Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for...

When asked what you're thankful for around the dinner table, no body ever says things like, my beautiful new off white Lexus with a panoramic sunroof or the award I received for the best American Writing. Those things are something to be thankful for, but it's always the basic things in life like, a job, a home, food to eat, clothes on your back and people. Most of all, people are thankful for people. I wake up in the morning of Thanksgiving and besides all the food to be prepared and consumes, the most important thing is to see who I can spend Thanksgiving with. Whether a way or near, you want to say that you're thankful for them for the moments you shared and what they mean to you.

I am thankful for my husband who makes me laugh like no one else can and makes me truly happy through and through. He pursues me everyday even after knowing each other for over 15 years and have grown out of my girlish freshness and innocence. I am thankful that he has character that is unshakable and a love you can't escape even if you tried. He holds on to you with his tight panda grip and is fiercely loyal to his friends, family and the like. Although he doesn't completely understand me and no one can, he learns, he tries, but never pretends to know.

I'm thankful for my family, who have always loved me unconditionally, knowing my flaws and loving me regardless. Almost seeing my mistakes, temper tantrums and grumpiness as if it were a kitten trying to claw at you. You deal with the sharp claws, the occasional hissing, and retreating from the people in  moodiness all come with owning a kitty. I am thankful because my family has instilled in me honesty, self worth that could not be mustard up. I'm thankful to I have a brother who is my best friend and would be even if he wasn't blood related to me. I'm thankful that he's funny, smart and I genuinely like him as a person and I can tell him anything. I'm thankful for my new family who I feel like they are my blood even though I am bound by them only by law. I am thankful that I don't have in-laws who are typically Korean, but treat me like I was their actual daughter.

I am thankful for my community, who are always there to pray for me, quick to support and help in anyway they know how. I am thankful that they have seen me through highs and lows, but do not grow tired of me, rather grow infinitely closer and multiply in love. I am thankful that their children are like my own and I am bonding to them every day seeing them grow right before my eyes. I am thankful for the church I belong to and the pastor I have, who understand the human condition and does not judge with religious eyes but love with godly compassion. I am blessed to have a church that cares about the poor, the orphans and the marginalized.

I am thankful for my friends who have long suffered my complaints and drama that comes with feeling too much. I am thankful that they know my dreams, longings, desires, favorite stores, and who my celebrity crushes are. I am thankful that they have scraped me off the floor when I have lost all value in myself and have grown insecure and spiraling out of control. I am thankful for the love that my friends shamelessly show because I need it, I want to heart it, see it and taste it. Despite my demands I am fulfilled each time I see my friends in spirit, heart and mind, teaching me with every interaction the true richness of life is to have people and to love them. What else is there?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ventilation - Adoption and it's broken system.

Okay...So, can I just vent a little about this whole adoption thing? I think I've been patient enough, not being anxious about when the baby will come, I've been the model waiting parent. I was understanding when my social worker kept calling us while we were on vacation to produce paper work she said we didn't have to fill out. I was patient when they didn't give us the referral in August like they were suppose to, I was even patient when they told us that our baby might NOT be a baby after all, but a toddler. I was a butterfly, fluttering and dodging those punches like I was Muhammad Ali, but there's no room to sting like a bee because we are at the mercy of the agencies and the government, both the U.S. and Korea.

I can't takes it no more, I have to open a can of spinach, or a can of whoop-ass. Probably in that order because that's how Popeye does it. First of all, I am scheduling my homestudy and my adoption around my social worker's Thanksgiving plans and following up with my case worker about turning in my revised homestudy before receiving a referral. That can take months!! This means my referral date will be pushed back again and I may not receive my baby until, what? She's 3 years old? What if I hadn't said anything to my social worker? What then? I'll would be waiting and waiting until my social worker had her fill on her turkey and pumpkin pie only to realize that we had to revise our homestudy, while my babies are getting ready to go to Kindergarten! Do they realize that they are dealing with lives, people's lives, baby's lives and not just an exchange of money and pushing around paperwork.

