Archive for 2016

Matthew Cuthbert, My Pepaw, and Smell Good man

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hi friends...Remember me?  I have not blogged in a while and I know you all still love me.  My days consist of doing life with these girls, of soaking up every ounce of information I can about orphan care and shepherding the hurting heart.  Most of our girls come from backgrounds full of hurt and abandonment and that brings with it its own unique set of issues.  Brian and I want to do all that we can to love them and lead them-and that includes reading...all...the...time.

Recently, I finished reading the most wonderful book called Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and I by Lorilee Craker.  It is so amazing as it pairs two things I love- Anne of Green Gables and understanding the heart of those considered "orphans" by society-those with who are hurting.  I would love to write and write and write about this book...but that isn't what's on my heart. 

Recently, I read a chapter about Matthew Cuthbert, the most unlikely, unassuming, and unsung father figure in literature.  While reading it, I may have sat in a coffee house in Moldova's capitol city and balled my little eyes out.  It made me feel eternally grateful for the amazing men who have loved me and loved others so well.  There isn't enough room on this blog for me to thank every father like figure...but there is room to hit a few highlights

I am from the south.  I love that I am from the south and from a family of salt of the earth country people.  People who love big.  In the south, we don't call our fathers "dad" or "father"...good southern girls say daddy.  I can remember my favorite thing as a child was cutting grass with my daddy.  I always felt like a princess riding along with him, wearing his work cap or my favorite cowboy hat.  I loved that special time just with him.  My dad was not a perfect father.  I was not a perfect daughter.  But, we sure loved each other.  Most of my memories of him make me laugh and smile so big.  He was just the kind of person who loved to make people smile and he loved to have a good time.  At my father's funeral, all I could think about was the big life that my daddy had lived.  Full of adventures and laughs and trials.  He had loved big.  He had loved me big. I foolishly thought for most of my life that my father didn't love me as much as he loved my siblings.  By the time I was a teenager, he had raised my brother and sister and was tired.  He wasn't very present then because he was struggling with so much personally.  Some of my most precious times with my father (and my brother) were over the last ten years.  He was very sick the last ten years and we had lots of one on one time in the hospital.  It was as if my wild, larger than life daddy became softer and more introspective.  He would share so much love and words of wisdom with me.  So many times he told me he loved me and was proud of me-things I had longed to hear as a teenager.  Many times my daddy told me, that he knew that God was using his sickness and pain to bring his family together and he felt like that made it worth it....and he meant it...and it did.  God used my daddy's health and even his death to bring us all closer.  At his funeral, the thing that meant the most to me was that every single person that came through the line asked if I was "the daughter that was a missionary".  They would then tell me how proud he was of me and how he talked about me all the time.  That man loved me and my brother and sister BIG.  He loved BIG and He lived BIG.

My pepaw.
If you have read my blog at all.  You have read about my grandparents.  My grandfather took me on my first ever mission trip when I was 12- with Carpenters for Christ. I didn't call him grandfather or grandpa...nope he was too special for that.  He was papaw.  My Pepaw was not a perfect man, but he served a perfect God...and He served Him with all that he was.  With my pepaw, I always felt safe, loved, and special.  He was one of my earliest heroes.  This man loved others so well.  He was always willing to get up early and drive a bazillion miles to be with a friend in need.  When he passed away, I had the extreme honor of speaking at his funeral.  It was my first time to loose someone I loved so dear.  But, I KNEW that I had to share about him.  I knew that so many in the church knew God because my grandfather had introduced them.  I was his darling and he was my pepaw. I wish that he were alive.  He would love these girls of ours so much.  I think he would have gotten over his aversion of flying just to come meet his new and precious extended family.  He loved family.

I wasn't raised Catholic.  But, I had a godfather. No, I'm not Italian either.  Just blessed.  When I was christened as a child, my mother chose her childhood friend and her friend's husband to be my godparents.  They had a baby girl that was born the year before...and they just took me as part of their family as well.  So many of my childhood memories consist of my godparents.  Trips to Knoxville.  To the Worlds Fair.  So many amazing memories with my extra family...and my Godfather:) He was not like a Corleone at all.  He is warm, caring, and servant-hearted and loves Jesus so much.  Every major life event I have ever experienced, Chuckles has been there.  (That's our nickname for him).  My birth, my christening, my high school graduation, my wedding, my grandparent's funerals and so many more.  He loved my father dearly.  Chuckles rushed to be at my side when my father was dying.  In fact, within five minutes of his arriving, my father passed.  I think my daddy waited so Chuckles could be there to hold me...yet again, Chuckles was there to hold my hand and love me through a major life event.  He and his wife helped me get organized and prepare myself for what life is like when you lose a parent.  Thankfully, God knew I needed many parent figures in my life and He gave me a Chuckles.  My godfather is so good at making the stranger a friend...and helping people belong.

