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This Man

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On this same morning twenty years ago, I woke in my parent’s house, rode with my sister to meet some girlfriends for coffee and salon appointments, and then proceeded to the church I grew up in where I put on the most beautiful white dress and walked down the aisle toward the man I have spent the last two decades with…growing up and growing a life with.  We were definitely not “en vogue” at the time…for nearly all of our twenties we had run the gamut of dating others, watching friends marry and even start families, all the while fielding questions such as “Are you seeing anyone?”  or “How can you still be single?” or the ever dreaded statement “I have someone I want you to meet!”  We were independent people just navigating life on our own as 20-somethings, which was not nearly as common then as it is now.  Our journey toward each other was not straight and smooth either…a couple years of chance meetings, a couple months of dating, a crushing break up, and still the winding road led us back to this day 20 years ago….where we had our first dance to the ever popular “I Finally Found Someone” a one hit wonder by Bryan Adams and Barbara Streisand…I’m not joking, Google it.  I’m cringing at the cheesiness even as I write it, but in reality, find “someone” I did.

This man…this man who is strong, and sensitive, opinionated and compassionate, adventurous and hardworking, Jesus loving and a bit wild.   Little did I know as I walked toward him down the aisle on the arm of my dad, who, up to that point, had been my hero of heroes, that this man would spend the next twenty years fighting for me and the love and honor of our little tribe.  I’ve got twenty years of highs and lows I could share, but good, bad or otherwise, for twenty years, I have laid my head on the pillow every night knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man would go to the ends of the earth for me…for us…for our family.  What an extraordinary gift he is.

Let’s be honest…marriage is hard.  Hopefully we all get a couple of years of blissful honeymoon romance, but the reality of living day in and day out in a singular committed relationship is complicated at best.  This man is not perfect, nor am I and therefore our marriage is not perfect.  But our commitment is by far the most rewarding choice I have ever made.  I’m all in, come what may.  I love the life we have built and oh how I adore this man, without whom it would not be.

So Happy 20th Anniversary to you Brian Bergler.  I love you babe….and as Bryan and Barbara would say, “I can’t wait for the rest of my life…..I finally found someone.”

 

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She’s A Beauty

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I thought I’d tackle some updates (or twenty!) on the last two years and had planned to do it as each child’s birthday approached, but I’ve decided to start with Miss Coco as she has been particularly on my mind as of late for reasons I will surely get to. So…where to begin with this little lovely….here are the current stats:

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Age: 6

Grade: 1st

Loves: Books, music, gymnastics and Frozen

Strengths: Reading, cartwheels and crying on cue

Dislikes: Green beans, chores, being left behind by her brothers

From the moment Coco has been under our wing there has been a continuing phenomenon between her and the outside world. There is not a single day that goes by where she is not told by someone outside our family how cute she is. Now, I know you think I’m totally exaggerating here, but I kid you not. It happens at school, in stores, walking down the street, at church…EVERYWHERE we go, complete strangers stop and tell her how darling/beautiful/cute she is. They may touch her face or hair and often they give her free stuff. You guys, I am not joking—it is C.R.A.Z.Y!!  An airport shuttle bus driver gave her the Christmas headband she was wearing.  A store clerk in Hawaii gave her a free piece of merchandise….AS WE STOOD THERE WITH MY NIECE AND NEPHEWS! (Who are also ADORABLE I might add!!) This has become a little tricky for us. The boys have come home from school commenting on her apparent rock star status, wondering how to respond to the constant onslaught of “your sister is so cute!” “how’s your sister?” “where’s your sister?” We try to give them kind responses to use, encouraging people to notice other things about her, but to no avail. Such is the way of our world right? I so desperately want her to hear other messages of where her value lies. I do my best to give attention to her intelligence, kindness or strength, which by no means can I say often enough to compete, so then I find myself doing irrational things like keeping her from looking at herself in mirrors and other nonsense. I get it, I do….she is SO CUTE right? And there is something simply spellbinding about her…we knew it from day one. But we’ve grown increasingly terrified about this constant attention and validation of her physical beauty and the message it is sending to her little soul. Our voices preaching inner beauty and character building are like shouting into a wind tunnel against the world’s message of outer beauty and perfection. I have no doubt it will only get louder as she gets older.

