Tuesday, November 14, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 9

I am a step-mom.
Times three.
Bonus children are different than children.
Don't get me wrong,
I adore my bonus children!
Love them passionately and deeply and wholly!
No matter what!
But it wasn't always that way.

If you read my day four post,
you know that I loved my children instantly!
I grew to like them,
but I loved them instantly.
That is not the case with bonus children.
With bonus children,
you like them immediately -
or maybe you don't -
but you grow to love them.

When I met the first one,
my Lanny Love and I
had only been dating a little while.
I thought I was falling in love with him
and he with me.
But we had not said those three little words yet.
I was sure they were coming soon,
(Five days later, as it turned out)
but there was still no commitment
or likelihood of one.

It so happened that
Aleisha and her boyfriend, Blu,
went to the same performance of a play
that we did one evening.
And so, we met.
We sized one another up -
as women do -
and I liked her and her Blu,
But I did not love her.

As my Lanny Love and I grew in our love,
I began to love his children because he loved them.
By the time I met Zach,
I loved Aleisha because I loved her.
We had developed a friendship,
had enjoyed lunch together a few times.
She had become my cherished new friend and
I had begun to look at her as a daughter.

It took longer with Zach.
While I liked him
and his sweet wife, Jamie,
and I loved him as my Lanny Love's
and knew that it was likely
he would become my bonus child,
He did not live here
and he was a boy!
We didn't lunch, or text.
But the more I knew him through his dad,
and the more often he came to visit in the ensuing months,
the more I loved him.
And, can I be honest here?
He was extra special to me because he was a boy.
The son I craved!

My third bonus child,
my sweet Tiffany,
I did not meet until the night of our wedding.
I liked her immediately
and she very quickly became my friend.
But can I tell you that
I also loved her immediately?
Like my children,
she was mine the moment I laid eyes on her!

You see, the night Lanny and I married,
we became one in the eyes of God.
My children and grandchildren had just become his.
His children and grandchild had just become mine.
And something magic happened.
I loved them as mine!
No matter what.
No matter what they might have done,
or said,
or how they might have acted,
just as with the flesh of my flesh,
blood of my blood children,
none of it would have mattered!
They were mine!
Just like my own are mine,
that night, they became mine as well!
And I loved them all!!!
The Bible says little about stepchildren. Most of what it says is about half siblings, brothers or sisters that share one parent. The only thing that it specifically says about stepchildren is that a man may not have sex with a stepdaughter for that would be incest, even though she is not of his own blood. The passages are Leviticus 18:17, Leviticus 20:17, and Ezekiel 22:11. 

Beyond that, it seems to be understood that a parent's responsibilities are the same whether a natural parent, adoptive parent, or stepparent. No distinction is made, anyway, between the three. When you consider what God has done for us, saving us from our sins, and that the scriptures say those who are saved are adopted by God (Romans 8; Galatians 4; Ephesians 1:5), then it is clear that God treats the adopted children (and one would presume stepchildren if it were possible) the same as the natural son. If God treats us that way, then we ought to treat children who are not our birth-children the same as if they were.
How amazing that God granted me
that love for my bonus children
the moment He joined me to their daddy!

Bonus families are not always easy.
Especially with adults.
Blending children who are grieving loss,
who were raised in different households,
with different styles,
adult children with differing personalities
and lifestyles,
is challenging.
Sometimes I laugh -  a lot.
Sometimes I cry - a lot.

But it and they are always worth the time and effort!
It has recently occurred to me
that Jesus was a step-child
and Joseph a step-parent.
We are in good company!

In my list of people for whom I am grateful,
my bonus children are a great blessing!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for
my Tiffany,

my Aleisha and Blu,

my Zach and Jamie!

You are a good, good, God!

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 7

I am playing catch up.
With one exception,
I have posted on the "special days"
but our schedule has kept me from my computer
the other days.
So, catch up.

As I said in my first day post,
I am doing these in the order they came to mind
with the exception of the special days.
Today is day seven.

I am grateful for my widow's group.
Let me tell you about them.

We are a group of christian women whose husbands have died.
We "meet" on Facebook in a private group
through a wonderful website,
run by author,
Ferree Hardy.

