Thursday, January 15, 2015

What if we didn't.

I saw a picture on facebook this morning of a friend with her husband and five little children.  They were all smiling, and beautiful.  This is a family that truly love and enjoy each other.  This is a mom who smothers her kids with her kisses and praises and could eat them up, she loves them so much.

It reminded me of when we had just our four boys.  I remember watching them play and thinking my heart could almost burst I loved them so much.  I loved their little sweaty heads,  and the crinkles around their eyes when they smiled. I loved the even number of them- four.  Although I wondered what it would be like to have a girl, I loved that they were all boys. 

They were MY boys. Boys of my heart.

I remember thinking, "God loves me so much. I don't deserve all of this." I felt loved by God, and spoiled by God. He really knew how to take care of me.

That was before we understood brokenness. That was before the pain of this world became our pain, and before poverty in a third world country was something that effected us personally.

If someone would have said to me back then when I felt so full, "You only believe God loves you because you're rich, and beautiful, and live an easy life." I would have said, "NO! Not true! God is good! Yes I am blessed, but I would love Him no matter what."

That was before I knew about "no matter what" and what brokenness felt like.  That was before the questions, "Why so much pain? Why so much inequality, poverty, death, injustice, hunger, loss, and brokenness?" 

How had I been so oblivious?

What if instead of reaching across the ocean and plucking up two cast out kids in Ethiopia, we would have just had another baby.  One more sweet perfect little baby from my womb confirming God's love and affection for me.  One more little bundle to kiss and adore until my heart could nearly burst.

But we didn't. We reached. We stretched our hearts, our arms, our budget, and our comfort zone because we had love to give.  We lived in the abundance of what we called God's blessings. 

Then we learned.  We learned that our love isn't enough.  We can't fix them by saying, "You're one of us now! Be happy!" We learned that God is not a magic wand to be waved, "God make them well!" and then they're well. We learned that the scars they bear are deep and hard.  They have pain we don't understand.  Their pain has become our pain because they belong to us.  Everything they brought with them belongs to us now and we bear their burden with them.

And now I ask, "God, who are you?" What does it mean to be loved by Him? He is not the God I once thought He was. Perhaps I'd greatly misunderstood.  Or maybe I'd only seen a very small part of Him.

Years ago, Kyle and I went to Munich.  One thing that struck me, and has stuck with me, was the way they repaired their bombed buildings after WWII.  They chose to rebuild with lighter colored bricks so it would be clear what was old and what was new.  I read that it was to be a physical representation of the scars left by the war on the city.  Munich chose to remember instead of hide what had happened.  WWII is a sad, and shameful part of Germany's history but they chose to remember and move on.  I found it so profound and so beautiful.

Like the buildings in Munich, we are an old family with a new part added.  It is not hidden. We are "the pain of this world" on display.  Adoption is often described as a beautiful symbol of love and redemption (usually by well meaning pastors and those who haven't lived it).  It is often ignored that it comes only after pain, loss, sadness and often shameful situations.  We are watching two kids slowly, painfully move from ashes towards beauty with the hope that one day our family will be fully functional - like the repaired buildings of Munich, but knowing there will always be scars.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Totally Awesome Day with Wyatt (and a flashback into my teen years)

My sweet angel R. Wyatt Stanley turned 13! 
All he wanted for his birthday was to go skiing.  That's my boy.
And because skiing for a day (and renting equipment) is about a million dollars, it was not a family event.  I offered to take him (just the two of us all alone for an entire day!).

A long long time ago when I was in high school, my family and a group of neighbor friends would rent out an enormous old creaky lodge in Pennsylvania (actually I have no idea where it was), and stay a few days.  It was close to a ski place so we'd ski by day, and play pictionary by night.

One year an amazing thing happened- like the stuff of a teenager movie.  None of the other teenagers came with their parents... except for Jay Erwin*. Just so you know, Jay went to boarding school.  He was mysterious and, like, the cutest boy in the whole world.  And older. And OH MY GAWD, Jay ERWIN!!!

So- I skiied with him for two whole days. 
And yes, I had butterflies in my stomach the whole time. 

So anyway.  It was kinda like that to spend the day with Wyatt.  He too is the cutest boy in the whole world (well I know some others too), a teenager, and I had him all to myself.  

During one run, while shooshing (that word is for you Dad) down the mountain,  I was actually scared because I was going so fast, it was icy, it was crowded, and I'm old not the skiier I once was... sort of a recipe for disaster... When suddenly, Wyatt shot by me and left me in his dust.  Holy Cow.  

I was so proud.  That's my boy.  

*Yep, that's his real name.  I thought about changing it to protect his privacy, but the name in and of itself has come to mean something.  It's like a brand. For years I just had to say the words "Jay Erwin" and it was magical.  Like Rob Lowe. Pause, sigh.  And anyway, I haven't seen or heard of him for years.  Maybe he never really existed...

Friday, January 2, 2015


About a week ago my friend, her husband, and their thirteen year old daughter were in a car accident.  Their daughter didn't make it. She died. Died. I can't stop thinking about them.

She isn't a close friend of mine in the traditional way. She's a blogger and fellow adopter. I met her at two adoption conferences and have followed her story through her blog. Over the past two years I've come to treasure her words of advice. She has been a rock of faithfulness to God and her adopted children. Her daughter was a lot like Royal - anxious, angry, un-trusting, detached, sometimes dangerous.  But also- beautiful, passionate, smart, and magnetic. She and her family have struggled.  The emotional and financial drain has been difficult and real.

When I read that she died, I was shocked. She just finished an almost two year stay at an attachment rehabilitation center. It was a success story.  She'd had a wonderful four months home.

Why? Why? Why? I can't wrap my head around this.

It's tempting to think of why God may have allowed this to happen, or wonder if this was "His will." But why should one family's tragedy benefit anyone? She was a beautiful girl.

There is no logic to life. There is no formula.

Today is the funeral service.  I pray that they will feel peace. I don't understand how God can comfort in a situation like this- so many loose ends, so confusing. But I pray anyway.