On Babies, Dogs, and God’s Little Rabbit Trails

I have officially become her. My mother. The one who talked to strangers in the grocery store line about things that were way too intimate and transparent for the general public. She used to talk about herself and others would open up to her. Random strangers would share their woes.

gods rabbit 6“Who are you?” I would think. “Must you talk to every tomato bearing elder, or toddler slinging mum you meet?” I tapped my foot impatiently as if just by her conversing with another human, the grocery lines would come to to a stop like some endless slow moving film.  I rolled my eyes at the need to share her story, or the safe portions of her story, while we stood waiting to hear “May I help who’s next?”

gods little 7Now I stand in grocery lines and look at the person waiting in front of me. The art of sharing my story was birthed by a women who was trapped inside the painful memories of a childhood that formed stories built upon cynicism. Though I could share in the same cynicism from my own childhood (*yawn* who doesn’t have wounds –  my childhood was far better than hers), now I gaze at the person in front of me because I am genuinely interested in her story.  

My story can wait. There may be a divine narrative needing to be encouraged in the stress lines of the face peering back at me. Some much needed mama encouragement as we walk together, image bearers trying to find the place that fills empty, aching, arms.

gods rabbit.jpg 5The reflection I see in the mirror, though it is different from my mums, stems from the same place of origin. Not just familial, but humanity’s. She has passed on to eternity and I have replaced her. I am now her.  Yet, fully me. A snowflake with a similar line here or there. I look like her. Sometimes I act like her. I still occasionally roll my ‘R’s with a remnant of Irish brogue. I am surprised to hear her laughter and realize it’s me. I remember details about her when she was my age. Details that seemed so old to a teenager with a lifetime to be lived. Now I look in shock at myself. I am at her place in life. I am her age. This can’t be me. I didn’t even see it coming. 

God's little 3When did I fall in this hole? When did I become my mother, and my daughter become me? When were my eight toddling wee babes replaced by twelve toddling to teen grandchildren? A family was my lifelong dream. It was all I ever wanted. Farm life. Animals. Family. Homebirth. Babies at my breast. The smell of freshly baked cookies and bread rising. I lived it to the fullest all the while finding the sacred in the mundane.

I have lived my dreams. 

 Now, like Beth in Little Women I wonder why “everyone has to go away.”

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But… “I can be brave like you.” 

We all age. We all gain wisdom (hopefully). We learn that other people have stories, and if we are careful, if we have developed empathy, if we have learned to let go of controlling conversations, outcomes, or our own agenda’s – we can hear the divine narrative written on the pages of other image bearers.

My story is completely unique from anyone else’s. Everyone else’s is completely unique from mine. We run into trouble when we try to jump in with the, “I understand what that is like, I…” comments. No, you don’t know what it’s like. I don’t know what it’s like for you either. We are all snowflakes, and snowflakes can’t be imitated. One of a kind.

gods little 12We aren’t comfortable in the silences. We feel threatened by stories. If I tell my story and rip open the flesh, separate the ribs, and expose my heart, it makes you feel insecure in the divine narrative woven throughout your own story. You don’t like the blood and guts. You want tidy, non-offensive, unchanging, and fully clothed. Beautiful. Serene. 

gods little 8My whole life was centered around raising my babies. I home-schooled, they married and lived nearby so that even the grand-kids became part of my day. Friends lived with us, stragglers came on weekends. It was a full house. 

One day, all of that changed. I thought I would be the old lady who had tea with my daughters while I helped them to can the abundance from their gardens. They would borrow books from my extensive home-school library and pick from my home-school career brain. The library has been mostly given away to the parents now carrying on the home-school legacy. Only one has a garden.

The rabbit hole is full of twists and bends. I was blinded to what was ahead. 

They had a divine narrative being spoken into their lives too and we can’t always predict the story line. It is their story line. It’s God narrative for them. 

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(c) Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Yet, I find a space to cuddle in white fur. I have always loved dogs, but they made space for nursing babies and became “Nana” to my wee ones. Now I find myself developing the kind of companionship I had with fur before I knew the love of a child at my breast.  I have become one of those people. I have more pictures of my dog on my phone than my grand-kids. I text them to Dave and we laugh over becoming “those people.”

Dog’s love is as reckless as God’s in a creation not creator form. Our new little doggie girl was abused before she came to us via a rescue group as a “foster.” Slated to be euthanized, Big Fluffy rescued her and she landed with us. She would cringe if we reached too quickly towards her. She blinked her eyes waiting to be hit anytime our hand came near. My heart melted as her tail continued to wag, despite the obvious past inhumane treatment.  We “fostered” her with no intent of adopting her, but the day someone was interested, Dave closed the deal and she became ours.

I imagine Jesus must feel like that as he reaches for us at times. We wince and back away from Him, told the lies about a God who is more interested in our mistakes than our redemption.

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Anyone who has experienced abuse and neglect will tell you that they remember forever when they were delivered from it. Maybe it was a day, maybe it was a season – the timing is different for everyone. There is a then and now. In Christ – there is a then and now narrative that plays out in all of our lives. Our little Daisy (who we call Piggy) is living out a then and now narrative in her little life. We see it as our little while love ball blossoms into our protector, keeping us from all harm. She shows her gratitude for being saved in how she loves. 

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She has her own redemption story – from the brokenness of man’s irresponsible and unkind folly, into redemptive life. We are the caretakers of God’s creation. Dominion means care, not abuse.

My Masters of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, has a concentration in “children at risk.” One big rabbit trail in my living intentionally dreams. It’s one big rabbit trail that I travel completely alone. No kids, no husband, no partners. Just me on the road down the Divine Academia Lane. Piggy sits faithfully next to me as I write papers and read endless amounts of books. I am completely engrossed and completely alive.

My prayer is that the knowledge I gain will better the lives of little image bearers and their moms – that I can make a difference. But I really hope to expand my own depth so I will see more of Christ and less of my mother when I look in the mirror. Less of me. I witness a broken world and a church that often is more concerned with self-preservation than laying down their lives.

gods rabbitI have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. It’s more like Jesus. 

From babies, to strangers – maternal healthcare, children, infants, orphans, refugees, broken, bleeding… The world needs the love of God. They need to see the Jesus that lived. The Jesus that went about doing good and healing (and rescuing) all that were oppressed of the devil. Not the one that promises cars, money, mansions, and a perfect life if you have enough faith and “declare it.”  Not the one who turns a blind eye of fear to the plight of refugees, orphans, widows, the marginalized, or people from other religions. 

