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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year...

There's a new year hovering.  And lots of new things, seasons, revelations, ups, and downs are hovering, too.  It's been on my mind a lot lately.  It's weighed heavily on my heart.  I guess because I'm ready for it.  I'm just ready.  That's all there is to it.

2013 has been a good year. It's also been a tough year.  But new is coming, and new is good to me.

Even with all of it's hard moments, though, I would like to end 2013 seeing the good, and even seeing the good in the bad...
"For today will bring tomorrow, and the once familiar sorrow will turn and testify to yesterday..." -Andrew Ehrenzeller

Selah officially became a toddler, in every sense of the word.  It's been my most challenging parenting year so far.  But still, nothing can prepare you for the joys of raising a child, because Lord knows there are so many.  It's been a beautiful thing to watch her grow, learn, and explore.  Her personality is one of my favorite things in life, and I praise Jesus for trusting me to be 'Momma' to such a joy-FULL little girl.

I can't help but see the beauty and healing it's brought to my life to watch this child - who I did not give birth to - grow into a little human that is so much like me in many ways.  I take it as God's sweet way of showing me that I'm not missing out on anything, although I feel like the world tries to tell me that I am sometimes.
"You've never felt those kicks and hiccups from within?  I'm so sorry," says the world.
"You've never felt those kicks and hiccups from within.  That's only a little part of it," says The Lord.

And somehow, that brings me comfort.

I do look forward to easier days as a mom.  And as a mom who still longs.  But I look forward with the hope and faith that where God has provided so many times before, He is faithful to provide again.  Easier days are coming, but I don't want to miss out on the now, either.  And I don't want to miss out on the miracle of what I have right now because I can't take my eyes off of a miracle that I don't have right now.
Of course there is joy in the easy days.  But Dear Lord in Heaven above, I know there is joy in the hard days, too:  in the sickness, the constant discipline, 2-year-old independence, cabin fever, teething, extreme volume, constant mess, and Daniel Tiger reruns.  I'm learning quickly, on this journey of being a parent, that 'a year' might sound like a long time, but it goes by faster and faster every 365 days.  I'm heeding those warnings from nearly every passer-by who tells me to cherish it...  because I'm watching my baby girl grow up right before my very eyes.
And soon, she's not going to need me to take care of her anymore.  
She's not going to want me to comfort her when she doesn't feel good.  
I'm not going to be able to twirl her beautiful curls everyday, 
and dress her up, 
and listen to her tell me how glad she is at the end of every day.  
And I am going to miss it with every ounce of my being.  
I love her so much.

So when I think of her and the fact that tomorrow will be January 1, 2014, I just look forward to another year spent being her momma.  I just want to slow things down even more, and really soak the moments with her up.  And the biggest thing?
Hear me out:  
I want to still give thanks for the redemption that is adoption, but I kind of want to talk a little less about it.  I just want to celebrate the fact that she is my daughter, not my adopted daughter.  I want to use 2014 to really nurture this to become HER story to tell.  Maybe that doesn't make much sense to whoever is reading this, but I've felt it on my heart that 
the more we hear ourselves, and the more our kids hear us speak the word "adoption", they begin to feel like the adopted one first, and a son/daughter second.  
And I just want her to feel like my daughter.  Period.  Because that's who she is.  She's not, and will never be my adopted daughter.
We will always be adoption advocates.  But I don't want our journey to become "us", if you know what I mean.  I just want "us" to be family...Not "the family who adopted".

So here's to making it through, successfully, another year of being a mom...and looking ahead to another year of fun, love, and transformation with the beautiful girl who makes me a mom.

Oh and let's not forget the cancer.  2013 had to end itself with a doozie.  It's something I don't speak publicly about very often, because a daughter who has been without her daddy for the latter portion of her adult years has a hard time talking about it while she's trying so hard to choke the anger down.  But anger doesn't respect time.  And at some point, we all face something that shakes us to life again... Something that says, "let it go, and just love...before it's too late."

That came for me in October when my Dad was hospitalized for Pneumonia.  No big deal, right?  That's what we thought, too, until doctors decided to drop the bomb that there was a very large mass leading into one of his lungs.  Everything happened so fast - tests, biopsies, pathology reports, consultations, PET scans - and before we knew it, we were hearing the awful words:

Malignant. Carcinoid. Limited Stage. Inoperable.

And before I knew it, I was faced with more than just a bummer cancer diagnosis.  I was faced with a decision:  
Do I hang onto to every missed birthday and every hurt feeling?  
Or do I extend the grace and forgiveness that I've been given, and step up to the plate and be the daughter he needs me to be?

I chose the latter.  Not because I'm a saint or hero.  But because it's the right thing to do.  It's what forgiveness does.  It's what love does.  It's what family does.

