Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Day

Every year we write out what we are thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.  Of course, given my family, it's not as easy as it sounds.  We have to make everything fit in our's definitely interesting to hear what everyone comes up with for two "I" words.  Of course there are many, many things to be thankful for, but here are the highlights, fit to "Thanksgiving Day."

The Art of Celebration by Rend Collective
Hearing Lizzie talk and laugh
Another year with Susie near
Nights out with new friends and old
Katie learning new things
Symphony of chemistry*
God’s voice and direction
Incredible husband who is perfect for me
Voyages, safe and fun
Imbibing coffee every day
New son and nephew
God’s family around us (the church)

Delicious preserved foods
A little boy who loves to read (Luke)
Yarn relaxation

 *I remember my mom saying people would ask my dad if he ever got tired of teaching the same chemistry classes every year.  If anyone ever asked me that question, I'd respond by asking if they think musicians get tired of playing Beethoven's 5th symphony.  Every time I teach through the chapter on electron configuration, I'm amazed again at the incredible beauty and order in atomic structure.  Teaching chemistry is like rehearsing the symphony God has written into creation. 

Monday, November 23, 2015


We got new pictures of Titus!  Yes, I knit that hat...our agency sent a few people over to visit the partner orphanages, and they were able to deliver some care packages to kids who are waiting.  We sent the hat and a little photo album with pictures of us.  It'll be interesting to see if he recognizes us, or if it helps with the transition at all.   He is 16 months in the picture.

 I realized it's been a very long time since I included pictures of the others--we've had birthdays, lost teeth, and many other things happen during my "I'm not blogging much" phase:

First lost tooth!  We started homeschooling this summer, and it's been so much fun watching her learn to read.  I hesitate to say teach, since I just tell her what the sounds are and off she goes.  Katie is running in her first 5K on Thanksgiving Day.  It's also a fundraiser for New Mexico Child Advocacy Network, so she gathered up her courage and did some fundraising as well. 

Luke requested a dinosaur cake for his birthday--it's hard to believe he's four now!    He started preschool in November and has enjoyed that a lot.  He's a wonderful playmate to both Katie and Liz, but I love that his favorite thing to do is sit on the couch and look at books.

The plan was for Luke and Liz to start preschool when Titus came home, but then we discovered the whole potty-training thing.  Although Luke started preschool in November to help encourage Liz, she has done quite well in that department!  We hear a lot of "Mama, it's 'spoon,' not 'poon'" since she started speech therapy, and it's exciting to think that someday I'll be able to understand every word she says. 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

The List

TA:  Check!
Consulate date:  Check!
Tickets:  Check!

The countdown has begun.  No dates on the blog (sorry), but it's getting close.  And thankfully, some of the big things on my plate are winding down as well.  Tomorrow we will begin handing out the Jesse Tree project to families, and my class only has three weeks left.  I'm beginning to think about what all I want to finish before we leave for China.  Yikes!  There's really just one thing on my must-do list:  The blanket.

Over a year ago, I began knitting a blanket with some of the sock yarn scraps that I've collected.  It's so beautiful that I decided to finish it up for Titus.  It only took me about a year to get halfway through it, so of course, I ended up with about 8 weeks to finish it.  :)  It's a little smaller than I planned, but out of 121 squares, I have only 36 left.

I ended up finishing Liz's blanket on the train to Guangzhou, but with all those little pieces, I can't really be hauling Titus' blanket around China trying to finish at the last minute. 

I have a few other things I'd like to tackle, like our freezer took at least 3 months before I could really cook in the kitchen when Liz was around.  I'd like to sort through our toys and get rid of all the detritus that's accumulated in the bottom of their bins...the less cleaning, the better!  And speaking of cleaning, it's been a low priority this semester, so it'd be nice to do a thorough deep clean on the house before things get even more crazy.  Mostly, though, I'm focusing on not getting too stressed and trying to enjoy the holidays before we leave. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Still Waiting

Although not ideal, mornings seem to be the best time to blog.  It's not ideal because morning is also a) the best time to do everything else, and b) I am surrounded by loud little people.  Oh well. 

But every morning for the last week, when I've thought about writing, I've also thought to myself, "If I wait until 9AM (when our agency opens), maybe I can report that we've received TA!"  And every morning, 9AM has come and gone with no news.  It's an interesting dynamic to be on China time here in the US, because our TA will be (has been?) issued in the middle of the night for us.  It's the same dynamic that makes you sad when Friday rolls around (China offices are closed), and happy when it's Sunday night (they are open!). 

So maybe today we'll hear, since I've finally sat down to write.  :) 

I'm also hoping to get some new pictures (and maybe even video) of Titus.  I'm excited but also a tiny bit apprehensive about getting them.  When you do the training for adoption, there's a section on processing grief.  Although there is joy in creating a new family, adoption doesn't happen without loss first...loss of birth family, birth country, other can be a lifelong process for adopted kids to fully process all that. 

But the training talks about some potential sources for grief on the side of adoptive parents too, like missing out on the first 18 months of your baby's life.  With Liz, I didn't feel that as much--maybe because we'd just experienced all the baby stuff with Luke (for the second time).  This time, though, I keep noticing all these babies in different stages and feeling really sad that I'm missing that stage with Titus.  I know he's grown (a lot, I hope!) since the last pictures and videos, but I think it'll be hard to see how much we've missed too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

He Knows

I like to listen to Christian radio in the car.  I don't have to worry about my kids hearing anything...strange, but my favorite part is when I hear songs that speak to my situation at the moment.  I think it's pretty obvious if you read through my blog that I hear God speak to me a lot through songs, and the fun part about the radio is that I don't know what's coming next.

