I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

A free bird leaps  /  on the back of the wind  /  and floats downstream

till the current ends  /  and dips his wing  /  in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks  /  down his narrow cage  /  can seldom see through

his bars of rage  /  his wings are clipped and  /  his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings  /  with a fearful trill  /  of things unknown

but longed for still /  and his tune is heard  /  on the distant hill

for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze  /  and the trade winds soft

through the sighing trees  /  and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands  /  on the grave of dreams  /  his shadow shouts

on a nightmare scream  /  his wings are clipped  /  and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings /  with a fearful trill  /  of things unknown

but longed for still /  and his tune is heard  /  on the distant hill

for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou


The caged bird sings of freedom.  Oh man, that line stops my heart a little.  I can’t read this poem without picturing 8-yr-old Maya telling the story of her life, and my heart aches with brokenness and sorrow at the memory of her struggle. But it also holds on to hope and grace, because the caged bird DID sing. Because the little 8-yr-old refused to let anyone else author her destiny — and her beauty and her courage and her LIFE created this significant, lasting, unimaginable legacy. I share the sentiment of much of the world as we mourn the passing of a magnificent light, and am grateful she fought so hard to be heard.  Grateful I had the opportunity to hear her.

But today, reading these words, I also can’t help but think of my boy, whose wings are clipped and feet are tied. And the millions of other boys and girls who stand on the grave of dreams, longing for things unknown. For a family, for love, for a life worth living.

Honestly, as I keep trying to write down how I feel about all of this, or even just explain some of the basics, words escape me. I want to pull up other blogs to show you – I want you to read everything I have read and see everything I have seen. Then maybe you will understand how we got here. Why my heart breaks for these babies, singing of freedom against all odds, defying bars of rage. I don’t feel like my words will be adequate enough to honor these children. I don’t think I have it in me articulate so many emotions.

To start, we can talk about children with disabilities in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. The fall of the Soviet Union left many nations struggling with independence and financial instability. Thirty-five percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Combined with years of ignorance about disabilities, centuries-old social stigma, and misinterpreted religious dogma, a culture has been created that sees children with disabilities as worthless. Literally, not worthy of life.  Think about that for a minute. In Asia, there are similar issues, but added factors are the one-child policy in China, and the cultural preference for having a male child (who will care for you in old age). Giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome (or any other disability) is financially and culturally crippling. No one will offer a voice of hope.  No one will offer help. It is more common to abandon a baby with Down Syndrome that it is to keep him/her. (I don’t say this to judge. I have also read that in the U.S. 90% of pregnancies diagnosed with DS are terminated. These are just facts. This is just the reality of the situation).

If not terminated, left for death at birth (or killed), these children are placed in baby homes. As true for any country struggling with extreme poverty, these orphanages are underfunded and understaffed. Even the best baby homes will struggle with proper nutrition and medical care (because let’s be honest, if there is a cultural mindset that says this “type” of child is a burden, void of hope and unworthy of a future, top-notch medical care (early intervention, therapies, etc) is not going to be a priority. Not to mention how much stimulation the child misses from the natural attention of a parent. After a certain number of years (it seems to vary from 4-8ish), the child is transferred. Usually to an adult mental institution, where they often don’t make it through a year. Here are some before and afters of children who “aged-out” of baby homes and into institutions:

1002183_10151866716809783_311141061_nbefore and after

They are often given adult dosages of sedation drugs and then left in cribs.  Period.  Forever.  I think this post does a good job of summarizing the common scenario.

But let’s be honest, even for children without disabilities, or even minor disabilities, aging out of the system later (in your teens), doesn’t offer much more hope. Most of the children end up being used in various illegal activites, most commonly drug and sex trafficking. Older children have spent their entire lives waiting for someone to come for them. I have read a number of families’ blogs who have taken a chance and adopted teenage boys – boys who still long for a mama to love them and a family to call their own. In China, children are unavailable for adoption after they turn 14. This birthday is no celebration for these children, who have forever lost their chance to be called son or daughter. I have read (and can’t find right now, I’m sorry! Just start Googling and don’t stop!) letters from children begging for a family, for a chance, for someone, ANYONE, to just believe in them. How can we not see their faces in Maya’s Angelou’s words?

Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.  -David Platt

Go to Reece’s Rainbow.  Look at all the caged birds.  Watch this documentary about Ukraine’s forgotten children (okay, okay, I know it’s long, but save it for slow night…knowledge is power).  We have to hear them singing, and we have to be willing to do something…anything. I have more good videos on my FAQ – The Heart.

But JUST LOOK at the difference a little love can make.  These photos come from one of my favorite blogs, called No Greater Joy Mom (her hubby has an awesome site called No Greater Joy Dad).  They are both worth your time, I promise.

This is Dusty, who weighed only 20 lbs when he came home and went right to the hospital for malnutrition. Only 10 months later, Dusty looked awesome at 30+ lbs.

This is Dusty, who weighed only 20 lbs when he came home and went right to the hospital for malnutrition. Only 10 months later, Dusty looked awesome at 30+ lbs.

Belle was adopted when she was 3, and little miss weighed only 15 lbs.  Thirteen months later, this beautiful soul was up to 26 lbs and filled up with love.

Belle was adopted when she was 3, and little miss weighed only 15 lbs. Thirteen months later, this beautiful soul was up to 26 lbs and filled up with love.

You can also watch a SHORT clip about the Cox family, who brought home Mia home from Ukraine in 2011.

These children aren’t worthless.  They deserve to claim and name the sky just like any other child. To dream, to laugh, to love.  But we have to believe that.  Really believe that.  We have to be willing to do something about it.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Keep singing little man.  Mama hears you.

Lee Greenwood, World War II and international adoption

I apologize, friends, for my radio silence. I just spent two weeks working in our nation’s capital. I recently accepted a new Reserve job at the Pentagon, which necessitates traveling to DC twice a year for two-weeks a pop. This was my first time out, and I have to admit, I had a great time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough energy to update the blog during that time. And our process has stalled out a bit, so I think I was feeling a little discontent. A two-week break from everything is exactly what I needed.

I also think, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t, I started worrying about writing my blog posts in the exact right way, and making sure people liked them. But that’s not the point of this blog, and not why I started it in the first place (not to mention ain’t nobody got time for that), so hopefully I’m back to just sharing what’s on my mind.

Which is a lot, according to my new Air Force colleagues, ha ha. I just learned (after 34 years!) that I apparently narrate my entire life, which isn’t always awesome for those around me. One guy told me (and don’t blame him, poor dude had to work with me on everything for two straight weeks), “You don’t just wear your heart on your sleeve, your whole soul just oozes out of you.“ 🙂  So, there’s that. At least here on my blog, you have a choice about listening! Consider yourselves lucky! (And warned).

One of my favorite things to do in DC was ride the metro. I feel so grown-up when I ride the Metro. Being responsible for two tiny humans completely dependent on me doesn’t do it, but when I ride the Metro, I feel like I’ve arrived. I also had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of old friends, which I really enjoyed.  I appreciated the chance to re-connect, especially in our busy lives when there isn’t always time to slow down.

But I also got an entire Saturday to myself. Did you hear me, people? An entire Saturday to myself! It was really exciting. So I rode the Metro (surprise!) down to the National Mall and wandered around aimlessly. I saw the Hubble 3-D Imax at the Air and Space Museum, and then the Jerusalem 3-D Imax at the Natural History Museum. Our world is honestly amazing, friends. I am in awe of its greatness. I took a pit stop in the Art Museum to recharge my phone (lost without GPS, sorry art lovers!) and then I headed toward the Washington Monument to find the Vietnam War Memorial. Instead, I stumbled upon the World War II Memorial, where a bagpipe band was performing in front of the fountains. I honestly don’t know why it made me so emotional, but as I walked around the memorial, my hand tracing state names and my eyes lingering on mementos and stories left behind, I started sobbing. The bagpipe band began playing Amazing Grace, and it was just. too. much. I stood, alone, in the middle of that memorial, frozen in time. Completely overwhelmed. I’m not sure with what…gratitude for the sacrifices of others, heartache for those who have lost, pride in our nation’s servicemen/women, awe of the legacy that generation left behind…it ALL just crashed over me. I stood there smiling and crying at the same time. Like a crazy person.

