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Saturday, February 26, 2011

I hate math

I've never liked math.  In college, I got around our math requirement by taking a class called "Calculus for Everyday Living." You only had to show up on test days.  Perfect for me, the math-hater. And that class is a lie, by the way: I'm still pretty certain I do NOT use calculus in my everyday life.  Although I'm not sure I really remember what calculus is, so maybe I do.  :)

I'm hating math again these days. In particular, calendar math.  With this delay and with the lengthening time frames around getting court dates and embassy dates, I am realizing that not only is it very possible our baby won't be coming home this summer, but that we might be affected by the 2 month break the Ethiopian government takes every year during the rainy season (around August-September-ish). There's also another possible delay in the works... on our own government's end this time.  Is there really a chance our baby would be barely home by Christmas? Or not here at all?

I need to stop doing math.

Because, as I was reminded this week... God says, "Rejoice in the Lord always."  Not just on good days or easy days. And there's no "except if you're doing an international adoption" clause. Trust me, I looked.  And God must know us so well because he promptly follows that up with "do not be anxious about anything."

I have some little things to rejoice over... I accidentally started my big re-do project in the house this weekend. I'd planned to work on it when I was stressed over court dates & such. But I picked up a paint brush Friday morning and haven't really stopped since!!! I now have repainted trim in most of the house AND a refinished fireplace. Go me :)  And I'm officially taking a big break from taking on sewing orders... I have to finish Allyn's quilt for her big girl bed AND all the fun stuff I'm sewing for my living room re-do. I love sewing. l-o-v-e.

And during my last little foot-stomping fit over the adoption delay, God was kind enough to remind me that adopting an orphan is not the ONLY thing He has for me to do.  I was so mad thinking "God wants us to do something about orphans and I'm trying and there are barriers in my way! (insert foot stomp)" Next thing I know, God's pointing me in another direction. How dumb of me to think I can serve Him by doing one thing at a time. So I am cooking dinner for ten women at an overflow homeless shelter on Tuesday of this week. I'm really excited about that and hope it's something I'll have an opportunity to do again.

So I do rejoice! I praise God that he keeps me from having tunnel-vision, from getting (too) selfish.  He saves me time & time again from my own little pity-parties.

He's pretty cool, that God I serve. And He NEVER asks me to do math. ;)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Maybe we all need to be heartbroken...

We sort of have a double-commitment to Africa in our family. We are committed to Swaziland through our commitment to Heart for Africa.  Rob's been there three times and spent about a month there this past summer. I got to go with him for 11 days of that time.  I cannot and will not give up on the Swazi people - they are forever a part of our lives.  However, Swaziland does not allow international adoptions and we felt God calling us towards adopting from Ethiopia.  So we've embarked on a life-long commitment to Ethiopia - learning the culture, incorporating Ethiopian traditions into our family so that our child and his siblings will know that Ethiopia is an important part of who we are as a family.

Rob won't be going to Swaziland this summer because we are hoping we'll be traveling twice to Ethiopia this year. But he's already planning on a trip during the summer of 2012.  I had been wavering about whether I'd go on the trip because... well, because who in the world will watch three kids for me so I can travel halfway around the world to Africa??? I'm still praying about it but as of now I am really going to do everything I can to be able to go.

So as I've been talking to friends, family, strangers, anyone-who-will-listen about Swaziland AND Ethiopia, I've encountered some interesting responses.  And ALL of them are about being heartbroken.  I've had friends come to me teary-eyed after watching the "Why Ethiopia" video because their hearts are already broken over the suffering of children.  I've had friends be hesitant about going to Swaziland with me because they fear their hearts would be broken after connecting with Swazi people and seeing the suffering firsthand.

Our instinct is to protect ourselves - to forget, to not see. We don't want to hurt.

But I think our hearts are supposed to be broken.

It is too easy for us here in America. Too easy to put on our blinders and not see beyond the end of our street.  A friend of mine is about to go to India to work in one of the most impoverished states there.  I told her that her life is about to be ruined, but in the best way.

