I Didn't Follow my Heart

Someone recently commented about our adoptions saying 
"that is so good of you, you are amazing, that must feel so good". 

As well intentioned as the comment was, it left me speechless.  I'll skip over that suggestion that somehow I'm "good"...because honestly that's just plain laughable if you know me.  Only Jesus is good.   
It is an uncomfortable sentiment I hear quite often though. It was the last part that floored me.
Externally I mutter something like "we are so blessed and thankful"....which is absolutely true.

But here, on my blog, I'm going to be a little more honest. 

An adopted child doesn't arrive with a bag of warm fuzzies.  Nope, not even a little carry on.

 Parenting and loving a child isn't something we do to feel good.  If that is an adoptive parents motive...Lord help that child. 

I sounded just as strange to me, as it would if you were to tell a parent of five biological children 
"it must feel so good".

How do you answer that?

Are you curious what adopting a child, particularly one with medical needs and complicated histories, feels like? 

It just feels like parenting
...which many days "feels" anything but good.   It's that simple really.  I'm just a parent, not some sort of saint. 

It "feels" like very uncomfortable lessons in patience and self control.

It "feels" like relentless fear, frequent frustration, sleep deprivation, and a nagging headache. 

My own selfishness being stripped away by shrill little voices demanding more from me than I want to give, usually "feels" more like a cheese grater than an emotional high. 

This is exactly the reason I don't "follow my heart" but rather bring those "feelings" into submission to a Lord who lovingly laid down his life first. 

The gospel trumps "feelings"

I want to make something very clear.   I did not "follow my heart" to my adopted children.   
I didn't pursue them, because it "felt right".

In fact my "heart" told me that each of our special needs adoptions was a very bad idea indeed.
 My heart told me to run away in self preservation,
far far away,
anywhere but where God was leading us to. 

If I had followed my heart I would run hard and fast from realities like chronic liver disease, blood tests, viral loads, uncontrollable mouth infections, attachment disorder, drug withdrawal, therapy, assessments, leg braces, stretching, expensive equipment, trauma, and brain injury. 
Every.  Single. Time. 

So much risk, so much potential of being hurt and rejected, so many unknowns, so much vulnerability....so much assurance of certain difficultly.   If I had followed my heart, or was looking to "feel good", I would have hunkered down, closed my eyes, and settled into a life of elusive self gratification.   

If I had followed my heart I would have appeased my conscience by giving a little money to charity, and then felt a bit of smug pride about it.  I would have assured myself that my own "quality of life" was my most important goal. 

My sin twisted little heart tells me I deserve a life of ease, that my time is my own, that I answer to no one, that I should be able to shower alone, pee without small hands reaching under the bathroom door, and that I can "find myself" apart from my God given tasks and roles.  
My heart is an idol factory, so easily deceived and lured into temptation.

Feelings run out, experiences prove shallow, and good intentions run dry. 
No amount of do-good social justice activism will hold up under daily strain of monotony and relentless demands.  

Love is a choice. 
Love is choosing to do what's right for someone else, even when it comes at a cost to yourself.  

When the gospel naturally propels sacrificial love and actions, and the Holy Spirit empowers it,
 joy, peace, purpose, and contentment do absolutely come as a by-product of that obedience.
You will find treasure in the most unexpected places.  In submitting to something greater than my own feelings, I have been incredibly unbelievably blessed.  Two little gifts that I could have so easily missed because of my own fear. 

When you are in Christ, actions flow out of position.  When you know who you are, you know what to do.  

In losing your life, you find it.  

But some days losing it honestly feels like I just might "lose it" in the process.  

Today my "heart" is totally telling me I'd rather be lounging by myself on a tropical beach than dealing with poopy bums, whining tantrums, and a never ending pile of laundry.  

Soli Deo Gloria,


A little bit of crazy, a good dose of chaos, and a lot of love.

Yesterday we said goodbye once again to our summer time guests.   They didn't stay quite as long this year so the three weeks went by too fast.  I love having my close friend and sister in law around.  We laugh our way through the days, make fruity drinks in the evenings, and it doesn't hurt to have an extra set of Mom hands around when the kids get rangy and the laundry heap looms high.   Over the past four summers together we've worked out so many of the kinks that come with meshing two families/ households together for any extended period of time.  Certainly, any time you slam together two households into one (or put any two women into one kitchen) for a month there is plenty of opportunity for irritation, offence, or selfishness but part of what I love about our extended visits is that it's grown us in grace, healthy conflict resolution and patience.   We've learned to love each other better.  You can tolerate a family member, or keep the peace on a surface level for a few days...but after several days or weeks, you have no choice but to start digging deep.  

I love these two, my sister in law and her son, to bits.  Even though my nephew is now nearly as tall as I am.   It's wild to look back and see how much our crew has grown.  I'm glad I got to meet my nephew while he still had a bit of little boy left in him.  Most of the crew has grown bigger and taller, but you might notice from the pictures that one of this crew just keeps getting smaller.  While she keeps shrinking physically she has grown in every other way.  She is a beautiful, mature in her faith, extremely generous, huge hearted woman.  I'm so thankful to have her as my friend. 

