February 28, 2011

pre-approved!

No, not for a loan.  Fun fact: we have never applied for a loan in our lives, neither one of us, of any kind.  But that is another can of worms.

We received our pre-approval from the Chinese government to adopt our little 19-month-old!  Some folks would share the picture at this point, but I am going to hold out for that letter of acceptance to roll in.  Then I will finally exhale and show the world our little girl.

Speaking of cans of worms, we bought a sack of grubs at the live animal market today because Maximus, our tarantula, was out of food. Our poor Ayi opened the bag thinking it was loose leaf tea or something and squealed like a little girl.  She dropped the bag and looked at me like, 'What have you brought into our kitchen?'  I explained, in my broken way that only she can decipher, that the grubs were not for us but for the spider.  We had a good laugh about it then.

Good times around here!

February 26, 2011

Reminding myself.

Will it ever end?  The mountains of laundry, the bickering, the whining, the poop under my fingernails?  Will it ever end? The incessant clearing of the table, the wiping of the table, the resetting of the table for the next meal?  The uneaten vegetables?  The pee dribbled everywhere but the toilet?  The repeating myself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over?  The 20 minutes it takes to get everyone's shoes on and coats on and tricycles down from the hooks and out the door and into the tiny elevator and down to the courtyard, and then the 20 minutes it takes to corral everyone back into the elevator and back into the apartment and wash all of their muddy hands and change all of their muddy pants?

Will it ever end?

Yes.  It will.

February 25, 2011

We are matched!

There will be no picture in this post, and I dare not divulge too many details, in the interest of being realistic about adoptions and how they work.  You see, there is a chance, though small, that something might fall through so until we receive our LOA from the Chinese goverment (Letter Of Acceptance) we will shoulder our excitement and utter delight mostly on our own.

What am I talking about?  On February 21, we were matched with a beautiful 19-month-old baby girl, who we will HOPEFULLY be bringing home sometime in July.  We have three pictures of her and four short video clips of her playing with her orphanage mates, and I am getting hardly anything else done for looking at them.  I have every line of her face memorized by now.  I wake up early and can't go back to sleep because I'm thinking about her.  We are absolutely, one hundred percent in love.

L0RD willing, I will be posting her story and her beautiful face before too long.  Please pr@y with us now, that things will move forward without a hitch and we will bring our little Jubilee home as soon as possible!

February 22, 2011

Rugrat World History

We studied WWII in history class this morning.
"If those Nazis try to take my wife and childwen," Zion said sternly, "I will just SIT on those Nazis!"

To which Bright sighed and rolled his eyes.  "Zion," he said, "you are NOT a Jew."

February 20, 2011

Double-Cheeseburger Sunday

Saturday night I found myself ironing a shirt, slacks, and tie while Daniel was going over his notes for the next morning.  It was a flashback to our two years at Heritage, and it made me smile.  It has been too long since I have flown solo on a Sunday morning, meeting up with my well-dressed husband later in the morning when the kids and I finally appeared among the congregation, scrubbed and combed and smiling.  It has been too long since I watched my husband cry behind the pulpit, moved by the truths he was conveying.  It has been too long since I watched him fumble over the compliments following the service, trying to slip out the side door before too many people made him blush.

And it has been too long since I sat across from him at Sunday lunch, watching him scarf a much-needed burger while trying to keep his tie out of the ketchup.
Love my pre@cher man!

February 19, 2011

the hope we have


Following my recent post about Heaven, I'd like to quote a verse from my reading this morning:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Chr!st Je$us, because through [Him] the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, G0D did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering,...in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us" (Romans 8:1-4).

I believe the correct abbreviation here, in keeping with modern times, would be PTL!!!!

February 18, 2011

The facts of life

Per Amy's request, because we love her so much, I am republishing this post.  I removed it after a few hours because I doubted whether or not it was...appropriate.  Daniel agrees with Amy, so...
Last year, Bright discovered his testicles and inquired as to their purpose. "Someday," Daniel said frankly, "G0D will use...a...special ingredient, from inside your testicles, to help your wife make a baby."

