Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I've moved around my entire life, across states and continents, and this kind of nomadic lifestyle has gotten in my blood, my bones. I suppose it has impacted every part of me--including blogging! Silly, i know, but that's the only reason I can attribute to the number of blogs I've had over the years and this consistent need to pack up and start over as the seasons change.

The seasons have changed in our lives. Our nomadic lifestyle has come to a halt, as it seems probable that we'll be in Virginia for the long haul. Ren has been home for nearly a year now, and we find ourselves settling in to a new rhythm and a new journey.

I started this blog as a way to document our adoption journey, and now that Ren is home, I find that new dreams and thoughts and ventures lie before us. I need a new place for all of this. A clean slate. And, so, here it is. I'm hoping, like our move to Virginia, that this one will be the last...

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

weeknight musings.

It's funny how music can take you back, isn't it?

I'm listening to the soundtrack of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It became my soundtrack during the cold and quiet winter of 2009. We lived in Salt Lake City that year. Chris was busy, working like a dog every day during his fellowship. He came home exhausted. Many of his nights were spent writing ophthalmology research articles. Tess was on the cusp of turning two years old and it was just her--she was my one and only. I had just started working on my MFA and this music was the constant backdrop to quiet afternoons spent at my computer while Tess napped. I still remember the scene, looking out my desk window at the snow falling and slowly accumulating on the ground.

It's funny how things change, isn't it?

Now I'm here in Virginia. My three children are upstairs sleeping. Chris is finished with his training and is in a steady job in private practice. His hours are better, and in so many ways, all those countless hours and years of hard work have finally started to pay off. There were many times when he doubted they ever would. Tonight I sit on our screened in porch. It's a cool night and spring is quickly yielding to summer. The trees have exploded and we are surrounded by green, by life, light, and fullness. There are still some afternoons when Ren naps that I sit at my computer, but the scene outside my window is not snow and my soundtrack has changed. I still haven't finished my MFA, almost five years and counting. But here I am right now, enjoying the memories and how music makes them so tangible.

It's funny how much we remember, isn't it?

I started seeing a therapist here in VA several months ago and it's largely been a journey of remembrance. It's astonished me how much our minds and hearts can hold without realizing it. When given the opportunity though, the memories come flooding back, little pockets of them start to come out of hiding and I have begun to realize how mysteriously tied together they all are. Seemingly random associations between past and present suddenly become an intricately woven web of memories, stories, and sensations. And somehow, this intricate web forms the woman I am today. It is intertwined with my blood and bones, with each cell of my body.

It's funny how mysterious we are, isn't it?

Sometimes I think of how little we really know about one another. I mean, how little we really know about ourselves! It's a constant journey to find out who we really are in life, let alone other people. We never reach the end of the source. As much as we know of one another--even the closest people in our lives--we know so little! How do other people experience life? How do they see things? What little thoughts run through their mind on an idle Thursday morning as they drive to work? We all have so much to learn from one another. I have often struggled with the belief that the way I experience life is somehow different or flawed from other people. Maybe it's different, but I'm learning that it's different for everyone, not just me. We are all so different and flawed, and yet, at the end of the day, we are all so common. The really important things that link us together are the same. Our need for hope and community. Our desire to be known and understood. Our desire to love and be loved, our unquenchable need for God.

Friday, May 31, 2013


There's this feeling that I experience just about everyday of motherhood. It's a scattered feeling, a sense that I have one foot in and one foot out of life, a kind of yo-yo sensation in which I am constantly swinging back and forth and up and down.

As I sit here and type this, I'm sharing the couch with piles of laundry I've not yet folded. The dishwasher needs to be unloaded and it's almost 3:30pm and I should really get the littles up so they can go to bed before 10pm tonight. I need to start cooking dinner because Ren will start asking for it as soon as he's up from his nap, not to mention the slew of other things on my to-do list that I haven't tackled. There's always something.

But that's not even it. I've become accustomed to the reality that there's always something to be done around the house and that nothing is ever truly finished. The thing that I have a hard time with is stepping out of my domestic bubble and extending myself to others, into the rest of the world, and getting involved in people and places and ideas that I'm excited about. It's hard for me to strike that balance in this stage of life. I feel like I can peep my head out of my little world for a while, but soon enough, I must retreat again and give myself 100% to my family. 

