Friday, September 30, 2011

4 Years

Yesterday was the 4 year anniversary of our coming to Sweden (for the second time).  It is hard to believe that we have been here for 4 years already.  I was reflecting on my time here and realized that there are still moments when I feel like a foreigner.  I wonder if I will ever feel like a Swede or even want to feel like a complete Swede.  Being an American is part of my identity (funny how that happens).  I wonder if my boys will feel that way.  Will their birth countries be a strong part of their identity?  What makes it strong for me?

Samuel knows that he is Nepali, but identifies more with Sweden (naturally).  David is still up in the air as to how much he really understands! (that will come with time).  What ties us to a culture?  Is it our genetics, our childhood, our memories?  It really does amaze me the strength of these ties.

Reading some in the Bible on the Kingdom of Heaven, it clearly states that we are citizens in another place.  This life and place are temporary.  If I so strongly identify myself as an American, how can I switch that to identify myself as a citizen of Heaven first and foremost?  How can I teach my boys that their main citizenship is in Heaven and not in what we see or live on this earth?  Of course we are teaching our children about Christ, their salvation and future in Heaven, but how to make it tangible to a 7 and 3 year old?  Not so easy, but necessary.  If I do it now they will always know it.

So as for my story, I would like it to begin with I am a child of God and a citizen of Heaven (with a slight attachment to the US, and a foot in Sweden).  I look forward to seeing what my sons stories will turn out to be.  I pray that God and Heaven will be first in their multicultural lives.

Where are your ties grounded?


Friday, September 23, 2011

Pushing the Boundaries

Aaaahhhhh, those days that he just must push can be excruciating.  At every moment I am fighting agains his jealousies, wants, needs, fears, and angers.  He doesn't even seem to understand why he continues the path that he does.  I am patient... he pushes.  I get frustrated...he pushes.  I give hugs...he pushes.  I take mommy time outs...he pursues me to push all the more.  

His jealousies...
There are days that he is jealous of everybody and everything.  He cries if I have to let the dog out to pea or yells at the dog is he gets close for some petting.  
He will do everything and anything to get me off of my phone the moment someone calls.  I was on the phone with the doctors' office the other day and had to get to a quite room so I could understand the Swedish being spoken.  He grabbed his bottle of juice and followed.  I was sitting on my bed and he climbed up took a swig of juice and then proceeded to spit it all over my bed.  Yep... that got my anger  attention.  
That is just scratching the surface.  Of course most of his jealousy is directed at Samuel.  The moment Samuel needs my attention you can see the proverbial ''hair on his back'' raise.  I have to do everything to keep one on each side of me and then David is doing his best to get a foot or hand over to push Sam out of the way.  The hardest times are right in the morning or when we pick Sam up from school.  You think after having me for hours to himself that I could manage to hug Sam and talk to him about his day...not!  I try my best to stay calm and understand...harder said than done and I often fail.  I find myself repeating one phrase often ''I am both Samuel and David's mommy, you can both have hugs and kisses and love''.  To which David answers, ''NO''.  

Philippians 1:9-11
 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

His wants...
Attention, attention, attention and food (potato chips to be specific... not a staple in this house).

Psalm 103:4-6
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
 6 The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed.

His needs...
Attention, attention, attention, food, comfort, love, daily reminders that I am here to stay.  A week ago was four months that he walked into the little office in China to have his world turned upside down (again). I have to keep reminding myself that it is only 4 months and this is a season.  He is progressing, things have gotten better, but when does he understand that I am permanent?  How do you explain that to a child that has never had permanency.  The simple answer is that you don't, you must show it everyday, sometimes every moment.  There are days when his personality shines as bright as the sun.  He says hello to complete strangers, he plays little practical jokes, he laughs and smiles and shows us who he really can be.  Those days I am in awe of him and I think that we have won some battles to get him to this comfortable place.  But other days it disappears with the Swedish wind (a constant thing) and it seems we have ended back at square one.  

Isaiah 49:13
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

His fears...
are not too hard to figure out.  He is afraid we will disappear like his birth parents had to, like his foster mom had too, like the ladies in the orphanage had to, like China had too.  I can hear a little panic in his voice if someone walks between us at the grocery store, or if he doesn't know exactly where I am... even in our tiny apartment.  He has gotten past the fear that he will not get food again, and no longer hords like he did.  I am thankful for the progress I do see.  

Psalm 46:1-3
 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

His angers...
oh boy can this little one show anger.  About a month ago he started growling at us when he got angry. Andreas thought it was hilarious and growled back, which got David out of his foul mood and laughing, now that is there ''thing'' to growl back and forth.  However, David is a stubborn child (yes, even though they said he wasn't) and doesn't let go of his grudges easily.  Redirecting doesn't always work, sometimes we have to face the anger head on... with patience (easier said than done for this hormonal chikadee).  I am constantly saying I love you, which he replies ''NO'' to.  However, I can see glimpses of it sinking in.  I correct him and comfort him at the same time.  This seems to work, but not as instantly as I would like.  There are times when it takes up the whole day and I hate it when we end the night with one of his angry fits (as much as I try to avoid it).  If that happens he always wakes up cranky the next morning and leaves me feeling like a big ole' meany.  

