Brokenness and the God who cares

When I became momma to my little girl from India, I walked through a prolonged period in which I felt great anger and sadness over all that she and I had lost in the beginning years of her life. Much of what I grieved over had nothing to do with my daughter or her behavior and everything to do with the broken past that she came from.  This sweet, little girl; whose personality and life choices now are hugely affected by what she missed out on as a young one without parents to love and care for her.

Journey of Faith blog | Brokenness and the God who cares

As her mother, it is angering.  She should’ve had her momma there when she was a baby to hold her in her arms, to cuddle and kiss her; to tell her how greatly loved she is. To swoon over her cute features; her big, round eyes and smooth, dark chocolate skin. Her smile. But her momma was not there, and my almost 8 year old daughter has had to deal with the brokenness of that situation. And so have I. It makes me so angry.

In April, I brought home my son from the hospital. Carried him in my womb for 9 months. I felt like I knew him the second I laid eyes on him. I brought him home and felt a depth of joy I did not know was possible.  God has given me a beautiful family – a husband, a daughter and, now, a son.  What gifts!

Journey of Faith blog | Brokenness and the God who cares

Journey of Faith blog | Brokenness and the God who cares

Since then, however, the joy has become intermingled with these unpleasant emotions that have once again surfaced.  Why must we all be so deeply affected by the back story of our little girl, a story which she did not choose for herself and had literally no control over??? Sometimes I wonder if God even cares that we suffer and hurt.  Does He know what we’re going through? Is He aware of what I struggle with on a daily basis as I love my children in vastly different ways because of their needs and because of how unique their stories are? Does He care that I feel so guilty, when I feel like I’m constantly needing to train my daughter while cooing over the seeming innocence of my baby boy?  …Is He here with us?

I have begun to be very honest with the Lord in how I feel. He knows anyway, so why try to hide?

It’s been relieving. I have been met with His grace time and again as I pour out my heart to Him, and He has buoyed me up with the Truth of His Word. Yesterday, I was reminded of excerpts from Psalm 18 as I dealt with some difficult situations between my girl and me, the questions above echoing in my mind:

“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”

I know He hears my cries and my pleas for help, both for me and my family.

“Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry…”

He cares. My God cares about the plight of my daughter. He cares that we hurt.

“He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.  He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds…And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.”

He cares so much that He comes to my aid in the form of a mighty thunderstorm. He cares and He is here with me.

“He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me…He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”

God loves His children, and He is powerful to save. Only He can heal the pain and damage that has been done regarding my daughter’s past.

“The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation–“

Some day, He will make all things right again. In the meantime, awaiting this future, I can sing with joy to my God. He is the God who cares.

Journey of Faith blog | Brokenness and the God who cares


I will never understand the pain and suffering of what I see around me; when I look into my daughter’s eyes and know that she hurts. But I DO know who can save her. I know who cares and who is mighty to save. I know that one day, I will stand in his presence and sing his praises for all my days. I want to live in the hope that my children will  do the same.

So help me to love my people well, Lord. I know You are here and that You care for me.

Meeting Hudson: a Birth Story

friday before meeting h

I’m actually not sure when my labor started. On a Thursday in April, in the still-dark hours of the early morning, my contractions began.  I thought – and seriously hoped – they were signs of early labor, as they didn’t feel too painful but were definitely different from the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d felt in the weeks prior.  Sadly, they went away mid-morning, and I felt pretty miserable the rest of the day.  We were able to go on a walk with our daughter that afternoon despite the discomfort, and as the night wore on, I began to wonder if I’d ever deliver a baby!

My sleep was interrupted again that night when the contractions returned.  These were more intense, and I finally ended up waking my husband to rub my back at 5 am as they came and went.  But by mid-morning, they vanished. Again. I was disappointed, for sure, but thankful to be able to get some rest.  At noon, I woke up to them. I felt….excited.  A little nervous.  I had no idea what was going to ensue for the next 24 hours!

