Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hug and Release

Dearest Readers,

I only have a couple of more days before school, theater, and various other obligations will consume my time, so I'm taking advantage of it by giving you a much needed update. :)

Happy 2015! This new year holds much change for my family and I. I'm not always a big fan of change, even if I know it's going to be a good thing. I hold on to my people, these moments, tightly, and with both hands. Sometimes it's a good thing--like when I left Argentina, I knew I had held on to every second so tightly that I couldn't have possibly missed a moment. It gave me satisfaction knowing I had cherished every.single.second to its fullest.

Sometimes, though, I take it too far. When I was little, I used to hug for so long my mom had to say, "Hug and release!" as a verbal reminder for me not to tackle my victim friend. Haha. I'm still like that in so many ways. God gives me something good, and I get so excited about it that I clench it up so tightly  it doesn't have any chance of escaping my grasp. Until He decides its time for that friend to move, or that chapter to end, or time for me to go to college. Somehow He wrenches what I've been holding so tightly and takes it back.

I've been excited about beginning the room mate search. I shortened my biography down to the required characters and emailed a couple of girls all in one day. I had a lovely correspondence with one, and despite finding out that she will most likely be rooming with a friend, got excited about meeting her when I got to campus. I was excited and kept checking my email.

My enthusiasm sort of fizzled out after I told my best friend I was going to Mississippi for college. It was like all of a sudden I was reminded of the bitter in the bittersweet of 2015 and all of its change. Until Monday, I hadn't checked my email in weeks.

I decided to log in on Monday, though, and was surprised to find a couple of  emails from girls looking for room mates. One even read my blog (if you're out there, hi, Lauren! :)), which totally touched my heart.

It's all a little overwhelming, to tell you the truth. It's being so excited for the future one moment, and so very sad at the end of this chapter the next. It's desperately needing friendships to be unchanged, but knowing that I can't make things stay exactly the same no matter how tight my grasp is. It's my heart swelling with the excitement of a new adventure and moving to my parents' home that I've always loved. It's wondering how sweet a long distance friendship might be and how cherished the reunions would become? It's figuring out where it's acceptable to go without makeup on in MS, because in AZ it's pretty much a free for all and my sweatpants really enjoy their freedom. :)

I'm so thankful for 2014. And 2013. And all of the past nine years that I have spent in Arizona, with its beautiful sunsets and so many loved ones. I'm so thankful for 2015. I know I will cram it with many, many memories in this state. I also know it will begin to fill up with new adventures and memories from Mississippi, and they'll be just as beautiful and precious. My prayer for this year is that I stop clutching each moment for dear life, and am able to cherish each moment with open hands that accept the fact that I am not in control. I know this year I'm going to have a gentle voice in my head telling me to "release". I never liked hearing that as a child, and I'm not going to like it now. But you know what? That release just means there's another hug coming later.

His plans are so much greater than any we could imagine. I know that's said a lot in church, and so you might have read that without even a thought, but take a moment to imagine that it's true. I know it might not seem like it in your present circumstances, but His plans include so many unseen things and a beautiful eternity that we can't even contemplate. He is good.

What is your prayer for this new year? I'm praying for you to have many cherished moments and peace in the knowledge that God is always in control.

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo!

Yours always,

Friday, December 19, 2014

Please don't forget them.

Dearest Readers,
Happy almost Christmas! I hope your upcoming celebration is filled with so much joy.

Today I'm here to talk about something hard. I'm here to talk about Russia. This country has many, many children in need. It has one of the worst orphanage systems in the world, and very few Russians are willing to adopt. It's estimated that 300,000 children languish in about 3,000 institutions across Russia. (LA Times)

This month is the two year anniversary of the Russian ban on adoptions, the Dima Yakovlev Law. This horrible, life altering bill was passed on December 28th 2012. It banned Americans from adopting from Russia, including families who had met and loved on their children. I remember being horrified into silence as I read article after article on this ban late that night. It seemed like an awful nightmare, and I couldn't believe it was true.  I read until the tears pouring out of my eyes prevented me from reading any more.

More than three hundred Russian orphans had American families working to bring them home. Those children remain in Russia today. Their families are heartbroken. The beautiful little angel you see pictured below is Natasha. Today she celebrated her ninth birthday in an orphanage, despite having a family that is desperate to see her in their arms. Her family had already met her when the ban was put into place.
This beautiful girl met her would-be adoptive family when she was six. She has spent an extra *unnecessary* two and a half years in an orphanage, and will most likely spend the rest of her life in state care if changes are not made. Children with disabilities are rarely adopted in Russia. Many are sent to adult institutions where malnutrition and neglect are the leading causes of death. 

In these past two years, these 300 plus parents have screamed for their children. Their cries alone aren't enough to get their children home, though. You can help them. Go "like" the Facebook page Parents United for Russian Orphans.  Their goal is to bring about change for the better in Russia, and to get these remaining children who had families home to them. If this isn't possible, their prayer is for Natasha and children in similar situations to find loving families in Russia. You can join them with your prayers, and write an encouraging note on their Facebook page. Please also share the group, share this blog post, share Natasha's picture...whatever you can to keep these children on the forefront of your prayer list! Once you've "liked" the page, you will find many more opportunities will be posted with ideas to help. 

I have been blessed with the opportunity to watch (thanks to the internet) not one, but TWO precious little ones with special needs find families in Russia. Russia is a beautiful country with a beautiful culture and people. The thought of these children getting to stay in their homeland, growing up with their language and people is a lovely one. Many Russians flooded the streets of Moscow in January 2013 in defiance of this bill. I get goosebumps envisioning so many people standing up for Natasha, for all of these children. Sadly, though, there are just too many orphans and not enough people able/willing to adopt. 

Please never forget the children who are locked away. Just because you don't see them everyday, don't forget their suffering. Please pray for them. Pray for the Russians who are risking everything by fighting for these children's rights. Please pray for the families in the States who are still heartbroken, especially Natasha's mama. Please never stop praying for Russia.

Your Blogger,