a little and a lot

Monday, September 21, 2009

Everything & Nothing

Last year I made a buddy in the first grade at Georgia Avenue Elementary, and we read books together every week. I had a grand time with my new friend as we read through some of the "classics" I remembered from my childhood, and I was also introduced to a wide range of new children's literature. (It's AMAZING the words first-graders are required to know in 2009! I clearly remember a story with the word "joyous celebration" repeated over and over...What happened to: "Run, Spot, run?")

One particular week, the reading assignment we were working through was entitled "An Egg is an Egg." Have any of you read this book? I was so in love with this story--it is about all kinds of things that change...an egg becomes a chick, a seed becomes a flower, day becomes night. After each example, there is a "chorus" of sorts that says "Everything changes. Nothing stays the same." As my little friend and I read through the story, I found myself starting to cry.

I both crave & dread change at the same time. I love reading over old letters and prayer journals, feeling my faint smile as I read about my dread over leaving college...my excited trepidation of falling in love (and WHEN would it happen?!)...my anxiety over not knowing how God would work & move in my life. And yet, I have reveled in my post-college experiences, I am in fascination of love's ever-advancing depths, and God has and continues to stretch, shape, and move me in familiar but surprising ways.

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same.

I have been MIA recently due to all of these constant changes. We are making changes. Nothing will stay the same. And while there is some anxiety in that, there is also abundant joy.

The end of the book I enjoyed with my small companion gives a poignant reminder:
The parent narrating this story to the child reminds, "Some things never change. Some things always stay the same."

There are tendencies, perspectives, desires that I have had since birth. They were cultivated in my life as I discovered "who I was." They are ways that God created me to be. These are the qualities that people from all stages of my life would list as central parts of who I am.

My blonde hair is currently red. My level of girliness has fluctuated. My political views have constantly changed (you're not going to hear me ranting about them on Facebook, by the way), and don't even get me started on how different my theological perspectives are from week to week! My ideas of "what I want to be when I grow up" are STILL morphing into new hybrids.

And yet...My passion for the things I believe in has always been strong. (Or even just things I merely "like"--ha!) My conviction about "the right thing to do" has always been sensitive. My eyes have always been huge (the kids in my neighborhood used to call me "Cow Eyes"). I can't help but cry when something means something to me.

And then there is this part of me that has always been deeply affected by the things/people that are "left behind."

I went through a stage in my childhood where I would not throw trash away, because I "didn't want to hurt its' feelings." (What can I say? I had a big imagination...)

On a family vacation, I picked out a stuffed animal as a souvenir--it was a stuffed raccoon wearing sunglasses (it was the only one with sunglasses--lucky find!). When I took the sunglasses off in the parking lot, we discovered the stuffed raccoon only had one eye. My mom wanted me to go in and choose another stuffed animal that had both its eyes (I'm sure she felt annoyed at the sly way I'd been "tricked")--I insisted on keeping the stuffed animal...because I knew no other child would choose it.

I remember being so emotional after a high school trip to the City of Children in Ensenada, Mexico, when I learned that some of the children were able to have weekly visits from family members, and they spent all week looking forward to those times. I just hurt for those who had no family to visit them...those who dreaded that time each week.

I chose Owens as my first dog after discovering that 20,000 greyhounds were put to death each year because they weren't fast enough to win races. We brought Moses home because he was going to die from not being fed, and we decided to keep him after discovering he had heartworms, knowing no one was looking to own a dog with that condition.

I fell in love with the little town of Independence, Belize on my trips there with Highland's youth group. I loved teaching the teenagers during VBS, and there was one girl in our class of whom I always think about. She was tall and lanky, with a huge smile that went from ear to ear. She had a minor mental disability, and though the other teens were not mean to her, she did not have friends. She wore the same ill-fitting clothes to VBS each day. On one of our last afternoons, I accompanied some friends around town as we distributed clothes to some families who were in need. We stopped at this girl's house. It was made out of plywood and was the size of my living room. No running water. No electricity. I felt frantic, because it was our last stop and I only had a t-shirt and a pair of jeans left. I gave them to her mother, who repeatedly thanked us. The next day, this girl came to our last VBS class wearing the jeans and t-shirt (in 100+ degree weather), smiling her widest smile yet. She immediately walked right up and hugged me, saying "Thank you! I love!" I felt so ashamed because my gift was so small and worthless to me. I think about her and wonder...what her life is like...