The thing is, there are so many things I love in life. I love to read and write and paint. I want to finish my MFA, I would like to go back to work as a nurse, I want to be a part of the big and exciting things that God is doing through other people all around the world. I want to contribute to that and make an impact beyond the domain of family life. And, so, when I feel as though things are going smoothly at home, I sense the freedom to start stepping out into the world more. When my intuition tells me that the coast is clear, I feel as though I can start to spread my wings again. However, it's inevitable that I can only stay there so long before I have to tap out and hunker down here again.

And, so, I often feel as though I'm just spinning my wheels. Choosing to do something creative means that the domestic duties go undone, or get postponed until they pile so high that I get buried beneath them. I can't keep up with all of it. Choosing to do something creative with my time means that a price must be payed, whether it means that I'm more tired or the house is more of a mess or the kids are grumpier because I can't accommodate all of their preferences. I'm learning that it's usually worth the price, because the state of my soul is more at rest and happier when I'm doing something creative, whether it be writing a little blog post, writing a poem in my journal, refinishing a piece of furniture, playing with my acrylics, or doing Google job searches for part-time nursing positions in our area. However, sometimes I get so tired of the red-light-green-light, the stop and go, the in and out. I can fall prey to giving up and saying "why bother?" But, I've learned that this resignation is the precursor for depression, and so I'm determined to keep trying, despite the frustration and the frequent sense of mental whiplash.

I read a Donald Miller blog post a while ago that mentioned how humans are healthier when we are working towards something--aiming toward some goal or passion. We need forward movement and growth in order to stay psychologically healthy. Stagnation is a bad thing.

This is a rub for me. Some days I feel as though one hundred percent of my energies go toward maintaining the status quo around here--just meeting our basic daily needs of food and clothing and sleep and potty. I suppose that the rearing of children IS forward movement--but it's a very, very long term endeavor that never seems to end and often gets swallowed up in the dailiness of life. It usually doesn't feel like movement at all, since so many domestic tasks get undone so quickly. Trying to do anything "extra," as in, working towards some goal outside of this, sometimes feels ridiculous and impossible.

And sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I have pockets of time and energy at my disposal to give to things I love and enjoy outside of my family. I suppose the struggle here is being okay with the zig zagging unpredictability of trying to keep a hand in all of it. Most days, my life feels like an intricate web of loose ends; a pile of half-finished projects and endeavors. I try to keep my eyes on the process, not the end result, and accept the fact that this is reality: a constant and ongoing mix of progress and set-backs, of moving out and stepping back, of always being in that scattered and blurry space between. "There is no easy answer."

Do you ever feel like this?
How do you navigate the "yo-yo" effect of life or parenthood?
What goals or ambitions do you have outside of your primary duties?

excerpt from Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Friday, May 24, 2013

sign here, please.

I woke up early this morning, around 5am. I had to go to the bathroom and saw that it was already getting light out. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to come downstairs and get coffee, steal away a few extra moments before the day begins.

I was randomly looking back through old things I've written and came across this post below. I think I was meant to find know, one of those coincidences that's not really a coincidence. I wrote it exactly one year ago today, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. I forgot that I'd written this, so to stumble back upon it today was special. I wanted to share...


2:30pm, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. I sit at my desk in silence, drinking coffee, of course. The girls are napping. The house is empty. The sun is shining. Chris is at the bank as I type this, signing our closing documents on our house in VA.

When he's done he's going to call me and I will wake up the girls and drive to the bank. Chris and I will trade off and I'll go in and sign my portion. Then we will whisk our fat stack of signed and notarized closing papers off the the UPS store and overnight them to VA.

Gosh...what a familiar scenario...the document signing, the notaries, the taking shifts with the girls in the car while they watch a DVD and the other spouse is inside signing their life away. This has all played out with the adoption thus far...the background checks, the immigration documents, homestudy documents, etc.

2011-2012: the years of signing our lives away.

I've never seen so much paperwork in my life.

Tonight, I suspect, if everything goes as planned, we will come home and grill some chicken and open a fantastic bottle of wine to celebrate our new home and the next chapter of life that's becoming more tangible every day.

The Lord has been GOOD to us. We know His Voice better now that we did two years ago. We know how He protects and provides for us in deep and intricate ways better than we did two years ago. We understand that the more we open our hands and give everything to Him, the more He carries us and blesses us.

Please God, let it all be for you, everything we do, let our lives be a constant proclamation of Your goodness, love, and glory.


