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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

have yourself a messy little Christmas

Miserable sinus infection raging in my head.  It's made the rounds throughout the house and just the baby boy has escaped (so far).  Little boy who just may have spoken his first words this week--hi, go, car, mama, moon--zooming trains around his sweet little train tracks.  Vroom vroom.  Lights up on the bushes outside, courtesy of the 10-ager.  There are burnt out spots and unappealing gaps of bright orange electrical cords, which to the untrained eye appear very Griswald-ish, but to this practiced mama's eye are pure beauty.  Chaos reigns.  It started to feel not a lot like Christmas and then I listened to this song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQZmni-oeg4
Andrew Peterson, Behold the Lamb of God
A Christmas album worth the splurge

The first Christmas wasn't silent.  Or serene.  Or perfect.  But it was sacred.  Full of love.  Steeped in grace.

"Embrace the mess," I hear Christ whispering to me.  "I'm not looking for the cleaned up version of your life that reeks of human control and functional atheism (according to Parker Palmer functional atheism = the myth that we have control and therefore no real need for God in our lives.  Why bother if we can get there on our own with good behavior and clean living?).  I am used to the mess.  I made my entrance into humanity in a stable full of animal noises and smells and excrement with a young couple who just trusted.  I can make my entrance into your life amidst bickering big girls, toddler boys who only want their mama especially all the time, laundry piled up to the ceiling, Christmas lists that have nothing to do with Christ that are nowhere near to being begun."

Come, Lord Jesus, come.  My messy Christmas needs this Christ.  Maybe yours does too?





Monday, October 15, 2012

She's fourteen...she's beautiful...and she's mine.

There's this bewitching, brown-eyed, Asian beauty in our house.  She's organized (most of the time) and enjoys taking photographs of unusual elements that she sees in nature or in life.  She has a certain sense of style that evolves on a daily basis, but usually incorporates some variation of her love of riding a board on wheels at breakneck speeds (shhh, don't tell her daddy).  She is an adoring older sister (most of the time), and she has lovingly taken to spending every spare second with a certain little toddler boy.

She solemnly gazed at me with those perfect almond eyes when she was just about 5 months old, the day she was placed in my arms in Nanchang, China.  And now when I look at that face, I still see the baby girl there, the one who took a while to warm up to her new, novice parents.  The baby who absolutely, positively would not utter a word until she was sure to form a sentence.  The little girl who squealed with raucous delight the first time she discovered that she could tumble across the floor, cartwheel after cartwheel.  This little perfectionist was a seriously devoted gymnast, and her specialty was the balance beam.  


Then she/we realized that her heart might be better served without such nerve wracking hours of practice demanding perfection and she discovered the wild open fields of soccer and creek-walking and idle time.


Her natural habitat, though, is the ocean, probably on a surfboard inside the curl of a semi-colossal wave (we've only surfed the East Coast, so colossal is like, totally relative).  She transforms into a Polynesian princess, sun-kissed and salt-water soaked and full of sunshine.  


We named her with Grace because she is just that, a precious, undeserved gift given to us by a loving and generous Father.  

She is counting down the years (now days I was informed earlier) to driving; and while I am utterly and completely freaked out by this thought and truly believe that I just blinked and my baby (my baby) is well on her way to womanhood, I am delighting in every newfound interest, every controversial conversation, every midnight heart to heart sprawled along the bed that used to be mine that she sleeps in.  

She reminds me of all that I know to be true about this life.  It is full of beauty, if I take the time to really see.  It is fleeting.  It is a gift.  

I love you, Ally Gracey.  You are beautiful (and I see you!); you're growing up fast (and it's so much fun to grow with you!); you are a gift.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy birthday baby

Dear Levi,

Today you are 2 years old. Wow!  You are such a big boy. It's your second birthday, but your first one with us. You'll learn soon enough that I'm a bit of a wreck on my babies' birthdays. Your story has a sad beginning, and my heart aches for the woman who carried you inside of her and gave birth to you and eventually, gulp, abandoned you. One day when you're old enough to read this we'll have a heart to heart about that, but for now, here's your story.

You are meant to be, my beautiful boy. You were prayed for and longed for and celebrated for 6 long years while we waited for you. And you were worth the wait!

You love trucks and trains and dancing. You have the funniest attraction to red solo cups (which I'm praying does not remain true when you're in college!). You love throwing things, usually of the truck variety, into cups full of coffee or water or the occasional glass of wine. You're really fast, especially when a flight of steps is in your sight.

