Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God Made Smiling Eyes

Life is moving forward at a break-neck pace. I wish I could say I am handling it well and flying right along—enjoying the wind in my hair and the excitement of the forever new adventure. But alas, I hate getting tangles and I’m tired of lacing up my Indiana Jones boots. September began with a week long trip to IL to celebrate my mom’s retirement. It was a very fun trip—full of family, catching up with loved ones, time on the farm and bonding for the newest Team Dragovich additions. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was pretty stressful, too. How would JB and RiSa react to my family? How would my family react to them? How would I react to all these reactions??? Of course, everyone showered them with love and even if they were cringing on the inside from the sheer amount of chaos my children now bring to every situation, they patiently endured the screeching, grumbling, crying laughing & general constant commotion with smiles, hugs and funny comments. Truthfully, I was mostly worried that the new kids would become clingy with my parents and begin to shun Tony and me for meeting their needs. I was also worried that the old kids would feel slighted or become jealous at the extra attention being focused on the new kids. I have read too many books and this is not a good thing. None of those things happened, and while I did notice some “old” patterns of behavior come out—especially in JB, no one regressed to “1st week home” behavior and again, I witnessed the refining fire of another “pressure cooker” experience. Like going to Florida, we were all stuck together and HAD to interact, deal with one another and learn to work through our differences.

Now, post-IL trip has been a bit hairy—for me mostly. For whatever reason, I experienced within myself a resurgence of “unnatural mommy-hood” syndrome. For whatever reason, I felt like I stepped backwards in my bonding an attaching with the new kids. Affection and compassion have been at a premium and that feeling like I am caring for someone else’s kids has been working at resurging. Praise God that He is at work and our “feelings” cannot be trusted!! I am not going to try to suppose why this happened. It is too hard and too full of potholes. Early on I made a promise to not sit and wonder every day when I would feel like JB and RiSa’s mom. I gave that up to the Lord to handle and am STILL giving it to Him to handle. Having said that, I would be lying (again) if I didn’t admit that my mind still wanders over to wanting to figure out “when” the feelings will be there, instead of focusing on the truth of God’s goodness, His deeper love & His plan for our children and our family.

I doubt that it has helped matters any to hit the ground running, either. Meaning, the two weeks following our trip home have been filled with beginning all our new routines (piano lessons, homeschool PE) plus doctor visits, dentist appointments, weekend soccer games, parties, etc. Amazingly, the kids—ALL of them—have handled the chaos incredibly well. Tony and I have continually commented on this fact after each event. And the people we see at all our outings are continually amazed that the new kids have been home for only 2 months. Other than one incident when JB snaked a toy from a 3 year old during a kids’ game this last weekend—which was incredibly awkward, embarrassing and yet ended up being a GREAT learning experience for him—all 5 kids have flowed in and out of our social gatherings, soccer games, out-of-house homeschool routines, etc. with little fuss, whine or the typical aftermath of meltdown.

I’m not sure what to make of all that is going on in my head and in my heart during this season of life. One thing I know for sure is that it is refinement and “the blowing away of the chaff” in my life. Some days I wake up and the colors of world are bold and vivacious. The smiles of my children are brighter, purer, wider and full of love. Other days I wake up and it is all I can do to smile back. One thing I am learning for sure, is that true love—God love—is NOT a human love. It is not something that I can manufacture within my own power. I also am learning that the love I can produce is not enough and it never will be enough and it isn’t MEANT to be enough. The love I can produce—without the help of the Holy Spirit-- will always have a selfish edge to it. It will always whisper, “What about me? Who is going to love me back?” That kind of love will not propel a relationship into true unity. It will not bind a marriage into oneness. It will not raise a child to truly “go in the way that he or she is bent to go”, or provide the springboard for them to soar.

But it is the God love-- the eternal, larger-than-life love-- that only comes from a daily surrender of myself to the One who CAN love in all those ways; who can cause all of the above to happen. And happen with fullness and abundance. I think that is why one of our family’s life verses is John 10:10… “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I come that they might have LIFE and have it to the FULL.” Our lives are not our own. They belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and He means for us to have FULL, ABUNDANT life IN HIM. The “full” life that Jesus speaks of isn’t full of “stuff” or earthly treasures. Rather it is a life—eternal life which is happening here on this earth and goes on for eternity—marked by fullness of relationships and the joy, peace and contentment which rises out of living with our “eyes fixed on Jesus”; walking in the path He has marked for us, doing the good works He has prepared for us to do in advance, and loving others with His “God-Love”—a love that WILL bring heaven down here to earth.

And here is the best part. GOD IS FAITHFUL and I am seeing a depth of His Love that I never even knew existed—right here in my home, in the heart of our adoption. I am overcome with emotion when I am able to sit back and contemplate all that He has done in our children’s lives—all of them—and all that He is continuing to do. And when I look a RiSa and JB and try to think back to those first few weeks home, I barely see a shadow of the scared, tearful, clingy yet resistant children we brought home from Ethiopia. Now every morning is met with hugs and kisses and every night is the same. There is so much “I lub you, Mommy” in my life and I can barely turn around without someone right there to give me a hug. RiSa tells me almost daily how much I am “Konjo”—beautiful. Sunday afternoon she was sitting at the table finishing lunch (which takes her a considerable amount of time to do) and chattering away about how beautiful I am, she is and the guys are. She was grinning ear to ear and you could just see the God-love oozing out of her. I was contemplating this as I was listening to her and thinking of what a change this was from 6 weeks ago when she would sit at the table and give me those evil “cat eyes” that girls do so well. I remember many days the first month especially, calling her out on those evil-eyes and teaching her to “smile with her eyes”.

I was agreeing with her about how beautiful Team Dragovich was and how God made us a beautiful family to be together.She was quiet for a while after that—back to eating, you know. Then she looked up at me and with a huge messy food face grin announced, “Mommy, God made smiling eyes.”

Yes, my sweet gift from God… He did.


Apryl said...

So sweet. I've got to call you! Maybe this week. We've been sick (the three boys) so I'm up most of the night, but my kitchen is tiled--so sorry I was doing stupid home stuff when you called. I'll try...wait, I can't remember the days that are good! UGH-was it tue and thur or mon and wed?! Okay, how about you just call me one afternoon when YOUR guys are having a little quiet time? Smirking at the thought of that one...

The Jackson 5 said...

Hey Shari! I loved your post. You are a wonderful writer and I admire your willingness to share your heart. We are in NC now. My head is still on backwards but we are slowly getting settled into our new home. Praying for you all!!!!

Michele said...

Fun to stop in and see into your heart. God is good to keep on working in /on us. My catchword these days in my life is "Cultivate the Unseen" I can see that that is what is happening in your family. All the unseen changes of heart and attitude that come and stick. Too much I focus on what can be seen: the good (like if my boys manage to mind their manners and make a good impression) or on the bad (messy house, less than ideal school week) when God wants me to focus on things that are internal and not focus on what it looks like to anyone but Him. Hope you have a great week.

ethiHOPEia said...

Once again I am reminded how nice it would be to chat with you. I think I have similar thoughts now and again...
thanks for sharing!


Sarah Bloom said...

I am proud of you.

Anonymous said...

I have to stop reading your posts first thing in the morning. The tears flow much faster at 5 am :-)
Happy tears; my heart swells with love for you and yours sweet friend!

Jodie said...

I always appreciate you sharing the REAL story of your struggles and triumphs with Team Dragovich.

We miss you guys! :)