Are Ya Sure?

Are Ya Sure?

My bestie lives in Arkansas. We met when we both lived in Maryland in 1991, and we were both pregnant with our second daughters. She only lived in Maryland for three years, but we have remained best friends ever since. Our friendship is easy. Although there have been many tears shed together, our favorite thing to do is laugh.

I’m not sure how long it was after she moved back to Arkansas, but one Saturday afternoon she called to chat and to tell me what had happened to her that day. I was laying on the couch as she told me her story…

She and her husband had gone to the hardware store to pick up something that they needed. While they were in the checkout line, a young girl at the cash register began to make conversation with her; southern folk are nothing if they aren’t friendly. This is how their conversation went:

(You have to picture this in your mind as being said with an adorably thick southern accent.)

Cashier: “Hey” (because people in Arkansas don’t say ‘hi,’ they say ‘hey.’)

Bestie: “Hey”  *smiles warmly*

Cashier: “How are ya’ll doin’ today?”

Bestie: “We’re good, how are you?”

Cashier: Suddenly and excitedly says, “Oh! When is your baby due?”

Bestie: *Stiffens*

Bestie’s husband: *gets deer-in-the-headlights look*

Bestie: Smiles politely and through her teeth says,  “I’m not pregnant.”

Cashier: Looks confused, pauses for a minute and says: “Are ya sure?”

Bestie: *Begins to climb over counter as her husband physically attempts to restrain her*

The cashier said, “Are ya sure?” LOL! She was only a teenager, but still. I thought I would die laughing! Actually, I fell off the couch onto the floor from laughing so hard. My bestie wasn’t laughing, as she was still pretty sore about the whole incident. After a few minutes though, we were both laughing at the whole story, the unbelievable comment, her reaction, her husband’s reaction, all of it. Ever since then, I cannot think about this story without giggling. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to witness the whole thing.

My laughter was at the young girl’s comment. I mean she said, “Are ya sure?” to a grown woman after she told her she wasn’t pregnant. That’s funny, I would never laugh at my bestie.

I’m certain it was the way she was standing, or an unflattering top accentuating what my husband likes to call my ‘woman-ess,’ to make the girl think she had a tiny baby-bump. I’ve had days where I’ve felt bloated to the point of looking pregnant. However, the comment made her feel not-beautiful, and immediately she was hard on herself for not being what our world brainwashes us into believing we should look like. There are many shapes and sizes of women, and all of us wish we could change something about ourselves, especially our weight. Why do we do this? Embrace your ‘woman-ess” ladies. Don’t let the world take away from you what is beautiful, which is all of you; not only your physical body, but the beautiful person, mother, daughter and woman you are. My bestie is one of the most beautiful woman I know on the inside and out, and I want her to know that and believe that with all her heart.

However, never ask a woman that question unless you are 110% sure.

You’re welcome.

 

 

Hashtag Blessed

Hashtag Blessed

I recently read an article that a proclaimed non-Christian posted on her Facebook page titled, The One Thing Christians Should Stop Sayingby Scott Dannemiller. I was intrigued, so I opened it to see what he had to say.  In this article, the Christian author discussed the over-usage of the word ‘blessed,’ in response to feeling thankful or grateful for worldly or monetary possessions.  I emphatically commented, “Yessss!” in agreement after reading it. My husband was a little surprised by my comment, which led to a lengthy discussion on the topic. This once again led to me pondering…..

What does it truly mean to be blessed?

My husband asked, “Don’t you feel blessed when God answers your prayers? What about my job settlement?  Won’t you feel blessed if we win?”

I felt like I should answer ‘yes.’ After all, a win would secure our future financially and we’ve prayed for that. After more discussion, I asked him, “Will you still feel blessed if we lose?” That’s a tougher one to answer.

There are many definitions for the word blessed, but one definition is, “endowed with divine favor or protection.”

Is the person who is struggling with their health or finances less favored than someone who is financially well-to-do and healthy? It can often be misconstrued that a blessing is a favor not bestowed upon all. As if  it is contingient on our faith or goodness. When you are blessed with a child, is the infertile couple not blessed? Of course not, but it may seem that way to them. They may wonder why God hasn’t blessed them with a child when they have prayed so long for one.

