Sep 092009
 

Dear Mean Bumper Sticker Man,

My family and I stopped at a red light this weekend behind your car with the Jesus fish and the bumper sticker that said in red flaming letters….

“TURN OR BURN.”

My six year old son read it aloud and asked me what it meant. I thought about ramming my car into your bumper, just to distract everybody and serve my community, but I reconsidered because clearly you were a little angry already. So I took a deep breath and said, “Well, honey….maybe “TURN OR BURN” is the new “Stop, drop, and roll!Maybe that man is a volunteer firefighter!”My son answered with silent suspicion. I began mentally composing this post.

I am not going to discuss religion on this blog. Ever, ever, ever. Mostly because I wouldn’t have a clue what to say. Religion is VERY confusing to me.But faith isn’t. Here’s my faith:

I think God adores me. I think that He is just TICKLED PINK by me, like a parent at a preschool Christmas Pageant. And when I get really crazy and paranoid and cranky…when I doubt His very existence…I think he loves me even more. I think He’s amused…like I am when my 15 month old covers her eyes and believes this has made me disappear.

The image of God as proud, encouraging daddy works for me. It allows me to walk around, on my good days, feeling adored, understood, and calm. It means that I live inside a snow globe with my family, friends and borderline personality and even though things get shaken up and we find ourselves in the middle of a blizzard, somewhere deep down I know that the blizzard’s fake. It’ll settle. I know we’re still being watched over, and enjoyed, and in good hands. And like most kids who know that they are loved unconditionally…I end up behaving better than I did when I believed in the angry, flame throwing God. I treat people more kindly than I used to, because I’m happy, and grateful, and less afraid.

And you know what? I don’t think God’s ever been mad at me. I don’t think I’ve ever shocked Him. I think He’s loved me exactly the same before, during, and every horrible thing I’ve ever done, and still do…daily. I believe he forgives me for every mistake before I make it. I don’t think He ever turns his back, drops my hand, plots my punishment, and moves onto the next guy…I think when I’m in trouble he holds my hand even tighter, preparing my heart for the confusion and sadness that are always the fallout of big mistakes. Just like I do for my children.

So, anyway.

I just wanted to suggest that perhaps you could hold on to your “Turn or Burn” sign until and unless you move very close to an active volcano, and you are trying to warn the tourists. In that case, it would be helpful. Thank you very much.

Love, Glennon

P.S. “The only power that can effect transformation is love. Twentieth century scientists discovered that locked within the atom is the energy of the sun itself. For this energy to be released, however, the atom must be bombarded from without. So, too, locked in every human being is a store of love that partakes of the divine-the imago dei, image of God, it is sometimes called.And it, too, can be activated only through bombardment, in its case love’s bombardment.” *Huston Smith, The Worlds Religions


Or, you know, we could keep trying nasty bumper stickers. People dig those, too.

Sep 102009
 

Yesterday’s post was about God. Sometimes talking about God can hurt people’s feelings. What I want most in the world, besides a personal chef, is to not hurt your feelings. If you people knew how much I thought about you and worried about your feelings you would probably be very, very afraid.

In the future, when I refer to God, feel free to substitute the name of whatever light helps you find your way home. I usually call God well, God.I also call him Jesus, because Jesus was the First Responder to my spiritual 911 call from my bathroom floor several years ago, and because everything He said matches the truth in my heart. I also sometimes call the pizza man God because, well, families can’t live on bread alone.If you call God something different than I do, then…“to-mayto- to-mahto.” Let’s not call the whole thing off due to semantics okay?And if you believe that everyone has to call God the same name… I’d be honored if you’d stick around, too. Let’s all try to understand each other. Because with every passing year I become more suspicious that maybe we’re not really meant to spend our spiritual lives playing a never-ending game of Red Rover.“Send those PAGANS right over!”Red Rover requires a lot of choosing teams and yelling and running and winners and losers and bruised arms. Maybe instead we could all just sit down, take a deep breath and figure out what we can learn from each other. I think God, whatever He might prefer to be called, would like that.

