Mission & commission

*Thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for sharing her thoughts on motherhood, and happy early Mother’s Day, Debra!*

Photo courtesy of Say Cheese Photography

Photo courtesy of Say Cheese Photography

My commission in this life is to be an advocate and a caretaker, e.g., a peacemaker.  I know this with every fiber of my being.  It is an inherent part of me.  It is the way I perceive things; it’s the way I feel about things, and it is the way in which I am compelled to construct the days of my life.  This task involves many dimensions, and can sometimes be exhausting, but when presented with a situation, I have never backed away from the opportunity to replace chaos and confusion with peace and harmony, if it is at all within my sphere of influence.

My mission on this earth is to be the mom of Adam and Rachel.  This I know.  I am humbled and honored.  I have not taken either entrustment lightly. The greatest honor in my life was to be given the incredible opportunity to be the mom of Adam and Rachel – precious gifts, perfectly given. 

My two children are the best things that ever happened in my life.  They are both amazing and outstanding human beings, with extraordinary strength of character, possessing kind and loving natures and caring, giving spirits.  Being incredibly gifted and accomplished people, my children leave a positive and lasting impression in whatever they do.

As a young person readying my life to go out into the world, although I had lofty dreams of being a missionary and serving the masses in a foreign land, I’m sure that I would have ultimately chosen to be a nurse, or if not that, a teacher – one, because those were the typical options open to girls, and two, because that’s who I am.  But things conspired in such a way that instead of pursuing more education, I found myself working in a public school setting, and I absolutely loved it!  Yet I still knew that there was more to be done, but how, where, when, and was I the one to accomplish it?  I wrestled with those questions for a long time, while filling my life with people whom I could serve on a smaller scale, and simultaneously creating friendships and memories that have lasted throughout my life.

Then, I had children.  All those lofty dreams of foreign lands (I did get to travel!), those choices of being a nurse or a teacher (I spent lots of time doing both!), that holy commission of creating peace and harmony as advocate/caretaker/peacemaker (worked at that every day!), questions about what more needed to done (no doubt about how much needed to done!), and was I the one to do it (who else?!?! absolutely and positively!), it didn’t take me long to realize that I was accomplishing all the things on my list, just in a different way, with a different audience, and with the very best of educations. My children have taught me so much and have shared so many insights, and their own wisdom, knowledge, joy, and courage with me, that I cannot begin to imagine a life without the richness and boundless depths of essence and purpose which only they could have made possible. 

In the words of a friend and mentor, “No matter what else happens, I have already done my best work.”


Day 3–The delicate dance

*I’ve known Jessica since college, and I feel privileged to have watched her evolve into who she is today. Our journeys aren’t identical, but I relate to much of her story. Check out her blog!*

Gratitude and love. Topics that seem to go hand in hand with lines blurred as to where one ends and another begins. Because, indeed, if you have ever been loved, well, the gratitude of being a recipient of such is a natural overflow.

When Bethany asked me write for this blog I immediately said yes. And then, moments later, regretted it. Don’t get me wrong. I have much to be grateful for. But currently, I’m in a season of life where grief overshadows most my gratefulness. And that’s the funny thing about love. It can often bring with it a two-edged sword bearing pain and piercing joy. How the two can exist in delicate harmony is something I’m learning day by day.

Our kids with Paige, spring 2010

Our kids with Paige, spring 2010

Paige was a 15 year old high school freshman when we met just 5 short years ago. Over the course of our children’s lives, she became more than just a teenager in our Sunday school class, she became family. In July, for reasons still unexplained, she died. The pain and grief that has been heaped upon my family by her death has nearly been crushing.

However, she is worth it.

The way she loved our family, the way she loved our children, the way she loved me has made every second of our grief worth it. And if I could go back in time five years and choose to love her all over again, I would.

This girl, this friend, who in my opinion left this world much too soon, left her mark on our family. My spunky, caring, eight year old daughter is forever changed because of the way Paige loved her. She wears funky hats, loves endlessly, serves others willingly and knows that it’s okay sometimes to act a little silly. All of those things because Paige did the same with her and now, she’s forever changed.

My sweet, tender, six year old son, who still cries weekly because he so desperately misses Paige, is forever changed. Just like Paige, he loves giraffes, making up silly songs, listening to music on his iPod and worshiping God no matter who is watching. He watched her love those things, and it has forever changed him.

My enthusiastic, laughter inducing six year old daughter dotes over babies, loves them fiercely, isn’t afraid to change a dirty diaper, act silly enough to illicit a laugh and is perfectly fine with carrying a younger sister around on her hip as long as she desires. All because she saw Paige do the same with her and with every child Paige came in contact with. Now my six year old daughter is forever changed.

I could keep going but the point is, Paige loved us well and we love her deeply. She changed us. All of us. Somehow, a 20 year old girl attached herself to our family and caused us to redefine why, how and who we love.

Paige with some of our kids, April 2012

Paige with some of our kids, April 2012

We love not because she is blood. We love not because she has the title of family. We love not because it is easy or convenient or warm and fuzzy. In fact, the last six months, since her death, those last adjectives have been the hardest to swallow.

Yet, we are so very grateful. Grateful for her. Grateful that God allowed us five short, love filled years with her. Grateful that we have memory upon memory of her time with us. Memories of vacations and sleepovers and road trips. We are grateful that she loved us richly, and we loved her wholly.

The pain of losing her has pierced us deeply while the joy of who she remains to be in our family abounds. I’ve held my children as they cried tears and wailed sobs because they miss their friend so very much. I’ve watched them dance and laugh and sing songs that she taught them and see the joy in their smiles and the pain in their eyes.

It’s a funny thing, this kind of gratitude. It’s hard to describe how grief, joy, love, gratitude and sorrow can combine into one smooth wave of emotion that pours itself into every facet of your life. The dance around, these pairs of love and sorrow, gratitude and grief. And if I’ve learned anything from all of this, it is that one can exist and even thrive in face of the other. A year ago, I would have never thought that possible. Now, I’m so thankful for the way the two dance within my heart. Because if you take out even one of the two then you take Paige and her love from our lives, and that is something I’m so grateful that we will never have to do.


Jessica also blogs over at http://themakingofmom.blogspot.com.