Thursday, May 1, 2014

Better Than a Light and Safer Than a Known Way

This year began for us when we headed home in January to Port au Prince after settling our second oldest daughter, Paige, in Texas to begin college. Technically speaking, all years begin for everyone in January. Clearly, I am a calendar expert. We returned home after taking five months away from life in Haiti at the end of 2013.  

As we flew toward the island we love, I declared this portion of a poem my prayer and hope for the year:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” 

And he replied:Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

... And just like you, off we went into the unknowable year of 2014.  

* * * * * * * * * * *

Not unlike years past, we entered 2014 with hopes and goals and earnest prayers. My weightiest prayers and concerns are usually for content, healthy, growing, and safe children. Because I have seven of them, and two of them are now very far away, my prayer life can sometimes get hyper focused on them.

I have been parenting for twenty-four years. There are things I would love to go back and re-do and things that I know I got right. In all these years nothing has surprised me quite so much as the change that takes place in our role as parents when we transition children from living under our roof to living on their own. 

It seems like people do this regularly and they even live to tell about it. I don't know how you did it, but my hat is off to each of you. You are truly ninja hero-warrior-let-goers - all of you! 

Troy and I travel in circles of friends that are all mainly 33 to 40 years old, none of the closest friends in our age group have grown up kids yet. We are going first and they are all looking at us for advice and a "how to" guide.  We are glad to be done with diapers but we are far from being able to provide them help.

Friends, we don't know anything. There is no guide. Stop looking at us.

My friend Jamie wrote about this big-kid stuff recently. She was pointing out that all the quotes and blog posts written by mommies are about little kids. She said:"There's a reason there aren't very many blogs from Moms of teens. It's because as they grow, they become like a magnifying glass to all your fatal flaws and the myriad ways you screwed them up as children. Who wants to read about that?It's depressing." 

I think she is onto something, here. 

Our kids become us, the very best and the very worst of us.  

Maybe that is why letting go is so hard, we are letting go of the unfinished work of ourselves. 

The fact is, we have to let go before it is finished  - because it is NEVER finished. I am not finished. You are not finshed.

Many years back Paige coined a phrase that simply meant "wow, that sucks".  In the weird and unique words of the six year old Paige,  this never being finished thing, "is a LarryGeorge Bummer." 

I find that the line between letting go (that whole give them roots and give them wings song and dance) in a healthy way, and offering too much advice, guidance, cautionary warnings, etc, is a razor thin line.  

Razors cut if you aren't careful.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sharing life on the Internet is risky business. It is also a LarryGeorge Bummer at times. Choosing how vulnerable you want to be is tricky. People assume that they know everything there is to know if they simply read a blog or follow a Twitter feed.  As if sharing one deeply personal thing means all writers share all the things going on in their lives. 

One criticism of all social media is that it gives us a false sense of the lives of others. People don't use their 140 characters to say, "My spouse is being a crazy person and we are fighting this week." There is not a lot of, "I don't have money to pay my bills and I am afraid", or, "My kid has stopped communicating with me and I feel really sad and scared." There are some that put a bit of that variety of "real" out there but after a while they learn to regret being vulnerable in the unknowable endless space such as the interweb and they pull back.

People want to find connection. We are people that want to be heard and understood. I think the discontent with social media stems from the truth that there is more connection to be found in hearing that someone you know is experiencing a similar struggle, than there is connection to be found in seeing a perfect, airbrushed life filled with humble brags about the latest house project, perfect family vacation, or job promotion.

I figure sharing the highs and the lows, the celebration and the challenges, while risky, is still a worthy endeavor. Life is not easy for most of us and perfect is not a thing either.

As I started reflecting on these first months of 2014, I looked up the rest of the prayer that kicked off our year. I found that these words followed what I had previously read ...

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. 
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.   
So heart be still  
What need our little life  -  
Our human life to know, 
If God hath comprehension?
(the beginning of the poem,"God Knows" - by Minnie Louise Haskins) 

* * * * * *

"So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night."  

The "gladly" part may be a bit of a big stretch.  

We went forth though, right? 

That's something.

