Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 117

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

September 30, 2013

 

Day 117

 

I feel bad – really, really bad.  I was feeling not-so-bad for the last couple of weeks so this latest round/wave of grief is especially unwelcome.  I was folding laundry a few minutes ago and just lost it.  Nothing in the laundry triggered it, but it was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that had been building and finally erupted. 

 

I just want to feel good again.  I am fearful that will never happen.  For the rest of my life I am condemned to carry around this heavy burden of sorrow.  Anything happy will always be tempered by the knowledge that Paul is not here to share it.  I tell myself that I should really give myself a break; after all, it has not even been four months.  But then I hear things like the fact that years two and three are often even harder on the widow and I just feel so depressed.  I don’t want to be sad for that long!  But I don’t think grief is something I can rationalize away or hurry the process of.  I just have to endure.

 

I have been finding myself irritated at Paul lately.  And then I feel guilty.  I’m irritated that he was such a perfectionist and therefore took so long to do the house, which is why I’m still living in a mess.  I’m irritated that I had to handle the finances because he wasn’t gifted in that area (although, conversely,  I would have been in a world of hurt after his death had he been the one doing the books).  Paul has a friend/past customer who is being incredibly generous right now to our family and doing all kinds of nice things for us.  I find myself irritated because, while grateful, I don’t like receiving these things because of the fact Paul is dead.  Sometimes, lately, I remember past areas of disagreement Paul and I had and I find myself getting mad at him all over again even though I think it’s safe to say we’ll never again argue about any of those subjects ever again.  I find myself irritated at Paul for dying.  None of it makes sense.  I don’t think I’m irritated at Paul – not really.  I’m just chafing at the fact that he is dead and there is not a thing I can do about it!

 

But mostly I’m just sad.  I miss him.

 

I read a book yesterday and today called, The Unwilling Widow.  It was one of my free e-books.  The great thing about e-books is that there is a plethora of free ones.  New authors are anxious to get their writings read.  I’m quite sure I will end up doing the same thing at some point.  The bad thing is that some of these people are not that great of writers.  A lot of them apparently publish without ever having had anyone proofread their work, either.  I just grit my teeth every time I see an apostrophe s when the writer intends to use a word in the plural form.  In this particular book she did that and then about three lines later she pluralized correctly.  So she obviously knew better!  But I digress…

 

So anyway, The Unwilling Widow…I downloaded it because of the title and because I enjoy Christian fiction.  Although, I am pretty sure that the only reason this book fell into the “Christian” category is because the dead husband was a pastor.  The book was interesting enough to keep me reading it, but there was just this sense of immature writing, I guess.  I’m probably too picky.  It just wasn’t as professional as I would like to see.  The story takes place during the gold rush in Denver City (which later became Denver when Colorado became a state).  The widow’s husband is a pastor/farmer.  He’s helping some people in the church build their roof and falls off, breaking both his legs and becoming paralyzed from the belly button down (that’s what it said – not waist down, but “belly button” down!).  That leaves the reader a bit confused because you know the guy has to die in order to get to the “widow” part of the title.  Well, just as he begins to get some feeling back into his feet, he gets pneumonia and dies within a week.  The rest of the book deals with the widow part of the title and, eventually, the realization of said widow that she has fallen in love with her dead husband’s uneducated, uncouth farm hand.  They marry and live happily ever after (hopefully, this husband stays off roofs and away from disease- laden individuals).

I thought the author did a good job of describing grief.  It makes me wonder what she has endured herself in order to write as she did.  But then when I read that the main character was only 19 I found myself a bit exasperated – for lack of a better word.  Being widowed at 19 is not a tremendous hardship – not even in 1850.  That young and especially childless, you know it was just a matter of time before she found someone else and started over.

 

Following that line of thought I then decided that being widowed in old age can’t be that horrible, either.  One can comfort themselves with memories of their husband, enjoy their grandchildren, and wait for death when they’ll be reunited.  But being widowed at 42 – now that’s the pits!  I am no longer young, I am no longer in the first flush of youth (think gray hair,  crow’s feet, and c-section scars), and I have lots and lots of children.  There is no starting over at this point in life.  But death is probably decades and decades away yet.  Oh, I know it’s the easiest thing to magnify one’s own situation. I’m sure plenty of older widows probably look at me and say, “Well, at least you have your health and all those kids to keep you occupied!”  Just feeling sorry for myself, more than likely.  I had probably better veer off this particular rabbit trail…

 

Last Saturday was rainy and cool.  I have always loved fall Saturdays like that – spending time indoors, feeling cozy, listening to the Hawkeyes on the radio, anticipating the pleasure of Sunday and church the next day.  Paul would be doing some sort of work on the house during the day.  He’d finally quit sometime in the evening and we’d get the kids to bed and watch some who -dunnit crime show on television before going to bed.  I was enjoying the feel of the day and then I remembered that Paul was no longer here and the pleasure of that feeling quickly dissipated.  Sigh…

 

Lizzie attended her first birthday party later that same day.  That was a bright spot.  For the first time in her life, she is settling into normal little-girl activities.  There’s no more indecision in the air, no unsettledness, no shifting between a foster home and visits with birth mom.  She’s home…for good.  And she can finally just be a little girl now.

