family, friendship, gratitude, infertility, journey, writing

Include…

As an orphan, as a failure- both motherless, in relevant ways, and childless in the real ones, you include me.

You envelop me within the warmth of a family that is not my own. You tie me, bind me to souls sharing only the elements of brokenness and abandon. These things both awe me and further break my heart.

Perhaps they are supposed to.

While the world around me shuts me out, unrelatable to the vein in which their lives flow, you include me.

While many decided (and still do) I was not worth their time,

worth their love or support,

worth anything at all really- you breathed within me that I do have worth in you. I am more than their self-seeking destruction, but I am yours. Your daughter, your child, your plan, your purpose, your path taker, if only I choose to take that path you’re on. 

You have included my heart, my longings, my emptiness and my  very core in this path which you have cleared. You have designed an entire universe of purpose around my very soul. You include me within your warm embrace when others shut the door, whispering in my ear to let go and trust. No baggage, no past, not one lost thing to drag me down. I look ahead, make out a clearing and know in my core that if I continue toward you, inclusion in your loving warmth is what will come.

And so, I let go.

(this post is from this weeks prompt over at FMF.)

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adoption, entertainment, family, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage

When two young, married kids learned the hard way that starting a family wasn’t an automatic given, life turned harder than either of them had imagined possible. Through miscarriage, bouts of infertility and a traumatically failed foster care adoption, hope became this certain thing they each believed did not belong to them…

Anyone who knows me, or us, knows that this is our story. This is also the story of so many other couples. Maybe a few details would be different but the key elements- the vital heartbreak and hopelessness- that is the same… It was that journey, the one which felt the length of centuries, but was really only the length of seven years, which set the stage for our actual parenthood. When the foster babies we’d believed were the answer to so many Please, God, give us a family prayers were taken, my husband emphatically and protectively decided that enough was enough. He was done, we were done. No more hopes mutilated, no more trying to have faith that my achingly empty arms would soon be full… No more.

And so, fast forward about five years. We had very hesitantly signed with an adoption agency. It was all an awkward and cautious dance, really… Within ourselves, with those around us, with dreams and ideas, prayers, and especially with each other. It is often talked about how the loss of a child is seldom something a marriage survives and I am here to say that infertility treats a marriage the very same way. There are just genetic ways that women tend to process, cope and grieve which often seem foreign to a man. This is also true from men to women.Those times when a couple need to draw together, often leads to them pulling far apart. Immersing ourselves back into the family journey, no matter how delicately we tiptoed, was a terrifying attempt. We were each so jaded and scarred from the time before. Just as we were both settling in to that same-page way of things, and trying to move towards whatever path this adoptive journey led us- a call comes asking us to consider taking a four-year old little girl. She’s unsafe for other young children to be around. She’s been hurt. She’s aggressive and reactive. She’s coming from every imaginable trauma. Please, please take her. Now.

The past bites us viciously when we least expect it. Carnal instincts are there, within us, no matter how hard we suppress them. When you unite a mother with a child who is a viciously shattered, wounded little bird- something happens. I never knew how protective I could be. Would be…

Our adoption of that little girl took far too long. With every investment of thousands of dollars, the path would only lead to an unscalable brick wall, closed-door and the urgings of another avenue followed by double the dollar signs. She was four when she came home to us, and thirteen when a judge finally made us a legal family. For nine years we were bled dry, gave birth to debt and lived in a constant state of fear. Hope sometimes speckled our lifelines, but mostly we waited for the big-bad-whatever to ruin everything we were fighting for. With each closed-door, we would have the talk…

What if it doesn’t work out. What if someone takes her. What if we never get to adopt her. What if? What if? What if? The seeds which had been planted when those twin foster babies were taken, as I lay a mangled mess of salty tears and agony on the floor bloomed, and they bloomed vibrantly. We’d flee. We’d run. We would protect her at all cost, no matter what came her way. We’d face prison. We’d find the money and hire someone to make sure no one from those who had hurt her would ever have the chance again.

