Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Wish It Was Different :: A Story of Fragmented Grace

I slice the bread in half, scooping up a heaping serving of tuna salad. I pull out one of the new plastic plates, recently purchased for potential foster kids to use instead of the heavy ceramic ones we got on our wedding day.

I mix the macaroni and cheese, and ladle a spoonful on the 1/4 segment of the pre-separated plate.

As a last minute addition, I add a small portion of reheated leftover veggie pasta to add a tiny bit of greens to her meal.

Suddenly, my mind is catapulted back in time.

I am 5. My cousin, Wendy, is almost 6. She is my very best friend. It is summer and life is filled with sunsuits, one foot "baby" pools, and fighting over Barbie dolls. My granny dishes out chicken noodle soup or maybe it was Chef Boyardee into our waiting bowls as we sit at the table hungry from our morning of play.

Back in this moment, my granny sits on my couch, sleep holding her captive more and more each day with the necessity of medications to function in the world around her.

I sigh and smile all at the same time.

I am the grown up.
She is the child.

I am the one now worried about what she will eat and happy that I have crustless sandwich rounds because she always cut off the crust when we were kids and now will eat it no other way.

I place the potluck variety on a tray and pour out half a glass of milk and carry it to where she snoozes, touching her arm to wake her to eat this simple fare that she is really not hungry for anyway.

She smiles at me with thanks and contentment and slowly makes her way through the various presentations on the plate.

It's hard.
This change.
For all of the obvious reasons.
The ones that are a part of the harsh reality of the circle of life.

But harder still for a different reason.

I do not see my grandmother often.
She lives in my town.
In fact, all four of my biological grandparents still do.
And only when my parents are home from Haiti do I truly spend consistent time with them.

I often feel guilty about that.
Some people my age have never even met their grandparents or lost them as children or teenagers.
My husband is one of them.

I grew up away from my extended family most of the year, spending 3 months in the summer and 3 weeks at Christmas with those who share bloodlines and last names.  The reality of my world was not truly on their radar.  And as a child and teenager, I made it work.  I loved to come to my USA home, and I did not really want to think about being the missionary kid during my "vacation" away, so I entered the world before me easily, with open arms.

When I turned 18, I went to college in Oklahoma.
The first in both sides of my family to attend in more than twenty-five years.
And there I changed even more.
My ways of thinking were challenged. My life-long mindsets were shattered.
My horizons were broadened, and my world view was blown wide open.

So, when I moved back full-time, year-round to the place of my parents' birth, where I had always dreamed of living, I really did not fit in that well. Even with my family.

Oh I was loved.
Please do not get me wrong.
But to a girl who values being understood above almost every other thing, a sad reality replaced my optimistic youth.

Things would never be the same again.

I learned through missteps and over-sharing that calculating my thoughts and viewpoints was kinder and safer in the long run. And eventually a semi-ordinary routine came into existence.


Seven years later, I went to live in Africa for 3 years....and came home feeling even more like a foreigner inside of my own skin than ever before, unable to even remember who I used to be in their eyes yet certain I would never be that girl again.

These days, I teeter totter back and forth between connection and isolation, conformity and independence, embracing and pushing away.

I wish it was different.
I wish I could be the one they need me to be.
I wish I was not so altered by life and circumstances and living away.
I wish I knew how to bridge the ever-widening gap.
I wish I felt connected to them.
I wish they had let their guards down years ago to let me know them.
I wish I could set it all aside and just love them like Jesus.

So for today, I love the only way I know how.
From my own brokenness.
Reaching through the insecurities and generational resistance
And offer my hard-fought gift of grace.
Because I need it too.
Because I do not have the answers.
Because He loves better than I can.

So I smile at my Granny and tell her that she ate so well as I clean off the plate where those leftover vegetables still remain.

And when she leaves my house today, she tells me three times, "I had such a nice time with you today."

With a hug and a shake of my head, I say, "Me too,"
as I thank God
for that merciful blessing
sent back to me
fusing together
a few more fragments
inside my wanting soul.

Joining in community with.....


FaithBaristaLLogo2Life In Bloom


ro elliott said... Best Blogger Tips

dropping in from Jennifers...sweet..sweet story...I am finding it is how we finish with those we love that will mean the most to me and others...I am finding this with my aging parents. blessings to you~

Jen Price said... Best Blogger Tips

It is so weird when we seem to switch places with our grandparents. Jeremy's grandmother also picks one thing and tells us about it over and over when we see her. It's hard to watch them get older.

Annie | said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, Lindsey. This is such good perspective, such heartfelt words.

dukeslee said... Best Blogger Tips

So.very.intigued by your growing-up story, Lindsey. What part of Haiti? I will do some poking around your site to see if I can find out more about you and your mission work. I'm thrilled to cross paths with you. My heart for Haiti has been broken wide open, especially for the people I met and stay in contact with in Simonette, Caberet, Source Matela and Archaie. I am eager to know more from you. You inspire!

Sheila Seiler Lagrand said... Best Blogger Tips

Visiting from Duane's and Jennifer's places today.

