Category Archives: Adoption

When Rihanna And Jesus Say The Same Thing

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This song has been in my head all week. Gauging from your response to my most recent post, many of you feel like you are waiting for something. I thought I’d re-share this post as it seems to be a fitting follow up.

I’ve been thinking about Rihanna a lot these past few days. Maybe because I accidentally dyed my hair BRIGHT red two nights ago. Or perhaps because I wrote about Chris Brown recently. Mostly she is on my mind because I heard a song of hers when I was running errands that I haven’t been able to shake. I don’t like all of her stuff, but these words…

I know that Rihanna’s lyrics are about some guy & not Jesus, but they so perfectly articulate what my dialogue with Jesus seems to be like these days.

I threw my hands in the air and said,

‘Show me something.’

He said, ‘If you dare, come a little closer.’ 

-Rihanna, “Stay”

You know that verse in Psalm that says…”I waited patiently for the Lord…”?  Yea, not so much. That hasn’t been my attitude lately. I’ve been a little less King David and a bit more Rihanna about it. Throwing my hands in the air and telling God to show me something.

Show me what you are doing about my adoption.

Show me your plans for these backlogged dreams to come to pass.

Show me why hope hurts…still.

Show me where the breakthrough will come from.

Show me how I am supposed to find rest for this weary heart.

Hands in the air & yelling at God to show me. Prove it, God. Show me the reason I am still here.That is where I’ve been these past few weeks. Giving the Israelites in the Old Testament some stiff competition in the doubting department. My demands are not met with an excuse for His delay, summary of His plan or a rebuke my attitude.

My hands in the air are met with an invitation.

If you dare, come a little closer.

If I drop my demands. If I dare drop my pain and my sense of entitlement. If I dare…to come closer. To push in instead of push away. That is what Jesus keeps saying to me … come closer.

Closer to His heart. Closer to His generous nature. Closer to the one who resolves every internal conflict I have. Why? Why should I come closer?

Because in His presence is fullness of joy. The joy I am so thirsty for.

Because at His right hand are pleasures forever. The satisfaction I am craving.

Because no good thing does He withhold from me. God is not stingy with me. He has not forgotten.

Even more than those things, I need to draw closer because He loves me. With my hands in the air and my ultimatums – He still loves me. No matter how long I have been walking with God or how far I have come, I need to be loved. I never outgrow my need to hear Jesus tell me He loves me.

I’m not sure who you are, if you hate Rihanna or if your voice is hoarse from screaming your demands to God. But, I do know that you need to be loved too. So, take another risk & be daring.

Put down your stiff arms and listen past your own voice yelling. Do you hear it? Do you hear His invitation to you?

…He said, “If you dare, come a little closer…”

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Come hell or high water. Me and you? We are standing.

Sometimes the battle isn’t about fighting harder, but just staying on the field. Standing come hell or high water. Me and you? We are still standing…

If I could look into your eyes I’d let you know that I see you there. A bit down the road from me. I see you trying your best to hold on with all your might to the little plot of ground you are fighting for. Mustering all your strength to fight against the headwind and recover from the blows that nearly take you out. The reason I see you is because I am here too. Standing on my own plot of ground…

This is a day where there just isn’t anything to do but stand. I sit here with tears brimming in my eyes because this little heart of mine is tired. My feet are sore from trying to claim this patch of land – this promise – for so long. I ache from maintaining uncomfortable postures. Twisting around the obstacles that try to tangle me – bending to keep myself just out of reach from their fatal grasp.

I first came to this place several years ago. Decided to make it my home and chose to see the future with eyes of faith. Chose to believe that God could do the impossible with me here. At first it looked like a great spot for a picnic on my new grassy plot. Lay out a blanket and enjoy the little nest I’d made with yummy food and tasty drink.

Here I would wait until it came to meet me. The promise I was standing on. But it never came.

It was okay for a while because I was surrounded by others just like me. The dreamers and believers who decided to stake their claims in the Land of Not Yet. We were like pioneers in this new land of ours. The minutes turned to hours. Longer than we anticipated but we adventurers always pack extra supplies and faced the unexpected delay with the gusto of a Broadway musical. After all, we wouldn’t be here forever. Would we?

Month after month the strength I found in numbers began to fade. My mountainside friends spotted their dream beckoning them to come and enjoy the new relationship, job, baby, adventure, personal breakthrough, clean bill of health… whatever it was. Their number had been drawn and they got to leave their humble plot to go claim their promise.

And now, here I am. Nearly alone on this mountainside. It’s hard to tell the ghosts from the visions anymore.

