Nothing Will Fall Out As You Expect

north topsail island, topsail beach“Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no far, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.” – Streams in the Desert

I’ve been reading the Streams in the Desert devotional on and off for many years. I don’t read it everyday anymore. Sometimes I open it on the exact day, in the exact moment, that I need to read it. Today, I opened it to the April 16th entry and it met me right where I’m at.

Nothing has happened like I expected and certainly not how I “planned.” There are days when this overwhelms me with grief. Today started off that way. It’s a holiday. That usually happens on holidays. I watched a video on Facebook {this one} and that threatened to take me a little further down the path to being overwhelmed.

I cried. I’m not going to lie. I started to wander down that ugly path that takes me to the inevitable end: wondering why it is that this life I’ve always wanted and dreamed of still remains so far off. Usually when that happens I don’t come back very quickly or easily. It takes me awhile to work my way back from the hurt.

But something different happened entirely. The sadness happened for the briefest of moments. And then I turned my thoughts towards what God has for me. The questions were there . . . why is what I want so far off? Why do You – God – keep all of this from me?

Something stirred in me though. Something different. The reminders of what I don’t have, were met with reminders of those who clung to hope, and their faith, long after it made sense to do so. The verse that goes along with the April 16th devotional is Hebrews 11:8. Hebrews 11 is always described as the faith hall of fame, in one way or another.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8

Whether it was Joseph {his story always means the most to me}, Abraham, Sarah, or Moses, yjey clung to promises long after reason and logic would tell them to do so.  They didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t take hold of the promise within an amount of time that seems reasonable {to me anyway}. And yet, they held on.

Holidays are always the hardest. I miss what is missing {obvi} and on these days I fear that it will always be this way. But today, against reason and logic, I know it won’t be. I know I’m just gearing up for the next adventure. My prayer today has been – lead me to the next adventure, Lord.

I’m ready.

Foster Care Adventures – Part Two

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October 2015, a little guy hung around at work, for a week or so. On Wednesday of that week, he “helped” me work. He sat on my lap, we hung out with friends, and then he played with my calculator & drew with my pens. He feel asleep there at my desk, in my arms, and I worked around him {not so successfully}. I lost my heart. I think about him all the time. Mostly because he was part of the journey {part one anyway} that I finished tonight as my foster parent training classes came to a close.

He was a reminder of everything I’ve always known about who I am and what I was put on this earth to do. He was the happiest boy. I saw him the following week and he “talked” all about the book he had with him. I will never forget this sweet boy. And I’m grateful for how God used him to remind me of what I’ve always known.

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Throughout the last 11 weeks or so, I’ve grown more confident that though there is more work to be done, there isn’t anything I’d rather do more than provide a loving home for kids.

So with part one complete, I’m on to the next part of this crazy adventure. I don’t know who my first placement will be. I don’t know his or her age, name, or background. But God does and He’s already put me on this path to cross his or her path.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27.

Hear My Prayer

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I spent some time on Sunday reading the profiles of waiting children. These are the kids who are waiting to be adopted – their parent’s rights, now terminated. Through thirteen pages of results, I was struck at not only how simple their hopes and requests were, but by the handful of children who do not want to be adopted. They’re still hoping for and holding onto the dream that they’ll be reunited with their family. How heartbreaking.

As I looked through the profiles, I felt drawn to some of the pre-teen an teen girls – thinking of how how hard it must be to enter such a tumultuous time without a family to provide you with stability, love, consistency, boundaries, and a place to come home to someday. I have a feeling I will enjoy {and probably go crazy too} having pre-teens and teens in my house. In spite of what will surely be crazy making moments, how amazing to know you’ve provided that to a young man or young woman that would other wise “age-out” of the foster care system, without an anchor to anything that is theirs and lasting?

But event still, I dream and hope of a baby. Of more than one baby. I try to pretend it’s not there but it is. I want a baby, people. Every time someone announces they’re pregnant, the ache grows. Every time {which is a lot} that a new baby is born in my squadron, the ache grows. My home and heart is open to all ages, races, and needs. But oh how I want a baby. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. So rather than deny it, I’m just living with the desire and hope.

Hoping God hears my prayer.

 

Dreaming

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One of the hardest things to face, for me as a childless woman {who doesn’t want to be}, is the longing that is deep down, in the deepest part of me, to be a mother. As life has marched on, over the years, when the desire surfaces, I have had two reactions – sorrow and grief or . . . I stuff it down, far down.

I have always wanted a family. I never imagined that I would turn 40 and still be without that family. For reasons I don’t want to explain fully now, I made choices that brought me here. Except I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I was doing. My career the last six years has been my sole focus. And prior to that, while I can’t say it was my sole focus, it took an inordinate amount of my time.

I made those choices. But I wasn’t actually intentional. I didn’t see then the cause and effect. I threw my life into work because I don’t do anything half-assed. But, I also didn’t feel fulfilled personally so I found fulfillment at work, particularly after a relationship ended. In the wake of that experience, I moved across the country and jumped in to work in a small desert town and made the families I served, mine. But that started a cycle that brought me here. Here. I’m not where I want to be, here. A few months ago, I was filled with an incredible amount of grief because I thought the only way I was going to get to this dream was thwarted.

But as I mentioned last time, I came to a place where I decided it’s time. I decided it was time regardless of my expectation of how it should happen.

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When I made that decision, I let myself daydream a bit for the first time in ages. Recently, I bought some clothes for a couple of kids I know. Standing in that store, making those decisions about what to buy was a tiny reminder of a simple thing parents do all the time. It was a sweet joy. I spent way too much time in that store.