 

The other day I asked David, “Do you know where your dad is?”  I was thinking “Will” in my brain, but “dad” came out.  David looked at me, completely horrified, and I felt bad.  I don’t think it was a Freudian slip, even though Will has assumed a lot of his dad’s responsibilities these days.

 

I was re-reading the piece I published for Jewels last week.  Something caught my eye.  I referred to walking through the valley of the shadow of death as a “calling.”  Where did that come from?  I wrote it, but I don’t remember doing so.  I’ve been pondering the truth of that ever since – this idea of widowhood being an actual calling.  When I named this sub-blog, “Diary of an Unwilling Widow” I did so only 8 days after Paul’s death.  I couldn’t think of anything better at the time and it was honest, if nothing else.  But it has always bothered me.  Aren’t all widows “un-willing”?  Well, except maybe for those sometimes profiled on those crime shows Paul and I enjoyed!  But if God has called me to widowhood – and this is something I need to ponder further – then should I not be willing?  I think of the words of the hymn, “Follow On”:

 

Down in the valley with my Savior I will go,
Where the flow’rs are blooming and the sweet waters flow;
Everywhere He leads me I will follow, follow on,
Walking in His footsteps till the crown be won.

    • Follow! follow! I will follow Jesus!
      Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on!
      Follow! follow! I will follow Jesus!
      Everywhere He leads me I will follow on!
    •  

Down in the valley with my Savior I will go,
Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow;
With His hand to lead me I will never, never fear,
Danger cannot fright me if my Lord is near.

Down in the valley, or upon the mountain steep,
Close beside my Savior will my soul ever keep;
He will lead me safely in the path that He has trod,
Up to where they gather on the hills of God.

 

Follow…has He not lead me into the valley?  Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow?  Am I not on a mountain steep?  This hymn speaks of a willingness to everywhere and anywhere.

Perhaps I need to become a willing widow?  Something to ponder and strive for, I think.  Right now all I feel is pain, but if this is the pain Christ has asked me to bear...

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Day 114

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

September 27, 2013

 

Day 114

 

I’m tired today.  I thought I was going to get to bed earlier last night, but didn’t.  And when I did go, I did not fall asleep until 12:30 or so.  I have not had more than 6 hours of sleep a night for the past couple of weeks.  I’m not sure why.  Initially, sleeplessness was only a problem for me for the first 10 days or so of widowhood.  Now it seems to have returned.  As a result, I’m dragging a bit during the day.

 

Tuesday night was a good night.  Will, Ben, David, and I went to see Kirk Cameron’s new movie, “Unstoppable.”  It was just really good.  He dealt with the subject of why horrible, tragic things sometimes happen to God’s people – which is a question mankind has wondered about since the beginning of time.  In the movie, which is more of a documentary than anything, Kirk does a really good job of taking the viewer back to Creation and showing how God’s mercy has been so evident throughout Biblical history – and today, too, of course.  Before the presentation started, there was a live stream event from Liberty University where Cameron teaches theater now, I believe.  I enjoyed that, as well.  The singer Mandisa performed her new song, “Overcomer.”   Warren Barfield , who was the song writer for “Fireproof” (my most favorite movie, ever, although I can’t bring myself to watch it right now since it deals with marriage), sang his latest song as well.  I didn't care for it, but the boys loved it.  Kirk interviewed a  couple of people whose lives have been touched by tragic events.  It was just good and I’m glad we got to go.  Ben got restless, which I suppose is normal for him, and David didn’t quite understand the entire movie, but Will and I enjoyed it anyway!

 

An older couple from church watched the Littles for me.  I was very impressed by their willingness.  They are in their early seventies and have a super, super nice home, but they were willing to risk their nice things and expend the energy by keeping up with  my little wild ones.  And as we left they were thanking me for letting them do it! 

 

One of Paul’s friends was putting up a deer stand this week and fell 17’, injuring himself quite badly.  He’s going to be ok, but will be out of commission for awhile.  When I read this on Facebook, I actually began to rise from my seat, intent on grabbing my phone so I could call Paul and let him know.  Why does my mind do this?  How long will it happen, I wonder?

