Monday, November 25, 2013

But God.

Five months into this adoption and it's more obvious each day that adoption is messy. And hard. And why wouldn't it be? At its core is great loss. It impacts all it touches. A family member was in the hospital recently and I felt like I could get a tangible view of what Caroline is going through emotionally. 

He was in the ICU. It was so ugly. There were gaping, open, red wounds. People had things draining out of their bodies. One man died. No one there was allowed to do anything but rest.  It was a place for your body to recover yet it was so grim I almost fainted the first time I went back there. The healing was bloody. It was painful and messy. And so much slower than we want it to be.

Everyone there to support my family member was impacted. Though he was the one that had the trauma, it took a toll on all of us as we figured out how best to support him, both right then and in the days to come.  Everyone put their lives on hold and focused on nothing but what the patient needed.

That's exactly what our family is doing right now. One of our own has a trauma that would surely put her in the ICU if it were visible and it's taking all of our collective energies to support her as best we can. This just isn't easy and my selfish self wants easy so much. I just didn't know I had selfishness and laziness and ugliness like this inside me. It's not pretty. I read a devotional about the good Samaritan being moved by compassion to action when he saw the wounded traveler. It read: "Mercy must respond to the wreckage it sees."

I have been mulling that one over. Mercy must respond to the wreckage that it sees.  I see wreckage. And because God is mercy I must be merciful. And mercy responds. But I myself am not merciful. Not nearly as merciful as the wreckage I see requires. 
Let me be clear. My daughter is not wreckage. She is the daughter of a King, a child perfectly made in the image of God. What has happened to her and the trauma she is battling; that is wreckage. SHE has been precisely formed, down to her innermost being. She is exactly as she should be. 
God sees an opportunity in her to display his glory becuase he's not tied to what our wisdom thinks. Four years ago, the premier adoption specialists in the world said a child over five can't heal.
Today, it is proven that that isn't true.
Of course it's not!  God came to restore.
And I see Him doing it every day.

And every day is see more clearly that I am incapable of such a task. But God. He is capable.
But God. Those are my favorite words right now. But God.

If anyone, including me, looked at Caroline's past on paper you would never, ever match that up to the precious little girl you meet. 
History says one thing......but God. :).  

I look at what is on the agenda every day and I think there is no possible way to do it. And there really isn't.
But God. :)

I fail my kids. Every. Single. Day.  Only by the grace of God do their sweet little voices tell me they love me and their chubby little arms wrap around my neck.

As I write this, I'm not even sure why I'm writing this. Maybe just to say it's hard. It is really insanely difficult and I botch it numerous times a day. But God is good. He takes my meager attempts and multiplies it into the love they need and the affection and time that they need. I am so thankful today that He is a God of multiplication. I can no longer read the story in Harris' Bible of the boy with the fish and bread that fed 5,000 without getting choked up because He still does those miracles. When read in simple language it is easier for me to relate how it happens now, right under my nose.

 God is so, so good. He gives good gifts.  

That's been a theme for me lately. He's showing me some of the ways that he gives GOOD gifts.
All of the following are my sweet good gifts. Two sweet friends trained (pushed!) me every weekend to get through the chosen half. One sweet friend had an out of town commitment but has been with me every step of the way. My other friend ran it with me and encouraged me in every way possible. 

We all went camping together and I was so touched by how every kid embraced Caroline without a second thought. Caroline loved being a part of it, Harris loved hanging with his buds, and I was reminded once again how sweet God is and how far he goes ahead of us to meet needs we never saw coming. 

There's one of my sweet gifts probably looking for her beloved Cheetos. :)

God is sending people to do this this with us. A woman, a godly, great, woman that I had never met comes over weekly just to hang out with my people. She brought cupcakes to decorate. She brought a Christmas activity for them to give them a visual of the spiritual gifts God gives us. She has played candy land, admired everyone's bedroom, and was wearing a hello kitty beanie at one point.  Let me reiterate, I had NEVER met this woman. She just heard our story and wanted to give of her time to love on our kids. The last time she came I'd had to apologize to my kids for using an unkind voice. That's humbling. I'd spent the morning crying off and on because it was just that kind of day. Then, we get a breath of fresh air, someone to love on my kids and remind me that one of God's great gifts is redemption and forgiveness of sins. Do I ever need both! That brings me to another point.