You are resilient, a fighter, having had to rely on yourself for survival when no baby should.  I'm pretty sure you had the nanny in your room wrapped around your precocious finger.  She sobbed when we met her and she handed you to me. She told me that you were the smartest boy in the whole orphanage and that you played nicely by yourself, a much-admired trait in an orphanage, and one we are endeavoring to transform.

You are solemn until you feel settled and watch out world, then you're a laughing bouncing busy boy. You have two big sisters whom you adore. They get the most laughs. And daddy. But I get the most snuggles, so it works for me.

You're the little prince in our family, and I fear it will always be so. You are good natured and inquisitive and you love to scratch things.  You used to sleep and suck your thumb, but now you're learning how to talk so we think it's a good trade.

You like to do yoga with me, especially riding on my back from plank to downward dog. You love to interrupt our practice when you hear Lenny Kravitz's "Believe" because it's definitely time for us to dance.

So happy birthday baby boy. This is the day we praise God for creating you. I promise I'll pull it together with a happy smile when you blow out your candles!!!

Love you to China and back, for reals!

Mommy




Friday, August 3, 2012

The greater good

Sooo...wrote this about a month ago, but thought its worth posting in the interest of full disclosure.  Adopting special needs is hard. And amazing.

July 10

Its been a rough week. Baby boy had big time surgery last Tuesday and I haven't slept much since. He's a thumb sucker, you see, so in addition to the pain that he's in from his mouth being literally reconstructed, he is really ticked that we are not letting him suck his thumb. And he's wearing these nifty little arm restraints that our surgeon lovingly (joking) calls "no-nos". Here's the rub. He has to do this so he can speak. There is no backing down, no relenting when he's wailing. It's for his long term gain.

 We all have no nos that we wear from time to time, some self inflicted, some we can't control. And I have for sure kicked and screamed and tantrumed my way through in hopes of avoiding pain. But there is a forever picture that we often forget to see, a greater good. For our boy it's the ability to speak. For the rest of us it could be anything really, the trivial getting into shape for a 25th high school reunion (wait, did I just say that out loud???) or the major kicking an addiction or you name it in between. So here's a shout out to the ones in the middle of the fight right now. And here's an encouragement. It's not over. Press on. It will be worth it. You just wait.

August 3

Turns out it was a rough month.  Little Levi went on a hunger strike so we invested hundreds of dollars in Pediasure and he's weaning off it now. Didn't know that babies stop sleeping when they stop sucking their thumbs.  More investments made in concealer for a tired mama.

And it's worth it. He's making so much noise!  Speech therapy starts next week. He's hearing (the tubes in his ears have given him full hearing!) and laughing and learning.

Here's to the greater good. May we all press on toward that which God has called us, including a good night's sleep!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

He's a good father

I have the best dad.

He's a country boy, I'll kick your ass kind of a guy, as in he loves his horse and his dog and his beat up t-shirt.  He'd rather be bush hogging a backfield than playing a round of golf.  He builds fences and mucks out stables.  He's happiest driving down a long, old dirt road that ends at a meadow with a shimmering lake full of fish waiting to be caught.

He's a sage who never learned that you reach a point in your life where you've got it all figured out.  He's journeying to the mountains on weekends to retreat and discover the wisdom of dreams.  He can look into your eyes and pretty much sum up what lies in your heart.  He listens with careful attention and only offers advice when persistently requested.  He reads with relish the likes of Thomas Merton and Karl Jung and Richard Rohr, and his life reflects their rich spirituality.  He wouldn't like that I'm bragging on his insatiable curiosity about God, about people, about the Christ whom he serves with devotion and gratitude.



He's a recovering corporate warrior who travels at dawn, precisely packed, an expeditor extraordinaire, and a surfer, with a knack for finding just the right wave because he is patient and knows the art of biding his time.  He is the playful Poppy, beloved to his granddaughters for bursting in on a scene of jumping on the bed and joining right in.



He knows how to raise a daughter.  He had different rules for me than my brothers.  I wasn't allowed to say any bad words, like fart.  I had to be home at eleven.  No dates until I was 17.  Working the late night shift at an ice cream shop was strictly forbidden ("no daughter of mine is closing up shop by herself and driving home late at night").  He nurtured my dreams of going back to the south for college, to the alma mater of my ancestors.  He teased that I was going to Furman so I could fall in love just like he and Mama did, just like Poppa and Jenky did.  And wouldn't you know, he was right?

