Only The Trying (December 2010)

“For us there is only the trying. The rest is none of our business.”

T.S.Eliot somehow manages once more to send a zinger straight into my heart. This is where I have lived for so long – wrestling with God over why He would not grant success to our plans when, from what we can see, our plans are good and faithful and motivated by love. I am beginning to see and trying to accept that it’s not my job to establish the Kingdom. But it is my job to try.

Which is why I am getting on a plane tomorrow, with the goal in mind of bringing home a baby boy. He is due in a few days. His mother is waiting to meet us. All seems just as it should be.

“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’’ I have no idea what lies ahead of me when I land in Ft. Lauderdale. I don’t know what God has planned. All I know is that we have done our best to ensure this little boy will belong to us. We are trying. The rest is none of our business.

Thankfully the One whose business it is is also my Father and Savior and sustains me with His righteous right hand. I can walk into the dark because He is the One who bears me up.

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Chiaroscuro (November 2010)

Advent is here and another Christmas approaches. Even though Christmas is hard now I am finding comfort in the liturgy of the church, in celebrating the birth of Christ at the same time of year that countless Christians through the ages have also celebrated.

I now have a date in my life that changed everything, that marks the separation of myself into two – two different lives, two different experiences of God. That’s just how it is now. But the rhythm and the motion of the church calendar defines my life in a different way, a sacred way that binds my own heart to the hearts of all other believers in Christ.

I guess that’s how life is. There is darkness and sorrow, but it is framed within the beauty and joy of the sacred feasts: Christ’s birth, Christ’s death and resurrection, Christ’s ascension to the Father. These are the events that define and shape the life of a believer just as do the individual trials and hardships.

Some friends are living in a valley darker than many will ever enter. They have given their two year old daughter back to Jesus, after months of pain and suffering.

Josh and I were among the group of mourners at her graveside. There is something about standing at a graveside that makes the rest of the world retreat. For a few minutes that grave, that sorrow, that moment in time is all there is. Nothing else matters except the knowledge that there is one more in Heaven waiting for us and we are left to mourn and then to press on. Those are sacred moments that mark our path to Glory.

But Christmas is sacred too and I am grateful this year that God gives us feast days to mark our path with joy. He knows the sorrow and He is Lord of it, but He also knows we need the joy and the feasting, to lift up our heads and remind us of the beauty and majesty and love of our Savior.

It seems to me that faithfulness is not just mourning but rejoicing as well. We have dear friends who in the space of a week witnessed the marriage of their daughter and the death of a father. Yet another testimony of delights and shadows. And they too will be celebrating Christmas and the birth of the One whose life determines all of life – life on both sides of death. Surely it is right to rejoice at such a birth!

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Everlasting Arms (October 2010)

I have to say thank you again to you who read this blog. It must take an extraordinary amount of patience, considering my schedule for posting is…well, just about once a month. I am so grateful that you are willing to hang in there with me and encourage me in my continued blog therapy.

Speaking of publishing, a certain husband of mine recently sent a certain manuscript of his to a certain publisher. Wow. What a feeling of relief and accomplishment – I’m not sure which of us is more grateful! Our celebration was a bottle of wine at home. Doesn’t get more wild and crazy than that…

This thesis feels like a child – we have poured money, energy and several years of our lives into its birth, growth and success. And now it seems God is blessing all that work and rewarding our labors. It will probably take a few months before the first million dollars comes rolling in, but we’re patient people. We can wait.

I am very grateful for this success, given us while we’re living in our Valley of the Shadow and living in the Valley of others. Several dear friends have been hit recently by severe tragedy. Mourning with them has felt like the most natural thing in the world. But the many and varied reminders of the Enemy’s grip on this world can feel disheartening.

A friend of mine recently reminded her son in my hearing that he has no concept of how much grace and mercy daily preserves and protects and shelters him. He was complaining about some triviality that I can’t remember. Her words have been echoing over and over in my mind since then. Why am I any different from that young guy? I feel the blows and waves and shocks of life in a broken world and I reel from them, crying out in pain or discouragement. But I have no idea how strong is the mighty Grace that shields and protects me from the Enemy, moment by passing moment.

Sometimes when I pray for mercy I have to fight back fear – I have already consumed so much mercy. Surely one of these days my quota is going to run out. I know so little about the Person of my God, who will sustain and protect and preserve all the way to the Jordan and beyond.

“The eternal God is your dwelling place. And underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut. 33:27)

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Courts of the Lord (September 2010)

My sister reminds me sometimes that the fulfillment of our desire to adopt does not rest on the birthmoms or lawyers or social workers. It feels like it, but it doesn’t. And, of course, what she’s telling me is that I can have the supreme confidence of trusting that my future is in the hands of a good God. Sometimes that isn’t comforting.

Sometimes I feel the niggling, cold, deathlike grip of Doubt. It’s a terrible guest to have lodge in my heart. It demands everything – all my time and energy. It influences all of my thoughts and feelings and prevents me from even wanting to be faithful. But, worst of all, it seems so powerful in my fight against it. It whispers that I would be happy if I would just surrender, lie down and give up. Just one bite. You will not surely die.

