I even have a superstition that has grown on me
as the result of invisible hands
coming all the time..
Namely, that if you follow your bliss
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while,
waiting for you.
And the life that you ought to be living,
is the one you ARE living.
-joseph campbell

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flying By The Seat of Our Faith

It's been more than a year since I saw the face of a baby named Dang Nan on ASIA's waiting child list. I am glad I listened to the small voice urging me to inquire about her. I expected to be told there was a long list of families wanting her. A young baby girl with such a sweet face! I was sure I had waited too late because I wasn't sure we could even afford another adoption so soon.

Imagine my surprise when the agency told me we were the first family to request Dang Nan's file!

Perhaps the reason Dang Nan was still waiting was because she was born with a medical need known as Tethered Cord Syndrome, a type of Spina Bifida. Her future was uncertain and her condition had required one surgery in China already.

We felt comfortable with Tethered Cord as a special need immediately. I never doubted we could handle whatever needs she had immediately and in the future. I did some research on my own and then set up a consultation with an International Adoption Pediatrician.

I sent the doctor the scant report on her surgery and followup at age 18 months. It was about a paragraph in length, so he didn't have much to go on. He also requested her growth report including head circumference measurements and any photographs we had of her.

On the morning of our conference, the doctor was straightforward. For some reason I thought he would be bowled over by the same cute face I had been staring at day and night. But he was professional, honest and thorough. Tethered Cord Syndrome could be severe or mild. It could bother her now or later as she grew. The complications stemming from spinal deformities or spinal surgery might be serious.

I pointed out how active the reports said she had been.....running, jumping, and even potty trained already and dry at night. Yes, the doctor agreed, these were all positive signs....... if they were completely true.

The doctor's gravest concern was her eyes. One eye appeared crossed toward her nose in all the photos. The doctor wanted to be very sure I understood the implications. Along with the eye position, Dang Nan had large head measurements. Some of the measurements were missing, so it was impossible to know if she genetically had a large head or if she had suffered hydrocephalus, which can be a side effect of spinal bifida. And if hydrocephalus is not treated, pressure can build in the brain, and in the worst case permanent cognitive damage can occur. And the funny eye position might be an indication of problems caused by the pressure on the brain.

Again I pointed out the reported accomplishments of my smiling girl in Inner Mongolia. She could draw a circle, speak in sentences, and she knew the color red. But the doctor, doing the job we asked of him, declared the information we had about this child to indicate "moderate risk".

To this day, I really don't know what we were at moderate risk for, because even before the phone call with the doctor we had decided. Dang Nan would become our daughter.

But I have to be honest and tell you I looked closely at her eyes in every photo I received. I was more than a little concerned about the eyes the entire time we waited. I worried she was not getting medical attention in China and her head was growing larger with hydrocephalus. Since this complication had been the main concern of the doctor, it remained on my mind during the long wait for travel. I worried far more than I should have.

God was watching over the whole story. There were invisible hands holding onto to all of us.

As miracles go, Dang Nan was one wrapped in giggles and adventure. We knew when we met her she was smart and quick. In fact, we spent the next several months trying to be smarter and quicker than she was!

And today, the memory of her worrisome eyes, came back to me, full force, full circle. Today I took Delilah Dang Nan to an evaluation with a pediatric ophthalmologist. As it turns out, her vision is perfect, her eyes are healthy and stable. What looks like turning in of an eye in some photos is the result of having wide spaced Asian eyes and a tiny baby nose. The movement of her eyes is fine.

But imagine if I had not be flying by the seat of my faith that long ago day when I first saw Delilah's referral picture!!! What if the unknown head measurements and the turned in eyes and the what-ifs and the maybes had been the voice we heeded. What if we had not been sure of the invisible hand of God guiding us and holding us. Oh, what we would have missed!

There were times during our adoption wait when I was afraid, but never a time when I considered turning back from the path leading us to Delilah. And today I was reminded of the power and the glory of the God who led us down the path and entrusted her to our care.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

For Crying Out Loud

As the holiday season rolls in, I am aware once more, how different our life has become. Different from before of course. Our family, consisting of mostly grown big kids a few years ago was blessed by excitement times two when Cami and Delilah tumbled into our lives. We have been given a chance to experience the holidays once again through the eyes of a child, and words fail me when I search for a way to express my gratitude and joy!