The Jesus who rescues them and who died that they may live. That’s the Jesus I wanna live like.

Jesus declares he is the way the truth and the life. He declares only Himself. He declares the Kingdom of God is at hand in Emmanuel.

Gods 14Jesus says, “Hey, follow me.” I have something really perfect written just for you. You are part and parcel of this divine narrative. You may not always like where I have to go. Sometimes it may even hurt a bit. There will be rabbit trails and sometime you may get lost. But don’t worry, I will never, ever lose sight of you, even if you fall down the rabbit hole. The only drink that will make you smaller is the one that makes me increase. It’s my magic potion of living water. Drink it with joy and it will reveal the divine narrative that I have written just for you.

God's Rabbit trails 2I have to the drink the potion. It’s time to grow up and leave home.

 

Hosanna in the Highest, Advent Resurrection (Happy Birthday Mom)

Born on December 8, 1919, she would have been ninety-six years old today; my Irish, Catholic mother named Mary Josephine Meehan.

She died thirteen years ago, twenty-four years after living with, and beating breast cancer.  She died just three months after our youngest son Samuel, came home from Kazakhstan.

She was tough, and prided herself on it. She didn’t like “sissies,” and raised us to be tough. Life is hard and she wanted us to grow up to take care of ourselves. She grew up across the tracks from Frank Sinatra and told us he was a sissy – a mama’s boy who wouldn’t even hang off of the back of the trolly’s when he was roller skating. She never listed to him sing. “Turn that sissy off.”

She spent most of her childhood in a tenement flat at 311 Ninth St. in Jersey City, NJ. There were cockroaches inside and rats in the outhouse. She talked about stamping her feet to keep the rats away when she sat on the “John.” Born to poor Irish Catholic immigrants, the depression and poverty wasn’t kind to her.  Her name Mary means “bitter” and she told me to never name a child Mary; it’s a “bad-luck name.”

Mary J. Meehan age 8 (My mother)

Mary J. Meehan age 8 (My mother)

I was taught to never put my shoes on the table or I’d have bad luck… never raise my hand to strike my mother, or when I die my hand will stick up out of the grave… never bring a sparrow into the house...never walk backwards down a staircase or Satan will be waiting at the bottom… and never stick my tongue out a her or my tongue would fall off. I never, ever thought about striking my mother, I never stuck my tongue out at her – ever – even when she wasn’t looking.

It was vitally important stuff to know. Life or death. 

She spoke highly of her mother, my grandmother who worked  twelve hours a day, six days a week, at Dix’s Pencil Company, to support her family; she despised her father who spent his days drinking away the cash my grandmother earned. Her mother had married a widower with two children and together they had four more. My mother said her mother had gotten pregnant to “the bum,” trapped, and forced to wed. That piece of information about her mother, she spoke with disgust, “How could she have gotten pregnant by that bum.” My mother ran to meet my grandmother as a child, to be the first to get the warm rolls she would bring home for dinner, often not having enough to feed the whole family. Who ever met her first and helped her carry the bags, won. 

I have heard some others speak well of my grandfather, who died before I was born, but my mother went to her grave despising him – bitterly. (I think – of course – no one can know the intents of the heart in those last moments. ) She told me about her sister that he tried to throw out at window when she born; he wanted a son and despised “another split tail.” She spoke about his drunkenness, his filth, her endless cleaning of the apartment. She talked about coffee in her bottle because it was cheaper than milk in the 1920’s, and revealed that her father had dropped his used condoms into the toy box that was kept under her parents bed. (Her mother never set foot in the Catholic church again because of the guilt – birth control was sin.) Sex was disgusting she said, and she only “did it” for children. My heart breaks when I think of the reasons she had for so much brokenness towards any, and all aspects of relationships. 

Mary (Cox) Meehan

Mary (Cox) Meehan (my grandmother, age 4)

Her bitterness towards men carried over into her marriage and towards all men. The rejection my mother held ran deep and was evident in all her familial relationships, though two of my aunts were a regular part of our holiday gatherings. Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas dinners were a trip, like a Saturday night live skit in living color… 

SNL Thanksgiving Miracle    (Sums up what dinner would be today if any relatives were yet living.)

At the encouragement of the Parish priest my mother married right out of high school. She was a beautiful woman. Father Mac told her Joe Casey was a good man, and she needed to get out of her poverty ridden circumstances to have a better life. I imagine her care and concern for her mother may have kept her from finding her own way. She didn’t marry for love, and her Irish Catholic husband also drank. Joe was a good guy I was told, a “happy drunk,” well liked by everyone, and kind to all. Together they had one child, my sister. When he was drafted to fight during WWII, my mother divorced him which caused her excommunication from the church.  She died having never set foot in the Catholic church again, except for weddings or funerals. She was disgusted by the annulments that can be purchased today.  She never felt worthy of the church again, yet never stopped affirming to us, “I was born a Catholic, and I will die a Catholic.”  She liked the Mass better when it was said in Latin. 

She met my father at a picnic. He was handsome, well dressed, and hard-working. He was a “smooth talker” a salesman by trade, who would become very successful later in life. He was also divorced. I didn’t know anything about my mother’s or my father’s past marriage until I was in my twenties. Divorce was shameful and it was well hidden in my childhood. My sister grew up forced to pretend she my fathers biological child with all the implication that caused to a child.  I just believed she had a couple of extra names due to her Catholic communion and confirmation.

Together, my parents had three children, two boys and me. I am the youngest. I was my father’s pet. Their marriage was a mess – wrought with infidelity and trust issues caused by my father, constant yelling, complaint, and discontent from my mother – But this post is to honor her – not to speak about the pain of her life that carried over into how she raised us. She did the best she knew how with a terribly traumatic past, an unfaithful husband, and limited skills or resources. 

She worked hard her whole life to keep a clean house, immaculate clothing for all of us, and home-cooked meals. She wanted us to have everything – a life far removed from the oppressive poverty she had known.  When I was little she bought me clothes I despised, always wanting to have a china doll of apparent affluence to parade around, in hopes of filling the painful void in her soul. The expenditures caused many battles, even though my frugal father could afford it.  She didn’t know how to express love in any other way – neither by verbal communication or a show of affection. It was quite the opposite.

