It’s after 11pm. My husband is asleep beside me. I should be asleep beside him. Instead, my face is lit up as are the keys before me and I’m surfing—a word that linguistically sounds too pleasant for how I’m feeling right now.
Yeah, that’s a screenshot just to prove to you that that is in fact what I’m doing in case you doubted me.
I’m angry. And, I’m using this silly device in front of me that is like a Mary Poppins bag of information for some sort of…consolation? justification? Honestly, I don’t know what exactly I’m seeking.
After what had already been a long day, I hit refresh on my phone as I’m prone to do too often. Between all the random Groupon emails was an email address I recognized. Dear Kelly was the subject line. Thinking it was going to be good news that would lead me to take a deep breath of God’s goodness, I opened it right away and then pushed the home button and put my phone down before I could finish reading as if making it disappear before my eyes would make it disappear.
I’ve been wanting to write you regarding our adoption plan, but it has been a couple of sad and busy weeks…
On April 14th, we exhausted all of our options…
They can’t move forward. The family who had said yes to XY, the girl I called Little Miss Pink, while we were still there at her orphanage, the family who wanted her and was ready to tackle whatever struggles they were adopting as they adopted her, they are no longer making her their daughter. It’s done. The word MATCHED beside her name that marked her as taken and spoken for has been exchanged for AVAILABLE. She’s once again a waiting child.
They can’t move forward. They didn’t change their mind. They didn’t realize they were in over their heads. They didn’t realize they were comfortable where they are and didn’t want to upset the cart. They didn’t realize the money simply wasn’t there to do it. They were told they could not do it due to bureaucracy due to rules put in place to protect children and protect families that occasionally do quite the opposite…like right about now.
And, I’m angry.
So, I guess I am seeking something. I’m seeking permission to be angry right now. Angry that this world is a broken place where families are not whole. Angry that the orphanage where part of my heart remains is considered small with 300 orphans living in groups inside their walls. Angry that of those 300, many will grow up with no families beyond the many nannies they call Mama, Mama, Mama, a constant reminder of brokenness as you hear them calling out indiscriminately to their caregivers. I’m angry that some children there will never be made available for adoption. And, I’m angry that rules that were set up to support ethics in adoption and protect children all over the world is right now, at least for this one, preventing her adoption. Yeah, I know the rules are good; I’m not really interested in getting into that because right now I can’t see past the fact that that one little girl matters and she no longer has a family thanks to rules.
I found the permission I was seeking.
Is my anger triggered by brokenness, something that isn’t how it should be? yes.
Does my anger focus on God’s concerns rather than myself and something I want or I feel entitled to? yes.
Is my anger expressed with self-control rather than chaos that moves towards good and specific ends? I hope so.
I’m going back in October. I’m not going because I’m angry. I’m not going because I’m exhibiting self-control despite strong emotions and moving towards a good and specific end. It’s a lot bigger than all that. I’m going because He called me to go again, and He’s calling others to go with me either on the team or the team of senders. I’m not going because of anger; I’m going because of love. But, that anger—as hard as it is, as uncomfortable as this lump in my throat is right now, as tired as I am after a long day that grew longer—I find myself not wishing it away. I don’t want to hit the home button and make the feeling disappear. I want it there, right there, balanced with joy and praise and hope and expectation, expectation that our God is not a passive God but one who defends and raises up and intervenes in our brokenness. Yes, I want to take that anger with me, anger surrounded on every side by love. I want to be brought into His work there with 300 children and with just this one.
Here I am, Lord. I’m nothing but a woman who gets frustrated when my kids are running late and get irritated when my husband forgets to tell me we’re out of dish detergent. I think I’m better than I know I am, and sometimes I just think I’m better. I’m distracted and selfish and often find my self-worth in what I’m doing or what I’ve done. Yeah, that’s me. Just as broken as this world I’m living in. But, but,…for you….the One whole thing in this place, the One who can piece me together with an expert hand without lumps of glue where the cracks used to be. Here I am, Lord, feeling emotionally naked before you and before the screen 2 feet in front of me. Nonetheless, Lord, here I am with righteous anger. Send me.
We are a family that loves tradition. We take very seriously God’s call to remember, and traditions help us do just that. They are a sort of Sabbath for us, providing an opportunity to step back from our normal busy lives and celebrate what God has done for His people and for us specifically.