It is a GIFT to live in this magical time and place.

After much strategic planning and weighing the pros and cons, we packed up our bags and spent Thanksgiving with relatives,and there I began to see our family through other's eyes. It was certainly not the first time, but by spending time at a place we have traveled to many times over the past 25 years, so much was illuminated.

Not only are we different from the average middle age couple because we are starting over with small children, we are different from our former selves as parents. Adoptive parenting really is different from parenting birth children. Sometimes people want to gloss over this difference and makes sure everything is equal between mothers who give birth and mothers who adopt. But it is really a shame NOT to acknowledge the ways, the incredible ways, lives can be forever altered by the presence of these sometimes puzzling little souls who hang in the balance between searching and embracing, and in the process, finding the Faith to learn to love and trust again.

Whatever sorrow, whatever trouble, whatever weakness exists in one's heart, the holidays have a way of shining a light on it. Perhaps that could be a true gift of Christmas......the chance to unwrap our packaged grief and hold it close and begin to heal sitting in the soft light of candles and trees and angels.

Adopted children come into our lives with stories as powerful as any history has known. Their hearts have broken too soon after they began to beat. They know the meaning of loneliness on a primal level. They have endured, struggled, and survived. They lived to see another day, another summer, another life.

But there was a price to pay for survival. And I believe my goal as a mother is to fearlessly help them through the dark places and learn to trust the light again, and forever.

As the holidays begin, I see my girls become stressed, even in the middle of all the traditions they are coming to love. During these times, my job is to pay attention so I can understand what they need, to hold them close, and to accept there is a sadness and pain at the center. Most importantly, I need to accept them exactly where they are and allow them to express their joy and their pain without judgment.

Thanksgiving was a joyful mingling of laughter, food, pets, and cousins. My three and four year old girls enjoyed the attention as they danced and twirled their way through the day. Unlike the adults, the meal was a small moment to be endured, before they could return to their adventures. As the day wore on, I saw the slow unravelling. It was as if all the laughing and talking and anticipation had crawled inside them and expanded until it filled every crevice and had to be released.

One child has a mantra she uses when she is overwhelmed. She moans, "Nooooooooooo" over and over in a variety of keys and tones. It usually fits any situation and it more than sums up her feelings about her life at the moment. However, it can be disturbing to others who are within hearing range and I project, perhaps wrongly, that everyone expects me to stop the noise. And I cannot. It cannot be quieted. Not by me. It has to run it's course, like a ritualistic dance and it is not mine to control.

So I hold her. Not tightly, not with force, just gently allowing her to lay across my lap or put her head on my shoulder. At first she resists. She is deep in the privacy of her own pain. But I sit and I persist and I wait. Soon she will allow a hand on her back, my hand on her hand, and then a gentle pull onto my lap.

After some time, the crying mantra will give way to a sad sobbing so pure and raw it breaks my heart. And then, in the end, no matter what the challenges or joys of the day have been, do you want to know what my small girl with a soul a big as the sky says?

She looks at me, straight into my eyes, black coals burning truth and she says, "I miss my mommy in China". Then she hugs me and rises again, into this life, into the light where she grows and thrives and laughs and loves. She is back and balanced. Some weight has been lifted for now. But the loss remains. It will always be a part of her. My hope and my duty is to be a comfort in the storm and a companion on the journey.

When someone asks, "What is wrong"?, I could answer "everything"........or I could tell the other side of the truth.....which is less understood but no less true:

She needs to Cry Out Loud.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Heart of the Story

November is National Adoption Month. Yesterday many churches around the country celebrated Orphan Sunday, and all month events are planned to bring attention to the millions of children who live on the fringes of our planet. Children. Without parents. Without cuddles on the sofa and goodnight stories. Without toothbrushes and sweaters. Without shoes and bandaids.

I imagine their hearts are broken.

We are born human with expectations for certain simple things. We expect, from the first day, to be fed, to be warm, and to be loved. We expect someone to come if we cry. We expect someone to care. These are human needs.