It's crazy how much difference a year makes. Now I'm sitting on the screen porch of our Virginia home. We are finished with the paperwork; the paper pregnancy has ended and Ren is sleeping upstairs in his room. It's crazy how good God is. 

Friday, May 17, 2013


Everything feels lighter in the pool. My body, my muscles, my mind, my anxieties, my irrational worries...the heaviness seems to dissolve as soon as I immerse myself in the water. I am certain that water has healing properties. It relieves the pull of gravity and makes me buoyant even when I feel like a ton of bricks. There's a sense of tranquility I feel after a swim that I don't experience with other forms of exercise.

I started swimming as a last alternative. I guess that sometimes the only way we can come upon new blessings is in the face of loss. Over the past month I've been coming to grips with the fact that I just can't run anymore. Perhaps it's just the season of life I'm in and one day my body will embrace the road again, but for now, it's too much pounding. My body was rebelling in new ways every time I attempted even a light jog, so I finally had to throw in the towel. This was hard for me. Running has always been my thing.

Last December I got mononucleosis. The acute stage consisted of several weeks of fevers, the worst headaches of my life, body sweats, chills, a whacked out GI track, and an extremely inflamed liver. Once the acute stage subsided, I was told to except a long and slow recovery that could take up to a year. I believe I contracted it because my immune system was so knocked down after the stress of 2012 and I was more susceptible to getting sick. It has indeed been a long and slow recovery process, one that has required a lot of patience, support, and prayer. I reached a very low point back in February when I felt like I just wasn't getting better--a lot of fear and depression and anxiety plagued me. I ended up in the ER with severe GERD and gastritis--who knew that could cause so much pain? One week later I ended up on an antidepressant and was surrounded by the support of healthcare workers, a therapist, and a faithful group of soul sisters who diligently prayed for me. (The irony here is that China will not approve you to adopt a child from their country if you take antidepressants...but you are likely to need them once the whole process is over.)

I was at the end of my rope. I'd been running on adrenaline every since we'd left California (almost a year ago, now). Adrenaline helped to sustain me through the move, the trip to China and back, and most vitally, the long and strenuous process of adjusting in the aftermath of those big events. It's kind of ridiculous how far and long adrenaline will carry you. The human body is a remarkable thing. It's also incredibly humbling when your adrenals have had enough and they are no longer a sufficient source of fuel to carry you. There are no more endorphins left. Caffeine makes you sick. All you can do is REST. All you can do is wave your white flag and surrender to your terrifying weakness and limitations. This year has taught me that REST can be very hard.

This is how I ended up in the pool. The pool is a great place for rehab and rest. There's a water-arthritis class that is taught each morning when I show up to do laps. The older ladies who participate jive to jazz music as they move their bodies slowly and gracefully through the water. They can't take the pounding of gravity either, and they faithfully commune in the pool several times a week. I've started becoming a regular at the indoor pool at the YMCA and I'm starting to meet people and learn a few things about swimming. Some of the women I've met also started swimming because they couldn't do anything else. There's a lady I share a lap lane with who recently had back surgery and needs hip surgery, so swimming is really the only exercise option for her. She used to be a runner. Another lady named Laura is in incredible shape--she teaches some swim classes during the week--she also walks with a limp.

I used to swim every summer on the swim team between ages 5-10. I wasn't a huge fan of it. I competed in swim meets but I never felt that swimming was my strong suit. Still, that experience taught me the basic strokes and technique, however I've been learning a lot just in the past few weeks.

For one, God didn't design our bodies to move through water. We don't have fins and super sleek scales like fish. We need to come up for air. Our extremities are made for walking--for moving through air--not primarily through water. So, I'm learning that swimming is all about form and efficiency. You can waste a lot of energy and wear yourself out if you don't have good technique down. Most of it is just learning how to move in the water, getting a feel for it. It's all about smooth movements, precision, long strokes, and taking it easy.

This past year has taught me to slow down, mainly because I've had to. Your body will let you know what it needs, and mine started screaming out for help last November. I have started listening to it, and for now, it is happiest when it's fully submerged in water. What once started out as a dreaded and temporary alternative to running has now become my most cherished part of the week. When I swim laps, I don't listen to music. I am alone with my thoughts and it is quiet. The water doesn't conduct sound very well. Being alone too much with my thoughts has historically been a bad thing for me, but somehow my mind is soothed by the rhythm of the water and prayer comes more naturally.