I am so frustrated with Korea right now I don't even know what to say about them. They have been so proud and superficial, to look out for their own popularity and appear dignified in the eyes of their international neighbors, they are not looking out for their own children! How can they not allow these babies to be taken to the ones that actually want them, instead of forcing them upon Korean natives who are not past the Korean war mentality of adoption and child abandonment. If you really want to seem sophisticated and cosmopolitan, then look out for the well being of your children first instead of the society as a whole. Do you know what you look like to the rest of the world in efforts to be "first world?"

On a different note, I love how my dad, who is Korean through and through is asking me about my agency and if I have all the contact numbers of the people who I have given money to the last two years. "Are they trust worthy?" He asks. Of course they are and I know where this is coming from because he's been trusting the wrong people and my dad has terrible judge of character, willing to trust anyone. He is a pure of heart, but please don't tell me that my agency is the one that is duping us out of our money and making us wait for a child that doesn't exist. It's your country dad, it's Korea. He gets a little offended and tells me that it's my agency that's feeding me this kind of news and it might not be true. Well no, because it's international news and it's not a secret that even the Korean president is known to say he was embarrassed that Korea is "selling their kids overseas to foreigners." Thanks for asking about my adoption dad, two years later..."what's your baby's name? do you know if its a boy or a girl? When do you pick her up? Who took your money? You have their contact information?" Seems a little late, but thanks for asking.

Girl Crush Friday ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow (39) has been my favorite girl crush since she appeared in "Hook" when she was a little girl. Her godfather "uncle Steve" (Spielberg) put her in the movie as young Wendy, but I especially loved her as Margo Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums. She's an actress, she sings, she cooks, she is fluent in Spanish and is a fashion chameleon. I know she's either loved or hated because she's so perfect, too perfect, but to me, she's the kind of woman I wanted to grow up to be. Down to earth and cool..I mean, she's married to Coldplay front man Chris Martin, works out with Madonna and parties with Jay Z and Beyonce. Can you get any cooler?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lifetime Stress

Since I resigned from my job in October, I stopped going to the Academy of Athletics where I received personal attention for my work outs and motivation to work hard. I really loved that place and made friends with the trainers and the "Athletes" themselves, unlike Life time fitness, it's a family-esque atmosphere. The only down side is that it's too expensive to attend now that we're only on H's one income. I'm barely working at Anthropologie, my part time job, which gives me part of what a part time should be working. Three weeks since I've been employed there and I've spend 29.99 on a shirt after my discount and having earned a cent because there are no hours to be had. I'm beginning to think that this is a ploy by Urban Outfitters Inc. to recruit exclusive shoppers. It's hard not to shop while you're walking up and down the store so beautiful, but I digress.

I recently unfroze my account at Lifetime Fitness, the work out mecca for all d-bags and cougars on the prowl with their too tight, too short and too revealing sports bras and leggings that make them look like a over cooked brat with all their stuffing spilling out of their athletic gear. What's worse, the parking lot of this particular gym is so crowded that strangers are following behind you, inching their way to your car ready to pounce before you can even get your keys out. I don't know why suburban moms in the Midwest need Hummers and how they get their children inside without a step stool, but there's just no room to maneuver your farm equipment around such a crowed lot. Once you enter the mall of treadmills, StairMaster and weight lifting machines, you realize precisely the reason for all the lot commotion outside. Lifetime must be signing up everyone in Schaumburg and the surround cities for this one location and there are sales people showing potential members their amenities every single day. I want to to slip a note to them that says, "Run away...quickly. Don't fall for all the shiny new renovated facilities and lockers."

Another reason why I don't like Lifetime besides the reason that I'm Anthrophobic and I hate a lot of people congregated in one place, but also these humans are strangers to me. I don't want to be lying down next to a hairy sweating man on a over used mat while trying to reach inner peace during hot yoga. (Partially because I lost my inner peace in the parking lot of this place). It's bad enough that he grunted through the whole session barely being able to touch his toes. Maybe he should start with light stretching before he comes into a hot yoga class because you might embarrass yourself, if not by your grunting and your ridiculous poses, but maybe you might fart in efforts to do so. It's hot in here, and already I can feel your heat seeping from your pores and escaping your suit of hair, so I don't need more hot air blown out of your rear end.

