Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We Passed!!!

We are overjoyed!!!
Thanks be to God!
We can't begin to thank everyone who supported us in prayer and thoughts and well wishes ( but I will, another post!)!
We are shaking and crying with joy (ok, me!)
and we still need prayers for her to clear her medicals but for now, we simply shout and rejoice!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Race, proud mom

Buddybug ran his first official Half-marathon yesterday! That's him, on the end in the yellow shirt, green cap, number 142.
Yup, it was the Holy Half up at ND and he had a lot of fun running with his buddies.He did well, a steady pace of eight minute miles, 1:43.
** Official Race Result Update (because we care about this sort of thing): 1:43:15, pace 7:53, place 142 out of 600. ** {Hey, I'm impressed!}
I think he is built for running...and it's in his genes. His grandfather and uncle are both very good runners.... Grandpa ran long (crazy long sometimes), and Uncle David ran fast (did Boston, and sometimes crazy long). I love running but {when I do it, not lately..ahem} just shuffle and gasp along, so he clearly got this from his uncle.

I'm proud of him for sticking out the training for this; amidst ice snow exams music friends music late nights and the myriad distractions of college life.

It was cold, wet, and snowing...perfect for a spring Sunday run, don't ya think?
Well, not for me, but they seemed to have a good time!

Novena to St. Jude, day nine



Day 9
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Novena to St. Jude, day eight


Day 8
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I do. Twenty-two times

I do.
Twenty-two years ago.
A lifetime, several maybe....
We were SO young, and didn't even know it.
But then again, not so much maybe.
We had dated for...ever.
Seven years.
In some ways, we practically grew up together...
seven years, springing into adulthood.

{It was the eighties, don't judge me.
And yes, we were young!}

We've been through so much:
times when we weren't sure we'd make it,
times when we couldn't imagine not.
Eras.
Just like any "old married couple."

That's what we are now....
Foolishly, perhaps,
it surprises us.

We used to be that young couple....
Now we are the old one,
the one with how many kids?

But here's the secret, shhhhhhhh:
Now, it's so much better.

We might be that old married couple...
Not as shiny, or smooth, or skinny....
But we are molded into each other, part and parcel.

It surprises us both, how so long ago it was such a fragile event, really.
It wouldn't have taken much, he says, for it not to have happened.
A little more fear, a little less hope...
a different choice, or two.
But then again...maybe not.
Seems like it was meant to be.

Twenty-two years.
Lifetimes.
And we can, even now, look at each other with deep wonder and say
"I love you so."
"And, ever, I do."


Happy Anniversary Honey, I love you!

Novena to St. Jude, day seven


Day 7
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Novena to St. Jude, day six

Etching by Jacques Callot, 1632
Day 6
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Falling down rabbit holes: What they don't tell you about the wait, part 4

Consider Alice.
She fell into a world she only wondered at from above.
Above, all made sense.
Below, down the rabbit hole, not everything did.
Almost, but things were different.

Very similar to the wait in adoption, particularly international adoption.
Things seem to mostly make sense.
But not exactly, and they don't always work in the expected way.

Take falling in love.
That's a classic, right?
We all know it, been there, done that, can sigh and wilt into a reverie over the magic of it all...humming the latest love song as we go about our normal day.
Until you fall down the rabbit hole of adopting a child from a world away.

And then love is all topsy turvy.
It's love, but in a different way, at least while you wait to see if you can officially declare this child "yours."
You are virtually given the child, through pictures and information.
Sometimes (like us, this time) even meeting them briefly and getting snagged and connected then (whether you realized it at the time or not).
Then you have to jump through many many hoops for them, in order to be allowed to claim them.
Then you are approved to claim them; you are "referred" officially.
And then you wait for court, and hopefully travel.
Hop, hop, hop.

And this is where Wonderland becomes so very literal.
You wonder, will you pass court, pass visa, travel soon?
Or be stuck, held up, and have to wait in this weird no man's land of parental limbo.
You want to love this child, you have written them letters of love and received them back.
The words have been given.
But it's a strange sort of love, before you hold the child.
It's a weird uncomfortable suspension....

And the fear of not being able to go get them and hold them soon, of being told, hurry up and wait some more, maybe for a long time, no we don't know..... it hurts.
It hurts just like regulation style love, when it's not accepted or allowed.
It hurts like a mom, who is fighting for her kid,...right there in that breathless hollow just below your ribs.

And you think: I was given to her to love, she was given to me to love.
I need to climb out of this rabbit hole and just be allowed to do it.
And then, as I am stifled in the wait, I realize and important thing.
I do.
I love her.
I love her, not with the lingering gaze and brimming heart as I watch her sit nearby....
But I love her, in that I will fight for her and am consumed with figuring out how to get to her, how to make things right for her.

