Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Day! Tradition!

Oh, this is one of the very happy traditions for us!! Happy happy day!
Yup, guess what we did this morning?
We had our state/U.S. readoption of our sweet Gabriel!
Hip hip hooray!
Waiting to be meet our favorite attorney and be allowed in to courtroom.

This is becoming a tradition for us:
Same courtroom, same attorney, same judge, same joy!

We always go out to brunch to celebrate after court...
(excuse the messy table...ahem)


And the family traditions continue.....

Insomnia


That's me. Ok, not really, not the eye there. That would be Bananas. But the insomnia. That's me. I can't sleep. This is how I get sometimes, when stuff is brewing and/or I am stewing. We have a big event today, a happy one, I'll post about it a little later. But this morning, I am up and have been. Insomnia. Eyes wide open. And hopefully, heads and hearts too.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Trust, Letters and Life

Well, it's another Catholic post I guess. But it's a family post, it's an adoption post, it's an "us" (ok, me) post too.

Read on if you dare. It's long, you know that by now.

It's been 40 years since the publication of "Humanae Vitae", "Human Life." That's the encyclical, the letter from Pope Paul VI on the dignity of human life; the letter that started a cultural firestorm due to it's stance on contraception. Talk about an unpopular topic and stance - one of the biggies (not the only one, but one of them). This post is not a big gloss on this encyclical, for that go to Darwin Catholic and/or The Deacon's Bench for a good run down on it. This is about how it impacted me.
St. Peter's Square, where the action is.
Now, this letter was huge - the ramifications huge. Basically it said that ALL human life is precious and that the act of creating life is God's alone and the means to that action is also God's alone - not ours to blockade or strip through scientific/medical intervention. I know, I can hear you all squalling, it's my body, my life, my/our decision, who is some old Pope to tell us what to do? I get it. I was there. For years, and years, and years. I TOTALLY get it. I felt the same way, exactly.

Then I came back to the Church, which begged the question, what do I do about this? I was so happy to find and deepen my faith again, it was so good. But. How was I supposed to reconcile my natural individualism and STRONG independent streak, a modern educated woman...with this teaching that felt intrusive and old fashioned, almost medieval, at the very least simply outdated and really, behind the curve?

Many modern catholics just kind of flick it off their radar or decide to disagree. But you know, I finally came to the difficult realization that just ignoring Catholic teaching if it wasn't to my immediate agreement was kind of hypocritical. It was an authority issue for sure. No surprise there. But what did I do with this? Fish or cut bait, if you will. Was I gonna live a true Catholic life or muddle along, kind of ...not? So, I had to come to terms with this.
Buddybug, that first baby boy.
I already had three kids, for pete's sake. I was full up, right? I mean, busy! Heck, three kids meant I was already an over-acheiver by the current cultural norms on the kid front, right? And the third, well she had colic and was a drama queen! My husband was a doc who had to work insane hours, gone so much, we were still in deep debt from all that med school. We were supposed to be good stewards of our life, funds, plan. C'mon anyone would have been justified to continue to use the pill. By anyone's standards I could check "done that" on my life list and move on (well, almost anyone's). More, I had cysts, the pill was supposed to help. See, medical necessity! Hmmmm.

I prayed about it, irritated that I was being nudged along this path, totally resistant. I prayed some more, I consulted with our priest, who I loved and respected (and is now our Bishop). He is a tactful man, utterly kind. But he discussed things clearly as well, with all kindness. He gently pointed out that some things are a grave medical need. And some things are control issues. And trust issues.
Booboo, the largest baby, second boy.
Oh.

Well, dang.

You know, I have found that God can be a terrible nag.
Bananas: first daughter, baby number three.

And this pegged it. Bishop (Fr. C) was right. Dang. This was a trust issue. This was a control issue and authority issue which brings it back to a trust issue.

Because I didn't.
Didn't trust.
Not really.

I could make the big pitch for it, say the words, follow the prayers. But my heart was really stony on this one, because you know, I was a control freak. I didn't trust God to be in charge of my family, not really. I was in charge of my family. I knew how many kids I/we could handle. I knew where my breaking point was.

Now the question became what did I do with that? How do I learn to trust more? Remember, I was/am stubborn and a slow learner, slow to change.

