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Archive for the ‘Loss & Grief’ Category

Today is the Reason I Never Visit My Parents’ Graves

Yesterday my cousin went to our grandmother’s grave. As many people do, she cleaned it up, and placed flowers in the vase. It made me realize that in all the seven years since my parents died I have only been back out to the grave once, and only at the request of my grandparents.  Today is Easter Sunday, and it also made me think of the women who went to visit Jesus’ grave. They went there to pray, and grieve. On that first Easter Day they chose to go there, because that is where they thought He was. Of course, we know He wasn’t there. HE Is Risen!

It is because of this truth that I don’t go to my parents’ graves. My parents are not in their graves, because Jesus  is not in His. Sure, there is some decaying shell of the human bodies they once occupied while they were here, but they are not there anymore. Just as there was nothing for those women visiting Jesus’ tomb, there is nothing for me at those graves. Now, I don’t know exactly where they are, or what they are doing. But, I do know that where ever it is they are waiting expectantly, just as I am waiting expectantly for Jesus to return. We are waiting for His return to cast  out evil, settle up with non believers, and conquer death once and for all. Basically, this is the whole point of Easter. Jesus died for our sins, and rose again so that we can have hope in our grief, and not fear death. 

Jesus offers this hope to everyone, and just because some don’t believe it, doesn’t make it any less true. On that first Easter Day the tomb was either empty, or it wasn’t.  It is either true, or it isn’t. If you aren’t sure how to answer that, or if you think it’s a lie, I want to encourage you to really look into this question. All of us need to be absolutely sure about the answer we give. Like it or not, you are betting your hope,  your future, and your eternal life on it.  If you are thinking about giving the Bible a look, for what it’s worth, Romans is my favorite. 

China Said “No”, So Now What? 

For those of you not playing along at home we have five children. We have three biological children, and two kids adopted from China. We submitted paperwork to the Chinese government to adopt another little girl which was summarily dismissed by their authorities on the basis of our low vision. We appealed the decision to no avail.  For the last 2.5 years we have been working and planning to adopt again. My children  were super excited to have another little sister, and to go back to China. That door has been closed for our family, so now what? 

First, we are broken hearted for the daughter who is loved and desperately wanted, but will never know it. I pray almost hourly that another family will  step forward for her. She has medical needs that  are not being met in China. She very likely has a rare genetic disorder that her care takers don’t even know she has. It requires screenings that she is not getting in China. Knowing that God loves her, sees her, and knows what she needs even more than we do is the only thing that makes this bearable. 

We are shocked, and angry. This is straight up discrimination, and it would be illegal here in America. We were denied based soly on having a disability. They ignored our proven track record of TWO OTHER CHINESE ADOPTIONS. They ignored our glowing post placement reports for those two kids. They ignored our videos showing us to be capable parents. They ignored the letter our oldest  adopted daughter with spina bifida wrote telling them how she is now learning  to walk because of the medical care she received since being in our family.  They saw the diagnoses of low vision, and that was that.
Despite our heartache we will choose greatfulness. We are grateful for the two children we do have from China.  Both of our adoptions had someone in China try to disrupt the adoption when they knew we had low vision. With the adoption of our first son we were in China signing the final paperwork . The lady made a phone call, and was on the phone for a good 10 minutes. We thought nothing of it, but later our translator told us the woman took one look at my husband’s cane, and called  the social welfare people to ask if they were sure she should let us take Kai home.  With our daughter one part of the process was taking longer than it should. We found out later that a particular person was campaigning for us not to be able to adopt her. Apparently the same person is the one who rejected us this time. Every child added to our family, be it through biology or adoption, is a mirical of God. The last few days has been a sobering reminder of that.

We will choose love. It is tempting for us to harden our hearts against China, but we are going to choose love, and mercy. This is the first home of two of our children. If we reject China it would be rejecting part of our children. We loved our time in China, and hope to visit again some day. Telling my teenage daughter who was only adopted 18 months ago, and was really looking forward to going home agin, that we couldn’t was heartbreaking. We will continue to support other China adoptive parents, and agencies serving Chinese orphans. 

