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Monthly Archives: September 2012

A love letter to Canton…

Dear Canton,

When I moved to Dallas, I began to hear faint murmurs of a place, a place full of mystique and intrigue and bedazzled ball caps. I started to notice groups of women gather around excitedly like high school girls going to a Twilight convention, and I’d overhear the hushed whispers, and wonder- what IS this Canton? It sounded magical. Were there unicorns there? Was it some sort of support group for women where we’d all watch The Notebook and cry together? I realized soon that whatever this “Canton” was, it only happened once a month, and then I became convinced that it was a place that men sent women during that time of the month, herding them into cars and shouting “UNCLEAN!”, while they go home to watch the football and eat hot wings.

But then, I decided I must explore this Canton. Because of the glazed over look that people would get when they spoke about it, I decided that just in case it was some sort of hedonistic cult, I’d better take Wes along. As our car crested over the hill, I could see the glint off of hundreds of RVs, and I heard a lone banjo in the distance. What sort of new world had we stumbled upon?  We got out of the car and began to walk. At first, we thought we must have gone to the wrong entrance, for it appeared we were walking in the middle of a field of abandoned car parts, but then it became clear. These car parts were for sale. We walked further, and the tables of stuff just seemed to go on forever. I saw so much that day, things I didn’t even know existed. Every once in a while, I’d pick up something, a cookie jar or an ornamental gourd or a planter made out of longhorn horns, and I’d look at Wes. He would say, “Do you want that?” and I’d say “I don’t know. It’s cute but I don’t know where I’d put it” which I would come to find out later is the official slogan for Canton.  After about an hour of this wandering, Wes reminded me that he was promised fair type snacks, so we stopped for a corn dog. We then started to explore the covered areas, where we were met with the smell of candied pecans, wood stain, and spoiled children. We passed by an extremely ugly baby in a stroller, and I was startled when it barked at me. Was that a dog in a stroller?? Why yes…it was. As we walked, I started to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of tulle petticoats and personalized styrofoam cups, but Wes was getting restless. We left soon after that, and I stared longingly out my window and vowed I would return, without my sidekick who hates shopping. Don’t be offended by his lack of interest in you, Canton- sometimes he falls asleep on the couch at 8:00 pm, and as far as I’m concerned, people who fall asleep on the couch early at night are shallow and untouched by life’s deeper mysteries.

Over the years, I have returned to you Canton, and I have never regretted it. I usually am sent with a warning to not come home with any animals, and that is why I just convince my friends to buy rabbits instead. It’s not your fault that those rabbits produced so many many many baby rabbits. Nor is it mine. No matter what that friend may tell others. Moving on…

I love you Canton, I truly do. No where else could you find a Santa who is silently judging you-

I can’t believe you brought your dog without a stroller.

Or a somewhat disfigured Ronald McDonald?

You ain’t got no legs, Lieutenant Dan!

But this-this might be my favorite “reason” I love you-

Do you mean maybe some scooters are allowed? Are you being sarcastic and you mean all scooters are allowed? Are you winking and meaning only the cool bedazzled scooters are allowed? Is there a secret entrance that the non scooter people don’t know about? Is there an exclusive club with a special knock and handshake? Do you have to know the secret word? I bet it’s “funnel cake” or “pillowcase dress”. How does one gain “access” to this secret club? So many unanswered “questions”!

Never change, Canton. Someday I will be an old lady, terrorizing the young’uns with my erratic scooter driving too. I can’t wait.




“I will never doubt his promise, though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes, my Deliverer is coming, my Deliverer is standing by…”

The prince wandered into the backyard and found the princess, up in her tree and wondering aloud, “Who will rescue me?”

