Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Again, I sadly don't have a lot of time to post, but I wanted to thank everyone profusely for your prayers regarding our Christmas travel plans! As of 2pm today, we FINALLY have permission to travel to see my family with the boys. We are all thrilled, but we have much to do before we head out tomorrow. Nothing like the last minute :) As we all prepare for Christmas, I want to share some really special moments we've had with K-man recently.

He's begun to pray, and pray often.  We realize that mostly he is parroting what he hears, but it's been interesting to watch the Holy Spirit slowly connect the dots regarding when to pray, what to pray about, and how to pray. Tonight, I asked him if he wanted to start and I would finish. I offered this, because usually he really wants to pray and then he'll say, "Dear God..." and all will be silent. Tonight, he took me by surprise when he said, "Dear God, we just thank you for (and he mentioned everyone in his family by name as well as my name and my husband's), and we just thank you for loving us and thank you for your son, Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen." I kid you not. That is what came out of the child's mouth. I had nothing to add, so I just chimed in, "Amen!" and gave him a huge hug as my heart was so full.

Speaking of prayer, a few nights ago, B-boy was exceptionally fussy. As always, K-man wanted to be right by my side through it all. I was trying to calm B-boy down when I felt a tap on my leg and heard K-man whisper, "Mrs. __________, Mrs. ______________!! I have an idea. Let's pray for B-boy." He held out his tiny hands, and we knelt down beside the crib and prayed. I wish I could say that B-boy instantly stopped crying, and it was an amazing miracle...haha...that was not the case, but again, I am in awe as I watch the Holy Spirit at work in K-man's heart, connecting new dots every day.

The other day, my husband's uncle was ringing the Salvation Army bell at Wal-mart, so we took K-man to "help." All morning, we talked with him about the money people put in the big red bucket. We told him how some people don't have food to eat, beds to sleep in, clothes to wear, or toys to play with, and we told him that we were going to give some of the money God had given us and use it to help other people have food, clothes, etc. Somehow, through the ensuing 3-year-old interrogation, this turned into K-man giving money so that some other kids could have peanut butter sandwiches (his favorite), because otherwise they would never get them. We rolled with it, put 4 quarters in his wallet and headed to Wal-mart. As we rode in the car, K-man started to ask questions that indicated he was starting to understand the idea that this was going to be a bit of a sacrifice. "I'm not going to have any money left in my wallet?" Ultimately, the realization hit home, "I'm not going to share." We were prepared not to force the issue, but we kept encouraging him to see how good it was to share and to give to others in need. We were quite surprised when K-man walked right up to the red bucket, pulled out his 4 quarters and dropped them in. We were so proud of him, but then he proceeded to open his wallet further and pulled out the one dollar bill he had been holding onto since his first visit with his brothers. He struggled to pull it out, but then without hesitation, he dropped it in the bucket. I have never heard him complain. Even when he saw things in the store that he wanted, I never heard him complain about giving his dollar bill away. I don't live under the illusion that he deeply understood what he was doing, but on some level, he did. He even talked on the way home about how "those kids are going to have a peanut butter sandwich." In a small way, this was a very big act of generosity for this little man.

On the same theme of generosity, we took a trip to the dollar store to let K-man shop for gifts. We explained all day that on Christmas, we give gifts to the people we love. We've been really trying to teach that lately as he's been receiving gifts. "What does this mean, K-man?" "It means they love me." "That's right." Anyway, he again, had a slight internal struggle on the way to the store. He wasn't quite sure about buying everyone else presents and none for himself, but we pressed on. When we got to the store, I showed him all of the toys and all of the Christmas aisles, and then I asked, "Who's someone you love, K-man?" The kid who often replies, "I don't know," was very thoughtful and one-by-one, very meticulously chose presents for me, my husband, my brother who visited recently, his brothers, his momma, and his grandma. Again, despite the several things he saw that he wanted, he never threw a fit and was really delighted about the idea of giving gifts this year.

