I have a passion for adoption. I love my kids. I love Yeshua. I am so blessed to share life's path with my best friend and soul mate. I believe in homeschooling. I love to read, write, watch movies, walk with my kids, hang out with my dogs, take photographs, and travel (hey, I said I love to do it, not that I get to very often!)
are no words I could write that would do Jack’s life justice. There are
no words to convey what he was to me. I want to try anyway, because he
was extraordinary in every way.
I was immediately drawn to
Jack’s eyes. Jack was a stunning blue merle aussie with one blue eye
and one parti eye. The coloring wasn’t what drew me to his eyes
though—it was the sparkle, the joie de vivre that was there until the
My husband and I always called him our “furry son”
for a reason—he felt like a son. Loyal and precious are words that
cannot even begin to describe him, but he also had a funny sense of
humor, and seemed to always know what was on my mind. We communicated
constantly without words, and he was excellent at anticipating my every
need. He never ceased to surprise me that way. One example is from only a
few months ago, when he was more mobile. The kids were going in and out
of the house, and it was driving me nuts. I looked at Jack, and I
muttered, “They’re driving me crazy!” Jack never hesitated, he looked
right in my eyes, glanced outside at the kids, and jumped up and turned
the deadbolt on the door! Then he sat down and looked me right in the
eyes again, clearly pleased with himself.
The kids. Boy,
did he adore my kids. Each of my kids joined our family when older—they
were each between 6 and 8, and each of them came from traumatic pasts.
Jack was there for them in every way imaginable –whether he was trying
to cheer them up by being a clown, getting them to play with them,
giving them hugs (yes, Jack would daily come up to us, when we were
sitting and put his paws around our necks, effectively hugging us) or
providing a shoulder to cry on. I don’t know how my kids would have made
it through the transitions and grief without him. As for Jack, he
always seemed his very happiest when he was being smothered by all 3 of
them at once.
Jack also left me with a gift—his dog. No,
Jack never had puppies, but I found one once in the Rio Grande—a
bedraggled little border collie/spaniel mutt. I said, “No way. No more
dogs.” But Jack took an instant liking to the pup, and claimed him as
his own. In the past couple weeks, Jack’s dog, Spencer, has been an
immense source of comfort as I’ve struggled to let go of my dearest
companion. Like I said, Jack was always anticipating my needs before I
knew what I needed.
My heart is still shattered into so many
pieces. We’ve lost dogs before, but this was the hardest—I
didn’t think it possible, but this loss may even be slightly more
difficult than the loss of Molly. Possibly because losing Molly was like
losing my closest female friend, and Molly was ready to go. Jack was
more like a son, and his eyes still sparkled with that joie de vivre. We
made so many memories together—and there were so many things I wanted
to experience with him yet.
Jack was one of the sweetest
blessings I’ve ever received from God. I don’t know why it was for only
10 ½ short years. I wish it didn’t hurt so much. But as my husband
reminded me the other day, it hurts so much because he provided us with
such immeasurable joy for more than a decade.
Today I took the kids for a walk in the desert park. Much like that fateful day 12 years ago, I felt like getting away from the media and enjoying something as changeless as nature. It was sunny and humid (for a change) so I was huffing and puffing my way up a hill, when I heard my youngest exclaim, "Oooh! A worker ant carrying a little caterpillar! I bet it's taking it to it's queen. Oh, I just LOVE watching ants work!" This was shortly after I heard "Look a black swallowtail butterfly!" and we all had to stop and watch. Each delighted sighting of nature brightened my day in so many ways.
I often think of my life as having happened in two segments: before 9/11 and after 9/11. The before seemed more lighthearted and happy, the after seems more weary and suspicious. It fills me with incredible sadness that my kids have only known the latter their whole lives.
The week leading up to the anniversary of September 11 always fills me with somber reflection. My husband was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs in September of 2001. I was a part time college student studying French and Nutrition. We had been married almost 3 years, and life was pretty good. The only uncertainty in our lives was that my husband was about to discharge from the military in November, and we weren't sure where life would take us next. We loved CO, and hoped to stay in the area, enjoying a lifetime of hiking, snow, amazing views and awesome breweries.
September 11th was a class day for me. I stopped at a Safeway to grab some zinc, because I was feeling a cold coming on. As I approached the checkout, I noticed everyone staring open-mouthed at the TV. I asked the person next to me what had happened. Without looking away from the TV, they said a plane had hit one of the twin towers. I looked up at the TV and watched in horror as a second plane hit the second tower. My thoughts were a jumble, but I'll never forget them: "Shit. We're at war. There's going to be a stop-loss. This had to be Osama bin Laden. What if this is a coordinated effort across the US? Is Fort Carson safe? Those poor, poor people. Does my husband know about this yet? Is my husband going to war?" I walked out of the store with an incredibly heavy heart. I looked over at Pikes Peak, and I was reminded instantly that God was still in control. He was still on His throne, and He would bring us through what would undoubtedly be a difficult future. At the same time, I knew that life as I knew it was about to change forever. And it did. My husband didn't end up leaving the military. He felt like he'd be leaving his country in a bind if he left as we were on the brink of war. So, we packed up, left our beloved Colorado, and headed to a new duty station (in a new branch of the military.) Three children ended up joining our lives, so that we eventually became a family of five.