She heard of our story because of a therapy group Caroline is involved in. A free, church sponsored, AMAZING therapy group. Caroline can now more clearly identify her feelings than I can my own, I think. When I had to apologize to them for using an unkind voice, she was fascinated with that.  I don't think she'd had an adult apologize to her before. She unpacked it from every angle..
 "Mommy, how were you feeling when you chose to use an unkind voice?"
 "It wasn't MY fault that you chose that. That was your own poor decision"
"Mommy, you didn't obey God when you chose to use an unkind voice."

Those are just the ones I remember. That was definitely not my best day and I am thankful she could dissect it and see it for what it was; an adult's lack of self control. Parenting is so humbling.

Another woman that I do not know has committed to tutoring her three times/week! For free.She's a reading specialist who moved here after the school year started, so she isn't working. She is also enamored with Caroline. It does her heart so good to see someone regularly that loves her. She committed to this before we had even met!  Who but God could orchestrate that? Again, there it is! But God.

This thanksgiving season there is so much to be thankful for and at the same time life is heavy right now. It's a daily battle in a way I have never faced. I am more aware than ever that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." 

But God. :)
For I am convinced that neither death, 
nor life, 
nor angels,
nor principalities, 
nor things present, 
nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height, 
nor depth, 
nor any other created thing, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - 
Romans 8:38-39

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Getting settled in

Since Caroline literally came overnight, we were left scrambling to figure out the room situation for everyone. It felt like someone just played 52 card pickup with our lives and the first order of business was to give everyone a place to put their things so we could establish some stability and move forward. We decided the best thing to do was to give her Harris' room and move him to our bonus room. There were several problems with that, though. The first issue was that he adored his room and we felt pretty bad booting him out of it with no warning. The second problem was that the bonus room was currently Tom's office/our guest room/dumping ground.

We didn't really have a choice but to go ahead and tackle it. So after we put the kids to bed we worked several hours a night to get it ready. We had promised Harris a cool room in exchange for being kicked out of his overnight. This is what it looked like for awhile. I kept repeating to myself that it must look worse before it gets better.


Here is what it looks like now. He insisted I take a picture of the door.

Much better, right? The pink chair was my grandmother's and I love it but we have no other place for it right now. So it's staying. Everything else is all little boy fun and functional. It's usually wall to wall covered in Legos. There is also a full sized bed up there for a guest to use and the world's smallest bathroom is there as well. It's a cool set-up for a little person and he loves it. When the other boys get a little older they'll be moving in there too. 

We also wanted to give Caroline a place to call home but at that time we had no idea if she was actually staying. She could have left at any moment since we had no legal claim to her. It was such an odd situation. We grabbed furniture off Craigslist the day after she came home and she picked out bedding but we didn't do anything else with her room until we knew for sure she wasn't going anywhere. She'd never had a bedroom before and was thrilled with what she had so she was content with that. However, once we knew she was for sure staying, we fixed it up for her. She loves her room and shows it to everyone that walks through the door.

Caroline's favorite part of her room is her name on the wall. The boys each have their names on their wall and she wanted hers up too. When we put it up she was just learning her letters and couldn't spell her name. Now, she writes her name all the time, on everything, and is so proud to have her own room with her own name.

Everyone settled in their own spots have freed up time to start putting other things back in order too. I have basically ignored everything the past 5 months except meeting the basic needs right in front of me. There just hasn't been an opportunity to get ahead of this snowball of four children and all the chaos that came with adoption. Especially one that was so sudden.  We have just been juggling many balls lately and it feels like we're at a place where there aren't as many things up in the air right now. Hopefully those aren't famous last words. :)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Philippians 2:14, 15 NIV)