I reflect…

It’s an overcast Wednesday morning, and I’m enjoying some quiet time to myself before my kids finish their last week of school.  Summer begins early for us this year as I am still on leave, and their school year ends before the public school does, where I would typically be working until the end of June.

It has been an emotionally exhausting year, and while being on leave has added an additional financial strain, God has seen us through and continues to provide when we most need it. I haven’t published much, but a series of unpublished posts continue to stay saved on my site or within my brain until I am able to figure out how to move forward with my writing.

I didn’t get everything done around the house that I wanted to while on leave, but I did get to look after my family and myself, and that is worth more than any organization of rooms can do. I still intend to finish my “to-do” list before I’m back to work in late August, but for now, in this moment, I reflect.

I reflect on how things are starting to settle.  We have found a “new” normal. Our lives feel a bit crazy at times, but we have seen growth in both of our children.

I reflect on how our daughter is getting better at managing her emotions and articulating how she feels.  The expression, “One step forward, two steps back,” comes to mind often, but we celebrate our gains. Things cannot be finalized for her until a full year is up, which will be in October of this year.

I reflect on how my marriage has been strengthened.  We haven’t gone on any big vacations as originally planned or had much time to ourselves as a couple, but we have provided a stable and safe home for our children in which special memories are made. With little we have much.

I reflect on how there is really no adequate way to express my thanks for the gifts that were given and the understanding that was offered as we’ve navigated through this part of our journey. For those of you who continue to encourage and pray for us, I humbly say thank-you.

I reflect on how we are still in need of your prayers as we have some big decisions to make in the days ahead. We are continuing to rely on God’s timing and provision and need wisdom for what is to come.

I reflect…on what has occurred in my life…on how I navigate through this part of the “adventure”…on what is to come…

I reflect…

 

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We’re still breathing…

Parenting is hard, but parenting is worth it. Add in adoption, and you’ve got parenting with an added twist. You’re not just parenting, but you’re navigating through conversations you wouldn’t be having if you had birthed your child.

In our case, we have an adopted child who knows his biological parents, and an adopted child who won’t have that opportunity unless she so chooses once she graduates from high school.  We have an adopted child whose parents chose to place him in our care, and we have an adopted child whose parents did not choose us; the government did. That certainly makes for some interesting conversations in our household.

Right now as we’re trying to adjust to life’s changes, we’re navigating through some familiar and in other ways, unfamiliar territory. We’re trying to help our children bond as brother and sister (I confess seeing how they antagonize each other reminds me a lot of my brother and me when we were young…there is hope yet!). We’re trying to keep our marriage healthy. We’re trying to make up for the years we’ve lost with our daughter. We’re trying to carve out quality time with our son.

Each week something will surface that was underneath for our boy – be it in his play or his conversation – and we think to ourselves – we’ve barely scratched the surface.  We’ve had some victories when it comes to positive memories with his sister: playing with stuffed animals,  helping me cook, and even teeth brushing with “mouth washing parties,” but we’ve also had some setbacks. Conversations that make my eyes well up with tears. I have to keep telling myself it has only been 2 weeks.

Each week something will surface that was underneath for our girl – be in in her play or her conversation – and we think to ourselves – we’ve barely scratched the surface.  We’ve had some victories when it comes to eating meals, fixing hair, and truth telling, but we’ve also had some setbacks.  Circumstances that make my eyes well up with tears. I have to keep telling myself it has only been 2 weeks.

In August we got the call.  In September we met her.  In October she moved in. In November we’re trying to “find our feet.” I am grateful for adoptive leave. Although my child is older, there are still major adjustments to be made and my husband and kids need me at home. These are crucial days to the well being of our family unit.

We have certainly appreciated the kind words, surprise gifts, full tank of gas, and other gestures of kindness. We also appreciate those of you who have expressed as much interest in our son as in our daughter.  Most kids have 9 months to prepare and they still have a hard time.  In the short amount of time we had, we were driving back and forth constantly between her foster home and our home, juggling work, and juggling both kids trying to make sure both felt secure in their relationship with us.

There is much to be said. In time that will come, but for now, I wanted to say thanks.  We are exhausted on many levels, but we’re still breathing.  We’re still here. God is seeing us through.

Adoption is hard, but adoption is worth it.