We are going to choose faith. The song “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle conveys our feelings perfectly. Adopting a third child from China to complete our family has been a dream, and goal go ours for seems like forever. We did all the “right” things to make that happen. The reality of that not happening now was crushing.  BUT, like the song says, we will lay that dream at His feet. We also know that when God says “no” to a dream it’s either because it’s not for you, or because He has something better planned. Either way we trust Him, and will accept it even if we don’t understand. 

We are going to choose hope, and go where He sends us. China is closed to us, but we still have room in our hearts and home for another child. We are exploring other options to complete our family both international and domestic.  China was comfortable as we had done it twice, and know exactly what to expect/do. We aren’t sure what will happen next, or that we will even ever have a sixth child. But, we aren’t giving up now. We definitely know what James 4 :13-15means. If the Lord wills it we will add another child to our family. I am a planner, and don’t do well with uncertainty, or rejection for that matter. We are choosing to consider this a season of growth and refinement.  

Is Easter Celebrated In Heaven?

Easter is a bittersweet holiday for me. On the one hand I am humbled and thankful for the sacrifice made by Jesus so that the stains of my sins are washed clean therefor making me able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand it starts me thinking of my parents. Anytime I think about Heaven I think about them. I remember at my mom’s viewing I had stepped out for a little breather. I slumped down on a bench next to the funeral home door. On the adjacent table lay an open Bible. I glanced down at its pages, and it dawned on me that my mom was now walking with Jesus. For a moment my sorrow was replaced with an awe and wonder that was quite unexpected. It amazed me to think that my own mother knew what Heaven actually was like. She was standing on the streets of gold, and had answers to all the questions we have about death, and what Heaven is like. I even started to feel excited for her.

Easter Sunday reminds me that it is only through the murder and resurrection of Jesus that death no longer holds any power over us. It is not the end, but a new and perfect beginning. In a place that holds more joy and splendor then we can imagine. I still miss living my life without my mom and dad, but I believe in the promises of the Bible. I am confident that someday I will be there too.

2Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

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10 Things My Parents’ Deaths Taught Me

This month marks the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death from cancer, and my father’s subsequent suicide. January 2010 was by far the most difficult time in my life. I watched my mother slowly die mostly from her hospital bed. Equally heart wrenching was watching my brother and father watch her die. Then my father’s suicide eleven days later left me planning yet another funeral, and taking on the overwhelming task of settling two estates. I can honestly say burying my dad with fresh dirt on my mom’s grave was the worst moment of my life. BUT, that was all four years ago now. The paperwork has long been completed, debts have been paid, and I am slowly getting used to life without them. I no longer think ” Oh, I gotta call mom to tell her X, Y, or Z. “, although I often wish I could. Holidays are starting to feel a bit more normal again, and I can sometimes even smile instead of cry when thinking of them.

The point is, that yes I’ve been through something horrible, but I survived. Not only have I survived, but I feel like I have grown in ways that have had a positive impact on my life. I realize that I am not the only person who has experienced a personal tragedy, and there are far worse things happening to people every day. I just wanted to share some things that I’ve learned that have changed me for the better.

1: You get one chance to make your mark on the world. I know that is cliche, but it took my parents deaths to make it real for me. My husband and I no longer put things off, and we live a more purposeful life. Once you’re done, that is it, you’re done. One day we will all stand before God, and be accountable for our lives’ work, or lack there of.

2: Let your loved ones know how you feel. Again, cliche, but so true. With my mom we knew she was probably going to die, and I had those tear filled I love you moments with her. On the other hand my dad’s death was a complete surprise, and I didn’t get that goodbye time with him. When going through my mom’s things I found notes I had written them over the years. I found a card telling my dad that I would always be his little girl that I sent just prior to getting married. I found cards to my mom thanking her for planning our wedding, and staying with us after our first daughter was born. At the time they were just sweet little gestures. Now I cherish them, because I know my parents really knew how much I loved and appreciated them. I have no regrets.