The best parents in the world are two types of people- people with easy children and people with no children. (To be fair, I have some single friends and friends with easy kids who are incredibly compassionate, so this is just a generalization). You’ve probably seen it or been there yourself- hearing “why don’t you just…” regarding an issue with your child. I’ve heard it and I’ve been guilty of saying it. It’s not just people, the bookstores are full of books designed to solve any parenting problem you might have, usually in a number of easy steps.  The problem is, for any book you can find, you can find one or more that state the opposite. One book reads “Babywise!” while the one next to it is titled “Why your baby will grow a tail if you use Babywise.” One book is “Preschool- the first step to intellectual success” while it’s partner on the shelf says “Preschool- where people who love germs and institutions send their kids!”  It doesn’t stop with infants, the cheap advice goes well through elementary school up through high school, where you can read that you should let your child date so that they will practice interacting with men and women in a mature way or you should never allow your child to date because that will ensure that you are a grandparent at thirty.

Discipline books sell fast, because nothing will drive a parent to a book quicker than a child biting/lying/taking their clothes off in the middle of the church parking lot one too many times. The heart of most of these books is- find what works and stick with it. Over the years, I have tried many different strategies with my daughter…and a few of them have not turned out the way the books promised they would.

Taking toys/privileges away- Find what they care about and use it. Use natural consequences to reinforce lessons. About two years ago, we discovered that Selah was standing on her dresser to reach the top of her closet. We instructed her not to do this, and that if it continued, we would remove her dresser from her room. She did it approximately three minutes later. Wes and I both made this into a big deal, going on about how we were so sad she was losing her beautiful princess dresser and how she would have to earn it back by showing us she could be responsible. She cried and said she was sorry, and I smugly thought, yep, this will teach her. When the dresser was gone, I walked her back to her room solemnly, as to drive home the message that this is a somber day in her life, and opened her door where her bed sat, alone and desolate in the room. Selah walked in, and turned to me with wonder in her eyes and said “Oooohhhhh. There is SO much more room to twirl in here!!”   In kindergarten, she didn’t do her homework and so had to miss recess to finish it. She sat next to her teacher, finished her work, and at the end of recess, hugged her teacher and said “thank you for spending special one on one time with me!” Last year, when the same situation happened, her brother tried to warn her by saying “You know if you don’t do your homework enough, you have to go see the principal.” and Selah gasped and said “Really?? I LOVE Ms. Zupa. She is DELIGHTFUL!”

But the biggest failure of all has undoubtably been time out. The goal of time out is to calm down, and think about your actions. Selah used time out to think about new ways to drive me crazy. That is, when she would actually sit. For a season, she just refused to sit down. Short of me sitting on top of her, she would either just get up or slowly inch her way out of the time out spot. Fed up with this, I followed the advice of her doctor- place her in a car seat inside the house. Tell her that if she will not choose to sit down, I will strap her in. One night, while we had a living room full of company, Selah did something, and I told her she needed to sit in time out. She refused and I sat her in the car seat in the office, and buckled her in. She screamed…and screamed…and screamed…and I told her that as soon as she could calm down, I would come and talk to her. I walked back into the livingroom. A minute later, I hear her screams getting louder, and also hear a thumping noise. I look down the hall and see Selah, hunched over and lumbering down the hall, red-faced and hauling the car seat on her back, looking like a livid sea turtle.

Why do we strive so hard for solutions with our kids and get discouraged when they don’t work? I think we love answers more than we love questions, we love arrivals more than journeys, and we love security, however false it may be. We think to understand is to rescue. To defeat. To conquer. I do this all the time- I focus on the resources that I have, the books, the friends, the education, the therapists, and forget that they are supplements, not the cure. When we try to “conquer” our kids issues, it is easy to make it about us- our intellect and our abilities. We forget about the growth through pain, and just focus on avoiding pain. The problem is that we still believe we can save ourselves. We think “if I could just figure out the right combination of…thoughts…words…actions…good deeds…I’d be healthy and happy” Well, maybe-but you wouldn’t be rescued. There is only One who rescues, the One who delivers me from myself daily, the One who rescued me from the god of me.

2 Timothy 1:9- “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan before the beginning of time- to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”

Raising kids is a marathon, and not a sprint. Sometimes it is a marathon while running in mud. Wearing leg weights. While you have the flu. But when the princess wonders who can rescue her, I’ll tell her that Mommy and Daddy love her and will walk with her, but it can only be Jesus. I pray that my words and actions show that to be true.

