Wednesday, November 21, 2012


On our way home for a family Thanksgiving dinner before flying out for Ethiopia tomorrow morning, Cary said to me, "Every mile we drive gets us a mile closer to our boys." And I sank one inch deeper into the reality that I will finally get to hold the sweet little people God is entrusting to us, that in a week they will legally be ours. A little anxiety swept over me. What if I'm not ready to be a mom? What if I realize I'm not the mom I want to be? What if I can't do this? And then the whisper of a memory came to mind and it filled me with joy...

Not long before I was born, my mom was in the hospital. She knew it was time to deliver, but an unexpected rush of emotion swept over her - despite the joy and expectation she'd carried for 9 months, the excitement about meeting me froze. My mom slipped into the restroom where she actually intended to hide. She felt increasingly sure she did not want to have her baby anymore; that she'd rather just keep (me) inside. The fear continued to grow, and my mom began to talk to God. I can't do this. If this baby is going to be born, You are going to have to do this. She felt peace having given me to God, and very shortly after, I was born.

Of course, my mom has always been a super mom. She read and sang with us, kissed hundreds of boo-boos, packed thousands of lunches, encouraged and pushed us when needed, celebrated wins and coached us through fails... Her OB-GYN actually calls her "the child whisperer." But greater than all of that still, is the attitude my mom had from the start. Her fear wasn't for herself, it was for me. And so, she gave me to God. Her prayer for me was that I would get to know and love God like she did. There is a song that sums this up, and so, became special to us as I was growing up. If you've never heard it, listen to it here:

You're a little piece of heaven
you're a golden ray of light
and I wish I could protect you
from the worries of this life
But if there's one thing i could tell you
it's no matter what you do
hold to Jesus, Hes holding onto you

The world will try to tell you
that might is more than right
and beauty's on the outside
and being good's a losing fight
but remember what I've told you
'cause the world will make you choose

Hold to Jesus, Hes holding onto you

Hold on to Jesus, and cling to his love
rest deep in his mercy, whenever things get rough
and don't lose sight of his goodness
and don't ever doubt this truth -
that when you hold onto Jesus,
He's holdin' onto you

Hear me dear Jesus,
rock this little one to sleep
keep her close when she's scared
and give her grace when she is weak

I know she'll stumble, but i know she'll make it through
if you hold onto just like you said you do

Hold her Jesus, so she'll hold on tight to you
-Erin O'Donnell

God answered my mom's prayer for me. He's always had His hand on me, and now I'm holding on to Him. How thankful I am for that. Today I am especially thankful for the joy of thinking (hoping) I see similarities in the beginning of my maternal journey that were present at the beginning of my mom's. As the reality of meeting my babies grows near, feelings like the ones my mom has described to me about the beginnings of motherhood stirred. (Even if they are feelings of fear and insecurity - I'm just thankful to recognize a parallel.) The Lord has been showing me a lot recently about how much we pass from one generation to the next. And since that's the case, thank you Mama, for the example of the most precious thing I can pass on to my boys.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Victory = Not Mine = Mine Anyways

"In every victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ the Lord."

T-minus 10 days, and we depart for the soil where our family is physically united for the first time. 10 days. It's 9pm. Almost 9 days. Whhhhhy, is the bottom of my heart giving out now??? It was one of those Mondays at school. I just couldn't get in grace-mode. I found myself snapping and wishing I hadn't. I kept trying to evaluate my heart, asking, What is going on in there? I was looking forward to fellowship in housegroup later this evening, and made multiple attempts to move my outlook forward. Finally, when the day ended, I realized, I just felt sad. Something about knowing that I REALLY WILL get HOLD my boys, IN MY ARMS, in 10 days, has brought our life-situation to a new level of tangible. And all I can feel is how far away they are. And it feels like I might die.

My plan was to get groceries on the way home and make dinner before housegroup. But the task seemed so miserable. I am not a Walmart hater, but I decided to go elsewhere since my mood was already so foul. I headed for Target, but I wasn't ready to go there either. I pulled into the Pier1 parking lot. Let me tell ya... Cary and I are just 3 years in to building a life together. We've never been shopper/spenders. BUT, for the past 8 months, we stopped spending completely. It's been that long since I set foot into a store like Pier1, and I decided today was the day. The delicate balance of rustic and glitter holiday decor was kind of breathtaking, but mostly it felt good to float around in quiet seclusion so I could think. I kept thinking of the possible calamities I'm capable of... Forgetting a passport. Getting sick enough to get thrown off a plane. Oversleeping. And the detriment that those things would mean for our family which would then not be united in 10 days. Oi.

