Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What's in a name? The story behind baby girl Golden's name

Lorelai. I knew from the instant I first heard it that if Dan and I were ever blessed with a little girl, that'd be her name. It's been nearly ten years since that moment and friends, she's finally on the way. 

Given that you're here, on my blog, you probably don't live under a rock and you have one or two associations with this name, like this lady here:

       



I am the biggest Gilmore Girls fan in the world. I mean, they talk fast, make pop culture references no one gets and drink more coffee than should be humanly possible -- Lorelai Gilmore and I are kindred spirits.

But this name has an even more special meaning to me and I want to tell you a story about the lady who inspired it, Lora Jean.

                                           


I first met Lora around the age of 4. We'd moved from Texas to Kansas, back to the area where my parents were raised. We began attending the church I'd grow up in and Lora quickly became one of my mom's closest friends. When I was very young, she and her husband owned a Putt-Putt. I remember Lora babysitting my younger brother and I and spending hours playing video games and mini golf. Basically the best babysitter ever!

After some unforeseen life circumstances, Lora began working for my dad as his office manager. She was the one who taught me to type, around the age of 8, something I'd eventually do professionally for many years. And at age 14, she hired me as her assistant for two afternoons a week, gradually increasing my hours and duties as I aged; we eventually spent every afternoon together, working side by side. 

                                          


As I grew, though, so did our relationship. Lora was an active volunteer in our church's youth group and she always had her home open to us. I spent countless nights there watching movies and making pizzas (always with a Chef Boyardee crust mix). Her annual Christmas sleepovers were EPIC (details of which I couldn't possibly disclose here. What happens at Lora's stays at Lora's ;). It was always the highlight of the year for the teenage girls in the church.

She was a thoughtful, intent listener and while she was steadfast in her faith, she was never pushy. Because of that, I felt safe confiding in her and she always handled my struggles with grace. Because of this trust she built with care, she was the one who lead me to Christ at age 16.

When I was 17, Lora became very ill very suddenly. It took the doctors several months to figure out what was wrong and she died just a few short weeks after we finally learned of her diagnosis -- multiple myeloma.

                                              
                                         

It's been 15 years since she died. My heart still aches with sadness when there's something I wish she were here for, like when I got married or when I finally became a mom. As silly as it sounds, I say little prayers in hopes she may know about my boys or our baby girl on the way and I tell my boys about her, the woman who was so important to me she'd be like another grandma if she were here.

And someday, not so long from now, I'll tell my Lorelai about Lora, the wild, crazy prankster church lady in red, who molded her mama into the woman she is today. 
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I asked some friends who knew Lora too to share a story that is quentessentially Lora. I got so many amazing responses that I can't put all of them, but below are a few that capture the essence of the woman who shaped so much of my life! 


The lady in RED! Maybe I should say the crazy lady in red.... the Christmas shopping trips to KC and her crazy games to keep us entertained on the way and the only time I ever saw her irritated was when Carol and I got lost in the mall and were a wee bit late getting back to the bus. I think she forgave us, lol. LOVED her spirit. She was SO fun!


I can't hear "Lady in Red" and not think of her because she would tell me how much she loved that song. I also can't see David Hasselhoff and not think of Lora. ha!  I can still recall her distinctive laugh (when she was playing a prank on someone) and/or her high-pitched scream (when we were playing games in youth group and she was getting really excited)...she liked to win. lol


She understood teenagers better than anyone I have ever met before. She understood our flighty and ever-changing emotions, our wiggly inability to sit still for long, and our need to fully experience the world, and never batted an eyelash or took our attitudes personally. During an awkward phase of life, she made me totally comfortable in my own skin - a massive undertaking that I am still not totally sure how she accomplished.


Lora was a quintessential encourager. She helped me get over myself and learn not to take myself too seriously. As mentioned before, she had a way of making you feel like the most important person to her. She had a lot of best friends! At that time in my life I had never experienced such a friendship as hers. She loved me, and she loved my family. She enjoyed being included in our girls days out, and was always so very grateful. I never appreciated her enough. Now I am the one who is so very grateful.