The day before she died I received the first verbal response to my declarations of love for her. Usually an “I love you,”  was met with “Yeah, yeah, yeah, actions speak louder than words. ” On the day before she died, the words I had always hoped to hear were  spoken weakly, but softly, kindly, from her death-bed, exposing a lifetime of love that was buried beneath pillars of pain,   “I love you Mom.” “I love you too.”  I ran from the room and wept like a baby. I can’t write it, without reliving the moment.

She went home to the Jesus she had met and hidden from, us only a few years before. She would never let me know that she embraced the same God I did – except to say, “Yeah, yeah, I believe all too.” I was raised that a son will take care of His mother so Mary can get anything she wants from Jesus.

She was never able to grasp that the man-God, Jesus, could love her, but I know she understood He was her Savior.  After she died I found a bible we had given to her – highlighted, worn, sinners prayers written in a shaky hand, copied down from Billy Graham, evidence of her softened heart. Though she repeatedly stated we were making a mistake in adopting a little boy (with much cruder language and notions – she said we should adopt a girl) her response to meeting him, just once before she died, “He’s cute, God bless him” left me shaking my head in awe.

Today on her birthday, I want to sit down with her and drink our Irish Breakfast tea together. I want to look her in the eyes and reflect God’s love from a place of total acceptance for who she is. When I tell her that I am getting my Masters of Divinity, I want to hear her say, “What the hell are you doing that for? Get a job that pays. Become a nurse. You need your head examined, you are going to die broke and I won’t be around to help you.” I would inwardly smile, knowing she is being “tough” and making me “tough,” but if anyone else dare say I was pursuing foolish ideas, she would quickly quiet them as well with a, “Shut the hell up. You should do so well raising eight hard-working kids and twelve grand-kids. None of them are in jail or on drugs. And she homeschools them all too!”

I want to hear her  challenge my theological views against what I used to hold to, “I thought women couldn’t be pastors?” “What the hell do you have a tattoo for?” “You change your ideas like you change your underwear.” “I believe in the old ways.”

I know at times she would exhaust me, and I long for one more time to be exhausted; now, as a mature, wise,  older woman, who would no longer hear her crass language or pain driven remarks. I see a broken woman who desperately wanted to know she was accepted, loved, and forgiven. 

I never wanted to be like her – anything like her – but that nature and nurture heritage followed me in so many ways. Part of it has made me who I am. I am a survivor. She made me that way. She taught me you never give up, and you never give in. You fight for what you want, what you earn, what you believe in, and what you deserve. She was a feminist before the time of feminism, and without understanding what that meant, even as she mocked Gloria Steinem she stood for what it meant. She sent money to the poor and needy and spoke with compassion about oppressed women and children.  The stranger and orphan loved her.  I would like to hear her tell me how foolish I am to go to Haiti, the Philippines, Nepal and other places, and that I should stay home where I belong, knowing that underneath it all she would be of the woman I have become. 

The defining difference between us as older women, is that I embrace how great God’s unconditional love for me is, how His grace and forgiveness is the sum total,  and I can live out my life free of bitterness, anger, or rejection. I can love myself and others as God does – the all-encompassing commandment of law and grace. I know the peace that she never gained in this world, but that she has embraced in eternity.    

I love you Mom. I know you are happy now and all of the things I wrote, I can picture you are probably rolling your eyes – but you roll them from a place of total love, acceptance, and tear-free abandonment.

I miss you Mom. You were one hell of a woman.  Save me a place in the Kingdom and fist bump Jesus for me My next tattoo will be in your honor. 

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(I apologize if anyone is offended by language, but that is exactly how my mother spoke, and I loved her for her she was at. If you are offended, I would challenge you to think about how much you can embrace others who speak far worse, do far worse, and needs so much more the grace and love of God reflected by us.)

Shalom.

 

Big Kids, Bigger Problems, Biggest Grace

I spoke to a friend of mine recently who also has a large family. In asking her about parenting adult children, she made the comment, big kids have bigger problems. Being a mom is the toughest job anyone can ever have. I’ve been a stay at home mom (SAHM in modern vernacular) my entire life. I still am. I work from home most of the time, a mixture of choice and a lack of funding to get out and do my “job” more. I am in in my twenty-ninth year of homeschooling with three years left to go. That’s enough to get social security benefits and retirement.

NOT

farm

Commitment to farm and family didn’t earn me much in the way of finances, thanks, or applaud. Most of the time during my many years at home, I heard the typical SAHM line,

“What do you doooooo all day?”

To which I always wanted to respond,

“Eat bon-bons and read movie magazines.”

I declined the sarcasm and instead made small talk about the size of my family keeping me busy instead.

Now that I run a non-profit and have the title of “chaplain” to go with my SAHM I get the reverse statement,

“You must be sooooo busy, I don’t want to bother you.”

For the love of God, please bother me. I get starved for adult company and to do what God has prepared me for. (Very slow coming in this area of the country, and in my life.)

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Yes, I am busy. Too busy. Yes, I am a chaplain and CEO. But…

Yes, my son – my one and only son who is still at home and homeschooling continues to be my priority. It is for him that I stay home. Mostly he educates himself with very little input from me. But in his words, he’s my “side-kick.” We are often stuck like glue. The last two years he has been involved in a local -co-op and enjoys it. He is talented in photography and neglects the assignments we give him to please his co-op teachers. Typical kid.  He spend hours on the piano or cello.

And yet, he still snuggles. Sometimes. When no one is looking.

He’s a great kid. A great young man. Not really a kid anymore, the days of childhood on the farm are over. Sadly. He’s also in the growing up process – the pull me close, push me away, I love you, you annoy me, stage of life. He needs to grow up some before he realize life is full of contradictions and it’s how you handle the contradictions that matter. He is easily influenced. He needs to grow up a bit to learn who to be influenced by. He’s a complicated human being with even more complicated emotions, thoughts, and ideas.

Lenten Longins Sam cello

Like we are all are.

Staying home was, and is a choice. It is my choice and it has often come at a very high price. It is not a better or worse choice than working, though I am partial to staying home, at least in the informative years.

Obviously.

However, I know a lot of kids who thrived with working moms and public or private schools , and plenty of kids who have not done so well homeschooling. I am not a homeschooling nazi anymore. It was not a magic formula for my kids to all grow up safe, secure, respectful, filled with faith, or close knit. Some of the children appreciate the sacrifices I made, some don’t. Some are modeling their childhoods, some aren’t.

Choice.

The kids have choices too. They grown up and make choices, while we are left to sit idly by and pray for them to make the ones that are in God’s plan, pray for them to be safe, and pray our hearts don’t break as we watch their hearts break.

