Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Extraordinary Life

Extraordinary - adjective, very unusual, remarkable

A few weeks ago, one of the residents where I work celebrated her 100th birthday. Knowing that this milestone was approaching, I phoned her and asked if I could put together a celebration for  her. "Why not!" she exclaimed. Why not indeed!

Ours is a small senior community filled with independent folks ages 55 and older. Several of our current residents have lived here since the apartments opened in 1991. Dorothy is one of them. She lives in the same 2nd floor apartment that she originally saw twenty-three years ago. Hers is one of the best apartments on property with a glorious view of Douglas fir trees and other evergreens. It feels as if you are somewhere tucked back on a mountain side, rather than in the heart of a bustling city.

The property features more than two bedroom, two bath apartments. We provide activities of all sorts. Everything from Bingo, to knitting clubs, watercolor paint classes as well as potlucks and monthly birthday celebrations. Dorothy's birthday, I assured her, would be an event to remember.

I contacted our local paper, advised them of this remarkable occasion and asked if they would be interested in attending the party. Imagine my surprise when I was told that turning 100 years old is NOT remarkable or out of the ordinary...unless, of course, that person has lived an extraordinary life.


What does an extraordinary life mean? Is it somehow more special, more important, than say, my life? Could my life be considered extraordinary when compared to that of another? How and why do we as mere humans decide who has lived an extraordinary life?

Mother Teresa
Anne Frank
Bill Gates
Lady Margaret Thatcher
Ronald Reagan
Martin Luther
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Malcom X

Are these individuals somehow more extraordinary? Or are they merely famous for what they accomplished and if so, does this make the rest of us rather ordinary?

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with that statement or thought. I refuse to believe that because I did not invent something or write something or was in the right place at the right time, that I am somehow less significant than another human. I do not believe any of us are.

I bristle at the thought that Dorothy is somehow less interesting than, say,  Anne Boleyn. Life is interesting! The living, the breathing. Is it possible that those tiny instances in our lives that make us deliciously happy or despondently sad are extraordinary?

Shouldn't they be?

Think of your greatest moment...the one that leaps to mind and causes you to flush with pride or joy or love or excitement. What is it about that moment that outshines all the other events of your life.

For me, there are so many extraordinary moments. My marriage, the birth of my children, the adoption of two of my children, my work being published, running my first mile at age 40, caring for an elderly relative, teaching my children to read, baking the perfect Banana  Whipped Cream cake year after year for my Beloved's birthday. So many! So many great accomplishments and I haven't even touched on my redemption and salvation by an extraordinary God!

Life is extraordinary. Each breath, each blink, each moment.

Dorothy turned 100 years old on January 17th. She never married. Instead, she worked for her father, a physician until he retired. Dorothy taught herself to drive and is still driving to this day (although, some of us wonder at the wisdom of this). She has visited every National Park in this country at least twice. Dorothy has hiked trails few of us will ever see. She's read classics and romance novels and murder mysteries by the score. She is greatly loved by numerous nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors.

Dorothy has lived and is living, an extraordinary life.

I asked her, what is the secret of life?

"Just be happy. Be happy with your spot in life."

Dorothy 1934

I hope each of us will be remembered for being extraordinary. That we impact the lives of others around us with all the goodness and kindness we can muster.

As for Dorothy and her party, it was a smashing success. Friends and strangers gathered to honor a lady whose life we deemed extraordinary. For indeed, it is.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Travelin' She'll Go

My Girl, my big, 22 yo, girl is leaving for a study abroad in a less than two weeks. Every time I think about it my stomach hurts. She'll be gone for four long months. We've never been separated for more than a few weeks AND she'll be in a different country...without her mother!

This will be a grand adventure. It's a chance of a lifetime. The perfect opportunity.

I'm excited for her. I truly am. It's just that, well, I'm going to miss her.

We are close, she and I. 

While she's studying and traveling and meeting new people, I'll be holding down the fort and trying to keep Thing One and Two from killing me (or each other). It just isn't going to be the same.

Which is why this trip is so great for her. She will come home a different person with new experiences. It's a good test run for when she really leaves home for good and let's face it, at 22 yo, moving out is going to happen sooner, rather than later. 

The girls: Things One and Two and equally excited and sad. They've been made plenty of noise about spending time with her before she leaves. Of course, they have also pitched one of them moving into her room "temporarily". They are both a little jealous of Girl's boyfriend and other friends. They want to keep her to themselves....yes, even 16 yo wants her fair share of time.