“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you…”

This morning I cried twice, all before 9:00a.m. Lest you think I am some sort of oversensitive female who cries at the drop of a hat, I’ll have you know that I cried over some extremely important things. First time was because Wes has to work this friday, which is normally his day off, and that means I can’t go to Canton (for all you non Dallas peeps, Canton is a magical world filled with treasures ranging from personalized cat portraits to cars parts from a Chevy Nova. Also there is funnel cakes). The second time I cried was because I remembered that Parenthood was coming on television later, and I was crying in advance because I knew it was going to make me cry and that makes complete sense. I cried at noon because I was listening to Paramore, and that made me think about how it’s probably too late in life for me to get some piercings, dye my hair red and be in a rock band. Legitimate reason for tears. Last time crying was when the kids came home and I think that’s pretty self explanatory.  Anyway, it reminded me of a conversation I had with Josiah several months ago…

Josiah- “I’m kind of glad I’m not a girl”

Me- “Yeah? Why is that?”

Josiah-  “Girls have to do a lot of stuff to get ready like with bows and stuff and they have tall shoes and stuff and… know, right?”

Me-  “, what?”

Josiah- (blushing)- “YOU know. That pims.”

Me- “That WHAT?”

Josiah-  “Like when girls just cry like you told me sometimes girls just need to cry, I think thats really really weird because I only cry when something is really wrong or like the Rangers lose”

Me- (choking with laughter) “the pims??”

Josiah- “Yeah, you know (looks around for Selah), you know how you spelled it so Selah won’t know? P-M-S?”

So sorry darling Selah, for someday you too will eat ice cream like it’s your last meal and cry when you realize just how stabby you feel.  I promise to share my Kleenex. Unless you eat my ice cream. Then we shall scrap.

“So, what happens if you get scared to death twice?” -Steven Wright

We’ve been talking to the kids about fear and anxiety a lot lately, and how to respond to it. We all know that kids can be rather irrational about their fears, and that telling them that it is irrational doesn’t help. Kids don’t care that it is physically impossible for them to go down the drain during a bath, they just focus on avoiding bathing because CLEARLY mom and dad aren’t on top of this danger. Josiah was bragging a little today to his brother about how he’s not really afraid of much, and I reminded him that when he was three and we visited Disney World, he was completely paralyzed with fear over…the Country Bear Jamboree. Literally the most innocuous attraction there, and Josiah acted like he was in an episode of Man vs Wild gone horribly wrong. Screamed “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!!” over and over until we grabbed him and ran, barely escaping the snapping jaws of the Hee Haw robots.

We all have those irrational fears, the stuff of bad dreams. I consider myself to be a fairly logical person, a person who likes facts and research, but I have a few of these fears-

Sharks– Now, most people would likely have a healthy fear of sharks, but mine is a little different. I know it probably couldn’t happen, but I think sometimes what if a shark got into a pool? I don’t know how it would get there or if it could even survive in a pool, but that doesn’t stop me from glancing at the pool *just in case* one has made it’s way in.  And if something happens to brush up against me while I’m in a pool, my first thought is always “this is it. This is the time I die in a shark pool related incident. Shark Week never prepared me for this moment.”  Don’t even talk to me about swimming in the ocean. I am willing to get into the water, but I always make sure I am standing behind several people who look tastier than me. I don’t feel guilty if they are children. Their parents should have taught them better. I have made sure to teach my children-ALWAYS keep tastier people between you and the possible shark. Even in a pool.