800px-Wwiimemorial

The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home.

The thing is, I honestly love the United States. I know we can be hot mess sometimes, and there is always room for improvement, but man alive, I believe in the heart of this nation. In her people, in her premise, in her promises. It’s why I still serve, and why I’m proud to be part of a family that serves. I secretly love Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, and I can still remember wearing a gold ribbon on my overalls (only one strap connected!) at recess during Desert Storm. The colors of our flag entrance me,  and I can’t hear The National Anthem without catching my breath (or wanting to yell, Go Birds!) for a second.

So when I hear (or read this type of sentiment on the internet) the question, “Why would you adopt internationally when there are so many children who need homes here?,” I bristle a little. To be honest, it’s usually not said in a nice way. The subtle intimation that I am not patriotic, or that I am somehow letting this country down, is misplaced. It’s grossly presumptuous, and often ill-informed.

I am so thankful for the many blessings (luxuries, really) that I have been afforded because I was born in the United States. But I don’t think I deserve them more than anyone else. And I just can’t buy into the idea that a child is more or less deserving of a family based on the borders into which he/she was born. More or less deserving of having their basic needs met…their thirst quenched, their hunger satisfied, their souls LOVED. I can’t. I won’t. And I don’t think Jesus does either.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galations 3:28

I AM called to love my neighbor. And I guess I can see trying to make a case for other Americans being my neighbor. But then there’s the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37).  Jesus talks about a man who was stripped, beaten and left for dead. A priest and a Levite passed by, but didn’t want to deal with the problem, so they actually crossed the road to get some distance from the man, and walked on. The priest and the Levite were his “neighbor” in the traditional sense. They were his people — he was one of their own. The Samartian then walked by and was moved with compassion for the stranger (as one could argue, ANYONE should have been). He treated his wounds, and took him to shelter, paying for his care. The man wasn’t one of the Samaritan’s people. And yet he saw a need, and he met it. Because he could.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? ”The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

So, am I saying we shouldn’t do anything to help other Americans in need? Of course not. I think, as believers, we should always do what we can to ease the suffering of others. And there are obviously tons of ways to do that right in your own neighborhood. If you are ignoring the needs in your own backyard, and then traveling abroad to meet needs instead, maybe it’s worth examining your heart. But for me, choosing whose needs are worthy of meeting (or at least trying to meet them), is simply not dependent on what citizenship they hold. How could it be? I honestly don’t understand.

Without a doubt, children without families in the US also deserve our attention, our heart, our resources. Foster care needs loving families to step up, and it’s possible that will be part of our story one day. It’s a beautiful story to be a part of. But it’s not ours, not right now. And I don’t think it helps anyone to pit needy children against one another, shifting blame and casting judgment.

If your heart aches for these children, please consider turning that into action. Not everyone can (or should) adopt, but there are lots of other ways to be involved. I’m hoping to get it together enough to do a post on some easy ways to make a difference soon, as well as some basics on the reality of the global orphan crisis.

In the meantime, you can read this post for some more thoughts on who deserves our aid, or check out these few posts (statistics, making sense of the numbers) for a little more general orphan info.

Listen, I get that adopting one child isn’t solving any worldwide problems. I actually don’t think it’s my job heal the entire world…I don’t think I’m that important. But I think sometimes we can be so overwhelmed with the realization that we can’t fix everything, that we end up doing nothing.  And nothing is never the answer.  We have been called to do what we can, where we can. And we CAN bring our little Boo home, make him a part of our family, and love him forever.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.  Isaiah 61:1

Adoption Arguments: What’s in a name?

