Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tempered Excitement

I thought I'd post a quick update about the meeting at the adoption agency.  I was so nervous about it before I went.  I knew that I needed to make a good first impression with the case worker, because we were going to be up against competition.  I was also worried that the agency might not be a good fit for us.  I worried about what open adoption might look like to them.  Will and I both felt like the time was right and we both feel passionately about adoption, but was this the right agency for us to go through?  I left the agency feeling so excited about the future and completely comfortable with what I knew of the agency. 

First of all, I loved their case worker!  She was warm, inviting, and passionate about her job.  She was very honest about the fact that most birth mothers choose to parent, and they work hard to provide resources to help them be successful in raising their child.  I think that is so important.  I would hate to work with an organization who tried to pressure women into adoption.  She also talked about open adoption and demystified it a bit for me.  I kind of love the idea of open adoption.  We feel strongly about being open and honest with our children, and I would want to be able to answer any questions that our child would have.  Who knows what open adoption will look like for us, but I am excited about the prospects.

Now to the hard part, the agency only has four spots available for this term, and they're expecting around 20 applications.  It's a total shot in the dark, but we are praying.  Our kids are 100% on board.  Daniel still has an abstract idea of adoption, but he does understand that we would be adopting a baby, and the baby would not come from Mommy's tummy.  He understands that sometimes mommies can't take care of their baby, so they ask a different family to raise them as their own.  We wanted to make sure that the kids were okay with adopting an infant before we dropped off our application. 

Our application has been turned in, and we are in the waiting phase.  We will be interviewed the second week of February and then find out if we made the cut sometime around the middle of the month.  All we can do right now is pray.  If we are selected, we would start our home study and training in March.  The case-worker said that they could be showing new family profiles to birth moms as early as April. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Days

I am so grateful that God's mercies are new each morning.  I'm also grateful for growth in all of it's forms (spiritual, relational, etc).  As the first month of the year progresses, I'm feeling more hopeful about the future.  There are so many new things on the horizon. 

My resolution for this year is to work on being more disciplined.  I want to be more disciplined specifically in reading my Bible and in exercise.  So far, so good :)  I bought a One-Year chronological Bible and I haven't missed a day yet.  Reading the Bible every day is something that strengthens my faith and gives me hope.  I've been reading through Job lately and I have to say that it is a huge dose of perspective.  It's also a reminder that no matter what may come in life, God is bigger.  As far as the exercise part of my resolution goes, I'm getting back into running.  I forgot how much I really love it.  Sadly, I also forgot how clumsy I am on the treadmill!  LOL.  I fell off this morning, which marks my second time falling off since I started running (two times in two years). :)  I'm clumsy, but I'm not a quitter.  At least it gave me something to laugh about this morning.  My goal is to run six days a week for at least 2 miles each day, and build length from there.  I'd really like to run a half marathon either this year or early next year.  I'm saying all of this on my blog so I have some sort of accountability.  Now, you all know what I'm working on and I can check in regarding my goals from time to time on the blog.

The most exciting thing in our lives right now is the fact that we're looking into adoption.  My last pregnancy (Daniel) was filled with complications, so we were advised by multiple doctors that we should not try to have any more biological children.   We've felt strongly about adoption since we first started talking about our future children when we were dating, but it's something that we've been talking about more seriously for the last four years.  Tomorrow, I'll go to an informational meeting at an adoption agency, to find out about applying for a domestic infant adoption.  We're still trying to figure out how we will fund the home study and adoption, but we have faith that we will be able to find a way.   Please keep us in your prayers or wish us luck as we start the process.

Things in our family are good.  We've decided to have a weekly family game night, and it has been so much fun.  It's a good chance to unplug and really spend quality time with the kids.  We end up laughing a lot.  We also end up teaching our children how to be gracious both when they win and when they lose.  The kids are still struggling with Papa's loss in their own ways (I suppose we all are), but we have found Ted E. Bear Hollow to be a great resource for all of us.  If your kids have experienced a significant loss, I would highly recommend visiting your local Ted E. Bear Hollow.  They have some great programs. 