 

Will ended up getting a job this week, but it didn’t last long.  We thought he was just being asked to fill in on a roofing crew for a day or two.  But after Will got there, he discovered that he was now considered an employee.  Unfortunately, it was not a good work situation.  That first day Will came home in tears and told me he had started crying as soon as he got in his car to leave.  The reason was two-fold: the job was really, really hard and he was not treated well by the other workers, but also, all his other previous working experience had been with Paul and that was hard for him.  It also kind of dawned on both Will and I that if he works full time he is not going to be able to get the house done before he leaves for college next fall.  In my way of thinking, that’s the most important thing.  Will already works part-time for the state, providing respite care for Ben and we can get those hours increased, so he’ll be bringing in some money.  He’s got a good chunk saved already, too.  Will went back the next day because he had given his word, but that was the last day.  It was a hard situation for both of us.  I understand that it is sometimes necessary for young people to work unpleasant jobs.  It’s pretty na├»ve of them to think that they are going to enjoy every single work situation they find themselves in.  But I don’t think the kids should have to be miserable, either.  Or work in a smoke-filled environment with co-workers and supervisors who abuse you!  He’s home and we are both quite relieved.  It was one of those situations, though, where I sure wished I had Paul to talk to.

 

Yesterday, Sam burst into the house and said, “Mom, I need a hammer!”  Call me nosy, but I thought it prudent to ask him just why he needed a hammer (this is the child who has driven nails in brand new drywall and into my dining room chairs as a toddler).  Exasperated, he exclaimed, “Um, I just need one, ok?!”   Yeah, I don’t think so…As it turned out, he and Lizzie were breaking up dirt clods outside, which was ok.  But then I found out that when I failed to produce the requested hammer for Sam, he found himself a crowbar to use instead.  I’m not so confident where that child is concerned when it comes to hand tools.

 

I’m back to writing for Jewels of Encouragement.  My first post published yesterday - http://www.jewelsofencouragement.com/2013/09/held.html.  That actually felt good.  I had not produced anything for them since April, I think.  I wrote about Paul, of course.  I was so humbled by the amount of encouragement I received from writing that post.  I rather imagine I’ve got at least a year’s worth of devotionals now on grief, God, and widowhood.  And here’s something kind of neat about my writing: I find it difficult to write at all where our computer is, out in the open.  It’s out there for a good reason, so I can keep an eye on what the kids are accessing on the computer.  But when I am sitting at it, every single child decides that I must need their company.  It’s so frustrating because I cannot be talked to and write at the same time.  I’m going to be getting a new bedroom sometime this next year and I had already determined that I’m putting a desk in there with a desktop computer of my own.  Well, today, Will and I were visiting with one of Paul’s friends and he asked me if I could use a nearly new computer.  He had used it in his business, which he is no longer running and has no use for the computer.  He’s going to have it wiped clean for me and then it’s all mine!  And it's a nice computer!

 

And another piece of happiness: I get to go back to scrapbooking in a couple of weeks!  I have not done this in well over a year – probably a year and a half.  I got so busy when the girls arrived last summer and wasn’t legally allowed to leave them with the boys.  So I was a little bit constrained by that.  And then football started for Will and that tied up every Friday night last fall.  I just never got back to it once we got into winter.  But I had decided that this month would be a good month to go.  I tentatively asked Will about it because it would mean that he would have to miss attending his old team’s football game (he’s been going nearly every Friday this season) in order to babysit.  David will be at a youth activity that night.  At first Will wasn’t sure.  Even if he didn’t go to the game, there was a possibility of him attending some other event, he mused out loud.  Then he suddenly stopped and said, “No – you go, Mom.  I’ll stay home with Ben and the Littles.”  I asked him if he was sure, but he insisted, mentioning that he knew it had been a long, long time since I had scrapbooked.  What a thoughtful young man I have raised!  I can’t believe how giddy I feel about actually getting back to my scrapbooking group!  Maybe I’ll get caught up one of these days - ?!?

 

Last night I got the kids’ pictures taken for our Christmas cards, along with a formal adoption picture of the girls.  I had a big discount on a product that was going to expire soon, so I thought it best to haul them all in to Penneys to take advantage of that.  Surprisingly, it went very, very well.  Not a single one of them was drippy nosed and they all cooperated amazingly with each other and the photographer!  This is no small feat when you have a half dozen to work with!  Afterwards we went to Chick-fil-A and used some coupons the kiddos had been given at VBS this summer (the same week Paul died).  That part was a little difficult for David because the last time he had been in the new Chick-fil-A had been with Paul last spring.  It was the same for me, but I didn’t tell him that.  We just have to power through these kind of things, I think.