Just in case you think that a couple in the midst of the adoption process must have it all together and always speak gently to one another, agree on everything, and constantly bat their eyelashes in the presence of the other, I figured I’d share about our some of our differences. I think that sometimes WE even think we shouldn’t have one single disagreement ever if we plan on adopting, but I know that the enemy uses those kinds of thoughts to give doubt a foothold. He hates adoption, and he is not only a liar, but he’s smart and crafty as all get out. So I figured I would talk about a couple of different issues (over time) that we’ve been debating throughout this process.

Obviously, the first one is related to our Boo’s name. Basically, we disagree on whether or not to keep his given name once he comes home. It is a native name, and though not totally un-pronouncable, somewhat foreign to the American tongue. I said, “Listen babe, the kid is going to be dealing with adoption and DS already, let’s cut him some slack on his name.” Daddy K says, “It’s HIS name, it’s part of who he is. Everyone else can deal with it.” So, I did some research, and really there are no clear answers.

There are definitely a few considerations that we have processed through in regards to either keeping or changing his name.

What are the benefits to keeping his name?

1.  Connection to past/heritage/history. For many adopted children, their name is the only surviving link to their past. It’s part of their story, and sometimes, when taken, only heightens awareness of how different they are. Or it could signal to them that their past was “bad” or “unworthy” in the eyes of their new parents. Their name can be a tie to their country of origin, and studies show that feeling connected to their culture is hugely beneficial to adopted children.

2.  Link to birth family. If a child has lost his/her parents through disease or death (or other possible reasons), the name his/her birth parents gave them could be very important to them. It reminds them of a family who loved them, that although now gone, is still hugely important.

3.  In many cases, it is their only constant. EVERYTHING else in their world has suddenly changed, and having the same name can be a comfort.

4.  It’s how they identify themselves.  I read a book once called Someone Knows My Name about the slave trade in early America (it’s great, you should all read it!!) and I will never forget this moment in bottom of the slave ship when someone recognizes Aminata (the main character) from her home tribe and calls her name. She rejoiced, because SOMEONE knew her real name.       They knew who she truly was, and she felt anchored.

Why would we want to change his name?

1.  There are many instances of God changing a person’s name in the Bible when He gives them a new identity (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter, Sarai to Sarah, etc.). He is giving them a new life, and a fresh start, and He gives them a new name to signify this rebirth.

2.  It is part of welcoming him to our family.  Choosing a name for your adopted child can help them to feel more like part of your family – their new parents had the honor of choosing a name that they felt would represent them for life and/or tie in with family history/culture.

3.  It’s possible he’s not super familiar with his given name at this point. Studies seem to say different things to this end. Some say that children three and below are fine with a name change. Others say two and below only. Still others say that for non-verbal children a name change is less of a big deal. I think it’s a judgment call in the end.

So, we have thought through and talked about all of these things. I think I would feel differently if his name had been given to him by his birthmother. Even though she didn’t keep him, if I knew she has chosen a name for his son that meant something to her, I would be more likely to want to hold on to that. However, in our beautiful boy’s case, we know he was abandoned at the hospital. His name was likely given to him by the first social worker who was assigned his case. And I guess I feel like, as his mama, I want to choose a name FOR him. Daddy K points out that this social worker might have come to his name prayerfully, and we don’t have any idea about the story behind his name, which is true. But we may never know where it came from, or if it meant anything to anybody.

Also, if he was much older I think I would feel differently about changing his name. But he will likely come home at two and a half, and probably not be super verbal at that time. Also, the name we have chosen sounds similar to his given name, which I think will help the transition. Right now we have half-settled on keeping his given name as his middle name. Then, we will give him a first name that matches the E of his brother and sister.

