Monday, September 17, 2012

Epic Failures

This very well may be the post that gets my blog kicked off nice websites.

That's your warning. 

After my last post, which I know was not very encouraging, but very true, I intended this week to post some pictures of our first couple weeks home from Ethiopia.  I intended to show the boys' "firsts", and I will.  But not in this post.  I intended to give you some insight into all the blessings God has bestowed on our family in the past 2 1/2 weeks.  But not in this post.

I have received many comments and messages to lift my spirits lately.  I love them.  Please keep them coming.  But sometimes I also start to think that people look at our family and expect us to fit a "perfect family" mold because we stepped out in faith.  Would you like to know all the men and women in the Bible who stepped out in faith?  There are sooooo many.  Guess what?  If you looked at their lives, they wouldn't fit a great mold either.  But they loved the Lord and were Followers, not Fans.  (If you haven't read the book, Not A Fan, go purchase it right now on your Kindle and read it.)

I told my husband tonight that I feel like a complete failure.  Lest anyone think that I am some hyped up fake super-woman/ Martha Stuart figure, let me share with you some of the ways I have failed in the past week alone.  Yes, these all occurred in the past 7 days.

1) My children were fighting over who gets to sit in the front seat of my Suburban.  My oldest child informed me that in all the "normal" families she has ever met, the oldest always gets to sit in front all the time.  I shook my head as my second daughter quickly exclaimed, "Ha!  We are not a normal family!"  She was right.  Parenting Fail #1

2) Alan was going out of town for 3 nights.  As he was searching for me to tell me goodbye, he finally found me in the schoolroom alone with the door shut.  He said, "There you are!  What are you doing in here?"  I replied, "Hiding."  He asked, "From Who?"  I very not-so-lovingly replied, "From the children."  Parenting Fail #2

3)  When Alan arrived back in town, instead of greeting him with a kiss and smile and telling him how much I missed him (which was true), I not-so-politely informed him that this year I am keeping score on the nights spent out of town during hunting season, and I fully expect to receive equal opportunity of nights without children.  (I actually do not want to do that, but that's what came out of my mouth.)  Wife Fail #1 (okay, technically you could classify that as Parenting Fail #3 as well.)

4)  Alan and I teach the high school Sunday School class.  Well, maybe until the parents of the EPC high schoolers read this, that is.  We love the kids.  We really do.  We were excited to start class again once returned from Africa.  BUT this week I taught without him.  And I was overly tired.  At one point during the class, a student that has a slight sarcasm bone in his/her body said something witty.  Okay, it was really sarcastic.  Instead of sweetly giving that person an answer, I put up my hand did the "What-ever" sign.  Ya' know, the one where you make a "W" and then turn it sideways on your forehead and make an "E".  (If you don't know what I'm referring to, skip this.)  The student informed me that I left off the rest of the sign, the part that says, "Major Loser", where you continue with your fingers, making an "M", then an "L" on your forehead.  I told this student that portion of the gesture was always to be implied in his/her case.  I have a feeling I shouldn't have said that.  What-Ever..... I know I shouldn't have said that.  Teaching Fail #1

5)  I tried starting our homeschool back up with two added students.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  There was a lot of yelling that day.  Crying, too.  Maybe stomping.  By the kids?  Yes, but I may or may not have rivaled them in my antics.  I'll leave it at that.  Teaching Fail #2 and Parenting Fail #4

6) I forgot.  Everything.  Well, maybe not everything, but lots and lots of details.  Like forgetting to return phone calls, return messages, pay bills, mail things, pick up things, go to the bank, etc.  One time someone asked me my name this week and I actually had to stop and think because I couldn't remember.  What's that stuff that's supposed to improve memory?  Ginkgo Biloba?  I need some of that.  I think.  Maybe.  I can't remember.  Life in General Failures #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.  (I'm limiting it to one per day.)

7)  A friend stopped by the house.  One of her children walked in and exclaimed, "Wow!  This house is really messy!  It's way messier than ours."  Wife fail #2, Housekeeping Fail #1, and Martha Stuart Fail #287 (I made that one up.)

8)  While cooking homemade spaghetti for the first time since May (Yum!), I set my youngest son who can't see the T.V. in my bedroom with his 2 brothers to watch a short video so I could make the sauce (yes, I know he does not watch videos at all, but I ignored that fact and did it anyway).  He came into the kitchen a few minutes later with a bald streak across his head.  He had gone into my bathroom, found Alan's clippers, turned them on, and shaved part of his head.  All of my children have cut their own hair at some point in time, so I was not hugely upset at this act.  The bad part was that I let him go to school with his head like that, to a friend's house with his head like that, and church with his head like that.  I waited until Alan returned home and asked him to shave Paulos' head.  Parenting Fail #5

9) Here's a good one.  After a pastor search committee meeting (yes, you read that right), I felt the need to drive home slowly.  I drove through a fast food restaurant and ordered a small fry and a coke and savored every morsel and moment eating carbs in peace.  I sang loudly with the radio in between bites.  Though I did sing hymns at the end of my ride home (I love to sing in the car when I'm by myself, and I promise I really did sing hymns and praise- but first.....), the song that was playing while I ate junk food was called, "I Like Girls Who Drink Beer".  Oh yes, it was.  You read that right, too.  Not to incriminate myself, but I may or may not have enjoyed it. Life in General Fail #8 and Keeping My Body Healthy Fail #1, and Keeping the Correct Focus with My Heart Fail #1

Oh my, I could keep going like the Energizer Bunny.  I know I'm digging my hole deeper and deeper. 

