30 March 2011

the vibrant stuff.


in the soft chill of last february we’d sit flannelled-up before the pc and rhapsodize over the kids on the waiting child page: she’s got a smile that could melt you like july, this one, and doesn’t that boy look so brave and tender? and i wished they could all be ours for the joy of them, and i’d high-five the air when one by one their photos wore the happy banner: i have a family!

and there was one little guy we’d been praying long for, week after week the small circle of his face still there. and i’d stretch drowsy between the sheets at night still thinking of him, until i began to hope that maybe the family he’s waiting for is ours. that we’ve been waiting for him.

so mid-march we received his file, and we researched and answered long pages of essay questions and interviewed on the phone and closed our eyes tight and hoped. and weeks later the committee met to decide that yes, we would be a good family for him, and i sank back against the wall and wept with relief, surprised by how soon i loved this child.

we thought he’d be home by late summer, early fall. but sometimes things stall out, sputter and cough and leave you dusty on the side of the road thumbing a ride back to hope.

so we’ve been loving our boy long distance for a year now. and you’d think by this point i’d know better, but still every monday i think this could be the week, and still every weekday i think this could be the day, the one where we hear news of the next step to becoming family. and each night the minute hand hits eight pm and punctures my hope, but never mind, tomorrow i’ll wake brimming with the vibrant stuff again.

and all the while our hearts stretch eight thousand miles thin, a taxing feat even for the best of us. but we keep on.

'cause i tell you what: one of these days is going to be the day.



28 March 2011

and counting.

spring break

in the end we stayed put, several of our small folk briefly ill on the very day we were slotted to leave town. but there was sunshine to be had, and a yard full of new grass and windows cracked to the clean march wind.

[also? it is good to have friends in minnesota. whenever i feel the need to gripe about how it is supposed to be spring and what is up with the cold, they snap things into swift perspective for me. still, if i ever learn to drive in the snow i am totally moving to minneapolis.]

continuing the gratitude list, #s 109-117:

crowder band
nurses in our faith family
b making a wii fifa player for his soon-here little brother
laundry soap
the Famous One
daniel 3.18 (‘but even if He doesn’t…’)

26 March 2011

elle for president.

found this scrap amidst the kindergarten flotsam that lives on my daughter's floor.

elle for president

she colors me happy.

23 March 2011


they have their squabbles and a vivid competitive streak [though i cannot fathom where they inherited such a thing], but mostly these guys are blessed silly with the gift of each other.


22 March 2011

days slow like honey, plus an update on lilly.

we’ve kicked off spring break in our signature low-key style. these days mean dozens of family games, kid-instigated crafts, trips to the library, plus relishing the new warmth of our backyard. we dig for earth worms and play hide-and-seek-tag (where the belly giggles of the littler ones give them away every time).

he creamed us all.

[this is the face of a child who is about to cream us all in monopoly deal. he's a sneaky genius.]

we plan to round out the holiday with a camp-out of sleeping bags piled helter-skelter on the family room rug and a road trip to pop in on people we love like kin. not a bad way to spend a week.

also, today is baby lilly’s heart surgery. please be thinking of her right now and in the weeks to come as her little body works to heal.

the indefatigable lisa hanna, who organized lilly's kimono sewing, has been posting regular updates on her blog and hosts a flickr group sharing photos of the gorgey little kimonos you all have sewn and sent in. please stop by and see.

thank you for loving on lilly. you are precious people, every last one of you, and my heart is fit to burst with the way you profligate kindness.

21 March 2011

on tentacles and ardency.


there’s this thing we do, we Mothers of Many Children, in the softball bleachers, the dairy aisle, the church parking lot. we perform this invisible periodic scan of the premises to ascertain that our littles are all present and upright and hopefully not slinging mudballs at the neighbor’s cadillac.

i don’t literally count kids; four is a quantity one can discern at a glance, and when a child is missing i sense the absence as starkly as if you’d punched a hole clean through me, loony-toons style. when b trekked off to an overnight school trip, for example, or when z spent half a week at summer camp, i schlepped about off-kilter, the axis of my motherhood truncated. those days were an endless loop of scan, panic, remember.

well, a curious phenomenon has developed as of late: i’ll send out my mom-feelers to probe for children and immediately register low-grade alarm at the sense that someone’s missing. i’ll scan again: bee-zee-em-elle. and then it hits me, i’m feeling the yawning absence of our youngest.

obviously, i know he’s in addis. i know we haven’t hopped the succession of planes, haven’t stood a bundle of shaking nerves before a judge, haven’t interviewed for his visa, haven’t plied him with crackers and books and in-flight entertainment and multiple trips to the bathroom just for something to do on the miles home.

and still, somehow, i scan for children and come up limping.

as bruising as it is for this mama’s heart, i’m glad for the preschooler-sized cavity, for the vining ache it grows. i’m glad it cuts me to my knees pleading his case before a Father who loves him clear through. i’m glad God is stoking a slow burn in me, an ardor steely enough to see us through years of distance and the coming days of grieving and exhaustion and hard work as we learn to be a family.

i’m glad, but oh how i want to hope that kid home.

adding to the list of thankfuls, #s 102-108

family and friends who do not leave us to pray alone
indoor plumbing
dr keller’s take on suffering
fresh socks
sturdy loaves of bread
em’s ready smile

17 March 2011

on patches and pie.

