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Monday, July 9, 2012

Trials and Tattoo Jesus




They fight all the time.

ALL. The. Time.

He took this! She hit me! He said no! She broke that!

They are forever not each other's best friends, anymore.

The big one lies and talks constantly about prison and drug references. My own little guy shrieks and gasps in hypersensitive freak-out mode over everything they touch or say or do. The little one, at two, outweighs my 4-year-old and then some and my back screams from sloughing her around in my arms. She eats everything.

Everything.

Paper. Books. Photographs. Pine cones. Food wrappers. Styrofoam. Batteries. Napkins. Dirt. Rocks.

Everything.

My husband is gone again, 10 more days this time. I am cranky and tired and I miss him, and my head pounds while I struggle to admit that today, I don't want to do this. I don't want to wrestle with three car seats when it's 102 degrees and the car has no air conditioner. I don't want to jostle children between time-out and a too-hot backyard, give three baths while the other two wait for showers, slather on another round of Band-Aids and hair gel and toothpaste, wash another load of miniature underwear, sort train tracks from toy cars again.

I don't want to hear the ABC's out of tune again today, or explain for the hundredth time why it's not okay to talk about prison in front of the baby. I don't want to imagine the pre-placement life of a child who doesn't know his last name but likes to pretend-arrest the other children and recites the Miranda rights with sickening accuracy.

I will load up the whole crew in my overheating rig again this afternoon and take these babies to see their mother, praying they won't ask to call me Mom (again) in front of the lady who birthed them both. She will fill them with junk food between meal times and give them things I won't let them have when we get back home. While they're at the visit center, I will hold my own babies longer than they'd like to let me, since my time for this is scarcer now than it used to be, and we will eat ice cream in a restaurant and pretend like life is normal.

After an hour, I will go back to the visit center and the babies will run to me, and Birth Mom will cry and tell me to be careful again and again and I will fight the urge to roll my eyes, since careful hasn't really been on her agenda before now, because I'm the one treating her babies with tender hands and doing the things she ought to be doing. Because I know she has a big screen TV and wears designer jeans when I'm buying thrift store duds so I can afford to feed her babies. I will feel a mix of anger and compassion at the mixed-up woman whose kids are in my care, and she will whisper things to them in Spanish so I won't understand her.

As she passes little M back to my arms, whose bottom lip is stuck out into a pout because she doesn't understand the Mom who hands her over every time, I will see the enormous Tattoo Jesus looking back at me from her arm, shoulder to elbow, in sandaled feet with faded background glory, like the one on the candle jars at the grocery store.

I will carry the sniffling baby back to the stifling car and ask Tattoo Jesus if he ever didn't want to love, if the smell of sickness or the filth of life annoyed him as bad as it all annoys me, today. I will wonder how to be like him when my house smells like another family now, that my own babies now know about cocaine and prison and their bedrooms are inspected by ladies with clipboards and they can't have a kiddie pool in the yard anymore because the clipboard says so, because we're all just trying to love when we sometimes don't want to.

He will tell me, as he always does, that love doesn't have anything to do with wanting to, and that love doesn't come from me anyway so I'd better make more room in this equation for him to do the work. He will kiss the baby on the cheek with a breeze and wrap himself all back up across the arm of the mixed-up woman who needs him, too, to cling to her in tattoo ink on the days she can't cling to him for the power of addiction and poverty.

I will roll down the windows and we will drive away in the overheating rig and sweat off Band-Aids and hair gel, and sing our ABCs all out-of-tune, again. 

23 comments:

  1. Just want to say I thought this post was amazing. Thank you.

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  2. Oh Cara, my heart is aching with yours. This Jesus in the flesh is so hard but so beautiful. Thanks for the reminder that love isn't always about wanting to, that it's often about getting out of the way. Thinking of you and praying from afar. Your kids may know about cocaine and prison, but they are also going to know a lot about sacrificial love.

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  3. Oh, my. Doesn't get much more real than this. I have so much respect for you. Why no kiddie pool; do you know?