As the afternoon hours passed by, the contractions became more painful but not predictable in their timing. I was so afraid that these were just Braxton Hicks, but they were pretty uncomfortable and increasing in intensity! And no matter what position I tried, nothing relieved them even a little bit. I began to seriously worry that I would not make it through labor and delivery.  My original goal had been to have a medicine-free birth, and I still really wanted to make that happen. But there were doubts that surfaced with each wave of pain…

I finally called the doctor that night after dinner. She thoroughly discouraged me when she said I was probably just having false labor.  But a few hours later, as I began to feel shaky and nauseous, and then proceeded to puke into a trash can; I knew it was the real deal.  I called again; she said if I’d been in real labor, I wouldn’t be able to talk with her on the phone. I wanted to punch her through the phone (no offense to this doctor on call; in all fairness, she didn’t know me and couldn’t tell). Thankfully, a close friend of mine called and encouraged me to go in to the hospital because I sounded like a woman in labor. She was right.

At midnight on that Friday, my hubby and I drove to the hospital after sending our daughter off to be with her grandparents for the weekend.  In that moment, I just felt really tired and scared.  I didn’t feel prepared to deliver a baby. I had no idea what was coming, and I HATE not knowing what to expect.

In the end, I went with the epidural.  I battled feeling like a puny woman for making that choice, but after everything was set up, I knew it was the best choice for us this time.  We really weren’t prepared to handle a completely natural birth.  None of the techniques I’d read about gave me ANY sort of relief during the contractions. I didn’t want to get out of my bed and walk at all like I’d thought I would.  Both my husband and I were completely exhausted.

Once the epidural was in, I felt immediate relief. I started chatting with the nurses, and I was able to sleep off and on.  I still felt the contractions, but not the pain. 🙂 I was just really excited to meet my little boy!

Labor was really slow-going. I’m not sure how much of this was due to the epidural, but it made me extra glad that I’d chosen that route.  On Saturday morning, my doctor was the one on call (I was SO happy about this), and she decided to give me some Pitocin to help move things along.

And a little after 2 PM, it was time to push. I couldn’t believe this was it!H first pic

When his head crowned, everyone gushed about how much hair he had.  When he made his grand entrance, we all gasped at how big he was! We’d been expecting a 6 lb. baby but were introduced to a 7 lb, 12 oz boy.  It was love at first sight.

I’ll never forget how special it was for us to experience pregnancy, and then the labor and delivery of our son (even though it was way different than what I’d expected!).  Having met our daughter at 6 1/2 and knowing how much we’d missed out on with her earlier years, we felt really lucky to know our son’s beginning so intimately.  Parenting has been such a gift to us. We love our children!

family of fourhudson and sujatafamily selfie



Loss of Culture in Adoption and What My Daughter Needs Most

Loss of Culture in Adoption | Journey of Faith blogMy husband and I were able to take our daughter to a Diwali celebration this past weekend.  As we have a different faith from what is celebrated during this holiday, we skipped out on the rituals and prayer portion; but we were excited to see a crowd of people from India flooding the hallways of one of our college campus’s buildings. Women wearing saris and kurtas, men dressed in their finest as well, had me gawking over the beautiful fabrics and designs we saw. My daughter, Sujata, and I pointed out our favorite saris to each other and giggled together as she explained to me that she had worn a dress like that once. She hadn’t known how to put it on, so she said she just draped it over her shoulder.

I hate to sound so depressing, but while it was a beautiful and needed night for our family, it left me with an ache in my heart for one of the huge aspects that Sujata has lost and will miss out on in so many ways over the years. Because she was internationally adopted. By me.


Mommy guilt is real, I now understand, and part of how I have experienced it in the last 8 months is in the knowledge that I ripped her out of a people and culture she dearly loved.  Out of a culture that we, too, have grown to appreciate deeply.

Supplanting her smack dab in the Midwest of the United States, she is now immersed in all things “America”. She knows what our national flag is, and she is learning to love the food we eat. She dresses like us, and being the little imitator that she is, will probably grow up to wear make-up and clothes just like her Mommy. “Can I watch you put on make-up? So I can know how to put on when I grow?” she asked me the other day. I didn’t refuse her request, and wished a little bit that I were Indian for a minute so I would know exactly what type of make-up would be best for her skin type.


