Eternally Grateful

I did it again.  I quit.  Didn’t follow through on my attitude of gratitude series.  I’ve thought about it every day and have indeed given thanks.  But, posting it here started to feel rote.  Trite.  Strained.  Not authentic (What is the opposite of authentic?  Oh yeah…fake).  I felt pressure to come up with something really profound (albeit the pressure was self-inflicted).  The truth is that there are days when I don’t really feel very grateful for anything in particular.  And, yet, I am grateful for all that I have — and I don’t ever want that to come across as fake.  I’m grateful for the people in my life.  The roof over my head.  Our jobs.  The big and seemingly small ways that God provides for our family (although, they are never really small are they?).  The list goes on and on. 

Three years ago — not to the exact date, but it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — I got a call that changed everything.  Literally, in an instant, my whole world changed.  Forever.  It was the day that Madelyne came into our lives.  Born to drug addicted parents, she needed a home.  We didn’t know if it would be for a little while or forever.  Turns out, it was for a little while, but she changed us forever.  I don’t know if I can adequately put it into words.  The six months that she was with us were hard.  Anyone who’s had a baby knows that it’s hard, even under the most ideal circumstances.  Sleep deprivation makes you loopy.  Add to it the emotional roller coaster of dealing with social services and homestudies and bi-weekly visitations and it was a very stressful time in our lives.  But, it was also a very sweet time in our lives.  We were able to love this little girl — and our friends and family loved her as well.  And, at that time, it’s really all she needed.  She needed to feel loved and comforted and safe.  Deep in my heart, I know that it shaped who she is and will become.  I am eternally grateful for that, despite the crushing heartbreak I sometimes still feel that she is no longer with us.

It was easy to love Madelyne.  But, I was challenged – stretched – to love people that I didn’t want to love.  To feel compassion for people that I didn’t want to feel compassion for.  To be gracious, when I did not want to be gracious.  To forgive when I did not want to forgive.  And, in the midst of it all, to be a good example to my son, who was watching and learning. 

Today, my emotions are mixed.  I miss her.  I miss her a lot.  But, I am eternally grateful that I got to be her mom — even if only for a little while.

 
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The difference a year makes

One year ago today, we set out on one of the biggest adventures of our lives.  We are no strangers to change.  We have always gone where the wind blew us and in the 18 years we’ve been married, the longest time we’d ever stayed at one address was 5 years.  But, this was a huge change.  We’d been in the Olympia area for almost 9 years – it was the only home that Jake had ever known.  Lloyd had been with the Department of Transportation for that long as well.  We had family nearby, friends that were like family, a fantastic neighborhood and a church that we loved.  We had traditions.  In short, we had a great life and it would have been easy to stay in Olympia forever.  But, when the job opportunity presented itself, Lloyd and I knew that it was something we couldn’t pass up. 

When we were first married Lloyd was a newspaper reporter.  He worked at a group of weekly newspapers in Kitsap County.  He’s a good writer and was a fantastic reporter.  He had what it took to go far and I always pictured him working for a paper like the Washington Post or the New York Times.  We’d been married about 2 years when he was offered job at the daily newspaper in Twin Falls, Idaho.  A daily newspaper.  It was the mother lode for a young reporter.  I loved Twin Falls and thought that it was a no brainer to move there.  We flew out for the interview and got the grand tour.  Then, when we returned…I don’t know what happened, but I got cold feet.  I told him I didn’t want to go and the short version of the story is that we didn’t go.  We ended up selling everything we owned and moving to Phoenix where life certainly took a very different path than it would have if we’d moved to Twin Falls.  Deep in my heart, I knew that Lloyd always regretted not taking that job.  And, I regretted it too because I knew that if I hadn’t said anything, we would have gone.  So, when this job came up — I knew that this was another moment like that.  A once in a lifetime chance.  Our realtor came over and gave us the grim news that there was no way we could sell our house without it costing us tens of thousands of dollars.  But, we decided that we weren’t going to let that be the reason we didn’t go.  We would rent the house.

People would ask me how I knew that we were doing the right thing and the only thing I could say was that there was literally no opposition.  Every time we began to hit a speed bump, solutions just fell into our lap.  Doors flew open right and left.  Everything just fell into place.  And, on July 24, 2010, we set out on our cross country trip — with no idea what to expect. 

One year later — there are certainly things that I miss.  Our friends and family top the list, of course. We miss our neighborhood and our house. I miss the beauty of the Pacific Northwest — the mountains and the water.  I miss the traditions that we had — the comfort of just knowing the area. We’ve lived in the Northwest longer than we’ve ever lived anywhere and it’s home.  But, we are slowly beginning to feel at home here. 

We have family here — Lloyd’s cousin, who he had not seen in 25 years, lives just 15 minutes away.  We have loved building a relationship with her and her husband.  Lloyd loves his job.  Jake has had amazing opportunities — he’s thriving in school and has a wonderful piano teacher. We’ve found a church that we love and are building relationships with people that I know will always be part of our lives.  We’ve been able to do things that I never thought we would do.  We have a wonderful tenant — who happens to be a dear friend of ours — so we hardly worry about our house.  We are probably less stressed than we have been in years.  And life is good.

It’s amazing the difference a year makes.