Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring


Grief is as tricky as love. I’m baffled by it, because it seems there is no predicting what it will look like on a case-to-case basis. The funny thing is, now that I’ve experienced it, I feel no more qualified to help someone with hers unless it followed a path similar to my own—and that has rarely been the case!

This is something that caught me off guard because I expected to be able to relate to anyone who has been through the process of grieving, especially if it was grief for a child, but I’ve found that’s not really how it works. I’m not saying there’s not a special bond of understanding, because there is, but what I've noticed is that each experience is so different!! Similar situations by no means dictate similar responses. Now that I take the time to think about it, it makes sense. It’s the same with love. We all have a different experience with it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relate to each other if our experience with it aren’t identical. It just means that we need to approach it from the perspective that it is different for everyone.

That’s the main thing I’ve been learning. Different is simply different. That was frustrating at first because I have something in me that wants to be able to tell someone “That’s exactly what I went through. I understand!" But that’s not going to be the case most of the time. So I’ve realized I don’t have to try and find common ground; I just have to love and ask God for the right ways to pray.

Is there a right and a wrong? I don’t think so. I think there are many rights and many wrongs. There are a lot of ways to do grieving in a way that is healthy and moves through everything necessary to heal. There are also a lot of ways to grieve in a way that will leave you damaged and broken. My job, no matter the case, is not to judge but to pray.

While I’ve been mulling this over, spring has been sitting on the doorstep. It is so beautiful this year, and Marianna, Nathan and I jumped in full force. We’ve planted flowers, we go to the park or on a walk daily, we’ve been to the zoo on the weekends, we’ve drawn chalk on the sidewalk and blown bubbles in the yard, we’ve played soccer and helped Marianna ride her bike. It’s been perfect. Spring in my life just happened to coincide with spring in Memphis.

I don’t understand grief, but I know from experience that whatever the path it takes, God can bring you out of the winter and into the spring. I read something in Luke 1 that I thought was really beautiful. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, is speaking of his son, who will be the one to go before the Lord and prepare the way. He says he will "give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Children of Promise

I recently started running again, and I was quickly reminded that it is a form of exercise I like in theory more than reality. It's a love/hate relationship because I truly do like it when I'm good at it, but right now, being a year out of practice, I stink. I'm trying to push through, and I've set a goal to work my way back up to a 5K hopefully by next month.

I think one of the reasons I'm struggling right now is the boredom factor. I run outside with no iPod or music entertainment of any sort, making it incredibly easy to focus on the shortness of breath and pain in my side rather than anything positive. But the other day something broke through the tedium. It wasn't a vision, but it was something I envisioned as clearly as if I was seeing a photograph in front of me. It was like all of the sudden I had this image of babies and children outside on a blanket, bunched together for a photo shoot. They didn't look at all alike, but every one of them was smiling. As the picture floated in my head, I felt God telling me, "These are the children of promise."

I remember years ago on the first anniversary of September 11th seeing a magazine with a front cover spread of the babies who had been born after that date. I remember thinking they were a dual symbol of grief and hope. They were reminders of so much that was lost, yet they were also beautiful pictures of life after the tragedy. "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13

This is the closest thing I can think of to compare what I saw. The picture had so many kids, and one of them was mine-the baby we haven't yet adopted, but who we know God has already chosen for us. The others were the children of my friends who walked this road with me. The kids didn't know it, but what they all shared in common was the fact that they all had a brother or sister in heaven who they would never know. They had no idea how special they were; they had no idea that they were the children of God's promise.