Another trait of being human is compassion. One third of American families consider adoption seriously at one point or another. We think about it, we imagine it. But only 2% of this third of families actually follows through with adoption.

There are real reasons for that. Adoption can be complicated. There is a great deal of paperwork, but when taken one step at a time, one day at a time, it is manageable.

Adoption can be expensive. This is true, but the expenses are manageable. The money is not due all at one time. And most people have untapped talents for funding adoptions. There are grants, credit lines, family loans, and fundraising. To be honest,in our personal experience, we can feel the financial strain from completing two adoptions in two years, but we are not going hungry or living without heat. We are not suffering at all in comparison to how much of the world lives. I am ashamed to even mention it honestly.

Adoption can be risky. Yes, just like getting married and giving birth, you really don't know how things will turn out. I think this is where Faith and Commitment carried us. We adopted with Faith that we were answering a higher call to do something to make a difference in a child's life. And we adopted with the commitment of all parents who welcome a new child into their family and we knew we would provide whatever support was needed for this child, our child, medically and emotionally. And most importantly we committed to loving them unconditionally. Once that decision was made, nothing else really mattered.

Adoption changes families. Physically. Emotionally. Eternally. Many times I have struggled to share my vision and global awareness with the older children in our family. Their life changed dramatically when we began the adoption process. We went from a family focused on teens, college, and cars, to a family focused on toddlers, pull ups, and toys with many pieces. They had to learn to live in extremes of noise logic...... crying babies interrupted their sleep, but their music could not be played loud if the babies were sleeping! It was suddenly hard to get a word in edgewise and time alone with mom or dad was rare. There were grumpy days that might have been normal teen angst, or it could have been a result of mom and dad doing something so far out of the ordinary that they feared their lives would never be like their friends lives again.

I'll admit that there have been times when I felt guilty. I have worried there is not enough of me to go around. But as soon as I hit a low point, along comes a morning like this one, where my almost 20 year old son is helping Delilah write the letters of her name, and I know, I just know, that the same small white light in my heart that led us down this road has remained with us. And I believe again that the whole story is not yet told and the coming chapters may reveal more joy, more beauty, and more hope than I can even imagine.

And this is only my story. There are thousands of stories being lived out around you. Adoption has probably touched the families of most people you know in one way or another.

My reason for writing during November is to ask you to open your heart to adoption. But wait, I don't mean I expect everyone can or will adopt a child. Adoption is only one way to make a difference for the children in the world trying to grow up without a family. There is so much you can do to help the orphans of the world. In fact, you can do something from your home that will help a child in a third world country today! The needs are immediate and the situation is often severe. No effort is too small.

Pray for them. When you hold your child wrapped in warm blankets, be aware that in China most orphanages are without heat and every winter babies lose fingers and toes to frost bite.

Educate yourself on the reasons for many children being separated from their parents. Is it poverty? Lack of health care? Illness? Become aware of the laws and policies that affect families on a global level. Support the ideas that encourage families in a positive way and speak out against the policies that manipulate the families already struggling for survival.

Awareness is the first step in changing any situation. Once you know the conditions in which some children live, you can never "not know". You can no longer pretend they do not exist. The images will be part of you.

Do some research and learn about people who are devoting their lives to making the lives of orphans less difficult and less hopeless. Missionaries, doctors, nurses, and ordinary people are giving their time and skills to help children who have no one else to speak for them.

Find an organization that you believe is doing good work and help them. In this economy, donations are less than normal across the board. Every little bit helps. In China $10 or $20 can buy alot of food for a child. One thing I do is to save all the coins and change I receive in a coffee can. When it is full, I go to a change machine and turn it into cash for a money order to send to one of my favorite organizations working in China.

Consider sponsoring an orphan in foster care in China. Your sponsorship of less than $50 a month can give a child the chance to live in a loving family, with warm clothes and plenty of food. The simple things in life can make all the difference.

And finally, in this time when we all have more stuff than we know what to do with, why not consider honoring a friend or family member with a donation for the holdiays. Wouldn't it be an honor to know that because of your gift, a child had rice three times a day instead of once, or that they were able to have life-saving surgery.

