Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On not being chosen (again)

Roller coaster time again - buckle up. We were contacted by Open Door (our agency in Georgia) a few days ago about a babe who had already been born and was in need of a home. We said YES to showing our profile book (more like YESSSSSSSS) but this was not "the one" - the birthmother chose another family.

We've been down this road before (or, sticking with the metaphor of choice, been on this crazy ride before) but it still is rough and disappointing to hear "no" - and the wait in-between is pretty brutal. When you know your life MIGHT change forever by one phone call....and that the little one you've been given basic info about MIGHT become your child forever....suffice to say it is nearly impossible to focus on anything at all. Put another way, it is nearly impossible not to check email every few minutes, to jump at every phone call, to wonder every waking second what the outcome might be....it's pretty exhausting.

We were so glad to have another opportunity to say YES, to take a step forward in faith and open our arms wide for a child who needs a home through the generous love of his/her first parents. That's why we're doing this, to say yes, even if the answer in response is "no" for now. And we learned some things that will be worthwhile as we continue on this journey (and note that some of these are more serious than others, which should be obvious; humor is good medicine):

1) Cancel subscriptions to junk emails!! It was beyond annoying to see a new email pop up and think maybe this is it only to receive the latest coupon from Michael's or Mixbook or Groupon or whatever - the worst is Buy Buy Baby (thanks for the reminder). Same goes for junk telemarketer phone calls. UGH.

2) Healthy distractions are good! We finished watching all six early Star Wars movies over Christmas and then in the midst of waiting on this situation watched The Force Awakens. Nothing like intergalactic warfare to take your mind off stresses. Music is good, visiting friends is good, playing with godchildren is very good, basically things that pass the time and lift the spirits.

3) We did a serious evaluation of the baby stuff we own and made a list of things we need to buy in case we get the call and have to go pick up our baby STAT (which would have been the case with this situation). It was good to face the reality of travelling to meet a baby to realize that we could use some wipes and washcloths, for example. Shopping spree in the near future.

4) We are in this TOGETHER. It was hard - but good - to be asking each other "heard anything?" and checking in about how we were feeling. This is the kind of journey you don't ever wish your spouse had to be on (we wish we were on the journey of getting our children ready for bed and for preschool, but that's not our call) but how wonderful it is to have each other to walk with. And that includes all the dear friends & family who pray for us - even if you didn't know about this recent roller coaster, your prayers helped!

image from Catholic Box

5.) The need to COMPLETELY trust in God. As our prayer this week, we decided to delve more deeply into the reality of divine mercy according to St. Faustina and her writings. So we watched a DVD called "Divine Mercy 101" with Fr. Chris Alar, MIC 15 minutes a night followed by discussion and praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Among other things, the video challenged us to trust completely in God. It is so hard to trust, especially when you are told "no" to one of your great and good desires. And it is a "no" who so many get to experience as a "yes" so frequently, so easily. Yet we are trying to trust completely because in the depth of our hearts we know this is the path to peace and happiness; and all of this suffering is but a means to a greater trust. We are certain that this is the gift God wants to give us through all of this, but please pray for us because it is so tempting to do the opposite. Our culture of self-seeking feel-good entitlement whispers to us, "You have a right to be angry and to doubt God. Think only of your wounds. How awful your wounds!" No! We will not dwell on our wounds except to drive us into the love of God. Our wounds are points of intimacy with God. We give them to you Lord.

So yeah, we are trusting yet disappointed and such is the paradox of our life. Some TLC is needed - maybe a glass of red wine (Bethany) and a milkshake from Chick-fil-a (Dan). We were ready to hightail it to Georgia and embark on the next leg of our adoption pilgrimage. But we'll have to wait some more.

Thanks everybody for your ongoing prayers and support, and hopefully next update we'll have happier news. Jesus, we trust in you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Word of the Year: Receive

(by Bethany)

A few years' back, a friend shared with me the idea to choose a word in January to be your word of the year. It can be a kind of touchstone, something to reflect on for the year, something to strive for, a quality to emulate, and so on. I thought it was a great idea but haven't done it until this year. For some reason, in prayer the word "receive" keeps coming to mind. So I'll just go ahead and claim that word!

Three thoughts come to mind with this word: receiving a child, receiving life moment by moment, and offering back to God all I have received from him.

Receive...not gonna lie, the first thought I had about "receive" was receiving a child. That this would be the year that we at last, at last receive a child into our arms, our home, our hearts. As we know so painfully well, a child isn't something that can be grasped or grabbed or demanded or forced - a child must be received. When I picture "receiving a child," I picture us with arms open and extended, palms up, a soft and welcoming landing pad for a little one who has already been through a lot - saying goodbye to his or her first mom, dealing with all the new scents and sounds and unfamiliarity not only of being born but being away from the person who was his whole environment for the last nine months. A little one in great need of care and warmth and closeness. We will receive our child with tenderness and with our breath held in awe of the amazing gift of new life present in a never-before-seen treasure, a treasure that will grow to call us mom and dad...(this is one of those daydreams so close to the heart that it's almost impossible to look at directly.) We will receive our son or daughter with tears of joy and with a poignant sense of what has led up to this point in our baby's life and that of his first parents. We wait and pray with open arms and open hearts, to receive a little one in God's perfect timing.

Receive...this also brought to mind a quote that has meant a lot to me, from a book that has meant a lot to me: "Interior Freedom" by Fr. Jacques Phillipe. I am overdue to read it again! It has been such a wealth of wisdom, guidance, comfort, and challenge. Anyway - the quote comes a section called "The Present Moment" and here he says:

We have very little hold on the future. Despite all our foresight, plans, and promises, it takes very little to change everything completely. We can't program life in advance, but can only receive it moment by moment.


We can only receive life moment by moment. (One of those "duh" statements that nonetheless is so hard to truly remember!!) We cannot program the future, cannot smooth out all the rough edges of our lives and create the life we want by our own sheer determination. We can only receive life as it comes, the good and the bad together. This is both a challenging and a comforting word for me. Challenging because throughout this 5-year-plus struggle with infertility, I have wanted nothing more than to "program life in advance" and at least have the assurance, somehow, that yes I will be mother. Or - better - just become one already! It is a hard truth that no, actually I do not have control over the future.

But I also find this comforting because it lets me relax, and with the help of God loosen my grip on all of my plans for life and worries about the future. Receiving life moment by moment is more active, I think, then just letting it all wash over you without a thought. I can make a conscious effort - this is at the heart of Fr. Phillipe's book - to say "yes" to what is given me in life, right now, even if it's not exactly what I want, and in doing so I know (from experience) that my teeth get a little less clenched and my hands relax out of their combative fists...and to get back to the business of loving those around me and finding ways to be fruitful.

Finally, receive brings to mind words from the Mass, specifically during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This hit me fresh just the other day. Lifting up the host, the priest says:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received
the bread we offer you...

I've been taught that during Mass when the bread and wine are brought to the altar, we should unite our own offering - ourselves, our prayers, our sufferings - with the bread and wine, to be given to God. I love love love this practice and find it a powerful way to unite my little life and the sufferings the Lord has asked me to bear with Jesus's ultimate sacrifice of love. The words of this prayer remind me that everything is received from the Lord - and everything can be offered back to him. He gives us the very bread that we offer, the wine too is his gift... I'm still thinking through what exactly this means, but I think it is something profound! Something to do with redemptive suffering, and receiving-in-order-to-offer, and receiving life as a gift and other thoughts it is getting too late to put together!

So that's my word. I hope I remember it throughout the year! I'm starting to see/hear it everywhere. If anyone else has chosen a word for the year, I'd love to hear it!