Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thick Headed Faith

I received an email today from a long time adoption buddy which encapsulated what I am feeling right now.  She had been attending an education seminar and thought of us when she heard the following: 

"OBSERVATION....ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS....trumps test results!
So if what you are seeing is not consistent with the test results...something is not right...and you should rely more on your observations than the results."

The past few days it is as if God has been reminding me that my gut instincts have always been right on, and I need to trust what the Spirit has told me all along, and that is that Kenny is smart as a whip and needs only to be taught in a way that works for him.

My mind drifted back to our second visit with Joshua 6 years ago at the Baby House in Uralsk.  I left that visit knowing in the depths of my soul that he had a serious attachment problem.  I also innately understood somehow that this was still our child, and there was honestly not a single moment of doubt that we were to bring Joshie home.  Trepidation and enormous fear, yes, but doubt?  Nope...we felt strongly led to this particular child and trusted in that.

I recall more than 5 years ago sitting in this exact spot at my kitchen counter and seeing photos of Angela for the first time, and the odd and uncanny feeling that I was looking into the eyes of my daughter overcame me.  Olesya's photos that arrived a few weeks later did nothing to dissuade me of this almost awful sense that we had a much different family story in the offing than I would have ever expected.  Today with the same half grown lovely ladies snuggled next to me so often, I am so glad that The Voice never stopped hounding me.

So why, I ask, was I so weak and willing to give in to fear over Kenny's future due to a stupid test?  Why did I allow my confidence to waiver so?  From Day #1 I knew this little guy had incredible gifts, and despite appearances to the contrary due to lack of life experiences, I have always known him to be exceptionally bright.  His depth and ability to see analogy and ties has always surprised me, and his intellectual curiosity has led him to question more, think more, and relate more to the world around him than most kids.

I was in the shower today (Yea, I know, too much information but it IS the place I think the most!) when I was struck by an almost euphoric sense of my own stupidity at buying this garbage...that my kid has low intellectual potential.  Just this week Kenny was tying together seemingly unrelated data so neatly it almost had a pretty little bow attached!  I found myself saying several times to myself "No way is this kid's future limited!  So WHAT if he might not ever spell well or have issues with memory...lots of people do and succeed beyond any one's imagination."  It was as if God had to show me repeatedly in a metaphorical butt kicking to get me to wake up and smell the coffee...or perhaps in my case to wake up and sniff the Diet Coke.

I also saw so very clearly that the long term plan was always that eventually all these children of ours would be at home, that I might have flirted with the idea a time or two and quickly pushed it aside but God was preparing me for this very time in my life.  Homeschooling ROCKS!!!  Our kids are being stretched and kneaded into the coolest shapes by this process.  Yesterday at the library I had the nicest and most complimentary conversation with 2 of the librarians, one of whom met Matthew during his first week home 10 years ago. They said they loved seeing our family come in, that it was a kick for them to see all 5 kids spread out on an aisle with books all over the place.  We were all 3 watching from a distance as the kids checked out their books and one of them said "See!  See...look at them, they can't even make it out the door without breaking open another book!  It is so fun to watch that!", and sure enough there were all 5 leaning over each other's shoulders as they shared a couple of different books.

Just an hour ago I looked up and there in the van on the way to art class all 5 were reading, in fact one had run back into the house because they couldn't POSSIBLY go somewhere without a book in hand.  We had books on jumbo jets, the Hoover Dam, Archie Comics, Amelia Earhart and businesses for kids all eagerly being devoured with comments thrown out such as "Hey Mom...did you know they had to go down the canyon for the dam on little wooden seats?" and "I think I want to have a puppy training business!".  This was after Matthew and Angela having had quite an engaging morning with a friend who has volunteered to teach them real pottery, on a wheel and everything.  They have a 10 week course with this wonderful man who told me what a kick he got out of being with the kids and how much fun they were to teach.

