I didn’t know we were family

It’s been a rough year around here. And those of you who follow me (thank you so much!), I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I used to. This last year my emotions have been so raw it’s hard to write and on top of that I am extremely empathetic. If you hurt, I hurt. Even if I don’t know you and I see you cry, it’s a safe bet I’ll be crying, too.

A few weeks ago, Facebook came out with a new feature. It wasn’t the thumbs down button we have all been asking for, but it was five (I think) different choices on top of the “like” button. And I am a child of the 90s, I am (on the upper edge) in the generation that was just young enough to get Facebook and MySpace and live journal (if you know how I can get my hands on my live journal these days I’d love to have those words!), but old enough to not ruin my life on social media.

All of these extra options on Facebook seemed so silly to me when they came out. All we asked for was a thumbs down. And I’m old enough, I don’t even know what all those faces stand for. I know that there is a heart for love (over like?) and a laughing out loud one and a sad one. I’m not sure what the other faces are for.

That sad face. The one with the tears and when you press on it, it says sad. That is the face I have used the most these last few days. Well, let’s be honest. These last 24 hours have been the saddest. I can’t even count the times I’ve pressed that sad face today.

We all love in groups. You have those closest to you and then like a ripple when you through a stone in the water your love expands. And you love every ripple, but maybe you love that first ripple more than the fifth or maybe you love all those ripples and can’t even tell the difference between them. I have always known who is in my first ripple. My first ripple is full of all the people who cried with me when Grandpa John died. It is family and friends who should be family.

That first ripple is all I did (could) focus on when Grandpa died. Those were the people who hurt with me. Those were the people who understood what he meant to me. Those were the ones that clung to me as I grieved.

Today I learned about the other rings. Those people who joked around with me. Those people who bought me a drink when we were hanging out. Those people who served me a drink or two too many and then walked me home because they love me and need me to be safe, and I’m safe with them.  Those people who get a kick out of me when I’m not at my best. Those people who aren’t blood but are better and closer to me than some that are blood.

Today we lost a mother. And while I am so close with her husband and son (they are some of my favorite people), I am not blood. And maybe it sounds bad to say, but before today I didn’t know we were family. I didn’t know how much I loved them. I didn’t know how much they meant to me and how much their pain would hurt me.

Oh my goodness. That’s not what I meant. Or maybe it is. I have this group of people, and I have known for a long time that I love them. What I didn’t know before today was how much I loved them. I always thought it was like anyone loves their friends, (although I have little experience with this as well. I have one forever friend (I’m looking at you, Cassidy!). And then today, my friends lost their mother, I thought they were fifth ripple friends, and then I learned they really are first or second ripple friends.

Now, biologically she was only the mother to one of my friends. However, by love she was the mother to most of the people who I am friends with today. I think of that group of kids that were around when I was young. They called my mom Ratmom because there were so many that loved her. Shirley was the Ratmom of my new group of friends.

There are people who lost their mom young, there are people who never knew their mom, there are people whose mom just gave up on them. And Shirley was there for all of them. It didn’t matter if you needed a mom as a child or as an adult, Shirley would be your mom. It didn’t even matter if you thought you didn’t need a mom. If Shirley thought you needed a mom, you got one in her.  And tonight, so many more than she birthed are mourning the loss of their mom.

Tonight I had the chance to look at all these “kids” in a different light. This is my family. I didn’t know before tonight how much I loved every single one of these people. We all come from different places and backgrounds, but when you put us all in the same room, you can’t tell a difference. This is family.

Maybe in this family, I am the third cousin twice removed. But I’m still family. And they are still family. And I would do anything to keep them from the pain they are feeling tonight. But what I can do is laugh with them, and cry with them. We can tell stories and talk nonsense. We will come up with a plan to take care of Dad (this is so familiar and again I am so grateful Grandma has us to ground her).

It seems so silly, but I didn’t know this was family until today. I had no idea how much I loved these people until the pain was knocking on our door. When we (because I know my husband feels it more than I do) say, “is there anything we can do?” What we mean is, cry on our shoulder. Let us buy you a beer. Just know we hurt so much and aren’t blood but wish there was anything we could do. And then remember that the one thing I knew about Shirley was that blood didn’t matter at all.

Those that are family, those that love us, those that we love, remember that every tear you cry, we cry with you. We feel every pain. And maybe it doesn’t make your pain less, but where she is now, there is no pain.