Clowns-I can thank Stephen King for this fear. I don’t remember how old I was, but somewhere in my childhood, I watched the movie “It” (which should have been named Pee your Pants, because that’s what you’ll do when you see it), and it ruined clowns for me forever. Specifically, clowns in bathrooms and clowns in storm drains.  If you have ever invited me to your house and I’ve used your bathroom, you should know that I have opened your shower curtain. I don’t know how people could possibly use the bathroom not knowing if there is a homicidal clown just waiting in the bathtub for them to be pantless and vulnerable. If your pants are down, you can’t run very fast! The clown is not stupid- he KNOWS this. I realize that if there was a clown waiting for me, I probably couldn’t fight him off, so I kind of punch the curtain first.  If I heard an “oomph”, I’d know to run and scream and the clown would have to kill the other party guests first. Again, keep some tasty people between you and the danger!  The other hotspot for murderous clowns is in storm drains. In the movie, a little boy sees the clown in a storm drain on the street and the clown giggles and holds out a balloon for the boy to take. The boy reaches for the balloon and the clown grabs him and eats his face off or something like that, I don’t know, I was halfway buried in my couch cushions at that point. The point is, only an idiot with a death wish would walk right past a storm drain. So I don’t. Wes knows this about me, and he is gracious to switch places with me if we are walking past one. I know, the chances of a clown in a storm drain are small, 50-50 at least, but that’s what that kid probably thought and now he’s walking around with a red balloon and no face.

Dentists– I don’t even really consider this to be an irrational fear because it’s totally rational because I say so. To be fair, I have had several traumatic experiences with dentists where someone made me go to them. I’d love to know what other profession would it be acceptable to pull some of the shenanigans dentists pull? Like, what would you think if you went to see your mechanic or accountant and they came at you with spikes and a gas mask? I mean, dentists look all innocent, with their stickers and pick what color toothbrush you want and it’s okay Brandy, have some Valium, but I am not fooled. I see you in your non identifying scrubs and mask, like some sort of pain ninja! With your bright lights so no one can see what is about to happen and your need to pour concrete into my mouth for “impressions”, a euphemism for “something the mob does before they make you sleep with the fishes” I swear the last time I went to the dentist he mumbled something about an offer I couldn’t refuse. It may have been something about a payment plan, I don’t know, I can’t remember all the details, I’d had a lot of Valium.

And yes, in case you were wondering…I did not appreciate that horror movie Nemo. Clown fish. Shark. Dentist. Thanks Pixar, for the nightmares.

Come on, spill- what irrational fear do you have?

“I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends…”

I woke up this morning, feeling like a sorority girl at the end of a trip to Cabo at Spring break, minus the butterfly tattoo and throw up in my hair. As the haze cleared, I remembered that I had to get an MRI last night. I’ve been having migraines with more intensity and frequency, so my neurologist decided an MRI was a good idea. I am claustrophobic and he said it was important that I am very still and relaxed, so he instructed me to take Xanax before the appointment. My friend Kris drove me there and Haley drove me home and because they are loyal friends whose goal is to love and protect me, they brought a video camera. When we got there, the waiting room was full of people older than me, all of who had the ability to hear. However, I informed Kris in a regular voice that I knew they couldn’t hear me because they all probably had hearing aids. Somewhere in the car on the way, I started having ideas for blogging subjects and started writing them down in my phone. So here’s the list of completely normal and extremely important things I need to blog about-

Judge Judy is most likely Hitler’s girlfriend who secretly escaped.

Clipboards are the smartest invention ever made in the history of the world.

Why I’m not Wes’ shoe slave, holla. (Not sure what prompted this, except he texted me asking if I knew where Josiah’s shoes were)

X-Factor is the bomb diggity show ever made in the history of the world (don’t really watch this show, but I was told that I sang a little Britney in the waiting room)

Swedish people are straight up Compton gangsta

If bonnets fit, you should wear them.

I’m really thinking about moving to Damn Amsterdam. Damn Amsterdam. That’s funny.

Smartphones should have a feature that tells you when you are about to say something stupid.

There should be an x-factor but with chickens. Chickens sing country songs and alpacas are the judges.

Sarah MacLachlan  is a %&$* (I honestly have nothing against her and don’t have any idea why she made me so angry then)

Alpacas have a mastodon body, a monkey face, and a phoenix tail and Amish people should already know that. ( I said this because Kris said she didn’t know what an alpaca was. When I described it to her, a man in the waiting room corrected me and I told Kris that he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about)

Rooms 2 Go should also sell brooms 2 Go.

