Wednesday, January 26, 2011

mud pies

there's this quote i read by C.S. Lewis a long time ago. every time i see it written i'm amazed how it still impacts me the way it did the first time i read it. it goes like this:

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

i've been super privileged to have some pretty incredible 'God' conversations these past few months.

one particular evening, my friend asked me if i ever had any doubts. i was surprised at how quickly and with what confidence i said no. we went on to discuss more about what it meant to believe in jesus as the only lord and savior. later that night though, as i was recounting the conversation i remembered how difficult it was for me to accept christianity as the only truth.

growing up, and in high school in particular, i knew of quite a few christians, and i was happy to leave it at that. i had zero interest in what they believed and definitely was not interested in ascribing to their seemingly boring way of life. sure they were nice people, but not something i would ever pursue.

i was different (or so i wanted to believe). i wanted to explore buddhism, and deepak chopra, and a course in miraceles and whatever hot new book oprah decided would change my life. these were the things that would challenge me intellecutaly and light a fire in my soul. i would be enlightened and therefore changed.  but as my second year of college came to a close i realized that nothing had changed.  i still struggled with the same insecurities as always, and wrestled with the same fears that had plagued me for years.  i couldn't help but think there must be more to life than what i was experiencing.

that summer i got a job at uptown espresso.  it was there i met lealah.  as the summer went on, i spent more and more time with her.  we had a lot in common, tattoos, ciggerettes, indie bands, jesus-- clearly we had nothing in common (we still always joke at what an odd couple we are), but somewhow a friendship was forged and it was simply just seeing her life in contrast to mine that made me want to know more about jesus. it wasn't one conversation, or her pressuring me, it was simply me seeing that she just may have that something i had been looking for.  turns out i was right.  

as i threw myself headfirst into christianity, i still had my doubts. it was hard for me to shake those preconvieced notions. i read apologetic books like the case for christ, to help me with the intellectual part of it, and read the bible to get the heart part of it.  it wasn't long before i too was sold out for jesus.  in the cheesiest way possible:)

it was easy to fall in love with jesus back then.  time was on my side.  since i quit partying and sleeping with my boyfriend, i found i had a lot more free time on my hands.  i would spend hours at linnea's reading my bible and just marveling at the word of god.  how could i have ever thought this was boring or irrelevant?  it felt like every single word on those pages was searing my heart in a way i had never known.  i went to bible studies, church events, campus crusade -- you name it, i was there.  i really couldn't get enough of god.  

fast forward a few years and a baby is born.  my daily time with god is drastically cut short.  a year and half later another baby is born and i start writing blogs titled, god who?  clearly my focus had shifted.  i'm suddenly caught up in the world of homemeade baby foods, best teething medicine and what stroller to buy.
when i do actually have those precious few moments all by myself, catching a few winks, or reading a magazine sounds way more appealing than breaking out the good book. with this decrease in god time, comes a decline in a god mindset.  i find myself looking forward to vacations, new cars, home improvement projects, new clothes.  none of these are bad things, but i start to realize the more focus they have in my life, the less satisfied i am.  nothing really feels like enough.  i have become far to easily pleased.

these days, i still don't struggle with doubt- in the sense whether or not what what i believe is true, i struggle more with how to live out the best life god has for me.   like the good father he is, i know god is still there... i'm reminded every sunday when my heart melts in worship and the tears begin to flow.  i'm reminded then and there that true happiness and joy doesn't come in the temporal form, it can only be found in the eternal. i know my walk with christ will continue to change, and i'm hopeful that the best years are yet to come.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

in process part 3

i've been in a crazy space trying to get our dossier ready to be sent to ethiopia.  for those of you that don't know what a dossier is, its a big packet of paperwork with stuff like referral letters, medical statements, bank statements, immigration forms, and police clearances.  none of this would be hard to compile since we've done most of it already when we did our homestudy, but this packet is crazy difficult cuz everything needs to be notarized.  big thanks to jessica miller and marc amesse our good friends, that are also notaries that have saved us mucho dinero by helping us out.  in fact there have been so many people along way that have helped us... our close friends, b's parents who have in a big part made this next step financially possible, the staff (sherry) in particular at dr. bravo's office, as well as dr. b himself.  the list goes on, but its crazy to think how supported we've felt.  it far outweighs the douchey sherriff who told me he couldn't help us with our police clearances and that i should really re-think this whole 'adoption' cuz its likely a scam, especially since its from africa.  i've had some downs, but also some big ups.  getting this paperwork and actually doing it right has been strangely empowering for me, and of course also very exciting cuz after our dossier is sent to ethiopia (DTE) we are officially 'queuing'-- as in waiting for our baby boy.  but as i was going through my adoption journal this morning, i found this entry from august.  it was an interesting time to say the least....

