Friday, April 18, 2014

Waking Up "The Morning After...."

As relieving as my own 'no cancer' report was last week - I was equally prepared for the opposite answer.  Statistically speaking, my family history says I will hear that the tests are positive sooner or later and it gives me a healthy respect for my own mortality and the truth that any day may be the last one of life 'as usual.'  Not that I am a fatalist - I simply believe that each day exists with plan and a purpose to be fulfilled and that usually it's more about seizing the opportunity to do something now and less about putting things off for tomorrow.  Which is probably why we get a heck of a lot of big things done around here while seeming to be very relaxed and almost free flowing.

But that wasn't what this post was about.

It was about the reality that this morning people I know and perfect strangers all over the world - woke up to the hard reality of the 'Morning After......"

It might be anything.....
From bad decisions in a bar -
To angry words thrown around a dinner table.

The first morning waking up without a spouse in the bed beside you
Or the empty crib where a child should lay.

Waking up 'the morning after'
Is hard.
Because no matter what
Life goes on.
Even if your heart has been broken into a 1000 pieces
on the side of a freeway
or during a 2 minute call from your doctors office.

The reality of what your life was like when you woke up yesterday
is changed
forever.
In 24 hours
There is 'before' and 'after'

The strange thing is that sometimes
no one knows it has happened
not because we want to walk alone
but because there are no words
to explain
the less obvious
morning afters.

Where there is no blood
no sirens
no funerals
no critical medical strategy to discuss
in fact there may be no actual crisis
for others to point at and see.

Because it may simply be a breaking heart
a lost dream
an injured soul
struggling to breath in and out
while looking into a future that is nothing like
they dreamed.

I realized that so often there are 'morning after's' going on all around us and we have no idea that the person sitting near us is suffering.  Thinking about the horrible delight that so many showed in the unfolding events of Good Friday I realized that the morning after would have been almost worse that the actual day for those who loved Christ best.

This morning I took the crew over to Spyhouse for hot drinks and Good Friday devotions.  I wanted to share with them both the weight of the loss of the death of Christ and the darkness of the despair of the 'morning after'..... but because of our perspective in history I also wanted to show them the JOY of the resurrection. 

Its been a tough season in our home spiritually - and in respect of that I wanted to create a healthy tension for them instead of simply leaving them to dwell on the sadness of the cross for two days.  This isn't a season to leave things unspoken in my childrens hearts ..it's a place to be bold and to finish the story.  Because not only was he crucified for our sins...but he has risen!





Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mom, My Brother Is Crying.....

The moments appear out of nowhere...one sibling comes and lets me know another is curled up on their bed sobbing and whatever I am doing takes an automatic back seat to the needs of the vulnerable one.  Hurts tend to percolate from days, weeks and years in our past.  Losses that have festered and broken open in my children's hearts - just as painful as an abscessed tooth and requiring both focused and intentional healing.  For some it is a regular sort of pattern....remembering the purple Hot Wheels car they left in the back yard in Colorado, the friend that moved or the special stick they put down at a rest area in Montana. For others these memories are shaped along a different sort of experience...attachment to things as well as people are more difficult to define and less concrete in some minds.  Attachment is less predictable..or non existent.

Tonight one child experienced an overwhelming grief as he remembered a personal attachment he had to a siblings blanket I gave away a year ago.  I have no memory that he liked the blanket or that it had been passed down to him by the sibling. But for a child who is attachment challenged there was an honest level of grief involved in the story telling and nothing of the edgy side that leans into manipulation. He was sad..in a good sort of way...and he was open to both allowing me to apologize and comfort him.  Which made me so hopeful for our future - as the slow bonds of attachment are beginning to surface and his heart is learning to trust me.  Slowly, carefully, the dance of attachment is starting to make sense to both of us - and I think we are going to make it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thank You For The Things We Find.....

In China I found......
 
A love of crowded markets,
 
And outdated boats.

 That trusting strangers required me to really think again - in anything from buying jade on a sidewalk to getting into a private car or subway.  I remembered how to engage all of my senses and think on my feet.

