Category: love and marriage

The power of laughter

laughIt’s probably impossible to play catch-up here, not only because it’s been 6 months, but because it has been a jam-packed 6 months… some of the most surprising of my life.

The summary is that in February, we found ourselves very unexpectedly pregnant. The range of emotions went from terror to shock to utter bliss in the matter of about 10 minutes, and then 2 weeks later, to devastation, as we were told the baby had no heartbeat.

Miscarriage. I have checked that off my bucket list of nightmares I hoped never to face. It sucked. It still sucks. But we survived.

I remember the day I found my laughter again. It was probably 3 or 4 weeks after my D&C. We were lounging in bed on a Saturday morning waiting for the girls to come and jump on us. They did. And for some reason, I grabbed my iPhone and turned on the song “Happy.” (You so know the one). Then I started lip syncing. And dancing. Rod was watching me with the light in his eyes you can only have for the person you adore when she is being completely odd.

And I cracked up. And I couldn’t stop.

That was the day I found myself again. Even though when I look back at my early life, I see a thread of melancholy, the real truth that has arisen as I have “found myself” in adulthood is that I am a joyful person. I smile. I laugh. I embrace happiness. Having a family of my own, becoming a mama, helped me to see that and be that. And while losing a child could have been the thing that changed it (as indeed, it did change me to my core, but that’s another blog), I refuse to let it.

Death doesn’t win.

Fear doesn’t win.

Joy, love, laughter… it will, it must conquer the sad things in life. It will give us wings.

It did this year. But news of another Burton Baby certainly has also helped.  Our first grandchild will be born to Josh and Kirsten this fall! And in May, in the spirit of twofold blessings and almost 3 months to the day we lost our baby, we found out we will be having another, one whose heart is beating and arms are waving.

And I laughed…

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Steps

As far as blended families go, we never had it very rough. It never got very complicated.

But that doesn’t mean we were always a smoothie.

Sometimes we were blended about as much as oil and water, particularly when it came to a certain teenage boy and his 15-years-older stepmom.

That would be us:

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Oh, we had some things we enjoyed together: amusement parks. superheroes. Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. guacamole. But for a few years, there was pretty much nothing we could talk about without one or both of us getting mad.

Thank God, we made it through.

I dropped the “step” from his title long ago, around the time the first of his baby sisters was born, and I realized that our kids are our kids. I did not give birth to Josh. I didn’t have the frogs-snails-puppy-dog-tails part of his growing up; I never got to dress him in cute overalls or help him learn to ride a bike, but nonetheless, I was going to help guide him toward the goal of being a man… a good man. And with that realization, he became my son.

With maturity, I could also embrace the difference between having him for my son and being his mom. There is a distinct difference, and it’s all good. He has a mom, who did have his babydom and childhood and who doesn’t need to be replaced. That’s part of the blend, folks.

This week, I will likely share some stories with her. I will stand beside his dad as we watch him become a man in a very important way… as he makes vows to his new wife… as he takes steps to do something we did not: have a family that never needs blending.

(Although… is there such a thing? I mean, even though my parents have been married to each other for 40 years, they still had to blend as my brother and I brought our spouses, stepkids, kids, in-laws into the family. Hmmm… Maybe we need a different term. But, we definitely pray that Josh and Kirsten are only married to each other, for their lives!)

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I am so grateful, so proud, to have inherited the boy he was, to have grown with him and butted heads with him and helped shape the teen he was, to have the man he is for my friend and family and ally, and for my babies to have him as their big brother.

When I watch him take those vows this week, when I dance our “non-special” dance at his reception, when I bask in our C-RA-ZY blended family this Christmas (think Four Christmases, all in one house!), every time we get a few minutes to have Starbucks or a warehouse shopping trip by ourselves or a Chipotle/Abuelo’s/beach/movie date with the whole family, it won’t really matter to me whether he is my stepson or son or whatever we call it. I am his, and he is mine, and thanks to God for all the gracious and unexpected ways He chooses to bless our lives!

 

 

day 9: no regrets

ELEVEN years ago today, a single, type-A girl moved in with the love of her life, 13 years older, and his kids, 13 & 15 years younger, respectively.

Somehow we made it through housekeeping, disciplining, 2 more kids, and many, many other differences and lessons.

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Tonight, most of those same people will gather at our home, 1000 miles away from where we started, and put ornaments on the tree.