we got our homestudy packet the other day. it's kind of massive, but we've been making our way through it. been feeling a little overwhelmed looking at all the 'stuff' we have to do. i know its so worth it, but can feel doubtful when i feel like i don't have enough time. thankfully, we aren't in a great hurry.

yesterday was hard for some reason... prolly cuz the night before i saw on intervention a story about an adopted boy who was crazy addicted to heroin.  i love the show, but it's so hard to watch. thinking about any of my babies (bio or not) being where these kids on the show are at just breaks my heart.
its silly, but i can't help but having those 'what-if?' thoughts. i do it with my bio kids sure, but there seems to be another level of responsibility or something with adoption. like we have to be perfect, never complain about our kids, or never make mistakes to be worthy of being adopted parents. i know its not true, but its hard not to let those thoughts sneak in.  
been super blessed by my yahoo group lately... these words in particular:

'...and the times when he's said he wishes he were in heaven with his Ethiopian mom. You know you truly love your child when you genuinely wish he could have remained with the family he so dearly misses, regardless of the advantages to him, and to you, of his new life in America. It's that stuff we've been talking about recently in this forum, the realization that adoption has its roots in tragedy and loss, not rainbows and butterflies.'

that one line in particular-- the realization that adoption has its roots in tragedy and loss, not rainbows and butterflies.  i think its easy to have these preconceived notions about adoption-- like we're doing them a favor.  but the reality is adoption is not a perfect or right solution.  this mom nailed it as well....

'again, said before, but it irks me when people tell me how lucky my kids are to have found their way to my family, which I know is meant only as compliment. Usually I just say "we're the lucky ones, they are a great blessing" but once in a while I point out to them-- "Would you feel your 3 and 5 yr old children were really lucky if you-- and your husband-- died and you had no relatives to care for them and they had to go live on another continent with a bunch of black people and learn a new language, even if these were wonderful people and had enough money?" (these are white people I'm talking to, as I am) Then they sort of get it, that my kids are not lucky. This is not what any parent wants for their children.'

and that's the cold, hard truth.  we live in a fallen world, a place where some countries have everything at their fingertips, and others where mom's can't even feed their babies, or their bodies are so filled with AIDS that they are literally on their death bed and not able to care for their children.  i know its not fun to think about this, but i honestly think its necessary for me to get through this process.

i feel like the journey thus far has been such a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, feelings and up's and downs--- and i'm barely in. feeling the pull to understand the harder, darker side of all this... i think i've been in a bit of a unicorn fairy land myself thus far. its not easy for me to access these feelings... i know i have so much more, and its a constant reminder of how much the journey becomes the destination itself.

praying for my baby boy today... he's likely just a newborn.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


i've been thinking a lot about parenting lately.

not that this is a new thing... after all, i am a stay at home mom, thus leaving me with the kids all day, every long day.  i guess i'm just realizing that the deal with parenting is that every day you are learning, and trying and failing...

for most of us our ideas or strategies about how we 'raise' our children come from three primary places.  first and foremost, our own upbringing.  as much as we like to think we aren't going to be like our parents, the reality is-- we are. and the older we get, the more and more we become just like them.  our second major influence is our friends.  the people that we choose to raise our kids with has a huge impact on how we parent.  these are the women and men that we spend most of our time with.  our kids learn, and teach good and bad behaviors to their kids and we learn from each other how to handle it. the third major influence for some of us is our faith.  we look to our churches and synagogues and mosques (i know, i'm so pc) and try to glean on what our elders deem as valuable in raising children.  this can come through small groups, mentoring, books, etc.

