May 31, 2011

Ward 7, prayer, and new pics of Jubilee!

Two chest X-rays, one CT scan, and one hour in the OR and I had my little Brave back in my arms, his right intermediate bronchus minus this chunk of peanut (forgive the giant red blob that is my thumbnail).
Brave and I stayed at the hospital for 5 days, undergoing breathing treatments and antibiotics to counter the inflammation and fluid buildup around where the peanut had been.  The nurses on Ward 7 all recognized Brave and were glad to see him.  It was a sweet time just me and my little guy, though I am glad to be able to have an intelligible conversation again.  Thai nurses aren't much for conversation in English, nor is my almost 2-year-old.  I had nothing to do with my tongue, in fact, but lick McDonald's ice cream and pray, both of which are sweet and addicting.  I prayed over my children and their spouses and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and my friends and their children.  I prayed for the lost and I prayed for my cousin Ryan and I prayed for my husband who was back home building pillow forts with Bright and Zion.  I prayed in the operating room where Brave once again refused to be knocked out.  The anesthesiologist kept pumping more drugs into his line and I heard her mutter, "Strong American!" when she thought I couldn't hear her.  He he, madam, I heard you alright, and it made me smile from ear to ear.

Now I am back to the grind.  No more long hours of prayer.  No more trays of food delivered to me three times a day.  No more Animal Planet.  But I DID find new pictures of our little girl in my email inbox when I got back!!!!  Oh sweet Jubilee, we're coming for you, baby!

May 25, 2011

Pulmonary anniversary

Peanuts make a fine snack for a 23-month-old, right?  Apparently not.  Four days ago Brave got to crying with a mouthful of peanuts and now we are headed to Thailand, again.

Ongoing weezing and coughing led to chest X-rays which led to booking a flight for Brave and me to Bangkok.  We leave today.  A pediatric pulmonary surgeon will slide a scope into Brave's airway and hopefully find and remove the peanut shrapnel.  Praying for steady hands and no post-procedure fever because if you have a fever in Asia they keep you in the hospital FOREVER and pump fluids through you until you start to float inside of your hospital gown.  I have packed a good book and the phone numbers for Sunrise Tacos and Beirut Restaurant (Bangkok's two best eateries), so I should be good.  Hoping for a soft cot and some good programs on Discovery.

To make things more interesting, 9 years ago today Daniel and I were getting married up in Michigan.  We celebrated our anniversary this morning by feeding the kids granola and then putting them in front of a movie so we could eat eggs and bacon in peace, by candlelight, in our bathrobes, weary from a sleepless night with a weezing child but more in love than we ever have been.

Our doctor told us yesterday that children should not eat peanuts until they are old enough to spell peanut, in Spanish.  Words to live by, I am thinking.

May 24, 2011

Blessed is the mother of sons

We are more excited about Jubilee than words can express, but that has nothing to do with the fact that she is a girl.  She is a child, our child, and we are bringing her home.

A daughter is going to be a treasure all her own, I am sure, but not to surpass the treasure that her brothers are.  What a tragedy it would be, and how sorely wrong, if any of our sons were ever made to feel that in 2011 we finally got our girl.

Sons, SONS, don't think you aren't the salt on my popcorn.  Sons, SONS, you are the L0RD's love for me, embodied.  I get to live out my days with not one, but four men who want to take care of me and make me smile, who want to carry in my groceries, who want to hear me laugh.  What would I do without my boys to love?  My life would be so incomplete.  It is Jubilee who I will pour my femininity into, who I will teach the graces of being a woman.  She and I will spend long hours painting each others nails and talking about period cramps, but when I need to see the love of G0D for me, I will look at the broad shoulders all around me and feel safe and happy and proud.

Blessed, BLESSED is the mother of sons.

May 23, 2011

the ride

Bright is not ready to do anything, until he is ready to do it.  He will not be coaxed, pursuaded, or bribed.  Every once-and-a-while, he looks up at us and says something like what he said today, "Daddy, I am ready to ride a two-wheel bike."

And that's all there is to it.  Bright and Daniel rode the elevator 12-floors down, and I watched from far above as they removed the training wheels from the Mickey Mouse bike that we bought for Bright almost three years ago.  Bright hopped on the bike, wearing his favorite red sweatpants and a bright yellow T-shirt, and simply began to ride.