Sigh...maybe I'll cancel my membership and go on the P90X regimen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Be Honest

To be honest with myself, I am afraid that I'm setting myself up for failure. I'm a perfectionist and if you know a perfectionist in your own life, they will have certain standards that they hold to themselves and others. Perfectionists don't require perfection in all areas of their lives, but very specific areas they choose to define themselves. For example, I write out all my prayers and biblical notes in a small Hello Kitty note book I write in with a specific light blue pen. If by chance I forget my pen, I will NOT write in this book and mar the perfectly uniform pages that I have worked so hard to keep neat. And if by chance I forget my note book, I will have to take notes on another piece of paper and recopy it in my note book later before the day goes by. And if you are wondering if I had kept my notes this meticulously uniform and tidy in college, the answer is yes. All notes go into it's each binder, not note book because some days you will have to add a page in and it's best to use a loose leaf college ruled page to control the flow of your notes. This is the look into my psych, I know it's scary, so you can exit now.

With Perfection, you have a lofty goal you set out for yourself and any thing less than what was fashioned in your mind if a failure. You see the crazy of this logic is that you don't actually receive any reward or benefit to having a perfectly manicured and organized home or in my case a binder full of carefully outlined notes from all of your college classes, but you have to achieve them. To be honest, I am afraid that I have for myself a perfect picture of what my life will be like with this child coming into my life. I want to be the perfect mom and perfect wife, having cleaned the whole house and even gone as far as polishing the kitchen cabinets with orange glo, I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have a breaking point,  because who can keep this up? Especially with a child on your hands that will probably be semi-permanently attached at your hip, I'm not sure if the dream sequence of my day of working out, doing some light reading while the child naps and cooking a gourmet meal and set before my hard working husband comes home is going to play out as I hoped.

I have such high hopes for this next chapter in my life and week three into my wifely duties in the home and I'm already sick of thinking up something different to cook for dinner every night! I'm beginning to become so lazy that I've been eating cereal as my staple meal while I'm a lone at home. The dream sequences are slowly turning into a nightmare and I'm not sure if there's anything I can do to stop it from coming true for the first year of my life with this coming child. I can just see it, stickers on the walls, laundry piled up and my baby running and jumping into the dirty basket of mess. The dishes piling up as I order Thai food for the third time in one week. I know I thought I would never let myself go, but I see why first time moms are more inclined to show up in their yoga pants to the grocery store, because they're too lazy to put real pants on, but on the other hand they look less sloppy than in plain old sweat pants!

I can see it all now..and to be honest, what I'm afraid of the most is to be the rejection I will face in the beginning stages of bonding. My own child asking for another bosom, another mother who she had left in Korea. As much as I want to say that I am a mature and wise grown up, I still desire the love of a child and covet their affection. As much as I remind myself that this will just be a phase, a season in our lives together, but I can't help but to cringe at my nearing future of crying and fidgeting on the plane ride from Korea, coming home and not sleeping for the first 6 months. The mourning my child will weather through for the loss of her home, her familiar surroundings, the woman she had grown accustomed to.

Friendship Under Fire

To see gold, you'll have to let the metal purify under extreme temperatures to see what floats to the top. All the debris separates and sinks while the gold floats to the surface, revealing what's real and what's rubbish. Identifying true friendship seems quite similar in that when the relationship is put through fire, death, hardship, sickness, struggle or even disagreement, you can see what you've done with the time you were given together. Did you actually get to know this friend and get down to the bottom of their heart, knowing their true character? Or did you spend a lot of idol time knowing their brand of humor and how much booze they can pack down?

I had been thinking a lot about my friendships and giving them a good hard look in the face and into their eyes. I have several friends who I've known for over 10 years now and they have been the kind of friends that I have never had conflicts with, but have seen a lot of life's seasons with them. Their character still the same and consistent no matter summer or winter, and they have always stuck by me especially in the winters of my life. They are the kind of friends that are like long marathon runners not sprinters, long suffering, loyal and steadfast, keeping pace and taking their time. Sprinters on the other hand are ones that love you intensely, fast! hard! and short, burning out like a fire cracker with deafening booms and crowd pleasing lights. It was for the summer, when the weather is warm, the love is new and the climate is just so that you don't ever have to cover another with your coat and walk through the long dark days with them. They proved true over a stretch of time.

