Monday, August 30, 2010

"It's love on legs."

What distance would you go to love? I mean it. What imaginary lines have you traced in your mind that mark the "too far" scenario?

A reoccurring theme between God and me, this year, has been love. There's a wonderful strangeness that comes in walking with God. We walk and walk and walk, but then (sometimes suddenly) I think to look back. It's about that time I realize I haven't been paying attention. I didn't notice crossing over my zone of comfort. I didn't realize we stepped over the world-will-think-this-is-crazy border and I find myself smack dab in the middle of a situation, that really doesn't seem like a "situation," because God and I set up camp a long time ago and are far past the roasting smors stage.

I've mentioned it before that I work at a small Christian college. Tomorrow happens to be our first day of classes and our campus minister, Adam, has picked an incredibly telling, for my life, theme, this year - Let Justice Roll Down. If you're anything like me, you think that sounds wonderfully poetic, but have no idea what it actually means. I only heard a five minute blurb on Adam's vision for the year, but it was enough to start a spark in my heart...

I actually had to look up the word justice because the context it was used in didn't fit my pea-brain understanding of its depth. The definition that Adam attached to justice came from Cornell West: "Justice is what love looks like in public. It's love on legs." And the scripture that bookends our theme is Amos 5:24, "But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

For some reason my head only equated justice with God's wrath and Old Testament destruction. But in actuality, righteousness is embedded in its definition, love-living at its core.

On Sunday, our pastor told a story of a grandmother who loved to hold her spoon of sugar under the stream of incoming coffee and that she routinely filled her cup to overflowing. So much so, that she always had to sip the extra off her saucer. His point in telling the story was that this woman lived her life the same way she drank her coffee - overflowing.

Don't you want to live your life that way? I sure do.

For the privacy of the young woman who was all but a stranger to me weeks ago, I cannot give you the details of what God has been calling me to do or how he's been driving me to pray, but your mouth would drop if you knew the ins and outs of the ledge I've been walking.

Tonight, Ty let me rock him to sleep. He hugged me securely with his sweet cheek against my chest. I started out singing softly and his chubby little hand kept gently touching my lips. His eyes held my gaze the entire time. I didn't care about bed time. I didn't care about the dishes in the sink or the homework that needed to be done. I rocked and sang and prayed. I reminded Ty of all the people in his life that love him so much (including all of you!) and spoke words of greatness over his future. This swell came over my heart and tongues just poured over him (Yup. I'm one of those). I prayed in tongues for well over an hour. Ty had long since fallen asleep, and as my feet rocked back and forth I knew justice had rolled out.

From next door neighbors to late-night snugglers, God has called us to justice. He has equipped us to be the legs of love, to be his son in flesh. Smash the box, erase the lines of distinction, and ask God to breathe on you. 

Only good can come from allowing God to pour his never-ending streams of love through you and into others.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Older

I turned 29 this week and I'm pretty happy about it.

A lot of people have asked me if it was difficult with the "dreaded" three-oh right around the corner, if I'll have a hard time letting go of my twenties, etc, etc. The truth is, I love getting older, and even more than that, I love the life I'm living right now.

The older I get the more sure I am of what's truly important in life and I soak it in. Sure, I may have packed away the short skirts and cutoff shorts, but what I traded them in for has so much more value...motherhood. For the first time in my life, I see very outward signs of evolution in my heart, mind, and spirit and it spurs me on to do more and be more. I love that.

I'm less concerned about what other people think of me and run hard into the purposes God has paved before me.

I definitely was that mom that wanted all her kids popped out by 30, but God has shown me such a bigger picture of what he's called our family to be. And truth be told, I hope we still have kids into our 50's and 60's. There are so many unwanted, "unadoptable," orphans out there that need families...and we're a family.

One of the facts that hit my heart, this weekend, is that I will have started and ended my twenties married to Ben. I love that. I love him. When I shared this with my pedicurist, yesterday, and how much I look forward to starting and ending my 30s, 40s, and 50s, with Ben,  she said, "There are no guarantees in life."  Although, I know this to be true, God gives us such specific recipes for great, godly marriages. I know God has given me everything I need to be the wife he designed me to be and the same holds true for Ben.  We have overcome many obstacles in our 12 years together and I'm so thankful for God's hand in our relationship.

I don't know what this year of 29 holds for me, but I know it's good. I know it's good because God is good and has given me more joy than I deserve, this year.

