A Poem for Eisley and Noelan and Ava

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Sweet Grandchildren lost to me

for a season, but not forever

My arms are full, yet empty

because you are missing

Last night I saw you

in the eyes of another

running with play, squealing with delight

cooing, crying, alive with being

Know you are missed

Know you are remembered

No-one could ever replace you my darlings,

my little ones who still live in Grammie’s heart.

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Happiest of New Year’s to You!

Hope, Joy, Peace, Love – These are the four Sundays of ADVENT that we just celebrated.

Over the years our family has lit the candles and tried different devotionals. The past five years we have been at a church that lights the candles each Sunday and the sermon will often focus on that week’s word.

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Wikipedia says- “Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. “Since the time of Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153) Christians have spoken of the three comings of Christ: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time.” The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.”

So even though the word means “coming” it involves “expectant waiting”. I now realize this expectant waiting seems to be part of everyday life, not just the for weeks before Christmas.

This hoping for good times to arrive, for the storms of life to settle. Yet it often seems that just when one storm is settling that another is brewing on the horizon. Such is life.

2016 was a good year for me. Looking in from the outside one might not think so as 2016 has brought my share of storms and I’ve had to learn to wait as never before. I’ve been brought to a place of letting go, of surrendering and riding out the storms and that’s what’s been good.

I see a subtle change in me, one that involves more Hope, more Joy, more Peace, and more Love. I have better perspective and more emotional well being. I realize this life is much like the weather, as much as we try to predict it, as each day dawns we really don’t know what it holds.

So for 2017 I’d like to embrace what each day holds and live in the advent way where I have Jesus ruling my heart daily and I am being “alert for his Second Coming.” I want to be anticipating his return for us with hope and joy, peace and love.

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I think this will give me a needed perspective when my prediction of life is “clear and sunny skies” and the day proves to be “drizzling with drama”.

Hopeful that 2017 brings you personal growth, that you might find Joy in the simple things, that you would worry less and have more Peace and Love others the way you desire to be loved. Happy New Year. ❤️

Quiet and The Cross

It’s interesting what I discover in life’s journey when I am afforded longer periods of quiet.

This trip to Romania gave me that. Quiet.

Quiet simplicity was found in the ministry of the mundane.

Yes there was noisy bustling traffic and wild dogs barking at night and grandchildren who giggled with glee, but I wasn’t responsible for any of that.

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The lack of responsibility resulted in my brain relaxing in a rare way. My thoughts were simpler and there was no phone or bustling schedule to remind me of the responsibilities of this life.

So as I went through my day, often with longer periods of quiet, pondering life and talking with God, I saw clearly for the first time my contribution in hurting someone.

I’m so thankful it was quiet enough for me to actually hear this truth. My friend Mary said if we step on someone’s toe by accident or on purpose, their toe still hurts and we need to acknowledge that.

I pondered Matthew 18:23-35 where Jesus tells the story of the forgiven yet unforgiving servant. The king forgives the servant of such a huge amount and then the servant goes out and starts choking someone who owes him a tiny amount. Much like we do. Much like I’ve done.

We’ve been forgiven of so much, yet hold such high standards for everyone. I discovered by focusing on the forgiveness I received that those offences by others seem trivial in the shadow of the cross.

So I was able to write a letter of apology and in my heart I was truly hoping the best for them. I was able to fully forgive their offenses against me when I finally acknowledged my part in it.

Then the resentment left and there came a lightness and peace I can’t even describe.

When I compare myself to others I can look pretty good, but looking at the cross is a different story. I purposed  to start focusing on my forgiveness and the cross. I started listening to music that focused on the cross. I really took a look at my identity in the cross of Jesus and I’m excited about what I’ve discovered.

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When I focus on the cross I am reminded of His sacrificial love for me. I am reminded of my humanness and I can humbly embrace it, instead of hating myself for my human weaknesses.

The cross forces me to realize there is nothing I could ever do to repay him and Jesus doesn’t want me to try to. I decided I wanted to bring back from Romania a sterling silver cross that would remind me of this quiet revelation in the glorious Romanian autumn.

I can now understand why one might find a monastery appealing. I’m pondering the idea of taking one day a month to just be alone with God, to be quiet and listen for several hours uninterrupted, to fast and pray and seek Him. Because in that quiet I hear God more clearly. I read the Bible and the Holy Spirit illuminates my mind and opens my heart to truth.

I don’t want to wait until I return to Romania for that quiet time without responsibility. If I am able to set my phone aside and have quality time with a friend….I certainly am able to do the same for the one who shed His blood for me.