My kids, one or another, have wondered out loud about how we get so focused on her, we don't even know her, really, she's not here.
And I agree, but point out that love is also true commitment, not only sparkly eyed blushes.
That we committed to her, head, heart, will.....she is our child, and so now she feels like our child in that acceptance and commitment...that love.

And she is far away.
And she needs to come home.
And we will move mountains to make it happen, if only given the chance.
Because whether we are in our normal regular life or in the rabbit hole of the wait.....we do love her, we looked at her, and we fell.
We committed.
We love her.

We want her home.

I am Alice.
Curiouser and curiouser....will we pass, will we travel?
Five days to court.
Maybe a week or two before we know if or when we can travel....

Books, Books, Books!

Just finished this book, by one of my favorite bloggers, Mary Ostyn, aka "Owlhaven." This book, "A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family" is like a cross between a long conversation with her and an in depth extension of her blog.

Mary has long been one of the women/blogs I check in with, daily, if possible. Her family is a great example of a successful large household. Even better, they are a family built by birth as well as adoption and she too has a love for Ethiopia. So, no surprise, great connections for me there. But the bigger picture is that Mary is a real mom. One who has the normal ups and downs and successes and failings, one who I can relate to. She says she's not a "supermom" in the usual tabloid sense of the term. And maybe she's not. She's better. She's a real mom, who is in the trenches, trying her best and has been for a good while....and therein lies the charm.

This book is an easy breezy read. It is not fluff though, it is full of good ideas, many I hadn't thought of before. Yes, she is extra good at putting in a huge garden (Which both inspires me to find my spade and also to a bit of jealousy) and then canning it all up. So, maybe a bit of that is just not gonna happen here in my house.... However, the low key practical, thoughtful ways of running her home and caring for, loving and living with her big family is very much an inspiration for me. I am thinking about good new solutions around here in our busy house as well.

The book is organized into easy to find chapters, you could skip around if you prefer that mode. But I read the book straight through in a day (ok, I'm a pretty darn fast reader). It is not only tips and tricks, it is also thoughtful reasoning behind her stances on issues and ways of doing things. Helpfully, she admits that she is not an uber organized gal by nature, which makes me like her all the more. I tend to drop books by uber organized gals by nature, since I am alien to them and will never be that. But she has found a middle ground and that is where the treasure lies in this book. It's for real moms. And not only real moms of very large families (And I admit, I am sliding into that category, but still, I remember the smaller days), any size family can find some connection moments in this book.

It's an easy happy read for the start of spring. Pick it up, be inspired, get a deeper glimpse into a popular blog mom's real life: the how's and why's, the what worked, what didn'ts. It might inspire you to try something new....for me, I think I might need to learn a few new card games. And this might just be the year to really put in a garden, I've been dreaming about one....
She says she is no "Supermom"...but I suspect she's got at least a cape in her closet somewhere!

Novena to St. Jude, day five

Fresco by Bicci di Lorenzo, 1440
Day 5
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Annunciation

Painting by Antonella da Messina

This is an important solemnity, of course. It is when Christ actually was made man, in Mary's womb, but present, truly, here on earth. This feast always falls in Lent, another way to remind us of the reason for the season, so to speak. We have that circularity to meditate upon as we close in to Easter and the Vio Dolorosa of Holy Week.
Painting by Orazio Gentileschi

For me, this year, once again, this feast is especially meaningful.

Last year, we were awaiting our court date of our little Gabriel. His referral and arrival was another personal annunciation for us. And to have his name, we knew, to be Gabriel, was especially meaningful.

This year, we are in the waiting again.
We don't have the name connection this time.
But we do have another.
We await a young girl, possibly not too different in age from Mary at that time.
Painting by John Collier

And this time, it's all about that oh so important word, the word that this entire feast hangs on: "fiat."
Fiat.
I will.
"Thy will be done."

And once again, we try to ponder Mary's answer..made when she was scared, didn't know how things would play out, work out, seeming impossible, probably so hard, but already beautiful and amazing.
Painting by Henry Tanner

And all I can say is that if we look, our, my, little lives all too often reflect what's bigger, what's more important.
And so I look to Mary and her answer...for the strength to wait, even when I am scared, don't know how things will play out, work out, seeming impossible, probably so hard, but already beautiful and amazing.

I wait for court.
I wait for visa.
I wait to bring her home, my daughter.

And I will celebrate the feast of the Annunciation.

"Fiat."
Painting by Caravaggio

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed
is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Novena to St. Jude, day four

Painting by El Greco
Day 4
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tennesh Tuesday

Tennish: "little" or "a small thing", in Amharic. So, this is almost like wordless wednesday...but without the wordless part. Which works for me! So, this is just a little something for the day. It's a little bit of spring.

