Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mountain Moments

Mountain moments…you know, the ones where your world gets turned upside down. Where nothing will ever be the same afterwards. Where you’re circumstances, environment, needs, hopes and heart change forever. Where you feel your heart rip through your chest from beating so hard because the view from the top of that mountain is so grand, so miraculous. There is something so special about standing on that mountain top.

While, yes I have climbed mountains, and I will never forget the view and feel from the top, I am not talking about a physical mountain. I am talking about the peaks in life that only Our Great God can provide. This year, my family lived on top of one of those mountains. As I sit here and think about the blessings of the past 12 months I am literally moved to tears. Much like the awe I first felt when I summited my first 14,000ft mountain, I can’t believe the work God has done before me and my family this year.

For those that don’t know, almost 3 years ago Robin and I began what seemed like just a dream at that time. We dared to take the hope of adoption and see what God could do with it…God DID NOT disappoint! He looked right back at us and said “hey kids, watch what I can do when your desires align with MINE”. In only the way God can, He fulfilled promises made thousands of years ago, to “place the lonely in families”. Yet the most powerful piece of the story is just now beginning. We now get to see the power of that family at work, and it is beautiful.

Now for those who have never had the privilege to climb a truly high mountain (sorry folks, the Appalachians don’t count), no matter your skill level, it is a struggle. I remember my first time, so confident, maybe even cocky, in my athletic ability. I knew many others would struggle, but not me. Yet as the oxygen grew scarce, and the weather more fierce I discovered just how vulnerable I was. Above the tree line there is nowhere to hide. We faced sleet and lightning and I had the responsibility of 10 teenagers to keep safe. For maybe the first time in my life I was truly scared that day. Thankfully, God was on a greater display than the weather that day, and we walked through with only the emotional scars of understanding HIS greatness and our weakness when alone and separate from Him.

Fast forward to the present, our year of living on the mountain. I describe it as living on the mountain and not summiting the mountain, because I don’t think we have come down yet. We have experienced the exhilarating joys and celebrations that come with arriving at the top, yet we have also experienced the brutality of living in those conditions for extended times. We have felt the vulnerability, the storms, and the fear. The year has left us asking many times: do we have what it takes? I remember literally running from one of our first meals in China with Levi in tears, fearful of the struggles and unknowns before us. I have seen the financial struggles ebb and flow over and over. I have seen all three of our children live out moments of pure joy and moments of confusion and frustration. I have seen our middle child deal with levels of stress and anxiety that no 4 year old should ever have to deal with and in the same breath seen the look of peace in his eyes when he sits on his mommy’s lap and knows he is now in his home with his “forever family”. Simply put, I have lived on the mountain.

My heart is torn. There are moments that I never want to leave this mountain, yet there are moments where I can’t get off it fast enough. It’s not an easy place (God never said it would be) and I certainly know my sin and pride often make it more challenging. With all that said, there is no greater place to be. The work God has done in my heart (and my family's) is permanent and generation changing. It leaves me with one overwhelming thought, which is thankfulness. So on this day of ultimate thanks, I want to leave you the lyrics from the soundtrack of our year. This song, “All the Poor and Powerless” is a simple yet profound reflection of my family’s time spent on the mountain. While reminded of our frailness we can’t help but scream from the mountain tops that “He is God!” I also want to challenge all of you, if you haven’t spent time on the mountain, don’t wait. I am so thankful He led my family there.

All the poor and powerless
And all the lost and lonely
All the thieves will come confess
And know that You are holy
And know that You are holy

And all will sing out
Hallelujah
And we will cry out
Hallelujah
All the hearts who are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy

And all will sing out
Hallelujah
And we will cry out
Hallelujah

Shout it
Go on scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God
We will sing out
Hallelujah
And we will cry out
Hallelujah
















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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Album

In the top drawer of my nightstand there's a picture album I've been guarding like a hawk.  Several times throughout the day I have this moment in which I run to the bedroom thinking perhaps I left the drawer cracked and the album might be discovered.  The drawer would be cracked from last night.  And the last night. And the night before that all the way back to June 8th when I placed it there.  All those nights just before closing my own eyes when I reach for that baby blue album and pour over the pages of pictures.  Pictures of my baby, before he was in my arms.  