After writing the last blog post, I was reminded of a song I'd heard a few weeks ago on the radio, and I looked up the lyrics.  It's by David Crowder, and the end of the chorus says, "Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal."  When I first heard it, I thought it was a beautiful song, but the truth is, I'm not in heaven, and there is a lot of sorrow relating to adoption here on this earth, right now.  And instead of finding it comforting, I felt a little sad (and maybe even bitter) that I still had to deal with all this sorrow right now.

Fast forward a week, and I'm driving home, listening to the radio...and this song comes on.  And just to make sure I got the message, after I listened to it, I switched to another station and it was playing again. It's a good reminder that God, the compassionate and gracious One, completely understands the sorrow I feel...about adoption, about missing out on Titus as a baby, about not having him here with me.  God understands more than I ever will.   

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is it Christmas yet?

The weather here in NM is finally starting to reflect the calendar just a tiny bit.  Our leaves are starting to change, and while it's still in the 70's by the afternoon, the mornings have been delightfully cool.  I've actually worn sweaters!  Winter is my favorite time of year--soups, sweaters, fires--but fall would be my next favorite.  I mean, who doesn't love red leaves?

I grew up in Illinois, and my internal calendar still says that leaves should start changing some time in September.  The first 'fall' I had in AZ, I was shocked to find that Christmas arrived when the weather was still warm.  In my head, it still felt like September!  I've gotten a little better (12 years in the southwest now, and at least NM has four seasons), but this year has been particularly late with the cold weather. 

So perhaps it's the change in weather that has marked a change in my attitude toward this adoption.  I take back everything I said about it being calmer/more relaxed/less pressured.  The last week has been a roller coaster of wishing we were leaving tomorrow and wondering what I should be doing in the time I have left.  I'm doing so much better this time in terms of not stressing mentally about some arbitrary list of 'must get done,' but communication between my head and the chemicals in my body isn't always great.  At Bible study this week, my prayer request was that I'd sleep well between now and Christmas.  :)

The truth is, there is an ebb and flow to the pain of being away from Titus, and it has flowed this past week.  The process of falling in love with a child that you have never touched, never held, never spoken to is an interesting one--part deliberate and part uncontrollable.  When we started the process, I would tell people I have four children--three here and one in China.  Before we matched with Titus, I would calculate how old my son might be, and of course we started praying right away for "little brother" with the kids.  I tried to do as much as I could to invite the bonding process to begin before we go to China.*

But by inviting that process to begin, you invite the pain of separation as well.  And it gets way harder when you have a picture, and a video.  You're not supposed to have to watch your son cry on a video halfway around the world.  And now instead of telling yourself you have a son, you feel it in your heart, because it hurts.  I wish we were leaving tomorrow.   

*Of course you have to remember that while you've had time to start the bonding process, your little one has not.  The odds are good that he or she will not fall in love at first sight.  This time we'll get to send a care package to Titus with pictures, so it'll be interesting to see if things are different because of that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Art of Celebration

There was a time when I got in the habit of reviewing at the end of each day.  I would analyze what I accomplished, how the kids behaved, how I behaved, my energy level...the metrics are endless. By those metrics, some days were worth celebrating, and some days, not so much:

--My head pounding from equal measures of reining it in and blowing my top (all before 9 in the morning!).
--Every time I had turned around that morning, Luke and Liz had been at each the other's throat (probably because I tried to get too much done instead of spending time with them). 
--David came home to every single toy strewn across the floor. 

In truth, these are the little things…the results of a three-ring circus living at my house (soon to be four!) 

There are other days that are even harder to celebrate:  the day you get the phone call, the diagnosis, the news.  Earthquakes and fires and hurricanes.  Violence in the streets again.  Hearing Liz cry out my name during the night, and wishing I had been there to comfort her earlier; wondering why we live in a world where adoption is necessary.   

These evaluations colored my days—good days, bad days—and it was a struggle until I listened to my favorite CD again.  One of my favorite songs on it is Boldly I Approach, and this is what I figured out from listening to it:

I'm doing it all wrong.  (Surprise, surprise)  There is an art to celebration, and the art lies in choosing what to celebrate.  When I seek to celebrate myself and my accomplishments, or my kids and their accomplishments, guess what?  There will always be days with nothing to celebrate.  And if my celebrations depend on things ‘going well,’ what will I do when they don’t? 

But there is someone whose accomplishments are worth celebrating.  Someone who never fails to do what He set out to do.  The One who made the day good in the first place.

When we choose to celebrate all that God has done, we can celebrate every day from now through eternity. 

Now, these are the things I try to celebrate:
God has won the victory already.
His mercies are new every morning.
He loves me no matter what happens.
He has made me free from condemnation.
He has made an end to all my sin (even though some days it doesn't feel like it, it's still TRUE)
I stand blameless before Him through Jesus Christ.

These are the celebrations that carry us through our failures, the celebrations that comfort us during times of distress.  These are the celebrations we will continue in heaven, when we reach the shore.

This is the art of celebration
Knowing we're free from condemnation
Oh praise the One, praise the One
Who made an end to all my sin