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Sunday, March 30, 2014

sorry.

This blog has been my refuge for so long.  A place I can unload without immediate criticism and while Dan holds the couch down, watching Ridiculousness.  But here in the condo(n't), it's downstairs.  Where it's 45 degrees despite a heating bill that made me choke and Peter is sleeping on the sofa he's called bed since we moved here in November.  I hate writing here.  I hate most things here.
But there is still you and there is still me and I miss you, so I'm sorry I've been so remiss.  Life is moving a bit faster than I'd like and I'm nearly always playing catch-up.  And not well.  The house rolls on.  Dan's ring tone has developed in me the Pavlovian response of complete paralysis and anxiety.  I know when I pick up that sweet voice is going to say something like, "Hey, I'm here at the house with the tiles guys and we're wondering how high you want the back splash in the girls bathroom?  The need to know right now." or "Hi there, Jim wants to know ASAP how high and deep and long and wide you want the cabinet in the back hall.  Also, what kind of wood, which finish and doors or no doors?" And I begin to shake and wonder, what fresh hell is this?  Where I must make snap decisions in front of an audience of my husband's professional peers.  They must surely think I'm a complete idiot.  Wait till they see the office wallpaper.
Which is one reason, the forever winter not withstanding, why I'm loading the Smalls into the car and getting the heck out of Condo on Wednesday.  I can just as easily make an ass of myself over the phone from Hilton Head as I can from right here in Grand Rapids.  I've got everyone packed with about three and a half outfits and a bottle of sunscreen.  The adoption binder is on top.  We are blowing this joint.  I thought Dan would be lonely without us for 11 days, but today I caught him google searching Searchmont and asking if I had already packed the ski stuff.  He's clearly devastated.
As for the adoption, I'd love to give you a clear road map of where we're headed, but if one exists, I haven't been made privy to it.  Now that we've been given our i800 clearance to bring baby into US (and I call her baby because we've been having second thoughts about her name lately-what is wrong with us?!?), I can begin tomorrow to email the National Visa Center (NVC-everything in adoption world has an acronym) which will lead to our SIM number being replaced with a GUZ number (I told you) which will lead to our Art 5 being dropped off, then picked up.  Which will lead to China issuing our travel approval (TA).  This all happens over the span of the next month and a half to two months, which will lead us to mid to late May.  Two weeks after we get our TA, we fly to our girl.  June 13th is looking like the most realistic travel date, but Father has sped things right along since the very start and I wait in anticipation to see what he'll do here.  So while I hope moving and traveling don't happen on the heals of each other, I will do whatever it takes to get that girl home as soon as we can. And I wrestle with the fact that moving home on May two and then shortly after preparing us to travel, we eight, to China to snatch her up seems impossibly impossible.  Like someone barfed in my brain.  And then made me clean it up. But Father, who has orchestrated this whole crazy thing knows my capabilities and will work it all out in his perfect timing.  That may be the only thing I am sure of these days.  That and the fact that our neighbors hate us.  Won't even make eye contact with us and there was a Uhaul in their driveway this morning, I swear.  We may have driven them to this.  We have probably driven them to this.
This is me being real.  Willing to testify that we were not made aware of any policy stating that inhabitants of Condo must have two or less children accompanying them.  Wondering how we'll possibly choose...

Monday, March 17, 2014

uniform.