Smell good man.
 I wont say his name here...because he is not the kind of man who needs praise and adoration.  He is a simple kind of man with a big love for his people.  He was the father of one of my dearest friends in high school...and when I was going through a particularly rough period during the summer of my senior year in high school, he loved me (and all of our friends) like we were his own. My parents were divorcing and it felt like quite a surprise to me and it also made me second guess everything about myself.  Divorce can do that.  In a period of time when I was quite the opposite of my typically easy going, lovable, outgoing self....this man looked at me and didn't see hurt....didn't see brokenness...didn't see the mistakes piling up....He saw sparkle.  He saw light.  He saw beauty and he (and his sweet wife) loved me through one of the hardest times in my life.  I was broken and I didn't want anything to do with anyone. And this precious man...who always smells of Brut cologne, just loved me right where I was.  To this day, every time I smell Brut cologne, I am filled with the sweetest memories of this man. When I see him and his sweet wife, I feel like I am transported back to my teenage years and right into the arms of this father-figure who walked through the valley with me.  I don't even know if he knows how much his presence has meant to me.  When my own father passed away earlier this year, it was so incredibly difficult.  But, this sweet man stood in the long visitation line just to come give me, one of his adopted (if not ragamuffin) children, a hug and to let her know that he cared. and that I was still sparkles!  Gosh, I wanna love others like that.

My sweet Brian has not been like a father to me personally...but he is like a father to our precious girls.  They don't refer to him as father or dad...they just call him Brian.  But, they know that Brian means a whole lot to them.  Brian is constantly going and working and they know that every thing he does, he does for them.  They love Brian.  He is kind and patient and personifies Christ's love.  I love that our girls have this example of a godly man.  I love that they see that you don't have to be loud and proud and a boss to be a godly man.  You can be kind and hard working and love God and others.  I love seeing Brian taking care of our girls.  He loves them so much.  He would do anything for them.  He would do anything to protect them.  He was born to be live out who he just be Brian to these girls of ours.  My buddy loves big and serves with his whole heart.  He reminds me so much of Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables

Webster's dictionary has several definitions of father...but the one definition that stands out the most to me and is so much more than someone who shares genetics (and also defines these five men I have written about) is this:
father (noun)- someone who takes care of or protects someone or something.

All five of these men have done this for me and the people I love.  I am so thankful for fathers of all kinds.    Happy Father's Day!!!

"Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted.  We all want to belong.  He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us.  He never forgets the children whose names are written on the palm of His hand.  God makes us belong.  He is enough.  At every bend in the road, our father is waiting for us, reaching out His arms.  And we are orphans no more"   -Lorilee Craker


Microwave Mom

Friday, May 6, 2016

This sunday is a special holiday in America.  Its one that has always left me full of a variety of emotions.  Its Mothers' Day.  My friend, Leslie Word, has always been so amazing and supportive of all types of mothers on this day.  Every year she has posted about all the different types of mothers that exist in this world....and I have felt so hesitant to believe what she wrote.  I felt hesitant to step in to my own role as a "mother".  The fact that I want to type it in quotes is evidence of the fact that I haven't felt like enough-not smart enough, not together enough, not good enough, not mother enough...I have feared judgement in allowing myself to say "I am a mother".  I have feared what people will say or how they will react.  I realized today that I bought in to the world's definition of what a mother is...and its a lie.  I have negated anything that I have done because I don't have children that share my DNA or even my last name.  I have felt that it might be pretentious to allow myself to be called mother.  But, today...and this Mother's Day weekend....I am going to lean in to my role as mother (without quotations marks).  I am NOT going to regale you all with the amazing things I do each day-that would be fiction.  Because, I honestly fail miserably at this mothering thing most days.  I just want to share my thoughts on the coming of my very first "Mother's Day" as a "mom". (OK-old habits die hard- the quotes make me feel safe). Please allow me the space and grace to call myself a mother if only for this weekend-I will try to allow myself the same space and grace.

If motherhood happened the same way we cook...I would be a microwave mother.  I didn't have the long time to prepare and learn and read and dream- like a slow cooker.   Nor, did I have just the average ole length of time with convection currents to make sure everything was just right before the timer went off..  No sir, God has a sense of humor.  Overnight, I became a mother to 18 (actually 31) teenage girls and not just any teenage girls-Teenage girls who had spent most of their adolescence in state run orphanages.  They are the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given- and I am terrified of messing up.  I think that's normal for a mother.  I just lean into God and say- I hope you have this God, because I have no idea what I am doing.