We don’t dance too often together, and I couldn’t even begin to sing the lyrics to an Indian song. Both of these things were a regular part of Sujata’s life in India, and now they are but distant memories.

I won’t even go into the language aspect, except to say it has been one of the most frustrating aspect of our lives post-adoption. How hard it is to see your child suffer in various ways because of what she does not know how to say. Because she was internationally adopted. By me.

(Last night, I told her she could be friendly by asking her classmates what they dressed up as for Halloween. “Mommy, can you write that down in my notebook so I remember what to say?” she asked. Ugh. It’s part of the reason she struggles with making friends.)

Loss of Culture in Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

And I’m sorry, but to say that she can just pick up pieces of her first culture through Google or learn from other Indian friends is to misunderstand how greatly humans are shaped by their surrounding culture and to reduce what she has lost which, for her at some point, the understanding of that loss will bring with it an overwhelming sense of grief and pain. That’s not definite, but it’s probable.

I know only part of that grief, because in some of my low moments in this parenthood journey, I have lamented the fact that we chose to adopt internationally. I have asked myself the hard questions of “Why did I think it would be better for her to have us instead of a different family who lived in India?” She may have been adopted by a couple from her home culture. “Did I misunderstand how much she would lose in being transplanted from India to the United States? Is it really better for her now?”

There are two reasons why I can hold my head high and say definitively that, yes, it is better for my daughter to be in her present situation. Even with all the struggles, and the losses, and the missing out on so much of what we find beautiful about India.

First, I know deep down to the bottom of my heart that while I filled out paperwork and signed checks and flew on that plane to get to India and back again with my girl, this all has been the doing of a God who is not powerless OR unaware. He did it. He brought her to us. He chose her for our family. Our Midwestern, Jesus-believing, goofy and totally American family. It did not escape His attention that we are not Indian, nor living in India. He knew what Sujata would lose in being adopted by us. And yet He accomplished this work, for which we gladly rejoice because she is our daughter. Somehow, she was always meant to be our daughter.

(I also don’t believe it pleased Him for her to lose the people who “should” be her parents, but yet, I do believe it was His will to bring her into our family. This belongs to another post, which I may never write, because I don’t fully know/understand it. I’ll just leave you to your own thoughts on that…)

And while I can’t explain that – I don’t fully know why God chose to do it like that (He doesn’t usually tell me why He does things the way He does, go figure) – I do know this: what my daughter needed more than immersion in her culture was a family.

Loss of Culture in Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

photo credit: Nitish Durbha

She needed her own Mom and Dad (Papa) to love, protect, provide, set boundaries for, train, enjoy relationship with, and so much more that parents are for their children.

As Christians, we believe the roles in parenthood go even further.  Our greatest aim is to put on display the radical grace and beauty of Jesus Christ, that she may see Him as supremely glorious for herself.

(The other day, she explained to me that she had gone into the school room to pray. “Just like Papa pray-ers, Mama! I prayer-ed, too. I prayer-ed for baby in your belly,” she said in her broken English. And this faith in Christ, it’s certainly not her own; but I see the pursuit of God for her soul in the way my husband lives out the gospel daily. I see moments like this, where I know she’s at least taking note of it. God, help me to be more and more this type of person for my daughter!)

And all of this – the love and care, the witness of the gospel – this is what she needs more than her culture.

So. We will Google what types of make-up are best for women from India,  and how to wrap a sari, and how to make paratha.  And it won’t be the same as learning from one’s mother. There will be continued loss and, as a result, great pain and moments of doubt.

But I will not be consumed by guilt, or doubt, or even (hopefully) by the struggles resulting from all this loss for her. Because this has all been the work of the LORD. And my daughter has always needed a family more than she needs to remain in her culture.

Thank You, God, for international adoption. Thank You for my daughter.

Loss of Culture in Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

first pic of Sujata with her little sibling! 😉


What I Learned From Chip & Joanna Gaines

I, unlike most of America, have never watched Fixer Upper. My husband and I are one of those weird couples who do not have cable tv (we mostly love this), so I’ve missed out on all things ‘Magnolia’.