It's all because they WANT to learn, and are begging for more!  Angela wants to learn all about the Red Cross, Matthew may want to begin looking at ground school to help in pursuit of his dream of flying, Kenny is taking acting next month, Joshie wants a frog to dissect, and Olesya is enamored of anything with animals.  We have a chess set being carried around everywhere these days, so much so that I was asked if we could maybe afford a travel set because they are tired of pieces flying around in the back seat of the car.  There is SO much learning going on around here that I actually thought to myself this morning "How in the world am I ever going to have enough time in the few remaining years we have left to help them explore everything they are interested in?  How am I going to be able to keep up????".

But it is powerful, in a way I can not explain, to be in the midst of this whirlwind of educational excitement.  I have kids begging to do math, even if it is 5:00 PM at night.  Matt can't walk by the piano these days without plunking out a tune, and we have the borrowed weaving loom back out in the living room after a summer hiatus and a desire to get moving on a rug for their room.  I am being asked if we can learn stained glass, Egyptian history and mummies, and all sorts of other things.  How can this NOT be fun??  But how can I ever keep up??

This is all I ever wanted to see out of any of our kids...and yet never dared hope for it to this extent.  It is the single #1 reason we elected to try the homeschooling route, because we saw Matthew losing the light in his eyes when it came to learning.  Sure, we have other very valid reasons as well, but that was the one that made us turn the corner...and again, The Voice guided even when I thought "Who...ME?  I can't do this!".  I am seeing I don't really have to, all I have to do is facilitate, and in many ways turn them loose for natural curiosity to take over.

For every penny that has to be pinched, for every hushed conversation about whether Dominick has work scheduled this week or next, it is worth it.  For every fear before the girls came home that perhaps we would be stretched too thin, I see now how we would give up every single thing we own for what we have now.  This is, without a doubt, the most rewarding, challenging, interesting "job" I have ever done or ever will do.  I am SO glad we "went with our gut" on every single thing.  Had we elected not to follow gut instinct it might have been less scary, but it certainly wouldn't have been as rich...and as Olesya reminded me tonight in the car, we are the richest people she knows!!  What a blessing that she understands what form that wealth takes, and that it isn't what most would perceive as wealth.

My gut says Kenny will be just fine...beyond "just fine" actually.  I see an awesome future for him, I was just momentarily dumb enough to let others try to dictate what that future might look like.  Man, I don't know when I am ever going to get this faith thing down.  It is shameful in some ways, how I continually find myself struggling to believe...not in God but in the peace and power that comes from relationship with our Creator.  It is during these moments when "ministry" seems ludicrous for me, for it is I who desperately need to be ministered to over and over again to fully rest in faith. 

But looking around my dinner table, it isn't too much of a reach to say I see it set before me, faith personified.  If I could just carry that faith with me every single moment rather than have it be so "hit and miss", I might discover what real faith looks like.  Until then, I continue to search.

Will I ever, ever get this right?

Probably not, I am just too thick headed.


Anonymous said...

I think the reason that you will be such a good minister is because of your struggles with faith. Most people don't enjoy being preached to (at least I don't), but people feel a connection when you tell them you too have struggled and here is how God helped you through your struggles. You are human, you are not perfect, no one is perfect except God. :-)

It made me smile to read of the pure joy of learning that your kids have. That is truly a wonderful gift that you have been able to give them. I hope you are able to keep up with all their exciting interests and ideas!

wilisons said...

Great post! I am sure that a test is just that, a test. Rather than take away numbers, just look to the test to direct you towards his learning style or learning strength. I had my daughter's conferencce this week. I opted to place her in a private school with a program for children with language learning differences. The speech therapist told me that according to the testing, my child should not be doing half of the things she can do. We all laughed and felt gratified that her teachers and SLP were looking beyond the numbers to the child. They see how bright she is and recognize her learning style and teach to it. She is in the highest reading and Hebrew classes they have, surprising based on "the test" but not based on knowing my daughter. That, and her teachers and SLP were totally on board with how to work with RAD kiddos, now if we an just inch her Hebrew teacher towards understanding...