Below I am listing some of my favorite organizations helping children in China. Look at their websites, look at the faces of the children who have no voice, and consider in your heart what role you might be able to play in these innocent lives.

China Little Flower (caring for medically fragile, terminally ill, and premature infants in Northern China.)

Destinys House (supplying shoes to orphans and starting up a new orphan care home in Central China.)

Love Without Boundaries (providing medical care and life saving surgeries to children in China. This organization made Cami's cleft surgery possible when she was 9 months old.)

Half The Sky

Coal For Kids (providing heat for orphanages that have no government support)

and there are so many more! If you start exploring the possibilities, you may find yourself enthralled with all the stories people's lives are telling.

What is your story?

I would love for you to share it.

If you are part of an organization or know of one that you think should be included, leave me a comment with the information and I will list it on the side bar!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leaving With the Band

When I was a child, growing up in the ever so interesting 60s and 70s, when "family" was being redefined and parenting was starting to be seen as something more than just providing food and shelter to the miniature people living in the home, luck or fate landed me in a nice place to grow up. I was given the things I needed so I had time to think about the things I think about even now.

My parents' goal for my brother and I was for us to be "well rounded" children. I remember how very proud my mother was the day I showed her my 4th Grade report card. I do not remember the grades I made, but I remember how my teacher had written, in her perfect and beautiful handwriting, "Sherri is a well-rounded little girl, a pleasure to have in the classroom". My mother had succeeded. I was rounding out quite nicely.

When I inquired of my mother what in the world it meant to be well-rounded and why such a trait was so desired, she explained how a well-rounded person was able to do many things. In that time, some value must have been seen in the ability to enter into most any activity at a beginner level. Being well rounded on my report card meant, at least to my mother, I not only completd math problems on the blackboard, spelled the bonus words on my spelling tests, and wrute about my summer in three or more paragraphs, but I was also able to join most any group of players on the playground and not be chosen last when kick ball teams were picked. I jumped rope and took ballet lessons. I wanted a pony, even though I knew I would never have one, and I read Little Women and took art lessons. At the tender age of 10, I had dipped my fingers in many acceptable pies.

But in my heart, I already knew I owned none of them.

As part of my parents crusade to round out my brother and I, there were several years when we were one of the families in town with season tickets to the "Community Concerts". I'm not sure if such a thing still exists, but Community Concerts offered a variety of live performances by way of traveling shows who came to small towns where theatre and symphony were not everyday fare, but where parents desired to begin to enlighten themselves and their children together.

Community Concerts were on Tuesday nights. My mind has held on to the smallest of details like this. This schedule meant I had to hurry home from my piano lesson and hurry out to the high school auditorium where the performances took place, the best facility our town had to offer. I don't remember ever knowing ahead of time what I would be seeing or hearing.

But I remember dreading each performance with a fear and anxiety as heavy as an albatross around my neck. I dragged my feet to our seats and kept my eyes down, while my parents were trying to catch my eye to give me the "look" to reminded me how fortunate I was to be among the members of the community having this chance to be exposed to higher thinking, to music, to art.

I hated Community Concerts with such a passion that almost 45 years later I can conjure up the feeling enough to feel my palms start to sweat a little. I hated them and dreaded them. But not for the reason you might think.

Maybe you will be surprised. Or maybe you will not.

I sat through years of "Community Concert" performances with my head down, staring at my hands, and fighting back tears. I remember pianists and soloists, quartets, sopranos, folk singers and more. While I appeared not to be engaged, I actually saw everything and heard everything. And what I didn't know I created. I gave them a life that filled in the blanks that the stage did not answer for me. And in the final moments, where the small town crowd, feeling somewhat high on enlightenment, stood for a rousing ovation and refused to sit down until the encore came, I stood too, beaming by then, and stretching on my tip toes, reaching from my heart, silently praying, "See me.....pick me....take me".