Swimming is teaching me that exercise, and life, does not have to be an intense or radical event that leaves you sore and exhausted in order for it to be meaningful and beneficial. There are seasons that require intensity and action and edge--but just as much, we need seasons when we learn about grace and rest--when we learn to refine our movements into smooth and fluid patterns and repetitions, one stroke at a time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Late Spring

I'm just coming here today with a poem I'd love to share--one of my favorites. It's called "Late Spring" by Robert Hass, and I always think of it during this time of year. I think it's about how our lives become marked by routine and tradition. It's about celebrating the change of seasons, living in the present, and how quickly yet mysteriously time passes when we are engaged in the dailiness of life.

I hope you enjoy it. May the light enlarge your days this spring; may your evenings be full of wine and story-telling until long after the sun has descended. ~Lib.


And then in mid-May the first morning of steady heat,

the morning, Leif says, when you wake up, put on shorts, and that's 
it for the day,

when you pour coffee and walk outside, blinking in the sun.

Strawberries have appeared in the markets, and peaches will soon;

squid is so cheap in the fishstores you begin to consult Japanese and 
Italian cookbooks for the various ingenious ways of preparing ika
and calamari;

and because the light will enlarge your days, your dreams at night 
will be as strange as the jars of octopus you saw once in a 
fisherman's boat under the summer moon;

and after swimming, white wine; and the sharing of stories before 
dinner is prolonged because the relations of the children in the 
neighborhood have acquired village intensity and the stories take 
longer telling;

and there are the nights when the fog rolls in that nobody likes — 
hey, fog, the Miwok sang, who lived here first, you better go home, 
pelican is beating your wife —

and after dark in the first cool hour, your children sleep so heavily in 
their beds exhausted from play, it is a pleasure to watch them,

Leif does not move a muscle as he lies there; no, wait; it is Luke who 
lies there in his eight-year-old body,

Leif is taller than you are and he isn't home; when he is, his feet will 
extend past the end of the mattress, and Kristin is at the corner in 
the dark, talking to the neighborhood boys;

things change; there is no need for this dream-compelled narration; 
the rhythm will keep me awake, changing.       

--Robert Hass

Sunday, May 12, 2013

where we are, right now.

Mother's Day is one of those occasions that prompts a lot of reflection. I find myself pondering the many seasons of life and how much life can change throughout the years, how many different seasons we walk through as women, and how our lives are weaved with both life and loss simultaneously.

There are many moments when I feel uncomfortably in-touch with the fragility of life. So many things we cling to dearly seem to dangle by a fine thread that can be broken so easily. I feel it each night when I check on my kids before I go to bed, their small bodies breathing heavily in sleep. The chaos of the day has subsided and in the silence I am somehow able to grasp the brevity and delicacy of life, how fleeting each moment is. It's a bittersweet realization, that the moments we hold onto are so precious and yet precarious.

Today, however, I was struck by the opposite feeling, a feeling of permanence and certainty. Not certainty in circumstances, but in what life is all about, in how I have been shaped by it, and how my heart has been permanently marked by the people in it, the experiences I've been through.  It stormed last night and when I woke this morning the air was still heavy with moisture. It was almost as if time passed more slowly, as if each moment lingered in space a bit longer, with more time to absorb the weight of it all.

Chris brought a tray up this morning with coffee and cards from the kids. They crawled into bed with us, anxious to open their own cards for me. Tessa's had a beautiful picture inside. She'd drawn an elaborate picture of herself with me, both of us surrounded by a brilliant rainbow, of course. Her drawings are intricate and exact, with bold lines and colors. Lucy's card was covered in different colors, all scribbled across and over each other. She's an artist like Tess, but perhaps more like Jackson Pollock, she doesn't mind if her strokes are outside of the box. In fact, she prefers it. And Ren's card, sweet boy, had a couple little markings on it. He would rather be pushing and pulling things--discovering the limits of the physical world--than playing with crayons or markers.

As the kids squirmed around on the bed with us, I found myself thinking about where we are now, versus years past...

Last year we were in California and Ren was still in China. I was still an expectant mom, anxious to bring her son home. This year is my first Mother's Day with him. It is a sweet feeling that I can't truly express in words. I've thought about how two hearts can be woven together by love, regardless of biology or blood. I have thought a lot about his birth mother, where she might be, what her life is like now. I don't know that they celebrate Mother's Day in China, but I imagine that not a day goes by when she doesn't think of him.

Two years ago I was alone with the girls in California. Chris was actually here in Virginia Beach, interviewing for a job.