Boysenberry gravy. (nope. No idea why I wrote this)

Kids always ruin central market

Monkeys should be more common pets because they will cheerfully bring you ice cream

Do you like my new outfit its blue and comfortable and its scrubs and I stole them. (um..okay. See, what had happened was…I asked Jason Mraz if I could keep them and he said “i’m not going to check to see if you left them” which I think is pretty much permission to Wynona Rider them in my purse. Which I did.)

I think Smokey the Bandit’s name is a good indication that he’s actually the one starting forest fires.

The history of nail polish is that a cavewoman spilled dinosaur blood on her foot and her cavehusband saw it and said “How you doin?”

There are a lot of penises in this room and that is why global warming is a real thing. (I really can’t explain this. I could, but I am afraid I would get my husband fired. Suffice it to say it’s not really a valid theory)

Where did the phrase pass the buck come from I think it came from a bunch of people who weren’t supposed to shoot guys named Buck but they did so they passed the body around before the police came and that’s why there aren’t that many guys named Buck anymore.

Why Rob is so selfish (Apparently, I became quite upset that Haley wouldn’t take me along on her date with her husband Rob, and I kept trying to convince her that it was a good idea.)

Why Haley is so selfish

Jason Mraz is my tech but he lost his hat but I’m still gonna ask him out. (I’m told that he didn’t resemble Jason Mraz at all. But I still asked him out.)

I’m about to scrap Haley and put her in a scrapbook (again, mad at her for not taking me on her date)

I’d totally freak if a seashell whispered seductively in my ear.

Barney on Xanex would be awesome because we’d finally hear what he thinks of that whine factory Baby Bop.

You never get migraines at Hogwarts because they’ll it’s always vicd iffy. (this was the last thing I wrote before I passed out. I’d actually love to know why you don’t ever get migraines at Hogwarts, but it will forever remain a mystery.)

At the end of the night, before I went to bed, I sent one last text to Cate, my friend who wanted to but wasn’t able to come along-

“IMISSEDYOUCATECATEBOBATEBANANABATMANFOFATE. The other two don’t even know what an alpaca is but I bet you know bc of being baptist. I live you more than Britney and Justin and carrot cake and Singapore and Haveis and storiphime cups and hot guitar boys. But not more than Rob Pattinson. Then you are dead to me goodnight.”

Drugs are bad, kids.

“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face”- Dave Barry

I wrote on monday about our struggles with adoption, and I have to say thank you to all the people who called, emailed, and commented here with support. To know that you have others praying for you and supporting you is a HUGE blessing, and a comfort as well. Wes and I have several different directions that we are exploring, and I will keep everyone updated when we know what we are doing.

One of the things I read in an infertility book a long time ago was to try to think about all the positives of not having children, including having freedom to engage in activities and hobbies. I decided today to try to think about some fun family activities we could do now that we couldn’t do if we had a brand new child at home. I asked the kids this afternoon if they could think of something fun we could do as a family, and Josiah said “I think we should go skiing in Colorado!”  Selah’s idea was that we should start a worm collection for the chickens that live next door. Trust me when I say I would much rather do Selah’s idea.

I have been skiing twice and snowboarding once. I use those terms very loosely. After my third experience on the slopes, I decided that skiing and the like are for a special brand of people. People who are athletic. People who enjoy the cold. And heights. And pain. And humiliation. And people who are criminals. I don’t think it is a coincidence that bank robbers wear ski masks. I believe they just started out as normal people, and were pushed to the limit upon realizing how expensive skiing is. So basically I’m saying skiing is a gateway to criminal activity.