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Prayer is never idle.

Sometimes they listen to our counsel.

Sometimes they embrace our counsel.

Other times they completely disregard it, tossing iit out like an old worn out sock that’s no longer useful.

It hurts our hearts when they turn a deaf ear and choose to be fueled by impulse. It tears our hearts open when they accuse us of interfering, or making it about ourselves when we weep with human emotions, effected by human relationships. Sometimes in this life, we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Relationships are difficult. They are most difficult with the ones we love.

And when we hurt our kids – that’s the ultimate evil to the heart of a mom, and it takes great grace to forgive ourselves, reset our emotion valve, and move on with purpose.

Moms bleed every time our children get hurt, it’s just the way it is. The bigger the kid, the bigger the pain, the larger the blood loss for mothers.

The skirmishes of childhood turn into full blown military combat as our children embrace a broken world.

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Our bodies bleed through the process of birth. And if by chance a child comes through the process of foster, or adoption, our spirits bleed through the birth process. As they grow, it’s as if we feel them struggle all the way through the birth canal into adulthood.

Some labors take longer than others. Birth was never easy for me; I had some really long, painful, labors.

Grace.

It looks different to everyone, at every age, in every situation, in every stage of life. It is the one constant we have in raising children.

For the parents of adult children, grace takes on a whole new image, and a brand new voice.

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Grace holds our hand when we look back on our many and varied parenting mistakes. Grace winks His eye when we listen to our children give their interpretation of a story, knowing it is so far from the truth of how it really happened. Grace lifts its cup when we celebrate the victory of watching our children happy, loving, and being loved. Grace opens the prison doors when we need to break free from the guilt of a a child whose life is marred by problems, difficulties, addictions, losses, mental illness, or the thousands of painful experiences parents all over the world are facing. Grace covers us when when we are left out in the cold by a child whose moving on, means moving right over the top of us.

Grace gives us the strength to move ahead – one step, one moment, one breath at time, when the unimaginable happens and good-bye means forever, in this life.

Mom’s need lots of grace and as our children grow older, the grace just keeps on growin’.

Maybe I keep on growin’ too.

Probably both.

Either way, it’s working.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

I am learning to let His strength come “into its own.” I am learning to appreciate the gift.

For parents of big kids, hang on. A spanking, a time out, or grounding may not fix our problems, or theirs, (oh it was so easy then!) but with God all things are possible when we live in the power of His strength. We may have bigger problems, but we have ever increasing grace, and even BIGGER blessings.

Parenting, God Laughs Too

“Fear causes us to make parenting choices based on what our children do, instead of who they are.” 

080I listened to them laugh; loud, hysterical laughing that forced me to either to join in, or get annoyed at the volume. Too often I got annoyed at the volume. The older they got, the louder the laughter, and the later at night I used to listen to it.

I miss it now. That raucous, crazy laughter that filled our nights when we were trying to sleep.

I am sure that God misses it too. I imagine He laughed the loudest listening to our children.

Eight kids were a lot to raise for someone so unprepared for parenting by my own lack of positive childhood experiences, “Christian” guidance, or basic common sense. I was a child when I gave birth to my first child Kristen – a  mere twenty years old.

She was more my little friend than a child. But I researched the best birth methods and breastfed  her against the odds, until she was a healthy two and a half. It was so much fun to play house with my little friend. I  looked even younger and the doctors and nurses at our pediatric office all thought I was an amazing mother for one so young  – about 16 years old they surmised- until they learned my true age. I hurt her a few times as I recklessly ran to fast pulling a wagon, or swung her too high on a swing. I was enraptured by her giggles and it flooded my soul with joy.

150Then came my second child Kacey, full of promise and future. She was a handful and we delighted in her antics. I let her get away with more than she should have as a toddler, still trying to find myself as a mother. Just a couple of months after Jordan was born, we were introduced to the “Good News.” It really only stayed good for a short time – a couple of weeks-  before the burden of extreme legalism was placed on our backs.

I was so happy when I found Christ and thought, “this is it! I have the guidebook to raising my kids!” I also had some mentors who were quick to tell me when my children needed a spanking. Funny, their children were older and not walking in the way that  I was told mine would, if I adhered to the formula in the “Word,” and “raised them up in the way they should go.”

Oh how gentle God is with us. He gives us so much grace, so much room to make mistakes as we we follow the path towards His heart. I didn’t understand that grace. I only understood the law. If my kids were kept on the narrow path they would grow up to avoid the pain that I had experienced in my life. They would all grow up conservative, God-fearing virgins and get married to other conservative God-fearing virgins, with the same doctrinal beliefs that Dave and I held in every category of catechism we had reared them to believe. After all, we had the Truth of all doctrines.

347It didn’t work that way. Thank God.

I never thought I would say I am thankful that it  didn’t happen that way, but I truly am.

I am not thankful that they made painful mistakes, or were hurt in the process. I am not thankful for every choice they made; but I am so very thankful for THEM. I am thankful by how much I have learned from them as they spread their wings, found different theological perspectives, and embraced the God who changes hearts.

I learned more about God from them. 

God must laugh when we try to mold our children into some perfect image that we envision them to be out of our of our own fear.

266 (2)Fear causes us to make parenting choices based on what our children do, instead of who they are. 

I have good kids- they were always good kids. I could take them anywhere and do anything with all five, six, seven, or eight. Restaurants didn’t challenge us, church didn’t challenge us, shopping, movies, traveling or museums.

Did you ever try taking 6 young kids to “Do not touch” museums?

We did it all with our large crew.

Despite my fear based control of their lives God kept His hand on them. Yes, a portion of that was my parenting, homeschooling, guidance, and discipline; I admit that they didn’t raise themselves, but the larger portion of how they all grew up to be amazing adults, was who they are. 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”  Jer. 1:5

God knew them all. He has called them all for His purposes. We raise them in partnership with Him.

It works much better when he has at least 51% of the partnership. It works better when He is control.

Some children He calls to Himself before we are ready to let them go, and that is a partnership we definitely want control of. But in the midst of it all, He has a plan.

IMG_1590 (3)Yes, I still very much believe in training them up in the way they should go.  But that way is grace and love.

