Archive | time

a shift to september

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photo credit: jeweliet.com

Well! After a long wait, change has finally graced us with her presence. As the first flurries of snow fall on the stone streets of Riga, beauty berries appear on the cusp of our woods here at Eyrie Park. A new semester begins and college students flood back into town, children pose for back-to-school photos for Instagram and teachers gird up their loins for another year of backbreaking, rewarding toil.

This morning, my parents and Jeweliet settled into their new apartment and unpacked their month’s worth of necessities. They’re asleep right now, as I type in this sunny bedroom filled with the sound of dinner being prepared. In a couple of days, they’ll appear before court and received custody of Meggie and see her and squeeze her and start to love her in a way we love things we’re never going to lose.

Meanwhile, my oldest brother heads back to Dallas where he’s recently moved in hopes of starting a business with some friends, and brothers #2 and #3 drop their duffle bags in Mema and Papa’s south Houston living room and make themselves comfortable. If you’re counting, that leaves me with the married sister, the brother-in-law and the loud and lovely Jubilee, age eleven. This has got to be the weirdest September ever.

But it’s also wonderful, because things are actually progressing. We’re following a bend in the river, hopeful and trusting and a bit afraid.

I always feel a deep sadness when I realize Summer is slipping through my grasp, because I can never feel I’ve had enough of sunshine, freckles, jumping into the deep end, cicada songs and the leisure of long, long days. Summer in Texas is so hot, many people don’t believe they could stand it and even I complain about the heat from time to time, and yet I adore it. It’s homey and it makes me feel alive and adventurous to squint and breathe in fresh steam.

I always mourn Summer, and yet September has her own magic. September is like a grandmother you’ve always known, but didn’t know was an undefeated basketball champion in 1944. Around here, September is much like Summer. Hot, humid and still as a gargoyle, but it isn’t quite. It is quite anything. Not Summer, not Autumn, just it’s own, mysterious middle-month. September helps ease into the end of the year, whispering, “Don’t forget, Christmas is coming! And–before you know it? A new year.”

September is the mother who holds your hand on the sidewalk all the way up to the big door and tells you to obey your teacher and have fun. It’s a transitional month, a gentle month, an important month.

The sun dangles golden in my windowpane, Jubilee’s voice reverberating through my sliding door with calls for the wandering pup. The married couple works culinary magic and makes plans for their third anniversary. Brothers work and play and text and call and somewhere in Eastern Europe, Meggie lies her head not far from her new “mama” and “tētis” and her wait is nearly over.

Thank you, God, for good changes.

We are a bit excited...

We are a bit excited…

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the ever distant horizon

EP distant horizon

As hot as the days are in July in Texas, I still find myself leaning against the oven while we make dinner. My sister has just come home from work and is unloading groceries. Her husband should be home soon. They’ve been living with us for one of out the three years they’ve been married.

“All those things we talked about the other day, ” I say, glumly. “Aren’t happening. None of them.”

My sister looks up from the task at hand. “I know.” She says sympathetically. “Next time we all get together and talk about the future, let’s all talk about things we know are about to happen!”

“Like, ‘I’m going to go take a shower’?” I joke.

“Yes!”

It has been a year of waiting for all of us. We have no word from Meggie or the adoption agency. The summer days draw out long and warm, like southern slang. We can hardly beat the sun up before it’s beating down, the cicadas singing like the sizzling of our skin. The hottest days are the stillest ones. The days when no wind of change blows through, no leaves rustle in a friendly breeze. The hottest days are the ones in which the sweat just sticks to your skin and the grass seems to succumb to the persistent heat and dry up, frightened stiff.

We wait motionless, hoping we’ll hear the steps of change coming down the road, but the quieter we get, the stiller we stand, the longer we wait, the louder the silence rings in our ears. No word. No word. No word. Eventually, the feeling of anticipation dies down.

We’ve been through this before, but we don’t like to remember how long it took last time. We joke about how we used to think this time it would be different, quick, easy. “But it’s us.” I remind everyone cynically. We do everything the hard way.

No word from Meggie while other kids come home. No move-in date while other homes pop up in town. No new baby, no new job, no new prospects, no new news.

I look out to the ever distant horizon and have to remind myself that nothing has fallen off the horizon like a sailboat. Everything is still there. It’s just that the horizon is further away than we originally thought. I can still see it all there, gleaming in front of the pink sun with tantalizing promises of turning pages, but the chapter goes on and on.

And yet, just when I think nothing can change, that we’ve hit a scratch on the CD and we can’t move on, I see something creeping past. The month of July slipping through my fingers. The “baby” brother’s brown eyes looking down at me. The “baby” sister reading Nancy Drew aloud over the car’s AC as we drive home from the grocery store, barely stumbling over a word.

I have to grab myself by the shoulders at this point and tell myself, things do change. 