 I found out what the world looks like to a child with downs syndrome and learned to slowly follow the cracks in the sidewalk because she loved them.

 
I discovered how much my soul craved green space, reflections and open water after a winter cloaked in ice.  



 
 And I found an island of peacefulness as I joined with the hundreds of people doing tai chi each morning in the park.

 
I also found something else.
 
Something I wasn't looking for and honestly didn't want.
 
I found a lump in my breast.
 
Perfect - right?
5000 miles away from my specialty clinic
and the one thing that we are always watching for because of family history.
It was there - no question.
Blah.
 
It was funny....
Two days later in the silk store the saleswoman made a fuss over my
'very nice XXL chest.'
In China a 34C is considered....well huge.
So I played along and joked with her  
 while in the back of my head I was thinking
but for how long?
 
5000 miles and 5 days away from any answers
I leaned into the peace to be found
In the simple things
In Starbucks
and noodles
In hot showers
and long walks.
In the teaching of a child
and the standard tasks of travel life.
 
Instead of dwelling on 'it' I simply accepted.
Because I had no choice
And it was so good for me.
 giving me time to remember
that my joy isn't built on breasts
or health
or safety
or a life running the way I planned.
 
My joy is based on the solid and unchanging reality of God.
Not my emotions or circumstance.
Not the driving wind or pelting rain
of daily life.
 
I found beauty in the shadows
I ran too when the monsoon rains poured down
 and there was beauty in the 'not knowing' reality
of this thing.
 
I learned how to breath in and breath out
and whispered many times
 "Thank you God"
for whatever comes next.
 
 
Once home I made the appointments, threw out the schedule
and circled the wagons
and in the end the team said
"No, its not cancer"
and I whispered 'Thank you God.'
"Thank you for no and thank you if it had been yes."
Because I understood that either way
God was God  
and I was still Beloved.

Monday, April 7, 2014

One Small Child In A Land Of Millions...........

March 6, 2014 - this little girl had no idea that her life was about to take a radical change in course.  She did not know that a massive number of people here in the US were praying over her and hoping against all logic that she would soon become a part of their community.   She simply went through her days doing what 7 year olds do..eating, playing, learning, sleeping.  She was probably content in it and had no idea that people named Mom and Dad were longing to meet her.  She didn't know that she was already woven into their hearts as Beloved Daughter, Treasure and Sister to their other children.  All she knew (really) was that each day the same things happened and life continued as usual.

And then things changed...in an instant the ideas and framework which had defined her world were shifting,  and behind the movement were hundreds of people praying that her heart would be prepared. 

It was good and it was hard.  After all - How do you begin to understand the concept of adoption and life outside of your orphanage if you have never seen it? Who should you trust and when do you start to weave the fragile threads of attachment that will bind you to these strangers?

 
 
 
 
 After the initial week with mom and dad she woke up from her nap one day and A Yi (auntie) was asleep on the couch.  A Yi's job was to ease the strain on Mommy since Dad had gone home to be with the rest of the family.  A Yi taught her about McDonalds french-fries, ketchup and the joy of super long walks so Mommy could rest and regain a little margin before the LONG FLIGHT HOME.  A Yi made noodles and delivered tea lattes as nourishment as well as soul care - and in the hard moments she quietly prayed that this child and this Mommy's hearts would be knit together.

April 5th - in the middle of the night this little girl landed in a new place. She was buckled for the first time into a car seat in a minivan owned by her family. Though her world had been completely rocked - she was solid.  As if her heart had been prepared for all of it and things were unfolding simply as expected.

All those prayers had been answered - rather than kicking and fighting she was open and willing to walk this new path.  For the A Yi it was sweet to watch the story unfold - as one small child - lost in a country of millions - became more than a statistic, a picture or a story.  And there was no price that could be paid for the precious kisses this child gave the A Yi's thirsty soul.






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March birthdays.....

