Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Discouraged, Frustrated, and a Little Green in the Eyes

I usually love checking my email. It's kind of like checking the mail box and hoping for a letter from an old friend or getting an unexpected party invitation. But, Sunday night sitting in my inbox was disappointment all bundled up in a nice, neat email!

I had written and submitted an article to one of my favorite Christian magazines. I had high hopes they would love my writing and be eager to publish my stellar piece of work. But no, my article was rejected. Ughh. There is nothing fun about rejection. It stings.

My first reaction to the email was sheer frustration. I really believe God has given me the desire to write and I thought He was leading me in a certain direction. But it seems everywhere I turn doors close rather than open. Double ughh!

After sharing my feelings of frustration with a friend, she pointed out that this seems a lot like what Paul went through in Acts chapter 16. Paul and his companions had gone to Asia to preach the gospel. I am sure they were excited about the potential of adding to God's kingdom in Asia, but God had different plans. They then went to Mysia and tried to enter Bithynia, but God didn't want them there either. I imagine Paul was at least a little frustrated at times, wondering where in the world God was leading him. Especially given that this was long before the airplane or even the automobile was invented. Paul and his group didn't have a friendly flight attendant passing out complimentary chocolate chip cookies or selling headphones to plug into the on-flight movie. They were walking across the continents of Asia and Europe! Finally, through a vision, Paul figured out God wanted them to go to Macedonia and preach.

I'm all for going to Macedonia, just point me in the right direction! My frustration quickly turned to comparison. "I will never be as good of a writer as so-and-so," I thought. "Maybe I am wasting my time writing," my mind continued. I have a long list of Christian writer/speakers I admire and comparing myself to them is a losing battle every time! Before I knew it, frustration and comparison turned to a bit of jealously. I found myself jealous of published writers. "Why do they get picked and I don't," I whined (to myself of course).

While still reeling from the sting of rejection, my daughter, who had just returned from a week long visit with her dad, wanted to show me a picture of her soon-to-be-step-mom's wedding dress. Triple Ughh! Her dad and his girlfriend are planning to get married on the beach in Maui at sunset. MAUI AT SUNSET!!!

When can it be my turn already!! I want to be picked! I want to be loved! I wanted to be used by God! Jealousy and comparison are destroyers of joy. The enemy delights in my insecurities and wants me to give up. Satan would love it if I never wrote another thing!

After a weekend of feeling discouraged, frustrated and a little green in the eyes, I was surprised as I sat down at my desk on Monday. I picked up my daily devotion calendar which sits on my desk at work and read the following entry for July 27th: "Lord, help me to understand the call You have on my life. Take away any discouragement I may feel and replace it with joyful anticipation of what You are going to do through me. Use me as Your instrument to make a positive difference in the lives of those who You put in my path." Hmm. Enough said.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Return of the Happy Camper

"Here come the buses," someone shouted. The crowd of parents and siblings inched toward the parking lot, anxiously awaiting the arrival of their happy camper. I scanned the windows of the three school buses as they pulled in, hoping for a glimpse of Hannah, but to no avail. I would just have to wait until she piled off her bus along with over 100 other kids!

I couldn't wait to see her. She had only been gone for two nights but I missed her terribly. I was shocked by how much I missed her. With regular visitation at her dad's house, she is away from home quite a bit. But when she is at her dad's I at least talk to her on the phone and each night we plan to meet in our dreams. There would be no meeting in our dreams this past weekend. Parents were not supposed to call unless it was an emergency.

My heart was heavy with anticipation. I wasn't sure which Hannah was about to get off the bus. Was I about to encounter MAD Hannah. Mad that I had sent her away to the wilderness much like the Israelites? I remember when she was little and rode her very first roller coaster. She got off the ride MAD as could be and told me that she would never, ever ride another roller coaster again and I couldn't make her! Funny, she loves roller coasters now!

Maybe I would find SAD Hannah. Sad because the homesick bug had bitten, much like when I was a child away at camp. Or sad because she didn't make any friends and had spent the last two days feeling alone. Pre-teen girls are starting to get cliquey at this age and I worried Hannah might feel left out. Oh how I hoped there would be no SAD Hannah.

Maybe she would be TIRED Hannah. Too tired to tell me all of the wonderful things she had done at camp because she was literally exhausted from all the fun. I knew this one was a big possibility.

But maybe I would find HAPPY Hannah; overflowing with excitement of all she'd experienced during her first time at church camp.

It felt like an eternity as I watched kids reuniting with their families. I stood on my tip-toes trying to find Hannah through the sea of kids. Finally, there she was with a huge smile on her face. We hugged and she said "it was great mom!" In the car, she began talking a mile a minute about all her favorites things and all her new friends. Her absolute favorite was quiet time. She was reading the book of Ruth and taking notes in a new journal given to the 6th grade girls. "After Ruth, I am going to read Esther and after Esther, I plan to read the entire book of Genesis," she said.

Thank you Lord for hearing my prayers and giving Hannah a thirst for you!

