Jaimie/Jamie–Lost and Found

This year has been full of surprises and reminders. Many so sweet and wonderful. Others are reminders of very painful periods in my life.

It is interesting to confront pain that is so very old. Pain that still has the power to hurt and ache. Not that physical pain, but the soulful pain of real loss and sorrow.

I don’t know how you deal with your heartbreaks and heartaches. Depending on the source of the pain, you may squash it down, or roll around in it or allow it to overwhelm you to the point of breaking you.

I have struggled with so many types of sorrow through the years. Probably one of the longest running painful things was seeing my daughter going through her own pain and grief as the consequence of misplaced hope and trust. Defiance that led her to a very dark period in her life, that defiance could do nothing less than envelope my husband and me, as well.

Lessons learned are like the new growth in the Spring…dead seeds sprouting and bringing forth new life. THAT is the period we live in with our daughter these days, and it is such a wonderful place to be living right now.

I don’t borrow tomorrow’s sorrows or joys, but I truly try to live THIS day savoring the joys that God grants each day. But even as long-running as the struggles with our daughter, there is a sorrow that life could not remedy for me.

As a young wife and mother, barely into my twenties, I saw my hopes and dreams dashed to pieces. Much like Humpty Dumpty, there was no one who could put my broken pieces back together. I suffered a massively destructive ectopic tubal pregnancy. With that loss, we didn’t just lose a little life, but all those hopes and dreams that parents have for their children. Gone was that little baby. Gone were all the birthdays and first teeth and first steps and first days of school…

And gone was my ability to bear any more children. So many people, well-meaning but ignorant, said things that honestly just didn’t help. That I had a child already did not erase my pain at losing another child. It also didn’t fill the void of a large family I had dreamed of having. It didn’t fill that empty place in the pit of my heart or replace the yearning for another baby. No one, no matter who they were, could guarantee that a miracle child would just come if I relaxed. And those comments came from well-meaning people. Others were just heartless.

When I think about the pain of those months and early years, it still cuts me in a place nothing else has ever touched. Thirty years later, that pain lingers.

There have been occasions when I have allowed myself to ask the what ifs. To wonder what my life would have been like if our little baby had lived. If I could have borne more children, how many would I have had? What would they have been like? Who would they take after? What if…

We named that little one Jaimie. Not knowing if that baby was a boy or a girl, we chose a name that carried the desire we had had…in French, Je t’aime means I love you. We wanted to have a name that conveyed our love for that child. It was the best name we could think of that worked. Jaimie.

Later, we adopted two children. Such blessings to all of us. We struggled through difficult adoptions and then the naturalization procedure. So much red tape, but so worth it. But our family size was limited to what we could afford in paper work, so our family was then complete. Dad, mom, two daughters and a son.

You wonder why I am bringing this up now, at Thanksgiving?

Well, let me tell you about the miracle we have found this year. It will have to be the Cliff Notes version because the story is almost 50 years old.

I had an uncle named Jimmy. He died when I was twelve. So almost 42 years ago, my mother’s younger brother died and that closed a chapter of her life story. Uncle Jimmy was a bit of a rascal…some would say that he was more than just a bit of one. My mom tells a lot of stories about their years growing up. And she has scars that accompany a lot of those stories.

My mom says that her brothers and sisters used to make fun of her for being the only white sheep in the family. That should give you a bit of understanding about the life she knew growing up. As my mother got older and the internet became readily available, she started looking for information. There were some large gaps in her genealogy and she had an incredible inner need to answer the questions about her ancestors so that she could know who she really was…in many ways like our daughter wishing she knew about her birth family because she just wants to know more about who she is and where she came from.

My mother researched cemeteries, public libraries, churches and any place that she could to find more records. She published her findings on Ancestry.com and went to family reunions with other branches of the family she had never met. Over the course of many years, she got a lot of answers to those questions that had been her own struggle for such a long time.

When she developed breast cancer, the research sort of stopped. Her chemo treatments were terrible, but she went through it with grace and strength. I am still amazed at the way she battled back. The after effects have been lingering. Maybe if she had been younger, her body would have rallied back. But she remained very weak. Of course, aging coupled with the chemo effects have taken their toll.

But she eventually began plugging away more slowly at her research. And then, her younger sister, Delilah, died suddenly. It was a terrible loss that I can’t even begin to describe. But out of that loss has come an incredible surprise.

Remember Uncle Jimmy? Well, while he was stationed overseas in England, he apparently had a son. And this son had been looking for his father’s family for years. He had hired private investigators and done all he could to track down his U.S. family. But with a last name like Johnson…well, there are a lot of Johnsons out there.

But this cousin, who I didn’t know existed, was researching while my mother was researching. And he stumbled across Aunt Dee’s obituary. And guess what that obituary contained? ALL THE NAMES OF THE FAMILY MEMBERS, along with their spouses’ names! AND the cities where they all lived.