So I prayed. Or tried to. Prayed for grace to give up on this, this grip of fear. Because a lack of trust is really, well, fear. It is. For me, at least. It is the fear of not being in control.

I was afraid of having more kids and not being able to handle it on so many levels. My last pregnancy was high risk (due to my huge second baby boy 9lbs 9oz) and they warned me of rupture and the grave dangers of having more kids. More worry.

Just as I was needing to let go, I found myself running across more reading (I am a reader) on the depth of God's love for us; on His desire for our perfect good. I read and it finally soaked in that God doesn't want anything for us that will break us, but instead what He sends us, even when it's scary and nerve-wracking or very hard, is for our greater good and our truest happiness.

Like a Father.
Oh.
Doh.

Like I do for my kids when I say no to that next piece of cake that will make them sick and give them carrots (ok bad analogy, but you get the idea), when I teach them something hard that they are then grateful {eventually} to know. Oh.

Now I had to decide if I really believed that God knew best? Did I know more than God Himself? (did I hang the stars...?) Ok, no.
SBird, fourth baby home, tiniest.
So, I stepped onto a pitch-black stepping stone, one step forward in faith, and agreed to accept the teaching of Humanae Vitae. No, I didn't have to sign anything, but I gave over. Inside. God could be in control of our family. Of me.

Really.

Oh, man it was kind of nervous making.
But then, kind of liberating.

And, with it, came (as drippy as it sounds) a lifting....I was happier. Somehow, that diving in deeper, the acceptance of this teaching helped bring me closer. And that brought a deeper joy. Go figure.
The Divine Miss M
And no I did not have any more biological children. I was/am open to it. My cysts went away, totally. But I was happier. Our marriage, surprisingly to me, moved into a better place. And, yes, you know the next thing.

God started nudging us to have more children. Another way: adoption. And, as we had decided to accept any children God brought to us, we talked and wondered and prayed and then, kind of nervously, stepped forward. But that story is one for other posts. You know how it ends up though.....
Little Man, third boy, happy boy!
And as it happens, while I thought I knew my breaking point and what we could handle or do...well, God knew better. I know, you all could figure that one out, but I was/am dense. And now, I know, really DO know, that we WILL take as many children as God sends us, any way they come. Beyond my comprehension, God never fails our trust. Ever.

Oh how beautiful is the lesson of Humanae Vitae, Human Life.

Is it easy to have seven kids? Not always, no. It can be crazed and has taken me places I never dreamt, not all of them easy.
Is it easy to trust and let go, still? No.

However, it is glorious. It is beautiful.

I am so thankful for the grace to bend my will, set down my fear, and step one stop forward into the dark. Our seventh, Gabriel Tariku, a gift from Ethiopia.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy Dance

We are doing the happy dance here.
Ok, I am.
Because I am wracking my morning foggy brain.
But I think.... I think......

Shhhh, I don't want to say it too loud.
But, I think....Gabriel slept through the night!
Woohooo! Shhhhhhh.

He's been waking like 4+ times a night since he got home.
More, if he sleeps in his crib in Little Man's room that they will share.
So he's sleeping in our room, in a porta crib.
So this would be the FIRST time ever, in our home at least.
He's not a sleeper.

Yet?
It's a whole new world people!
If he does it again.
They are so sweet when they are sleeping aren't they?
(ok, and this one, when he's awake too!)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Crazy Eyes: Part 2

I quit.

I think I mean it this time. Part of the reason my blogging has been light is I've been trying out and trying to adjust to contacts. Bifocal contacts.

No big deal, right? Well, this old dog can't seem to learn this new trick.

I had four different options to test out. The first group was a set of three variations on the new cool bifocal theme: concentric rings. Sounds high tech and gee whiz wow: concentric rings of near and far distance and the eye adjusts the image in your brain to bring it all into one coherent sharp edged picture. Yeah, right.

In actuality however, it is much more like those old cartoons where a character gets hypnotized and their eyes start to spin in a psychedelic swirl, around and around. Like this.
Courtesy of squidoo.com/optical-illusion videos

So the sets I was given had one with far distance in the center, one with one eye with center far and one eye center near, and one set with the different centers but different magnification. And then, just to make sure I had enough choices, I had a monovision lens to test out. Kind of the same theory of different eyes, different magnifications, one sharp image in the brain.