I cheered from my lookout at our mudroom window.  From my birds-eye view, he looked like a wibbly-wobbly top moving down the cobblestone.  All at once he fell chest over handlebars, ending up on top of his laid-over bike.  Daddy, who had been running beside him with proud hoots and hollers, was right there to pull him to his feet.  There were tears of frustration and disappointment, his cries bouncing off the concrete.  I could not hear what Daniel was saying to him, but I could see his face and I knew that he was speaking truth into our little boy's life.  My heart was saying, "You will fall, my son, but you must not be afraid to keep going.  Staying where you are is much scarier than whatever lies ahead."

Sure enough, he got back on his bike and headed off again, less wobbly than before.  In no time he was a regular pro, and then the bike was abandoned for a game of freeze tag with his friends.  After a dinner of brown rice, tomatoes, and eggs, he and his brothers ate two warm chocolate chip cookies each, took a bath, pulled on pajamas, listened to the story of Isaac's birth and then a chapter in their Uncle Wiggly's Storybook, before receiving their blessings and drifting off to sleep.

The bike will get bigger and take many forms, my son, but I pray that you will always keep riding, as your Father hollers love by your side every inch of the way.
Daniel was too busy hollering to take a picture, so here is Bright riding a triceratops instead.  You get the idea.

May 22, 2011


Believe it or not, there are many things in the life of the Rupp family that do not find their way onto this blog.  Some of them are too personal, many are too incriminating, and the rest are too likely to threaten my mom's sleep.

Sometimes I long to write about these things.  Usually at 3 a.m., which we all know is a bad time to get in touch with anyone.  I long to write about our deepest joys (see "incriminating" above) and our deepest sorrows (see "mom's sleep" above).  I long to share how incredibly real G0D's enemy has become in the last 3 weeks, and how we've had a front row seat to it's defeat.  I long to talk about brothers and sisters gathering in power, about despair I had only read about in stories, about persecutions that redefine the word, about shackles being smashed to reveal weary ankles and deceived minds.  I long to talk about coming to the end myself, and realizing that I have only just arrived at the beginning.

But since I cannot, I will leave you with a picture of the five of us driving home from Papa John's on streets that have no order, through a land bending low under the burden of spiritual oppression, while Bright reads aloud from Revelation in the back seat.

"Mama," he stops and says every few words, "what does C-h-r-i-s-t spell?" and "what is this word s-e-r-v-a-n-t?"  While Zion meows like a cat and Brave chews his fist, Daniel and I look out down the road, shoulder to shoulder, our eyes fixed firmly on the prize.

May 21, 2011

a piece of paper and a picture of the gospel

Today, the original adoption documents arrived from our agency in America, signed and notarized by the state of Tennessee.  Our job was to check the box next to "We accept the adoptee mentioned above," and sign our names as the adoptive father and mother. 

Check.  Sign.  You better believe it.

I keep looking at this document.  What gets me every time is her identity: institutionalized child whose birth parents cannot be ascertained.  What kind of an identity is that?  It doesn't say: child created by G0D for his amazing purposes.  It doesn't say:  beautiful daughter desperately wanted by her parents.   It doesn't say:  creature of infinite worth.

It does now.

May 18, 2011

enemy song

I have two enemies: my mind and my funny bone.  Both are overactive, and both get in the way of my progress in life.  The former is a constant threat to many things, namely faith and joy, while the latter sends lightning bolts of pain clear to my shoulder at the most inopportune times (like turning around to catch whatever it was that person just said, while passing through a doorway, with my elbows out to balance the hot casserole in my hands).

My mind can be renewed through prayer.  It can be trained into submission.  My elbows, however, are formed fast, and will stay the way they are so long as I move and breathe in this body of mine.  Someday I will part company with them (my elbows), and it will be like an old Western, when two long-standing enemies reach the end of their lives and realize that somewhere along the line their contempt turned into respect, while they were riding their horses too fast to notice.

Life is hard.  Really hard.  Yet, the more I bang into doorways, the more I am convinced that the struggle really does keep us alive.


