In The Picture, Redeemed

Three years ago in November 2011, I wrote this post, sharing how in 2010, I had longed for a little boy in our family picture. I didn’t know it, but at the time, Jacob was 5 years old.

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I have a secret to tell about this picture, taken last November.  When I first saw this picture I thought about how beautiful the leaves were and how I love the sun streaming through the trees.  I love that my family is all holding hands and that if you look hard enough, you can see a smidge of my big smile.  But I never told anyone all I could think about is how I thought a little boy would fit between me and Lexi. He would even us out, fit perfectly.

And looking back, I love that this picture looks like we’re headed off together on a journey, with God’s warm presence over our path.  We didn’t decide and announce we’d adopt until late January this year but this shows he’s been in the picture for much longer.

 

We have last year’s family picture on a canvas in our living room.  Last year’s picture was also special because I knew God was telling me to enjoy our year. Our family was in a very sweet time and I was so grateful, although I mentioned I felt like we perhaps we had some hard years coming up.

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For whatever reason God decided to let me be a part of this beautiful family and it is such a gift.  We’re far from perfect but we’re healthy.  We’re happy.  We love Jesus.  He is SO good to us.

I don’t know if that means we have some hard years coming up.  Maybe.  But maybe they’ll all be good years.

 

You can imagine that planning this year’s family picture was a big deal for us. When we began talking about family pictures and where it would be, Jacob piped up and pointed at the picture and said, I want our picture in the same place as that one. Thankfully, that’s exactly where we had it planned with the same photographer.

Once again, his desires and our desires meshed. And so with that, I’m sharing a few proofs from our family pictures this year (I’m saving the one I’m using for our Christmas card).

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I can’t think of a better time than Thanksgiving to say that yes, this year has been hard but it also has fulfilled so many longings and we are so, so grateful.

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Although I was so happy with our family of four, I just knew there was a little boy that was supposed to be with us.

 

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And now he is.

God is so good. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. He’s worthy of our praise!

 

Some Thoughts on Ferguson, Unity and Small Battles

Scott and I got in a fight this morning.  Like, I was almost yelling before my eyes even opened for the day. I shoved past him in the bathroom. We were barely polite getting the kids ready for school.  I cried on the way home from taking them. I’m not proud of it, but I feel like you need to know it happens.  We’ve all been there–saying things we don’t mean, holding our silences longer than we should.  It’s marriage and we’re people.

The past few days have had some rough spots with the kids too, both individually and amongst them.  It feels like since we got our court date we’ve been fighting fires, one after another.  We get one kid settled and the other decides to do something. That issue is resolved and then two of them go at each other.

We all have crap individually. Yours may not look like mine but I bet something is going on. And then, if that weren’t enough, we’re all feeling this heaviness as a nation because of Ferguson.

It’s overwhelming isn’t it?  There’s no clear path to the truth or to justice or to peace.

But what I find interesting is that in all these cases, we all have this burning desire in us to get to those things.  There’s something innate that’s striving for truth, justice and peace. I happen to believe it’s a God-given desire for Himself.

The Prince of Peace. The Way. The Truth.

And what I remembered today in all of this is we are not each other’s enemies.  I am not Scott’s. My daughter is not my son’s. One race is not the other’s.

Satan is our enemy. He wants us divided–brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, citizens of your city.  Division is what he’s after.  I’m afraid he’s winning in a lot of ways.

I don’t have any sort of control over a lot of it,  but I do have some in my own relationships and in myself.

So I do the hard work of trying to get my kids to get along. Scott and I apologize and we hug. I try to mourn with those the mourn and be slow to anger and slow to speak and find what truth I can and forgive where I need to.

These decisions won’t win the war, but they do win some battles and that’s something.

 If Satan is our enemy and division is his goal, what battles are raging in your life right now and what is God’s path to peace?

 

 

Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

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Here’s the short version: Neither my sister nor I were wowed with Mockingjay Part I and do not recommend you spend your money on it in theaters.  For those that have read the book,  I know you will probably see it anyway because your curiosity will kill you and you want to form your own opinion.  Fair enough. But at least watch a matinee and save a little money. Please don’t scramble for a sitter this weekend and brave the crowds.  I’m telling you, it’s just not worth it. If you can wait, I’d recommend waiting until Part 2 comes out and watching the two back to back in theaters if you must watch in a theater. Otherwise, wait for Redbox.

So let me explain why I didn’t like it so much.

About 45 minutes into the movie, I leaned over to my sister Heather and said, “This is so boring.” She agreed.