Here is what I wish people knew about her….Coco has had three ear surgeries in the last nine months…full on, put her under, big time operations, the last of which was the week before Christmas. Her strength and courage and determination have astounded us.   When we returned with the kids from Africa we discovered that both of her ear drums were blown from chronic untreated ear infections. Diagnosed with a “conductive hearing loss” she’s worn hearing aids in both ears since. Last January, in an effort to explore long term treatment options for her, we were connected to a surgeon in Los Angeles who recommended surgery to repair her ear drums. This would give her healthy ears, and in theory would begin to correct the hearing loss. Three surgeries later we have one healthy ear, waiting to see on the other, but little to no improvement in her hearing. Still a long road ahead, but, here is the unbelievable thing about this amazing girl….she is unphased–and I mean completely unphased by it all. She is active, articulate, and is reading far above grade level….seriously, how is this possible? Three years ago SHE COULDN’T REALLY HEAR OR SPEAK ENGLISH!!   She is more than cute y’all.

So, I’m thinking a lot these days about inner beauty and how to cultivate it. Kindness, compassion, courage, patience, generosity, sense of humor…these are the values I want to grow in her and in myself for that matter.  Oh how I continue to be taught by this little one. I want to work harder to express value and worth to people I come into contact with that is not based on outward appearances or behaviors. Will you join me?

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The Truth

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Merry Christmas 2016! I’m rolling my own eyes at my own self as I recall saying on LAST YEAR’S Christmas card that I would soon recover from my blog writing hiatus and actually share some of our lives with you dear ones that have so graciously held us in your thoughts and prayers as we set sail on our adoption journey and who have loved and nurtured us as a family of six. When I wrote those words, I thought surely it would serve as an accountability of sorts that would force me to get back to it. I have thought of that commitment monthly, if not weekly for the past year….”haunted by” would be more accurate, if not a bit dramatic. I’ve started writing multiple times and wrestled with SO MANY thoughts and words and feelings which inevitably left me overwhelmed each and every time. I feel such a responsibility for the words I put out here. Writing about our adoption process and the makings of our little tribe started as truly a cathartic process for me….a process where I could just put pen to paper and hash it out. I think as the journey continued and more of our broken pieces became exposed, I began to struggle with what to say and how to say it…or maybe how to tiptoe around it…how to balance protecting myself and my people with being real and honest. I’m not typically one to sugar coat things, but I somehow convinced myself that the message needed to be all rainbows and unicorns and sunny skies and smiling kids–“Isn’t adoption GREAT?!?” which felt horribly inauthentic on most days, downright ludicrous on others. My remaining alternative as I viewed it was to talk about the struggle and mess and dark places that feel shameful and sad and vulnerable. It’s hard enough to write that stuff down, much less think that anyone would be interested in reading it. So I’ve stayed silent. Don’t get me wrong—we have NO REGRETS. Adoption is to me, by far the most beautiful and humanized example of God’s redemptive love. And I have to tell you, as I’ve wrestled with this strange dichotomy, the words and conviction that keep coming back to me over and over….in my quietest moments of reflection….in raging tears….in the sweetest snuggles…..in desperate prayers…..in honest conversation with dear and trusted friends is this:

BE A TRUTH TELLER…tell the TRUTH.

And so I tell myself this today as I turn my face toward this new path. I will tell you our stories and I pray my words will be real, truthful, and most of all shine a light on my Savior….His redemptive work and His glory. This is the gift He has entrusted me with and I will not squander it.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and Cheers and Joy to the New Year ahead!