In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. Of all he calls blessed, none have anything to do with monetary or worldly things. In fact, most who he calls blessed are struggling.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verse 4 resonates with me; “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” After losing my daughter to a brain tumor, I didn’t exactly feel blessed. If someone asked me how I was doing after her death, my first answer would not have been, “I am blessed.” I was definitley mourning, so why was that not my answer?

I think Jesus is telling us if we lean on him in all circumstances, we are blessed, whether our prayers are answered the way we want them to be or not. Whether we are rich or poor. Whether we are healthy or sick. By trusting fully in him through faith, knowing that no matter what, he sees us. He knows our heart, and he just wants us to trust him, always, and in all circumstances.

In verse 12 Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven.” We are truly blessed because of Jesus and the grace he bestowed upon us. No matter what we face on this earth, our reward is in Heaven, and for that we are truly blessed.

Is it okay to respond and say, “I feel so blessed” or use the hashtag ‘#blessed’ when responding on social media, in regard to having or acquiring something? I think so, but I may replace it with the word ‘thankful’ or ‘grateful’ instead. I never want anyone to think God shows favor when it comes to worldly values or ideals. Our blessing isn’t of this world, he died for all and loves us the same. Our circumstances may be different and we may question the fairness sometimes, but life isn’t fair. That doesn’t mean that you are not blessed, because you are blessed just for being called a child of God.

Caution: Debris on the Road

Caution: Debris on the Road

It had been a busy day. It was late summer/early autumn and the day had been warm, but there was a chill in the air as evening was approaching. I spent the day making 100 gourmet caramel apples as thank you gifts for my job, to distribute to our referring offices. It was more work than I had planned on, but they turned out great. They looked absolutely amazing!

When the kids came home from school, I was reminded that there was an event at school that evening and it was the last night to register my daughter for her Brownie Troop. Of course they were in totally opposite directions. I decided that since I had been working in the kitchen all day that we would run to the library in our neighboring town to register for Brownies, grab dinner at Chick-fil-A and then head to school for the event. I was determined to make it all work.

We successfully registered Charlotte at the library and were heading back to our town on the main two-lane road. It was such a beautiful evening I had the windows down in the car. The breeze felt awesome. As a car passed me coming in the opposite direction, I felt something wet splatter on my face. Funny, the road wasn’t wet so I thought perhaps they had been washing their windshield as they drove by, and I got splashed. I touched my hand to my face as I glanced in my review mirror, and to my horror I saw blood. I was confused until the smell hit me; it was the worst stench I had ever smelled in my life which made me practically vomit. I suddenly realized what happened – the car that passed me in the opposite direction had run over the remnants of a decomposing varmint in the road, (aka roadkill) kicked some of the debris up from their car tire where it landed on my face. MY FACE! I let out a scream that could have wakened the dead from their sleep and then everything went dark…..

Not really. I did scream, but I was driving, so passing out wouldn’t have been cool with my kids in the car. My kids by the way, didn’t know what to think as I was going loco in the driver’s seat. While ranting non-stop, I held my contaminated left hand in the air as I steered with my right, occasionally dry-heaving from the smell and glancing at the horror show on my face in the rear view mirror. How in the world could this have happened? Only me.

As we came into town, the kids noticed I wasn’t in the correct lane to go to Chick-fil-A and started complaining loudly that “I was going the wrong way!”

“Children”, I said, “Are you serious? Can you not see that I have roadkill on my face?” *dry-heave* “I have to go straight home.”

Their reply was, “But Mom, we’re hungry. You promised! What are we going to eat?

I told them it wasn’t my biggest concern at the moment, but then I quickly realized if we went to the restaurant, I could at least go inside and wash the stench off of my hands and face. Win-win.

I hurried into the bathroom and attempted to run the water with one of those stupid touch-less, motion censored faucets which gives you three seconds of water before it automatically shuts off. Whyyyy?? I was impatiently stomping my foot and whimpering like a baby trying to get continuous running water. I overdosed on the soap – again motion sensored- and the timing kept landing the foam on the counter instead of my hand. Grrr!!! As I look into the mirror to wash my face, I discover bits in my hair – my hair!! Then of course, because we are so earth conscience here in southern Pennsylvania, there are no paper towels – only an air dryer in this restroom. I have a wet face that cannot be dried. I shamelessly go into a stall to get toilet paper and I can’t even get a good six squares without it breaking. Tears…

Charlotte was standing there waiting for me and says, “Mommy can I get a milkshake?” I look down at her sweet face and think to myself, “I’m so glad she is not scarred by this event.”

