it was a sunday afternoon and we were heading home from church. instead of bickering about who sat in which seat...instead of debating who would eat the last slice of pizza for lunch....instead of poking our sibling or sassing our mother....we were actually having a nice, calm, and even tender, conversation about our adoption of bella. but then it happened. we were speeding along the quiet road just minutes from our street when that poor, unfortunate squirrel froze a few feet ahead of our suv. we all screamed. we all winced. we all cringed. we all looked behind our car to see nothing more than a wisp of fluffy tail fluttering in the breeze of our yukon. rick, the guilty driver, quickly pleaded his case. "he zigged when he should have zagged!" was the best he could come up with. not good enough for our car load of children. actually, our 12 year old son was very much on his dad's side, agreeing that the squirrel, lacking poor judgment, was clearly the one at fault. connor, age 7, though, was not to be easily consoled. he immediately listed all dad's other atrocities against small animals in the road which he has apparently had opportunity to witness - some of which i wasn't even aware. so much for our sweet and tender conversation. this was real life: running over squirrels and arguing over the last slices of pizza. these are some of the things that just make our family normal and real. these are things that remind us of who we are even in the sweet story of our adoption.
you see, it is particularly amusing to me because just that very morning at church a video was shown during the sermon. this video portrayed a family which seemed to be fully relying on God...fully in pursuit of His will for their lives....fully trusting...fully faithful...fully together. funny what a little bit of editing can do. the children were smiling brightly as the video began. the parents seemed somewhat poised and spoke calmly and with conviction. this family told the story of God's calling them to the adoption of a two year old girl in China. but what the video didn't show was that just prior to filming the children were aruging over breakfast cereals...the mother was barking orders while in a cleaning frenzy (you just never know what corners they might catch on tape)...the father was attempting to keep peace and wondering when he might be able to get to his saturday "to do" list. the video didn't show how i pondered deeply over the great issues of my hairstyle and outfit. the video didn't show how just a few nights prior i was up in the early hours of morning asking...begging... God for greater peace. it didn't mention that sometimes i find myself wondering how in the world we will add one more child into an already ridiculously bustling household. the video didn't show the moments when i can't catch my breath or feel that icy grip of panic run down my arms. that family in the video was us. sitting in the balcony at church it was sort of strange watching the six of us up on the screen...larger than life. to be honest, it was a bit unsettling. i recognized us, but, somehow, it all looked very polished. we are not a polished kind of family. just like that smooshed squirrel behind us on the road, we have these intensely messy moments in our lives and in this story. there was not one word we spoke in that taped video which wasn't true. we meant everything we said. but we would be remiss if we didn't share how much struggle and challenge and chaos also plays along behind the scenes. doing a video was easy (well, sort of). just before they started filming on that saturday morning a month ago, i remember thinking, they will just edit out anything i mess up on...any place i stumble or stutter. i knew that with just the touch of a button they could easily gloss over any mistakes made or words misspoken. even as the camera crew was packing up and saying goodbye, matthew, the producer reminded me that he would edit it down to only about 4 to 6 minutes. they had taken about 25 minutes of tape...certainly there had to be something they could use.
so in comparison to real life, video stories are pretty easy. i'm glad we did it. we were honored to have a small part in such a powerful message given that morning. we are thrilled God might use our story to bring awareness to the epidemic issues of the lonely. we did a video and will do whatever it takes to help spread this message of great need. and because there are always squirrels crossing in front of us, we will be reminded that this is a messy business. raising our biological children or adopting from china...all of it comes with struggle and challenge and panic. we can't always press a button and erase the times we blunder terribly. we cannot gloss over much of it. but, regardless of our mess, God continues to write the story and He continues to walk with us. He isn't asking us to be perfectly poised or calm or even ready. He doesn't care one bit about which hairstyle or outfit we choose. He isn't asking for all our ducks (or children, for that matter) to be lined up in straight and strategic rows. He is only asking us to be willing. just willing. only willing.