Sunday, January 31, 2016

A lesson on love

There are some verses of the Bible which are so well known they become intertwined with secular culture. It like everyone just kind of agrees, independently of religion, that this is just a basic truth of the universe.

One such verse, in my opinion, is 1 Corinthians 4-7.

Yes, the verse everyone and their mama has read at their wedding. I know we had the preacher read it at mine!

There is no denying this verse is beautiful. If it weren't I doubt it would be such a popular reading at weddings and anniversaries. My non-religious friends actually had it read at their wedding because they liked the sentiment and my brother, whom is not religious in the least, has hinted at possibly using it in his wedding this summer.

Bottom line, we in Western culture have pretty much accepted this verse as an instruction manual for perfect romantic love. And it is a tall order.

However, lately I have been studying this verse with a new lens and it has completely blown my mind.

That lens, of course, is the lens of a potential adoptive parent.

"Love is PATIENT, love is KIND": There is no patience quite like that of the person waiting for the day they can welcome their child into their family through adoption. First, the waiting involved with infertility. Then, the waiting between trainings and paperwork and certifications and homestudy writing and matching. If it were not wrapped in unconditional love for a child (or children) not yet met, I doubt many would be able to endure it.

"Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful": There is a sort of forced humility which comes from trying to adopt after infertility. You come to realize that, if it were not for some sacrifice or trauma on the part of another, you would never be able to grow your family. It's hard to be rude or boastful after coming to that realization, and it's almost impossible to insist on your own way. You come to love and respect the journey others are walking which will eventually bring you to your child.

"It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.": As someone planning to adopt from foster care, this part hits me particularly strongly. I know my children will come to me due to some type of trauma. Without that trauma they would never become mine. Nobody involved in this adoption triad is grateful for that trauma. Nobody is happy about the circumstances that cause biological parent and biological child to be separated. However, we all rejoice in the truth that this child is loved enough by everyone involved to receive the opportunity to heal and thrive. 

"It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.":  If you have seen the mountain of paperwork adoptive parents must fill out just to be eligible for a homestudy, you would understand this last part. Adoptive parents go through several different rounds of education, paperwork, meetings, interviews, etc. just to be considered as a possible match for a child. These are good things designed to help keep adopted children safe in the long run and they are generally good things. However, it is a long journey. Sometimes it's hard to deal with the fact that we must attend ANOTHER training or fill out yet ANOTHER form to become parents. It's our belief and hope that we will eventually grow our family that gets us through those particularly rough days. 

I may not always love this journey, but this journey has taught me more about my capacity for love than I ever thought possible. 

Someday (maybe even someday soon) Steve and I will bring our children home and it will be one of the most joyful days of our lives. That joy will come from a well of abundant, unconditional love cultivated during this period of waiting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmastime at our house!

Our first Christmas after Steve and I got married he placed my wrapped gift from him under the tree four weeks before Christmas and refused to let me open it until Christmas day at my parents' house. Knowing my impatient nature and my compulsive need to solve mysteries, this act on his part was specifically designed to torture me.

He would later tell me it was to ensure I called him more often while he was travelling for work because I hate talking on the phone unless I have a specific reason to call.

Since then it has become a bit of a tradition for us to give in to our impatience and open our gifts to each other as soon as they are wrapped each year. This year was no different.

Last night when Steve got home we had our Christmas between the two of us and I have to say, I was clearly a very good girl this year.

But before I tell you what Steve got me, I want to tell you what I got for Steve. I bought it back in September and I have been DYING to give it to him early.

one big gift:

A one hour intro to flight lesson at the local airport! He gets a full hour in the air with a pilot learning about how to fly the plane and, after learning the basics, he gets to take the controls for a while and land the plane! Steve has talked about getting his pilot's license ever since I've known him but has always said it was too much money. Well, now he gets to at least try it out and see if the reality meets his expectations. The hour will count toward his license if he decides to go through with getting it as well, so, you know, bonus! lol

Now for what Steve got me...

gift #1
A set of makeup brushes from Sephora I've had my eye on for a while. They are made to be antibacterial and will stay that way with regular cleaning, so it will prolong their lifespan and help my efforts to keep my face from breaking out.

Gift #2

Something I haven't told many people about is my desire to learn how to play guitar. I have a TON of songs I like to sing with my students and I have always thought it would be cool to be able to play along with my songs. I used to play the violin and the upright bass and I have found that I truly do miss playing an instrument.

This is actually a "beginner guitar" set from a local music shop. It came with everything in the picture: the guitar (a Mitchell dreadnought acoustic guitar), carrying case, strap, extra set of strings, digital tuner, picks, and an instructional DVD on how to get started playing. I'll be playing "Smelly Cat" in no time! :)

I'm so freaking excited! And here I thought nothing could top what I got for Steve...

Friday, December 18, 2015

When God Says "No"

Maybe it's because of the circumstances in which I've found myself over the last couple years, but I've developed a bit of a pet peeve related to God and prayer.

It seems to me that people only say "God answered my prayers" when they get positive results... or a "yes" from God. Unless they get what they asked for they assume God didn't answer them. There is even a hit song by Garth Brooks alluding to this:

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

I have several issues with this line of thinking. Not the least of which being that it reduces God's role in our lives to that of a wish granting genie we turn to when we need a miracle rather than a loving father with whom we desire to build a relationship.

Can you imagine if we operated under this assumption within other relationships?
me: Baby, can you pick up a quart of milk on your way home?
husband: No, I don't have cash or my debit card with me today.
me: You aren't listening! I need you to pick up a quart of milk!
husband: I have no money with which to purchase milk. I won't be bringing any home.
*husband arrives home without milk*
me: If you truly existed and loved me like you say you do you would listen when I ask you to bring home milk.