There are three levels of groups.
  1. Lifeboat - Stage one grief. Drowning in grief! New anguish. Confusion. How do I live? WHY should I live? How do I change the oil? Who do I call for repairs? Where are my friends? Are your kids....? Am I going crazy? It's the place where we empathize with one another in the new, never-wanted-this, normal. You can stay in this boat for as long as you like. Some have been widowed just a few days, some many years. Everyone grieves at a different rate, but all grief has some commonality and all grievers need to feel they are not alone!
  2. Going Ashore - Stage two grief. Reality has set in. We have begun to move forward. We have relearned how to breath automatically rather than having to remind ourselves to do so. We have begun to comb our hair. We have begun to want to heal. The new "normal" has become more familiar. The fog has begun to lift. We are no longer drowning, we see the shore, some have touched it, some are walking on it. Again, we are at different time periods and all can stay as long as they want.
  3. Love Boat - Stage three grief. We are thinking about dating, have begun trying to date, are dating, are engaged, or have remarried. This is the group of which I am currently a member. 
Within these groups,
we bare our souls.
We share things,
say things,
that we do not share or say anywhere else.
Because unless you've been there,
you don't understand.
And, in the case of those further along,
even fellow widows who have not yet
reached your stage,
may not understand.
In fact, unless you've been there,
it is very likely you would misunderstand
were we to say some of the things we say.
My widow's groups have been,
and are,
very important to me.
I love my widows!

Most of us have never met.
But we are close friends!
Some of us have been privileged to meet.
I have been very blessed to meet four of my friends!

Today, I am grateful to God
for my "boats" and the ladies in them
and to Ferree Hardy for her obedience to God
in launching a "lifeboat"!

And so encourage one another and help one another, 
just as you are now doing.
                                     ~~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~~

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 14

November is a difficult month in our little love nest.
Judy's birthday,
the day Al was released to hospice care,
Al's birthday,
my mom's birthday,
and now, this year,
we have added the the homegoing
of my Lanny Love's dear mother-in-love.
All within the first two weeks of November.
While we rejoice in the reward 
these precious ones now experience,
we cannot help but feel their loss
in our hearts and lives
especially on special dates.

Today is one of those special days.
My precious mommy would have been 81 today.
She only celebrated 44birthdays
before her homegoing nearly 37 years ago.
I no longer actively miss her every single day.
But there are moments,
periods of time when I do.
Today, and for the last several days,
I have actively missed her.

Today, on her birthday,
I want to give thanks to God for my precious mother!

My mom's life was not easy.
She was a child of divorce
in an era where that was a shameful thing.
She was a child of the depression and all the ramifications that held.
She was extremely shy and insecure.
Her marriage was difficult.
She had cancer.
Her life was not easy.

But she never quit!
She was a woman of great strength and determination!
She taught me about perseverance -
even in impossible circumstances!
She went to school with four children
while working a full-time job
and became a nurse -
and taught me that determination can take you really far!
She taught me that God loves us deeply -
because she showed us his transforming love in her own life!
She taught me that sometimes we are unloveable -
and God loves us anyway,
and she demonstrated that in her love for a sassy teenager!
She taught me that God carries us through those hard times -
because she let us see Him carry her!
She taught me that God loves us as we are,
not as we should be -
because we watched as God transformed her
into an increasingly godly woman over the years!
She taught me about forgiveness -
because she came to forgive,
deeply love,
and fervently pray for,
people who had deeply wounded her.
And my mama taught me that
death does not stop love -
because nearly 37 years after her death,
I still love her deeply!

My beautiful mama was smart and funny and loving!
She had a temper and a mouth
(The mouth! How I understand her struggle -
and she understood mine
and helped me learn,
is still helping me learn,
to bite my tongue,
to think about my words before using them!)
My mama had a wicked sense of humor
and delighted in pulling off practical jokes -
and she did it often and well!
She had great strength of character!
She was a wonderful mother,
and my best friend!

I miss my mommy today.
I am thinking of her hugs,
her love of her children,
her delight in her grandchild,
her excitement at knowing that her second was expected.
I am thinking of her sorrow at knowing
she would not get to finish raising her youngest child.
Her care for us in planning her own funeral.
So I am wearing White Shoulders,
her perfume,
and her pearls given to her by Karen,
and remembering my mama,
and thanking my God
for the great gift He gave me in her!

Happy birthday, Mama!
I love you!

Her children rise up and call her blessed...
~~  Proverbs 21:28 ~~ 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 8

November 8...
A day of joy and celebration once.
A day of memories now.

Today, is my Al's earthly birthday.
Today my heart squeezes in pain
At the loss of him
And in joy at the life of him!

Today, I remember.
I remember the sweet young boy
With whom I fell in love.
I remember his 16th birthday,
The first of our courtship.
I remember his 21st,
The first of our marriage.
I remember his 23rd,
The first of our parenthood.
I remember his 57th,
The last on this earth.

I remember our first kiss,
First I love you -
I remember our last.
So many memories in between.

His godliness.
His brilliance.
His gentleness.
His kindness.
His compassion.
His protectiveness.
His sense of humor.

I remember.
And I am grateful to God
That He gave me such a man!

Happy birthday, Alfie!