My heart swells with pride and sadness at the same time:  today, our Zion is 4.
He wanted a "tire" cake.  It turned out more like a wagon wheel.  Notice the spaghetti sauce on his face.  His favorite food.
Zion has taken to cleaning my sinks.  He says to me, "Mama, every day I will clean your sinks."  By lunch time I have already heard how beautiful he thinks I am, several times over.  He calls me a "pretty pony" and a "flower."  He calls himself a "stud" and a "bronco" and a "cactus."  He says, "I will put you in my heart!" and then pretends to shove me through his sternum.  I sit huddled then, as if within the cage of his ribs, and I tell him what his bones look like, and how his heartbeat sounds, and that this is surely my favorite place on earth.  All the while he beams at me with oval teeth, two wolf-blue eyes sparkling behind his glasses, two long dimples in a face as white and smooth as a hard boiled egg.  He worries some, and chews his nails, but we pray peace over him and steadfastness.  He is learning who he is, and why he has value.  We let him shower us with compliments and good deeds, and we comfort him in the night, but we assure him all the while that he is loved no matter what he says or does, and that he has nothing to fear.

Happy, happy, happy birthday, Zion Rupp!  Our four years with you have been like eating a piece of birthday cake.  May the year ahead be sweet, adventurous, and victorious.

All our love forever, no matter what,
Mama and Daddy

May 16, 2011

Big bones and an ostrich dinner

We started the day by packing a lunch and taking three excited boys to Dinosaur Valley, as promised.  Dinosaur Valley is roughly an hour's drive outside the city, and it is built on a site where dozens of full skeletons have been unearthed.  It really is something to behold, if you expect that the roof of the quarry will have gaping holes torn in it, therefore many bones will be covered with plastic sheeting. It's all about context, my friends.
The surrounding villagers have painted dinosaurs on their homes.

The gas station outside the park.

The happy sightseers (or shall I say, site-seers)

A very big femur and three cute kids.
We wrapped up the day by going to Sandra's restaurant for dinner with Tim and Amy.  Sandra is a large German woman who doesn't believe in G0D, doesn't believe in marriage (she told us so), and makes the best food this side of the Rhine.  Show up, and she'll greet you rudely and tell you what's for dinner.  Last night it was Ostrich, imported from South Africa.  Not only will Sandra's patrons walk away with a bellyful of gourmet food, they will learn something if they care to engage her in friendly conversation.  Last night she told us, in her thick German accent, how she learned to cook.

"My best friend as a child was Italian," she said.  "I would go with her to visit her grandmother in Italy.  Her grandmother was a short, fat Italian woman who always wore black dresses because someone in her huge family had always just died.  When we got to a certain age, she would no longer let us play outdoors because of the boys, so we were kept in the kitchen to help her cook.  My friend grew up to be a flight attendant.  She hates to cook.  I grew up to be a chef."

Sandra's is in this neighborhood:

She cooks for us, we pray for her.  Its a happy arrangement.

May 15, 2011

Hapy Brthday, MoMo

Today is MoMo's birthday.

MoMo. We haven't seen her since August, though she is here in the hearts of three little boys.  Since we parted, she has said goodbye to much.  She left her old way of life behind last summer and headed to Little Rock, to join her daughter and son-in-law in their fight for their baby's life.  While she has been away, her dear mother/housemate has gone to be with the L0RD.  The family home has stood empty ever since, eerily quiet on an Arkansas hill.  She sleeps in a borrowed bed in a borrowed house now.  She comes and goes from a children's hospital each day, and a preschool, and the grocery store.  She cooks pots of beans and plays with a four-year-old and holds a baby girl attached to lifesaving machines.

I remember when she read novels in her chair in the upstairs bedroom.  Westerns, that's what she liked.  She clipped recipes from the paper.  She watered her flowers.  She swam in her pool.  She mowed the grass that grew along the dirt road.  That grass, I never could understand it's determination. It simply defied the relentless Arkansas sun, its roots grabbing onto the rocks and parched dirt for dear life.  MoMo used to walk each night, up and down that dirt road, with two well-fed dogs on her heels.  She waited until just before dark, when the heat had been beaten back by the turning of the Earth, then headed off down the road with a hose-soaked head to keep cool.  Both of those dogs are dead now.  Their feed box sits empty, save for a few spiders who have found a nice place out of the sun.

She called yesterday to tell us how excited she was about Jubilee.  She cried.  We laughed.  She had to go because she had arrived at the hospital.  I hung up the phone filled with a single emotion:  admiration.