Just this morning, I was contemplating what I'd like my grandchildren to remember about me, someday. Your words add an invaluable perspective, Lindsey. Thank you.

messymarriage said... Best Blogger Tips

I think this change, this difference you feel is part of growing up and maturing as an adult. I remember thinking that the people in my life as a young girl and woman would always be in my life and I would relate to them the same as I was at that point in time. But life changes us. I'm just glad you are letting God transform you every day, and loving your grandmother as you do is one way God is shining His light through you, Lindsey. Thanks for this vulnerable and loving post.

Donna Ross O'Shaughnessy said... Best Blogger Tips

That was such a lovely respite in my day :0). When my Gramma was 85 she came to live with us in PA. Being the stubborn Brooklyn, NY gal she was, the adjustment was NOT easy for her. She had her ways and I worried too much about her burning the house down when she cooled lunch---at 85 she was a tad forgetful :0). I loved her SO much and wanted her to stay WITH me, but it was a battles of the wills (yeah, I live in PA, but I am Brooklyn stubborn born and raised :0)!). We made the choice that she would go and live at a local assisted living place. I visited her with my 4 kids several times a week and on Sunday the hubby came as well. Then we moved and the visiting was harder. But after a while she moved to a closer nursing home where we could see her even more...until the day she went home to Jesus at 91+ years old. I was blessed to actually pray with her the day she accepted Christ at 85 :0). Although it changed our lives, we were so blessed---imagine having a GREAT-Gramma-my kids loved her much.

So, reading your post brought a FLOOD of great memories to mind.
I prayed for you to feel more "at home" where you are now and that God will just continue to bless your relationship with your grandparents!
Enjoy the day :0)...stopped by from New Life Standard link-up!

Nikki said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh the growing hurts.

"offer my hard-fought gift of grace. Because I need it too."

I'm taking that with me today, friend. Beautiful.
Strange how our stories can be so different (I wrote of my grandmother today, too) and yet can bring us to the same place. Standing right before Him at the cross. Accepting grace...

Hugs to you, friend! Hoping to chat with ya tomorrow #FMFParty!

Cara Sexton said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh Lindsey. This made me cry. Dear friend, you ARE EXACTLY who they need you to be. You are who the whole world needs you to be. I could use a little more Lindsey in my world, and would never accept a substitute who is any less than what you are, any more than what you are. He designed you purposefully, for all the dual worlds, even when you feel like you don't fit. He fashioned your personality to weather the changing landscapes before you, to touch hearts by your grace and understanding, to connect with others who don't feel like they fit in this American culture. I witnessed this profoundly in your common gestures at the conference last name, the way you asked everyone their first name, the way you listened to their background and stories and made people who were generally overlooked in a crowd of people know they were important. This is Jesus in you, Lindsey. Don't wish to be different. Don't wish to be anything other than exactly what and who you are -- you are a gift to those who know you. I'm sorry for the hurt. Please know how much I love you, friend.

Cara Sexton said... Best Blogger Tips

*last year, not "last name" - typing faster than my brain was working... ;)

Danise Jurado said... Best Blogger Tips

Disconnect can happen for many reasons, often times not even intentional.... Bridging the gap of disconnect can be a little uncomfortable at times, but always worth the effort. Good for you for having the insight and willingness to reach out. Your granny loved her day with you just because she was with YOU... Its ok if you don't always feel that way too. Just being you and making the effort is all it took to make her day :) and that is a blessing!!

Tara_pohlkottepress said... Best Blogger Tips

oh, these changing of time and place. such a lovely cycle back into your making. you are exactly who you are supposed to be.

Tresta @ said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful. Praying for the disconnected places in you to meet up with those you love, and that you'll know that your labor is not in vain. I thought you were preparing food for a child, then cried when it was your grandma. Just precious.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

I have read these words several times today....such grace here. "it is how we finish..." Holding that close to my heart...Thank you!

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Very hard....I think that is what brings up all of these emotions for me....I wish it could be the "ideal" of my childhood or even the way my mom talks of her know? Ahhhh...grace...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, friend....coming from an achy wishing it REALLY and TRULY was different.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

I was born and grew up in Port-au-Prince. My parents are still there after 40 years! Crazy, right?

So thankful to have you visiting here in this space...when did you go to Haiti?

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, Sheila! Thank you...sometimes when I think about these things, I think of my mom and how amazing she is. I know for a FACT that she will make the effort to love her grandchildren with BIG TIME Jesus love not letting any of her own insecurities or setbacks get in the way and that makes me happy. I am sure with just your short comment here that you have that same heart...I can imagine your grandchildren will LOVE you for that!

Emily Wierenga said... Best Blogger Tips

my dear girl. you are Christ incarnate to your granny, to your husband, to your future foster children, to everyone you meet... and you are exactly who you need to be. i love the way your heart shines through your smile in this photo, in these words. bless you.