It's Monday morning.  Which means Lucy is at preschool.  Which means I should be at Costco and Target, and using my car as a mobile office to make sure the tile guy knows where the blue penny tile goes and that the painters understand that all trim is to be Benjamin Moore White Dove.  I did do my half hour at the Y, where I laughed so hard at Jon Stewart's summation of the CPAC convention that I nearly fell off my treadmill. And I totally believe in the mission of CPAC, but seriously.  Funny.
And I've only just, it feels like, returned home from a whirlwind few days with my love at the most magical place in recent memory.  Where we dined our friends and I spent nearly one whole day reading.  Where Dan slept in until 11:30 and I got so sunburned on my nose that it's peeling.  Lord, help me not to run into my dermatologist at Target later.  Where I could take calls from the Smalls from the teak couch on the screened in porch while I wrote out tags for the gift bags and ate m&ms (don't judge me).  Where I could get iMovies sent to my inbox featuring Solanda (Lu) making Nanny pretty from the condo bathroom and see for myself what I already knew: that the Smalls were being doted on by the amazing Nanny-burd and Papa too, even though poor Papa was under the weather.  Doted on despite being brought to school "so early we had to wait in that little vestibule for, like, 20 minutes".  Yes, he used the word vestibule.  My kids are awesome like that.
And while I was riding my bike, with it's little black basket and "cottage 29" painted on the handlebars and while I was laying by the pool, all covered up, 'cept my nose, because it was fifty and windy, and while I was taking long tubs in the prettiest bathroom I've ever been in (doilies in the trashcans y'all.  doilies!), I chatted with Father, who I've kept on the back burner far too much lately.  Kept there until I found small cracks in my day between breaking up the constant battles these condo walls have wrought between brothers, especially, and placing internet orders for side tables and drawer pulls. But last Thursday it was just me and a bike and a teak couch on a screened porch in a magical place and I spent the whole day with Father.
I prayed for kids whose daddy walked out.  Just like that.  For a friend needing healing.  For marriages that are disintegrating.  For my own Smalls and their myriad needs that I've been working on solo when they can only be helped in tandem, something I know, but had forgotten.  And through it all, I kept whispering pleas for patience for me.  That darn patience which feels a couple sizes too small so when I sit down it makes my stomach pooch and takes my breath.  Patience that I wear for a bit and then kick off to the back of my closet so I can put control back on.  Control fits so much better and it stretches and when I wear it I think everything is where it should be.  But there is patience on the floor in my closet, reminding me that the tight is what I need to wear right now.  That control is just an illusion and patience is actually my size.  So on that day when I put on patience and laid by the pool, I felt good in it for the first time in a long time.  Patience felt right.
And the next morning, I sat in the Savannah airport having panic attacks before boarding (part of my pre boarding process, along with buying US Weekly and a bottle of Fuji water) and wearing patience and reading The Long Winter and whispering breath prayers to Father for courage to board.  Found peace in the pocket of patience.  I think it's been there all along, but I forget to grab it.  Held onto that peace through deicing the wings, which led to tarmac sitting, which usually ratchets the panic, but this time I was holding peace tighter and panic fell away and left me in 16 B wearing patience and clutching peace, even though I was missing Tessie's talent show and my next flight.  But I did get home.  To four Smalls who had been picked up early from school and were waiting for me.  Four Smalls who heard me before they saw me, because there I was, wearing patience and clutching peace, but smiling happiness as I called out that our LOA had been issued while I ran to them.  That we are now on the home stretch of this crazy journey that terrifies me daily.  That she will be in our arms by mid June at latest.  Four Smalls with shiney, watery eyes who couldn't believe we'd finally gotten it.
So this is me, loving being home and challenging myself to kick control to the back of the closet more often and make patience my uniform.  Patience and trust, they go well together, I think.  I'm learning to wear them in tandem and it looks good.  Even though the Fed Ex truck, with said LOA, isn't here yet and there are a million decisions to be made today.  Even though China is now looming larger than ever and it just totally terrifies me, everything about it, except her.  Even.
This is me being real.  Wondering what you need to shrug off today in favor of something Father is holding out and beckoning you into?  Do tell.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

sure.