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Jesus Loves Me

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The very first night that Sol & Coco stayed with us in South Africa, we were a jumble of emotions.  We had asked their caregivers at the orphanage what their nightly routine was and they had told us that they usually had a bath and then they sang before bed.  I was certain they would be terrified to got to bed, but the excitement and newness of everything really filled them with delight…the first of many times I would expect disaster and be shocked by the amazing adaptability of these two.  The warm bath, new pajamas and toothbrushes—really, it was like Christmas morning!  They climbed into their cozy down covered beds which were in a room side by side and I panicked—what were we going to sing???  We had all of 10 words to communicate with and we hadn’t heard any of their songs yet, so as they looked at me expectantly, I started singing the first thing that popped into my head…

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves Sol!
Yes, Jesus loves Coco!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

 

I think I might have sung it a few more times that night as the littles settled in, but we continued to sing it each night as part of our routine and it was just a matter of days before they were humming along and inserting a word or two.  And you know what?  We still sing it every night…it stuck.  For our weeks in Africa, and for several months after we returned home, it was a full family affair.  Zach and Mason would come running from whatever they were doing as they heard us start to sing and Sol & Coco would break into big smiles as their brothers entered the room singing at the top of their lungs.  The big boys do still join us on occasion, and the nightly choir has varied at times to include grandparents, babysitters, cousins, aunts, uncles and other friends.

It is a sweet ritual that I am most certain had a divine prompting….and lately I’ve been contemplating its simple message A LOT.  It seems so much harder to accept this basic truth as I’ve gotten older–why is that?  I guess some days it’s just too hard to believe amidst all of my shortcomings, my failures, my weakness—heck, I wouldn’t love me much!  But oh the sweet simplicity of this truth—pure and simple enough to hear and understand for young and old.  Oh how I pray that this song and its message will forever be imprinted on Sol & Coco’s hearts and that as they grow they won’t learn to doubt it, but to fully comprehend and embrace it’s miraculous meaning.  Maybe somewhere along the way so will I.

Running the Race

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The Bergler Six are alive and well!! So sorry for the hiatus in writing….as you might imagine….we’ve been “otherwise occupied”.  🙂   Our most sincere gratitude for all of you who have followed us personally in this journey with your friendship, love, prayers, questions and listening ears. And to those of you who have encouraged me to keep writing…thank you for your kind words and prodding. While I will never claim to be a writer, I am realizing more and more how much I’ve missed the process of putting words to the page. It is often therapeutic for me, but even more so I’m finding how important it is to stop and reflect, to mark time and feelings amidst the busyness of our little world.

If you can believe it, one year ago today we laid eyes on Sol & Coco for the first time at their little orphanage in the foggy hills of Kwa Zulu Natal. As with most momentous occasions, it feels like a lifetime ago, but also just like yesterday. I have tears streaming down my face right now as I think of the four Berglers who traipsed up the hill in the rain that day, hearts pounding in anticipation of our long awaited meeting.

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And those two sweet shy faces that met us, the smiles that came in spite of the lack of words we shared.

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All six of those people are hardly recognizable to me today.

The past year has been WILD—beautifully complicated, utterly exhausting, remarkably full of delight and wonder and just HARD. It’s funny…I have had this one year mile stone in my mind all year long as the ultimate destination. Everyone said, “Oh the first year is so hard” or “It will be a year before you feel like yourself again”. I have been running head long toward this day for a year now thinking how all of “the hard stuff” must somehow miraculously evaporate at this point in time.  (Yes—I see you shaking your head….how can a reasonably smart girl really think this could be true?)  Well, call it denial, or a coping mechanism or what you will, but that is the race I’ve been running—and I mean RUNNING—with so little time or attention given to the course or our pace or the hurdles we’ve leapt across.  I’ve been so focused on just getting to the finish line–being settled, finding everyone whole and happy. As I’ve unpacked and sorted through these thoughts over the past few weeks, my discovery was this:  subconsciously I have viewed adoption as an occurrence—something we would do, and then, at some point, return to “normal life”.  The reality that is now staring me in the face as I’ve raced towards my illusion, is that we will spend the rest of our lives working out this adoption….in all of its joy and pain and beauty and complication.  It is the journey we have been called to, not the event.  The marathon, not the 100 yard dash.  And while that reality may feel overwhelming some days, it also makes for a more thoughtful and well-paced approach, and reminds me to rely daily on the One who called us to the journey in the first place.

