The Powers that Be

It’s gray and gloomy outside and we are just under blankets and watching Peppa Pig.  The day has not unfolded as expected.

I have a bad headache and fibro is aching deep in my bones.  This weather does it to me every time.

Today, I saw my doctor for my routine bloodwork and check-ins.  We talked adoption and I told him what his part in the whole thing would be.  He has to say that he thinks I can handle adopting this child, this little girl who is already ours in our heart.

“They’ll want to know if you think health wise if we can handle another child.”

“Well.”  He said.  “Do you think you can handle it?”

“Yes.”  I said.  “I can do anything.”

He laughed and agreed.  He’s been my doctor for 15 years.  He knows.

As I drove home, I thought about the weight of his words with the Powers that Be in Eastern Europe..  How all of this rests in the hands of “Official” types of people.  Our social worker for the adoption, our home study social worker, our social worker in Sylvie’s country…the judges that will read over our files.

There is so much at play here and so many little windows for the Enemy to try and climb through.

So…today, as I snuggle in my chair with Nora and a heating pad…will you pray for us?  Will you pray for favor with the Powers That Be?

We’ve got to pray this Daughter home.

e.  CartestersonInk-23

Worth It

We are surrounded by encouragers.

What a gift a positive word is.

Yesterday was a wild day, lots of ups and downs and stressors.  Today looks brighter, but fibro has come to visit today. I’ll be forced to be still and know today.

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I believe in speaking truth about where you are in your journey.  Feel awful?  Say so.  Feel overwhelmed?  Say so.  Feel heartsick?  Say so.  I’ve long believed that things hidden, things in the dark lose their power when drug into the light.  So I tell the truth.  And my village receives me in my truth and speaks life and light into me.

Texts, Facebook messages, calls…all came through as we waded through the muck and mud of yesterday.  All with the same word:

God has GOT this.  He is with you.

And then this picture of this recued one in my Facebook messenger this morning.

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She’s the reason we know we can fight this thing all the way through.  She’s the reason we know that we can handle whatever comes our way. She has given us a face to the needs of the orphan. She has shown us the joy of being in a family, of being rescued.  She illustrates how we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and she is so specifically Aila, created in His image….

And her mama typed these words to me:  “She is here.  You can do it.  It’s going to be worth it.”

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I want Sylvie to have the joy that Aila does. To know that she belongs to us.  We want to teach her that she is created in His image.

God’s got this.
We can do it.
It’s going to be worth it.

Peace In Disappointment

I don’t like feeling disappointed.

I really don’t.

And I know, I know, I know that no one does.  But today, I am bogged down in disappointment and discouragement and I am sad.

I have long held a dream close to my heart.  A dream of adoption.  I have felt a stirring for it ever since I was very young.  I specifically remember a couple of families from high school that had large families full of kids of all kinds- special needs, neurotypical, adopted, bio, foster.  I was always so fascinated by the whole thing.

I met my friends the Tiefenbacks and got to know their beautiful daughters from India and my friend Dianna and her beautiful three.  This dream, it has waxed and waned over the years but it has never, ever gone completely away.

It was set ablaze all over again in knowing and loving our sweet  Aila.  In watching several Facebook friends go through growing their families through adoption and fostering.  In standing with my sister of the heart Kristin and her husband Drew as they began the foster parent journey.  Watching another family I just love adopt their second daughter domestically.

I looked around one day and I realized that I know so many people who have a heart for adoption. I realized that even my current heroes in the faith (Sara Hagerty, Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Melton, Ann Voskamp) all also have Big Hearts for adoption, for protecting and serving children in crisis.  It’s all around me.  And God does not do coincidences.  Everything is purposeful, everything has meaning.

In my first marriage, adoption was not something my husband wanted to do, so that dream had to be surrendered.  And that was okay, because sometimes life is like that.

In my second marriage, it is something my husband very much wants to do.  Our heartbeats on this are very much in sync…and so somehow, now having to surrender it because of my health is just so much more painful.  It’s as though it was in my grasp and then was snatched away.

We fell in love with a three year old in Hong Kong last year, while my fibro was under control.  We tentatively asked if he was an option for us.  The answer?  He was already in process with another family.  Yay! That’s what you want.  For kids to get adopted.  No worries, there are 147 million children in need in this world.  Surely there would be one for us.

We fell in love with several sibling groups in Bulgaria but were warned by the adoption agency not to go that route because of how many young daughters we had still at home.     The situation for orphans in Bulgaria is heart wrenching.  You can learn more here:  

Okay, so we paused to regroup and pray for a while and see where God was leading us.  We had some goals in our personal lives to meet with our finances and John was in grad school and Nora was still so young.  It felt like the door was closing for just a little while longer.

Now, we are prayer warriors for four special little ones on Reece’s Rainbow.  And these four are just so precious and deserve a family so much.  And we would gladly adopt any and all of them.

Shyla

When I saw her face…she just looks like one of us.  Her name would be Lydia if she was ours.

