Replaced?

Apparently using the word “replaced” in reference to adopting my new children has caused some concern.  First, I’m going to clarify what the dictionary has to say about this word,
 
Replace : to assume the former role, positon or function of; substitute for (a person or thing)or to restore; return; make good.
 
According to these definitions it is a very appropriate word to use in reference to what happened when I adopted my three children.  I assumed the former role, position and function of mother, I became a substitute for a deceased person who was no longer capable of playing the motherly role, I played a part in restoring a broken family, and I helped to make something bitter and sad good again by accepting the role of mom to three motherless children.
 When I use that word I am not referring to an idea that I replaced who their birth mother was as a person.  She was who she was, a unique individual made by our Creator to serve as their mother for an allotted amount of time; just as I am also a unique individual made by our Creator to now serve as their mother for an allotted amount of time.  What I am referring to is the fact that I did replace her in the role as an active, functioning mother. Yes, they have a birth mother in Heaven and they will always carry that in their hearts and in their memories, but the fact is, she doesn’t live here anymore so she can’t do any of the motherly things that I do on a daily basis.  I think maybe it’s a different perspective that I hold that makes this hard to grasp for some people.  I don’t live very earthly.  I try to see the bigger picture of it all, and I try to make sense of it all in the grander, spiritual realm that all of this really encompasses. Within this perspective, I don’t believe that either one of us ever really owned these children.  We have this false idea as mothers that by birthing them they are ours when in reality they are all owned ultimately by their Father in Heaven who gave them to each of us during a specific period of time to raise them. I openly acknowledge the fact that I did not raise them their whole lives and that I did not literally birth any of them.  They had a different woman as a biological mother but she is no longer here to serve any purpose as a mother outside of whatever memories they may have of a woman who did love them dearly for the time she had with them but just as she was allowed to be their mom without any pretenses, allow that same grace to be given to every adopted mom who is also mom in every sense of the word.   
Just keep livin!! 

THAT week

 

Well, THAT week is over, thank goodness – the week where it will always be known and remembered as “they” died.  I’ve struggled with what to write about today.  I don’t want to offend people, I don’t want to hurt people, and I understand that as a remarried woman I probably view the events surrounding this past week slightly different than friends and family do.  I’ve said before, to intentionally focus on my love and feelings for another man, even a deceased man whom I was married to, feels a little like emotional adultery to me.  So on my day I do not go there emotionally.  I remember what that day represents, and I always remember that I was married to him and through four very lively reminders remember that we had children and a life together.  It does no one any good for me to remember my feelings for him in an intimate way.  It would not be fair to Ryan to do that in our marriage so I don’t go there.  Just as I wouldn’t go and try to remember feelings I had for a prior boyfriend in my first marriage, it’s the same sort of idea in this second marriage, and it’s just not healthy to go there emotionally.  Secondly, it’s a bittersweet feeling through it all as a remarried woman.  First, I have my husband and children because of someone’s death and without her death I would not have them.  Therefore, I’m sad because people are hurting because of their loss but to say that I’m sad because someone I never knew died and because of her death I have a wonderful marriage and life?   See my dilemma? That is a hard thing to write and a harder pill to swallow but it’s the truth.  I love my husband and new children intensely, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  That’s the bittersweet of it all.  I hope that as the years go by people can respect the fact that it is different for us.  We don’t have the same pain that others may have, and I apologize if that’s hurtful, but when you remarry that spousal love is replaced. We acknowledge the day for our children but even for them the parent void has been filled and replaced.  Our two year olds may be curious someday about their birth parents but outside of curiosity, I don’t think there will be much.  It was in the grand script of it all that Ryan and I come together in this moment in time, and it was in the grand script that we be mom and dad to seven lively little reminders of them for as long as we are granted the time.  
Just keep livin!! 