But that did not stop me from watching Chip and Joanna Gaines on their I Am Second video. After which, I stalked them on Youtube and listened to about five of their recent interviews.

I greatly admire what they’ve done in their business ventures and family life. And upon learning about such a couple, I would typically try to conjure up a way that I could somehow achieve what they have done.

I was tempted to do this after hearing Joanna talk about how well she and her husband work together. It’s exactly the way I feel about my husband, Tim; and boy, would I love to run a family business with him.

In one of her video testimonies, Joanna talks about how God led her down this road of opening up her Magnolia store, closing it for a time, and then reopening again in faith that He was up to something much bigger than she could imagine.

“How cool would that be?!” I thought as I pondered her story and attempted to see how it could be mine as well. “To work with my husband every day, influence my community for good purposes, and do what I love?”

It was then that I remembered. God has spoken to me before as well, only in a different way.

He did not lead me to partner with my spouse in a business deal (which I will probably always dream about doing, because working with Tim all day = FUN).

The circumstances of my life certainly did not prepare me for such a proposition as buying and flipping houses, and then hosting a reality tv show to talk about it.

No, God asked something else of Tim and me, which required the same kind of faith that Joanna mentioned.

He led us to India. To a 6 year old.


In my wildest dreams, I would not have imagined being the mother of a person from India. I wouldn’t have deemed it possible that together, my husband and I would be able to accomplish the lengthy, expensive and exhausting process of adoption.

And now in the thick of parenting, where my days are filled with food struggles, language learning, and a relentless little shadow who gives voice to every thought in her head; I easily lose sight of the magnitude of what God has done through us and for us.

I look at others’ stories and often think, “Neat-o! Wish I had your life, lady!”; all the while failing to consider how God has used the circumstances of my own life to lead me exactly right here.

To a husband who loves Jesus so much, that being loved by him is a lot like being loved by HIM.

What I Learned From Chip and Joanna Gaines | Journey of Faith blog | contentment and dreaming big

To a daughter from India, whom God used to make me a momma for the first time. From her, I am learning how to be a mom. A GOOD one, hopefully (help me, Lord).

What I Learned From Chip and Joanna Gaines | Journey of Faith blog | contentment and dreaming big

I don’t know that Tim and I will ever start a business. I certainly respect those who do.

I don’t know that I will ever be recognized by a large audience. I really admire people like the Gaines’ who can do what they do without losing sight of who THEY are and where they come from.

And I don’t know how wide of an impact I am going to have on my community beyond the four walls of my home (and hopefully the spaces our family frequents, like our church and school).

But God has led me to exactly where I should be. I know this. And to lose sight of what my role is in THIS season simply because I’m envying the different thing He’s doing in someone else’s life – well, that’s just plain silliness.

So, although I have not seen their show, I am thankful for Chip and Joanna. For the Magnolia story. It’s reminded me to dream big within the realm of who God has made me to be, where He has placed me, and what He has allowed me to experience. And certainly, it’s given me a greater appreciation for where I am RIGHT NOW – home. With my family.

What I Learned From Chip and Joanna Gaines | Journey of Faith blog | contentment and dreaming big

photo credit: Nitish Durbha

Some Thoughts on Adoption

It’s been just over a month since we brought our daughter home from India. We have enjoyed a lot of laughter, games, and learning experiences together. Sujata is attaching amazingly well to us, and we love her greatly!  There are already many, happy memories piling up, one after the other. Adoption sure is a beautiful and joyous process that brings families together!

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blogBut it is not all rainbows and butterflies, and I wish more people would talk about that. I am thankful for the stories of people who do share more than just the happy side of adoption because they help to give a more complete picture of what it is really like, and of what it’s all about.

Adoption, after all, is wrought with loss. For everyone.

