Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a little behind

so we're a little behind.  i'm used to that.  it seems to be par for my course  - this decade anyway. this running behind should fall well within the rhythm of my normal stride.  but i had one of those mini-panic attacks earlier today when i started thinking about the months still ahead.  yesterday, we (finally, finally, finally) received news that our dossier was on its way to china.  my timeline had it there by january 1st.  february 23rd isn't that far off the mark...but far enough to make me a little crazy when adding up the days.  

i realize full well that i am only seeing part of the picture.  only seeing one section of this grand tapestry God is weaving.  i am limited. oh, so very limited.   my human-ness and my frail-ness and my small-ness have this way of taking control of my emotions.  my shortsighted view sees a family of six that will need to make adjustments to a new sister.  it sees a two year old entering the picture where there hasn't been a two year old for a long time.  the reality of emily graduating from her comfortable, well known elementary school, and preparing for a big, unknown high school  is beginning to hit me lately.  all of a sudden i see five children at five very different stages and i have to wonder where i will find the energy and creativity to pull us all together as a family of seven.  i have this constant battle with time waging inside me.  one part wants desperately to fast forward to the day rick and i will board a plane headed to china. i want to speed up the months which separate us from bella.  i would like to step over them as if they were just a crack in the sidewalk which i need barely acknowledge.  the other part is frantically searching for that elusive pause button on my family.  emily heads off to high school in a matter of months...tyler, sarah elizabeth and connor grow and change before my very eyes.  i just want to yell, "time out everyone!" or "freeze!"  i want to walk around their little figures and memorize their expressions and their height and their width and their youth.  i want to drink in who they are today, at this very moment...because tomorrow it will be different.  

if i have learned one thing in my 14 years of mothering, it is that nothing lasts very long.  we are in a constant flux of seasons and when i blink i am liable to miss years.   it was just a few nights ago when sleep would not come that i got up in the early hours before dawn and went into the rooms of my sleeping children.  i had a sudden and intense longing to see them.  to watch the peace spread over them like a light blanket.  i just wanted to see them in a state of a state of rest.  so often i watch them running by me.  running out the door.  running off to practice.  running over to a friend's house.  if my oldest reads this she will, no doubt, be completely freaked out by the admission of my midnight wanderings.  in her book that would not be a tender mother moment, but a creepy stalker acitivity.  anyway, i guess this is so much what motherhood looks like for all of us.  i know i am no different.  i am  not special.  this is the great beauty and this is the great sadness that weave together to create the same picture.  

if i was being honest, i'd tell you there are days when i don't really want to gaze at my children at all.  i, in fact, want them out of my kitchen,  off the couch and altogether out of my hair.  but, then there are those moments when i could weep seeing their independence.  one morning, not too long ago,  i came downstairs to find connor warming up syrup for the waffles he had already toasted.  he was dressed for school. his shoes were on and tied and his snack was in his backpack.  he is six.  should six year olds be warming their own syrup?  i don't know.  part of me loves that.  on many days, i am certainly quite thankful for his resourceful fourth child spirit.  but every now and then i think, "oh no, honey, let mommy do that."  do we ever achieve the perfect balance?  at this point, i am thinking no.  i am thinking we just do what we can with what we have and we stay on our knees. on our knees...always on our knees.

anyway, this post is tending to ramble mightily.  i have somehow moved from a dossier heading to china to a six year old warming his eggo syrup, but i know you understand.  these are the things of which our lives are made. we have big occasions and grand times and we have simple trifles and trivial moments...all of it blends together in this gift we have been given: our lives.   and somehow in this little bit of time here on earth we have to figure out how to soak it in, drink it up and hold it tight.   there will be rare moments when we are out ahead and there will also be many times when we are running little behind.  and this is life.

"show me, o Lord, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
 you have made my days a mere
the span of my years is as nothing before you. 
each man's life is but a breath."
psalm 39:4-5

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

be mine

i held in my hand a tiny sugared heart. "be mine," it read. it is february and every imaginable surface is littered with hearts. pink ones. red ones. tiny ones. frosted ones. as i clutched this candy in my fist i could think only of one broken heart. the broken heart of baby zuzu in china. we grow closer to her each day.  we have been told our dossier is just about ready to head to china.  we thought it might be there by early january...but we seem to be regularly at least a month behind all of our plans.  i guess it is time to just agree we are moving a month or two faster than the system. at times we feel like greedy and impatient children. we want to rush over to guangzhou city china and rescue this little girl and her sick heart. we want her to, "be mine." we want to stamp our feet and clench our fists and demand she, "be ours!" right now. but there is paperwork to finish and approvals to receive and unruly ducks to get in a line. at times we feel out of control and ridiculously unqualified. our four biological children and our four billion commitments pull  us every which way. we are ill equipped and clearly understaffed. somedays we seem to be wrapped only in our fraility and fear, looking to make a mad dash for the door. but we don't. we don't because this is about something more than us. it is even about something more than our love. it is about God's love. and we are reminded at these moments when we want to demand and insist and panic....we are reminded that she's His. before she will ever be ours, she belongs first to Him. this makes all the difference. it is what makes us bold and determined. it is what brings us peace, and on good days, patience. we know baby zuzu belongs to God and He is the one whispering gently in her ear, be mine. He has kindly invited us along on the journey. for that we are grateful and thankful, if not a little frightened. this morning i sit here with this tiny confection heart in my helpless hand. i am comforted knowing God has promised to hold our little girl in the palm of His big and mighty hand. and this february, whether the hearts are candy or chocolate, tiny or large, healthy or broken, i hear the soft and reassuring whisper of His voice, she's mine.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a mother