Anyway. The point is that yesterday I wasn’t trying to assert that bumper sticker man was definitely wrong about God. BECAUSE WHO REALLY KNOWS? I was just saying that I don’t buy any theology that fits on a bumper sticker. But there are actually a lot of things I probably should buy that I don’t, like mops and new underwear and a pan, according to my sister.

She came over to cook dinner last weekend, which she does occasionally for the sake of the children, and she yelled from the kitchen:“Glennon, where are your PANS?” and I yelled back “I don’t have one.” And after that shocked silence to which I am becomingwell accustomedshe yelled something like “You don’t ownApan? How do you cook without a singlepan?”And I said, “Yeah. I know, IT’S REALLY HARD.” And then she walked into the family room and stared at me in disbelief for a good three minutes.When she finally spoke, she said something about how she had MULTIPLE PANS FOR VARIOUS PURPOSES and how I COULD SIMPLY NOT not have a single pan in my home.

WELL.

JEESH, SISTER,give me a break.So I don’t have a pan?So what? It’s not like there’s anything I cando about it. Every day I pray the serenity prayer, “allow me to accept the things I cannot change,” and then Itry to accept the fact that I do not have a pan.I’m not gonna sit around and cry about it. Also, if we’re being totally honest, I think you’re being just a teensy bit judgmental. Just because you’re a fancy pants MULTIPLE PAN OWNER, doesn’t mean that all of us have to join you in your life of excess. Sister, there are children STARVING IN AFRICA, actuallyat my house too, and you’re walking around with your head in the clouds, judging the panless and gloating about your MULTIPLE PANS.

Okay, this post is miles from where it started. I think my points were:

1. Let’s be the first group of people in the history of the world who talk about God occasionally without starting a war.

2. Please send me a pan. And a detailed note explaining what I’m supposed to do with it.

Sep 242009
 


Hi all. This one’s pretty heavy. But on the other hand, it’s also really long.

I wrote this letter at the end of a heart wrenching time for Craig and me. We had spent two years trying to adopt a child internationally, and we were rejected repeatedly by agencies because I’m a recovering alcoholic.

Hello,

I am writing this letter so that down the road, Craig and I will remember the magnificent way God has worked in our family over the past year. I am sharing it with you because you have been such an integral part of our adoption journey, and because I thought you might like to know how it all seems to have turned out. I apologize for not telling the story in person, but it’s so sacred to me right now that I’m afraid if I talk about it I’ll mess up the magic…like somehow using my voice will make it sound ordinary.

For me, the last year has been a brutal battle with God and myself. I have no words to describe the desperation I felt to adopt a baby. It has literally driven me to my knees every day for two years…pleading with God to either answer my prayer of adoption or to take away the burning in my heart to bring an adopted child home. I have never in my life experienced such a relentless “calling,” or such feelings of confusion and helplessness. I have logged countless hours researching adoption requirements and possibilities, scouring scripture for clues about my aching heart, and just plain crying and crying. Every time an agency offered us hope and we started to become attached to a particular country, to a particular little face…..the NO would inevitably come. It never got easier to accept. Each no was as heartbreaking to hear as the first one. There have been many days when the rejection led me to question whether I’d been “called” to adopt at all. I wondered if I was just plain crazy. And I also wondered about my worth as a mother. Because over and over we were told in so many words that these babies were better off in orphanages than in my home. It was humbling, and shook my faith hard.

There is too much history to record in this letter, so I’ll just review the recent past. After the Vietnamese adoption fell through last month, Craig and I found ourselves again wondered if God was telling us to let go. So we tried, but we couldn’t. Icouldn’t. We finally decided one day in the car that we would start a home study, without even having an agency or country that would accept us. We hoped that once we stepped out in faith, God would reveal the next step. We already had a social worker who was ready to get us started and the money we needed in the bank. Our hope and energy were renewed. Once again, I started picturing Chase and Tish holding their new sibling. We discussed names so we could pray for our new baby as specifically as possible, because it looked and felt like things were starting to happen for us.

