National Adoption Month Series: Mary’s Story

The chairs were cold and hard, and I was ready to leave. We sat in the gym listening to song after song, as the program seemed to run long. Finally, someone teased us about closing the ceremony, but then dashed our hopes with “just one more number.” I suppressed a huge sigh, as adults are supposed to be above such displays, but my selfishness diminished as I watched a tiny, blond imp walk forward and face the crowd. She shyly smiled and began to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” As she walked back to her seat, a brief, “how cute,” flitted through my mind and just as quickly left as we were finally dismissed.
If you believe that life is filled with random coincidences that we just happen to experience, then you may not understand the rest of this story. But I hope you will read on, despite some doubt, and learn how much God cares; not just about our needs, but our hopes and dreams as well. I personally believe in divine intervention, prayer and faith, but even I forget just how big God is. Little did I know, sitting on those cold, hard chairs, that God had not only heard my prayer, but had just placed the answer right in front of me.

I had an ache in my heart, a hole of sorts that no surgeon could repair. While I already had two wonderful sons by birth, I longed to adopt a daughter. For me this was a need, but for my husband not so much. Seven years had passed since the topic was first discussed, and I prayed first for his heart to change. But when that didn’t get results, I prayed that my heart would. I asked God to take the desire from me, so it wouldn’t hurt anymore, or cause bitterness. God was not satisfied with those limitations, and with His typical wisdom and no lack of a sense of humor, He opted for the shock and awe approach. The next time the subject was brought up, it was my husband that said, “I think we should look into adopting!” I almost passed out, but recovered quickly so I could get the ball rolling before he could change his mind!

I called several adoption agencies and was satisfied knowing that packets of information would arrive within a few weeks. Then, being a long-standing member in the, ‘it never hurts to ask’ club, I put in one more call, this time to a place more local. We were friends with a couple that managed a Christian children’s ranch. The kids placed with them were temporary wards, while parents were in jail, or couldn’t care for them for other reasons. It was rare that any of the kids were adoptable, so I didn’t get my hopes up as I dialed. My inquiry was answered with one question, “how old?” I explained very logically how we felt that a two or three year-old would be best, giving us time with them before they started school. When that was met with, “oh, that’s too bad,” they went on to tell me that there was a five year-old girl that would be put up for adoption right after Christmas. I heard my voice say, “that is too bad; It’s older than we were thinking,” and with that I hung up.

You can hang up a telephone easily, but it’s much harder to disconnect your heart. That night I didn’t sleep a wink. I laid there thinking about a five year-old girl that would soon be displaced in life. It broke my heart. I vaguely remembered a young girl with huge dimples that one of our friends was caring for at the Ranch. She met us at the door one night, full of energy, talking non-stop and proceeded to use Dale as a jungle gym. Could they be talking about her? How old was she? Was I remembering right? Was her hair blond? The never-ending questions jammed my mind and imagination all through the night. By early morning I noticed Dale was awake too, and asked what he thought about a five year-old. Without hesitation, he said “I think you should call them back!”

She did have blond hair and blue eyes and dimples! Not only was she the girl God placed on my mind that night, she was also the same impish child who sang for us that uncomfortable day in the gym!  She would become our daughter that winter. She ended up with two older brothers to torture gleefully, and parents who knew beyond all doubt that she was a gift from God. God made sure our lives were woven with threads of common friends. It has been over twenty years since we first heard her sing, and she still uses her voice every Sunday, as she now leads worship for our church.

maryphippsfam

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Mary is the wife of Dale, mother to Matt, Nate and Maegy, and Mother-in-law to Michael and Amber.  She is “Grammy” to Elijah, Asher and Bennett. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a full-time pastor’s wife and part time daycare to two of her grandboos. She has a side business called “Leaf It To Me,” making and painting cement leaf castings and speaks for various women’s events around the NW. She has guest posted on M2M before, which you can read here and from time-to-time you can find her sporadic ramblings at http://marylphipps.blogspot.com/.

mary

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Categorizing Lives – Mary’s Story

I do a lot of categorizing in my life, which is how I explain marrying a preacher type. My mother was a teacher, my father became a preacher, and the majority of my family on my mom’s side does one or the other. When someone new remarks about me being a preacher’s wife, I tell them, “in my family you either teach or preach or you marry someone that does.”

Most of my “preacher’s wife” stage of life, I have felt categorized, classified, and stigmatized. Even though I was married for almost ten years before my husband became a preacher, it seems as though we were never anything else. I am 56 now, and proud of it…I have earned every wrinkle, gray hair, and extra pound I have on me. I have lived with chronic pain and illness issues for nearly twenty years now and continued to work, raise my family, and helped my husband in full-time ministry. Over ten years ago I stopped working because my health and pain levels would not cooperate any longer and now I am, according to the government, disabled. My age and employable status are, however, not all that I am or all that I will ever be. I am me, a woman who was once a child, now a wife, mom, grandma, aunt, sister, niece, cousin, daughter, and most importantly, child of God! I always love, but don’t always show it right. I don’t always say the right thing nor have the right attitude, but I sure do try. I love to speak and write, but I also love to play video games, crochet and go kayaking! I love photography, nature, my dogs and shopping, but all of these things do not define me. I am a great many things and God knits them together to make a whole me and without Him I could not survive. What category would that all fit in? I think the best one to place me in, would be the Mary category…just being who God created me to be.