That was where it ended.

Until this morning.

"Ok Mama, I've been wondering, how will my special ingredient get to my wife?" asked my almost 6-year-old son after his wheat bread and Nutella breakfast.  I took his hand, brought him to the bathroom where Daniel was getting ready for work, relayed the question to my husband, and took my leave.

From the dinette, where I tended to our two remaining sex-oblivious children, I could hear bits and pieces of the conversation I didn't think we would be having for a long, long time.  Bright emerged from the bathroom and I looked into his face.  Whew!  He was a still a child.  He reported to me what he had learned, as if he had just learned how snakes molt or how gravity keeps us from flying off into space.  It was perfectly innocent for him, a mere fact of science, a puzzle solved in his mind.  I told him to let his friends' parents be the ones to share this information with their children rather that hearing it from him.  He understood that, and thought that was the way it should be.

And that is that.  Bright knows the facts of life.

A friend with older children told me recently that the "tween" years are officially ages 8-12.  Eight years old!  Another friend pointed out to me the other day that in 5 years, Bright will be 11 and ready to start attending junior high youth group.  YOUTH GROUP!??  IN FIVE YEARS!??

I asked a friend the other day, who is a recent college grad, how old of a guy she would date, and she said, "Oh, definitely no older than 25!"

It would appear that I am five years out of the young-adult dating range, five years from dropping my son off at youth group, and I now have a child who knows how babies are made.  Will somebody please pass the calcium supplements and Oil of Olay?  Middle age is moving in, and that is a fact of life.

Heaven is for REAL.

I read a book this week that changed me.

Truly.

A 3-year-old boy went to Heaven and back and reported what he saw.  Hoax?  Not hardly.  This little boy told his parents exactly where they were sitting, in separate rooms, and what they were doing while he was undergoing the surgery that saved his life.  There is no way he could have known those things if he hadn't been out of his body, watching.  That, and many other details of his experience lead to one conclusion: he was really there, really hung out with Chr!st and John the Baptist and his own great grandpa, and the Holy $pirit who is "kind of like a blue color" and Gabriel and the child his mother miscarried before he was conceived.

So of course, my faith has been bolstered considerably because of Colton's account.  It is much easier to have "faith" when there is proof involved.  But that is not how I have changed.

I'll be a monkey's uncle if I won't be a HECK-of-a better mother after this, and if I won't enjoy my life 3-4 times more.

Truly. Truly.

Here's the thing.  Colton came away from his experience with a mantra:  "Jesu$ really loves the children."  He said it over and over again, all day long, for three years.  His annoyed parents finally got it, and so did I.  Children!  THAT'S what tugs at the heart of G0D.  He really loves them.  They are precious in his sight.  I could do nothing, therefore, to grieve the heart of G0D more than to grumble in my spirit against children.  Oh, I know I am a "good" mom.  I don't raise my voice and I carve out lots of time for them, but in my spirit, I am grumbling against them.  I do it with my friends, and I do it on my blog, and I do it in my daydreams, and I do it behind my teeth right in front of Bright and Zion and Brave.  Gosh, how BLIND I've been!  Just exactly who do I think I am?  I wouldn't grumble against my husband to my girlfriends.  I've read enough books about wifery to know that tearing your husband down at the city gates is the fastest way to trash the gift G0D gave you when he gave you your husband.  And yet, I gripe about motherhood to my friends all the time!  A good laugh over a really tough day is one thing, but self-pity over "having" to raise "these children" is bitterly ungrateful and, without a doubt, breaking G0D's heart.

Ugh.

The good news is, I repented last night after finishing the book - at 1 in the morning - and it was a beautiful experience.  Tears fell onto my pillow as I saw my sin for what it was.  More tears fell after I felt the wave of grace wash over me and my transgressions evaporate like a mist in the sun.  At that moment, I felt G0D saying to me, "You were a child once, too, and I love you now as I loved you then.  You are precious to me."

