Brian woke me up around 4:15am and told me that Riley’s Grandma Wendy had passed away.
I was pretty sure I was in the middle of a bad dream.
Brian said it beautifully on his Facebook Page:
Very sad news to share.
One of the most important people in our life, Grandma Wendy Kelley-Stuart, Riley’s biggest fan, passed away. We are in shock. She was young and always full of life and laughter.
Words, and even thoughts cannot express our love and gratitude for her. We were very much looking forward to the many years ahead with her.
I will just end with the greatest compliment I can give:
She loved. She truly loved- love beyond herself and her wants. She emptied herself. Through this love and sacrifice, Riley has come to us and changed our lives.
Requiescat in pace.
Riley’s biggest fan. It’s true. You should see the pictures on her facebook page. She could get Riley to smile the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. When they were together, it was as if no one else was in the room. It was beautiful, silly, complete love. She shared her most treasured gift with us.
The very first time we met, she handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She said that she had always been worried about dying because she wasn’t sure what would happen to Riley. Now that she had found Brian and I, she didn’t have to worry anymore.
At the time, I was taken aback by her words. I couldn’t understand why she would say that. Now, the weight of those words impress a beautiful burden of love onto my heart.
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
― Francis of Assisi
In November, I read a post that wrecked me. Do you know FlowerPatch Farmgirl? (Of course you do. She’s a rock-star.)
She wrote a post about contentment and I read it to Brian, out-loud, sobbing. Bless him, he’s pretty used to it and puts up with me, but the words hung with me for days.
These words rocked my core and inspired change: “I’m here running the aisles because I’m tired of sitting still. I’m spitting into the mic, crashing the cymbal, begging you to believe we were given this job, to find these people and love them straight to the cross. Let’s not be content with contentment. Let’s believe it’s our high honor to give a rip.
We can support them in meaningful ways and love them to the feet of Jesus. From there, the rest of the work is His. We can do this, friends. We can do the job we were given – a tangible job, nothing theoretical or hypothetical about it. We can actually do actual things for His kingdom here on earth. Today.”
I started out with a very vanilla relationship with Grandma Wendy. She threw her love at Brian and I so freely. I was always a little intimidated by how much Riley loved her. She also was a rock-star – meeting us for play-dates where and when it was convenient for me. She would watch Riley with his sweet Tia (his great-aunt, also a rock-star) when I had photo-shoots. But we had never invited her into our home.
I had kept the relationship at arms length because I was scared of some made up concerns about what it would look like if she was around a lot. Sure, there were bonding and attachment concerns at the beginning of Riley’s adoption, but it was time to put those behind us and make something beautiful. We were approaching a year and a half of him living with us and it was time to stop drawing boundaries around her love.
After I read the post to Brian, I told him I wanted to invite Grandma Wendy and Tia over for a Christmas with Riley before we went to Texas. We would spend the afternoon at church, for the kids Christmas concert, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and come back to our house. I’d make our famous Texas chili, cornbread, and banana pudding for dinner and we’d open presents.
It was a beautiful day. We sat around the fire outside on the porch and watched Riley play with his new toys. It couldn’t have gone any better. I was stretching my boundaries,letting go of contentment, and giving my made up comfort zone over to Him.
Friends, I am so, so, so thankful that I stepped out of my little circle of arms length love. Who are you holding love back from today? Please grab their shoulders and pull them in close. Be His light already, ok? We are not promised tomorrow. Love you all. We can do this. Do it for me. Do it for Grandma Wendy.