Information

Finally this week, after nearly two months of waiting, we received an update. The update came from FANA in Bogota, the orphanage sponsoring our adoption. The information was surprisingly thorough. It included reasons for the delays, deadlines for next steps, and an estimated timeframe for travel.

It’s what we wanted. Information. Estimations. Times and dates. But ironically, with more information comes less peace. More knowledge brings more reason to worry. Typical.

The first deadline is coming up next week–September 29th. By then we should receive word that the boys’ paperwork is finally in order. Supposedly it will take another 20 days to wrap things up on the Colombian side, which means we can expect to receive our official referral by mid-October. At that point we’ll need a minimum of 30 days to process our final approvals stateside. That takes us to mid-November, when we should be able to travel.

A Colombian adoption typically requires the adoptive parents to spend around six weeks in the country. Do the math and you end up right around Christmas. However. We’ve been told the Colombian courts shut down for a long Christmas break, mid-December through mid-January. Do the math again, and you’ll know why we worry.

Two weeks ago we knew nothing, and we were frustrated. But not worried. There was nothing we could do, and the timing was up to God.

Now we have information, and there’s still nothing we can do. But worry.

I wonder if God ever rolls his eyes.

I search Bible Gateway for worry in the New Testament, and find a dozen references. All of them are quotes from Jesus. In most of the verses worry is preceded by do not. The remaining verses are questions: 

And why do you worry? 

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 

And… 

Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

It’s the last question I like the best. Especially for our context, which I must confess, probably isn’t the intended context. (Context is something I learned to guard very carefully when I was at the seminary, but for the present purpose I’m going to ignore what I learned.)

My paraphrase: Since you cannot do even one little thing about it, why do you worry? 

Good point.

The fact is, two weeks ago God was the only one who knew how this would turn out. And today, with our new information? He’s still the only one who knows.

Our prayers today are the same as they’ve been from the beginning. God, prepare us and prepare them. Make us ready. Be in every detail. Give us wisdom and courage and love for the journey. Whenever and wherever it takes us. We trust you. Amen.

Cake

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Last weekend at church our sermon was about Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. These are familiar and comforting words. Words of hope for hard times.

Our pastor used an illustration to explain the passage. He set a table on the stage and laid out all the ingredients of a cake. Then he talked about how each individual ingredient, if eaten separately, might seem distasteful. Who eats all-purpose flour, straight up? Or baking powder? Even vanilla?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how so many bitter foods mixed together make a perfect cake? It doesn’t make sense.

And so it is with the stories of life. So often the bitter and distasteful work together to create something beautiful.

Just this week I’m aware of so many hard things. A dear friend loses a baby before it comes to term. Another friend has migraines so severe she has to be hospitalized. My neighbor grieves the death of her mom. A high school student’s back injury takes her out of her sport for the season. Another student has been battling depression for far too long.

Our hearts aches and none of this is what we would choose. How could these bitter portions possibly turn out sweet?

A couple of days ago I read a story that made me cry. It was a story about a woman whose son was killed during the Rwanda genocide. She grieved and longed for vengeance until the day she met her son’s killer. The young killer confessed and he cried and said he was so very sorry. And God worked a miracle. The heart of a childless woman was knit to the heart of a broken young man, and the two became like mother and son. It was a breath-taking, beautiful story, and I wondered. Would such beauty be possible without so much pain?

Every day this week my son, Nils, and I have been praying for Christians in Iraq. Children being martyred for their faith. Parents forced to watch. And it’s too horrible to comprehend. Yet even in this I’m reminded of a beautiful story, told in scripture. It’s John’s revelation and the martyrs are gathered at the altar of heaven, dressed in white robes. These special ones are safe in God’s shelter and:

Never again will they hunger;
  never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,
  nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
  will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
(Revelation 7:16-17)
 

And in my imagining I see beautiful brown faces of innocent children radiant in robes of white.

Skype

Boys are not by nature chatty creatures. I know there are exceptions, but in general, guys prefer the kind of conversations that get right to the point. Short answers. Quick summaries. Few flowery details.

There’s a Camp of Dreams family who Skypes regularly with their Colombian daughter-to-be. They talk a couple of times each week, for a couple of hours each time. They say their daughter talks non-stop. Even with translation the conversation flows with lively chatter. The time flies by.

We Skype with our boys every two or three weeks, and we’re lucky to fill 30 minutes. It’s hard work for all of us. The conversation is more laborious than lively, and it’s no one’s fault. Felipe and Jimmy are witty and intelligent and warm. But they’re boys.

Being female, you’d think I could fill up the silence, but quite honestly, I’m not typical. I’m not very chatty, and I’m terrible at small talk. I don’t even like talking on the phone to my friends. (Or my sister or mom, which they’d be quick to tell you.) When I make phone calls it’s usually out of necessity.

There is a sort of conversation I enjoy very much. But it’s not phone and it’s not Skype. What I like is face-to-face, authentic interaction, with facial expressions, and body language, and touch. I’d rather carve out two hours to meet over coffee, than 20 minutes of talking by phone.

