Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiting for Faith

This was first posted on Facebook, but realizing not all the blog followers have FB, I decided to post it here too.  I am hoping to start blogging the back story - the how we got to this point, which was filled with so many Godcidences , that if I DIDN'T believe in God before this journey, I'd be hard pressed not to now!!!  God directed throughout  (and of course, still) ... this was a very powerful night of prayer and communication with God, I pray it blesses you as well!!

Patience is defined by as an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Christian definitions include ideas of letting go of our own plan and leaving God in control, its an act of love, and fruit of living in the Holy Spirit of God. it’s a virtue, because it is a very valuable personality characteristic. One I have discovered is of utmost necessity when adopting from a foreign country. The other virtue of importance is that of faith. Faith is defined in the Catholic Catechism a theological virtue by which we believe in God and we believe all that he has said and revealed to us. This week has been filled with more practice in these than ever before in my life, alas practice makes perfect.

The next leg of our journey to Faith, began on Monday night (very late Monday night). I began to feel an overwhelming sense of fear and dread. I ventured into Faith’s bedroom, whose door I keep closed most of the time because its hard to see it empty. Suddenly I was just overcome with emotion, I dropped to my knees on the side of her bed and began to sob. The type of sobs that come from so deep within you , they almost produce fear on their own, because they are raw, and uncontrollable - but very healing. I cried out to the Lord all my fears. “Are you sure God that we are the family to do this work? I am filled with anxiety about travel, and being able to console this nearly 4 year old being ripped from the only world she knows, with no way of communicating the plan.” The words spilled from my heart, the deep fears I’ve been fighting, hiding, holding on to. I could no longer bear it alone, and I gave them all to God -- just as Jesus instructs us in Matthew 11: 28 - 30:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Feeling indeed unburdened by this moment, I headed into the kitchen to prepare the boys assignments for the next day. God in his ultimate love and compassion places before me three signs that bring more light to my heavy spirit. First, the notepad I grab, from a tin of at least 6 notepads is adorned with a giant beautiful butterfly. I had been seeing a butterfly as a sign of hope, daily, since an intense prayer session about 2 weeks earlier. You see, butterflies are deaf, just as is my daughter, and it is a beautiful symbol to remind me of her, and the loving arms both of are held in each day as we wait to be united.

Second, as I calculate which saint my son was to read about the next day, I turn to St. Don Bosco in his book. He happens to be one of my favorite saints because of his devotion to Mary, love of confession, and heart for children in need. The quote for the day on Don Bosco’s page, “Please pray today for all the children with no homes and no families.”

Third, as I’m placing the books on the counter for the morning, I glance at our scriptural flipchart that sits under the Sacred Heart of Jesus icon. It had been flipped to Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. You are great at putting your trust in God. Keep following him and you will be amazed at what he does.

A warmth filled my being, the one that comes with peace knowing you are not alone, and that God is not only hearing you but reaching out to answer. This verse has been very prominent in the adoption process, emerging last July, when a friend gave me a huge plaque with the word TRUST on it, and the first line of the verse. She creates these with people’s life verses on them, and said she felt inspired to create it for me. To be honest, at first I was disappointed, as I had always counted Gal 2:20 (It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me), as my life verse. It was so beautiful, and being a prayerful person, I knew that indeed God had wanted this for me and that within time it would be revealed. Faithfully it has, over and over again, and always JUST when I need to be reminded that a life of faith, is also a life of trust in the one who created me, wants only good for me, and loves me immeasurably.

Although comforted by these signs, I knew God had more to share. I felt a very strong desire to sit quietly with his word. On many occasions before God has spoken light and love into my heart through the reading of scripture. I searched for one of my 7 bibles, but I had cleaned that day, and they were all tucked away on shelves, in bible study bags, or upstairs with my sleeping husband. The one book left out was St. Maria Faustina’s diary. As I looked down at it, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my husband the day before when he revealed that even Sr. Faustina had experienced moments of fear. Early this summer I had begun a devotion to the Divine Mercy (the prayer given to us by Jesus through his conversations with Sr. Faustina), praying the chaplet everyday at 3 o’clock. Inspired, I grabbed the book and returned to Faith’s bedroom.