Josh told me last night that Doubt only declares. It doesn’t provide answers. It doesn’t even wait for answers. It doesn’t comfort. It doesn’t provide happiness or joy or fulfillment. It is a worm that feeds on faith.

I’m trying to fight for my faith, trying to shield it from the arrows of Doubt. To believe that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He has promised. If He said it then it’s true.

And, right now, the reward I seek is more faith – enough to keep me from giving in and losing this battle. After all, what does Doubt promise me? Nothing but darkness. Faith promises joy that comes in the morning.

In the midst of this battle I am increasingly grateful for worship – the one place where I feel myself to be what I truly am: a believer. I read Psalm 84 and I know exactly what he’s talking about, living from Sunday to Sunday, longing to be in God’s house, with God’s people.

It is in worship that the clouds dissipate and light shines clearly. Surely God has proved Himself to me over and over. I have every reason in the world to believe Him and that by believing I am not whistling in the dark. That’s good because whistling in the dark never brings light – only God can do that.

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These Three Remain (August 2010)

I don’t know why they call it an adoption “disruption.” As if you’ve been sleeping peacefully and are suddenly awakened. I guess it’s like the word “miscarriage” – a sterile, technical term that does nothing to describe the shock or grief or subsequent pain.

I could say that no one thought for a minute this would happen. Everything about this adoption was textbook – the birthmom was as determined as you could wish; everyone involved was convinced that every step was providential and could not be more wonderfully progressing. I could say that there were so many unforeseen complications that, in the end, turned the entire thing on its head. I could say that and start looking for someone (or Someone) to blame. I could say those things, but it doesn’t really help.

How is it possible to miss two babies whom I did not deliver and whom I only saw for a couple of minutes? We planned for them and prayed for them and considered them ours only for a few months. The world of adoption brings strange avenues of loss and grief.

A friend and I were talking about the Mariah Carey song that says, “Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill.” That’s pretty much the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Hope can easily be killed. I’ve seen it die in my own heart several times over. I’ve seen it die in Josh’s. As if Hope has its own life inside of you and it just keeps living on no matter what happens. Not in my world.

Why does Paul list Hope among the greatest of Christian virtues? Why not simply prepare ourselves for the worst and live each day expecting sorrow? Why does God command us to do the hard, hard work of continuing to expect and pray for good things? And what does it mean to hope anyway? It’s not like simply by believing and hoping I can achieve miracles. (All due respect to Ms. Carey…)

God is not a tame lion. But even if He is not tame, He is still my God – and the God of my children. My Hope rests entirely in God being who He says He is. He says He is Father to the fatherless and defender of the poor and forsaken. That’s how I know His calling on our lives to adopt is not a cruel joke or a mistake. That’s how I know we are right where we’re supposed to be and I knew it all during that horrible, painful week. That’s my Hope and that’s why we love adoption and that’s why we’ll just keep trying. Like Faith and like Love, Hope too is action.

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On our way out (July 2010)

We have the most wonderful friends in the world, hands down. Thank you all for your kind and loving comments and for rejoicing with us. Even though we’ve been readying the nursery, finishing paperwork, building up phone minutes to Florida and generally preparing for these babies, this whole adventure feels entirely unreal. As though I will wake up one morning and it will all have been a dream. I hope not.

It is a very strange thing to be shopping and preparing for babies. For years – years! – I have avoided Babies R Us and Target’s baby section like the plague. Literally, going out of my way through other aisles just so I didn’t have to look at baby clothes or baby furniture. Just seeing it was too painful. Some of you dear girls who read this blog know exactly what I’m talking about.

That’s been my narrative for a very long time: all things baby equals pain, another cut in a beat up heart.

But now, all of a sudden, I’m supposed to do this – supposed to be able to navigate my way around Babies R Us without curling up in a little ball on the floor (is anyone capable of doing that?).

There is joy in this preparation, absolutely. Joy and fear and anxiety and awe. And also many reminders along the way that God is not building our family in the normal way. We tell the lady at the baby registry that we’re expecting twins in a month and there’s a quick glance at my tummy and raised eyebrows. We hear from a third party about the babies’ current condition in utero. We get ultrasound pictures mailed to us on a disc. Labor begins and instead of jumping in a car with a packed bag we’re looking for plane tickets. Adoption is not “normal.”

I have this gut feeling that these are only the first of many reminders that God has done otherwise with us. I’m glad He doesn’t do “Plan B.”

For now we’re outta here. Family time is in the books for our last vacation sans enfants. New Mexico and then Colorado. The plan is four weeks – all of Josh’s time off in one big lovely chunk. However, there’s always a chance the phone will ring and it will be a certain hospital in Florida.

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Sola Fide…Then and Now (July 2010)

There is rejoicing in the Moon household these days. The first reason is, of course, that Netherlands beat Uruguay in the semi-final. Ample reason to celebrate for my orange-clad husband.