This thread is amazing. No, Lora was amazing. :) A couple fun memories for your project, Kels: 1) Bra sledding - do you remember the christmas sleepover when this was a serious consideration? Still makes me giggle. 2) We went to visit Kelsey in the hospital after visiting hours one night and really felt like we were breaking in. Lora signed us in and made it into a fun adventure instead of letting us feel sad or scared about your being sick.


Lora was an amazing mentor to me.  She was so kind, loving and had so much compassion for ALL.  I will never forget the last time we talked.  She visited me in the hospital after I had my son almost 16 years ago. She had such great advice and I will cherish her forever!!


And Lora would be laughing at the stories and at herself the loudest! One very special lady!


And my own memory: 
Two buckets and a strap (those of you who get this are dying right now). ;)
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We miss you so much, dear friend!


Monday, August 10, 2015

When adoption and infertility grief hit like a ton of bricks

                          


Last night I said to a friend "You know, I'm not sure we ever fully heal from traumatic events in our lives." I had no idea when I said those words to her they'd ring true for me less than 24 hours later.

Late last week, Dan and I inquired about a baby girl in China who's waiting for a family. We got her file on Friday and sat down last night to pray over her, about whether she's our girl, about the timing and where the money's going to come from. When we concluded, we still weren't sure about anything, but we had one question we needed answered.

I emailed our social worker this morning about our question; in her reply, in addition to telling me they would inquire, she also told me another family is seriously considering baby girl. I sat down at my dining room table and sobbed uncontrollably into my hands.

After I calmed myself, I began contemplating why I was so upset. Unlike with Michael, I'm not sure that this baby girl is my baby girl. She seems like a great fit for us, but there are several others that could be too. As well, choosing a child this early isn't how we planned things to go.

Then it hit me. I'm not upset at the possibility of her being matched with another family, I'm still grieving.

We were approved four years ago this month for our first adoption -- domestic infant. Just a mere two weeks after we were approved, we got a call from our social worker saying someone had gotten our names and knew we hoped to adopt. She had just given birth and would like to place her baby with us. We raced to our agency, signed paperwork, got everything sent to the birth mother's attorney and we never heard another word. Over the course of the next 10 months, we asked to be considered for another 15 children; we have no idea how many times we were presented outside of these requests.

At one point, about eight months into our wait, we got a call from our social worker, two days before we were supposed to be leaving the country, asking "There's an expectant mother who wants to meet you and another couple. Can you go tomorrow?" We made the eight hour roundtrip drive to her hometown and met her, her daughter and mother in a study room at a library. Things were a bit awkward, but they went well. I felt like she liked our answers to her questions and that we could have a great long-term relationship. However, before leaving for the airport the next day we got the news she'd chosen the other couple. I understood, but I was devastated. Over the next few months there were more children we asked to be considered for and again, we were rejected over and over.

I don't want you to misunderstand -- I don't begrudge an expectant mother or birth mother's decision to choose another family or to parent her child herself. I believe anyone who wants to parent their child should be given every opportunity to do so and it is HER right to choose who will take over that role if she's unable to.

At the same time, though, I grieve for myself. I grieve the loss of ease of  growing my family. I grieve that every time we want to add to our family I have to fight like hell. I grieve that I've struggled to be happy for friends and family when they conceive. I grieve from being continually rejected. I grieve for my sons' birth mothers who I know continue to grieve heavily for their loss too. I grieve for my baby girl, whoever she is, who is sitting in an orphanage in China right now, growing up without her mama, daddy and big brothers.

Until today, it had been years since I'd this feeling of despair, but when it welled up I realize it is still there, not so far beyond the surface. I don't know if my heart will ever fully heal, but tonight I am finding comfort in these words:


“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

My sweet friends, those of you grieving infertility, chronic miscarriages, broken dreams of marriage and children, those of you are birth mothers who have placed children for adoption, those of you who are mothers in your heart but do not yet have babies in your arms, those of you grieving your children taken from this earth too soon, I pray these words over you tonight too; The Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Maxisms #5

         

Maxisms #4

       

It's Africa, part 1

          
           
        



The wheels touched down on the tarmac and the whole plane erupted into applause, punctuated by hoots and cheers from around the cabin. Ashley and I turned to each other with a look of "what the hell?" and shrugged. I'd flown into Kigali just five weeks earlier or otherwise I would have wondered if it a Rwandan thing. Maybe it's a Belgian thing?

