Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Crazy Life...Abundant Blessings...

Sometimes, God asks us to do crazy things. No, not crazy things like that of the delirious religious fanatics that come into my mom’s ER on a full moon claiming to be the Messiah. Rather, things that seem against the normal flow of society. Things that are not typically socially, politically, or economically acceptable. Things that seem like you don’t really have it all together. I guess God sometimes asks us to do these things because, I imagine if I only had to do things that made it seem like I had it all together, I would be able to give a lot of glory to myself. And that is exactly opposite the point of our existence, isn’t it? The Bible says that we exist to give glory to God. That, even the trees and all of creation cry out His Praises! So, we have to get over the thing of wanting to be and look and act “normal.” We’re not really.

I wonder how many people read those sentences and think, “No, it’s people like that, people that think that they hear from God, that form the base of all the religious crazies and fanatics in the world.” Well, then count me in. I’d rather you think I was crazy than act like I don’t have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. How about that for fanatic?

So, all that said, sometimes, God asks us to do crazy things. For me, God asked me to do a crazy thing last year when Jacob said, “I think we’re supposed to adopt this little girl.” My heart was full of love for her. It told me that I didn’t really want to live my life without her. But adopt? In our early twenties? Our first child? On our salary? Living in a third world country? Not having a home to live in in the U.S.? What about the social stigma? What if we did move back to West Virginia? As my dad put it, “Who will she date in Brooke County?” To me, it was crazy that God would put such a thing in our path. And I knew it had to be Him, because at that point in my life, I wouldn’t have thought of it myself.

In case you’re wondering, when Sunda is old enough for us to talk about all of this, I will make sure to make this part of the adoption process something that she knows about. How our love for her overcame all of the things that people might think and say. How it overcame my worry of our families and friends accepting it. How it overcame any prejudices that might exist now or in the future. How, sometimes, things that are absolutely NOT apart of our 5 year plan become the biggest blessing that we’ve known in our lives so far.

Before Jacob and I left to come back to Africa, I was terrified. Terrified that I wouldn’t be a good mother. An organized mother. A patient mother. An unconditionally loving mother. A mother who was able to rise cheerfully at 5 and have clean hair and French toast on the table by 6. I was certain that because adoption wasn’t in the original plan, I would be unprepared and that everyone would suffer for it. It was as if, in my own head, 25 marked the magic age for my readiness to be a mother. Anytime before that, and surely my childish immaturities would overcome me and I would neglect my child and scar her for life.

HA! Funny the things that we think. Don’t send me emails about being too hard on myself. If you don’t ever think these things, then just chalk it up to me being Obsessive Compulsive and we’ll call it a day.

The funny thing is that from the day that we got the paper stating that Sunda was in our custody, my life transformed. I’ve even thought, “Wow, this makes living in my own head so much easier, I wish we would’ve done it sooner.” Not only is having Sunda a joy and a blessing, it carries a weight that hasn’t been matched in my life so far. You hear this from all new moms, but I experienced it in a different way, because I wasn’t prepared for it by 9 months of pregnancy and 12 hours of labor. All of a sudden, my life wasn’t about me. It was about her. My bad mood doesn’t matter, because it’s not her fault, and she still wants to play. The fact that I’m tired and have a cold doesn’t matter, because she’s awake and needs to be fed. Even if there’s no electricity, or the gas has run out of my gas stove, or the hot water heater has stopped working, or there’s no water at all because the tank has run dry. It doesn’t matter. I no longer have the luxury of throwing my own personal fit and tossing in the towel. Believe it or not, to me, this makes life a lot easier. Like this:

It’s 5:45 am. Sunda has woken up and is singing from her bed, “Mama, walk. (as in, “Let’s go for a walk.”) Mama, walk. Mama, poop. I poop.”

It’s early. I don’t want to get up. But this isn’t college anymore. I don’t get to lay in bed and skip a class just because I don’t want to. I have to get up because someone else in the world is depending on me to start my day so that she can start hers. And, inevitably, 15 minutes after I’ve dragged myself out of bed, we are laughing and playing, and I think, “Would I really have wanted to miss this?” Suddenly, it’s a little easier to make choices because I can ask myself what’s best for her, instead of analyzing and replaying what’s best for me.

So, there are many chains that come with parenthood. You’ve heard them all before. No more sleeping in, no more spontaneity, no more late nights. Whatever. But, there are so many freedoms too. The freedom of not listening to yourself and your needs, because there are other needs to attend to. The freedom of going to bed at night and knowing that, even if you did nothing else of worth that day, there is a child who went to bed feeling secure and loved because of you. The freedom of making decisions, not upon your own best interest or profit, but your whole family’s best interest. And, especially for me, the freedom of not worrying anymore about my own inadequacies or inefficiencies. Because, I’m essentially in the middle of everything I ever worried about. So, if I want to change things, I can change them. And if not, there’s not really a whole lot to worry about. Mostly because there’s a not a whole lot of time to worry when I’m trying to keep a VERY active two year old entertained, fed, at least partly clean, and out of anything that could hurt her or make a huge mess.

Again, sometimes God asks us to do crazy things. And sometimes, these things end up being the least crazy decisions we’ve ever made. That’s why He makes them. He knows we’d never do it on our own. In that respect, I mentioned that I will someday tell Sunda that our love for her and God’s love for her overcame everything else that stood in the way. Right now, we need that love to overcome some pretty big things that stand in the way. The adoption process is not moving exactly as we’d hoped and we came home from a week in Lusaka tired, discouraged, and poor. Don’t spend time worrying for us. If God can overcome my will (all of our wills) then He can surely overcome the Zambian adoption process. Please pray that our adoption will be granted and that we would be light in the dark places that exist in this chaos. That’s all.