Our love story, our family picture, it is so far from perfect. And the holidays between then and now sure held their shares of ups and downs (just ask us to tell you about 2008, the Christmas decorating day from hell, complete with stomach flu…). I have often asked myself if I have any regrets, and the truth is, yes. I regret the times I was not honest with myself or with others. I regret the people I hurt by not meeting their expectations of me. I regret the time I wasted trying to fix things that I could not control.

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But I don’t regret our unconventional, slightly cracked, beautiful family. I would not trade it for any other.

Just as I am, established by grace

Ten years and one day ago, I was an adulteress and a fornicator. Those were the correct terms according to the Bible. I had been in love with a man for nearly five years, who up until 6 months prior, was still married. And not only that, but I acted on my love for him. I lied to everyone I knew, including myself. I rebelled against Biblical teachings that I knew to be true. I moved in with him shortly after his divorce. And all the while, I yearned for forgiveness, grace, and a second chance.

On March 28, 2003, I was given one. The worship pastor of our then-church was given permission by the senior pastor (who didn’t feel he could do it himself), to perform a simple matrimonial ceremony in the church conference room. My parents were there, along with Rod’s children and two special friends who had “been there.” Our marriage was made holy in the eyes of the Lord that day, which is all that should matter.

Our adultery, our mistakes and failures, will never be “right.” They will never be justified. They have been forgiven… by God, by Rod’s first wife, by his children, and by many of the people hurt as a result. But that will never make those decisions and actions “Ok.” I don’t condone them, stand by them, or recommend them.  But somehow, nor do I regret our relationship.

How can I?~

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There were many, many “believers” who extended grace to us right from the beginning. And there were many who only did after years. And there are some who still have not. And there are some who went to their graves without doing so. Ten years, two babies, and a whole lot of life and learning later, *I* am still learning to extend grace to those who did not have it for us. I have even had to smack myself down for not having IMMEDIATE grace for people who have gotten themselves into a situation similar to ours.

Good thing I don’t have to be God. His grace is without hesitation or condition. It is there because He loves us, and there every time we seek it. Please understand: I know I do not deserve the life I have. I do not deserve God’s grace. I do not deserve to have been embraced first by a community of ministers and then by the staff of a local church, getting mentored by pastors to become one myself. And though I did not wake up one day and decide, “I am going to love a married man with little kids and hopefully inspire him to move ahead with a divorce!,” the ugly things people called me were at one time very accurate labels. And yet…

There is no explanation why God has blessed a formerly adulterous couple with an amazing life and beautiful family and opportunities to minister to others, except that He loves us. He loves us as much as He loves the one who has never committed a sexual sin. He loves us as much as He loves the pastors and church leaders who have to make very difficult decisions when it comes to dealing with complicated relationships. He loves all of us who are still learning just how far His grace will go.

just as i amI have seen a lot of words thrown around lately about what grace is, what marriage is, who we should love, and what we should hate. I generally steer clear of the marriage debate, because God knows in conventional eyes, my marriage is not a traditional one. I know what the Bible says, and I have seen God move in miraculous ways, so it is my conviction to choose my words and my battles carefully. The fact is, we don’t, won’t, cannot know exactly how God’s grace works. In my adult life, since ‘getting right with God,’ I have fancied myself a bit of a Grace Hippie, and yet, I am learning things now (from my pastor, with my pastor & my church), that are blowing my mind about God’s grace… as my friend Kenny has said, His grace is crazy! That isn’t a liberal or new age notion; it’s older than the songs in our hymnals, if we still have those! That is God’s love stripped down and set free from the interference of religion, the misinterpretations of the misguided, and the agendas of the self-righteous. That is God’s love saying that not just the fallen and publicly redeemed Davids and Sarahs and Pauls will be with us in Heaven, but maybe the Delilah, the Lot’s Wife, the Judas – those hopelessly weak, distracted, sick, and used – will be as well.

God created us, He knows our flaws, and He sees our souls. If we struggle and fall, if we are confused and make a mistake, and if we are ignorant and think we *are* living the right way, I believe He is merciful! Furthermore, if it turns out that God’s grace is BIGGER & BETTER than what we have all been taught all our lives, and because of that more people will be in Heaven…isn’t that a GOOD thing?

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4

I know the Bible also says we must reach out to Christ in faith and turn from sin. Along with that, it tells me to grow in grace…to administer grace to others… to set my hopes on grace. We are not all equipped exactly in the same way and at the same time to do those things. Of course, we need a Savior, whose grace, another old song tells us, is greater than all our sin.

I do not have all the answers. I do simply pray that everything in my life, my words, my relationships, and my marriage, point people to the love of Jesus. HIS LOVE empowers us to overcome any sin, obstacle, and failure.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18