Sunday, January 17, 2016

Life Lessons and Honeybee

We have a new member in our family!  This is Honeybee :)

She has such a sweet face!

She is a 14 year old boxer who was on the verge of going to a shelter where undoubtedly, she would meet Mr. Sleepy :(

And then God intervened because he wasn't finished with her yet :)

Last year was an incredible year and  I will never be able to articulate all of the emotions I have felt.  We have had the highest highs and the lowest lows.  I am beyond blessed that I get to be my girls' mom and I am eternally grateful that I am privileged to walk through life with them.

My adoption journey started in June of 2009 when I prayed all summer for clarity if I should move forward to adopt as a single.  That fall, I started researching and praying about where to adopt from and by my birthday in March, I was in process to adopt from Nepal.  From that point on, my faith took a journey like the wildest roller coaster I could ever imagine.  Six and a half years later, I sit here and try to process everything.  I have met so many amazing people through this journey and have made beautiful friendships with other adoptive moms.  We have wept together, prayed together, ate cheese popcorn together, laughed together, celebrated together, gone crazy together, and most importantly, grown in our faiths together.

I was talking to one of these dear friends the other day and we came to the conclusion that the adoption process was a refining fire to help prepare us for the actual gig of parenting a child with trauma.  We have battle scars from fighting for our children.  It has taken a toll on all of us.  Jesus tells his disciples to count their costs and pick up their cross in order to follow him.  The cross was not easy.  It was painful - excruciatingly so - and heavy to bear.  At one point, the soldiers had to force Simon to pick up the cross and help Jesus.  Notice that Simon did not volunteer.  Everything the cross represented, no one wanted to be a part of it.

For the past month or so I've been learning so much about myself.  I feel like Jesus has been stripping me of baggage that I've been carrying around for too long.  He's been opening my eyes like never before to the way I want to live my life.  Becoming a mom has impressed upon me even more how important my daily words and actions are.  One of Munni and Roopa's favorite games to play is what they affectionately call, "Mommy daughter."  One of them is me and the other rotates being the daughter.  It's very sweet to watch.  Until  you start hearing some of your words come out of their mouths and see some of your actions re-enacted.  It makes me cringe.  But I'm thankful that God shows me these things because it encourages me to continue to strive to be a better mom.  I was thinking about the cross and how my adoption journey and motherhood is my cross.  It might sound weird to say this, but I couldn't be more thankful for this cross I bear.  It has exposed my selfishness in a way that nothing else could.  And isn't that the root of all sin?  Putting ourselves before Christ?  I want to live my life selflessly.  I want to love in ways that will be a blessing to others.  And that type of love costs.

The other day I had a heart to heart talk with Munni.  We have a family bed and the girls rotate who sleeps next to me.  Usually, it's fine.  Lately however, Roopa has been struggling with fear and just needing to sleep next to her mommy.  Without me even having to ask or suggest it, Munni has told us that Roopa can have Munni's turn.  I told Munni when we were talking about it later that I was so proud of her because THAT is the kind of love that Jesus talks about when he tells us to lay down our lives for others.  I told her that I know that sleeping next to me is so precious to her and it's something that she REALLY wants, so for her to sacrifice that in order that her sister will feel comfort, just completely blows me away!  I can see in her sweet face and the tears in her eyes that it costs her greatly.  However, the life lesson that she is gaining from this is huge.  I pray every day that my girls will have tender hearts and compassion for others.  I hope to model this for them.  I want our little family to be a blessing to others.  It's easy to have compassion when it's convenient, but what about when it disrupts life?  What about when it comes at a personal cost?  In those circumstances, I hope that we will choose to be compassionate.

So how does all of this relate to an old dog?  I get alerts from a boxer rescue site.  Right around Christmas, I was scrolling through their page and I saw Honeybee's photo.  I read her description and my heart sank because I thought there is no one who will take a 14 yr old dog.  I thought about how hard it would be to become attached and then lose her in a relatively short amount of time.  People usually don't like to sign up for that kind of pain.  I went on with my day and the rest of the holiday season.  However, God was using all I had been learning and brought it to fruition a few weeks later.