I sat in the near dark on her floor, and prayed over the book. Lord, I asked, lead me to where she writes about her fear so that I may learn from her experience. I opened the book, but was first lead to day six of the Divine Mercy novena. Here Jesus states:

Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of the little children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angles, who would keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul I able to receive My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Sr. Faustina enters into her journal about learning from Jesus. I thought about the scripture readings where the little children are brought to Jesus, and we are counseled to have faith like a child. I thought about Jesus love for Faith, and the grace he had and will continue to pour over her during this transition in her own life. My heart longed to be humble and meek, and I prayed for forgiveness of my sins and for a blessing of grace to understand and accept God’s plan without fear.

Once more, I prayed asking to be lead to the page in this nearly 700 page book where Sr. Faustina shares with Jesus her fear. I opened the book to page 345, the diary entry for January 14, 1937 where Jesus first words to her are, “My daughter, why are you giving in to thoughts of fear?” Tears flowed down my cheeks, I put the book aside, and laid prostrate on the floor praising and thanking God for this gift (even though I had not read another word yet, I KNEW I was enveloped in his loving embrace and would soon be counseled by Jesus himself). Excitedly I returned to the book and read on.

Sr. Faustina wrote, “O Lord, You know why. This work frightens me. You know that I am incapable of carrying it out.” Jesus presses, asking again, “Why?” At which point, she much like I had done an hour before spills it all out. I am going to add what thoughts were racing through my head in brackets as I read her words.

You see very well that I am not in good health [for me, it’s an ongoing struggle with anxiety], that I have no education [for me, I thought of the doubts that come when I am challenged on whether I can teach a deaf child language.], that I have no money [self explanatory], that I am an abyss of misery [see early part of story when I knelt in the same spot wailing just moments before], that I fear contacts with people [for me, I thought of my absolute obsession with avoiding the piggy flu, and my sometimes consuming worry about the consequences if we can not].

It is Jesus’ reply that is PRICELESS!!! There was no doubt as I read, that he was talking directly to me, and once again I will interject my thoughts as I read with brackets.

My daughter, what you have said is true. You are very miserable [way to console me gently], and it pleased Me to carry out this work of mercy precisely through you [are you ready for this] -- who are nothing but misery itself. [Yes, by now I am wholeheartedly humbled. Which is perfect because now I am open to God’s perfect plan, and to receive the peace and strength he is trying to send me, that up to now I had been rejecting out of fear and doubt.] DO NOT FEAR; I will not leave you alone. [Thank you, Jesus]. Do whatever you can in this matter; I will accomplish everything that is lacking in you. You know what is within your power to do; do that.

Here in the last few sentences was the instruction I so desperately needed. As well as the assurance that I am not capable of doing this, that without God it is impossible, but that HE will bring to completion the good work he has begun. That I will be equipped with all I need according to what is needed, and I don’t even have to think about the unknown in this situation but only what is in my power. So I laid against the wall, eyes to the heavens and pondered what in this situation was within my power. Praying and preparing -- so that is what I resolved to do.

A scary moment in Wuhan

I've been meaning to blog this event from our trip that we intentionally left out while there as to not worry our parents back home.  One of the scariest moments for us in China came on day 2 of having custody of Faith.  We had put her down for a nap, but had forgotten to put on a pull up.  Like is very common in 3 year olds, she wet the bed during her nap.  It was a soaker - who'd a thought such a little person held so much urine!!  We had no choice but to call housekeeping to come change the sheets.  Now what transpired next SHOULD have been the scariest part of this story, but unfortunately, it got worse.  The housekeeper ( a sweet looking and tiny little man/boy) came with a new duvet cover for our comforter.  See hotels in china don't have top sheets or blankets, just a nice cozy comforter with a fresh (you pray) duvet cover...perfect choose for the warm climate we were visiting!  Anyway, he FLIPS THE very large comforter to put the PEE part at the foot of the bed, and puts on the new duvet. YUP - leaves the comforter -- I have heard pee is sterile, and I had to keep with that thought or else I'd never get back into that or any other bed in China ever again!!!  Luckily it was the middle, and her little legs didn't reach down there anyway.