Three years ago on Mother's Day, Chris left for Afghanistan. He left the house around 4am that morning. I'll never forget that day, the anxiety, the mind-numbing fatigue, and also the relief that the anticipation of the inevitable was finally over.

Four years ago on Mother's Day we were living in Utah, preparing to move to California. I was pregnant with Lucy and sick as a dog. I don't remember what we did.

Five years ago on Mother's Day was hard. I was pregnant, but the week prior at a routine ultrasound appointment, we discovered our child didn't have a heartbeat. I was scheduled to have a D&C the next day, the Monday after Mother's Day. I will never forget that Mother's Day and how torturous it was to live through it, knowing the child inside of me was no longer alive. I know that Mother's Day can be a very painful day for many women, and that year, it was for me. Two weeks later we left our home and community in Texas and moved to Utah.

Six years ago was my first Mother's Day and little Tess was about three months old. I remember coming home from a 12 hour shift in the OR that Sunday. Chris had made me dinner. It was a sweet day and I felt special for having received the gift of motherhood. People told me "Happy Mother's Day" for the first time. It felt odd but wonderful, kind of like when you first get married and get to refer to your man as "my husband" and refer to yourself under your new, married name.

A couple of weeks ago one of the pastors at church talked about how important it is to remember the stories of our lives--to remember what God has done and His faithfulness. It's important to document where we are right now, so we can look back after many seasons have passed and remember our story. It's easy to forget. That is part of why I like writing and reflecting. It keeps me more aware of the big picture, which brings these present moments into finer focus. I am soaking up His faithfulness today. I am remembering the stories. I am so grateful for what He has given us and who I am becoming because of Him. For the most part, life has been too chaotic and challenging this past year to document in writing, but all of those difficult, daily moments are now a part of me, and they make the sweet moments that much sweeter.

Last week my dear friend, Kelly, came to visit us. It was our first visit from a non-relative since we've been in Virginia Beach. This month marks ten years since we graduated from UNCC with our nursing degrees. We met in nursing school and we've remained friends throughout all these changing seasons. Her presence was a reminder, too, of God's faithfulness, and how friendships can endure strongly through distance and time and change. The people in our lives...we can connect with their souls...and those connections aren't easily broken. As fragile as life often feels, there are many things that are lasting. Memories. History. Soul Connection. Love.

One day when she was visiting, we went out the beach with Ren. Tess and Lu were at school and we had the beach to ourselves. Kelly snapped some photos of Ren and I. These images reflect where we are at right now...


In awe.

Discovering and frolicking in the vastness of God, 
His beauty, and His faithfulness.

At church today we sang one of my favorite songs, "Come and Listen." I'll post it here because the lyrics speak so beautifully to the thoughts and emotions inside of me. 

Come and listen
Come to the water's edge 
all you who know and fear the Lord
Come and listen
Come to the water's edge
all you who are thirsty, come.

Let me tell you what He has done for me,
Let me tell you what He has done for me,
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Where are you in life right now?
What has God done in your life?
How have you experienced His faithfulness?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I love Tuesdays. For about three hours in the morning, all of my children are at school/preschool. They are out of the house and in good care, and I have some time to get things done and just breathe. 

The scenario each Tuesday morning is pretty similar. I wake up around 6:15am, get some coffee in my system, get Tess up, dressed, fed, and out the door for kindergarten, pack lunches for the littles, unload the dishwasher, get dressed, get Ren and Lu up, get them fed, dressed, loaded into the car, and dropped off at preschool/Mom's Day Out. In the midst of all of this, there are multiple temper tantrums to diffuse and exhausting toddler power struggles to disengage from. It can feel like a volatile emotional obstacle course every morning. 

When I arrive back home it's around 9:30am and I feel as though I've been sprinting for three hours. I walk into the house. It is eerily silent and still. Texanna is at the door to greet me. She sits at my feet and stares at me, as if to say, "Is it my turn now?" I rub her ears and pet her head and tell her we can both just relax. I look around the kitchen. Dried, crusty yogurt remains on the kitchen counter from where the kids ate breakfast. Dirty dishes are stacked in the sink. Bits of last night's rice float around in the pots of cold dishwater. I start to wonder what I'll do with my precious window of time, whether I'll tend to the laundry, the dishes, the dinner that needs to be cooked, the errands that need to be run, the pooch that needs to be walked, the appointments that need to be scheduled, the emails to return, the floors to mop, etc.

