Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Life as a Christian Song...

With three children, two adoptions underway, and working three twelve hour shifts a week in one of four different hospital emergency rooms I find that most of my worship and prayer time happens in the car. Driving to school to pick up kids, running to work, running errands on a day off. I just seem to be alone in the car with some regularity. Through it all I have decided my life has become the lyrics of a christian song. For example, I blogged about Lincoln Brewster's "Everlasting God", as in "strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.". My favorite line through this torturous wait of adoption.

Today, I found a different sort of song that spoke to me. It is by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is called "Everything You Do". I originally loved this song as in the first lines it talks about picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time today, matching up socks, sweeping up lost Cheerios that got away...on an on he lists the tasks of my everyday boring life and the point is reached where we are to do what we do for the glory of God no matter what it is. That spoke to me, yet today I heard a whole new message, one I needed. One thing a lot of us mamas never talk about is that small percentage of people in our lives who do not understand this adoption process. The ones who do not support bringing home a child of another race. Fortunate,y, for me there are very few such people, but I had a recent encounter such as this. It reminded me that following God's plan is not easy. People may not agree or even try to step in and redirect our efforts. So, back to the song...I heard a line as if I had never heard it for the first time. Let everything you do tell the story of Grace. Now that we have named our new daughter Grace as a reminder of God's grace to us, this line meant a lot. I began to think of all the unglamourous things that go with finishing her adoption. The finger printing, the papers, the crazy seals and copies and let me not forget all the craziness as this person who plans every moment can hardly tolerate the continuous state of flux that is this process. Couple that with people who ask why not a sports car? Why not a fancy vacation? Why not do something else with your money? Why go through this aggravation? Didn't we want to retire some day? All those thoughts that seem to follow some logical lines and basically go against it all. Because, whatever I do will be to put a smile on His face and will tell the story of Grace (and Alex). :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The perfect Gift

I guess I have spent a lot of time in the last few days innsearch of the perfect gift. I had to consider each child's interests, what they wanted and honoring my own Christmas traditions. For some reason over the years I have several things I do for them. First, they always get a calendar. I like the challenge of figuring out this year's interests and finding the perfect wall calendar. Then, they always get a book. I think Christmas needs to be about more than toys. Zachary does not read my blog yet, so I am safe in sharing that he got the coolest shark book, complete with a look inside a shark with a plastic model. He LOVES sharks. Katya does read my blog, so sorry honey, you gotta wait until Sunday! Then, I always get them a stuffed animal. Usually, it is three matching animals. This year is no exception. I usually get them a big animal so that in the afternoon I get to watch them be littered about the floor watching movies still in their jammies all resting on their animals. Then, there is the wfsj's. That stands for Waiting For Santa Jammies. I have to put the initials on the tag so that I can find the packages easily on Christmas Eve. I also have to get them something very representative of me, a gift from my only vise...Starbucks. Lol!

I have spent weeks working on all of this. The last few days, I have been off finishing the shopping, wrapping, making a Christmas lunch for Tim's employees and generally running around like a crazy person. In the midst of it all, my heart aches to see my other two children. What would I get them this year? Why can't they be here? Why can't I just get an update from Haiti? Lots of my fellow mom's are reaching new adoption milestones. I am happy to see things moving, I just wish it were my turn. So, through the exhaustion and holiday crabbiness, tonight I picked the boys up from gymnastics and finally got home. On the door was a note that Santa had stopped by early for me. There was a trail of bows on the floor leading to a wrapped package. Tin stood there beaming with pride as I read a wonderful note telling me how much they appreciate me. I opened the present and found a wonderful speaker system for my iPhone. He knows I love to cook. I love making new things and putting out good meals. I experiment with fresh herbs and things, I find it relaxing. Usually I listen to my iPhone while I do it. This system will make the music sound so much better! I loved it. The thing is, this was the perfect gift on the perfect day. I had killed myself the last few days so that tomorrow ihad no errands to do. It is baking day. One of my favorites. I make sugar cookie dough and we roll them out and make cookies for Santa. I grew up with this tradition with my mom. She kept the metal cookie cutters in an oatmeal can and by the time my brothers and I were done there was flour on the floor, our bellies ached from eating too many of the decorations and the dough, but it was great. A large part of this too, was mom putting on Johnny Mathis Cristmas music on the turntable on the super hi fi in the living room. The whole house filled with the music. As an adult, my mom bought me one of the CD's and on my iPod in later years I downloaded all my favorites. I even downloaded John Denver and The Muppets Christmas, another record my mom loves. The only thing is, I had no way to fill my house with these sounds...until now. The perfect gift at the perfect time. So, tomorrow, I have the privilege of carrying out this tradition in fine style. I even have mom's cookie cutters as she gave them to me a few years ago. By the way...my children have there own Christmas favorites. Now I will fill the house with the meowing cat version of Dominic the Donkey, and The Fruitcake song. Be ready Santa, treats are coming!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What is in a name??