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Blank

How do you write a book for a child you’ve never met?  How do you say to a little girl, “We’d love to be your forever family” and put it all together so that it means something more than just words and photos on a page?  How do you do it within a short amount of time, because you know the sooner you complete it, the sooner you will get to meet her?

I stare at the page, and I can’t seem to formulate the words. When you bring home a baby from the hospital you are all they ever know. When you bring home a 4 year old…

I don’t even have 9 months to prepare…and just knowing…just knowing the sooner we are able to visit the sooner we might be able to bring her home…and yet…imagine how she feels…we are unknowns to her. Right now we are strangers.

Will she like us? Will she like the house? How will she and James get along?  He seems quite receptive and has already been talking with me about things we could do with her and for her. Still…it seems like a dream…like we’re just talking about something that “could” happen. He and I had these conversations…four years ago.

My mind can’t stop…so much to do. My house needs preparation. My job needs attention. My coursework needs completion. My puppy needs house trained. My blog needs an overhaul. My mind is full and yet…it’s blank.

I don’t even know how to get excited. I have moments when I try to say, “I’m going to have a daughter.”  I look at her photo and think, “I’m going to be her mom.”  Then the walls come back up. “Am I really going to be her mom? What if visits don’t go well? What if everything falls apart?” You can tell me it’s going to be okay, but is it really? I know what it is like to throw caution to the wind and then to have the wind knock you flat on your face.

I also know that even in my disappointments, God is faithful. To everything, there is purpose. Am I strong enough for what lies ahead? Do I have what it takes?

Four years ago we purchased and later packed away a purple sock monkey and a pink and white puppy for one little girl who we thought was going to be our daughter, and now, I’m trying to write them into a book for another little girl who actually could be our daughter. Wrap your mind around that one…stuffed animals bought the same year two girls were born. Two girls with two very different life stories.

I’ve read all kinds of words this week pertaining to her life and her circumstances. Words on a page detailing why she is in need of a forever home.

Now there are no words within me…but I need to find them…for her.

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Processing…

James has always been a kid who takes time to process things.  He’s my thinker, and although at times he has asked some hard questions, I have always loved this “processing” side of him.

When we told James he was going to be a “big brother” at the age of 2, he didn’t fully know what that meant but as time progressed, would ask questions and learned to navigate his way through adoption excitement and adoption loss. One day he was with baby sister at the hospital, and the next day he was asking, “Why couldn’t we bring baby sister home?”

This past summer, being a “big brother” for him has meant processing through the fact that he has 2 sisters who don’t live with him. When someone asks him if he has any brothers or sisters he openly responds, “I have two sisters but they don’t live with me.” Questions such as “Who is my real father?” and “What was I like when I first met my birth mom and knew it was her?” have surfaced (which is another post in and of itself). He is processing things and beginning to understand just how unique his life is as he comes to understand what it really means to be adopted.

Although we’ve had many conversations with James about the possibility of adopting, today was the day to tell him that in fact, he might actually get to be a big brother to a little person who would come live with us.  I can’t tell you much, but I will tell you it is a little girl who is 4 years old.  She was born a different month, but is around the same age as the little girl we almost brought home 4 years ago this September.

Now keep in mind, James, being a boy and an only child at that, has always talked about wanting to have a brother.  Besides, we’ve all seen those videos of boys who, at the big reveal, find out a sister is coming and are mortified.  In time they adjust.  James actually plays really well with girls, but currently is loving the time he spends with all of the boys in our neighbourhood.

We began by mentioning our social worker’s name and how we had visited with her.  Then we proceeded to tell him that she believes she has found someone who would be a good fit for our family.

“How old are they?” was James’ first question.

“Four,” we replied, to which he immediately had a facial expression that demonstrated he was processing this information.  As we continue to talk, the “big moment” comes in which I had pretty much predicted what James might say.

“James it’s a little girl around the same age as your sister Charlie.”  As Ben rattles off a few things she likes, mentioning the color pink as one of them, James says, “We’re painting a room pink?” with a look of shock. Inside I am trying to refrain from laughing, as we explain nothing is certain at this point and there are a number of steps that would occur should things move forward.

James: processing….processing…processing…We probably sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher saying, “wah wah wah wah GIRL wah wah wah PINK wah wah wah….”