He was my first love, as every daddy of little girls should be in my opinion.  During a drawn-out dry spell, with no suitors in sight, when I was 16 going on 17, he took me on my first date.  We dined at Timothy's in Scottsdale, a fancy pants kind of restaurant.  I sipped my first glass of wine (didn't really like it back then; my how times have changed), learned which fork to use, and delighted in a conversation full of dreams for the future.  He was setting the bar for those suitors to come.  He set it high.

I am blessed to have known the love of a faithful father who has loved my mama for going on 43 years.  I am blessed to have known at the way-too-young age of 19 what I wanted in a man who would one day be the father to my children.  I wanted a man with my father's heart.  And I found him.



Praying for good fathers for all of God's children.  Praying for the one true Faithful Father to gather the fatherless in His arms.  Praying for the future fathers we are raising.





Saturday, May 26, 2012

when love comes to town

guess why there are no new blog entries?
he's 21 months old...
the big sisters are very active...
i'm almost about to graduate from yoga teacher training...

hello...this is your 41 year old self reminding you that IT'S A LOT DIFFERENT THIS TIME AROUND.

you know how in your 20/30's you blink and your kids are in elementary school?  i've decided that is not going to happen this time.  my days are pretty much spent in the same room with the same toys with a very smart little boy reminding him that i'm his mama and i'm not going anywhere.  i think he's starting to get it.

the big girls were 5 months and 10 months at their adoption; little guy was 19 months.  we've been home about 7 weeks and finally, finally we are getting some traction.  he's smiling.  he's laughing.  he's hugging.  and it's amazing.  i've never worked so hard in my life.

what you do with an orphaned soul, what you do with anyone, is just get into their world.  speak their language.  play their way.  spend lots of time doing what they love to do.  here's what i've been doing:  stacking stackable cups any which-way.  racing cars any which-way.  saying ahh any which-way.  our boy is missing the muscle to be able to speak words (it's being repaired in July).  but oh my goodness does he speak.  expressive eyebrows.  lots of screeching.  he's making the cars say vroom,  vroom, vroom.  and he loves to dance.  and  he laughs.

resurrection life is happening right in front of us.  Levi and me and daddy and big sisters.  when loves come to town, you better catch that train.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

China: A Retrospective

I had every intention of posting minute-by-minute musings as Mama and I journeyed through China to adopt our boy.  And as soon as I met Levi, those intentions went right out the window.  Because I'm 41 and I realized that these sweet moments of beginnings with babies are fleeting.  And also because getting on the internet in still-communist China is cumbersome.  So instead, here I am, feeling every one of my 41 years, jet lagged beyond words, and reunited with my beloved and Levi's adoring big sisters.  I think it is the best place to reflect on our adoption adventure.

My brain is a bit mushy and the moments of lucidity are short-lived at this point, but I promise to highlight the good, the bad, and the not-so-pretty happenings along our path in China.

Here's a little blurb about Beijing:  Tianamen Square is not written about in Chinese textbooks studied by schoolchildren.  The information that the Chinese people can access is severely limited by the government there.  The Great Wall is truly Great.  Hiking to the top of it, twice in my lifetime, is one of my favorite memories.  Doing it with my mom was thrilling.  I didn't really like the food in Beijing, even though I had a stern pre-trip talk with myself about  relishing the new flavors and cuisine.  I just couldn't stomach the smell of Chinese food for breakfast, but I also couldn't stomach the Western french fries either.  I stuck with croissants, strawberry jam, and the best black tea I've ever tasted.

Our guide, George, has a providential life story (well, we all do really, don't we?), and one of my favorite memories of the two days in China's capital is the time spent learning about him.  More about that later!

The best part of life in a bustling, 14 + million city?  We got an email from our adoption agency that our flight for Zhenzhou (the provincial capital of Henan where Levi lived) had to be moved up from traveling Monday evening to traveling Monday morning.  No explanation was given, but I trusted my instinct that we would be united with our babies on Monday afternoon...

The Beijing blitz portion of our trip was just what it was meant to be:  busy, informative, a settling in to the rhythm of life in China.