On the way to the theater, I mused that although Mockingjay was depressing to read, that the action might come across really well on screen.  And it did.  Some of my favorite scenes in the movie were action scenes.  Two in particular.  One was when Katniss goes to visit a hospital in one of the districts.  The Capitol ends up bombing the hospital and Gale and Katniss shoot the planes out of the sky with exploding arrows.  That was awesome.  Seeing Katniss strong and capable is good stuff. The other scene is when everyone is going to the bunkers for the bombings and Prim nearly misses it because she goes back for her cat. Katniss goes after her. Gales goes after Katniss and they almost miss the bunker. Total nail-biter.  Loved it.

What I didn’t love is that most of the movie is political.  A lot of the movie is watching Katniss and her team film political ads for the rebellion.  There’s a lot of “this will be a great opening scene” and “Katniss, look at this camera.”  And then, not only do we watch her film it, then we have to watch everyone watch the ad together.  It was so entirely boring I wanted to poke my eye out with a fork.

When we finally get to the climax of the movie (which is to save Peeta) it was so uninteresting that I looked at Heather and said, Oh, I think this is the whole point of the movie.  It was so unclimatic that I can’t explain to you.  I mean, think about the first two movies. Those climatic scenes were AMAZINGLY CLIMATIC.

And I know this is just Part I of Mockingjay, but if you’re going to break up a movie into FOUR HOURS and make me wait a YEAR in between each one, you better be able to deliver a solid stand-alone Part I that will have enough resolution in it to make it worth my time and money.

Part I just didn’t deliver on that.

And not only was the end not climatic enough for me, the movie ended without a redemptive ending, but a downright DISTURBING ending that left me wtih a grimace on my face when the credits rolled.

IT WAS TERRIBLE.

Now, I’ve talked this out with my friend ohAmanda and she loved the movie.  She admitted she likes movies with sad/depressing endings. I do not.  I need all the happy feelings walking out of the theater.  So, perhaps if you don’t mind a bunch of angst the entire time without a payoff until next November, this movie might be just fine for you.

It just wasn’t for me.

Now, I will say there are many redeemable qualities about the movie I’ll leave you with.

Jennifer Lawrence is downright amazing as always.  She was in a terribly ugly gray jumpsuit without makeup for most of the movie and played the angsty, depressed mockingjay with perfection. For what she was given, she was outstanding.

The special effects were outstanding as well.  Nothing cheesy about all the bombings or shelter or anything else. Cheese wasn’t the problem for sure.

Effie in particular gave a wonderful performance. She was still in character, making do with the jumpsuit and head wraps and no wigs and makeup.  I actually enjoyed her much more this time.

It kind of reminded me of the exact opposite of how I felt about Twilight’s first movie–terrible acting, terrible effects but a great story.  This had the opposite–great acting, great effects but not enough redemptive story for my liking.

As I said, readers of the book will probably go and see it anyway, so if and when you’ve seen it, I’d love your take on it.

 

The Upcoming Court Date

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I have some very good news today in case you didn’t see it on Facebook yesterday.  (Like the Facebook page if you’re on there–I post the latest news first over there)! I got a call yesterday afternoon from the attorney that our court date has been set for December 18th! 29 days and counting!

Originally they told us we’d likely be with a grouping of other adoption cases on the 29th, but we asked for a date before Christmas.  Jacob has put a lot of stock in this date and I feel like a lot of his angst will settle down once we get through that. I really wanted that stability for Christmas.  Holidays are hard enough.

I had prayed that the date would hold some significance, particularly around the number 7. It certainly wasn’t required, but I wanted to see God’s hand in this once again.  I think he answered.  The date is exactly 7 days before Christmas.  The verse from Isaiah “Unto us a child is born” has been on my heart since we adopted. I’m hoping to use that on our Christmas card with our new family picture.  It’s not that I see Jacob as the Messiah, but it does hold a double significance to us this year.

So, it just seems appropriate that even though we can’t have the court date on Christmas, we’re having it 7 days before.  Also, if you flip back exactly 19 weeks, that’s the Thursday he was placed with us in August (19 x 7) and if you flip back another 3 weeks (3 x7), that’s the Thursday we met him for the first time and if you flip back another 2 weeks (2×7), that’s the Thursday we got the call about being matched with him.  Call my crazy, but it doesn’t seem like an accident to me that all of these multiples of 7 lands us on different significant Thursdays.

The date also worked out perfectly because I had already taken the day off since we’re headed out of town the next day to visit family for Christmas.  That’s also the kids’ first day of Christmas break so they won’t miss school either.  Scott easily got the day off.  They really couldn’t have picked a better day.

