Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Year of Loss: the enlarging of my heart

It has been some time since I have posted any thoughts on this blog.  The time represents my space for healing.  Healing from what?…from the gaping hole left in my heart where once dwelt a dream of mothering a daughter.  Really, we have had some significant losses in the past year: a fire, a beloved ministry in Nepal…the the winds of change, a baby girl…to a different plan.  We also have lived with a much longer list of gains: a rebuilt house, a different kind of ministry, four sons who are moving toward manhood with integrity, wisdom, love and exuberance, friends to comfort us, friends to exhort us, friends to cry with us, friends to listen, friends who remind us of the magnificence of God and His plan beyond our small understanding.  My theme for the year is: God is the author.  I am not writing the story.  I am a character and the script is not mine to write.  The good news is that I have had a glimpse of the end of the story: there is a bride and a groom at a banquet…joy unending…everything is right, just as the author intended from the beginning of the story.  And I know that this author has thoughts far beyond the greatest story that I ever imagined.  So, I choose to be a cooperative character instead of interrupting the story over and over to make suggestions on how I think the next scene ought to go.

I want to share with you some details of our past year, and then share with you the effect this has had on my heart.

First of all, I want to share that moving back into our "new" old house has been a blessing.  It is interesting to get to the other side of this event and to realize that it was not a major tragedy.  First, we lost no life.  And then we were covered by excellent insurance, and we were blessed by a friend overseeing our re-build, and the restoration and re-building company was trustworthy and did a very good job, and the things that we no longer have were not that important, and most importantly, in our time of need, we were loved and held up by a huge number of people who served us in our time of need.  And now we live in an up-to-date version of the house that we all love.  Ultimately, the loss of our house was actually counted as gain: we discovered how many people truly love us and were willing to love and serve us in our time of need. 

So, what about Nepal?  There are probably some of you who do not know that we plan to stay in Spokane for an extended period of time (maybe 3-5 years).  It was a combination of factors leading to this change.  I, Kimberly, was becoming exhausted with our globe trotting, not so much from the packing and traveling and transitioning, but from the adjustment from elder care in the U.S. to G.P. care in Nepal that included maternity and pediatric work, not to mention the strain of working in a second language (and I only seemed to recall the language in the short time we stayed there, as opposed to making actual progress in speaking better Nepali).  Then there was the strain of planning the curriculum for the kids each year, particularly with the older ones who were beginning to think about preparing for college.  I was feeling all these pressures, and then it seemed that things were shifting in Nepal, which I count as grace from God.  You see, I think that David was willing to come home for the sake of some rest for his exhausted wife (he is more of a nomad who was not ready to change our rhythm), but over our most recent time in Nepal, it became very clear to David that we were supposed to take a break.  Our Nepali partner was called to be a senior pastor at his church; what a wonderful calling!  His installation happened on the day that we were leaving Nepal.  There were many changes going on in the community in Tansen, and unfortunately, I was finding that my tolerance for ongoing change had some limits.  Then, there were the mounting number of churches that now find it too difficult to support us, so we were facing some significant financial changes.  It really seemed that there were multiple signs pointing us toward a change of pace, for a time.  So, we tentatively set that time at 3-5 years and made our transition to Spokane.

One thing that few people knew of was our ceremonial giving back to God this idea of adoption.  We had a drawing of the two girls that we thought we were being led to adopt (it was a composite of multiple dreams); we had names picked out for them; we imagined personalities that they might have.  At the ceremony, around our fire pit in our yard in Tansen, we prayed, cried and burned the drawing, claiming that we did not want anything that God does not want for us.  We were burning up all of our ideas about adoption.  We only wanted God to resurrect whatever might be His will.  We (particularly Kimberly who has had a deep desire for two daughters) found an interesting peace in this process.  We felt quite content to carry on with the work that was right before us.

This brings me to an opportunity to share with you about the ministry that I am a part of in northern Idaho.  I work for a wonderful company that goes to see the elderly in their homes, or in assisted living facilities, or in skilled nursing facilities.  We give very holistic care.  We take care of some very complicated medical needs (some patients come to us on more than 30 medications, with multiple chronic illnesses), we help family members make challenging end-of-life decisions, we provide emotional support in coping with their complex lives, we provide a loving touch for some very lonely patients, we share the good news that God has planned eternal life for those who know Him (and many of our patients are at the end of life), we pray for our patients who desire prayer support, we accept Medicare and Medicaid payment without limiting the percentage of patients with that form of payment (this means that we must do fundraisers to actually pay our bills and make ends meet, this means that we provide on-call coverage through the night without pay, and this means that we learn to check thousands of boxes and complete reams of paperwork in order to have the privilege of loving this sometimes lonely and very needy segment of our population.  The joy in this work is being encouraged by my colleagues who demonstrate to me what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this corner of U.S. life.  I count it a privilege to work with Onsite for Seniors, and I ask you to pray for our company, as the work is not easy, and we must work within a system full of problems, and we serve a population that faces some significant suffering.

So, just as I was getting back to this work among the elderly, a college-aged girl, here in Spokane, saw our book that had been at the adoption agency for quite some time, and she chose us to adopt her baby girl, who was due in about three months.  We were thrilled.  We wondered if this might be some of the reason that we were coming home for a while.  So, we got to know this young pregnant gal, and really liked her.  We were meeting with her regularly and gradually making plans for the adoption.  Some of this preparation was to re-start lactation so that I could breastfeed this baby girl.  I was there at the home delivery of this precious, healthy little girl.  I supported the young mom in the early days after the delivery.  She decided to keep the baby until the courts made the adoption legal.  Still, we made plans to bring this baby home, and we prepared a special place for her (in our home and in our hearts).  Three weeks after her birth, our day in court was finally coming.  But, the birth dad stepped in a couple of days before the court date and said that he did not agree with the adoption.  The end.  The adoption was aborted.  

I am so thankful that this young mom and her precious daughter are surrounded by a supportive church and she is really working hard to make some better decisions for her future.  I will forever love these girls and pray for them.  And…my heart has broken wide open.  The hurt seemed to break something loose inside of me and I found myself completely confused about what I am here for.  I have longed for more children…I do not know why…and I have longed for daughters.  So, I took some time off of work.  I became a stay-at-home mom for a little while, while all of my children are in public school all day.  I had some opportunities to volunteer on some projects at their schools, but mostly I had time to grieve.  And God is sufficient for every season, including the season of grieving.  And my heart is healing.  And I see the privilege of participating in a ministry that very few people chose (holding the hands of those who are passing out of this life) .  I see that when God wants to make more room in your heart for His grace, He breaks it wide open…and expands it.

We are facing these, and other, changes in our life.  We feel a bit like we are on a walk in a mist-shrouded forest.  We keep walking but it is difficult to see where we are going.  The destination is unclear.  The path can seem a little cold and uninviting.  But Dave and I have always loved walks through the forest, and who are we to think that all days will be sunny and warm with a clear destination?  Life has many seasons and all sorts of twists and turns in the journey.  Still, God is THE AUTHOR of all things: this world, my faith, our lives and eternity.  And as for me and my household, we choose to play our part in the story, with eyes wide open to catch glimpses of the author.  As for me this year, I choose to give up the practice of trying to re-write the story; that is not for me.

Thanks for listening!
Kimberly, for the Beines