this week i have thought often of zuzu's biological mother. i am sure february 5th did not pass by without her remembering the daughter she left alone in a hallway. i am sure there is still much grief and pain involved. i cannot imagine the depth of her brokenness. we may never know why she chose to abandon her 5 month old daughter. it could have been as selfish as the inconvenience of a child or it could have been as selfless as hope for medical care and a brighter future. we don't know for sure, but i would like to believe the latter. she was left wrapped in a blanket with a small note attached. she was left in a hospital corridor, not an alleyway. and though i cannot fathom abandoning a child, i also cannot fathom being penniless in china with a sick child. with little hope for medical care. with little hope in general.  i cannot fathom having no one to help. no place to turn. my heart breaks for this grieving woman. she may no longer hold her daughter, but she holds the scars and the wounds and the guilt. i would imagine she clutches much of that loss tightly to her chest, even today, two years later.
      oh, how i wish i could tell her about this crazy family of six living in alpharetta georgia -on the other side of the world -waiting for her little girl.  i wish i could tell her how we already love her... we already long for her. how we so desperately want her. i wish i could invite her into the rooms we are readying...the place we are preparing.  should she be a guest at our dinner table, she would hear talk of a little girl for whom we wait.  should she observe bedtime in our home, she would surely hear the prayers of four children asking God's protection and healing for a child we call bella.  oh, how i wish to tell her how on that day of abandonment, her little girl was not abandoned.  how she was not alone.  i would share with her my confidence in a Heavenly Father watching over her even in that hallway...especially in that hallway.  His eye was on the sparrow. His eye is on the sparrow...and i know He watches over bella grace.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,' His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

february fifth...

we have this special birthday plate in our house. i made it many years ago for the kids.  the birthday child eats breakfast, lunch and dinner from this handpainted plate. it is quite unremarkable, but the children were all very excited about it when they were younger.  my oldest, emily, turns 14 tomorrow.  i am not sure it holds for her quite the same allure as it once did.  in fact, i am not sure she will eat even one of the three meals at our table tomorrow.  breakfast will most likely be a protein bar on the way out the door. the ritzy school cafeteria will host her birthday lunch.  and i am certain she will opt to eat dinner with the basketball team after her big playoff game.  the birthday plate will sit in its cupboard unattended this year.
there is hope for this ceramic tradition though.  tomorrow is also baby zuzu's birthday.  she turns two.  i am pretty sure she will be excited to eat from the mcnatt family birthday plate someday, but not this year. we thought we'd have her by now....but not yet.  we had dreams of pink party balloons and buttercream frosting.  we had visions of slipping her into a ruffled party dress and tiny buckled shoes.  what joy it will be introducing her to cheerfully wrapped gifts and a cake with her name in pale pink icing. but not this year.  there is much to do about birthdays in our home.  like most things in life, it is probably more about the anticipation than it is about the actual event.  this year for bella i imagine there was no one to build up her expectations or stir up her excitement.  no one to convince her, "this is your day!"   in an orphanage of hundreds of children, can she have her own day? i would think not.  she will wake tomorrow in a room with 35 or so children.  is anyone even aware that tomorrow she turns two?  i almost cannot bear writing that question just now.

last night i fell asleep thinking about the children who have turned two in our home.  emily.  tyler.  sarah elizabeth. connor.  i can remember (for the most part) their second birthdays. if i was honest, i'd have to tell you  things get a little fuzzy with the 3rd and 4th children.  but you get the idea.  they had 2nd birthdays.  they had parties. they had family to sing happy birthday and smother them with birthday kisses and wishes.  they ran in circles of wild delight.  probably not realizing much except that they belonged.  they were special.  they were loved.  it had little to do with the number of presents or party guests. it had much to do with the warmth and joy. they knew innately this was their day.  someday zuzu will dance in our arms and squeal in delight as she celebrates the day she was born. as she celebrates the day she was fearfully and wonderfully made. someday we will celebrate wildly with her.  someday we will sing happy birthday and we will serve her as much cake as any toddler can hold...on the birthday plate of course.

i think it is delightful having two daughters share the same birthday.  what an incredible thing.  i've heard a couple people remark about how that might be "tricky" or "hard"....i have to tell you there is nothing hard about it.  hard is having zuzu still in china on her birthday.  if my 14 year old has to share her day with a new sister at some point, that will only be good for her.  for us.  i gave up worrying about tricky long ago.  most things with a family our size are tricky.  i think it is beautiful that they share this date.  emily and zuzu are 12 years apart.  that is quite a gap.  when zuzu begins 1st grade, emily will begin college.  (i haven't told rick that quite yet).  perhaps this is one tiny added connection for these sisters. emily was zuzu's biggest advocate right from the start....before she new that they shared a birthday, in fact.  when we talked about the doctor's warning that she might not have a full, long or healthy life, emily was the first one to speak up and insist, "then that is all the more reason she needs to have a mom and a dad right now....even if it is only for a while....everyone deserves a mom and dad."  she put it in such simple terms.  rick and i could not begin to argue.  she was right.  it was all the more reason we needed to begin this journey.  emily has heard me tell that story several times this year, but i am not sure she is completely aware of the conviction behind her words.  children rarely know the depths they are capable of touching in their parents.  i suppose in some ways this is a good thing.
so tomorrow we will celebrate emily.  we will celebrate 14 years with a daughter who brings us incredible joy. we will celebrate a daughter we grow to love more each day.   but this celebration will be laced with some sense of the bittersweet.  though we cannot include bella in our birthday celebration today, we will celebrate because of her.  we will celebrate that God has placed our family on a journey toward her. there will come a day when she will be placed into our arms, just as our four other children were on the day of their births. that day is coming.  we imagine it.  we dream of it.  we sometimes even fear it.  that day we may not have any balloons or buttercream frosting on hand,  but we will have bella in our arms...and it will be a grand celebration....a true birthday party.