I would have instilled so much more self-confidence, less fear of failure, and more faith in God,  if I had modeled the One who loves them the most. The One who created them to be unique individuals. The One who would have watched over the child who didn’t thrive at home, but may have done better in a public or private school setting.  The One who watches over them when life hurts, or the best choices still end up in failure.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”   Thomas Merton

IMG_5847The  Same One who comforts my heart as I watch them stumble, get up, and stumble again.  Just like He comforts me when I stumble, get up, and stumble again. 

Individual little people. With individual needs. Individual callings. Individual hearts.

Who grow up into individual adults, hopefully as individual members of God’s church -when mercy and grace grabs a hold of  them.

Who grow up into adults who laugh.

IMG_7296I am so thankful that God laughs too.

 

 

Kids Drink Half the Glass, but They Refill It

In the midst of a time when our family was going through one significant problem, loss, illness, or difficulty after another, a very wise woman said to me, “I guess when you have eight children you should expect more trials.” Though at the time it wasn’t really what I wanted to hear, I knew there was truth in what this pastors wife had witnessed over the years of mothering a church, and praying through all of it. Praying-hands-with-bibleSo here I am – large family and ten grandchildren, three son-in-laws and a daughter in law later, not to mention extended family and some close friends that are like family, noticing I always have someone in my immediate circle needing prayer.

I understand why older women and men prayer more – besides (hopefully) entering into mature disciples of Jesus – the retired crowd generally has more time and larger circles of people requiring a bended knee.  If not more time, more time to choose to pray. 

Just last week, I was reminded of Martin Luthers quote,  “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Life is full of disappointments, misdirection’s, loss of dreams, changes – enough to cause a person to want to give up if you focus on the “have nots” instead of the “haves.” It is the glass half empty – glass half full principle.

GlassHalfFull-thumb-480xauto-3821I admit it – If someone at my table was drinking that,  I would look at that glass and think of it as half empty, and take it to the sink to refill it.

And yet…

I usually only fill my own glass halfway up. Unless it is my “required amount of drinking water” glass, I prefer most beverages in small quantities.

It really is one more thing that depends upon perspective.

Some of the “glass half empty people” like me tend to see the needs that are up ahead, instead of the just the blessings of today.  I see the person who needs a refill much more quickly than I see my own need to refill. I want to know that the future is somewhat secure and when it isn’t (which it has been far from for the last 5 years) I want to do something to make it better. I want to plan.

I want to dream again. I can’t live without dreams of a better future. It is in my makeup. Joseph was a dreamer and they came to pass. I will hope…

My glass feels half empty since the kids left home.

I should  have more time to relax – instead I have less.

I should have less worries about my children, but instead I have more. I have my children’s children now. I add them to my worry list. To my pray without ceasing list. To my burdens.

They drain the glass quickly on almost a daily basis no matter how far away they are. It’s not their fault. It’s mine.

If the glass were filled with my love, it would drain empty every time I have to say good-bye.

dont make me cryEvery time I know one of them – child or grandchild is sick, or hurting; when life thrown them a curve ball and they miss the pitch. I don’t ever want to see my kids strike out. I know how much it hurts. So the glass is frequently half empty – life drains it.

But my oh my, they sure know how to fill it back up again.

May 14 062

So when you are tempted to look at someone who has a glass half empty attitude, remember you don’t know what life events may empty it.

Besides, they may be  the person who will instinctively know just when you need a refill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Get a Curve Ball – Check ‘Em

I am not much of a sports fan. I used to love when my kids played sports, especially girls hockey which was the prominent sport in our family. All skill, NO hitting made for a fun game to watch.

For a while, our son Elijah was a really good fencer (with foils, not wire- Farmer Dave did that) and he made it to the Junior Olympics for several years and had some colleges watching him.

Curve ball 3Horses were another thing we really enjoyed – the girls anyway – and we rode and went to horse shows, and did the 4-H thing for most of their childhood. We only recently gave up the horses when we were forced to give up the farm.  (Daughter above was trampled once and this wonderful pony named Harlequin, or Harley, restored her.)

For organized team sports though – it was hockey. For many years Dave could tell you which girl went on to what Olympic team or which college and if they were recruited or not…They played with Olympians like U.S. Julie Chu (for you hockey fans) or Canadian Gina Kingsbury.

They were Vermont “All-Stars.”

Fun.

They also played with high-school boys.

Watching your five foot tall, petite, 100 pounds when dripping wet, daughter get taken out by a six-foot, 250 pound Bantam boy…

Hit from behind, head first into the boards.

Crumpled heap on the ice.

NOT fun.

Kacey and JordanYet, there were some boys – team-mates – who took it upon themselves to be protectors of their team, even taking penalties  when someone from the opposing side was out to hurt their team-mate, just because they were the opposite sex.

They took off across the ice, aimed for a direct hit, and cleaned their clocks! 

Curve ball 1However, no one ever played baseball, more than tossing it around to play catch, or a rare game of softball.

I wish we had done more – one of those regrets we as parents always seem to have in supply.

But I do remember curve balls, both watching them, and swinging at them.  Downright hard to get a decent hit – they leave us swinging – worthless, unless we are skilled enough to hit them out of the park.

I was never that skilled.

That is how Satan wants us to play ball – always swinging and never getting a good hit. The thing is, we don’t have to swing at his balls because they are always foul, and if we would just let him throw till his heart’s content, we could just walk out a home-run.

Or we could choose hockey.

I have known so many people who spend their entire lives swinging at foul balls instead of looking straight at the Catcher and waiting for the good balls to walk us home.

I did that for many years – a demon behind every bush. We were taught that we needed to pray over every item coming into the house because there might be an evil spirit attached to it.

No kidding.

Wow.

I failed miserably at it.

Thank God.

Curve Ball 2We must have eaten a lot of evil spirits clinging to all those pieces of fruit.

The point is, God is bigger than the biggest devil. He is bigger than Satan.

If you believe  the story, He created them all.

Singer/ songwriter Chris Tomlin must have read the story:

“Water you turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind there’s no one like you, none like You!    [No one like God]

Into the darkness you shine out of the ashes we rise there’s no one like you none like You!

Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!”

So, if you have a tendency to pay attention to Satan or his cohorts more than to God, you are missing the bigger picture.

God is our protector, and He is fully capable of cleaning clocks far better than teen-age boys.

So if a curve ball or big slam is heading your way, just draw closer to God and hide behind Him.

I am thinking He is pretty good at power hits.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

 

 

Parenting Isn’t for Wimps – Ask God

Anyone who has born and raised children and then watched them fly away, knows  it’s not easy. It is one of the most difficult thing a parent ever has to do. For me, it comes next to saying good-bye to a child forever, for in this lies the hope we will see them again in this life.

