Safe

Chillin on the edge of a cliff in my jorts. #northshore

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Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of pastors challenging our tendency to pray for protection. They talk about how prayers for safety are small prayers, and we need to be praying big. “Don’t pray to be safe. Pray to be dangerous.” Good stuff.

But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if any of those prayer theologians are moms. I especially wonder if they are moms of boys.

For a while I took their advice. I resisted the urge to pray for safety. I prayed for my boys to be dangerous. I prayed for them to change the world. And then it occurred to me. In order for my boys to change the world, they’re going to have to stay alive.

Yes, I believe prayer fills hearts with God-breathed life. I also believe prayer keeps those beating hearts alive. I’d be a fool not to use it both ways.

We hand our boys keys to cars and send them off on mission trips and camping trips. If we’re savvy we stalk their adventures on Instagram while counting the hours until we can expect to hear the garage door opening. Sure, we pray our boys will slay some giants while they’re out. But we also pray they come back home.

I probably didn’t know the full power of prayer until my boys began turning into men. Independence for them led to dependence for me. God, please keep them safe.

I pray it defiantly now. I say it out loud to God. Yes, God. I ask you to protect them. I ask you to keep them safe. To keep them free from evil, and out of harm’s way. I ask you to bring them safely home.

Mommy Boy

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When he was a little guy Luke called me “Mommy Boy.” I loved that name. Mommy Boy. It fit.

Luke is boy number two. For most of his life so far, the middle boy. His dad is also the middle boy. One of three. Early in our marriage Kyle said – I liked growing up with boys. We should have boys. His comment turned out to be prophetic.

We started with three and we’re hoping soon to make it five.

Lots of people ask – why not a girl? Aren’t there girls needing families? Absolutely. Girls more desperate than boys for lots of awful reasons. We talked about that very thing during our first adoption conversation. We prayed about it. But even as we prayed we knew. Our family, our home – this is a great place for boys.

Back in my days of dreaming girl dreams I hoped for husband and family to be sure, but I never imagined all these boys. Now I can’t imagine anything else. A while back an errand took me into a girl store – one of those pink and glittery accessorizing places. I felt like an alien, which later made me laugh because after all, I am female. 

On occasion our washer or dryer breaks down and my girl-mom neighbor offers me hers. She says she’s never seen such a pile of blue and gray. I look into my own closet and smile. Those boy colors seem to have rubbed off on me.

I’ve grown quite fond of the low-maintenance, wash-and-wear durability of boys. Admittedly, their ways are not always my ways. They bring things to the dinner table best left in the bathroom, and sometimes they even take things into the bathroom best left in the kitchen. Their definition of clean makes me a bit crazy. They make everything a competition. But overall the ways of boys have predictability and rhythm I find comforting.

I like being Mommy-Boy.

Summer

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We were anticipating spending the summer in Colombia. Of course, we couldn’t be sure, and yet we hoped. We planned. All five of us were thinking, planning for a summer south of the equator with new brothers. New sons. Felipe and Jimmy and the five of us, learning language, eating rice and beans, playing soccer and board games. Becoming a family. 

July and August would be ideal. June was graduation and parties and a family reunion. By July 4th we were free. All of our commitments behind us, we were ready to take flight. Each of us with an exit plan. Luke took a lifeguarding job at the pool, telling them up front when it was time for Colombia he’d have to quit. Nils told his coach he’d play summer ball until it was time to leave. I stepped out of one ministry and into another, thinking the timing would be perfect for six weeks out of country. 

Now it’s late July, and here we are at home. Enjoying a quiet summer. The weather has been beautiful, the downtime refreshing. Luke is making money. Nils finished his baseball season. I’ve read a whole stack of books, made several trips to the library. Everything I love about summer.

But it’s not what we expected. Not what we wanted.

We’ve been Skyping the boys every other week or so for the past couple of months. They’re getting restless, too. When are you coming? When will you be here?

We don’t know.

Not knowing is hard on all of us. Luke and Grant and even Grant’s girlfriend have had dreams at night about Felipe and Jimmy showing up at our door. If only… 

God is preparing all of us during this life-on-hold season of life. My own heart is daily being made ready. Not unlike pregnancy when I waited until I was bursting with readiness. When sleepless nights and unpredictable schedules and overflowing laundry were most certainly an upgrade from the pain of waiting. 

Every day we pray. God, we trust you. Please make it go faster.

Shalom.

I was first compelled by shalom.

We met Felipe and Jimmy in November. They were here along with nine other Colombian kids, experiencing a “Minnesota vacation.” All the kids had one thing in common. They wanted to belong to a family.

We went knowing it was a possibility. All five of us – Kyle and I and our three boys – were volunteers at the Camp of Dreams. But each of us knew deep inside, there might be something more. These kids needed families.

The next weekend it was Thanksgiving. We gathered around tables laden with food and overflowing with family. We gathered for feasting and lively conversation, and all the time we wondered. Should we? Could we?

Secretly we prayed and wrestled with God. We considered life the way it was. And it was so very good. This family – the five of us, and the whole clan of us, too. Nearly perfect. So much fun and so much love.

I remember thinking, it’s peaceful the way it is. My home, my life. Peaceful. I like peaceful.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving our high school pastor preached. I can’t remember the text or the topic, but I’ll never forget what he said about peace. Somewhere toward the middle of his message he said it. “It’s not peace the way we think of peace. It’s the peace of shalom.” He went on to describe this shalom, and it was all over for me and my peace. “Shalom is life made right; life the way it was designed,” he said. “Nothing missing. Nothing broken.”

I wrote those words down and kept them. I tucked them in my journal. I carried them in my head. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. Shalom peace.

Back at home I groaned when I saw the same word draped above my mantel. There, cut out of fancy paper, outlined with gold glitter, hung one word. PEACE.

This peace wouldn’t let me go. A day or two later I went to work, mind spinning with thoughts of boys who needed a home, and a home full of peace. My insides quivered all day long as raw fear took over. And then it happened. A dear friend and co-worker saw my fear, and spoke one word. Never had she said it before, and never since. “Sonya – Shalom.”

It’s a rare gift to hear the audible voice of God. That day, I think I did.

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