Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gravity

Well it has been said that all that comes up must eventually come down. Translation, the honeymoon is over. The first week Oliver, our puppy, was home was wonderful on all accounts. Accidents were few and far between, the kids were visibly in love, AJ and I were not getting much sleep but we were still functioning adequately, Charlotte had taken on the role of "big sister" to her new baby and as a result she was having fewer tantrums. All in all, life was good.

Time has passed and life is still good but not quite as polished. Oliver has been having accidents in the house so I have been scrubbing the floors constantly, he is teething and thus biting, AJ and I are exhausted and although Charlotte is still acting like a "big kid," she has resorted back to tantrums. When all of these elements mix with my lack of sleep and notorious short fuse, my days have been difficult to say the least. I keep telling myself that this moment will pass just as every moment does and that the pain of today will reap the happiness of tomorrow but, in all honesty, I am too tired to be patient for tomorrow.

I've been doubting my abilities as a parent, wife and friend. I hate to admit that the wishful thought of a life without children and animals has crossed my mind, I am afraid to adopt again and to add to the existing chaos, I am worn-out and my faith is suffering because I am too scatter-brained to focus on what I am reading in the word. I know that it all circles back to my lack of sleep, speed of life and the period of adjustment our family is in;  I am thankful and remain humbled in all of my blessings. Although I may dreadfully await standing out in the cold at 5:30 am with Oliver for his potty break, deep down I wouldn't give it or any of the current obstacles up... I'm just tired.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Purpose

Life is exhausting, unpredictable, fulfilling and complex. For each time I  proclaim that "I will never do this or that" I in fact do just this or that. The decisions that I thought I had made regarding certain life experiences were irrelevant, because ultimately it is God's decision and outcome. I've fought His lead so many times in my life only to be disappointed or left a stray. Only when I realize my submissiveness to Him do I fully realize the joy of my life; a gift before the ultimate bounty of heaven.

This leads me to question human direction. Is our intuition so instinctive that we declare "for" or "against" certain outcomes of life, as a rebuke to God's timing. All the while knowing deep within ourselves that we will eventually do what we say we will never do. Does our lack of control urge us to retaliate against our absolute purpose? If the answer is yes, then those things that we feel so passionately against could be the exact place where our individual gifts are the most recognized.

I was never going to get married, have children, own a dog, drive a minivan, live in the suburbs or be a stay-at-home mom and now I embrace all of the above. It's as if God instilled these elements in me and regardless of my internal battle against them, I would surely loose and succumb to each of them. Eventually, I have grown to welcome the various facets of my life and could imagine my days no other way. I have realized a true and sincere happiness within myself and a friend recently said it best when he announced that it's as if AJ and I are experiencing a spiritual renaissance. 

We feel a renewal of interest in our faith and our lives mirror this awakening. I understand that where I am is where God needs me most and that I may change directions but only when He wills it. If I am not appreciative for where I am, then I am not being thankful to God because this is where He has me. It's counterproductive to society's mission to control every aspect of life to ascertain happiness. I've found that happiness cannot be forced and it's not man-made by any stretch of the imagination. Galatians 4:8-9 "Formerly when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods at all. But now that you have come to know God (or rather to be know by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless basic forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?"

Maybe I'm speaking nonsense and my mounting lack of sleep with a new puppy is making my mind work in profoundly fragmented ways.  Perhaps I should just go to bed and shut down for a few hours, but I'd much rather sit here exhausted, analyzing the unpredictable, fulfilling and complex nature of life while praising Jesus for each moment and opportunity.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Five Years

If I was observing myself from the outside I would assume the day was like any other. For the first time in five years I didn't count the clock as a reminder of the phone call that changed everything. I didn't feel lifeless and depressed. I carried on with my life and appreciated the fact that I was alive with so much to live for. Something that has happened to me doesn't have to define who I am.

Five years ago on February 20th, my Mom took her own life and the family left behind was forced to live without her. There have been intervals of elevated lows and moments of  prominent highs since her death. Over the course of the past five years AJ and I have moved into our first home, I gave birth to our son - her first grandson, we traveled to Africa and brought home our daughter, I turned 30. These are all but a few of the moments my Mom has missed; moments that I longed to have her next to me.