So, you would think out of all these wonderful, extensive choices, I would find the perfect set of contacts. I might have, except for the bumping into things. Ok, not really. But close. The monovision made me tippy. Not tipsy (sheesh!) but tippy, kind of off kilter. So those had to go. The others seemed ok. The far was fantastic. And the near, reading...well, I tried. I squinted, I reached my arms as far as they would go, I popped ibuprofens as my head ached.....because it was just a matter of time, right?

Yeah, exactly. Until I grabbed my glasses when I had my contacts in and thought "ah, see there ya go, NOW I can see." Hmmm, I don't think it's supposed to work that way.

The last straw was when I was trying once again to swap lens and test out another version, give it a second try. Last Saturday. I grabbed an old contact lens case (because I couldn't see, my eyes were blurry from the strain and it was morning, ok?) and put in the lenses. Then after oh, 15 minutes, I took them out because they were killing me. I figured I must have scratched my eye as I popped the lenses in, in my typical clumsy fashion. I asked husband and son if they saw anything in my eye, I looked for a lash - nothing. So I put in some drops and went on about my day.

I waited for my eye to stop hurting. It didn't. Finally, late that night, my eye was getting swollen and goopy. And finally, after closer inspection -with I had my glasses on I found a contact lens, ripped in half(!), under my lid! No wonder my eye hurt! No, I still don't know how that happened (and yes, you could make a strong argument that if I am that inept I have no business trying contacts, I know). Happy to have that resolved, I went to bed. Ahhhh.

I woke up a cyborg.

My eye was closed shut with yuk and swollen almost shut even after it was, um, degunked. It was red and miserable. Blurry.

I was going blind, I knew it.

It took four days to stop hurting and get back to normal. It still has one small spot of red just for old times sake, but it is fine. My husband is adamant - I am not cut out for contacts, please please stop.

I think he might be right. So I quit. I will keep my glasses, get some prescription shades and resign myself to having same glasses flung off my face with the enthusiastic hugs and play of my sweet toddler. I will accept the encroaching middle age and appreciate the magic vision of spectacles.

I will give up this folly, this pursuit for contacts, once and for all.

I think.

Feast Days!

It's a big weekend around here for feast days. Kind of snuck up on us, it's been a hectic week.

First we had St. Christopher's Feast Day, yesterday (Friday, July 25). Now officially, it was the feast day of St. James the Greater. And while I am quite sure he is an awesome guy, I mean, he's a saint and all, we don't have a James in our bunch and we are not all that familiar with him - despite him being the first apostle to be martyred (which again, lends itself to the awesome holy guy factor).
St. Christopher, Cologne Cathedral, Germany
But, used to be, yesterday was also St. Christopher's feast day, until he got booted off the official saint feast calendar. And despite Sister Mary Martha really not being keen on St. Christopher (due to his dubious status), we are kind of fond of him around here. She makes a valid point that he is suspected to be legendary, lived well before tidy historical records, and thus was dropped off the formal calendar of the Church. [She explains it all well, go read.] And that is probably a good thing, as we all want the Church to be as careful as can be about the whole saint thing, making sure T's are crossed and I's are dotted and all; and the calendar was way too crowded and so the Church didn't want any saints on it that couldn't be historically traced and proven....because the whole communion of saints thing is too terrific to mess up.

But, that being said, we don't much care if he is legendary or if he existed. I mean, c'mon, I got my graduate degree in Folklore and Folklife from U Penn, I love oral tradition and history and how it traces and carries cultures over eons (and maybe is another reason I talk and type so much...but I digress)! We love the story of this saint and he is the patron of my Buddybug, and his name means "Christ-bearer" and I think that right there is just beautiful....and very apt for my son. He is all too often the Christ-bearer in this house, bringing kindness and gentleness to our home. So, we think that while it might not be traceable that St. Christopher actually was a living man and saint, we think it is not improbable and so we will celebrate St Christopher and the concept of being a Christ-bearer. That is worth a bit of thought and attention on any given day and yesterday was the day to do it in our house.


Saints Joachim and Anne, at the Church Saint Pantaléon, France.