There were a lot of frustrations. There were season upon season of sleepless nights. There were a lot of Oh gosh, it’s happening- this is it, type scares. I grew far too familiar with the feeling of blood running cold. I grew far too comfortable with the idea of doing what I “had to”, even if what I had to might be wrong. My ethical compass, typically solid, grew blurred when it came to our little girl.

Thankfully, I never actually had to make the decision. Even now, years later, when I look back I realize I have absolutely no idea if I really could have gone to such extents… What I am certain of is that I gave up everything and devoted my life to give her love and keep her safe. I also know that there is no way I could have made it through even a month of that journey, much less nearly a decade, without a solid faith. God has never promised me that he’d hand over anything and everything I asked for, but what He has given me is a peace when peace seems impossible, and a quiet security and strength when the world around me raged in uncontrollable stormy chaos.

I shared this story as an experience about a relevant time, in my life, when I struggled with my moral boundaries and what I knew was right or wrong, for me. This post is in partnership with the film Wraith from writer-director Michael O. Sajbel (One Night With the King).

Wraith (rāth) noun: a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen
after, or shortly before, their death
Something’s very wrong in the Lukens’ house. After living uneventfully for years in their historic home, the Lukens family have
somehow awakened a ghostly presence. Who is this frightening spirit and why won’t leave their 14 year-old daughter, Lucy, alone? Everything changed when Dennis and Katie Lukens discovered they were pregnant
again. Expecting in your 40’s is always high-risk and dangerous, so when the Lukens
decide all options are on the table – including termination – the unexpected starts to
happen. Sinister forces are now conspiring against the family. But is this eerie,
wraith-like spirit actually trying to haunt them…or help them?
Wraith is available on all VOD platforms and Blu-ray/DVD May 8
friendship, infertility, journey, marriage, Misc.

Authentically speaking matrimony…

We scrambled eggs and toasted bread, this weekend. There was coffee in the press, aromatically tickling the best inside of us while the ice blew around outside tugging at the less best.

It is so hard to listen to another when we cannot seem to look over the hurdle of hurts and inadequacies we choose to fence ourselves in with. We have all done this, to degrees, and the letting go is overwhelmingly vulnerable but so necessary.

If I were to ever write a book on marriage, this is absolutely the angle I would take. I would title it something akin to Get Over Yourself, and it would probably be poignantly badass and awesome. Lives and marriages would be changed and the world would bloom brighter because the divorce rate would plummet…

All from my book.

Obviously, this isn’t true. None of that would happen, and I would honestly never write about marriage. The truth is that this isn’t because I wouldn’t be qualified as much as because the world around me feels that I am not. I am asking myself quite a bit lately, how much does the world around me determine my path?

My husband and I married very young, with a very unhealthy support system, very loosely around whenever it fit their needs. We were life-broken and hurt kids, walking down the aisle to some promise of a future constructed by a mix of the 90’s church, movies and top 40 love songs. These ideas sold as ideals were all we knew to look toward, and so it was devastating when they let us down.  None of these things prepared us for emergency medical procedures in less than ideal locations, or badly mannered doctors brazenly promising you a healthy baby, while hours later you lay holding the sixteen week lifeless one in your hands while your husband wails and looks toward suicide to balm the horror throbbing from inside of him. Bloody bathroom baby funerals became the most consistent part about our early day marriage and when we looked up or called out, we were almost always left with only each other to look at.

Adultery honestly, with hind sight, kind of makes sense. Nothing within out lives made sense and everything hurt overwhelmingly, so escaping it for something which felt a little nice and was so separate from the worst life was almost a no-brainer. Of course, anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on knows that this doesn’t take the bad away or really make it any better. It simply piles on top.

Divorce follows broken, blistered years of crash-course-adulthood almost always. In our case, had any one element been different- the support system, the miscarriages, the drowning medical debt- everything else may have changed. Had one tiny sign of life been present, the funeral would not have had to happen.

