Tag Archive: hope


My First Motherless Mother’s Day Being a Mother

cambriamom

I want to be angry.

I usually reserve this day [Mother’s Day] as my right to be secretly bitter and jealous. You all go on and on about how great your mother is all day long while historically I would hide in my room with the covers over my head, counting down the hours until it was safe to emerge. I am allowed to do this once a year, having lost my mother to cancer when I was just 14. This last year though, everything has changed.

In August, I became a foster parent to a dear child, on the cusp of becoming a teenager. I met her 7 years ago when we were neighbors and quickly became friends. I was between jobs and took advantage of my free time by investing in my community, something my mother taught me was invaluable. I set out to give the kids on my block a good summer, never imagining 7 years later I would be adopting one of them. I remember her approaching me with great curiosity and quiet strength, “are you the one handing out popsicles?”

I started mentoring this adorable, bright kid and quickly transitioned from Miss Cambria, to Aunt Cam, as my term of of endearment. Over the years, we stayed in touch even when we were no longer neighbors. I took a job as an adoption social worker in 2010 (that I am still at today) and found myself questioning what it was to be a mother, as I was surrounded by Philadelphia children, who were wards of the state, also without mothers. After my mother had died, I swore off ever having children, or even a family–the potential for pain and loss seemed just too great; however, as I have gotten older, the desire to mother those who are without mothers began to grow in me.

Late in 2012, this precious child, almost 12 years old, found herself in foster care and with no one to take her in. When this sweet girl that I had come to love found herself without a mother who could care for her and asked if she could move in with me, I immediately said yes and knew somehow all along we were destined to be family.

The legacy of my mother: warmth, generosity, compassion, has shaped and guided every step I’ve made in life. There’s always been a fear in my capacity to mother, being motherless myself, that I cannot explain–what if I’m not good at it…who do I call? Except for the fact that I haven’t always been motherless. I was fortunate enough to have a mother who loved me deeply and fiercely for 14 years. I am deeply saddened knowing I can never share my own journey of motherhood with her; but, she is always with me. Every single day. The way I teach my daughter about the world, make her lunch, and even our bedtime routine all have the presence and influence of my mother. Through becoming a mother, I have found a way to restore her legacy and have felt closer to her now more than I have in the last 15 years of being alone.

This is my first Mother’s Day being a mother and this is my daughter’s first Mother’s Day knowing she is unconditionally loved. We both used to dread this day and now we are on a healing and restorative journey together becoming a family, her adoption should be finalized next year, and every day learning together what it is to mother and be mothered. Becoming a mother to another kind of motherless daughter has been one of the most beautiful and humbling experiences of my life. This Mother’s Day we don’t have to hide under the covers because we have each other and we will choose to celebrate all there is to be grateful for in life.

cambriadaughter[For some other Taboo Topics that we rarely discuss, but that impact us deeply, click here]

 

i have used this passage in a lot of preaches. It is possibly one of the greatest starting points of connection with God, or simply a helpful reminder when life is feeling a little overwhelming, as it tends to be at times…

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Ephesians 3.20-21

and i am wanting to focus on 20 and 21, but i really love the preceding passage as well as i think it sets it up so well:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints,to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

# Christ dwelling in your heart through faith [reminds me of Colossians 1.27 – Christ in me, the hope of glory] – this is a huge and needing to be continually aware of promise.

# being strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit – so helpful if we remember where to look to for strength, ability and capacity

# being rooted and established in love which is also the most powerful reminder – Jesus pointed to Love as the greatest commandment and we need to keep going back to that as the place of starting and foundation for everything we do [else it all means nothing, see beginning of 1 Corinthians 13]

# grasping how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – speaks for itself and what i love about this is the description of  what love is just keeps going – the writer almost can’t contain himself in terms of just trying to get across the message that this Love is so ridiculously huge – can’t even wrap your mind around it [imagine if all Jesus followers could wrap their minds around the unmindwrappability of the love of God?]

# to know this love that surpasses knowledge – it just keeps getting better – this love is beyond our capacity to understand and fathom it – that is insane and WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT? how small do we make the love and reach of God?