When I told Jacob, the poor thing barely cracked a smile. I had to ask if he was even excited and he said yes.  I’ve been thinking on it and there have been other times I’ve expected him to be more excited–even on his birthday–and I am beginning to believe that he really doesn’t know how to celebrate.  I imagine he’s had so many disappointments that it’s hard for him to get excited.  Why get excited when you doubt it will happen anyway?

And maybe it’s because, as we talked about a few posts ago, that this is bittersweet for him.  Yes, he’s getting a new family, but it’s also the day he loses his identity legally with his birth family.  And maybe he’s just playing tough guy and if he lets too much emotion out, it’s just too much to handle. I’m sure it’s a combination of all of that.

I asked Scott if I could do family T-shirts for the court date and he was not into that at all. If you know Scott, you know that’s way too cheesy for him. I’m not sure yet how to celebrate the day yet, but I’d love to hear how other families have handled it.

So, 29 days.  It will be here before we know it and I couldn’t be more excited.

 

Sponges, Narratives and Nets and a Few Bad Days

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I’ve spent the last 7 days or so in a bad place mentally. Which really, is kind of bad because the kids actually had one of the best, if not the best, weekends together. They didn’t have any friends over or didn’t play with any of the neighborhood kids. They basically were on lockdown together at home by choice and they played and played and played.  Very little arguing and lots of bonding and it was oh so good.  We had family pictures and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to see those. I even took them all out to eat and shoe shopping by myself Saturday night and it was actually fun.  I’m telling you, things were good around here externally this weekend.

But internally, things were brewing in my mind. I got a random phone call last Tuesday. It was Jacob’s Guardian Ad Litem that I didn’t even know he had. She needed to visit.

The visit went fine, wonderful, even. It turns out his GAL is a wonderful Christian woman who really, really cares about Jacob and fought like a mama bear for him. Once again, I saw God’s hand in Jacob’s life. And yet, I also saw more glimpses of his life with his birth family. I’ve figured out that this is always a trigger for me. My mind begins changing the narrative of this adoption.

My mind begins playing this story on repeat: this poor boy has endured so much and now he has been taken from his family.His family probably misses him so much and has no idea where he is. I am sure they are beside themselves in worry. Who are we to have their son/nephew/grandson? No wonder Jacob hurts so badly. I want to fix the family and Jacob and make it all right for them and we’ll just step out of the way. This is so depressing! I cannot fix any of this and it is so, so sad! It will always be sad and there is nothing that can be done to change the awful things.

I begin soaking up everyone’s emotions and then instead of being grateful and in awe of what has happened, I’m deeply sad and depressed.

Kay Bruner calls this being spongey.

It’s another boundaries issues. It’s a big one because I actually don’t know what their emotions are. And even though I do have an inkling of what Jacob’s emotions are, that narrative is no good.

And not only is the narrative no good, once I’m sad and depressed about one thing, I begin being sad and depressed about so many other things.  I had emails from teachers and texts from my kids with issues and no dinner on the table last night and all the sudden not only is this adoption sad and depressing, but I’m a terrible, absent mom and the whole world is falling apart.  It’s no good!

As Glennon at Momastery explains, when we get into these head spaces, we have to change our narrative.

I feel like a lot of us get stuck in all sorts of bad narratives. We could be single or sick or hating our job or scared for our kids or hating our marriage. We tell stories about ourselves to ourselves and these narratives get stuck on replay and then infect all of our thinking. We need new narratives. Thank you, Glennon, for teaching us that.

The narrative I should be telling myself is something like this: bad things happened. His family didn’t care for him like they should have and no one stepped up to take care of him. But God knew in advance and began setting things in place for him to be rescued years and years ago. God was not taken surprise by this. He called us to adoption and he took Jacob out of that family and has set him in a new family. We are a gift to each other. We should live gratefully and joyfully, making the most of what has been given to each of us. Just as God rescued him, the story is not over and God will continue to redeem.

That narrative is so much better because it recognizes that yes, bad things happened, but God is involved and there is so much hope already for what has been done and so much more hope for the future.

So here’s what I learned this week.  I need to wring myself of others’ emotions. I am responsible for my emotions and that’s it. And I need to make sure my narratives focus on the positives of the present and the hope for tomorrow, all and only available through God’s love and plans.

So I’m back on track this time and being in awe and grateful and getting back to joyful. Thank you Glennon and Kay and Richelle and Mom and Heather for helping me get there.

What’s the narrative in your head right now that needs to change?