But we're keepin' it real, people. 

I assure you, sunshine-flower-and-happiness posts are coming soon.  But until then................

............please share with me: What are some ways you failed this week?  It would be nice to know I am not alone.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tears, Tantrums, and Triumphs

We've been home from Ethiopia for 10 days, and this is my first post.  Partially because my main home computer hasn't let me write on this blog when I have sat down to do put words on a blank screen.  But, frankly, partially because I have struggled with the words to let loose.

America has been a shock. 

A shock to my eyes.  A shock to my body.  A shock to my heart.

A shock to my children, new and old.  In undefinable ways.

We arrived home on last Tuesday, and our family was thankful to have a large homecoming at the airport.  Many family members and friends showed up to welcome Yohannes and Paulos to America and welcome our family home. 

We are very grateful that those moments will forever be etched with pictures and videos for our sons.  If you came to the airport, thank you!!  You are a part of their "forever" memories.  If you sent well wishes to our family, thank you!  We have cherished every email, facebook message, and card that we have received.  Please know that if we did not respond to your message, it wasn't that we didn't read it, it's because these past 10 days have been tough.  We love you and we thank you.

Now to the hard part. 

This whole transition is difficult.  It just is.  I'm having a hard time explaining all that I'm feeling and experiencing. 

I'm angry.  A lot.  I'm sad.  A lot.  I'm mourning.  I'm happy.  I'm relieved.  I'm stressed.  I'm thankful.

I am mourning what my family used to be, and so are my children.  If that sounds mean, just skip this part and wait for the next post.  I knew from reading other adoptive family's blogs that I would experience this emotion, but to actually feel it is unnerving.  I don't want to feel this way.  So I am praying and waiting.

Yohannes and Paulos are beginning to adjust slowly to American life.  They are starting to realize what it means to have a mom and dad.  That's not always what they want.  They want to do what they want to do without being told "no".  Just like other children.  But they're getting off to a late start. 

They have fits frequently.  If you've seen us out in public you may wonder at that statement and think, "Really?  My kids have fits, too."  But these are not like the fits that a toddler throws at 2 years old when they are angry.  They are fits of anger, loss, and grieving.  Our boys are angry that they are in a new environment.  They have lost their family, homeland, food, and way of life.  They are grieving for "E-toe-pee-ah", as they call it, which is evidenced by the screaming of their country name sometimes when they are inconsolable.

Yohannes will cry and withdraw at the drop of a hat and many times we just don't have a clue what set it off.  He will cry for an hour or more and not allow us to be near him.  Other times he will be angry and throw things or trash a room and at that point he will be physically restrained by one of us for 45 minutes or more (a full arm and leg hold) until he stops resisting.  Now I know why God allowed Natalie to whip me into shape in Ethiopia. He was preparing me for the muscles He knew I would be using when I returned home! 

Those fits are getting progressively fewer and farther between.  Still, it's difficult to plan to go out in public.  We're never sure if the boys will be able to be seen or will scream for so long.  There's nothing to do to stop those episodes but wait.  Can you understand why it'd hard to be in a public place with the possibility of physically restraining a 10 year old child in the middle of dinner or a store aisle? 

We've had to say "No" a lot.  Had to not go places we would love to go.  If you have been the recipient of a cold shoulder on our part, please know it's not because we didn't want to see you or do something with you, it's because we couldn't leave the house.  Or sometimes, we leave and then turn around an drive right back home because a child has melted down in the car. 

Our bio kids are having a very hard time, too.  They feel left out.  And they are.  They feel neglected.  And in lots of ways they are.  They feel like Yohannes and Paulos are getting all the attention from their friends.  And they are.  In many instances, Easton especially is acting out. 

Our family needs grace right now.  We need all of you, family and friends, to know that when you see us in public, we need some space.  We are not ignoring you.  We are not trying to not speak to everyone.  We are just trying to get through that particular hour.  Our kids are not well behaved at the moment.  None of them, from the oldest to the youngest.  If they offend you, we are asking for mercy and forgiveness for the next few months, or however long it takes. 

Thank you to everyone who has sent a message and brought a meal.  It was a blessing not to have to cook for the first 10 days. 

If I cry when I talk to you, just ignore me.  I feel like I have post-partum depression, except I did not just give birth. 

Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of firsts this week that were wonderful, and I will post pics of those moments soon. 

I'm just venting a little here right now.  Bear with me.

Thank  you for everything.  All of you.  We love you.

2 Corinthians 12:9

"9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Let me tell you, I am weak right now, so my Lord has to be strong.  He is who I am leaning on.  I said I would not sugar-coat this adoption stuff.  I want to be transparent. 

I want to tell you that adoption is a beautiful thing.  It is.  So if you're thinking about it, there's a reason you're thinking about it.  Do it.  If you're being called to support someone who's adopting, do it.  But support takes many forms, and that means being there and being understanding and forgiving when they come home. 

I am weak, and Jesus is strong.  Thank you, Lord, for carrying me.