Novena to St. Jude, day three


Day 3
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Novena to St. Jude, day two

Day 2
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Novena begins today: St. Jude

I'm starting my novena to St. Jude today.
That's this guy, here, in this painting.Painting by Anthony Van Dyke
I am starting this novena, which is nine days of focused prayer, today so that this set of prayers and petitions ends on March 30. Which is just as my waiting daughter goes to the courtroom...specifically, when it is the night of March 30 overnight into March 31, my M will be talking with a judge in Addis Ababa and this judge will decide whether we all are officially family, in the eyes of the Ethiopian government and law. And then on Tuesday, March 31, we will get that phone call of good news or bad news. But I am hoping and praying for good news, hence, this novena.

Now, many folks are somewhat confounded by novenas. They are rather a Catholic thing, I'll admit. But then again, not so much. Here's the deal. (I know, I've spoken of this before, but well, who ever goes back to archives? No one.) You see, you all know, some of you more painfully than others, that I'm a beggar. I'm begging for any and all prayers this time to get our girl through court and visa and home. This is the same deal. It's intercessory prayer. But instead of my phoning my friends, emailing my other friends, begging on blogs, stopping strangers in the streets....this time I am also hitting up a saint. St. Jude Thaddeus, to be precise.

And I ask him for his prayers on this, because he, unlike those of us here on earth, is in heaven already. He has left his smudgy selfish self behind and all traces of that are gone. His heart is pure. Thus, he is a MUCH more effective pray-er than most anyone else I can ask, short of Christ himself (and yeah, I'm praying hard and having much discussion with him too, no worries on that point!).

And this intercession of the saints is one of the coolest things I can think of. It's just what I do for my brother with my folks, and what my kids do for each other with me. We go to the person who can help, on the others behalf. We petition. And stand in for each other and add our backing to that person's petition. And it helps. If only in the moral support, it helps. And that is exactly what a novena in our Catholic ways do too. Only we hit up a saint, for their support and prayers on our behalf. And it helps.

Prayer transforms, no matter if they are answered the way we hope or a different way that we can't understand yet. And that in itself makes the effort worthwhile.

So, I'm praying to St. Jude. He was a cousin of Jesus. He was a chosen apostle. He is a good egg. He is patron of impossible causes. I"m not saying our cause is impossible, but I"m saying, I've been fretting and there are hurdles and so I'm calling on St. Jude. He's helped me before, he is faithful.

And I'm gonna make you all nuts maybe because I'm putting the novena prayer up every day. I'll post other posts too, don't disappear entirely! But, if any of you want to follow along, you can read and pray it here. If not, I totally understand. Either way, if you have a mind to, any prayers at all on our M's behalf would mean the world.

March 31. We pray to pass court and visa and get her home in April.
Thanks to each of you and any passing thoughts or prayers!

St. Jude, pray for us.

Day 1
Novena To
St. Jude


Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
- and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen

PRAYER

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

Oasis in the Desert

Rejoice!
It's Laetare Sunday! "Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam"

"Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her."

This, "laetare," means, literally, "rejoice," taken from the words that open the Mass today, the entrance. It is a special day in this liturgical season, much akin to Gaudete Sunday in Advent.

It is an oasis in the walk through the desert of Lent. This is a day to encourage all of us in our Lenten efforts, a little breather to help us gather for the second half of a rigorous season and also remind us to look toward the joy of Easter itself. Hoorah, I'll take it and just in the nick o' time, if you ask me!
Indeed, "The strictness of the the Lenten Liturgy is interrupted on this Sunday with words that speak to us of joy. ... As Holy Week and Easter draw near, so do forgiveness, mercy, divine compassion, and a superabundance of grace." Francis Fernandez, "In Conversation with God; Lent and Eastertide."
{You might wonder why I post about these Catholic observances and the theology behind them....or you might not...but just in case you do: I post about them because I think about them and, almost always, find that they are mirroring, on a grand and awesome scale, what is churning about in my own tiny little life. }


We are given flowers on the altar, the vestments change from the penitential color of purple to a lighter shade, a rose. The music is less somber. We are reminded that we can have joy, even in suffering and trials...but it is a joy that is not of the world. It is a joy that is more real and truer, deeper and one of seeming contradiction. It the joy of being united to Christ, even in the cross. As Pope Paul VI points out "Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the occasions of pleasure, but finds great difficulty in giving birth to happiness." True happiness, joy, can be found in this contradiction of our modern world. Its not the surfeit of stuff that makes us happy, its the surrendering of our very selves, letting them go.