Thank you for all your warm wishes. My heart is so full and your presence in my life is a big contributor!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Love

We have had such a great summer, enjoying all that Michigan has to offer. Last year, we pretty much didn't leave the house, so it's been a lot of fun watching Ty experience his first real warm weather activities.


This has been one of those weeks where Ty literally changed from night to night. He's growing so fast and his transformation from baby to boy is in full swing. Just this week, he told me "no", started walking, shaking his head yes/no, blowing kisses, and communicating with words other than Muma, Dada, and Moo.

We went to Applebees for dinner, tonight, and when we walked in the door the hostess asked,"Just the three of you?" It made my heart skip a beat. We're a three of you. Do you know how long it was just the two of us? Ben didn't really find the wonder in it and was more anxious to order an appetizer, but I've thought about it all night. Of course, we've been a family all year long, but usually when we go to dinner the hostess will say, "Two and a baby?" Tonight, there was no baby. We were a family of three.

There is something so special about having a family outside of just Ben and me. Ty has become a real ham and was making us laugh all through dinner. I never noticed anyone else in the restaurant. It was just us.  Me - Ben - Ty.

As much as I look forward to expanding our family, my life is so full, right now, it overflows. Mothering Tyrus has given me a completing joy that refreshes my heart each day. I'm so thankful for God's little reminders of where he's brought us, especially when they come from unexpected places.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

God is Good.

I know it's been awhile. I've been dealing with some turmoil, but, thankfully, have come out the other side. When I'm in that place of grinding, I can't write...or sometimes talk. I want to process it all on my own, establish my true feelings on the issue, and seek the Lord for direction before I move forward. Otherwise everyone else's thoughts and opinions start shaping my own. Know what I mean?

A couple of weeks ago we were presented an opportunity to adopt again (the baby's birth day is mere weeks away). We said no. Because of money. A  mixture of hate and hurt worked through my heart quickly and it took a few days for God to get a hold of me. I hate infertility. I hate that it never goes away and has the potential to rear its ugliness at any moment. I hate that babies in adoption can often be treated like an eBay auction and that adoptive families have to play the game to win. I hate that there are endless numbers of children in orphanages all across the world that continue to sit there because of money. I hate that there are even more children sitting in foster care that families won't consider adopting because they see them as damaged, troubled, and second-rate. I hate that wanting more children makes me feel selfish.

This is going to be a mish-mash nonsensical rambling because that's the sort of truck that showed up to bulldoze my emotion, this week. I'm ready to take the big girl panties off and go back to days of ignorant bliss. Sometimes I just feel like throwing my hands up in the air and saying, "Lord. I'm tired of doing the right thing. Could we try the wrong-way approach this time?"

When I read some of my earlier blogs, I realize how far I've come. The woman who started this process is not the woman who types this today. I've seen too much. I was so baby focused for so long, it was impossible to see beyond it. Now that I do, it's impossible to think about our future family without seeing the devastation that it caused/will cause.

I know you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Back to the baby we said no to. Shocked? Me, too. We're not exactly in the position to turn down family members. But, you know what? Charging $20,000-40,000 to add to our family is robbery.  In this instance, there was no physical way for us to come up with that sort of money in a matter of days, but even if there had been, we still would have said no. We drew a line in the sand months ago. We are only so willing to pay X amount of money for future children. It's such an unfair moral dilemma that adoptive families are thrown into. I've said this before; we understand that if we say no to a domestic adoption there are more than 100 families lined up behind us to say, yes. Kids in the foster care system aren't so lucky. This is how I know we have a future in foster care adoption. That being said, my heart still feels the pull of newborn, domestic adoption.  It breaks my heart to think that I might never get to use all of Ty's baby things, again.

I'm in this constant state of flex. What I know and what I feel are always one upping the other.

To pile on to my already conflicting thoughts, God keeps bringing expectant women my way who (even if for a moment) are considering adoption. This is the area I've seen the most growth in my life. No longer do I see baby flags when I see these women. I see women. I see women struggling with a horrendous decision; women who are walking paths that I've never had to walk.  And I have to do the right thing. I have to tell them the truth. I have to put the right resources in their hands....and, typically, I never see/hear from them again. Which is okay, because I know I've done what God's asked of me.

The night leading up to our formal decline (for the baby offered through an agency), I was a mess. The next morning, however, God grabbed me by the bootstraps and firmly said, "Don't go there." He quickly turned the motion picture of my life into reel and I sat in awe. God is in control of the plans that seems so out-of-control and that is enough for me. He knows me. He knows my heart, my urges, my cries. And I trust him.

