Mourning into Dancing

March 30, 2010

One of my favorite parts of the day with our little Dima is bath time. He seriously loves it. I have to practically race him to the bath tub as he is peeling off his clothes and wanting to jump in.

I turn the water on and his little hand is right there feeling the temperature with me. He swishes the water around with his hand and then I help him in the tub. Steve then sits by the tub, playing with him and squirting him with his little toys while I am getting his bed room “ready” for night-night.

Dima takes his big plastic cup and just pours water all over his head and chest. He splashes around and just loves being in the tub. Then I come in and we say goodbye to the water and “night night” to all of the toys.

Then we play “baby Dima”, where we swaddle him up in his little towel and cradle him like a baby. We all look in the mirror and say, “aww…baby Dima…” He pretends to make a baby cry sound and we say, “it’s ok baby Dima.” I don’t know how that little tradition started, but he absolutely loves it. Bath time is so fun.

But if you were to have asked me 3 weeks ago the most difficult part of the day with Dima, I would have said bath time.

When we were in Moscow and even the first few days at home, every time Dima would hear the water in the tub turn on, he would scream and cry in fear. He would run away from the bath room. Even in an inch of water, he would just cry and cry.

Bath times were miserable and painful to watch and to be a part of. I don’t know why there was so much fear associated with baths for Dima. I could speculate, but that wouldn’t do anyone any good. All I know is that Dima hated running water.

A few nights ago, I was turning down the sheets and setting out “Goodnight Moon”, when I heard Dima giggling with sheer delight in the bath tub. And this beautiful glimpse of God’s love and will for my life came into my mind…”He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3).

That phrase just echoed through my mind and my heart as I sat on Dima’s little bed and just listened to his enjoyment over something that just weeks ago brought him so much pain and fear. The reality of the bath did not change. His actions were the same both in the fear and in the joy, but what changed was the fact that he now trusted the one who was giving him the bath.

He trusted that we would give him a comfortable water temperature and that we would sit right there beside him. That we would wipe his eyes when they got soap in them. That we would pick him up when he would slip and fall. That we would take him out of the tub when we knew he couldn’t handle the water anymore.

So now he has the freedom to fully enjoy the bath and the water. And as I sat on his little bed, I thought about my own life. And how God wants to turn my mourning into dancing. My weeping into laughter, even though He doesn’t necessarily change my circumstances.

My desire is to be so close to God’s heart, that even amidst the things that bring me fear or pain, that I would find laughter and joy, trusting that He is going to wipe my eyes when they get soap in them. Trusting that He will pick me up when I slip and fall. Trusting that He will sit beside me through the scary places in life. So that I can enjoy the freedom of being His child. And when I hear the water running, I confidently run towards the One who loves.

Updates:

  • Dima has successfully transitioned into sleeping in his own bed
  • He is also doing great with the potty
  • we almost made it through 2 days in a row without a bruise or cut on his face 🙂

Prayer Requests:

  • for continual growth in his understanding of English
  • for patience and grace for Steve and I as we do our best to parent him
  • For our friends Sarah and Chad, who just came home from Russia after meeting their little boy for the first time

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

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Into Marvelous Light

March 23, 2010

It is a little weird to be sitting here tonight writing this blog. Dima and I just finished reading a few books and smelling the candles around the house (his new favorite thing). Steve is at a missions trip meeting. This will be the first summer of our entire marriage that I have not gone with him on a missions trip. It feels strange. I know it is strange for him also to be going on a trip this year without me. This past week was our first week back to “normal”. Steve went to work everyday and Dima and I filled our time with parks and dog-watching, meal planning and celebrating poopoos in the potty. It feels weird to be the same person at my core, but a different person in how I spend my time, my thoughts, my energies…but, that is a different blog for a different time. It has been a beautiful week and we have taken full advantage of the sun. Dima is all boy – he loves dirt and sticks and going down big slides. He loves running and climbing and exploring the outdoors with Papa.