Oooohhhh...hooo...hooo.  Let me tell you, if you are not a believer in Chr!st, these are the kinds of intoxicating moments that make believing in him worth it.  I highly recommend it.

So here's the really cool thing.  Today, after sharing everything with Daniel, who is always stoked when G0D hiccups into our human lives, I was a TOTALLY DIFFERENT WOMAN.  I kid you not.  We both had patience with the kids like never before, and we didn't even have to try.  It was just...there.  Not only that, but we enjoyed the kids - I mean really delighted in them - like we have not done since our parenthood journey began.  It was AWWWWWWWESOME.

That said, I am aware of the fact that my sinful, selfish, humanness is going to fight really hard to regain the upper hand around here, but something is different now.  Now I know that seeing my kids, even at their worst moments, as anything short of G0D's honored guests in my home, is not only wrong, but no one is the fool for it but me.

p.s.  Bright, Zion, Brave, and Jubilee, don't think this means no more spankings!  ;)

February 16, 2011

our newest addition!

Yes, that is Daniel's hand, and this is our new pet, Maximus.

Ladies, this is what happens when you have four males in your house.  I hope Jubilee is not afraid of spiders!

February 15, 2011

popcorn in the couch cushions

Almost six years into motherhood and I can say this about it:  intense joy and raw grief simultaneously define my life.

I grieve the passing of days, the firming of Bright's baby fat into the muscles and sinews of a boy.  I grieve the moments when I turned my child away in the name of cooking dinner.  I grieve the look in my three-year-old's eyes after my short supply of patience ran out on him.  I grieve the frighteningly scarce amount of time that I have with each child, daily and in this life, to impart all that I so desperately want to impart as a mother.  In my life, I have traveled to the darkest of regions and back, and upon returning, I began to plead for my future children.  Don't let them know how dark the darkness can be, L0RD.  Don't let them play with demons.  Set their hearts unwaveringly on the path that leads to life, that they may hate the darkness and love the light.

I will be honest, though.  My grief is also very selfish.  I grieve the loss of my waist line.  I grieve the loss of my brain, which so often reminds me of the jam in our fridge - sweet, but not good for a variety of things.  I grieve the loss of personal space, of quiet, of enjoyable meal times, of the right to say, "No thank you, I think today I will just rest."

And yet, my cup overflowith.  My cup, which is not a very pretty one.  Showers are rare and hurried.  My hair has not parted company with its ponytail holder in G0D only knows how long.  I think about the day when quiet returns - when dragons and tigers and spider-monkeys no longer thunder through the house, pouncing upon each other and breaking each other's glasses and bruising each other's toes - and I want to hold that day off as long as possible.  I don't want to eat in silence, listening to the sound of my butter knife scraping across my toast.  I want to play "I spy with my little eye" over and over and over and over until Zion FINALLY takes his last bite of cold food so we can gather at the TV and watch Bear Grylls take on the wilderness while three little boys grind popcorn into the cushions.

In a few years, when my kids stand at the edge of darkness with decisions to make, I pray that we will all be ready.  Until then, I will continue to let them pick out their own outfits (except on Sundays), and we will continue to kiss right on the mouth, because no one can do anything but live where they are and choose to enjoy it.

February 14, 2011

good love

I had to add another Valentine's post this year, because we had these for breakfast,
took these pics in school,
ate this for dinner, after the kids went to bed, by candle light,
and then ate these for dessert, courtesy of three Valentine fairies who stopped over with treats (we love you, Hedden Family!).
Good G0D, good life, good love, good night.

February 13, 2011

my valentine

When I first fell for my husband, I thought he was perfect in every way.  I have since realized I was wrong, of course.  But as the years have marched on, it has become more and more apparent that he is perfect...for me.