Suicide is a devastating departure as it leaves the survivors feeling discarded and culpable. Years of personal healing are attributed to prayer, support and faith. I feel I have finally reached a place where I realize my loss, blame no one, accept the outcome and hope to be used as a vessel to help others experiencing similar circumstances.  It would be so easy to rebuke God, to curse His name, to doubt His love for me and to fall into a viscous cycle of self-pity. In contrast, I refuse to let what happened change nothing, I refuse to fail to recognize the lesson in fragility, appreciation, significance and the eternal that my Mom's death has presented.

How many times in a day do you question your purpose and wish that you had more or could be somewhere other than where you are? Do you ever doubt the path you're on and convince yourself that this is just a moment leading to something greater? Are you happy? I have learned that where you are is where you need to be. I have learned to appreciate life for what it is and not for what I want it to be. I understand that although I am a follower of Christ, I am blind yet still wiling to be devout.

Five years have passed, life has continued. I have lost and I have gained, recognizing that life's lessons are often realized via the most inopportune situations. Tomorrow is not a guarantee so don't fill today with regrets. Take advantage of where you are and love those around you as if you may never hold them again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Newest Addition

Officially introducing Sir Oliver Vaughn Fink...

The kids are in love. AJ and I are in love. Needless to say, there is a lot of love in our home at the present moment. Along with this adoration, I have admittedly become an avid seeker of all things caffeinated. After having three kids, my mind understood that slumber would be a luxury upon Oliver's arrival but my body is receiving a crash course in sleep deprivation. Despite our exhaustion, we are so thankful for this little guy!



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Change is good...

I think hell may have frozen over. We got a puppy.

All common sense has gone out the door, we have three kids six and under with another on the way, we're in the process of building a home and we've decided to adopt a puppy. Anyone who knows me knows that I like dogs, but only when they aren't mine and only when they're not in my home. However, over the course of the past week, AJ and I have been seriously discussing the possibility of getting a puppy for the kids sometime in the next five years. Both of us have incredible memories of our childhood dogs and we wish the same for our little ones. The future came early and we are officially the proud family to a six week old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel we've named Oliver. We get to bring him home on Wednesday! Only two more days...

Sophia and Etienne are elated. Charlotte would rather play with my cell phone.

 

AJ and I are in love with this little guy...

                                   

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WAITLISTED!!!!!

We have received the email that I have been stalking my inbox for, we are officially on the waitlist for a 0-6 month old baby boy from Ethiopia!!! Currently our agency's wait time for an infant, 0-12 months old, is 8 months. Therefore we could be looking at receiving our referral in the beginning of October, if not sooner. I feel like I can breath again. We're on our way little man!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why Adopt

As we are about to be officially waiting for our second child through adoption, I've begun to note the numerous reasons that we have decided to adopt and how our life would be incomplete otherwise. We had Sophia and although she was an emergency c-section, she was angelic. Etienne was also an emergency c-section only this time I was completely under. It took some time but after adjusting to having two children, we knew that we wanted more and I knew that I did not want to birth them.

We'd always been drawn to Africa though sponsorship programs and the like so it seemed a likely road to take. Ethiopia was like a magnet pulling us to submission; we fell in love instantly with the history, culture and the plight of the people.  With Charlotte we sought her in our loving desire to parent another child. With our current adoption we want to add to the family but we also feel an obligation to be submissive to God's plan for us. Growing up I never aspired to be a Mom; I was career focused and wanted to explore the world. Now, as a I raise my three children, I feel as though the world is a part of us and I know that where I am is exactly where I need to be.

We adopted and continue on with adoption because this is the way God has brought us together.  We span ancestry, race and personality while collectively uniting through faith and trust, love and devotedness. Our similarities and differences make us who we are - a family of individuals. This is why we adopt. John 14:18 "I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you."

I've taken this opportunity to answer some questions we have been asked or those that we may be asked...