Instead, I always find myself standing in the middle of the kitchen, staring blankly around, and the only thought on my mind is coffee. First things first. I measure out the coffee grinds, take a big, deep breathe, and as I exhale, the over stimulation of the morning starts to diffuse out of me. I can feel my spirit start to unwind and I begin to relax into the silence. It's time to decompress.

And that's what I'm doing now. In this moment, I'm here with my coffee in the big white chair in our sunroom. It's cold and sunny outside and I love the way the light pours into this room, especially in the morning hours. It's my favorite room of the house. This is sacred time. It is precious because I do not have it in abundance. Sometimes I just sit and sip and stare out the window. Sometimes I like to write in my journal or write a letter to a friend. Sometimes I like to paint or read. I will start into my "to-do" list later, but for now, I can just BE, and I am grateful.

How do you decompress? What does that precious window of time look like for you? What would you want it to look like? If you are a working mom, how do you find this time for yourself?

"Certain springs are tapped when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer to work out his thoughts; the musician to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships." --Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Friday, March 22, 2013


He stands at the front door each afternoon and waits for her.

" bus!"

He says it again and again until he sees the big yellow bus pull up in front of our house, anxiously awaiting the arrival home of his big sister and the resumption of play and laughter and noise. His little heart seems to cling to these regularities, the assurance of a familiar schedule, when the people he loves come and go with predictability, and when those who leave always return to him again.

My son inspires me. He is a daily reminder of the great beauty and strength of the human spirit. He reminds me of our God-given capacity to withstand great heartache, fear, and trauma, and still live on. We can overcome, we can press forward, hopeful and resilient. We live with scars and also possess the ability to heal and recover, changed and refined by our hardships, and somehow, miraculously, wiser and kinder in spite of them, because of them. We need not be ashamed of them, for these things make us beautiful and unique.

My little boy has a strong spirit, a determined spirit. He is a fighter and will not easily give up. His capacity for love is fierce. He is a protector, a willful little guy who knows what he wants, how he feels, and is unafraid to show it and defend it. He feels things deeply, both grief and joy. His smile lights up an entire room.

Children accept things with an innocence that moves me. Their eyes perceive and understand the world with a simplicity that I often find disarming. I remember one day, last summer, shortly after we'd arrived home with Ren. The children and I were playing in the back yard on the swing set and a neighbor came over to meet us. Tess proudly introduced Ren to our neighbor friend. She said "This is Ren. He's my brother. He's from China!" She stated it matter-of-factly, as if it was the most natural arrangement in the world, as if she'd always known him and loved him and been bound to him by blood. No questions asked. She sees all the things that bind them together, not the things that make them different. We are family. Genetics, ethnicity, heritage, culture. These things are irrelevant. The biggest ties that bind are made of spiritual matter.

My son puts his little hand against the glass door, listening for the distant hum of the school bus as it turns onto our street. The first thing he says when we wakes in the morning is "Tessa? Lucy?," as he inquires after the whereabouts of his sisters. He drapes the full weight of his body over mine at night as we rock and sing, his arms and legs wrap around me like a koala. His head lies heavy on my shoulder and I can feel our chests sink into one another as we breath. When Chris is home on the weekends, Ren is his shadow, trailing his heels, a little man in the making, intrinsically tied to the physical, adventurous, and playful domain that his dad inhabits. My boy displays an ability to love courageously in places that have been previously hurt. I have watched him begin to rest and settle into us with time.

In a world full of ample reasons to remain cynical, untrusting, and isolated, my children are daily reminders that there is always another way, a better way. The resilience of the human spirit, its ability and trust and hope again, to overcome and live, is perhaps the most powerful thing of all.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

will be born

Where do I even start? I wondered if I would ever write in this space again. I feel so full of so many things and hardly know where to begin. There are WAY too many gaps to fill since I last wrote, about nine months ago, so I'll just begin with where I am now.

Life has felt too overwhelming and raw to write in this space since returning home with our boy. No one and nothing could have prepared me for the massive transition we faced when we brought Ren home to a new place that essentially wasn't home. There were far too many moments when I wondered, "where am I, who am I, and what has just happened to me?" I think that every member of our family, especially Ren, was wondering the same thing at some point during the transition process. The impact of losing our community during such a pivotal and stressful time was more significant than I could have anticipated.