Have a hapy, hapy brthday, MoMo.  The world does not dole out better mother-in-laws than Shari Rupp.

what he said

Also on May 13th, Brave said his first sentence:  "I had hot dog."  It was in response to my asking him what Daddy fed him for lunch.  The actual sentence sounded like, "Ah add ock dawg," but I knew what he meant.  Yay for baby boys who puff up their beefy chests and clench their fists and produce, very slowly and deliberately, their first sentence.  And yay that it had to do with meat, for that is very big and boyish of course.

Love my little beefcake.

May 14, 2011

May 13th

Aside from the awesome, life-changing promise of a daughter, May 13th held a baby shower unlike any I have attended, let alone as the honored guest.

There were pink balloons above a table of salads on a white eyelet tablecloth.
Women love salads.  When we gather for a meal without men, we relish the opportunity to eat the largely-detested-by-men combinations of raw vegetables, dried fruits, crunchy bits of onion, cold meat, and nuts.  Add a tray of chocolate chip cookies and you've got a roomful of happy ladies.

There was a table of boxes and bags dressed sweetly in pinks, purples, and teals, resulting in a pile of girly loot and a thousand utterances of "cuuuuute."

There was me, wearing pink for the first time at a baby shower for one of my babies, with my maternal grandmother's crystal around my neck.
But the very best thing about this shower was the unified heart these women have for my little girl.  The anticipated child is not in my belly.  There was no talk of contractions or swollen feet.  No one measure my girth with toilet paper.  Instead, we talked of a toddler who is playing, even as I write, with beat-up toys on a concrete play yard alongside dozens of peers in diapered butts and shaved heads.  Instead of games, we prayed.  With Jubilee's picture projected on the wall, my friends tearfully covered her and Daniel and I and the boys and the years ahead of us with prayer.  

I treasured up the prayers that were said.  Some of them were:
-A smooth and quick completion of the adoption process.
-That all the paperwork that will be mailed back and forth between the U.S. and China in the next 3 months will not be lost or delayed.
-Peaceful and patient hearts for Daniel and me as we wait to bring our little girl home.
-G0D to prepare us to receive Jubilee into our family; Daniel to be the father and protector of a little girl; me to be a nurturer, confidant, and counselor to her; Bright, Zion, and Brave to be loving big brothers.
-Jubilee's last few months at the orphanage, that she will be well cared-for, that she will stay healthy, and that G0D will begin preparing her heart to join our family.
-A quick and smooth transition as Jubilee bonds with us and grows comfortable in her new home.
-G0D to bring a supernatural peace to her birth family, that they would somehow know in their hearts that she is happy and well and being raised in a loving home, and that they would come to know CHR1ST as their savior.

Amen, and please pass the tissues!

May 13, 2011

Jubilee Sue!!!

We received our LOA yesterday morning, the morning of Jubilee's baby shower!  So it is with immeasurable joy and love that I present the following post.
Here she is.  Our daughter.  Our beautiful daughter.  Be still my heart!

Underneath that little pink sweatshirt is a giant mass, or hemangioma, that is completely treatable and/or removable.  She won't be wearing spaghetti-strap sundresses until her treatment is complete, but that will be the extent of her health challenges. 

When we first saw her picture, we drew in our breath, as I'm sure you have just done.  I wanted her in our home, in my arms, from the moment I looked at her.  I told Daniel, "She even LOOKS like a Rupp!"  We began praying for her right away, for in 72 hours we would respond to the referral and she would cease to be a photo in an email attachment and become, instead, our daughter (not officially, but officially enough for us).

Later that same day I noticed that it was George Washington's birthday.  George Washington is the namesake of our son who I miscarried before Zion was conceived.  The night before I found out I was pregnant with that child, G0D told me, in a dream, that I was pregnant with a boy and we were to name him Washington because, like the famous general, this child would "lead the charge."  Washington's life and death did lead our family.  Because of him, we came to East Asia at the exact time, and in the exact fashion, that G0D intended.  So you see, the fact that we received Yang Yu Hong's file on George Washington's birthday was a confirmation for me.  God was using the brief life of our son to lead us once again.