Laetare Sunday is also known as Mothering Sunday, from Gallations which points out our right to be called sons of God as the source of our joy. Which also of course, has, for me, a mom-adoptive connection (I know, a one-note kind of gal. Don't judge me, I can't help it. Because, yes, once again, it's all about me).

So, all the facets of this day kind of converge for me.
As usual, the liturgical rhythm is ever so germane to my own little mundane gerbil mill life......{And, why yes, I have been stewing about how all this jives up. You may look to my last post on roller coasters, just below, to see why}.

And so I think today is a little gift, I take it as one.
Because this was a tough week, and might be a few tough weeks ahead, as my overactive imagination can dream up all the ways this court date and visa issue can go wrong...as I fret and stew even as I determine not to.
This day, today, encourages me to carry this cross, such a meager one as it may be.
To keep stepping forward in faith, no matter what may come...to keep working on trusting instead of doubting and kvetching. Instead it encourages me.
There are too many connections for it not to deeply resonate for me.

So, in order that I will remember them in the coming weeks until Easter, and even more, until our court date (just over one week!), I am going to make a list.
A laetare list, if you will.

Bear with me...
Here goes:

Lent, a time of penance, sacrifice and mindfulness of being called to be more than we settle for, for remembering we are called to step out of our comfort zones in faith and hope.
The difficulty of actually following through on these efforts, or any effort really, to step out of our perfectly tufted comfort zones {ok, me}.
The great gift of a little oasis, a break, and encouragement for our body, mind, heart and spirit.
Today as Mothering Sunday...with all that implies, to me: caring feeding nurturing supporting directing healing holding tight.
This is what our faith does.
This is what the eucharist does.
This is what the Church does.
This is what a mom does.
This is what I am being called to do, today, and more, adding to it, hopefully soon.
Lent itself helps prepare us to do this, on all levels.

And more, on the tangible level:
Girls like pink.
Me too.
My new daughter seems to love pink.
She looks beautiful in pink.
I love food of all sorts.
I love to feed people.

I love flowers.
I love breaks, because I am a wuss.

So, we've got a liturgical oasis, flowers, pink, snacks, Mothering, rigor, breaks and joy.
What's not to like?

So, as I sit and wait in prayer and hope for our court date, I will also join this effort to simply wait more closely to Lent the season and this walk. This is perhaps one of my more "lived out" Lents. No wonder it hurts...... but, ah today, is Laetare Sunday. Not today.


Rejoice!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adoption Process: Roller Coasters

As many of you know, the adoption process can be a rollercoaster ride.

Many, many folks just love roller coasters...hence the popularity of expensive theme parks like Six Flags and even Disneyland. Certain aficionados travel around the country to find the best old wooden rollercoasters, believing those provide the most "authentic" coaster experience.
Even in my own family, we have kids who love roller coasters. Take Booboo, that boy lives for a great rollercoaster ride - the scarier the better. If there was a roller coaster named something like "Twisting tower of furious warp speed death spiral," he'd be twitching to go buy a ticket, be the first in line. That's my Booboo. He's seventeen, you make the connection.
Me, I don't like rollercoasters. I don't like the sheer terror, the speed and the plunging drops where your heart stomach lifts in your rib cage and then plunges down as your breath is stolen in the speed of the plunge.
photo by space potato
So, for me, this has been a tough week, adoption process wise. This week has been a roller coaster in the adoption world. As many of you know, the U.S. CDC has issued new guidelines for visas and immigration, for all immigrants to the U.S., not only adopted children. But these new guidelines threaten, or seem(ed) to, the timeline of an already lengthy and dicey process: the process of finalizing international adoptions and the timeline of going to pick up your child. The unknowns of this have many of us parents wondering what it means to our upcoming, hoped and prayed for, travel plans. The speculated delays range from "none" to "more than seven months or so." And really, none of us will be able to know which one of these times applies to us until after we pass court and start stepping through the new visa protocols.

As one of the parents who has a child who doesn't fit the tidy box of these parameters, there are a lot of unknowns yet to be played out. Thus, this week has been filled with rumor, speculation and yes, sheer panic. And yes, a great lot of that is because I am a high responder and also something of a cynic. Yup, it's true. Me.

This week started with the wait mode creeping of the coaster car up the hill, waiting on our court date, getting closer (1 1/2 weeks!). Then on Wednesday, we crested another peak with a great update on our girl, complete with a new picture where she looked really good. Little did I know that that same afternoon, I was going to fall into the steep careening panic of potentially devastating timeframes, now being broadcast across the web. And I was strapped in. Caught. All I could do was kind of soundlessly yell, "No!" as my heart and stomach plunged into the sick worry of "what does this mean, really? NO!"

Stop the coaster, I want to get off.