# that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God – be filled with all the fullness of God. again, this whole passage feels like something that could use long and hard meditation, because we [or christians in general] tend to live lives that are so small and certainly would not for the most part be described by outsiders as ‘all the fullness of God’ right? Maybe we should forget our focus on rules and who is in and who is out and just step back and be awestruck but this God we serve and what He freely offers us and who He calls us to be [and the fact that He does all the work of that – not our feeble efforts or strivings]

the best part is that was not the bit i wanted to focus on, but how incredible, right?

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Him [God] who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than ALL WE COULD HOPE OR IMAGINE

What does that verse say to you? That maybe, just maybe, for the most part, we are hoping and imagining too small?

Because sometimes our prayers are so small [especially when they are me-focused] – God is wanting to end poverty and we are asking for a safe car journey. God is wanting to revolutionise your neighborhood and we are requesting more people in our sunday meeting? God is wanting to see His church in the marketplace and on the front lines connecting with and seeing life change in those who do not know Him… we pray for enough money to redo the church roof.

Immeasurably [which means can’t be counted, unable to be worked out or measured] more [as in not that much, but even more than that much] than all [as in everything, not just the easy ones or the things we can do in our own strength or as a community] we could hope or imagine [are some of us even hoping and imagining at all?]

Are you hoping and imagining big enough? Am i?

[For my next favourite verse, i look at Psalm 119 vs 105]

[For the growing list of all my favourite verses, click here]

I discovered that this week was the Global Week of Sharing [sharemydream.org] and the invitation was to be ‘sharing your website or blog this week with someone who’s dream you share and want to encourage. Ask them to write a guest post for your site about their dream.’ My South African friend Uel Maree was the first guy that came to mind and he agreed to share his story on my blog, for which i am eternally grateful… meet Uel Maree, the life of the party:uel

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…and then i dived into the river & broke my neck.

Prior to that i “had it all”. 27 years old, a job i loved, living in beautiful Cape Town, beach on the weekends, outdoor adventures on the surrounding mountains, involved in my local church. Life was good.

However after my accident, being paralysed from the shoulders down, there was a definite spanner in the works. No more job, no more beach, no more mountains, no more church, no… more… movement.

100 days in hospital, operations, emergency procedures, tubes down my throat, purified foods, specialists telling me to accept my condition…. Why not just let it rain indoors as well? Hahaha.

I was an avid rock climber so people used to ask me, “Why do you climb the mountain & not use the cable car?” I always remembered then the bruises & cuts i received along the climbs, looking up from the base at what seemed like an impossibility but then i would forget its size but rather focus on the next step & the next handhold. Eventually i would look down from the peek & smile over the world. You see, mountaintop experiences are great but what makes them truly special is the work it took to get there. Generally free things are never as appreciated as earned things.

We stretch & work our body & senses more often than we do our mind & spirit, they need exercise too. For many of us, our cushy jobs, easy lifestyles & facebook addiction this fast world assaults our senses with, keeps us so busy floundering around the shallows that we never explore the deep recesses within ourselves. I know, i was there & at times still am. I was forced into having  a time-out from the world after my accident & i’m grateful that the experience taught me that the eternal things really worth putting effort into in life are friends, family, relationships, love & God. The flashing lights & latest gadgets can only satisfy for short periods until u need your next fix. Its taking half a day to sit without a phone, book or IPod & explore that dusty room in your mind, open its curtains, sweep its floors, rearrange its furniture & see who you really are. I pray that nobody ever has to physically go through what i am BUT, i do hope that everybody takes time out for self-discovery before ending up in a difficult situation (which you will) or before time runs out (which it will). The magic doesn’t happen in your comfort zone. Your career generates your salary, but its your calling that makes your life.

Forward thinking is great, future planning is wonderful.

Yes we’ve seen this day’s dawn but that doesn’t guarantee us this day’s dusk.

Stop living only for this coming weekend, stop living only for the next holiday,
but start living for the only moment that is truly ours, right here, right now. Make these seconds count more than the thoughts of a future that is not yet yours.