* * * * * *

One night early this year  I had a long layover in Dallas on the way home from a midwifery class I took. My oldest daughters and my Mom came to spend the night with me in Dallas. As I climbed into bed in the darkness, Paige said, "Mom, I need to talk to you." I asked, "Oh Paigey, why did you wait until I turned out the light?" She replied, "Because I don't want you to see me." She went on to share with me the fresh news of her pregnancy. 

I can share this now, because we have all worked through a lot. This news took time to digest. We were afraid for her.  At the same time, we were so thankful for her honesty in telling us. We were happy and we were sad. We were upset and we were relieved.  We vacillated between sane and not so sane. 

Mercifully, in the last few weeks most of the fear has lifted and hope and joy have replaced those initial reactions.

In this year that we prayed, "Give us a light that we may tread safely into the unknown", but instead we were told to go forward without the light, simply placing our hands in His, we have experienced something pretty remarkable.  

Even in the darkness, when we cannot see or anticipate what is coming next, we have been able to plod along, step by step, waiting for each unknown thing to be illuminated and known as we need it to be. When we turn and look back, we are able to see God's provision and Goodness to us on the mysterious winding path.

I was surprised by how long the grief had me in its grips. I recognized that I thought I could save Paige from ALL pain or choices that would make her life more challenging. I identified that it felt like failure that I had not saved her from it. Guilt consumed us. The grief had so much to do with things that were and are not even true. I wanted there to be protocols and steps to follow to immediately know what to say, what to do, what to feel next. 

I am here to tell you, no protocols exist. Walking into it, begging God for His grace, is the only way through. 

Paige deserves all the mercy and grace and understanding and support we can offer. She will fly. She has been a foster momma to many little ones in Haiti and she will be a spectacular mom to her little one. I needed to stop being afraid for her and harness the energy I was wasting on fear. We are all throwing our energy into walking along side her and giving her our support and love, that she might tread safely into the unknown ...We are going into the darkness with our hands clasping hers, and our hands in His

That shall be to us better than a light and safer than a known way.

* * * * * * * * 

We are excited to share with you, coming October 2014, a wonderful little baby person to the world outside and to our family.

Pray with us for our first grandchild and for Paige and her boyfriend Michael as they prepare and pray and plan and for their future.

With less fear and more love, anticipation, and hope,

Mojo* and Tito* 
with Uncles Ike ** and Noah - Aunties Hope and Phoebe and Lydia

*While we were in Texas for those months last year we spent a lot of special time with family. Being near Brittany and Christopher (our oldest daughter and her husband) and getting to do some vacations with our extended family were the highlights of those busy months in the USA.  One night we sat around playing games and discussing the prospect of becoming grandparents. Together we determined that better names than Granny and Grandpa needed to be sought out, chosen, and made our own long before we ever needed them. We are too young to be called those names, or so we decided. We began the long and laborious Internet search for the perfect names. I may not have accomplished some of the midwifery study goals I had for the time in America, I didn't read enough books or memorize enough medical terminology, but we chose our future grandparent names and that is obviously SUPER-DUPER important, and as it turns out, we needed to accomplish that task.

**Sharing this news with the younger siblings was so interesting. Each once responded as we might have expected. While Noah was grieving and worried Paige wouldn't be a sister anymore because she would be too busy being a mom, Isaac was saying, "EPIC, I want to be called only Uncle IKE, not Isaac. Doesn't that sound SO cool!?!?"   Hope was asked how she felt about things by a friend of ours and she said, "I am a little worried for Paige but our family does second chances." If we cannot save our kids from consequences or pain, we can at least teach the grace of second chances. Maybe that is the entirety of the "How-To" manual we will send to our friends. 


Unknown said...

We love you guys and we are so WITH you. With you, with Paige and Michael, all the way. So love you. It reminds me of the Buechner quote, "Here is the world - beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid."

Me. Us. She. said...

So proud of you my friend. I love you and am looking forward to watching you and Tito enter this next phase with the love, grace, enthusiasm, and trust with which you approach all the unknowns.

Alison F said...

Thank you so much (to Paige as well) for being brave enough to post this. I have been struggling so much with my teenagers lately, and the simplicity of your message is just what I needed. Second chances--good advice. And congratulations to all on this new little one!

The H Family said...

