‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Friday, February 24, 2012

When Sorrows Come..

'When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
but in battalions.' ~William Shakespeare

And He said to them, 'My soul is sad, even unto death.'

I don't think I can pretend anymore that I am well. I really have tried to fake it these last few days, but I am so not well. I've hit the bottom of rock bottom and, as Sylvia Plath says 'I simply cannot see where there is to get to...'

I cannot sink any deeper, I cannot fall any farther. I have prayed ten thousand prayers or more. I have hoped, and held on to the tiniest slivers of hope. I've not given up when others far more brave than I have said they would quit. But I just can't seem to catch a break. My heart is shattered.

I just can't seem to turn off my heart, and my heart hurts. It hurts for so many things...

It feels a terrible grief for the years and years of Anya waiting. My sweet, loving, big-hearted girl still sitting there and hoping for a day I now am convinced will never come.

My heart feels the darkest, hollowest loneliness for the children at orphanage #5. I have had to stop thinking of them, calling them, because I can't handle the pain and tears. Do you know what it's like to know girls who are now prisoners in the world of prostitution? Girls I gave gifts to and hugged and expressed care for? Do you know what it's like to hear of boys who hanged themselves ? Boys who once traipsed around the village with me all those years ago? I cant bear the thought of them anymore. I just cant hold those images in my head or heart for one minute more. It will kill me.

And my heart shatters when I think of Daniel. Daniel who expected to be home by now. Daniel who could be here now, if it weren't for my horrible luck. Let's not mince words -- I am a walking testament to BAD LUCK. No one even gets how sick and distraught I feel every single day he is there and not here. No one even asks.

And, if those were not enough, my heart is crushed into dust by the sickening suspicions of my brothers...brothers I thought were my family and loved me. Brothers who took the time to imagine the worst of their sister, though they never seemed to have the time to reach out to her. I don't know how I'll ever heal from their deceit and backstabbing. Their words won't leave my head...I'm 'an embarrassment', a 'hypocrite', I'm a 'psychologically manipulative princess' ...should I go on?

Imagine hearing these words from people you thought loved you. Imagine taking the risk of sharing your honest and uncensored pain, your struggles with God, your worries about your daughter, your fears and longings here on this blog, hoping to help others, hoping to make a difference in the world...only to hear that someone else, someone you trusted, sees your words as 'drivel' and a 'tired old narrative" and "BS"?

Sometimes I don't want to be here anymore. I'm sorry to share that, but I promised I'd always be brutally honest here, and that's about all I have left these days -- my courage to speak my own truth.

Here's my truth: I'm in terrible, horrible, unspeakable pain that I cannot possibly relay to you in words. I feel bereft, abandoned, unloved and so, so grief-stricken.

But thankfully, here's an even bigger truth: I know, somehow, inside and far beyond this pain that my God loves me. And me? I love God with as much of my heart, soul, mind and strength as I can muster. I dare say I love my daughter even more (just being honest.) I love a great many people in this world and have tried to stand by them and I have been a shoulder to cry on for far too many to count. I pray, I give, I love...and yet I stand here, on this day, as sad and grief-stricken as I have ever experienced in my 46 years of life.

Please don't tell me I just need to pray harder, or try this thing or that, and all this darkness will go away -- my jobs will return, my body will heal, Anya will be on my doorstep, Daniel in my arms, all the children I care about will be miraculously loved and adopted, my brothers will repent the things they have said and done, the bills will unpile, the hurt will unravel, the pain will lift up ,up and away, and all will be well in my world. It won't. It's here, it's all here. And it's here until God wills it away.

Today I sat in my car and cried so hard and so long that I suddenly couldn't breathe. My throat snapped shut. (It does that sometimes. Doctor calls it laryngospasm) This experienced used to terrify me, but this time, strangely, I felt peace. I think I felt like if it was my time, I was ready. Part of me just felt it was better to 'not be' anymore. Even Christ felt that level of sadness, in the Garden of Gethsemane. It's some comfort to know our God knows this pain intimately.