Then in a moment of final realization he says as if thinking in wonder to himself, “Augh…so if this happens I’m going to have three sisters?!” and he falls over on the couch.  At this point Ben and I burst out laughing and respond with, “That’s right. It’s a big brother’s job to look our for his sisters so God must figure you’ll do such a great job you can handle another one.”  I’m not about to tell him about how his Uncle Brent and I use to torment each other…although he has heard a few stories.

James: processing…processing…processing…”Can I go play with Ruby outside?”

And with that he went out to hold his newfound friend, sing to her, and find solace. For 6 years he has been the “only,” and I have noticed that even with having a new dog home as my attentions are divided, he is working his way through these changes.  We weren’t suppose to bring the pup home for another week, but things changed a few days ago. Originally I thought it might add extra stress happening before we planned it, but now I see it has brought extra comfort for all of us.  Call it coincidence, but I see God in the details.

Quite frankly, we are all “processing,” and with that, processing that 4 years to the day we lost a daughter, we will be reviewing more information to determine the high probability of gaining a daughter.

So the adventures in “Canneyland” continue…

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“What if…” “What is…”

It’s Tuesday, August 16, and James and I are sorting through things in the basement. He is eagerly setting aside more for a yard sale than I had anticipated – but this is a good thing. Now that he better understands the concept of money, he is ready to part with some things to put towards something else that he might actually play with. I look at the baby crib that I’ve looked at these last 4 years in particular, and I decide, “I’m done with the what if’s. It’s time to sell this and other baby things. If I ever get pregnant or a baby comes through adoption, I’d be excited to shop for something new. In the meantime, I can’t keep looking at all of this baby stuff thinking ‘what if….’ I have to look at ‘what is.'”

I have done a lot of reflecting this summer. I turned down an opportunity to teach a college level math course in the Spring of 2017 because come December my Level 2 Autism course will be done. For 4 years my time has been divided between either 2 different teaching positions, or teaching and Masters studies/additional course work. I really feel in my heart for this season it’s time to set aside all of the “extras” and put my energies into my family, my work, and perhaps, my writing.

I diligently wipe the crib down with a cloth, show James his “teeth marks” from when he was teething, and move the crib to the other side of the basement with slightly moistened eyes. I start to scan the bin of boy clothes, girl clothes, and even maternity clothes that have been packed away for years and determine to sort through them in the coming weeks. “What if” nags at my mind. “What is” reminds me God is in the details. I can’t fully explain it, but even in that moment there was an excitement of moving forward with my life as it is and “letting go” of the “what if’s.” I’m going to live my life as fully as I can with “what is” and anticipate “what is” to come. This September, my life is Ben, James, school, and a new puppy.

Then the phone rings…

It’s our social worker, and she wants to meet with us about a referral.

I’m not giving details out in public at this point. I can tell you it is not for a baby but for a child slightly younger than James which during this season is what we were hoping for. We haven’t talked to James about it as we’d prefer to wait and see if we proceed further once we have more details. We’ve messaged some friends and family for prayer and encouragement. We have some details but not enough to say “yes” we are going to move forward with this.

We will be having more meetings with additional people in the coming weeks to determine whether this is a “yes” or a “no,” but I will say at this point it looks positive. When the social worker came to visit, we were fully prepared to say “no” based on what case was presented to us. That may sound insensitive, but if you know us, you would understand our circumstances and our journey.

My mind and my heart are having a hard time not moving forward with the “what if’s.” I’m doing my best and praying through “what is.” I hesitated to even post, but if things don’t work out, despite the walls I’ve built around my heart, I will be disappointed. If things do move forward, I will experience other emotions that I will need to navigate through. I don’t need negativity. I know the pros and cons. I’ve heard the good adoptions stories and the bad adoption stories. What is clear, is that there is little person in need of a home. It may be our home; it may not be. There is much I want to share about some of the details that seem to fit us and our circumstances so perfectly, but at this point, I’d rather keep those to a minimum in the blogging world.

“What is” clear is that we need specific prayer for wisdom and for God’s will to be accomplished. Thanks for sharing in the journey.

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On Being a Pastor’s Wife…

When I married Ben, I knew that, marrying a pastor, we wouldn’t necessarily live in one area for all of our lives. I knew my “calling” was that of teaching, something I could “take” with me wherever we went. With any partnership in marriage there has to be some give and take on both sides, but in the end I knew my husband was meant to be in full time vocational ministry and that as his wife, a “pastor’s wife,” I needed to partner in whatever ministry he took on.