In this year, I have “met” (not face to face yet) my cousin–JAMIE. It has been such a blessing to get to know him. To talk with him and hear him tell his stories, in that wonderful English accent. To find this out, so many years later, words fail me. Jamie is five years younger than I am. He doesn’t know about my little Jaimie. (Well, he will now…).

I cannot tell you how much joy finding him has meant to the whole family. My mother is just overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. It is a blessing that goes beyond the superficial. It hits you down deep, in that tenderest place that holds your most painful and most wonderful thoughts.

That his name is Jamie. Well, all I can say is that I love him and am grateful that God has given me an answer that I wasn’t even looking for. It is very much like having something that was lost returned to you. He is not my Jaimie. But he is Jamie–so loved and such an answer to prayer, on both sides of the Atlantic. And the astonishing thing is that he and one of my daughters resemble each other very much. I just cannot adequately put this all into a short blog post. Trust me. There has to be a book out of this somewhere.

But for now, can I just share from my very thankful heart, my prayer for you all to have a very happy Thanksgiving. Treasure the blessings and recognize them for what they are. Blessings so undeserved, yet so treasured.

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Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?

 

Say Goodbye to Chippy

Chippy

It’s a sad day at Nana’s house today. Chippy the Chipmunk had a face to face encounter with Día and Joe Bear underneath the bird feeder. Joe Bear was trapped up on the deck and just about ready to lunge down about 15 feet to join his canine friend in her excitement when I stepped outside and opened the gate.

By the time Joe had barreled down the stairs, the little chipmunk was cornered under the downspout. Chippy never had a chance. Día and Joe Bear had him boxed in completely.

While Día was the ultimate in the hunting category this time, she happily delivered up her prize to the much larger and demanding Joe Bear. You would think HE caught the poor little guy, Chippy wasn’t even as big as that hulking bear-dog’s paw.

Joe pranced around the yard as if he was showing his adoring fans what he had accomplished. And then he plopped down to toy with his fatally flawed friend.

Ummm, no, I don’t think so. I started to back Joe into a submissive stance. He reluctantly dropped his prey. But I could tell he was just waiting me out. Ha! As if!

My daughter, who has a mixed hate-love relationship with animals anyway, cannot stand the animal-side of our dogs. You know, they smell like dogs. Act like dogs. Annoy like dogs.

And they protect us from varmints like…Chippy and little birds…And the coyotes, raccoons, foxes and all the other assorted critters that like to wander in for a sneak of food…They are, after all, animals and have animal natures and instincts.

My daughter brought me a container to dispose of the remains, but oh that Joe was not going to let his fun go without a struggle. Oh no. Not for a minute. I bribed him with dog jerky…not much help. Finally I had to lock him up in the house, with the door fully latched. (He knows how to open it.)

Little Chippy sailed away over the creek bank. And Joe knows it. He tried his hardest to leap the fence. But when you are huge like he is, and old, you have about as much chance of leaping over the fence as I do. After all, Joe and I are about the same age…

But, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that dog will find a way to jump the fence tonight and sniff out Chippy’s final resting place. He is one relentless and stubborn dog. He reminds me of someone…

Rocky Places

I was thinking about rocks. I collect them. There is something special about being able to have a chunk of creation that has withstood so much. Weather, earthquakes, floods, erosion.

My rocks vary in size and color, but honestly I can tell almost immediately WHERE the rocks were when I found them. I have these odd, old, little glass bowls and dishes that I buy at “antique” stores somewhere near the spot where I collected the rocks and then I display them. Somehow the combination of FINDING the rocks and BUYING the dishes help me keep things sorted out. (At least, that is what I tell myself.)

I must confess that on our last trip to visit my husband’s family in Alaska I returned with an ENTIRE SUITCASE FULL OF ROCKS. It weighed a lot. BUT I have treasures from Nome, Anchorage and outlying areas including some glaciers that we visited, so…I know, don’t judge me too harshly.

But of all the places we have been, I confess that the Grand Canyon amazed me. I did not return with a single rock. What I did return with was over 1500 photographs of rocks.

I had never been to visit that amazing wonder of the world until about 5 years ago. Somehow, my travels never really allowed me to get to that part of the United States.

The beauty of the formations is the result of damage. Wind. Rain. Floods. Glaciers. Fires. The canyons are not perfect. In fact, most areas are severely restricted so that we humans can’t mess them up any further than the elements and time have done.

During our visit, we came across scientists working with photographers who were chronicling the ongoing effects of our atmosphere on the formations. Somehow, they can translate the erosion into a scientific calculation to show how quickly or how slowly the decay is occurring. That was interesting. And mildly annoying because the photographers had the best views. But I digress…

In most areas, there were fences or signs indicated how far we could or could not go. Ostensibly for our safety, but also to preserve the grounds. Had we climbed beyond the safety point, I am certain we would have fallen because the ground was not sure. It was a rocky place, but have you ever tried to walk on rocks? They roll and shift and…and people like me fall down. I can feel the pain.