#MinistryoftheMundane

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I would not want to be anywhere other than where I am right now. Not even on a cruiseship with my beloved, not on a plane to Paris, not anywhere else. I’m in Eastern Europe and in the past four years this is my sixth visit!

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I am not a big time traveler, but you wouldn’t know it considering my history here. I’ve come to Eastern Europe three times with Danny, once with Cacey and kids and twice now by myself. Note “Eastern Europe” because there is a big difference between that and going to “Europe”….which by the way… I’ve never seen normal Europe, but everyone tells me there is a big difference.

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I was that child who was happy as a clam playing dolls in my tidy bedroom, my first little nest. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have never left my present nest located on American soil had Marie not left. My love for her and her family pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I remember the lyrics of the song “Oceans” that originally confirmed to me I was to courageously go.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

With such a strong conviction that God was calling me to go I had so many ideas of WHY I was to go…To share the good news of Jesus? To work in the baby hospital? To share with the teen girls on Friday night? So trip after trip I came and I did many things, but I always left thinking my being here feels really small. Physically I couldn’t do what I had imagined, like daily going to the baby hospital. However, clarity came before I left on this trip. I’ve been called to the ministry of the mundane.

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This is a good thing….yes it is ordinary and unexciting, but I excel in the ordinary things of this world. I am slow and meticulous, that’s how I was designed by my designer. I thrive in unexciting…at home I still opt out of the Demolition Derby at our little Gold Country Fair. I guess that’s why as a child I loved my quiet room and my dolls. I still remember being scared out of my wits when everyone would holler at the TV with the Super Bowl on. Nothing has really changed.

I am a teacher at heart, so with the ministry of the mundane I can invest in my granddaughters, helping them with their English. They actually listen to me right now at their ages! We read together, we color together, we do puzzles together, we journal together, we eat together, we connect.

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I know I am helping their parents by loving on their girls, plus I love doing it! I also love doing the ordinary, unexciting, mundane job of dishes and laundry and if it gives both Marie and Christian a break then I’m thankful! You see, on the other visits I did many of these mundane things, but I always tried to weigh it against the cost and came up what appeared unbalanced.

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That is how things are in God’s economy. What I see as small, He values. I see through a glass darkly, but one day I shall see face to face. Until then I’m just your average lover of Jesus who happens to also be a late-bloomer!

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Are You a Nester or a Wanderer?

Are you a nester or a wanderer? This journey of trying to sell our home and move has been rough on me, for I am a nester. Like a bird, gathering items from my travels, I bring them home with the sole intent to line the nest with them. I think I am married to a wanderer. He loves to travel and if possible drags (oops, invites) me along. I’m pretty agreeable as long as I have a firm date to return to the nest.

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Last night my wanderer challenged me that I need to stop looking at possible new homes until our current home is firmly in escrow. He thinks it is making me anxious. The idea of having no idea where our next nest is doesn’t bother him at all. He has faith that God will provide. I do too! However, I don’t seem to be able to relax like he does. I lay there in bed beside him and prayed, “Lord help me understand what he is trying to tell me.”

I knew that looking at houses didn’t make me anxious, in fact it actually helps me relax somewhat – “Oh this could be my new nest!” “We could afford this little nest!” What was my wanderer trying to get across to me? I wasn’t getting it. He knows me better than anyone on this earth. Then my silent prayer was answered and I understood. I have been reverting to my childhood ways….

When I was a child and Christmas season came, my mother wrapped beautiful gifts and arranged them perfectly under the tree. It looked like a magazine. Daily I would sneak in there and lift each one carefully out and analyze it. I would turn it and listen, gently shake. What was it? Did I ask for it? Could it be such and such that cost so much? What if it was that thing I didn’t really want?

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When I went to bed last night I thought, (spoiler alert – this  might offend some) “Is God like Santa Claus?”. Does my heavenly father have a good gift for me and can I trust him to bring me what I need and want? A new nest to enjoy and keep ready for when my wanderer returns from his sales trips? Do I need to tell Him what I need or want, like writing a letter to Santa?

We raised our children without writing lists to Santa, but rather writing lists of how they would give to others. We never had wrapped gifts under the tree but rather the nativity, to help them focus on the real meaning of Christmas. The gifts were there under the tree when they awakened on Christmas morning.

We were trying to encourage their focus. I think that is what my husband was trying to help me with when he was talking to me last night. My focus. Quit shaking and analyzing the real estate market. Quit trying to figure out where my new nest is. I hadn’t even wanted that nest, but maybe this is it! Quit being scared my new nest is something I didn’t want or need.

