First of all, let me start by saying I have the most amazing husband in the whole-wide world. I know that may sound cliche or elicit eye rolls, but believe me, if it weren’t for his vulnerability, strength, support and spiritual leadership I would be a hot mess. Even now, he has a baby-sitter and all four kids at a local trampoline place so I can have a moment of normalcy. A space to breathe. I can sit at Starbucks, sip a chai, and stare at my computer screen, wondering how to possibly begin to convey all we have experienced in the past three weeks.
I feel like I have lived three lifetimes. We have traveled to Ethiopia and back and our emotions have traveled that circuit and then some.
Second only to my husband, is our fantastic community of family and friends. Your prayers, hugs, emails, playdates, trips to the grocery store, gift-wrapping offers, meals, gift cards, sleep overs, and emergency pop-ins sustain us. “It takes a village” is no longer a trite euphamism. It is a lifeline.
We have been a family of six for 21 days. I know this is only the beginning of a journey that will strip us of any pride, any dillusion that we are in control of our days.
God is pruning all of us and heaven knows the pruning process can smart a bit. The grief runs deep in our house, but so does the hope. Between all of us we have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
We are learning that “love” is a verb. It is a choice. And, thank goodness the God of the universe chooses to love us despite our inadequacies, our kicking and screaming, our rebellious attempts to run away when all He desires to do is wrap his loving arms around us, hold us tight and tell us it’s all going to be okay.
Though each of us grieve in our own way, we know that grief does not last forever. His mercies are new every morning. To this we cling. God’s vision of family is greater than our own. My husband likened our experience to that of a Disney movie…. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Our fleshly desire is to fast-forward to the “happily ever after.” Can we skip the part where two beautiful children have to grieve the loss of their birth mother, brother and sister? Can we bypass the part where we can’t really speak to each other because we speak two different languages? Can we pole vault over the part where comfort as we knew it is disturbed on every level? Not to mention maybe getting a full night’s sleep again. 🙂
I suspect the answer is “no.” God’s journey includes exile and exodus. A broken world breeds broken relationships, but God’s grace can be the salve that heals all wounds no matter how deep. CS Lewis’ reference to Aslan as God rings ever true, “He is not safe, but He is good.” It is this goodness that brings light to our home.
God’s love manifested in deep, authentic community is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. Granted, that’s not hard to do these days, but it is true.
We are all different people. Humbled people. In just three weeks time, we have come face to face with our flagrant humannity. We are now living a completely different story. The road less traveled feels scary. The bends are dark, but hope beckons.
In the midst of tears, we have enjoyed the squeals of unabashed laugter and joy as four kids chase each other around the kitchen island. Our littlest one offers kisses and sass wrapped up in one teeny, tiny package! Our oldest holds the weight of the world in his hands and his ever-growing maturity astounds me. Our second in line has the most tender heart of anyone I’ve ever known and our third is finding his way in a great big American world. His tears have broken my heart and brought me to my knees, but the light hidden in his eyes promises a rich and deep relationship to come.
Hugs and kisses are more freely given and one on one time is at a premium — none of us take each other for granted. Not one single bit.
This testimony is one in the making – for all of us. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support. Our margins are slim. We are in the kiln. God’s refining fire is defining a new normal for all of us.
We are blended, we are broken, but the promise we cling to is beautiful. This beauty is being crafted in jars of clay, by the potter’s hands.
We long for life to feel less like “us and them” and more like just “us.” Rest assured this will take time and a hefty does of God’s grace. It is comforting to know we are not alone. Many of our adoptive family friends send us words of encouragement that things “will get better” and “this too shall pass.”
Honestly, we “original” Nilsens still have our country, our language and our creature comforts. Our newest members have been stripped of all they have ever known. Shame on me, if I dare forget this harsh reality that originates “orphan status” in the first place.
The increased intimacy and vulnerability we have experienced within our community over these past few weeks has been profound and for that, we are forever grateful. Mere words fall short in our attempt to convey humble thanks.
As soon as I can figure out how to post pictures on this account again, I will do so! I got a new computer for a combined anniversary/Christmas present (thanks, honey!) and for some reason I can’t seem post pictures. Soon.
Big thanks and big love to all our “village people” 🙂