Let Him Dream For You

It’s been a rough summer around our crazy little house. Although we are normally happy and mostly healthy, we’ve had some rough times. I’m a little sorry I used Laura Story’s Blessings for last week’s Worship Wednesday. It would have fit perfectly with our week this week.

I talked a little about how our vacation was not all we wanted it to be, about how so many things had gone wrong. We thought getting sick was the last bad thing that was coming out of the camping trip. We were wrong.

We had a 10 month old puppy who we took camping with us. He enjoyed it all but the fireworks for the 4th. Last Thursday as we were all finally recovering, our puppy started throwing up. Saturday morning we learned that he caught Parvo, and he had to be put to sleep.

With the time line for the puppy’s sickness, the vet was pretty sure he got it while we were camping. And the whole family has just been heartbroken. 2crazylittleboys have been champs, but there have been very hard times through this all. After I took the dog’s cage down, the three of us sat on the couch and cried.

It’s been a rough month for pets around here. At the beginning of May we had 3 fish, a puppy and a cat. Today we have two fish. Our cat died a couple of weeks ago from old age. I’d had her for 14 years. It’s strange there being no animals roaming our house at night.

So now you understand why last week’s song would make so much sense this week. It just fits. I know there are blessings in these rain drops and mercies in these tears.

Since I’m not going to use the same song two weeks in a row, I’ve chosen a song today that gives me great joy. This song fills me with hope. I may not be able to see God’s path for me, but I know He has one and it is great. And it’s Casting Crowns again. I could use their music every week. It’s all so great.

 

Dream For You

Hey, David, I hear you’ve been dreaming
About being a big time shepherd some day
You’re gonna prove your brothers wrong
You’re gonna sing your shepherd song
To the cattle on a thousand hills
But I’ve been thinking

I’m having trouble with a giant down the road
You’re the one who’s going to face him toe to toe
Wipe that grin right off his face
And whip this army into shape
I’m going to turn the nation back to Me
And, David, you’re right about one thing
Your little shepherd songs are going to make the whole world sing
And I’m gonna make you king

So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you

Hey, Mary, I’ve heard you’ve been dreaming
Making plans for your big wedding day
You and Joseph are gonna be
The picture perfect family
Maybe a couple of kids down the road
But I’ve been thinking

Even before time began
I had a picture perfect plan
Of how to save this broken world
Through the life of just one man
I’m gonna send my only Son
And, Mary, you’re the one
You were right about one thing
You’re gonna have that family
And you’re gonna raise the King

So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you

I’m stronger than you think I am
I’ll take you farther than you think you can
You sing and call Me Great I Am
So take your stand

My child, if you only knew
All the plans that I have for you
Just trust Me, I will follow through
You can follow me

So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do

So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you

If you haven’t heard the song, you need to play the video below. The words are so powerful and the music just adds to it with its fast tempo.

I love this song. I can picture David with his sheep. He thought he was just going to be a shepherd. Taking care of his flock was his big dream, proving to his brothers that he wasn’t too small. From his spot on the hillside, he couldn’t see God’s big plan.

David wanted to tend to his flock and God gave him His flock to take care of. God had a dream for David, and it was so much bigger than anything David could have thought up on his own.

And having planned my own wedding, I can imagine Mary, so excited to be getting married. Sure, her planning would have been much different from mine, but a bride is a bride. She would have been excited and probably nervous. She would have had this idea of how it was all going to work out. How could she have even begun to imagine God’s big plan for her life?

She would have thought that she and Joseph would get married, have some kids and live happily ever after, but how much more amazing was God’s plan? Mary became not just a mother, but the mother of The Son of God. There’s no way anyone could imagine that being God’s plan for their life.

As I look at my life, it’s not what I imagined. Sure, I always thought I’d be a wife and mom. But being this mom, this wife? This is so much better than I ever imagined. And having this spot to write these words and then having all of you come and read them? I never could have imagined this.

If we let go of our plans and look to God, where will He take us? He took a little shepherd boy and turned him into a king. He took a young girl and made her the mother of the King. What amazing plans does He have for you and me?

I pray we can all let go of our own plans and get caught in His hand. How amazing is it when we let Him dream for us?

 

 

You can find all of the Worship Wednesday posts here.