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy[a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.[b]

Many waters cannot quench love;

    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
    all the wealth of one’s house for love,
    it[c] would be utterly scorned.

                               ~~Song of Songs 8:6-7~~

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 6

I purely love being a grandmother!
Wholly and completely!
As the saying goes,
"If I'd know how great they were,
I'd have had grandchildren first!"

If you read my day 3 post,
My feelings for my grandchildren
Grew just as suddenly
As my love for my children.
The moment I laid eyes on them,
They were mine and I adored them!

I have often said that
Grandchildren are all the fun
And none of the responsibility
Of children.
I don't have to feed them -
Except candy and ice cream and pizza.
I don't have to clothe them -
Except princess dresses, cowboy hats, and fun t-shirts.
When they are ill,
I only cluck sympathetically.
I don't have to take them to the doctor for a shot.
I don't have to discipline,
Insist that homework comes before play,
Or that a clean room is a necessity.
Unlike a mom,
A grammie gets to be purely fun!

I am blessed with four grandchildren.

My sweet Hayden,
Nearly 19, an adult now,
My first.
How I adored that wee one!
Soccer, band concerts, football games.
Hundreds of spent nights,
Games, bedtime prayers.
Now an adult,
College, responsibilities.
We talk to one another -
Sometimes frankly.
We respect each other.
We like each other.
We have fun together.

My sweet Ashton,
18 next week, also an adult.
A surprise,
He came into the world with challenges,
Spending several weeks in NICU.
How I adored that tiny little baby
With all his tubes.
How I prayed for him!
Track, more football,
Hundreds of spent nights, stories, "Sorry" and "Jenga".
Early graduation, college.
My compassionate protector when Papa no longer could.
We talk.
Pray together.
Repect each other.
Like each other.
Have fun together.

My sweet Kylie.
Another surprise.
The only girl.
Eight years old and full of
Life, curiosity, energy, love for Grammie.
Tea parties, horses, Disney princesses,
"Take my picture" and "make a movie"
By the dozens.
Spent nights, stories, prayers.
Grammie's little princess!
We like each other.

My sweet Xander.
Also a surprise.
Not the youngest at 10,
But the newest,
He grew differently in my heart,
But into my heart he did grow!
He was seven when first we met.
I was his dad's fiancee's dad's friend.
He was the first.
The first to want me to be family,
Asking even before Lanny and I were officially engaged,
If he could call me grandma.
Now, I am Geema.
He is full of energy, curiosity, leadership,
More football.
More spent nights and games and bedtime prayers.
We like each other!

And we all love each other deeply, completely, without reservation!

Yes, I purely love being a grandmother!
On the sixth day of thanks,
I am exceedingly grateful to God
For the great gift of my grandchildren!

are the crowning glory of the aged.
                                 ~~Proverbs 17:6~~

Sunday, November 5, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 5

I am a mother-in-law.
I don't think I am traditional.
Or maybe my sons-in-love are not traditional.

I love them,
And they love me!
But much more out of the ordinary,
I like them,
And they like me!
Sometimes we disagree,
Sometimes we agree,
Take up for each other.
Sometimes we make each other angry.
But we get over it!

They stop by.
They call occasionally.
They are protective of me.
They would, and have,
Bent over backwards,
Inconvenienced themselves,
To assist me.
They are supportive.
They treat me more like a mom
Than a mother-in-law.
And they are,
After all is said and done,
My sons.

Tonight I am thankful for these fine men
Who love my daughters,
Care for them, support them, protect them,
Spoil them, play with them, romance them,
Work hard for them, sacrifice for them,
Respect them, honor them.
I am thankful for these wonderful daddies
Who have moved heaven and earth to ensure
That my grandchildren have a good life.
They love and play and discipline.
They like their children!

God has, once again,
Blessed me richly with children, sons!
My heart is full!
Thank You, Lord!

"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~

Saturday, November 4, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 4

Have you ever fallen
in love?
A love that almost crushes you in its intensity
and sudden onset?
An all consuming,
anything for you,
world rocking,
life changing,
pure love?

I have!

I had known love before,
I have known it since.
But never with the suddenness of those two times.
The very first time I held these two in my arms,
I knew.
Nothing would ever be the same!

My little girls have grown up now.
Sometimes they have made me cry in joy -
and anger and frustration.
Sometimes they have made me laugh -
and scowl.
Sometimes they have made me so proud I could burst -
and so disappointed I wanted to shrivel up and die.
But one thing never changed.
In every moment 
of every minute 
of every hour 
of every day 
of every week 
of every month 
of every year 
of their lives
I have loved them with a passion unique to them. 

For a short period of time recently,
they became the parents.
Carrying me when I could not walk.
Feeding me when I could not eat.
Asking me if I was dressed.
Who my friends were.
Where I was going.
What I was doing.
If I had enough money.