Beloved is worried, in a manly sort of way. He worries about different things than I do. I worry about illness and her getting lost. He worries about terrorists and human trafficing. The boyfriend has tossed out the thought of traveling to see her during spring break as have a couple of her friends.

It's only four months.

Only four.

And I'll cry. I know I will. I cried when Boy was in Prague for a couple of weeks when he was 16. I cried when he was in India at Christmas time a few years ago. Oh yeah, I know the waterworks are coming.

Part of me doesn't want to go to the airport to see her off, because I know I'll be a mess and I don't want HER to be a mess. If I don't go, I'll just be a mess at home. Ugh.

It will be fine. She's going to have the adventure of a lifetime and have so many stories to tell. This is going to change her life and she'll never regret going.

As long as her mother survives :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

And Now for Something Completely Different

I've spent a lot of blog time writing about the girls, their drama and trauma and my own insanity and insecurity. Today's blog, however, is on a different subject: Our Boy.

Sunday morning, bright and bit too early, we drove to the small town our boy lives in. The hour and a half drive can be a little daunting on a Sunday morning, when you'd rather be snuggled in your own bed and later attending your own, local church. Truth be told though, if we are invited by Boy to do anything, we are all over it! We don't see him as much as we'd like and when presented the opportunity to hear him preach, well, wild horses couldn't keep me away!

Boy is the Admin at his little country church. He preachers every now and again. There's been talk of an official offer down the road....but that's a tale for another time. This little church is filled with former hippies, former Hollywood types, and lots of artists and craftsmen. The casual atmosphere is very welcoming and I doubt that anyone would ever feel unwelcome there.

I love that he has found his place with people who are like him and that he understands. It's a good feeling to know he has a community of people that love and support him.

We sat in the back row and listened to him teach, his father, his two new sisters and I. It's a feeling that I will not soon forget. Watching this boy, now man, walking his brothers and sisters in Christ through the Word was incredible. Proud does not even begin to describe how I felt.

I watched him, mike in hand, notes and Bible spread on a music stand before him, his dark rimmed glasses and beard making him appear older than his twenty-four years. I recalled a drawing he had shown me years ago. A picture of him as an adult, wearing glasses and preaching. He was only five at the time and didn't wear glasses...

It's wild how God does indeed call the young.

He's a good boy, a good man, this boy of mine. In many ways, he is very much like his father, my Beloved. Yet, in others ways he is so very much his own man, as it should be.

Being the mother of adult children is so different from what I expected. Both Boy and Girl are strong, independent people, wise and firm in their faith. It's a good feeling to look at them and they will be okay out in the big, bad world (not that I won't worry!).

It was a good day and I'm one proud mama!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hoopla and Heartbreaks


It's been a while.

So busy.

So, so busy.

Our adoption finalized with very little hoopla. I was surprised. I mean, there we were, all gussied up and the entire thing took about 5 minutes. It took us longer to drive there than to actually complete the ceremony. Plus, the judge didn't even come over and shake hands. But it's finished. For better or worse, we are the legal parents of Thing One and Thing Two.

Heaven help us!


We had our adoption party and simply moved on to regular old life. No more social workers, no more court dates. No more asking for permission to do this, that or the other with our girls.

School started, I turned 47 (EGAD!), and here is Halloween looming before us.

And my boy's heart is broke. Fabulous Girl (whom we all LOVED) and our Boy decided to part ways. They just didn't want the same thing for the future. My heart hurts because his heart hurts.

It never ends, does it? These protective feelings just well up inside me. It's exactly like it was when he was little and hurt. I want to fix it.

Fortunately, I'm not a big enough nutcase to think I can fix it. Heartbreaks of adult men are NOT for mommies to fix. Mommies need to mind their own business and let time heal those wounds.

Oh, but it's hard...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

You are My Bucket List

My birthday is coming up next month. I'm pushing fast towards 50, but I'm not 50 yet!

No, not yet.

I'm just gettin' close. Real. Close.

Close enough to reflect on these past years of my life.

Mine is not a real exciting life. I haven't climbed mountains or soared with eagles. I'm kind of a stay at home girl. We had our babies....and raised them. Then we took on two more...because that's just how we roll.

I have a friend whose living my life. The life I have always felt I should/would/could be mine.

She writes for a living. She teaches. She cooks organic/gourmet. She travels. She loves her job. She hangs' with her buddies. She has a bucket list.

I have a bucket too. It usually contains mop water. I don't write, not like I thought I would. I don't teach, I barely cook and I seldom travel. Friends? Ha! Who has time?