 I have become obsessed with books about parenting adolescents, parenting the hurting child, the orphan's heart, and all the popular titles that help me learn how to do this in a good and Godly way.   I crave time to myself...and yet miss them terribly when I have five minutes alone.  A quiet house doesn't soothe my makes me wonder where they are and what they are up to:).   I feel the weight of every single decision I make...I constantly ask myself---"how will this affect their future?".  I am a microwave mom.  It happened so quick...but so full of God's presence.   It was like overnight God gave me this magical ability to see truth, see beauty, see needs, and recognize when someone is being less than truthful:) 

 I am not their mother by DNA or by any legal documents.  They don't call me mom.  By the world's standards, I am no mother.  But, I still have the daily responsibilities of a mother.  To love them, guide them, provide for them, comfort them when life throws curveballs (which the teenage years are wrought with curve balls).  What an honor it is to have this role...even if I'm not a proper "mom".  I am thankful to the women who gave them life, and to the women who sustained them until this point....and to the women who continue to pour into their really does take a village....and honestly...there is no such thing as "my" children or "your" children....They are all our children...and our decisions matter to all of "OUR" children in this world---no matter if you are a microwave mom or not.  This is not the way I imagined I would come in to "motherhood"...not at all....but I cannot imagine being anywhere else....of course as I type this ode to my dear ones and the role they have given me...the music is getting louder and the voices are disagreeing on the style of music...because...struggles:)  I love this family of mine....who call me by one name- Kathryn.  Just Kathryn---but oh it sounds lovely and like so much more than just "Kathryn" coming from these voices of the ones I hold dear.

Happy Mother's Day to me....what a privilege it is to be a mother to these loud and beautiful and emotional and crazy brilliant girls!!!


Mom moment

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dear ones....I am so sorry that my blog posts are so infrequent.  But, I know that you all will forgive me (and by you all, I mean my mom, Courtney, and Mandy---love yall!).  Anyhow...some days there are soo many feelings I want to share with you.  Some days the feelings feel so big that no words could ever capture them....and some days they feel so special and personal that I am not sure I could share.  But, let me tell you this....God is in every feeling I have here.  When I feel sad, He comforts me.  When I feel scared, He holds me.  When I feel hopeful and excited, He is cheering with me. God is good.  He is so good.  Let me tell you about something I have been feeling lately....and how God multiplied it and made it beautiful:)

You all know we live in a house with 16 girls...ok...its 18, now.  Our home is full to the brim of every kind of emotion you can imagine.  It is a loud and proud house.  (I fit right in).  Anyhow, teenage girls like to eat.  In case you didn't know this-They do.  They like to diet for a day---then, eat everything in the house.  Its real.  Lately, I feel like every time I am outside of the house one of them is calling me and asking for ice cream, or chips, or milk, or cookies, or something sweet.  I haven't thought much of it.  Last night, Brian and I took some guests to the mall.  While we were there, two or three of our girls called and wanted to know where we were, how long we would be gone, when we would be home, AND if we could bring them some food home.  For a split second, I thought-Goodness gracious-I feel like every time I leave the house someone is calling and wanting me to pick up this or get that or find food.  I felt flustered for all of two seconds.  Then, God (in all of His infinite wisdom) whispered to my heart....Kathryn, this is a Mom's life.   And y'all.  It broke me.  I felt sooooo incredibly full of His grace and Mercy....I felt so humbled and honored that He would let me have some tiny little role in the lives of 18 or so of the most amazing human beings who ever walked this planet.
 I know I am not their mother....but He is letting me love them and serve them like a mother....and for that....for that and all of its endless tasks and demands....I am so grateful.  I may have cried a bit in the Fourchette.  Last night, when Brian and I finally returned home after several hours away, we were met with smiles so big and hugs so massive--That had nothing to do with the goodies we had in our bags.  Last night, I felt like I could not get home quick enough to lay eyes on our dear little family.  I felt like I just needed to see them and be with them....and here their melodious and loud hear about their hear their see their eyes light up.  There is nothing sweeter than stepping out for a moment and then stepping back in to a home where I know love lives.  Our house is not perfect and we have such a long way to go in this role as House Parents.  But, y'all....I love it.  God made us for this.  For however long this part of our journey lasts...I want to savor every feeling God gives me....even if they make me cry in the middle of Moldovan grocery stores.  I love this role He has for me.  Please pray that I can live every moment in full awareness of the goodness of His plan...that I never tire of the joy and struggle that is loving these 18 girls.  Thank you Jesus for picking us!

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