So here we are in this season of eternal waiting, eager beyond words to be face-to-face with our new sons. We schedule our bi-monthly sessions of Skype, knowing it’s better than nothing. But each time we say adios I fanaticize about seeing their faces and wrapping them up in great big hugs. When the time finally comes I won’t even care if we don’t speak the same language. We’ll be together, and we’ll figure it out, and it will be a million times better than this online chatting.

Lately when we Skype with the boys it’s obvious what they want to talk about. One thing. They want us to say – We’re coming. They want news about progress and plans. Not chit-chat. And we don’t blame them one bit.

Yesterday

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One of the ministries I oversee in my role at church is child dedications. Three times each year we invite our young parents to bring their little ones before the congregation, dedicating their children to God, and dedicating themselves to the task of faithfully leading. It’s a beautiful and sacred celebration. 

A couple of evenings ago I met with several of the dedicating parents for a preparatory class. The room was full of young moms and dads with infants and toddlers, and a couple of newborn babies. All of them were precious­–the babies, as well as the sweet, new parents. 

During my talk that night I made a comment, cliché to mature moms. “It seems like only yesterday my boys were babies.” Everyone smiled and nodded.

But later I was thinking about it. Does it really seem like yesterday? And I decided, no. It doesn’t. Quite honestly, those baby days seem like a long time ago. Like another lifetime. They’re a bit of a blur. 

I remember a few things well. Grant almost starving to death as a newborn. The hot summer Luke was born, and how tired I was after delivering all nine and a half pounds of him. I remember how Nils cried for the first several weeks until he found his thumb. Of course I remember the sweet things, too. Babies nestled close nursing, tiny fingers against skin, innocent eyes gazing upward. Bald heads and toothless grins. Baby laughter. 

But it doesn’t seem like yesterday. It seems long ago.

And yet it’s gone fast. Unbelievably fast. Does this make sense to anyone but me? 

It’s incredible to think I’m the mom of adult children; that now when I see babies I think about grandchildren. But I don’t feel old.

Here’s what I’ve noticed. When I think about the passing of years, there’s a sense of life accelerating quickly. But when I think of past moments, they tend to seem far away. 

Now, indulge me to go just a little deeper. In my pondering, I have had this thought. What if this paradox of time flying and time distant is really a taste of time eternal? What if it’s a little hint of imago Dei – the image of God in us? 

God is above time. He sees time both present and distant. And just maybe, he shares a glimpse of his view with us. 

I am in a season of life when time is on my mind. I’m acutely aware of the passing of time. But it’s when I think about time eternal that I’m at peace to embrace the mystery and savor the moments, knowing God is in his heaven, and time is in his hands.

Surprised

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“I’m having a great time!!”

I shouldn’t be so surprised. I knew it was where God was leading, and I trusted him. I was at peace. And yet now I confess, even while I trusted, I wasn’t expecting it to be so good

This week Luke started his freshman year at the U. And it’s been incredible. God has been incredible. As a mom I watch and I’m amazed to see how God has been providing and caring for my son. Every detail, every story from his first week has been a God-story. God-orchestrated moments and meetings. 

The very first night, after moving Luke into his dorm, leaving him there with thousands of other freshmen, we got a text message. “I’m doing well, making some friends. I met Grant’s roommate’s brother.” We were happy for him, and assumed Grant helped make the connection. 

But, no. Later we hear the rest of the story. Luke tells us about how he went to a restaurant for dinner, and saw a guy who looked familiar. The kid looked like Grant’s roommate from Bethel. So Luke introduced himself, and sure enough. The first friend he makes out of tens of thousands of kids. It seems like such a coincidence, but we know better. Only God.

And all week it’s been like that. Guys on his floor who love Jesus and share his values. The RA’s too. Everywhere Luke goes he finds brothers and sisters, and he’s having a blast.

I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

Several months ago we toured the U of M campus–Kyle, Luke and I. We expected to be overwhelmed, but instead we were drawn. We felt God leading. All throughout his senior year of high school Luke felt God leading. In all his praying and seeking, Luke heard God whispering–this is it. 

Luke is a student of humanity. From infancy he’s been studying people. He thinks he’d like to be pastor someday. He plans to go to seminary. And he knows being a pastor requires more than knowledge of theology. It requires knowledge of people. And there are 35,000 undergraduates at the U of M. That’s a lot of people. A lot of people from a lot of places with a lot of stories to tell. Just living in such a place will be an education.

A week before Luke left for school he went to the lake for a time of prayer and preparation. He spent 48 hours with his Bible, his guitar, a good friend, and no food. Afterwards I asked Luke, “What did God say?” God said–You can trust me.

It’s what he’s been saying to me, too. You can trust me. 

The morning Luke left I was praying for him. I was saying God, I trust you–but still expecting the worst. I was sending my son to the wolves, and trusting God to keep him from being eaten. But then God spoke into my praying with a new thought. Don’t just pray for him to survive; pray for him to thrive. 

I shake my head now as I consider the past week and all we’ve experienced and how Luke is thriving. Not just surviving. 

And I know I shouldn’t be so surprised.