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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Friday, October 26, 2018

Time to Write Again

I felt everything grinding to a halt. Especially the creativity and the ability to move from thought to page without great effort. For the past several months, the inconsolable, bound-to-pour-out-onto-something part of me nestled into a section of my soul reserved for another season, another time. It hasn't been without attending, but the functional, do-only-what-is-necessary part of me kept it quiet while the hourglass sand poured on, seemingly very slowly. I have missed the part of myself that breathes so freely though. I have tried to make peace with it, and in retrospect, physical exhaustion made peace all the more possible;)

I have needed what only adequate time can give. I have needed moments to drink deeply the well dug for our family-- our new family, completely intact. And to assess, without publically processing.
Finally sensing some open space to type, I realized just moments ago that I have troubled through the past several months trying to be honest with myself. As a person who tries to move toward truth, praying grace and mercy live there too, I have needed time to even begin to head in that direction. If I haven't been able to be honest with myself, I suppose it has been darn near impossible to be honest with anyone else.

Maybe some of that will change today? In a moment of some kind of bravery, I decided to start writing again. Here goes.

Well, just another thought first. I am well aware that I write a lot about my children. And in that vein, I am creating for them an online/in-print story that may have some affect later on. I am constantly thinking through this and want to be kind and careful. There are their stories and there is mine. The two are connected--- yet I do try to disconnect mine and address it with as little known implication on their future selves as possible (who even knows what this might mean anymore?). I may do well and other times, not so well. However, I am aware and I do try. My main desire is to connect with others who, first and foremost, are people who have an awareness that the Gospel is taking hold of them. I am on this road praying I see signs of the vertical Word coming down to me in the finished work of Jesus, staying near by the attending of the Spirit. Secondarily, I wish to connect with others horizontally in shared experience, pressing in to all that is good and all that is hard this side of eternity.

That said, I will give this a go again.

When our last little one came to be with us, there was a lot we knew. We prepared and prepared. I remember that God-forsaken adoption form--- the one that identifies the needs of the child you are willing to love and call by your name. That form is terrible. I get it though. I do remember filling it out, trying to come to terms with my own limitations, praying in advance for the child on the other side of all those checkboxes. Micah and I both did. You never really know-- just like waiting during gestation-- how the boxes will take shape in a real, living, complex human being. This whole person is a soul adoptive parents seek to know as best they can, even though they may have had years apart.

I know Micah and I expected somethingto be hard. I know I have mentioned this before- but just as in everything, there are varying degrees. I don't think anyone can be prepared for the day-in/day-out and how it affects everyone else. Its kind of like having a seasoned mother explain sleep deprivation to a first-time mom. It can be well articulated, yet falls short the first time she brushes her teeth with hemorrhoid cream or feels the cloud descend on her every thought due to no stretch of real rest over 1-2 hours for weeks (sometimes months) on end.

The prepared-for things have been okay. There is always--- always--- a measure of brokenness that must be attended that is unknown. It should be expected. As I have said before and will well maintain, adoption comes from brokenness. It begins with brokenness and it exposes it in everyone involved, even and especially in the lives of those called to press in. It requires measures of self-awareness that take the forms of moments of confrontation, assessment, explanation or resignation, and adjusted expectations. I consider the scars on her little body as an example. As I run my finger tips over them, I wonder, How did this happen?I contemplate the possibilities. Then I realize, I will never really know. This brings me to consider the way this scar has changed her, and the consideration of it changes me. It is easier to assess external scars. The internal ones are much more complicated. Some of them are tucked away under layers of defenses. It takes ~again~ time.

When I first heard of our little girl, I knew she was my child. Her needs made sense to me. And honestly, she and I together have seen our way through many moments in learning to love one another. And like all parent/child relationships, we have learned how we don't always do it so well. It has taken longer, much longer, to discern what I don't know, how it affects her, and (most importantly) what to do about it. Again, confrontation, assessment, explanation, and adjusted expectations.

The biggest example of this and what we are still working through is Tallie's initial diagnosis. She has microcephaly, although not the "garden variety" as we have been advised. In many ways, you'd never know it. She is verbal. She is potty-trained. She understands so much of what we are saying. Yet, she has real limitations. It has taken a long time to try and wrap our heads around what she is able to do and what she is not and why. Her doctors cannot give us a prognosis for her. They are astounded at what she has proved capable. Since she does what is unexpected, there isn't any way to project what is to be expected. Each stage of development is a mystery. I love a good, God-granted anomaly. It is also a challenge.

While her needs are important, I don't want them to define who she is. They are a part of who she is, and parts I want to honor. She is a whole person, both/and, just like us all. She is made in the image of God. She is my daughter. She is so much more than a diagnosis or her abilities. She is a little ray of light, pointing to the Father of Lights who gave her life and has sustained it.

I have also been learning about her created gifts, favorites, and loves and she, ours. We learn the way we tick and work together in created cooperation. Empathy has offered healing and loving correction has led the way to trust. Praise God he grants us some complementary giftings as well as steady opportunities for apologies and forgiveness that equip us for each new day.

Then, there are her siblings. Adoption is a shared experience for every member of a family and mine is no different. Each one of my children has led me at different times and in different ways in loving Tallie. Her sisters are so sweet to her. At the same time, it has taken adjustment for everyone. And my attending to each of them and being aware of their needs has been paramount. Yet, this has brought me to my own limitations. There are certain things I keep having to learn to leave to the Lord. I cannot be who He is for each of them. And only He knows the stories He is writing in their lives.

In a day when strategies to thrive vs. survive is all over my news feed, I can tell you with heaven-pointing, teary eyes that we are surviving. And I am thankful. Forget the over-realized eschatology of the self-declared thrivers! The truth is, the past several months have been really hard and they have really been good. The truth in accepting the hard makes the hope of the good (both temporarily/imperfectly and eternally/perfectly) all the more profound. In the recent past and ahead on the horizon, there are days when deep joy bubbles over. Usually, those happen with our new one around dance parties, cake, noodles, or the communication of a new thought. I have had to be more patient than ever, more prepared for anything, more organized, more proactive, and more kind to myself. It has been good to remember where we were months ago and enjoy the blessings of today.

And it is very good for me be reminded of the hope of heaven, where the broken is not merely mended, but completely remade, and adjust my expectations toward the trouble of this world. I just cannot -- cannot -- hear enough that the same Gospel God brought into my view through adoption, considering my own separation from my Father and His work to reconcile me in relationship with Him that is completely based on the work of His Son, is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Neither my failures or successes as a mother will compromise His affection for me. That's a tough one to believe on the hard days and easy to forget on the good ones! The same is true for each of the Childs children. In a world where there are thousands of ways our relationships break apart, praise God for a Savior who steadily speaks the promise of resurrection and eternal, familial, holy-connected peace. I am thankful that in this family, there are reminders {as heaven breaks through} behind the eyes of my children.

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