what it looks like to trust in Jesus

she believes! kavita has decided to put her faith in God -- to give all of her past, present, and future, to the One True God!

God, thank You for opening her eyes, for answering our prayers, her prayers, for being her ultimate Rescuer. I praise You! You are good. I love that You have used camp, friends, family, and hard conversations to lead her. 

in coming home june 2015, she was eager and quick to learn english. she took to songs and biblical teaching easy. she loved church, kid classes, camp, bible school. she was reading her Bible and always learning in advance the set list for worship songs each sunday. every time in the van, "mom, can you turn on some church music?"

this spring, tension developed as i believe she was at a crossroads with, "do i believe all of this about Jesus?" she doubted. she questioned how we could hear and talk to God who we can't see. it felt silly to pray. 

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brakes and accelerators {an adoption thought}

you can do this! we learned it last week. if I had 2 sets of four, how many do i have?

10?

what?

it's the same as 4+4!

oh, 8, then.

yes!

now, how do you spell thursday?

wait...why you are you using your fingers to spell thursday?

because i know that it has 8 letters.

what? who taught you that?

i did.

i shake my head. most of the head shaking is because i don't know what i'm doing!

here's our story:

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our ten year old daughter jumped feet first into our family 10 months ago.

she has a long list of what she wants to do in life including tennis, playing the piano, speaking on stage, riding a bike, and playing in the snow.

but her drive for learning math and reading is, well... it's getting better!

if it doesn't require much brain space, we call it easy.

biting into an apple is easy.

if it requires some thinking and figuring out and talking it out and working in out and getting handy...we call it learning.

sounding out a word is learning.

telling time is learning.

she had no formal education from what we can gather and spent her 5-9 years of life in an orphanage and went to "school."

of course, those years, she was taught in her native language and speaks none of it among us now.

 so i started homeschooling her with kindergarten in august.

we knew our city district would require her to go into at least 3rd grade and she wasn't ready for that.

we are fortunate that i stay at home and could be her teacher, though i felt and still feel ill-equipped.

we had pre-determined that i would teach her at home for one year and that she would join her brothers at their elementary school.

it's been a tough road for me. i had rose-colored glasses on in how our days would be spent, me reading to her for a while, then her picking up those books and reading to me. us galavanting around the city at the zoo and museums discussing matters of science and technology and how things work and dreaming about the future together.

i thought she would love to learn from me {ha!} and that my strategy for teaching would be her perfect way of learning.

i didn't think it would be this.

one minute putting on the brakes and the other minute pressing the accelerator.

this is how I'm living as a adoptive-mom-who-is-homeschooling-our-daughter-in-her-first-year-of-life-with-us.

my role is more like a tutor where i can gauge what she's comprehending and make a future lesson plan based on that.

we can spend more time on number grids because they're challenging at the present

and less time on coins because we've talked about them for as long as lincoln has been dead.

yet the hard part in driving this journey is knowing when to stop and spend more time and when to push forward.

to stop and make sure the foundation of reading and addition and subtraction are there.

yet to press the accelerator because she will be in fourth grade in august and will be expected to know multiplication.

she doesn't have the luxury of taking 4 years with kindergarten through 3rd grade. she's an older adopted child and this is a sacrifice on her part.

she has to learn quick. she has had to re-wire her mind to be always learning and to remember what she has learned.

she has had to learn to apply what she's learning in math when she's counting her money or when we're cooking.

at the orphanage, she seldom left the grounds. she didn't get to use what she was being taught.

i tell her that she has a "holding place" in her brain that holds information

and that she has a "working place" in her brain where wheels are moving and helping her process and figure things out.

that "holding place" stores memories and such.

that "working place" was dormant for years.

it's a beautiful thing to see her thinking. to see her wondering.

i'm not her favorite person when i press the accelerator at certain times

and she's not a princess when she refuses to try something hard.

but if you were to hear her today, you'd be like "wow! your english is great, kavita!" or "you've grown so much in the past 10 months!" and i'd agree with you. she certainly has. she's made the sacrifice and can't wait to join her brothers in school in the fall. she's a social one and the two of us staring at each other at "lunch" is very un-enchanting.

it's been quite a learning process of brakes and accelerators.

and it's not just bound to teaching an adoptive child.

it's caring for your elderly parents.

it's pushing through a busy work season to get to take a break and rest.

it's receiving wisdom and choosing to move forward or slow down.

it's wanting more for your child when he refuses to budge or wanting your child to slow down when he's doing too much.

it's looking at the calendar and feeling like there's no brake to press.

it's accelerating through 2016 and feeling like time is not on our side.

you and me, we need to take a drive.

not through my city. there's constant stop signs and traffic lights that give my shins a fit.

not down the 101. oh please!

but along the coast. around the bends. along the water's edge. along the cliffs.

where the beauty lies. where brakes and accelerators are needed.

to stop and see what's most important and to press forward believing something spectacular is still to be seen.

kavita has consistent park dates and we have friends over and she loves to run errands with me like the boys did when they were preschool age. she takes swim on friday mornings and gets some good daddy time on his day off. and yes, we've been to the zoo, the nursing home to read to the residents, to the beach on a sunny day, to the academy of science, to the asian art museum, and i'd keep listing them to clear my conscience, but i've got to get back to the accelerator.