During our first 5 years in ministry, it took me some time to figure out who I was as a minister’s wife and not to compare myself with my sister whom I respect and look up too. If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve handled certain situations differently – but life is about experience. As a pastor’s wife, I was critiqued on everything from my hair, weight, and why I chose not to lead worship on certain Sundays. When I was unable to get pregnant, I decided to focus my energies on my education and focus on my career. It wasn’t long thereafter that God opened the doors for me to have a full time teaching contract. Had we stayed there, I would’ve been set to retirement. I loved my job, and I loved living near my sister and investing in her kids. Yet Ben was restless. He was always trying to figure out what his “niche” was. He was a great youth pastor, and people in the church told him he’d make a great senior pastor, but he didn’t have a passion or a drive for that. When he resigned, we had no idea where we were going. We “stepped out in faith” and were praying about becoming overseas missionaries. Sussex was nowhere on the radar.

At one point during that season of uncertainty, Ben looked at me and said, “You know, we don’t have to move. I could just find work somewhere nearby so you could keep your job. You don’t have to give that up.” He knew how much I loved my career and took pride in what I did within the community.

That was a pivotal moment in my life as a pastor’s wife.

I could have said, “Yes. Let’s stay. I don’t want to give up my job and my teaching contract.” But I didn’t. I knew my husband was meant to be in vocational ministry. So I looked at my husband and said, “Ben, you’re meant to be in vocational ministry of some kind. God provided teaching for me here. He will provide teaching for me elsewhere.” Had I decided to keep my job, I would’ve missed out on the adventure of Sussex including new teaching opportunities and furthering my education, and I would’ve missed out on the adventure of James. I would’ve kept my job, but I would’ve missed the experience of a lifetime.

Fast forward to where we are now, where Ben has had 8 years of ministry at Kingswood. When he moved here he had pastor friends who said, “Why would you want to go there?” Without realizing it, it was as though they were telling him he wasn’t in ministry. But he was. For 5 years he put his heart into recruiting future ministers and teachers, and then when his position was changed to part time hours and turned into event coordinating, through a series of difficult circumstances, God led him to his passion – his “niche” – camping ministry. In fact, once again I was faced with another decision as a pastor’s wife. In a moment of frustration when we were praying about whether or not to stay at Kingswood due to the change in his position, I looked at him and said, “What do you want to do with your life?” When he replied with, “Caton’s,” I probably looked like a deer in the headlights. Caton’s didn’t make any sense to me. He wasn’t getting paid any money at the time and was volunteering. It didn’t seem like a viable option.

That was a pivotal moment in my life as a pastor’s wife.

I could have said, “Why would you give your time to an organization that can’t offer you any income right now? How are you going to provide for our family?” Instead, I looked at him and said, “Well, if Caton’s is what you want to do, then do it. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but if you’re passionate about it and feel that’s where you need to be, I’ll support you.” Had I decided to discourage his dreams, I would’ve missed out on seeing him develop more as a leader, but not just any leader, someone with the courage and confidence to take on camping ministry full time. I would’ve missed out on the adventure that was Caton’s. I would’ve been more “comfortable” with Ben having a more “stable” job, but I would’ve missed out on three of the best summers of my family’s life.

I never imagined we would leave Caton’s so soon, but last summer a few things had occurred in which I found myself saying to Ben, “Maybe you’re not suppose to be at Caton’s as long as we thought. Maybe you’re meant to go to another camp.” After a couple of camp director positions became available, Ben felt led to apply. We visited one camp in another province. I confess I wasn’t crazy about the thought of moving further away, but had Ben looked at me and said, “I have a passion and a vision for this camp” I would’ve packed my bags and followed him – because I am a pastor’s wife. After much prayer, we decided together that we didn’t feel God was leading us in that direction, so he took his name out of the running. The other camp – Camp Tulakadik – was our “fleece.”

When Ben was offered the Director’s position at Tulakadik, the change in camp didn’t mean that I would have to give up my teaching opportunities in Sussex, but it did mean that I would have to give up summers on an island that has meant ever so much to me over the years. When he told me he was offered the job, I began crying, and once again I was faced with a decision. Ben looked at me and said, “Sarah, I don’t have to leave Caton’s. I can stay there.”

That was a pivotal moment in my life as a pastor’s wife.