Friday, March 23, 2012

Soak it in

I rushed to the airport amidst tears and kissing hands and promises of skyping at bedtime. It is no small thing to leave two beloved (and heartbroken) girls at home to adopt little Levi. We talked about sacrifice in love, and how we all make sacrifices for the greater good of others in our lives and how this is a lesson we can hold onto when we feel sad and miss each other over the next 2 weeks. "But I just don't want you to go," are the wails that still ring in my ears. The ten-ager cried all day long yesterday, from what I'm told. Oh it wrings this mama's heart inside out. And did I really exhort her to consider the greater good? I did, but I also held her tight and whispered in her ear that nothing can separate us, really. Mama and I watched Oscar winning movies on the flight over the North Pole! Who knew that I would be relishing 14 hours on an airplane? After the mad packing mania of the night before, it was a wonderful respite. Except for the super creepy dude sitting behind us that kept offering inappropriate suggestions when I made my way to the restroom...like "need help finding the toilet seat?" Ummm. That is not a good pick-up line. It's just gross. And you really should think about getting rid of that mullet. We were driven to our hotel by a very brave soul on a very packed interstate with very nice cars. When I stepped out of the van and into the warmish Beijing night, I smelled China. I listened to all of the voices speaking in a musical different language, the birth language of my daughteres. I looked into what appeared to me to be hundreds of Chinese faces, the faces of my daughers. This is what I want to savor, to bask in, to relish--this being here in the culture that gave birth to the little girls and little boy that I love. I made a promise to myself that we would all come back, the 5 of us, on this journey so that they could know the feeling that I take for granted every day; that feeling of being one of many. I'm the outsider here in China, but their little faces and skin and bodies that God gave them would feel familiar at home here. So, at 5:18am Beijing time I am off for my morning yoga on my cute fold-up yoga mat with my favorite playlist on my wonderful i-phone that I do not take for granted. And then the breakfast buffet! And then a day of touring with my sweet Mama--Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, and more are on the list for today. The plan is to soak it all in! Bathe in the beauty! Savor!

Soak it in

I rushed to the airport amidst tears and kissing hands and promises of skyping at bedtime. It is no small thing to leave two beloved (and heartbroken) girls at home to adopt little Levi. We talked about sacrifice in love, and how we all make sacrifices for the greater good of others in our lives and how this is a lesson we can hold onto when we feel sad and miss each other over the next 2 weeks. "But I just don't want you to go," are the wails that still ring in my ears. The ten-ager cried all day long yesterday, from what I'm told. Oh it wrings this mama's heart inside out. And did I really exhort her to consider the greater good? I did, but I also held her tight and whispered in her ear that nothing can separate us, really. Mama and I watched Oscar winning movies on the flight over the North Pole! Who knew that I would be relishing 14 hours on an airplane? After the mad packing mania of the night before, it was a wonderful respite. Except for the super creepy dude sitting behind us that kept offering inappropriate suggestions when I made my way to the restroom...like "need help finding the toilet seat?" Ummm. That is not a good pick-up line. It's just gross. And you really should think about getting rid of that mullet. We were driven to our hotel by a very brave soul on a very packed interstate with very nice cars. When I stepped out of the van and into the warmish Beijing night, I smelled China. I listened to all of the voices speaking in a musical different language, the birth language of my daughteres. I looked into what appeared to me to be hundreds of Chinese faces, the faces of my daughers. This is what I want to savor, to bask in, to relish--this being here in the culture that gave birth to the little girls and little boy that I love. I made a promise to myself that we would all come back, the 5 of us, on this journey so that they could know the feeling that I take for granted every day; that feeling of being one of many. I'm the outsider here in China, but their little faces and skin and bodies that God gave them would feel familiar at home here. So, at 5:18am Beijing time I am off for my morning yoga on my cute fold-up yoga mat with my favorite playlist on my wonderful i-phone that I do not take for granted. And then the breakfast buffet! And then a day of touring with my sweet Mama--Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, and more are on the list for today. The plan is to soak it all in! Bathe in the beauty! Savor!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dreaming

I spent the weekend on the sidelines of a soccer field in beautiful 70 degree Maryland spring weather.  I watched a lithe 13 year old athletic girl sprint, kick, laugh, play, enjoy life.  I chatted with other adoptive mothers about the lives of our children and how differently they could have turned out.  Our three pairs of eyes filled with tears as we talked about the month one spent in Columbia to bring home her 11 year old son.  He has been with his forever family for 9 months and is a straight-A student (just learned English 9 months ago--woah!).  And we commiserated together as another shared her adopted from Russia daughter's painful growth plate injury and how it kept her away from soccer in the fall and how she is feeling so much better now.