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  4. Thanks for your kind words. No standing water of any kind allowed, unless it is covered with a locked covered and completely fenced off (like you might do with a swimming pool). Bummer, since it was about the only way I got a second of down time this summer - they LOVE the kiddie pool and a few inches of water is an amazing joyful experience for these little ones. Silly, since there are no restrictions on taking them boating or to swim in the lake or any of that, but I also understand why they have to have the safety rules, I suppose. Not everyone is diligent, sadly, and accidents happen.

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  5. Getting out of the way -- yes, friend. Just trying to get my cranky attitude out of the way so Jesus can work, and it's not always easy. I feel like I should disclaim that it's not always like this. Most of the time the giggles outweigh the boogers and tantrums and I just need to linger longer in those times to make the harder hours pass more quickly. Thanks for your encouragement.

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  6. I meant that to say "locked cover", not "locked covered."

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  7. Thank you, Marisha, for your sweet words and for coming by.

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  8. Anything worth it is hard in my opinion. I'm glad you are sharing the nitty gritty. I want to foster one day but I want to do it knowing what it's really going to be like.

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  9. i recently discovered your blog and it has been very encouraging to me. i am a former DFCS foster care/adoption case worker and this week our family was finally approved to foster-to-adopt through our county DFCS office. your honesty and joy have encouraged me to continue to trust god for every day.

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  10. Melissa SmallwoodJuly 9, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    "love doesn't have anything to do with wanting to"...remembering that is the only way to get through loving difficult people in difficult times. Great post!!

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  11. Wow. What a wonderful post! "...love doesn't have anything to do with wanting to.." Great line. Thanks. d

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  12. My heart is speaking volumes but my mouth cannot find the words.....so I will simply tell you that I love you and the Jesus that is in you, even when you FEEL it not. Praying for you...!!

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  13. You absolutely beautiful person. You are an earthbound guardian angel in every sense. God bless you!!!!

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  14. Oh, Cara. You have a tattoo Jesus all you own - permanently inked on your precious heart. This is hard, hard, slugging it out, wading through the morass work. And you're doing it beautifully - yes, you are. Praying protection for all of these children in your care - for your own brood, protection from the harsher realities of life that are hitting them whether they want it or not, whether they know it or not. And for those you care for from another mother-may they see Jesus in you and find him to be the way out an up. Praying for that sad mom, too...that she might be whole again somehow. This is kingdom work you're doing - every single band-aid of it.

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  15. Meredith @ La Buena VidaJuly 10, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Just thinking about you this morning.

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  16. Thanks, Meredith. That made me smile. Today is shaping up to be better than yesterday, thankfully. :)

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  17. Thanks for prayer, Diana, and kind words. And yes, yes, yes to the prayers for the mixed-up Mama who I know loves her babies and is under a stronger power than she knows how to overcome. Prayers that Jesus will be enough, that we will look to him only to pull us both up in this thing.

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  18. Thank you, Eden. I don't feel angelic or beautiful when I grump and gripe about the privilege I have in loving these babies... just being real in the good, bad, and ugly. Struggling with a selfish nature is not the best side of me, I'm afraid. Thanks for reading.

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  19. Thanks, Lindsey. We need to have a phone chat soon. Call if you're available anytime today or tomorrow. I'm mostly around...have a few adoption conference calls and stuff, but otherwise open. Miss you, friend. Excited to hear about your trip and the new adventure you're embarking on too (??) !

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  20. Thanks Deana. Aren't we lucky that He doesn't avoid love the way we do so often? Thanks for reading.

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  21. Yes, Lord knows I need His help to love better. The more I learn to receive, the easier it is to give. Thanks for coming by!

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  22. Thank you for the kind words, Sarah. Praying for your foster-to-adopt journey... it's been a rough/long one for us and we're hoping to have our 15-year-old adoptive son (still in Texas) home with us soon. Praying your journey goes more smoothly than ours has and that you will be blessed by foster and adoption someday. Glad to be in good company!

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  23. oh, my dear girl. to do this without your husband? so hard, so, so hard. are you able, perhaps, to get someone to come and help you? i admire you, but fear for you, but know also the need for what you are doing. but God aches for you too. for your sanity and heart and may you know rest. may you know his strength. and please, take care of yourself, okay? love you.

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Your comments are such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your valuable words.