I'm sure there are plenty of you reading this that have felt this level of despair. We just don't talk about it. No one does, but we should. Millions of people live in this level of despair every day of their lives. Do you see in the news what horror goes on in the world? The poverty, the wars, the brutality even against defenseless children? The indifference? The lack of love so glaringly obvious everywhere? No wonder. No wonder a million people take their own lives each year. A Million. And, honestly, if I didn't have my faith, I'd be part of that statistic by now. Sorry to destroy anyone's image of me, but I'd rather speak the truth than hide behind even a half-truth when the world is as heartbroken and in need of truth as it is.

And, by the way, this does not make me an 'unbeliever', as one self-righteous person called me once when I tried to share my deep grief. How dare they? Because I'm brave enough to share my pain, I'm suddenly unworthy of my faith? How naive of them. How backwards. How unholy. I learned long ago that life is not mine to take. But until you have been in this darkest of places, you cannot possibly judge my experience. I would not wish this darknness on anyone. Be glad, be grateful if you do not understand what I am talking about. You are truly infinitely blessed in your not knowing.

So the next obvious question is: What am I holding onto? How am I choosing life when life feels this bad? How do I make that choice, every day, to be present in this amount of pain and not die or go insane?

I humbly, and with a child's trust, hold onto this...

Job said, 'Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.'

Psalm 40 says: 'I WAITED patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock.'

In Isaiah 41, it says 'So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'

And 1 Peter 5:7 says 'Give all your sorrows to God, because He cares for you.'

And Ephesians 2:14, simply says 'For He is our Peace.'

I believe these words. I BELIEVE them. Though I struggle to understand why I am in so much pain - mentally, emotionally and physically -- I do not struggle to believe those words. I know they are true. And so, I wait. I wait on Him.

I sob, I wail, I self-loathe, I cry out...

and I wait.


  1. No words...except I'm so, so, so sorry you are going through this. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

  2. Oh, Keri. I have been there.....and this week. How I long to sit on your couch with you and have a good log sob-fest. It doesn't change the reality, but gets the stress out. I haven't really been able to even cry alone because I've had to just "keep on"....

    Please think of all the good you do for Anya. Imagine what would have become of her, how she would have felt, if she'd gone through this shooting incident without you and all the support you generated for her? Unlike those other girls, Anya knows she's loved. And, guess what - those other girls may be desperate for money, or have been "programmed" through early abuse.....but they experienced your care, too.

    I am over thinking the US is "magic" in and of itself. My two boys are both wishing they were in Russia - and in some ways - they WOULD be better off...... Long story.

    But, bottom line - what matters is having someone who is true to you. You are truer to Anya than your family is to you. What is God saying through that?

    Maybe that they have felt abandoned by you? Or, is it more that you need to put YOUR love and energy into those who cling to you. I don't know the dynamic. But, the question (I think) is - what are you telling me, Lord? I can tell you recognize that.

    Someone asked if you had thought of moving to Russia. I think you have - well, KNOW you have from what you've written. Time to think more of that? At least seasonally?

    I believe that from all this pain some good will come - some deeper faith, some decisions, the agony in the garden preceeded, the greatest gift Jesus gave us. Something great will come of your pain and suffering. Listen.

    I never was able to take your "rosary challenge" because I am just not a rosary person; but I do commit to praying for you and Anya, Daniel and the children at the orphanage (Nastia, too) every day of Lent. Here goes....

  3. I am so sorry you are suffering...

    I have a ton I want to say, but it's nothing that you don't already know..

    so I will just say that I pray that God helps you through this darkness and that you come out stronger for all of this.


  4. Sheila Kawakami8:38 AM

    Oh, Keri, I wish I could reach out and hug you really long and hard! I have never commented before, but I have been following your blog for more than a year now, and have been blessed by it. I am so so sorry about all the troubles that you are experiencing now! You have done so much good on your journey through life so far, and I hope that it all comes back to bless you soon. I am so glad that you have faith in God to help you through----His word IS true and He WILL come through for you in His time and way. So, keep waiting. You have made such a difference for Nastia, and even Anya, though her situation is not what you would choose it to be, is much better off for having you in her world. No one can make everything better, but you have been changing the world for others, one "starfish" at a time, and that is a wonderful thing. When human love falls short, remember that God does love you, as you wrote, and he is allowing these circumstances for some purpose, which you may not be able to discern, but which is there, nonetheless. Prayers for you....