I was a senior in high school the first time I went skiing. It was a choir trip, and we took a bus from San Antonio to Winter Park, Colorado. Sixteen hours in a bus with choir kids. I mean, we were all mostly good kids, but there are only so many things you can do to entertain yourself after about five hours on a bus. Pretty soon we all heard which row was best to sit in to make out without being seen by our director, and there may or may not have been a questionable beverage being passed around. My mom chaperoned this trip, and she reads this. So that’s all I have to say about that.

I had barely seen snow, much less skied, so I signed up for a group to learn some basic skills. What I learned was that it is very difficult to learn to ski when your ski instructor is cute. Once the lesson was done, I remember thinking “What in the heck are these sticks for?” I decided they were to ward off bears and snow tigers. I got on the ski lift, and as it started to get higher, I looked at my friend in panic and said “Um, where are the seatbelts?!” She laughed. I did not. I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was to dangle people 1500 miles off the ground (give or take) while they are wearing heavy clothing and feet that are weighted down with long and pointy pieces of wood. Or whatever skis are made of. I missed that part of the lesson. We drew closer to the hill and I waited for the lift to stop so that I could slowly and safely exit. Again, missed the part of the lesson where he said the lift doesn’t stop. So, tip for you Winter Park- don’t hire cute instructors if you don’t want innocent young girls to die, kay? My friend got off the lift at the green hill and because I would never exit a moving vehicle, I stayed on as it kept going up to the black hill. I ASSUMED that once I reached the top, there would be some sort of mineshaft elevator or dog sled that would carry me back down to safety. No, the only thing I saw at the top once I gracefully exited fell off the lift was a boy who was a foreign exchange student. I don’t remember his name, but he was from Europe, where babies ski out of the womb into the doctor’s arms wearing tiny fashionable scarves. He had his poles tucked under his arms and I thought “You’ll never fend off a bear that way. You should keep them pointed out in front of you, like a sword.” He sailed past me, and I swear I heard him say “zat stupid american girl, vhy ish she so slow” I wanted to yell and point out that he didn’t even know how to defend himself from snow tigers, but I figured I should be polite in case I needed him to help me later. I looked at the edge of the hill and thought “how bad could it be?” Ten minutes later, I was lying flat on a stretcher being towed down the mountain by EMT. And I spent the rest of the trip in the hot tub.

Everyone says that the second time you ski is easier so I agreed to go again with some friends when I was in graduate school. The friends we went with had a young daughter, and she was ahead of Wes and me on the lift. I had mentally prepared myself this time for the fact that the lift would not be stopping. Our friend’s daughter got off the lift, and then it was our turn. Wes got off and I rose to follow him…but laws of gravity were conspiring against me and I found myself still on the lift, rising into the air towards the hill of horror. Wes and our friends called frantically to me to hurry up and get off the lift, but I froze. They yelled “jump!” and so after a few seconds of contemplation, I threw myself off the lift and fell a good eight feet onto the ground. My feet hit first, and then the rest of my body. I opened my mouth to utter thanks to my friends for helping me, but what came out was categorically different than “thank you”. It was two words. They both ended in “er” and they are words a pastor’s wife should not ever say. Especially in front of a child, who was by then staring at me wide-eyed at the new vocabulary word I generously taught her. (Mary and Steven, if you read this…again, so very sorry.) I spent the rest of the trip in the hot tub.

The last time, I went with Wes and a group of single adults with our church, and this time, I said that I wanted to try snowboarding. I’d heard from filthy dirty liars that snowboarding was easier than skiing. There was a practice hill where you hold onto a rope and it pulls you up to the top and then you snowboard down. I couldn’t even get myself on the rope. The guy running it kept saying “this really isn’t the hard part, ma’am”, and that’s when I wished I had those skiing sticks again. I finally decided to take the board off, walk up the hill, strap on the board, and snowboard down. I did this three times before I decided I had children at home who needed me, and continuing this was just selfish. Really, I was just thinking of them- like any good mother would do. So I spent the rest of the trip in the hot tub.

So skiing isn’t going to work as a distraction right now, but apparently, I quite enjoy hot tubs, so I’ll look into that.

Are you a skier or a hot tubber?