When we arrived home from that exciting car ride, I went through the mail and saw a letter from All God’s Children, the agency we wanted to adopt from initially… the agency who gave us our sweet sponsored child, Maria. The letter was specifically from Maria’s home, their “Hannah’s Hope” orphanage in Guatemala. The letter began like this. “This is one of the toughest times I’ve seen at our Hannah’s Hope home in Guatemala. My heart breaks to think of the children we’ve had to turn away. Toddlers roaming among piles of garbage, six year olds begging for food, ten year old girls caring for infant sibling on their own.” The letter went on to describe a 4 year old girl named Marielos, who police brought to Hannah’s Hope recently after her mother’s boyfriend raped her repeatedly. She spent her first week at the orphanage “either speechless or sobbing.” Heather, the woman who runs All God’s Children, wrote that she “stayed up with Marielos many nights, holding her tightly as she cried softly.” Next Heather described the miraculous way Marielos began to heal in the arms of her “special mother” at Hannah’s Hope. But then she reported that due to lack of funds, Hannah’s Hope was being forced to turn away traumatized children like Marielos every day. The letter read, “To care for all the children at Hannah’s Hope right now and still keep our doors open to the children who will come to us in the next 90 days $***** is needed immediately.” She then asked for small donations from sponsors that combined, would keep the orphanage running.

I felt my head spin when I saw the amount that the orphanage needed- quite close to the total that Craig and I had saved for the adoption.

Then I sensed a voice that was a calmer version of my own suggest something like, “Here we are. Now what do you want more? Do you really want to help my orphans, or do you really want an adopted child? There is a difference.” I stood in the kitchen, stunned and sweating. The suggestion continued, “You’ve been begging for an invitation from me, and you’re holding it.”

Weird… I know.

I considered not telling Craig about the letter and the voice. Not because I was worried he’d think I was crazy, which is what I usually worry about, but because I was afraid he would know the right thing to do, and then he’d want to do it. But I told him anyway…and he listened, and he read the letter, and then got very quiet. And he said, “You know if we do this it means we won’t have any adoption money left.” And I said, “Yes, it would mean giving that away for this, I guess.” We both agreed to think and pray. We went to bed early that night and didn’t speak about it again… I think we were aware that we were walking on holy ground.

I sent one email to Craig the next morning, telling him that I wasn’t able to make this decision because I was too blinded by my own desire for a baby. I wanted him to decide. And I told him that if he decided that God was asking for this money for Hannah’s Hope, I would be capable of offering up the adoption…of letting it go. Then I promised to leave him alone to make the decision.

That night he came home and during dinner he said quietly that he was positive that the money belonged to Maria’s friends at Hannah’s Hope. He had sent our adoption fund, which was two thirds of the total amount they needed to keep the orphanage afloat, and our entire savings account.

Next: Lots more quiet, a few tears, and then just awe…and peace.

I needed to share this story with you…because when God does something so miraculous and perfect, you have to share it to spread hope and joy and fearlessness. We have spent the past year praying that God would allow us to help one child…and He has answered, eventually, by allowing us to help many. A whole orphanage…OUR orphanage, Maria’s orphanage…the perfection is too fantastic to have been planned by anyone else but God. He could have taken care of those children in a million other ways but He was loving enough to include us, people desperate to be included…to take us through this journey and to end it with fireworks more beautiful than we could have imagined. He answered the prayers of a few Guatemalan children and mothers, a silly American couple and the faithful workers at All God’s Children in one fell, perfect swoop. We are totally blown away…and still unusually quiet.

Why are we still shocked every time God arrives right on time?

The final miracle in this for me is that I have found peace…. desperation gone, yearning gone, emptiness gone, pain gone. Nothing is left but gratitude. Craig feels exactly the same way. We have laid our adoption dream firmly in God’s hands as an offering to do with what He will…never to be touched again with our hands. We are beyond excited to get on with our lives, and we know that this was a burden laid on us by God… removed by God, and that through this process He has changed us forever.

Thank you for walking through this with us. Mom and dad, thank you for knowing that there might be more to His plan then we could see, Mandy, thank you for reminding me in a million gentle ways that this was always about God and children, not me, and Michelle, thank you for teaching me that there is a time to be still and a time to take action. And Craig, thank you for being a hero in every single possible definition of the word.

Oh, and before I forget, I would like to thank the academy for taking a chance on a silly girl like me.

I love you.

Love,

G

“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.”

Matthew 7:7-8

Maybe not right away, and perhaps differently than you originally ordered. But better.