It sounds insane. And it is.

The basic truth here is that God listens to all of our prayers and he answers all of them, too. Not all of them receive a simple "yes". Sometimes it's "not yet".

And many times God says "no".

I can't tell you how many times I prayed for a pregnancy. How many times I prayed for a biological child. How many times I prayed for the ability to conceive. I prayed for these things for YEARS. Here I am.... no babies , not pregnant, not even the hope of conception. Does that mean God wasn't listening or that I was not given an answer?


God answered me quite clearly. The answer was "No". He didn't do it to be mean. He didn't do it out of spite. He didn't do it because he doesn't love me as much as people with "yes" answers.

He said no because he wants me to follow a different path. He said no because he can see what blessings lie in store for me if I trust him rather than insisting on my own way. He said no because he loves me.

Being a Christian means trusting God with our lives. It means holding onto the promise that he will never abandon us and that his love will never ask us to endure trials without purpose or benefit to us. It's not easy, I'm not saying it is, but it's exactly what we signed up for when we prayed our first "I believe" prayer.

So can we all agree to stop saying "unanswered prayers" when we really mean "God said no"?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Homestudy visit #1

The good news is our caseworker seems awesome and the first visit went really well.

The bad news is visit #2 will be much more in depth and I'm already nervous.

Overall though our visit was not what I expected. Our caseworker loved on our dogs for a minute and then we sat on the couch and went over some information. She talked about the timeline of events from this point, shared information about how each visit would unfold, and then asked just a few questions about big pictures things. 

For example, she asked how we would describe ourselves as a nuclear family unit and how we would create a positive environments for any children placed with us.

It was a bit weird inviting in a stranger and immediately talking nature vs. nurture with them... not gonna lie. But, she seemed genuinely invested in helping us grow our family.

We did go ahead and schedule our final two visits. Believe it or not we will finish everything before the new year! At that point it will be reviewed and sent off to the appropriate departments for approval.

I love paperwork and procedure as much as the next person. but I'm hoping our information defies tradition and flies through the approval process!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Emotions are hard.

No, really. I have some very strong emotions right now and I'm dealing with them in some new and interesting ways.

First, MAJOR EXCITEMENT over the fact that we have been assigned a caseworker! It took longer than I had hoped, but it happened. Not only were we assigned a caseworker, but we have already scheduled our first meeting with her!

It's on Tuesday morning....

Which brings us to the next emotion... PANIC! Is my house clean enough? Does our wall art make us look like self-involved jerks with no parenting skills? Should I give each room a fresh coat of paint? Should we have the kids' rooms all set up? How much clutter says "lived in but not a secret slob"? If I pull the fresh-baked cookies trick is she going to think I'm trying to manipulate her?

The questions are as numerous as they are ridiculous.

The excitement and panic like to team up and create this awesome sense of restlessness. You know how you feel when you've had three cups of coffee in an hour and if you sit still too long you literally shake? That's me right now - sans caffeine.

I spent the last two days scrubbing my house from top to bottom. As in, removing the screws on the bottom of my freezer to clean every inch of the appliance. As in making Steve go to the store for his weight in vinegar and baking soda to wash the patio stones. As in lint rolling every lampshade in the house.

You can say it... I've gone a touch insane. I'm aware of this.

Among the chaos in my head lately it's hard to believe there are non-crazy emotions happening too. I'm relieved that the ball is finally moving. I'm hopeful for 2016 and the possibility that I may finally become a mama next year. I'm grateful to God for bringing us this far. I'm shocked at how much love and support Steve and I have received over this adoption process.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Sound of Slience

Things have been quiet here lately for a few reasons.... mostly because anything I had to say was wrapped in negativity and frustration. That's not what I want to put out into the universe. Then I realized that it's part of this process we signed up for and owning my emotions IS something I want to put out there.

About 2 weeks ago Steve and I got word from our agency that we have officially completed our homestudy paperwork and can finally be assigned a caseworker to finalize our file and send it to the state for final approval. Except for the fact that there is now a waiting list for caseworkers.

So, the waiting game begins again. We are hoping to be assigned someone before Thanksgiving, but I think it will likely be longer than that. I'm emotionally preparing myself to wait until the new year.

In the meantime Steve and I are making plans for enjoying the time we have as just the two of us. We don't have control over the when and how of our approval from the state or our placements, but we do have control over how we handle the waiting periods.

I hope those of you who still read this blog will join me in praying for a sense of peace in this season of waiting and for the children God has planned for us wherever they may be.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Dorri's advice seems quite appropriate for this particular point of my life.

Earlier this week Steve and I turned in the last of our homestudy paperwork to our agency. It's both a relief and a tiny burden because we know now that everything is out of our hands. Somewhere in our agency's offices there is a stack of papers with our name on it waiting for a caseworker to look through it and develop questions for an interview.

We are also furiously cleaning and organizing the house in preparation for this interview. It hasn't even been scheduled yet, but we are cleaning as if the Pope himself is coming over to give his blessing.

My classroom is also at a point where I'm having to simply trust in the plan each day as I go in to work. My kiddos are taking standardized tests right now which means very little time for instruction. It also means no ESOL services are happening. I'm having to trust my planning skills to make the most of the little time we do have to work.

Lastly, I am attempting to learn Spanish. I found a free app that is pretty awesome so far. I was able to have my first parent phone call completely in Spanish and the end result was successful... I count that as a win. Even if it was just me telling a mom that her daughter was sick and needed to go home. It counts.

Until next time...