I have friends who are "brothers from another mother." They are the closest friends I have and these are the people that I've been the most raw with in disagreements and in the deep dark days of winter. They are the ones that had given me the opportunity to point out their flaws and I've given them the same chances, but at the end of the brawl, we just wanted to save our friendship. They believed me and I believed in them. There are others who I have walked through what it seemed like at the time, the shadow of valley of death. Suffering through life circumstances and seeing each other through the mundane things that we could not afford to perform, cleaning, taking out the trash, changing a diaper. We have picked up the small things for one another, small things we can do so that the heavier life's lemons wouldn't be so sour. Diluting the pang of sour and adding a little sugar to the pain helps to go from victory to victory, not letting lemons trip us up.

I often feel close to people I've had conflicts with and have overcome them because it makes me feel that we can overlook the disagreements and we're not just being polite to one another. To give each other the grace to explain and actually believe the things they are saying, to allow the other person to fail and cover, absorb the failures until the next time. I am thankful for the friends I have, who have long suffered under my life circumstances and my own temper tantrums and antics. I am also thankful for those who have confronted me with the speck that is hard to see in my own eye. To ask for explanations for my actions without assuming the worst of me because they know that in those times I am acting out of character. I appreciate my friends, who remember the names I wanted to name my future children, the snacks I most love, and know when I am down just by looking at my profile picture. I appreciate that without telling too much for a situation, they know exactly what I'm thinking and what I would do in that situation.

Set fire to my friendships oh life, I welcome it. Let purity rise to the top and I will treasure them forever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adopting a toddler

I recently received word that we are no longer recieving a referral for a baby, but we may be matched up with a 15 to 24 month of child. The limited amount of Exit Permits distributed by the Korean government has been more of a problem than the decision makers realize.  Perhaps they do realize that the children age and by the time they are ready to come home to their adoptive parents, they are fully aware of their surroundings, have attached to their care giver and is being rip from their home once again. It's already difficult for even a 12 month old to attach to a complete stranger, but for a two year old, he or she is able to articulate their disgruntled angst and grieve the loss of their first home and care giver.

I'm not much into babies and skipping all the burps, the runny poops, the sleepless nights, the formula mixings and feedings several times a day would be reason enough to accept a two year old with all gladness, but I'm worried. I've been worried that this child would not bond to me right away, and sure, eventually this child will call me mommy and Hans daddy but the process will be filled with tears and gnashing of teeth from everyone involved. On top of the bonding process already set up for feelings of fear, I will have to add in the disciplinary aspect of parenting when you receive a terrible two year old as you hit the ground running. I'd much rather cuddle, kiss and dote on a static creature that can't think on it's own two feet, lovable and clueless then show the wrath that can come with disobedience and rebellion.

I'm not afraid to disciple children and with my first grade teaching back ground, I'm also not afraid to discipline cute children. What I am afraid of is, that I will cave in the face of the child that feels alone, that has just been taken from the only mother she has known the last two years and is now with two strangers that keeps saying they're "mommy" and "daddy," while adjusting to the sights and smells of a foreign land. I'm not going to be so inclined to give a child a time out or a spanking for things I would a "normal" two year old, and to enforce that on a child who essentially was kidnapped one day out of the blue is cruel to me. I'm afraid to confused her, but I'm also afraid that I also will be confused. How do I keep the balance between showing unconditional love and showing a hard side of the law when all you feel is heart melting love for this child. I want to protect her, even from my self.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jesus I Never Knew

I recently came into a lot of time and I've been reading books that I've been purchasing for the last few years with intentions of reading them but have ended up in a pile of "books I have to read someday." Well, that some day has come and I think you can expect a lot more book "reviews" or just my two cents about each of them as I finish.

I recently read The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancy and I realize that I'm a little late in jumping on the band wagon of this book, about 20 years too late, but someone suggested this book to me and thought I would really appreciate it. I did appreciate this book. Especially because it turns out that I never really knew Jesus at all and it dispelled some notions of him that I thought were correct, but not. Like most of the world, we think of Jesus as a good looking white man dressed in all white with a halo looming over his head, blessing everyone that walked by. He wasn't the lamb cuddling, soft spoken and an even tempered man that couldn't be faze by anything thing, not even death. But reading this book made me realize that he was in all entirety human and God, but I often forget that he was human.

