Yesterday I rode three trains and five buses. This no car in the city thing is not easy, but at the same time, it is. I don’t miss parking or figuring out how to get places. I don’t miss fighting about directions or paying for gas. I’m hoping this habit sticks. It’s quite pleasant to ride public transportation.
Composting is gross. I’m not going to lie to you. We don’t have a good system for it, so it’s pretty much a jar of rotting food on the counter. I have a feeling this habit won’t last unless we come up with a better plan.
I have loved learning about consumption. It started with the possessions month, but this month has really brought it home.
I think I am going to have to stick with purchasing used clothing for a while after reading this article. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fashion/2012/06/the_salvation_army_and_goodwill_inside_the_places_your_clothes_go_when_you_donate_them_.html
The key lesson for me is that I need to redefine how I use the word “need.” Do I really need a new pair of shoes or do I just want a new pair of shoes? I also need to combat my own laziness. Yes, it’s quicker and easier to use a paper towel (in some ways), but if I really care about God’s creation and being a good steward of what he’s given me, using a cloth towel may be a better choice.
It is hard because there’s no way to not consume at all. Even using a cloth towel results in using water for washing. I don’t think it’s that easy to quantify. But, I think being aware and trying to make good choices go a long way. I am setting an example for the next generation, and I want my children to know about how to care for their environment. I want them to know the difference between a want and a need. I want to take seriously God’s command that we steward the earth, and I want to know how my choices affect other people. I can generate all the waste in the world and not be affected because I am white and rich. I never have to see it. I certainly don’t have to live next to it. But someone else does.
I want to follow Jesus’ command to love others as I love myself. I don’t want to live next to a landfill, so why should I let someone else?
Another downer post, but welcome to my life people. I’m having a hard time finding the silver lining. It’s been sunny and cloudless in Chicago for about 100 straight days. That should make me happy, but it’s just too sunny. Too happy. Doesn’t the sun know that the world is crashing in? Colorado’s on fire. Nora Ephron died. Just rain already! What does a girl have to do to get some clouds up in here?
I can’t divulge the details yet. I can’t tell you how utterly worthless my adoption agency is until I can use the threat of such a post to get something out of them. But believe me. That post is coming.
Suffice it to say that things aren’t looking good. The adoption is still on. Don’t freak out yet (telling that to myself every hour). I would say it’s still a solid 85%. We are at a complete standstill at the moment, and the hurdles are rather large. We mistakenly though we were over the humps. We are. We just didn’t know that after the humps came a giant mountain and a rather terrifying cravace that no human has ever been able to cross alive.
When we were that “infertile” couple, I can’t tell you how many people said, “why don’t you just adopt?” As if adoption was like picking up a pizza for dinner instead of cooking. I would like to smack those people right now. (Love your enemies, Amanda – also my constant inner dialogue these days.) Seriously though, if you are struggling with infertility and someone says that to you, give them my email address.
I can tell you that for me, adoption has been about 100 times harder, more painful and depressing than IVF and other infertility treatments. I really never thought I would say that. Failed IVF was so bad. So hard. So painful. I thought I spent a lot of time crying on the floor then! That was nothing. (Ok, maybe not nothing. I like to exaggerate.)
We used to say that adoption would be better because even if it was hard, at the end, we would have a child. Now I want to go back in time to smack myself! Why do I talk like that? I talk like tomorrow is a guarantee. I really believe I will wake up tomorrow and carry on. Next year I’ll vacation. Then I’ll get promoted.
“yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14
Our lives are but an instant. There’s no guarantee of anything (except death and taxes, as I like to say). The people of Colorado Springs probably had a summer picnic planned next week. The folks working at the WTC on 9/11/01 had dinner plans and soccer games.
I don’t know how many times that God is going to teach me that my life is not my own. I don’t have the right to make plans and talk about what will happen next year, next month, tomorrow. I live and die at his beckoning. Each moment that I breathe is another gift of undeserved grace. Even the pain is a gift.
“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” Psalm 39:4
God is teaching me about his sovereignty. First lesson is how to spell it. Seriously, I didn’t want to write this post because I would have to keep spelling that word.
One of my strongholds – the fleshly desire I am constantly striving against – is to believe that my choices determine my life. That I have control. That it’s in my power to make life work or to make it fail. I’ve spent hours agonizing these past weeks, trying to figure out what I did wrong. Where did I make the wrong step? Which decision caused this?
I read a blog post about pushing and striving to get a child. The theme was – “I want Isaac. I don’t want Ishmael.” We used to talk about that a lot when we were going through fertility treatments. Wondering if we were making the same mistake that Sarah made when she told her husband to sleep with her maidservant to have a child. But something about that post struck me as wrong.