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Auld Lang Syne and all that stuff

I don't really know where to start.  The holidays are over and I find myself both happy and sad to see them go.  I'm happy because they were a constant reminder of the gaping hole that Papa's absence has left.  I'm sad because life will slow down for a while and I'll find my mind wandering more often to him and how much I really miss being able to talk to him and tell him that I love him.  I miss his smile, his hugs, stories, and his laugh.  I'm sad because life rolls on and I am constantly wanting to check in with him.  I want to share the little things that Anna or Daniel are doing, and I can't.

One of the hardest things for me when it comes to grieving, is the fact that the world keeps spinning for everyone else while you feel like it has stopped.  After the funeral everyone else goes about their business and you're the one left trying to find your feet.  It's a lonely place to be.  It's hard to know who to go to and how much of your grief others will tolerate.  I'm grateful that I have a counselor to go to.  It helps to have someone who is paid to hear you talk about your grief.  It can be really hard to talk to friends about losing your parent.  I thought about the loneliness of it again after the massacre at Sandy Hook.  The news covered it for the better part of a week.  We (I) watched with rapt attention, crying for these children as if they were our (my) own, until the news stopped covering it.  It was so easy to slip back into our normal routine.  It was easy to push the horror out of our minds and get back to the business of living.  No doubt, the families who lost babies, young adults, and parents are still feeling their loss in a crippling way.  I can relate. How do you pick up the pieces and find your way back to the natural rhythm of life when you feel so fractured?

I always feel the need to end these blog posts with something hopeful and positive.  I am not so consumed by grief that I am unable to be happy.  I know that my open nature can be alarming to some of my friends/family, but it's an important part of who I am.  I have to have some sort of dialogue to work things out.  I'm grateful that my blog can serve as a forum for that. 

I am praying for grace, peace, and love in the new year. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

11/5 & 11/6 (No politics here)

I wanted to save yesterday's thankful post and do two in one day.  Anna is my 11/5 and Daniel is my 11/6 and I just wouldn't have enough room to write them in a Facebook status.


I am so incredibly thankful for Anna.  She is my firstborn and she had my heart the moment I knew I was pregnant.  We got pregnant with her on the heels (less than a month) of miscarrying our twins.  Being pregnant with her gave me hope.  When she was born, we were elated!  When I held her for the first time I felt like my heart might burst because I was so overcome with love for this tiny little piece of Will and me.  For the most part, she was a pretty easy baby.  As she started talking and finding little ways to express herself we figured out that she was going to have a strong personality.  She was very smart and caught onto things quickly, but man, was she stubborn!  She still is :).  She is so smart!  I'm often taken back by her intellect and intuition.  She sees things that people don't typically notice.  I am so grateful that I can add her point-of-view to my own because it makes my world richer.  She's also an incredibly tender-hearted little girl.  Often, her intellect clouds her emotions, which makes her appear less feeling than her counterparts.  She's so type A that she loves to categorize and catalog things and it makes her seem cold about emotional things.  She's all about order and things going exactly as she's planned them out in her head.  I love that about her.  I can be so right-brained and disorganized, so we sometimes butt heads, but she's taught me to be a bit more organized.  She's also taught me so much about how I see the world and the people in it.  A little over a year ago she was diagnosed with an extreme case of ADHD.  It was something I knew, but it was still hard to deal with the diagnosis.  I learned that you can't judge a child or parent based on appearance or behavior.  I had always assumed (until I became a parent) that when children were acting out in public it was a problem of parenting.  I would silently judge the parent and assume that they could not or would not handle their own child.  It frustrated me that people would be so indulgent that their children wouldn't listen to them.  Man, was I naive.  I never even stopped to consider that the children might have a problem without some sort of physical sign.  I didn't think that maybe their parents were harried and exhausted and had to choose their battles because so many things felt like a battle with their child.  Now, we're going to have her tested for Aspergers.  The diagnoses are often confused.  She shows many signs of Aspergers and in an effort to figure out the best way to help her, we're going to visit a new psychologist who might be able to help.  One thing that I can say without reservation is that I am passionate about being able to reach Anna in any way that we can.  I (we) want to help her.  She is our independent, with deep convictions, forward and deep thinker, analyzer, loving, go against the flow little girl.  She often ends up playing alone because she doesn't want to do what everyone else feels like doing and she's not one to compromise.  She frequently gets upset that others don't want to play the way she does, but in spite of that, she continues on the path she's chosen.  It amazes me.  She's very small for her age, but she's not afraid of her larger peers.  She's fearless and spunky.  She has a beautiful soul, and I look forward to the future with her even though I know that we have our fair share of valleys ahead mixed in with the peaks.  In those rare moments when I really feel like I've made a serious connection to her, I feel fulfilled and hopeful.  She's not typically a cuddly kid, so when she chooses to sit on my lap and tell me how much she loves me, my heart soars.  How incredibly blessed I am that God chose her for me, for us. 