I doubt that photograph will ever be taken physically, but I feel the truth of the image is certain. I don't know when or how, but I believe that God will provide for each of us, in His perfect way, and in His flawless timing. That does not mean the road will be all sunshine from this moment on. God hasn't promised that. But He has promised in Psalm 30:5 that "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." I've already experienced this shout of joy in many ways, but I don't think it is complete. God has put on my heart the desire for another child, and I believe He wants to fulfill this in my life. I'm looking forward to seeing His promise play out, one beautiful child at a time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poppy's Song

Marianna is one of those deceptively shy children. She puts on a convincing performance until you've known her for about 5 minutes, and then she loses the act and turns a little wild. Right now she is in a singing kick so "wild" means running around the house, blasting a song away at the top of her lungs. Mostly she's into Disney songs, but I was able to talk her into singing this one for the camera. She calls it "Poppy's Song" because it's the same one we used in the video memorial, and she has loved it from the first time she heard it. I thought I'd share.


video

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bed and Breakfast

Nathan and I got the chance to step out of our comfort zone and visit a bed and breakfast for the first time this weekend. Now that the adoption has the possibility of becoming a reality at any time, I wanted to get away and dedicate an entire weekend to writing Poppy's book, and the b & b seemed like a nice backdrop for what I wanted to do. It turned out to be perfect, and the home-cooked, best breakfast I've ever had was just a bonus.

Taking the time to let my mind go back and retrace Poppy's birth and the months leading up to it was good, even rejuvenating. Already it's April, nearly five months since she was here, yet in many ways it seems like so much longer, and revisiting my old posts reminded me of so much I've already forgotten. As I re-traveled our journey and poured my words into the chapters of the book, the thing that stood out to me above everything else was the beauty that God wove through our story.

When I look back, I am filled with gratefulness over what we were given. I know that doesn't make sense. But God blew away every expectation from the very start, so I guess I should stop being surprised, and just recognize that it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him. Now that I look at my book, almost complete, what I see is a love story.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

new possibilities

This has been a big week, filled with a lot of possibility, and even more questions. I spent most of my week thinking and praying, wanting so badly to know and not wonder. I've been waiting to write until I have something definite to say; but now, 6 days later, I am still squarely planted in the fluid realm of possibility. And that's really not a bad place to be. Sure, it is a place where nothing is certain, but it is also a place where hope is everywhere.

On Wednesday of last week I received a much anticipated letter in the mail: the official approval letter from our adoption agency letting us know that our home study is complete, and we are available to be chosen at any time. This made everything so real. We are no longer waiting for anything other than a baby! Wow. I'm not desperate for a baby--at least not in the sense that I've got to have one immediately to feel a void in my heart that is open and hurting--but I want one. To be more specific, I want the baby God has for us. That sounds easy enough. But is it?

Nathan and Marianna and I went to the pet store this weekend to get a few things for Chum and Marlee. Saturdays are big days for everyone to bring out their animals, and Marianna, big dog-lover that she is, loves to pet each one we pass. It is also evidently a day for doggie adoptions, as there were at least 12 animal crates lined up the center aisle way. First, let me start by saying, I DON'T want another dog. I wouldn't have wanted two if I had been far-sighted enough to see that Marianna would fill any need I had for taking care of things when she came along. But as I walked down the aisle and looked at each dog, my heart melted. Each animal had his or her story posted above the kennel, and each story was heart wrenching: one had been hit by a car and rescued, another abandoned when his family moved, and still another taken away from an abusive environment as a puppy. I could hardly take it. Even knowing that there was no way we could bring even one of them home, didn't stop me from wanting them all.

On a much deeper level, this is where I find myself with this adoption. Last week new possibilities were laid at our doorstep, but each one requires us to "choose." I didn't ever anticipate having to do that. I thought the mother would just choose me, and we would get the call telling us a baby was on the way. But what if God's plan is a little outside our comfort zone? What if there is a choice involved? Babies aren't dogs. You can't just line them up in the middle of the store and choose the one that looks the cutest to cuddle. It is a decision that is so huge, and I want so badly to KNOW what God wants and then to just do it. I believe He will make that clear in His timing. I know I'm not in a hurry, but at my core, I'm always impatient. Right now God has me waiting and praying, and while I look forward to knowing, I will do my best to stop straining against the reigns God has me in for now and enjoy the place I am. I would be happy for your prayers!