For the child, of course, he or she loses his parents (and the reasons for this, I am learning, are about as vast as the number of stars in the sky). I think of all that my Mom and Dad have provided for me throughout my lifetime; and I grieve deeply for the children who do not know where they come from, whose they are, or how to grow up to be as stabile and independent as possible. The loss continues for children who are, then, internationally adopted. They give up their culture, people, and homeland in exchange for a different everything.  This means the loss of one’s native language, food, music, and so much more. Before traveling to India, I could not comprehend all that my girl would lose in coming home with us. The losses are so great.

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

For the birth parents, they lose their baby. Oh, the loss! They miss out on so much. The years of memories, of watching their little one grow and change. They lose their child’s future, as well as the here and now. They lose the privilege and gift that it is to be called someone’s Mom and Dad. Oh, how my heart grieves for my daughter’s first ones. They do not get to share cuddles with her while reading, or holding hands during morning walks, or laughter in the middle of backyard games, or the gift of teaching her, or seeing her face light up when she learns something new (or when she wins a game). They have lost so very much. So. Very. Much.

And I had no idea that adoptive parents would feel the losses so deeply as well. In bringing home my 6 year old child, I welcomed the loss of her first years of life into my home. Into my heart.  The pain has been piercing and, at times, overwhelming.

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

Frequently, when I hold her close to me, I wonder what those beginning years were like for her. What was it like to hold baby Sujata? What did she look like as a newborn…at 6 months…2 years…?

When did she first crawl? What was her first word? When did she first taste chocolate…ice cream…rice? (These are a few of her favorite things.)

Why does she like to close every single door in the house? If I knew the reason, would I laugh? Or cry?

And on the questions go. There is a lot that I have lost in having my daughter, and even more that she has lost in having me as her forever momma. And how I grieve, so much and so often, for us all.

But I would not trade my daughter for anyone. And I would walk this road again, even with the knowledge of such pain.

Because adoption is not just about loss; it is about restoration.

fam laugh

Adoption is a picture of the gospel. It puts on display the God who left the perfection and comforts of heaven to enter into the brokenness of the people He loves. Adoption demonstrates how we can carry another’s burdens and (hopefully) bring healing, as Christ carried our sorrows and brought us back to God through the laying down of his life for ours.

Adoption affirms to my child  that she is of incredible value, and that she belongs with her Mama and Papa. Adoption gives her a future, and a here and now, in a family. Her family. Adoption helps to restore what has been lost. For everyone.

Adoption is so beautiful, a process that is interwoven with great sorrow and joy. I cannot think of a more worthy endeavor to be a part of.

To my first baby girl, Sujata Elizabeth-

Oh, my dear. You are a like a ray of sunshine to your papa and me. We are often struck by the beauty of who you are, inside and out. We will always rejoice over you, our daughter. {You}, Sujata, are a gift to me. A precious and worthy gift.  We will have so many more happy moments together, and we will also grieve for all that you have lost. I am so sorry, my girl; but I am also so happy. Because you are mine. It is an honor to be {your} Momma. Forever and ever. 

Some Thoughts on Adoption | Journey of Faith blog

Meeting Sujata

My husband and I had the great privilege of traveling to India last month to meet our daughter and bring her home! Welcome to the final installment in this long story of the journey to get our girl. Below are some of my thoughts about meeting my daughter…

I remember walking with my husband in a rose garden near our hotel that morning.

Meeting Sujata | Journey of Faith blog

I remember not feeling many emotions. In the roller coaster ride of our adoption journey over the past 2+ years, I’ve learned that I tend to freeze up in the midst of big, life-changing events; and that is OK. On the day of meeting my 6 year old child, I was not expecting to feel any differently. I felt calm and ready.

The director of the orphanage picked my husband, myself and our guide up that day, and I remember sitting quietly near her during the drive. I wondered what she thought of me. I wondered what kind of memories she had made with my daughter.

Our time at the orphanage felt surreal. I couldn’t believe I was mere FEET away from my little girl. I couldn’t believe this was my story, and I felt so grateful that God was doing something I could never have made possible in a million years. He was making me a mom to an Indian child.

After a short visit with the director and then our daughter’s caretaker, we stepped out of the office to make our way to where our daughter was playing. Through the glass doors in front of us, we could see all the children standing together. In the middle of the group of littles, there stood our daughter with a beaming smile on her face. Hand in the air, waving to us. We waved back and couldn’t believe how ready she seemed to be to meet us.

