Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Refined by fire

(Roma has read and approved this message!)

My son just got his drivers license yesterday. Finally. I haven't been as eager as he, for I love the fine people of my community. I have been reluctant to put lives in danger by unleashing another teenage alpha male on the road! (If you know Roma, you are shaking your head with gratitude!)

Roma will be 19 soon. I postponed the inevitable as long as possible. Roma is my baby, and maybe I am a little overly protective of him. I need to let him go, even to make his own mistakes, but he has had a head start on practicing mistakes.

"Roma!" I am always saying (and always with an exclamation point!), "Learn from the mistakes of others! You cannot possibly live long enough to make them all yourself!" Big mistake on my part—so now he is doubling up, testing my assumption, accepting my dare!

I pray for his thoughts and actions, and his safety. I lay him down at the feet of God. I want him to linger there, for a nanosecond, or two, at least. But he keeps getting up and running off. Is it my job to keep dragging him back, thrashing in protest?

We adopted Roma eleven years ago from Russia. The story is documented in my book, But the Greatest of These is Love, published last fall. I wrote the book because I could not NOT write it—the book sort of wrote itself. This story is who I have become. It oozes out in my daily life, my conversations, and my on-going, pray-without-ceasing dialogues with God, which usually begin, "God, help me mother Roma." and sometimes include clinched-teeth bargaining with God, even wrestling with God.  (Hey, I am not the first!) My hope in sharing our story is so others will see God in the details of their lives, and be blessed. To recognize the miracles of God's grace is a blessing. To have eyes that have been opened to see the glory of God is a blessing. I hope my story gives hope to others who are wrestling with God about the plan He is revealing to them. God sees the big picture. We do not. God has mysteries that we cannot fathom with our little ant brains.

God doesn't want us to always be like ants. He wants to transform us. Often He refines us by fire. Not literal fire, but by trials, even suffering.  I do not mean to make it sound like raising Roma has been on par with some people's genuine suffering. The biggest trial in my life has not been raising Roma, but surrendering to Got when He revealed His plan for me of adoption when it was not my plan. Getting on board with God's plan was the challenge. And Roma has continued along that path, challenging me! Every day!

"Trials." Sure, trials bring with them many qualities like perseverance, character, and hope, but who signs up for trials?  We would rather be refined by a massage while meditating with a glass of wine. I guarantee more would be signing up for that! But as an old story goes, the process of purifying precious metals is complete only when the one doing the purifying can see his own image reflected in the metal. It is in the process that we are refined.

Is it easy? No! It was never meant to be easy. What do we learn from "easy"? I know I have learned a lot from "hard"!

Through the years, well-meaning friends have stopped just short of asking THE question. I have read it in their skepticism, in their careful comments. Only one person ever verbalized THE question—a middle school teacher who had previously taught my older, calmer children, and had her hands full with my charming, exuberant, bouncy Roma—"Do you ever regret adopting?"

Older adoptions are more complicated, when neglect has had time to complicate a young child's psyche. For a child to spend the first seven years of life in a setting we can not imagine, leaves an impression and an impact that have consequences.

But never for another nanosecond do I regret claiming the jackpot that is Roma. It would be like saying I wish I had never been born. Because of God's impact on my life through Roma, I have been born again. We thought we were saving a little boy from Russia, yet we were the ones who were saved!

Oh, there are moments (MANY) when Roma and I lock horns and my prayer is for Roma's protection from ME! But he is my son in every sense that matters. His love has changed me. For the better. I pray mine has done the same for him.

And as he drives away, I pray for his safety and decisions that come with his new freedom. I have to let him go.

Stop by Facebook, "like" to get updates, and scroll to the beginning, to see more photos of my delightful, exasperating boy! And if you live in the vicinity, keep your eyes peeled for a dark green, 2000 Chevy Impala. I would give you the tag number, but it will be moving too fast to read!

Has my life been blessed? Oh, yeah!

To continue with more "Roma Stories," go to The Hound Of Heaven Winks

Monday, July 1, 2013


I do not watch much television. Days go by without me plopping in front of the "idiot box." "Idiot box" was coined in 1990 on MTV. I never thought I would agree with anything on  MTV!

I occasionally watch HGTV, also referred to as Home and Garden Television. Although I am not much into gardening, I enjoy do-it-yourself projects around my house. I am astonished watching dilapidated hovels transformed into relative mansions.

My own house is only seven years old, with the open concept that will need "updating" soon, in this age of fast, manipulated obsolescence. Picking appliance colors was tricky seven years ago, for sooner or later "stainless steel" will be the new "avocado." I chose "bisque," because I like "bisque." NO one on the show agrees with me. According to the experts, the new appliance color is "white ice," in other words, white. Everything old is new again.

HGTV has turned me into an amateur house designer, decorator, architect, and re-modeler. When I am in older homes of friends or relatives, I am constantly looking over their shoulder for the possible location of the support beams and ways to expand that kitchen. Can that wall come down? What if we open up that staircase on both sides. What was the homeowner thinking when selecting that fabric? Could live with this orange paint?

I am presently in the middle of a few home improvements of my own.  I tell myself that because I am an artist, I love "beauty," for the sake of beauty.  I have bought travertine tile for the back splash in my kitchen. I have a small kitchen in my lower level too, so, of course, that has to be tiled too.  And I will install it myself, naturally, with my newly-purchased wet saw. I have become discontent with my new, lovely home. And with what I have spent "updating," I could have funded a clean-water well in Africa! Maybe two.

I am experiencing house envy from HGTV.  I never thought I was materialistic, but I am quickly crossing that line.

I was humbled by a recent episode in which a young single mother had a $100,000 house budget. She was so glass-is-two-thirds-full enthusiastic with each disgusting shanty she toured–disgusting in my humble opinion, which, by the way, got humbler as the show progressed.  By the end of the show, I almost wept in rapture for the joy she was expressing for the opportunity for her first starter home. She literally looked more angelic and lovely as the show evolved. I remembered how I had adored our starter home, a little cape cod with rotted  window frames, no heat other than wood, and the back porch that was barely still fastened to the house. Ah, those were happy days!

A few months back I saw a different episode in which another single mother also had a $100,000 budget. I was as shocked as the Realtor when the buyer criticized every room. "I was hoping for granite counter tops . . .  hardwood floors , , , nice master suite . . . upgraded bath . . ." And, as you can guess, the young woman's face became more distorted with each bitter pronouncement of dissatisfaction. The show ended awkwardly, with no sale.

I am examining myself as to whose attitude of these two mothers mine mimics. As an adoptive mother (read But the Greatest of These is Love!) I often quote James 1:27, at least the first part: "Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress," PERIOD. I don't  often want to drag my guilty self into the next part of that verse: "and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

I promise, publicly, after this last (expensive) piece of travertine is stuck to the wall, and grouted, and sealed, I am done upgrading myself out of dissatisfaction. I want an angelic face of gratitude! I have so much to be thankful for!

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," was coined by another expert in beauty, Leonardo Divinci!

Be thankful in all things!