I sat in the sunshine and remembered the adoption travel conference call that I listened to earlier this week.  Our amazing adoption agency's founder, Josh with CCAI, reminded us that without action these waiting children (like our Levi) would live out their lives in an orphanage, with no treatment, no education, no real hope.  His cleft palate would likely remain untreated and he would be the equivalent of an "untouchable" in China.

So that's why I weep sometimes at my kids' birthday party celebrations.  It's the idea of what could have been and what isn't, not because of us but because God moved something in our hearts and gave us children in a way we would never have imagined.

Adoption is a gracious gift that extends in both directions...into their lives and hearts and into ours.  But I submit that the greatest blessing is this mama's life, sitting on a comfy couch surrounded by two beautiful black-haired, brown-eyed Asian beauties; and dreaming of the rambunctious, rowdy Asian boy that is coming our way.  xxxooo


Monday, March 12, 2012

Here we go...

The 10 day count down is on.  This blog is, let me lovingly warn you, going to be neglected until we get to China.  I am going off the grid to prepare for the trip.  No time for reflection--I just have to get 'er done.

Here's what I'm doing:  going to Target, taking care of a sick kiddo, preparing and freezing meals for the family, packing, back to Target, Bible study with my best girls, soccer tournament over the weekend, probably Target again, showing my mother-in-law the ropes, carpooling, finalizing packing, getting kids to birthday parties, homeschooling, taking it all in, loving every minute.  Must admit that I do have dreams of a pedicure somewhere about next Monday-ish.

So, y'all come back and read because in just a little while there are going to be some a-maz-ing stories to share.

It lights me up to think that Geng Hui Levi Melton somewhere across the world from us has absolutely no idea that we are getting ready to hold him close, love him dearly, treasure him forever.  Miss you baby boy.  Mommy's coming soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

T-minus 2 weeks

So, a different style of blogging today to fit our current lifestyle:  lists!

Wonderful mother-in-law being dropped off by even more wonderful sister-in-law on St. Patrick's Day; this means that the home-schooled children stay in school while mom is away.  And that the husband can go to work.  And that life stays somewhat normal.  So grateful for my family-by-grace-that-I-married-into.

Airfare purchased; agenda in-China being finalized.  I have a generous and gracious Mama and Daddy who 1) travel with me, Mama; and 2) give the gift of travel, Daddy.  Grateful for my parents-who-love-God-and-share-His-goodness-with me.

Packing started; well, if a big huge pile in the middle of the nursery counts and yes it's a run on sentence because that's exactly how packing feels to me.  

Village enlisted; soccer carpools offered (and accepted, thank you Karlyn and Jean-Anne).  And a "just  tell me what you need me to do" Dana coming to our house on Monday.   Looking for a ride to the airport on 3/22, pick me up at 9:30?  I wish I were kidding, but I'm not.  

Gifts received; I am so not good at receiving.  Why do I feel guilty when people are really, really nice?  I am learning how to say thank you and just trust that you the giver know how much I mean it.  

Easter dresses for the big girls purchased.  I'm making surprise bags for them for each day that I will be gone.  For me or for them?  Both really!!

I-pad 3 for the trip???  Yeah, that's what he said.  Not happening.  Darn!

In the midst of my frantic, frenzied mind, I breathe and remember that it's not about the stuff or the lists or the to-do's.  It's about the baby.  

It's 11:49am in China right now.  I bet you are getting ready to have lunch, Geng Hui to be named Levi.  Eat up, son!  You will need your strength!  Mimi and I have big plans for you...I've got a backpack with your name all over it.  




Friday, March 2, 2012

So this is fasting


I visited with a dear friend last week, when I invited myself to her house for dinner-- and I adore that we have "that" kind of friendship.  We talked about Lent, and I questioned her, “Did you give up anything this year?” “Sweets,” was her short reply.  Uggh, I thought.  Out loud I guiltily lamented, “I didn’t.”  I’m not sure why I even started the conversation because I am not big on ritual for the sake of ritual.  I’m big on ritual if it gets you somewhere closer to Christ, which it does for many.  Anyway, here’s what my wise and precious friend Ginger said.  “You are so fasting.  You’re fasting from your baby.” 

And here we are, at this sweet spot in international adoption…the place between knowing and being known.  I want to live in this moment, to savor it, take it all in; and I want to get our little boy home as quickly as I can.