They’re changing all the time, all around you. Perhaps there is no easy-bake solution to your seemingly urgent issues, but things change. Perhaps they do not change like you think they will, perhaps it isn’t your own personal paint-by-number life, and instead a more abstract masterpiece, but things do change. Perhaps not when you snap your fingers, perhaps not without a good long sigh of a summer first, but things do and will change.

We go back to the grocery store and fill up the big fridge again. We will eat and get hungry and shop and eat again. Especially that baby brother who is growing like a laundry pile. We all go to our dental appointments and my mom says she shouldn’t be there, she should be traveling by now, but there she is. We pray with fervency and we get lazy and bummed, and then we pray in panicked, antsy, midnight cries. And most of all, we wait.

But we wait for something.

Because things change.

You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (VOICE)

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what the transfiguration taught me about blogging

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One day, Jesus and I walked to the top of the mountain and Jesus was transfigured, showing me all of His glory. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and they started chatting it up like old times. And I said, “Jesus, it is a good thing I’m here, because I have an iphone and this totally needs to be on Instagram!”

Besides the fact that it was actually Peter and not me, this story is pretty much a retelling of the true transfiguration story in Matthew 17. The actual scripture sounds just as ridiculous.

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

It may sound like a stretch, but this is what the transfiguration taught me about blogging. Peter has just seen Jesus Christ transfigured and Moses and Elijah, both long-dead, standing and speaking, and yet it isn’t until God Himself speaks from a cloud in heaven that Peter falls on his face. First, as my Bible says in the notes, he desires to set up an appropriate memorial for this moment.

I love that it says that God interrupted him. Memorials are all fine and dandy, but Peter was, as is the often the case with myself, missing the point. God commands Peter and the other present apostles to listen to His son. They fall on their faces and, when they look up, see nothing but Jesus. This is exactly as it should be. We hear from God and fall down and worship, seeing only Him. And yet, I think we have a tendency to go with Peter’s first inclination.

Something amazing happens: a mountain top moment. I hear from God! I witness a miracle, receive a message, see a vision. The next thing I want to do is blog about it, tweet about it, instagram it. I want to share with the world immediately! What great blog fodder that was, God! Now I’ll help you out by spreading that message to the world via social media! It’s a good thing I was there, because this needs to be documented!

Here God, let me tag you in this picture so all the world may glorify you! Let me hashtag #thewondersofyourname that we might worship you! Let me get the SEO just right on this post so we might share your good news! And then God knocks me on my face and says, “This is my son we’re talking about. Listen to him.”

And I lie there panting in the dust for a moment before Jesus touches me and says, “Rise and have no fear.” And for a beautiful moment, I’m actually focused on Him.

Not focused on being a Christian, but on being in the presence of Christ. 

It is so much easier to talk about God and tweet about God and use God as a marketing tool than to actually see Him. It is so much easier to “live the Christian life” than to fall down in his presence and listen to him.

As they walked down the mountain that day, Jesus and James and John and that guy Peter with whom I often relate, Jesus tells them not to tell this story until later.  It was not the time or the place to whip out the smart phones. It was not their story to tell. He would be glorified later, He assured them. And after seeing him “transfigured before them,” his face shining like the sun and his clothes white as light, you’d think they’d trust him on that one. You’d think I would too.

We serve an unseen God who listens to the prayers of unseen people in unseen places and works unseen miracles. Everything that happens on this earth is preparing us for an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Just wait for that weight of glory, beyond all comparison. I don’t think social media will even cross our minds when that day comes.

P.S. I understand the irony of this blog post about something God taught me. That’s really not the point either. We are told to share the things God teaches us, but more importantly, we should worship God. He put this on my heart many months ago, perhaps this was the right time to share? 

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a week since molly

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(sigh)

A week ago today, our beloved poodle breathed her last. It was not. a. good. day.

She was fifteen, we had had her since I was seven. It was an agonizing little funeral. I still cannot really write about it, but I will say that our family and friends have been so sweet and sensitive about our loss and we appreciate that very much. Also, God orchestrated things to be as good as they can be on this broken earth. We were almost all home when she went, Joey was able to get off of work early (when he’s usually swamped) to be with us and she never seemed to be in pain. Still, WE are in pain. Just today, I cried my eyes out driving to the grocery store. She was a dog…but she was not a dog.

So, let’s get back to the part where I’m crying my eyes out. My only hope was that some handsome guy would see me and show some concern/marry me, but alas. I wiped my eyes with my palms like a two-year-old, pulled my cap over my face and jumped out of the suburban. There were groceries to be purchased. Before going in, I remembered to walk around to the back door and slam the sliding seat (you know the one?) back into it’s place. My tearful journey had only been made more nauseating by the fact that at every red light and stop sign, the gigantic middle seat had slammed into the front seats with the force of a torpedo. I gently pulled it forward and then, with all my might, taught it a lesson. I bet that’s the last time that seat interrupts my snotty blubber-fests.