I order their food, rush home and go straight to the shower. I make it as hot as I can stand it. I lather, rinse and repeat seventeen times. I still don’t feel clean.

It really did happen. I was splattered with decomposing varmint matter on my face. Stinky, nasty, putrid, gross roadkill. It haunts me. I can no longer ride with the car windows down. Whenever I see anything dead on the road, the memories of that day come flooding back. Therapy has helped a little.

I caution all of you who love to drive with the wind in your face – it sometimes comes at a cost. Be aware lest this happens to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine, Twizzlers and Deep Thoughts with Abby

Wine, Twizzlers and Deep Thoughts with Abby

Everyone is asleep. I pour a glass of wine, take a sip and exhale. Finally, some time alone to think and write. I head toward the couch, but feel there is something else I need. I open the pantry and scan the shelves. Cereal, crackers, popcorn; nothing looks appealing. Great, someone left the package of Oreos open again. Then I spot them – a bag of Twizzlers! Yes! Just what I need! I grab the bag and head to my spot on the couch. The dental assistant voice in my head tells me I shouldn’t be eating this sticky, sugary treat so late at night, but I dismiss her and decide to take a walk on the wild side.

I hate to be alone. If I come home to an empty house, it just doesn’t feel right. I know I should savor those moments. I often dream about them when I don’t have any time to myself to get things done, but when this rarity happens, I feel completely lost. The quietness feels oddly deafening. I wander around not knowing what I should do, not able to remember that list I longingly made in my head for moments such as these. So, that’s why I love quiet time after everyone is asleep because I’m not actually alone.

Abby, my nine year old Black Lab, patiently waits for me to get settled. She stares at me and waits to make sure I’m not moving before she circles and lays at my feet. She is never far from my side. If  I’m walking she is obediently behind me. If I’m sitting she is at my feet. If I’m sleeping in my bed, she is supposed to be on her mat at the end of the bed, but sneaks to my side of the bed, and lies on the floor beside me. If I’m doing laundry and running up and down my three flights of stairs, we trip over each other and I have to convince her to go lay down while I work. She is my shadow. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about tonight, but looking into my sweet girl’s dark brown eyes, I think of our story.

Abby is in old soul. She’s not like the other two crazy, hyperactive male Labs we’ve had in our lives. I love our boys, but she is the complete opposite of them. She is a sweet and gentle Labrador. They are chaos, she is calm.

The day I got her, I was going to work on some horses for a new client. I was an equine dentist on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I absolutely loved what I did and I never knew what I was going to come across at each new farm I visited. I loved the variety of people I got to meet each day.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the lovely women who owned the quaint farm. She introduced herself and then she led me ever-so-slowly on a stroll around her farm, as her large, spotted pig trotted along behind us. She pointed out her assortment of creatures and showed me her overgrown English flower gardens, describing in detail each botanical specimen. As we rounded the corner of her barn, she had set up a small table adorned with a wrinkled lace table-cloth, a vase of freshly picked flowers and a china tea setting. She had prepared an afternoon tea for us. It was as if I had stepped into a story from my favorite series of books by English veterinarian, James Herriot.

While this may sound charming, my mind was spinning with all the things I needed to do, including floating several of her horse’s teeth. That’s why I was there in the first place. I had told my husband Eddie, whom I had left with our two preschoolers, that I would be back in a couple of hours. I made plans with a babysitter, and we were planning a rare evening out together to celebrate our anniversary. In my head I was doing math with the clock. It was 3:00 now; two hours here with her horses, get home to feed and bathe the kids, put the animals up for the evening, shower and get ready for our date…. oh, and I still needed to stop and get a card for Eddie! Time was slipping away and I couldn’t quiet my mind as this woman chattered on endlessly.

