Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year for Us. A New Life for Them.

Omigosh, did we need this break from the pace of life. The last two weeks have been beyond wonderful because our to-do list consisted of just two things: nothingness and togetherness. Are these two things synonymous?

For the first time in years, we ventured to the lake to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my parents' house. There was the traditional Christmas Eve dinner (er, feast) that we have often attended but then gone home afterward to have Christmas morning at home. The kids are getting a little older now and had started asking why we didn't just stay and have Christmas morning at Gramma and Papa's. Good question. Hmm...I think JD and I were holding onto the 'have Christmas at home' homage when we discovered after a little self-examination that perhaps we were clinging to that just because that's what we felt was the 'right' thing to do. For us, this seemed like a negotiable, not a non-negotiable. So off we went.

Our intention was to leave on Monday. Monday came and went. Tuesday came and went. Wednesday came and went. Our staying took on a life of it's own. It was glorious. We had nothing that we had to return home for. Do you know how rare that is for us? Do you know how good it felt? We lamented that this may never happen again. All the factors that led to our not wanting to leave: it snowed (!); JD was off all week; my parents were off all week; and then...the germs set in! Once one sniffle or sneeze or cough was heard, it was all we needed to throw in the towel (yet again and again) and claim that so-and-so was too under the weather to make the trek (ahem, 45 minute drive!) home.

It was glorious.

I read an entire novel (this truly is my idea of vacation and oh, how I recommend this book!). JD had Life, Clue (from the Family Game Night game) and bowling tournaments on the Wii with the children. We watched movie after movie. Did I mention that we ate ourselves silly? I mean, sil-ly. I can't remember the last time I didn't leave the house for five days (without being snowed in or unable to leave). I barely showered every day. I didn't put on a lick of make-up. I don't know about you other ladies out there, but sometimes I just need a break! :) I tell ya, I don't know if God's trying to make in me a new-new creation, but this homebodiness is outa control. Nonetheless, our Christmas week was a true treat. As one friend put it when I relayed it to her, 'It sounds like you were truly living in the moment.' She couldn't have hit the nail more squarely on the head.

Here are some of those moments.

I cannot tell you how obsessed with this train Brooks was. The fact that it is the Polar Express complete with the bell from Santa is very cool. With the push of a button, Tom Hanks hollers 'Alll aboooard!' just like in the movie. It was such a hit!

What a cutie. Isn't it awesome how boys get down low to study how the wheels turn on cars, trucks and trains? Precious.

(Boy, putting photos on here is not as easy as I'd expected. I need a Blogging 101 class!)

Eventually, I had to set the timer on my watch in 5-minute intervals so Jackson could have a turn driving the train. Boys. I never set a timer with our girls. :)

Check out this prince. O-my-goodness. We could have our work cut out for us with this Casanova (flared toes and all).

Payton was thrilled to play Christmas carols on the piano for the second year. So sweet. She really practiced a lot.
And then on Christmas morning, she was truly surprised to see what Santa left in her stocking!

And I am surprised that this day has arrived so fast. I feel like adolescence is snickering at me from just around the corner.

And then there's our Little A. She remains 'little.' Thank God. I'll cherish these few years left before she too starts to turn the corner toward adolescence. (When Payton got her iPod, Avery said, but thankfully didn't persist, 'I want an iPod!' Yeh, I don't think so).

At the top of her Christmas list was a My Size Rapunzel doll. Still into princesses. Ahhhh. Thank God again.
And then she put her craftiness to use by creating herself a mermaid tail with her 'Bebe' (her most cherished item, her baby blanket). She really is still little. Loving her 'Ariel moments' and still sleeping with Bebe.
All in all, I can't think of a better way to end 2010 (even with all our coughs, sniffles, sneezes and fevers). I so look forward to what 2011 holds for our family. This thought recurred in my mind all throughout the holidays this year, 'Could our family really be a family of eight for Christmas next year? Could our two other children who we don't even know yet be part of our family by this time next year?' 2011 may be a new year for us, but it could be a new life for them. A new life.

JD and I have been battling through the adoption trainings that we have to complete (15 hours of them!). They're on-line so we have to sit in front of the laptop together. But that's not the painful part. We were directed to a company that creates adoption training (and paid them a decent penny to access the trainings) and they're ar-cha-ic. It's bizarre. We are literally watching Powerpoint presentations, reading each slide and having to click after each slide to advance to the next one. I don't want to sound whiny and spoiled, but it shocks me in a time where any Joe Blow can put a video on Youtube and everything nowadays is video-driven. That these trainings are not videos leaves me rather stumped. Talk about missing the boat on helping to inspire and motivate adoptive parents. However, thankfully we are persevering and have completed half of them. Whoo-hoo! Hopefully, we'll have our home study complete by the end of the month. Then we're on to dealing with immigration stuff.

We recently watched a documentary called 'The Lost Girls of China' and that was eye-opening to the plight of little girls there. I think God may be opening our hearts to the idea of adopting two children who are not biologically related, but are siblings in that they are growing up together in an orphanage. Again, I'm trying very hard not to drive this -- I'm finding myself uncomfortable in the backseat.

Speaking of backseat, I emailed with a new friend (a mother of three biological children who is getting ready to adopt two children too) on this very topic. I am so thankful that she shared this wise perspective with me a few weeks ago. She said:

Hi Heather! I totally get your enthusiasm to 'make it happen'. Our best efforts are in the Lord's hand. Sometimes that driving lends to moving the train and sometimes not...He is good to help us stay in the back seat and buckle up for the ride! I think the dossier process will give you LOTS to sink your nails into...whew! It has been growing my trust in the Lord and HIS timing b/c each day our boys wait there I can't make sense of it, but pray the Lord meets them. I'm learning He's doing things in the process too that if I don't stay pressed in, I miss out on.

Here's what God instantly brought forth in my mind (I love it!):
Ahhh...boy, did I need your email. Knowing you and being able to hear from someone who's truly been where we are (in the very recent past), is so very helpful. And the fact that both our families are welcoming two children is special to me. What a wonderful adventure. Your backseat image with God in the driver's seat brought the sweetest memory to my mind and one that I'll be clinging to for months to come, I'm sure. It's the memory of those times when as a child I'd be riding in the backseat of the car headed home from somewhere. It could've been a vacation far from home or just an evening at friends', but I remember so many times my drowsy eyes wanting to close and slowly lying across the backseat in the darkness. I could see the flash of headlights whizzing by and hear the hum of the car's engine. I would drift off in complete peace that my mom or dad would get me home safely. And (praise God) I always awoke to one of my parents sliding me out of the backseat and carrying me into the house and tucking me into bed. That sweet, safe, secure feeling I just felt when I remembered those times is the feeling I need to embrace on this journey. The unknown may feel dark and mysterious, but, just like an innocent child trusts her Earthly parents, I can trust God to get us to our destination safely. Thanks for the reminder!
What a sweet and gentle God that He brings forth these little reminders of His sovereignty.

May your 2011 be full of nothingness and togetherness. :)

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