How can I look at Ty and not trust that God's plan for my life is fuller than anything I could do on my own? When I ask Ty what noise the snake makes and I get the most adorable nose-scrunching "Sssssss" in reply, I know God is good. When I look at the compassion that just bursts from Ben's heart and the father that God's shaping him to be, I know God is good. When I hear the laughter and love in Rebekah's voice when talking about our boy, I know God is good. When I see my inherit, selfish nature morphing into reflections of my God, I know God is good.

I hope that no matter where you find yourself in life today, you, too, know that God is good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thank You For Loving My Boy

I came across a special binder for Ty, this weekend, that had completely dropped from my mind.

A few weeks after Rebekah contacted us for the first time, I started printing all of our email conversations. At the time, I had no idea our relationship would evolve the way it did and I wanted to preserve every word she wrote. I held Rebekah's emails sacred as they created chained links of history for the baby in her belly. She wrote with such confidence and passion, I knew the love that poured from the pages needed to be read by her child.

I will convey her love the best I know how, but it will never be the same as coming right from her heart. Which is one of a multitude of reasons that I thank God for the openness of our adoption.

Reading through our words set me in a whirl of emotion. I printed every email during the six months we had to get to know each other before Tyrus was born and included several right after his birth. The laughs and cries came often as I poured over the pages. My very first email to Rebekah (hours after receiving the call) started like this:

Hi Rebekah, it's Rebekah! First of all, I have only ever met one other person that spelled her name the same way as mine...That definitely makes us instant friends! :)

I'm not really sure what to say here...My heart is beating out of my chest and I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since our agency called a couple of hours ago...I'm afraid I might say too much...or too little...that I'll scare you with my exuberance or shock you with my calm. I don't know what "adoption etiquette" would say about how our first conversation should go...All I know how to do is to speak from the heart, so here I go...

I know this is why Rebekah and I are so close. We've never hidden truths that we're experiencing, no matter how difficult it is for the other Rebekah to hear. We're honest and open and real about how this experience has shaped us as women and even more as moms.

Our first several weeks of emails are so funny, they read like two girls staying up way past their bedtimes to catch up on random news. We talk about everything from junior high camp to favorite late night snacks. One minute we're talking about bad country music and the next we're exchanging words like these:

(Written by me) My favorite part of the entire song is that he wipes away our tears and returns the wasted years...I have a lot of wasted years...Years of hoping, praying, begging God to give me a baby. I've spent so much time down in the pit, there were days I thought I would never get up. I am so thankful that our God returns the wasted years. That he heals our broken hearts and brings peace to our madness. I'm sorry that you've gone through so much in your young life...that you are raising your kids alone...that life isn't the way you planned. But, I believe that God will breathe life on both of us...that both of our wasted years will be replaced and that we'll be filled with overflowing joy in the years to come. I may not be able to feel the baby moving, but I do feel God moving and I know he's not finished with us, yet.

And then there's the "It's a Boy!!!!" Email. I will never forget where Ben and I sat when we read the news, together. I'll never forget the tears that streamed down my face, the love that poured from my heart for this woman and her baby that I barely knew.

The post-birth emails were the hardest to read. Our gain at Rebekah's loss is devastating. The last email in the book was written by Rebekah:

I just love you both so much. I wanted to tell you that I am so glad you are Ty's parents. You are wonderful with him. I love the way you look at him and how you kiss him and how protective you both are over him. You really are naturals. Thank you for loving my boy, I love you for it.

Those words hit me in the gut every time. Even now, twelve plus months later, my eyes well.

I will never understand Rebekah's loss. I will never understand her inside-curling pain at handing her son to me or what it must be like to watch him grow, many states away. I do know, however, that God has brought redemption to both of our situations. He has shown himself faithful. Although adoption isn't God's first choice, there is still perfection in his plans.

I'm reminded of that, this week, after reading through this amazing binder meant for Ty. I hope Tyrus is knocked off his feet, one day, by the love of his heavenly Father. That God cared so much for him he gave him two mothers, with the same name, that care more about him and each other than themselves.

I know this is our life and our story. Something we live every day. But, sometimes I stand back, look at all the pieces, and can barely breathe. Just when it seems too good to be true, chubby little hands grab my face and wet my lips with slobbery, unprompted kisses.

It's true and real and good.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Week in Videos

Play Time With Daddy

Play Time with Mommy

Mmmmm Ranch

Enjoying every moment.