It was agony, you see, for me to endure such a magical show and then have it end. I knew I would return to my ordinary life and the performers would move on to another town of faces they would not remember. I did not want to be one of the watchers. I wanted to be part of what happened up on the stage. I wanted to be part of whatever it was that moved people and made them hunger for more. And it was so incredibly painful for me to experience these great performances and then have to just go home that I came to dread and to despise sitting through them.

My father once asked me why I never seemed to want to go to the shows. And I answered him honestly. I said, "Because I want to leave with the band". He left it at that. Either because he understood. Or because, as a pre-adolescent first daughter, I was a mystery enough without opening more cans of worms.

Over my life, I've lost the ability to recall the specific artists I saw on the Community Concert tours. But I still recall the feeling much more often than I have time for in my ordinarily busy life. It will catch me off guard and make me feel out of sorts and frustrated. I still want to "leave with the band". I still want to be part of a group of people making a difference in the world. And as long as I have my memories I will not stop visualizing a small girl stepping out of the audience and walking toward the lights, stepping out of the ordinary and into the arena where anything is possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not Your Usual Energy Crisis

It seems we are living in a sort of climate unlike anything I've known before. Somehow, we are creating huge amounts of energy without the proper control structures in place.

Now you should never doubt that my husband and I love the exuberance of childhood. We love the giggling and games, the free spirited life of children who do not have to live by a clock. We admire their ability to live in the moment and not worry about what has been or what will come. And additionally not worrying about who will come behind and clean up all the fun that was had in that moment. We adore childhood. We have arranged our life and chosen the road less traveled just so we could remain, for a time longer, blessed by the presence of small children in our home.

But somewhere along the way the energy here changed. Maybe it's just for a day. Maybe someone is going through a stage or someone is being triggered by the change in the weather. There are many possible explanations, but non of them satisfy my need to understand the less than friendly spirits that have moved into my home.

We seem to have energy with no rules. Whirling Dervish comes to mind. The Dervish is a mystical dancer that stands between the material and cosmic worlds. But even his dance has a precise and structured rhythm and movement. So I will have to describe our girls' energy as whirling. Whirling is not be confused with "twirling" which conjures up images of angelic beings in pink tutus moving gracefully to classical music.

We are Chaos. We are the kind of energy that moves without reason and without direction, destroying anything in it's path. Our energy causes shoes to fly over the banister from upstairs and trash cans to overturn. It causes bathrooms to flood and oatmeal to find it's way to the ceiling.

There is a line in the sand where a home that rocks with the energy of happy, healthy children becomes something else, something sinister perhaps. And lately I feel like we have crossed that line.

The difference, I believe, is that our energy became Frantic. Frantic is the child who lies with her back over the sofa and kicks the window blinds incessantly. Frantic is the child who cries for an hour because she does know which coloring book to choose. Frantic is a child coming close to losing consciousness because she has to drink juice from a blue cup, which was her favorite color yesterday. Frantic is seen in the primitive play of children who only dump boxes of toys out and then show no interest in them. Frantic is the parent, always a step behind, performing damage control and waste transfer while disasters are occurring around the next corner.

Frantic children want their parents to be in their world. They show how much they want their parents near by climbing on them, shouting their names, and offering hugs with such force the adults are brought to their knees. I once may have thought these actions were something like love, but now I believe they are propelled by not love, but fear.

And fear is probably the key to understanding the dynamic of our not quite normal life. In any description of childhood play and joy, including my own, there is an assumption that children live and play in the moment, without a care or worry. But what happens if they don't live that way. What if their brains carry in entirely different map of the world?

What happens when a child
does worry about their future because they remember a past that was remarkably different from their present life? What does energy look like when a child knows they were once irrefutably alone and helpless. What energy is given off by a child who has lost more in two years than most of us will lose in a lifetime? What sort of activities feel good to a child who knows at a cellular level that people go away and everything changes and the child has absolutely no control over anything.

I would guess that these child feel better when moving. Being still might mean being less alert. Being loud and moving in big ways helps make sure no one loses sight of them. "Look at me...... I am here.....Don't leave without me". Attention, any attention validates to a child that they are real and they are worth the time we spend with them. Even if we are telling them to be quiet or calm down.