 

David continues to struggle, especially.  I’m looking into some Amanda the Panda group sessions for us after the first of the year.  I’m a little dubious about starting up with them because they are not faith-based and I struggle to believe that it is possible to find true healing apart from God.  But, there may be some advantage to a group setting where one could talk with others who have experienced deep loss.  A couple of my widowed friends have told me that Amanda the Panda was really helpful for their families.  I figure that if it’s not a good thing, we never have to go back after the first session.  Will told me that he has his church and that’s all he needs.  I understand what he’s saying and I told him my main reason for considering this is for David’s sake and Will said that he would go for him.

 

I did stumble across something earlier this week that I am hoping to share with David as a reminder.  It was in my Bible study book that I am currently going through with my pastor’s wife.  There were four statements that caught my attention; I starred them in my book.

 

  • A world where God does not love us does not exist
 
  • A world where God is not in control of all things for our good and His glory does not exist
 

  • A world where God is not with me or does not hear my cry does not exist

 

  • A world where God is heavy-handed and mean-spirited does not exist

 

-         These worlds are fantasy worlds of our imaginations and to live in a fantasy world is to hasten our own disintegration (Jim Berg – Quieting a Noisy Soul)

 

 

This morning I was reading Psalm 92 and the last verse reminded me of the above statements:

 

To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

 

I still hurt, of course.  It’s been nearly four months and there are times that my heart feels as splintered as it did that first week.  I miss Paul tremendously.  He is still constantly in my thoughts and I would give anything to have him back.  Even with the busyness and chaos of a household of six children, I am lonely.  I still cry frequently.  But I am so encouraged to remember that God is good.  He cannot be anything but good.  And that means that Paul’s death is for our good.

 

Even when it feels really, really bad.

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 110

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

September 23, 2013

 

Day 110

 

It’s a beautiful fall day – it would be more beautiful if it was a few degrees cooler, but that will come.  I told the kids we’re going to start wearing our cold-weather pajamas.  They all woke up shivering this morning in their summertime ones.

 

Lately, Sam has been crawling into bed with me in the middle of the night.  He says he’s scared, but I suppose the extra body heat is probably an attraction, too.  We moved his toddler bed mattress to the floor of Ben and David’s room a few weeks ago.  As soon as David’s room gets built and he moves in then Sam will take over David’s top bunk.  Sam hasn’t complained too much about his new, temporary digs, other than to mention that it is a little scary down in the basement.  I made the mistake of mentioning that if he gets scared he can come up to my room.  He took that to heart!   I suppose there’s no real reason to keep him out of my bed.  I doubt he’ll still be trying to climb in when he’s 15.  In the meantime, it’s kind of nice to have a warm body beside me, even if it is only 40” long.

 

I forgot to talk about the toothpaste in my last blog, when I talked about the adoption day.  When we got into the courtroom a lady who works in there started handing out beanie babies to all the kids.  That was fine.  I have a feeling that there is a surplus of these things all over the world, since back in the ‘90s people were buying them up knowing they were going to be so valuable some day!  In fact, my attorney leaned over to me before the proceedings started and told me that his mother had a closet full of those things, bought with that very intent!  But then, this lady handed out toothpaste and toothbrushes to the kids!  I thought this was very odd.  Paul would have said, “Oka-a-ay” in that way he always did when he thought people were either incredibly stupid or events didn’t make sense to him.  It’s just bizarre.  I suppose it’s some sort of public health initiative, in an attempt to encourage kids to brush their teeth.  But still – at an adoption?  You would hope that if a child is being adopted, her new parents are the type who will make sure she has clean teeth every night before she’s tucked into bed!  Not that that’s always the case at my house…

 

So anyway, a little weird, but ok.  But it got annoying when en route to the mall after the adoption Miss Ellie managed to open her tube of toothpaste and smear it all over her car seat, legs, hands, and dress.  Grrr!

 

Saturday, Will, Ben, and David attended the Hawkeye game.  They had an absolute blast!  Apparently their seats were really, really good ones, too.  All three came back kind of red in the face from the sun.  I was so thankful that it was a great game (Hawkeyes beat Western MI 59-3!).  They got up pretty early to get there in time and to give themselves time to explore the sports arena.  And then Will stayed up that night 'til about 11:30 watching some football wrap-up on television.  I should not have been surprised when I hollered up the steps yesterday to let him know that we were loading up for church to discover that the boy was still sound asleep!  He drove himself to church...

 

Saturday night while the boys were gone I dumped two cans of spaghettios and meatballs into a pot on the stove and heated it for the Littles, along with some store-bought garlic bread.  The praise was effusive…

 

“Thank you so much, Mommy, for making this for us!”

 

“More, please!”

 

“You are the best mommy, ever, for making this!”

 

Guess I ought to serve supper out of a can more often!