I am so grateful for Daniel. He is named after my Papa and my Father-in-Law.  I will never forget the day that we told my Dad that we would name our son Daniel.  We went in for a 3D/4D ultrasound to find out the baby's gender while my parents were in town.  As soon as the technician told us that we were having a boy, we told him that Daniel would share his name.  I could tell that he was so proud.  It still makes my heart swell when I remember that moment.  It means even more now that my Papa is gone.  The pregnancy was so scary.  I had almost every complication possible and I feared for Daniel's life and my own.  I spent so much time praying and reading my Bible in hopes of getting some peace in the storm.  I found it.  I actually felt that "peace that passes all understanding."  I felt that all of the struggle in his pregnancy would be worth it, that he was going to be a special little man.  He is.  He has so much of my personality in him (God, help him).  He's very emotionally driven, he's brave, he loves to put on a show for people, he's stubborn, but he really loves to connect with people.  He's a cuddly little guy who LOVES to cuddle with Mommy.  He will walk up to me randomly and give me a kiss and tell me how much he loves me :)  When I walk into a room he's in, he lights up.  It's so sweet, and it often lifts my spirits on the days when I'm especially down.  He mentions that he misses Papa probably 50 times a day.  My response is always the same, "Me too, Daniel."  He loves so deeply, and this will always make his losses especially difficult. I know that all too well.  He adores being the class clown.  He enjoys making people laugh, but he's exceptionally hurt when he feels that people are laughing at his expense.  His sensitivity often clouds his judgement and makes him turn to vigilante justice (something we have been trying to deal with for a while now).  He's not afraid of anyone.  He's small for his age, like Anna, and it doesn't phase him for a second.  I wish I could get him to understand that he should temper his responses because there are bigger, meaner people out there who might seek to hurt him (oh, and also because violence is a bad response to anger and frustration), but he is still invincible in his own eyes.  He is my extremely loving, feeling, intelligent, humorous, out-going, and affectionate little man.  I was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to love a second child as much as Anna because I felt like there was some fixed amount of love that I had to offer.  I was wrong.  The same swell of the heart to the point where you feel it might burst from loving so much happened with him.  I found that my capacity for love was not some fixed amount.  I love him so very much.  He's my own little heart walking around on display for the world.  I am so blessed by him.  When he runs into my arms after school, my heart skips a beat.  What did I do to deserve this kind of love and joy?  He is so eager to express his love and his little body just can't contain the great amount of joy that he has.  What a miracle!

In this period of loss and mourning, I am especially grateful for my two children.  Their thoughts on loss and the joy that they feel in the midst of pain has kept me going.  My responsibility to them has kept me going each day even when I felt like wallowing in my loss.  Thanks to them, I have put one foot in front of the other even when I wanted to retreat inward.  I owe it to them to show them how to deal with great loss.  If I give up and quit pushing on, I will teach them that defeat is an option.  It's not.  Right now, they are so resilient.  I want them to know that they can continue to live their lives in that way.  There is always hope.  "Even the darkest night must end and the sun will rise."  I thank God that I have them.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Too Many Tangents