As we sipped on the tea and ate the ‘biscuits,’ she told me every detail about her historic farm-house and how they had lovingly and painstakingly restored it over the years. It was obviously still a work in progress. My foot was bouncing 90 miles an hour under the pretty table as I was thinking, “tick-tock lady!” As she continued to tell me about her grown children and grandchildren, my pulse gradually began to slow its tempo, and I exhaled, emptying my body of the stress I felt when I first arrived. She went on about her career as a teacher, her love for animals, her family history on the Eastern Shore and I found myself leaning into her conversation, and beginning to feel more and more relaxed. This woman was better than a tranquilizer. Her voice, and the warm cup of tea lulled me into a peaceful, blissful state. She seemed to know how to take life slowly, enjoy every experience and savor every moment.

She finally stood up and led me to her horses, one of which she had since she was a young teenager. She was actually there when he was born. The woman had to have been at least 10 or 15 years older than me, which made her horse about 35 years old. She had loved him into old age and he had a wonderful, long life with this woman. It was very heartwarming to see them together. Their bond was evident.

I finished up with the horses and I was telling her that I really needed to get going, when her husband came walking into the barn with 12 black Labrador puppies scampering and bouncing all about his feet. I was beside myself! I mean, there is nothing cuter than a Labrador puppy! As I scooped one up in my arms, the others jumped and pawed at my legs and toppled over one another.

Our own black Lab Drake, was twelve years old and Eddie had retired him after the last year’s duck hunting season. While Drake was more than willing to do the work, it took a toll on the poor boy for days after, afflicting him with stiff, sore and achy muscles. It was time for him to rest easy for the remainder of his days.

Since it was our anniversary, I thought a puppy might just be the perfect gift for my husband. I asked her when the pups would be ready to go and she said in fact, that very day! This was too good to be true! I should have made a few hundred dollars that afternoon, but ended up bartering my work as a partial payment for a puppy. While the   pups jumped on me begging for attention, I was drawn to a quiet female, sitting and waiting patiently for her turn. She was so calm and seemed unaffected by her manic siblings. I picked her up and our eyes engaged. It wasn’t necessary to compare her to her litter mates because she told me she was the one by her quiet, gentle and sweet demeanor.

I put her in the front seat of my truck and she laid her head on my lap as I drove home. Eddie was out in the barn when I arrived, and our kids Ethan and Charlotte ran out to greet me. I put my finger to my lips and motioned for to them be quiet. I took the pup out of the truck and their eyes lit up. They put their hands to their mouths and sucked in air with excitement! I whispered, “She is Daddy’s anniversary present.” They were so giddy! We snuck up to the barn, put her down on the ground, and let her wander into the barn. We waited silently outside the door. The next thing we knew, Eddie walked out holding her with a bewildered look on his face. We all began to laugh when we saw him. He looked right at me and said, “What did you do now?” I said, “Happy Anniversary Honey! She’s for you!” He looked at me skeptically, and  held her up in front of his face so he could see her better. He was totally smitten with her.  I said, “What are you going to name her?” Eddie gave me a sideways glance and said, “I never had a female Lab before, I think I’ll call her Abby.” It seemed too easy, as if he had already planned what he would name his next dog. There was no further discussion, Abby it was! He put her on the ground so the kids could love on her and Drake could check her out. She was home now.

Our babysitter showed up and we had not showered nor were we ready to go on a date. We had another baby to take care of.  So, we ended up driving into town with Abby, getting drive-thru fast food to eat in the truck, and headed to the pet store to get everything we needed for her.

Eddie was excited to begin training with her and while she loved to retrieve, she was skittish around loud noises. She didn’t like guns at all! It was quickly evident that she was no hunting dog. It seemed Abby preferred to be with me and my horses and not in a swamp hunting ducks.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. I showed up in a flurry to do a job that day and was shown what it means to slow down and savor the little moments in life. I learned that an afternoon tea in the middle of tall, overgrown weeds was just what this tired soul needed. I discovered my anniversary date was just as sweet dressed in dirty work clothes, eating fast food in my truck and cuddling a sweet new puppy. I chose the calm puppy and she reminds me daily that her purpose was not to hunt, but to rather be a quiet, loyal companion that will stay  up with me late at night and lay at my feet because she knows I hate to be alone.

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1984

1984

I don’t quite remember how the conversation began, but I ended up telling my co-workers the story of being a ‘Miss Andover’ contestant in my senior year of high school, and hilarity ensued. Even my boss came out of the clinic to see, “what the party was all about!”