Through this foggy sense of no longer knowing how to fight this battle, I see you. I see you out here just like me. Seemingly alone on a piece of ground that once represented all the good things you hoped for, but now only reminds you of all the things you are no longer quite sure of. I know there are more of us, thousands perhaps. But right now, I just see us. You and me. Camping out here. And I hate camping.

Maybe you are one of the ones who packed up your lawn chair awhile ago and are in the middle of everything you dreamed of. If that’s you, I’m glad you got what you were believing for. Sure, I have my bad days and I get envious. But really, really I am glad for you. And while you are finishing off that last party cupcake, say a prayer for those of us still living off our rations.

To my fellow hillside dwellers, I’d like to tell you what I am learning. There is power in standing – remaining. 

“…and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13

When your legs won’t hold you up anymore? Kneel- it’s okay to be tired. When your eyes can no longer look for hope through your weary lids? Close your eyes and remember. Remember what led you to that little patch of promise in the first place.

There is nothing we can do to make it happen faster. No way of controlling the weather out here and the situations we have to navigate as we keep believing that someday, someday soon God will come and get us too. Through the heartache, stand. Through the storm that strips of everything we had, stand. Through the calendar days flipping past, stand.

Eloquent speech is not required. A bigger faith is not demanded. Right here? This is about standing friend. Even when we slouch on the heavy days, it’s about standing. Staying right where we are because despite it all, we are people who believe.

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Mother’s Day. Why I will celebrate and why I will cry.

 

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My beautiful mom back when we lived in Russia.

Today in the United States we celebrate Mother’s Day. There will be flowers, chocolates, homemade cards and phone calls to mothers. It is a day we set aside to celebrate and thank the incredible women who birthed and raised us. Mother’s Day is a beautiful thing.

But I have to be honest. I think we sell Mother’s Day a bit short.

Motherhood is worth celebrating.

I will celebrate today with thankfulness at the two little kids in my home. (One of them keeps interrupting this blog post to show me the newest snail he found in the backyard.) Their early morning cuddles, the way I can calm their fears just by holding them, their hilarious thoughts and creative ways of seeing the world. I can not imagine life without them. My children are the best parts of me.

I smile with joy for the friends who get to celebrate their very first Mother’s Day this year. The new babies that this year has brought to sweet friends who spent years longing for them. Happy Mother’s day new mamas. Soak in every drop.

I will honor all the women around me who mother so well. The ones with healthy families, the ones whose children require extra care, the women who look after other’s children as if they were their own. All the women who are brave enough to love a child unconditionally. Especially my own mom – who deserves her own theme song and fireworks to follow her.

Today is also a day with streaks of sadness.

I think about the baby I lost in between my daughter and my son. I wonder what he or she would have been like and who they would have grown into. All the bedtime stories I didn’t get to read and all the evenings snuggling on the couch doing nothing but simply being together. Today there are multitudes of women like me – who ache for the children that are no longer with them on this earth.

Each morning I think about the two children we are adopting from Burundi. Today is the fourth Mother’s Day I will have spent waiting for them to join our family. Gritting my teeth and praying that by this time next year they will be here with me. Fighting the lie that this is one more year lost. So many women feel that way today. One more year gone without the child they were hoping for.

Mother’s Day to me is not so much about honoring the role of mom, but about celebrating the capacity of the women to be mothers.

I have seen motherhood in action and it is a powerful thing. Professionals who advocate and fight for the rights of minors. Moms who sit beside their autistic children refusing to let a diagnosis define them. Nurses who care for the sick and dying. Businesswomen who support projects to improve the lives of others around the world. Those who spend their days intentionally loving and giving despite their own needs. Not all of these women have their own children, but they encompass the definition of motherhood so well.

” Motherhood: is 24/7 on the frontlines of humanity.” – Maria Shriver

To the women who are knee deep in laundry or college tuition bills – thank you for raising kids. For giving them your hours, your bodies and your hearts.

To the women who are meeting today with the ache of loss – thank you for loving so deeply even though it caused you pain.

To the women still filled with longing for the kids you don’t have – I see you. Thank you for not giving up.

There is so much to celebrate today beyond the high-five to the mom in the park (although, that would totally make my day).

Take time to notice the women around you. The women who selflessly pour into children that will never call them “mom”. The ones who will courageously attend another baby shower for a friend even though it rubs on the tender place of disappointment within them. The women who give their days and nights to wiping noses and taking care of their own kids needs. These women are all worth celebrating and support the broader meaning of motherhood. They spend their lives on the frontlines of humanity. They are mothers in their own right.

So to all the women who mother – physically, emotionally, spiritually. This one’s for you babe. Happy Mother’s Day.