But it doesn't work that way. And I was waiting for our agency to get back to me on more concrete info, and more specific to our girl....and I'm really bad at waiting. Control freaks, I think, hate roller coasters. So, I reached out to friends and tried to wait, keep busy, as Coffeedoc put it,"Don't borrow trouble. Wait." Right. I'm SO good at that.....

Finally, what seemed like ages but was only 24 hours, our agency got back to me. And they clarified. And they clarified for our girl, "it seems like it will go ok." They have a few more things to check out, regarding all this, but so far, that's what I've got. And, for now, it's enough, it has to be.

And today is different. I have chosen to step off this roller coaster, to unbuckle myself and step out.

I am quite very sure I can only do this because of the prayers of many dear ones and because of my desperate plea (over and over, begging) for the grace to be still, to wait without being consumed by worry (as is my natural m.o.). And as I went to Mass today (offered for our sweet M) and then adoration, I got to wrap prayer around me and sink into it, like a soft homemade quilt. And I felt the grace of that comfort. And I have looked back over this week and realized that even in my panic, in the twisting plunge, I can see grace and beauty: in the tremendous support of friends like dear Jess, Shelly, Lori, (and others who know who they are)...in my husband, knowing how much this rattles me and his caring.

I realize this is just one instance, one loop, if you will, of the roller coaster of international adoption. So many others have buckled in for much more death defying loops, many more twists and drops. This is not about me, except in that, I guess if I have to even look at that loop, I am grateful to be able to find the small dabs of beauty in it all. The support and prayers of blog and home friends cannot be measured, and cannot be repaid. But they can be appreciated more than can ever be told. And they are.

So, in order to honor that grace and beauty, I choose to step off the roller coaster. To wait. It is less than two weeks to court and to the new embassy protocol cascade. I choose to wait and pray and hope. I'll wait (and see) right here by the side, I'm not in line for the ride.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Feasts and family ties


It's the Solemnity of St. Joseph!
Now, this is a biggie, St. Joseph is one awesome saint. Only the best would be selected to be the earthly father of Jesus, right? Right! You all know him, I hope, a holy righteous man, given the highest honor imaginable (short of mom....): being dad to Christ.

I love him for that. And I love him for the example he gives us of steadfast love and doing the right thing with compassion and honor and love.

Now, there is one little thing though, that makes me a bit nuts regarding St. Joseph.... It's not really about St. Joseph, him, the man. Rather, its more about the titles slapped on St. Joseph.
Yeah, you guessed it. It's an adoption thing.

St. Joseph should be the biggest patron for adoptive families going. It brings me to this nit picky pet peeve of mine: that everyone always has to clarify when they talk about him and his relationship to Jesus.
Holy Family by Raphael
Every single time I read it or hear it: "St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus" or some variant I think, "Sheesh!" Because, really......did they really think of it like that back in the day...those days? Do you think that when the women were standing around yakking and they saw Jesus playing with his pals and heard Mary call for him or Joseph, do you think they asked Jesus "where is your foster father?" NO. They said, "Hey, where's your dad? Your mom wants him." Of course they did. Now, I don't mean to be irreverent...but c'mon.

It's like where I live now, (maybe it's everywhere, but I only now notice, so I'm calling it regional...don't get in a snit, no offense intended, I already said it my personal pet peeve). Here, people commonly say, "That's my stepsister" or "That's my stepson" or "Stepmom" or whatever. And it doesn't matter how long they've lived together, it could be forty years and they still have to clarify this, even in a casual social setting (I'm not talking about complicated genealogical papers here or anything that could remotely necessitate such fine tuning). That slays me! Why can't ya just say, "That's my sister"? I mean, really, why?

I know. This is a weirdness on my part. But every time I hear them qualify St. Joseph's relationship to Jesus it kind of gets my back up. It's the same as when media always have to delineate that the celebrity's "adopted son" did this or that. It's his kid. Period! Don't say my kids are each other's adoptive sister or brother, and don't, really don't, tell Coffeedoc that he is Gabey's "foster father."

I guess it's that same prick I feel when someone asks about their "real mom", um, me. Or even worse, "Which ones are yours?" um, let me count...yup, all of them! I know what they are getting at and that it is a fumbly thing, especially if they are not in the adoption world, but still. Me. No qualifiers required. This is not to diminish the kids' first mom, or birth mom, or first family...but really, no qualifiers are necessary once they are in mine. No adoptive, foster, step, ya da yada whatever label is needed. They are our kids. Done deal.