I don't really know where to begin with this one.  Let's start by saying that I feel like I've lost my mind.  I will follow that up with anecdotal evidence ;)  I took Daniel to Target this morning (one of about ten errands we had to run).  He didn't push the door close button on his side door, so I pushed it on the remote and then locked the van.  I didn't bother to watch the door close because I heard the beeps signaling that it was closing.  We shopped for about thirty minutes.  As we stepped out of the store, I noticed that there was a van (identical to mine) with both side doors open!  It took all of half a second to realize that it was MY van.  Without paying attention, I had opened the other side door instead of closing the already open one.  The car was locked, but it was wide open...this too shall pass, right?  At some point this freakish absent-mindedness has to ebb.

I have dreaded this week.  Everyone went back to work.  I miss having Will around to keep me laughing.  I also miss being able to run errands with Kim throughout the day.  It's easier to smile through discomfort when you're standing beside someone who really understands.  Baby steps...I'm working on baby steps here.

 I don't feel like I've made much progress when it comes to grieving.  I mean, I guess I could be, but sometimes progress in grief feels like moving backward.  The current feeling is something akin to being weaned off of anesthesia after a surgery.  You're fuzzy-headed, you can't really communicate, but you know that whatever they have given you for pain management is NOT doing it's job. 

I doubt that any of this is unique to me.  It's the worst right after my kids go to bed.  All day, I (we) push through to keep things semi-normal for the kids, and once they go to bed everything rushes at me (us) at warp speed (a nerdy reference, but you get the gist).  I feel bad for Will.  When the kids are tucked in bed, he is left with weepy Catherine who can't stop thinking about the fact that her Papa is gone.  I'm definitely making an effort to be normal-ish, but it can't be easy for him to deal with. 

In a strange twist, I'm starting to feel like a social cripple.  I know that with time, this ought to improve, but for the time being I am avoiding large groups of people who know me.  Is that strange?  It is difficult to deal with the questions and condolences.  It's not that I don't want to talk about it at all.  I talk to my family and close friends about it a lot.  This blog is also a healthy outlet for me right now.  But, the idea of sitting with a small or large group of people who I'm not 100% comfortable with and talking about it sends me into mini panic attacks. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light."

I imagined this differently.  I had all of the facts.  I talked to the doctor privately to find out what was really going on all along.  I knew the prognosis, and I had done my research.  I started mourning the loss of my Papa the moment I heard the words "stage 4 lung cancer."  I knew that cancer never leaves a person or family unscathed because we went down this road with my Grandma almost exactly nine years ago.  But, here I am, a complete mess.

The loss of a parent is a completely different kind of ache.  I hurt for my loss, but I hurt so much more for my children, my Mom, my niece, and nephew.  For my children's part, they will only have faint memories of the man who loved them so much and wanted desperately to watch them grow up.  I also hurt for the loss of their innocence in a way.  They're so young to lose someone so important to them.  My nephew Khoner, actually watched Papa die.  He is only ten, and Papa served such a huge purpose in his life.  He was more like a second father than a grandfather, and that memory will probably replay in Khoner's mind for the rest of his life. What a frightening thing to endure for such a young boy.

I believe that Papa is in a better place.  He's with the twins that we lost, which makes me a little bit jealous.  He's also celebrating with my Grandma.  They loved each other so dearly, and it is a comfort to know that they are together again. 

Every day, I watched his misery.  I was helpless against the constant pain and agony he felt.  We all were.  I truly wanted what was best for him, and I told him from the beginning that I didn't want him to feel any obligation to me when it came to fighting.  I told him that when he couldn't fight any longer, I would understand.  So, I know that he's in a better place, and that is a comfort in times like this.  The problem is, he took a part of my heart with him that I know I can never replace.  I am so happy for him.  I am so unbelievably sad for me.

"Time heals all wounds."  I don't buy it.  Time might make them more bearable, but I will always miss my Papa just like I miss my Grandma.  I know that I'll get to a point where I'm not a sobbing mess, but he will always be on my heart and mind.  With my Grandma, it's an ache that catches me off guard on a daily basis.  Just a passing moment when I remember something silly or feel her loss acutely.  I know that it will be different with Papa.

