I don't remember most of my life so far. I have journaled (or written in a diary) for as long as I've known how to write. I take lots of pictures, and though I don't scrapbook, I always intend to, so I keep scraps of everything. One of my best friends remembers almost everything we've done together since 1994, but she gets really bad cell phone reception, so she's not always a great resource. So, most of my minutes and days are lost to my subconscious.
I'm thinking about this because I'm sitting here with a five-year-old boy (D) I didn't know existed before Tuesday at 2pm, pondering how my life got here. Here's what I remember.
I remember the house I lived in as a teenager being a haven for all sorts of our friends. It was probably never clean or stocked with enough food, but my brothers' and sister's and my friends seemed to feel at home there. Holiday meals were crowded with these friends of every background, and after I left for college, my bedroom became the rotating hospitality suite for some of these friends. I remember thinking I wanted to have a home like that when I grew up. A place where everyone would be comfortable with an extra bed or couch always ready for someone who needed it.
I remember hearing about short-term missions for the first time when I was 13. It was a cute boy with floppy hair who had just returned from a trip with Teen Mania to Chile and he talked about how the spaghetti sauce there was more like ketchup and what good friends he had made. Convincing enough for me! I went on my first trip to India the next summer and staying inside the U.S. was never again a permanent option for me. Traveling all over the world and falling in love with people in many cultures and religions gave me a bug for having children of all different colors who I wanted to raise with a global mindset.
I remember many late nights in college, dragging pillows and blankets out into the hallway of the dorms to talk with friends, dreaming of our upcoming summer trips and conspiring for world domination once we graduated. One particular summer, I had the privilege to go to Turkey, a unique trip in every way wonderful. One of the wonderful elements was a team member named Chana who also lived on my floor. We had lots of that hallway dreaming time together. Though we had solid plans to keep in touch after I graduated, we had no inkling of what would become another beautiful part of our friendship.
I remember joining the military to continue my world travels. I remember all the beautiful and mysterious steps leading up to meeting my husband through both my college relationships and my military travels. I remember getting out of the military to start that home and family I had dreamed about with said husband. And I remember that family not starting the way I had planned. Many months passed in which I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, and questioned why I quit my job for what seemed to be nothing.
I remember reading my friend Chana's blog, following her travels with her husband as they served in countries we had dreamed about. I remember her writing honestly about her uneasiness concerning her upcoming trip to China (where her husband was) with her 20-month old and newborn. It was then I knew something I could do. I could help mothers with their children. I sent her one of those "Hi, I know we haven't talked in 10 years, but I read your blog" type of emails and asked if I could travel with them. She said yes, so I did. And spent an awesome 10 days getting reconnected with two very good friends and addicted to Arrested Development, and learning how to soothe a crying newborn. She never lets me forget the difference I made in her life and I'm still trying to convince her it was mutual.
I remember later that summer when my little sister was having her 4th and 5th kids and wondering what I could do to help. Having the China trip fresh in my mind and passport, I knew I could help with her other kids. We eventually had my at-the-time 4 and 6-year-old nephews come stay with us in Virginia for 3 weeks while she adjusted to life with babies. I remember realizing why God usually gives us kids as babies with a generous 9-month lead-in time! I remember the panic when I realized I was responsible for these precious people 24-7 and what in the world was I going to do to keep them busy for 3 weeks! I remember the ache in my heart when they went home and the pillows were back on the couch and the replaceable seat covers had been replaced. John and I decided we wouldn't be too bad as parents after all.
Oh, and that desire to be parents. Still so strong.
I remember even later that year when we heard and followed the call to be foster parents. After all, we had plenty of extra beds for those in need, we wanted to be a place of refuge for people of all backgrounds, we knew the blessing of helping other families, we wanted to eventually adopt and we had very jumponable couch pillows. We based the age range (newborn to 7) we were open to on the age range we knew. The age ranges I knew because of the days spent helping other mothers. Because I had the time because I didn't have a job or a baby of my own.
And now. Two newborns and a rambunctious Thomas-loving 5-year-old piling pillows on the floor later.
I'm a firm believer that God is always preparing us for the next or future season in life by what we are going through now. I believe that we get better preparation when we're focused on this season (see my last blog). I don't believe these things because of what someone told me or something I read in a blog or a book. I believe it because I'm living it. And these are the pieces of life I'm glad I remember!
Care to share your own story about how the steps of your journey have led you to where you are? I'm all ears (after Boy D goes to bed, of course!).