The following evening, we headed to Tim and Amy Hedden's for their foster son Andrew's 2nd birthday party.  We told the Heddens about the file we received the morning before, and we gabbed excitedly about Yang Yu Hong over Amy's fabulous spaghetti-and-meatballs and homemade chocolate cake.  All at once there was a neighbor at the door, another American, who saw our tell-tale electric bikes parked outside and came over to bring clothes for our adoption.  I was thinking that was peculiar, since she did not know that we had received a referral file the day before.  When I looked at the clothes, they were the perfect size, and every one of them had high collars, perfect to cover Jubilee's mass until its gone, to minimize the pointing and questions.  After dinner, four video files came through from the orphanage director, Director Yu, a very nice woman who seems to care well for the children in her care.  We watched the videos of Yang Yu Hong, playing with a ball and climbing the stairs and riding a trike, and our hearts - which we were trying to guard, in the event that this whole thing might fall through - melted all to butter.

The next day, after tossing and turning all night with excitement, we confirmed our acceptance of Yang Yu Hong's referral.  In other words, we said an emphatic yes with every fiber of our beings.  At 4:21 p.m. our time on February 21st, we were informed that she had been locked in for us.

We sure are locked in for her.
Yang Yu Hong is estimated to have been born on July 20, 2009.  That makes her one month younger than her brother, Brave.  I always wanted twins.  YIKES!  I hope I sprout another pair of arms over the next few months.  She was picked up at the crossing of Commercial Street in Yangchun City on July 26, at approximately six days old.  Her family was probably from a nearby countryside region.  Her birth mother was more than likely forced, by political and patriarchal powers bigger than herself, to give her child up.  If she had not wanted her child, she could have aborted her (something that is encouraged and endorsed in this country) or else she could have left her in a dumpster (something that is seen all too often here).  Jubilee was, instead, courageously transported to a major city intersection where she would be found and cared for.  I say courageously because even though abortion is encouraged, giving a child up is illegal upon great penalty.  If she had been caught, she would have been punished.  An alley dumpster would have been much safer.  Jubilee's birth mother's act of relinquishment was most certainly done grievously and out of love.

We will travel sometime in August, most likely, to pick up our daughter!  Just days later, the adoption will be final and she will be ours forever.  We will bring her home and start the process of grafting our new toddler into our family, or rather SHE will start the process of grafting US into her heart. She will always be Chinese, and we are excited to help her connect with her heritage to the degree that she wishes.  Yet she is also, and will always be, fully ours.  Though we have no romanticized expectations of adoption, we have a great G0D who created all things and has intended for this match from the beginning of time.  A grafted branch will never look exactly like the other branches, but the bond between that branch and the trunk, because of the grafting process, can be the strongest part of the tree. 

Will it be a challenge having two 2-year-olds at the same time, one of whom will perceive us as strangers for a while?  Well, yes.  We fear not, however, for He who has led us to our daughter will lead us all the way.  Jubilee's birth mother gave us a great gift when she carried her in the dark hours of dawn to the crossing of Commercial Street.  The author and creator of life, who knit Jubilee together in her birth mother's womb, knit her together for a life with us.

We are IN LOVE.

May 11, 2011

A.A. Milne on Growing Up

"By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly.  For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, 'There is no hurry.  We shall get there some day.'  But all the streams higher up in the Forest went this way and that, quickly, eagerly, having so much to find out before it was too late."

May 10, 2011

On the road again.

Now that we are a family with a drivers license, familiar terms have been reintroduced into our lives.

Country home.
Neighborhood kids.

Familiar terms, brand new sights.  Hooray for a license to drive!

May 08, 2011

A Harry Mother's Day

When I walk into the boys' bedroom in the morning, the fish are quite excited to see me.  They bang their little heads against the glass.  They open and close their mouths with fervor.  They flip and flap so much that their water splashes.  Nemo and Goldie know that I am going to drop five pellets onto the surface of each of their worlds.

Ahhh, Mother's Day.  The day when the fish say thank you to the fish-feeder. 

How should we spend Mother's Day?  With our kids?  Hmmmm, that's a tricky one, because though it is a day to celebrate motherhood, it is also a day to celebrate the mother herself, and letting a young mother (or mother of the young, which describes it better) celebrate herself means, I propose, letting her spend the day alone in a sunny park with a worthless book?  Did I just lose the candidacy for Mother of The Year?  Woops.

I recently asked MoMo to send more construction paper, because all of ours has been folded carefully in half and cut into hearts, by Bright.  Most of his hearts turn into get well cards, which is telling.  I will say that we are not sick as often as the stash of get well cards would seem to indicate.  Bright makes get well cards every time someone stubs their toe or rakes a broken ice tray across their thumb (which I did just the other day).  One time Zion was in some kind of pain and Bright could be heard pawing frantically through the craft drawers in the back room growling, "Markers!!!!"

