‘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

Sunday, April 29, 2012


I haven't posted this week, though I've wanted to. I've just been so heavy-hearted, so sad lately, and I hate to spread that around. I think much of my self-esteem is wrapped up in being and doing for others, and lately I have been unable to do anything truly helpful for others, there is so much on my own plate. 

And so, I've been carrying an unwanted burden for awhile. I carry my heavy heart around the house, doing what needs to be done. I carry it to bed with me, where my mind fills up with so many fears and worries as I drift off to sleep, I think they might suffocate me. I hold it out for God to take when I pray, but for some reason, it is still there when I am done. I don't know why I don't feel God's presence or solace, but I don't. But I keep trying.

I had a terrible strep infection a few weeks ago. 103 degree fever for days. hallucinations. The whole nine yards. I feel like I'm still recovering from it, and unfortunately have some scary new health issues that might be due to this recent infection. And tired? I could sleep twenty hours if you'd let me.

And I keep dreaming of Daniel. The dreams are so vivid and so heart-breaking, I wake my own self up from the sound of my own crying. This adoption has taken so long and been so full of obstacles, it feels like what happened with Anya, and so it brings up so many feelings of failure. I do feel like quite the failure lately.

I'm sorry if this is not what you came here to read. I'm sorry I can't make your day with news of anticipated homecomings, stories of God intervening in big ways, words of joy over some great obstacles clearing. None of that has happened. In fact, much of the opposite has, though I can't blog about it for obvious reasons. I know most people don't blog the hard stuff. Even if they feel the way I do, they'll never tell you. I just think that's wrong. There are so many people suffering in silence, and who am I to lie to them, pretending I am one more of those people who has it all together? I don't.

The times in my life where you have thought I had it together or I have felt I had it all together are only gifts from God. I have never done anything to warrant 'having it all together'. I think that's a tall order for a human being. I think if I ever feel I've got it together, it's because God, for whatever reason, is turning His Face in my direction.

Last night Nastia and I were driving home and she, being the intuitive soul she is, sensed my sadness and tried to lift it.

'Mom, you just don't give yourself enough credit for all you do. Just getting me up and off to school every day is a miracle. Don't you ever forget that.'

I am so lucky to have such a wise and big-hearted daughter. So lucky. She asked me after she said this if I would do something for her. I said ok. She asked if every time I felt sad I would make a list in my head of 10 things that make me truly happy.

' If you do ten things mom, I know you'll feel better. That's what I do.'

And so, for my precious daughter, I share here my ten things for this moment, in no particular order, as they come to me:

1. Holding my daughter's face in my hands when I wake her each morning.
2. The adoration of four furry family members that love us no matter what.
3. The pretty flowers growing on my windowsill, a birthday gift from a friend.
4. My friend Carmel, who always accepts me, even in my worst moments.
5. My beautiful Anya, when she laughs that soulful laugh of hers.
6. My unconditionally loving mother, who is always always there for me and accepts me for who I am and never asks for anything in return.
7. Ice cream (this week, anyway)
8. The words of Shakespeare...can't even express how much they feed me.
9. My stand-in brothers (you know who you are) - male friends who fill the role of brother, supporting me, accepting me as I am, and inspiring me.
10. The trees outside my window...for the soft sound of the wind in your branches, the green glow you give to my room, and the reminder you offer of a God who shelters me silently, even when I feel it not.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Simplify, Simplify

'Our life is frittered away by detail....simplify, simplify.'

So says Henry David Thoreau, and I.

I have been struck lately by the absolute absurdity of modern day life. We have travelled thousands of upon thousands of years of evolution to arrive....here? Today God has knelt down long enough to remove the scales from my eyes. I have spent the past month pondering and mulling and contemplating and examining. I have sat in silence for hours on end. I've walked the woods until dusk. I've listened to the birds and, when they were silent, the air. I've thought and thought and emptied my mind of all but essentials. And I still have nary an answer, but this -- simplify.

My life has not made sense to me lately. The constant buzz of life ringing in my ear like a mosquito you can't catch, cant see, in the quiet of your room in dead of night. You want to silence it, but you just can't seem to catch it. Each minute detail of each minute task in each repetitive day feels like a nail in a coffin. Why all the chatter? Why all the constant buzz and bustle? What clamor, whir and uproar? It's deafening, this modern day life. It is soul-killing.