When Evan was nearing a very significant birthday that would take him from one digit to two, we decided that we’d start a tradition of a little surprise getaway alone with Mom or Dad when each child turned 10. Mark took Evan, a big chocolate lover, to Hershey, PA for his man weekend, a surprise that included a Hershey bar with a golden ticket. Ashlyn’s been anticipating her time away ever since. With snowmageddon this year, a marriage retreat, and two trips out of the country, her getaway was two and a half months after her actual birthday. But, that didn’t matter at all when I showed her folded clothes lined up perfectly by day and purpose on her bed and handed her a suitcase.
I wanted to do something different for Ashlyn’s trip. So, I chose to study God’s word with her, a girl who loves to learn just like her mother. I chose Esther. It’s the perfect book to study with a young girl—an adventure, a romance, a mystery complete with cliffhangers, a villain and a hero and…of course…Esther, an orphan who becomes a Queen who changes the world. It’s the perfect book to invite conversation about standing up for what is right, having courage despite fear, living wisely, and choosing to be a part of God’s Kingdom work. All that in the context of a book that doesn’t actually mention the name of God a single time but has His name written all over it as it overflows with His sovereignty and redemption.
We feasted on calamari and New York strip steak and talked about the king’s feasts. We got the red carpet (white robe?) treatment and Ashlyn got her first manicure and pedicure complete with mother-daughter matching blue and purple polish, during which we talked to the spa ladies about what it would be like to get beauty treatments for a year like Esther and the other young women got in preparation to meet the king. We went swimming in a heated pool and talked about ripple effects. And, we decorated a t-shirt with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol and talked about how something little and seemingly plain can become something really big and exciting.
She opened up about some of her own stuff with me. And, she taught me a thing or two as we sat with Bibles opened over six meals together. Isn’t that just how God works?
Since Ashlyn is currently Insta-obsessed (go follow her at ashlyn124—shameless plug for her Instagram feed that currently features more images from Frozen than anything else), I jumped right in there with her, posting lots of pictures to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter while we were away. That led to some requests for the study I used. So, I edited it after our “trial run” for other mamas to use with their girlies for sweet times together like ours. Here it is at no charge to you. Just promise to come back and let us know how it went and how God blessed you during your time together and after—and maybe post some pictures on Instagram and tag us. That would rock.
It’s what nearly every little girl looks forward to as a rite of passage, and it’s what nearly every parent bites her nails over.
At 10 years old, we’re right at that precipice of childhood when sleepovers require packing further ahead of time than we pack for a trip to China and an early bedtime the night before. While some may think the talk refers to something entirely different, at this point in our home, it can be summed up with this: make wise choices, don’t gossip about other people, be kind, and remember. All my parenting proverbs were put out there in a quick few minutes and were met with a big smile and lots of head nods as she was already warming up to sing “Let it Go” 100x with 3 other equally obsessed tween girls.
All 6 of us in the car got to experience the high-pitch squeals saying something that sounded like her name greeting us from the front porch as we drove up to the house. While I greeted her friend’s mom (may she rest in peace tonight), my daughter disappeared into the crowd like a rockstar with her peeps without even a goodbye.
And, we drove away, down nearly 17% of our crew which sounds like not that much but feels like a lot more…particularly when nearly 33 1/3% of the bunch in the car seemingly barely noticed we even stopped the car and someone got out (don’t worry, I’m talking about my sons, not Mark and I).
Hardly seems right sending her off like this already. Granted, we’re not dropping her off at college here, she’ll be gone for a whole 18 hours tops. But, still, there’s something big about entering into the season of sleepovers. Have we prepared her enough for what she could face? Will she know what to do and how to do it in a challenge? Wait, that friend of hers is taller than I am. Seriously.
I was just thinking of biting some nails again when I got this…
My girl. My sweet little girl who used to have blonde little Shirley Temple ringlets. She’s so got this.
I texted her at 11pm to tell her that Dad and I were going to bed and to have a good night and not stay up toooooo late (plus or minus a few O s). I may or may not have used some sort of emoticon in classic Ashlyn style.
But, she didn’t reply. Guess the girls were already asleep. Guess I can be now too.