And yet, throughout the scriptures, we read of God being likened to a “rock.” Rocks symbolize strength. They can be a great source of safety if you fall over the edge…

don’t worry–he is a very good actor…

They provide shelter, as the caves did for David as he fled from Saul. But like so many other analogies, they pale in comparison to the absolute strength and refuge that we have in God. He alone cannot be harmed by weather or time or man. Jesus passed through the fire of bearing our sin and going into death, only to become the ultimate victor of sin and death and hell. (I Corinthians 15)

When it all comes down to the ultimate safety…I trust in that Rock that is higher than I am, stronger and more sure than all the rocky places we seem to trust. Who do you trust?

Psalm 61:1-3

61 Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.

balance

battleship

he hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

Psalm 19:13-14

13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

sunrise

shadows creeping down as the sun rises

seeing the light of day

Psalm 18:1-3

18 “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.

He’s the Lily of the Valley

Psalm 62

62 My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

A mighty fortress is our God

Jesus, Draw Me

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer

I came across a beautifully poignant song while searching for something to comfort my soul. There are those moments in life that defy the comfort of simple thoughts and words, but when coupled with the right melody and instrumentation can speak a far clearer message than mere words unaccompanied.

If you are experiencing grief, or sorrow, or heartache, I pray that these words and their accompaniment will be especially touching to your soul.

Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer

May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labor thro’ the storm
You have called me to this passage
And I’ll follow tho’ I’m worn

Jesus guide me thro’ the tempest
Keep my spirit staid and sure
When the midnight meets the morning
Let me love You even more

May this journey be a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go
And at the end of this long passage
Let me leave them at Your throne

Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer to You
To You

2002 Modern M. Music (Admin. by Music Services)
Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Writer(s): Keith Getty , Margaret Becker

Scripture Reference(s): Psalm 23

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOVGChMsPsg

Lies, Lies, It’s All Lies

Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever lied about someone else? How did you feel? Did you feel all warm and cozy inside? Or did you feel that unpleasant burning way down deep inside, where regret and guilt and shame started to grow?

I have a hard time with lying. I hate it. It isn’t that I haven’t been guilty of lying, but honestly, I am really bad at it. I can’t hide it from my face. I wasn’t blessed (or maybe cursed?) with a poker face. My husband has reminded me through the years that he just loves my eyes–they are transparent windows into whatever is in my heart–good or bad.

As I have gotten older, seeing the evidence of lies just breaks my heart. I have seen lives devastated by the dishonesty of others. So many people hurt by mean-spirited slanderers. People who “should know better.” People who try to cloak their wickedness in spiritual terms to somehow get away with it.

I am on the alert each day as little children observe my behavior, and hear my speech. I am to be a faithful example of truth and love in action. As little kids, we would say, “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” You know, in that annoying, sing-songy voice.

Ummm, that isn’t true. I don’t care what we said back then. Words hurt. And they usually hurt more than broken bones. And a cast won’t heal it either.

Lest you think I am pointing the finger and forgetting about my own tongue-problems, I have had the tendency through the years to say the right thing in the wrong way at the right time for the wrong reasons to the right people on the wrong day. (It really was a big problem when I was younger and a lot less savvy than I am now.) My dad once told me to pull my tongue out three feet and cut it off. And that was when I tried to come to his DEFENSE! My own DAD!?!

I used to find it interesting that God chose to list liars in the same sentence as murderers. Wow. In my mind, lies were like misdemeanors and murder was like a felony. But God is the standard here, fortunately, and not me. He has His reasons for listing gossip and liars and those who practice witchcraft in the same breath. He can’t stand ANY of it. None. Nada. Zilch. And God is pretty exclusive about who He will allow in His holy tent, too.

Psalm 15

A PSALM OF DAVID.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

For me, it is particularly sorrowful when someone who claims Christ as Savior and Lord is characterized by their lying and slanderous tongue. How many people will be harmed? How many testimonies destroyed? How many will reject salvation because they don’t want to “be like that so and so?”

Is it any wonder that Christians are mocked and ridiculed as hypocrites? They tolerate this evil in their midst, inside local churches, yet have the nerve to point out evil in the marketplace.

Matthew 7:2-4

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

We are a sorry bunch of saved sinners, aren’t we? When we participate in this type of behavior, we are trampling on the blood of our Savior. Sinning openly and without remorse. Do we forget that we are ALL purchased by that same sacrificial blood? Have we failed to realize that our Savior bore our LOAD of sin and shame in His own body at Calvary?

WE ARE GOING TO BE IN HEAVEN TOGETHER FOR ETERNITY…why are we living in such a contrary way to that abundant life that is offered to us, here and now? We have our time on earth to prepare for that eternity.

So, what next? I am getting out the bottle of soap…