But it did…

And then a rebirth came. It was painful and gut wrenchingly beautiful and organically everything that should come from a shattered marriage moving forward. Living it was unexplainably complex.  Having grown up in the between helped immeasurably, and for that we were grateful. There was no condoning the giving up and not fighting, but we were attempting to redeem that short coming, and beauty abounded. A family miraculously came to be out of seeds of awful beginnings, and that next bit was real life littered hardships, sometimes discouraging but some how always intoxicatingly beautiful.

Gratitude. Always, there was gratitude.

But life is cyclic and shifts happen. The things which should have stayed most important slowly weren’t any longer and the slow-motion spiral stole our marriage’s breath away. Stole my breath away and silenced my heart. I have never felt so terrified, so incapable, so helpless, so worthless. So numb.

The train wreck following the slow motion fall was instantaneous and blinding. The deafening blows left my senses unable to grasp and be for weeks and weeks. When they did, I reached out to the supportive life I’d grown to nurture and found that the majority of them had been more shallowly inclined to love me than they had actually let on- once my life was shattered and bare. That is how it goes, really. Nearly every time. People love to show up when things are bright, and people love to take credit for the place they stand beside you, but when you fall most of them scatter…

Today I am with my husband. We made eggs and toast. We read a little, together, worked a little, together, and spent a cozy day confined inside while the world of never-ending winter froze just beyond our windows. The journey is long and hard and any one who has been married for any amount of extended time will know this. Not everyone tells the truth and so if someone tells you it’s great, just know they are lying to themselves more than to you.

Marriage is hard and it can be dark. It hurts more than any other relationship. When both people do their parts though, and put the other first, it is the most secure, warmest, most full filling and embracingly raw thing our human hearts can comprehend. Often what makes it so hard is that we cannot make the other person do their part or even want to, when they aren’t, which feels devestating. Sometimes they just don’t want to act on love, with us. And that sucks. When we each want to make the effort, it is so beyond anything I can find words for. Today has been a medium of that, while Friday was a not-at-all. Last weekend was a 10 out of 10.

And that is marriage. It is real, and you have to stay on top of it and protect it and work at it and honestly, there can not be time off. It is intensely 24/7, no day is a guarantee and no moment is scripted.

And when you are honest, in the train wreck times, there are people who will hold this in their memory until their very last breath. While they believe they don’t want you to fail, they also can’t get past that time when you could have. The worst part is that maybe they could have extended love and helped, but probably they didn’t, they just “care” so much to hold those moments against you.

My marriage is mine and my husband’s responsibility, but it is ignorant to pretend like no one else can hurt/harm/help it, because that just is not true.

For five months in late 2015/2016, my husband and I were separated and living in different states.  For two months, leading up to the sudden separation, things were really disconnected between us. Over that time there were counselors and others sought because we each said we wanted to have a strong marriage, and every time we were turned away. Within those five months, other people were DEFINITELY a majorly contributing problem. Those five months were two years ago. The sad expressions and gossipy questions looking for dirt never cease. This is why any book, on the topic, would never amount to anything. The social system around me would squash it from blooming. Can you believe she honestly thinks she has anything to say about marriage? Remember that time…

Allow a micro rant here- Stepping back I see this same exact thing happening in thousands of lives around me, in so many ways. Why are we rooting for the failure of others while masking it as concern? When you “well-meaningly” ignore two years of progress and healing to cut me right back to that time- it isn’t loving and it isn’t support. If all you can think to ask is how my marriage is, since the separation, then perhaps you should stop and think about the 24 years of survival and work we’ve put into it instead of the five months we were flat on our faces- and then ask yourself how you could have actually shown kindness both then and now…  And if you are one of those people and are married- shame on you for taking that self righteous path of crushing down.