I could have said, “Yes. Stay at Caton’s. I don’t want to leave. We all love it there.” But I knew in my heart he was meant to go. He is a visionary and passionate about camping, and I knew that our fleece was laid out. Ben was a Wesleyan pastor being offered a position at a Baptist camp. The camp board would’ve been praying about who to hire, and they chose Ben. It was very clear this was to be our next adventure. So I looked at him and said, “No. You have to leave Caton’s. God has opened this door. You’re meant to take this on.” Had I decided to say, “Stay,” I would’ve allowed my husband to stay at a camp he loved but in a position where he was limited in what he could do with regards to his vision for camping ministry. I would’ve kept the familiar, but I would’ve missed out on seeing my husband grow more as a leader and the experience and adventure that is to come: Camp Tulakadik.

Ben’s position at Camp Tulakadik has part time hours throughout most of the year and full time hours during the camping season. Since accepting the position, he has been working 2 days per week at Kingswood. Although Ben had been praying about whether or not to stay on at Kingswood, we thought he would stay on as it seemed to work with his hours from Tulakadik. However, his position was cut for the coming year. Evidently, God has closed the door at Kingswood but already went before us by providing Ben with one job that provides the income the previous two jobs had.  Just more evidence of how stepping into the “unknown” allows God to further make His faithfulness known.

I am still a pastor’s wife. I don’t have to deal with the stress that comes with being in the church as a pastor’s wife, but I have other stresses pertaining to Ben’s job and still take my role as his wife seriously when it comes to his ministry as a camp director. The decisions Ben and I both make in our careers affects each other. When the camping season comes, despite the closeness of the camp, we will move there as we did with Caton’s. Now that I won’t have summer studies, I’ll be able to invest more in the staff, and I look forward to getting to know the various people who are connected to this camp. I don’t have to do this. It is not an expected requirement for me, but I am a pastor’s wife, we are a team, and I am proud to support my husband in such a way. Changing camps has also meant changing denominational churches, and for someone who has attended Wesleyan church all her life and is “known” in the “Wesleyan world” it has been an adjustment. I believe that just as God blessed us in our obedience when we came to Sussex, and when we went to Caton’s, He will bless us in our obedience to change camps, which leaves me wondering what new adventures lie ahead.

I realize that when you are married, your spouse’s career can affect yours and vice versa, but there is something different when it comes to being a pastor’s wife. When Ben was in church ministry, we ate, breathed and slept church activities. I was “married” to the church. Vacation only came during certain times of the year – particularly not holidays – and even then could be interrupted by a death or some other life circumstances. When Ben was in full time ministry at Kingswood, we ate, breathed, and slept Kingswood activities. I was “married” to Kingswood. Vacation only came during certain times of year and even then could be interrupted by certain responsibilities he had. Now that Ben is in camping ministry, we eat, breath and sleep camping ministry. I am “married” to camping ministry. Vacation only comes during certain times of year – and seeing as I am a teacher, it is not like Ben can pick up and leave during summer time. This has thrown an added twist in the mix of our vocations and our time “unplugging” as a family.

I do not begrudge this position. Although it has not always been easy, I am happy to support my husband and be involved in his work endeavors, because I knew when I married a minister, that it wasn’t about his job and my job, but that it was about being a team and working together wherever God lead us in this adventure called life.

Unfortunately, marriages today do not have great stats on lasting, even for professing Christians. To anyone about to enter marriage, you really need to think long and hard about what your personal dreams are and ensure that whatever they are, you and your spouse can complement and encourage each other in those pursuits. To anyone about to enter marriage to a minister I challenge you to think long and hard about what you are about to do. You may think that your actions will not affect your spouse’s ministry, but you are wrong.

Are you prepared to willingly move to wherever, be critiqued by others, and have expectations placed upon you and your children based on your spouse’s position? Will you be able to handle people critiquing your spouse’s sermons, decisions for change when others do not want change, and work through the bitterness when you see him work countless hours for a Christian organization only to have certain people say or do things to wound his inner being? Being a minister’s wife, or even spouse (as I know there are men who marry women in ministerial positions) is a high responsibility and a calling in and of itself. In fact, I broke up with Ben during our college years for a season because I was wrestling with what it meant to marry a minister. I knew it wasn’t a 9-5 job with regular uninterrupted vacations. I knew that I would have to make some sacrifices along the way but trust that God would bless us in return. This is not to say Ben hasn’t made sacrifices for me – he certainly has – particularly in my pursuit of furthering my education, but because he’s also been willing to help me pursue my dreams in amongst his, we are both able to do what we feel called to do.

