‘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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

'Waiting in Joyful Hope'

If you're Catholic, you recognize that phrase. We hear it at every Mass, directly after the 'Our Father'. I never really thought specifically about those words, but tonight they sprung to mind. Although I'm not the most patient soul in the world, I am honestly enjoying these past few weeks of patient waiting to hear from overseas about my court dates. I've been in this position three times before...waiting for Nastia's court dates, then Anya's, then Daniel's. All three were very different experiences as I became less and less trusting and more and more cynical as time dragged on and answers never came for two of those adoptions. But here I am again, in the same place - waiting - and I can't help but feel I am 'waiting in joyful hope.' Some of you might think I'm crazy to hope after such losses, and you may be right. But all I know is that my heart feels expectant - joyfully expectant.

I will not know if this adoption will truly succeed until I leave the courtroom with my little girl on the final court date, months and months from now. This first trip that I am likely to make in October is just for our initial court date. It gives me guardianship of her until our final court date. It is truly scary for me to think of what may come. I honestly do not know which way the road will bend, but I am strangely calm and blessedly hopeful. It is not my own experience that allows this hope, it is surely grace. Grace from a God who loves me truly, madly, deeply. I feel it in my bones. It's grace.

And so, I am spending my days cleaning her room, getting the house in order, doing as much prep work for my job as I can...so that IF (and I truly embrace the IF)...so that IF I am blessed with the gift of her homecoming, I am as ready for her as I can be. Ready with not just her clean room and an orderly house...but with a wide open heart and a willing soul.

I know from experience the road ahead will not be easy either way. If she comes home, I know there will be days I do not feel I'm strong enough, or wise enough, or worthy enough to be her mom, but that's where God comes in. Scoff all you want, I know He is there. I've lived it. I have my share of atheist  friends who smirk at my 'naive' trust in 'something that doesn't exist.' (their words). But I feel no need to convince them, or you. Love is patient. It'll find It's way to each of us one day. 

All I know is that I could not have survived the things life has brought to my door if there weren't a loving God. Trust me, if I could take credit for  overcoming all I have, I would. I'm human - who doesn't like to get credit for for overcoming the big stuff? But I can't. I know better. I've seen and heard and felt the power of his intervention, his involvement, and his insatiable, unspeakable, unknowable Love for me. Do I get it, understand it? No. But there it is, anyway. 

Nastia was cuddling me as close as she could last night, grasping my face in her hands. 'Mom? Sometimes I love you so much I think I'm going to explode from the power of it.' 

I know how she feels, because that, of course, is how I feel about her. Sometimes just watching her sleep fills me with a love that I think might consume me, body and soul, and I might die right then and there from the power of it. I get it, Nastia, I really do. 

And you know what? I think that is exactly what it is like for God, too. His Love for us is so all-consuming, so infinitely unspeakable and extraordinary that it creates universes and galaxies in testament.

The next time you don't feel loved, look at the night sky and imagine that it is God's love letter to you. His Hand scrawled those stars against that inky darkness out of his pure delight of you. 

That's how I see it, anyway.  :)

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Joy Overflowing

Do you ever experience unexpected bursts of joy? Joy not tied to any experience or memory? Joy that seems to just be 'visited' upon you? I'm having that again. Part of me doesn't even want to write about it, my being superstitious and all. But I am startled by its visitings and want to remember it when the dark days come, as they inevitably do.

Last night I had an unsettling experience of time. It was dusk, and suddenly I felt aware of many people across the word all at once, grieving. I felt mothers grieving the loss of children who had passed, I felt the grief of parentless children, of people sitting in prison alone, of elderly people left alone in their time of need, of people battling terminal illnesses - just an expanding of my awareness of suffering all in one instant. But then I felt this incredible energy blanketing all of those people and things with a love that I cannot possibly articulate. The love was so completely unconditional and all-encompassing, it felt like the love I have for my own daughter times a billion. My heart felt like bursting. Although it was a very contradictory picture - grieving humanity and a fiercely loving presence overlaying that - in the moment I experienced it, it did not feel contradictory. It was as if all the grieving did not matter in the face of this loving Presence. It was as if all the grieving and loss melted away, and all that was left was the relationship between this Loving Presence and the people it sheltered.

This is how I experience God. A love that is so profound and so infinite and so personal and so real that it melts away the darkest, deepest suffering. I think that is what we feel when we die -- we are born into God's arms and all the suffering and hurt and heartbreak melts away. The light of that Love is so powerful, we cannot even remember the most terrible of our griefs.

The past few years have brought me some tremendous heartache. Losing Daniel, continued separation from Anya, the inability to truly help all those beautiful children from Orphanage #5 in Siberia. Some days felt impossible to get through. Sometimes friends ask me why I keep taking big risks when the odds are so obviously not in my favor. I have to say, I do it because my heart calls me to it. I do it because I know it's right to do. I do it because I know someday the pain and suffering will be wiped away. I want to leave this earth knowing I did everything in my limited human power to show the unloved they are loved, to show the shamed they are beautiful and to show the forgotten they matter. I have found nothing else on this earth that is of more value.

I feel like I'm stepping into a new chapter of my life. I'm not sure why or how, but I feel new lessons on the horizon, and this excites me. Thanks to all of you reading this who are a part of my journey here. I feel fortunate to have so many guiding lights in my life. I hope I am able to do the same for you when you need it.

I hope, in your darkest hours, you feel the Love that is surely blanketing you.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Our sweet little visitor this summer 
Sorry for the blog being shut down for awhile! Had some blogger issues and then simply got too busy to fix it and post this summer. My summer program ended Sunday, and now I have my annual month off, and time to post!

Best news of all: Anya had her baby! Sasha was born the last day of August and was a healthy 7 pounds. She is breathtakingly beautiful, and Anya is doing well and breastfeeding. Although we couldn't afford to go back over for the birth, we are calling her every day and sending support. We'll visit as soon as we are able!

On the adoption front - Just waiting for my court dates. With my history of adoption woes, I don't want to assume anything, but the expected time frame is for early October dates. We'll wait and see. I'll then go over for 2 weeks and then bring her home. If you are the praying kind, I really truly appreciate your prayers. Sadly D is being moved from her foster home to an orphanage soon. My prayer is I get over there as soon as possible, as she is really terrified to go back to the orphanage. Who can blame her?

Daniel - Daniel is doing as well as can be expected. I am able to get letters to him, and know he is 'okay' for now. He was at the orphanage summer camp until August 28th, but is now back in the orphanage for his last year. FYI - the new director there is now refusing any and all packages and letters sent to the children. Please do not send anything there anymore. I'm ever hopeful things will change at some point, but for now, there is nothing we can do but pray.

Nastia - Nastia starts her senior year of high school today! I hope and pray its a good year for her! We start looking at colleges in the next few weeks. Her plan is to study art. We are looking locally and in Boston.

I'll try to post regularly again. its hard when so much of what I WANT to post is not allowed at present! Anya also requested I not post any photos here of Sasha, so  you'll just have to trust me - she is really beautiful! She looks JUST like Anya does in her baby photo. And she has Nastia's cute little button nose!