Rant over…

When I want to look to someone for marriage inspiration and guidance, I look to the person who has been honest about their rollercoaster journey. THIS shows commitment, not the pretty filter image projected out there. When I want fitness/weightloss inspiration, I look to someone who has actually done it, not the naturally permanent size 4 girl with her own youtube channel. the time for authenticity is NOW…

I made eggs and toast, along side my husband. We had a few little irritations. This isn’t because of any other reason than we’re human, we have outside things in each of our lives that interfere with our thoughts and stresses. We were trapped in our house while an ice storm wailed outside. We are people. I love my husband more than any adjective could explain and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him, within my power. My marriage isn’t great, it isn’t fine, it isn’t anything other than REAL. Just like yours…

 

gifts, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage, writing

This is twenty-four…

Dearest love of mine,

Twenty four years ago, today, we were children playing dress up, at the very front of the most beautiful church we knew, while the world swarmed in chaos just beyond us.

I was a broken girl looking for someone to fix all of the damage which other broken people had done. Sadly, looking to a boy, barely older and no less damaged was unfair. It was not the right thing to do, but where my heart was concerned, it was genuine love.

I love you then, so incredibly.

I love you today, so much more, my husband.

So many full moons later, the scent of you still stirs my inner being and in every sad or absent moment, that connection which my spirit longs for, can only be found in you.

Sometimes it feels as if these struggles we’ve walked- the barren womb, the absent attendance around us, the hardships (the life ships, the adult ships, the titanic-sized-hurt ships) have often kept us just a reach beyond drowning…

But, my love, my lover, the keeper of the very best of me- When I think of any of the quick-sand-bits, the darkest shadows and the moments which were rusted-out-tear-stained and unfair, there is no one else whose hand I can fathom holding. There are no other eyes I want to search for anything outside of the bad, and no one else’s delectable smile I want to see the happiest rays in. There is no one else whose warmth, whose voice, whose deep-belly laughter speaks the language my heart sings to…

I am proud to be your telekinetic Pictionary partner, for now and always.

Always…

I’ll be there, till the stars don’t shine
‘Til the heavens burst and the words don’t rhyme
I know when I die you’ll be on my mind
And I’ll love you, always

My love, my husband, my Christopher, there is not another soul I want to wake up beside and if we were to manage one hundred and twelve more years together, (twelve- always twelve) it still wouldn’t be enough of you…

Thank you for sharing this journey. Thank you for growing with me, for accepting the gigantic mess that is me, and for being the very best of the best. Twenty four years and hindsight reflects the honesty that there has always been more beauty than sad. You are my heart, and I love you. The ugliest bits have been but nominal blips, fading father away, the moment they die. The good, the things which I am most grateful for-

the love-

that is the everywhere which remains.

M

adoption, family, gifts, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage

17/14 vision…

Seventeen years ago, three very fragile and amazingly resilient children asked me to be their mother. Being a lover of birthdays, I remember this clearly, in that mildew scented cafeteria, because it was my grandmother’s birthday. I am also, I’ll admit, a sucker for symbolism. After seven miscarriages and a failed adoption, wasn’t the very fact that it was ON my grandmother’s birthday exact proof that this was a good sign?

I know, I know. At 24, I should have been much wiser than that. The thing was, however, I loved those kids incredibly. I had not taken the job in that group home in an effort to shop for children. (A phrase my older daughter, at least, will find bitter twinged amusement in.) I had accepted the position because I needed to stand on my own and because I loved kids and was really great at my job.

I had developed various sorts of close relationships with various kids who were growing up there. Some souls simply click, but with these three it was different. The first confirmation, of the miraculous element, for me had been when I developed special relationships and felt drawn to each of them before I was really aware that they were actual siblings. The three were not particularly close to each other, and in settings like that you often have kids refer to other kids as siblings, when they aren’t. When I learned, a couple of weeks in to my tenure, that they were biological siblings I realized that pull had made divine sense.