After all of that expose on parenting, I would feel completely remiss not to mention Jacob’s role in all of this. Typically, I am embarrassed by my friend’s sentimental blogs singing their husband’s praises. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed by such sentimentality unless it is for Jacob’s ears alone. However, I would feel like I left out a lot if I acted like I handle the bulk of the parenting, or get up every early morning, or change even most of the poopie diapers. I don’t. “Facts is facts.” Aside from being my best friend, a wonderful caretaker, and a kind and loving husband, Jacob is the best example of a father that I have ever seen…in my life. He has taught me any wisdom that I’ve gained from this experience. And I’ve learned about being a good parent mostly from his example. I don’t know where he learned to do the things that he does. I don’t know how he keeps from being overwhelmed. I don’t know how he always has time to stop and pay attention to whatever Sunda is doing. And I don’t know how he manages to love me so much at the same time. But he does. Our marriage was strong, joyful, and loving before. But being in this situation has completely changed my view of him. If I respected him before, I am awed now. I always knew that we would have a wonderful family…but now I am moved to tears to think of the blessing that our children will have in their father. I am a blessed woman. Those are the facts.

If you thought that we were just doing a good deed or furthering our mission with this adoption, you were wrong. God put this child in our lives, not only because she needed a home, but because we needed the lessons and the love that being parents brings. Even if it’s crazy, this crazy girl is standing in awe of the fact that God sees so perfectly into exactly what we need and exactly how He will be glorified through it.

Well, if you never got the depths of my heart, you have it now. I have been agonizing about posting a blog because I knew that if I started writing I just might share a little more than I wanted to. But, here you are, more than you wanted to know.



Mama S said...

Dear, sweet Jessi--
I never had a doubt what kind of "mama" you would be. Norman and I have loved you since the first time we met you and we know the love you have in your heart. You are smart, consciencious, thoughtful about the future and one of a kind. We are so proud of you and Jacob (as for where he learned his "papa" skills--well, his Dad is one of kind, as well!!) We are so excited for both of you and especially for Sunda. To have two wonderful parents who love her so much---she is truly blessed.
We love you all--the adoption will come through--God's timing--in the meantime we will continue to pray--
Mom S.

Suzy Ivy said...

Hey Jacob and Jessi -
Its me - Suzy Ivy (from Fairfax Community)... just got the recent SOT newsletter with your blog address and decided to see if you had any adoption news up to see how it was going. Looks like its been a rough week for you guys, so I'll be sure Bob and I spend some quality time praying for your family tonight and for the whole adoption process. Our little Lucy was born Dec 18, just 3 weeks ago, so we too are acclimating to being a family - which is terrifically fabulous and exhausting and wonderful all at the same time! we'll be praying for God to continue to work in all the details of your adoption process.
Love you!!
Suzy and Bob

Beth said...

I love you.

And I'm sorry my sentimental husband blogs embarass you. ;)

(Kidding! DON'T apologize.)

I feel like my heart could burst from all the things I want to say... but I'll stick with the first sentence.

Hug Sunda and Jake for me!

Andrew Duda said...

Hey! Jessi, for as long as I have known you, I always knew you would make an awesome mom. Honestly, reading that blog sent me to tears. I cant say more! I love you Jake, cant wait to see ya'll again...and of course, I cant wait to meet the bundle of joy, sunda!

Adam said...

hey jessi and jake and sunda!!!!!
it brings me great joy to be able to read how humbly and confidently you approach the throne of God. It's such a perfect combination and is so encouraging to see. Know that i will be lifting the adoption process as well as your ministry before the Lord. Reading about your marriage and family and ministry brings me much hope and really encourages me to be a better man in all areas. Thank you both for everything! you'll never know the influence you've had on me. GO AFRICA!!!!!!!
with the most love i can send in this,

Anonymous said...

Jess you're a gifted writer girl...
I was in Morgantown reviewing faculty files in conference room with 6 other reviewers and got call from JK to read ur new blog. Sat there reading about Jake's pappa skills and had tears runnin down face..then went to JK's comment and tears started back up again. Thanks for sharing your Christian life experiences with us! Sorry to hear about getting your laptop stolen! Hope that doesn't impede your messages. We love ya,
Dad S.

Nana and Pappy said...

Little Sunda--
Seems like you are getting the short end on the comment page, so I thought Pappy and Nana should send your very own message. We love you and are so anxious to see you---we pray for you every day!! Hope you are having fun in the bush with your Mama and DaDa!!
Love you sweetie
Nana and Pappy

Heidi Vargo said...

Hi Jessi, Jake, and Sunda!!!

Jessi-- I think I may of told you this at Cody's soccer game, but I Love reading your guy's blog! I always learn something and/or am left with something truly meaningful to think about. You write the most inspiring blogs. I have never known how to post comments, but today I was in tears after reading everything you wrote. I spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to leave a comment (not very good with technology) because I wanted to tell you how much you inspire me!! Thanks!!!!!! :-) You, Jake, and Sunda are always in my prayers.

Heidi Vargo

Brian & Brooke Barnett said...

Simply...You guys inspire us! A quote from my wife, "I feel like I've had a quiet time everytime I'm done reading their blog."

And it's so true. It's an understatement to say that you encourage us so much!


P.S. I just watched a little of "SupperNanny." Hahaha!

Emily Myers said...

jessi - my heart bursts st the seams with the humility, joy ang glory of God that radiates from you and your family even worlds away. i thank you for your heart for the Lord, for your famliy and for Africa. it is such a blessing to hear about all HE is doing