She leaves a week from today. This fact has set my heart to slowly breaking. I cannot stand the thought of her leaving, of her away from where I can keep her safe and care for her, and make sure her needs are met.

At the same time, I am utterly exhausted. I sat down to think about things yesterday and I realized, that with the exception of sleeping, I have not been alone for nearly one month. One month. Someone always with me. Now, some of you love the thought of that. But while I am an OUTGOING person, I am by definition, an INTROVERT. This means that in order to re-charge and be refreshed, I need alone time. I cherish alone time. No one hanging on me, no one demanding something from me, no one talking at me. Alone time is beautiful. And guess what? While she simply adores Craig, I am “Mama”, so she wants to be with me. Oh right, I also have three other children who have been like, “Hey, someone else wants Mom’s attention? I’ll show her! I’m gonna be super duper awful and do everything I know I’m not supposed to do! Who’s with me? All of us? Woooot! Lets do this thing!”.

And there you have it. Look at me, and the bags under my eyes look like they’re definitely going to be charged for being over the weight limit.

To add to the chaos, sweet J has decided that her first two weeks of going to bed at eight, are over. She has been up close to midnight each night now and of course, it’s then when she wants to talk and open up. It’s hard for me, as I am a lover of sleep, but the time with her is so sweet, so it’s not hard at the same time.

Have I regretted the decision to host her even for a second? A millisecond? Nope.

We are learning more about her, feeling her become part of our family, and trying to prepare for the inevitable departure. We are also trying to separate fact from fiction as she tells us more and more of her story. I have to remind myself that a child doesn’t have full details of the goings-on of the adult world around them. All I know is, this word is broken. I will say it again and again, children need families. J should have grown up with her family. Instead, she has spent too many years in an orphanage, not being tucked in by a loving mother. Not having her hair tucked behind her ear in a sweet gesture of affection. Not being asked by her father, “Are you hungry? Have you had enough to eat?”. Not being told to sit down and do her homework. Not having boundaries set up for her to teach her proper behavior. Not having someone whom she can truly count on. As I keep up with the other families who are hosting (again, kids ages 6-17 are here being hosted across the U.S.), I am hearing beautiful stories of love, honest accounts of struggles, and kids who are relishing being a part of a loving family. Kids who are begging, “Please keep me.”, and “I want to stay with you and Papa”. And it doesn’t matter if these kids have tested their host families. It doesn’t matter if there have been screaming and tears. These kids are BROKEN and they are DESPERATE to be told they are loved, that they are worthy of love, and that they will still be loved even if they act out. Isn’t that the right of every child? To be given a place of safety to push, test, and figure out “But really, will you still love me if….?”

And so until the day I draw my final breath, I will speak out for these children. For those who have seen too much, experienced too much in their short time here on earth. For those who just want a family to call their own.

We have had a low-key end to the week. We did a little shopping, we went to the best Chicago fast food place, Portillos’s, and then bowling with our very awesome friends on Friday. Today we headed to the mall to Build-a-Bear and made a recorded greeting to put in the bear she chose. Bowling was fun, but then it got a little tough as J began having an emotional struggle. She misses her friends, and was thinking about a lot of things. We hope to talk to her about all of that when she’s ready.

Tomorrow we return to the Church where she will be able to hear the service in Russian, and again spend time with the friends we made there last week. We are all looking forward to it!

If any of this is stirring something in your heart, please, I beg you, do not ignore it. I hear so many people say, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to innocent people?” I’ll tell you. He’s waiting on those whose hearts He has stirred. Inaction on the part of people is not God’s doing. It’s the free will He’s given us. He is a loving God who did not create mindless robots to do His bidding. Free will is the gift He’s given to His creation. And when we ignore those whispers of encouragement, we ignore Him. And then we wonder why the world is so messed up? We are His hands and feet. Get. Moving.