Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Had His Handwriting Made Into a Ring.

I had Richard's handwriting made into a ring.  Before you head over here to have an intervention with me about moving on, or ask me multiple questions about where my heart is, let me explain.

This is something I recently decided to do for myself.  Something intimate and sincere and lovely.  It was also something I was going to keep quiet, only telling a few friends, and those that may ask me what the ring means if they notice it.  But, I love it, and the meaning behind it, so much that I am choosing to share.  (Is anyone really surprised here, since I share just about everything with you people?)  It's likely that 97.3% of you will think I am a little loco, and the other 2.7% of you will think it's awesome, and that's only because the 2.7 represents my friends that have to like it no matter what their real thoughts are.

Richard used to address me as "darling."  I would be straight lying to you if I said I loved it from the beginning.  At first I kind of resisted the nickname and scrunched up my nose at it.  I think it was because it is not a word we hear very often anymore, unless it's said by a creepy older man in the gas station or something, you know what I mean?  But it grew on me the more he said.  It grew on me because when he said it he was sincere.  I have many memories of answering the phone to a, "hey darling," and a few letters that began with this word.  It is now become a word that I adore.  I believe it to be romantic and old-fashioned and embodying true emotion.

This word has officially become a reminder, a symbol and token of the transformation that happened in my heart when God placed sweet Richard in my life.  It was a time of struggle, beauty, hope and redemption.  It was a time that has shaped me into who I am now and will forever be a part of my story.  It is a poetic, one-word summary of it all.

A synonym for the word "darling" is beloved.  When I hear that word I think of the Lord and how He is constantly calling out to us, Beloved, look to me when you're troubled.  I'm the only one you need.

I was Richard's darling and he was placed before me by God.  He was placed here to show me a glimpse of what a genuine Christ-like love looked like.   I was his darling and he was the Lord's darling and we are all His darlings.  It's really quite romantic isn't it?

I am fortunate to have many handwritten letters from this darling of mine.  I am fortunate to have found someone on Etsy (dear Etsy, I love you forever and ever amen) that can take a loved one's handwriting and turn it into a piece of jewelry.  I hit the jackpot with this one.

Now I not only carry my story in my heart but on one of my fingers as well.  When people ask about it I can tell them how God worked in my life through a beautiful mess.  Through a boy that called me darling and reminded me that I am a darling daughter of Christ.  It's perfect.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Friends, I'm in Love. With a Bunch of Teenagers.

When I moved to Huntsville I was excited to begin a new chapter of my life.  I was ready to get reacquainted with a city that I grew up near and ready to carve out my own identity.  I spent time seeking out various volunteer opportunities, searching high and low, near and far for the right ones.  Nothing seemed to stick. 

After Richard died, at the height of my sadness, I was grasping at straws trying to find something to pour myself into, something to participate in that had nothing to do with me and my sadness.  A selfish route to charity, I suppose, but this is where I was in life.

One day I was sitting at my kitchen table mulling over a website of a ministry in Nashville that I adore.  I looked at their job opportunities out of curiosity and saw one that caught interest.  "Director of Adoptions."  Whoa.  What do I have to do to be that?  Among things like, you know, have a lot of job experience working with adoption, there was also the requirement of having a Masters of Social Work.  I can do that.  To my excitement, a MSW was one of the degrees that was offered online through my employer.  PERFECT, I thought.  I got started on my application, chomping at the bit to get everything in.  I chomped at the bit so hard that I realized after I applied that I had missed the deadline by a month and the program was already full.  I'd have to wait another year to apply again.

Fine.  I took this as God's calming hand, instructing me to pump the brakes and really pray about whether or not this was something I should do.  I decided to spend the year seeking out social service organizations to volunteer with to make sure it was something I really wanted to do.

Enter Harris Home for Children. 

It went something like this: I googled "foster homes in Huntsville;" Harris Home for Children came up; I checked out their website; I liked their Facebook page; literally 3 minutes later my friend Kristin (that knows my heart and what makes me tick) sent me a text, "Hey girl, I saw you liked Harris Home on FB.  I was in leadership class with the executive director.  Want me to introduce you guys via e-mail?"; I kissed Kristin on the face (not really, but had she been in the same room as me it would have happened); she e-mailed Tony (Executive Director) and introduced us virtually; Tony e-mailed back and we set up a time for me to come in and tour; I met him, asked him how I could help out; he told me I could be as involved as little or as much as I wanted and that there were board member opportunities available.  A little time and lots of paperwork later and here we are.

I have the opportunity to serve an organization that houses up to 32 foster kids at once.  A group home in the middle of my city, covering the heads of children ages 12-20, that strives to provide a stable, healthy environment for them.

And friends, I'm in love.  I am in love with these beautiful kids that were created in the image of God.  These kids that are in a less than ideal situation due to no fault of their own.  I wish I could give them everything I own, all of my money and resources.  Unfortunately those are not the things they really want (which is good since I'm not made of money).  They don't want things.  They want their families.  They want the same things we all want.  To be loved.

Sadly I cannot give them their families, but I can love them.  And oh do I try to love them all.  I step on campus with as full of a heart as I can muster, hoping that a simple hug will go a long way for them.  Hoping that an intentional ear to hear what they have to say will make them feel special.  I pray for them, cry for them, rejoice for them and just freaking love them. 

Looking back to my first few months in this city, struggling to find the right place to pour myself into seems so long ago.  I was trying so hard to find my perfect fit, focusing more on myself than those that needed to be served.  After all that it just took a little research and a lot of prayer for the perfect fit to be placed in my lap. 

Also, a great piece of irony to add to this story would be that after a year of hoping to get into an MSW program I ended up getting wait listed.  The most shocking part is that I was not all that upset about it.  Disappointed? Yes.  Still praying to be accepted so I can begin pursuing that degree? Yes.  Crying and wallowing on my sofa?  No.  Why?

Because if I had never been too late applying in the first place, I would not have taken time to seek out Harris Home and I would not be as in love as I am today.  God's plan is always better than my plan.  Interested to see where He throws me next.