Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent{ure}

I've been home for almost 2 weeks, and I'm just now starting to feel like things are settling back into a normal routine. It was really nice that the kids were out of school last week for Thanksgiving so that as I was recovering from jet lag and an emotionally intense 2 weeks halfway around the world, we were able to enjoy some relatively slow and quiet days here at home. Well, I take that back. I think the only quiet moments were when everyone in the house {except me} were asleep! But that's ok! I am home, and it is such a very good place to be!


Over the weekend, we put up our Christmas tree and a few decorations. We've kept things simple this year, partly because I have been extremely tired and didn't want to fool with getting a bunch of things out of the attic, but, mainly and most importantly, we've wanted to help all these little hearts remember what this season is all about. 


It's a season of waiting, and the spirit of anticipation is definitely building around here. I should add that the energy level {at least for the kids} is through the roof, and it's making for some very lively days and a very tired Momma!

I usually love this season, but this year it feels a little different {and it's more than just my third trimester sinking energy levels}. Waiting has taken on a whole new meaning, and, let's be honest, waiting is hard



It's hard for the kids to wait for Christmas morning, and, I understand, because it's hard for me to wait too.

It's hard to wait when I'm anxious, excited, and feeling very ready to meet this new little person that's growing inside of me. {I have less than 2 months to go!}

It's hard to wait when there is another little person that I know is not where she belongs, and I very much want her to know that she does belong in a home and with a family! {We are working on getting our second stage paperwork sent off and anticipate being able to bring Faith Ana home sometime in the late spring or early summer.} 

It's equally hard to wait as another little girl continues to struggle even though she is already safe in the home that the Lord chose for her. {Sophi has had a very, very difficult month, and this week has been unusually challenging. Please pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom and patience that we need as we wait on Him to continue to bring healing and wholeness to her heart and her mind.}

But, deep down, I know that this season of waiting is a good thing. The real work happens in the waiting. The planning and the preparing. The growing and the stretching. And even the doubting and the wrestling. This is good. It's what my heart needs. 

And in the midst of the waiting, He is here. 

Emmanuel. It means God with us. 

He's right here by my side. He's strengthening me and helping me. He's taking away my fears and dispelling my worries. He's quietening my anxious heart and settling my distracted mind. And I know that He is here with me now. Here in this season of waiting.


Because the reality is

I have been overwhelmed, and I have been anxious, especially as I think about how much life will be changing in these upcoming months. And in the few weeks since being back home, I have wrestled with trusting that this story the Lord is writing for our family is indeed a good one. Because, honestly, right now it feels hard and scary. And even though I truly am excited about bringing Faith home and about meeting a new little life, I am not exactly sure how it's all going to work out. As much as I would like to tell you that I feel stronger now than before we started down this crazy, curvy journey, the truth is that I feel weaker and more incapable than ever before in my life. 


And this is exactly where He wants me. 

He wants me in this place. It's a place of knowing that I can't do it on my own strength and a place of knowing like never before that I need His help. It's a time of learning to look to Him and a season of trusting Him that He will indeed show up. It's about faith and about being stretched and about really, really believing that when these 2 precious little ones join our family in the next few months, that I can be assured and confident He will provide all of the energy, love, and patience that I will need.

It's a place of coming to know Him more and more.
Knowing what His name really means.
Emmanuel. God with us. 

He is Emmanuel when I've changed the 15th diaper for the day. {Yikes! We're about to set a new family record and have 4 in diapers at the same time!} He is Emmanuel when I've washed Sophi's sheets for the 5th day in a row {because for reasons unknown to us she has regressed back into bed-wetting and a host of other institutional behaviors that I thought we had already worked through}. He is Emmanuel when I've lost my patience and blown it with the boys because somebody missed the potty again. He is Emmanuel when I've raised my voice too many times to count or when I've muttered under my breath how miserable this feels. He is Emmanuel when the nights have been sleepless and the mornings have come early and the days have been long. And He is Emmanuel when the fear sets in and I can't even begin to imagine living this reality with 2 more very needy and dependent little people.  Even now as I'm writing these words, I know that He is Emmanuel. He is comforting my heart and strengthening my faith, and I can rest in knowing that in all that lies ahead, He will be here

Advent.

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming".


We temporarily lost baby Jesus this week. He later reappeared. Apparently a certain set of little fingers thought that maybe he was tired of napping in the manger and wanted a different place to hang out. I admit that I got flustered because it was, after all, only the first week in December. Was it really possible to have already lost baby Jesus? But in usual fashion and as with most of the minor disruptions and interruptions especially involving these little people entrusted into my care, it's the things not planned or scheduled, the things that tend to frustrate and irritate, it's those things that teach my heart, that open my eyes, and that give me the perspective that I need. 