  5. Anonymous9:04 AM

    You are amazing, beautiful soul & I will be forever greatful to have been able to experience you & your life through this blog. I will be thinking of you & sending love your way. *hugs*

  6. (((((KERI)))))),
    I am so sorry. :( I was thinking about Job as I was reading your post. The END of the book is great. When Job questions God, He answers him ever so honestly and tenderly. And "Jobs Friends", God has harsh words for.

    I too have had a person that I thought I could trust, shatter me with harsh words and private emails. It was really sad and creepy.

    Going through anguish and trusting the Lord through it, EVEN when we are so grief stricken we cannot put it into words, is so very difficult. And yes, our comfort is in the Lord.

    Don't let your distress cause you to doubt. Even Jesus wept tears of blood in the Garden as He prepared to go to the Cross.

    Precious to the Lord are the tears of His Saints.
    Only God knows what purposes there are for this trial. His refining fire will bring about pure Gold, purifying our hearts, setting us apart and revealing HIS will in time.
    Praying for you dear friend.

  7. I'm so sorry Keri.
    What is happening with Daniel's adoption?
    I will keep you in my prayers.
    Prays to St. Jude are powerful.
    MariaG (Canada)

  8. Even with all the things going badly in your life, the support of your family would make your many challenges bearable. If your brothers were neutral and had no comments to make about your life, it would be far better than the hurtful things they have said. I wonder why it is important to them to harshly judge what is important to you? What is in it for them? Are they jealous somehow? Are their own lives inadequate, and it makes them feel better to look down on you?

    Those are terrible, hurtful words, which question all that you believe in. But they are only words, and actions are very important. You are a good example of action, and you continue to accomplish so much, even in this incredibly frustrating time in your life. And even your words have action behind them- the words of your blog included- and what you inspire others to do. Your kindnesses to others mean so much, even to others whose lives have taken a downturn. You have to believe this, and your friends will have to remind you. I'll keep reminding you.

  9. Anonymous11:38 AM

    ina, not anon.

  10. Lifebooks12:04 PM

    Dear sweet being, I am so grateful I can finally comment on your blog..that in itself is a remarkable sign! It's been impossible since I started reading your blog 5 months ago. And today? It suddenly works!

    I have been where you stand and I am so grateful that you are sharing your struggle. I couldn't. I thought I'd die from the pain. And you? I have wondered from afar how you could carry the load you have carried with an almost superhuman strength. I wondered if you would ever break under the load of it.

    People hurt us. and hurt us. and then break open the wound again. its a terrible truth but its a truth. Like you, I turn to my God in those times and just wait for his consolation.

    If you ever doubt your own worth, remember He DIED for you. Your worth is immeasurable. If you ever feel a failure, oh look at your daughter! If you ever feel unheard or unseen...come here! You are heard and seen by hundreds of us (thousands, maybe?) who read your words and wait in anxious anticipation of every post!

    You are a wonder. God sees it. Christ sees it. And I know many of us have been given the grace to see it.

    Keri, all the BEST people go through a dark night of the soul! Have you ever read any stories about St John of the Cross? Or Mother Theresa? God is preparing you for something greater through this pain. Trust Him. Know He is faithful and, more importantly, that He is your father and loves you infinitely! You are his little girl, His beloved one.

    1. thank you so very much for your kind words.

  11. I love your soul, Keri. I am praying for you, for your family, your kids, God to wrap His arms tangibly around you.

  12. SGJ in Sunny LA12:24 PM

    My heart breaks that yours is breaking. I met your brothers once, long ago. I remember them teasing you and saying something I thought was really mean, but you just laughed it off and said that was how your relationship worked with them. Ugh. Sounds like they haven't grown up much in 25 years. You know I'm not much for all the god talk, but I do think, if there is something out there it's got to acknowldge you for what you are. I've seen what you've done for others. I know through M some of the things you continue to do, and under the radar no less. When are you not there for your friends? Maybe your brothers are jealous that you're so loved? Or that you do so much for everyone? Maybe they feel ashamed for years of teasing you and they dont know how to come to terms with their own sh#t? Anyway, I'm here for you.You know that. You are a light in a very dark world, my friend. So sorry your own family can't see that.

