Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birthday girl and a sleigh ride

December 16 began with two grown-ups and two big brothers singing "Happy Birthday" to wake up a certain girl who turned four! Determined to take on greater responsibilites with her new age, Anya Rashi immediately handed me her precious "fuzzy" (her pink blankie) and declared, "Mama, you can give this to my baby sister. I won't need it any more!"

(Of course, naptime and bedtime told a different story, and she's happily snuggled up with her fuzzy as I type this.)

She absolutely couldn't wait for Daddy to come home so we could eat her birthday meal of Chicken Makhani, per her request. This was really the first year where the anticipation of gifts was completely tantalizing all day for her. To help the day go by a little faster, she built a fort out of blankets, pillows and our coffee table. She was Tinkerbell (never mind that she's never seen any movie, etc. featuring Tinkerbell), complete with fairy wings, and it was my job to be Buttercup, her fairy friend.

This day was unusual in that she actually played dolls in the traditional sense. Instead of playing dolly hospital, our Tinkerbell was mother to two babies in the fort. I was responsible for four babies -- she's savvy about delegating, apparently. :o)

It was a treat to see Aaron and Nathan eager for her to open their present to her (a little "Dora is a Big Sister" play set), and see them help take the toy packaging off -- no small feat, with all the plastic and wire ties! We also continued a tradition we did with both of our sons, and gave her a really fantastic children's Bible -- the illustrations are outstanding, and the text is great for an older child. She's seen the boys' copies, and was excited to have her very own. (Unfortunately, our cake photos didn't turn out very well . . . we will have to take more in January, when we celebrate with grandparents, aunts and uncles, I guess!)

We decided to use her birthday to transition to her new big girl (twin) bed, which was definitely a hit! In the evening, just the two of us were sitting together. Out of the blue, Anya Rashi said, "I thought I would be bigger!" After a little bit of conversation, I figured out that she thought she would suddenly wake up much bigger with the new, bigger number of four. So funny and sweet!
Something unusual happened on her birthday -- when we were driving the boys home from school, we saw what I can only describe as a rainbow cloud. I don't know if that's an official weather term, but the sun was shining on a nearly transparent cloud, and vertical stripes of rainbow colors appeared in the entire cloud. It was absolutely gorgeous, and we watched it all the way home.

Unrelated to her birthday, we took advantage of our 10 inches of snow this weekend and went on a real sleigh ride with some dear friends. A farm family about 20 minutes' drive from our house offers sleigh rides out to a little cabin they built for their grandkids. We brought all the fixings for a simple dinner, and got to hear the tinkling of real jingle bells on the back of two Belgian horses as our sleigh runners squeaked against the snow. It was pure joy to see the kids' faces as we boarded the sleigh for our sunset ride! Everyone's cheeks pinked up quickly in the 16-degree weather, and we just had to sing "Jingle Bells" as we rode. We roasted marshmallows by the fire, and warmed up in the cabin by a wood stove. The hazy moon peeked out behind trees and clouds as we rode back to the farm, turning the snow silver . . . it was truly magical.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What were you doing three years ago?

Three years ago to the day, we were in Kolkata, meeting our daughter for the first time! We will never forget the walk up that dim staircase to the clean, bright rooms where the babies and toddlers were. Our eyes scanned the cribs until they landed on Baby Rashi's face -- a face we knew and loved from the pictures we'd received during our long wait.

Those first days were filled with wonder that it was all really happening: after two years of waiting, we were finally holding and feeding this new little daughter! We cannot imagine our lives or our family without her.

I can't believe that three years have already gone by. She is so inquisitive, funny, sweet, and opinionated. We love hearing her try to sound out which letters are in a word, we love watching her quick fingers put a puzzle together, and we even love listening to a little grumbling about wearing tights and a dress -- then seeing her light up at the compliments her Daddy gives her.

We love you, Anya Rashi, and we are so grateful that God has entrusted you to us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Words of hope

I found this quotation, and thought I'd share it with my waiting friends. Although it's not written about waiting during an adoption, I thought it was so profound regarding "a separation whose purpose we fail to understand." I love the hope it casts during the holidays, when separation can feel even more painful. It was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his fiancee, while he was held in a Nazi prison in 1943:

Be brave, my dearest Maria, even if this letter is your only token of my love this Christmas-tide. We shall both experience a few dark hours -- why should we disguise that from each other? We shall ponder the incomprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness already enshrouding humanity. We are being subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand. And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent and waiting

This nativity was outside St. Paul's Cathedral in Kolkata during our trip in December 2007.

I haven't posted for a few weeks, for a variety of reasons. First, I've had a horrible cough for nearly three weeks that mutated into something that required an inhaler and some codeine cough syrup to convince it to go away. But now I think I'm on the road to recovery at last. We had three dear friends from church pitch in by bringing us some meals to help me rest . . . their care and generosity brought tears to my eyes, to say the least.

Second, this week is officially our Christmas crazy week. Nathan is in the Christmas musical at our church this weekend, which Peter directs. Aaron's had several rehearsals for his boychoir concerts this weekend.

Third, our van died and (mercifully!) just needed a new battery. We are so blessed with family who stepped in for chauffeur duty at the drop of the hat until the following day, when we put in the new battery.

Fourth, our adoption morale is kind of low right now, and I just didn't know what to write. We heard back from our case worker after her trip to India in November, and there's very little good news to be had. We are cheering for the families with referrals already, as their paperwork has passed the new CWC hurdle in India . . . but the discouraging news is that things are at a standstill right now, and likely to be that way into 2011.

There are a few reasons for this -- until the families already matched with a child get through the court process and travel to bring their children home, no new babies can be welcomed into our orphanage. Every single child there is matched with a family (which is wonderful), but they're all stuck there as the new paperwork process in India gets sorted out. My heart breaks for all those kids growing older every day without their families, and for all the infants and children turned away because there's no room.

Which brings me to the subject of Advent. While we anticipate Christmas, I can't help but think of Mary and Joseph, waiting for their Child, and being turned away from inn after inn because there was no room that baby either.

And I can't help but think of a weary world waiting for the Child to be born, and for the hope that He would bring. We are weary of waiting, and don't know when our journey will end. But just as Mary and Joseph eventually reached their humble destination, so will we. And just as they rested in the knowledge that God called them to their journey, we can find peace somewhere along our own uncertain journey. It will not be comfortable or easy (although I'm sure it's easier than making a 70-mile trip on a donkey while 9 months pregnant!), but we know what the end will be: a daughter welcomed into our hearts, brought to us because of the love we've received from that other Child.
I hope I can hold onto that idea as the wait continues to drag on.