KJ and I talk and think a lot about what kind of parents we hope to be, and what kind of legacy we want to leave to our child(ren).  This week definitely put those thoughts into overdrive.  We lost Papacito this week.  He was my grandmother’s husband of just over 10 years, but I don’t recall a time in my life that I didn’t know him.  He and his wife were best friends with Meme and Daddygene.  They traveled together, had a business together, and did all the things you would expect that lifelong friends would do.  When Daddygene died, Gail and Toopie were family to us and to my grandmother especially.  They helped her so much with all that she needed after suddenly losing her husband.  After Gail’s wife died, Meme was there to help and support him as he had her.  That friendship turned into love, they married, and we officially adopted Gail into our family.  The only blood we shared was that of Jesus, but he was ours and saying goodbye for now has been tough.

Over the course of the week, so many stories were told about Gail and the impact he had on so many people.  He and my Meme live in a tiny East Texas town.  Gail was very involved both in business and civic organizations.  He only retired last year from his post on the board of directors at the bank.  So many people came to my Meme to tell about how they were able to go to college because of some scholarship money Gail gave them (often out of his own pocket without any recognition), people who were grateful for Gail giving them their very first job and countless others who were blessed and changed by the way he chose to live his life.  He valued hard work so very much, and wanted to help people be successful.  I hope that I can be generous with my time, knowledge and resources like he was.  I want Baby Lamb to work hard and give generously just like he did. The very first check that came into the garage sale was from Papacito, and when we bring home our baby it will be possible partly because of his support.

The other impact this week had on me was a renewed and more deep desire to be like the women in my family.  My mom was wonderful, and I could write a whole book about the things about her I want to be.  My mom passed away when I was 18, and the Lord knew before the foundation of the world that I would need some women to mother me long after my mother was gone.  So He gave me my Meme and my Auntie.  Since they have been there since before I was, they have a unique perspective.  You can tell people all about your experiences, but there’s nothing like people who lived those experiences right along with you.  You would be hard pressed to find women who love each other more than we do or any who are more protective of each other.  These two women are wise, hard workers, successful and the kind you really want in your corner.  They single-handedly planned the most fun wedding there ever was-on foreign soil no less. (It also just happened to be my wedding)  They can just as easily make a Tuesday night family dinner feel like an extravaganza even when you’re eating off of a paper plate-a cute one-and drinking out of a plastic glass-personalized with a sharpie of course!  But this week, I watched my grandmother say goodbye to a third spouse.  It hit me in a unique way this time since I have a spouse now.  She was gracious and kind to hundreds of people as they filed in and out of a funeral home, and welcomed many of them into her own home.  She is far too well acquainted with being in the front of a funeral procession.  In the words of the great Dolly Parton, “When it comes to suffering, she’s right up there with Elizabeth Taylor!”  She’s strong because she has to be, and she is the very first to tell you, because she has a very strong God.  Before we walked into the chapel for the funeral, “Because He Lives” was playing softly.  She said right then and there in that terribly hard moment the words of that song would be her focus-Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  The next few days, weeks and months will be the picture of her living that out.  I know this, because I have seen her do just that in the face of unimaginable grief so many times before.  My Auntie was the daughter every mother would dream of.  She was like a duck-scrambling beneath the surface and calm and graceful up front.  She kept all of us informed of what was going on, and how we needed to help.  She organized meals, ordered flowers, gathered clothes, made sure everyone had a bed to sleep in all the while making sure Meme didn’t have to be alone or without her lipgloss.  She honored her Mother just like God told us to, and she did it well.  She will be the one to help and comfort  her in all the hard days and months ahead.  Sure, the rest of us will help in our way, but Auntie will be the coordinator.  Meme is the CEO of our family, and Auntie is the Chief Operating Officer.  Lord, please make me like these women.  I want to be that kind of strong in the face of the worst life can throw at us.  I want to be the kind of person that people just know will get it all taken care of and taken care of well in any situation-especially a hard one.  I want my love for Jesus to be that evident, and I want to be that gracious and hospitable in even the worst of circumstances.  THIS is my legacy, and I pray I will step into it and pass it along to those behind me.

Papacito, you are loved, you are so missed and the impact you have had on us will live for many generations to come.



Ringing In a New Year

I think it’s only natural to arrive at the start of a fresh new year and take inventory.  Where have we been? Where are we going? What is God calling us to in 2015? Did we follow him faithfully in 2014? Are we following Him faithfully today?  I’m not really a “resolution” type of girl.  I learned years ago that the likelihood of me breaking any resolution I make on or before January 5th is almost a surety, and since I don’t want to bring shame on myself so early in a new year it’s best to not “resolve” to do or not do anything.  I do however, think over the past year as well as the one ahead to try and figure out where this crazy roller coaster I call my life is headed.

First of all, 2014.  Ten years from now, will this stand out as a year to remember fondly?  Yes and no.  We started out the year as we did the two before it, asking the Lord to make our family of two (plus two rascal dogs) into three.  There was such a hope that this would be the year our Christmas card would include a little one, and that we would join the ranks of our friends with a sweet introduction of a new family member on the all-important Facebook post.  Of course, there were other hopes for the year, probably not too dissimilar from all of yours: lose weight, get healthy, pay off debt, be more organized…  Well, the Christmas card was mailed with just the two of us (and said rascals).  Skinny-nope, healthy-probably not, out of debt-we’re Americans for the love, organized-I cleaned out my purse yesterday, that count?  I have to be fair to 2014 though, and say that the Lord showed himself to be absolutely huge to us this year.  We had a garage sale to raise adoption funds that was an absolute miracle in every possible sense of the word.  I could (and do) still just bawl about how sweet the body of Christ was to our little family in that time.  It was confirmation to our tender hearts that we were loved, supported, and pursuing something that Jesus was with us on.  I still thank God nearly every day for that experience, the people who were a part of it, and a sweet friend who said, “maybe we could have a little garage sale to get your adoption account started”.  Just a few weeks later, we got to host our sweet Adrine (our sponsored child from Uganda).  The weeks the choir was in the US and the weekend she was in my very own house changed me, and I will forever view the world through different eyes because of that girl.  I pray one day that the Lord allows me to see her and the land she calls home with my own eyes.  I got to walk through pregnancy with one of my very best girlfriends, and press my ear to the door to hear that little boy’s very first cry.  It’s been so great to watch her become a mama, and snuggle that precious boy.  There were many more priceless moments with friends and family that were little pieces of heaven right here on this broken earth.  Yes, my Jesus has been faithful and good just like he promised.  It’s also been a hard year.  Just like anyone else, there was disappointment, hard days at work, hard days at home, heart wrenching illness and loss, and all kinds of situations that made me wish for Jesus to come and rescue us from all of the suffering.  It would be easier to count the days that I didn’t cry over the child we don’t have than the ones I did. (If you ever pass me in the car on the way to work with a Kleenex, just keep on driving-that is my safe place to have all the emotions all by myself)

So, what’s next?  Well, we keep praying.  We try and hold on to what we know to be true, and press hard into what we’re called to now.  Practically-we seek out other agencies who might be able to help us bring home Baby Lamb.  I’m sure I’ll keep reading all the books and blogs I can get my hands on that try and prepare parents who are adopting.  (I’ll try not to let the sheer volume of the material or the warnings about potential problems overwhelm me.) I’m going to try and love my people well, and make sure they never have to wonder how grateful I am for the gift of them.  I really wold like to enjoy all the little moments, and not just rush through them to get to the next thing.  And perhaps I’ll eat a salad or two, but let’s not get too ambitious!  Mostly, I want to sit on the edge of 2016, and know that I love Jesus more than ever before.