(I know, I know, I seriously wouldn’t have guessed we’d be a family that uses the same letter in all our kids’ names. I don’t know how or why it happened, but I think it’s too late. No offense to anyone else who does this! I obviously do it also, I just surprised myself here. 🙂 )

But of course, we aren’t 100% on this. Time will tell. From everything I’ve read, there is no right answer. So, like everything else, we will just make the best decision we can for our little man, and hope for the best. I trust that as long as we are open to listening to others and our Father, this will all come out okay as well. Happy Friday friends, and thanks for reading!

(Oh, and Daddy K will be single-parenting it for the next two weeks as I head off to do my Reserve annual tour in DC. This is my first time doing it away from home since either of our babies were born, so wish us both luck! And pray 🙂 )

Adoption Anxiety

Since I said I would be honest, you should know that I sort of spun of out control the last two weeks. Not in a super noticeable way, but in terms of my stress and anxiety levels (which I am VERY good at compartmentalizing and working around). But I have spent MANY hours lying in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about all of the things I still need to do to even make a dent in our paperwork process. I become so overwhelmed with the enormity of it all that I am almost paralyzed by my nerves, and then for a couple of days I do almost NOTHING related to the adoption at all. It’s not healthy, and it’s not necessary, because for the most part there’s not a lot I can do except handle one thing at a time. But I’d like to think it’s fairly normal, as you officially dig into the whole international adoption process, to feel a bit overwhelmed, and wonder if it will actually be possible for you to make it to your child one day.

When you hear people say they are having a “paperwork pregnancy” or are in the “paper chase,” I think it’s hard to imagine what it is they are actually doing. I mean, how HARD could it actually be? And to be fair, it’s not like anyone is expecting me to do advanced calculus, and my anxiety stems from being unsure how I’m going to show work for all my proofs. (Is that even how you say that? I was always terrible at math!) But it can be super tedious, and at times seems pointless, so I think it messes with your mind a bit.

For example, Daddy K and I had our adoption physicals this week. In and of itself, pretty low key. It’s a typical exam, and includes a decent amount of lab work and immunization checks. But here’s the tricky part: the actual original copy of your exam must be signed by your examining doctor in the presence of a notary. And your doctor can’t sign the exam until your labs and blood work come back. And you can’t have the form in the meantime. So you have to figure out how to have a notary come with you (in our case, onto a restricted military base) to your appointment. It’s not impossible, but it’s a logistical nightmare.

Oh, and any form that is a required part of your dossier (a fancy term for the application that is actually sent to the country you are adopting from), must NOT ONLY be notarized, but apostilled. Yep, that’s a real word. And it basically means notarizing the notary. So these forms need to be taken and/or mailed to the issuing state capital, where someone can double check that the notary was, in fact, a real notary for that state. Oh, and don’t forget, the notary’s seal can’t expire within the next 18 months, and they MUST sign exactly the same as the information contained within their seal!!! Um, yeah, it makes my eyeballs bleed.

To further invite you into our exact pain experience, and maybe help you understand why my anxiety took the reins for a bit, let’s chat family birth certificates. For us, those come from three different states. Each person’s birth certificate needs to be re-ordered from the issuing state, since the certificate has to be less than 6 months old. And it HAS to be a pen-and-ink signed and notarized copy with an official seal. I literally just spent $100 ordering 2 copies of the kids’ certificates (because I know I’m the person who would lose one). Then, once I receive those forms, I have to send them BACK to the issuing state to be apostilled. Nope, for our states it can’t be done all at once.  I missed two official “certificate” deliveries in one day.

So, as you can see, it starts to feel a little overwhelming, and I started to panic that I would never remember how to do everything right, or that I would forget something super important and ruin the whole thing.