Back in the day, St. Joseph's day, to be exact... family was often built by promise. A special kind of promise, a "covenant" promise. A covenant cannot be broken. It is bigger and stronger than a meager promise or intention, it is stronger than a paper legal contract, it is a covenant, a vow before God. It is eternal. And it was a common manner of forming family. Sure some kids and folks might have just kind of been taken in and eventually been considered a part of the big extended clan. But there were also covenants that built families. And just as God made a covenant with his people, St. Joseph made a covnenant to this baby and to his wife. So he was not just a foster father.....he was his dad, here on earth.
Icon by Brother Claude Lane, O.S.B
Maybe this sets me off because it's hard to shake off the flimsy postmodern standards and loose contracts that define family nowadays. And so too, too many tv shows of divorce court and meaningless family ties have disintegrated the meaning of the term 'foster father'.....I can nod to that. And so too, our family ties in our modern era tend to be much more formalized on long legal papers and the term "foster" parent means something different in this usage. And I am no theologian so perhaps the finest points of this description of dear St. Joseph elude me. But, it still bugs me. So, yeah, this is an adoption rant.

Poor St. Joseph, I feel like he doesn't get a fair shake. He cared for, loved, guarded, protected this little baby, had to flee into Egypt for pete's sake. He lived a quiet unnoticed life. He didn't get the kudos for raising this special child, nor was he supposed to, then. But, now, we know him for what he was: a strong, humble, holy man, who obeyed God's call and made a covenant to be the father to this baby here on earth....a giant step out in faith. St. Joseph was Jesus' earthly father - his dad. And he is an excellent example and intercessor for adoptive parents and families everywhere.

Happy Feast Day!
Go eat some pasta!
And for some beautiful thoughts on St. Joseph and hope,
go here, to Deacon.

St. Joseph, pray for us!


God our Father,
Creator and Ruler of the universe,
in every age you call man
to develop and use his gifts for the good of others.
With St. Joseph as our example and guide,
help us to do the work you have asked
and come to the rewards you have promised.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
New St. Joseph Weekday Missal

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to my favorite "Leprechaun"

It's my baby brother's birthday!


Yup, he was born on St. Patricks day!
Yup, his name is...John.
But it was gonna be Patrick......however, my folks decided that was too obvious...
But it doesn't matter because today is his day anyhow.

He is the brother who is so smart and so funny that he can make me laugh til I cry.
And despite the fact that he also can make me angrier (or used to) than anyone else....he is just a favorite (but I have three brothers, so I can't officially go down this path...ahem).
He has the happiest smile and the kindest heart of anyone in our family and I miss him and love him.
He married a stunning brilliant Parisian girl (ok, now, lovely woman, we are getting older) who is a lawyer, a yoga teacher, and a chef (and still, we love her! go figure!)
He has two beautiful smart charming daughters that I don't see nearly enough.

We two, he and I, were the last of five sibs, thus making us officially known as "the little kids" versus "the big kids."
But we showed them, because we knew we were the smartest kids....of course!
And the two of us played together (because the big kids wouldn't give us the time of day) for years and years as best playmates, friends and fierce competitors.
The sibling rivalry was intense - I knew he was a spoiled bratty baby, but he was great fun to play with and boss around.
He put up with me.

That shows you how nice he was and still is.
He is now a successful lawyer and family man, who still gets out to surf whenever he can and argues, well, everything, with me and disagrees with me on many many issues.
But ultimately all that doesn't matter, because he's my little brother.
He is good.
He is funny.
He is my brother and just thinking about him makes me smile my happiest smile.
And I'm going on record here, that, despite being my baby brother, he is grayer than I am!
He is why I love St. Patrick's day!
{the five of us, ages ago, John is leaning his happy face on my sis -I'm on the end}
Happy Bday John!
I'll lift a toast to you tonight!

Kiss me, I'm Irish!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Yup, it's the feast of St. Patrick: St. Paddy's Day.
Which means many things, and here in the U.S. typically means loads of green beer (ok, gross), green shakes, corned beef, soda bread, and general indulgence despite the lenten season. A plethora of shamrocks and leprechauns can be seen and smooching abounds (not that that is so bad!). And suddenly, everyone is just a little bit Irish! Me too! Actually, I can claim it remotely (really remotely) though for many years I thought my maiden name had Scottish origins...but nope, Irish. And I root for my son's school always: GO IRiSH! So, it's fun day all around!
As a homeschool mom, if I'm feeling energetic and creative there are loads of history and fun things for St. Patrick's Day: coloring pages, books, activities, games, and of course, food. There is an abundance of these, plus great books and movies and celtic music to listen to if you're feeling thematic for the day. Illlustration by Mary Kurnick Maass
But I like the saint's lives, you know that. And St. Patrick had an amazing life and was a strong and courageous man, who grew in holiness enough to return to the land that originally enslaved him...because he loved the people there. So St. Patrick is not only about eating and drinking oddly colored beverages and snacks, not about wishing for lucky leprechauns. St. Patrick shows us we can beat the odds. St. Patrick is a great example of perseverance and courage and faith, for going where God leads you despite the hardships. To bloom where you are planted even, to carry this out.....maybe you'll find some shamrocks, after all! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
St. Patrick, pray for us!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Parting the veil

A year ago we got that call.
The call that changed all our lives, forever; fundamentally, eternally.
A year ago we met our sweet Tariku. This was our son, reaching out to us from a world away it seemed
(yeah, they are gooood with those referral pics, aren't they?).