 

I did some more reading on a widow blog last night.  It was Sunday.  I hate going to bed on Sunday nights, so I stay up late.  Actually, much of a Sunday is a wash-out for me.  This particular widow made a couple of points that really resonated with me.  She commented that she was exhausting so much energy just in trying to find the will to live. 

 

Boy, can I relate!  It is hard work putting one foot in front of the other, when you could cheerfully curl up in a ball and just die.  When there is no obvious reason to keep going on, when the heart is so tattered, when you are separated from the one you love most by time, space, and infinity – it’s hard.  Do I have a reason to live?  I suppose it can be argued that I have six of them.

 

And it did occur to me this weekend that if I had died I would have missed the joy of the girls’ adoption.  I know I didn’t enjoy that day like I would have if Paul had been with me.  But there was still pleasure and a deep joy that finally, my dream had come to fruition.  I am an adoptive mother!  Could other joy await in my future?  It’s hard to believe that I will ever enjoy anything again, but logically, I know I will.

 

Another realization this author had was that her kids would always be referred to as the children of ____, but she could no longer say she was her husband’s wife.  True.  My six will always be Paul’s children.  But I am no longer Paul’s wife.  I can refer to myself as Paul’s former wife, but that sounds like a divorce situation.  I can say I was Paul’s wife, I guess.  I still cling to the title of “Mrs,” though.  Right after Paul died I needed some address labels and I made sure they read, “Mrs. Sarah Heywood.”  Now when I hear little kids call me, “Mrs. Heywood” at church I get a secret little thrill, much like I did when I was a newlywed.  Then, it was new and exciting.  Now, I’m clinging to what was mine, even if it’s not mine anymore.

 

But, it’s time to remove my wedding ring.  More and more I feel a bit fraudulent wearing it.  I know I have the perfect right to wear it for as long as I like.  Some widows never, ever remove their rings.  But that isn’t the right choice for me.  Truthfully, I am not married anymore.  It’s time to set my ring aside.  I did get my new mother’s ring and a small memorial ring for Paul ordered last week.  It should be here in the next few weeks.  When it arrives, I will take off my wedding rings and put them in my jewelry box beside Paul’s two wedding bands.  There are three of them, total, and I have three Littles.  Perhaps they would like them someday.  I wonder how much of a mess I’ll be when I remove the rings for the final time?

 

I received a card with no return address last week – just a stamp, letting me know it had been mailed in Des Moines.  Inside was a $100 (!) gift card to Hy-Vee and a simple message that read, “You are not forgotten.”  I don’t know which I appreciated more, the gift or the message.  I continue to be so incredibly thankful for the servants of God who show me Jesus through their actions. 

 

God hasn’t forgotten us, either.

 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Adoption


September 21, 2013

 

Adoption

 

My friends, adoption is redemption.  It’s costly, exhaustive,  expensive, and outrageous.  Buying back lives costs so much.  When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.

 

--Derek Loux

 

On September 9, 2011,  I wrote a blog post entitled “Heeding the Call.”  http://motheringmentobemarriageandmiscellany.blogspot.com/2011/09/heeding-call.html At that time, I announced our plans to pursue adoption and detailed the circumstances that had lead Paul and I to believe that God was calling us to this particular journey.  Two days ago I sat in a court room with my family and listened as a judge declared that Elizabeth Lucy and Eleanor Claire were now Heywoods, solely my responsibility.  No more would I have to fear interference from the state.  I was free to care for these little girls as I saw fit.

 

The actual day of the adoption I just kind of floated along, lost in the importance of the moment and intent on getting done what needed to be done.  But in the last two days – wow!  It is really hitting me.  I have adopted children!  I am just in awe.  I remember so clearly sitting at my grandparents’ house as an 11 or 12 year old reading the story of little Kim, a Vietnamese orphan who was adopted by an American soldier and his family after the war.  It was then that God first stirred my heart towards adoption.  That moment was culminated this past Thursday with the flourish of the judge’s pen (ok, I’m being artistic here – she actually had a large computer on her desk that she typed away at and that was what finalized the adoption).

 

I am reminded of so much.  I never forgot that initial call to adoption.  I remember thinking over the years that if and when I adopted, I wanted non-white children.  I wanted it to be obvious to the whole world that I had adopted.  Although, I was so committed to taking the children that God wanted for us, that I told DHS I would take any race of child, even a white one.  I was even reluctant to specify that I would prefer a girl.  Because, what if God wanted us to have another son?  I think it was Paul who finally persuaded me that it was ok to indicate to them that a girl would be our preference.  If God wanted us to take a little boy, a check mark on a piece of paper wasn’t going to stop Him!