I've been reading for awhile and I'm not sure I've ever commented. I have enjoyed so much (all, I think) of your writing...your open international adoption series, the stories of Heartline births...but something about this post. I think it's one of the most beautiful things you've ever written.

Danielle said...

Your love is abundant and that's what Paige needs. You know first-hand the challenges of being a young mother and i think your kids are beautiful inside and out. I'm also due in october so i will pray for her each step of my pregnancy since we are in the same boat. She will be an incredible mother.

Sarah said...

I adore your posts. I was thinking so much about this yesterday when my son (14) and I had a serious talk about MAJOR things. My struggle is real, his struggle is real but to blog it just seems like I'm making my struggle the more valuable one. His story is his story. Mine is mine as well, but it's so very entangled in my children. So it's very tricky. I think you just did a beautiful job of sharing. <3

Rosa said...

Grateful for Paige choosing life! Also, if you haven't read it, there is a beautiful book with a title taken from that poem ... Safer Than a Known Way by Pamela Rosewell Moore shares the story of a woman who partnered with Brother Andrew and Corrie Ten Boom. The lesson of her story is constant trust in the reality of God's sovereign hand!

Marla Taviano said...

Love you all so much. So blessed by this post. Praying for all of you and celebrating this new life with you. I can't think of a more awesome family to be born into. Lucky little kid. xoxoxo

Amber said...

Good grief. I love y'all. And I love Paige and the baby though I haven't met her. You know I'm praying.

Allison said...

Congrats to everyone. A new baby is always a blessing. Often a challenge, but always a blessing. That's what Heartline is about, right?

How will you ever survive on an island away from your grandbaby? Paige will do fine. She's a strong girl. I'm more concerned about you and Troy wanting to be there with her and the kiddo. :)

Davey's Mom said...

Thank you for sharing your world with us, Tara & Troy! We are lifting each of you up on prayer. Praising Jesus for the sweet little baby that will soon enter your world. How lucky this baby already is to have such a wonderful loving family!

Rose Anne said...

Thank Paige for allowing you to share this with us!
Prayers for all, because being a parent/grandparent long distance is a journey .
congrats to all of you!
Rose Anne

Patty said...

You are a fabulous writer. Congratulations on your coming little grand-baby!

Tricia said...

Thank you for this. About two years ago, I had to tell my mom that I was unmarried and pregnant with twins (I'm in my 40's and it was still a very difficult conversation). My girls are the light of her life. Loved the kids' comments.

dreamingBIGdreams said...

LOVE you guys. All of you. This was beautifully written Tara.

Carmen said...

Thanks for sharing - praying for you all!

Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary said...

I love you and your Mama heart so much, Tara! So thankful to be careening into these years of parenting adults with you leading the pack. Mad respect, my friend!

CONGRATULATIONS, MOJO, TITO, and PAIGE!!! Praying for for you all as you welcome and embrace this new little one. =)

Jenny said...

So beautifully said. I'll absolutely pray with y'all for your precious grandbaby, sweet Paige, and Michael. I'm so thankful they have an amazing support system. Sending love from TX. ❤️

Brazenlilly said...

"Our family does second chances." I can't think of a more powerful legacy to instill in all of your children! Thank you for entrusting us, your virtual friends, with this precious news. We will be praying for all of you, especially Paige. Yes, we do feel like we know you, and she has endeared herself to so many of us in the last 4 years, and this changes none of that. Sending hugs from the west coast.

debra parker said...

Beautifully written!
Paige will be such a good mama!

joykatleen said...

Oh, Tara...

I hurt for your pain and understand your grief. I celebrate your joy and share your anticipation. I can only imagine that this, of all things, you wanted to spare her. But Paige is smart, and strong, and well loved, and a child of God. This, too, is in His hands. I will pray for comfort, and strength, and a casting out of all fear, for all of you.

Thank you for sharing this chapter of your real life. Tell Paige we are proud of her for choosing honesty and life, and we will continue to lift her up in prayer. She - and you - have our support and love. I am so glad you are a family of grace and second chances.


Dawn said...

Love you all.

Kristi Lonheim said...