I wake every night, usually around 4:30am.  My mind races to Levi, what he might be doing at this time.  I picture his face and try really hard to trust that he is being cared for and loved and fed the way that I think he should be (did I tell you he has rickets?).  Do I really believe that our God is big enough to care for a son on the other side of the world? 

I long to race to an airplane and be by his side, and I can’t stand the thought of leaving my daughters and beloved husband to bring him home.  I feel torn.  

Wes King wrote a beautiful song that spoke to me in the early years of infertility, oh so long ago.  I was a young bride and dreamed of being a young mother.  Ha!  I laugh at my youthful dreams: young meant 23; now it means 41.  But, I digress.  The song beautifully says, “We thought you’d be here by now, your mother and I…I never knew that I could miss someone I never met, miss someone I haven’t met yet.’’


How can we miss someone we haven’t met yet?  I don’t really know how, but I know that we do.  Our family of four-about-to-be-five misses him.  We long to wrap our arms around him.  We can’t wait to make him laugh and read to him and hear his first words to us.
 
And I know that this is truly Lent.  It’s the absence and the promise, the knowledge that somewhere deep inside God misses us.  That in the living and dying and living again of Christ, God is with us.  It’s about relationship and being connected to our Creator and knowing that this God who is so much beyond our comprehension draws near to us in Jesus.  So however Lent makes itself known to us this season, may we know that in this time when Jesus set his face to the cross and drew near to suffering that God was and is reaching out to us. He longs for you.  He can’t wait to be with you.  He misses you.




Friday, February 24, 2012

Longing

We got updated pictures and stats for Qian Geng Hui--our Levi.  He's growing and walking and wants to run the report says.  He's ready for life in the Melton household I say.



We are waiting, waiting, waiting for our travel approval.  Anticipating that we will receive word next week (Lord help me, it could be the week after that); and typically families travel 2 weeks after approval.

There is so much to do.

I want to go right now.

Here's my prayer...Lord, help me to do what needs to be done while being present with the children who are here right now.  And if you could somehow give me divine intervention to be able to homeschool, meal plan, pack, baby prep, finish paperwork, cook, sleep, eat well, exercise, etc...that would be amazing.  I am trusting You, my God, to sift through the massive to do's and give me discernment to do the same.  I am trusting You, my God, to care for our little guy until we can get there.  I am trusting You, my God.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Walking Wounded


We visited the Johns Hopkins Cleft Palate Clinic today to seek out medical advice for Levi’s cleft lip and palate.  It’s on the same floor as the Childhood Oncology Ward.  Perspective. 

We looked at before and after pictures of the many children that this doctor and his team have helped.  We talked about what Levi’s palate probably looks like (alveolar cleft).  Our teenager wanted to know what happens to his boogers.  And that’s when the doctor won us over.  He used the word “booger” in as many contexts as possible, boogers here, boogers there, boogers, boogers everywhere.  You must know that our whole family enjoys a good booger laugh…oh wait, here I go with the booger talk. 

What really happened was that we all laughed in the midst of a stressful conversation (think Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears, my favorite emotion.”).  Levi’s cleft palate is no minor thing, but it’s not that major either.  It’s going to be a tough month when he has surgery early this summer, but he GETS TO HAVE SURGERY THIS SUMMER.  This condition would very likely be left untreated in an orphanage in rural China.  Our boy has hope.  He has no idea what is heading into his life!

I wonder if one of the ways God is working in us through Levi’s story is in the wearing of the wound.  His is on the outside.  He doesn’t have a choice about that.  I wear my wounds on the inside.  Sometimes I imagine that I build a guard around these scars, covering over them with jokes or sarcasm or irritability.  We all need surgery to be whole.  We all need the Great Physician to come in and clean out the bad stuff and build up the good stuff and make it all into something beautiful.  He’s really good at that.

It strikes me that the beginning of Lent is a sweet moment to contemplate this wounded-ness that we all bear.  Just as Jesus set his face toward the cross, we can set our gaze toward the suffering that is a part of this life.  We can see the countenance of Christ in our boy’s lip and palate.  We can invite Him into our own pain, and into the healing that will come.  We can focus our sight firmly on Christ, “who is able to do infinitely more than we ever dared to ask or imagine.”  And we can wear our wounds, knowing that He makes beautiful things, beautiful things out of the dust of our lives.   