Inside there's these pictures.  Sweet baby boy...dressed in pink.  A huge smile standing with his China mama (nanny).  Picture after picture with some of the same children.  A precious old woman, "Nie Nie", grandmother in Chinese.  These pictures, along with his medical records and the clothes he came to us wearing, are the only links we have to his past.  

I want to preserve them.  I want to honor them.  I don't want to hide them at all.  I want Levi to know his story.  But there's a big piece of me that's been scared out of my mind to reveal them.  There's this gap and very few words to make a bridge between his heart and mine.  I feel like there should be words.  Words to explain and to offer comfort and answer questions and make promises.  

And maybe, too, I don't know exactly what to do with someone else's emotions.  Maybe, when I'm real honest, I don't know what to do with my own.  So sometimes maybe I avoid them.  

But grace keeps taking my hand and walking me back to that nightstand.  And for days I can't get it out of my mind.  This urge to bring the little boy into my arms and hold him tight and reach for the album.  

So I did it.  We sat together on my bed and flipped pages.  And I waited.  Waited for the floodgates.  Tears. Rage. But none came.  

Just like a kid, he was most interested in seeing himself in the pictures.  China mama was offered a short glance.  The friends received giggles as he tried to explain each one to me.  Nie Nie, a big grin.  And then a sweet "bye bye Nie Nie" before he closed the album.  Then we were done.  No big alligator tears.  No declaring China mama his real mom and scorning me.  

And then I knew it.  Words don't really build great bridges.  Digging down into the muck and mire and securing the posts. Measuring out carefully and forming concrete slabs.  Lowering them carefully into place and securing them tightly.  

That bridge from our hearts to his has been under construction for weeks.  There's been muck.  In his heart.  In our hearts.  And I'm sure they'll be more.  But maybe there's a post or two.  Maybe the slabs are being poured and the form of the bridge is starting to take shape.  

The hands and the heart are the bridge builders.  No, they are the tools.  Grace is the bridge builder.  In the failing and the flailing, digging out of the muck, its only grace that ever stands a chance of holding firm.  And the Grace Giver, Holy One...He built that first bridge that all the bridges run parallel to.  Then He asks us to do it with Him. Step out into that deep water and suddenly we're standing on dry ground.  He's making a path through the water.  We're walking. And on the right and the left, where I dare not turn my head, the water stands up scared straight stiff of the Almighty Hand.  That Hand, wind at my back, making step turn into step. I'm there on the bank and the enemy is swallowed up.  And the only words, are barely words, just uttering praise to the One who was in the beginning....was with God and was God. All things coming into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not...does not...comprehend it.  But runs from it. 

(John 1)


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Word Shadow

This morning I acknowledged something aloud that deserved no recognition.  It simply deserved captivity to Christ. But I let it walk on out of my lips.  And something profound happened there before my eyes.  That flesh feeling that should have died took on a form and a shape.  It caught my heel and I walked in it, limping on in the shadow of those words as if someone had proclaimed them ruler.  

It turns out my limping made the living for everyone around me a bit more like dying.  I was offering the Word of Life to no one.  And my sight was so quick blinded that I didn't even see the manna fall before my eyes when I read "I have put My Words in your mouth, and covered you in the shadow of My hand, in order to plant the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, "You are My people" (Isaiah 51:16.  

The limping turned into tripping - falling right over the holes and cracks meant to be filled up by grace.  I stumbled that way through all the hours.  Until I sat on the toilet lid rocking that boy who just wouldn't let his teeth be brushed.  And when his eyelids closed shut right there I saw that I was the one with the unclean lips.  I had set ablaze a whole forest and I smelled of the smoke.  

