We're finally making our way back online to share after battling that terrible monster called jet lag. Our own bodies tell us 1:30 to 3 a.m. is the waking hour...and by mid-afternoon our bodies have again screamed the opposite. It's nearly impossible to keep a 3.5 and 9 year old awake when this is the case. You know it's serious when your kids turn down the opportunity to watch a show because they just want to sleep! We've progressed a little each day...so last night we did everything in our power to keep all four of our sleepy eyes pried open until 10:00pm in hopes the sand man would visit all night long. Our efforts to stay awake past 7:00pm have made for some great games of hide and seek in our little apartment :) And it finally happened...our first night of full sleep in probably two weeks happened last night!
Today marks just that - two weeks of being together as a family of four - and every day we see a little more of our girl's spunky personality. While we know we are still in the honeymoon phase and that Reshma still has a ton to adjust to, she is the most precious, well-behaved child we think we've ever known. In our first 14 days together she has yet to have a bad attitude (or anything close) even one time. We're really amazed and almost bracing ourselves with the thought, "Surely she is going to melt down at some point." It's yet to happen. She takes initiative to serve others, cleans up after herself, obeys without question, makes her bed on her own initiative...we could go on and on. Even more meaningful to us than these is her continued comfort and opening up to hug genuinely and allow us to love on her. We're so thankful to see a real joy in her after some of the hard, heart-breaking days in India. We know those will come again, but she truly seems to be embracing our family and this monstrous culture change that's been thrust upon her.
So far, Reshma has met several of our friends and most of our family, experienced Walmart for the first time seemingly un-phased (all she said was, "It was very big!") and become increasingly verbal. We can't express how wonderful it is to see her learning how to express herself so much more effectively in her thickly accented, broken English. Sometimes she'll sigh deeply after several times being misunderstood and say, "I only know how to say in Tamil." ...which brings us to an interesting tidbit of information or lack thereof. Our initial information about Reshma said she was a Kannada/Malayalam speaker. We emailed to clarify then chose to learn a few phrases in Kannada and on the initial hard days Kelley would whisper comforting phrases to Reshma in that language. But as we get to know Reshma better she continues to insist she doesn't know much Kannada and only prefers speaking in Tamil/Malayalam. So much for the tongue-twisting studying and reciting of comforting Kannada phrases...at this point she acts as though she doesn't understand a one of them!
Today will begin our first venture into the world of homeschooling. Being in the middle of a school year and already having missed nine years together, we're not willing to give up seven hours with her each day. We've been planning for a while to homeschool this semester and make the final decision this summer about her schooing in the fall (which she will also have a say in). Thinking about school choice and homeschool groups is a whole new world for us. While we're eager for Reshma to make peer connections, we're also excited about more cocooning time and focused catch up time in English and some other areas - family connection being the highest priority. One specific way (one of probably a hundred) that God has provided is us being contacted by a friend before we left for India about joining her two days a week as she's homeschooling two little girls close to Reshma's age for the next month. The timing has worked out perfectly. Reshma has spoken of school with excitement from the beginning. She genuinely enjoyed going to school 6 days a week in India. We are so thankful she loves school and that God has provided the answer to a need we didn't anticipate we would have so soon. It's a reminder of how often God goes before us. We had no idea she would be ready and enthusiastic about starting school within the first week home. Honestly we think it'd be unhealthy for her not to start getting some structure to her days having been used to 6 days a week at school for the last several years. This is just one example of many that have surprised us as we have been home. She has adjusted and warmed up much more quickly than we had imagined would be the case.
We know you didn't just come for the words here - actually we know it's just the pictures :) So, we leave you with a few pictures from our first week at home! We've organized and printed pictures from India (including her foster family) for her room, handed out presents to a couple visitors, ventured to Walmart and the park, and played lots of family games like boys vs. girls hide and seek (boys destroy). She's doing incredibly well on her new bike and almost riding without help (we - Jason - decided to skip training wheels)!
Remember, this is not (and has not been) one romantic thing after another. We hope you've seen both sides of our journey. We want to be so careful to be transparent and real enough that it has been heart-wrenching too. So in looking at the pictures and reading our thoughts, please remember serving our God and loving people in His name is the highest honor...but is not generally easy or comfortable. We don't have pictures to share of the times where Levi has hit Reshma in anger or our anxiety is high because we feel the weightiness of suddenly being responsible for a 9 year old. Though we can't highlight these things with pictures we do mention them openly on purpose. This journey for us has not been without it's bumps and difficulties (and both will continue). We aren't somehow better or more able than any one else who is a child of God to walk this road - and we certainly aren't more holy for it. God has already taken care of defining our righteousness aside from works!
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are those who transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.'
We're honored to point you back to the joy of following Jesus. Joy that is built upon something more than happiness or circumstances. He has given so much richness to our lives...richness that has included difficulty, non-romance and commitment when it'd be easier to quit or run away. To Him be glory.