Thursday, August 07, 2014

When God writes you a new chapter.

More than seven years ago, Carleigh called me one evening and asked me if I wanted to live with her and Gary, and their little one, Charlee.

I said yes.

It was an easy answer; I needed a place to live, they needed a boarder. I was 25. I honestly thought it would last for a year or two and then I would *ahem* get married, or move to Costa Rica.

And then it seemed like I blinked.
And seven years had passed.
And I am neither married, nor in Costa Rica.
 (My first pic with Charlee prior to me moving in with Carleigh and Gary)
 (First pic with Bodhi - still at the hospital)
(First pic with Jane - also still at the hospital!)

These years have been full of incredible moments, both heart-lifting and heart-breaking. They have been full of conversation, family dinners, babies home from the hospital, stories enough to fill a blog (or two), joy & grief, conflict & restoration, many many kitchen conversations that have included both laughter and tears...and I could go on.

So five months ago, when we found out Carleigh and Gary were expecting twins (and there was no more room in the inn), we had the conversation. It was going to be time to transition. And it was a hard fact for me to face; I knew this current situation wouldn't last forever, but this was the place where I learned what it took for a family to become a family. As an only child, I got to see what it looked like for siblings to grow up together, and for parents to raise them. Coming from a small family myself, I started to gain "new family" through their extended family. I personally learned what it meant when the Psalmist wrote that God sets the lonely in family. I learned a heck of a lot.

I came home from our supper together, and I started googling new homes. (Side note: When you are emotional, never ever google.) All I could see were condos and apartments that looked incredibly lonely, or offers for a roommate (for a college student who was 20). I shut my laptop and decided I shouldn't have googled. And so I prayed.

The next morning, I was brushing my teeth, and instantly thought of a friend who I wanted to debrief my new phase of life with. She and I had done our masters' degrees together; she was a huge supporter of me, a logical woman, and I knew she'd be able to help me process what I should do next.

But then, something funny happened (and I was still brushing my teeth); I remembered that she and her husband would be moving to Abbotsford this summer, and it dawned on me: maybe they were looking for a renter?

It is totally my strength, and my weakness, to plan.
And so, with this newfound thought, I stopped planning.
And I let it sit.
I knew this situation needed me to take my hands off, and let God guide me.

Four days later, as I got ready for work, I sensed God was urging me: "Email them tonight!"

After a couple of weeks, and a visit with my friends, the plan was in place: I would have a new home, in their new home. I could hardly believe it (in fact, I am tearing up as I write this), that God would guide my steps like that.

As we talked through what it could look like, I sensed a space opening up in my life for something new and unknown. In my new home, I will continue to enjoy the privilege of friends living together (i.e. grocery shopping dates, potluck style suppers every once in a while, and their freedom to go out in the evening while I watch the monitor)... and I will have space for my family to come for dinner (twins included!) and for the kids to sleepover. (And did I mention it's a 2 minute drive from my current place?).

It is the best of both worlds.
A continuation of the good, of the friendships that have been built; a new deepening.

There's more.
I will also have space to host others.
Family, friends, students, and yet-to-be-discovered others.
And that, honestly, makes my heart swell.

I believe God gave me a home with Carleigh and Gary (and their kids) all those years ago, because He knew I needed them and needed to learn so much through them, and from that place, I am able to now continue forward, with their love and support, into a new chapter.

And as Bodhi (all 6 years old of him) said to me tonight, "so, like, I can call you and you can come over and have talks with me...right?" When I assured him yes, he asked me to write down my number. I have a feeling I'll be getting a few calls.

I moved in with friends.

And as I pack, I am thankful that they became my family.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

a moustache and a beard...

It's 9:50pm on a Sunday night, and I have a number of papers I'm supposed to have marked by tomorrow morning. And the number left is still big. So I have tea. And some chocolate. And I figured it's time to blog...right? (Those of you who read my blog while I was doing my Masters' degree know that my prime blogging time is exactly when I'm nearing a deadline for something else. aka. I procrastinate. Big time. And I've accepted it as a strength.)

This last week has been full of epic kid stories. I've had more time to take the kids on dates, and they've been hanging out in my room more, so undoubtedly that leads to awesome stuff. Enjoy.

One night last week, I took Bodhi (6) and Jane (4) to the library. The car ride there was hilarious.

Bo: Um, Kathleen, do I have the right cards for the library?
Me: Yup, Bo, mom put your library card in your wallet, so you're good to go.
Bo: Kathleen, how much money do I have for the books?
Me: Oh, Bo, you don't need money for the library. You just borrow the books, but you need a card to show the lady at the desk. 
Bo: Huh?
Jane: Yup, you just go and she goes "beep" and then you get to take the books home.
Me: Yeah, and then she will tell you, "you can have these books for two weeks!" or something like that, and then after two weeks, you have to bring them back.
Bo: What if I forget, and bring them back late?
Me: Well, then you'll have to pay money for being late. It's called a fine.
Bo: What!?! I don't have any money!

Hearing the panic in his voice, I assured him his mom would take care of it.
Once we arrived at the library, Bodhi had a plan.

Bo: I'm going to find all the science books! I want books on science.
Jane: Well that's a great idea, because you are a scientist Bo!

We walked in, and a young man working in the children's area asked me if we needed any help. I told Bodhi to ask him what he was looking for, and Bo enthusiastically asked for the science books.

Library guy: So what kind of science are you interested in?
Bo: Well, like, zoology. But not like fossils and stuff.
Library guy: Wow. Well, I'm not quite sure where the zoology books kid has exactly ever asked me for that. I'll look it up.

(He comes back and directs Bo to the animal section, which Bo decides isn't really what he wants. So library guy patiently starts going through one book after another in the science section and asking Bo if that's what he's interested in. This guy deserves whatever pay he's getting. In fact, I should have tipped him...what's the going percentage for library tips? Anyways, Bo hits the jackpot with the "crystals", "minerals", "electricity", and "rock formation" books. As you can tell, he's totally into zoology.)
Here's a photo intermission: I took Jane to the car wash yesterday. There was a long line, and so I distracted her with apple juice and taking pictures in her 3d glasses with the lenses popped out. I told her, "pretend we're in line for Disneyland!"
And then there was the glorious moment today where Charlee (7) and Jane popped into my room for a visit. I had put up a new display of pictures on my wall, and Charlee upon entering and see this declared,

"You are just living the life."

I laughed and tried to dig for more info.

Charlee: If you didn't live with us, Kathleen, I would have your room. 
Jane: And I would share it with you!
Charlee: No Jane. No you wouldn't. (Someone already shares a room...and someone who's name rhymes with Lane, snores. She's actually confessed it to me herself). 
Me: Oh, but Charlee, I really do love living with you. 
Jane interjects, insisting that I just can't die. Please don't die! I assure her I have no plans to...
Charlee: Kathleen, we really do love living with you. Please don't get a boyfriend.
Me: Why?
Charlee: Because then you'll get married, and you'll move away, and he'll be your husband, and I might hate him!
Me: (admittedly chuckling) Woah, why might you hate him?
Charlee: Because he might not have a moustache and a beard. 

So, future husband, here's hoping you can grow some facial hair. I've got a 7 year old who's love for you depends on it.