Heavy

Weeks like this one just make me feel heavy. I am a feeler. As much as I have tried in the past to stop being a feeler I just can’t, it’s an impossible task. I’ve really grown to love how much I feel everything and have even begun to allow those feelings to propel me into action the last few years.

But sometimes being a feeler sucks.

The events of this week caught up to me today because I hadn’t allowed myself to fully process it all week. So I chose to take my morning away from stuff and spent some time in meditation and am now spending some time here.

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I know the world reacts to weeks like this in different ways, right? I think as Americans we are even “encouraged” to react a certain way-with tremendous amounts of fear. And so on days like today I tend to feel really lonely.

Because I don’t feel afraid, I feel sad. I feel sad for the people of Boston-not just the families that have had people killed or severely injured-but for everyone. I feel sad for the people of Texas. I feel sad for the people in Congress who can’t grow a pair and do what’s right are so crippled by their need for re-election money that they no longer remember why they tried for office in the first place. And, as scary as this is to admit, I feel sad for the Boston bombers. I feel sad for their families, for their uncle who had to go on national television and call his family “losers” just so other Americans didn’t retaliate on his family.

I just feel sad.

And that’s ok. I’m thankful I have slowly reprogrammed my body away from what my society wants it to do (fear) and towards what God intended it to do (love, hope, sympathize).

It’s kind of a scary place to be. There are days when it hurts a lot to be this vulnerable, but feeling tremendous amounts of sadness also means that I’m better able to feel tremendous amounts of happiness too. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

So if you’re out there and you’re like me, if this week has just left you feeling sad. If it’s left you feeling a bit lonely because you don’t want retaliation, you don’t want retribution, you just want things to be ok. You want the country and the world to start healing. If that’s you, then I just wanted you to know I’m with you. I think there’s a small pocket of us that grows every day. So even when people call us “soft” or “out of touch” or whatever, just know you’re not alone.

Much love to you,

Tesi

P.S. After I published this, I read this. Go read it, please. Really good stuff.

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Trail Run

Trail Run

Living in Iowa I am used to the varying temperatures daily-especially certain times of the year. Saturday was bitter cold (and yay! each kid had soccer games!) hovering somewhere around 35 when you factored in wind but Sunday was beautiful-closer to 70s.

Though I’ve never been a long distance runner (my collegiate track coach tried so hard, bless his heart, to push me into the 400-800 meter range but I was most comfortable in the 100-200 meter range) I do enjoy a good trail run from time to time. It just brings out the kid in me when I have to jump over puddles or logs.

After lunch on Sunday I asked the kids if anyone wanted to join me on my run and all 5 jumped at the chance. Admittedly I was kind of looking forward to a solo jog to find that meditative quality that can sometimes come but I’ve never been able to resist some QT with the kids and so off we went.

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At church that morning our pastor talked to us about how God is in every moment, yes, but that in particular he’s in this moment.  That our past is often clouded in shame and our future is often draped in fear but in this moment, the one right. now. we can decide to be in it. To invest fully in this breath, and then the next one and then the next. Not remaining imprisoned by the past or captive of the future just here and now.

I don’t know what it was about that run but I was doing it. And it was awesome.

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Watching the big 3 take off at a pretty quick pace and hold it the whole time reminded me how youth is wasted on the young (;)) what I wouldn’t give to hold that clip for 30 full minutes!

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Dailah enjoyed running with her arms open wide, lifted to the sun. It looked like 30 minutes of gratitude, it was beautiful.

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When I was talking to Bean’s Kindergarten teacher she said, “Bean exemplifies perseverance. No one perseveres like Bean does.” For kids like Bean who couldn’t walk before he was 3-years-old, perseverance is the only way they know how to live. I’ve found people go one of two ways when they’ve been dealt a hand like Bean has-they either give up or they fight like hell. My Bean is a fighter. I’ll never know what it’s like to run for 30 minutes on feet that have been operated on 3 times and still give me pain daily but I’ll know what it’s like to witness perseverance because I get to see it in my youngest every day.

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Days like today-post 9/11, Newtown and Boston I am infinitely aware of how lucky I am to hold my 5 babes in my arms. To be able to run! And laugh! And see the first signs of spring! I’m able to really breathe in the now because the now just feels so. damn. good.

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5 years

I can hardly believe 5 years ago we landed in the Quad Cities for the first time with Tariku as our son.

This picture was captured the moment after we met Tariku for the first time.

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As much time as I had spent staring at his picture the months leading up to us flying to Ethiopia, I was shocked by him in the flesh. I couldn’t get over how bright his eyes were-even more than in his pictures-or how small he was. I had no idea that his smell would smell familiar even though I had never been to Ethiopia before, never held a strange 3-year-old and called him son.