Children who are sitting on your head, stomping on your toes, or dragging you by the arm are difficult to ignore, much less abandon. Children on high alert are more likely to survive. And being on high alert is a frantic kind of energy that exhausts the caregivers and keeps the child in a state of irritable agitation. It is hard to create relationships...... to learn..... to grow when the air around us is charged with such frantic energy. The days become hours to be survived. The nights become our only restful salvation. The home becomes a prison because we dare not venture out with such high anxiety pulsing through our veins.

And what could pass for
play in an ordinary world is actually a battle between physics and psychology, and relaxing is a skill hidden in the brain's darkest corner. We are different than we seem, even to ourselves.

I wonder about other families, families like ours. I wonder about families who might sit down to breakfast with matching placemats and eat without incident, without blood curdling screams over spoon color, without vulture sister eyeballing everyone's plate, and all of us being one snap, crackle, pop away from a nervous breakdown. I want to know these families. I want to learn from them. At the same time, part of me hopes they do not exist because their reality will knock me further from the normality to which I aspire.

I am not despairing, simply processing. I want to understand and I want to improve. More than anything, I wish for a Peaceful Home. For my children I pray peaceful hearts. In the meantime, I practice patience, I strive to harness the energy and direct it toward something rewarding. And I try, all day and night, to help my children feel safe and loved, and to make their life feel permanent and unchanging.

I believe this is our journey. Where are you on the journey? What kind of energy do you see in your home? How are you moving forward? I'd love to know.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Job Envy

It started just before we traveled to bring Cami home in August 2007. And it is oddly connected to the theme of my blog, which is naturally, the theme of my life.

Suddenly everyone around me had a most fascinating job. Everyone. I was drawn to conversations people were having about their work. I eavesdropped when strangers complained about their hours, boss, or salary. Stranger still, I began to compulsively imagine what it would be like if "I" traded places and did the job of most everyone I met.

This sort of thing can keep a person's mind very busy.

Some of my favorite fantasy jobs over the past two years include the cashier at Walgreens, the receptionist at the doctor's office, and the clerk at the post office. I guess I was still firmly rooted in reality because I never cared to imagine what it would be like to work as the craniofacial neurosurgeon who repaired Cami's cleft palate!!!! But the woman who was mopping the hall? I created an entire life story for her, and I enjoyed her job.

I've been a mom at home raising my children since 1986. Some might say my excessive fantasies about working outside of the home could be a type of mid-life crisis. I agree that the sudden onset of symptoms just as I was about to begin again to be the mother of a toddler support the theory that I was day dreaming about the roads unchosen, the careers I would really not be able to have now. Maybe I needed to work through this truth and come to terms with the final direction my life was taking. And I do say "final" with a smile because I've learned that just when I expect it the least, my direction changes.

I enjoyed all the comments left following my first post. You, my friends that posted or signed up to follow this blog, are the very first to be here, you are seeing this blog journey from it's birth. Lucky for me, you are all people with whom I feel immensely comfortable baring my soul. And my hope is that you will continue to respond and share your reactions and thoughts. I have a feeling that you, my readers, are some of the Invisible Hands holding up this life!

In my previous post I confessed how I never felt like I was doing "enough" no matter how full my days. I did not mean to imply we were heading into another adoption. I was trying to sort out my feelings of needing to know what MY exact JOB is!!!! So many days I don't sit down for hours, I don't have many thoughts that are without interruption, I rarely talk with other adults, and I eat most of the time standing up. I'm tired, overworked, underpaid, and I love it. Right now I can only hope that from the view on another plane, I actually to HAVE A JOB. Maybe I just can't see it from here. Maybe I'm too close to see clearly what I am doing and why.

It's funny that I long to be influential, kind to people who need kindness, helpful to those who are struggling, and a teacher to people who have something they are trying to learn. It's funny because that describes exactly the skills required for the way I spend my days! Whatever job I fantasize about has elements that I am already using every day.

Maybe I long for the recognition, the "job well done" pat on the back, the adoring audience that I imagine people in the real workforce are surrounded by. I admit I wear my rose colored glasses when I imagine the jobs of the world, but I figure since it's my fantasy I can take that liberty.