“We live in the shadow of the fall, but the cross says these are all, places where grace is soon to be amazing, it may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored, but when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord, just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed…”

Have you ever been in a hurricane or a tornado?  Living in Texas, I’ve seen the devastation of hurricanes in Galveston and when I lived in west Texas, tornado watches were common. When I have watched news reports of people who have lived through serious tornadoes, the thing that is said often is “we just prayed, hoped it would end soon, and held onto each other.”

A few years ago, I was emailing with a sweet friend who was dealing with her seriously ill son.  We were talking about emotions that you have during and after a crisis, and I likened it to being in a tornado. When the tornado warning hits and you hunker down in the shelter, as the storm rages around you, you don’t think of much except survival. Our focus narrows to just that one thing-making it through the storm. It isn’t until it passes, until it’s safe to come out, that we can look around and see the damage. Even then, we don’t see all the damage. It isn’t until the next time thunder claps and you flinch, or hear of another natural disaster and you fight tears, or when you dream of the danger that you begin to see the more subtle damage. I told my friend that this is how I felt about dealing with infertility. Our tornado had a face, and it looked like a negative pregnancy test. It looked like lost babies. It looked like seeing pregnant women everywhere. It looked like fear and longing and anger and deep grief.

We’re not in the tornado anymore. There is no sting anymore at seeing a pregnant woman or a newborn baby. I can walk into Babies R Us without a second thought.

But there is damage.

Many of our friends know that we have been pursuing adopting another girl. We started the process with Ethiopia, having fallen in love with the country when we adopted Malachi. For many reasons, we have been leaning away from adopting from Ethiopia. As of right now, I don’t know how we will adopt another. And as we try to make a plan, the rubble becomes clearer. There’s no pain at seeing a newborn baby, but there is that twinge when I see pictures of orphans. I don’t long to hold a sleepy baby and smell that baby smell-now I long to hold a four-year old who is trying to learn trust. Three adoptions have taught me that it isn’t really about “you are mine”, it’s more “I am yours”. My desires-and my triggers-have changed.

But can I be honest friends? I am frustrated. I am tired. I am angry. I am sad. I am grieving. At times, I feel like stomping my feet and shouting “It’s not fair!” And more honesty- oh, how it triggers my pride! Fourth kid, and I think that by now it should be easier because we’ve proven that we are competent parents. And pride in feeling like it should be easier for us because we are asking for an older minority child.  And feeling like it should be easier for us because…because I say so. That’s reasonable, right? Ugly, ugly pride.

So where does that leave us?  Wes and I discussed recently if we should consider being done and stopping with our three kids. This conversation isn’t unique to adoption, I suppose every couple has to decide at some point if they are through having kids, but with adoption, there are different implications. When a couple is trying to decide if they want to get pregnant again, they are talking about something that is not concrete, an idea, something that doesn’t exist yet. When you talk about adopting another child, you are contemplating a child that already exists. If you are adopting from a particular country, you can look at pictures and see your child’s face in them. You wonder about where they might be, who they are with, if they are safe and warm and healthy. You wake up because you had a dream they were hungry, and then you can’t go back to sleep because you realize there is a good chance that they are.

I cried and told Wes that I am not ready for an adoption vasectomy. In my heart, I feel like we have another child out there…but it did make me wonder- does that ever go away? Once you recognize the scope of the needs, once you see the faces and feel their hands slip into yours, once you feel the pain in the pit in your stomach because you know that as you leave with your child, you are leaving thousands behind…do you ever feel done? Or do you always look around and hear your heart whisper “maybe just one more”?

I don’t know. I don’t have that answer.

I don’t feel done. So for now, we explore options and pray. We thank Him for friends who cry with us and don’t try to soothe us with ill-timed clichés about trusting the Lord. We remember Psalm 56:8- “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”. He is not unaware or apathetic to our pain. He knows it is hard to wait. And wait. And wait.

I practice trusting. I practice listening. I practice patience. And like in a tornado, we just pray, hope it will end soon, and hold onto each other.

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