Category Archives: Love

But I am not dreaming!

My dear friend wrote this brave post. I want you to see it, too. If you’ve had similar experiences (or know someone who has), you’ll appreciate this.  Really proud of her for sharing and letting others know they’re not alone. 

 

 

My throat is tight, I feel I am choking on air as my heart beats so fast! The windshield wipers go on in my car so I can see through the blur; but realize that its not the blur of a rain storm. Wip…

Source: But I am not dreaming!

Happiest Mother’s Day

For years, I had a favorite Mother’s Day memory. (Which is saying a lot, because after several failed attempts with adoption agencies, Mother’s Day was just one more reminder of what I couldn’t have.)

We were at church. I didn’t really want to be around all those cheerful moms with hips full of toddlers. But we had responsibilities.

Our church actually did a great job of recognizing all women for the role they have in the lives of children. Still, I was at a breaking point. I stood in the auditorium aisle, my path to the bathroom blocked by a large family. All I wanted was to escape and let the tears fall.

Before I could push through the group, I heard my name. Turning, I saw my friend’s young son tearing toward me, pudgy little legs pumping. He leapt into my arms as I knelt to catch him. Throwing himself against me, he buried his face in my hair and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Struggling with my emotions, I hung on tight as people washed past us. He held me just as tight.

I don’t know how he knew, but that little boy saved my Mother’s Day.

I *had* a favorite memory.

This year trumps that day, by far.

For the first time, the kids spontaneously created artwork. I came downstairs to find our son clearing off the kitchen table. (Who is this child?) After church, we went to my favorite restaurant, then to a national park.  The kids SMILED for pictures. Both of them. At the same time.

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Our daughter walked beside me on the trail, her arm around my waist, mine draped across her shoulders.

Our son said, “you’re the best mom in the world.” This is a kid who’s lived with seven families…I feel like he’s sort of an expert on moms. Pretty much one of the most amazing moments of my life.

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We have some pretty tough days with these kids, dealing with PTSD, RAD, ADHD and general behavior craziness. But today was absolute beauty. I’m so thankful for this new favorite memory. And so thankful to Hubby for orchestrating everything.

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Today, truly, is a happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

Targeting Target, Part 1

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Photo Credit: Mike Mozart

Hooooo-kay. I stayed out of this as long as my sense of right and fair and safe would allow.

Just to be clear, let me start here:

I am a no-holds-barred, Jesus-following, Bible-quoting, EVERYBODY-loving kind of person.

When one of our friends complained about hypocrisy among Christians who claim to love but won’t get their hands dirty, Hubby paid me the highest compliment I’ve ever received.

That’s true about some people, but Casey doesn’t care if someone is a CEO, a gang member, the President, a prostitute or a homeless guy who stinks to high heaven. She’ll sit right next to any of them. And she’ll talk to them to death and probably end up hugging them. 

I think everyone should be treated with fairness, respect and love. EVERYONE.

EVERY. ONE.

What people choose to do in their own time—and what people choose to believe is right or wrong—is not my responsibility or my problem.

Telling others what they’re doing wrong is not my job.

Some of my friends would argue that if we don’t help people see that they’re not perfect, they’ll never see a need for Jesus, since he died to take the punishment for sin.

Here’s how I see it: if we don’t LOVE them, they might never see a need for Jesus. Why would anyone want to join a team that picks on them?

Let’s apply “tell them they’re bad” logic to regular life:

Job Offer

“Well, your resume isn’t that great, and you don’t really have the experience we want, and you didn’t dress appropriately for the interview and honestly, we don’t really like you. But we’ve got an opening we have to fill. Want the job?

Vs.

“To be honest, your presentation could use some work. However, we feel you have incredible potential and we’d love to train you. Want the job?”

Marriage Proposal

“Hey, would you like to marry me? I mean, you’re not really good enough for my family, and in fact, they don’t like a lot of the things you do, but if I vouch for you, they’ll accept you.”

Vs.

“I love you more than life itself. I would die for you. Will you marry me?”