Ecclesiastes 7:8
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

I cry for the scars that have been left on his young life.  I pray for his redemption.  I try my best to keep it all in perspective, but there are days that it gets the best of me.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking...''but you asked for this, for 3 1/2 years you wanted to adopt so badly.''  To which I will answer, ''yes, I did, and would do it again in a heartbeat. However, that doesn't make these days any easier, just gives them more purpose and God give them hope.''

Job 11:18
18 You will be secure, because there is hope;
   you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Still my joy, my son.
After all, every child is worth what we have to go through to parent them, love them, and redeem them for Christ.  Not every child will get that chance though... could you be that parent for one child, or more?  Is God calling you out to love the orphans, listen...answer.   

The Truth Behind the Politics

For years I have been against UNICEF and had many people look at me very strangly. At one point during our crumbling Nepal adoption I also wrote a post about it, but took it away for the sake of other Swedish couples adopting from there. Today I came across the article linked above. It is a really good article and I am not usually political, but UNICEF will always put me on my soap box!

The one greatest hope is that God is so much bigger and stronger than any organization on this earth.  Now there is hope for the children!  (the Catholic church has withdrawn their support for UNICEF...if that tells you anything)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is a MUST read!!!!

After the Airport

This article is a must read for adopters.  It is candid and true to life about what adoption is like once you get home.  This is especially true for older kids.  Everyones experience is different, but this expresses what many of us cannot put into words.

I totally agree. Thankful for this child...not quite living the domestic dream yet...getting down and dirty with the temper tantrums...exhausted...helping redeem God's child.  

Thank you Jen for your post!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Samuel's 7th Birthday

Believe it or not, today my boy turned 7!  He was so excited from the moment he woke up to the moment he crashed.  And let me tell you I believe we kept Lego in business today.  He even received Lego from my mom in the States.  Here in Sweden 7 is a big deal.  It is the year you begin first grade, it is the beginning of more activities, and frankly it is a sign that the little boy that once was is trying to be the big boy that will be.  Sam struggles between the two sometimes and it makes me happy and breaks my heart at the same time.  It makes me happy because we work hard to help him love God, grow and learn to be independent.  However, it makes me sad because I do miss my sweet little boy that once loved to cuddle at night, preach on the packing crates and make the greatest face when things amazed him.  I am also sad because I see bits of his innocence disappear with age as he finds out more about the  world, people and life in general.  He still has an amazing heart for God and if he does something wrong it eats at him until he tells us.  I pray those things will stay.  

As he turns 7, I remember back to the day I walked into Sargamatha Children's home in Nepal and saw/held him for the first time. He was tiny, but happy and full of personality even at 15 months old.  He has always held so much promise (like every other kid is they have families to cheer them on), and captures a room with his presence.  He is contagious!  His energy flows to others, his spontaneity (which at times gets him in trouble) will enthuse anyone to go out and get things done.  He is God's gift to us when we thought there would be no children.  He was born in one of the lowest times of my life. 

I do not know exactly what happened on the day he was born, where he was born, exact day, or exact time, but I do know that God was there.  He was putting things in motion that would glorify him and create a new family.  He was showing a young couple His grace and a baby boy his mercy.  I have often prayed for his mother, whom we call Pria (beloved in Nepalese), I pray that on that day she felt the ministering hand of God also.  That in the few weeks he was with his biological family that they knew God was there and would take care of Sam.  That in their grief, there was hope and comfort.  

Yes, today my Samuel turned one more year older!  Samuel, you are an incredible boy.  You have given us so much joy, laughter, love and worry. You teach me so much about living life fuller.  You're honest, caring, crazy, and ready to live every minute to the fullest.  My prayer is that you will, with the heart of God that you still hang on to. That you will fulfill what He intends you to be and be so much more that this world would limit you to.  Please forgive me when I do not always appreciate your energy and independence.  I am blessed to be your mom, blessed to watch you grow and help in that process.  I will try to do my best to get out of your way when needed and to loving and kindly (not always so easy) correct you when needed.  I am proud of you and who you are becoming. Happy Birthday precious son.  I love you.  

Starting the morning with craziness.  This is right before the kids party.

We did tug of war, Andreas against the kids (Andreas won easily)

Against me and the kids, we won (but no so easily, this man is strong...I like it ;).

We did jump rope...I love how Sam is a little blurry...true to life.

We did red light, green light... love this pic.

We did church hide and seek...gotcha Ian.

We did spin the bottle, yep... it's true...but not what you're thinking.  We would spin the bottle to see who gave their gift to Sam.  Great game and the kids love it (thanks Kris for teaching us).

We did presents.

We did cuddles.

We did sugar cake cupcakes and candles (and hotdogs).

And we did general horsing around!  After the kids party we did an extended family dinner also...spoiled I tell ya.