Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hosting: It Never Gets Easier

It never gets easier. 

Even after three times, the weight of putting a child you love, a child who will return to her home country, on an airplane at the end of a hosting period is so heavy on my heart that it feels like that very heart might fall clear out of my chest. 

I spent the morning tending to our second host daughter's heart after spending a month coming to know and love her, all while knowing that I would need God to tend to mine after her plane departed. I spent the morning softly stroking her hair as she leaned against during the car ride to the airport. I spent it silently praying to be reunited ... someday. Sooner? Later? Never? It's not in my hands. Governments and courts and also she will make decisions now for the rest of her life, and I quietly entrusted this child, this daughter of my heart but not my womb, to the only Father who will never let her go. 

It's not easy, this whole hosting thing. 

But I love her. 

She stops before she boards the plane and turns to look at us again. I can't not go to her; tears in my eyes, I hug her again before she disappears from my sight. 

She boards, and my heart breaks under the heavy. 

I cry long and hard into my scarf, shoulder shaking just a few feet away from the boarding walk.

Still, even amidst the heartache, I wouldn't change anything. 

I would do it all again, time after time after time. I would cry all of the tears, feel the heavy ache of departure time and again because I know one thing is true: we never lose deposits of love. 

No matter how hard the separation, the trials, the pain of goodbye, the hardship of living with distance in between, the love remains. 

It remains when it isn't readily accepted.

It remains when arms cannot hold. 

It remains when hearts hurt 

and when hearts turn away

and when miles spread out thick in between.

Before I held our girls in our arms, they were only those whom I'd read about in articles regarding the orphan crisis. Before I held our girls in our arms, I was certain that I could never host a child or foster a child because how would I ever go on after these children left my home? 

I now wonder at how much richer my life is, how much deeper our family runs for having known and having loved these girls. I now wonder at how much bigger God is and how terribly small my own little understanding of what loving the least of these actually meant ... and there's nothing easy about it. 

There's nothing easy about entering into the distress of the fatherless and coming alongside people who have suffered great brokenness. To be clear, many of the kids are so lovable, our girls both have are so lovable, but their stories are heartbreaking. And there's nothing easy about being even a small part of binding up bits of brokenness ... but love prevails. 

Love, the hard, messy, kind of I-choose-to-love-you love, remains. 

It stands strong in all of the pain, and each deposit made in love is secure. 

So, no ... this never gets easier.

But I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that I don't want to live an easy life; I want to live a rich one, deposits of love securely made and stored safely in our hearts. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When Winning Isn't About Getting There First

When I was a runner, I didn't do the whole distance thing.

I put on my shoes, I got my rear end out the door, and I ran hard for 30 minutes.

And then I met John. He's a distance runner by nature so my fast spurts didn't really appeal to him.

Nonetheless, the boy was smitten with me so he laced up his shoes and hit the pavement with me often.

If my motto was get going and get it done, his was most certainly slow and steady wins the race; and he is as slow and steady as they come.

During one of our runs, where I told him he was dragging his heals and prolonging what I wanted to be done with, he kind of smiled at me and started talking about his days of playing tennis in high school. Apparently they called him the bulldog because he play slow and steady, and he could wear out his opponent even if the rival was a "stronger" player.

I think I smiled adoringly at him, told him that was great and then told him to pick up the pace because we had places to go and things to do, so move it, Mr. Worth! {I'm always super gracious, you know.}

So I married John knowing that he was Mr. Slow and Steady, except when it came to marrying me; then and only then was he fast-paced and quick acting.

Buying anything, picking doctors, mapping out trips, planning for the future, buying a house -- all slow and steady.

It used to drive me a little nuts, but lately I've been learning why the old adage -- slow and steady wins the race -- is likely true, especially if that race is a long and daunting one. Especially if that race is the race of life.

I've always been fast paced, a doer who gets it done; it worked well for a long time until it didn't. After I gave birth to our second boy, I realized I was running on fumes. I needed more down time. I needed less busy. I needed more rest. I was sick. I was always tired. I was never rested enough. Slowly I began to give myself fully into rest times, vacations and relaxation, steadily letting go of the busyness and fast pace that was killing me.

Going at a million miles per moment had left me tired, sick and malnourished in so many ways I didn't even fully understand until I started to become healthy, maybe for the first time in my life, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. It's been a long road of rebuilding, and I'm still on it. There is no "get it done" to this; it's slow and steady all of the way. The road to real health often is.

This morning, I'm snuggled up against my youngest boy, and I'm a little bummed. We're missing day two of Christmas choir shows as well as our normal church service because he fell to the flu this past week; I've been dancing the line of sick and well for the last 24 hours.

I internally groaned when I started feeling like I was also getting sick because now is not the time for illness, I'd said. It's Advent season, and I want to engage fully in everything fun. We're also only a week out from our host daughter arriving from Eastern Europe, and I have much to prepare. I'd planned on going full-steam ahead from now until she arrived.

But yesterday I had to make a choice. I could run forward and run myself into the ground and full-fledged illness, or I could slow down, take it easy and go at this slow and steady, resting more than moving and listening to what my body needed. This morning, I'm asking my brain to slow down, too. I'm inviting it into rest and relaxation so that I can burn brightly instead of burning out.

This slowness isn't just affording my body a chance to heal; it's also giving my mind and heart a chance to focus on making space for Jesus as we prepare to celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever received.

Slow and steady may not be my natural inclination by any means, but it builds endurance and that in itself gives the strength and perseverance needed to run the distance. And I've come to the conclusion that winning isn't about getting there first; it's about getting there well.