I had not been expecting the request, when they came together to ask it of me. I was, at 24, far too immature to understand the gravity of how difficult that must have been for them, considering their journey thus far, in life. My co-worker was sitting with me and she squealed a little and remarked “this is perfect! You and those three are a beautiful combination and seeing you all together makes life make sense!”

That journey towards them was not an easy one. There was much standing in the way and honestly, at 24, if I had known exactly what the heart fight would look like, I might have run away screaming. Thank God, I didn’t. I was witness to very abusive manipulations, over the years, and a control battle over those precious spirits, that still (in recollection) makes my skin crawl. Though our journey as a family has not been at all how I would have designed it, the outcome is a familial connection that I would not trade for the world. The journey was long, and eventually one of the three found parents who were closer and a better fit. I always understood, and grieved, and in the end came to peace with the fact that I love her just the same, no matter what…

~~~

Fourteen years ago, I was approached to be the mother of a broken little four-year old girl. It was a decision that we made within a few hours, even though I found myself weather worn from my other mother-journal-struggle. (which at this point, was still going strong) My fear was that we would grow to love this tender little child and then lose her, down the road. The once-again-symbolism of my grandmother’s birthday being near, and what the journey with those three beautiful kids had been like, were not lost on me.

You see, the feared possibility was not completely unfounded. We had been the soon-to-be adoptive parents of twin girls, once upon a time. Our ten months with them were that sort of chapter where every day felt a little like this is what my soul has been waiting for, finally I am complete. Then, due to a technicality regarding a gun, an arrest method and a court loophole, they were returned to the stranger that was their mother, leaving my arms empty and my heart officially shattered…

Two days after being asked, we drove out to pick up our daughter. It was a sunny September Sunday afternoon, and I had made sure to call my grandmother, on the way over, to wish her a happy birthday. The sunshine easily acted like a promise that this time, this time motherhood might not hurt as bad, and may not end with empty arms. This little girl was a gift, but she was also a daily reminder that there were no guarantees. For a very long time I walked the tightrope of guarding my heart and that same heart diving headfirst into the sea of her child-spirit. Tens upon tens of thousands of dollars later, (and sadly a nine-year court battle which always seemed to play out more uphill than down, until we one day found it over) she was legally ours. Throughout this time, there were sadly moments when this growing girl would be used, as a pawn, to hurt our older kids. It was a sick and a meant-for-tragedy thing, and miraculously it never worked. Seeds meant to sow resentment, simply sowed love.

~~~

My beautiful, (now in heaven) grandmother’s birthday has born to me, motherhood. She was such a strong woman who held a family together in ways which I could never replicate, all the while her birthday knit together another branch of her own. My motherhood journey has been anything but traditional. Just the same, I am the mom to some of the most extraordinary humans I have ever known.

For the first time since that timid little seventeen year old request for my motherhood was asked, I am spending this day alone. In the past I have either been with my husband, visiting my kids, becoming a mom again, just with one kid, two kids, or the best of times- all three. One year we were recovering from the wedding, the day before, of my older daughter. One year we went to the Lion King on Broadway, on other we sat around eating chocolate fondue and making silly home movies for my husband because he couldn’t be with us. Somehow the day has always been special, playing out as its own sort of character within our family and lives. (fun bonus fact, my son married a beautiful girl, whom I adore, whose birthday is the day AFTER this little anniversary of ours. Attraction truly is a spiritual thing.)

This year my husband is 8,000 miles and 16 hours away. My son is in the far corners of the country doing his part to keep our nation safe. My older daughter on her own motherhood journey, waking from ringing in her own anniversary- marriage. My younger daughter, the sweet little four-year old of fourteen years ago, is on a dark and prodigal journey that this mmama heart of mine hopes will not last forever, but worries about the consequential scarring that may happen along the way. My family is a lesson to me that fighting for those whom your soul loves, is primal at best and always vital. The journey will never be scripted the way that your heart hopes, but the outcome of love will always be worth it- even when things don’t go your way.

Happy birthday, Grandma…