Here is a small sampling of the dozens and dozens of hearts Bright has made.  I can't bear to throw any of them away.

One of his earliest hearts.

After he learned about exclamation points.

Translation:  "I love you, we can be aliens."

One of his most recent hearts
Yesterday's heart.
He said, "Mom, look, I am making a Mother's Day heart for you with my face."  
Yesterday I threw a baby shower for my sweet friend, Kristy.  It was fun to have a party on Mother's Day, even if it wasn't for me, and I enjoyed the excuse to make finger foods and tinker with my house.  Daniel and the boys made themselves scarce until 2 p.m., returning with a bouquet of pink flowers and dirty faces from hours of boy play.  They smelled like spring wind and french fries, and as I kissed their cheeks and rubbed Zion's freshly cropped hair, so thick it feels like a goat's back, I thanked G0D for this beautiful thing I get to do every day.  Motherhood.

I crashed at 9:30 p.m., after the streamers had been taken down and little pools of peach tea had been poured from paper cups. Daniel watched a dumb movie to stay awake for our after-midnight Skype date with our friends in Shreveport who were wrapping up the reunion festivities.  I was awoken in the middle of the night for the call, which never materialized on account of cruddy reception, but it was a sweet time none-the-less of being loopy and cuddly with my husband on the couch in the quiet of the night, counting our blessings.

Ding, Ding went his cell phone to signal a text message.  It was a national friend (they are night-owls, can you tell?) and it said, "Tell your wife Harry Mother's Day from me."  He is an English major in college, but he is only a freshman.  We laughed and laughed, not at him, but at our life, and I exclaimed with joy, "A Harry Mother's Day, indeed!"

And because I love MY mom, and because I missed her like CRAZY yesterday, I will post the recipe for her fabulous, old-fashioned vanilla-shortening cupcakes, which I made for yesterday's shower and have been devouring ever since.  Make them with this frosting.  It is the closest thing to my mom's white frosting but not as difficult to mess up.  Harry Mother's Day, Mama!
Count out that 1 minute.  60 seconds exactly.  Perfect cupcakes.

May 06, 2011

eight spoons

I have a friend in grief.  Three actually, but only one who I see face-to-face on a regular basis.  This friend has lost a child.  Not to death, mind you, for that would have been easier in many ways.  This friend's 1-year-old foster daughter, whom she had mothered from birth, was taken from her in the middle of their adoption process on account of a slip in the system, a mis-shuffle of paperwork, selfishness, corruption - on account of a broken world.  A person showed up at their door one day and took her daughter away.  When they did, they took a piece of my friend away, too, and she will never see either one again.

Another of the friends I have in grief has a blog and it will give you the chills.  He and his wife are living through the aftershock of a stillborn child.  He writes, "Then there are the waves of grief that come as a surprise and force me to take a deep breath in order to avoid throwing up. Like why must I wake up at 5am thinking about the fall on the sidewalk? Why does it replay over and over in my mind like a cruel slideshow where every slide is the same image? Or sometimes the grief is a sudden flash into my future life. This wave seems to build up steam, getting louder as it approaches, and then states boldly in no uncertain terms: Margot is still missing."

And that's just it with grief, I am learning.  It changes, like waterlevels, like seasons, like scenes in a play, but it is always the same play.  The life of a griever will always be marked by the day that it happened.   The rest of the world keeps on keeping-on, leaving the person in grief standing there, separated from everybody else by their pain, shattered like a windshield who's pieces don't fall.

I remember getting the call in high school that a friend's car had been sideswiped.  The last movement her body ever made was her head meeting the driver's side window.  She was 17 years old.  That was 14 years ago, and when my mom gets together with her mom, as they do every few years, Carla always comes up.  14 years after her death, her mother still wants to set her a place at the table.  14 years later, Carla is still missing.
Our dearest group of friends in the world got together this week for their annual reunion.  We are present when we are in country.  This year we weren't.  They cooked for each other, per usual, and held each others' babies, and heard each others' stories of the hurts and joys of the past year.  Last night, when they put the kids to bed and got out the dessert, Jack went to the kitchen and mistakenly grabbed eight spoons.  Without us, only six spoons were needed, but there we were, in their hearts, our place firmly established, causing Jack to pull eight spoons from the silverware drawer.  I cried when they told me.

