Thursday, July 24, 2008

Full House

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
-Luke 2:16-19

I wonder about the kind of woman Mary must have been. Periodically I'll pick up on little things in scripture that give glimpses into her personality and disposition. As a young woman called to such a overwhelming role, I am sure that she couldn't possibly see all that laid ahead for her. She couldn't know the true nature of the role this child would play in the history of time. She was human, like me, a woman called of God and chosen for such a time. So I love that Luke recorded these words: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Many times, Mary must have watched things come to pass, knowing they were of great significance, but not understanding the true impact of these events. It was at times like this that she collected these things in her heart, to consider and meditate on them cumulatively. I find myself doing this as we continue to walk through Kristina's adjustment. Lately she and Hannah have been at each other's throats; they cannot seem to reconcile the tension between themselves. A portion of this can be contributed to being in a strange environment and out of our normal routine, but things have been intense lately and it gets me to thinking . . . and pondering.

Some of you may remember two summers ago when Kristina first came to visit. It didn't take long for us to learn that she has a fierce competitive streak and is a poor loser. We've been passing time by playing cards quite a bit lately. Kristina has a really hard time with this. She outwardly revels when someone else loses. She is ungenerous and makes excuses when she loses. She huffs and slaps her cards down on the table when things are not going her way. Plain and simple, its bad manners.

When one of the other kids tries to point these things out, that just agitates her further. After talking to her for the twentieth time about her attitude, a thought crossed my mind. Things would be much easier for Kristina if she had been adopted by a couple with no other children. She could have had the undivided attention of a mom and dad and eased into a life in a different culture.

And then it hit me, since when do any of us "ease" into life? God placed Kristina in this family because we are the perfect fit for her. Now, I didn't say WE were perfect. This chaotic, loud family is exactly what she needed. She needed to be a part of something that wasn't all about her, because she struggles with pride. She needed to have a mom and dad that don't let even the smallest things go, because she fights authority. She needed to have a sister that goes toe to toe with her, because she needs to learn that when love is shared its not divided, its multiplied. She needed to have three annoying brothers, because . . . well . . . she needs to develop patience.

While we are far from perfect, we are perfect together. My weaknesses are challenged through my relationship with the man and five children that God has entrusted to me. When we hit these little speed bumps in life, I ponder the outworking of these things and know that God weaves our lives together for our good and His glory.


Gryphonette said...

That is too funny (you know what I mean) because I felt the need to firmly warn Dmitry - starting in the hotel in Cheboksary the day he left the orphanage - that "no one likes a gloaty goat", due to his too-obvious reveling in victory.

I regret to tell you that while he's improved, every now and again I still feel the need to issue that warning.

Part of it is due to the Ukrainian/Russian culture, from what I can tell, as I've noticed the same trait in his friends who were adopted over here. They also love slapstick humor. Anything that makes someone else look like an idiot, they find hilarious.

Not terribly fond of looking like an idiot themselves, naturally. >;^>

Anne in Fort Worth

Anonymous said...

Well said, and so true!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, Leslie, like you I am Southern, born and rised in Hickory NC. My grandfather Cottrell was born 1968 in Freehold NJ and eventually moved to Virginia as did my father to North Carolina. Grandfather Cottrell had an uncle who just had to be the flag bearer for his Yankee unit even though he was married. A Rebel bullet felled him in Fredericksburg MD and there he remains if he can be found. On my mother's side of the war there was a Teague whom my aunts described as "a crook". They were from the foot hills of NC.

Point is, it was a bloody awful war. Brothers against brothers, family against family. It wasn't fun and games. Maybe it's time for Kristina to start to learn about her history here. The burning of Atlanta, etc.

At the end she should understand the surrender of Lee to Grant, blood enemies, but how the surrender was carried out and at what terms. Then there was Lincoln, "With malice toward none." Powerful for a total victor. Then there was the deranged southerner who killed him out of revenge, killed the best friend the south had and who probably would ever have.

There are lessons here about winning and losing. American style. Our rescue of Germany after their total defeat in world war 2. McArthur's treatment of he Japanese during the occupation. Kristina needs to begin learning that she is an American. We are proud of her, very proud of her. We want her to be proud of her new country. We want her to be an American through and through.

With love to your family,
David Cottrell

Anonymous said...

Couple of typos there - raised and grandfather Cottrell was certinly not born in 1968 - try 1868 :) Sorry
I like Kristina's spunk and energy. She is a winner and can act like one if she learns how great winners act.
David Cottrell

Lisa, Chris & Lucas said...

Oh Leslie, you have such a way with words! As someone who is also "a work in progress", I always find great wisdom in your words...and usually just when I need it. Thank you for that!!

BTW..Lucas enjoys others defeats a little too much as well. What is it with these kids???

Anonymous said...

Hey Leslie,

Thanks for sharing these very honest glimpses into your life right now. I know it's tough--I'll be praying for y'all.

About Kristina's super competitive streak and gloating--I imagine a portion of that is her personality, culture (as stated above), but honestly a large part of that is probably her deep-rooted insecurity and feelings of rejection. I'm not an expert on the subject, of course, but it makes sense in light of her background (and many Russian orphans' backgrounds whom I knew) that the only way to survive is to make yourself strong and never show weakness. The root of that is the absolute fear of rejection and lack of comprehension of God's love and grace. From the backgrounds they've come from, there are no categories in their minds for grace, or the fact that in our weakness we are made strong.

So anyway, just a couple affirmations to what I'm sure you're seeing. It will take years and years of patience and love to undo this fear of abandonment and give her the assurance that she will still be loved, even in her weakness and sin.

Many prayers and love,

Bev Burrell :-)

The O'Haras said...

Leslie, I must admit I did see that strong will in your daughter the times that we went out in Odessa, but rest assured, it is not unique! My daughter shows the same behavior and it is rough on her since she thinks I am simply pointing it out to her since she is adopted, not realizing that it is because it is inappropriate and that she is the oldest and therefore it needs to be dealt with so her younger siblings do not think it is ok. Rest assured in the fact that God is working in all of us!

Anonymous said...

You are so positive. I haven't visited your blog in a while, so it was great to get caught up. Reading your stories is educational and fun. We are excited and nervous to have such instances happen in our home once our Ukranian daughter is home with us. God bless the start of the school year with your new job!