The memories are coming so fast and furious that I have little time to keep up, let alone record them. The past 48 days have been the best, hardest, most beautiful, ugliest days of my life. With four children ages two to fifteen (or 13 or 11 or 14 - however old he really is!) life is full. It is fuller and dearer than it has ever been. I have posted happy, beautiful photos and statuses of thanksgiving on facebook, and God has been so good as He weaves our family together in a supernatural way that only He is capable of.
But don't let the photos fool you.
We are not a perfect family. A little bit ago our family was accused of just that - being perfect and self-righteous- mainly because of the things we post on facebook - the happy photos of our new family of six and passionate posts about caring for orphans, the poor, and the least of these. I post the beautiful, because I need to reflect on the beautiful gifts and be thankful. I need to find the beautiful inside what is sometimes a mess in the here and now. It's the good and the beautiful that I want to remember and dwell on. I believe that pleases Jesus.
But I also believe in transparency. And it's not all beautiful. Kingdom work never is. It is always hard and messy and ugly at times. And the same is true for our family - we didn't get a free pass. We are not perfect. We are not more spiritual. We are in the trenches, and sometimes even though the big picture is so beautiful that it takes my breath away, the minute details are so overwhelming and draining. And while I do not share a lot of the ugly on facebook, mostly to protect my family, I do have a group of women that I do share a lot of the mess with. Today I share a little here with you, because I am weary of pretending.
We are exhausted.
God led us into this beautiful story. He changed the plot drastically on us in 2010 when we left camping ministry and began church ministry. Then in 2011 He added another plot twist when we adopted our sweet son with some severe special needs. Now in 2012 the plot is twisting again as we brought our teenage boy home and continue to question what God has for our family in the future. That is a lot of change in not a lot of time, and it is easy to feel unanchored - especially for this fearful, control-freak of a girl. But God is with us, He continues to hold our hand and write His beautiful love story over us, intertwining it with His ultimate love story. Jesus is inside the chaos with us. He remains the anchor and the constant that has been externally lacking for the past three years in our life.
I love adoption. It is the most beautifully accurate portrait of redemption that I have ever experienced. (And for all intents and purposes we put Habi into the adoption category. He is 100% our son.) But the very nature of redemption tells us that something was so broken, so destroyed, abused, and neglected, that it needed to be redeemed, recovered, rescued - put back together. Adoption is essentially the process of healing. Healing hurts and is hard. It is costly. Thankfully we follow a Jesus that heals, restores, and redeems. So we just allow Him to use us to do His work. It's not about our family, and what we have done or can do. It's all about Jesus. If it were about our family, or up to our family, things would look a lot different.
We are in the intentional, hard phase of parenting. And if you are a parent, I am guessing many of you are as well. We are parenting four children with a vast array of needs. We are no different from your family - just some of the needs inside our home manifest differently than the needs inside of your home. There was a time over the past year, when I would lay in bed at night and wrestle with God over bringing Habi home. The enemy is good at bringing up fears in the quiet and dark of night. He gave me these crazy thoughts that our family and our home did have to be perfect - especially before bringing a teenager home. A baby is one thing, but a teenager can see inconsistencies and can communicate and has different needs - needs that I thought would be better fulfilled if we had it altogether and were somehow perfect. But perfect doesn't exist in any home and certainly not in ours. Habi didn't need perfect. He needed a family. He needs our imperfect, messy family. We were made for him and he for us. God knew that we needed each other to ultimately push us deeper into His arms.
In the past 48 days we have had some of the most priceless, beautiful moments as a family, and we have had some of the messiest moments as well. We are exhausted. Jim and I have lost our cool - with each other and with each of our children. We have raised our voices and said things we had to go back later and ask forgiveness for. There are days when dishes pile up in the sink faster than I care to keep up with. I do not think the laundry has been completely caught up since coming home. Okay, let's be real - I am not sure when the last time laundry was completely caught up! My floors need to be mopped. My email and facebook inbox are overflowing, and I cannot even begin to think about replying to people. Meal times are stressful, and we have succumbed to fast food. A lot. Because it is easier than developing a picky palate. And we were never fast-food people before. The phone ringing stresses me out. We have all cried a lot. The three littles just might have a bedroom floor if the clothes and toys on top of it ever actually found their rightful place. I've skipped a few showers. And a few meals. I've replaced meals with a Hershey chocolate bar eaten inside my locked bedroom. Sometimes I take an extra shower just to have ten minutes alone to cry or pray. Everyday someone doesn't get enough of me. I fall into bed exhausted, praying that God would fill in the holes, because I can't.
I've messed up. Today I will mess up. Tomorrow I will mess up. I will always mess up. But it's okay. His grace is enough. His grace is here knitting us together. Knitting this mess into a masterpiece. We don't have it altogether. We never will.
But we are a family. We love each other. We love Jesus. We value what He values.
And this is all so worth it.
While the masterpiece is beautiful, the brush strokes are painful. But I honestly would not change a single thing.
Our family is imperfectly perfect.* And I wouldn't have it any other way.
*Thank you Habi for introducing me to Justin Beiber so that I could use this line.
I pray someday our children will be grown and will have forgotten the messy floors, the way I lost my cool as I tried to get four kids out the door at 6 AM, the piles of dirty laundry. I pray instead that they remember the love inside of this family for them - that they know down to the bottom of their toes that they are cherished and wanted - by us and by Jesus. His love is perfect, and I pray it fills in all of our imperfect holes. Someday I hope my children walk out into this big world, confident in who God created them to be, confident in the love of their family and Jesus, and most of all redeemed and healed and whole because of the work of Jesus Christ inside of this messy, imperfect family.