have been amazed that we really have not experienced anything hurtful. I can see strangers looking at Judah and then at me and then back again. But when they do say something it’s simply kind curiosity. “Where did he come from?” “What a beautiful baby!”

When Judah gets older things will get more complicated. I can’t imagine it will be fun or helpful for him to be constantly reminded by strangers that he doesn’t look like us. But that’s for a later time. For now I am encouraged that adoption is so popular and prevalent that no one is shocked or put off – only supportive and pleased for us.

And people’s interest reminds me constantly that we have this little person – this son – woven into the fabric of our lives and nothing will ever be the same. He is the result of the faithful, persevering love of a kind Father and he is for me hope in pain and light in darkness.

Of course no one who quickly glances at us in the grocery store knows that. All they see is a white mom and black baby and they wonder what the story is. I have no idea what kind of assumptions they’re making and I have no way of finding out. And I can’t imagine they would want me to interrupt them in the aisle of Target to explain my whole life. Nor would I want to – there’s something fun about the mystery.

It’s amazing to me that God knows every life that has ever been lived, not just in broad outline but every intimate and colorful detail. Not only knows, but writes it with loving, compassionate purpose. How does He create such a myriad of lives, no two alike?

I love Judah so much it takes my breath away. I don’t think I could love him more even if he had come from my own body. His 5 months has changed the course of my life forever. And Josh and I will shape his life in eternal ways. But his story isn’t being written by me. All the million little things that had to happen in order for him to become ours had very little to do with me. God is faithfully writing his story just like He’s writing mine.

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Forward Looking Thoughts (April 2011)

“A child, more than all other gifts that earth can offer to declining man, brings hope with it, and forward looking thoughts.”

So says Wordsworth and so echoes my heart these days. The second birthday of our twins has come and gone. I am amazed at how the time of year brings everything rushing back in full force. The grief and pain feel fresh all over again, as if we just lost them yesterday. It reminds me that I miss them. Of course I miss them all the time, but to feel the pain of their absence is a reminder of all we have lost. I am grateful for this grief because it the only way I can honor and love the babies I have lost. Loving them means grief. Grief is the price I pay for loving.

And that was all I knew of a mother’s love – grief and sorrow and emptiness. But now I have Judah to teach me that sometimes love means happiness and fulfillment and sweet peace. And love means worry and sleeplessness and frustration. And love, though sometimes can bring despair, can also bring hope – hope for myself and hope for a 3 month old baby who has his whole life before him.

I suppose it makes sense that since we are made in the image of a God who loves eternally and vastly the love we know would also bring many and varied experiences into the depths of a human heart. I never felt I had the choice to grieve over my babies. That is the price that my love pays. But I am grateful to make room in my heart for a love that brings hope and pleasure and forward looking thoughts.

Posted in Ebenezer and Hannah, Mommying | Leave a comment

Grace Upon Grace (March 2011)

Thank you, thank you, thank you all you wonderful friends for your love and rejoicing and the comments that you leave here, which I LOVE, by the way. 🙂 Judah has no idea how many dear people are rejoicing over him these days.

I have been thinking a lot about that very fact during these weeks of celebration. He is at the center of so much fun and activity and is the cause of so many tears of gratitude and heartfelt rejoicing, but he is completely oblivious. He has been born into this world, adopted into our family and baptized into the church, all entirely unbeknownst to him. All he knows is hunger and the satisfaction of being fed, tiredness and the pleasure of sleep, the delight of being held and the horror of being left alone. Someday I will tell him all about these days and weeks and try to communicate to him the joy that I now know, joy that is new and unfamiliar and entirely life changing. But for now I feed and clothe and rock and cuddle and that’s all I can do. I cannot communicate to him the weight and the glory of the promises that have been made to him, or the beauty of Jesus or the wonder of a Father that gave him to us and us to him.

I look at him and I wonder if that’s how God sees me. All I can see is my own limited, imperfect view of my life in this world. I cannot fully see, much less comprehend, the love that has been poured out, the promises that have been made to me or the future glory that will one day be mine. All I saw before was sorrow and disappointment. Now I see fulfillment and answered prayer, a tiny glimpse of the kind of Father that loves me. But I have no real comprehension of Him – all I can do is take the glimpses I get and continue to hope for more, learning as I go that God is more full of love and grace than I could possibly imagine.

Which, I suppose, is why God gives us these glimpses – moments when our hearts are full to bursting – so we’ll catch a quick sight of the kind of Lord He has always been and always will be.

Posted in Adoption, Journey to Judah, Mommying | Leave a comment

Joy Comes in the Morning (January 2011)

I feel like I should be full of eloquence in this moment, finally sitting to post an entry about the arrival and adoption of our son. I find I have no words, which is probably okay considering what most of you are looking for is really only the pictures.

One of the things that must be said, however, is that I do not know how people accomplish adoption outside of the church. In our case it would have been impossible. We have been prayed for, supported, housed, fed and loved by so many through this process. Our two weeks in Florida were a perfect example of the Bride of Christ doing what she does best. I was picked up from the airport by parents of dear friends who attend our church. I was prayed over by a pastor and his wife whom I had never met before. We stayed at the home of a friend from college days whom we hadn’t talked to in years. Josh was taken from the airport to the hospital by another dear college friend. And during all of those days we were receiving messages of love and prayer from so many all over the country. Whatever you say about a village, it most certainly takes the Church to adopt a child.

We are home with our sweet Judah, named for the son of Jacob whose journey from slimeball to hero has long been one of our favorite Bible stories, and from whose line the Christ Child came. His middle name is Rayburn, named for his grandpa and great-grandpa, two others of our heroes.

I can only say thank you – thank you for praying for us. Thank you for weeping with us and thank you for rejoicing. Our Jesus answered your prayers.

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