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Brayden

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I just believe he would flourish in a family of his own.

Rubin

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This sweet love.  Is he beautiful or WHAT?!

And finally this guy who is about to age out of the orphanage, with the same name as my own son.

Charles

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Charles-1

These are just four of 147 million and my mothers’ heart longs to go and swoop them up, bring them home and love, love, love them.

But I have this disease that steals my days.  This disease that makes an hour long car ride into an excruciating ordeal.  This disease that makes travel to another country almost impossible.

The costs of adoption are entirely overwhelming but can be overcome.  This I know for a fact. I  saw the body of Christ come together and bring sweet Aila home.

But my health.

This fibro thing has been out of control since about January and nothing I have done seems to be bringing it back in line.

So…time to lay down the international adoption dream again.  It’s disappointing.  It’s heartbreaking.

But what I know is this:
1. God gave me the dream of international adoption.  And He is not going to ignore a dream He placed in me that falls right in line with His word:  “Pure and undefiled religion is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress…” Why would he set our hearts on fire for this and then render us inactive? He wouldn’t! That’s not who He is. He will show us our path, in His timing.
2. God loves these four I’ve posted here and all 146,999,996 others more than can even be imagined.  More than I ever could, even if I adopted all four of them.  They are of eternal significance to Him.  Precious, fearfully and wonderfully made.  Treasured and cherished by the God of the Universe.  He is their Abba Father, Emmanuel, God with us.
3. I can help in so many other ways, not just as an adopter.  There is much I can do for these four. I can pray every time they come to mind.  I can teach my children to pray for them, to have their hearts open to the needs of others.  I can raise funds to help them on their journey.  I can advocate for and speak for them.  I can be their voice, stateside.
4.  There is beauty in surrender.  God can turn my mourning into dancing.  He can rescue me in my sorrow and distress.  He meets us in our hurt places.  He walks with us.  He is the Great Healer, of all pain- physical, emotional, spiritual.

I don’t know where the adoption journey will take us.  There are about a million different ways it could go.

What I do know is that the crisis is epic.  Forget my sad little heart for a second and just consider the magnitude of the orphan crisis.  I type and I delete and I type and I delete because there is nothing I can say that can even come close to describing it.  Just research it for yourself.  Read up on foster care needs in your own town, scroll through the kids on Reece’s Rainbow, watch the documentary I linked to above.  Go to Show HopeThese 400Amazima and countless other websites.  Check it out for yourself.

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This is my prayer over these precious ones.

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Please pray about the orphan crisis and please share your experiences with me and with my readers.  We are not all called to adopt, we are not even all called to give financially…but I believe that God does call us all to action one way or another.

francis

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And that is where I am today.  This morning.  I feel peace about it, sad but peaceful.  I am just going to be still and wait on Him to give me the next step.  I’m going to advocate and pray for these four He has laid on my heart and I’m going to keep praying this fibromalgia away.

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If you want to help financially, you can donate to Reece’s Rainbow or to one of the four I’ve linked to specifically by clicking any link above.

OR, if you want to help through shopping, from now on, my retail profits from DoTerra and Norwex will go to these four kiddos’ adoption grants.  (You can read more about the adoption grants and how they work on the Reece’s Rainbow webpage.)

DoTerra

Norwex

And, stay tuned, because I’m opening my Etsy store soon.  It’s called CartestersonINK and it’ll be filled with art from our family.  20% of all profits will go towards our little RR friends’ adoption grants or to other organizations that are designed to help end the orphan crisis globally.

Faithful readers, I am thankful for you.

It Is What It Is

itis

I know this statement meets with mixed reviews.  Some will say it’s a cop out- a way to be rude without being rude.  Some will say it’s giving up.  Some will say it’s lazy.

But I say this…there is something holy in accepting where you are.

I’m in a place of acceptance about fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia steals hours from me.  Days from me.  Experiences from me.  Fibromyalgia is forcing me to change who I am. It’s forcing me to reshape my day to day life.

It is what it is.

There are things I’ve found that help. Yoga, walks, good rest.  Essential Oils.

But sometimes…I just have pain.

Pain that makes no sense.  Pain that debilitates.  Pain that forces me to triage the needs and wants of my family, of myself and pick and choose those things that are truly important.

I’m realizing the truth here.

I have to let fibromyalgia be heard because it is what it is. It’s going to steal time from me, whether I make space for it or not.  But if I make space for it…there is so much less stress and striving.

I’m learning.

If I shrink my world down…If I carve out margin…If I just schedule time for rest and stillness…then fibro doesn’t win.

Turns out, there are just hours that I need to spend in the chair of healing, Bible open, paints nearby, markers, pens and pencils and crayons…I spend these hours in the Word or with my eyes closed.  These have been holy hours.

So…I’m not losing out on life.  I’m gaining Him.  It is what it is. And I could turn it into hours that I cry for what I can’t do.  I could turn into hours that I feel guilty and ashamed for all that I can’t accomplish.  I could turn it into hours where I’m filled with resentment and self pity and grief.  And yes, sometimes all of that and more….