As I picked up my laptop to write this morning, it felt foreign. I thought about how often I wrote when we were living in California, but so much has changed since then, and more pressing things have squeezed out the time I have for writing. Still, I want to get back to it. It has been on my heart to gradually start breathing some life back into this dormant space--I know it could use a major facelift and I'm looking forward to the process. it goes. I guess I'll just jump right in with the present.


March is a hard month for me. It always has been. It's like September. It's a transition month, a month when I am desperately ready for a change of seasons, but nature doesn't seem to move at the pace I would like. In September, I'm craving cooler temperatures but it's still dreadfully hot. In March, I'm craving warmer temps, but there are still so many days that feel like winter. There are buds on the trees but they have not yet bloomed. Just the word March makes me think of springtime, yet it still feels like winter. It's a big tease. The reality doesn't match the expectation. That's why I don't mind January and February too much. The weather is drab and dreary, but it's expected because it's still technically winter. It's harder to get disappointed because there isn't any hope attached to things changing for the better. But March? March is officially the beginning of spring, of more light, longer days, of flowers and warmer temperatures. Or so it should be. But change doesn't happen overnight, and so this is a month of backs and forths, ups and downs, when one can feel the painful pulses and contractions required to birth new life. It all requires so much expectation and energy, and I often find it all a bit exhausting. We know that spring will be born, but March is that uncomfortable and temperamental space between, a time of wondering and doubting and wishing, a time of longing and excitement, like that third trimester of pregnancy when a woman wonders if she'll remain pregnant forever. Of course, no woman has remained pregnant forever. The child WILL be born. But, in those final few weeks, the pain and discomfort are real and that irrational thought does not seem preposterous.

It was Easter weekend, one year ago, that Chris and I came out here to go house hunting. When we first walked through this house last year, I did not think it would be our home. I had a difficult time envisioning us here. I suppose I had some other preconceived idea of what our Virginia home would be like. This home needed a lot of tender loving care and it still does. I knew it would be a hard, long, and expensive process to transform it from its current state into the vision we had for it. It had a lot of potential, but it would not realize this full potential without a liberal amount of patience and perseverance. It's strange to stop and think that now, one year later, this home is ours, and we have made slow yet tangible progress in claiming and transforming it into our own. It's hard to fathom how much can happen in one year, and it's mind-blowing to think about where we were one year ago and how our lives have fundamentally changed since then.

Yesterday I bought a bunch of ranunculus at Trader Joe's. They are gorgeous. I love how unruly their wavy stems are. They have petals that are soft and intertwined like roses, but they are a bit more bohemian and wild; a little less uptight and pretentious. Just my style. They caught my eye immediately because I remember first buying a ranunculus two years ago when we were in California. I planted it in a pot and sat it on my desk--something pretty to look at as I worked on the stacks of adoption paperwork to bring Ren home. Two years later, the paper pregnancy is over and we have a son. As I went to check on him last night before heading to bed, I stared for a long time at his sweet body, breathing heavily in a deep sleep in his crib, in his home. He is home now. 

The child WILL be born. The flowers will bloom. Spring will come. It has come already in so many areas of my life, and this is always cause for celebration, even amidst the many other areas of existence that can still feel drab, dreary, dormant, or just plain dead.

I put the ranunculus on our dining room table. The dining room wallpaper has finally been stripped (good riddance!) and we painted the walls a pale shade of indigo, a true blue with slight hints of violet. 

I hung my Matisse painting on the wall and displayed some of my favorite pottery, all of which has touches of indigo in it. 

We hung the big, bold oil painting that Chris's cousin, John, painted. I smiled as I took it all in yesterday. This place is starting to come together; it is beginning to reflect my style and what I love in life. 

I stood in the middle of the room yesterday and started thinking about the future groups of women who might gather here during Red Tent Dinners...future meals we will share with dear friends and family who come to visit...future family dinners when we teach our children what it means to connect over a nice meal (and have decent table manners)!

I'm so grateful for those places in our homes and our lives that feel like spring has come. I'm grateful for the progress we've made over the past several months and that the massive upheaval we experienced in 2012 is starting to settle. I'm grateful for the change of seasons, for new life, fresh starts, and that after months and years of waiting, life WILL DOES come. And, I'm thankful that we don't have to go back and do it again. God forbid! I am looking forward to what lies ahead. The first day of spring is tomorrow!

BTW, just to give you some frame of reference, here's a "before" photo of the dining room, taken on the day we got the original 1980's wallpaper stripped. We've made progress, indeed!