He was the kind of human that I am. All along, I pictured him as an austere man with no sense of humor, no emotions and his face gave nothing away, but he was just the opposite. He wept as his friend Lazarus lied dead in the tomb even though he knew he will raise him, he cried for death and the separation we face in sin. He burned with anger and chased out merchants and those who took advantage of the poor out of his temple courts with a whip and called people dogs and rubbish (words I imagine are equivalent to our contemporary curse words like bitch and shit). He spoke with conviction and prayed sweating, crying and with passion, leading a masses with his charisma and leadership confidence. He was a king, THE king after all, so he had to have been a man people were attracted to and intrigued by and no someone that they were able to cast aside as a soft spoken nerd of some sort.

In this book, one paragraph that quotes Scott Peck who was a skeptic before reading the gospels for himself to see Jesus all on his own. He writes:

I was absolutely thunderstruck by the extraordinary reality of the man I found in the Gospels. I discovered a man who was almost continually frustrated. His frustration leaps out of virtually every page: "what do I have to say to you? How many times do I have to say it? what do I have to do to get through to you?" I also discovered a man who was frequently sad and sometimes depressed, frequently anxious and scared...A man who was terribly, terribly lonely, yet often desperately needed to be alone. I discovered a man so incredibly real that no one could have made him up. 

It occurred to me then that if the Gospel writers had been into PR and embellishment as I had assumed, they would have created the kind of Jesus three quarters of Christians still seem to be trying to create...portrayed with a sweet, unending smile on His face, patting little children on the head, just strolling the earth with this unflappable, unshakeable equanimity...But the Jesus of the Gospels who some suggest is the best-kept secret of Christianity did not have much "peace of mind," as we ordinarily think of peace of mind in the world's terms, and insofar as we can be His followers, perhaps we don't either.

I am relieved to know that Jesus perhaps could have seen, felt and thought things that I have, in depression and anxiety and to be scared and sad at this world. I can accept and follow a man like this, to see him as the example I will look to when I can't seem to get out of bed or see the brighter side of fallen state of this world. To have hope and to heal the world just like Jesus came to do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hope for the wait.

It's only been 2 days since my unemployment and it's seems like an eternity of doing nothing. I've been keeping myself pretty busy and feels like I don't have enough hours in a day, but the days without structure makes it hard to distinguish one day from another, or even one hour to the next. It also makes me think about my waiting child, I'm waiting, she's waiting.

Many of my friends and even people I barely know have asked me for updates on the adoption process and I'm just a record player repeating the same thing over and again. "November is the referral, February is when we pick up the baby, but we don't know if that's even written in stone, it's just projections." There's a bunch of silence between the time the dossier is submitted and the referral is given. There's much else they can tell you specifically about your adoption process except the fact that you've been waiting this long. What they don't know or maybe they do, is how long we've been waiting for a child period. They don't tell you that the whole time you're pushing around papers and signing your life away to the agencies, you're waiting then too. A whole year goes by and the waiting still persists, and in my case, it's been almost three long years since the time of application to our agency.

I recently did receive word from my agency and it was the monthly news letter all waiting parents receive. It updated us on how all waiting parents are expected to update their home studies because the babies will be 10 months at referral instead of 5 and probably will receive them at 15 to 24 months old instead of 10 months. All the fears of not being able to bond and the child having memories of the caretaker's bosom multiplied 10 fold and I'm not sure if I'm ready for what's to come. Friends and co workers alike, have asked me if I feel free and happy that my time at Harvest has ended, but I don't really have that sense of freedom because I know the eminent responsibility that is far greater and heavier.