And tomorrow, Sunday, is the feast day of St's Joachim and Anne. It's another patron of one of my kidletts: Bannas. These two are considered to be the grandparents of Jesus during His life here on earth, Mary's mother and father. Anne is also the patron of all christian mothers and Joachim, of christian fathers. And while we don't know so much about these two, we can presume they were typical grandparents, crazy in love with their grandson and proud of their daughter and her husband (I mean, they are saints, not petty grouchy old folks like some, and no I"m not pointing any fingers). So, tomorrow we will ask them for a few extra prayers on behalf of our sweet girl and for our family - as well as for all the orphans who are waiting for new families across the world.

Some might think it's nuts or strange to think about saints and feast days, much less have a bit more prayer and/or celebration, but well the communion of saints is the coolest thing. I love having a big old extended family to hit up for prayers and support, whether they are here walking the earth or have moved beyond this world. I have had so many stop me and ask, "what do you mean, asking 'a saint' to pray for you....that's wrong, you should just 'pray to Jesus." Well, yeah, I do. And will. But I also tend to ask my close friends and family for prayers, heck I've been known to call them up and beg! And it is no different asking a saint for prayers, except that they are closer to God, in the Beatific Vision itself, and no longer all smudged up by our natural tendencies toward selfishness and concupiscence. So, heck yeah, I'll hit up a saint for prayers, I'll take all the help I can get.

As for feast days, it's always nice to remember family on their important days, whether or not they are still with us here. It adds a richness to our lives; it helps us move out of the immediate craziness and think about a bigger time frame, the eternal one. So, we like feast days around here, especially those of our patrons. So we'll remember them and their lives, look to them for good example and ask for a prayer or two; if we are lucky we can celebrate with a traditional tasty dessert! Life is hard, why not have a bit more fun and enjoyment, another layer of richness woven in, when you can? It works for us!

So, for all those parents, grandparents, and families out there: St's Joachim and Anne, pray for us!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Follies

Daughters are fun!

No time to post this morning, so I thought I'd put up a pic that makes me smile and to brighten our dark rainy day here (which means it's a soup night! We love soup!). Many things swirling in my gerbil wheel of a mind.....but for now, running late. So, for now you get fun toes. Meanwhile off to the Friday favorite morning: coffee with a pal and adoration...ah bliss.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Yeah, it's goofy, from years ago, but it's still makes me smile!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Making me Wacky

Baby Gates.
They are making me a bit nuts.
We have an older house.
Which means, wacky stairs in wacky places.
Which means, NOTHING is standard.
Which means, the gates don't fit right.
Which means, wacky homemade modifications.
I don't know why this surprises me.

And, he's a climber.
Sigh.
And, he's fast.
So, just a tiny bit wacky.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Grammar of Love

In the past day or so, I've had this conversation and/or topic come up more than four times. So I'm guessing that it might be worth a post. Many of you, the 7 or so who follow this blog, have already heard or know all this....but like I said, it keeps coming up.
So.....
Bear with me. It's long (I know, you're shocked).
It's not a glamour post for me...it's the dark side, people.
The side I'm least proud of.
But it's truth.
And, for you moms about to bring home your first or another, maybe it will set your minds to rest.
It's a scary thing, having a kid.
Baby, toddler, older child...bringing one home, from the hospital biologically or from elsewhere through adoption....well, I think it can be terrifying. It can be ecstatic, but it can be terrifying too.

Maybe it should be.
Sigh, read on.

A long time ago, I thought I had it figured out. I had the "mom" thing worked out. I knew how to do it, mostly. I knew how it worked. I knew all about love.

I mean, I had gone through a number of years of marriage, some of them rocky. And we were still together, against all odds.
I had given birth to three children, so hey, I knew how all about that kind of consuming cosmos changing love.
And I had even adopted. Not once, but all at once, twice!

And that's when I realized it.
I didn't know spit about love.

Because all of a sudden, it wasn't a Hallmark card anymore.
It looked a little bit like a Hallmark Movie, without the glamorous actors.
The screenplay would've read like one, since our first adoption set, of a surprising TWO girls [born 4 days apart, two separate adoptions, suddenly] was a unique and God sent gift. (and a long story, for another post)
But underneath, there was a rumble. An earthquake, way deep under the surface.

Because for me, this is where my preconceptions, my lofty concepts and tidy packaged notions of what love meant came utterly unraveled.

