Saturday, May 25

Learning grace

After I found out about my father, I just kinda shook it off. I talked with a couple friends at the time, but I was in high school and I really didn't know how to deal with it or the feelings that the news had created. I remember telling my friend that I didn't know how to feel because even though it seemed like major life-changing news, it didn't change my life at all, so now what?

I went quite a few years telling myself I felt that way, but always secretly wondering so many things. A few months after my parents told me, I asked my mom some questions. What my biological father's name was, what he looked like, what he was like, where was he now, etc. The questions seemed to make my mother uneasy. She told me his first name but never told me his last. She said that he looked like Clint Eastwood when Clint Eastwood was younger and she said that she had a photograph of him and I, but had misplaced it. And then she told me that I had a dad and had no reason to want to know my biological father. After that conversation, I knew that it would hurt her and my dad if I brought up these questions any more, so I dismissed them and moved on.

But it has never left my thoughts for a single day. I just can't help but wonder so many things. I wonder if he's ever tried to find me. Or if he has children, do they know about me? I wonder why he never came back? I wonder if any of my kids look like him. I wonder if he is still living in Australia? Or New Zealand near his mother? Is she still alive? Does he love Jesus? Will I ever see him? It feels like a half of me is not there. Nothing is known about half of me. A mystery.

As I got a little older it started to become more and more real to me. More of something that kinda hurt my heart. I felt guilty for feeling that because there are so many children who don't have parents at all. I pray every day for God to be the one to fill that void. But for quite a few years I was not seeking God and in those years it really hurt that someone, my father, wanted nothing to do with me. It was hard for me to reconcile. It made me feel inferior somehow.

I have learned that people will always let us down. We are a lonely and selfish existence. There is nothing good in any of us and without God's hands around our hearts and His spirit in our lives, we are incapable of loving anyone or making any choices towards righteousness. It has made me look at people differently also. If they have not been filled with God's righteousness, then they are not capable of doing anything "good." Everything will be sinful, selfish and wrong. It is literally impossible apart from God. And so I am learning to forgive. And to pray for the people in my life who have hurt me. But it is very hard. Because I am still battling my flesh, still dying to self to live for Him. But the glimpses I get of His righteousness make me know that it is perfect. This grace that I have received is to be shared.

I forgive my father for leaving. I forgive him for rejecting me. I am so thankful that God has given me this grace and love to share and continue to pray that this work in me will be completed and that I may serve Him in every moment of my days.

Monday, May 20

Rejection and Redemption

My heart is just aching...aching so much. I am crying out for the hurt and pain. Everywhere. Oh Lord, come quickly Lord. We are so broken.

When I was younger, maybe around seven, someone at school asked me what my earliest memory was. What the furthest point in my mind was...what was the very first thing I remember experiencing. I pushed hard and I thought long and a particular memory came to mind. It had played in my mind countless times for reasons unbeknownst to myself. I could remember being little and driving with my mom. I was three, almost four. I remember peering out the window and pulling up to the curb of a single story home. We walked up to the door and knocked. We went inside. I remember looking around and thinking the decor was odd...very masculine. Pictures of hunters and dogs and lots of brown furniture. Then I remember my dad coming to me, crouching down and handing me an old hot wheels van. It was orange with a black hood and a circle window on the back end. I remember the wheels were a little wobbly but it drove well and I loved toy cars.

That is my earliest memory. My first memory. The oldest story in my autobiography.

When I told the other child at school they thought it was a strange first memory. Drab and dull. Why was THAT my first memory? I had no answer. It was a boring story, but I remembered it so vividly. Which side the couch was on when I walked in. How many hallways there were. We only stayed but five minutes in that house and I don't remember every visiting that house again. So I came home from school and told my mom "I have this memory....we went to a house..." And I asked her why? Why do I remember that? What were we doing and whose house were we at? She said we were visiting one of my dad's friends.

I have replayed that memory thousands of times. Always enchanted by it and always stretching to remember a tiny bit more...but always the same exact story plays out. I still have the van. Tucked in my keepsake tote.

When I was in high school, when I was sixteen, my parents took me to lunch one day. Just me. I think they took me out of school early. We ate at Oscar's on the Pond. After we ate they suggested we walk around the pond. We never made it to the pond. We walked on the grass and my mom told me she wanted to tell me something. She asked me to sit down.

"You're pregnant, aren't you?!" I guessed.

They laughed and answered that they were not. Then they proceeded to tell me that my dad was not really my dad. My mom had made a mistake years ago and my biological father had chosen not to be a part of our lives. My mom met my dad when I was three and they were married a year later. He adopted me when I was five.