Adoption

“You come with a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT of baggage. You make it insanely hard for anyone to get close to you. In fact, you’re actively pushing us all away with your horrendous behavior. But, I’m going to sacrifice all the fun in my life to find a way to help you, because that’s the right thing to do.”

Vs.

“I know you’ve had a tough life, but my love for you is bigger and stronger than any hurt you’ve experienced, and we’re going to survive this together. I love you forever and always, no matter what. Would you like to be a part of my family?”

Love, not hate, is the answer.

Jesus never taught his followers to be judgmental.

In a recent conversation (okay, argument) with a friend, I stood my ground as he clung to the idea that we should tell people they’re sinners. We discussed the story of the woman caught in adultery (that story is a whole other post in itself) and brought to Jesus by the religious leaders.

My point: he didn’t let any of them judge her, and in fact he embarrassed them so much that they all left.

His point: Jesus told her he didn’t condemn her, but to stop sinning.

My point: Jesus is perfect. If he wants to talk with someone about sin, he can. That’s HIS job, not mine (because I’m certainly not perfect).

Side note: Jesus loves you and has a beautiful plan for your life. If you’d like to discuss that, I’m happy to help.

Jesus never taught his followers to discriminate.

In fact, he was always in hot water with the big-time religious leaders of that time because he hung around with SINNERS. Prostitutes, thieves (the tax collectors were notorious), drunks, liars, potty-mouths* and guys with anger issues.

He helped them change their lives by teaching and loving them.

If you can find an example of a time Jesus was mean to a person because they weren’t following him, let me know.

AND

If you can find a time when Jesus fought back against something he didn’t approve by using deception, I’d like to hear about it.

Up Next: The Point.

 

*You know the story of when Peter denied he knew Jesus during his trial? The third time someone bugged him about it, he got so mad he cursed. Ever thought about the fact that someone could spend three years with Jesus and still be a potty-mouth? That sort of blows my mind. And makes me feel like less of a failure when I screw up. 

Getting Old Sucks

My aunt handed me an article last week. Retirement homes have begun to provide classes in empathy for their employees.

Attendees wear glasses that mimic macular degeneration, shoe inserts to cause foot pain and earphones full of confusing audio input. They’re required to accomplish easy tasks that are immediately much less simple. Students suddenly understand why that “ornery old lady” is so sour; why the confused gentleman can’t seem to grasp reality. Many, including retirement home directors, were reduced to sobs.

Maybe it’s my writer’s imagination or the close connection I had with my grandparents, but I feel the frustration of my aging friends and relatives with acute clarity. The story of clear-eyed, strong, beautiful youth that lies behind behind every individual with delicate, papery skin and a vague expression has always caught my attention.

Years ago, I created a scrapbook for my grandmother, then nearing ninety. Frail in her wheelchair, she turned pages with shaking, blue-veined hands. Even earlier, in college, I’d introduced her to words like “hottie” and “foxy” when we looked through a box of photos from her Navy days. Now she leaned closer to peer at pictures. “I can’t tell who that one is,” she pointed.

I grinned. “Well, whoever she is, she’s one foxy lady!”

Smiling back, she announced, “Well, in that case, it must be me!”

When she left me for heaven, my heart broke. I’m blinking back tears as I write this. My one consolation is that she’s once again a foxy hottie, hanging out with her three best friends. (I think we’ll get to return to our favorite age in heaven. This is only my opinion. If you have been to heaven and found it’s not true, I don’t want to hear about it.)

But as I said, imagining how aging must feel, at the deepest level, has always been easy for me.

***

We’ve had a rough couple of weeks. Barely time to breathe.

Hubby’s dad went to the doctor for what he thought might be pneumonia. He’s had recurring bronchitis and is in his 80’s, so possible pneumonia seemed a logical conclusion to his respiratory symptoms.

He ended up in the hospital with exploratory heart surgery. That shortness of breath? Not the lungs.

