Thursday, September 10, 2015

There Goes the Honeymoon {So Much for Hawaii}

Dear John,

It wasn't much, but it was something beautiful. More beautiful than I had ever dreamed.

Two college kids just having graduated from university who fell mad into love, we didn't have a lot of money for a super-fancy wedding, but we had enough to make a day and evening we would remember even ten years later, today, on our tenth wedding anniversary.

It's a memory that almost didn't form, though, because we thought to ourselves maybe we should jump a plane, invite our closest people and get married on a beach in Hawaii.

But we couldn't do it; more than we wanted the sunset vows of forever and the sand between our toes, we wanted our people, all of our people to share our day. I know you really wanted to go, but you knew what mattered more to me ...

And when the whole thing was said and done, when we had vowed our love and loyalty before God and family and friends and we had danced until our feet couldn't dance another step, we were glad we didn't go to Hawaii; we were glad we stayed with our people. And we reasoned, we could always go to Hawaii for our honeymoon ... well, a very belated one after we'd worked for awhile and saved some money.

We were going to make it there for our anniversary; remember how your dad even bought us books? I laugh now thinking about those guides. We'd scoped out which island we wanted to visit. We looked at flights. We talked about what we'd do and see. We saved money.

And then two little pink lines on a pregnancy test told us that we'd be celebrating our second wedding anniversary with a newborn who wanted to party all night in our apartment instead of on the beaches of that far-away island we'd dreamed about for the past two years.

Life happens while you're living, and ours was no different, was it? I remember that we thought -- why pause now with one child?  Why wait to add another to the mix? Because we were mad in love with each other and mad in love with that baby boy and knew we'd fall mad into more love with another little person ... And where are we going to put these people anyway, we asked.  So we bought a house and made it a home instead of buying plane tickets to take us away from home ...

Years passed, as they do, and you began dreaming aloud, saying you wanted to whisk me off to celebrate our ten-year anniversary on those very beaches we'd thought of when we first said we wanted to do forever together.

But instead of planning our ten-year anniversary, the honeymoon we always dreamed we have, we began planning a trip that would take us around the world to bring home two very special little girls who have become our daughters. Because, you know, we went and fell in love again. Not just with each other or the children we'd brought into the world through our love, but with a crazy-amazing God who had a plan much grander than we dreamed. We fell in love with Him, and His heart for caring for the least of these and with two little ladies who we just cannot any longer imagine life without.

Instead of booking airfare to Hawaii, and you were just so close to making it a reality this year, we are instead booking plane tickets that will soon take you back around the globe to make this family theirs forever.

And I have to tell you, here we are again. With our people. And it's so much better than Hawaii.

So this isn't actually a story about Hawaii. But rather it's a story about what's happened instead of Hawaii.

And it's so much more than what I could have dreamed for us. It's so much more beautiful than all the beauty I'd hoped we'd have glimpsed on that long-awaited honeymoon we've still yet to take.

Tonight, on our tenth anniversary, we laughed uproariously around the table as we played mom-and-dad-wedding trivia, we roasted marshmallows around the fire and watched the chaos that ensued in the aftermath of sugar, snuggled with each of the littles before bed, stole a longer kiss in front of the sink and curled up in bed next to our oldest daughter to pray before she drifted to sleep.

As we watched the star-reflections on her ceiling flicker from the lamplight on her dresser, I said I thought this view was better than the one we would have caught in Hawaii.

And I meant every word I said.

There's no place I'd rather be in the world, than in the thick of this adventure, right here, right now, than being with you, with our people.

I love you. Happy tenth anniversary. May God give us many many more, as He's done with everything else in our life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Love and the Big Lie

Sometimes it's really tough to be living in the limbo that is the period of guardianship before an adoption is completed, and sometimes life carries on as though none of us remember that nothing is final yet. 

This past weekend, though a good one, was a reminder that some of us have that prevailing thought of "not out of the woods yet" still lurking in the back of our minds. See, we're still awaiting our second court date in the girls' country, the one that makes it all "legally final." The one that makes us legally family, though we've been heart-family for many many months now. 

Sometimes it surprises each of us when it comes out in different ways, mostly through our actions or off-handed comments that just kind of tumble out of our mouths. Like when during a casual conversation one of our kids says just thinking about the second court date causes anxiety to well. 

Or like when I look at my youngest daughter, her pigtails cutely bopping from side to side as she sings, and I catch myself not fully delighting in her because there is still that fear lurking in the back of my mind; it seems to keep my heart on a leash of sorts ... sometimes I forget I'm tethered to it, and I run full speed ahead only to be yanked back unexpectedly from loving fully by the chains of fear. 

There's a song that's been with me since the middle of our adoption journey, and in it, there's a challenge that has always wormed its way into my heart from the chorus; lately it's been doing some more digging:

Here's what I'd do differently|
I'd love like I'm not scared|
give when it's not fair|
live life for another|
take time for a brother|
fight for the weak ones|
speak up for freedom|
find faith in the battle|
stand tall and above it all|
fix my eyes on [God]. {For King and Country}

And I bet you know it in your core just like I know it in my own -- it's a tall order to love like we're not scared. I continually find myself struggling here in this place of in between with adoption (and in life in general) to love like I'm not afraid. Because when we love full and messy and brimming, honestly, it feels very risky. The more deposits I make, the more it seems there is to lose. 

But maybe that's a lie. Because maybe really it's the opposite. 

As I've been thinking about love, a verse continues to come back to my mind -- the one verse everyone, his brother and his uncle seems to read at weddings. Because of my deep familiarity with the verse I was tempted to not even go to my Bible and read it again, but wouldn't you know it, my computer opened a different translation than what I normally read, and I saw something anew:
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!"  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Normally, when I think of this verse, I think of the translation that says, "But love never fails."

Which essentially means the same thing as the translation"But love will last forever" except for right now, when I'm examining this verse in the context of loving despite fear, and it means to my heart much much much more. 

Love lasts forever. 

It doesn't give up. 

It never loses faith. 

It always is hopeful.

And it endures every circumstance.

Love lasts forever.

When I look at love from God's perspective, I realize I've had it backwards my whole life. We have nothing to fear in loving fully, wholly and unreservedly; love is a lot less like a bank withdrawl, and it's a lot more like a deposit or an investment.

And so says God, it's an investment that's secure in the securest of ways; it's an investment that lasts forever.

Seems like the more I invest in love, with love, the more I gain, the more we all gain.

And I wonder what my world would look like if I began investing like I was a millionaire with endless resources of love from an endless source of Love. Because if God is love, and God is in me, then I am essentially rich in the resources of love; there is no deficit of love. I have much to invest that will be securely anchored in eternity.

So what if we loved like we weren't scared? Like love wouldn't run out? Like there was nothing to lose?

Because there isn't. There's only gain. No matter the court decision in my life or the endless other various circumstances in any of ours.

Love lasts forever.

Invest lavishly.