Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Perfect World for Special Needs Moms

In a perfect world

*People wouldn't lean over my shoulder to peer into my child's face and walk away.

*I wouldn't hear that small, sharp intake of breath as the truth dawns upon them.

*I wouldn't have to be afraid of other people's thoughts and comments if my daughter growls in a restaurant.

*Churches without special needs programs would not exist

Suffer the little children to come unto me?
Which children?
The ones with good families, the ones who can control their impulses?
What about the children who are harder to reach?
What about the children who blurt out things in the middle of quiet prayers?
The middle schooler who cannot sit still?
The teenager with too many piercings?
The child who stims and hums and hits the wall?
Suffer the little children, Church.

*People would understand when it takes months, perhaps longer to figure out how to make church work after adoptions.

*Six kids would seem like a blessing to everyone.

*My daughter would just give up and sign more instead of screaming in my face.

*Food wouldn't lead to utter meltdowns.

*I wouldn't find hidden food in beds.

*I would have two dishwashers.

*School systems would actually do their jobs.

*Teachers would see the potential and not the checklist.

They are beautiful, untapped creations beyond our imaginations.
They are the very image of our God.

*People would offer words of encouragement to tired moms.

*My daughter would speak.

*I wouldn't clean up drool. Ever.Again.

*My heart would move on from the girl in my dreams. The ache would cease to exist.

*Children would never starve.

*Babies would not learn to not cry.

*Little girls would not pull out their own hair or hit their heads harshly.

*Patience wouldn't be so hard to attain.

*I would never lose my temper.

*I would be fine volunteering for one more activity.

But it's not a perfect world, is it? Every single one of us wakes up every day and faces our own battle. There is no small battle or insignificant battle. Every battle requires more of us then we think we can give.

And I am plumb tired out most days. This is tough and requires me to not.ever.break.down. Keep going, keep running, stay stronger then the strongest stubborn streak, demand independence at the very cost of my own sanity.

So I do what I know how. I acknowledge Him in this tired, worn out heart. He is seeing what I cannot and He calls it beautiful. He is making what seems to me like this twisting, winding road with no end, a straight path. He is saying, "Walk, walk, walk straight ahead. One foot in front of the other. Walk."

Jesus, I acknowledge you.
Here, now, I acknowledge that you
know better than I.
You are my King.
You are God.
And I will keep walking in Your Paths.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The boy who called me mama

The hallways were stripped bare and I heard every flip of my flops and the nearly silent swish of my long, navy maxi skirt. My hair was pulled up and braided to avoid lice, my stomach trying to hold onto breakfast. The lights in the room were yellowed and cast a strange brightness to all of the chipped tiles on the walls.

I stepped through the threshold and saw a small children's couch on my right side and noticed how few children were in this room. They scooted, crawled, demanded to be scooped into my arms. As my knees found the floor the very air seemed rife with knowing. The word "mama" escaped the lips of a small child. "Mama." Before recognizing the moment and closing the doors to my soul, I scooped him up into my arms and breathed him into my memory. I willed the tears not to fall. "Mama."

My heart would have spilled over into a prayer if my lips had cooperated. I remembered just enough not to tell him I loved him. It would cheapen those words. I could not be the one to love him and I knew that. The reason was standing in the doorway. I had chosen the other boy in the room over a year before to be my son. I was here for him and only him. My heart choked on the truth that this one was not mine, and wouldn't become mine.  I had not earned the right to tell him I loved him. I had not fought for him, committed to him. And as much as I wanted to stay in that moment forever, I knew the future. He called me mama, but he was not mine. But I told him that my Jesus did. And my heart soared to Christ in that moment, begging Him to stay with this boy, to be His healer in all ways.