Now I've decided that I do have parts of all the jobs I imagine enjoying. I need to keep as organized as any cashier, as kind toward each request as the nicest of receptionists, and as calm and promising as any teacher who believes wholeheartedly in her students.

I am already all of the things I want to be.

Now I will watch for signs of the other jobs for which I'm being prepared. As usual, there is likely more happening here than I can fully understand. What about your job? What do you think it is, really????

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Enough is Not Enough

Of course the days are busy enough. They usually fly by. And my body gives out well before my spirit. Usually my ears are the first to go. Sometime in the afternoon, I start to think my children are no longer speaking any form of English because the endless chattering is a dialect I can no longer understand. I have to turn all my concentration toward the voice and tune out everything else just to be able to discern a simple request for a glass of water.

It's true my ears grow weary by the end of the day. As does the rest of me, the body longs for just one long time out on the sofa with no need to get up and save a life or practice fire prevention or do my part to assist in post disaster clean up. But then I find a way to press on, carry children covered in paint to the tub, and then convince them that shampoo definitely needs to be rinsed out of their hair with clean water. And finally, as the water turns cold and the child shivers, I must convince her to come out, come with me, into the waiting warm towel and further, into the pajamas that really have to be more comfortable than fannies flying bare through the house.

My body aches by now. I started before daylight urging, convincing, compromising, instructing, carrying, changing, moving and directing little people who ran the gamut of cooperation. And as I carry the seven bath towels that were needed to mop up the floor after what passes for a relaxing tub time, I mentally tally and check off the day, what has been accomplished and what remains. I know I will need to ration my remaining energy and imagination so that when the sweet almond eyes, and rosebud mouths, finally close for the night, I can be sure that, if nothing else, they felt loved and I can hope that their dreams are sweet and not at all scary.

But is it enough? The people who tell me they could never do what we've done would say it is enough. Any parenting expert would probably say I've done enough. Judging the day on the facts that we are all safe and our stomachs are full and we probably learned something and we laughed more than a few times, most would deem the day a success. Most would say I did enough.

But what is enough? And why, even after a day spent doing nothing more than meeting needs, kissing boo boos, lifting bodies for hugs,,and making sure little hearts were never hurt for long, do I feel I could have done more?

I don't know what the "more" is, but I can sense it following me like a colorful dusty cloud. Always just beyond my reach, but within my subconscious, I cannot be satisfied no matter how busy my day has been.

As long as I know there are children living without clean water, without enough to eat, and without someone to rock them to sleep and chase their bad dreams away, I cannot be satisfied with my comfy little busyness. I believe that I am also responsible for the suffering that I cannot touch. It is not enough to wrap my children in new socks and blankets fresh from the dryer. In my mind's eye, I see the children who still shiver, whose eyes fill with tears that fall silently because there is no one there to hear them cry.

Because I know, I am not satisfied with my accomplishments of the day. As long as children suffer in conditions I probably could not survive, I can never, not for one moment, believe I am doing enough.

I cannot be satisfied because I am convinced I am not doing all that I need to be doing. When I feel tired, I know it is nothing compared to the exhaustion of a child fighting to survive. When I feel bored from doing the same chores everyday, I know it is nothing compared to the child who lives within the walls of an orphanage. And when my legs ache, I am reminded of the child who is living with a painful birth defect without access to pain medication.

The work I spend my days doing is worth nothing if I cannot also find a way to affect the lives of other children who spend their days waiting.....for relief, for a meal, for a family.

I have been blessed beyond measure. My life has been rich in color and love. I have been prepared for many things that have come to pass. And now I can't stop wondering what is next. What am I being prepared for now? What is out there for me to do?

Something on the horizon......something in the back of my mind......something from a dream I remember........something is trying to get my attention. The dissatisfaction and the knowledge that this is not enough is pushing me forward.....inward....upward.

And though I have no idea what I can do, how I can make a difference, how I can be instrumental in reaching out and offering comfort to where it is needed. And even though I have not idea what is being asked of me, the amazing thing is that for now, acceptance is ENOUGH. As I am ready, as I am willing, more will be revealed. It is written. It is enough.