Last week, I bought the book Imagine Heaven.  It has been an incredible read.  It's a compilation of over 1,000 interviews of people who have had near death experiences.  The author compiled all of the similarities that these people experienced in their interaction with Heaven.  One commonality was the panoramic movie of people's lives.  While watching this movie, they described seeing how each of their actions - both good and bad - affected other people.  This really struck a chord with me.  I'm in a season where I'm trying to be acutely aware of my words and actions.  I thought back to my conversation with Munni and her sacrifice of love for her sister.  I thought about the effect of her compassion for Roopa and how beautiful it is.  Then I thought about the cross and how Jesus completely changed everything it used to represent.  Through his sacrifice and resurrection we are redeemed.  In place of death, we now have redemption and hope.  I thought about how my girls have been redeemed through adoption.  It made me realize on such a deeper level that through heartache and sacrifice, something so much greater can be born out of it.

The next day, I received another alert from the rescue site.  Honeybee was still listed.  I got a twinge in my heart and I knew we needed to take her into our family.  I had a long discussion with both of the girls explaining that because of her age, she probably won't be with us for long.  I told them that she will probably have accidents in the house, which will require us cleaning it up.  I told them that she might not be able to take normal walks.  But I finished by telling them that we have an opportunity to give this sweet dog in her last days a family who loves her.  Roopa told me, "Mommy, let's make her happy!"  Munni said she would feed her and clean up her messes.  She also told me that she wanted to change her name to Honeybee because she was too pretty for the name she currently had :)  I became obsessed.  I emailed.  I waited 30 seconds and then texted.  I waited another 30 seconds and then called and left a message because I wasn't sure if it was a landline or not.    A long 45 minutes later, I received a text back.  Yes, she was still available!  We exchanged information and set up a pick up time at Ikea - the halfway point.  They also sent me another picture of her.
She looks so sad :(

When we finally met Honeybee, I was shocked at how thin she was.  It wasn't just old age thinness - it was thinness from neglect.  She jumped right into my car and never looked back.  I spoke with the owner who had her since she was a puppy.  Five years ago, this owner went through a gigantic life change and unfortunately, Honeybee was pretty much forgotten.  I truly don't believe that it was from ill will - I know this person is completely overwhelmed even now.  But just to give you an idea, we called Honeybee by her given name multiple times, by all of us at different times, and she never once responded.  As in, not even an eyebrow raised or ear perked.  And by the pictures below, you can see she wasn't really eating.
She probably needs to gain between 12 and 15 lbs

It's painful to look at her
The first night in our house, she was completely stressed.  I was heartbroken for her.  She had 3 immediate accidents even after going potty right before coming inside.  She had the long drool and refused to eat any of her food.  We ended up going to bed early and she managed to snuggle between Roopa and me.

Roopa was so excited to snuggy with her!



The next morning, I woke up and took a shower.  About 30 minutes later, Munni woke up and Honeybee with her.  She came out of the bedroom and greeted me with the signature boxer wiggle!!  I was ecstatic because with that wiggle, I knew she was going to be ok.  The only problem was that she still wouldn't eat her food.  I tried giving some of Simon and Rollie's and she wouldn't eat that either.  I did a ton of research and ended up buying some high caloric gel and a rotisserie chicken.  Jackpot!  Then I found out about "satin balls."  We bought the ingredients and whipped some up and again, success!  These are high calorie meatballs made for malnourished doggies.  I then tried a can of chicken chunk dog food and she ate that as well.  I feel so at peace that we found her some nutritious food that will help get some weight back on her.  She is the sweetest little lady and Simon and Rollie have been perfect gentlemen.  She is such a little blessing to our family and she is a daily reminder that even if it's inconvenient, the return on compassion is love.

They are becoming fast friends!

Living the dog's life... passed out on my lap :)