And the next.

First we watch them fly a little ways from the nest as they test their wings, returning daily – then flying further and further away – overnight or for several days or weeks. The first time gives us little flutters in our stomachs, a few tears, maybe even an all out bawl.

Our babies.
levi and dave sleeping

We watch them suffer from various maladies, some small, some life-threatening.

Some take them from us.

We spend our time nursing, holding, kissing, cajoling, laughing, crying, worrying, praising, proud, overwhelmed, rejoicing, pacing…

There really aren’t enough adjectives in human languages to express the emotions of a mom.

Beyond description.

We put them in sports, camps, youth groups, music, and co-ops to provide for them a rich learning environment and friends.  We put them before ourselves – they get new clothes, we pull the old out of the closest and hope it isn’t so outdated we look like a character from Full House. 

We provide them with extra love when they need it. (One that really didn’t have glowing eyes!)

Levi and Berners

They get more independent. We get more worried.

They start making plans about when they grow up. We think, “that is a long, long time from now,” even as we nod, affirm, and tell them, “Of course you can be an astronaut. You can do anything.”

We catch a glimpse of the future and push it far back in our minds. My baby still cuddles with me. The moon can wait.

Sometimes we suffer through difficult years. In Levi’s case, he was an easy kid. Sometimes given to mood swings (like his Dad used to be), but nothing big. He struggled in other ways – deeper – personal ways.

He and Joy were born after Micaiah died – they got all the hopes  – and the trauma.

We do our best to “train them up in the ways they should go,” and hope that it develops deep and lasting roots.

We watch them make a commitment to God through our traditions.  David was honored to water baptize Levi in our own creek, on a darkening, cool, October evening. Friends and family celebrate this milestone. It is a sign of hope that the God we love will watch out for our children, as they seek Him.

Water Baptism 3Then the day comes, sneaking up like a thief in the night when they are no longer babies or children, but young men.

They start to pull away – also preparing themselves to leave. It hurts to leave.

It’s time, and we have raised them and prepared them for this. God only gives them to us for a short time to raise them to give back to Him. He has bigger plans.

Eternal plans.

Plans that also include their suffering.

The hardest part of parenting is watching our children suffer. From the pain of infancy, through the many trials of a broken world, we watch them suffer. Crushes, jobs, friends, competition, sickness, failure – for some – the more serious pains of a world gone awry with body image, bullying, or other  issues that crush their very souls.

I watched as my baby- my son –  held his best childhood friend – his Panda, as she quietly slipped away. I wept over her. I wept more for him. I wept even more knowing that both of them would be gone soon. She forever, and he for his new life.

It was a sign of the emptiness to come.

They call it “empty nest” I call it “empty heart.” 

pandas last dayWe pray, we cry, we hurt, we laugh. The emotions never end, they just morph into a different relationship as the baby – the boy – becomes a man.

We are proud.

And we are not alone.  We have each other – suffering humanity gets it. Mostly, we have God.

God also has a son. He watched as his baby nursed, cried, laughed, ate, and was cuddled by a loving mother. He watched him take his first steps.

Steps that lead to the cross.

He watched his baby die.

God knows that our job isn’t for wimps. He’s not a wimp.

But with God as our Wingman, we also can fly.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” I John 4:9