God ruined my life when He opened my eyes to how the people He loves are suffering.  When I walk from my car to my front door in the cold or the rain I automatically think about those who don't have shelter.  I cry when I read statistics about orphans or AIDS or hunger.  I am incapable of living "the American dream." I cannot spend money on things the way I used to.  My decision-making has been affected. I'm messed-up, y'all.

And I praise God for that. I praise God for the tears and the brokenness. I pray all the time that I will never forget the people I met in Swaziland. I pray that I will NEVER go back to living my life as if it's all about me or about my kids or what I want. I don't want to live MY life... I'd rather lead the one that brings honor to God. A life that is all about me will certainly NOT do that.  And I've found that this life is infinitely more fulfilling (even with the tears) than one where I get to be the star.

My heart has been broken.  And I want to keep it that way (and bring others down with me!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Attachment (and a little pat on the back!)

I've been thinking about attachment lately.  We have to do TONS of training on attachment - how it starts, what happens when it's been broken or doesn't happen, etc.  It's scary stuff, my friends.  And it stresses me out a little bit.  So of course I'm doing what any other nerdy parent would do: I've done all the online adoption agency trainings, read lots of recommended books and read lots of other people's blogs about what they're doing/what they've done in terms of attachment. And praying. A lot. Oh how I pray for this child!

I read some blogs of people who had created attachment plans with lists of the things they'll do or not do with the child for the first 6 months, year, etc.  At first when I was reading through them, I grew a little anxious, thinking "This seems like a lot. And I guess I need to get started on a list" 

When I went to Rob to talk with him about it, he pointed out something really nice: Because we tend to parent in the "attachment parenting" style anyway, a lot of the extra attachment stuff you can do is stuff we did with our biological kids anyway.  I guess attachment parenting is coming more into the mainstream.  Or maybe I just hang out with enough people who parent like me that I think it's more mainstream, but I still do get a good bit of rolled eyes surprised looks questions from folks about ways I choose to respond to my kiddos' needs.  (Please refer to my previous post about my ideas about parenting: I am certainly not trying to imply that everyone needs to parent the way I do). In case you're wondering about those "shocking" things we do, here's the dirt: cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, not doing cry-it-out, gentle discipline, babywearing.  Imagine my joy when I learn that that kind of stuff is exactly what you need to do for an adopted child! WHOO HOO! It was really like getting a pat on the back in a world where I sometimes feel the need to defend (or just not mention) my parenting philosophy!!

So while attachment plans that say "no one but mom or dad feeds the baby during the first year" sounds huge, I realized, pretty much no one other than Rob & me ever fed either of my kids during the first year (with the exception of our 2 incredible babysitters who are more like family members anyway).  And when I read "mom will wear baby in a sling for most of the day", I thought about how no one at Riley's preschool recognized Allyn when she was out of her sling 'cause they'd never seen her out of it before!

I know this doesn't mean I've got it all in the bag in terms of what my next child will need, but it was really really nice to feel like at least this part of it isn't going to feel foreign to me.  I got another little boost when I was reading "The Connected Child" (GREAT book that was recommended to us).  As I was reading it, I realized it is almost exactly like Love and Logic, which is a parenting strategy we really like and use A LOT.

PS. This post comes on the heels of yet another night when I missed youth group because Allyn wouldn't stay in the nursery. She is way too nice to say it, but I know that the sweet woman who keeps her on Sunday nights thinks I'm spoiling her by not allowing her to scream and cry while I walk out the door.  Attachment parenting can come with some fairly big sacrifices but, for me, the sacrifices are more than worth it! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Part of our family

I haven't blogged recently because I'm still having a bit of a tough time dealing with the delay right now. Man, this adopting thing is hard.

So instead of whining to y'all about how bummed out I've been, instead I'm going to share this little picture with you:

Riley is the "Star Student" at school this week so he gets to make an "all about me" poster...

But check out this part:

This is our family, drawn by Riley.  That's Daddy on the left.  For some reason, I'm just a head but that's me, the floating head. Riley's under me, Allyn is off to the right.

And that little baby down in the bottom right hand corner? "That's our new baby!" he says!

We may not have seen his face, but this child is certainly a part of our family already.