When I look at that picture I see so much innocence in all of our faces. As well as the troubling realization that I overplucked my eyebrows. We had no idea how much work was ahead of us to actually feel like a family. It felt so real so immediately I think it blindsided us all when it took a little longer to find our footing. 

But mostly when I think of this day 5 years ago I think of how much I have changed because of Tariku. I knew that I could be an advocate for my child but I had no idea the strength I possessed before him. I knew I had a remarkable capacity to love, but I had no idea that sometimes wasn’t enough for my babe who felt so much loss. I knew from the moment I saw his sweet picture on my computer screen that I would love him for the rest of my life but I had no idea how that very love would open my eyes and tear off my skin in a way that had never been done before.

That day 5 years ago was a new stage of vulnerability for me that I was ill prepared for but has reaped in me a newer, better human. If it weren’t for Tariku, I genuinely don’t think I’d be who I am today. Despite all my flaws, the me now is so much better than the me then.

Today as I meditated I fought back tears the whole time. The feeling of gratitude is so alive on days like today-days that I recognize the magnitude of what happened 5 years ago.

So thankful for that day, and for this day. Because then and now Tariku is my son. My amazing, beautiful son.

*I blogged about our first trip to Ethiopia starting here if you’re interested.

couch on the corner

I wrote on Facebook tonight, “I have the weirdest compulsion to pick up every curbside ‘free to a good home’ couch I see, regardless of it’s state of disrepair. I never do, but without fail I think, ‘I could find a good home for that feces-laden couch.'” And it’s true, I think that every time.

I think it’s because I’ve felt like that couch before. I’ve felt like garbage, like I’ve messed up enough I deserve no better than the trash heap. I’ve been there. And even though it’s a couch and, as such, incapable of feelings I just get this crazy notion that I need to let the couch know it’s worth something. No matter what (visible feces, completely fractured structure) there’s a home out there for that couch.

Welcome to my psychosis.

The hardest thing about Miss A was that I needed to see redemption in her story. Her story was such that there was no obvious place of redemption if she returned back with her birth family. And so I put it on me (much like the couch) to find that redemption for her, or to be that redemption for her.

Sometimes I forget that I’m not responsible for anyone’s redemption. Sometimes I forget that price has been paid so many years ago on a cross.

Thank God it’s not on me, because I’m human and I make real shitty mistakes. If redemption were up to me there would literally be no hope, it feels good just admitting that.

That said, I can’t seem to find that line between being the hands and feet of God and trying to be God. The latter I can do on my very best days, the former I fail every. single. time.

Perhaps that’s what foster care was for me. (I should mention we are taking a break for an undetermined amount of time. The kids have asked us to, we know it’s best not to enter into that again for everyone’s sanity.) And when I take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror I know it was wrong to assume I could take on that too.

But I don’t know, it keeps me up at night the beautiful and terrible of the world (as Jody would say).

I am a constant work in progress, as you can easily see. My latest “thing to work on” is believing in the redemption even when it’s not clearly visible. Because I know even in my very lowest times, when I saw no hope and no peace-redemption found me. And it had so little to do with my actions.

But a work in progress means taking one step forward and two steps back. And so-if you live in the Quad City area and are in need of a couch, I have a few in mind for you.

Hoops

The 3 bigs had their final basketball games this weekend, culminating in a single elimination tournament on Saturday. It has been so incredibly fun watching them fall in love with a sport both Zach and I played throughout our entire lives. It’s been so much fun going to the court at camp or at some of our local Y’s as a family and playing a quick game. Teaching them some of the basics has been a real pleasure when they learn the “tricks” to being a good defender (my specialty) and offender (Zach’s specialty).

I’ve said it before, but I love everything sports teaches kids. I love that it teaches time management (you need to figure out how to get homework done before practice!), teamwork, loyalty and that exercise can be fun. I also know from experience that some of their lifelong friends will come from their athletic teams (or band/choir, etc).

A bit surreal to be a mom to kids big enough to actually make plays, dribble between their legs and chest bump their brothers when one scores. Such joy all around.

Though Tariku is the youngest on every team he plays (he always plays up to Trysten’s age-2 years his senior) it makes sense because he is so incredibly athletically gifted. And he flippin’ loves every minute.

Tomas we call our “offensive lineman”. Not a lot of finesse but what he lacks in grace he makes up for in sheer determined effort. If Tomas is on the court no one else will get the rebound.

Trysten is hot and cold depending on the day and time. This was the first season I saw real potential in him as before he’s gone the more laid back approach. Perhaps there is a little of us in that one after all. 😉

I really don’t care if they are good or bad, sit the bench or play. I don’t care if they end up playing sports or get involved in acting or music, I’m always going to be the woman yelling a little too loud and getting a bit choked up when they look at me in a moment of triumph.

Oh, and they took home 1st place, which was just the cherry on top. 🙂

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