What in a word is power?  Why, between the mind and the lips does a word carry life and death?  I'm thinking of the tower that was being raised up - to reach the heavens,  a throne, of sorts, for man.  That flesh of mine, the one that produced the utterance - declaration of the day - would like to build a tower, a throne to sit itself upon.  But then one morning the brick stacking stopped.  Because the One who sits on the throne of heaven changed the way they spoke.  Just like that, the old language was gone and out of their mouths came new words.  

Out of my mouth could come new words.  Words that carry Life and Love to the farthest reaches...and the closest little hearts.  Words declaring the goodness, words naming it grace - opening that grace gift treasure box and letting it all come spilling out upon the day before me.  All that all sufficient grace.  More sufficient for more than I can dare to fathom.  

Tear down my tower, Lord.  Put Your Words in my mouth.  I long to walk in Your shadow. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grace Blanket

The skin on my chest is raw.  And my heart is torn and undone.  Twice tonight I held that boy who claws at me, until his anger gave way.  I whispered my love to him.  Real love, words that I really meant to say.  

In those moments there is a surrendering and a fighting.   But not what you think.  I am surrendering.  Shutting down my flesh circuits which long to fight or flee.  Surrendering to the Lover who loved me when I was ugly. Loves me when I am ugly and I claw against His goodness.  

And there is a fighting. Fighting for the heart of that boy.  The enemy fights for it.  The King fights for it.  I don't want to presume a thing, but maybe there are arms that must stay steady until the sun sets.  And maybe those arms are mine.  I'm certain that they are held up by you warrior prayers in the valley.  And I'm living for that day when I hear the Lord: "write this in a book as a memorial and recite it...I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; and he said, "The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation" (Exodus 17).  

Amalek, who comes in right after the divided sea and the manna and the quails and the rock water.  And right before the family framework is set up between Father God and His children.  

Who would dare rise against this One who causes the earth to swallow whole armies?  
Who would challenge the miracle work of the King...attempt to harden the heart once more? What is my boy's Amalek after?  A heart bound up so tight - nothing comes in, nothing goes out?  Is he not after the same thing in me?

But they, we've, been told "I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them". 

The "Wo Ai Ni" grace that I keep whispering wins. And he sinks into my arms.

Finally, sleep comes...and then I crawl in next to the older boy.  The one who sat in his bed, headphones on and listened to the screaming until he could take it no longer and quietly asked for an escape.  He spoke of the best part of his day - swimming with cousins.  And when asked about the worst part of his day...he thinks and thinks.  I'm certain he's going to relay the nightmare of listening to his brother scream not 15 minutes earlier.  But no, he says "mom, I'm not sure that there was a worst part." What? Something is hiding those moments we just ticked through.  A grace blanket. 

And I think of the younger boy at dinner.  Who stares at the family pictures on the wall and he wants to know if that's him, that baby in mama's arms? I just stare.  Is love just covering us all - totally hiding us under a grace blanket so much that he doesn't remember he was born into this family only 36 days ago? 

There's a little girl too who won't tell you she's struggling.  She wouldn't tell you why she imitates his outbursts.  Why she yells phrases that sound foreign.  Why there's a mess in the bathroom again because she didn't listen to her body.  And now she just waits for mommy to come and sing.  I sing and I worship, she sleeps and my heart is hidden under the wing of the Protector.  The One who just keeps singing and spreading His grace blanket over me.  



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Honest to Goodness


I'm going to share some honest thoughts here but I encourage you to stick with me cause the good part's coming.

Two years ago the idea of another child - one from another land - began to grow in our hearts.  This idea captured us.  We were certain of the Originator of this idea and kinda started walking like it might become a real live thing.  And the more steps we took the more we were met by the Idea Maker and convinced it was not just a plan of our own hearts.  

So for a year and a half we dreamed about and worked toward this nameless idea child.  Our idea child was always on our minds and our lips as we prepared to welcome him/her into our family.  We made a place for this one in our home...and in our hearts.  And that heart place was filled with anticipation and excitement and love. Love. 