Right now, I'm going through the motions, but I feel like a zombie.  It's like sleep-walking through life.  I smile when I'm supposed to, and I try to be the mother that my kids need, but it's hard.  The grief hits when I least expect it and takes my breath away.   The elephant settles down on top of my chest for what feels like an eternity.  My children don't understand what happened, so it's something that we relive multiple times a day.  I have reminded them every day since Papa died that he was a special person.  I don't ever want them to forget how extraordinary he was.  I will never forget.

I didn't write this to make people worry about me.  I wanted desperately to be honest about what all of this felt like.  I have hope.  I know that day by day, I will learn to cope a little better with the loss of my Papa.  I have an amazing husband who has been so incredibly supportive.  He has held my hand and wiped away so many tears in the last seven months.  He's taken care of the kids on the days when it was rough to get out of bed (I know those days aren't over yet).  I am so grateful to be near my Mom and extended family.  We will all make it through this, but we know the road will be long.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Open My Hands"

I'm sorry for the blog silence lately.  I had to try to figure out how to blog now that I'm here living beside my family and dealing with the struggle firsthand.  Before, it was all so introspective because I was far away and the struggle was mostly in my head and heart.  I was sick with worry and frustrated by the fact that there was nothing I could do to help.  Now, the focus has to be on Papa and what he's going through.  

"Open My Hands" is a song that I've had on repeat for a couple of days.  It speaks so much to what my heart believes and what my head keeps struggling to remember.  I don't think that I really understood what the chorus meant at first.  I thought it sounded a little "name it and claim it " for my taste.  It took me a few times through to realize that she was saying that she's opening herself up to both joy and pain.  I can honestly say that I'm not to the point where I can nod an "emphatic" yes to both the good and the bad that may be in store.  I really want to be there, and I am truly working on it, but I feel like I cower at the idea of more pain right now.  I want to raise my hand and jump up and down like a little kid, and beg God for the good.    Dear Lord, please help me to accept every thing that You might have in store with a gracious heart.

I can't tell you how much I adore the honesty of this song. "I believe in a blessing I don't understand.  I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain.  I believe in a fountain that will never dry, though I've thirsted and didn't have enough."  It is all so true for me.  There have been times that my soul has been so dry and weary.  By the grace of God I made it through, but there have been times where it would have been so easy to give up on God.  The blessing promised by God is one that I just can't wrap my feeble mind around.  Why does it rain on the wicked AND the just?  Sometimes we feel a little Job-like at our house.  We get such a stream of bad news or bad days, and it's easy to feel like we're being picked on.  Papa has been the one who has reminded us that there are others out there who are in situations much worse than ours.  It is so easy to focus on the rain that is currently falling on our family and make everything about how awful it is to go through this.  And it is awful.  But, in the midst of this storm, we are immeasurably blessed.

The theme/word at my parent's house for the last week or two has been "Overwhelmed."  We have been so surrounded with love and care.  Our church is constantly covering us with blessings and prayers.  People have given to our family out of both their abundance and their need.  If there was ever a time that I have felt God's love acutely through the church body, it is now, through the love and care of His believers.  We, as the church (and human beings in general), are not always good at living out our calling to love others, but our church is going above and beyond to show God's love to us.  It is indeed overwhelming.  My Father's heart has been overwhelmed by the great acts of love shown to us.  We have all been brought to tears by the love of our friends and family.  If we don't get a chance to tell you face to face, we are so blessed by each and every person who has offered up a prayer or even a positive thought on Papa's behalf.  We are touched by every Facebook comment or e-mail sent to us to affirm us or comfort us.  We could not possibly express our love and gratitude in a way that could do it any measure of justice.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We love you and we try very hard remember each of you in our prayers.  

I believe in a blessing I don't understand
I’ve seen rain fall on wicked and the just
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain
That broken find healing in love
Pain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that You have for me

I believe in a fountain that will never dry
Though I've thirsted and didn't have enough
Thirst is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that You have for me

No good thing from us
No good thing from us
He withholds no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that You have for me