Being home, I've had an "ah-ha! moment" where the time I thought I was wasting away locked up in the Harvest office has been saving grace. Giving me a routine and a purpose every day to do something for others while I was being pruned to be the mother I was suppose to be. At the time, I didn't know I would be adopting so soon, but regardless God had a plan for me and the time at KCC has also been a comfort. Without the surrogate kids and family members I've known the last three years, I would have been shopping online all day long to fill my empty heart and running off the stress that would have been piling up on my body everyday. Who knows what else I would have been up to, already it's been a long road to this point but the last three summers with the KCC kids and my Ohio friends has been some of the happiest times I've had in my life up to this point. 

I'm suppose to be "nesting" while at home and I have cleaned the whole house today, scrubbing all the sinks, tubs, and toilets, reorganizing all the cabinets, vacuuming and washing the sheets. But now what? I guess I'm getting started on the closet tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Her love is like...Gospel

She loves like the gospel tells you to, the way Jesus use to love his ragtag group of nobodies. They were the needy, the bleeding, the crippled, the blind, the dirty, and probably even bitchy and maybe especially the bitchy. I mean, look at Judas, the name every person identifies with stab you in the back sneakiness and betrayal. Who betrays someone like Jesus for a couple of silver pieces? I don't know how much that would translate to now a days, but I don't even have to know. I'm not even about to betray my crabby grandmother for anything. Judas might have been a common name until the day he became Judas in the Bible, that's how famous he is for letting Jesus down. But alas, this entry isn't about recounting all the ways Judas has failed his friend and savior, but how Jesus loved him anyways.

She loves the people in her life with all of her strength, mind and soul and not even because she's a pleaser, but she's just the opposite, she's sort of the against the grain kind of rebel with a cause. She is a beautiful looking girl, smart and funny, any boy would move up on that girl but she chooses her friends from the L section of the library, the "loser" section. Where all the boring and out dated books are discarded with pages torn out and coffee stains on it's front cover. It's the ones that have deep scars and need more love than anyone could or would ever afford to give. They sniff her out like a blood hound knowing she is the kind to invite a friendless down and out to dinner at her apartment, making them all the foods she knows how. It may not be the same genre of cuisine, but she'll feed your belly and your heart.

Not only is she sought out by the world would call a loser, she is drawn to them too! She can see right through your crap no matter how put together you are, no matter if you are the deacon or the  teacher, she will see you through and  through. That's why when she is your friend, she truly sees you in your goodness and you have a forever ally. She plays 20 questions with you every single day, wanting a play by play of what you've done and what you've eaten, also, what your super power would be if you had a choice. She wants to know you inside out and will continue to no matter how long you've known her and no matter what uglies or sins she's already seen in you. The gospel, I mean the real gospel that's messy and filthy is a reality to her and no matter how much she complains about a person, she will go back and love on them. She is not double minded or two faced, but at the point of action, she always makes the choice to love.

I only hope to love you this way Mia. Love you.

Once there was shalom

I once knew a little girl who was like Wednesday from Addams family, with long dark hair and a look of knowing. Her eyes dark and gazing, you know she's looking beyond your skin and face. You hear her small giggles, and it's like chimes or bells, crisp and pure you think it's a baby's laugh.

I once knew a girl who hand made hairpins for other little girls and although she was well grown out of those pins, she still fashioned them for ones like her. She never really changed in her spirit of purity and trusting, that's why little ones responded to her with understanding. She understood new souls like she was still one of them and spoke with them so they can make sense of this big wide world. There was no one else that quite related with children the way she did, the way she loved them, the way she cared for them. She gave them her life, selling all of her possessions, giving away all of her precious things so she can be unattached to the world except to the glory of God in those children.

I once knew a girl who saw the potential for shalom on earth, where the people in her community would be in one spirit, and share possessions, lives, conviction and above all, love. She knew how it should have been or how it should be, she was right and all of us were wrong. When she was happy and when she was who she was created to be, she was the best of all of us. She made the best jokes, she was creative with her hands and resources, she did not covet or desire possessions, she was smart and talked to kids in their words, she bantered with boys and loved Jesus.  In her patience and all the strength she could muster up every day, she fought how she felt about this fallen world. We should see and realize just what she saw, just what she wanted, continuing a work that Jesus had started and soon finish, to heal each other and heal the earth.

Thank you J. for sharing with us your smiles, your convictions, your story, your life, reminding us of heaven each day. Missing you already...