Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One year to normal

I can't tell you how many hair products and shea butter based lotions I've tried in the past twelve months, searching for the magic paraben free formula that will detangle curls or soothe away excema. Last night I found an half used tube of cream in the back of the cabinet. I began to rub it on Bethie's squirming, smooth, freshly bathed brown skin. And I had to pause a minute, because the smell was so overwhelming.

I shook my head and sadly whispered, "Wow."

It wasn't the honeysickle or coconut oil that almost knocked me over, no. This was the scent of fear. Of trepidation. Of cluelessness. Of sadness and loss and hope. A sweet miasma of uncertainty like I had never previously known. Because this cream was what I, her new momma, rubbed all over her soft brown skin in Addis Ababa, and in the first few weeks that she was home in Austin.

One year ago today, a horrified little girl kicked and screamed and and cried and clawed her way into our family.

The weeks that followed were so intense - and so exhausting - that I couldn't even write about them. All I could do was the next thing. And the next thing. And the next thing.

It's the most awkward thing in the world to have a child handed to you like that, with little to no instructions, and to be told she's all yours. Take her. Do the thing. The mothering thing. It's awkward when it's a tiny baby in the hospital, and it's awkward when it's a toddler on a dusty street in Africa. It is, honestly, flat out absurd.

But you do it, you take the child, and you take her home, and the things that don't come naturally, you do awkwardly. You feed and bathe and rock and read and sing and tickle and rub scented lotion over smooth skin. You do this day after day like a blind woman groping in the dark until one day you realize that it doesn't feel quite so awkward anymore. Then more days pass and it starts to feel normal. A few more days and it's natural. Then it becomes routine. Somewhere along the way you quit questioning your every move.  You make mistakes - lots of mistakes - and discover that this strange child is strong enough to weather your mistakes.  You realize she's stronger than you are.

You realize that God is stronger than you are.

And your understanding of grace, of redemption, of the true meaning of blind faith reaches an entirely new level. You realize that all of these things are hard and born of terror and pain. All are messy. All of them make no sense. All of them are beautiful. All of them are possible.

We're there. Praise the Lord, one year later, the absurdity of grace and redemption and faith have become our normal.

She's blossomed, this girl. I can't even describe how much. For 364 days I've had the amazing blessing of witnessing a flower unfold. A rebirth. She's not shy and introverted, like she was in the orphanage. This child is silly and extroverted and adventurous. She's loving and tender and sweet. She's smart and sneaky and cuddly. She's whiny and annoying and demanding. And she loves shoes more than almost anything.

The most amazing thing is how we did it, how we all labored through to deliverance: we fed. And bathed. And rocked and read and sang and tickled and rubbed lotion over smooth brown skin. We did it awkwardly until we did it naturally. We did some things well. We made some mistakes.

We loved her.

 


That was all we did.
We loved.
We loved her awkwardly.
Now we love her naturally.


We love, because he first loved us. 
I John 4:19










36 comments:

  1. Awkwardly first, but now naturally. The story of parenting and family and marriage and life all so simply in that little sentence. ONE YEAR. Missy. Oh, friend. You're doing it, you're doing the thing. And look at her glow.

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  2. This is beautiful and I didn't realize she became yours forever was the same day I gave birth to my first child. A silly connection but it gives me butterflies knowing you brought home the baby you (and I) had so long prayed for the same day I welcomed the daughter I had prayed SO LONG for. Praying this next year being even more growth, grace, redemption, and faith. Xxx

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  3. Loved this. After a LONG time of singleness (I'm 44), I'm getting married in July (!!!!!!). I suspect there are many things that will be awkward, but I'm trusting to love and God that they will then become natural. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Precious. Can't believe it's been a whole year already. And yet it seems like she's been yours forever. Because she has. Hugs!

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  5. What a lovely post. It means a lot to me as I have just begun filling out an application to be a foster parent. (You know it was God who called us to do this. Because isn't a 2 year old and a 4 year old and a cat and a dog and a husband enough to care for?) :-P Not a coincidence: I used that same 1 John verse on my application! I am hoping we will adopt, but in the meantime, I hope that we can LOVE on some babies who need someone to love them in the gap.

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  6. So beautiful Missy. Thanks for sharing this. Just wanted you to know that your blog is one of the reasons I blog too. Thank you!!

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  7. You all are doing so great! Fake it til you make it, sometimes there is no other way. :) I remember looking back after we had our daughter a year and it all seemed like a blur. I could hardly remember life before her, but also it had gone so quickly. Thanks for your true words. Congrats!

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  8. Congratulations on 1 year together!!
    So as a Feingold mom with a African daughter - what products have you found that are scent free and have no evil oils in them? And don't cost a million dollars :)

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  9. Oh so precious! Congratulations!

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  10. So beautifully written. I can totally relate.

    Mimi
    Http://thisdomesticateddiva.co

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  11. Would love to know what products you use as well! We too have tried MULTIPLE prodcuts for hair and skin for our brown skinned sweetie! :)

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  12. Perfect. We've been home a year and a half and you put into perfect words what I have been unable to write myself. :) This captures it so well. Thank you.

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  13. Beautifully written, Missy. It brought tears to my eyes. I've loved watching this journey unfold. Bethie is so loved!

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  14. Beautiful Missy!! What a picture of you two!! All the love and all the happy - wow! CA

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  15. Such a beautiful post and such a beautiful picture! Always makes me day to read a new post from you :) Congrats on your first year with your sweet girl!

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  16. So precious...love is powerful!

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  17. Congratulations! We celebrate our son home for five years next week! The painful memories slowly drift away leaving lots of smiles and love!
    You have done great momma!

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  18. Congratulations on making it through this year! Your daughter is absolutely beautiful!

    Hoping this post means you are going to be blogging regularly again! (Keeping fingers crossed....)

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  19. Hooray!!! I am so happy for you!!

    Mary, momma to many

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  20. So sweet. Love is powerful. Thank you for sharing your update! I'm so glad to see you all are thriving. :)

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  21. Can't believe it has been a year! So thankful!

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  22. So so happy to hear this! And sooo glad to see you posting on your blog again. I love to read your posts!

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  23. Praise the Lord!!! Your story is sweet and powerful!! And your daughter is beautiful!

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  24. Dang - made me cry! God bless you and yours, including your sweet & sassy Bethie who is truly YOURS.

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  25. Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!~Krystal

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  26. Beautiful and simple and sweet and I am overcome with happiness for you ...with just a twinge of jealousy. I have not yet reached the natural. Perhaps it's the intensity of the cognitive delays our boy faces or the depression that dogged me those first months home, but we have not yet arrived after one year home. We are closer, though, and I have hope that we will get there. Thank you for sharing your journey. It makes me smile. :)

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  27. Beautiful post! I have put a small quote and a link to it on my blog. Thank you :-)

    Sandy

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  28. I found your blog when I was searching for something on "restlessness". I stumbled on your post from 2010. It spoke to me......so I looked for your most recent post, and saw you with your sweet little girl. What a blessing she is, and you are. So glad I got here.

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  29. Oh, how I love this! Would you be willing to let us feature this on We Are Grafted In? I believe we have your bio and pic from before, but I'm guessing your bio would need to be updated. Just let me know!
    Stephanie
    Administrator of WAGI
    Stephanie@sparrow-fund.org

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