Love. and Hope. And I figured out how to include a picture!!!



Okay, so maybe it’s being married to a pastor, or maybe it’s having a graduate degree in religion, but more likely it’s just the fact that I love Jesus and that He loves me that makes me see God in every tiny crack of this crazy process.  Typing up these last two posts today (yes – I love pencil and paper so very much I have to write things down first, which I did last night) reminded me how I wanted to remember forever what God taught me about his single-focused love, and about the gift of hope.  I’m going to share it here so I can look back and read it one day down the road when things are not as easy, so forgive me in advance for rambling on :-). 

As we loved on Sergey for a month and put all else aside, I was continually reminded of how Jesus loves us in the same way.  He is not busy grocery shopping or vacuuming. He doesn’t mind joining in the ridiculous things we do. He doesn’t sit back and say “That’s dumb.  Why are you doing that? I don’t want to be with you if you want to ride a scooter down the aisles at Walmart at midnight.”  Instead, he is right there with us, loving us insanely, dousing us in the firehose.  Matthew 7:9-11 says: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  If even I (selfish, self-focused, moody, spoiled me) can love someone that intensely and intentionally, how much more – bajillion times more – can my Father in heaven love me?  To be very honest, this is one of my biggest struggles as a Christian, to truly believe – believe in my heart and not just in my head – that Jesus loves me.  So this whole experience of loving this boy is such a gift – a daily reminder that Jesus loves me.  Me.  And you.

Man I talk a lot.  Sorry.  The second blog post above, about hope, also points me to my Father’s love, in blessing us with hope in the midst of pain.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  There are things that happen in this world that should not be. Should. Not.  I can’t watch the news and honestly (not proud of this) I try to block out much of the suffering that I know is out there.  But I am not always successful, of course, because there are so many people I love and so many, many, MANY hard things happen.  Sometimes it is so overwhelming to me I feel like I can’t go on.  I feel like the character in “The Secret Life of Bees” who was unable to handle sadness. And I just want to run away screaming.  But that wouldn’t make it go away.  Sometimes there are moments (quick ones) where I wonder what it would have been like if Sergey had never come into our lives, how it would feel to not have this constant aching, constant emptiness, constant longing deep within me.  But even if we never knew him, he would still be an orphan. He would still be without a family to love him and he would be headed out on the streets in a year.  We can’t escape suffering. We can’t run away from pain, not if we have let another human being into our hearts, and I have LOTS of you inside mine.  So what do we do.  I have no deep answers to give you about the meaning of suffering (you’ll have to ask Clint about that :-), but I will say that this experience has taught me the essential nature of hope, of knowing that in the future things will be made right. On this earth and in this life, that future hope will never be realized perfectly. We are fully aware that there will be hard things down the road for Sergey and for us as we try to heal together from all the pain he has lived through for so many years.  Hard. With a capital H.  But one day in the future it will ALL be perfect.  No more goodbyes.  No more orphans. No more death. Or sadness. Or tears.  Come Lord Jesus.


“How lucky I am to have someone who makes saying goodbye so hard.” Winnie the Pooh

Before Sergey came this summer, Clint and I had a discussion about saying goodbye to him at the end.  Or maybe more like a monologue by me of all the reasons why I would NOT be able to do it and how I might literally die, followed by Clint making this comment: “I think it will actually be easier because we know we will see him again and eventually he will be here forever.” That is what he said.  This is what I heard: “I think it will actually be easier blah blah blah blah …”  Are. You. Insane.  How could it POSSIBLY in ANY actual universe where people are living to say goodbye to the young man who we now know would one day be our son????? As my boys are quite fond of saying, “ARE you KIDDING ME?????”  Fast forward to today, the day the sweet boy has left our home.  And now I see that he was right.  Yes, honey, you were right.  I was wrong.  As I’ve cried, moped, cried some more, and just basically slumped around the house all day being miserable (and continuing to not cook or clean, but for different reasons), I have realized that it is easier because we have him.  He is ours, whether or not it is official, whether or not he lives here yet. He is in our hearts and part of our family, forever.  When he left the last time, we felt hopeless.  We thought we might never see him again, and that fear sidelined me emotionally for quite some time (sorry to those of you who had to live through that ;-).  This time, we just have to say goodbye, knowing there will be another hello.  There will be several heart-tearing, gut-wrenching goodbyes, as well as several joy-down-to-your-toes-and-scream-out-loud-with-happiness hellos, but eventually he will be here.  Forever.  And that makes it all so very much better.  Which means even today that you can talk to me and ask me how I am without being concerned that I may become completely unhinged and sob uncontrollably all over you.  You might still get a few tears, but not tears of desperation, just tears of sadness-full-of-hope.  And that is a lot better :-).Image

Eating Pecan Rolls from a Gas Station

One of the things that I thought about so often this past month was how much joy and freedom comes from having a single focus of loving someone.  I promise I am not exaggerating when I tell you I did not turn on the vacuum cleaner one time.  I swept the floors twice, before we had guests, and I cooked maybe 5 dinners.  Maybe less.  I went to Short Pump to grocery shop only one time (where our battery on our car died :-), and just ran into Kroger a few times for the essentials.  I didn’t worry about vegetables, or what was organic.  My kids ate God-knows-what, and because Sergey loved it, got to play hours of FIFA on the X-box.  We rode around on scooters at Walmart at midnight.  We went on bike rides, dressed up all in camo, pushed each other off of a giant plastic hippo, and ate at Subway WAY more times than I am even willing to admit at this point.  I even (gasp) let the kids order soda a few times ;-), because MAN did that kid love Coke!  We spent money on things like going to the climbing gym, because I knew he would love it (and he did).  I drove all the way to the South Side for a week to sit in a chair and watch soccer for 7 hours a day just because he would look over and smile at me every few minutes.  We stayed up crazy late and slept in even later.  We wasted money on boat gas so he could tube and ski.  WE ATE CATFISH because he caught it.  I hovered around his bedroom door each night like an idiot hoping to catch a hug before he would jump into bed.  I ate PECAN ROLLS. From a GAS STATION just because he wanted so much for me to share them with him.  I watched an Adam Sandler movie. On a cell phone. In Russian.  The one about the Zohar or Zohan or something.  I am serious.  And why did I/we do all these things?  Because I knew we had one glorious month to pour as much love as we could into this boy, and we have missed so very many months along the way.  Sunday before church there were firemen out near the school doing some practice drills.  As they sprayed massive amounts of water out of those huge hoses, I thought “THAT is how I want Sergey to feel our love pouring out on him.” But, and this is the beautiful thing – it felt like our whole family was dancing under that hose together.  All the laughter. All the water balloons.  All the swimming. And tubing. And wrestling. And lightning bug catching. And games of flashlight tag. And wink murder.  And game after game after game.  It truly was like dancing under a fire hose full of love pouring on us from our Heavenly Father.  I don’t know, and probably never will, why He chose to give our family this gift.  But as our dear friend Johnny McConnell’s grandmother always says, “Don’t say no, say thank you.”  Thank you, Jesus.