And I needed them.
Just like a baby.

But the joy of being their mom,
and in adulthood,
their friend,
soon overtook the need to be their child.

When God gave me these two miracles,
He granted my fondest wish -
And how good it is to be their mom! 

Playing during my "being their child" days.

Friday, November 3, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 3

The first couple of weeks of November
have a lot of hard days in our home.
Today is one of those days.

Not all of our people
are people we know personally.
One of those people for me
is my Lanny Love's Judy.
Today is her birthday.

I have come to know Judy
through the memories and stories
of those who knew her well.
And she has profoundly affected me!

You see,
who my Lanny Love is,
who my bonus children are,
who our now shared bonus child is,
how I am viewed by our now shared in-laws,
our now shared friends,
our now shared family,
all of that is profoundly affected by who she is.
No, I did not know her,
but I know her now.
And she is a vitally important person in my life.
One to whom God introduced me
long before we ever shared anything but one friend
who asked me to pray for her
and her family when she first became ill.

In some ways,
who I am is because of Judy.
I learned some things about praying from her.
I learned some things about being my Lanny Love's wife from her.
I learned some things about being a bonus-mom from her.
I learned some things about being a daughter and sister-in-law from her.
I learned some things about being a friend from her.
In ways many and varied, she has helped to form the woman I am now.

Not a day goes by that I do not think of her.
In our combined household,
I sit on some of her furniture,
eat and cook with some of her dishes,
see her pictures.
Days like today,
I am deeply touched by the grief and loss
that some of my other people experience.

I have been profoundly blessed by Judy's people!
I have been profoundly blessed by Judy!

On this day that celebrates earthly life,
I grieve for the loss that is evident all around me,
I grieve that I did not know this woman personally,
and I rejoice that she has received her reward ~
the reward she lived her life achieving!

Today, I am grateful to God
for giving my Lanny Love
"...a woman worth more than rubies..."
and my Bonus Children
a good and loving mother.
And I am grateful that Judy crossed my path!

"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~

Thursday, November 2, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 2

Today, I want to thank my God
for my Lanny Love.
It is not surprising that he appeared
first on my list.
He is not simply a part of my life,
he is my life!

Three years ago,
I was completing my second year of widowhood.
I was heartbroken.
Lonely beyond belief.
Three months later,
God spoke.
Once to me.
Once to my Lanny Love.
And our lives changed!

Our courtship began slowly,
in writing and pictures.
And research...
Then a first meeting,
texts and phone calls,
a second meeting.

He was godly.
A good man.
And more than a bit handsome.

Time went on.
The loneliness began to dissipate.
My heart began to heal.
Love began to grow.

I did not think it could happen to me!
I thought for a time I could be satisfied
with simple companionship.
But learned I could not.
Then friendship.
For both of us.

He rescued me!
And I rescued him!
God rescued us both!
With one another!
And our love has grown and bloomed 
into a thing of great beauty and strength!

My Lanny Love is my blessing from God!
My dearest companion!
My best friend!
My true love!
My life!

There will never be enough words
to express my gratitude
to the Great Redeemer
for the restoration He has brought
to this broken woman
through my Lanny Love!

"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 1

I posted this yesterday on my FB page and repost here as "explanation" for the blogs over the next 29 days.

Today begins my annual "30 days of thanks". While I am thankful for so much all the time, I enjoy this focused time of praising God for the many ways He has so richly blessed me! But this year, I am going to do something different.

This year, I am going to focus on the people in my life. We take our precious folks for granted so often and think they know how we love and appreciate them so we don't often say it, but words are important and everyone likes to hear that they are loved and cherished. So, today, I am just going to say how very much I appreciate and love all the many friends and family I have! My life is very full and satisfying - and the people in it are why! You laugh with me, cry with me, make me smile when I am down - or just because, and allow me into your lives to do the same for you! Thank you all for being in my tribe! I love you each and every one!

There are, of course, those folks who are extra special. Starting tomorrow, I will share the wonder of some of my extra special people!

Thanks to all of you as well, my readers, for being part of my "tribe"! You are important to me - even if we've never met!

I have debated how to go about expressing my gratitude for my extra special people. Do I do them in order of importance? I'd have to list them all at once for they are all important! I thought about listing them in order of their longevity in my life. Or how often they are part of my life: daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Or are they presently part of my life or an important figure from the past? Living or dead? Perhaps the "why" of their significance? I finally decided to simply make a list, and with only three exceptions, which will make sense as time goes on, I will simply be talking about them as they appeared on my list.

Come on along as I tell you about my extra special people - and maybe think about the precious people in your lives, even the prickly ones!

"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~