At first I laughed. I laughed a lot. I'm sure my parents were on earth could I be laughing?! Then I started to ask questions. My parents answered some and were uncomfortable discussing others. My father's name is Bill. They didn't tell me his last name. There was no need they said.

Then when I realized my questions were making my dad feel hurt, I started to think about that van. My first memory...that was the first time I met the man that would become my daddy. Not dull or changing. Altering. The first time that little girl that was me ever received a gift from a dad, her dad.

I am so thankful that God gave me the dad that He did. He isn't perfect, but he was a wonderful dad and he stepped up and chose to be my dad when he really didn't have to. He wanted to.

But the strange feeling inside....the feeling that half of me is still a mystery, that part never goes away. The questions still sneak up, asking why didn't he want me? Why didn't he return when he said he would? Does he think about me? Do I have any other brothers or sisters? Do I look like him? Do my kids look like him? Would we get along? The nagging feeling of rejection is still there...haunting almost. And then there is guilt...because no matter what, I still had a wonderful dad and never have I wished he were someone else. This nagging feeling has nothing to do with him. There is nothing he could have done differently or that he did not do. It is just an odd thing to not know about a whole part of you. To grow up thinking you are an odd looking half Italian and realize that you are really half Australian. To always wonder. Has he changed? Is he a dad? Did he have any medical issues? Does he have asthma? Does he love to read and is he good at spelling?

It is so silly...but it's real nonetheless. And my heart hurts when I hear stories similar to and exponentially more hurtful than mine. Stories of children who don't know their fathers or mothers, whose parents have abandoned them or lived lives too selfish to afford to keep their children. Stories of children who grew up thinking one thing only to learn another. Stories of children alone in the system. I cannot relate to most of these children, but I can relate a tiny bit to the feeling of emptiness and rejection. Just a tiny bit. Because I didn't actively live out being rejected, I don't remember watching my father walk out the door and waiting for him to never return. I don't remember my mother's tears. I only know the feeling that I had when my parents told me the truth at sixteen. And the rippling feelings since then. And those still hurt. i cannot imagine the pain that other children feel. But I can also relate a tiny bit to the joy and gratitude a child can feel when chosen by someone who does not have to choose you. A feeling of redemption. sweet, isn't it?

Thursday, May 16

Jesus loved sinners

So here it is, here's the skinny, just for the sake of writing it down.

We are now in Colorado! Eek! Hubby found a great job here and off we went. Things are going well, as well as expected. I am loving so much of Colorado and burdened by the other part. We found a home in a wonderful area, though it is very old and barely a hop skip and a jump away from other areas where the homeless will find shelter in an unlocked car.
The whole city is really like that. Incredible, lovely and amazing areas and then a couple houses down the street tiny houses with windows and doors barely hanging on. There are so many men and women lining certain streets, obviously in dire need of a clean jacket and a new pair of shoes.
When skies open with rain or snow, you can see them scurry to and huddle under various freeway overpasses. I was at a laundromat the other day and a woman was telling her daughter in law how she had left her car unlocked overnight and came out in the morning to find an old man sleeping inside. Nothing was disturbed or missing, he was simply trying to find a warm, dry place to rest his head. She said he thanked her for the place to sleep when she woke him up.
Later, at the natural food store next door to the laundromat, I found myself rubbing elbows with some of the more upper class of the Springs.
I find it curious, yet extraordinary to watch how closely these economic polar opposites coexist.
It has always been such a distant issue where I have lived. There were wealthy, middle class and sort of struggling and one or two bums at a street corner here and there. It is different here. It is grabbing me.

We have been living in an exquisite resort. A one hundred year old hotel whose history is as rich as the flooring and furniture. There are endless hallways to explore and countless employees eager to share a story or two. We have truly enjoyed living the "suite life." Late nights by the over sized outdoor fireplaces, hot chocolate every night, dining on the patio for breakfast, lunch and dinner, feeding birds, watching deer, swimming, walking around the lake, playing checkers, bowling, video games and going to the movie theatre...all without ever leaving the property. And of course, I don't need to mention room service, housekeeping and valet has been grand, a luxury, an experience that we would never have had on our own. And I am so very thankful for this grand time that I have been able to sit back and just be with my children. We have been busy still, of course, moving to a new state comes with a long list of to-do's. But without the distractions of regular housework and chores in between, I have spent many hours playing board games with my children, reading to them, exploring and just being together. For that, I am filled with gratitude.