Depending on how you count the hours I am either barely sliding in under my own 'birthday posts belong in the birthday month' rule or sneaking in on the backside and claiming that being out of country voids all calendar ideals.

Whichever it is, March is a huge birthday month for us. Photos may be added later - but for now I'm hacking in on my friends ipad from China so I'm calling this good.

We kicked off the month with Speed turning the mighty 13. It was a shock for me to realize that I now am the mom to 4 teenagers.  Somehow that just sounds strange after so many years of sequential pre-teens. We celebrated him with an ice fishing trip, dinner at Cucumbers and movie night at home.
I am excited to watch as he steps into his new role of teen and starts intentionally moving toward those things he hopes to do in life...awesome things like learning to be a fishing guide and earning his drivers license.

Dad's and my birthdays were next. At 51 and 46 they were not 'big numbers' but we had presents and cards a plenty and the first non-fridgid grilling of the season.  I was particularly encouraged in a hard week by all the hugs and words of affirmation which poured over me.

Tender's 7th birthday was next. His was a little tough as it was the same day I left for China- but we kicked it off early with doughnuts and partied until I left in the afternoon.  Word is that the party continued on into the evening so I think he was well celebrated.

And I'm caught up again. At least until the 12th birthwhen one special daughter will be turning 16.





Sunday, March 30, 2014

Out this week doing one of the things I love...helping with adoption deliveries

One of the best things about this season of life is that I'm no longer trying to do everything for everyone on my own.  In fact, this week I am trusting and depending on other people to cover my 24/7 job so I can support our friends in their adoption journey.  I can't give details here due to country/privacy issues, but I am currently on the other side of the world acting as Sherpa and nanny for dear friends and their beautiful new daughter.

In case your wondering.....I did promise not to bring any kids home to add to our brood. ;) more details and photos later.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Donation Link..

This is the donation LINK for Bonnie and Mike if anyone is interested in partnering in their adoption.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Special Adoption Need....Want to Join In?

I LOVE Facebook.  It allows me to connect with my friends all over the world - bringing us close and allowing us to share whatever is happening in each of our lives.   Today I was messaged by a very real - very dear friend who's family is flying to join her sister in a sudden and dramatic adoption journey.

She wrote......(and I edited the stuffing out of) the following.

"Dear Friends, My Sister and her husband are scrambling today to pull the pieces together which will allow them to adopt a precious little girl with special needs who is waiting for them in a Kentucky NICU. 

Prayer is the most urgent need but they are also desperately unprepared to cover the various fees involved in the adoption of this very special baby. We are praying that God will move mountains and bring her home. If you link here you will see her photo and be able to donate if you feel led. "

I love that Bonnie and Mike are willing to be real and say that they need help covering these bills.  They are willing to step up and say that this little girl - with her special needs and challenges - is worth humbling themselves and asking us to partner with the.  My crew caught me typing this and held a Goat Jar meeting.  It's contents have been dumped out, sorted and donated because they want to say that this child is a blessing not a burden and she it worth it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Thinking About 'Before' : Facing Life at Home Depot.....

Yesterday I stopped in at Home Depot and bought three window blinds for the kitchen.  As I browsed through the options I was thrilled to realize that the replacement windows we put in two years ago are a more standard size so there was no need to jump through the crazy hoops I have had to consider as I chose modern parts to fit the wacky 114 year old windows.  
 
Standing there I wondered why it has taken me so long to do this. 
Something simple and not too expensive.
Something that I know I want/need.
Something that really is a no-brainer.
 
The answer hit me hard - and I didn't like it. It was a sucker punch to my gut realizing that I was grieving and holding on to 'before.'
 
'Before' Colorado.
'Before' the trauma and drama of 4 moves in 18 months.
'Before' the reality of our families various challenges became so evident.
'Before' I lost all ability to stay on top of things.
'Before' I realized how deep my need for Christ truly was
and how broken I would become in the process.
 It was simply the idea of 'Before.'
 