He was—and is—experiencing Atrial Fibrillation (also known as AFib) but didn’t realize it. Now familiar with the symptoms, it’s apparent to all of us that he’s had it for some time. His heart is enlarged and operating at 35%.

Heart exploration showed no blockage, which was the first assumed culprit. The cardiologist fitted him with a vest full of sensors to gather data for two weeks, trying to ascertain the cause. The vest, which doubles as a defibrillator, can also shock his heart if necessary.

My friend’s mom had an implanted defibrillator. It shocked her heart just as she turned off a light at church; she assumed an electrical malfunction and called out for someone to come check the switch. One of the other attendees suspected the real issue and brought a chair for her to sit down; while he helped her, the defibrillator went off again and gave him a bit of a jolt.

Maybe I should advise Dad’s girlfriend not to hold his hand…

***

Dad’s doing unbelievably well, considering he’s more or less stuck in the house for two weeks. He can go out, but lugging the bulky battery pack for the vest is a pain.

Aside from Dad, Hubby is having the hardest time with the situation, as the roles of his life are rocked with swift, unanticipated and sudden reversal.

We have black and white photos of this man receiving military awards, towering over the higher-ranking officials. Fond family lore honors this tank commander who could barely fit in the hatch. This weekend, I found a picture of him leaning against a tank, casual. He might as well have been hanging out by an SUV.

In college, his larger-than-life presence on the football field drew interest from professional football teams. He played pro ball for a season, then decided to join the military. He continued to play for the Army and moved up the ranks, stationed in in Japan and Iran. One of my favorite pictures shows him crammed into a Jeep next to a Korean official, looking more like John Wayne than John Wayne.

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John Wayne  Credit: Kate Gabrielle

 

Back in the States, he taught logistics to a new crop of fresh-faced recruits.

The Pentagon called. Come to Washington.

By this time married with four kids*, he decided instead to retire from the military. He started a second career, managing for a large corporation. On weekends, he loaded and drove a horse rig to competitions for my mother in law, who trained award-winning horses (and riders). His own horse was so large it could step over the stall door.

In his spare time, he learned enough blacksmithing to shoe skittish horses (harder than it sounds). He was a handyman and an artist, fixing, creating and building.

Popular among military and civilians alike, he and my mother-in-law hosted parties and an annual Father’s Day crab feast for their many friends. With the arrival of grandchildren, he became the beloved Papa.

After the death of my mother in law, he has continued to be the beacon holding our family together, drawing everyone home for holidays. A few years ago, he found happiness again with the widowed mother of one of our friends.

Through his example, he taught my husband to provide, to put family first, to work hard, to survive heartbreak, to excel. To be a man.

I owe at least part of my happiness to this giant man with the even bigger heart.

***

We watch with pathos. I pray that he’ll rebound, like my grandfather, who overcame similar issues and lived another twenty years. My hope is tempered by the reality and gravity of his condition.

This weekend, Hubby and some of our wonderful friends built a ramp on the front of Dad’s house. Twice. After walking on the recommended grade, Hubby realized it would still be too steep for Dad to navigate comfortably, so he took it apart and adjusted everything.

This is the man I love: willing to spend six extra hours on a project to make sure it’s just right. Another man with a giant heart. 

I watched as Dad hobbled to the top of the ramp, nodding his approval. Emotions crossed his face. I wondered if he was remembering, as I was, the man he’s been.

The football legend, dwarfing the other players as he strode across a stadium field.

The tremendous leader respected by both allies and enemies in war.

The esteemed teacher and no-nonsense manager.

The great friend to so many.

The father.

Papa.

Some of these things, he still is. But I imagined, as he scanned the ramp, how he might feel. How he might be remembering. How he might wish for the return of years past.

Maybe not.

Perhaps I’m kidding myself. To think I can imagine how it could feel to once have been able to do all the incredible things he’s done.

To think I know what it means, this ramp, to someone who is the definition of a man.

***

*He is also an adoptive father; Hubby’s oldest sister is adopted. Their great relationship is one of the reasons Hubby and I wanted to adopt. 

 

 

 

 

 

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