This morning one of my favorite songs, “Good, Good Father” came on and it was a lovely confirmation to me.

Oh and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers only you can provide
’cause you know just what we need before we say a word

You’re a good good father-
It’s who you are, It’s who you are, It’s who you are.
And I’m loved by you- It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am.

So like an old fashioned Klein Family Christmas, I am going to focus on the now and the gifts He has given me today…my life, full with family and friends and His love and grace….and Watson.

And when that gift of a new nest comes, I’m going to just love it! I know I will, because He’s a good, good Father, it’s who He is.

 

 

 

 

A Judas Kiss

 

In February when Danny and I were vacationing, Marie and Christian contacted us about the possibility of adopting a little boy named Noelan. They wanted our thoughts. Of course we know personally that adoption and attachment isn’t an easy thing, but we also know that in this Christian walk Jesus often calls us to do things that aren’t easy.

I personally do not believe that everyone is called to adopt. Not everyone has the ability to love a child that is not their biological child. There are different callings for different people. We knew that Christian and Marie were praying and asking God for His direction. So we answered them we are 100% behind them in following God’s call and would help in any way we can.

After Danny and I had picked up and transported Noelan to emergency respite care and before the Burtts had arrived from Romania, my daughter said something so profound to me. She told me that even if they were not going to adopt Noelan that they still would have been willing to come back if only to come along side their friends to support and love them during such a difficult time.

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That was the level of love Marie and Christian had for their friends. It is a Christ like love that lays down one’s life for a friend. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13  Most people think Jesus is speaking about death, but actually that is not what it says….it says “lay down one’s life” and that’s what I saw Marie and Christian do hour after hour, day after day, month after month as they ministered to this little confused boy from Africa, working hard on his attachment and trust.

I actually think laying one’s life down in death could have been easier in some ways. To look back and realize that we led this child to believe he was a part of our family and he was secure makes us literally ill. If they had chosen to be honest with us we could have reminded him of who his parents were going to be and treated him in a more appropriate way for his well being. The pain is so great in betrayal. I liken it to emotional rape.

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As more and more unfolds it seems a web of deceit started from very early on. It appears to be a premeditated betrayal. As victims we somehow feel responsible, but each of us know that’s not true. A person isn’t raped because their skirt was too short, it happens because there are evil people in the world who purpose to hurt others to gain what they want.

Dear God, how can something like this happen? It’s called a Judas kiss. An act of affection under a guise with fraudulent, evil motives. It happened to Jesus so I guess we shouldn’t be so surprised when it happens to his followers.

Luke 22:47-48 tells us – While Jesus was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

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Jesus knew what was going down, He wasn’t surprised, He was simply calling Judas on it. And in our situation with Noelan I know that Jesus was not surprised either. He knew what was going to go down with this sweet baby boy and He still asked Marie and Christian to come and try to help.

We will never be the same. We can’t save Noelan, but God can. That’s one of the reasons I suggested changing the name of his page from #savenoelan to #prayfornoelan. Pray for a little boy who is now certain to struggle with attachment disorder since he has been so thoughtlessly messed with and emotionally abused. Pray for the Burtts as they prepare to return to Romania purposing to continue to lay down their lives for others. Pray for emotional healing of our broken hearts and for spiritual renewal. Pray Marie and Christian can continue to “reject fear and choose love”. Because that’s what Jesus did for us.

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The loss of another child…

My life took an abrupt change in 2012. In January, my oldest daughter and family moved to Eastern Europe to work with unwanted children. In February, my mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s came to live with me. God used both of those events as a catalyst for change in my life. Part of that change has been to embrace how I feel and to be perfectly honest, I feel very deeply, so this is hard for me. I have had a lifetime of denying feelings, so it’s always hard to choose to embrace and move through them.

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Right now I am feeling very sad. Our family is experiencing child loss again. It’s only been 13 months since we lost Eisley. This time it is a failed adoption, because the family that begged so desperately for our help to readopt this child has now changed their mind and refuses to sign the relinquishment papers. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

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Our family has spent countless sacrificial hours and monies on behalf of this sweet little boy, only to be led on and used. Sarah and Tanner, Danny and I all together did emergency respite for eleven days. Marie and Christian hurriedly came to the states to come and start the expensive adoption process. Some would think them trusting and foolish, however this couple asking for their help were their close trusted friends. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

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We will have a long road to healing. Betrayal begets hatred and cynicism. We will have to go through the pain of watching Addy and Mercy devastated when on Sunday they are told that their little shadow affectionately called “bro bro” will be leaving for good on Monday. When someone hurts your children or your grandchildren it’s hard to think straight, the anger is so intense. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

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Probably what hurts the most though, is what this selfish choice will do to a little boy whom I have come to love and call my grandson. In late January he came to this country from Africa, from a secure foster parent situation, into an unstable home, where after two weeks they demanded for him to be removed from the home.