I had thought Love was kind of like, you know, LUUV.
It felt all fluttery or breathless and deep at the same time. It could take your breath away and lift you to the highest piers. It could wrap you in the soft comfort and you could burrow in with a sigh.
And it can. It did.
But that's the adjective kind of love.
It's great stuff, don't get me wrong. I crave it, we all do and happily enough, it's there. And was.
But with adoption, that was when I learned the most real kind of love.
The truth.
(And I know, you're way ahead of me. I told you I was a slow learner, didn't I? You would'a thought a baby girl with dreadful colic would've taught me, huh? Again, sloooww learner. Kinda dense. That's me, but I digress).
But the real truth - the real love....is a verb.

Love is a verb.

Love is doing. Period.
And because I am so dense, God had to send me MORE children to teach me this.
So He did. And I learned. It was not easy.
I learned that when you are overwhelmed with the change of family, from three to five children and all of them young enough to be very needy...love becomes stretched. Or it seems like it does, or did. Not necessarily stretched in an immediate 'bring them into the cushion of my embrace'...but stretched in the sense of "oh my goodness, how do I do this and I'm not FEELING any flutters or torrents of emotion, unless you count the flutters behind my burning sleepy eyes and the tears about to flood!"
And I cried. And I was shocked and despairing at my utter failing.
As a mom. As a person. I didn't love enough, somehow, I thought.
I didn't FEEEEEEL the feelings that they say you are supposed to feel, I thought.

I wasn't being lifted. I was sinking, I thought.

I wasn't really.
I was learning, and growing, and loving.

Thank God, literally, for the graces bestowed on the sacrament of marriage.
Instead of wondering what was wrong with me, or worst of all, scoffing it all off my husband smiled at me, unconcerned, although of course, concerned.....
I would follow him around the house, carrying one or two of the babies, saying, "Yeah, I know, I love them...but, it's so much, so much to do.....will I feel it? Will I love them enough????"

Because I knew. I found out - how shallow and needy I am (still).
Because it was about me.

He would smile at me. Then he would take one and hold her.
And he said, "Just DO for them."
"Huh? Are you not watching me, that's what I'm doing!"
"That's right. That's just right" he would smile.
And when he would see my eyes about to pool over, and me look at him in dismay, he would remind me, "DO for them, the feelings, the depth of feeling, will come. That's what makes the truest love. DO for them. Don't worry. Do for them"
So I did.
I walked the floors with the one who (still) hates change and was fussy.
I held the prickly one who couldn't be still but was electric and could light up the room.
I made endless bottles and changed endless diapers.
I rocked.
I rocked.
I lost count of the times I got out of bed at night, 3, 5, 8 times a night, the times we stood there together, both falling asleep as we soothed them back to sleep. (no it is not easy to get two babies on the same schedule, at least it's not one of my skills).
I slept standing up sometimes, holding them until they would be sleepy and willing to be put back in their crib.
I swapped back and forth with my husband, nuzzling little necks and smooching chubby cheeks.
And one day, not long after (and those days are a blur, I lost time, the pics don't reflect the time it took, don't freak out) I realized it.
OH, how I loved them. With the whole deal....the schmaltzy songtrack, jump in front of a train for them loved them.
And then I realized. He's right: Love is a verb.

It's great when it's the adjective love...but that is really all about ME.

REAL love, caritas, charity, the gift of love, is a verb.
It's the doing, whether or not you've got the feeling...perhaps MORE so if you don't.

And honestly, as a mom, that is the most important thing to remember.
And honestly, as a mom, I totally forget. (slow learner, remember?)
I am quite sure that is why God keeps sending me more children, seven now. For me to learn, somehow and eventually, and maybe permanently. Because He knows how MUCH I will love these children, in all the ways that can be love. He knows better than I.
And with my now rather largish family, I have so many chances to practice.
And when I have bad days or the kids are in an irritating phase or patch, when I am in an irritable phase or patch, it's easy to forget that despite the fact that the LOVE of them all, already (hold this child in Addis...done for) even this newest one, is long established, the Love of them is a willed action. I have to love them, do for them, no matter their (or my) sulks or moods or missing chores. And then when I do....the LOVE of them, the gushy feeling, comes back if it's flitted to the shadows....sooner usually.
Our faith tells us the same thing of course.
God is love.
The full grammar of Love, every part of it.
The Fruit of the Spirit is love.
The greatest of these is love.
But real Love is not the Hallmark love that our culture and media will tout, they spout the adjectival love.
But REAL love: it's Caritas.
It's a gift.
It's a gift of yourself.
It reflects the greatest sacramental love.
Sacraments: outward signs of invisible Grace.
Ah.
Thank goodness it doesn't depend on US and our feeeeelings.