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paper Chasing


Paper-pregnant works for me.  I think I just might be in paper-labor right now!

The family room floor is my office, littered/organized with stacks of paper that must be wrangled with to bring home our son. 



I am notarized (thank goodness beloved’s administrative assistant is one); certified—no wise cracks here (by the county clerk to prove notary is who she says she is); and authenticated X 2 (Secretary of State and Department of State).  But wait, there’s more!  My beloved is walking the document into the Chinese Embassy for the greatest and final step…a piece of paper that is approved by the government that is caring for our precious boy. 

We dropped our regular home-school rhythm yesterday and embraced an impromptu field trip to Annapolis.  We stood in the very spot where George Washington addressed the 2nd Continental Congress!  American History came alive!




I woke up with my beloved husband this morning to send him off to D.C. with the precious documents, packed him coffee and energy bars and kissed him out the door. 

I remembered that we are blessed to live in a part of the country where it is feasible to do all this certifying and authenticating and DC driving ourselves, unlike most other adoptive families.

So today, in the midst of paper-chasing hell (it’s my labor!), I am choosing to focus on the prize, the little life that exists in Zhoukou Welfare Institute today.  I will fold the mountain of laundry that I swear had babies of its own overnight.  I will savor the morning of learning at home with two lovely young ladies.  We will pray for Daniel Levi Melton.  And I’ll probably get started on that I-864 federal form that will be needed for the trip to China; I think our tax records for 2010 and 2011 are just over there in that pile…

This is how we roll in the land of paper-pregancies.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Breaking down to break through

Pre-adoption breakdowns have become the norm in our once stable household.  We have teenager hormones running rampant (despite our denial), ten-ager tantrums, and mommy "we are bringing home a baby in 4 weeks" meltdowns to deal with.  Poor, poor Dan.

Bring on the tears, the not eating/eating too much, the waking at dawn, the lists, the packing, the teeth-grinding, the TMJ...I develop serious stress symptoms in the midst of adoptions.

Bring on the baby...most of all, bring on the baby.

Let him be loved tonight, let him be fed, maybe a quick cuddle?  Lord, let him know that we are coming.  Let him know that he is loved.  Watch over our precious boy, just as you watched over our precious girls.

And now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than we ever dared to ask or to imagine...to Him be the glory.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oh boy!

It's happening!  We're adopting our little guy and we are...

excited
nervous
planning
sewing
nursery planning
googling weather in China during late March
praying
not sleeping
remembering that we need to rest because our world is going to be rocked
playing 
naming
knitting
trusting
thanking
praying some more
loving
blessing
painting
packing a care package
remembering that God is the author of this story, and that He makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives

Thank you, Lord, for the story you are writing.  Thank you for a family of five.  Thank you for adoption. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Let dogs delight to bark and bite


I am a reluctant homeschooling mom.  There, I said it.  

I homeschool my kids in spite of my serious limitations and lack of the requisite patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc.  (at least all my friends who don't homeschool assume I must have ample amounts of these virtues to do the deed; I argue that homeschooling might just be my refining fire in these areas).  

However, today I was able to practice those beautiful fruit qualities.  My weekend of yoga stayed with me and I was oh-so-serene on the inside.  Apparently, the daughters didn't get the memo that we were all zen and namaste.  

"She was sniffling, and it annoyed me," says the teen.  "Well, she lassoed my lego building with her rubbery eraser," declares the ten-ager.   Are you kidding me?  And then the clincher..."but then, Mommy, she (finger pointed, glaring eyes) shoved me."  Well, that's it.  I had to get ruthless.  I mean, really.  Girls don't shove.  They left me with no choice.  Cell phone for the teenager--buh-bye.  Ipad for the ten-ager--ixnay.  

Actually, it felt kind of lovely to discipline succinctly and without raised voice (a rare occasion, indeed).  

I must remember to feed the one who is currently living in her room!  (just kidding...no kids were harmed in the writing of this blog).  

P.S.  Additional punishments include copying and memorizing the poem below.  That, my friends, is the beauty of homeschooling.  

Let Dogs Delight to Bark and Bite
by Sir Isaac Watts

Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
          
For God hath made them so;
        
Let bears and lions growl and fight,
          
For 'tis their nature too.