The people departing the plane for Kigali stood up. Ashley and I stayed seated for the time being; many of the planes en route to Entebbe make a short stop in Rwanda to let passengers off/board passengers making their way to Uganda. It's usually a short stop, about an hour. No biggie. I put my headphones back on and continued to watch an episode of "The New Girl."

My show ended and I was beginning to feel restless. Ashley and I made our way toward the galley to see if we can find something to drink; the plane had been turned off and it was getting hot.

We shuffled around the galley -- it was filled with a dozen other passengers who were clearly sharing our sentiment -- and we began hearing rumblings from other passengers, "They're trying to fix it, but they aren't sure they can." "The engine went out two hours before we landed!"

Wait... What? That applause was beginning to make so much more sense.

Hours passed and the flight attendants were clearly getting frustrated by our incessant questions and the passengers were beyond frustrated by the lack of answers. One hour passed. Two hours. Three hours. We continued to sit in the hot airplane, beginning to feel as if we're being held hostage by Brussels Air.

Finally a flight attendant came on the overhead speaker, "Ladies and gentleman, we unfortunately have had a mechanical malfunction and a new plane will need to be flown in from Belgium tomorrow."  and the speakers went silent. Four hours straight on a hot plane with no food and no water.  

The speakers clicked on again, "Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately we will need you to debark the plane; however, a visa is required for entry into Rwanda. We are attempting to secure them so we may accommodate you in a nearby hotel." At that point, I was begging Jesus for mercy. We'd been traveling for two days and we just wanted to sleep.

Another hour passed and praise God, we were allowed to leave the plane and were directed toward immigration inside the airport. We walked in the doors and it was pandemonium; a hundred exhausted passengers all crowded around a desk where two immigration workers were slowly muddling their way through each passenger's paperwork. There was no rhyme or reason. No line. Nary a Brussels Air employee to be found.

Hours passed. Ashley and I, absolutely exhausted to the core, were two of the four last passengers at the desk. Finally, we are allowed to enter the country. We grabbed our backpacks and headed out the front doors. It was 2 AM; our plane had landed seven hours prior.

We reached the curb and were greeted by a delightful Rwandan woman. She was an airport employee and was the most informative person we'd come across since we landed at 7 PM. She grouped us with a couple of other passengers, told us a taxi would be arriving momentarily and there would be complimentary dinner waiting for us when we arrive at our hotel, which is one of the nicest in town.
As the taxi pulled up, she told us the plane from Belgium wouldn't arrive until at least 5 PM the next day, so to please enjoy the city, go the genocide memorial and don't miss the opportunity to see the traditional Rwandan dancers.

We arrived at the hotel just a few minutes later. I was surprised by how nice Rwanda is; the streets are better maintained than my own street in Omaha. The lobby of the hotel is spotless. I felt relieved. Finally, that crazy ordeal was over! I looked around for the complimentary dinner the airport employee mentioned, expecting something to be set up nearby. Maybe there's a restaurant in the hotel?

While we wondered where the food may be, we saw the hotel had WiFi. Glory! Hallelujah! We were supposed to be at Entebbe hours ago and no one had a clue where we were. Ashley pulled out her phone and tried to connect to the internet. I got my iPad. Nothing. People all around us were sending emails, making calls, but we could not get a thing to work.

Finally we got checked in. We got our room keys and directions to the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. We quickly dropped our bags in our room then made our way upstairs in the elevator.

The elevator doors opened and the floor was pitch black. I wondered "are we in the right place?" but we could hear bass thumping, so we guessed it must be the place. We exited the elevator and rounded the corner to see our fellow passengers crowded around a bar.


To be continued...