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chapter 25 {a special reunion}

it's such a beautiful and miraculous thing when the kids that did life together for years in an indian orphanage

see each other again in their forever families.

for these kids were bunkmates and classmates.

their stories of abandonment are a common thread.

difficult pasts, yet some cheerful memories they hold internally, yet collectively.

for the past few months, these kids have written each other in their new language and shared silly faces over FaceTime.

so seeing each other has been somewhat common, but face to face since orphanage days?

months in the making, we revealed to kavita just an hour before the big moment.

she was so surprised!

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[video width="720" height="1280" m4v="http://shaunapilgreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/IMG_6591.m4v"][/video]

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Sneha, Kavita, Asher, Smita, Ajay.

{Smita and Ajay are siblings and have been home 2 years. Sneha came home this fall.}

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these four are chatting with two sisters who came home to their forever families in july. we are grateful to be connected with them as well. these two sisters were a part of the A7 {the 7 kids we were fighting for in court}. they live in the midwest.

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if playing at chick-fil-a wasn't enough, we treated the girls to american girl!

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this is just the beginning.

for they thought they would never see each other again or have this tangible string to their past.

now they have both and it's good for their momma's hearts too.

for we are sharing stories and saying prayers for one another as we seek to raise these precious kids.

chapter 24 {6 months home}

for years she was an exquisite beauty on a flat page. i couldn't even guess her personality or assume characteristics. now here in the flesh, my daughter, is a gift to unwrap every single day.

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and to be quite honest, she didn't know she had a personality deep inside. she didn't have permission to dream or explore or create or imagine outside the four walls she lived inside.

 but that has changed now!

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photographer one day. doctor the next.

always a princess and sometimes a girl at the office.

typically a store clerk and occasionally a college student.

because of her brothers, a 'knock out' basketball player.

because of her moves, a dancer.

because of our church community, a singer and toe tapper.

because of her father, a giggler and tickler.

because of her the woman behind these words, a journalist and planner.

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we have celebrated her roots and will do so always.

sparklers for diwali and mounds of sweets from our friend.

lots of text messages and face time chats and pictures and letters sent to her ashram friends now in the States.

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even though there's a dozen years of parenting in us, which includes lots of 'fly by the seat of our pants' moments and a heaping amount of intentional moments, this is a whole new world!

to see her with a dual lens. to see her with the past that has shaped her and to see the potential to be unlocked as she grasps how loved and valued and safe she is.

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in order to get her caught up to 4th grade for next school year, i've pressed her hard at learning to read English. so much so that she frequently says, "us, pilgreens, do hard things!"

we're tackling together kindergarten through 3rd grade in one calendar year and it's everything you could possibly imagine! we're joining brothers on their school field trips and figuring out how to apply what was learned in the "classroom" to grocery shopping, serving, playing, and every day living.

she's reading. really reading!

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she's holding and releasing a butterfly!

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she's out on the water for the very first time. and under the golden gate bridge no doubt. and this is just a regular ole field trip!

i still sit stunned that she is with us. to hold her hand at the dining table and think that for years elijah and i just held our hands open to the one who would eventually sit between us.

and then to hear these exchanges:

kavita: "i'm sorry."

asher: "but you didn't do anything."

kavita: "but you're hurt."

asher: "but it wasn't your fault."

kavita: "but you're my brother."

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we've covered dozens of parks.

she loves going to the library.

she's growing her hair out and wishes i had a closet of high heels.

she knows where i keep my lip gloss and thinks we're all so cool to have phones that do everything.

she can be anywhere and turn anything into an office for play.

she is now having quite lengthy confident conversations with folks at church.

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chapter 23 {capacity to learn}

home for 2 months. home for forever.

some days it feels short. other days it feels like always.

kavita hope goes non-stop in processing her new world.

some days are heavier than others in learning english, our family and the culture.

those days are filled with lots of questions and touches and curiosities and discoveries.

other days are observation days. taking it all in through a much quieter, contemplative way.

the curious days are definitely the more popular!

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this daughter of ours is adding dozens of new words and concepts per day.

"ocean blue?"

"can be ocean red?"

"some day?"

"after saturday?"

asher says, "oh my!"

kavita replies, "who's Oh My?"

my favorite is "beauty sleeping" for Sleeping Beauty.

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i remember in the first few weeks we would pretend to have a tea party with a plastic tea set. the concept of "pretend" was not there. we looked really strange to her as we "sampled" cookies and drank our "tea!"

now she's leading the tea parties and making construction paper food for tingley and bear.

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in the world of getting caught up, she's had her first dental visit and pediatric appointment.

she's begun to get immunized and loved the watermelon flavor at the dentist.

we've got a plan moving forward as we work with the dentist and endodonist to repair some teeth and clean out cavities.

the first doctor's visit was great...it's just not the last one! we've got blood work to do so we can establish a baseline for her and her health.

so i'm thankful that she's at home with me this year as we do school together, get in all the necessary appointments, and restore what was lost in her childhood.

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she began to pray and  i'm learning all over again that modeling proceeds action.

"thank You God."

"thank you God. gifts. family. mom. dad. elijah. sam. asher. friends."

so we pray and we sing...

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i thank God that while it was a long 3 year journey for us and for her, Kavita's heart was protected and her desire to grow through hardship and beyond an institutionalized way of life is amazing.

she wants more.

she wants all life has to offer.

and she's learning that God is the giver of such.

she's also learning she can talk to Jesus anytime...not just at bedtime.

so while she, myself, and asher were playing the board game, sorry, and she wasn't drawing a 1 or 2 to move her pawn out off start, she prayed, "Jesus, please 1 or 2, please Jesus!"