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‘Later’ is a dream killer

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I’m about four days into my return from Burundi. Africa left it’s mark on me in so many ways – as it always does. I’m sure I will ramble words here in future posts that explore more of what happened in me during my time there. For now, most of those thoughts are still unraveling in my mind.

There was this phrase though that tumbled across my mind. It popped up when I was sitting with orphans in shelters, listening to drummers up high in the mountains and watching the hippos climb out of Lake Tanganyika. It was there when I laid on my bed under the mosquito net that draped like a canopy over me.

‘Later’ is a dream killer.

All throughout Africa I thought about this – a million reasons that trip shouldn’t have been able to happen. Except we decided that this was the time to move forward with our adoption. For all the reasons ‘now’ seems impossible, it isn’t.

And so we said, not later. Now.

We took a risk. And people showed up. Donations came in to help cover the cost and  a village of people surrounded my husband and helped him take care of the kids while I was away. I found myself thinking how amazing the world really is when we just step outside our front doors and start walking towards the things we feel called to.

That dream we want to chase, the idea we feel destined to birth or the relationships we aspire to build are all threatened by this simple thought. I’ll do it later.

It is true that we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and that the future has zero guarantees. But, I don’t think that is what makes ‘later’ so dangerous.

Putting things off until later reveals not only a false view of the future, but a troublesome insight into the way we see our present.

What is wrong with right now?

I am not brave enough.

I don’t deserve it. 

There isn’t enough money or time now. The future will be different.

I can’t handle it yet. There is too much I still need to learn.

I am too afraid. Afraid that I will fail, that I will loose or even worse – that I was not made to do it after all.

There are a million reasons we say ‘not now’. And those are the very reasons that ‘later’ will never happen.

The future version of ourselves is always better. We have more money, we are confident and shake off the haters with a passing glance. Our future selves don’t fear failure or making bad decisions. Our future selves are deserving of good things – weaknesses are a thing of the past. We are no longer afraid of ourselves in ___ years.

The future is where we imagine our dreams can happen.

Our assumption is that things will change by the mere passage of time. But, that isn’t how it works.

The future is painted by what we do today.

We gotta look at all the real reasons we say ‘later’. All of our walls we hide behind or the excuses we make that let us get away with being people we aren’t proud to be. Time doesn’t change the way we see ourselves. We gotta deal with our reasons head-on. If not, today’s excuses will become tomorrow’s excuses.

Yea, we may not be able to do all of our dreams right now. We have families, jobs and financial responsibilities that we need to take care of. However, most of the time it isn’t really responsibility that stops us. It is a belief that right now, we can’t. We aren’t enough and don’t have what it takes.

It is my personal belief that we are all created by God with an eternal destiny within us. We were made for more than haphazard living with idealistic views that one day it will all be different. Each of us holds something valuable. Right now. Today. Even if it is baby steps, we gotta start walking towards something bigger.

Let’s create the things, have the conversations, board the planes and start the businessesLet’s be honest about the lies that tell us that it can’t begin now. ‘Cause we got dreams people. And ‘later’ is a dream killer.

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It’s like a field trip of sorts – but without the permission slip and sack lunch

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I was gonna be all impressive and grown up, but it just didn’t work out. I’ve known this was coming for weeks and had lined out some posts to automatically publish over the next two weeks so you guys wouldn’t even notice that I was in Africa.

Yea, Africa. Life didn’t quite follow my highly-detailed plan this past week and therefore I didn’t get any posts lined out to publish tonight. I sat down to do it now, but my malaria medicine is making me a smidge loopy so I decided creativity probably isn’t a wise attempt at the moment.

So, I’m gonna get personal and just tell you the truth.  I tend to stay away from talking about the ins-and-outs of my personal life on here since Lark & Bloom isn’t really about me as much as it is about us. And it certainly isn’t an adoption or parenting blog. B I’ll briefly take a moment and fill you in on whats happening with me.

This isn’t news really if you follow me on social media, but I’m going to Africa tomorrow. My husband and I have been in the process of adopting for over four years now. It’s been a long journey – a story for another day – but in November we shifted our plans and began the process of adopting from Burundi. We are hoping to adopt a set of siblings actually. I refer you to my previous post about doing the crazy thing.

If you’ve never heard of Burundi, I suggest you read about itI will be giving my paperwork to the government officials in Bujumbura and be introduced to the amazing country nestled in the heart of Africa.

I went to Africa for the first time when I was 15. I have been back twice since then and am beyond excited to return again.