Nine months ago the face of that idea child came into focus.  (Counting up those months now - just right on the nose of a biological gestation...how interesting) We had a name and a picture and some information. And now all those joyful emotions were pointed toward this little guy. Now that the idea had a face the love grew even more.  Because we could envision him here with us, a part of us - doing life with us. And we knew it wouldn't be all rosy and we knew to dismiss our expectations but still the love for this idea boy just grew and grew.  

Reality crept up closer and closer until finally it was go time.  So we went, walked right on up to the reality of this idea.  What happened was a sort of mental collision.  There was idea boy, whom we had loved so deeply and then there was this real little boy who was now with us in living color - only we didn't know him like we knew idea boy.  He was, quite frankly, much a stranger to us.  And that love we'd had for idea boy didn't exactly transfer to the real boy.  Every moment we were choosing to live out the love of the Father toward him but it was exactly that - a choosing love - whereas we expected it to be that natural instinct love.  And a lot of the time it was a harder love choice than we liked it to be. 

I don't know if this common. But it was between Andrew and I - even silently common for a few days until we humbly confessed to one another the struggle of our hearts.  

(At this point you're probably either tracking with me or I'm scaring you - that's why I want you to keep reading)

There was some fear that came barreling in with this collision...especially before the whole thing was brought into the light.  Mainly fear that love - the "I can't help but love you" kind - wouldn't come.  Fear that this choosing love would feel superficial to our hurting boy.  

But all love comes from God (1 John 4:7).  Did we dare believe He would make some of that other kind of love in us?  Well, we had to.  Because there was no place else it was coming from.  So we took on the possibility that somewhere along the line we might just look back and realize that in the midst of walking out that choosing love, He placed a deep, instinctual, familiar love within us for our Levi.  

Well, it's sneaking in. The "I can't help but kiss your precious face 500 times" kind of love. I'm finding that the place in my heart that tries to contain my love for my other children has been stretched a little bigger.  Somebody smarter than me will tell me some definitive words to describe these two loves and I will thank them.  But for now, I am welcoming - with arms wide open - this precious love.  

And maybe that's the reason the days are getting easier.  I'm not sure that the circumstances have changed all that much since day one.  But somehow the patience gift of the Holy Spirit mixes naturally with the love gift and I feel carried.  I guess when it was all the choosing love it felt like I had to keep determining hard to let the Father carry me...cause the flesh me is always bent toward independence.  But the end of that me comes fast and ugly.  So I did let Him carry me.  And He sustained even though I had to be convinced of the manna goodness at times.  

And maybe, too, it's the reason his heart is getting softer.  The reason he lets me hold him and sing Jesus Loves Me. The reason he burrows his face in my neck.  The reason he calls "mama" to show me every traffic signal or dump truck.  The reason he works so hard to find a few English words or hand motions to tell me a silly joke.  The reason he nods ferociously when I whisper in his ear that he is my special boy.  

I don't know what this all does to your perception of adoption.  I don't know if you imagined such emotional struggle attached to those pictures of adoptive families....everyone smiling and hugging close.  And it isn't everyone's story but I gotta believe we're not alone.  We share this because beginning to end, it's not our story, it's God's story.  And we have to believe that His choice to adopt us as sons and the whole process of it has not been without messy heartache on the Lover's part.  

Just praying you will walk in His boundless love....and know that you were never a stranger to Him...He never had to adjust to loving you...in truth, His love has been carrying you all this time. 

Love,
Robin










- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Bicycle and a Little Boy's Heart

We blundered it this weekend, our little boy's heart.