Andover High School, 1984.

It had been a tradition in our school to ‘nominate’ a dozen or so girls to compete in a pageant-type event. The qualifications were vague, but I knew you had to be smart. So, when I was nominated, I wondered how that could have happened. Homecoming court, okay, but a Miss Andover contestant?? What in the world was I doing in this competition? I got okay grades, but I didn’t excel, if you know what I mean. I was an ‘honors’ student, but thats because I took the basic classes. I never took a single AP course. What does “AP” even stand for?

So, the next thing I knew, the photography club was going to do a “photo shoot” in the school yard. I curled my permed hair and wore a red “ruffly” shirt and stood awkwardly with my arm against a tree. This was shown on a slide presentation in an assembly in front of the whole school, with our list of  “achievements” being displayed for all to evaluate.  What the heck? If a high school girl didn’t already feel insecure enough, let’s put her in a competition against her friends, and have her peers vote for the most deserving contestant. Yeah, good times.

Fast forward to the night of the pageant.

We were to dress in formal gowns and walk across the stage, turn again and face the audience, which included our parents and friends. Then, we were to walk over to Brian, our classmate and emcee for the evening. At that point, we were to be asked two interview questions. We were all speculating back-stage about what the questions would be? Current events, school participation, personal life; no one knew any details. The questions were sealed tight. It was so nerve-wracking!

I watched as a few smart, confident girls seamlessly sailed through the interview process. Finally, my name was called and I walked across the stage and ended up next to Brian. This is how the conversation went: (sort of)

Brian: “Let me introduce to you, Sally Bledsoe blah, blah… achievements etc…”

Me: *nervously smiles*

Brian: “So Sally, you’ve been really active your senior year in extra curricular activities, but you really didn’t do much before this year. What changed?”

Me: *seriously, this is my question?* “Wha well…. … … um, well, I had other responsibilities in my life that may (or may not have) prevented me from being “active” in extra curricular activities. But I’m thoroughly enjoying my senior year.” *Thanks for asking that oh-so-imortant question about me that made me feel even more inadequate than I already do.*

Brian: “Okay. On to a current event question: What are your thoughts about the US involvement in Granada?”

Me: *Deer in headlight look* “Um, *nervous laugh, fake smile* Blah, bla-bla, blabity blah, world peace…and love, blah, blah…” *clears throat, smiles.*

<Insert >*Awkward, uncomfortable silence from audience, then sporadic, weak applause*

Brian: “Alrighty then. Thank you Sally.”

Me: *dying from total embarrassment, walks back to group.*

Tracy wins; pageant over.

I went home, took off my Little Bo Peep gown, used baby oil to remove my Great Lash waterproof mascara, and buried my head under my designer rainbow comforter completely humiliated.

Weren’t the 80’s great?

Now, at 50+ years old, I can look back at the event and laugh. I’ve been able to grow in all areas of my life, and come to a place where I feel comfortable in my skin – most of the time. However, I can vividly recall my insecurities and fears about the entire event. Why would we ever want to make a contest out of our looks, academic score, and the ability to answer questions comfortably in front of an audience? Did the girl in the audience who didn’t get nominated feel like a lesser person because of it? Did she go home and cry because she wanted to be up there too? Perhaps she had as much, or more to offer than I did. I sure hope schools don’t still have these types of competitions. If you want to sign up for a pageant, that’s fine, however we were nominated for this. Competitive sports, academics and  arts are one thing, because you earn your merit, but don’t dress girls up and parade them across a stage, ask them stupid questions for all to see and be judged.

Oh how I wish I could immediately instill in my three daughters (and my son) instant self-confidence. I wish I could show them that their looks, their grades and what other people think about them isn’t the only thing that’s important in life. I want to encourage them to foster their talents and do what makes them happy without an obligation to please or impress anyone else. To do it only because it is what makes them feel happy and accomplished. I want to teach them to be kind to everyone they meet and before they judge them, get to know them.

There is something to be said for the lessons we learn when we have to struggle and are put in positions where we feel a little bit uncomfortable. If you remove the cacoon for a butterfly, his wings will be too weak to fly. It is through the stuggle that he develops his stength.