  13. Anonymous12:42 PM

    ((((((((hugs)))))))))) from across the pond. Lots.

  14. Here's something hopeful for you to hear today. You're not the only one...


  15. Heart4Russia1:57 PM

    Glad you opened up comments to us nonbloggers again. (I always tried to post but it would never let me.)

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your openness. It is why I always return to your blog again and again. It's very uncommon. Wish we all could have the courage to bare our souls like you do. I learn much from you. I dare say I am a better parent to my Russian little ones because of you. In your willingness to tell it like it is, you breathe fresh air into the conversation about parenting well. As to your current pain, I can only say I am so sorry and trust it will pass. I'll be sure to say an extra prayer for you and your girls today.

  16. Thank you everyone. I'm so grateful for your words of support. I don't know how the commenting changed, but I'm glad it did. I've been hearing complaints for over a year, I think, that most of you couldnt comment. Some of you started leaving your comments on my FB page. Anyway,I'm glad it's working again. One of the downsides of blogger, I guess.

    I am doing better this morning. Not great. Not even good, but better than the past few days. Its so hard not to hide away when we're feeling that bad. I can't tell you how much I struggled to post this recent post. I even got cold fet in the middle of th night and removed it for a few hours. But I realized I was letting the shame my family members dumped on me cloud my decision. I NEVER qestioned posting ANYTHING before. Now I suddenly felt scared to be honest. would I get another email about my being an embarrassment? Would I be reprimanded again for being too public with my thoughts?

    I dont care anymore. I just want to feel well again. I want to find a way to feel hope again.I'm grateful for all the prayers and well wishes. Truly.

  17. 'Thinking of you ... 'Glad you posted a reply in the comments and that you are feeling a bit better :-) I'm sorry the hurt your brothers caused. HOW in the WORLD could they imagine you to be an "embarrassment"??? They should be soooooo very PROUD of you! (((hugs)))
    MariaG (Canada)

  18. HI Keri. I haven't met you...yet, but when I do I am just going to hug you so hard.

  19. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Hi Keri. All I can say is that I want to give you a big big hug! I know it doesn't help, but I hurt when I read your posts because you of all people don't deserve this. But we don't know why bad things happen to good people... I hope and pray that one day you will be united with Anya and Daniel...and possibly more children! :o) But for now, I pray that you have peace that God is watching over them, and you, and Nastia.

  20. Anonymous3:42 PM

    I already posted before... but another thought came to me. You mentioned still being out of work, and I know one of your passions is your work with teaching shakespeare(I think thats what you teach!)... Have you considered applying for a temporary job at a little store or something? Just until you get more jobs that you love to do? You could being a little coffee shop employee! I was just thinking that maybe to get some of that stress off your shoulders would do some good. And I am NOT saying that you shouldn't have work that you love, like the work you usually do.... But just saying that a temporary "un fun" job may help with finances and stress relief.

  21. Anonymous5:08 PM

    The reality that sometimes life sucks....pure and simple.You have every right to feel as you do and be really pissed off. You are surely intited to feel betrayed,angry,depressed,and completely defeated BUT before you go to sleep at night if you can find a little place in your brain to remember and focus on one really good thing that has happened as a direct result of your efforts you can give yourself permission to feel a little okay. You know that Katya and her son would not be in a better position if you had not posted her picture and I had not been touched by her story. I am only one of countless people who you have been a directly responsible for sharing some goodness with. I am not suggesting that this will turn your life around but whenever the thoughts of all that you have not done or cannot due or wish you could do sneak into your brain just remember the silent wonders that you have been a part of.
    Stay sane my friend that is all we can do some days
    Your friend Ann ( the realist)

  22. Anonymous5:11 PM

    Your the first person I met that suffers from esophogial spasms like I do. I just did a google search on it and ended up here. I first thought I had really bad asthma, but the last time it happened was so scary because it wouldnt stop and I ended up passing out and woke up in the ER. What do you do to keep them from happening to you? the ER doctor didnt help. He said you just have to learn to live with it..easy for him to say. I dred it happening again. how long have you had it? mine started a year ago when I woke up in the night and couldnt breathe. I was sure i was dieing and i went to cll 911 but it stopped before i dialed. its so scary i just dont want it to happen it again. its only happened 4times to me but that is enogh.if you have any advice i hope youl post it here. i want to do keep it from happening again. your a very good writer by the way. i'm sorry your having a bad time.