All week long the kids had been asking about bike riding.  When could we finally give Levi his new bicycle? Saturday finally arrived, the promised day.  Levi seemed to be thrown off that Andrew was home after getting accustomed to him leaving for work each day, so he seemed to be a bit more high-strung than usual.  So after a chaotic breakfast and several wardrobe changes on Chloe's part we got everyone strapped into the car (sigh...blissful moment).  Andrew's family had gone together to buy a super cool green bike for Levi and left it in our storage area so we hadn't even taken a good look at it yet.  But as we loaded the bikes in the car we realized it was going to be too big for this first-time rider.  So, simple solution - we'd let Wade ride Levi's new bike and Levi ride Wade's bike.  Wade could probably move into an 18" bike anyway.  And we hadn't wrapped it or planned a big presentation anyway.  If it was too big for Wade we'd just return it and buy a new one for Levi to have and Wade could have his original bike back.  Ok, hope you followed that. Just keep it in mind for later.

We hit the Red Bank tennis courts and both boys (and girl who hadn't been on her bike  since a little fall) were flying round and round before we knew it. Levi picked up the pedaling SO fast - it was amazing! It took several near collisions for him to realize he couldn't just watch his feet the entire time but needed to steer.  

video
  
The green bike looked a little big for Wade so Andrew drove home quickly for a few tools to adjust the seat and handle bars.  Daddy driving off and leaving us at the tennis courts was kind of confusing to Levi but we're getting pretty good at Sherades so he was ok after a few minutes.  Well, even after Andrew tinkering with the green bike Wade said he'd really rather have his original bike back.  At the same time some tennis players arrived so we didn't to let them have the courts.  So, we decided to load up, head to Toys R Us - Wade and I would run in to exchange the bike while Andrew took Chloe and Levi to CVS for a band-aid.  Then we could go to another nearby park for some more riding.  Did I mention Levi fell and scraped his arm? He really like band-aids and was quite insistent on needing one.  

Of course, the Sherades were a bit more tricky on this explanation.  But the Lightning McQueen band-aid helped calm Levi down.  Meanwhile, Wade and I find a blue Huffy bike very similar to his original bike and make the exchange.  At this point, I'm paying the $10 extra for the assembled bike.  

We arrive at the park and get everyone and the 3 bikes unloaded.  Then we present the brand new blue bike to Levi (somewhat relieved that he'll now have a new bike and feel special).  But that's where it all hit the fan.  And as the tears streaked down that sweet boy's face and the screams erupted it dawned on us what he saw.  He saw mommy and daddy had given him a gift, a red bicycle and now they were taking his bike away and giving it to his brother.  He was blinded to the brand new sparkling blue bike we had just presented to him...all he saw was what was being taken from him.  By now, Wade had unknowingly hopped on his original bike (the red one) and was blazing around the bike trail while Levi sobbed - all out sobbed and wailed as I attempted to hold him and comfort him.  And Andrew and I are looking at each other frantically trying to determine what exactly to do about the situation.  Wade has already said he wasn't interested in the sparkling blue bike.  Do we tell Wade he has to give up his speedy red bike for his new brother....the one that he has already endured so much from in one short week? The one he has listened to yelling and crying at each and every meal....the one to whom he has given up mommy hugs and snuggles and attention ....the one by whom he's been hit and screamed at....the one whom life has pretty much centered on for the last 7 days? Can Google Translate possibly help us explain this situation to Levi? 

You may think this all trite. You may think - its 2 bikes and 2 boys and tell each boy to hop on a bike and they'll get over it after a few turns around the track.  And sometimes that may be true...but not this time.  Both these boys, their hearts are fragile and their emotions are just as real as mine.  And though their problems look minuscule "in the grand scheme" - in their eyes, this is a BIG deal.  

We realize our blunder - wished that we would have seen the confusion that would ensue by letting Levi ride Wade's bike.  But now its done and we've got a ballistic 4yr old in the park.  So, Andrew speaks with Wade and explains a bit of the situation and tells him we will return the blue bike and he can buy any bike in the entire store that his heart desires if he will let Levi have his original red bike.  Wade agrees, however slightly reluctantly and hands the bike over to Levi.  

