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I Thought

When we decided to host an orphan, I thought it would be challenging.  I hoped we could bless him.  To be honest, I hoped we too would be blessed.  But, I had no idea…

He didn’t have a “honeymoon” period of behavior, so I panicked.  I worried about the coming weeks.  I worried about things that had not yet come to pass and put fears into my own mind. I thought it might be a struggle to make it through the four weeks with all of the candy and treats stashed away, sneaking sips of soda only when he was in bed, taking turns going to the store (because it was too much for a boy who has had nothing and has chosen nothing of his own), etc.  But, I had no idea..

Christmas was such a blessing and I started to realize I needed to focus on the here and now.  Then, he had a night in which I saw God’s hand on him.  He listened to Bible stories in his native language.  The same night, E drew him a picture and he not only accepted it – he drew one back.  I thought it might not be such a long four weeks at all.  But, I had no idea…

We bonded.  He grew.  He learned what family is, learned self-control, learned to care about the feelings of others, learned that we have expectations and rules because we care, learned that it was safe to care about us.  He learned about love.  I found out that there were blessings in not being able to go to the store so much and comfort in sticking close to home.  Still, I thought that I would be sad to watch him go.  I thought that four weeks might actually start to seem too short, but I thought I would also appreciate the return of comfort and easiness to daily life.  But, again, I had no idea…

I watched him walk away.  Tears in his eyes.  Trying to be brave.  I watched him struggle to shift his backpack from his hands to his shoulders.  I saw him drop his passport.  And it hit me.  Not only did he need a forever mama to take care of him in that moment…he needed it always.  I thought the sadness would be for myself.

I had no idea that I couldn’t enjoy any freedoms I regained because my heart was hurting for him.  I had no idea that I would not longer want to be the same – that I would cling to the parts of him left behind because those were the parts that made me less selfish and more open to love and to life.  Until he has the forever family he deserves, my heart cannot rest and I cannot take comfort in daily life.  I thought we would be changed and I thought we might change his future.  

I just had no idea how much.

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A (VERY) Belated Birthday to My D!

So many things to say.  So much to update and to write about.

But, first, I owe someone – big time!

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This (not so) little man turned 5 last month.  I haven’t posted all about him, but I don’t want to start making excuses.  So, here you have 5 years of D.  He’s a pretty awesome guy too!

He’s our stubborn, strong willed, creative, exuberant, St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers fan, lover of peanut butter shakes and giver of awesome hugs.  He’s a loyal brother and friend, not to mention protective of those who are being mistreated.  He’s wise beyond his years sometimes and, although he can be so opinionated you think you’ll lose your mind, he’s also the funniest 5-year-old you will EVER meet.

Happy birhday, D…even if it does come over a month late!Image

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Hosting Journey

A few months ago, we started a journey.  A journey on which we thought we knew the destination, yet we also knew the journey would be like none we had ever had before.

In September, after a few months of reading about hosting programs, I found New Horizons for Children.  I was sure that, living in the middle of nowhere, we would have few (or no!) options for hosting…especially Eastern European orphan hosting (which for some reason I felt called toward).  Then, I found New Horizons and their photolisting was going live within days.  The Dad agreed to hosting and we filled out the initial paperwork.

As soon as we both accessed the photolisting, we were drawn to one sweet face.  He had blond hair and big blue eyes and the cutest little grin.  As we read about him and his desire to be a firefighter, his love for pets and the color red, we knew he was the one we were meant to host.  Then, we found out he is within weeks of E’s age.  It was clearly meant to be!

Except it wasn’t.  

God apparently had bigger and better plans for sweet K.  After paying all of our fees and completing our home assessment, we got a call to let us know K was being adopted in his home country.  Hopefully he is now spending Christmas with his FOREVER family!  

Since we were so far along the road to hosting, I didn’t want to turn away from the other kids who were waiting (I’m sure this is why we got the news when we did…had we not been as far along, we might have just walked away).  But, the photolisting was short now – thanks to all of the wonderful families who stepped up to host! – and no one really caught our eye like K.

Then, nestled at the bottom, with a blurry photo, no smile and virtually no information, we saw R.  He didn’t draw us the same way K had, but we both realized we were his chance.  Without losing K, R may not have had the chance to come be loved by a family.  He was the one we needed to step up for.  So, without any information about him (save a name, city and birthdate), we jumped…

 

And, now he’s here!

The boy who was only described as “quiet,” quickly showed us he is not.  He gave us a smile at the airport and started chattering away in Russian (which we don’t speak…although we’re picking up more every day!!), despite a 3-hour delay in customs.  I don’t know that days of traveling, waiting in line for that long and being with strange people who spoke a strange language would have been something I could have smiled about.  But he did!

We’re 4 days into hosting now.  He’s testing us, pushing the boundaries, yet he’s happy and feeling loved.  (We even had him talk to the translator to make sure…he doesn’t volunteer much!)  It’s clear he hasn’t had the Mama and Papa (after one night, he started calling us that – despite being introduced by our first names) he craves.  He doesn’t know how to handle expectations and limits, so – as The Dad says – he’s having a crash course (I mean, we’re still working on this with D…and he’s had us for 5 years!!).  

I am an over-thinker, so I find myself worrying about weeks ahead and about things that have not yet happened.  The Dad is just amazing.  Best dad ever and this is just confirmation!  He jumps right in with, “Papa hug!” and a big, pick-you-up-off-your-feet hug for R.  R adores him.  He needs this Papa time.  (Pray for me when “Papa” works three 24-hour shifts next week!)  