Alene Snodgrass said... Best Blogger Tips

This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Grandma said... Best Blogger Tips


soulstops said... Best Blogger Tips

your honesty, heart and smile are beautiful...thank you :)

Kati Woronka said... Best Blogger Tips

I also grew up internationally, and have travelled the world - too much, really - as an adult. This past year I decided enough was enough and forced myself to stop moving around, hoping to learn to do many of the things you say you are striving to do in this post. But then someone warned me that people like us may never feel we've mastered it. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but it has inspired me to focus more and more on the journey and on the striving, just like you do here. So it sounds to me like you're pretty on top of your game! :)

Sheila Seiler Lagrand said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, Lindsey. So far we all definitely have the love fest going on. . . It just hit me, yesterday, that I haven't been intentional about how I'd like them to remember me. And that makes me think I'm missing an opportunity.

Alicia Bruxvoort said... Best Blogger Tips

This post is achingly beautiful. Your granny is,too :) And by the way, I can tell even though I've just met you that her granddaughter is lovely, too :) Thanks for the honest words here.

Elizabeth said... Best Blogger Tips

S0 very very beautiful friend. I am remembering well the times with my grandmother that seem achingly similar. It is precious time. We learn so much from them. Its a mystery but God does amazing teaching through this wide canyon of decades of age difference. Thanks for beautiful you in these words. i treasure this piece of writing. It is your heart. I will look for you at FMF. :)

Joanne Norton said... Best Blogger Tips

I sure understand some of this... although I'm probably between the ages of your parents and grandmother. I loved being a missionary... but didn't have a chance to do it until I was in my late 40s. Spent a bit of time in Uganda and loved it and even today would like to return. But I have other "God-jobs" and must trust Him for the future consequences. To be raised as a mission-kid, and then entering our social/cultural circumstances, it can be a real challenge. Sounds as if you are doin' good, sharing His love, blessing your dear ones. No matter where we live, those are good things.

Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, man, Lindsey, I had this same experience with my grandparents as I grew older. We were close as close could be when I was a child - especially my paternal grandparents and I. I felt very guilty about times not spent with them, especially when I was a working single girl with plenty of time and money. When I went through the main part of my cancer treatment, after all 4 of my kids were born, I chose to spend the majority of the 3 weeks I spent away from home with my paternal grandparents in their home on the North Shore of Lake Superior (I had to stay away from moms, pregnant women, children anyway!). I have so treasured that last long time I had with them and all the times I DID find a way to make the time and take the energy to spend time with them in their old age. Let the guilt slide off you and bank the memories. You will be glad for this very afternoon spent with your grandmother, and eventually the guilt will fade and just the memories will remain.

Vicky said... Best Blogger Tips

A beautiful story comes from your pain. I have often wondered how Missionary kids really felt. I went to Asbury College with lots of Missionary kids who only saw their parents a few times a year. I always wondered...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Alene!

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Grandma. That means a lot from you.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips are always so kind...thank you....

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, Alicia....thank you...that is so kind and fills me with warmth. I appreciate your visit.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for your wise words here. You are right. It IS hard and good and hard and right. I am thankful that He continues to work out my salvation with fear and trembling....and much, much grace.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Donna...thank you so much for sharing your story. It gives me courage to know that while not "the way we want" them, there can be a beauty in these relationships. I appreciate you taking the time here to open your heart and encourage mine.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

You have the gift of genuine encouragement! Thank you for that and as FMFparty even though I wasn't fully present because of a late night phone call. Thank you for open arms are awesome!

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

You words bring tears to my eyes every time I read a beautiful ointment to my soul. Thank you for the life you breathe into me with your words. And, I, love you so very much too....

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Danise...thank you for this insight. So gives me a different perspective that helps so much. Disconnect IS so very are right. Definitely thankful for the Lord's help and grace as I journey through these challenging waters.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Tara....cycle indeed...such depth in just a few short words...have me thinking...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, really took me to that type of prep for a child and caused this whole flood of thoughts above.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

OH, Emily! Thank you...thank you for the way you place courage back in my heart.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Kati...thank you for coming here...I love meeting other TCKs...where did you grow up?

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Elizabeth....a hard road....but part of the mystery of the "wide canyon of decades..." and how God graciously guides us...makes me think about how I will/want to be in 50 years...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for your understanding....I feel like I am still "figuring out" this unique life perspective and how it affects the way I live my life and relate to people. How long did you live in Uganda?

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow, is amazing how the Lord takes a hard, hard situation and brings moments of beauty in it. How is your health now?

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Vicky. I am so thankful that I did not have to live away from my parents as well as extended family. I cannot even imagine that at all. I often felt so sad for those who had to do boarding school on the mission field. Did you enjoy your time at Asbury? What did you study there?

Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates said... Best Blogger Tips

It has it's ups and downs! :-)

Mary Beth said... Best Blogger Tips

I can relate to this but from a different direction: we are choosing some different paths in raising our son than our parents did and it's always murky waters when we talk about it with family. I find myself often just shutting my mouth instead of saying what I really thing for fear of rejection. I'm so glad to hear you are stepping out to reconnect with your grandmother--whatever that ends up looking like. Thanks for linking up with WIP!

Kati Woronka said... Best Blogger Tips

I grew up in Brasil... but have spent much of my adult life hopping around the Middle East, mostly Syria. Making Syria a rather painful topic for me right now... nuff said. I did a stint in Haiti a couple of years ago, helping out with the massive response in 2010. It sure is a special place!

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