Was Ishmael really a mistake? Should he never have been born? While we know that Isaac was the chosen son to carry on the promise, it doesn’t mean that God loved Ishmael less. In fact, we know from Scripture that God did love Ishmael and promised him generations of blessing as well. We have to assume that Abraham loved him as well. He was his son. My parents didn’t plan to have me as their child when they did. I was a “mistake.” But do they ever wish it didn’t happen? I can promise they don’t. (They really love me.)
God is sovereign over our choices. As Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen 50:20). Will we make wrong choices? Will we be sinful and ill-motivated? Of course we will. But we can never make a choice outside of God’s realm. He is all powerful. He doesn’t make a plan B. When we make wrong turns, we don’t end up alone. We end up right where God wants us in order for him to do his work and to bring glory to himself.
I want to believe that I have the power. That my destiny is my hands. Somehow I am convinced that I am more secure if I have the control. I want the power. I want it to be predictable. I want the glory when things go right, and I’m willing to take the blame when it goes wrong.
This way of living is not true freedom. It’s delusion, and it’s slavery. The world is so much bigger than I am. It’s more than I can explain. I am like a child who thinks that world is nothing more than my crib and parents.
As I am striving, God is asking me:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars vsang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
It’s laughable really. I think that I can make a choice to determine the course of my life, but I don’t even have the power to choose to wake up in the morning. I can’t choose not to feel hungry. I can’t make the sun rise or set.
I want to rest in the peace of knowing that Father is in control, and I may mess up, stomp my feet, scream, and cry, but nothing that I do can push this train off the road.
While in some ways, my heart has been broken over the past few weeks hearing about more and more delays (even more this week…), my heart has also been bursting from all the love and support from my readers, friends and family. I am so thankful for you!
From your comments, to your FB messages, text messages, emails, phone calls, and in-person (imagine that!) chats, I can really feel the love of God at a time when I often feel that he is far away and has forgotten me. What a blessing to be surrounded by such support. These kids (who may be adults by the time they come home) will be so blessed by you all as well.
A friend from church stopped me on Sunday to say that she had been reading our story and praying for us. It was so great to see her, to know that she knows our struggles and is moved to actually pray for us.
I don’t know why God created the world in the way that he did, to commission us to be his hands and feet. I don’t know why he has chosen to give such responsibility to us humans. We are so flawed, and this responsibility results in so much pain and evil in the world. But, when it works, when we really do it, it’s so beautiful.
When I receive a text from a dear friend saying that she’s praying a specific prayer for me, it’s literally as if God sent it himself. That’s how it feels. Knowing that the same Spirit that lives in me, lives in her, and connects us to each other in a supernatural way. I have a daily reminder in my calendar to pray for a certain friend going through a difficult time. When I hear progress from her, I am so honored to think that God gave ME a role in his work.
More and more I am seeing how we are the body. “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Rom. 12:5
These past weeks have been tough, but I have been drowning my sorrows in a delectable book – The Sunne of Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. It’s pure candy if you are lover of all things medieval and historical fiction. It’s the story of Richard III – full of intrigue, betrayal, war, scandal, and of course, some juicy love affairs. I actually learned about this author from another blog long ago, and this is the fourth book of hers I read. I think it’s fair to say that they have changed my life. 🙂
We interrupt this pity party for a little fun.
Have I adequately explained how much I am obsessed with Jen Hatmaker? Seriously, I haven’t had a celebrity crush since grade school and Joey from NKOTB, and that was unrealistic. We could never get married. He was so old. Plus, he would have been threatened by my own musical talent. It would have never worked out.
This is serious. I think Jen and I would be best friends if she knew me. Maybe not BEST friends, but friends. We are so alike. Some obvious similarities:
1. Brown hair
3. We are both hilarious.
6. obsession with delicious food
Did I ever tell you that she messaged me? On FB? It was amazing. I messaged her about the first month of 7, and she responded!
I feel like I can relate with her celebrity status. While I am not technically a celebrity, I am used to be bombarded by questions from people. I can’t make it through a church service without answering 50 questions about adoption. And, people invite us over ALL THE TIME. I’m not being vain. People just like hearing about adoption. Once I get the kids, it’s going to be even crazier. We won’t be able to leave the grocery store without being mobbed. So, just another way Jen and I could relate to each other.
We could be friends. I swear I would tone down this obvious hysteria and act normal. She wouldn’t have to know about this blog post…
Ok peeps, this is going to get preachy. According to Kristen Howerton (http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/ – love her, read her!), you can have one preachy, advocacy post after a good number of personal posts. Here’s my preachy post for the month.
I feel like I am in the middle of a battle because I am. Getting these kids home is a total all-out war. I have battled with my agency, two different governments, the State of Illinois, family members, people we meet, God, the Devil, and myself. I am confident the worst is still to come. This is not pessimism. This is reality.
I know I wrote a few times ago last time that I am choosing joy, and I am, but that doesn’t really make anything easier. The battle goes on.