February is nearly over and we've spent it in the Waiting Room.  We dared to pray big prayers and we are trusting that Father has been working, even when we can't see it.  Today is the 26th and it feels different somehow.  I think something is going to happen today.  But as I was laying with Grant last night, I  reminded him that February might pass without our LOA, likely will, but that doesn't mean God hasn't been working.  We may, I proposed, receive our LOA weeks from now and find out it was approved in February.  We may, I proposed, never know what God was doing during this month but, by very definition, "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see".  We are claiming that.  Holding on to it like starving people to a crust of bread.  Asking for eyes that see things with certainty, even when they are invisible.  Sure in our hope and certain in what we do not see.
And in the meantime, her bag has arrived from Land's End with her name on the front, joining the six others like it in the basement.  And I'm up to my eyeballs in choosing colors and approving fixture heights and brushing drywall dust off Lulu's clothes.  I had my third Chinese class last night and can now properly ask someone their name, a skill I'm not sure I'll need to use in China and certainly not with our daughter.  Why do they start there always?  Why not with some useful phrases like, "Where is the bathroom?" and "is this gluten free?".  Instead, I'll wander around Beijing, starving, and only able to say Ni hao.  Wo jiao Vos Megan.  Dan, ipad in hand, sat on the couch last night watching me throw a mini temper tantrum over how much stuff was laying around (small spaces amplify it, I swear) chortling as he made his new translation app mimic me with such phrases as, "Why can't they make invisible toothpaste?" and "You let her drink cranberry juice in here?" and, my personal favorite, "There is crap everywhere.  I hate this condo." And if those things sound bad in English, they sound much worse in Chinese, all choppy and angry.  Chinese is a language rife with staccatos.
And so I'm taking my first world problems and choosing to fix my eyes on Jesus today.  Lucy is heading back to preschool and I'll have a precious couple hours to run errands without her so that the guilt of dragging her from one trade supply place to another doesn't compel me to buy her another Barb or feed her junk.  This is a season, and likely not my favorite, but it's sweet too.  It's been filled with long (no, seriously long) hours laying on floor, placing teeny perlers in place while my phone reads stories to us and winter blows itself out on the other side of the glass.  I don't love it here, but here is where I am for now and as long as the Smalls and Dan are here, and as long as we are moving toward China and as long as Meijer continues to stock perlers, we'll be more than ok.  Because we are sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  And that is everything.
This is me being real.  Wondering what you're sure of this cold morning?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

bold.

This was waiting in our inbox when I limped through the door yesterday, holding my hurt and bearing bags of food.  It called for dropping everything and staring at the computer all through dinner time and then some.  At some point we ordered pizza and had a movie, but as soon as the Smalls were in bed, I was back here, staring at her.  Our sweet girl.  And not only six, count 'em six, pics, but several reports as well that found me digging through our adoption binder for her growth charts so I could graph her out, see where we are in that regard.  And then was heart sick to learn she's lost three precious pounds since our last report.  Has fallen soundly off the growth charts, her little self.  And photos of her impossibly small feet make it clear why she is not weight bearing yet or walking.  But even though we are ready to leave at a moment's notice, we have months left to wait.  Months of her being with the same foster mom, possibly losing more weight, not getting the therapy she needs for those sweet pink feet I long to tickle.  Last month this news would have made me curl up around myself and be sad.  But not this month.
It started with a man on Facebook.  A preacher who needed prayers for his dying wife and chose to go public with them, to ask boldly.  Because, he said, he'd realized that not doing so, that refusing to ask loudly for a miracle was only an outward symptom of his inward doubt.  Fear of painting God into a corner.  Doubt that God's reputation can handle the bad PR that would come of being asked a noble thing and not delivering.  And it spoke to my heart, this boldness.  And so I'm linking arms and asking too.
This baby needs to come home.  Father will bring her here in perfect time, we know that.  And while we have no idea what God's will is for her homecoming, we know that God's will is changeable sometimes.  That the prayers of his people are heard and listened to and, sometimes, used to change his will.  And so I'm asking, we are asking, for a miracle of paperwork.  Our LOA, the next big step, is supposed to take 4-6 months.  We are asking for it in February.  Matilda turns 2 on the 9th.  We long for her.  And so we are asking boldly for Father to deliver her LOA in February, despite Chinese New Year, despite best guess estimates, despite.  Asking boldly because we love a bold God.  Asking without fear of putting egg on Father's face if it doesn't happen.  Asking because we have no other choice.  Asking because we will travel within 3 months of our LOA, so the sooner the sooner, right?
And so you know?  The man's wife has not yet received miraculous healing, perhaps won't this side of heaven.  But the asking of Father and being answered differently does not diminish Him.  Instead, when we ask boldly, the evil one is diminished and Father is glorified, even as it confuses us and offers ample chance to exercise faith.  C'mon Church.  We are to be a Body who asks boldly and accepts graciously.  Will you join me?  And not just for Matilda, but will you ask with courage for the things that seem impossible?  Will you give Father a chance to blow you away?  Will you accept if if He chooses not to?  Will you?
This is me being real.  Telling my children, who are every bit as anxious to get her as I am that we are asking for a Feb LOA because Father can.  Reminding them that we will praise no matter when it comes and that she is held until then.  That we all are.  So thankful for those big hands.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

