Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hers and Mine: A mother's day dilemma

I’ll give you a peek at my last several Mother’s days. They have each been so different and so full of a range of emotions.

5 years ago I was swallowed in motherhood. Overwhelmed, lonely, trying to keep my head above water with a 1 year old and 2 month old and a husband who was working non-stop to get his business running. I was in a new town, no friends, no roots. I struggled to be grateful for my blessings instead of just seeing the demands of my minute by minute.

4 years ago I pushed myself to be grateful. With a 1 and 2 year old life was busy and it was hard to get time to myself to recharge. I was sure our family was complete and very set on adding no more children to our family, finally making it out of the trenches just a bit.

3 years ago we were starting to hit our stride. Mother’s day was fun and enjoyable with handprint flowers and pancakes in bed. I finally enjoyed motherhood far more than I was overwhelmed or swallowed in worry or stress from it. I was so thankful for our two kids and life was finally getting easier.

2 years ago on mother’s day was the time God planted that seed in my heart…are we done? Really? It was then that we started exploring adoption again and just a month after mother’s day that year, we embarked on a journey to adopt.

1 year ago, mother’s day hurt. Where were my children? What was their mom going through? Our family was not complete and we all tasted the hurt of longing and a lack of wholeness in our home. Mother’s day without my children made my heart ache in the waiting but yet still trying to enjoy the moments with our two at the time.

This mother’s day is a flurry of emotions. I am so grateful for where we are. 4 kids later we are busy, life is a little chaotic, loud and unpredictable. But it is also fun, hilarious, and right where I want to be. There are still hard days, even some every now and then where I recall very closely those days of trying to keep my head above water. But more so are the days of laughter and interesting conversations, funny questions, deep talks, silly games and hours outside.
But my heart is split this mother’s day too: For the mom that my children are surely starting to forget. I pray her face isn’t fading from their mind but it has now been at least a year since they were together. Maybe a lot more. The few memories Maran has shared with me are all positive about her mom. And I see her everywhere in Maran and Levi. In their round dark eyes, in their precious pouts, in their desire to help, in their compulsion with organizing and closing things, in their gentleness and desire for affection. I know that their mother loved them well. But most likely, death or poverty separated them from her. No family should ever be separated due to poverty. My heart aches for her if she is alive on this day without her children. My thoughts go to the aching in her heart, much greater than mine last year on this day. The two children she bore, she has no idea where they are, if they are alive, if they have a family. What I wouldn’t give to sit down with her and tell her all the joy she has brought into my life. Her pain and tragedy is my incredible gift. She has done the greatest thing. Laid down her desire, for our children’s survival. I cannot imagine being in that place. No one should ever be. This is the messy part of adoption. In a perfect world, in heaven, there are no orphans. There are no families separated by preventable illness, a shortage of money or food, or war. This is not how God intended. That is why our family will fight fiercely and give extravagantly to prevent orphans from being created in the first place. This is our passion. But sometimes you have to respond to tragedy. Adoption is that response for us as well.
I’ve written their mom several letters, letters that will never be sent, but just trying to get the weight off of my heart and the thoughts off of my mind. But she will always be in our lives. I will pray for her frequently. I will tell Maran and Levi about the woman who made the impossible choice for life for them. The complete self-sacrifice she most likely made to give them a chance at hope.
You see, they are our children, both hers and mine. Just because I hold a paper that says they are now mine, that takes away nothing from the fact they were hers first. She saw their first smiles, rolls, coos, crawls and steps. She felt the pain as they entered the world, she felt the pain the last time she saw them. I walked alongside their pain as they mourned the loss of her, the loss of the life they knew, the loss of the “comfort” of the orphanage. My thoughts went to her as Levi took his first steps. As we clapped and cheered for him, I thought of her. My heart went to her on Maran’s first day of preschool, how proud she would be of her daughter that is now speaking English, sharing, and venturing into brave new territories. My thoughts went to her as we got back all of our medical tests, how she fought valiantly to protect them the best she could. While I don’t want to “glorify” her to my children, I know she made some courageous decisions. Decisions that some people would see as selfish or unnecessary, she made the best choice she could.
You see we are all mothers facing different decisions, hardships, and challenges. Unfortunately her hardship caused her the loss of her two babies, her hardship is my blessing. She bore it for me. I will never know the true story of her choice, but I see it in the eyes of her children, my children. It is rare for two women to share such a fierce love of the same two children. We are forever linked through the chocolate skin and almond eyes of our children. Hers. Mine. Tragedy. Victory. Pain. Blessing. Loss. Redemption.
We were reading the story of Lazarus the other night and talking about resurrection and God changing things for our good and his glory. The redeeming power of Jesus. What Satan intends for harm, God turns for the good of his children. I shared a sweet moment with Maran, this is your story my sweet girl. What Satan intended to leave you robbed, alone, orphaned on the streets of Congo, God used for good, for her good, for mine mostly I am sure. God gets the final word. Jesus has the victory here. Even though their mother still feels the pain of this, even though as a family we will walk through seasons of suffering and pain as a result of a heart full of hurts, confused identity, or past baggage there is still victory there. And we are each a grace-filled picture of beauty from ashes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