My friend who's daughter was stillborn says there is a society of grief.  Those who have known it, who are still knowing it, walk this earth with a keen awareness of life to which the rest of us are oblivious.  They meet one another and they embrace, bonded by their shared burden.  I know that when they meet me, my hugs are annoyingly insufficient.  Yet I know that one day, when I enter into this society, I will prefer insufficient hugs to none at all.  The thing is, this world really is broken.  There are no answers sometimes.  I pray for my friends and I hurt for them, and I search the skies anxiously, more often these days than ever before.

May 04, 2011

My thoughts exactly

My friend, Cristina, blogged about the death of Bin Laden.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  Here is what she wrote.

Cristina on her wedding day.  Beautiful girl.

My two cents

"Well, I will say that I'm at least relieved to see that I am now not the only person questioning yesterday's (literal) jubilation in the streets. Though, what I find most frightening is that the first place I even saw a question about whether the rejoicing was appropriate was the ever-liberal CNN. I spent most of yesterday heavy-hearted and dumbfounded, honestly, by America's response to Osama Bin Laden's death. Around 11 am or so I headed over to WRAL's website, which I usually check in the morning to catch up on current happenings. Obviously, pretty much the entire page was devoted to Osama's death. And I just could not make sense of all of the headlines. There was rejoicing. There were parades in the streets, flags flying, chants of "U-S-A!", and star-spangled-banner's being sung. I was horrified. How can we be so overjoyed with DEATH. Four people died. And we are throwing a party. Yes, OF COURSE, I know who this man was. I know what he did. And there are countless sins he committed that only the L0RD knows. And, yes, I love justice. I love it, and you love it, because we are made in G0D's image and G0D loves justice. I have great HOPE because G0D is a G0D of justice, and I know that all things, including the thousands killed on 9/11, will be avenged. But I also know how guilty I am. Or was, before I exchanged my guilt with J-sus' righteousness. I know that G0D's wrath was poured out on J-sus, so that I did NOT have to spend eternity without Him. And G0D's wrath was poured out on J-sus, so that Osama Bin Laden did not have to spend eternity without Him either, if he would have only believed. But he didn't. Unless by some miracle, his heart was changed, he is in hell now. Forever. Along with the other three who were killed alongside him. How can we rejoice in that? How can we be so callous as to rejoice in another human being "rotting in hell" (as some of the headlines cheered) forever? Who are we? We are no one. We deserve hell just as much as Osama Bin Laden. I, for one, refuse to be glad. I will be relieved---that the search for him is over, that some sense of justice has been served here. But I will not throw a party. I will mourn for the souls who died apart from G0D forever."

May 02, 2011


For Mothers Day, I signed up for Readeo and invited the grandparents to join as guests.  Readeo is a video chat with onscreen books that the grandparents can read to the kids or the kids to the grandparents, and there are something like 150 books to choose from.  It has changed the way my parents interact with the kids online.  Since the majority of their relationship is developed and maintained online, this is huge.  The kids never want to get away from the screen.  They laugh and point and ask questions.  Dad gets goofy with special effects, just like he did when I was a kid, and Mom's soothing and articulate voice holds their attention like magic. 

Tonight, when Bright sight-read a book for Mom, he sounded out the word "yogurt" but pronounced it with a short "o" sound.  The boys thought that was HILARIOUS and proceeded to whoop and holler and guffaw, saying "yah-gurt" over and over again.  I could see my mom on the other end of the call, smiling broadly with her headed cocked to the side, drinking in the sounds of the boys' laughter.  She has not heard them laugh like that since July.

Books.  They are our friends at 11:30 p.m. while our husbands snore beside us.  They are our friends when we face a new monster and don't know what to do.  They made us laugh in the first 6 weeks of motherhood when, if we hadn't laughed, we would have thrown ourselves in front of a bus.  They make us cry when our hearts are breaking and someone who's been there has written about it.  They make us feel.  They make us remember.  They make us think.  They make us forget.  They make us better people.

And now books are giving a couple of Michigan grandparents the opportunity to enter into the lives of their grandchildren on the other side of the world.  Do the miles still feel like light-years?  Sure.  They always will.  It is the hardest part of saying "yes" to this call.  But I have a feeling that, years from now, our grown children will feel dearer feelings for their grandparents because of the miles.  And because of books.