Last fall I had a tiny boy spend some time with me over the course of a couple of days, at work. He was a baby really, but smarter than heck and the most joy-filled kid I’d met in years. He babbled. He scribbled with a pen, on scrap paper at my desk. He tried desperately to play with my keyboard while I answered e-mails. And then he fell asleep in my arms. Do you know what a gift your sleeping kiddo is, mama? What a sweet joy those moments were. So normal and every day.

I have allowed myself to think about moments like those in recent weeks. Those are just two examples of many. I’ve wondered about the first child who will step across the threshold of my home. For the first time ever, I let myself think about how wonderful it would be to have a baby in my house, or a five-year old. Or a big kid who wants a little bit of normal they’ve missed out on for the past ten years of his or her life.

What a sweet joy this has been. I am allowing myself to dream, without the sorrow of lost years, for the first time in ages. It’s a beautiful thing. It won’t be easy. But it is my dream.

Everything is Changing

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De Luz, California

I’ve been in California since the 27th of August. My grandmother passed away on Saturday the 29th. I will have more to say on my Grandma, later. She was so special to me and the grief is close. But along with losing Grandma, there are other changes coming.

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IMG_6656My Mom, who has lived with Grandma for nearly ten years, and has taken care of her full-time for several years, is facing a transition. The house has a reverse mortgage so it goes back to the bank. Having spent the last few years taking care of Grandma, with me being in NC, and California being ridiculously expensive, it only makes sense for her to head east.

It’s the logical choice. But somehow, the thought of this has really put me in a bad mood. With my Mom moving to NC, I’m basically saying goodbye to “home.” Grandma’s house has been home base. Mom has been here – where I grew up. I come home once or twice a year, I see my family, eat a ton of Mexican food, stop at In N Out, enjoy mountain views and palm trees and then go back to my adopted home.

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Grandma’s yard – love the view of the mountains. Over the mountain is San Juan Capistrano.

We won’t be back for holidays. I won’t get my at least yearly break in So Cal and that leads to . . . when will I see the rest of my family? Granted, I don’t see them often anyway. It’s hard enough to find time to see my brother when I’m here, what happens when my Mom is no longer here? I can’t even imagine when I’ll see him, my aunts, cousins, etc., again.

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Grandma’s 90th birthday in July 20014. Most of my cousins are in this photo.

Everything is changing.

And then . . . as we’ve begun to go through my Mom’s and Grandma’s stuff, getting ready to pack some up, sell the rest, etc., I’ve had to go through some boxes left here, myself. My childhood flashed before my eyes! The things I’d saved, the things that mattered to me as a kid or young teen speak to the dreams that are still mine – still just dreams.

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Long story, longer . . . this has been an emotional trip home. There’s been plenty of tears to go around. And frankly, I’m uneasy about the future, sad to say goodbye to my beloved Grandma, and California. And I’m trying hard to hold on to the dream.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I still cling to hope that though each day is filled with joy, good work accomplished, and meaning, there is more on the horizon. While it doesn’t always feel like that in the moment, I’m going to trust that this is another step in the direction I’m meant to take.

Everything is changing. Challenging yourself to see change as an adventure isn’t easy. But finding the joy, living in the moment and being thankful for the beauty of life as it is, in all of its messy wonder, is worth it.

Chasing Dreams

Chasing Dreams, Walt Disney, Dreams, Dreaming, Hope

Chasing dreams. I am chasing dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer. Even as a tiny girl I was dreaming of what could be, might be, or what I hoped would be. The three dreams that have stayed with me, have remained largely unchanged. Time has moved on. My life is nothing like I imagined it would at this point. But these three hang on.

I’m a 39-year-old single woman that has spent recent years working too much. I have been almost entirely focused on everyone, but me. It goes with the job. But, as time has moved forward, I’ve become more aware that what we do {or don’t do} each day builds upon the next. The moments build until one day, we’re looking back at years stacked upon years.

If you’re smart, you figured this out when you were young. If you’re smart, but spent more time focused on a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter, or lost yourself somewhere along the way {like me}, then you probably have time to make up for.

I’m not very good with New Years resolutions. But for quite a few years now I’ve had a “word” for each year. I pray about the word a little. And somehow, at the start of each new year, a word pops up. This year’s word is “intentional.” It fit. It still fits.

I’ve not been intentional in the sense that I want to be. And now, five years after starting a new career, I see that though I was intentional about work, I failed to see the ways in which the little moments would stack up to years, in my personal life.

My dreams aren’t crazy, pie in the sky kind of dreams. They’re actually pretty simple. This, of course, leads me to wonder how it is that I’m 39, single, without a family, and not consistently writing. While, in a sense, I can’t control all aspects of being single, I do know that I control the factors that keep me tied to my home, afraid to step out, or too tired from work to do so. I do control those factors which lead to fatigue and an over-focus on my career, which means I feel less able to write consistently.

I’ve known that a new phase of life was knocking at my door. Being intentional with my time, dreams, and ultimately my calling is part of that new phase. Though I’ve been blogging since 2004, I knew the old blogging space needed a change, too. So here I am. Chasing Dreams. 

For a girl with a thirsty heart, messy, wild hair, big dreams, hope and never ending passion, it’s not always evident in my own life. I’m certain I’m not alone in that. In fact, I know that’s a common theme for many that are successful in their careers, yet unfulfilled.

So here’s to the start of a new journey. I hope if you saw yourself in any of this post, you’ll join me!

~ Elaina