    1. So sorry! I wrote the wrong info. What I experience is called laryngospasm. I remembered it wrong, but I went and looked it up again. So sorry. I've heard of esophgeal spasms and that it feels like youre having a heart attack. That must be terribly scary. do all the research you can online and make sure your doctor takes it seriously. This is the info on what I experience. Pretty scary to not be able to breathe, but what you have is scarier. I'm so sorry you have to deal with it!


  23. Hi kari I always read your blog but never leave any comments. I live in Ct not too far from you and at this point I feel like getting in my car and driving to you and giving you the biggest hug. I wish I had answers for your pain but I don't... I just pray that some how you find the strength to heal your soul and your heart.

  24. I want to write a reply to every single one of you, but I honestly don't have the energy to do so, at least not right now. Please know that your comments and suggestions and observations made my day so much more meaningful. I think this is maybe the most comments I've ever gotten to a post. Not sure, but it certainly feels like a whole lot.

    I'm still deeply sad and wanting to crawl out of my own skin, but hearing from so many of you really did help ALOT. I now see why so many bloggers post multiple reminders about leaving comments -- it is very life-affirming to receive them and know there are other souls out there, rooting for you.

    Thanks for rooting for me. I'm grateful beyond words and I'll try my best to be worthy of the caring. God bless you all. I'm heading to bed early to pray the Divine Mercy CHaplet. If you don't know it, listen to it on youtube, where it appears in song. It's beautiful.

    'The Lord bless you and keep you;
    The Lord make His face shine upon you,
    And be gracious to you;
    The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
    And give you peace.' ( Numbers 6:24-26)

  25. Praying for you and your family, both near and far.
    For several nights this week I've fallen asleep only to be awoken with the thought that I need to pray for you. So I do. And will continue to.

  26. Anonymous12:02 AM

    Longtime reader here. Your pain makes perfect sense to me given all that is on your plate, and it sounds like you have found the best way to deal with it: on your knees. We all go through these dark times - some of us more than others. I'm quite a bit older than you, and I can tell you that prayer has always gotten me through those really tough times.

    Also your willingness to talk about it is helpful to many, I am sure. And as I sense that is part of why you share, I thought I'd mention it. I'm not Catholic, but I admire your devotion. This old Southern boy will be sure to pray for you tonight.

  27. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Keri - I am so sorry for all of your worries and grief . . . only God knows why we have to go through times like this. I think Christie's words about God's refining fire are really worth remembering when you feel so low. You & your kids are in my prayers, and I truly hope things take a turn for the better soon. {{{{{Hugs}}}}}


  28. ::one long, squishy hug::

  29. God's promise: "I will never leave you, nor forsake you".
    My promise: I will continue to lift you up in prayer

  30. Hugs from Maine....

  31. Anonymous11:03 PM

    I understand where you're coming from, Keri. Life sucks. And yes, you have had MORE than your share of bad luck. I hope and pray that the trials will end soon, and that your hopes and dreams will be soon realized.
    Also, have you considered trying an anti-depressant? It won't change the crappy things that have happened, but it may improve your coping skills. Sometimes stress can trigger a reduction in neurotransmitters, and medications can help to correct that.
    Wishing you better days ahead.

  32. I've been thinking for two days now about what I want to say but I can't really find the words. I went back to school so that I could develop ways to help adoptive parents and those involved in orphan care because it is such a taxing thing to undertake. I have actually formed some new ideas about how I want to go about doing that after reading this post. Know that you aren't alone and I think often of you and what you are going through. You are an inspiration to me and someone who I can't wait to meet in real life one day :) :::Hugs:::

  33. Rachel Lockert8:18 PM

    Keri, so much I want to say. I can't express how deeply I fell your pain and everyone here has written so much of what I would say to you. Remember that God's most amazing miracles can be the smallest hope during the darkest time. My prayers are with you and all the children you share your heart with. I think God greatest treaures come to those who seek happiness and safety for others. You have your place in Heaven. Rachel Lockert


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