Rights, Watching, and Living

A few weeks ago I was finally able to drop off the adoption paperwork for the 7 kids.  This process has taken us over a year to complete (and that’s just the paperwork!) I went to the courthouse last May to pick up everything thinking it would be a fairly simple process, NOT so, come to find out you have to be married at least a year before you can adopt a step child.  Each child had a packet of about 25 pages that needed to be filled out and each one needed additional legal documents attached to their packet, death certificate, birth certificate, and marriage certificate.  Dropping it off was a huge relief.  I could now cross “adoption” off my list.  As I handed the clerk the huge stack of papers I asked her how long she thought it would take.  Her response threw me a bit, “It should be completed within 6 months.  You’ll have the home study but you’ll be able to skip the court date for terminating the parental rights because upon the death of a parent they immediately lose all rights.” Wow, just like that, you die, you have absolutely no rights anymore to the children you made. Without your egg or your sperm these children would not exist.  It seems like there would be some sort of legal loophole to that theory, and I’m sure there have been a handful of people who have tried to find a loop hole throughout the years.  It made me wonder, if one of them would have put in their will something to the effect of, “upon my death, I will not allow anyone to adopt my children”, would that have given them a voice from the grave?  Been some sort of a loop hole?  Sorry, this is where my mind goes, but really, would that be upheld in a court of law?  Not that they would do that, but as a mother I hate to think that if I die I have no rights left to my own children.  Although, it won’t matter I suppose, and that’s the faith part of it.  And, as I’ve said before, they aren’t really ours to begin with; ultimately we trust that He will take care of them.   I think part of this doesn’t sit well with me because I don’t believe you really die when you die. I understand that we need the terminology, but I do believe that they are both very fully alive, in fact more alive than we are.  I also don’t buy into the concept of them watching over us, I know highly controversial to most who want to believe this, and maybe I’m wrong, but to someone who has remarried, it’s a little disturbing to think that they are watching us, critiquing us, our marriage, our love life, our parenting skills, our lack of parenting skills or whatever it is they would want to observe. It makes me a little squeamish to think that they might watch over us like guardian angels or possess some sort of super powers.  I know that this thought brings many people an incredible amount of comfort, but I don’t see any Biblical backing for it. There’s the verse in Hebrews that people often use, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” but as most translators and Bible commentators can agree, the word witness does not mean “spectator” here, it means bearing witness and more specifically, they are bearing witness to the faithfulness of God. Honestly, I think they have much more interesting things to watch where they are than our lives. I prefer knowing that Almighty, All knowing, All merciful, full of grace God is watching over me, “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7-8) and I believe that it was His presence, not my late husband’s, that brought me comfort and peace in my darkest moments for He promises, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Just keep livin!

A Tribute

On this Mother’s Day I want to acknowledge my FMIL, as she is known in widower world, to the rest of you not familiar with our acronyms, my former mother in law, Holly.  Holly has been a part of my life from almost the first day of meeting her son.  Jason met me in May of 1999. He brought me home to meet his mom and she said, “You’re going to marry this girl.”  He proposed 3 months later, mother’s intuition, I guess.  She was there for us throughout our marriage, the ups and downs, her own ups and downs, held my hand when the initial tumor was discovered and sat beside him when the second tumor reared its ugly head while his 6 month pregnant wife could get some sleep in the lounge.  She brought us food, watched our kids, and cleaned my house, all while working 60 plus hours and dating a newly widowed man herself, which later would become an invaluable blessing to me as I would also navigate the unchartered territory of being married to a widower.  She and I stood side by side throughout the summer of 2010 as God spoke to each of our hearts about Jason’s healing, and as those around us told us we were losing hope, we knew that that was not the case; our hope was in something greater than his earthly healing.  She is a strong woman, who has held unwaveringly to her faith as she watched not only one of the strongest men she knew slowly wither away but also her child succumbing to the ravaging effects of brain cancer.  She stood firm in her faith as she laid him to rest on August 24, 2010, abiding in the full knowledge that she would see him again one day.  About a week after the funeral, she told me with a smile on her lips, that she was praying for my next husband, praying that God would send me a Christian man who would love not only me, but my four children as well.  She even went so far as to keep her eyes open for such a man.  When I told her about this guy I was kind of talking to in Oklahoma and gave her his blog to check out, she lit up with hope.  She did check out his blog and sent me a message telling me that he sounded like a wonderful man and she would pray for us both.  She, of any one, could have had a major issue with me moving forward so quickly; she, of any one could have shunned me for pursuing a new love; she, of any one could have made me feel guilty for loving again so quickly, but she didn’t.  I have never once felt judged by her in any way.  She knew that Jason had served his purpose here on earth, and she believed that God sent Ryan to pick up the baton and carry on.  She was able to see past her own grief and pain and feel genuine joy over the blessing of a new family for me and for her four grandchildren. She is my faith role model, a woman who can see the bigger picture with such clarity, such vision, and a sure faith that the here and now are so irrelevant compared to the grand scheme of it all.  Holly, thank you for being a part of my life and my new family’s life.  Thank you for not only accepting Ryan but also for accepting him as a new son in law and thank you for your unwavering faith in the face of what could have become an awkward, difficult situation for us all.  Thank you for believing in something bigger and better than any of us can even see or imagine.  Happy, Happy Mother’s Day, All our love.
Just Keep Livin!

He Gives and Takes Away

These verses have held special meaning for me over the past few years.  First with Luke, he took away my idea of a “perfect” child and then again when my husband was called to his heavenly home at age 33, and then when he gave me Ryan and three new children.  It’s this spiritual cycle of life, giving, taking, and giving again. I have personally found that the giving that comes after the taking often far outweighs what was taken, just as it did with Job when he lost so many of his children, his health, his wealth, and his life.  He was given so much more as a blessing for his faithfulness after just admitting that he did not have all the answers and that only God did, and he trusted Him regardless of how the situation looked in the moment. I have struggled with Ryan being MY husband this first year of marriage.  Most of that has had to do with insecurities and most of that comes with the fact that he was just someone else’s husband not that long ago.  People who marry widowers tell me that it gets so much better with time and granted we did not give it that much time.  I do notice that things that used to be a big deal aren’t anymore as we add days and months to “us” as a couple instead of us with them, if that makes sense?  Most of our past includes them and as we continue to move forward in life we will create our own past to look back upon. The Lord has also been working in my heart about my new children as I’ve struggled with wanting so badly not to mess them up as the new mother or portray any sort of favoritism between them and my blood children.   He has made it very clear to me that He is the only one who has all authority to give and take away; therefore, none of it is ever or was ever mine to begin with.  He gave me Jason for 10 years and he took him home.  He gave Ryan his late wife for 11 years and then took her home.  They belonged to Him, not to us-not ever.  We were able to walk alongside them, be one with them, and have the blessing of marriage with them, for a time as God permitted.  As I continuously process this thought, it also means that regardless of the fact that I birthed four of my children and someone else birthed 3 of my children, they are all His as well.  They aren’t mine because I held them in my womb and they weren’t hers because she held them in her womb, they are all His just as we are all His.  I have been given the responsibility and the blessing of motherhood to all 7 of them in this chapter of our lives.  I don’t know the day or the hour that they will cease to be my responsibility and will return to their Heavenly Father, but they will someday or I will before them, and all I can do in the meantime is thank Him for entrusting me with their seven precious lives. Thank you Lord, you give and take away, blessed be your name.