I am not trying to discourage but encourage. You need to decide now what you are willing to shoulder, because when you find yourself in those pivotal moments where you can either encourage or discourage your spouse’s dreams, you will be able to put aside what seems “logical” and “comfortable” and step out in faith.

I am proud to be a pastor’s wife. The storms we have weathered throughout our years of ministry together have made us stronger. This is not to say that we have not had dark seasons or that we are immune to divorce, but it is to say that we know that seasons of change can serve to define us or destroy us. When life circumstances have threatened to “destroy,” it has taken the two of us to communicate honestly with each other, continue to seek God in prayer, and allow God to define us as individuals and as a couple. Marrying a pastor, and for that matter, marrying Ben was a pivotal decision in my life, and I have never regretted it.  Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to “do life” with anyone else.

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Enter a New Day…

Three years to the day, this September 12, 2015, I will be in Moncton for an entirely different reason than I was September 12, 2012.

September 12, 2012: I drove home in a silent vehicle with my husband and my son trying to figure out what was going on in our lives. I had been to the birth of a precious little girl whom we thought we would be bringing home a few months prior. When things started to fall apart, I had applied for a part-time contract teaching job figuring if I got it, it would keep my mind occupied and help me cope with everything that was occurring.  God not only provided the job, but it turned into full time work when Ben’s job was cut in hours. I began thinking about pursuing my Masters, and a year later, God opened the doors.

September 12, 2015: I will drive home with my friend and colleague in celebration of what we have accomplished.  I will have completed my final Masters of Education project and presentation.

It is a strange thought.  To think I will be driving home from the same city three years to the day…

These days, I am beginning to realize that in some ways James’s birth mom and I are living parallel lives. For as much as I think about her daughter, I know she must think of James.  Every birthday, every Christmas, every “first” such as the first day of school, there is joy for what is occurring in the life of the one we raise, and yet an ache for the one who isn’t there to share in it.  We may celebrate together at different times around those occasions, but there is something to be said about the very “day.” Yet even with the ache, we know that although we may not fully understand everything, things are meant to be as they are, and we are grateful for what we have been given.  We are blessed by the little life God has given us to raise. Now and again our lives intersect and we watch as our children interact together and marvel at how they resemble each other. Parallel lives…so fascinating.  Still pondering this one.

God will finish what He started, and I believe He’s not finished yet. I don’t know what this means, but I do know He has given me a hope for what is to come, and at the same time, a contentment for what currently is. In the meantime, I will pick up my “pen” and write again.  A new day has come…

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Help me Believe…

I have come to the point with adoption where I just don’t. I just don’t know what to do. I just don’t know how to hope. I just don’t know whether or not this is the path we are to continue to pursue. Ten years, 2 failed adoptions, numerous leads that have never panned out…and yet, despite all of the ups and downs, when I look at my son I am continually reminded of how God provided in one of my darkest hours. I remember, and yet, I still doubt.

Perhaps because in another one of my darkest hours, despite the courage I was given to finish well, I am worn. I have moved forward, and yet, I am static.

I’m tired. I’m getting older. I just don’t know that I have what it takes to keep pursuing this path, and quite frankly, I won’t know until I really pursue God the way I have in days gone by. I started off the new year strong, but February came with its winds and its sadness, and so when it comes to my spiritual disciplines, I am listless.

There are times when I have this overwhelming sense that I have another child/other children out there, and I just want to get them home. There are also times, when I look at my happy, healthy little boy, and I am content to have my one and only. My dream of being called “mom” is reality.

There is more to be written and things that have yet to be told, but I am still trying to believe.

We are currently waiting for a referral.  All paperwork is complete. All visitations are finished. Two case workers sat in our living room with our social worker earlier this month to talk about who we would consider adopting.  No specific children, just potential scenarios were discussed.  We are not afraid to say “no” if we don’t feel a referral would be a right fit. Come summer, we will be given the option of updating our file again. We’re told it won’t be quite as intensive but it will still involve criminal record checks and other things. Come summer, we are not sure what we will do.

Doubtful, worn, static, listless, and still trying to believe.

With Easter approaching, I am reminded of new beginnings, and I know those words will be replaced with:

Hopeful, renewed, active, awake, and believing in the impossible.