I got to the back of the store where there are some inexpensive photo frames that only poor college students like former-me buy since they can't afford anything else in the store. I knelt down into the familiarity of those days when I was single, had no idea where life was headed, just enjoying simple combinations of hand-painted wood and knock-off mosaics I could afford. How much my heart has swelled since then. I noticed these two little birds - one green, one blue - the shades we've chosen for the boys' room. They had spiral wire picture holders above them. Huh. For some reason, I loved them. I was reminded of the verse referenced in the song I've been skipping every day on the cd I'm listening to. "His eye is on the sparrow..." I didn't want to hear it in the cliche sense, but I did feel that these little birdy treasures in my boys' colors were just for me to find. I picked them up and carried them around until I'd had enough quiet sorting time.

After regrouping, getting groceries and getting over the fact that I didn't get it all done in time for housegroup, it was dark and I drove home in the rain. Just before I pulled into the driveway, I tuned back into the song that had come on the radio - an oldie. This line popped out: 

"In every victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ the Lord."

As I carried groceries inside, the truth of this statement sank in. I can't help asking how I will get through the next 9 days, but I have heard an answer. The Lord will be my source. Supposing 10 days from now all is well and we're stepping on that joyous plane (having not overslept, or forgotten something crucial, or gotten kicked off our flight, or just melted away...) I can say with certainty that it's a victory, and my source is Christ, the Lord.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Beginning of the End.

Is it not bizarrely cool to be a little piece of an unfolding plan that is obviously happening all around you? If you don't know what I'm talking about, you have GOT to meet your Creator. His plan for you is way outside what you could ever hope for yourself.

If you've been following our story, you know that Cary and I are just a super-normal 25/26 year old couple. A music teacher. An engineer. And that in the past 6 months, God has turned our world upside down - and that has all been for the better. From the beginning of our family story to now we have had no part in directing the most climactic season of our lives; God has lined EVERYTHING up to make this adoption happen. The best is being able to sit back and say with certainty, this is His.

Similar to how the beginning of our adoption story came out of nowhere, the beginning of the end caught us by surprise. My week at school has been crazy. My 8th graders were snowed out of their October concert last Tuesday night (yes - record-breaking events happening all around us), we threw together the costumed band "Peep and the Sheep" for "Light the Night" at our church last Wed, and Friday was the jazz band's performance/dance I've been working on for the past month. I've been writing purchase orders like Santa writes checks at Christmas. (Does Santa do that? Stay with me...) Our assistant band director was out for two days so add subs in the midst of all that's happening at school, and... needless to say, Friday in the bandroom was a whirlwind. IMAGINE my surprise, when the band room phone rings (again), I answer "Band room-" as always, and hear our adoption coordinator's voice on the opposite end of the line. (I confess, my first reaction was a bit of panic. Was something wrong?) But she said to me... "Obviously I wouldn't be calling you at work if I didn't have good news." (And my heart LIT up.) We had not even hoped for this phone call any time soon. (God, You are SO good - SO full of surprises!)

That's when she told us that we have a court date. NOVEMBER 28, 2012. (November. Like, the same month as... now. As in... not 3 weeks go by before we are THERE! Yeah. That November.) I was speechless. And then I was probably obnoxiously high pitched. We didn't talk long. I ran into the band office to call Cary. Our substitute teacher and lunch detention prisoner watched curiously from outside as I paced and jumped and squealed...

What does this mean? Thanksgiving with my sons. Parental custody. Snuggling. Reading and singing... Holding those sweet little bodies!  A little piece of closure, a big step toward all being home together. Praises.

So now we get ready to go. We're looking at travel arrangements now, we'll be collecting orphanage donations to fill 3 of the 4 50 lb bags we are allowed to carry, we get packed, and the Lord leads on! Our church is studying the life of Moses. This passage won my attention tonight, and has gripped my heart:

                                       "And the Lord said, 'My Presence will go with you, 
                                          and I will give you rest.' Then Moses said to Him, 
                                                   'If Your presence does not go with us, 
                                                        do not bring us up from here.'"
                                                                   -Exodus 33:13-15

Can I get an Amen?