Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Grandma

A couple weeks ago we lost the truest gem in our family.  She was blessed with almost ninety-one years of life - and I am so thankful that she played such an active roll in all of mine.  I did my best to honor her life at her funeral and I want to remember her here too. 


I wish I could tell you about all of the accomplishments and accolades Grandma had received throughout her life – but as Laci and I sat down to write her obituary, I realized how much I don't know about those kinds of things.  I know she graduated college with a degree in English and Bible, that she married and was an awesome mom.  I know she taught lots of kids at lots of schools – but not many specifics.  And even if I did know all of those things –I don’t know that anything I say could sum up what a true treasure my Grandma was.  What I can tell you about though – is what kind of Grandma she was to me. 

Grandma loved Jesus first and foremost – and she loved her family second.  For the majority of my childhood we grew up in a house that backed up to hers and all I had to do was go through the back gate and I was at grandma's house. Sometimes this happened with full permission from my parents… and sometimes just by accident. Her backyard had a pop-up pool for us and this is probably where we probably spent half of our days – swimming and eating Creamsicle push pops that only grandma would buy.  
When we got to spend the night she would make meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, and let us stay up past bedtime drinking Coke floats and trying to get the VCR player to work right – which for some reason was always a chore – or  watching shows that looking back now as a mom - were probably slightly questionable?? Rescue 911 is probably not the best kid-show??
On Tuesdays when my mom would work – we would take turns staying with grandma for the day instead of going to church.  We would spend the mornings mowing the grass, edging and sweeping – and if we were really lucky we would get to watch grandma annihilate Georgia thumper grasshoppers with her little yard clippers or whatever else she could grab.  When it got close to lunchtime, we would take her car… Affectionately known as the boat…(because apparently you aren’t safe unless your car is the size of a hum-v) to the car wash for $5 Tuesday - and then on the way home she would always say “wanna get a cheeseburger??” as she pulled out carefully clipped coupons from the center console of her car.  We always brought our lunch back home and had to get back before Price is Right – which really was just to ensure we were back for The Young and the Restless.  These were our favorite days – at least until her driving got a little risky and then we all begged to just stay home for lunch. 
Grandma was the most patient person I know – through all the grandkids – and all the naughtiness – she would just shake her head and smirk or give "the look".  Only one of us remembers ever getting spanked – and I am sure you can guess which grandkid that was [starts with an "S" and ends with "tephen"].  Grandma was generous in every sense of the word and she had a way of making little things into celebrations.  Birthday cards from her - no matter how old we turned - always included a dollar for every year - and every “holiday” - even just the hallmark ones - meant a card and a small treat for each of us grandkids left out in a row on the coffee table.  
Every Sunday after church though all of my childhood – we gathered at her house for Sunday lunch.  She would make pot roast, pork chops, ham or when she was feeling "lazy" she would pick up fried chicken – but never a Sunday went by without her famous homemade mashed potatoes.  She cared about her family and sharing this meal with us was special to her – probably the highlight of her week.  She cared so much that nothing could be served in the pot it was cooked in – it had to be in a serving dish all its own – and never ever could paper plates be used – even for dessert.  As a teenager with dish duty this seemed like total overkill – but now I realize it was because she truly wanted to make it special for us.
When I left for college - grandma faithfully sent snail mail almost every week telling me what she was up to, asking about what I was up to and how classes were going.  She was invested in all of us.  She would always ask a specific question about something I had told her on the phone, or in a card I had just written.  Her memory was like a steel trap – and if I didn’t answer the questions in her letters or left out details, this would be the first thing she asked about when I saw her in person the next time. 
Grandma always welcomed whoever needed welcoming with open arms.  When Nate and I started dating - she adopted him right in as another grandkid from day 1.  She celebrated everything that was important to us – big and small – and was always interested in everything we did.  If we ever asked her for something – no matter what it was – she would take care of it right away – because what was important to us was important to her.  I remember asking if I could borrow her pearls for my wedding - she was happy to bring them and they twisted in to the perfect borrowed bracelet.  
I feel like Grandma was one of the first people that we as grandkids always wanted to call when we had accomplished something or had news.  Not because she would jump up and down and be excited for us – but because her quiet way of saying "well, congratulations" really meant more than a confetti-filled celebration ever could.  When it came to being a great-grandma – she was the best at this too.  I remember taking our first four-generation picture in the hospital and thinking – this is so awesome – my baby gets to know her great grandma!  Skylar dubbed her Mongie when she couldn’t quite get to word Grandma out – and she’s been Mongie ever since.  Skylar and Mongie were the best pen-pals - writing letters back-and-forth to each other, drawing pictures and creating word puzzles for each other. On Mongie's 87th birthday - Skylar helped me make her birthday cake and every year after that one – this was "their thing".  Skylar would ask Grandma what kind of cake she wanted – to which she always replied – I don’t know – what do you think?  Skylar would make a suggestion and that's what Grandma would ask for.  I always knew that those moments watching Skylar and her form a relationship and watching Wyatt love her well were special… but until now I didn’t realize just how special. 
For the last two years, Grandma has faithfully prayed my family through the adoption process.  I am thankful that several weeks ago, I was able to share with her the face that was an answer to her prayers and through teary eyes she gave her same soft-spoken congrats.  Grandma was more than just a grandma – she was a friend.  Skylar asked me when she went to heaven "why couldn’t she stay just a little bit longer" – and I wish I had the answer to that question.  There are so many more moments in our lives that I know we will miss her being a part of.  I also know that in her 90-almost-one years of life –she loved us all the absolute best she could – and we can honor her by living our lives the same way – by putting Jesus and others before ourselves.  We will miss her – but thankful for the hope that we have in Jesus and that in heaven one day we will meet again face to face. 














Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Not-So-Small Miracle

When we started this process - we were super overwhelmed at financial investment it takes to adopt internationally.  I know I have shared before - but we had just made a major lifestyle change when we left UPS after 10 years - and honestly thought the call to adopt would get quieter - because - after all - it didn't make sense now.  Instead the desire grew - and we knew that this step of obedience would require us to trust that God would literally provide at every turn.  It's amazing when I stripped away the ability (that I think we have) to control circumstances - how easy it had become to rely on my own abilities to determine our families trajectory.  I mean, we balance our checkbooks most of the time according to our life goals - a new car, house, vacation, retirement savings, shopping spree - whatever it may be.  All of the sudden those things didn't seem nearly as important as the calling to adopt and have there be one less orphan.
 
The first book I read once we filed our adoption application was Adopted for Life. Prior to reading is book, Nate and I felt such pressure to "handle" this alone.  To figure out a way to "make it work" - whatever it looked like.  Asking for help from our community felt - honestly - almost embarrassing.  We knew people would think - if you can't afford the $30-40,000 to adopt - how can you afford bringing a baby home and the everyday care that requires?  Does the average person have that much extra laying around to just do this?  Maybe - but this certainly wasn't our momentary financial situation.  In the book the author talks about just how hard it can be to accept help from others.  BUT it also discussed how every Christian is called to care for the orphan and the widow.  For some of us, that is the actual action of adopting and caring for a child.  For some, its giving financially - so that the families who are called have the ability to go.  And for some - its simply praying or meeting other physical needs - clothing, feeding, encouraging - providing respite or guidance through the process.  I had never really looked at it like this before.  I wish I could say that it took all of the anxiety out of the fundraising process for us - but it was still hard to start.   What made it easier what the absolutely insane amount of support we received from our community.  We never realized how many people truly have a heart for adoption - but don't necessarily feel called to do to the adopting. 
 
Which brings me to this:  we are so so SO  thankful for every single one of you who have reached out, prayed, bought a t-shirt, filled an envelope, and just sent encouragement our way.  Our hearts have been so overwhelmed.  As we sat and rolled shirt after shirt - realizing that each of them represented a person who was thinking of us and praying for us.  We have opened mail daily - with letters, pictures and financial support for our little one.  It literally has taken our breath away and brought us to tears.  The last few weeks Nate and I have talked multiple times about how (his words) "near-sighted" our view of our circle was - and how we thought we knew what and who God was going to use to provide.  We had NO idea. 



Through a face full of tears on Saturday night after rolling t-shirts - and again on Sunday - I told Nate - Who are we? Who are we? All we did was say yes.  That's it. We said yes.  We are no one special.  We knew we were called - and we knew at any expense we would go - to be obedient.  We thought we knew there were people who would want to be a part of her story - but we had no idea.

We honestly feel like we are right in the middle of a miracle.  And not a small one. One that brings an orphan in to a family.  One that gives a child with a name given to her based on circumstances - a name given to her by parents.  This could not have happened without our not-so-small circle.  I don't know why we were the ones called to do the action of adopting - but I am so thankful and humbled to be part of the story that is unfolding.  I am so thankful to each person who has chosen to be part of her story in other ways - because you have also chosen to be obedient and to say yes.  You are part of her story.  We could not be more grateful to the God of the Universe for being so very kind to our family - for providing even we doubted - even when we were discouraged, frustrated and burnt out.  He has never left us - and He won't now - always provided and I know He will continue.  He is so very good. 
 
I say all this to say two things:  (1) THANK YOU! From the very very very bottom of all our hearts.  As I have delivered shirts and opened mail with my kids - each of you have given me a chance to share with Skylar and Wyatt how God is providing for our family - for our baby's family - and how He promises to meet all our needs - and how God always keeps His promises. He has not called our family to do something that He is not going to make a way for.  And (2) if YOU feel called to adopt - but feel equally overwhelmed by the investment of it all - do it anyway!  You might not be able to afford it on your own - but your circle can! It's hard to ask for help! I get it! But don't rob your people of the true blessing that comes from giving and providing a way for a child to come home.  Also, buckle up for the ride because God is going to take your breath away when you say yes in obedience to a call He has placed on your life.  There is nothing like feeling like you are right in the middle of a miracle. 
 
 
Nate confidently claims this verse for his life - and I don't know of a better way to sum up what we have experienced these last few weeks.
 
Look at the nations and watch - be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe - even if you were told.  Habakkuk 1:5
 
 
Thank you for following our journey - and for allowing us to share our story.  May we all praise God together for what He is doing in one little girl's life -and how He is working on Nate and I through her story.