B-boy has had his share of fun moments recently as well. A pretty regular occurrence these days, B-boy will be lying on his back, flip to his tummy, get up on all fours and rock violently forward and backward, looking back occasionally and giggling (just to make sure we're all watching this exciting new skill). He's going to be another Zizi...I can just see it...a speedy, busy crawler any day now, and I'm not sure I'm ready for it!! As if things are not exciting enough over here!

Attachment with these boys is coming quickly. I sincerely miss them both when they are away, and my heart is full to overflowing when they are around. We are so looking forward to Christmas. Please pray that we would continue to be intentional and that receiving presents would only point K-man even more toward our love for him which ultimately comes from God's love for us. Please also pray that K-man would not be overwhelmed by the number of family members he will be meeting on Christmas day. Sometimes this can prove a bit troubling for him. Pray that he will be well-prepared and will become acclimated quickly.

"And this is eternal life, 
that they know you the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
John 17:3

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 12, 2011


...a very appropriate word we've been learning this week with K-man.

As I'm sure you suspect, quite a lot has transpired since my last post. My husband and I find ourselves in a very different place than we were a few weeks ago - a much better place. I almost tear up tonight as I am finally able to write about the indescribable joy we have been given in our new little family.

First, let me try to reflect on our first few rough weeks and see if there is any wisdom I can share having come through this difficult spell (which is not to say that it's over, but it's certainly in a lull at this point).
  1. Take care of yourself, and be honest about your emotions. As guilty as I felt at times about my ugly selfishness, I am so thankful for the time I had to get away and take time to gain perspective on the situation. I wish I had given myself even more grace in those first few weeks.
  2. Accept the help of others...gladly!! I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for my family and many, many dear friends who literally pulled me through the last few weeks. If you're wondering how to help a friend or family member who is in this transition, find a way to fold yourself into their life! I was mostly craving distraction - craving adult friends to come hang out with me, craving play dates for K-man, just craving time with friends and other moms of whom I could ask the million questions I had!
  3. Grace, grace, grace. So you don't have dinner on the table. So you don't have a squeaky clean house. So you aren't able to get to the laundry. So you don't look your best. Life will not look like this forever! You will find a new normal, but it will take time. We're still a work in progress over here after almost a month, but we're doing much, much better.
  4. Pray for the fruit of the Spirit. And have others pray for you. I have, daily, had to ask the Holy Spirit to produce this in me - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
  5. Have somewhere to go...or at least have some kind of structured activity. The first few weeks, especially, were very difficult to endure when sitting at home, playing the same games, counting down the minutes to nap time, sensing the walls closing in around me and these two boys. I have had far better days now that we have begun making memories each day, and I've learned that that doesn't take much with a 3-year-old (at least not this 3-year-old)! Some days we go to the church down the street and look at the Christmas trees. Some days we ride around in the car spotting American flags. Some days we bake cookies and take them to someone...anyone...haha. It helps to get out and do something.
  6. Give grace to the kids. My spirit was in panic mode at the beginning. Now that I'm getting to know K-man on a really deep level, I'm able to see such a distinct difference between his behavior in the beginning and his behavior now. Intellectually, we knew that he is being affected by his circumstance, but I think we still failed to give him the grace that we should have when he acted out in the beginning. The Lord was sovereign through it all, but deep down, I think we were blinded by his occasional outburst in the beginning - often failing to search out what was truly in his heart and give grace where needed.
  7. Pray hard, and give it time. In the end, three weeks is such a tiny blip on the radar...especially when reflecting on eternity, but in the midst of it all, ever minute seems to last an eternity. How humbling it is to see what little faith we had...having great difficulty waiting patiently on the Lord for just three weeks! And now, here we are, falling in love with these boys minute by minute.
Our most recent obstacle has been canceled visitation. This is something we heard a lot about in training but haven't seen much in action. It's been especially difficult for two reasons. First, in the beginning, those visitation times were a lifeline for me...4 hours to myself?? Yes, please!!! Hope of those 4 hours was shamefully my supreme concern for a while in the beginning. Second, a canceled visit not only ruined my (ever-so-important) plans, they more importantly shattered the emotional well-being of the three-year-old living under my care. 