I laughed through my tears as I walked up to her and held her in my arms. I will never forget those first moments that welcomed me into the world of mommyhood.

meeting S momma

We were able to spend time with all of our daughter’s friends, and after a little while, my daughter took my hand and definitively said, “Chalo”. Let’s go. This little girl was more than ready to leave with us! We have since wondered to ourselves who did such an excellent job in preparing our girl for us. We are so grateful.

Meeting Sujata | Journey of Faith blog

Her name is Sujata, and she is a spunky 6 year old! She likes to eat Cheetos, ice cream, rice and not much else (but is motivated by the prospect of M&M’s); and she has an intense curiosity to explore the world around her. This means pushing buttons all the time. Literally. If S sees a button, she will push it to see what it does. She also loves drawing and doing art projects, “going” to school with Momma, walking our puppies, “dancing” with the cats (who are now excellent at hiding themselves from a certain individual), and dressing up all nice and fancy-like.  🙂 A bundle of energy, S is always on-the-go and ready to learn the next activity, from jumping rope to roller skating. She learns quickly and has an amazing memory!

I’m still a bit shell-shocked that this journey that started on a Sunday morning in late November 2013 has now come full circle with the arrival of our daughter, Sujata. I would not trade our story for anything, even in the midst of such loss. I have much more to write about both the gains AND losses in adoption for children and their parents, but am still processing the changes over the past month and want to be careful about what I share (for the sake of a sweet, little 6 year old girl who has captured our hearts).

We are eternally grateful to God for His plans for our family. Welcome home, Sujata!

Meeting Sujata | Journey of Faith blog

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121:1 & 2

His Grace is Sufficient

Today, I wept for my child who is growing up in an orphanage and is unaware of the fact that she has parents who are anxiously awaiting her arrival home.

Since October, we have held our breaths in anticipation of the judge’s approval. It is the final step needed before we begin travel preparations.

I have fasted and prayed to the God of heaven and earth that He would speed up this process of adoption and bring our daughter home by May.

We are still waiting for news of the approval. It will be a miracle if we travel in May.

And I…I am angry. I am disgusted over the process that leaves orphans institutionalized for far too long while their parents wait for the process to work itself out. (Note: I am not angry at people, just @ the system.)

His Grace is Sufficient | Journey of Faith blogI stumbled upon Courtney Reissig’s twitter account just when I needed it the most. Her tweet caught me off guard and calmed my embittered heart:

Sometimes God answers prayer by removing our difficulty. Sometimes he answers by saying “my grace is sufficient for you.” Both are good.

I have questions about the coming months, and about our daughter. So. Many. Questions.

I know I can love a 4-year old, a 5-year old. I know, because I love my daughter. Can my heart attach to her as a 7- or 8-year old?

His grace is sufficient.

With each passing day, the wait feels unbearable. I feel like I cannot take it any longer. How long, O Lord?

His grace is sufficient.

While I prep her bedroom, fluff her pillows, and organize her stuffed animals; she has no idea of who I am. How long will she have to wait before she knows about her parents?

His grace is sufficient.

As I dream about the day that I will cradle her in my arms and hold her close to me while I sing her bedtime songs, she is sleeping in an orphanage with no such routine and with no Mama. How much longer, Lord?

His grace is sufficient.

His Grace is Sufficient | Journey of Faith blogSpringtime is one of my favorite times of the year. Flowers will bloom, trees will bud, the grass will be green again. Will we be on a plane then? Or will we still be waiting? I will not enjoy such fine weather if it is the latter. Can I take this any more?

His grace is sufficient for me.

I will continue to fast and pray. My tears will be my comfort, at times, as I long for my daughter. The questions will flow in and out of my mind as I go about the routine of my days.

And His grace will sustain me.

The day that He answers “Yes” to my pleas – hasten that day, God! – on that day, He will receive all the glory for what He is doing.

O Lord, let it be so.

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand…for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

-Psalm 73:21, 22, 28