  • You make such beautiful children, why would you choose to adopt? God makes beautiful children everywhere and we are blessed to be chosen to parent this beautiful little girl and any other children in our future.
  • Adoption is expensive isn't it... How much did it cost? It cost as much as needed to cover adoption fees. Our children weren't bought. When we had our Sophia and Etienne we paid medical fees to bring them into the world. Money is a detail not a determinant.
  • Why did you adopt from Africa and not here? Because our daughter was in Ethiopia. Maybe we will be called to adopt domestically in the future.
  • Could her birth mother ask for her back? No, she gave her up for adoption because she wanted to give her life. Someday I hope to be able to thank her in person for her selflessness.
  • Did you get to pick your baby? No, God chose her for us.
  • Has she adjusted to the family? She has been a perfect fit since the moment she arrived.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Expectancy

UPDATE: Dossier is completed! They called.

Let me preface this post by first stating that I know that in the adoption process each step moves forward according to God's perfect timing. Secondly I admit that even in this realization, I remain impatient in those things that are out of my control.

I am a control freak and I move so quickly that I expect the same from everyone around me. Let me be more specific, last Friday we finally received our I-171H approval, I had it notarized the same day, mailed it for authentication Saturday morning and assumed that it would arrive in Madison by Monday afternoon. Monday came and went as did Tuesday and just as I was about to loose my mind it eventually arrived to the Secretary of State office Wednesday. In my fit of eagerness, I put a rush order on the authentication and expected that by week's end it would be completed and I could forward it on to our adoption agency. The goal being a completed dossier and a spot on the waiting list. Well, it's the end of the week and it's not done and I am pissed off!  I put a call into the Secretary of State office and was told that the person who handles authentication was caught up to date - apparently not because our documents are yet to be done - I'm anxiously awaiting a call back from them.

I often wish that I could simply handle everything by myself so that it could be done as I want it and when I want it but I know that this is impossible. This leads me to the realization that my high levels of expectancy not only put pressure on others but it causes me unnecessary stress. Does this also affect my relationship with Christ or is that the one area when I am completely tolerant? I believe that I expect nothing and am grateful for every blessing I am fortunate enough to experience but under this calm demeanor am I like a inmate waiting for my chance to break free? These are questions that need examination.

Bottom line I need to calm down, reconfigure my outlook and have faith that our little guy will be ready for us when we are ready for him. However, I still wish the phone would ring.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quote of the Day

Sophia: "The world is mixed up."

She was dizzy from spinning and jumping around... but so true on both accounts.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Referral-versary

Written one year ago today...


My Sweet Charlotte,

I remember checking the phone around 4:15PM as I was driving home work with Sophia and Etienne, wishing for the phone call announcing your arrival. Daddy called at 4:43PM and told me to hold on the line and to not hang up. I was nervous and not expecting what I was about to hear. Alexa from CHSFS was on the phone and the first words she spoke were "we have a referral for you. She is a beautiful 8 month old baby girl." I was overwhelmed with disbelief. I couldn't believe that the day we had been waiting almost a year for had finally arrived. I shook with joy. Alexa told us all about you as Daddy and I listened attentively - I could barely speak so Daddy did the majority of the talking. When Alexa was finished Daddy and I stayed on the line as we both opened the email containing all of your known information and photographs.

Sophia, Etienne and I crowded around the computer and at first sight of you our breath was taken away. You were beautiful, more perfect than we could have ever imagined. Daddy and I knew as soon as we saw you that your name would be Charlotte (little, petite) Evangeline (gift, angel) Birtukan (orange) Fink (your Daddy's name).

Sophia and I were laughing with uncontrollable joy, she then began to cry because she wanted to have you home right then. Daddy came home from work in a hurry and we stared at your photos together - I've never looked at a picture so much in my life. We phoned everyone to tell them the wonderful news. Our closest friends came over to celebrate. You are so loved. I barely slept that night, I got up periodically just to look at your pictures. God has blessed us beyond comprehension. You are our "perfect orange."


One year later I am still in awe that God is so generous and that I have been given the honor of being your Mommy.
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