But I count it as gain when I spend these hours like Mary at the feet of Jesus.  Choosing the better thing.  It will not be taken from me.

These hours spent with the One who made me and who holds my health in His hands are sacred.  They are a gift.

It is what it is.

Oh, March

It’s been a wild month.

We moved.  Four years, 2000 square feet, eight people, one dog and two cats’ worth of stuff to box up and transport from point A to a smaller point B.  All my insecurities exposed to those helping with the move, helping with unpacking, helping with getting that old house back to how it was when we got it.  Insecurities about not being the best (or even the mediocre-ist) at housekeeping, organization, stewardship.  I hold this deep seated fear of not being good enough and losing out on relationships and good gifts and acceptance.  Lots of Jesus, lots of therapy, lots of books…but it still rises up.

I can often just laugh at my weaknesses and feel great about my strengths but…

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Multiplied by:

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Equals:

forget-calm-i-m-freaking-out

 

And sorry, but moving is stressful.

But for all of the stress and freaking out…it went really well.  We had many helpful and cheerful hands that day.  Lots of old friends, new friends and family to help us.  There was laughter and hard work and pizza and it was a good day.

Now, we must just find time to unpack everything and figure out where it’s all going to go.  We love our new home and it feels good to start fresh in a new place.  To mark the end of a season and welcome the beginning of a new one.

Over the past two months, the kids have been sick over and over.  Lots of tummy bugs and snotty noses.  Lots of sleepless nights.  (Lots of sleepless nights.)  They’ve shared some of their sicknesses with the whole family.  Lots of laundry, lots of feverish kids in laps, tired eyes, short tempers, but good times too.  Little girls singing “Let It Go” at the tops of their lungs, dance parties, playing outside in good weather.

And, in the midst of the joy and the insecurities and the stressors…I am having so much unexplained and acute pain.

It started in my joints back when Lila was a newborn.  I followed up then with my doctor, got a diagnosis of perhaps rheumatoid arthritis and that is where it ended.  I couldn’t take the  meds while nursing, so I kind of just ignored it….thinking I’d deal with it once Lila was weaned.

Then I got divorced and had no health insurance so there was nothing medically I could afford to do.

The pain waxed and waned.  The more stressed I was, the more I hurt.  For a time, I followed a vegan diet and found real relief.

I got married again, I had health insurance again and I went back to the doctor.

This time, adding Vitamin D to my body all but erased my symptoms.

And all was well for quite a well.

But then I had Nora.  You can read all about that in November and December and January.  I have not been well since November 18, 2012.

But I have recovered from surgery.  I’ve been dealing with joint and muscle pain, extreme fatigue and sensitivity to cold for the past few months.  It’s been significant.  Some days, I hurt at a level 8 or 9 out of 10 all day.  Some days, I have great mornings and even afternoons but really rough evenings.  Some days, I wake up and feel like I haven’t slept at all.  I’m grateful that it’s not been worse but it has not been fun.

I finally have a diagnosis.  And no, it’s not a “catch-all diagnosis” and it’s not “what they say when they can’t figure out what’s wrong” or “all in my head” or “just depression”.  And yes, it is a “real condition”.  Chances are good that it won’t get any better, though I will have good days.  Chances are that I can alleviate symptoms with some life style changes that I predict I will not enjoy.  What we know for sure is this:  This is a real thing.

From the Mayo Clinic:  Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

So, it makes sense that it presented after Lila’s difficult birth.  It makes sense that it worsened during the stress of my divorce.  It makes sense that it came on with a vengeance after Nora was born and after all the drama that came with it.

I’m processing it all.  John bought me a book on the subject.

fibro book

We are reading and learning about things that help.  Laughing that of course I got a disease that is characterized by nerves over reacting!  Conventional and unconventional ways to alleviate the symptoms.  We are thinking about boundaries and guidelines- go to bed in time to get at least 8 hours, do less during the week, schedule rest times, nap times, taking it easy in the chair of healing with my heating pad times.  I’ll be saying yes to less and resting up before and after.  I’ll be taking walks and doing yoga and considering how my diet of candy, pasta, coffee and Diet Dr. Pepper might possibly be improved.  I’ll be asking for prayer.

Through it all…through the discouragement and the weariness and the pain and the stress…I am feeling a sense of Emmanuel.  God with me.  A legit feeling of Emmanuel.  Not just the declaration that “I know God is with me.” and wondering when I’m going to feel it.  His real and true presence.  I have felt freedom to cry and freedom to say, “I just can’t do anything else today.”  I have felt freedom to say, “Really God?  A chronic pain condition on top of everything else?”  I have felt hopeful about this new season, in spite of it all.  I’m learning to let Him love me and to just be where I am…for the good or the ill.

This is where I am today.  Being still in Him.  Being present with Him.  Laying the pain in my knees and in my heart at the foot of the cross.

Beloved, be loved.  It’s what we were made for.