to my friend who lost her son

Oh sweet friend,
My heart breaks for you. Ever since I heard, I have had a deep pit in my stomach and I wake up in the night thinking of your loss. I know this is nothing but a sliver of the ocean of hurt you are in. There are no words to convey my aching for you or sadness that accompanies the loss of such a short lived life of 16 years. Many people try to comfort with words that end up hurting like knives driving the pain in deeper. "Heaven needed one more angel", "it will take time to heal", "It's all in God's hands and timing", "He's smiling down on you from heaven", "At least we know he is in heaven" While some of these are true, they do not help the pain and loss you are feeling.  Even worse are the stories people share about friends or relatives they know that have lost children so "they know how you are feeling".  If I were you I would want to crawl in a hole and shout NO YOU DON'T! Because we don't know how you are feeling. What you said to me keeps repeating in my mind "How do I think of never more? Never seeing him in the yard again, at the dinner table?" As I stood with you Sunday and held you while you cried, you had such strength, such grace, and such perspective. I was reminded of Jesus with Mary and Martha after Lazarus died. Both of them said to him "If you would have been here sooner he would not have died." That is such our tendency. But I am so thankful of his different responses to them. To Martha- the thinker and analyzer- he gave truth and perspective. A reminder of what is to come, what has been conquered, and what we have access to through him. But to Mary, he wept with her. No answer, no explanation, just walked through her emotions right along side of her. So I pray Jesus is exactly what you need, just like I know he will be. At times, he will be a companion in your pain, curled up right there with you, tears streaming over the loss of your beautiful son.  And other times, he will be there with you, giving you wisdom, truth, perspective, and revealing the glory in the tragic, the beauty in the suffering. He promises it. And I claim it over you.
So I just sit here as a friend, hurting for you. It is such an honor to stand with you, support you any way I can, and boldly go to the throne for you intercessing when you cannot find the words. Tonight will be hard, Tomorrow will be hard. You will not find closure most likely, but then again, that is not really what we seek at a funeral. I am praying for joy in the memories of your son, a comforter in your sadness, a companion in your pain, small steps of healing to a wound that will never close completely, and a shoulder to lean on in your husband as a tangible reminder of Gods steadiness and steadfastness. 
And I do believe he may not be looking down on you from heaven. He is in the fullness of Jesus and I doubt I would want to take my eyes off that to look down on the temporary of the world, but I don't know. I do know he has never seen more beauty and glory than he is experiencing now. But even that doesn't take away the pit in your stomach, the piece of your heart that left this world Saturday. If only I could help you carry the burden of your pain. 
Satan is ugly, the war is real, he gets at us at every front. But remember this. You are a good mama. Jesus is known to everyone in your house and is seen to all who enter there. He will sustain you even when you don't want to be sustained. And he won the war already. 
So I will do all I know I can do. Sit here and hold up God's word right back to him. And tell him to do what he says. Be near to the brokenhearted. Be the counselor, the comforter he promises to be. To reveal glory in suffering, to give you more of himself.
My heart aches for you, 

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