Often times we get asked about our kid's names. Our daughter has an unusual name, it is Katya. It is Russian for Katie. The thing is, when we were newly married and dreaming of children, we wanted a daughter named Katie. When we got her referral, and saw it was already her name, we figured it was meant to be. We gave her the middle name of Elizabeth, just like all the oldest girls in my family. My mother is Ann Elizabeth and my grandmother was Leora Elizabeth. As far as Jack goes, he is named after his great grandfather. His name had been John, but he was called Jack, and our Jack is the same. His middle name is David. My father-in-law was David too. He died when my husband was just 19 of a big heart attack. He missed him so much when we adopted Jack and it meant a lot to us to give him this name. The funny thing is, God intervened with him too...his Russian name was Ivan, this is the Russian form of John. Go figure.

Zachary was trickier. By that time we had worked in growing our faith. His adoption was one of the most Godly experiences of our lives. We wanted to call him Christian. In the end, Jack was struggling a bit with not being the baby, so the way we involved him was to allow him to name his new brother. He was ten and thought it would be cool if their names rhymed. Therefore he could say,"I'm Jack, this is my brother Zack!" When it came to Alex, of course, the boys came to our rescue. They wanted a short nickname like theirs. I wanted a nod to the love of my life and he will be Alexander Timothy, nickname Alex.

On to Grace. I feel as though I dreamt her into being. In July I dreamt of a beautiful black girl who would be mine. In my dream, she was named Grace. I just seemed this was to be her name. Since learning of her existence, I have been able to see God's unfailing grace to us. The gift of children to us imperfect parents. The blessings of being able to do these adoptions and the joy of being a family. I think yesterday I really got it though. I was flipping through the mountain of email I get in a parking lot on my way to run the bazillions of Christmas errands. I was rushed and a bit stressed. The first thing I saw was my home screen, a picture of Grace smiling. Simultaneously, I heard on the radio a song I love, but took on all new meaning. "Remember your people, remember your children, remember your promise O God....". Then the chorus,"Your Grace is enough, your Grace is enough, your Grace is enough for me."

I felt like in that moment, I got it. Grace is enough. Not the craziness of Christmas, or anything else, just God's Grace. I also became a bit overwhelmed when I began to think about all the things Grace and Alex will teach us. I have a feeling, our education from our children has only just begun.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

And so it all changes ... Again.

One thing that becomes clear during an international adoption is that things change constantly. This has been an interesting week. A few days ago, my fellow mama blanc emailed me a bunch of pictures and video from her trip to Haiti last week. I had worked 4-4 that night and could not wait to get home to see the videos of Gracie. I opened the video and here she was, swaying to some music, trying to clap her hands, simply lost in the sounds. She smiled big and I just knew she was that little princess my pharmacist/musician husband would truly treasure. Me too, but he loves music so much that seeing this was simply moving. I watched it through a couple of times. Along about the third viewing I began to notice a few things. First, children I knew who were three and four were walking around near my dancing queen. The thing was, they were twice her size. How small is she? I wondered. Then, I noticed she was in diapers. That too was very odd for Haiti. They were usually potty trained long before the age of four if for no other reason than economics. Diapers are expensive.

I had a tough time sleeping despite working all night. This did not add up. I said something to Tim and we agreed... Time to ask some questions. I zipped off an email to Rachel and nervously waited all day for an answer. It finally came late Wednesday. Rachel had told me the wrong birth year. She was born in 09!!! She just turned two. A mere 15 months older than Alex. We were thrilled. She was not small or having issues, she is a toddler! We have had to switch some gears in our thinking, but happily so.

Today, I consulted Zachary again on his feelings about sharing mommy. I told him we can still have our weekly date nights like we do now. He asked,"but where will the babies be?". I told him they could stay with daddy. He frowned and said,"no. Mama you have three babies now and we need to bring them, or it won't be any fun." once again, my genius six year old has reminded me of the greatness of God's gifts to us.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Once Again, it Boils Down to Sippie Cups...and Zachary

I have mentioned Zachary many times in this blog. The fact is, he is such a blessing to me. It was him at age four that out of the blue said,"Hey mama?" "hmmm?" I answered. "I was talking to God. He said I would have a brother." I reminded him at the time he already had a brother, Jack. He just laughed and said,"No mama, a brother MY size." I explained to him that at that time we weren't sure another sibling was in the cards. It was then he told me not only was he to have another brother he would be brown. Six months later we got the offer to adopt from Haiti and here we sit, Alex on the way. There have been several other instances where he has relayed his chats with God. They are not that common, but we have learned to listen when he tells us. My favorite story was when he was about four. He explained that he remembered making people with God. He described people of all shapes and sizes. He then chuckled a bit and said, "me and God, boy were we tired!" his description was innocent and pure. The joy he felt slaying the story was obvious. Besides, we hadn't been talking about that. It was just another out of the blue conversation. So, we have learned that we need to hear our little boy, and I have come to treasure his opinions.