I have watched my strong, capable, learned, achieved husband humbled and reduced over the past 2 1/2-3 years.  I was his dearest witness to it.  The man that could do anything became as a helpless baby, unable to speak, unable to pick up on social cues, unable to move around - unable, unable, unable.  True to form, though, my Daniel Rupp stayed willing.  Ruthlessly devoted to the One who sent us here, he plodded along through the mire and is now coming out on dry land.

Daniel will be bringing the word this Sunday for the first time at our international gathering, and really, the timing is impeccable.  He has learned how to find his significance in the L0RD and not in himself, and is emerging a man who knows how little he has to offer on his own, and how great a G0D he serves.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 12, 2011

school spirit

When I registered Bright as a home school student with the state of Arkansas, I had to site the name of our home school.  I casually typed, "Rupp Academy," at the cursor. 

The Pioneer Woman recently showed off her new home classroom, and Daniel and I were drooling.  We took notes and began rearranging our tiny apartment, again.  Jubilee's room got moved to the office and the room that was waiting for her got changed into the classroom.  We have big plans for this room.  Sky blue walls, lots of shelves and storage containers, a catchy centerpiece, colorful pillows in the window seat for Bright (and other future Rupp bookworms), fun lighting, and a mascot collection proudly on display.  Pioneer Woman and her kids collect quirky stuffed monsters.  We are going to be the Rupp Academy Dragons, school colors blue and yellow, and we plan to add a dragon to our collection from all the places we will visit over the years.  When the kids move out of the house, they can each take a few dragons with them (the daughters-in-law will love me for that).

February 10, 2011

vulgarities

Some of the vulgar quotable things said at our house lately have had us rolling.

Daniel to me, after I closed my book and turned out my light: "How's Rhett Butthead?"

Bright asked of Daniel: "Daddy, what kind of animal is a clam?"
Daniel, distracted: "Umm, I don't know, maybe a crustacean."
Bright: "You mean like what's in your ears?"

Daniel asked of Zion: "Are you done pooping, Z?"
Zion replied, exasperated: "Noooooooo Daddy, I have a GOOGLE more poops!"
We decided that Z's long, blond, toddler flop had to go. 

February 07, 2011

Rupp Boys

Best friends.  Wrestling buddies.  Walking-across-the-street buddies.  Main characters in each others' games of pretend.  Competitors?  Yes, often.  They are boys, after all.  But they will always have each other, and they know it.

February 05, 2011

Winter never lasts.

Brave is making 2 and 3-word sentences, including, "Oh, I see." and "Help me."
Death and illness descended upon us this past year.  It was like winter blew in.  Everywhere we looked, we saw bare branches, cold skies, and frozen ground.  Hearts, like warm bunnies, buried themselves away to wait for better days.  But now, as the days are getting longer, green buds are showing their determination.  New life is on the way.  Four weddings are just around the corner, 8 babies are to be born, and our daughter will come home before summer's end.  Winter never lasts.

"Oh, I see."

I made a daily schedule for the Spring semester, all the while chewing my lip and wondering how I will do it.  I must teach Bright, enjoy Zion, hold Brave, and pursue Jubilee; even as I love and care for Daniel, put nutritious food on the table, nurture my relationship with the L0RD, tend to friendships, and shave my legs.

"Help me."

Brave puts it well (children usually do).  Change, as much as we sometimes curse it, is often a welcome, 11th-hour hero.  Out of the frozen ground and dead leaves will spring good new things, if we open our eyes to see them.  Yet even as sure as springtime will drive out the cold, there will always be something too big for us to handle, keeping us humble, and reminding us that we can't do this on our own.

she's out there somewhere

The tears for Jubilee have started to flow.  I am told there will be even more tears when we get matched with a real orphan - when we have her picture, details of her early life, height, weight, and temperament - but we have months before we can bring her home.

For now, all we have is the knowledge that we are in fact "logged in" to the system, which means we are weeks from being matched, which means we are somewhere around 7 months from meeting her.  There is no doubt now that she is out there somewhere.  Our little girl (the one person on this planet who Daniel will give away in marriage, who's hair I will comb through after baths, who's tights I will scrub and scrub to remove ground-in dirt at the knees) is living in an orphanage instead of at my skirts where she belongs.