I am unsure if I will be able to blog from there, so we are gonna do something a bit different. I’ll be posting photos from my trip on Instagram and I’d like to invite you along. Its kinda like a field trip of sorts, but you don’t have to sign a permission slip or bring a sack lunch. It should be fun.

Follow me on Instagram @larkandbloom and come to Africa with me. We were made for adventure.

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Why Yelling From A Boat Is The Right Thing To Do

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These past few weeks there have been numerous people yelling at me from boats. Just when I don’t think I can come up for another breath, there they are. Their muffled encouragements drifting into my ears through the crashing waves. At certain moments I lose my bearings and ability to judge if I can even make it to my destination at all. But the hodge-podge crowd of boat sailing cheerleaders yelled at me telling me that I was so close – almost there. Keep going Liz.

Okay, I think to myself. Just breathe. Keep going.

You may not know this about me, but I am NOT a marathon swimmer. However, some people actually are. And when they set out to conquer things like the English Channel or swimming from Florida to Haiti without a shark cage, they don’t go it alone. They are accompanied by a support boat full of people. People to cheer them on, give them what they need throughout the journey and rescue them if need be.

I have been my own kind of marathon swimmer as of late. My oceans are composed of legal documents. Instead of waves I have deadlines and my sharks are simply too many unknown elements to name. Four years ago, we began the process of international adoption. It has been a gritty and grueling marathon of its own.

I leave in two weeks to travel to Africa and begin meeting with orphanages. After four years of what seems like aimless swimming in an endless sea, it is as if I can see a shore for the first time. But these past few weeks have had some significant challenges. Thank God for the boat full of people yelling at me.

Random texts asking how to pray. Phone calls from people I rarely talk to calling just encourage me and see how I am doing. A $500 donation to our adoption account from a complete stranger. People in a boat. Cheering beside me.

My life has been filled with moments that seemed to hard to endure. Moments that my weary eyes were blurry and couldn’t really see the target anymore. Days when it seemed like the darkness was greater than the light and that somehow in the scuffle of it all I didn’t really matter much. But in those moments that ached with tiredness I heard the yells and remembered that I wasn’t alone.

We all need boats of people yelling at us.

Screaming our rally cry when we have forgotten the very words our own heart wrote.

Gladiators who step in the ring with us saying, ” Have a rest friend. I’ve got this round.“.

Dreamers who never let us forget our vision and  pray for endless hours to a God who gives the strength we need.

But we have to let them in. Tell them what battles we are fighting and give them permission to journey alongside us. Not following at a distance, but close. Where they can see our labored breathing and hear our subtle cry for help. Yes, they will see us ugly cry and wrestle with our inadequacies. But we trust them – so its okay. These are the ones who will cover for us when we fail and who only Instagram our highlights.

Don’t swim your oceans alone. Bring people in.

And get in another’s boat.

Be the the one yelling that the shore is close. Remind others that this saltwater won’t surround them forever, but soon they will be able to put their feet down and walk onto the beach having conquered that which seemed impossible. And when they get there, throw them a party.

Yell, cheer and pray until you have lost your own voice on another’s behalf.

Build a boat and fill it with people who have your back. Hop in a canoe and paddle alongside a friend who needs you.

Our destiny is not to drown alone in the dark waters, but to defy the odds with others.

Love crosses oceans.

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Adoption … It’s a _______!

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It’s a … NEW COUNTRY!  If you have been following Lark & Bloom for very long you may have come across some posts about adoption. You can read through them right here to get caught up.

This December marks four years since we started the process of trying to adopt. We began with Uganda, then moved to Ghana. Two weeks ago we learned that our agency is now closing their Ghana program.

Jady & I went back to the drawing board and asked ourselves the hard question. Do we still want to adopt?  The answer was overwhelmingly yes.

Nights were spent scouring programs both internationally and here in the United States. We considered every option…again. One program and agency stood out. We talked to them on the phone, got our questions answered, prayed a lot and made our decision.

We are adopting two children from Burundi!

In a lot of ways we are back at square one, but our hearts are very peaceful and excited to be moving forward. Unlike the two previous countries we were working with, Burundi is not dealing with government setbacks when it comes to adoptions.

So, we are filling out the paperwork and the ball is moving forward. If all goes smoothly we could bring our children home as early as this summer.

Lark & Bloom really isn’t a personal blog, so I am going to limit the number of posts I put up about adoption on here. I have however started a new blog, The Six Griffins, which will keep you updated on our adoption situation.

Check our our adoption blog —> The Six Griffins

Learn about ways to donate —> Funding Our Adoption

As always, I appreciate your prayers and thoughts as we keep working to bring our kids home. Your support and encouragement has been overwhelming in this process. The biggest thanks to each of you!

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