It's sad to see them go home for another year
but the coolest thing is that this year  I get to fly to Seattle, alone, in November and hang out at her place for a few days.  I've got my spot booked at the R13 conference that her church is hosting in down town Seattle.  I'm so stinking, super duper, excited already.  I've never gone on a trip, just for me, before AND to top it all off I get to go be a part of what I love.  Lots of Jesus, great Bible teaching, and kick butt music.  Oh, and to top it all off a bunch of my home church peeps are going too!  

On Sunday, our last full day together, we had a friend take a few snap shots of our family.   It's really very pathetic that we don't have a single real photo of the seven of us.  The only family picture we have is one cell phone photo of us all at the airport after our long flight from Beijing.  We ALL looked mostly dead in that picture.  

We were over due.  I would love to get some real portraits done up, and have an actual photo session sometime before the year is over but we just really needed a few photos with all of us in it...
even if we look like mismatched, shoeless dorks. 

Only a few minutes into our attempt at a family photo and I was reminded why we have no family photos. 


Ok we got a photo...
everyone can stop pretending to be normal now.  

I need to do an update post on this little monkey boy.  I've been hugging him now for 6 whole months.  Half a year!  It's hard to believe that it's already been that long since we were getting to know our newest little guy in Guiyang.  Time has flown by.  Why couldn't time  go that fast while we waited? 

Today I printed out a couple of the family pics for Elijah.   He is thrilled.  I think somehow having a picture of us all...a family photo with him in it, validates his place in our family for him.  Whatever we can do to add some security into his insecure little heart is a good thing.  He's still  pretty convinced that we're going to ditch him at some point.  

I love this kid so much it hardly seems possible,
and certainly goes beyond probable or reasonable.  
That's the crazy thing about adoption, 
it just defies logic.  

{A little cheese touch for you}

I have loads of posts, topics, and lots of fun summer pictures stored away on my computer and in my scattered brain that are begging to be posted here....
I'll get it all on here eventually,  bear with me,
once the raspberries are picked, the garden is weeded, and the laundry is caught up I'll have time to blog.
Aw, who am I kidding? 
I'll just blog because those things will never be caught up anyhow. 


Birthday and Baptism - Roman style

I've been scarce in blog world lately so I'm going to rewind the VHS tape of life for a minute and pick up where I left off, and what I've missed.

I appreciate all of you cyber friends and loyal lurkers who follow along on our wacky little journey here, so don't think I've forgotten you.

My biggest boy had a two special days in the last month or so.  The first one was his baptism.

A few posts ago we spent a weekend camping with our church family.  It was such a great time.
A highlight was an afternoon of baptisms of new believers.  One of those baptisms was my son.

He's been asking to be baptised and jumped at the chance this summer.  While I am cautious of children being baptised too young or being coerced in anyway, I am also cautious of discouraging or hindering children who have a good grasp of the gospel, who love and follow Jesus, and who know what the purpose of Baptism is.  The act of baptism has no actual power to save or "seal the deal" in any way, only perseverance in faith, and continued growth, will be the proof of regeneration in my child.  So right now I take his faith, repentance and belief at face value, and will not discourage him from taking that step of obedience to Jesus.

Being reminded of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf is always a good thing.  

Seeing it pictured in the baptism of new followers of Jesus is also a great reminder that He is still drawing people to Himself.  

 By the act of being baptised (immersed in water) we are picturing that the death of Jesus and His resurrection was for us.
In being baptised, we are publicly proclaiming three things:
1. To God: Thank You for saving me!  I belong to You.
2. To Believers: Celebrate with me! Jesus has saved me!  Remember when He saved you?  Encourage me, help me and keep me accountable to following Jesus.
3. To Unbelievers: I want you to know the Jesus that I know.  If you see  anything good in my life, that’s jesus.  He wants you to know Him, as well.
Below you can experience a few excerpts from the day and our camping trip, captured on video:  

I really do love my church.   Like I've said before, the Church is not a place, an institution, or a Sunday morning event...the Church is the people.  I really love these people. 
A group of people on mission together, loving God and loving others.  A group made up of all different races, ethnic origins, age demographics, political persuasions, and backgrounds with one overwhelming uniting factor that makes us community and family...

This boy loves sand and water....almost as much as he likes to snuggle. 

Silas and his buddies "baptising" each other. 

A slightly unorthodox post dunking dunk.

The next special day was the day that my fluffy haired, blue eyed, freckle faced little boy was born.
10 years ago!
A whole decade. 

We celebrated by going swimming at a neighbours back yard pool. 

Auntie Brook with her big water babies.  We've been enjoying our summer time household  of 9.  
My sister in law Brook and her son are spending their 4th summer with us!  I'm loving having an extra set of Mama hands around the house, and someone to laugh and visit with all day.  

Elijah learning to swim Burlando style. 

Then we partied with hamburgers, pineapple upside-down cakes, and camouflage cups.

...and minion pinata 

It was also my mom's birthday so we had a joint party...which means TWO cakes.

Then came the 10 year old boy gifts.

Congratulations on 10 years of life Roman!!

I sure do love this boy.

Soli Deo Gloria,