It's real.

It's doing.

Love is a Verb.

Despite all...it's not SO bad being a slow learner.....and really, I hope and pray to keep learning and I have a very very long way to go.
My mind reels with how much more God has to teach me, and how or what (or how many) He might send to do so. (that is the exciting part in a way)
Grammar was never my strong suit. But look at my school!

See, how beautiful are my teachers?!

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to know you're raising an Ethiopian

Maybe he misses the spicy Ethiopian food?
So the salsa at the Mexican restaurant was as close as he's got right now. He pushed for the chips and dipped it in the hot salsa. We held our breath, waiting for the scowl and spit out. Instead he pushed me out of the way; he wanted more.
Even cheerios are better dipped in salsa!!
Hat tip to Buddybug

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Connected

This is us, years ago at St. Peters square: connected with the world, literally people from every country around the world, physically and through prayer and history. Too cool.

This one is for Jana. She, of the cool art and a fav blog, is waiting. She is waiting for that referral of her baby. It is hard. Especially this week, with the great rejoicing of the tide of referrals and court passes. But I've been thinking about Jana.

She put up the coolest thing: the song played at her wedding. Little did she know, it is one of my favorite hymns. Yes, an old favorite Catholic hymn: "Oh God Beyond All Praising." If I can find a link to the music, with singing, I will link or post it (it's that great). But read the words, they are so good, perfect. And that hymn, her post, got me thinking.

You see, it's all connected.

All of it. It's supposed to be, of course.

But we forget.

Or at least, I do. Too often.

And then I am reminded and the beauty of it catches in my throat and pricks tears behind my old crazy eyes.

My husband and I were sitting outside after dinner, watching the kids rip and tear and talking about this hymn, Jana's post and the connections. (yes, we are that nerdy, we sit around talking about religion....we can't help it).

You see, this particular hymn is a song of rejoicing. But in that rejoicing and praise is also so much, so much that is not so rejoice-y. In fact, it alludes to how hard things can be or get - waiting, suffering.
we'll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:

It includes how we can not just limp along and wither through suffering, but even triumph through hard things, things we can't figure out and don't like, and still know that all things work to His good. It's so easy to forget that. I do, all the time. Or I mouth the words but don't really ingest them, believe them. That's the hard part.

This hymn is an Easter hymn. Easter is preceded by Lent, a time of fasting, going without, doing penance or suffering (in varied ways). It is the ultimate WAIT. Waiting on Christ himself and the manifestation of God's will and glory. And during lent, historically, the church brings new members in at the Easter vigil, walking through lent with them, suffering and waiting for that light of Easter, in union, support and solidarity with them.

And at the Easter Vigil (which starts in utter darkness and then bursts into literal, flaming light) this song is often played at the end, the recession, with trumpets blaring and bells ringing and voices raised in glorious cacophony of grinning joy.

And Jana's got it right -this song in her head and heart. And mine too. Because really, the coolest thing is the support that I've found and can give through these blogs. The connections. The adoption process, with all the stops and starts and sinking despair and desperate waiting and soaring joy, is an intense small reduction of the most real life. And, at the best, we can walk through it together, suffer, wait, help bear the burden and shout with glee, as we each wind our way through this long road....looking for the light at the end, waiting on His word. His Word.

The adoption process is a personal Lent. And Easter comes with the arrival of our child.

But the best part about this song, and one that I'm thinking about, is that this song DOES have it all. It doesn't minimize the wait, the sorrow. But it does reveal the promise, that it will end with us marveling at the beauty of a new child and wondering at the ways it all came together. God's way, the perfect mystery of it.

It makes me prickle with anticipation and joy, because I know how good it is. And it is going to happen. For all the waiting families, the ones who are about to fly (literally and figuratively), it's just a matter of time.

But it's real. It's there. This hymn is centuries old. And it still makes me smile and cry at the same time. Because it's about Easter, the real one, our little one in our personal reflecting pool. But it's the realest stuff there is.

I don't think it's just a coincidence when the best, realest, parts of life parallel the most important stuff in the universe. I thinks its bricks, falling on our heads, helping us to see in our blind world.