        
But, children, you should never let
          
Such angry passions rise;
        
Your little hands were never made
          
To tear each other's eyes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

soul-full: Fully Alive

soul-full: Fully Alive: I have been pregnant for four years. I have been PREGNANT for FOUR YEARS. I have been pregnant for four years . (We are learning about...

soul-full: Yoga say what???

soul-full: Yoga say what???: I am in a yoga teacher training all-out bootcamp, butt-kicking weekend. Practice #3 of the weekend with some kind of crazy pose that I can'...

Yoga say what???

I am in a yoga teacher training all-out bootcamp, butt-kicking weekend.  Practice #3 of the weekend with some kind of crazy pose that I can't even begin to contemplate is coming up tomorrow.  What was I thinking when I signed up for and PAID MONEY to do this???

Yoga means union.  It connects body, mind, and spirit.  If you're a runner, like me, it's mile 16 and it only takes 2 minutes to get there (as opposed to 2 hours).  Just breathe.

When I attempt some kind of crazy asana (pose) that there is no way my tight hamstring-ed runner body could even think about doing...and I get there, somewhat, with no judgment, just breathing, it's amazing.  It's Holy Spirit--wow--God is with me amazing.

So that is how I'll be worshiping tomorrow morning.

(With a dose of Advil just in case).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fully Alive


I have been pregnant for four years.
I have been PREGNANT for FOUR YEARS.
I have been pregnant for four years.

(We are learning about good openers in our homeschool writing class.  That one’s called a shocker.)

Yes, you read it right, a four-year gestational period, similar to some kind of steroid-pumped elephant. 

We, and by we I mean I, began adopting again from China about four years ago.  So in adoption circles, once your paperwork has been turned in to the powers that be in China, a.k.a. the CCAA, you are paper pregnant. 

My beloved wasn’t, apparently, as enthralled with the idea of a third adoption as I.  He agreed, likely to keep me from assaulting him daily with my vision for abundant family life.  Did I mention he’s a pastor?  Or that I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who really likes fashion?  Unfortunately, I learned that there is NOT a tree in the backyard that grows money.  Bummer.

And then the process stalled.  Adoptions literally began to trickle out of China.  Wait times went from about one year to over 4 years.  And, my beloved rethought the idea.  Well, I rethought it too. 

So now we’re early 40’s instead of late 30’s.  We’ve got a teen (when did that happen?) and a self-proclaimed ten-ager in the house.  And I did something very dangerous and wonderful.  I perused our adoption agency’s website and stumbled across a “Waiting Child” section. 

Did you know there are literally hundreds of children with minor, correctable special needs that are paper-ready to be adopted?  No, me neither.  Did you know many are boys?  Did you know they are often abandoned in the first days of their precious lives? 

So I prayed.  I tried to shut up.  I entreated.  And the beloved said “Maybe.”  Really?  Maybe???

Wantonly, I asserted my womanly wiles…quite well, actually, and he agreed to fill out a medical needs checklist (step 1).  Four days later, we had a file to consider.  It didn’t feel quite right.  One month later, file two to consider.  It feels really right.

He’s beautiful, with soulful eyes and expressively-arched eyebrows.  And he’s a he, in this hormone-laden house that oozes femininity.  He’s perfect and needs care to repair cleft lip and palate.  He is wooing me.  It’s the eyes, I tell you.

“How are you doing with this?” I ask my beloved.  We, and by we I mean he, are taking some days to pray and wait and be quiet and sure.  “Well,” he responds, “I can see it.  Feels good.  And then, I kind of feel like, (arms lifted, head shaking, shrill tone) AGGGHH.  AGGGHH.  AGGGHH."

So really, isn’t that what parenting or life or anything worth having is?  It feels good, and then AGGGHH.  It’s the sweet, sloppy puppy kisses (feels good)/I just stepped in dog &&$$ in our front yard (AGGGHH).  It’s a family fun night watching Kung Fu Panda 2—good flick by the way (feels good)/three nights in a row of the ten-ager howling at 3a.m. because she doesn’t feel safe (AGGGHH).  And don’t even get me started on the “I don’t feel safe” line of attack for sleeping in the parents’ room. 

Perhaps the prayer and quiet and the AGGGHH is where the unfettered abandonment of a life well lived is birthed.  Cultivate stillness.  Practice prayer.  Be quiet.  And then buckle your seatbelt!  Here it comes...life in all of its wild, unpredictable glory.

Here’s to praying and waiting and being quiet and sure.  And AGGGHHdoption.

“The glory of God is man/woman fully alive.”  Irenaeus