He was there all along. Baby Jesus. He was there almost in plain sight, just a tiny bit obscured by the donkey that was sitting on top of him. I just wasn't looking in the right place. I looked where I thought he belonged, where I expected him, where I thought he was supposed to be. That's not where he was. I never would have guessed to look under the donkey, but I'm pretty sure that this is what the Lord wanted me to see and this is what He wanted to remind me.



Even when things don't turn out the way I thought they would…

Even then, He is here. 

Even when it's not what I expected, even when it's different than what I thought it would be… 

Even then, He is here. 

Even when things feel a little more chaotic than I'm comfortable with

Even then, He is here. 

Even when life is a little {or a lot} crazier and significantly less orderly than I'd like it to be

Even then, He is here. 

In the mess. In the yuck. In the stretching. In the waiting

Even then, He is here. 

Underneath all of the responsibilities and demands that seem like too much to handle...
{And even underneath the weight of a donkey...}

Even then, He is here. 

Even when I'm not sure how it's all going to turn out and don't really know what life will look like this time next year

Even then, He is here. 

Even when I question and even when I doubt

Really, Lord? 
Eight kids, eight and under? 
Two with very special needs? 
One who seems to be going backwards in almost every area? 
Pregnant and adopting, again?

Even then, especially then, He is here.


And He will be with me there when I'm in another hospital room, laboring away. He will be with me there when I'm on another airplane back to Bulgaria. He will walk with me as I'm climbing back up those orphanage stairs again. He will be with me there when I'm bringing home another little girl who doesn't even know what a home is. And, surely, most surely, He will be with me back here, when we are all finally home, all ten of us, all under the same roof. Even then, when I'm sure to be outnumbered, tired, and overwhelmed, He will come! He will show up. He will meet me here. That's what Advent is all about. Waiting. Believing. Hopefully anticipating. Knowing that He is coming.


And I love this visual reminder. 
His hand is always reaching out.
Can you see His hand reaching towards you?



I wish this year that I had done a better job of planning for Advent. Yes, we are working hard to keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas, but I wish we were doing more. I wish we were reading daily devotionals and doing Jesse Tree ornaments. I wish we were going to church more and lighting our candles every week. I wish we were doing more service-type activities and volunteering more in the community. There's so many good Christmas ideas out there and great resources for families with small children, and I feel like, in many ways, I've dropped the ball this year. Tonight, we've settled for watching the new Veggie Tales Christmas movie, and I feel like it's at least a small step in the right direction!

But as I've been thinking about the idea of waiting and Advent and really wanting to impress on the kids what all of this means, it dawned on me that the word adventure comes from the word advent. And, by all means, this December, we are living out a big adventure. We might not be doing the best job at our family devotionals or lighting our advent candles every Sunday this month, but these kids are definitely getting to witness an adventure unfolding. And they are not just getting to watch it, they are getting to be a part of it. 

Adventure.
An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. The term also broadly refers to any enterprise that is potentially fraught with physical, financial or psychological risk.


In this adventure, we are learning together. We are learning to wait. We are learning that hard is good, that different is good, that risky is good, and that even scary can be good. We are learning how to look to Him, and we are, especially, learning that He is always here, and this is very, very good! 


He is here with us in our mistakes and with us in our messes. 

He is here with us in our fears and with us in our failures. 

He is here with us in our waiting and with us in our wrestling.

He is here with us in this season of advent.

He is here with us in this crazy adventure

He is with us. Emmanuel. 

And I know that no matter what lies ahead, He will still be right here with us. I can't wait to see what unfolding miracles we get to witness and what new mercies will continue meeting us morning after morning in the days to come. And, once again, I want to thank you for following along and for the ways that so many of you have been part of this adventure! We are so very grateful for your continued prayers!


That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. 

Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. 

That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. 

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:18-28, The Message


XOXO,
Melanie


P.S. I 
can't wait to share more about my time with Faith Ana and also about the few days that I spent in Greece!!! It was quite an adventure...

1 comment:

  1. This post was just exactly what the Lord knew I needed tonight. Today is Gotcha Day! I am sitting in our apartment in Sofia waiting for Trevor to get back here with our girl in an hour or so (they had him fly up to the orphanage alone to save a night in the hotel for all of us up there). My heart is so full of anticipation, and like you I have no idea how I'll handle it all. But God can. Always. Such a perfect and timely reminder - thank you!

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