Now we're making plans to return to Toys R Us.  As we're working out the details Levi goes sailing past and turns to wave at us.  However he doesn't know how to use his brakes really.  So, before our eyes, he swerves off the pavement into the ditch - flips over, bike lands on top of him and is now lying in the ditch.  Oh my word.  I seriously thought our parenting license was going to be revoked right then and there.  Thankfully, he was not hurt.  I mentioned this incident in my post yesterday because it was very confusing.  He initially cried for about 5 seconds.  Then he wiggled out of my arms and got back on his bike.  I'm not going to go into all of that again as I did yesterday, but any other kid I know would have cried for a long time and would have been done with the bike for the day (at least).  I wanted to comfort my boy but he walled himself up and kept on moving. 

Wade, Chloe and I drive to Toys R Us return the bike and find a really sweet bike for Wade.  He was actually pretty excited about it after I told him the manufacturers also make dirt bikes.  We went back and picked up Levi and Andrew and headed for home...everyone fairly happy.  

That evening Andrew sent me to church with Wade and Chloe and as I pondered the morning - how much I take for granted the wisdom and discernment the Holy Spirit constantly offers - how limited my perspective is - how easily I can blunder the deal.  And as the weight of this responsibility of guarding our little guy's heart laid heavy on me the worship band started into the song the Lord wanted to sing over me "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."  The truth lit up my heart: I will fail over and over again but His grace is sufficient for Levi.  He has convinced us of it over the last 12 months: that He sets the lonely in families and He is the Potter who softens and molds every heart.  He enables us to be loved and to love others.  Sweet, sweet grace that covers a multitude of inadequacies.  I am nothing without it. 

Love,
Andrew & Robin

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Making of a Cocoon

Preface...Going into this season of Levi's adoption into our family we knew that there would be some challenges that are unique to such children, and frankly we didn't have for forsite to share the following before hand.  As you read the following post, please understand this is not a reactionary "post" due to events that have happened from one of you or anticipation of such events in the near future.  Instead, this is a response to watching the fragile heart of our sweet son beginning to be stretched beyond anything he has ever seen and us recognizing the role God has called us to in protecting this precious gift (Levi) as we walk with him through his highest of highs and lowest of lows.  In advance, thank you for your understanding and please know that we are available for any and all questions!!  We love you all.

According to www.cocoon.org (surely the most comprehensive and authoritative source on cocoons): 

       cocoon -  nothing more than a protective casing that is around an insect. This is made of either silk or some other similar fibrous material that is then spun around the the insect during their pupal stage, which is the life stage of an insect that is undergoing transformation.


Call to mind, for a moment, every picture, every word related to the essence of a baby.  Here's my list, off the cuff: first cries of breath being placed into an anxiously awaiting mother's arms; soothing with touch, nursing and movement; long mid-day, midnight stares into little eyes; stroking cheeks; sensing intuitively the need of every cry; hours asleep in mama's, daddy's arms; a belly full with perfect nutrients - sleep following shortly thereafter; waiting for the first smile and smiling back so overcome with shared joy.  Really, the list could go on and on - mine only covers a few moments of the first days with baby.  The list would grow extensively through toddlerhood.  

Now, erase most all of that from your mind...except for the baby.  What happens to a baby without that list?  Is that list just for the enjoyment of the mother? Or is something profound happening within a child amidst all of those moments?  Is some need met when that baby is touched? Rocked to sleep? Nursed when hungry? Held close when cold? Changed when wet? Gaze met with smiling eyes? 

Research shows that deprivation and harm suffered early in life impact all the ways that a child develops - coordination, ability to learn, social skills, size and even the neurochemical pathways in the brain (just to name a few). 

Little ones stop crying because no one is coming.  They start rocking their own bodies to sleep.  As the days turn into months and months into years they develop ways to cope.  They are hardened.  They are calloused.  People come and people go. The child learns not to expect that adult to come back tomorrow.  As toddlers they fall down and scrape their knees and do not cry.  Saturday Levi flipped off his bicycle into a bush and barely uttered a sob. Bravery? Not when you know his story.  They seek to control their little corner because their world is out of control.  Levi colors pictures with unbelievable precision and goes into major meltdown when his sister scribbles all over her page.  Gifted artist? Sadly, no. 


