Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Permission to Rain

I haven't blogged in years, but wanted to post this as a shout-out to all my adoptive parent friends. With love.

Twenty minutes into our hike at D. L. Bliss State Park, I feel an uninvited heaviness in the trail behind me. I stop and turn to Mo, who has turned his soul inward, taking shallow breaths. “What’s up, Mo?” I ask, already knowing, and hurrying to board up my own feelings against the coming wind.

“I miss my mom.”

I hug my son, who suddenly seems two all over again. “Then send some love the way I taught you,” I say. He makes a face. I make one back. “I’m serious, Mo. Close your eyes, gather up some love, crack your ribs open and send it. Watch it bend over the horizon and then trust that God will get it there. That is what I did for you when you were far away.”

He closes his eyes, crossing his hands over his heart, thumbs pressed together. He pauses, then lifts his winged-hands from his chest to the sky.

“Did you send it?” I ask.

“Yup. Bye, Mom,” he says, running to catch up to the girls who are in the trail ahead of us, chipping pieces off of a granite slab.

I am glad I saw Mary last week. I am glad she told me of her reoccurring nightmare and her adoptive mom’s inability to see past her own broken, hungry heart. Because after I’ve made dinner, listened to everyone’s stories about slivers and bullies, done the dishes and folded the laundry, I don’t much want to hear about how Mo misses his birth mom. But I am trying to remember that the sky has never once asked my permission to rain.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mr. Builder

Thanks, Gwammamewody!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The February Babies

It was probably a year before I realized that every picture I had of Little Man and his baby sis (before she was mobile) had him snuggling her cheek to cheek.

Its birthday season at our house and I am feeling so grateful for these February babes. When I think about how they entered our lives so close together and how worried I was about Little Man feeling crowded out by a newborn, I smile and pray a prayer of thanks for the magic they make together.

Monday, January 21, 2013

-repost for MLK day- A New One

This is a post I put up in January of 2010. Its been a few years, but I got nothing to add. Praying today, like all days, for eyes to see little places where I can be a person of truth and justice, and the strength to show up and do the work.

Dr. Martin Luther King was the topic of lunch discussion again today with my preschoolers. Yesterday we had listened to his “I Have A Dream” speech and I had told them that Dr. King was one of my heroes. I told them that he loved Jesus. I explained that he stood up for what was right and encouraged other people to do the same, even when it was dangerous and unpopular. I told them that some people hadn’t treated others fairly and that they were angry with Dr. King. I did not mention that he was assassinated.

During today’s discussion, I decided to tell them that someone killed Dr. King because he was fighting for what was right. They just looked at me. Then Sis spoke.

“But is there a new one?”

“New what,” I asked.

“A new one telling people about what is right.”

I was taken aback. The loss of Dr. King’s eloquent voice and his gift for galvanizing a movement was obvious, even to a four year old so many decades after the end of his beautiful life. While I staggered she caught me with her left-hook.
“Is it mostly just boys who do this?”

I quickly assured her that women speak up for truth as often as men. That her voice is as powerful and significant as that of her brother. Then I cleared the dishes, dumbstruck by the clarity of youth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sustenance and Candy

Someday I may tell the babies that I always knew that they stayed up for an hour after bedtime giggling and sharing contraband flashlights, sneaking candy, telling jokes with the words potty, and imagining what it will be like when their real parents (the nice, rich ones) finally come for them. Or maybe I won't. Either way, I am glad they have each other.

Thank you, Jesus, for these babies. And for the ways they feed each other's souls with sustenance (and candy) that they just can't get from their mama.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

To the Mother of These Three at the Beginning of the Year

To the Mother of These Three at the Beginning of the Year,

These three are amazing little souls. And they are trying really hard to:
Fit in
Put their sock away the first time
Close cupboard doors
Use kind words
Learn to read
Learn to do math
Learn the names of the continents
Learn French
And how to figure out right from left
And right from wrong
And how to know when enough is enough
And how to use words like boogers and potty and toot and not get in trouble.

The oldest especially wants to be you.
Move slow.
Assume their intentions are good.
Praise some more.
Laugh some more.
Remember how the oldest cried when she had to cut her hair, since she still wants to match her mom.

And when you are in the bleachers, actually watch the game
And cheer really loud.
And hold hands with them during singing time at church.

You can still make them try foods they don’t like
And let them know your expectations are high.
Its okay to tell them when you are tired, or mad, or mad and tired.

Just be gentle.
These three are amazing souls.
And getting to know them better in 2013 will be your honor.