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So we took him and loved him and he has thrived. He loved being the youngest with sisters Mercy and Addy doting on him. Marie and Christian were loving, sacrificial parents to him and he has indeed attached to them. We know this by his desire to be close to them and his interaction with them. Whenever one is gone he is asking- “Where’s mama?” or “Where’s daddy?” I can’t think too much about how it will affect him, my righteous anger quickly morphs into losing it. It’s a situation ripe for bitterness.

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This morning I wrote in my grateful journal – “I am grateful that God’s power and willingness to answer prayer doesn’t depend on me in my weakness.” This recent journey has been an emotional roller coaster of being led along and lied to and to be perfectly honest I’m exhausted. I believe in miracles, but I also believe that God has given mankind a free will on this earth for a season. So sometimes we see horrific things happen to children because of mentally unstable people consumed by their own selfish desires.

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This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, I do. However, God is not the author of evil as so many try to make Him out to be. He is the one who brings beauty out of ashes…He is also the one who will rightly judge each one. In this I will choose to rest. Each day, as I wade through my sadness and bitterness I will also cling to the words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 6:36 where He tells me, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

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I also will pray that God would have special grace and mercy upon Nolean Truth Klein Burtt, my sweet grandson for three whole months. Please join me in that prayer when you think of him.

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Dear God, I’ve become my mother…

Why is it that women fear we will become like our mothers? I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is the struggle for identity as we are growing up that we try so hard to be different.

We look at things we missed in childhood and desperately try to make sure we give our children these same things we feel we lacked…yet we don’t realize the things we had.

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I feel like I’ve taken a lifetime to grow up… Or perhaps it is better to say a lifetime to shed my cocoon. And in shedding it I’ve discovered my mother in me.

At first I was appalled and now I’m delighted. I always thought I looked like my dad. I did get his nose and larger frame but as I’ve aged I look in the mirror and at pictures and I see my mother. I have her eyes, both shape and color. Her best friend saw this photo of me helping Spencer drive our boat and commented, “I see Bethany there.”

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Not only do I also see her, but I hear her too. Words come out of my mouth that I swore I’d never say. Thoughts go through my head that I remember her voicing when she was sixty. Its just plain weird. So on the brink of my sixtieth birthday I’ve decided to embrace it because my mom is a part of me, a very good part of me.

I’m grateful for her instilling in me diligent hard work. I’m grateful for her smile and ability to laugh, even at herself. My silly sense of humor comes from my mom. I’m grateful for her example of devotion to her family and friends when they were sick or hurting. She gave me that and people admire it in me. I learned it from my mom.

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However, she also gave me her moaning gene. I think it came from her mom. I think one of my daughters got it. Every time I moan, I think, “Oh my goodness! I swore I would never do that like her!” My mother also taught me to be a strong woman, and I in turn raised strong daughters.

One of my favorite adult movies is Spanglish with Tea Leoni, Paz Vega and Cloris Leachman. The main reason I like it so much is the mother/daughter dynamics throughout it. They are so complex and it shows how these dynamics can be so confusing.

The movie ends with an adult daughter writing on her university application essay about a crisis moment with her mother when she was young. Her mother said she had to ask her a very difficult question even though the daughter was such a young age. The question was this – .

“Is what you want for yourself is to become someone very different than me?”

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In hindsight, I realize that for most of my life I did want to be very different than my mother. We had a hard time connecting for a variety of reasons, one being my lack of understanding of who God created me uniquely to be.

At the end of the movie Spanglish, the daughter concludes on her university application essay that she hopes she is accepted but regardless of acceptance or rejection she knows this one thing- “My identity rests firmly and happily on one fact, I am my mother’s daughter.”

I get this now. I still miss my mother, I have days that I ache for her. Next month will be two years since she left this earth. I feel like I understand her better each day. She told me I would understand her when I’m older. She had made the same discovery with her own mother.

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I’m thankful for the thought of a future opportunity to really get to know my mother better and to listen to her without any of these earthly struggles. I’m thinking that we will have a chance like never before to connect and understand each other.

All things will be made right, because that’s the promise of heaven.

And because I am my mother’s daughter.