The world has become a rougher place than I remember of those pre 9/11 days. War, violence, terror and poverty consume the news. Americans are weary. And yet, some things remain the same. Little worker ants take food to their queen, and my children delight in watching it happen. God cares for even that little worker ant, and provides for its every need. Though my children are so aware of the violence, pain, war, and sadness in the world, God also takes care of their little minds in this post 9/11 world, reminding them of the truth of His loving care, and giving them great delight in the ordinary.
Missy at It's Almost Naptime has a brilliant idea: My Kid Rocks Monday. It's too easy to focus on the more challenging aspects of parenthood sometimes, so Missy has suggested Mondays for bragging on our kiddos. This is a blog hop I'm only too happy to join!
My Zeze really is one of the most thoughtful caring human beings you could ever meet. She's so sensitive to the needs of those around her. This deployment has been hard on me, and she knows it. So to make my life easier, she writes me little love notes, comes up and rubs my back, and organizes surprise cleaning up of toys. These are all things she's done for me in the past week. Today my sweetie pie helped her little sister with her math, and cleaned up all their toys cheerfully for me AND volunteered to fold clothes for me :)
CJ is having a really time time with having his Papa away. It's been a really rough challenge, but that hasn't stopped him from being helpful when he can. He even took the trash out without being asked (AND remembered to replace the liner in the trash can!) Today he got his math done in record time with nary a complaint. He also drew a beautiful picture of a coyote pup howling at the moon (he's an amazing artist!!!)
Chérie is just pure sweetness. This morning when she realized CJ was cold, she covered him with part of the blanket she was bundled in. This afternoon when my mom was complaining that she could never beat my score on Word Drop, Chérie came right over and said "I'll help you, Grandma!" I teased her and said it wasn't fair to gang up on me, and she said, "But Grandma needs my help!"
It's 12:30 am, and I'm not sleeping because my heart aches for my hubby. Sigh. Deployments never get any easier.
I remember when we were first married and stationed in CO Springs. Being married to a soldier was...quite an adjustment. The separations were really hard. People told me not worry--that they get easier. They Lied. Through. Their. Teeth. Each deployment gets so much harder. With each one we've shared more of a life together, we've become more...one. Being apart hurts so much more now.
Then there are the kids. Their pain in being separated from their father only intensifies mine. Every happy moment and accomplishment has a sad part to it as well, as they inevitably mention "I wish Papa were here for this."
My lack of friendships has also really stood out this time around. We've increased our family by three children in three years. That doesn't leave a lot of time for friendships. Until Cullen left, I didn't realize how much I depended on him as my (nearly) sole source of friendship and support. The frustrating thing is that being a temporarily single parent to 3 kiddos really doesn't put me in a position to seek fellowship with other women.
The upside I suppose, to these challenges, is that what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger. I know it makes my relationships with my hubby and kids stronger. Cullen has a lot of trust in me right now. My kids and I have really had to band together to keep going. My appreciation and love for my husband has grown in his absence. These are strange blessings, because they are blessings, but they're born out of a lot of pain.
Pain as blessing is hard for me to grasp. Which is kind of funny, because in many ways, it's been rather the theme of my life. I tend to think that blessings should come out of the blue, like a wonderful gift as you're just going about in life. Certainly not be born out of gritty, bloody difficult circumstances. I'm coming to understand though, that the best things in life are the ones fought for--the ones that are hurt and anguish redeemed.
Now I don't even know if I'm making sense any more, as it's the middle of the night. But I feel better, and hopefully I can sleep--knowing full well that tomorrow holds more pain...and more blessing.
I imagine most of you out there in the blogosphere have seen Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus,” but perhaps you've missed two excellent responses (both responses include the video, so if you haven't seen it, you'll have the chance to before reading the responses to it) Personally, I think Bethke's video is an excellent example of why it's important to think critically and look below the surface; just because something sounds good, and makes you feel good, doesn't mean it is good.
So please go check this out, and this too--even if you disagree, I think you may still enjoy reading these responses.
I do have time to pass on a terrific link to a blog post. Holly's post here, is the best post I've read in a while. She provided me with some much needed encouragement, and I pass this post along with the hopes that it will provide the same encouragement for you too!