I am very cognizant on a daily basis about the conditions where our kids live. While the conditions are probably above-average for DRC orphanages, they are still in the DRC, and it’s still an orphanage. One returning family recently referred to their trip as an unrelenting nightmare. Another family relayed a story from their daughter about how she witnesses the brutalization of her mother, and she herself was stabbed by a witch in the foot.
I mean no disrespect to DRC. It is a beautiful country full of amazingly strong people made in the image of God. Unfortunately, it has been ravaged by poverty and war for far too long, much of which an be attributed to the debilitating effects of colonization and the pillaging of their resources (thus we are all to blame – as I currently type this on an iPhone made from conflict minerals).
According to our agency, they try to feed the children once a day, and they drink three times a day. They don’t receive regular medical care, and it’s safe to assume that our kids will come home with lice, parasites, giardia, or other similarly painful medical conditions. They don’t have anything of their own. They don’t play with toys. They have no education. They have no parents showering them with love and security. They have no reason to believe that their life will ever get better.
As I reflect on a prior post about the celebration party, especially about our desire for people to not buy us things, I think this reality is the real heart of the issue for us. I just can’t buy (or receive) fancy expensive toys, clothes, etc. while I wonder if they will eat food today. It just doesn’t jive for me. It’s too insane. It feels disrespectful.
Then I am heartbroken because it’s not just our kids. Our kids have hope because we are coming for them. The millions of other children will never move on to a better life.There are children as young as 5 years old living alone in the wilderness of Sudan who will be attacked by wild dogs while they sleep since they have no shelter. There are children in India who will be sold by their families into the sex trade where they will die at the age of 25, and their bodies will be picked up in the alley by a dump truck. There are children in North Korea who will die because their bodies cannot digest the grass and sticks they eat to cope with their crippling starvation. Children with Down Syndrome in Ukraine are committed to adult insane asylums and chained to their cribs.
I know this is depressing, and you would rather not know. I would rather not know. I would rather sit here in this Starbucks and shop online, completely unaware that the world is burning outside.
What can we do? Unfortunately, we an do nothing of our own strength, but with God, all things are possible. He wages a battle and wins. The fire does go out for some. Thank Jesus that he is victorious and that he loves these children.
Want to get involved? Here’s what you can do:
1. Pray. It’s the most powerful tool you have, and it works. Pray for orphans. Pray for families. Pray for whole nations.2. Give your money. Here are some very worthy organizations that work with vulnerable children: As Our Own (http://asourown.org/); Make Way Partners (http://www.makewaypartners.org); Project Hopeful (http://www.projecthopeful.org/); By the Hand Club (http://bythehand.org/).
4. Adopt an orphan! You know you want to.
5. Go! There are so many awesome mission trips out there.
6. Become a foster parent. There are many children in the US who need stable, loving families.
7. Mentor a child, teen or young mom.
By supporting vulnerable children, you support us and our children, and that means so much more to us and them than a new outfit or toy.
Adoption is not for the faint of heart, ya’ll. In fact, it’s not even for the human heart.
Wednesday was the lowest point. We reached the lowest point of despair, hopelessness, and if someone had told us we could be out, we would have taken the out – no question. Our agency is going through some changes for the better, but it’s clearly causing delays. It’s not the most organized place on earth, so I don’t have much confidence that they were adequately preparing for the changes to avoid delays. Then we heard from the immigration officer who’s had our file for over two months that she still hadn’t even started reviewing it. Heartbreak. We had started to feel optimistic, like things were actually moving. Not yet. Not yet.
When people say adoption is hard, this is what they are talking about. It’s not the paperwork, it’s not the personal questions, it’s not the finances. Those are normal hard things. Everyone deals with those issues in life in various forms. No, adoption is hard because there are few times in life that we willingly submit to having absolutely zero control over our future. We are completely powerless in this situation. The systems are too big, the issues are too complex. We are completely at the mercy of other people – evil, corrupt people, no less. There are no guarantees about timing, and everything can fall apart in an instant.
I’ve been fooling myself. I thought I was getting somewhere. I thought that my faith was strong, and that I could do the hard things. I was ready to live for Christ. To sacrifice. To be radical. To be ALL IN.
I am a vapor. I am dust. My strength is an illusion. The hard stuff hasn’t even begun. God looks and me and says, oh sweetie, you think waiting is hard? Wait till you have three African children who you’ve never met, with broken hearts and a lifetime of pain wrapped up into a few short years. This waiting, this lack of control, it’s nothing compared to the pain, heartache, suffering and hopelessness that is coming.
I am scared. I can’t do it. I find it a great injustice when the grocery store is out of dried cherries. I don’t trust that God will get me through missing an episode of Glee. More seriously, I don’t trust that God will give me the finances to pay down my debt, that he will really protect my marriage. This is child’s play, normal stuff, and I am failing. How can I think God can give me the responsibility for the big stuff?
Ah, but there is hope. For his strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9). His work is not dependent on me at all. This waiting is a test. Will I let go and and give God the steering wheel or will I keep trying to drive?