My Holy Grail

My Holy Grail

I had post-partum depression symptoms after I had Sissy. It was really interesting (although I didn’t think so at the time 🙂 ) in that they didn’t really manifest until she was almost 8 months old. And I think part of it might have been triggered by a medicine I was taking to increase milk production, but the truth is, I’ve always struggled with anxiety. God just choose to use this experience to show me what a vice-grip on control I had… and feeling like I couldn’t mother perfectly nearly wrecked me. I am very Type-A, and I thrive on routine and predictability. My baby didn’t get that memo, and I wasn’t able to go with the flow as easily as other mamas. It was a very tough 3-4 months, but I am super thankful now for the experience.   I met with a counselor (a MFLC — if you are military and don’t know about this amazing resource, please contact me, I can’t say enough good things) who really helped me work through my feelings. She had me read an interesting book about depression, and one section focused on ten to twelve common thought distortions in most people. We worked through them to see if any were pitfalls of mine, and one clearly stood out (although I lean toward a couple, this one was big). It’s the ALL OR NOTHING mentality. So in this specific case, if I had one bad hour in the afternoon (my girl crying inconsolably, or not sleeping well, or refusing to eat, etc,) then for me, the entire day had been terrible. Basically, it’s like it sounds. For me, it was all of nothing.

Just recognizing this tendency made a huge change in my life. I feel truly lucky that all I needed to start feeling better was someone to help me work through the WHYS of the way I felt, and assure me they were totally normal. I recognize it almost immediately now, and I try to combat it with the Truth of all the good things that have happened in any given day. This adoption, with all it’s related stresses, has brought out the same tendency. I start to feel like it’s all or nothing. And if I hadn’t checked off enough boxes in one day to feel like I was making significant progress, then I felt like I had done NOTHING productive in the adoption arena. Basically, what I’m saying is that adoption can be stressful. 🙂

Thankfully, I got a sweet email from a new friend who recently came home from our same country with her little boy. They are also a military family, so she understands some of the unique stresses I am feeling. And she reminded me of two HUGE things: One, I should be enjoying this journey. It will take the time it takes, and it does me absolutely no good to dwell on any areas I think I’m not handling perfectly. This should be a fun experience for our family, as we learn so much about parenting and each other, and grow closer preparing for this new chapter. And it that same vein, the second things is that I should ENJOY my children and family now. When Boo comes, things will never be the same. And that’s okay, we are comfortable with different, but I want to be mindful of enjoying our family the way it is. When I was pregnant with Bug, I remember trying to soak up every minute with my girl. I don’t want to waste the next several months of our lives being wrapped up in stress and anxiety. Life is too beautiful to waste playing mind games with myself. And the last few days I’ve been resting in His peace, and I’m able to let all the little frustrations of this paperwork madness slide away. It WILL happen, one step at a time.

I keep these two quotes from Francis Chan’s Crazy Love on a note in my phone, because I need to refer to them often. 🙂

WORRY implies that we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

STRESS says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

The thing is, friends, He really does have it all under control. And I actually don’t even WANT that kind of responsibility. Especially not when it comes to an international adoption. If I honestly thought this whole thing depended on ME, I’d lose my mind at some point. During one of our first conversations, I told the liaison from our placing agency, “I’m actually ecstatic that God is the one in control of all of this.” Now, please just keep saying that back to me for the next 9-12 months!!

Psalm One Million and One

Thanks for stopping by! I’ve added a couple pages of FAQs, both The Head and The Heart.  In part because I love any chance to reference this fantastically amazing group of music makers that hail from Seattle, but also because I think there are sort of two different aspects to all of this.  There are the basic logistical issues (which are actually far from basic), and then there is an emotional piece that factors in to everything.

This week has been an emotional roller coaster. I know it sounds crazy but I almost FEEL pregnant, at least in the sense that I’m experiencing my typical first trimester symptoms; namely, absolute exhaustion and emotional chaos. At least I’m not peeing every 30 minutes!  We had the high of feeling so much love and support when we publicly announced we were “expecting,” to the low of not everyone being as excited as we are (which was expected, and even understood, but still surprisingly painful).  Then we found out our home study appointment has been bumped up two weeks (to THIS weekend, yikes!), which on one hand is great because it means our process is moving along. On the other hand, there is a whole slew of nerves involved in someone coming into your home to make a judgment on whether or not you are good parents. We received updated pictures (taken THIS weekend, oh my stars) of our little man, and I can’t tell you how my heart somersaulted looking at those.  But the same day brought devastating news about another family in the adoption process. So our week, I guess, mirrored real life, in that it was all over the place.