Lord, Please help me believe, because I don’t want to miss any miracles.

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The Meeting Place

Update: DeeDee went to be with the Lord peacefully while surrounded by 4 of her children on the evening of January 29, 2015.          —————————————————————-

The meeting place is nestled along the Whistle Road on Grand Manan Island.  It is a happily situated house, tall and white, with a little porch, a weeping willow tree, a babbling brook, and a garden that was once the talk of the island.  Situated across from the North Head park, it is a place that holds many fond memories for me.

What has always made the meeting place special is my grandmother, Edith Brown, whom many of us refer to as “DeeDee.” She is the reason why there is a meeting place. No matter what season it is, one can always expect a warm welcome at the meeting place, where freshly baked goods and lively conversation take place.

During my “growing up” years, we visited the meeting place often. My mother, having been the only one of her siblings who moved off of the island to stay, would pack me and my brother and sister up for summer and other holiday vacations.  We could always expect fresh chop suey and rolls when we arrived at the meeting place.

It was at the meeting place where I sat and watched DeeDee pin her long brown hair into curls. The meeting place is also where us children could expect to find a jar full of coins on the counter, awaiting our arrival so we could traipse off to the Corner store for a treat. When we ate at the meeting place, Papa had to eat too, even if he had just eaten lunch.

The meeting place is where DeeDee taught me about birds and how to bake rolls and other delicious treats. I can see her in the kitchen of the meeting place, packing a picnic of rolls, red juice, and other goodies for the beach.   When she wasn’t cooking or bird watching at the meeting place, she was out in her garden, a place of pure personal delight for her.  People would come to paint there.  People would come to visit there. Children would stop in after playing at the park. For everyone was always welcome at the meeting place.

Life took on its different forms throughout my lifetime at the meeting place.  I recall coming down the stairs of the meeting place for a cheery Christmas morning.  I remember earnestly praying as a child by a bedside at the meeting place when a beloved uncle had gone missing at sea.  Then there was the emptiness of what it was like once Papa was gone from the meeting place and how it didn’t quite seem the same without him sitting in the rocking chair.  Seasons change, and after DeeDee fought and won a battle with cancer, her strength began to weaken. I went from watching her bake, to baking with her, to having her tell me how to bake while overseeing my efforts from her kitchen chair, to her being in another room and not able to come out (but for the occasional peek in the oven). Once in awhile, her telling me what to do would get on my nerves, and she knew it, but it was as though we always had this mutual understanding that it was okay. I was in her kitchen, and she was a far better cook than I could ever hope to be.

It was an odd feeling for me one morning when it dawned on me that instead of me hearing her banging pots and pans in the mornings to cook, I was the one in the kitchen, bright and early, cooking things for the meeting place.  I don’t bake that often.  In fact, the meeting place is my favourite place to bake.  During a most recent visit, I remember seeing a pheasant in the yard while I was kneading bread, and I recall thinking, “This is why she loves the meeting place so much.  It is surrounded by the beauty of God, and it is filled with so many lovely memories.” Baking at the meeting place reminds me of her bustling about in the kitchen, and I love for the family to gather around fresh baked goods for conversation like when I was a child.  I love the meeting place.  It is a home away from home.

They say that DeeDee is dying.  She is in the hospital, and they don’t know whether the cancer that has returned will take her or whether her heart will give out first. It seems like such a cruel fate for a woman who was once so strong to be wilting away.  I wish I could be there just to sit with her, to read to her, to sing to her.  I wish I could’ve asked her more questions about what it was like to build the meeting place and to raise so many children there. I wish I could’ve found the words to tell her just how much she means to me and how she gave me such a wonderful collection of memories at the meeting place.  But when I last left, I couldn’t find the words.  Words seem so inadequate for such a wonderful legacy.

Sometimes I wish I could move into the meeting place to keep up the tradition of pudding Mondays and roast Sundays, but it seems as though my station is meant to be elsewhere.   DeeDee worries about what will happen to the meeting place, and after having learned more about all of the work, heart and soul she put into it, it certainly is no wonder.

When I left the island in December, I remember hoping DeeDee would be around at Easter to sit in the yard of the meeting place and watch the Easter egg hunt at the park. That was wishful thinking I suppose, because she has always been there. I am grateful that God blessed me with a son during her lifetime so that he could experience the meeting place as it should be. I grieve that my other children will never get to know what it was.

