Sunday, June 23, 2013

With His Love

In my family, June is like a second Christmas.

We have Mom's birthday, Levi's birthday, my birthday, Evan's birthday, not to mention Mom and Dad's anniversary all within the span of about two weeks.

It makes for quite a crazy time.

Levi turned six last week.

It's hard to believe he's six years old when I can remember holding his very light, fragile body in my arms for the first time when he was three months old.

And it's hard to think how he's changed. I could never have imagined that the precious little boy I held then would one day have Autism. That he would throw things and hit and spit because he had no other way to communicate anger and frustration. That he would both challenge and bless our family more than anything or anyone else ever had.

Once upon a time, I thought that by the time I went to college, Levi would be "better." That he would be "fixed."

And sometimes I still wonder if Levi can be fixed. If he needs to be fixed. Is this the way God intended him to be or is it the result of living in a fallen world?

These are questions for which I have no answers. I may never have answers.

But regardless of the question or the answer, my job remains the same.

Love Levi.

Love him when he throws a Matchbox car at me.

Love him when I get kicked in the face because he hates having his diaper changed.

Love him when we sit on the couch and read The Snowy Day together and he points out Peter in every picture.

Love him when we dress up as Rooster and Miss Hannigan and sing-along to Annie.

This is an impossible task.

There is no way that I can love Levi perfectly because I am an imperfect person.

I wake up every day with a promise in my heart to love Levi and to love my family well.

And usually by about 10:00 in the morning, it's been broken into a million pieces.

There's not enough of my love to go around. Not enough for Levi. Not enough for Evan. Not enough for anyone, really.

But there is enough of His love.

And that is my new prayer. My prayer every morning when I wake up.

Help me to love people with His love.

Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I'm tired of loving people with God's love and really don't want to show  any kind of love at all. Sometimes I want to think that I can love everyone with my own magnanimous heart.

But I can't. Not with my love.

But with His love - there's always enough.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In Time

It's been almost two years since I set foot out of this country.

Two years since I've had to spend every waking moment counting quarters and selling pies to make sure I have enough money to buy a plane ticket.

And almost two months since I decided not to go to Russia this summer.

I don't regret it. I would have come home from Russia less than two weeks before my orientation at Asbury University. The physical jet lag, alone, would have been impossible to get over in such a short time. Not to mention the emotional lag I'd have from spending a month investing my time and heart in special needs orphans and then leaving.

I would have been a wreck. And that's no way to start college.

I felt an inexplicable peace when I sent off the email saying that I'd come to the hard decision to stay in the United States this year.

But now, months later, when my Facebook feed is flooded with pictures of other students on mission trips, I'm starting to fully realize my decision.

There are no second thoughts; I know I made the right decision. But I cannot help the longing in my heart. The longing to do what God created me to do: care for special needs orphans.

After watching the phenomenal documentary, The Human Experience, I retreated to my room and simply sat with God. I'd watched a half hour of precious children with special needs getting love and care in Peru. I saw the streets I'd traveled down, the rickety mountain homes I'd seen with my very own eyes just a few years earlier.

And I told Him that I missed it. I missed coaxing smiles out of those sweet little faces. Holding close the children who were so often passed over and forgotten, and whispering that they were loved, they were special, they were worth more than they could ever imagine. I missed changing diapers and helping nannies. I missed the feeling I got when I was with special needs orphans, the feeling that I was exactly where I was meant to be, that I was doing something truly worthwhile, something that had meaning.

I've been told many times that I have an idyllic image of orphanage life. That no matter how wonderful the care and environment, there will be death, there will be sadness, there will be days when I would rather do anything than change another dirty diaper. And I don't deny it.

But I truly believe that no number of hard days, or mournful questioning, or mic-key button feedings could take away my conviction that I'd be doing what the Lord had called me to do.

And as I poured all this out to the Lord, He pressed a simple phrase on my heart.

In time.

In time His purpose will be revealed. In time He will lead me to where I am to live out this calling on my life. In time, but not now.

And until that time, my job is to wait and watch and listen.

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
          -- Isaiah 40:31, NASB

**I'm a bit (i.e. half a month) late in posting about it, but PLEASE check out Silas, the 'child of the month', and keep him in your prayers!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Write

Words have infinite power.

It was with words that the world was created.

It was through words that we now remember ages long past from vision or memory.

It's with words that we convey thoughts and emotions.

I've always loved words.

Reading them. Writing them. Spelling them. Studying them.

I was the kid who made her own spelling list in first grade because she liked to spell.

I was the student who chose to read Emma for her sixth grade book report, and had to ask the teacher what a barouche-landau was because it wasn't in the dictionary.

I was the one who turned in an eight page research paper because she couldn't stop writing at the required five.

It was in high school that I started to realize that my affinity for writing could evolve into a career.

I started to write with an idea that perhaps I wasn't the only one who'd read what I had to say.

In some ways, this was a good thing. It made me more critical of myself and my work.

In others, though, it was a curse. Until then I had written to please myself. The occasional teacher held sway over my musings, but all in all I wrote what I wanted to because I loved to write.

But I became more and more concerned about what other people thought of my writing. There is great value in feedback from those who can help you sharpen your skill, but you don't write for an editor.

I had become so focused on how many comments I could get or how a certain audience would respond to something I wrote that writing was no longer enjoyable.

I had a specific style I had to stick to. Certain topics. A consistent tone.

And I questioned my identity as a writer.

I didn't like writing anymore.

And it was because I was restricting myself to fit the preferences of others.

Finally, I was fed up with it.

If I wanted to write a poem, I'd write a poem.

I could write a short story as a villain if I wanted to.

My ramblings didn't have to have a point.

The writing of them was the point.

When I started treating words like friends again, free to be themselves, and not a slave to extraneous wishes, they flowed from my fingertips like water.

Finally, I'd found the purpose of writing.

I'd found my reason.

I write because writing is in me. I write because words pile up in my head and it feels fit to burst if I don't get them out.

I write because I want to write.

Simple as that.