So, as we cross the one year mark, my sprint is slowing to a jog and I think it might be nice to even walk for a bit….especially if I have a little brown hand in mine.

Oh and these six people?  _BEN8953t

I do recognize them.  And to be quite honest, I dig them a whole lot. I am honored and humbled to be on this journey with them.  Can I just tell you—each one is so incredibly amazing—I hope to get to share with you more about them in the coming months.

Home Sweet Home for the Holidays

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The bells of joy are ringing loud at the Bergler home!!   We are catching Christmas just in the nick of time and I’m so unbelievably grateful to be home.  This is probably my favorite sight from the past two weeks…. IMG_1260

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I had those puppies ordered the minute I knew we were going to Africa, and oh the tears that flowed as I hung them at long, long last.  But more on that later….here are some other favorites…

Two sweet littles snuggled in their room for the first time…be still my heart.

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The snow, oh my word they LOVE the snow—who would have thought?!?

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And probably the most poignant was coming in the house that first night and Sol (who was the only one awake!) walking through their room and all around upstairs just exclaiming over and over, “Oh Wow!  Dad, look it—oh wow!”  Home, finally home.

After two weeks now back on US soil, we are all settling in and finding our way….I will be honest and say it has not been easy, not by a longshot.  Frankly, week one was unfortunately similar to your classic horror film….close your eyes and just imagine…after being quickly whisked home from the airport Friday night and arriving to a warm house, with welcome banners, oodles of goodies and a refrigerator and freezer completely STOCKED full of hearty goodness by loving and generous friends, Saturday dawned brilliantly with fresh inches of snow and a happy family of six hunkered down, enjoying a little sledding, long naps and continued togetherness….the only hint you have of the terror ahead is the foreboding music in the background that begins as they go to sleep on Sunday night.   Monday morning, it hits…the wheels come off….Brian returns to work, Zach and Mason return to school….we are down to three….the endless questions begin, most of which I can’t understand….naps come to a screeching halt….there is laundry for miles….there are crying jags (mostly mine)….and children up in the night….Mason comes home from school sick on Tuesday…there are bills to pay and mail to sort….oh and by the way you still own a business and guess what?  It’s Christmastime!!….LIFE settles in and we are a M.E.S.S….completely undone.…and you wonder as the shower curtain is pulled back and the knife comes down “how could she not see this coming?”  (Sidenote:  Brian thinks this is a bit of a dramatic analogy, but I’m sticking with it…)

However, things have improved exponentially since week one….some good sleep and a little routine go a long way!  I did feel completely blindsided by that first week I must say.  I really thought we had worked through most of the ‘adjustments’ during our time in Africa.  But hello…this new reality is quite different from what we were experiencing together while traveling.  As I hung those stockings, I wept once again…I felt ashamed of having longed for something so desperately and then being completely exasperated by its arrival.  Oh how I continue to be confronted by my weaknesses…my selfishness, my overconfidence, my deep distaste for needing help…just my plain old stinking pride.   It’s not pretty, but nothing like having a mirror held up by two sweet littles who need their mom to pull it together!!  They are a reflection of God’s mercies to me….new every morning….fresh and forgiving.  The tide has turned and time is now our friend…each day brings further progress, more words, deeper patience and bigger love. 

I woke this morning thinking about how God did not send His son to this world to make things easy.  He was sent so that we may have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY.  And if there is one thing I can say about today, Christmas Eve 2013, it’s that LIFE is ABUNDANT for the Bergler Six….crazy, fun, joyful, hard, beautiful abundant life.  We hope and pray the same for you and your family this Christmas and through the coming year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Goodbye South Africa

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Jen Hatmaker

to south africa and beyond.....

Shannan Martin Writes

to south africa and beyond.....

wonderment, etc

life, motherhood, and everything that comes with broken hallelujahs

the berglers adopt

to south africa and beyond.....