Where will the meeting place be once DeeDee is gone?  What will happen to the meeting place?  Visits to Grand Manan will never be the same.  Will I feel like a tourist where once I felt so at home?  I may never get to bake at the meeting place again. I have always welcomed change, but change such as this is not the kind I wish to hold company with.

In my mind’s eye, I can see her, DeeDee, young and strong arriving on Heaven’s shore. She is running to meet her daughter Wendy, who died so young, her sister, who died in childbirth, and many of her other family members who have gone before. She is free from pain.

I don’t know what Heaven will be like, but I’m sure it’s bound to have many a meeting place. I like to envision myself strolling up a quaint country road where her mansion will be.  Children will be giggling and playing in the yard, others will sit painting the flower gardens or watching the birds, chatting, and drinking a cup of tea.

When I arrive, she’ll come out onto the porch with her apron on.  “Come on in dear.  I’ve been waiting for you.  Tell me what the latest is.” I will laugh, because knowing her, she’ll already know the latest.  She’ll give me a warm embrace, and I’ll walk inside to the smell of freshly baked bread.

Then the family, all of us, will gather around the table at the meeting place.  It will be as though I were a child again – carefree and not constrained by time – because in Heaven, the grandest meeting place of all, the visiting never needs to end.

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Being nowhere and everywhere at the same time…

It’s 6:12 AM.   I hear a loud “thud” as he plunks out of bed, tip-toes barefoot across the hallway, and then rustles the sheets as he climbs into bed.  He quietly slides in next to me like a canned sardine.  He couldn’t possibly get any closer.  Then, he whispers…”Mom? Mom? I love you Mom…I love you.  Is it story time yet?” This is particularly the routine when his father is away, and although I am tired, I realize that moments like these are fleeting. 

It has been a long week. For the past 3 weeks I have been dealing with lower back back pain. It began from training for a 5K run but escalated due to lifting – be it books for school or my solid 40+ pound boy.  I had gone to see the chiropractor and was doing considerably better, but last weekend I pushed things too far.  I woke up last Sunday night and could barely move.  Amazing how you can go from walking – even if unconfortably – to relying on your spouse to help you stand up and even get dressed in a matter of hours.  Frustrating…humbling…and at times…humorous.

Ben wouldn’t give me help unless I asked for it, and I didn’t want help unless I felt I needed it.  Having been together for as many years as we have, I didn’t need to comunicate this to Ben.  He knew.  One time I was face planted on the bed waist up while trying to get the the tail end of my body on.  I was reaching for the headboard.  He stood there…and waited…and waited some more… “Okay… I guess I need help,” I finally cried out.  It hurt to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.  Yet he had patiently waited because he knew I was determined to try on my own, and when I needed him he was there.  Strong. Patient. Encouraging.

I have a new appreciation for being able to move….a new empathy for those who suffer from pain that keeps them from moving physically with ease…particularly for my mother who has dealt with back pain for years and my sister who has had her fair share of back troubles as well… and I have a new appreciation for friends who are willing to take an active 4 year old boy out swimming or for a trampoline jumping session while his father is away.  They say it takes a community to raise a child, and these past few days I’ve seen evidence of that and been touched by people’s generosity.  I may be able to move better than I did earlier in the week, but I am slow moving and trying to give my body the rest it needs to recover.

I am very much looking forward to returning to work next week. I love my job!  My movements will be slower as I’ve been told I still need to “baby” things, but I will be out of the house and with a staff and students whom I love dearly.  Part time work gives me the best of both worlds – time with them and time with my boy. I’m usually always on the go, so to be couped up all week has been awful.

Will I be running a 5K this summer?  No.  I’ve decided that when the doctor gives me the “okay” I will focus on other forms of physical activity.  I think God was trying to remind me that I need to take better care of myself.  I thought I was…but not quite.  I have a son to keep up with, and Lord willing, more children on the way.  Adoption home study visit #5 is set for this coming Tuesday, and I hope to fill you in this week.  I also hope to make some changes to my blog over the summer in between travels to Caton’s and university classes…it is in need of a makeover and updated info. 

So where have I been this week?  Nowhere physically.  Everywhere mentally.  Laying in bed gives one a lot of time to reflect, to think, to pray, and it reminds you to be grateful for the little things in life…even something as small as carrying a laundry basket up the stairs (Don’t worry Ben, I haven’t done this in your absence…yet…).

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