As he is changing the sheets, Faith is sitting in Daddy's lap in a chair next to the bed.  She has woken up wet, and I am sure each time she first woke and realized this wasn't a dream that she wasn't in Kansas anymore, and these 2 strange looking, smelling, smiling people were still there, and the family she'd known for 3 years was no where to be seen!  So each nap was followed by lots of tears, and cuddles(with daddy), which seemed to bring back calm quickly, however this day I WAS the one to remove her from bed, which she took GREAT exception too, and then had to stripe her down (which brought shivers like I'd never seen before - the a/c that hadn't worked since we arrived finally decided to blow frigid air into the room, and on top of that -- you ever wake from a nice warm cozy nap and just can't get warm!!), anyway, these 2 strikes lead to a MAJOR meltdown by Ms. FengHua.  She was a wreck, as she had a runny nose when we got her, the crying had lead to a coughing fit, runny nose, and all around mess of a child now nestled on Daddy's lap.

The Chamberdude finished his work, and turned with a jerk ... oh sorry, got wrapped up in the Christmas spirit for a minute there.  A few moments later, the phone rings and its the front desk.  Read this in your best very thick Chinese accent, "Hello, your child is sick?  She have fever?  You need help, thermometer, we get you to hospital?"  WHAT!!!! WHOA THERE LITTLE FELLA!!  WHAT??  My mind couldn't gather quick enough, now I"M the one shivering uncontrollably as the fear rolls over my body.  We had been traveling at the height of the H1N1 scare, we had to pass heat sensors in the airports to enter the country,  the news ran tons of stories about quarantined tourists,  everyone around us was wearing masks -- and now the front desk of a hotel in a communist country is asking me if my chid is sick!  No, God no... this can't be happening.  I quickly explain that she hates me (no seriously that is what I said in my panic!!), that she was mad that I touched her, which made her cry hysterically, and that is why she looked so horrendous.  NOT sick, I said, know, crying, makes her look like that, not sick, really she's not sick.  Oh Yeah, Perry Mason has nothing on my slick speaking skills!!

He apologizes profusely, and hangs up.  I IMMEDIATELY (do not pass go, do not collect $200) call our Chinese Guide, I'm talking even faster than I normally talk - which is probably breaking land speed records at this point.  I implore her to call the front desk, make sure they are clear that our child is healthy (which I have to confess wasn't 100% the truth, they had given her to us with a slight fever and runny nose, but a little motrin later she wasn't sick no more!!).  While ON the phone I'm shoving Children's Motrin at Kevin to force into Faith - just in case they show up at the door with a thermometer.  OH I had visions of armed military at my door, escorting us to the nearest H1N1 invested Emergency room -- nope, not over active imagination here!!  She is assuring me its ok, probably just a misunderstanding, no one was going to come banging the door down forcing temps to be taken.

I hang up ,and look at the clock its 3 p.m. - the divine mercy hour!  HOW perfect...for I believe as Sr. Faustina relayed, that Jesus will grant whatever you ask during this time, as long as its not against His Father's holy will.  I also realize that at some point in my phone conversations, I have ended up on my knees beside the bed.  In the best position to pray, I make my request to Jesus, praying it is His Father's will that this be ok, without ER trips, or investigations.  I pray the chaplet, and make a few more PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Lord make this ok!!   The phone rings ... it is our guide.  She tells us that the front desk manager is extremely embarassed by his mistake, that the housekeeper had been mistaken, and that they truly were just calling to see if they could help, not condemn us.  It is a 5 star, swanky hotel after all - they want to make sure their patrons are well taken care of... I have to say , until the waiter brought room service, and was able to observe Faith -happy, healthy and snot free!!  I could not relax (and ordered a nice Corona as relaxation insurance)!!

This story speaks to me on a few levels.  First, how much I take my freedom for granted.  How truly unaware I was of what it means to live in a democratic, free, society.  Where my child can be ill, and all I have to worry about is getting them better, not whether I will be forced into seclusion because of it, or told what treatment they will be given.  Second, how truly covered in prayer and God's divine mercy this trip was!  How many big events in this trip happened during the 3 o'clock hour, which I didn't realize until going back through my journal.  Here is just a few -- one of our most horrible turbulent flights (since it was that hour I was so comforted and at peace, so NOT like me!!),  the swearing in ceremony (when we didn't know until we got there if the passport issue was going to bar us from participating and completing this step with the rest of our group, which would have delayed our returning home as well), and one of those cab rides for H E double hockey sticks!!  That God would put this devotion on my heart this year, and so powerfully, providing that extra stength (grace) so I would be well equipped to deal with things, I'm not typically well equipped to deal with , is just more evidence of the existence of a loving, merciful, faithful God  - unseen but present, without a doubt present!