 

I’ll never forget the “vision” that God gave me about 10 years ago.  At the time I didn’t realize it was a vision, although it was one of those things that made me pause and wonder, “Now why did I think that?”  I wanted to write it off as one of the thousands of random thoughts that routinely worm its way into my brain, but something told me that this particular thought was significant.  I never forgot it.  God gave me a picture of two small lighter-skinned black girls, sitting in double-stroller as we strolled through Younkers Department store.  Why Younkers, I don’t know.  I do seem to spend a lot of time and money at that store, though!  And I’ve always had a particular affection for that store since my grandma (the same grandma whose book I read about the Vietnamese preschooler) worked there when I was young. And then last summer I picked up the girls.  It was just a few weeks later that I was in Younkers, pushing them in my newly-purchased stroller when it hit me – I was now living out the vision God had previously planted.  Talk about chills!

 

From the moment DHS called me on June 13 of last year wondering if I would be interested in these two, I had a certain assurance that these little girls were who God intended us to adopt all along.  Maybe that’s because we were told from the beginning that this would, more than likely, end up being an adoption situation – I don’t know for sure.  But then we went through seven weeks late last summer and into fall where we waited to see if the judge would terminate on the birth mom.  That was a real time for me of having to surrender my desire towards the girls and be willing to accept God’s will, no matter what it was.

 

One of the reasons I was so reluctant at first to pursue foster care adoption was that I had this certain knowledge that I was voluntarily walking into pain.  It was as though I was giving my hand to someone who I knew was going to place it on a hot burner at some point.  I didn’t want to do that!  I assumed that pain would come in the form of losing children that had been given to me for a short time.  But it didn’t.  DHS never once hinted that there was a probability of removing the girls.   I’ll never forget when one of Ben’s short-lived SCL workers found out what we were planning and looked at me and gasped, “Why would you want to do this?” and went on to tell me some horrible things that had happened in her house when she, herself was a foster mother.   But these little ones fit almost seamlessly into our household.  Yes, Lizzie has had some behavioral bumps, to the point that I have sought counseling for her.  But it isn’t like she has tried to burn down our house or threatened me with a butcher knife, either (I’ve heard of both scenarios happening in other foster homes before).  Ellie was “shut down” for her first four or five months with us but when she emerged she was a delightful toddler and continues to light up my world today.
 

 

The judge terminated on the birth mom last October and I spent the next 11 months waiting out the appeals process and waiting for an adoption date.  At times I found myself wondering, “Where’s the pain?”  Well, it came, of course, this past June 6th, in a way I never, ever could have imagined.  I never dreamed that when God placed the seed of adoption into my heart as a child and when that dream began to grow to maturity, watered by Paul’s mutual desire, that it would blossom when I had to be a single mother.  I would have never pursued adoption if I had known Paul would die.  But when he did die, I also knew that I could never give the girls back.  They were mine.

 

And now they are, in every aspect possible.  The day was beautiful.  I had a number of people show up to support us at the court house.  My parents drove down to see their number 2 and number 3 granddaughters officially added to the family.  My pastor and his wife came.  My friend Julie, a professional photographer, captured the day on film (or an sd card, I guess) for us.  Everyone there spoke for me, offering their encouragement and support of the adoption.  Each of the boys gave a short statement on how much they loved their sisters.  When asked why my home was the best for the girls (a question I had not anticipated) I simply told the court room that while the girls had been born to a different woman, they were created to be my children.  Later, the judge told me that she wished I could take even more children, which was very humbling for me to hear.  Most of the time, I don’t consider myself to be that great of a mother – ok, I guess (I haven’t drowned any of them yet) but a long way from the “great” category.

 

After signing reams of paperwork with my attorney, I took the kids out to the mall and went to Build-a-Bear for the Littles.  That’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, let me tell you!  I thought it would be a nice way, though, for them to commemorate Adoption Day.  They can look at their new stuffed animal and remember the day they built it.  As they clerk was cheerfully debiting my card for $94 she commented that I have “lots of build-a-bear years left!”  I thought to myself, “Fat chance, Lady!”

 

Then we picked up a chicken meal at Hy-Vee and my parents got an ice-cream cake I had ordered from Dairy Queen and we had a nice family celebration.  That evening a few friends from church came over and we had cupcakes and snacks and celebrated even more.  I had intended to take all the kids out to eat but this terrible storm rolled in around 5.  Will was concerned about the basement addition that is still partially open and was actually out in the rain, digging a dam to keep the water out (it worked).  We decided we were still all too full from lunch, anyway, to eat again.  Instead, we went to the Checkerboard last night where the kids squabbled, had to go potty at inopportune moments, and our waitresses’ attitude bordered on surly (wonder how cranky she got when she saw the $3 tip I left?).