Jessica (not our usual caseworker) called us last March 14th (2008), a Friday, and I was just pottering along on a typical day. I had no expectations of a call, and Coffeedoc was in surgery. I had gone to adoration as usual, was home with the kids, drifting through the end of the school day/week.

And then the phone rang and I picked up to Jessica's voice, "Michele, this is Jessica, Natalie is out of the office, but I have good news for you!" "Really?" I know my voice went up at least two octaves. And then she asked if Coffeedoc was available and I had to tell her no. Thus began the longest fifteen minutes of my life when I had to scramble to call into the OR and luckily enough, he was finishing up and so we all made the fumbly arrangements to conference call.

And then we all were finally online and on the phone, at the same time. And she sent the pictures. And we saw our son's face for the first time.

And I cried. I was stunned. He didn't look anything like I had expected. But I don't know what I expected either. He was perfect. He had those big huge eyes...... I said, "Do you see him?" It was silent for a moment and I asked again if he got the file. "That's my son," Coffeedoc said as his voice broke just a bit. Then we both said, "Wow!" Because really, what else is there to say? We were breathless. Graciously, Jessica went over the attached info and mumbled a bunch of jumbo about paperwork and so on that I ignored mostly, I just kept staring at my boy and reading over his info. Somehow we all hung up.

But everything had changed. Because that veil that separates us from our little mortal lives here and real time, God's time, God's plan....it had parted. And a little boy was revealed. Tariku. We accepted and sent back the paperwork immediately. And then spent the day, the weekend, in the giddy head rush of calling all our family and friends and stopping strangers in the street to tell them, "I have a new son, he's beautiful! He's a toddler in Ethiopia! Do you want to see his picture?" Ok...maybe not all the strangers in the street, but I'm sure a grocery clerk and the pharmacist learned a little more than they expected.
We didn't have a blog back then so I didn't post all this. But now, this weekend, I can't help but find myself reliving those heady days. It's a rush like no other. And everyone will say, of course it is, you just found out you have a kid! The stick turned pink (or blue, if you will). Well, yes.

But I think the absolute electricity of it comes from being able to see that veil being parted a bit - getting that glimpse beyond our little piece of today - to the big tapestry of our real lives, interconnected with others we can't see and know. And with this, international adoption in particular, we see it in a way unlike any other.

I am connected to Guday, Tariku's birthmom. I gaze at the few pictures I have of her and think of her often. We pray for her. I like to think that she prays for her son, and for us. She passed away and thus, now I am this sweet boy's mom. But we moms of this boy, I feel we are connected. I don't know her...but then again, maybe I do, a tiny bit, in the smile and laugh of her little boy, the dimple in his chin, the scrinch of his nose, his sweet affectionate nature.
And there are those who don't feel that God has any hand in all this. That these connections are fabrications. That it is people manipulating systems for selfish or maybe not so selfish wants. And that's another viewpoint, and has some truth in it. Or they will say that it is about a hardness in this world and a poor solution to the hard hurts and wrongs around the globe. And those things are true but another conversation. And that is ok.

But you know, of course you do, that I really really do think that God has a hand and His plan in all this. I think that God works through the hardnesses and the wrongs in this world to a greaeter plan, to bring good beyond our ken. I've seen it too many times to not have that hammered home. There are too many ways these adoptions prove out God's great mercy and love and plan; shown to me again and again as I am given the ultimate gift of these kids. That's just not random acts or human process in my book. And if it's just my own selfish drive to manipulate it and push and make it happen....well it wouldn't work...and certainly not nearly so well. I'd muck it all up (in fact, I do a fair job of that anyhow on an ongoing basis).

Ack, I'm getting off track. Meandering again. But I think, I believe, that the reason it gives me chills and makes my eyes prick and often overflow with tears when I read of another family getting their referral is because, yes, I am just thrilled for them. It's too because I know that breathless stop in time and the rushing thrill of that news, those pictures.

But also it is because it's that brief touch, that flash, that glimpse of the world beyond: the world beyond the veil that seperates this hectic chaotic broken beautiful life we build here, and the eternal unspeakable beauty in the truer world, unfettered by the boundaries of this mortal life.
Dismiss this if you want. But those electric frissons are not just twitching neurons or jumpy nerves. I think they are our truest selves recognizing, even for a glimpse, a breathless half moment, what is real.