Thank you for sharing your joys and your challenges. My heart swells for you all as you head into this next challenge. I love that your kids knows you 'do second chances'. You're doing something right! Blessings

Carol said...

Welcome to the club! When our oldest son Skyped us to announce the news of a baby on the way, I saw the worried, hope your not disappointed look he used to have when he was growing up. : ) Grown up but afraid of the unknown, just like the rest of us. No surprise he is a great
Dad. I can't imagine Paige being anything but spectacular as a mom! Uncle Ike, perfect name!
Praying for a healthy journey!

Autumn Leaves said...

Boy, this took me back. Thank you for sharing. I, too, was surprised at how long the grief clung to me (or I clung to it?) While my child's news wasn't announcing pregnancy, I was devastated. In many ways I look back and wish I'd handled it better, I often remind myself that I did the best I could at the time. You guys are going to be marvelous grandparents.

Saintly Nurse said...

This is such a beautiful post. We have dealt multiple times in my immediate and extended family with unexpected pregnancies to young mamas....always we have found that coming down on the side of grace and hope is the right thing. It may take some time to get there but is worth it. Paige is so blessed to have you all walking alongside her during this new path she's walking.

Nothing but prayers and best wishes for all of you as you welcome this new little life into your arms. May the newest one be as awesome as the rest of you!!! xoxoxo

PS - Mojo and Tito....very nice. :)

waitingarms said...

Congratulations on the new blessing that will soon be joining your family. Prayers for Paige and Michael as they enter into parenthood and for you and Troy and you welcome your first grandbaby.

Joyce White said...

I've enjoyed your writing for a significant time. This was a beautiful sharing. I too, have had the same message from 2/2 kids (albeit slightly older) and the pain/shock will be managed in time. Blessings to you and your wonderful family. Your grandbaby will bring you joy you never have experienced before.
Joyce White

Pamela and Michael said...

What an amazing testimony to grace having taken root in your family - even if it takes awhile. For Hope to say that "our family does second chances" is just about the very best compliment that I can imagine grace-filled parents would want to hear. Please Lord, protect that little life inside of Paige, and protect Paige and Michael, too! Blessings to the ever-growing Livesay clan.

Melissa Haworth said...

I can't imagine any young woman better prepared for motherhood than Paige and have no doubt she will be a wonderful mother to her little one. Congrats to you all!

Amy said...

"Our family does second chances." Clearly in the in the ups and downs of parenting you are doing it well. What a beautiful family identity and legacy. I don't know you personally but have been reading your blog over the past couple of years. Many thanks for your authenticiy. It is a gift to your readers.

Sandy Cook said...

Oh, I needed to see this today. A little more than 15 years ago now, I was telling my parents they were going to be grandparents. As my son nears his 15th birthday I worry that I haven't shared enough, or I have shared too much. I wonder if I will be a grandparent before I am 40. Your post reminds me that no matter what lies before us, me as his mother, he as my son, that God has a path through. It may not be the path I had chosen, or the path he had dreamed of. But we will do second chances, for whatever scenario arises. Thank you for your honesty. I will be praying for your family, Paige and Michael and this new life.

T and T Livesay said...

Thanks to each of you that took a minute to stop here and encourage us with you words.

As parents we all want our kids to do things in a certain order and to benefit from having time to think through every decision so that they can avoid pain or hardship. Troy and I know that Paige is a gifted, compassionate, wonderful young woman but of course we grieved for her in that we had hoped she would have her first baby a little further down the road. (And as a former young single mom of two - I know too much about the pain that can come with that.)

We took the time we needed to figure out where we had guilt and sorrow over what role we played in it and we know on a deep level that guilt and the way parents blame themselves is sometimes just utter bullshit and really we don't get to make choices for one another -- we all do the best we can with what we have at the time it is happening --- we all learn as we age and experience life and we all do better when we know better. Paige is going to be an awesome Mom and she tells us that she knows Michael will be an awesome dad. We are anxious to come along side them and love them and help them in these first tough years and we assume they will take the help and use it to further their educations and that they will be awesome parents. We all love this little baby somethign fierce already and are thrilled to meet him or her later this year. God is kind to walk with us in our grief and in our guilt and to wait on us to get our crap together and say "This is not such a big deal -- we can TOTALLY DO THIS." God is here with us and God is with Paige and love washes over a multitude of things and makes us whole. Amen.