Because before it all happened I had curtains and swags, blinds and wallpaper. 
I had taken the Old House and created a sanctuary which reflected it's age
welcomed my friends
and surrounded us in shabby comfort.
I loved how it felt and the security and peace it offered.
It was the work of my hands
and symbolized so much of who I wanted to be .
 
When we came back it was still 'home' -
but there was an edge in my heart-
a loss that I could taste but not understand. 
We had walked away and sold it. 
Moved 1000 miles, cried a bucket of tears
and stepped forward into a new season of life.
 
But pieces of our hearts were left in Minnesota.
Moving back filled the big holes.
Our house
Our church family
Our neighborhood
But there has been a sad edge to many things
because they are tinged with grief
unresolved
unacknowledged
silently creeping through our hallways at night.
Potholes in my heart where dark water sits.
 
Kitchen blinds were one of those places.
So many dreams and ideas had gone into the kitchen 'before'
that it felt like ripping open a wound
to do it again.
 
Saying that
Explains so much to me -
how since we moved back
I have shifted away from the very things I used to love.
The colors and styles that I used to trend towards
feel wrong.
Because they are.
I am not who I was before.
The house is not the place that watched us grow
from a family of 5 to
one of 13.
 
There is an edge of loss that lingers here
that makes it all more dear
more real
more mature.
I chose the blinds
and hung them today.
Understanding that it wasn't about a project delayed
or a budget that wouldn't stretch.
It was about grieving
about stretching
and growing
and healing.
 
It was about accepting who God called me to be
today
not the one I thought I was
before.
 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ambiguity: I Don't Like It!

"Ambiguity is an attribute of any concept, idea, statement or claim whose meaning, intention or interpretation cannot be definitively resolved according to a rule or process consisting of a finite number of steps." (Per my friend wiki :)

Ambiguity is a part of the human experience - we all experience it at one time or another and depending on our bent we either examine it and try to sort things more clearly or simply roll with it and pretend it isn't a problem. I admit that I don't like the flavor of the word itself and find myself trying to eliminate it from my life as soon as possible.  I like answers and plans.  I like having a clue what is happening next.

Over at Days Of Wonder And Grace last week - my friend posted on the concept of Ambiguous Loss.  It is an excellent two part series looking at what happens when our real (but often unrecognized) relational losses impact our real life today.  She and I have been friends for 19 years and have weathered many of life's challenges on almost parallel tracks.  Not the same - but similar enough to have empathy for the other and to know when a good book needs to be shared. Ambiguous Loss - Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief  by Pauline Boss is one of those books that she sent me last week.

Between reading it and going through Instruments in the Redeemers Hands (People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change) by David Tripp. I am finding a new paradigm for viewing the freight train of human reaction and emotion in daily life.  Instead of being swept helplessly along by big feelings-  toward an obvious high and dangerous cliff - I am seeing that we have the choice to stop, slow and redirect our own momentum into more God honoring and life affirming tracks.

It sounds simple - and truly it is.  If in my core I am secure in my knowledge of who God is, who I am in relation to him and what the purpose of my life is - then I won't be tossed about by the daily waves of life.  But in reality I am a  human who wants ambiguity resolved.  I am 'ok' with the "Yes" and the "No" answers to life - but the "wait" and the "maybe" are enough to drive me bonkers.  Up the wall, around the corner, headed for that blasted cliff crazy.....all the while trying to replace God in my own heart with other things..more controllable ideas which I hope will work better.

Silly things like my own abilities or those of others. Which might sound good until  I remember that I am not God and I can not make things (and people) into what we want them to be.  Instead of making a course correction in my own strength I simply end up throwing oil on the proverbial fire and taking myself and my family closer to that scary edge.

This morning I can say that simply analyzing my own heart a little more clearly is changing my opinion of the concept of ambiguity. Instead of fighting and trying to control it - I am relaxing into it and trusting that there is a good plan for my life and I don't have to try and wrestle control out of the hands of God. 

Because seriously. 
I am not God.
Which is a very good thing.

(ready for the next post?  I think it will be titled: Ambiguity Isn't Passive)