I know, i almost died… face down in a river.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

“2 farmers pray for rain but only 1 of them goes out to prepare His field. Which 1 do you think trusts God…. ” – Facing The Giants

Seems like im finding myself standing at my field, being reminded by God & my peers, to not turn away but to keep sowing with an expectant heart…

Though sometimes we get so fixated on staring at the ground or other people’s fields, waiting for the seed we want to grow, that we forget to look up at the rest of our field & see the endless sunflowers that we planted a while back but are now waist high 🙂

I’m convinced that seeds take longer to grow when we stare at them 😛

We cant bear fruit until our trees are grown.

So my outlook has changed. Sure i cant walk… yet 😉 but i have more now then before my accident & that’s thanks to having learnt (& still learning) how to reevaluate all i see & have through a different filter….. eternity.

We’re all different & there’s different ways to do things BUT its all built on a universal Truth & there’s no changing that.

Uel Maree 

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
[You can join the Pray for Uel Maree group on Facebook to stay in touch with his progress and more importantly his wickedly good sense of humour]
uel2

peeglass

You know the saying:

The pessimist looks at the glass and says, “It is half empty.”

The optimist looks at the glass and says, “It is half full.”

Then there is the one where the realist adds his comment. “I think the glass is full of pee.”

i call myself ‘the eternal optimist’, especially when it comes to sport watching because i like to believe til the absolute last moment that my guy or team can pull it off, even at times when it is bordering on impossible.

and this cartoon from ‘Poorly Drawn Lines’ illustrates it beautifully:

Optimistic ant

with the original glass scenario, the situation has not changed, only the perspective regarding it. the optimist is choosing to focus on the positive of what the situation has presented and celebrate the existence of something. the pessimist is instead choosing to look at what is missing, and respond to the lack of a thing.

is one better than the other? personally, i don’t think the pessimist is very helpful, because he doesn’t often come up with a plan to change things. pessimism generally deflates, takes the air out of sales, slows down movement.

i do prefer the optimist [maybe cos i generally am one and think i’m pretty cool] but at the same time there can be the danger that the optimist on occasion has their heads in the cloud and their positivity can prevent them from realistically assessing the genuine possibilities in a situation andso ‘hoping for the best’ or ‘anticipating the miracle’ can replace doing the next thing that needs to be done.

so maybe the realist is the best person to have around [because no one wants to drink a glass of pee] but with strong elements of optimism to keep him hopeful, anticipationary and to help him expect the best of people, which is a strong trait of an optimist.

what about you? which of these three would you most closely identify yourself with? anyone have some positives to take from the pessimist?
and do you think it is possible to change from one to the other?

Cancer is a beast!

it used to be this far off distant disease that you heard about and was pretty scary, but i’ll bet you most people these days know someone who has been through it, is currently suffering from it or undergoing treatment, or knows a number of people who have died from it.

my gran, Doris Anderson, died of skin-cancer related issues. as did my uncle David Anderson. and then just recently my 30 year old cousin, Laura Anderson Markle [David’s daughter], who had only been married for such a short time, was diagnosed with cancer and died within about six months. my best friend and one of my best men from our wedding, Rob LLoyd, has just finished his second round of chemo and been cleared from the cancer that was inflicting him… and i could name many more.

it is a beast. and a violent one at that. and it does a lot of secret and savage violence and fortunately medical advances are happening all the time and so hopefully doctors are getting better and better at dealing with it.

but i think it has been a bit of a Taboo Topic – it is unpleasant and scary and so we would rather not talk about it and just pretend that it’s not there and secretly hope and pray that it will go away.

and how do we deal with someone who has cancer? do we ask questions? can we? should we not mention it? is humour allowed in any form or measure? are we allowed to ask them about their long-term plans? can we help? should we help? or do we go on as if life is normal?

i am hoping that as some people share their stories here, whether firsthand or perhaps stories of loved ones, that we will start to better understand and be able to talk about some of the related issues. after all it is very real and prevalent and maybe there are people you know who have cancer who really need you to be able to be the person they talk to, confide in or whose shoulder they borrow from time to time.