It's this, ultimately, it comes to this: it's the connections. Make them and you'll see life for real.

...to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways.
And make a joyful duty, our sacrifice of praise.
So, Jana, this one's for you. And all the rest of you families as well.
We will wait in wonder, with you.
And connect the dots.

Tardy, almost Wordless Wednesday (Thursday Edition)

So, I'm late. That pretty much sums up my week.

I've been behind since about 5 a.m. Monday morning. And you can see that this isn't a wordless Wednesday at all, but hey, it's Thursday now so I can yak for a moment, eh? It's been a crazy hormonal week.

So I think this photo sums it up: what I should be doing. Not meditating, better: praying. More. Better. I've been distracted and harried and so my prayers are lacking. Thus, I've been caving to hormones and stress. ugh. So. More prayer. Maybe some time painting if I can carve out a few minutes or more. That always helps. My kids are much better at having fun, of course!

On another note, we are giddy and rejoicing for all the referrals and court passes for the Gladney families!! It's been a flurry of fabulous news this week. So, despite my crazy week, once again we see, God is so good, all the time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Travel Treat: BUNA!!

I find myself in a bit of an Ethiopian funk, and have to sort it out some before I post about it, or not.

However, in the excitement over referrals received by Gladney families, I thought I would add to it by posting about one of the great treats in going to Ethiopia: BUNA!!!
That's coffee. The best coffee on earth. No kidding.

The legend on how coffee got it's start (and the name for the Addis version of Starbucks) can be found here, among other places. I won't tell the whole story, go read. But suffice to say it's got all the good stuff: sheperd named Kaldi, goats, monks, roasting beans, prayers. What's not to like?
The coffee ceremony starts with aesthetics. The flower petals were laid out around the cups and roaster, the cups were set out and the coals lit. How pretty is that? Seeing those petals laid out and stools waiting for us to sit and visit was a welcome treat after a long hard day! A straw fan was waved over them until they are hot, sometimes an incense of sorts is added to them.
The coffee ceremony is about more than coffee however. It is about connecting. Like any real coffee break, it is about relaxing and enjoying a visit with a friend, old or new, learning more about another person. It is a gift of time and attention, a gift of self on multiple levels. This one was Wagayu's gift to us. And we were grateful.
Just for fun, they had us girls try our hand at roasting the coffee. Not the men. Apparently, it is tradition that women do the roasting. So, Bananas gave it a go.
Then it was my turn. I'm no pro, that's for sure. But it was oddly relaxing to kind of sit and stir, listening to the conversation.
After getting a good laugh, politely and kindly, on our inept roasting skills, Tsemest ground the roasted beans with a steel cut rod and wooden pestle. Next she boiled, pouring it in and out of the traditional pot.
Finally, to our great anticipation, Tsemest poured the dark coffee into the small white porcelain cups. She offered it with raw sugar (and I tasted it with and without - to Wagayu's dismay. Good either way).They traditionally serve popcorn with the coffee, often spicy, and while it sounds different...oddly enough, works. It's good.
Maybe it's the smell of the coffee and incense, maybe it's the smell of the popcorn. But I'm guessing that neighbor children know it's a great time to wander over for a visit. They're right. That's Jess.
Suffice it to say, coffee is a big deal in Ethiopia! A country after my own heart (it got it!). While the coffee ceremony is too much production for most folks on any given morning, even coffee on the run is fantastic in Addis Ababa. It is different than American coffee, to be sure. It is maybe most like coffee in Italy. It is close to espresso but not exactly the same; it is smoother, less bitter, with a full flavor. It is certainly worth a try, even by those who aren't coffee afficionados....add a little of the sugar and give it a shot. You might be surprised and really, it's worth a try because it is a part of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian culture. That alone makes it special.

We are so grateful that Wagayu asked us to have coffee with him! It was one of the special treats of our trip. It saved an afternoon that, for me, had careened off course. We had had our embassy appointment canceled with no news of our paperwork arriving and a migraine had started it's tsunami in my head. Braking, breaking, for coffee......it helped get the day back on course, pull it out of the slide.

So, if anyone asks you if you'd have coffee with them, say, "Yes!" And if anyone travels and has room to bring back some roasted beans, um, drop me an email - I'll reimburse! (kidding....maybe).