I’m ecstatic and honored to announce that Kristen Mae of the very popular, very honest, very funny Abandoning Pretense is guest-posting here today! She read all about my religious upbringing in Old School Circus and thought this post would fit perfectly. She’s right. This story resonated with me on so many different levels, and I know it’ll do the same for you.
I CAN NOT STAND the phrase “God speaks to my heart,” especially when uttered by some wide-eyed, fresh-faced girl, pink lips pursed in equal-parts judgment and piety, her perfectly-placed head-band pushing back her thick, lustrous hair. Makes me wanna barf. You know the type, don’t pretend you don’t.
AND YET… God… speaks to my heart. (BLECH…) There are times when I pray and pray and pray over something (I’m gonna feel really stupid if I find out You’re not real after I die, God) and then I… get an answer.
Just so you know, my prayers don’t typically begin with “Dear God.” They’re usually just deep thoughts directed… out there. And often, I receive a suspiciously coincidental cosmic response, like when after I quit my job earlier in the year and I was all, “WTF am I gonna do with all this free time???” and I was super perplexed and contemplative about it and like two days later I found a truckload of furniture on the side of the road just begging to be refinished. And I was like, “Uhhh… Okay.” God knows I can’t stand to see perfectly useable furniture go to the dump. And that I had a sander, scraper, stain, and polyurethane in my garage. He put that ugly armoire (and two tables and a set of chairs) directly in the path of the exact right person.
I didn’t know why I was supposed to refinish all that furniture, but I just felt like I should. Like I was meant to. So I did. With the help of my new neighbor, whom I didn’t know very well at the time other than to know that she was really strong in spite of being tiny (Tae Kwon Do expert and aerobics instructor), so I called her to help me get the armoire off the street. And she did. Because, although I didn’t know it at the time, she will do pretty much anything to help anyone, because that’s just the kind of person she is.
So there I was wondering why (if?) God put this giant armoire in my path, and thinking, “If God wants me to make money being a furniture-refinisher, isn’t that kind of materialistic? God doesn’t care if I have money, does he? Am I supposed to donate or tithe the money I make?” But I didn’t want to donate or tithe the money; I wanted to keep it. Put it in the kids’ college fund or something. I was conflicted.
But my neighbor and I got down to business anyway, scraping, stripping, and sanding, day after day, for weeks. There were so many layers of paint on that armoire – it was a labor-intensive and time-consuming job. Wiping thick beads of sweat from our brows (Summer in Florida, hello), we talked for hours through our dust masks, which were very important for my neighbor to wear because she is allergic to everything. Like the kid from My Girl: “…EVERYTHING.”
She also wore special rubber gloves when we applied the harsh chemical stripper, because she didn’t want to ruin the tattoo on her wrist. The tattoo bears the name “Elijah,” along with a Bible verse. As we scraped and sanded, I learned that Elijah is the name of the baby boy my neighbor lost when she was four months pregnant. She told me about the blood-clotting disorder she has that makes it difficult for her to carry a baby to term. She and her husband were lucky to have their first child, a healthy little girl who is now eight, and has become best friends with my son.
They got pregnant again after the loss of Elijah, but this time my neighbor lost the baby early on. It was fortunate her friend was nearby when the bleeding started, so she was able to quickly spirit away her daughter before she could witness her mother hemorrhaging blood all over the bathroom floor.
They’re adopting now, from Korea. The process is a two-year-long, intense, expensive, prying-into-everything-about-your-personal-life-and-I-mean-everything-EVER ordeal that blows my mind. I get angry when I think how any idiot with a uterus can get pregnant as a result of carelessness, how flippant people can be about human life when there are people like my neighbor who would do anything for it to be that easy.
Anyone who has adopted knows that adoptive mothers suffer through labor too; it’s just a different kind of labor. Their hearts ache to hold their baby in their arms just as much as any biological mother who waits nine months to hold hers. By the time my neighbor holds her baby, he or she will be two years old; will likely speak some Korean, but not a lick of English.
Just let that soak in for a minute.
I’m humbled to have crossed paths with someone like my neighbor, a person who is willing to work and scrub and slave in the dust of a stupid poop-colored armoire that was thrown out on the curb, even though she has horrible allergies and hates doing “those kinds” of projects – just because a friend asked her to. People who are selfless, incredible parents as she and her husband are, who beg and hope and pray every day that they could receive the small, every-day normal-people blessing of having a baby, a little sibling for their only child. And for some people it’s just one baby. Any baby. My neighbor says that if they never have the opportunity to have another baby, she knows she will have already been blessed more than she “deserves” to be – because of their little girl. I know she means it, but I know there’s a hole there, too… she has always dreamt of having four kids…
My neighbors are renting a space at their church’s yard sale and are planning to put the proceeds toward their adoption fund. Of course I’m giving them the armoire (which turned out amazing, by the way).
I believe in God. I believe he’s there listening, speaking, not out loud, but… to my heart (See? BARF… I should totally start wearing headbands), and if I’m listening and paying attention well enough I hear that whisper from time to time… I notice how this little thing leads to that little thing, and how a bunch of little things eventually lead up to a big thing. How things that seem like unlikely coincidences are not really coincidences at all.
Clearly, that roadside furniture never had anything to do with money.
When Kristen Mae isn’t running absurdly long distances, washing poop out of her dog’s butt-hair, or taming her two booger-machines, she’s tossing her expensive master’s of music performance degree out the window by feverishly attacking her “writing career.” Kristen is the voice of Abandoning Pretense, where she tells the whole, uncensored truth about marriage, parenthood, and life. In addition to her blog, Mae shares hilarious and heart-warming tidbits of her life on her Facebook page, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest, and is also a regular contributor at ScaryMommy.com, Bluntmoms.com, Mamapedia.com and Mamalode.com.