Thank goodness for The Dad, a few translated phrases that I’m becoming fluent with, lots of yogurt and chasing games with E and D.  I pray it will be an amazing 4 weeks!  The journey continues…

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Haiyan

Until today, I had read and listened to very little about the typhoon in the Phillipines.

Despite the fact that New Horizons has organized a host program there and Compassion International has sponsored and waiting children there. Despite the fact that it was all over the headlines. Despite all of it, I wanted to close my eyes and walk away from it.

It’s too much. I can come up with many excuses for trying to walk away. My own personal and professional issues, the boy we are preparing to host (which is no longer K, but now R…which is a story for another post), a million other things…some even important things. Yet, today, when I saw a post from Compassion, I allowed my eyes to open and my heart to break.

Regardless of what I have going on, what important causes I feel I’m championing, it’s not fair to turn away. Today, I allowed myself to read the stories. To feel the pain of the man who was clinging to his son, yet lost grip…and has now lost hope. To feel the bitter sweetness of the young mother who gave birth at the airport and to see her eyes full of sadness in what should have been so much more joy. To feel my arms ache with the need to do something, anything for these people who are starving and sick and living in ruin. They cannot close their eyes to the nightmare. They cannot hope to wake up and find it was not really so bad as it seemed. They cannot recover all they have lost, but they have to begin to live with the missing pieces of themselves.

I feel so helpless. I cannot go. I cannot reach out and help. So, I will pray and I will find ways to give. I will support those whose arms are there, ready and willing.

Will you join me?

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Thankful

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the onslaught of posts about thankfulness. By no means am I saying that in a judgmental or demeaning way. I honestly think it is fantastic to celebrate such a positive, affirming feeling.

But I haven’t posted any.

I guess, in general, I just have one big thing I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for forgiveness in the form of love.

See, I have to confess, I’m not perfect. Shocking admission, I know. Truly, I’ve messed up. A lot. But…

I have these fantastic parents who would impoverish themselves and pour out all of the love in their hearts if they thought I needed it. Parents who’ve always loved me more than I deserve and treated me a million times better than I’ve treated them. A dad who would fight for me, if need be. A mom who is brilliant and selfless. They know I can be a pain in the rear end and I can be selfish and, well, mean sometimes. And they love me anyway.

I have, honestly, the best husband in the entire world. I would be jealous of me if someone else had him as a husband. He puts me first and would help me out in almost every way imaginable. He is the kind of supportive husband little girls dream about. He knows I can be demanding and uncompromising and, well, judgmental. And he loves me anyway.

I have the two best kids in the world too. (If you’re a parent and don’t agree with me on this one, well, good for you! But, can we agree that each other’s kids are pretty awesome?) They are smart and funny – in a make me laugh out loud daily kind of funny. And, of my goodness, they are so compassionate! They are kind and accepting and, well, sometimes I wonder how I could have possibly taught them that. (They probably learned it from some other awesome people in their lives too!) Sadly, they haven’t always seen me at my best. They know I can get worn down, frustrated and impatient. And they love me anyway.

I could go on about the rest of my family, my coworkers, my friends, my church, but it’s so much the same. Whenever we are loved by those who have not just seen us at the high point of our day – or our lives – and yet they still love us, it is an awesome kind of forgiveness. It’s the forgiveness that doesn’t even have to be spoken. It’s the forgiveness that is the human faults inside of us connecting to another’s faults. And sometimes loving them more for it.

So, this month, I want to remember to be thankful for all of that. For the people who could turn away but don’t and for God who first showed that kind of love and forgiveness, so that we can give it to one another.

Oh, and I may also want to remember how thankful I am for long weekends, Diet Pepsi, hot showers and fleece-lined leggings. But, that’s probably a whole other post…

Happy November!

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What He’s Doing Now

I haven’t met him. I have a very vague idea of where he lives. I don’t know who he shares his room with, what he eats, how he gets his education.

But I wonder what he’s doing now.

Just like E, K turns 7 this month.

I don’t know the date. I don’t know whether anyone even celebrated with him. I wonder if he even knows a birthday can be special.

But, I want to focus on what I know.

I know he is known, loved by and matters to God. I know he is not forgotten. He will be welcomed and part of a family, if only for a few weeks. And, if he is available for adoption, I know you will hear more about him as we try to help find his forever family!

Because I know he deserves that.

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7 Years of E

Sometimes, especially when the boys are sleeping, I can get glimpses of the little guys they used to be and the big guys they are growing up to be.

When E was born, he was a peanut. Just about 6 pounds. Honestly, I remember looking at the bigger babies (giants who were probably about 8 months old) and thinking they looked so different from my teeny, tiny baby. I looked at super-long sleepers and couldn’t imagine how E would ever grow into them.

Obviously he did. And now he’s seven.

Seven seems so old to me. Especially since I have some pretty vivid memories of being 7 myself! I actually remember sitting in the same classroom E is in every day and freaking out because something was stuck to my arm. (It was a TICK! Who gets a tick in class? But I digress…) I remember being in first grade and finding a bad word in the bathroom and absolutely refusing to tell the principal what it was. So, he had to clear the girls’ bathroom to see it for himself. I remember…well, let’s just leave it at “I remember.”

So, without traipsing further along memory lane, here is seven years of E.

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