So, today, the boys and I set out on a mission, ok mostly me. After losing Nate I was struggling a bit with trusting Alex's adoption, or even Grace's. Today I decided it was my job to have faith in God's promise to me. We went out looking for girl stuff. Zachary held my hand as we walked down the aisles. He pensively looked over the sippie cups and picked out some pink princess cups, saying,"here mama, Grace will love these!" Jack was maybe a bit less interested, but he played along as much as a fifteen year old boy would, although knowing him, he knew this mattered to me, so it was nice. At one point Zachary was walking, holding my hand and looking quite serious. At last he says,"Mom?" "hmmm?" I answered. "I think I am going to like having a little sister. I have thought about it, and I think I will like it."

For me, that was the ringing endorsement I needed. One thing about adopting children is that each child has their own identity. Their own role in the house. Adding two more children is a bit harrowing for them. Jack had a rough time wrapping his head around Zachary's adoption after being the baby for ten years. All it took was getting him home, and Jack made it work. Now they are very close despite the age difference. Katya is preparing to go to the military after graduation this year, so the adoptions do not bother her at all. Zachary was my worry though. He has been the baby for five years,now he won't be. However, he surprised me as he is really exploring his new roles. Grace's protector, Alex's teacher about all things boy related, and on and on. He is excited to not be the littlest. So, once again, this adoption has come full circle. Out of the grief and back to sippie cups and Zachary, my amazing little man. I only hope that one day I know the Lord as well as him! As for me, I sent the day in the land of pink dresses and Hello Kitty art supplies for our next trip. I can't imagine anything better.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Big News

As we ride through this roller coaster called adoption, we have our highs and lows. Today was definitely a high. We received another referral. We are starting the process for a four year old girl! We have named her Grace Mary. Her birth name is difficult to spell and pronounce. It is Kettelie, we figure Gracie is close, but we will see how she does. Many months ago, I dreamt about a girl. When we went to Haiti we were certain God had a girl, yet when the situation came up to add a child, it was Alex. At the time, we were a bit confused, but somehow we knew that was the way to go. Then, we lost Nate and again wondered if there was to be a girl, and here she is!!!

She is a bit older than we anticipated, but we know in our heart of hearts she belongs here. We feel a bit overwhelmed at God's grace for us. She is an amazing gift and we cannot wait to meet her. To be honest, I spent my day dreaming of painting her room in shades of pink with castles. A room fit for a princess.

The kids are excited. Zachary wants her to go to preschool at his school so he can be with her. He talks about walking her in and looking out for her. He feels so responsible already. He then wanted to be sure he learned all he could about Star Wars Legos so that he can teach Alex. He is amazing. Today, we will ride that wave and celebrate our blessings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bloggers Block Broken...

I decided tonight that I was just not blocked in my blogging world, I was blocked period. I felt frozen in time unable to do anything. I think it was the grief of losing Nate and the lack of any word on Alex, and just flat out frustration with it all. Then, today I went to church as I do every week, only this time it was one of those times when the sermon was tailor made for me. It was on waiting. It referenced Christmas, but the bigger picture talked about being patient for God. I guess I hadn't realized Jesus' birth was foretold hundreds of years before. Hundreds of years! This struck a chord with me as I realized my anger, grief and frustration was equivalent to a period of months. When would Alex come home? June or July? Would it be later....ok, really? I miss him and it is awful being away from him, but maybe, just maybe there is something I need to learn from the wait, or something I need to be shown in the wait. Another phrase in the sermon was,"we need the wait.". As hard as it is, I think that is true too. I sent the afternoon quietly digesting all of this. I wanted it my way, bring him home now, then tonight I went back for evening service. A friend was playing the music, my husband had played this morning, so we went back to see him and some other friends. Wouldn't you know, a song was played that was not played this morning. "Everlasting God". Believe I blogged that a while back,"strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord."

I had forgotten. I had forgotten God's plan, surrending this adoption to Him. Grief had taken hold and soured things a bit. So, here I sit, blog almost complete and batteries starting to be recharged. Geez, if this keeps up I just may be able to purchase sippie cups again!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bloggers Block...

As the title would indicate I have decided that I have bloggers block. Blogging is easy when life is moving and shaking. Nate's adoption was clicking along, maybe a little slower an I would like, but moving nonetheless. Then we added Alex, more excitement, more stuff happening. Now, with Nate gone, and limited news on Alex, I find the wait frustratingly quiet. It is the time in the process when there is literally nothing to do. I cannot plan a trip, the paperwork is done, I need no signatures, and I am fearful of shopping for anything. So, here I sit, once again trying to learn my life lesson on patience. One of my fellow bloggers and friends suggested God was going to have her keep adopting until she learned the lesson. I am thinking it must be true for me too.

So, for now, I will work on my patience. Perhaps that means I should cut back from checking my email a hundred times a day, to fifty! LOL!