Unfortunately, we usually haven't found out about the canceled visits until a few minutes before the boys were supposed to be picked up. Often, this has came after I preparing K-man all morning for his visit with mom in the afternoon...sometimes writing cards for her, drawing pictures, picking out our best outfit. Usually, I have been able to just let him wake up from his nap like normal, and we've been able to gloss over it and do something fun instead. Unfortunately, this past Sunday he had a visit with mom scheduled that was canceled while we were in the car on our way to meet the transporter. I looked in the backseat and broke the news, "K-man, I am really sad to have to tell you this, but you're not going to see your momma this morning after all." K-man (previously joking around), looked serious and said, "But I want to." No matter what I said, that was his response over and over. 

When we got to the church, we were laughing and joking all the way inside. He held the door for me and B-boy. B-Boy and I proceeded down the aisle of the sanctuary, and I turned around to find that K-man was not following. He had stopped in the foyer. Assuming that he was still playing games, I went to get him. Sadly, as I got closer to him, I saw tears streaming down his face. I scooped him up and held him in my lap for several minutes. When he calmed down, I asked, "What's wrong, sweet boy?" to which he replied, "I miss my mommy." By the end of the morning, he was his usual self again, but he's made some strange comments since then. I can't even begin to imagine what is going on in his little heart these days. He has been rapidly learning truths like, "God made me," "God loves me," "God made everyone and everything," "God is with me wherever I go," and he's begun to really get into the idea of praying and talking to God. Please pray that the Lord would help him over the course of his life to connect the dots and make sense of the fact that even when he feels unloved and alone, God treasures him and walks with him.

I'll close with a few of many things that are beginning to bring joy these days:
  • completely random hugs and kisses from K-man, and the occasional "I love you."
  • regular belly laughter from B-boy and the most adorable crooked smile you've ever seen!
  • B-boy started sleeping through the night after about 4 nights with us, and has never gone back...HUGE praise!!
  • We're starting to really understand K-man's little language, which is fun, because it's often not intuitive.
  • K-man will now regularly call us to prayer. Tonight, he even bowed his head, folded his hands, and started, "Dear God, thank you for B-boy, my momma, [and a bunch of names I can't type here, but just a sweet, sweet list to hear]."
  • Tonight, my husband had to run to the store in the middle of bath time to pick up some lotion and be back before prayers and bed time. K-man had a hard time understanding that he would be back to tuck him in and was looking really, really concerned about the whole thing. I was chuckling and reassuring him that he would be back and not to worry when all of a sudden, K-man looked at me with very serious eyes and said, "but I love Mr. ________." I about lost it.
And here is where it is tempting to equate the Lord's faithfulness with pleasant days. On the contrary, my husband and I have a deeper faith than ever before, and it is thanks to our most difficult days these past few weeks. The Lord has been faithful and loving to point out our hidden selfishness that was much easier to hide when life was mostly all about us, and He has been faithful to show us His amazing grace in the sacrifice of His Son that covers all of it...humbling, to say the least.

This is shaping up to be one of my longest posts ever, so I'll stop here and TRY to post more regularly in the future. Here are a few specifics to pray for us:
  • Pray for visits to be more predictable, and pray for wisdom as we determine how to mediate situations when they are canceled.
  • I've been praying about how I might show radical love to K-man and B-boy's momma. Pray that the Lord would give me some clear direction there.
  • Pray that I would not be complacent, but that I would take every opportunity to pour the gospel into K-man and B-boy's lives.
  • Pray that our Christmas travel plans would be approved. We're still waiting on a final verdict, and I've been told troubling news that their biological mom might have the final say on this (and she's not our biggest fan).
"Trust in the LORD, and do good; 
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, 
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him."
Psalm 37:3-7a