‘tis a well-sung chorus, how boys are merciless on their clothes (most notably the knees of jeans—can i get a witness?), but let it be known that my girl gives her brothers a run for their money.

let’s just skip the downsides to being The Resident Patcher and get to this part: the upside of patching elle’s jeans in particular is that in addition to the necessary interior patches, i get to stitch on bright scraps of florals on the actual outside legs. the boys, go figure, are not so keen on my decorative inclinations.

so today we went from shredded blues:


to kitschy-fun patches:

freshly patched.

(you cannot really tell from the waist down, but this here is a Reluctant Model. i grabbed her on her way out to ride bikes, and she was rather sore at the fifty-second detainment.)

i just love it when thrifty and cute collide.

ps also? i’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that this book?

my undoing.

is probably not the best thing to borrow from the library during lent. just sayin’.

16 March 2011

perking up.

in the space of twenty-four hours we went from damp chill to effortless blue, last year’s moldering quilt of leaves making way for fresh color. and though yesterday’s feverish child traded places with his newly ill brother, they are both perking up by the minute. there’s a little girl pink with the joy of bubblegum and news of our prospective son and the earthy-sweet smell of coffee lacing the air.

it’s downright lovely the difference a day can make.

14 March 2011


it’s strange to wake up in a world where tens of thousands are newly missing but my house looks its usual organized clutter and my children are all accounted for crunching cereal around the breakfast table, everything in its place.

shouldn’t we see evidence of anguish, even here?

but my coffee tastes like sorrow and our thoughts wear a blanket of stillness for so much loss and i cannot spare the world its suffering but we can hold out what comfort we know to a few families who (were it not for the shell shock) look every bit like ours.

God, show up, please. show up through us.

picking up with the gratitude list, #s 93-101

hope still
a sack of potatoes
purple optimism springing up as crocuses
renewed potential of a court date each weekday morning
friends who scaffold my heart
truth spoken from a sunday pulpit
m’s wiggly teeth
God in us
faces i love gathered late in our living room

11 March 2011

guest post at imperfect prose.

i'm near giddy to be guest posting at emily's lyrical space today. do stop by.

ps thank you for all your kind inquiries on my family on oahu/kauai. i believe they are fine and well out of tsunami areas, but please continue to pray and reach out to the people of japan.

09 March 2011

almost spring.

ash wednesday

Lent is not intended to be an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. It is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges.

Put another way, Lent is the season in which we ought to be surprised by joy. Our self-sacrifices serve no purpose unless, by laying aside this or that desire, we are able to focus on our heart’s deepest longing: unity with Christ. In him--in his suffering and death, his resurrection and triumph--we find our truest joy.

—Dorothy Sayers, Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

almost spring

this is my first close encounter with lent.

i’ve never trucked much with liturgy, but i can see the value of examination, repentance, renewal. i yearn for a springtime in my spirit.

and perhaps i’ll bungle it all up, who knows, but i’m stepping into these next six weeks full of jagged breaks and hope. i’m excavating daily spaces of waiting, and i will tilt my face in raw need and expectation toward the One who awakens me full-bloom.

07 March 2011

today and a sneak peek.

baby love.

yesterday afternoon handed me the distinct pleasure of photographing the darlingest six month baby. she was squealy and happy and so expressive: i am ever in love with this age.

in other news, the powers that be are discussing proposed changes to the adoption process in ethiopia. we are hopeful that the decisions made will be best for the children they affect. please pray.

03 March 2011

a portrait of sixteen.

but first: i’m maybe ten and swinging hard on the reedy branch that most times curves like willow, but on this morning it’s had enough of me. the wood splinters and i let go surprised, and splay stiff and sudden on cracked pavement of the street below.

a dozen seconds tremble in place before i can inflate my lungs with breath, one harsh swig of relief rushing in with the oxygen. the pain coiling from the back of my skull makes the whole world shimmer into a mirage.

i push up and wobble to the edge of the lawn to regard my father, steadily mowing grass. my bones rattle beneath my weight, partly adrenaline, but mostly because he was this close and hadn’t seen a thing.

i start toward the house, my universe unhinged.

and then i’m sixteen, insisting that i’m fine, that the kid i love is every bit as charming as he seems, we just fight a lot, that’s all. and i want them to leave me alone, let it go, but most of all see through my bravado to the girl knocked flat, gulping for relief that doesn’t come, drowning on solid ground.

but i’m too good at creating distance, i guess. and the pain coiling from the hollow of my chest makes the whole world shimmer into a mirage.

* * *

i'd be remiss to leave you sans-epilogue: that hope wins out in the end, and even this pain, brief but blinding, is redeemed.

01 March 2011


on the unfortunate side, i’m still semi-miserable, concentrated mostly in my top half. the lower half has very few complaints, although my legs and feet feel woozy. (is that weird? that’s probably weird.)

but on the happy side, today’s sky is clean like hope and the kids left for school bright and genial this morning (even the one who sometimes gets my goat because he is hypersensitive and headstrong and A Replica of Me). (much can be said for taking after your father in this household.)

and light pours thick through filmy glass, and the dust motes drift and glitter, and God’s brewing his dreams bubbly-full in our beings. our cupboards are never empty. we’re one day closer to our littlest.

and i’m sure we’ll have more snows, but still the ground stirs and wriggles soft toward spring.

this day is ripe with grace all around, and i'm undeserving but wildly thankful.

* * *

linking with:
sweet shot tuesday
global communal
and the happiness project