But, what this post is REALLY about is that Steve was able to finish our 2nd trip video. We watched it this afternoon with Dima and his eyes were just glued to the screen. He laughed at the funny parts and smiled at the hugs and joy. Steve and I sat there, tears streaming down our eyes as we remembered back to just 3 weeks ago of the beautiful picture that God allowed us to experience. So, sit back and enjoy the videos. We are so grateful for how you have journeyed with us through this adventure. May these videos give you a small glimpse into our past month. But even more, may it show you a small picture of the way that God loves His children, adopted into His family. Into Marvelous Light we are running, out of darkness out of shame.

Until next Monday,

Love, Kate and Steve and Dima

2nd trip video part 1:

2nd trip video part 2:

Freedom & Pain

March 16, 2010

It’s hard to believe that it has been less than 2 weeks since we have come home as a family of 3. In so many ways it feels like Dima has always been a part of our family. The way he will run up and give me a hug randomly in the middle of playing or the way he will sheepishly cling to my leg when meeting new people makes me feel like I have been his mommy his whole life.

There are times when he holds his finger up to me and says, “mah-ne”, which in his little language means, “kiss my booboo” and I kiss his booboo and he goes about his little business.  Or the times when I look outside the window after Steve gets home from work and I see the “two peas in a pod” walking around outside, collecting sticks and looking for “woof woofs”. This is our new normal, filled with simple excitements and new joys.

discovering the joys of outdoor play

And with the new freedom of family, also comes tantrums and bruises. Dima is learning that he has a voice, an opinion in the Garcia family…something he has never had before. In his life before, you eat what is in front of you or you don’t eat. You go to the bathroom when you are told. You sleep when you are told. Life in the orphanage was a monotanous routine. Now, he is beginning to learn that there are many different kinds of things he can eat and his taste buds have been given freedom.

This freedom has also given bruises. Like a few days ago, when Dima decided to enjoy his freedom by sitting in his chair on his knees to look out the window. In his excitement, he fell off the chair and got 2 scratches on his face. He came running for kisses and I held him close to me and comforted him. There is part of me that wants to just hold him in my arms and not let him go. (that is if he wouldn’t squirm away :)) But, I so just want to protect him from the bruises…but would he really get to experience true freedom that way?

Curious George discovering the downstairs steps (which he would later tumble down)

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom and how freedom invites risk. The joy and adventure that comes with freedom also brings with it uncertainty and even sometimes pain. But, without the pain, there would be no looking out windows and no comfort in kisses.

I was thinking about the expression that people often use, especially before a big missions trip, “the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” And I’ve been questioning that phrase. Is it really? Is God’s will really the safest place? Ask John the Baptist, who was beheaded. Ask the martyr Stephen who was stoned to death. Center of God’s will. I actually think that if we are truly in the center of God’s will, there will bound to be risks and even pain.

With the pain of the journey, brings the freedom of our relationship with Christ. And so I wonder…what is my ultimate goal in life? Safety? Or freedom? What is my goal for Dima? Do I want him to be protected all of the time? Of course, I want him to be safe and I want to him to live a long, healthy life. But, I also want him to experience the fullness of living a life in the center of God’s will…to enjoy freedom. To look out windows. To run and jump and play. To explore. To learn. To grow. And so I look at the little scratches on his face and I smile as I am reminded of what those scratches represent. Freedom.

On another note, I am beginning to pray about what this blog will look like from here on out. It was originally written to keep people updated on the journey of our adoption. Now that we have our little man home, we want to be careful in protecting his life. We know that as a pastor’s kid, he is already going to grow up in a “fishbowl” and so we want to make sure that we honor his privacy even in this blog. Thank you so much for journeying with us. It truly has been an adventure and looking back, one that I can not believe we did. God led me to places to face fears that I never thought I could face and He brought me to a new place of dependance and rest in Him. He brought me to freedom.

Updates:

  • every day Dmitri grows more and more at home
  • it’s still so hard to believe he is actually home!
  • we hope to have our latest video up soon. Finding time to edit lately has been a challenge!