away.

It's been a weird season.  Not just this crazy Michigan weather, but here, in this condo.  We are elbow deep in samples and I run out to the house to answer some question or another at least once a day.  A packet of papers came from our adoption agency yesterday.  It's so long and involved the only response I could give it was to lay my head on the vinyl covered table and cry.  I thought getting our dossier in would feel so good.  And it does.  Only it's given birth to the scary reality that we are actually doing this insane traveling with all our children to China to pick up our daughter with special needs thing.  Which has led to hours and hours on Facebook and blogs following the stories of families who have gone before us, comparing our wait times, wondering when we'll go and how I'll manage the flight with my considerable claustrophobia.  Which has led to not sleeping well and worry on the ugly side and leaning into Father on the beauty side.
It's a season and I'm not sure it's going to be one I remember fondly always.  And I sat here last night after getting the human hurricane in bed and looked at my family, all of us on different devices.  There is little to do here, with no neighbors and no friends, no backyard with a creek and abundant wildlife, no projects and to do lists other than the massive one at 9000 that is constantly calling us.  And, frankly, there is little energy, not at the end of these full full days when all I want to do is curl up with my ipad and cruise Houzz to get a good picture of the vanity I want built in the boys bath.  So that's what we've done.  Surrendered to the lull and spent our evenings snuggled on the couch with technology and a glaze in our eyes.  And it's not ok.  When I pictured these days of condo living, I saw it as a grand adventure.  A time to explore our city and play board games and hang out as a family.  I didn't factor in the mind numbing tiredness of working on adoption papers and designing a house.  But Father did.  And he's calling me away.
I'm unplugging us Vos' for a bit.  I'll check in now and then, but the level of connectedness we've acquired is not healthy and I'm putting up my dukes against the pull of it.  Less fb, less blog reading, less comparing our journey to everyone elses and wondering why they aren't the same.  Less kids curled around ipads and more together games of Uno and Blokus.  Less Netflix and more taking them home and letting them shoot stuff and nail stuff and be the feral Smalls they need to be.  Might even skin something while I'm at it.  Prolly not.
I prayed that this winter would find us pouring into our family, and arguably, building our home and adopting is doing that, but I want more.  More adventure.  Even if I have to tape my eyelids open to see the cards, I'm going to play.  Even if I can't eat it, I'm going to pop that darn popcorn and settle under blankets for a family movie on one device, even if the boys declare it dumb girl stuff or the girls have to cover their eyes.  And I'm going to focus on the only One who can prep me for surviving this season: Father.
This is me being real.  Heading to Meijer to pick up so board games and 5 Hour Energy shots.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

pursue.

Baptism wrecks me.  Plain and simple.  The water, the symbolism, the remembering my own, the whole thing.  I start crying when I see Rod in his black t-shirt and know what's coming.  Don't stop until we're on our way home listening to kids fighting in the back about who gets the bucket seats.  I woke up this morning tired, as I have the last few mornings.  This adoption stuff is hard and it's been weighing.  And I would have advocated for a stay home morning, but there have been too many of those since moving to our little condo.  Guilt brought me to church this morning, but Father was waiting for me at the door.  And even though it was a combined service in the gym, which means Lucy finagled an invitation to big church, which means we had to climb to the tip top of the bleachers and sit under the vent that sucks all Rods words straight up and out, which means that my back hurt before we even settled in for the teaching and I swear we'll skip out the next time there's a combined service. Even so, Father was waiting at the door, so I knew it'd be good.
All Lucy's colored pencils fell under the bleachers, one by one.  Peter had the hand held microscope he got in his stocking and was using it to inspect every change in texture within our family space, including Barbie's butt, for the love..., Grant had my pen and I lost my place in the Bible.  I think I heard about two words of the teaching, but they were sweet manna, literally.  And then at the end there was the big tub and I knew I was never going to make it without doing the ugly cry.
Because if I've learned one thing through this adoption process it's this: everyone deserves to be pursued.  Relentlessly pursued.  This sprint we've been doing to our girl, this breathless race of paperwork and dashed hopes and grainy pictures of her so far away, this race has reminded me that every step I take toward her is nothing compared to the steps Father has taken to me.  Seriously nothing.  And if you teach your children nothing about God,  then please teach them this: that the Father of the Universe is pursuing them.  Relentlessly pursuing.  If your children are grown and have fallen away, then you get it more than I do.  You would do anything to bring them back, and you are only flesh and blood.
I have said over and over during the past four months, "I need to be able to sit with her someday and tell her I did everything I could to get her home as soon as I could."  It's what drove me to call USCIS everyday for more than 20 consecutive days.  It's what drove me to pay a ridiculous amount of money to have our 797 approval Same Day Aired tomorrow.  It'll drive me to leave the Smalls on New Years Eve and spend my day in line, pleading with the Chinese Consulate workers for mercy and their authorization.  So that our dossier can be sent to China on Friday.  So that our 6-8 month count down to travel can begin.  So that China can see how badly we are aching to have our girl.  I will hold her on that day and I will whisper in her ear that mama loves her and I came as soon as I could.
Father does the same.  Relentlessly pursues far beyond the bounds of sanity and reason and when you finally surrender (which sounds awful but is really wonderful), he'll set you in his arms and whisper to you that Papa loves you.  He'll give you supernatural insight to see all the times he's been running after you, even though you were headed away.  Always away.  Because eventually "away" runs out and you will always look behind you and find Father in pursuit and you will know that he's been there all along.  If you haven't already, look behind you and see your Father in pursuit.  It's the most beautiful sight there is, I promise.
This is me being real.  Coveting your prayers that doors would fly open so that our papers can be authenticated and our dossier can go off on Friday.  Determined to check the church bag better next time to ensure it includes neither microscope or any Barbs.  Sheesh.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

coming.

Isn't it funny how watching someone you love open a gift you've been dying to give, becomes equally as exciting for you as it is for them?  Which is only to say that their favorite to get was your favorite to give and now you're all stupid happy. Together.
Here's how it played out a couple days ago.

video

Thanks to Tony for catching it on film and for editing out the hysterical crying that ensued, along with the part where she stuffed them down her shirt and swore she was going to wear them until we leave to go get our girl.  Which turned out to be untrue because when I hugged her today I didn't hear any crinkly noises and I'm glad of it.
And now I've only to call our adoption agency and tell them that it's going to be Vos Party of 9 for China as soon as possible, please.  Because it's only right that this Nana and Papa who have tirelessly prayed for our girl should be there when we snatch her up and bring her home.  And if they help keep the Smalls occupado during 16 (billion) hours in flight and consulate appointments and long waits, well, then, that's what we call a twofer.

This is me being real.  Wondering what (besides Jesus of course) was your best gift of Christmas?