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Happy Birthday Sweet Eisley

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Well here we are Eisley, a whole year has passed since your birth. I still vividly remember your mama’s first birthday. She was dressed in a pretty yellow sailor dress with a little bow glued on her very short silky hair.

You however are dressed in the glory of God, far away over the rainbow, and we are left missing you and imagining what you’d be like.

It’s been a year of milestones. Instead of celebrating your achievements each 23rd of the month, we have been thrashing while drowning in a sea of grief. Grief is a song without melody.

The missing you, the sadness seems to overshadow everything. I feel guilty about that.

Sometimes I say silly or stupid things to try to compensate, but it’s like expecting an infected wound to heal with the aid of a colorful band-aid. It just doesn’t work. Walking through the painful journey is the only thing that helps. It is like scrubbing out the wound.

I need to stop comparing myself to other’s journeys and just walk my own. I need to be compassionate with myself and recognize that until I’m with you one day that I will always miss you in some way. That’s just who I am. I am your Grammie.

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When your mama was turning one, I looked forward to that day, but Eisley I have to confess I haven’t been looking forward to this March 23rd. I feel the world’s pressure to be whole, to be done grieving, to move on as others seem to be able to do.

Maybe, just maybe, I can begin on this first birthday to shift my focus from my loss into celebrating you, sweet baby girl with strawberry blonde curls. See you running strong with joy with that great cloud of witnesses who have gone on before us and keep cheering Pops and me on.

So that’s what I’m going to try to do. As I release your birthday balloon today, I will try to focus on the gift of knowing you and your Grammie will try to smile. I am thankful for the short time we had together. You have already taught me so much.

Run strong with joy sweet Eisley Hope and happy first birthday.

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Until I hold you again in my arms and we worship Him together,

XOXO Grammie

Merry Christmas Eisley Hope

Dearest Eisley,

Your Grammie has been feeling sad all day. You’d think I would know better, to stop the stuffing of those sad feelings while plunging ahead working, fooling myself that by keeping very busy these scary feelings will go away. I do know better and that’s why I will stop right now and embrace the sadness. Writing to you helps me to work through it. That and chocolate…IMG_7007.jpg wink

It’s Christmas time baby girl. I’m trying to enjoy it. Your mama and daddy went to Romania and they will celebrate with your cousins Mercy & Addy and your Auntie Marie and Uncle Christian.  I am so glad they did. Last Sunday, Pops and I sat for the first time in the bleacher seats at church. You can see everything so well. What I noticed was the sweet baby girls in their Christmas dresses. My first thought was of you Eisley and I was so glad your mama and daddy were in Romania. I would have loved to have bought you your first Christmas dress.

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I am happy for those mama’s in church holding their baby girls, but it also at the same time it makes me feel so sad. Such conflicting feelings I have. It is the same with the move. Pops and I are trying to downsize and move into  Auburn. In the past week your mama’s artistic black and white checkered wall was painted and the growth chart in Grammie’s closet. It’s all so bittersweet, joy and grief mixed together.

Pops and I will celebrate Christmas with your uncles Aaron and Andrew, and your aunties Cacey and Casey, and your cousins Spencer and Emma. And for the first time in 30 years we will not be celebrating at our home and what’s really hard is that last Christmas I had no idea that it was my last time. Would I have done anything different? I don’t know.

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What I do remember doing last year was I finally took the time to mend and reattach the little teddy bear onto the “Baby’s first Christmas” stocking. My mama bought it for me when my first child was born. I’ve used it for every child and every grandchild. I knew you were coming, so I purposed to mend it before packing all the stockings away. That stocking is empty.

I decided this year to not open up any of the boxes for decorating. I have a few things that were in their own boxes that I put out. I have celebrated advent. I’m relieved that normal decorating is too much while we are trying to get the house ready for selling, I don’t think I could handle seeing that stocking this year, yet I’m embracing Christmas and it’s joy. Bittersweet.

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So please realize you are missed baby girl and not forgotten. I know you are whole and healthy, hanging with the others we love that have gone on before. Worshiping the King of Kings whose birth we will soon celebrate. But knowing these things doesn’t change the emptiness we feel without you here in our arms. I miss you Eisley Hope Klein Hutchinson.

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If I learned anything from your short life, I think it would be to try to live without regrets and assumptions. To give myself a break. To be mindful and stay in the moment, enjoying each day. To forgive quickly as I don’t know if I’ll have a chance tomorrow to do it.

Thanks for being my teacher Eisley. Merry Christmas,

Love, Grammie

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