 

Of course, the biggest part of this adoption is Paul’s absence.  This was never how I planned this special day to be.  It hurt when I was filling out the paperwork and had to check “single-parent adoption” under Adoption Type.  It hurt when I had to leave the Adoptive Father’s Information blank.  But later, my friend Tammy told me that while the proceedings occurred, she could just “see” Paul in the court room with us.  My mom said the same thing, even speculating as to how Paul would have been dressed for the occasion!  And I do believe he was there with us.  No, I didn’t “feel” him in any way, but I am quite sure that God opened the floor of Heaven to give Paul a glimpse on this momentous day.  If it had not been for Paul’s gentle, continual encouragement, I doubt I would have pursued adoption at all.  I was scared to death to step out in faith like that.  Just this morning, I re-read the letter that Paul wrote me for Mother’s Day 2011 where he expressed his absolute belief that God was leading us to expand our family through adoption.  If God is the loving, all-caring Father that I know Him to be, then I have no doubt in my mind that He made sure Paul was a witness to the adoption of his daughters.

 

I get tears in my eyes when I think of where Lizzie and Ellie came from.  They are the youngest in a biological sibling group of six.  Their birth parents chose to repeat generational sins of neglect and worldliness with their children, which resulted in their removal.  These six children, aside from God, didn’t stand a chance.  But God’s grace swooped in.  My girls are now adopted.  Their brother, James, was adopted into a wonderful Christian home last March.  And I just found out that their three older brothers are to be adopted by their Christian foster family later this fall.  God saved them all!

 





I’ve heard it said before that adoption is a picture of God’s relationship with us.  Before we were redeemed, we had no foreseeable future.  We were at the mercy of a cold world that had no love for us.  But God paid a terrible price for our lives and in doing so, grafted us into His family.  We became His children with every right right of inheritance.  Suddenly, our pasts no longer mattered.  Our only significance was now in our new name.

 

My daughters have a new name.  And someday, by God’s grace and my faithfulness, they will take on another new name – Christian.

 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 105

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW

September 18, 2013

 

Day 105

 

Tomorrow is the adoption.  Today, I have a myriad of emotions running through my heart.  I hope they’ve all worked themselves out by tomorrow morning so I can just be happy and enjoy the experience.  I don’t want to do this.  I don’t want to adopt the girls without Paul.  I will, though,  of course.  It’s going to be like this, I suspect, at every happy occasion – every graduation, every wedding, the births of our grandchildren.  These are experiences not meant to be shared by me alone.

 

I’m tired today.  My feet hurt.  I think I’m developing bunions.  Although, I’m not 100% sure just what a bunion actually is!  I’ll be curious to see if my feet quit hurting when winter arrives and I’m not wearing sandals anymore.  Otherwise, I may be getting friendly with my podiatrist again.  I had a to-do list a mile long today, getting ready for tomorrow.  I was just composing my list yesterday and wondering just how I would get it all done when I got a text from my friend, Danielle, wondering if I needed any help today getting things ready.  God is so good!  She and her daughter arrived this morning and helped me clean.  She’s a busy homeschooling mom, too, but was willing to give to me.  She’s also the one that took care of my pool all summer.  I have been blessed.

 

Even with her help, it still took all day to get my things done.  If I were happier, I think it would be easier.  I am also just.so.tired.  I remember my pre-death blogs and it seems like I was always commenting on my busy schedule.  I am busier now.  I don’t have Paul and it seems like I have even more to do.  I guess I do.  I’m going to have to figure out a way to slow things down, but I’m not quite sure yet how to do that.  Everything I do seems so vital.  I wouldn’t even know how or where I could cut.  I am sensing a need for some grief counseling for the kids, but how do I fit something else into my schedule?  How do I not?

 

This week has just been crazy – constantly running.  I did my bi-monthly shopping on Monday with Sam.  He is simply delightful.  I am loving his stage of life right now – so intellectual, so determined to make sense out of absolutely everything.  We found his Halloween costume when we were out.  I refuse to buy anything new and I’m too lacking in creativity this year to make something.  So we had to check out the “assignment” stores, as he calls them (we also ate lunch at “Harbys” that day).  His brothers want to correct his mis-pronunciations, but I won’t let them!  We finally found a cute skeleton costume.  It barely fits him, but Sam was insistent that this was the one.  He gleefully told me how he just knows that none of the neighbors will recognize him!  The dressing room didn’t have a mirror.  I assume that’s still coming.  They just moved to a new, bigger location and are probably not all finished yet.  So it wasn’t until we got home that Sam was able to try the mask on and see himself.  He was quite perturbed when he looked in the mirror and discovered that the mask has the skeleton smiling!  Apparently he had dreams of being dreadfully frightful instead on Halloween night.  I have to admit, though, that the costume caused me a pang, since Paul is well on his way to skeleton-hood himself.  I wonder how long I’ll think like this?  The rest of my life?  Death changes everything.

