Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hanging by a Thread

I brought this on myself. I know that now. I even anticipated much of it. I was informed, educated, and prepared. I counted the cost and made the leap...

...and landed without a parachute. 

I'm exhausted. No, not just exhausted...weary. I can see my self aging a little more every time I glance in the mirror. The fine lines are turning into deep crevices at an alarming rate. Not enough skin cream in the world to slow the decline. 

Mentally, I'm fuzzy all the blasted time. At work, I was helping a patient get out of bed and I put her shoes on the wrong feet. (Thankfully, she had a sense of humor.) I forget to show up for appointments, to return messages, what I was just talking about mid-sentence. 

My emotions are bubbling just below the surface. One sappy Hallmark commercial and I'm toast, brought to my knees with tears overflowing. One defiant child and I'm a raging monster, scaring the people I love the dearest. 

Adoption is hard. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. It's messy and exhausting. I was wrong when I said it's not weird. It is. It's very weird to take on a child with a lifestyle and a history foreign to your own. To parent a child whose smile either means, "You're funny and I like you" or, "You have exactly 2.3 seconds before I'm going to knock your glasses clean off your face," depending on... who knows what?

In the words of the late Derek Loux:
My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can't even really appreciate or comprehend it...

So, once again, it's not really about me. It's not about how I feel or what I'm experiencing. 

It's about a little boy who was thought to have been abandoned, but in fact, had a great big God who was always with him and loved him so much He tugged on our hearts, six thousand miles away. 

And, mostly, it's about that God who loves us so much He gently pulled us from our comfortable, complacent life into the great adventure and is allowing us the privilege of sharing in His suffering, one sleepless night at a time. 

He ministers to my heart even now and gives me just enough for today. At this moment, He has blessed me with a quiet house with sleeping children (including the new kid!) in which to write these thoughts and allow my perspective to be changed. He's teaching me to love, really love, without return. He's skimming off the dross that keeps bubbling to the surface in all this heat. He's lending me His strength and tenderly ministering to me His grace. 

He is good. And He is greatly to be praised!

And I find myself refreshed.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Choosing Rest and Life

May has been a hard month. I went into more detail about the last week on my other blog, here. I have found myself repeatedly questioning the stupidity of choosing this month to deny myself the pleasure of indulging in eating out. 

I'm struggling with stress and I'm finding that the things that used to help alleviate it, albeit for a short time, are no longer working. A cup of good coffee, some time on facebook, a quick game of Scramble, or a favorite show are no longer filling the void. 

I was thinking it about it yesterday and realized, those things were never meant to bring me peace. I am supposed to rely on the grace of God. 

I say I do that and in crisis situations, I actually do, but in the day to day - the stress of real life - not so much. 

One of the reasons we have received the children that we have, including Bogdan, was because we realized that coming to the end of ourselves is a good thing. However, now that I have arrived at the point where I truly cannot handle this life on my own, I find myself frustrated that my former pacifiers don't work. 

I don't want to invest the time in cultivating a relationship with the One who brings me peace. It might take too long. Better to fritter away what little extra time I have on things that are quick and fleeting and don't actually help.

And so I wallow in a constant state of frustration and stress and irritability and it is no way to live.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV) 
Choose life so that you may live. I can almost see God raising His hand saying, "Pick me! Pick me! Put away the cupcake, drive past the drive thru, put down the remote, silence your phone, turn off the laptop.

Pick up my Word, fall on your knees, lift up your hands. Call on Me!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
He will give me rest.

Rest sounds amazing. Rest sounds like the opposite of stress and frustration. Rest sounds like living.

I choose life.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Update on my Gluttony (Could I think of a less interesting title?)

Since my confession last week, I've started reading the book, 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. It is fascinating. The first chapter caused an interesting dialogue with my husband about our personal contribution to excess in this culture. My confession here weighed in a lot. We knew we could never maintain a restriction as severe as the author did in the book for an entire month, but we wanted to do something. 

We decided we would not eat out the entire month of May. 

To most people, that is probably not a big deal. To me, huge. When I started working full-time, I reveled in the freedom of stopping for Starbucks for my morning coffee, then lunching with my co-workers wherever we felt like going at least a few times a week. That morphed into driving through to get a big cookie or a brownie or a big slice of pizza at the end of a stressful day. 

At first, it was the freedom that I relished. As a stay-at-home-mom, I seldom (never) went anywhere without a child, aka witness, aka beggar. Driving thru was a hassle with all the "Can I haves" and "I wants" and then bragging to the siblings about their treat the moment we walked in the door and dealing with the resulting "How come I didn'ts."

I love coffee (seriously, love) and getting my favorite brew to enjoy in the quiet of my car was a dream come true. Having adult conversations with adults over food that someone else prepared and brought me while I sat with adults...priceless.

As with all things new, the excitement began to fade but by then I felt I needed those things. It was part of the "free me" I had become. 

So, to eliminate the possibility of any of that caused me to immediately feel suffocated. Which obviously proved that I needed this.

Here it is, day 5. I found $15 cash in my purse the first day and promptly decided that anything I bought with it didn't count since it was basically free money. Talk about the letter of the law and not the spirit. So I lasted until day 4 and bought a Happy Meal on my way home from work yesterday since I had been too busy to eat lunch. Plus, I knew my people weren't home to catch me in the act. (Integrity is just oozing out of me. Sigh.)

But it's a start. 

Last week was one of the most stressful we've had in awhile. I was so tempted to stop and use my secret cash stash for something chocolate. Instead, I prayed all the way home from work. I felt better by the time I arrived. I'm taking baby steps to rely on Him instead of artificial fillers. I'm spending more time in the Word, at least a little each day, and I'm making a point to stop and look my children in the eye when they speak to me if I'm on the computer. 

I've been a glutton for a long time. I have a long way to go. But His grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Denying self, even a little bit, is causing me to rely on that grace.

And that's a very good thing.