Ah, HAPPY Hannah is finally back home!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hoping For A Happy Camper

I have a few not-so-totally-happy memories of church camp. I remember being horribly homesick and hot! Even at youth camp, when I was 14, I recall missing my mom and dad like crazy. This seems somewhat comical given that just a few short years later, the time period I like to refer to as the rebel-without-a-cause-years began, and home was the last place I wanted to be. Nonetheless, at 14 I didn't like camp all that much.

Today, with my memories tucked away, I sent Hannah to church camp for the first time. And I find myself flooded with emotion. I am excited and a little scared for her. Last night while we were packing she admitted she was feeling a bit nervous about the whole camp thing. Before I go on too much more, I should probably explain that this camp is for one weekend only. She will be back on Sunday afternoon. Next year she will be able to attend youth camp, so the weekend kid's camp is a good way for her to dip her toe into the sleep-away camp experience.

Last night, Hannah diligently packed her suitcase, making sure she had everything she would need. With the "things to bring to camp" list in one hand, she checked off the items already packed. Bible. Check. Writing pen. Check. Swimsuit. Check. Shorts. Check. Toothpaste. Check. She checked away until every last item was packed, which ended up requiring a bigger suitcase. I smiled as I watched her. It may be just a weekend away, but this camp thing is a big deal!

As we pulled into the church parking lot today, she again told me she was scared. What if there is a spider in my bed or a snake in the pond while we are swimming? What if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? I think I eased these fears at least a little. I told her I am fairly certain there won't be spiders in the beds and that she won't be swimming in a pond, but rather a typical swimming pool. I explained that the cabins all had restrooms and she would know where to go if her bladder came a calling in the middle of the night. Even still, I could sense her apprehension as we placed her suitcase, sleeping bag and pillow on the church bus. I said goodbye and told her I hoped she has a good time. She said, "me too mom," and then gave me a look of horror as I tried to kiss her on the cheek in front of the other kids! Have mercy, she is a pre-teen!

I know she will have a blast. I pray that God will use this experience to draw her closer to Him and that she will bond with the other girls at camp. Oh how I hope she comes back with a thirst for God and a suitcase filled with irreplaceable memories of her first trip to church camp.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Most of you know my story. It's a story of how infertility led to the miracle of adoption. Our daughter could be no more ours had we actually conceived and birthed her. She is one of us. She is our child. Plain and simple.

And for the most part she loves the fact that she is adopted. She knows it is just another way God creates families. She knows that her birth mother hand-picked us to be her parents. She knows God has a special plan for her life. In our prayers each night she hears me thank God for bringing her into my life and making me her mom.

But adoption does come with some challenges. This past school year she had a project that required her to research her family heritage. The kids at school were sharing all about the interesting places their ancestors had come from, and although Hannah used our lineage--which by the way isn't' all that interesting, she knew that her true genetic heritage was a mystery. Is she Russian? Is there some German inside her blood? Maybe she has relatives living in a small tribe in Ethiopia. Could she be related to royalty? She will probably never know. She has decided that she is in fact Irish. I suppose it is possible she is a bit Irish, but highly unlikely! I don't think I'll start calling her O'Hannah any time soon!

These moments, when adoption is accentuated, break my heart a little. She is MY daughter. But these moments remind me that we have a natural desire to belong. We need to fit somewhere. A few weeks ago Hannah and I went to a local amusement park with my brother and his family. As I was downloading the pictures from that day, there was one of all of us. Hannah took one look at the picture and said she didn't look like she belonged to this family. My heart ached. She said she looked like some random friend we brought with us to the park. Didn't belong? Just some random friend? She is MY daughter. Hannah is bi-racial and compared to the rest of us in the picture she does look different. She has darker skin and darker hair. The rest of us are fair and somewhat freckled.

She may not have my nose or my skin color, or thank God my horrible eye sight, but she does have my heart. She has my love for laughter, the same over-the-top desire to perform for anyone who will watch, my lack of math skills and a little bit of my sloppiness. Yep, she is MY daughter and she does belong!

Father in Heaven,
I pray for this precious child. I pray that she will know how much she is loved and that she does belong. I pray that she will see the beauty in adoption and that she will know Your hand has held her from the moment she was conceived. And that although you knit her together in another womb, You were the one that hand-picked us to be her parents. I thank you for hearing my prayers and for making me not just someone's mother, but Hannah's mother.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

But Nothing

Have you wondered why I haven't posted anything lately? Did you wonder if maybe I'd been sick, out of town, too busy at work or maybe that the bloggy monsters had kidnapped me? Well I have been out of town a time or two and work is certianly busy, but neither of these are the reasons for the lack of published ponderings.

I have wanted to write in my blog. I have yearned to add words to this lonely piece of cyberspace. But to no avail. I've racked my brain trying to come up with an idea to write about. But nothing. Oh, occasionally an idea would come and I would sit down at the computer to write and I would just sit there. But nothing. About two weeks after my last post it became clear I had a strange condition affecting my brain known as writer's block! But nothing.

According to dictionary.com, writer's block is defined as "a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work." Yes, sirree, I've had myself a big ol' case of writer's block! But the good news, according to dictionary.com is that it is temporary!

So to cure my case of the "but nothings" I have decided to write about the nothingness quandary. This feels a little like a Seinfeld episode...a blog post about....well, nothing!