The other reason is that the Lord has showered us with blessing in the form of twins, due early September, to a wonderful, heroic woman who has made an adoption plan with us. We are trying to prepare ourselves for a phone call and a quick flight to Florida, at which point our lives will change forever.

You can imagine how hesitant I have felt to blog about this amazing news, news that still seems completely unreal – like it belongs to another person’s life. I think to myself that there is so much that could go wrong. So much that is still tentative. So much opportunity for heartbreak.

True. I find that my broken heart expects further pain more easily than joy. God brought pain before. Why wouldn’t He again?

And then there’s the other, more insidious problem. An inclination deep down to think that if I make this news public then that will jinx us. Everyone knows – therefore it will most certainly go wrong.

What is this lack of faith? Because of God’s goodness to me I have borne witness to His unfailing love and mercy. In the last 15 months I have consumed enormous amounts of His grace, breathing it in like oxygen and finding the strength to continue on. Now He gives us this – this blessing of all blessings, this double portion of His grace. And I find it easy to believe that my God is no longer good. He has given us two babies to love and now His love is less than it has always been?

I never thought that it would take as much faith to hope as it does to grieve – faith to receive instead of relinquish. Why am I surprised? Faith is, after all, the only important thing – both the journey and the prize.

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I love red tape (June 2010)

Since adoption is my new narrative and I really don’t have room in my head for a single other thought I simply must share with you that we are nearly finished with our homestudy. Did you get that? Nearly finished. I have decided that I should develop a new signature since I’m so tired of using my current one.

Everyone says that the hardest part is after the work is over and we enter the “officially waiting” stage. I suppose so. At this point a little waiting doesn’t sound so bad if it means not photocopying tax returns and making phone calls to insurance agents and trying to decide which pictures of us are somewhat decent. (Where are those wedding pics anyway??)

But I’m sure once we are finally in the waiting stage I’ll reach a new level of impatience and anxiety – which is saying a lot for me.

For now I’m just glad to be here, almost done and only a little worse for wear.

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I’m OK with this? (May 2010)

Josh and I have dipped our toes into the ocean of adoption. We spend most of our time happily gazing at our wet feet, looking at all the little fish swimming around us and thinking these waters really aren’t that deep. We can do this. We can sign our names to a million forms and explain to our social worker why we want children and take a trip to the police station to get fingerprinted. No problem. Bring it on.

But then I’m forced to lift my gaze to the vastness of the ocean we’ve stepped into. 143 million orphans worldwide. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Abuse. Neglect. Heartbreak. There are new places in my heart where pain and ugliness and cruelty reside. Facts in my head that never used to be there. Questions about the justice of God in a world that is far worse than I ever imagined.

I don’t know what to do with this. How will I not sink in these waters? When we were first considering adoption and all was light and newness a friend wrote to me something I will never forget. She told me that adoption is always the result of grief – of things not being the way they’re supposed to be. She was telling me what a precious bond can be formed between children who miss their biological parents and parents who could not have biological children. She was encouraging me, at bottom, to embrace the heartbreak – the “fallenness” of the world – because the Lord can work wonders in the midst of it all.

I don’t know how to be OK with fallenness. I don’t know how to survive in this world of ugliness; hating it, and yet willingly living in it. I think of all the terrible things that happen to children and I want to run far, far away. How will one adoption help?

I am afraid of these things. They bring me to tears. So why is it that I somehow feel such honor and privilege to be entering this world? Why is it that I am glad to be here and that I hope I stay all the rest of my life?

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Aslan is on the move (April 2010)

I discovered recently that I am madly in love with spring. Where I grew up gray slowly becomes green and winter rains soften to spring rains. This does have its advantages. When my mom calls to tell me she’s pruning her roses I have to bite back a bitter comment about the 3 foot mounds of snow covering our landscape.

I used to love the snow. The 2 inches we would get occasionally in Tacoma were reason to rejoice – school cancelled and a day of play ended with cocoa and coziness.

But that wasn’t REAL winter. Real winter is different. Real winter is the White Witch’s rule for five months – no sign of life; everything white and barren and dead. I look out my kitchen window, trying to remember the color from last summer, and I will my perennials not to be defeated by the subzero temperatures.

And then, miracle of miracles, the snow melts and, before anything else shudders to life, tiny yellow buds appear on our two forsythia bushes. I cannot explain the thrill of recognizing those first, brave signs of life. Everything else is still happily asleep but here they are, telling me not to despair. Aslan is on the move and spring is coming. Winter has been defeated again.

Easter was our twins’ first birthday. We stood at their grave that evening, along with my sweet brothers and sister-in-law. The light was soft and the cemetery was quiet and still, just like it always is. I kept my eyes on their stone and struggled to believe that Jesus will come back. Really? This grip of death, this sting, will one day be unloosed?

I hate Death. I hate to feel that it has had its way with me. That its power will shape me as long as I live. I don’t belong to Death. I belong to Life. Jesus says so.

I laid branches from our forsythia bushes by the grave. Their buds had burst into yellow flowers. I whispered to my babies that they would live again, that they belonged to Life. Aslan is on the move.

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