Melkam Genna

Today we celebrated Christmas as it falls on the Ethiopian calendar (a day early, actually). Some wonderful friends from Ethiopia hosted lunch and I wandered around a loud and happy house filled with gratitude to God for these friends who have happened into our lives for a season.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Little Theologians

For some reason all the children at my house think they know everything. Their father says their mother states her opinions as facts, but I don't think that has anything to do with it.

At any rate tonight at dinner the preschooler informed us, "God did not make us. He is in our hearts. So he made the earth to make us." An interesting idea. Gonna think about that one awhile.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Village

I often say that I believe in the raising of children in community. I believe in the village and feel deeply grateful for it. In the last few years, it seems that the village has been one of our greatest blessings. I can't even talk about the people who love and care for us without stringing together worn our cliches and sing-songy Hallmark sentences about warm chocolate chip cookies and puppy dogs with red ribbons. The tape runs in my mind by every unoriginal thing said about teachers and caregivers and selfless souls who invest themselves in little people. I write sentences then delete them, and eventually stop trying to say how I feel on the matter, resorting instead to the posting of pictures sent to us by one of our village favorites.

A few weekends ago the babies were able to meet up with the beautiful woman who was our childcare provider the first year I went back to school. She is awesome. And they love her. She moved away a year and a half ago and so we don't see her very often, but other obligations had us in the big city, and so she met up with the kids for a quick hello, bringing bright plastic bags with new notebooks and individual boxes of crayons. Then she sent us these pictures:

Last night Peanut sat down with her fresh notebook and decided to draw a caterpillar like unto the Hungry one made famous by Eric Carle. Then she drew a butterfly. It was the first time I had seen her little hands pull the zig-zags and huge looping O's of toddler art into a composition. It was fun to watch. Because she is getting big. And because I knew her desire to draw was born, in large part, from the gift of new crayons from a grown-up who thinks she just might be the next big thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Becoming A Jedi

At some point in the last few months, the boy child was introduced to Star Wars. I think my husband may have brought home the 1977 original. For Mister, it was love at first sight. Space ships. Bad guys. Weapons that light up and make eerie sweeping noises. So it came to pass that the epic battle between subversive good and dominant evil came to roost in his brain, filling the dinner conversation, and car conversation, and bedtime conversation with talk of Darth Vader, X-Wing Fighters and the Dagobah system.

And since he watched Episode I a few weeks ago, there has been almost no room in his engineer brain for anything other than pod racing. He asked me with a straight face if I could give him any wires I find around. I asked him about his interest. “I am going to build a pod racer, so I will need lots of parts,” he said. By the next day he was suggesting that I remodel the downstairs bathroom (which needed to be remodeled some 30 years ago) so that he could have the materials for his pod racer. I let him know there were no plans for remodeling. He wasn’t happy about what that meant for the progress of his project.

Finally I convinced him that all engineers start by drawing their designs. So he has been drawing. Pod racers in yellow crayon with big buttons, little buttons, sliding buttons, metal buttons. Pod racers in ballpoint pen. Pod racers in pencil. And in each drawing he is in the cockpit, driving a powerful machine through harrowing courses in two dimension.

The other day I asked him to show me how much of his brain had been taken over by his pod racing plans. He used both hands, and covered everything but his left eye.

And then today, on the way to school, he yelled from the back of the van, “Mom! I can already use the force!” He had been blowing bubbles, which he was able to direct (via air current) by moving his leg. He tried to take the bubbles into school to show his friends. He told his dad all about it at dinner.

So young, yet already able to harness the power of the universe, able to move things with his mind.

All this discovery of power makes me think of the Marianne Williamson quote, made famous by its alleged connection to Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inauguration Speech. In the context of Mandela’s election, the words take on particular power:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

The argument goes on to remind the listener that they are made in the image of God Almighty, that their “playing small does not serve,” that their light will inspire more light, will gift others in the circle with permission to shine. The first time I saw this quote it stopped me in my tracks. And I think deep down I knew that something about it was true and deeply spiritual.

I often joke about what I call “Ouija board Jesus.” And I guess I mostly do that to play down what I see as the real role of the real Holy Spirit in the daily events of life. Somehow I have come to a place where I couch the power of God in the terms of teen-Halloween movies. Not cool. Does the bible not say that he will come with power? Does the bible not say that mountains can be moved with a word? Does not the faith of the blind man, stretching out his arm and voice in the direction of God himself, not bring real healing?

It does.

So, I watch my baby boy – made in the image of God – playing with the possibilities of a life lived with real power. I do want him to know that God has made him strong. And able. With a powerful mind, and steady heartbeat. And like the Jedi before him, he will have to learn to look and listen for the source of life, and bend to the difficult training which will ready both mind and body for a life attuned to the Spirit.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2