I love that my husband embraces this character trait in my life by joining it with his own compassion, patience, and humility. He is so great with the awkward teenager, the left-out child, the underdog. He is a man of conviction, and he cares about the "least of these." Regardless of ideas about whether God creates "the one" for us, I know God created us with similar tendencies, and I know He's called us to similar things.

Some things never change. Some things always stay the same.

As I sat with my first-grade friend last spring and finished that wonderful story, I couldn't help but cry. The past several years of our plans for change welled up inside of me, and I realized the truth. The truth about this decision and the truth about myself.

Nick and I are embarking on the change of all changes in our life together--starting a family! (Ta daaaaa!) We are choosing to start our family by adopting a baby from Ethiopia. We are so thrilled and passionate about this decision, and (selfishly) I am super excited that I can finally share it publicly with you! We have already begun paperwork for our local home study and with our international agency, and we are in the midst of completing our home study meetings this month.

There will be future posts about how we made this decision, what the process will be like, etc--this has been a couple years in the making. But for now, we invite you to simply join us in our excitement about this new chapter in our lives as everything and nothing changes!


ashley said...

i share your love hate relationship with change. and i share your excitement with your decision! love you!

Kristin said...

So exciting! Can't wait to hear all about this journey. Becoming parents is the best thing ever!

Larissa Smith said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! Congratulations and good luck and yeah and all that! A couple of years, huh? Hmmm, what little girl would have won your heart around that time? I wonder! What is the estimated timeline at this point?

I find that the more things change around me, the more I find that the truly important parts of life - the ones that don't really change - become more and more boiled down to their essence. For example, I have always known that I had family available to me and never felt alone in the world. However, that has evolved to the point that I know I am just fine wherever I go as long as I have my husband and daughter. They are the ones who matter most. I love the insight! All too true.

Congratulations again and I'm on the edge of my seat to hear more! Woo hoo!!!!

Tesney said...

Love to you...I'm so excited!

Kristy said...

I love this post. I continue in my prayers for this journey, and I love your story. I love you, friend.

Holly-- The Storm Chaser said...

That is so exciting. You are going to be a wonderful Mom. What a blessing to both you and Nick and this new child!

Anonymous said...

That's so AWESOME!!!!! I can't wait to read every detail.

Kyle Smith said...

First male to comment!

Very exciting news Jesse and also a very heart felt post. Thank you for opening up and sharing this.

We will be praying for you and Nick as you go through this process and we look forward to meeting your son/daughter one day.

Sara Garner said...

This post really sang to my heart. You guys will be fabulous parents. Congrats!

Blessed said...

I love this post. You have a way with words, Jesse.

Congratulations. I couldn't be more thrilled for you!!! Keep us updated on everything!!

Katie said...

Oh my goodness! That is so awesome. I can't wait to hear more!

Unknown said...

Second male to comment! Wow, I'm so excited for you guys and can't wait to hear more about this blessing.

Daniel Wade

Unknown said...

sweet sweet Faris family.

cannot wait to meet your new addition and share in your joy through this process.

Am praying for all three of you.

Katie said...

That's wonderful!! I'm so happy for you!

Beth Miller said...

This is so exciting Jesse! Congrats!
My cousin recently went through the adoption process. They adopted a girl from Kazakhstan. She actually blogged about the whole process and the trips to go visit, and finally pick up Kathryn. The blog is: http://offwegotokz.blogspot.com/
Again, Congrats!
Beth Miller

Jane said...

Wow! That is so great!

L said...

i am so excited for you! you guys are going to be awesome parents! i look forward to reading more about it...and calling soon to catch up with you!

Julie said...

I miss you and love you sweet friend. Can't wait to see the family God is already growing for you!

annecase said...

Great to see you guys tonight! We miss you!

What a beautiful, and comical at times, post.

We couldn't be happier for you guys!

Robert Meyer said...

Fantastic! We do share your excitement.

teaguemeyer said...

I am Teague, the wife of Robert Meyer (the guy that got Nick in that crazy fantasy baseball league). I think you may know this, but... we will be meeting our Ethiopian sons very soon:) I don't know how to express the kind of excitement that I have for you guys right now...you are in for an adventure! The Lord will teach you many things through this process. We look forward to following your story!

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more