So the past two months I have been by his side for every appointment and every treatment, which by the way, has consisted of a super aggressive regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.  And it has not been easy in the slightest.  I've watched it wreak havoc on finances, day-to-day health, physical strength, and emotions.  And as a child, it's one of the toughest experiences I've gone through yet watching my Dad fight cancer.

Cancer is nasty.
It destroys, and tosses and turns everything around.
It scatters and makes chaos.
It drains, scares, and scars.
It just takes.  and takes.  and takes.
It forces grown, competent, intelligent men with lifelong ox-like strength to their knees at the sound of what they're about to face for care and treatment.
It threatens to steal manly pride at the possibility of needing a spouse or children to provide when he's always been a provider.  
Cancer curses.
And lies... and preys.
And it often captures the faith and hope of souls.  souls who see each and every evil spot that appear on screens, and in the hands and pointed fingers of doctors who bear the news.
It comes to kill.
And it brings with it darkness.

But the fight and the will of the one fighting is stronger than any of that.  So much stronger.  THAT is what I've seen.  And it's made me proud to be by his side.
And you know?  The fight isn't over.  He's winning.  That's what we believe.

And still, even with all of it's nastiness that cancer has brought, we've been blessed.  


Before the diagnosis in November, I hadn't seen my dad since the previous Christmas.  Not once.  Hadn't even spoken.  It was like a cancer, honestly... the anger that was festering.  But through all of this, I've been blessed to spend more time with him than I have in years before.  Not under the best circumstances, granted, but circumstances don't matter when you're loving life and people through the eyes of Jesus.  The circumstances don't matter one bit.  It's time together.  And it's been beautiful.  And it's healed more than any uttered "I'm sorry" could heal.

I don't ever look forward to his next round of treatment, but I do always look forward to seeing him through his next round.  I look forward to the victory he's gaining through this fight.  
And I look forward to the next memory we'll make, 
the next conversation we'll have, 
the next cup of coffee I'll grab for him, 
and the next meal I get to make for him... 
because honestly, it's time together that I'm not so sure we would have had if there had been no cancer.

So when I think of him, and the fact that tomorrow will be January 1, 2014, I look forward to watching him defeat this disease.  And I look forward to the closeness our relationship will have gained through it.  And no matter what the outcome, we'll both cherish the time we have had together, I know.


2013, as great as it was, has often times left me feeling very alone in the friendship department.  I have friends, and some really great ones at that, but unfortunately I have to admit that the majority of those friendships exist primarily on Facebook, or even more sadly, behind the screen of my phone.  Text messaging.  
I hate that that's what it's come to.  And I hate that I've been so okay with it for so long.  It's not the way it's supposed to be.  But alas, there are reasons why.  Life is just crazy.  There's not enough time in the day.  Hardships.  Reasons.  But all the more reason to need each other, right?

Jeremy and I went to dinner recently with another couple - something extremely rare for us - and when we left, I couldn't help but feel emotional.  It just meant that much.  I felt it that deeply... that someone else could sit across from us and say so vulnerably, "There's no agenda here. We just need friends..."   And I nearly lost it in that moment over my bowl of chicken tortilla soup, because the desire? the longing?  is that so do we.  Dear Jesus, so do we.

It's a daily struggle for me to lay down the thought that I'm only a good "seasonal friend".  Good for a season, but then people move on.  Good for when there are really good things happening, or good for when there are really awful things happening.  But not for those seasons when there's really not a whole lot going on.  
That's the way it's always been.  And my heart's been broken time and time again after watching the distance creep it's way in, until both parties just don't feel like it's worth it anymore.

But I declare, and I desperately pray that 2014 will be different.  It is going to be the year of friendship.  Real, intimate, close friendship.  
The doors of my home will be open, and there will be room at my dining room table for those like me who just need people to enjoy this life with...people like me who just need friends to share the ups and the downs with... For goodness sake... people like me who just need a friend to do the mundane with.
Not in a "women's-bible-study-once-a-month-meeting" kind of way.  
But rather, a "my-life-is-an-absolute-mess-and-use-your-key-and-just-come-on-in-and-help-me-put-the-pieces-back-together" kind of way.  
Everyday friends.
Less texting.
Less Facebook.
And more face-to-face.
Much more.
So that security in having a confidant can be built.
So that a sense of belonging can envelope.
So that things can be shared.  Blessings can be shared.  Burdens can be shared.
And loneliness can be a thing of the past.

So when I think of the new depths for friendship, and the fact that January 1, 2014 will happen in just 10 short minutes, I look forward to the richness life is about to gain.  I look forward to living life with others in a deeper, more intentional way.  It's time for life-long friends.


Welcome, new year.  It really is going to be a happy one.

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