And I kissed his extra sixth finger on each hand and my stomach betrayed me knowing my lips had kissed the reason for his abandonment. Such a small thing, extra fingers and such a huge, irreversible tragedy caused by two tiny fingers. I kissed them one more time.
"God. In. Heaven."
"Now, now, come back to us. Let this end. Let this not be true. Let this world not be so cruel, so tragically wrought with evil." My heart was spitting it forth in sputtered breaths. And as I put him down and held my chosen one's hand and tore my skirt from his grasp with my other hand, I cursed my long skirt for having so much to grab. My hand sneaked down and pushed his six fingers off and behind me as I walked down that gray hallway I heard the echoes of a lost soul, "Mama, Mama, Mama."

Seven hundred and ninety days ago I chose one and left another one behind, one who called me mama.
God. In. Heaven.
Forgive us all.
We know better.

There are moments in time that our souls fail to remove from the over crowded memories in our minds. They are moments that change us indefinitely. They find their way into our life decisions. They make us remember that the smartphones are not what really matters. They are what make us question our very existence, the purpose of why we breathe.

Why do we worry over dinner plans? Why do we research phones? Why do we need bigger homes? Why do we exist if not to ease the burdens of other people? Why does God allow us to breathe while turning our backs on children who need us? Why do we worship in song and not in life?

The little boy who called me mama was one such moment in the memory of my heart.
And I am sorry, Little One. I am so sorry.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Seeking Hope

In the last year I trained myself well to focus on the task before me and not worry about tomorrow. However, somehow in the middle of this self training, in the forcing of tunneled vision I lost sight of one of the most basic things. In my quest to make it through the day I left behind the inspiration, the sustaining of hope that breathes life into tired hearts. It hurt too much to hope. The fear of having a child die is overwhelming. And so, I was just surviving and for a time survival mode is absolutely necessary. I needed to just finish one more piece of paperwork. I needed to call one more government official and not be emotional. I needed the fortitude that survival skills bring.

Once in China, faced with more trauma then I even allow myself to remember right now, I needed to survive. I needed to bathe my daughter, make rice cereal, walk to the store, avoid the human trafficking rings, block out the rude stares, wipe a runny nose. I needed to survive on little to no sleep. My heart didn't even have room for hope, and what little I may have had was chipped away each time I had to verbalize my daughters needs, both daughters. Little by little I continued to let hope be pushed away.

Navigating the trafficking rings and avoiding 
thieves with three young girls with me was relentless
and terrifying.

I was so afraid of losing her to the evil of malnutrition.
Her screams for food would last for hours upon hours.

And that she would never interact with me.
In one sweeping moment I lost every dream 
I had held for this one.

Fear has such a devastating effect on our hearts.

I have been home two months now and have seen so many doctors. Each day is more survival than anything else still. It takes me three to four hours just to feed everyone lunch each day! I'm still mostly, "just surviving." But the tenacity of hope is finding its way back to me. Little by little I find myself thinking of tomorrow and smiling as I do.

It isn't that life is suddenly becoming easier or that the girls are becoming so independent. They aren't. They still don't speak or really express their needs verbally at all. It is still loads and loads of screaming. Both girls still have massive insecurities about food. When they are nervous that is their comfort. When they are hungry there is no time to make something or buy something. It is a constant game of trying to anticipate their need before it gets ugly. It is constant and never ending decisions on when to allow the babying and when to force independence.

But, God is answering my prayers for the restoration of hope. I need it. I need Him. I need Him to breathe hope into the dark corners of despair in my soul. I want to be done surviving the day and I want to find joy somewhere in the midst of all of this. He is graciously answering me with hope that lifts me up each day.

I am training myself to search for joy, to seek out hope in my day. I am daily sitting and basking in my daughter's rare smiles. I am sitting and feeling the wind blow through my fingers with my daughters. I am going through my house and looking at pretty things. I am jumping on the new trampoline for just a few minutes, despite the screams in the background. I am seeking this hope.

It may be my greatest exercise of faith to seek this hope. But that is my goal. I will hope. I will dream of a better tomorrow. I will allow myself to believe that this will get easier, better, more joyful. I will trust that I am becoming a better mother, wife and person. I will have hope that God is planning a future of the deepest joy found in Him for my family.

I will allow hope to find rest in my soul.