Jesus spent a good chunk of his life is solitude. Even in the midst of his teaching years, he was always carving out time to be alone. Siddhartha sat under the Boddhi tree for forty days, listening to the cry of the world, before compassion drew him back to man and men. Every wise soul who walked this earth finds it imperative to step out of it for a time. Truly, how can a soul grow without the waters of solitude to feed it? And so I am trying to carve out some silence in the bedlam of this present 'now.' I have lost the ability to hear my own self think, let alone the voice of my God. Let alone the voice of any true thing.

Nastia and I spent two days up in the mountains this week. The rush of quiet was like a long cold drink on the hottest of days. I sucked up every inch of quiet the woods and the mountains had to offer. I drained them dry. I ate up the sound of birds calling and water rushing over river rocks. I lapped up the scent of fir trees and mountain wind. I held my daughter's hand and walked miles and miles into the wilderness until we were lost. Being lost is a magnificent thing. We embraced it with childlike joy. We breathed in God.

I am unplugging as best I can. I'm leaving the vapid, insular world of facebook for a time. I've cut out the news, printed and televised. I've tossed magazines and needless conversations into the trash. I've deleted old, unnecessary contacts and decaying half-friendships. A much-needed untethering.

I'll still write here while I'm embracing a deeper solitude. I can control what comes and goes on this blog, so it's not a burden like so many other forms of communication these days. I want my connections with others to be a form of communion. If it's not, then it must go. I want authenticity in all my interactions. If it cannot be authentic, then what purpose does it serve?

Life is very short. Tomorrow we will be gone. If this life is sacred, then why would we want to spend one minute of it being or doing anything that is not of our highest and purest selves? It boggles my mind -- this incessant do, do, do, talk, talk, talk, chatter chatter chatter. I want the deepest well of quiet. I want to hear the quiet, nearly-silent stirrings of God in things. I want to hear His scratching on my soul...those tiny imperceptible chafings of His fingers, doing their work.

The world is too loud, and I am far too ignorant to hear Him through it, without this Herculean effort of weeding and culling out every last unnecessary thing. And so I do.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Things Are Moving, Knock On Wood

'The Stolen Picture' - details below.

I'll never understand why my life seems to have such extreme ups and downs, but I don't think I'll ever get used to it. I shouldn't complain, as things are on the upswing, it seems. I have work (thank you, God) Nast is fairly happy (hallelujah) and things seem to be better in Kemerovo. I don't know any details, so don't ask. I just know that when I suggested to my attorney that I may be visiting Anya in June, she suggested I bring my updated dossier to submit.

Now, I have no firm plans to visit Anya, just a painful longing to see her after an entire year apart. I decided to 'put it out there' so to speak, because we all know how much harder it is to back out of something once we've told the world.

My plan is to have a series of yard sales in May and see if that makes enough for the airfare. I think it should. I'll go while Nastia is still in school, so it will only be my airfare. I'll find a friend to stay here with her. I have a strange sense that it will all fall into place easily. Don't now why, I just do. I'm guessing that is because it is a prompting from the Divine that is urging me there.

On the homefront, I'm teaching again and I cannot even speak the joy and fulfillment it brings. I love my work with an undying, romantic kind of love. How many people you know get 'happy' butterflies just thinking of heading to work? That's me. Weird, I know, but who's to judge?

Nastia is hitting an emotional growth spurt. She is really starting to act like a young woman and less a child. It's something to celebrate, but also a bit bittersweet. I'm glad because it means I am doing something right, but part of me still feels unnerved at her growing up. It's new territory.

And with that in mind, I bring you some photos I took of her this Easter weekend. The first one (above) was a dirty-sneaky stealth job...I took it without her knowing OR her permission - a big no-no in her world. But I couldn't help it; she looked so beautiful and so grown up. The good news is, once I showed her the 'stolen' picture, she consented to a few more...with full knowledge and cooperation! Right now she is at a varsity tennis match. She got called last night to fill in for a varsity match. What a boost that was to her confidence!

She's growing up:(

Cross-Species Mutual Adoration

The sweetest face in my universe:)