Sloshing through the parking lot, I commandeered a basket and then did my shopping. People were probably friendly, but I don’t remember. I was too busy having a crummy day.

Through the remainder of the day I parked diagonally, squirted soap up my arm, spilled several things, forgot how to do laundry, picked dandruff out of my hair, filled out an application incorrectly, served myself a rotten potato, said angry words to my internet connection, ate potato chips and thought about what I a failure I am. If there were check lists for crummy days, I would be an over-achiever.

It had been a week since Molly died, over a month since Meggie left, a day since I found out a didn’t get the job. Wah.

And then my little sister bought me a ticket to see The Vespers in concert. And a children’s book arrived in the mail. And I ate a Creme Saver. And read my Bible. And prayed. And  listened to music. And (finally) put my laundry away. Maybe this day was redeemable after all.

As I was making my chocolate milk to go along with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (no cooking today) my older siblings discovered the pile of mail that has been discarded disinterestedly on the entry way table. And there’s a letter. And it’s from Meggie.

We have never received a letter from her before. We had heard nothing from her. And then this-a letter on purple paper! “I love femaly” she writes. And “happy valentine’s day” and “xoxo.” There’s a picture of each of us with our names and then a tiny little picture of herself. The littlest one with the big dreams of coming home to a “femaly” someday.

Though the adoption process is barely moving forward at all, we still hope to see her this summer. God orchestrates everything, even on this broken earth. Come home soon, Meggie. That will redeem every crummy day.

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dear meggie

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Dear Meggie,

I am sorry that you’ve never known what it is to have an older sister. Mothers and fathers and grandparents may have failed you in your short nine years, but an older sister never even got a chance to do that. I’m sorry that you’ve never been in on the tradition of watching Little Women when it gets cold or passing each other notes between our rooms or secret codes for knocking on the door. I’m sorry that there haven’t been sororal piggy-back rides or late night talks or tickle fights. I’m sorry that you’ve been so solitary while we’ve been so together.

Can you believe that I already miss you and you’re just in the next room? It’s after midnight, but I bet you’re still listening to my keys clacking. I just tucked you into your covers to next to Jubilee (tonight is the kind of night that calls for doubling up next to someone warm) and you asked me to sing for you. Meggie, a big sister is someone who sings you lullabies on nights when Mommy is crying. We miss you already.

You’ve been through more in the past nine years than I might go through in my whole life, yet I see you smiling through the tears. I see you forgiving and learning to hold your own temper. I see you coping like a pro. You astound me.

You have this tender heart and strong moral compass and I wonder who in the world ever pointed you North in your life? Every Christmas when you get a year older, you’ve looked back on a year of chaos and turmoil. Role models seem to be scarce and yet your heart is so strong. You are something I never thought I’d see and you’ve singlehandedly restored my hope in humanity.

I sometimes wish you were born into my family and I could’ve known you and loved you your whole life, but then you wouldn’t be Meggie. And we wouldn’t be us. I wish I could see the front of this embroidery work the Lord is stitching, because from under here, everything looks like chance and loose ends. From under here I cannot fathom why you would need to go through what you have, but God knows.

I told you today while we both cried at the kitchen table that someday we’ll look back and hardly be able to remember this sad time. Before I know it, you’ll be a lovely American lady and I will wrack my brain for the feeling of your soft skin and the smell of your shiny hair. I want us both to remember that you call your freckles “sparkles” and say that they’re a gift from the sun who loves you. You have a little up-turned nose and clear hazel eyes and the shiniest hair I ever saw. You have little square hands and feet and a gap between your two front teeth that makes you smile with your mouth closed, but we sometimes catch your real smile and it’s electric. Oh, how we love you.

I feel fear grip my heart because I think I’m about to push fast-forward on the best movie I’ve ever watched and next time I see you, the credits will be rolling on your childhood. I pray it’s not long until you’re here for good, part of the family, safe.

Stay small, Meggie. Stay small and sweet and soft. Stay silly and bright and brave. Be just like this when you come  home and be just like this the rest of your life, because I think you’re positively perfect just the way you are.

Tomorrow you and Mommy and Daddy will fly out. You will spend one more night together in Chicago and then you’re off. Across the sea, the miles, the barrier between us. You’ll be back to the orphanage and the boarding school, life without a family. That’s what feels like sand paper going down my throat. You could’ve lived your whole life without knowing the love we cannot help but lavish on you. How many more Meggies are out there tonight, just praying that someone would stroke their hair and sing “I see the moon” before drifting off to sleep?

I didn’t know I wanted another sister. I didn’t know I could love another the way I love the ones I already had. But oh how I do. You’re like a dream of  a girl from a book. You are the flourish at the end of our family name. I love you, Meggie-Moo. Hurry home.

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