Middle school and high school can hold some of the best and worst memories. It’s where we develop our character through all of the good and bad experiences. It’s where we learn how to treat people and build relationships. It’s where we lay in bed and wrestle through all sorts of things in our mind and our heart. It’s where we grow.

I guess the awkward, scary, insecure feelings are a necessary right of passage. To instantly teleport our kids through this step would benefit them absolutely nothing. I want to protect them because I remember how it felt to be anxious and insecure. So, I will encourage them and help build their self-confidence. Hopefully, we can keep the dialogue open and perhaps they will share with me their feelings. Or, they will ignore me, close their bedroom door, turn on some loud music, apply make-up badly and figure things out for themselves, just like I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mother I Wish I Could Hug

The Mother I Wish I Could Hug

I woke up early on this Saturday morning. It’s rainy, and the perfect day to sleep in, but I couldn’t sleep.  It’s chilly in the house, so I made coffee, wrapped up in a blanket and turned on the fireplace. As I sipped on my coffee, I thought about Mother’s Day tomorrow. I thought about my own sweet mother, and my dear mother-in-law. I thought about my children, and my precious granddaughters. I thought a lot about mothers who have lost a child, like I have. Then, I thought about the mothers who have given their children up for adoption. I believe they are some of the most selfless and brave mothers.

I was privileged to read the personal diary of a 19-year-old mother who gave her child up for adoption. It was 1966, and being an unwed mother was about the worst thing that could happen to you. She already felt ashamed, but after telling her mother she was pregnant, she was made to feel even worse. This was an embarrassment to her family.

Her mother took her to the doctor, where it was confirmed she was indeed a few months pregnant. Her mother told the doctor to do ‘whatever he needed to do to get rid of it!’ He said there wasn’t much he could do, but gave her five pills to take, to possibly make her miscarry. She told her mother she would not take the pills, but she was forced to swallow one each morning, as the doctor prescribed. She was horrified! She wondered, “Why are they trying to kill my baby?” She felt helpless.

When the pills failed to terminate the pregnancy, her mother told her to get in touch with the father of the baby. She had been engaged to him, but he cheated on her, and seeing him was the last thing she wanted to do. When she told him she was pregnant, he asked whose baby it was. She was furious! Later, when his own father told him he had to ‘do the right thing’ and marry her, she asked him two questions:

She asked, “Do you believe the baby is yours?” to which he replied, “No, not for sure.” She then asked, “Do you love me?” to which he replied, “No.”

Her answer was, “Then you can go to hell, because I will not bring a baby into a home where there is no love of a father, and where you won’t even admit to being its father!”

Now that she was an unwed mother, her own mother went about figuring out how to hide her. All the decisions were made without her consent. She had no say in the matter. They found a Catholic home for unwed mothers and she was sent there to live, in hiding, for the duration of her pregnancy, where she would ultimately give her baby up for adoption.

No one was to know she was there, and no one could visit her. They even changed her last name so no one could contact her or find her. It was worse than jail. Even prisoners were allowed visitors.

She had to work next door in the hospital’s kitchen forty hours a week to offset the cost of living in the home. She only received $10 a week to keep. Often, she was sent to work in the hospital nursery, when they were short-handed, which was a cruel irony for someone who was being forced to give her baby up for adoption.

Thankfully, she could relax in this home, and be around other women in the same predicament. The priest that was there, Father Joe, was kind to her and never made her feel guilty or ashamed. He showed them unconditional love and support. It was just what these young women needed during such a difficult time.

One of the things she spoke about in her diary, was the horrible nightmares that all of these women shared. They would dream about their beautiful, unborn children and their future. These dreams always turned into nightmares when something awful would happen to their child. The tragic ending was always the same. They would think, “If only I didn’t give this child away, I could have protected them!”

When the babies were born, they were whisked away while the mothers were still under anesthesia. They would never even see their child. The unbearable pain and guilt never, ever went away. All of the not knowing where they were, or what happened to them, was torture…

This mother was different. She refused any anesthesia or pain medication for fear they would do the same to her. She went through terrible agony just so she could see him. When her son was born, they tried to take him away, but she insisted she be allowed to hold her son! They refused to let her, but she was tenacious! She insisted that she be allowed to hold him and feed him while she was in the hospital. She even named him. His first name began with the same initial as the biological father.  His middle name was Joseph, after Father Joe, who was so kind to her.