And this is real. He's been mine, for my knowing, for a year.
His name is Gabriel Tariku. He is my son.

Friday, March 13, 2009

You're so Vain

Me, I mean.

I've been stewing about this a lot lately. Vanity. Me. How tied I am to it.

It's Lent. And I guess it's a good thing to stew about...if you're trying to be a bit more detached from it. But sheesh, it's like detaching a limb, for pete's sake. Because, yeah, I'm SO vain.
Anchoress got me stewing about it more, with this post. She talks about how hard it is to finally post a pic of her, the real her, be seen on video, with all her perceived shortcomings. And I read it and thought, yup. Gee we are so hard on ourselves.

But I am the worst at it. And I've been thinking about it a lot this week. That's probably due to the fact that I spent far far too long on the sofa, either sitting company with a sick kid (half done, waiting for the other half of kids to fall sick...) or lying sick myself; only barely conscious enough to register my hands bent into old feeble claws and the odd poochy lump that would be my stomach, not the pillow after all. It was made worse when I had to answer the door to the very nice yard guy. Saying hello, his eyes politely flickered then made a studied examination of his clipboard. He hastily retreated back to his truck, business finished. Grateful for the quick exit, I checked in the bathroom on my way back to the sofa. Oh dear, I thought, taking in the wild frizzy gray mop, and the baggy eyes and slack gray skin underneath, the rumpled sweats. I look like hell. Poor guy, now he has to go find some Airborne tabs, quick. And I thought, ah, sick and still vain. So sad.

And now I'm better but still feeling all out of sorts. It's a vague malaise that's been lingering in the atmosphere of my head lately. I've chalked it up to spring fever. I've chalked it up to the waiting blues (court, again). I've chalked it up to just plumb being out of shape (this one very likely) again.

But then I've thought more about it. And you know, maybe this is a sort of Lenten snag, at least that I'm stewing about it now, more. Maybe I'm supposed to stew about it more, now. It's one of my personal thorns. I have always been insecure to some degree (yeah, we all are, but still), some eras really much so and some less (40's really are better, except the failing body thing). Which is vanity, the wishing you were somehow more, better.

So what to do about it? Workout again? For real? The problem with that is twofold: first, I tend to go the compulsive route...I don't just run (ok run/walk, I'm being honest here), I obsess. It's not enough to go a mile or two or three a day...I have to do more, it creeps up, it consumes.

(Me, after my one and only marathon....and I can put this up because I'm proud I did it but it almost killed me and also, I look like what I was, stinky smelly exhausted...so it's oh so apropos for this post, no?)

Second, no matter how hard I work out, I'm not gonna look like I'm twenty-two anymore. I'm 46, 'nuff said. Should I go back to my cheerleader mainstay and say, when I am not working out: "Hey, I've got bigger fish to fry?" That might be true, sometimes. Go back to my postmodern woman mantra: you all know this golden nugget, "Hey, I need to make time for me!" and then slice and dice our daily schedule to make room for my workouts? (And I'm referencing above marathon photo...that was a tough one to carve out family wise...like rearranging the planets. Those days are gone. Aw)

Actually, it's three fold. Third: it's not just about working out or not. It's about that sticky sense that if you don't, and don't follow the current cultural standards closely enough, it's not good enough. This is the sticking point of course. The sickness. The deep seated, bought in, vanity.

Sigh. I don't know. It's very hard in this pressure cooker modern culture of ours to withstand the tide of push pull tug to be some freaky franken-fabu-mama. Can't be done and yet we all scan every new moisturizer that comes out promising the erase the wrinkles or tighten the sagging. (Ok, me). It, this culture, breeds self loathing. Our very culture swims in vanity.

But it is Lent. So I will put this up. Because Anchoress started it, blogwise. Because, I want to detach from this nagging snagging vanity that drains my joy when my jeans get snug. Because I do have bigger fish to fry (no, that's not a Catholic Friday pun...but it could be!). Because I want to be more than what size jeans I wear or how my hair is coiffed or how floppy my jowls are getting.

I want to be holy. Ok, I want to grow in holiness. Really.

And to do that, I have to detach. I have to only want God, not me, not me as I wish I was. Love what God loves. Which, shhhhh, means even me. And then, finally, if I can let go, detach.....maybe I can grow into the most real beauty of all; the kind that counts.
For me, it looks like this.See. Um, clearly.....looonnnnnnggg way to go here. Sigh.
But, it's Lent. And we are in week two. So, something to work on......




This song has been rolling in my head today, sheesh, hence this vain post. But the subtitles make me laugh.