 

I didn’t get done with my shopping on Monday so Tuesday morning I had to take David and Sam to the dentist for fillings.  Poor kids – I told them it was just a check-up for their teeth.  Then, when the dentist office called to confirm, they mentioned that the boys would be getting fillings.  Oops. 

 

Actually, I’m kind of perturbed, but in a helpless way.  The kids lost their insurance with Paul’s death and had to go on Medicaid.  Well, thanks to the new health care laws, their dentist is refusing to accept Medicaid as of Oct. 1.  This is the only dentist I’ve ever found who was able to work with Ben successfully because of his sensory issues.  When he was younger it was so bad that our only recourse was to take him to the dental school at Creighton where they would papoose him in order to work on his teeth.  I always felt terrible for him but there was nothing else to be done.  So now I have to find a new dentist in our area who will be willing to take Medicaid.  I have a feeling that may not be easy.

 

After the dental appointment I finished up my shopping.  Since it was a rare event that I actually had David with me I decided we had better go ahead and get him some new tennies.  This is the third pair I’ve bought for him in less than a year.  He is growing so fast.  In fact, I had to go to Scheels because now David is size FOURTEEN shoe.  He picked a pair of lime green Nike’s.  With the length of those things, you’ll be able to see him approaching from a mile away!  Will also wears a 14 shoe, but he didn’t hit that until he was 17 ½.  I am hopeful that he is finished growing since I have not had to buy him anything – pants, shoes, nothing – since about that time.  He seems to have topped out at 6 foot, like his dad.  But I have a distinct feeling that David will surpass that.  Ben’s feet are not as big as his brothers’, for some reason – he’s only a 12.

 

Earlier this week I told Lizzie to go put on her purple sandals.  Very seriously she asked me, “What color are my purple sandals?”  Yes, I made a face palm motion!

 

I liked my Daily Bread devotional reading today.  In fact, this was my very last one.  My pastor gave me two special Daily Breads on grief and I’ve been slowly working my way through them this summer.  Now, I guess I’ll need to go back to normal Christian Living devotionals.  Does this mean I’m supposed to be done with grieving? 

This is what it said:

 

Sorrow can lead us into one of four lands: the Barren land in which we try to escape from it, the Broken land is which we sink under it, the Bitter land in which we resent it, or the Better land in which we bear it and become a blessing to others.

 

I suppose one probably passes through all these lands during the grief process, but the key is where one chooses to remain.

 

Early this morning I had a profound thought and I am still shaking my head over it.  I’m really sleep deprived right now.  I’ve just been so busy that I am not getting to bed when I need to.  But even when I am getting the sleep I need I am not a morning person.  I could cheerfully sleep in past nine every single morning of my life.  It was not uncommon for me to think murderous thoughts toward Paul nearly every morning of our married life.  I’d grudgingly shuffle to the kitchen to fry him an egg and he’d be out by the woodburner reading his Bible.  He’d get done and start chatting away at me while I tried to sleep standing up.  Morning was when he had his best thoughts.  Morning was when I longed for death, because, like the song says, I can sleep then!  I didn’t have my best thoughts then.  I couldn’t even string two thoughts together.

 

So, this morning my allergies woke me up at 6am.  I had to take a chlortrimeton which would make me even more tired but I knew that was the only thing that would calm my sneezing down.  I couldn’t find my tissue box so I had to plod to the bathroom to get a box out of there.  I was so out of it that I was banging into doorways and tripping over my feet.  But as I approached my room, intent on getting back under the covers just as fast as I could I saw this huge shadow on the wall.  It made me catch my breath for a moment.  Then I realized it was only a shadow and nothing that could hurt me and continued on to bed.  Immediately, though, I thought of Psalm 23, verse 4:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me

 

Here I was in my sleep-deprived, drug induced fog, but I had these thoughts.  I can only conclude they came from the Lord, since morning – particularly early morning, like 6am, is NOT my time for thinking anything.  A shadow can do no harm.  It is simply a magnification of something small, that gives us pause at times.  But once we realize what it is, we know we can pass safely.  This verse tells us that death is merely a shadow.  It cannot harm us. 

 

Well, I certainly feel harmed.  But am I, really?  I will see Paul again.  This parting is temporary.  The hurt I feel is definitely a valley that the verse talks about.  But I have the promise that I will walk through the valley because the Lord is with me, and there’s nothing to fear about death, really.

 

All this deepness at 6 am.  I am impressed!

 

So tomorrow I go adopt my girls.  Right now I can’t put into words what this means, other than it’s the fulfillment of a dream that God implanted in my heart as a child.  It’s very humbling to watch God work when you completely surrender yourself to His dealings.  He has given me the the desire of my heart by giving me these girls.  I don’t have the words now, but I have no doubt that they will come.