i guess i just thought my kids would all come out just like me.  in my mind that seems like it would be easiest thing ever (though i've heard this is not always the case).  but since my kids seem to be nothing like me, i just feel like it would be awesome.  thankfully for me, i grew up with an amazing mom. anyone who knows me knows just how close and how influential my mom is on me.  she is my best friend and helps me daily navigate this maze called parenthood.  she has always tended to be on the touchy feely side of parenting. she's big on talking through disobedience, never one for spanking (yeah i said it) or even time-outs.  in her world, every behavior or mis-behavior is just the result of an un-met need. if the said need can be met, than all is solved.  my kids respond very well to her in all areas.  they rarely act out with her and if they do, it's quickly solved. however, the rest of the world doesn't share these same tactics.  so when they are around other adults, family or not, and they get repremended, they do not respond well.

at home, we tend to be much more strict than my mom.  we have little tolerance for disobedience.  i've heard it said that if your firstborn turns out okay, the rest of your children will be good. if that's the case, we are in deep doodoo.  for real.  she's only five, but i'm just sayin, it's really like she's 13 year old twin girls jammed into one teensy tiny pair of booty shorts.  she is firery. in a good way yes, but also in the not so good way. from the get go, i've felt like we've had to ride her pretty hard, and the older she gets, the more i'm wondering if we're on the right track.

i've read all the books (not really, but at least a few pages of most).  pre-kids we read some super gnarly fundamentalist crap about ZERO tolerance for anything.  thankfully we sobered up enough once the babies were born not to follow it.  but i did read me some babywise (pretty hard core).  then lightened up into some dr. leman, and then a little magic, and even messed around with this guy.  all of them seemed great while i read them, but none of them ever stuck or made the impact i was hoping for.

and then one day we decided we were going to adopt.  part of our adoptive parent requirements were to complete 10 hours of 'education.'  i figured we were going to learn about some basic aspects of adopting, some cultural stuff and maybe some parenting advice.  however, what we got was a pretty awesome introductory course in early childhood development. both b and i were blown away by all we were doing wrong all this great information.  interestingly enough these women that that were teaching these seminars tend to be on the uber touchy feely side of parenting.  a lot of it was specific to adopted kids, but the science behind why they parent the way they do is pretty solid.

through all of this,  i'm finding i feel really torn by where the line is drawn between trying to understand and reason with my kids and just plain enabling them.  i feel like with my oldest when i compromise or give in, i'm just turning her into a brat.  or by not disciplining oz for yelling or hitting, i'm teaching him that its okay. i'm conflicted cuz on the one hand, the new method of parenting would handle it by trying to ask why and what happened, whereas another one would be immediate time out or spanking.  its so hard to navigate these decisions so quickly in the day to day. i've learned the best way to parent is consistency.  but what happens when you aren't sure what kind of parenting you are doing?

i guess the one thing i know for sure and have learned, is that you need to choose your battles.  i've had friends and family think we're crazy for letting lily change her clothes so much or throw the house in an uproar over a certain outfit or pair of shoes.  but in the same breath i've passed that same judgement on friends that allow their kids to play hours of video games.  but i know that for our house, clothes are a deal breaker.  if we can't get wardrobe under control, the rest of the day is a challenge.

i know this is a passionate subject for a lot of people.  i also know that some things work for some kids and others don't.  with parenting there is no straight and narrow path.  there are many digressions.  i guess the hardest thing about it is that we are all trying so hard.  we all want so badly to raise happy healthy confident wonderful kids.  and just when you think maybe you just might be doing something right, your 5 year old has a massive  fit about not being able to find/wear high heels, or your almost 4 year old tries to hit the nurse as she gives him the flu mist (not the shot, the mist).

but then just when you think all is lost, you overhear your daughter in the sweetest, most tender voice talking your son through why it will be okay and not to scary to get kindergarten shots one day, or you look over and see your 4 year old son wrestling with your baby and her just cracking up at how fun he is.  its moments like those that you think that maybe all those prayers just might have been heard.

so as we continue along the journey for our new son, i'm trying my best not to get so wrapped up in the right and wrong way to parent.  i'm trying to really seek God and trust that he will help us navigate it all.  today, more than anything i'm just so thankful for all the support we have.  from all our amazing friends and even amazinger family.  i'm thankful that i have a husband who's in it to win it, and a God who loves my kids even more than i do.  cuz these days, it truly does take a village.