I think when I was younger I thought there would come a time when this stopped – that I would finally have “figured it out” and everything would be even-keeled and good (or at least consistent) all the time.  I’m finding now that even if my life is in a really good place, I’ll still experience these modulations – it’s part of who we are. I think that’s why I love the Psalms so much.  You get real, raw emotion – both glorious highs and desparate lows — that mirror the human condition, which is anything but one note. You read about the psalmists’ joys and victories, but you also feel the agony of his disillusionment and defeat. And that’s okay.  I’ve finally stopped waiting for my life to feel good ALL of the time – I just try to find joy in the present. Somehow, someway. I’m usually terrible at it, honestly.  I think I’m a whiner by nature. 🙂   But I’m working at it, and it really has been a salve to my soul.

Last spring I took part in something called Redemption Group with Soma Tacoma (the concept originally started with Mars Hill Seattle and trickled south to the City of Destiny).  I can honestly say that those several weeks fundamentally changed how I view my identity in light of the gospel.  I am so thankful to the people (and their families – it’s a huge sacrifice) who work hard to make it happen each session.   At the end of your session, everyone writes their own Psalm.  Each psalm is so beautiful and nuanced and honest, and collectively the individual psalms tell such an amazing Story.  I wish I could share each one, so you could taste some of that beauty.  But for what it’s worth, here is mine. This is my song. . .

(I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind…I can’t escape Elton).

 

Psalm 1 million and 1

 (A psalm like all others before it, not worthy of my Father’s ear, but listened to and treasured just the same, because of His great Love)

Father God, the hem of your robe fills the room and I play beneath it

I am not overwhelmed

Pure joy fills my heart as I bask in my Father’s attention

I am surrounded by Your mercy and encased by Your love

You watch in joyful contentment, and delight in the most basic of my accomplishments

I am Yours, I am safe, I am loved

 

But like Eve, I want what I cannot have

I am not satisfied with what you offer

I begin to believe that I alone am enough and my strength comes from within

Instead of thanking you for my blessings

I resent what You do not give

I am lost, I am alone, I am unrepentant

 

And yet You will not let me go

I pry Your grip from my arm finger by Holy finger

And yet You will not let me go

I spit in Your face and blaspheme Your glorious name

And yet You will not let me go

I am angry, I am defiant, I am arrogant

 

But You, O Lord, You fight for me like a lion

With bravery and honor I can’t possibly deserve

You are unmoved by my anger and unafraid of my threats

You allow me to thrash until exhaustion, then gently pull me close

Give up, come home, and meet Jesus, You tell me

I am tired, I am thankful, I am ready

 

You whisper a song into my ear and the Spirit carries it to my heart

I burn with passionate fire and hope shines from my eyes

Shouting your praises from the rooftops, I look like a fool

My people do not understand, but I am too enamored to care

I revel in our relationship and desire to know You more

I am hungry, I am eager, I am new

 

But O Lord my God, mother Eve’s lineage runs deep

And her deception is so embedded in my flesh that it feels alive

I fight against it, but I simply cannot win

I would rather betray You than give up part of myself

So many lies surround me and I lose my grip on the Truth

I am weak, I am ashamed, I am weary

 

Do not give up on me, King of all people

Rescue me from my disbelief once more

I have known Your mercy and felt the power of Your steadfast love

I long to drink deeply from Your endless water

You, O Lord, are the only thing that is real

I am sorry, I am grateful, I am Yours

 

Daughters of Zion, hear what I am saying

Heirs to the throne, do not ignore my cry

Listen to the voice of your Father shouting

You are wanted

You are wonderful

You are worthy