Prayer Requests:

  • that Dima would continue to bond with his mommy and daddy
  • for our new friend Sarah who is headed to Pskov next week to adopt a little boy from the same orphanage Dima lived in just 2 weeks ago

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Beauty From Ashes

March 9, 2010

I am sitting here in the stillness of my basement. My mom  is upstairs cooking dinner, my dad is washing the scabies off of our sheets, my husband and my son are running around upstairs exploring. It is a surreal moment. One that I still haven’t fully processed.

In fact, I have really not been able to process this entire month. It has been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One after the other. In this past week I have felt desperation like I’ve never known before.

The day before we were to leave to come home, Dima got his finger slammed in a big wooden door. He stood there crying with his finger bleeding, flat as a pancake, and fingernail nowhere to be found.

Between the fatigue of travel, the newness of parenthood, and the stress of being in a foreign country, my mind just went blank. What do I do? Who do I call? After our trip to a Russian hospital, Dima was fine, but in the moment I felt like “I can’t do this.”

Then we woke up at 3am to leave for the airport. The first leg was from Moscow to Frankfurt and Dima slept most of the trip. We were so thankful. Then came the 9 hours that I wish I could forget. Frankfurt to Chicago.

The first 30 minutes were fine, but the next 4 hours were indescribable. Dima screamed and cried non-stop. It was such a desperate feeling to know that I couldn’t explain to him that he was going to be ok and that we weren’t going to be on this plane forever. It was so hard not knowing how to soothe or comfort him and make him feel safe and secure.

Snacks didn’t work. Hugs didn’t work. Standing up didn’t work. Sitting down didn’t work. Laying down didn’t work. No toys. No books. No juice. No talking. No silence. Steve and I both had our own mini-meltdowns which brought me to the thought again, “I can’t do this.”

I looked at my poor little guys face – fear in his eyes, frustration in his cries and I just began to weep. Not in sadness towards him, but in sadness for him.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and all that he had been through over the last few days. I started thinking about all that he had been through over the last 2.5 years of his little life.

And as I stood there, holding him, rocking him back and forth in the bathroom gally of a Lufthansa airplane, God prompted into my heart, “You can do this. I have called you to this precious boy. I will equip you to be his mommy.”

It was there that I realized that this journey of adoption is not over. In fact, it has just begun. I was also reminded of how closely connected this journey is to the heart of God. How He has adopted us into His loving care.

Sometimes that is not an easy process. Sometimes we feel like we are led into unsafe places that feels scary and painful. But really, these times are just the airplane, taking us to a far better place than we could ever dream of.

I was reminded that sometimes the pain in our lives is necessary in order for us to be brought to better places. Not always easier places. But better, more fulfilling places.

Then there are those special moments, which far outnumber and surpass the moments of desperation. In the mornings I look over and see my little Dima sleeping so peacefully. I watch as his eyes begin to stir and then open. And then a huge smile spreads across his face. A smile that says, “you’re here…you’re still here.”

Then there are the times when he starts spontaneously singing, “Dima! Mama! Papa!” It leaves me in awe. He is such a beautiful, sweet, hilarious, smart little boy that God has allowed us to parent. I am in awe of how God could bring beauty from ashes. I am in awe of how He can so creatively give a father to the fatherless and a child to the childless. I am in awe of His goodness to us.

We are so grateful for each and every person who has walked this journey with us. I can’t even put into words the emotions we felt when we came down the escalator at the Cleveland airport to a sea of cheering family and friends, holding signs and balloons and gifts. It was as if the pain and the frustrations of the last 48 hours vanished.

I am positive that we could not have done this without the prayers and support of all of you. In my darkest and most lonely times along this journey, God would bring to mind different people who I knew were praying for me and standing in our corner and it would give me the strength to continue on.

I can’t wait for you to meet Dima. Feel free to call and I’d love to be able to set up a time for you to stop by! I’m sure he’d love to show you his room and his collection of plastic bags.

Updates:

  • its amazing how much Dmitri has flourished in just a few days
  • we are slowly readjusting to the eastern time zone but sleep is still an issue for all three of us

Prayer Requests:

  • for attachment and bonding to happen effectively. That Dima would not need to be so independent, and rely on his mommy and daddy
  • for the other children in Dima’s playgroup, that they would soon be adopted too.

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve