a hodgepodge of thoughts

Is hodgepodge a word? I’m not really sure. I’m trying to grow out of my perfectionistic tendencies, so I’ll leave it as is (without hopping over to www.m-w.com to verify).

This has been an odd week for a number of reasons – actually it’s been something of an odd month. In the last less-than four weeks, Matt and one of his undergrads flew to Texas to see some great art, Miranda and I went to St. Louis for a day, Matt’s department hosted a High School Art Day for prospective students, my dad visited for a long weekend, Matt taught a workshop at the Columbia Art League, we prepared food for (me) and served at (Matt) our church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for a local apartment complex for the elderly and people with disabilities, we announced that we are planning to pursue international adoption…and did our regular work + family + friends + ministry stuff. We are pretty exhausted. We’re headed to Wisconsin next week to spend Thanksgiving with my mom and brothers, and we’re both very much looking forward to that. Matt (who more than used up his personal spending budget for the month days ago) is particularly looking forward to my mother’s generous provision of beer and snacks. I’m looking forward to laid back time with my family with slightly fewer responsibilities. And I can’t wait for my mom and brothers to get to see how much Miranda has grown in the last few months – they’re going to have such a blast with her 🙂

Anyway, all of this brings me to the topic of balance – this is one of my most consistent struggles. I could do so many different things – and I am passionate about so many different things. The reality is, though, that I can’t do all of them WELL. I have been thinking about 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If I’m doing 50 different things but doing a mediocre job with all of them, I’m not reflecting God’s glory. I really, really, really need to grow in prioritizing.

This week, Miranda and I had one day where we spent the whole day at home by ourselves (well, okay, I did have a coffee date with a friend that night – apparently even our most laid back days are not totally free from commitments – but other than that, we were home all day!). We went nowhere. No one came here. We had nothing on the agenda. It was absolutely glorious. I responded to my child’s requests to, “wead, wead!” with an enthusiastic, “Yeah, babe, let’s do that!” and pulled her onto my lap so we could read what she affectionately refers to as the “tummy book” for the 20th time this week. I drew flowers and hearts and circles and stars on her coloring papers as often as she requested. And not only did I get to spend some good quality time with my adorable little daughter but I also got through 4 loads of laundry (and actually folded them and put them away!). I started sorting through my shelves and shelves of books to determine what we really need to keep and what could be traded in for money and space for our next little one. It was great. Don’t get me wrong – I love time with friends and opportunities for fellowship and ministry, and I definitely need those things – but I also really need to take my calling as a wife and mother seriously and set aside time to take care of my husband and my daughter and our home. And that need is only going to grow as we add more kiddos to our family.

And with that, we’ll move on to some adoption-related thoughts –

I am learning patience. Well, more accurately, I hope I am learning patience. I think God is trying to teach me patience, but the jury is still out on whether I am actually getting it. There are several pathways to adoption from China – I won’t bore you with the details of all of them, though rest assured I would be more than happy to tell you all about the intricacies of the process if you’re interested – but for the pathway I suspect we are most likely to take, we will be eligible to be matched with a child 3 months from today. I would much prefer to be eligible today (or better yet, 3 months ago). However, God is in control, and He will work all things for our good in His timing. But I still struggle with wanting what I want NOW.

There is a little girl eligible for adoption right now who has needs slightly different from what I would initially have described as the best fit for our family – but with whom I have fallen totally in love. I am torn between praying for another family to want to adopt her as soon as possible (obviously it would be best for her not to have to spend an additional 3+ months in an orphanage!) and praying that she is still available for adoption and that we can be matched with her in 3 months. Usually I choose the former – but part of me hopes for the latter.

One big way I have seen God’s grace at work in me over these past couple months is in my openness to adopting children with what would generally be described as more severe special needs. Most adoption agencies have checklists of special needs and conditions for you to look at to think through what you believe your family is equipped to handle, and when we first started to be interested in adopting through China’s special needs program, we were really probably only open to a few things. However, we’ve had a couple months to do research and learn more, and I have found that there are SO many special needs that are truly completely manageable. So many special needs are really not that big of a deal – and yet, at least in part because of them, thousands (millions?) of children are denied a place in a forever family and the love of a mommy and daddy of their own.

I read a heart-breaking blog post this week. It was written by a woman explaining why she and her husband were going back to China to adopt for a 2nd time. Here is an excerpt:

“But one of the many reasons why I can not say no is heard in this video. Andy took this on the day we met Caleb in his orphanage last summer. We were walking down the hallway and we heard these lovely voices singing in the background. We peaked into the door and what we saw you won’t be able to see b/c we weren’t allowed to take any video of the children there. But the image is etched in my mind forever and I’m pretty sure the sound will be etched in your mind as you listen. I can almost guarantee it.

“What you don’t see is a “classroom” of children standing on a small stage in a room that mimics a school gymnasium. The kids were elementary aged and were standing all tall and proud and were singing. For no one. For absolutely no one. The gym was empty. It should have been full of chairs w/doting parents looking on. But there weren’t any parents. In fact, there were no chairs. Because no one was coming to hear them sing. And no one would ever hear their beautiful song. Their voices were echoing through hallways. Hallways that were always full of children and never full of parents. And I whispered to Andy, “No one is coming.” And I cried. And that, my friend, is one of the many reasons why we’re going back to China. How can we not?”

You can read the whole thing – and see the video she describes – here.

I think I’ll leave you with that for tonight, dear readers. Do check out that blog post and video (but make sure you have tissues nearby). Thanks for reading this collection of thoughts that have been swimming around in my head today.

Note 01/14/12: Please note that the timeline I mentioned above is not entirely accurate. Unfortunately, I actually need to be 30 before we can even be matched with a child, so it was more like 9 months from this entry than 3 months – but regardless of the length of time, we trust that God is in charge, and we believe He is preparing a child for our family and us for them!

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