3: There is a true freedom to entrusting your life to the Lord. About a week after my father’s death I was standing on my back porch uncontrollably sobbing. Suddenly the stars caught my attention as they danced in my tear filled eyes. As I stood there feeling overwhelmed with grief, and the monumental task of dealing with the estates I heard in my sola ” Be still, and know that I am God”. I think that was the beginning of my healing process. I have developed a strength and faith that only comes through tragedy. This is one of the worst things that I could have imagined, but I survived. I know now that I can truly “do all things in Christ who strengthens me”.

4: There is nothing more you can give your children than each other. We thought we were done after two. We had a boy and a girl that we could provide with a nice middle class life. More kids would mean having to spread the wealth, giving up private schools, and having less “Me” time. Now that my parents are gone it is just me and my brother. He has never been married, and has no children. My kids have no cousins on my side, and frankly it kind of sucks. We’ve added two children to our family, and now have a crazy busy house with two boys, and two girls.

5: You eat an elephant one bite at a time. After the funerals’ there was so much to do. There were cars and a house to sell. There were accounts to close and bills to pay. There were a lot of medical bills, and insurances to be dealt with. It was very overwhelming. I was swimming in paperwork, with no end in sight. I felt like I would never get it all settled. My husband and I sat down, made lists, and started checking stuff off. With his help it took us a good six months working almost daily to make a good dent in the task. It was emotionally exhausting, but that was four years ago, and it is over. Even the biggest of tasks will eventually be over if you just break it down, and do one thing at a time.

6: Grief is not a linear process. I just assumed that when you grieve it gets a little better every day as time passes. Over all I would say that is mostly still true. I do not cry every day anymore, and I am starting to get used to life without them. However, sometimes I will really miss one of them, and it will seem like it happened yesterday. Usually the hardest days are the ones that sneak up on me when I least expect it. I might walk by a house being built, and the smell of the saw dust will remind me of my dad’s wood working shop. I might put an outfit on my daughter that I know my mother would have loved. Those times are getting further and further apart, but can still hit me hard. I guess you move on, but never fully get over it.

7: It is important to have a church home and family. When my parents died my church family really rose up and rallied around me. They brought food to the house, babysat my kids, and just really supported us with love and encouragement. I would have had a very different, and more difficult time with the funerals, and the days following if not for my church family.

8: It’s all just stuff. My mom had a large cedar chest that my dad made her that was full of things that each represented an important moment in her life. My mom had gone over each thing while reminiscing together at least three times before this. She would say ” If something ever happens to me make sure you remember this is X, Y or Z, and save it for your children.” It had all seemed so important to my mom, before she got sick. Those last few months my mom and I talked a lot about life. She told me to love my husband, and care for my children. She said that her biggest regret was not having more children. Not one time did she mention the things in her cedar chest, or where the family furniture came from, and who it all should go to. In the end it is all just stuff, and I guarantee my mom could care less what was kept and what was sold after she was gone.

9: Don’t count other people’s blessings. For a long time after my parents died I couldn’t go to gatherings where grandparents and their grandchildren would be together. I grew up surrounded by many grandparents, and even great grandparents. We lived in close proximity, and I was spoiled by them regularly. My husbands family lives across the country, and it broke my heart that my kids wouldn’t have that experience. Through prayer I realized that my grandparents were a great blessing to me, but that wasn’t the blessing God had in mind for my children. Instead He had other blessings prepared for them. Spending my life comparing God’s blessings for my children with the blessings he has for others, even my own, only breeds disappointment and jealousy. Neither of which I have room for in my life.

10: Don’t let today’s struggles rob you of today’s joys. I was so consumed with grief, that I don’t remember much of the year following my parents’ deaths. This, sadly includes memories of my children. It is almost like I left when my oldest two were four, and one. It is sad to say, but I don’t have a clear memory of my son learning to talk, or of my daughter’s preschool year of school. The memories I do have are only through pictures or information written in a baby book. I am just now truly realizing how much of the good things I missed that year because I was so focused on the tragedy in my life.