Adoption is for Orphans

God’s love is best reflected in the example of the orphan. He loves orphans – He has proven it in His great love towards us as adopted children. I understand that love. At least I am beginning to. One of my best teachers has been my adopted son, Samuel. It was twelve years ago today we celebrated a “first,” third birthday with Sam. We brought Samuel Miras (which means peace) home from the orphanage in Kazakhstan, on June 1, 2002. We gave him a little riding car that you move by scooting your feet, for his birthday. We had seen it in a store a week before and he had loved it. He had been so very good when it was time to leave, that we knew we had to go back for it. It has seen a lot of abuse over the last twelve years, and a bunch of grandchildren. Sam's birthday 017 He was 24 pounds and 31 inches tall – malnourished, small in stature, and very, very, angry. He had not been treated well in the orphanage because he wasn’t a go with the flow kind of kid.  We were fortunate to receive videos from other parents adopting who just happened to see Sam in them. When all the other children were eating Cheerios or cookies from the American stranger, getting hugs from them, playing with them, he was the one wanting to stay with the caretaker and read books. He was the one who threw himself down and tried to crawl under the cribs. He didn’t want Cheerios. He was the one carried off to the back room.  Little did we realized how healthy that really was, and how much despite his other challenges, attachment would not be one of them. He came home 6 months after that video. One year later, he was an uncle. And to this day, his best friend is his nephew, Ethan. sam and ethan We spent 28 days away to bring him home. The first 21 were at the orphanage bonding. He wanted nothing to do with us at first and screamed. At the end of the day when any of the other children would have stayed with us, Sam happily waved to go back to his group. When we finalized his adoption, he screamed for four days. He screamed for his passport photo, he screamed the whole way to Moscow…he screamed…  And I wanted to drop him from 35,000 feet flying over the Atlantic Ocean.  We worked hard on attachment – I regressed him back to a bottle, we fed him by hand, he slept in our bed and then our room –forever.  He learned to love – and he learned to trust. He began to play more, scream less; his older sisters loved to dress him up and take pictures, in this case, a Roman. Roman   There were still lots of tears, lots of yelling, lots of attachment work, and lots of anger, anger, and more anger…but God’s love and family love were winning the race.  There were (and still are) some challenges – nothing he does wrong – just sometimes life throws you a curve ball. I well remember the first time someone picked on him for being “Chinese, ching, chong, chong” and he came back to us crying. He is not an emotional kid and when he cries it stems from deep pain. The mom in me wanted to hurt the little ___.  Dad took care of it by speaking to the parents who were apologetic. “Breathe Jamie, life is painful…But NOT MY BABY. Not this gentle spirit with so many challenges already.” Life is unkind. People are unkindest. God is good. vacation Homeschooling has been a great way for him to adjust to live out of the orphanage at his own pace, without the pain of a judgmental, amandas weddingcompetitive, and fallen world. There is plenty of time for that as he enters the world. And for the skeptics who think kids need socialization and miss out too much – sorry, your words fall on deaf ears. The seven kids who have gone before him are all upstanding, hard-working, honest, intelligent, citizens with good jobs, grades, degrees, mothers and fathers – the kind of people who businesses want to hire – and keep. A little nurturing through the informative years can go a long way. Class trips with his cousins are always a blast, and he loves being the “older kid.” He is now involved in a homeschool coop which gives him an opportunity to develop his social skills more, his emotion regulation, and have deadlines, projects and teachers other than mom who he has to answer to. Most importantly – a place for friends. And he grew. And he laughed. And he loved. Adoption is for orphans. He is no longer an orphan. He is a loved and cherished member of a family, just as we are when we join in God’s Kingdom as adopted children.  Jesus becomes our perfect brother – more than mere human, He never disappoints, rejects, or bruises. Joy replaces pain, family replaces isolation. Weakness becomes strengths. On the farm, he helped to care for the sheep. Marvin was his pet, and ran after him like a dog would.  Unfortunately, that also meant diving into the house at every opportunity. Did you ever try to house break a sheep? Me neither. Marvin had to stay with the farm when we moved. sam and marvinHe is right-brained – artistic beyond belief. He draws. He writes deep, thought invoking stories and quotes. He is a talented photographer. He still collects the eggs, but now he also takes pictures of them. 1010533_1380692662190193_1753158049_n How can a child so young understand suffering so much more than the average adult? But somehow, from the depths of his heart comes compassion that puts me to shame. “Mom, lets not get presents for Christmas, lets send the money to orphans.”  And because he knows that finances are a struggle for us when stopping for ice cream, “You get some mom, I can eat when I get home.” (I don’t think so!) He knows more about the “truth about life” than I do. And I think I know a lot. 1782493_1412092419050217_1339755641_o A sample of his photography – all done with an inexpensive camera:  (PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION!) 1526515_1381544822104977_1641603385_n   1920244_1430698937189565_8085037730229775677_n10401591_1429047944021331_7888666818256161173_n1965695_1416529548606504_5333428085661674700_o1529826_1411866582406134_1596796109_o 1656374_1405817753011017_127658512_n10403774_1433409290251863_102890549182627700_o1972346_1409638205962305_764499041_nAnd he likes to set the camera on a timer and do crazy selfies because he loves to laugh. He loves to have fun. He loves Taekwondo, youth group, and “PT.” 1513796_1388686114724181_901926467_n1017540_1382363382023121_93748158_n   There are the self portraits that mom likes too. The ones I look at think about how fortunate I am to have him for my son. Out of the millions of orphans in the world, God gave me this one. No longer an orphan, but my son. final He is the greatest, deepest, most sensitive, loving, compassionate fifteen year old boy who I know. He helps me around the house – a lot. I call him my Benjamin – the son of my “old age.” He is the kind of kid that if he sees me crying – if he knows something has happened – I find the dishes done and little jobs cleaned up. He tries to make it better. I don’t appreciate him near enough. I yell when I should show Mercy. I discipline when I should show grace.  I fear his future more than I trust God. I need to rest in the fact that adoption into our family was not his greatest gift – it is not the thing that “saved” him from a life of pain, maybe the streets, or worse. It was adoption into God’s family, into His house that has saved Him. God has his back. He never fails. It is my job to live for Him. It is my job to point Sam to Him by my life. It is my job to teach Sam forgiveness by example, love by example, grace and mercy by example. And yet, I find when it comes to my relationship with Samuel,  I am more the student than the teacher. Thank you Sam for being in our lives. Thank you Jesus for this gift of life. One son was taken from my arms to live with Jesus before I could know him; but another son was given from the arms of a woman to live with me. Happy Birthday (6/14/99)Samuel Miras Grubb, I love you. The shadow was “pierced” when you came into our lives. 964049_1424499147809544_2787424469205740087_o

The Crown of Imperfect Parenting

samAfter raising eight kids and knowing the many and varied mistakes I have made in parenting, my latest advice to young parents said only somewhat in jest, goes something like this, “God is the only perfect Father / Mother / parent there is, so you may as well accept the fact you are going to screw it up. Just ask God’s forgiveness, their forgiveness, and forgive yourself for it now and you’ll be ahead of the game.” Bottom line is – we all make mistakes. Some more than others, (I made many more than some of my perfect parent friends) and some less than others.  We do the best we can with what we have at the time.

I would love to be able to parent all my children all over again with the wisdom I have gained at 54, with the energy I had at 24. Intellectually and cognitively I am an amazing mother! (When I am asleep and dreaming.)  Proverbs 31 has nothing over me,

When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”

 Uh-huh, uh-huh.  I wish I could say that was more often than not. That is where the energy part comes in after 34 years of raising children, I’m quite honestly tired. No excuse – God still demands our best and especially to the ones we are closest to. 

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:” 

Fortunately I have a long-suffering family and my adult children mostly think I am pretty OK. Dave – he’s just easy to please. Check.

Raising Funds for Haiti - Being Foolish Enough to Believe I Can Make a DifferenceSamuel was adopted from Kazakhstan two weeks short of age 2 and is just the kindest kid you’ll ever meet. He is a great kid all around. His only problem – is me. Due to a traumatic birth and his early years in the orphanage he has some challenges he has to deal with – impulsive, lack of cause and effect thinking, language acquisition problems. (He just recently stopped saying the day after yesterday for the day after tomorrow.) He is forgetful, but in typical teen-age style he remembers the fun things he wants to do but forgets many of the tasks I ask him to do.

This is where my challenge lies – having to repeat instructions, have them repeated back to me, making sure they are understood, and having 500 other things to do. In enters impatience, frustration, a long list of things needing to be done and a lack of finances to do them with – and a sharp tongue. Most youngest children get more from their older parents in terms of financial blessings, he gets less thanks to Dave’s 2009 job loss that has us starting over. More frustration. Sam deserves just a bit more for his hard work and how much he overcomes.

I jokingly tell him, “Sorry Sam, you got the old mother.” In truth, there are benefits to the old mother; he really does get the wisdom that has allowed me to appreciate him for exactly who he is, the wisdom that comes from seeing my own inadequacies in parenting, and the ability to quickly and easily repent. He is my Benjamin – the son of my right hand.

We all make mistakes. In my 34 years of conversations with other moms, I have only heard one say she was a, “perfect textbook parent.” As for me, I kind of beat my chest among the sinners when it comes to my closest relationships.