Every time I read of some amazing adventure or new opportunity that this friend has, I sigh a little. I do not sigh because I regret the path I've chose, it's just that....I thought there would be, you know, more.

More of what?  I don't know.

Life is good. Our adoption will finalize in a few weeks. The girls have settled down a bit more. There's a pattern to our days. We are healthy, at least reasonably so. We're employed, something to be truly thankful for.

So, why do I sigh?


Then, I had a light bulb moment. It came to me when I was looking at custom jewelry site. One of the metal stamped necklaces simply said:



Children - YOU are my great adventure! YOU are my sunny day at the beach, my whirlwind tour of strange and new place, my inspired painting.


From music & art to athletics and drama, it's all you kids.

I feel so happy about this! Because it proves what I've always, always felt. I am more than just a middle aged woman.

I am a mom.

And I'm a good one too!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nothin' but Blue Skies

We have hit mid-summer, with its muggy nights and sun drenched days. Our little family is waiting for notification from the attorney to complete our adoption. Two to ten weeks, they said. We are 2.5 weeks into the process and the silence is deafening.

This waiting game is like standing under a waterfall that's being held back by dental floss. You know it is not going to hold...but it's fascinating to watch the water press and strain against the barrier.

I can almost feel the stress from the oldest adopted daughter. I can feel her longing to test our parental strength, our love. The battle hasn't even begun and I feel myself sharpening my sword and testing my battered shield. This one, this blondie daughter, will push and pull and test our endurance. We have no doubts about her ability to strain against us and God.

She is so broken. So very damaged. This tiny girl who longs for adulthood, yet can barely see over the steering wheel. She wants contacts. She wants a drivers permit. She wants a new Ipod, a cell phone, a laptop.

She had a boyfriend...

She has a manipulative friend...

She trusts no one...

High school is just weeks away and I remind myself of one phrase that I have mumbled and shouted for years: WHERE IS HER MOTHER?

This is my catch phrase for girls who dress like hookers, girls who find themselves pregnant at 15 and girls who fail to thrive.

Where is her mother!

Now I find myself the mother of a potentially troubled girl. Is it possible to guide this wild girl through adolescence without addictions and pregnancy? Can I keep her emotionally stable and avoid self mutilation, an eating disorder or suicide?

I feel unprepared for the days ahead.

I am thankful for those who have gone before me and survived the days filled darkness and hurt. Their struggles and ultimate triumph give me hope. If you are one of those moms, and you know who you are, thank you. Thank you for sharing. I never imagined that I might face these same ordeals, but God knew and He game me your friendship.

I have come to realize that this daughter of mine, will by my daughter at arms length. She will not let me close. She will not accept my all encompassing love. Her heart is her own and she will not share it with me the way a biological child will.

At least, not yet and probably not for years to come.

And it's okay. I'm learning how to love the child who desires love, but rejects it with the same hands.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Trouble, Trouble, Boil and Bubble.

I'm on a the verge of a deep and dark sadness. I have made the mistake of reading the history page on Pinterest. Most of the time, the pins are interesting and I usually walk away with new and interesting information. However, in recent weeks, someone is researching serial killers and I have made the colossal mistake of reading them.

Let us not forget the daily news...

School girls kidnapped simply because they are GIRLS receiving an education.

Coal miners dying.



All of which has led me to wonder about that goodness of ..... anything?

Where is the outrage? Where is the justice?

Why do people care about Brad Pitt throwing Mathew McConaughey a beer?

Every minute of every day someone is murdered, injured, abused, abandoned. Someone goes hungry. Another barely survives a twister. Earthquakes. Fire. War.

How can we be the good that we hope to see in others?

People are so petty. So small.

Myself included.

So, I sit here in my little pool of darkness and wonder what it's all about.

If this is all life is about, all this death, despair and judgement, than it stinks. It's putrid and boiling over with darkness. I hate it.

Show me the good! Give me all the smiles and rainbows you can find!

And I sit here writing this, just outside my window, I see a grey, bushy tailed squirrel munching joyfully away on a peanut. He is not aware of me and not aware of the burden sitting on my heart. He is just doing what he does.

The pansies are swaying slightly in the morning breeze and smiling up into the face of the sun.

An elderly couple is walking arm in arm, as they do every morning.

My life is good. Everyone is healthy. We are employed. I have friends.I believe in a life after this miserable life.

I just long for justice... now....but I know it's coming and will be far worse than anything I could even imagine.

Come Lord Jesus, Come!

This little kiddie pool of darkness is rising and I can feel its slimy fingers pulling at me.

Come quickly.