I love how beautifully a scene in the movie, “The Last Holiday,” describes God’s image of us. In the kitchen of a grand hotel, the chef is explaining about the baby turnips he is going to cook. “Poor baby turnips – nobody likes them. Of course life is easy if you are a truffle or shitake mushroom. But the turnip is to be loved because she is a self-made woman of the vegetables. All the others you can only destroy with cooking…but the turnip, she gets better. It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”

I especially love that last part, “it’s not how you start, but how you finish!” I thank God that He doesn’t label us. He doesn’t put us in a box or a category and leave us there. If we leave ourselves open to a bit of “cooking,” we can only get better! How exciting! I appreciate all that I have been, all that I am and I also look forward to what I will become. Watch out – God isn’t done with me yet! And He isn’t done with you, either!

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14

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Mary is the wife of Dale, mother to Matt, Nate and Maegy, and Mother-in-law to Michael and Amber.  She is “Grammy” to Elijah, Asher and Bennett. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a full-time pastor’s wife and part time daycare to her 3 year old and 6 month old grandboos. She has a side business called “Leaf It To Me,” making and painting cement leaf castings and speaks for various women’s events around the NW.  From time-to-time you can find her sporadic ramblings on Facebook or at http://marylphipps.blogspot.com/

Mary

 

Born to Mother – Beth’s Story

Motherhood is the only way I can describe my life. It is who I am. Every part of me and each chapter of my life, from childhood to now 62 years old, have been marked by the mothering role I have played. There is nothing that I feel I can do better and there is nothing that has brought me greater joy than being a mother.

I grew up the oldest of six children. Both my parents were very important people in our community and worked outside of the home, which was very unusual in the 1950’s. But because they both worked, our family was somewhat wealthy and my brothers and sisters and I grew up with the best clothes, the newest cars and the finest of educations. The downside, though, was that we hardly ever saw our parents and as such I don’t remember much of my childhood. Instead, I became a mother to my five younger siblings and practically raised them by myself. I was the one that rocked them, read them books, kissed their boo-boos and tucked them in at night. I didn’t know anything different; I enjoyed taking care of them and they adored me. By my teenage years, when many older sisters are complaining about their bratty younger siblings, I was making their lunches in the morning, dropping them off at school before my classes and then picking them up and feeding and entertaining them in the afternoon and evening. I had come to accept my big sister/mother role as just part of life and I never despised it or my parents for putting such a heavy burden on me. In fact, I loved it. And so, for the rest of high school and into college I began to watch other families’ children and work as a part-time nanny as well to make extra money.

It was also at university that I met my husband. He was a smart, quiet and somewhat austere man that rarely opened himself up to anyone. But he pursued me and since I never knew anything about what love was supposed to be, I allowed him to take me out to movies, dancing and the drive-in. After all, he was kind, from a reputable family and I knew he would make an excellent provider. After a short courtship, we were married and I dropped out of the university to tend our home. Not too long after, I found myself preparing for the arrival of our first child. As much as I had enjoyed taking care of my younger siblings and other families’ children, it felt as if my life and heart were finally complete when our son was born and then, three years later, our daughter. I enjoyed every moment of motherhood; from the glowing pregnancy months to even late night feedings and the wonder of first discoveries and milestones of the baby years. Life had never felt so complete until I held and rocked a tiny piece of myself in my arms.
My husband had a very stable, well-paying job so we were able to comfortably live while I got to stay home and cherish every moment with my sweet babes. As our children grew into toddlers and preschoolers, I found myself almost always home alone with them from his frequent late-nights at the office and numerous out-of-town business travels. I was so busy and content with playful games, baby snuggles and nightly bath times all day long, that I didn’t really notice how lonely I was until the children were gone in school or asleep in their beds at night. As the years passed, the excuse of work kept my husband away more and more, but I had no reason to suspect anything awry or felt that I should complain. After all, my own parents growing up were almost never around. So, to fill my hours when the kids were in school, I volunteered for everything I could; PTA, quilting bees, bridge club, neighborhood committees and even took a driver’s education course and got my license!

The years blurred together and before I knew it, my son and daughter were teenagers. It was at that time that my husband divorced me for a younger woman at his work. I found out later that amidst all the late-nights and out-of-town business trips, there were actually NUMEROUS young women. It hurt me terribly, but I had grown so accustomed to parenting on my own and my children hardly knew their father anyway, and so, they took my side. Miraculously for the time, I got custody of them and we moved into a tiny little house of our own across town. In addition to alimony and child support, I made a little extra money by watching other people’s children and eventually, I had so many requests that I was able to open up my own little daycare, right out of my home when my own children left the house for college.
I owned my daycare business for many more years, watching hundreds of children come and go, until I retired just a few years ago. And just in time, too, for just last year I got the privilege to take on a new mothering role. My own kids are now grown and married and both just had their first children, who I get to watch each week at my new “Grandma’s daycare” job! And, while it may be unpaid, being a grandmother and getting to hold, rock and play with my children’s children is different and yet even more wonderful and rewarding in its own way that decades ago raising my own kids.

And so, mothering truly has followed me my entire life and I whole-heartedly believe it was what I was born to be. I really was made to mother; first my younger siblings, then other people’s children, my own precious babies, then many other young kids through my daycare business and now my amazing grandchildren. Each role has brought more joy and new experiences and learning for me and I have cherished each one in their own way. And, although I know it is still very far off, I cannot wait until I get to experience being a great-grandma! There is truthfully no other part I was destined to play in this life, nor would I go back and trade for the chance to be anything other than a mother!

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