However, my heart has also been so torn! Here I am among some of the most elite of society in Colorado, if not some of the most elite in the world. You think I am exaggerating? Oh no friends, Prince Harry was a guest here this past weekend. My husband prepared his dinner one night. I am not telling a tale. And I dare to tread on this topic that involves wealth and upper class society...I hope that my heart's musings are not misconstrued and not used in a hurtful way, but rather just an examination of self. As I have watched so many people come and go, tossing money around so easily, and then spent the next afternoon playing with the poorer children at the laundromat, I just can't help but wonder how it is so unevenly split? Now, I am not at all saying that wealth should or should not be evenly distributed...I am definitely not trying to get into that argument. I believe in hard work and that you sow what you reap.
No...not my point in the slightest.
I am merely explaining some of my own heart's concerns. I couldn't help but think of the times that Jesus reached out to the poor, the sick, the weak. About the times He warned the rich. Jesus loved the lowest members in society. He dined with them. He called them to Him. He washed their feet. Jesus loved sinners. Harlots. Liars. Adulterers. These were the type of people that made up our Biblical heroes. These are the "greats" that God chose to serve Him. And then He commanded us to love. To love our neighbors. Not just the hardworking, bill paying neighbors with their lawns mowed and their children's hair cut, there is no exclusionary statement in His commandment. He simply said Love them.
Of course He knew we never could. He knew that we would never want to or even try to. Nevertheless He plucked us up and put His spirit within us, His spirit to love others.

I am feeling His love when I see these dirty faces with missing teeth. I can see His hands reaching towards them. It would be easy to close my eyes or even just stay in this bubble...this bubble that is only beauty and perfection. To walk beside people who are also in this bubble, to make friends with people in this bubble. That would be easy...and fun, I'm sure. But Jesus has called me to be His hands and's not a comfortable idea, but a narrow road is never very comfortable, now is it?

All of this to say, or not to say, that this place that we are privileged to be a part of for the time is not bad. It is lovely. It truly is. It is one of the most pleasant, beautiful, and relaxing yet fun places I have ever been to. If you ever have the opportunity for an incredible Colorado vacation that will go down in the books forever, this is the place. Truly! ;)

I just couldn't ignore the irony of my situation...spending my days in the laundromat with the bottom of the barrel and then the evenings spent with the creme de la creme. Such an experience.

Monday, May 13


Oh friends...

I am feeling. So much. I don't entirely know what or how to describe it. Just feeling. My heart feels open, hurting yet full and joyful at the same time. I truly don't know what is going on within but I can only guess that God is peeling back layers and continuing the work He has started in me. I wish I could trace this never ending journey back to a beginning. I cannot. There seem to be many beginnings to my story. And then, there's a big problem. It's not my story at all.

That's one thing that's happening. I am learning...really learning. So much. About God, myself, the Bible, my family, how this whole Christian thing is meant to work. Boy oh boy have I had it all wrong. This isn't my story, not even in the slightest. I am but a tiny excerpt in the greatest story ever told. The story written and told by the Almighty about the Magnificent. And I just a little bullet point, whose sole purpose is to exemplify to glory and grace of God. I suck at my job, might I add.

On any given day and time I am running from God, absorbed in self-righteousness, and shaming the grace that has been so abundantly poured out on me. And God knew that I would do that. And then He knew that after He showed me that I was doing that and gave me a spirit of grief for my sinful ways, that I would return and do it all again. He knew all that. And He still chose me. The King of the heavens and the earth, the creator of all things, scooped me out of the filth and pulled me to Himself. Before I even knew I wanted to be loved by the Almighty, He did. And then He put His love within me and spoke to me: Surrender. Everything, all you have and all you are. Because it is not me, friends. I am not good. Not even a tiny bit. Only Him in me is good and how can I but to throw my hands in the air and turn my face to the heavens and cry out in awe and worship...and offer everything?? I am trying. Well, I think I am trying. But we all know how that story goes. Only when I stop trying and just start letting God do it will I actually be giving of myself. Giving grace. And love and goodness from Him. Back to Him.

Oh what a relief it has been to realize that there is nothing I can do to pave the way for my salvation. Not a single thing. Just graciously thank Jesus for it. And live it. Live saved by grace.

That is mostly what I am learning friends. I have been a Christian all my life. Since I was five when I prayed that little prayer. But I never knew what that meant. I never knew that I was a Christian, not because of that prayer. Not because of any of my prayers. But only because I was chosen first. Sweet redemption. I am just learning what it truly means. And it is so sweet.


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