So, now the beautiful thing of adoption has happened.  And this little one has been swept up into the arms of a family who wants to love him and provide for all of his needs.  But, language barrier or not, this is a foreign idea to him.  Only the most basic of physical needs have previously been met and that by a caretaker seeing to the needs of a dozen other children as well.  He does not know what it means for someone to come running when his bicycle flips over.  He has not cuddled on the couch while reading a book.  He has not chosen which food to eat. He does not know the love of mommy and daddy who will not leave him.  And one might think all of this would be a welcoming relief to him, but it is not.  It is different and it is scary.  To accept it, to let these people in, means vulnerability.  It means unlearning the coping.  It means depending on someone else...being bonded to them. It means learning how to trust.  

And that takes a long, long time.  It requires focused consistency of providing for his needs...physical and emotional.  It requires a constant observation for that small opening where he might let one in.  It requires faithfulness when you are allowed in.  Faithfulness to guard that little heart so that it will open again, maybe a slightly larger opening next time.  And therefore, it requires protection from the outside world which is ever changing.  It requires a cocoon.  

Here is where we need your help, understanding and grace.  We love you dearly.  We want our son to love you dearly.  But you have not been placed in his life to be his parents...to be the ones who will always be there, the ones entrusted to prepare him to be a part of this world and more importantly entrusted to disciple him in the love of Jesus Christ.  Just like we would never dream of attempting to fulfill that role in your children's life you must understand that that is exactly what is at risk if we allow you to be a caretaker or a provider.  If you begin connecting with Levi - providing for his needs, comforting him when he is hurt, giving instruction or redirection, showering him with affection, playing with him...we send a mixed message about who his first and foremost providers are.  And then you leave and he is all the more confused and perhaps shut down because of it.  

This is hard to understand.  We don't understand it much more than you.  Thankfully the Holy Spirit provides wisdom and discernment as this thing unfolds before us.  

We share this now, not to hurt your feelings.  We want to open a window for you to see what's really going on here.  Adoption is more than providing for a child's physical needs.    We want to you to know that Levi is vulnerable.  He is scared and he is confused.  And we are his protectors.  So we're building a cocoon.  We don't know how long this incubation time will last.  But we trust the Lord to reveal that.  And please, believe us when we say there is nothing that we personally would love more than to invite you each over for a meal, to be with you, to share this journey with you, to share Levi with you.  But we can't, not yet.  And here are some specifics of what that looks like: 
  • Please don't drop by the house - call or text first.  And know that at this point, having visitors in the house is not going well.  As the days progress we may be able to meet in a public place (like a park). 
  • If you are bringing a meal, thank you! We know the exciting thing about bringing a meal is getting to meet the new arrival.  But we may ask you to leave the food on the front porch at this point.  
  • We can't stay in the house all the time (my walls aren't padded!) so we will be out and about in a few public places- we'd love to say hi.  But please approach slowly and engage me in a conversation first.  If I introduce you to Levi you can take that as your cue to greet him but please use discretion in how interactive you are with him. 
  •  Don't be offended if we abruptly end a conversation or leave a gathering.  We'll probably text or call you later to explain and apologize but just know that there have and probably will continue to be moments when we suddenly realize we're not able to guard Levi's heart and we need to pull back.  Don't take it personally. 
I absolutely love this quote - I'm certain they designed it to be inspiring - from the Cocoon website:

"This is a very interesting process because it has oftentimes been said that the most beautiful butterflies have actually emerged from the ugliest Cocoons. For this reason, many people consider the process of the Cocoon to be a miracle of nature itself."

We don't know what we're doing.  We're not following some kind of daily post-adoption manual.  We've got a bunch of people who have walked this path before us whose stories we've gleaned from.  We've got a Lamp unto our feet.  And we've got Grace.  And we're leaning heavy on those last two. 

Thank you for your love and support and thank you in advance for understanding these difficult words. 

Love,
Andrew & Robin