It is killing me.

My mom says that the decision to have a child is the decision to forever let your heart walk around outside your body.  Never has that quote applied as it does now.

February 03, 2011

The Year of The Rabbit

Xīnnián kuàilè! (Happy New Year!)

It is the New Year here again, and again I found myself on the roof at midnight, watching the sky explode with light and color and thunderous sound.  I'm pretty sure I was giggling like a child, though I couldn't hear my own voice.  I'm pretty sure I was squealing like I used to do on speedboat rides with my Uncle Tom.  Daniel, who slept through it last year, just smiled broadly in the dark, looking from one part of the skyline to the other, taking in the sight of it and trying to remember to breathe.  According to Bright's homeschool curriculum, gunpowder was invented here.  They certainly know how to use it!  The following video doesn't do it justice.
video
The next morning, New Year's Day, we ventured out on our his-and-hers dian dong che  (electric motorbikes) to join the festivities.  Green Lake Park, the city's gathering place, was too thick with crowds of people and flocks of white birds to even get through the front gate, though I did take a picture of it.
Just when were trying to decide where to go next, Daniel got a flat tire and we had to load all three kids on my motorbike and part ways - he to push his che to the nearest repair shop, and me to pick my way home through the crowds.  I took a few more pictures on the way.

Here is the cotton candy guy who spins delicious, colorless cotton candy by pedaling the wheel of his bicycle.  Those white blobs are not not balloons.  That's the candy!  The guy in the second picture is pushing a huge cart of water chestnuts.
This lady is selling piping hot peanuts.
Happy New Year!

February 01, 2011

Moments of clarity

Sometimes I don't have the kids with me.  It is rare, but it does happen.  In these times, I can use my eyes for something other than making sure Brave doesn't jump off a precipice, and my ears for something other than discerning which brother started it, and my brain for something other than talking myself out of running screaming through the streets.

In these sweet, brief moments of clarity it occurs to me that I actually live here - that we are actually doing this - and that we don't know when we will again call America home.  As I walked to the fruit stand the other day, sans the kiddos, I noticed the enormous ladies underpants hanging shamelessly from the bushes to dry.  I noticed the old men huddled around a low game table in their wool hats, quietly anticipating the game player's next move.  I noticed at that moment that everyone has black hair. A whole nation with the same hair color!  How funny that a person can live in a place for over 2 1/2 years and miss the most glaring details on account of the incessant duties of motherhood.  How funny that right under my nose, while I was boiling pacifiers and doling out time-outs, my husband learned an Eastern language - enough to joke around, share his testimony, and describe sa1vation.

Um...I'm talking about Daniel Rupp, people, rattling off  chings and chongs like some kind of kung fu movie.  Kind of surreal, don't you think?

Then there are the kids, my personal missi0n field, who are growing up in the most peculiar context.  They eat their fair share of pizza (which was Brave's first word, in fact), and they open presents on Christmas morning, but they also eat oysters and use chopsticks and hail taxis and ride motorbikes under tarps in the rain.  They know how to operate elevators and when it is ok to remove their seatbelts on the airplane.  They know how far away America is, and why we are living here, and what is most important.  Bright, who not only wants to be a helicopter pilot, but also an astronaut, a past0r, and a forklift driver, said to me the other day, "Mom, I better learn the language of whichever country I'm going to live in when I grow up, so I can tell them about Je$us in a way that they will understand."

These moments of clarity come and go.  I bought the fruit the other day and returned home to three squalling sons, one poopy diaper, and a to-do list the size of The Great Wall of China.  But in these moments I am filled with awe.  I live where children squat and deficate on the sidewalk, where pigs are kept as house pets, where daughters would rather die than shame their families, and where the dirt is as red as the flag that flies in the city square.