In my parenting failtures comes a deep appreciation for the ministry of reconciliation that Benjamin was used by God to impart between Joseph and his brothers. (Read Genesis 45) Sam also has a special place in the heart of all of his siblings. Their age differences has made him, like Benjamin a protected younger brother. He has aided in the ministry of reconciliation to all of us through His gentle ways.  I get to see Sam not only through the eyes of a parent, but through the eyes of my older children. I get to see how God restores all of my children from the place of imperfect human parenting to perfect heavenly acceptance. Our seven older kids are all amazing adults. We have ten wonderful grand-kids.

I guess I didn’t screw up too badly. At least is shows you that faith in God will produce a crown in all things- when we let Him. 

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”

 

 

Loves Journey to Hell and Back

463af-fall09063Thirty one years ago today,  David Grubb and I had an appointment with the Justice of the Peace in Manassas, VA to say, “I Do.” We had been together for two years – love, laughter, common interests, future hope, and security, fed our relationship – and laughter, lots, and lots, of laughter. We love to laugh. Our children love to laugh. We even have a family favorite book, “They Loved to Laugh.” Sometimes its a way to avoid the tough stuff, but it’s also a great stress reliever (proven) and you can’t hate, you can’t fight, you can’t be miserable over the tough stuff when your having fun together.

We thought we were invincible back then. I thought Dave was perfect. Nothing but happiness would ever visit us.  It was impossible for us to argue or disagree. I had landed my knight in shining armor, the kind of love dreams are made of. I had a reason to believe so – he was the kindest, most selfless, generous, and caring man I had ever known.  I have always told people Dave is the most Christlike man I have ever known.

On Feb. 13th, 1983, an unusual snow storm similar to what just hit the northeast the last few days, dumped enough snow to leave us stranded in our home, wondering if we would miss our own wedding day.  It was our before Jesus days, very much in love, but very lost. I was already divorced at the age of 22, and expecting our first (my second) child, Kacey. With a sense of urgency stemming from shame, I didn’t want to miss that appointment. Neither of us did. However, there aren’t many people who are prepared with snow plows in Virginia, and I wasn’t finding anyone who could get us out.  Fortunately, my Matron of Honor sent her brother in his four-wheel drive truck to the rescue. He ran a path back and forth down our 1/3 mile long driveway packing the snow down enough to get us out.

Dressed in maternity clothes, there I stood at the JoP with my two and half year old daughter, Kristen, by my side, my handsome, kind, soon to be husband facing me. Living in a prison of shame, I spoke my vows with my head bowed to Kristen, feeling too uncomfortable before the older, southern judge, to lift my eyes to Dave’s. The judge’s countenance, and his curt words and stern demeanor, confirmed the kind of young woman I believed I was.

Thirty-three years later, with a total of eleven children, eight living, three with Jesus, one who was adopted, one tomb stone to be placed when the ground thaws – representing twenty-three years of healing and deliverance from a cult, financial losses, loss of a home, end of life care, a stillborn, two job-losses, thirteen moves with four relocation’s, too many life threatening, or painful situations to name, three church splits, four buried horses, a farm, a townhouse, five dogs buried, and… and… and… (The statistics for married couples to divorce over the death of a child is huge/ the stats of those coming from cults is huge.)

There were times that the pain of living was so great and our grieving styles (and PTSD) so different, that for a moment, just a moment, we wondered if we would make it. There were times in that pain when we did so much damage to each other – me with my cutting words, and he with his lack of words, that we wondered if those places could heal. But through it all, we never stopped laughing. We never stopped loving. We never stopped having fun, or making up, or finding our way back to each other.

We never gave up on Jesus, even though we fought like hell for years to find Him – He who had been so misrepresented, hidden in a cruel, legalistic, cult. Thankfully, He never, ever, gave up on us.

I often tell others how my  Knight received many chinks in his armor over the years, and – and how much better his armor now looks for the wear. Battle weary at times, he shows the scars of battles well fought for his life, his family, and his love. He calls me “Fairest,” I call him, “Beloved,” and  I wear the name permanently as a sign of my commitment that no matter what possibilities the future may have – for better or worse – he is my Beloved. When you weather the tough times, to hell and back, all you have left is “for better.” You learn to live in “the better” because the worse can always be worse.

We raised eight wonderful, talented, smart, fun-loving, and responsible children together, we’ve camped, and had bonfires; we went to more hockey games with seven in hockey than I would know how to count; we went to fencing matches, Taekwondo practices, and horse shows. Camping in Maine is our Tropical Island. Dave has always driven beater cars (usually under $1,000) commuting 30 to 60 miles, working fifty to sixty hours a week, just so our kids could have a little bit of fun, and a country home – and so I could have a reliable vehicle. We homeschooled, homebirthed, and homesteaded. We’ve done missions together, disasters, marriage counseling, and spiritual mentoring. We have helped the homeless, the widows and the orphans. We laughed, and laughed, and we’ve wept, and wept.

I didn’t occur to me until I began this blog entry, that Dave was also the first young man I had ever dated, maybe ever met, that had been raised by a Christian father. Despite his own struggles as a complete introvert, a marriage to a sick wife who died at thirty-eight and left him with three teenage children, Clarence Grubb loved Jesus. He modeled that love and kindness to his son David, who modeled that love and kindness to me. No wonder I began seeking, reading the bible, searching for Truth less than two years after marrying Dave. I was living with a lost Christ-follower, who just needed to find his way back.

Marriage is commitment – a commitment to each other, based on a commitment to Christ. It’s a friendship. It’s co-dependency – you can’t and don’t want to live without your “co.”   It’s hope when it’s hopeless, strength when there’s weakness, light when there’s darkness, comfort when there’s pain. It’s Jesus – dying and rising again, so we may also.

Real love lives in the reality that all of life is grace. 

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing – not the death, or dying, the pain or loss – for it only through the taste of bitter, you truly recognize sweet, and only through sadness, that you reach the heights of joy.

Happy Anniversary Beloved. Thank you for 33 years of real life with you. In the words of the song,

“You were there when I shook my fist at the sky. You were there when I fell to the earth and cried. Do you remember how it felt just like we died and rose again? And the storm inside was raging.
It was howling like the wind at the Pentecost, and his love was teaching us a language we thought was lost. I have felt the holy fire of love, been burned by the holy fire of love. Made clean by the holy fire of love.
I walked beside you in the canyon flames, deep as an ocean and hot as a thousand suns. We barely survived. Now I wake up in a golden dream: angel voices in the rooms where the children run, all covered in light.
Don’t give up on me. I won’t give up on you.”

Always,  Fairest