Snapshots

Ryan and I were talking the other night about photo albums because we have many of these books from our previous lives up on a shelf in our basement.  I was sharing with him how initially in our marriage I would often look through these books to try and get a feel for what his life and the kids’ lives were like before I entered the picture.  I also wanted to try to get an idea of how the family clicked before me, what their mom was like, how I was different from her or similar to her, really probably just being a nosy woman but trying to sort it out, nonetheless, on my own.  He, on the other hand, has never even looked at my picture books.  I’m not sure why it’s so different for men and women, but I think because as women we are emotional. We have this need to try to emotionally sort it out, men are not nearly as wrapped up in that aspect of life, so to him that was my life then and it has nothing to do with his life with me now, so why revisit it?  But to me it’s all encompassing, who you were then, how you lived life then, what you experienced then, all comes into play with who and what you are in the present. As we continued talking he said, “You know, those pictures aren’t really an accurate portrayal of my life, those are just snapshots of the happy times, you don’t take pictures of the mundane or the hard times.”  I thought about it and he’s right.  If I base my view point of his entire life prior to me on those picture books, I would not only get a pretty inaccurate portrayal of his life, but I would also have a huge complex trying to live up to the perfection that those pictures portray!  As we pondered this a bit more and thought it through, our conversation turned down a whole new avenue.  We realized that those pictures are like events that happen in our lives.  We have snapshot moments that seem to encompass our entire lives for a season.  For example, the deaths of our former spouses, those two events were snapshot moments.  They were very significant moments but not accurate portrayals of our entire lives. They happened, we mourned, and now we remember.  Sympathy and comfort is for those who mourn; respect is for those who remember.   We have determined that those two snapshot days are not going to be days that we dread for the next 50 years (God willing), but we are instead going to focus on making as many beautiful memories as possible with the time we have remaining.  Those events in our lives were what they were, and we respectfully remember as a family. They were snapshot moments of our lives, sad snapshot moments, and if we had a photo album book purely devoted to those days it would look like we had lived pretty sad lives, but the fact is, that would not be an accurate portrayal of our lives.  Our lives are made up of the sad, the mundane and the great joy filled days, but just as we choose to photograph the happy times and not the sad, we choose to remember the good and rise above the bad. 
Just keep livin!!

Superman

I wrote the other day about how God often uses the traumas, major issues, and disappointments in our lives to strip us of anything and everything that could hinder us from being all that we are meant to be in Christ.  One thing that has always gotten under my skin is the fact that when someone passes away a sort of sainting of that person occurs because, generally in our culture, we do not speak ill of the dead.  I’m not sure how or why this occurs.  Those who were close to that person obviously knew that he or she had faults so I don’t understand why we feel the need to act like they didn’t have any.   I loved it recently at my grandmother’s funeral when the pastor said at her grave side burial, “Now we recognize that Sally was not a perfect person, she was a sinner just like the rest of us, saved by grace and in need of a Savior.”  I turned to Ryan and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard the possibility mentioned at a funeral that the person wasn’t perfect.”  It shocked me a bit, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful and refreshing to hear that.  Now, my late husband would have completely scoffed at the idea of anyone thinking he was perfect.  He was a bit like the apostle Peter, he had a sort of rough exterior, a solid faith, and a heart that really wanted to serve his Savior but often his shortcomings, his mouth, and his pride would get in the way.  He loved Super Heroes, all of them, Spiderman, the Hulk, Iron Man, and he actually referred to himself as Superman on more than one occasion, but his favorite Super Hero was Batman because, as he would explain to anyone who asked, Batman was the only real human who by sheer will and determination became a Super Hero.  Jason was incredibly strength and endurance driven.  He was a tennis player who almost broke through to the professional ranks, and he would brag to anyone who asked about his 120 MPH serve.  He was remarkably strong for not having the natural build of someone who should have had a lot of strength.  He had to work twice as hard as most men to obtain the amount of strength and muscle that came easily to the majority.   He used most of his down time to research the latest and greatest improvements for muscle strength, agility, and endurance.  He spent any extra money he had on protein replenishment drinks, mixes, or powders, and he could most often be found in either a gym or on the tennis courts. He loved what the human body was capable of achieving and above all else he loved watching his own body exceed all limitations.  In 2007 this Superman’s strength and muscle began to deteriorate without any plausible explanation offered by the medical community.  When it was discovered that it was a brain tumor to blame it was immediately taken out and about two weeks later he was back in the gym willing his body and his muscles to realign and cooperate with his will.  Fast forward to a year later, the tumor returned, his strength decreased, and his body really took a beating this time around with multiple chemos, radiations, and poisons.  His muscle tone was depleted down to that of an old man, his vision started to wane, his mental capacity strained and his strength that of a teenage boy but still, 6 weeks before he went to his eternal home, it was said that he was doing pull-ups in the gym.  In his final weeks when he was completely bedridden and wiped entirely clean of one of the few things that brought him true joy – the pride that came with being the strongest, being the fastest, and having the most endurance, he would often be heard saying, “I’ve prayed so many times that something good will come of all of this and that God would be glorified.” He was stripped of all of his earthly pride to be all that God called him to be, to run his race by emptying himself of who he was to bring glory to his King.  In return, I bet, he had a pretty buff Batman body waiting for him beyond the veil. 
Just keep livin!
In memory of Jason Crisman June 2,1977-August 24, 2010