the purpose of this Taboo Topics series is to let you know that you are not alone. there is a light. and there are many people who have walked this road and are walking it and will offer you support wherever you may be on it:

meet Aaron Fullerton – writer for hit show Graceland who survived testicular cancer and managed to find some humour and insight in his blogging about it

meet Wendy and Xylon van Eyck – Xylon has been struggling against lymphoma

meet Noemi and Zofeya – four year old Zofeya diagnosed with brain tumour

meet Heather Martin [specifically speaking to friends of cancer sufferers]

meet Ray Ferrer, artist extraordinaire – this is a memorial testimony for an incredibly strong man who i met online

an article i read in the Los Angeles times which gives some good advice/principles for not saying the wrong thing

hope for south africa

#1. you have a reason to go somewhere else – i understand for some people if they are living in fear and feel like for family and children’s sake that they need to be somewhere else then sure, maybe you need to do that. Val and i went to the Simple Way because we felt God was leading us there and we are now part of Relational Tithe/Common Change as we feel like it is a God thing to be doing – but apart from that, if it was solely up to me i would choose to be in South Africa and even now, the stuff we are involved in i know will benefit South Africa/South Africans [at first via internet/ideas/stories but hopefully directly at some stage]

#2. if you’re a whiner. i get SO tired of hearing people whine and moan about South Africa. If that’s you and it is the overwhelming sense of your current attitude or state of being, then maybe you need to leave and go somewhere else. Chances are you will find something to whine about there, but it may be that you can find a place where you won’t be helpless or paralysed because of all the negativity you see or experience.

Those are the reasons. For me, anyways, and i know other people may think differently and that’s fine, but i really believe that if you are not going somewhere else for a specific reason then stay in South Africa. But be part of the solution.

I really loved being back in South Africa for the last two and a half months even more than i thought i would. i was inspired by the churches i visited and the people there and hearing some of the initiatives that were being done. i was encouraged and inspired by meeting people like Marci and Nathalie from Common Good [NPO linked to Common Ground church in Cape Town] and by chatting to my friend Godfrey from TheatreSports and hearing about his involvement with Sea Point High School and the Darling Project as well as hearing what is happening with uThando leNkosi and iKhayalethemba and a whole bunch of other projects, initiatives, relationships and so on. all around me there are such tremendous signs of hope and so it bummed me out when everyone got so caught up in the Oscar Pistorius saga to the point of celebrity obsession when there is so much greatness happening to be able to put ones life into.

everyone doesn’t need to do everything. but everyone needs to do something. and if each person starts connecting to one person, or family, or a project or ministry, then suddenly the news starts to change. it really is possible and positive momentum breeds more of the same.

so if you are already part of doing something, invite someone else to hear about it, to come visit, to get involved. and if you’re not, then find a person or a place to get involved – something that connects with your gifts and skills or maybe just your heart and time…

but please stop the whining, or really, just go. this country needs to be filled with people who believe.

in the light of the Oscar Pistorius case and other heavy negative stories that are filling up the newswaves, it is good to be reminded of some of the good stories that are taking place out there:

‘At the end of January, eight days of rain left the people of Limpopo reeling. The district of Vhembe was one of the worst hit areas. Homes were damaged, water pipes broken and uprooted, and at least eight lives were lost.’

flyingforlifeso begins this article which highlights an organisation called Flying for Life which literally swooped in and saved the day – read the article here but even a bonus story is the site that i found it on called The Good News South Africa which is already doing daily what i am trying to attempt with a couple of blogs during this week – and that is reporting the good news – stories of life and celebration and cures for rabies and book-reading days, so read the story of how Flying for Life got involved to bring life and hope to the villages in Limpopo, but also perhaps bookmark that site as one to head to regularly to encourage you and add balance to all the negative news reporting we often fill our lives, minds and attitudes with.

‘Now, after the flood, once the rescue personnel have long since left the area and life has returned to “normal”, Flying for Life will continue to use aviation in its work to find solutions for education, healthcare, HIV/AIDS training, enterprise development, housing, water solutions, and skills and agriculture development.’

[to be inspired by the story of the man with no limbs, Nick Vujicic, and his new baby boy, click here…]

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