She planned to have him baptized by Father Joe on the last day she was in the hospital. While she was showering, they came and took her son. She wrote in her diary of the excruciating pain and emotion of having her son ripped away from her without even kissing him goodbye. Father Joe was there, and let her go crazy. She even left scratches and blood on him and he told her that she broke a chair, a vase and a picture of the Virgin Mary, screaming at her that “she knew how it felt to have her son taken away from her.” She didn’t recollect any of it. She was exhausted and defeated. She had never felt so helpless and horrible.

Then she was sent home to forget.

After she got home, she was deeply depressed. Her friend asked her to come over to her (and her parents) house for dinner. It was the last thing she wanted to do. Somehow her friend convinced her, and that night was the beginning to answered prayers. After a long conversation about all that had happened, her friend’s parents decided they would adopt her little boy. He was to never know that she was his biological mother, but she was able to see him and visit him.

If she couldn’t raise her son herself, this was certainly the next best thing! It was sweet relief to her soul, and she was grateful.

I am thankful for that family who stepped up and adopted that little boy, when two out of three of their daughters were already grown. They gave him a good life and allowed his biological mother to be a part of it, even if he didn’t know it was her.

The family that adopted him? They are my mother and father-in-law. And that little baby boy? Well, he’s my husband.

Unfortunately, Eddie’s biological mother passed away before I was able to meet her. I wish she could have seen Eddie as a father, and known her grandchildren. She would be so proud of him.

But today, the day before Mother’s Day, I am thankful for her. She was so brave. I wish I had known her, and I wish I could hug her.

I honor you this Mother’s Day, Kathy, and I am grateful that you chose life.

 

The Spice of Life

The Spice of Life

Recently, I was asked if I would like to help with a group of teen girls in our church. Apparently, they have a younger group leader, but needed a second leader that was – as she put it – “someone more seasoned.”

That made me chuckle. You season a pot roast, not a woman.

I remember thinking, my mother used to refer to menopausal women going through the ‘change of life’ as women in their season. That conjured up images of hot flashes, Geritol commercials and gray hair….

What does it mean exactly, to be seasoned? My immediate thought was old. I don’t feel that old, but teenage girls probably think I’m old. When I was a teenager, I thought 30 was old. So in their eyes, I’m probably ancient!

One definition I found on the internet about a seasoned person:

“They have lots of experience, and they can handle just about anything that comes their way. To become seasoned takes a long time, because it means you are an old pro — someone who has dedicated years to a specific skill or activity.”

Experience, expertise, old pro, they’ve dedicated years to something…..

What have I dedicated years to? I’ve dedicated years to living as a woman, and all that entails, in this crazy world. Growing up, marriage, motherhood, career and just trying to figure out life in general. Fifty years to be exact. I guess that qualifies me as seasoned. Hmmmm…. still not sure how I’m feeling.

The way I see it, a seasoned person is just a person who has “been there, done that.” I’ve already walked on the road you are traveling on, therefore,  perhaps I may have some words of wisdom to offer. Guidance from someone who has already experienced more of life. Someone who has made mistakes and can empathize, or guide your path away from those mistakes, because of my experience. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

In my 50 years, I have experienced a variety of things. The good, the bad and the ugly. I like to think I’ve had a really good life. However, I have experienced plenty of bad things too – life isn’t always easy. Here’s the thing, when you take all of your life experiences and blend them together, it’s the way you’ve handled them and what you’ve learned from them, that make you into the person you are. Is who you are something you can offer to others? It can be a blessing to them if you can encourage them through the wisdom you have gained. I have learned a lot from older and wiser  women in my life and I am grateful for them.

Each experience is kind of like a different spice; some are savory, some may be bitter and some are sweet. But when you mix those flavors together – voila! – the perfect combination of seasoning! One spice alone makes a bland dish, but many flavors together create a masterpiece!

BAM!

Well, there you go. I guess you could call me a ‘seasoned’ woman. Just don’t put a fork in me yet, as I am far from done. I may need another pinch of salt from time to time….

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“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” 

~Psalm 34:8

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

~Mathew 5:13