Brad Johnson said...

Dear Mojo and Tito,

You make me want to follow Jesus more!

I have not yet chosen my grandparent name; crap!

May we all be families of second chances!

Grace and blessings!

Brad J!

kaitlyn said...

The song "Second Chance" by Rend Collective came on my Pandora station and I thought of you guys. Listen to it if you get a chance.
I'm pregnant and due this fall too, so I'll be praying for Paige as we experience the stages of pregnancy at the same times :)

marci said...

I walked this road with my daughter, also unmarried, and completely understand your grief, your guilt and your joy. God is always merciful though and continues to bless. I am proud of Paige, she is very brave! And proud of you for your honesty, now and always. Will be praying for you all and know God will continue to show Himself in this little unexpected blessing!

tammy s. said...

Tito, You have such a gift for saying it "real". It's like you know how to pluck the thoughts out of my head and give them shape. Thank you for sharing. Give my blessing to Paige, Mojo and the rest of the clan.

Kit said...

Tara, thanks so much for sharing this with so much humility and "realness". That poem really got to me...safer than a known way. Dang.
So joyous that a new life is coming into your family! What a treasure that little one will be to all. It speaks so much of you and Troy that your daughter describes your family as doing second chances. Amen to that!! And let's make sure to apply that to parents as well. :)
My kiddos are just few years behind yours and I was also struck by Jamie's blog post...this teenage thing is HARD. Like, making me doubt everything hard.
It's an honor to pray for you guys! And Paige, too. She is a brave young lady!

Alicia G said...

Thanks for sharing. It's so true that our children are a piece of our heart that walks around outside of our body. And no one told me what a transition it is for our momma hearts when they become adults(makes me appreciate my Mom all the more). But while the process is not without pain - it is beautiful. My good friend and I decided that forget MOPS, we need a MOA group (Mothers of Adults). Your welcome to join or start your own chapter anytime :) You will make wonderful grandparents and your great relationship with Paige will only grow and become deeper and more wonderful. Hugs from another MOA

Lisa Livingstone said...

Thanks for sharing your feelings so honestly. Paige will do great things because you love her well. It really is devastating to find out that we can't protect our children from pain, isn't it? Grandchildren are wonderful! (once you get over that I'm not old enough stuff) The freedom (and awakeness :) to really see the way they grow and develop is fabulous! What a joy and a miracle a baby is. I will pray for Paige and the baby and all of you as you adjust to the realities.

Lisa Livingstone

Jennifer Tammy said...

My mother did the most beautiful thing when I called her crying from the hospital, having found out a week after a long-term relationship ended that I was pregnant. Without hesitation, she expressed joy and enthusiasm. At the time, I was afraid and perhaps resentful at her enthusiasm, but her unbridled joy for me and my journey were an insight into her heart and I have never once doubted how she felt about my family.
An unplanned first pregnancy is scary, but He knows what He's doing. My daughter came into my life at the exact moment that she needed to, even if I doubted his logic multiple times (and will likely continue to) and I hope that your daughter is filled with Him whenever she doubts. And Happy Mother's Day to her!

T and T Livesay said...

Jennifer Kit Tammy Brad Lisa Alicia Marci and Kaitlyn - thanks for your kindness and love. Excited to go see Paige later this month for a week and to visit the birth center she'll deliver at in October.

The Beaver Bunch said...

I'm behind. Clearly. I saw the pic on FB and IG and just assumed it was Britt and Chris. Then someone said something about Paige and I was all, "Whaaaa?"

So, in true stalker fashion, I stalked.

Hope's response brought me to tears. Just tears. "our family does second chances."

Oh, goodness. Your precious family just blesses me time and time again. It's been a hard, hard season for us for a long time. I'm angry and mean to my kids a lot.

Our family does second chances, too. I just needed that reminder.

Finally, I can imagine your fear of the unknown for your girl. But, babies are ALWAYS a blessing. Always. I don't doubt for one second you already know this to be true. Hard, seemingly impossible, exhausting and ridiculously insane BLESSINGS.

Virtual hugs to you.