Announcing the Birth of Bette Lee

A baby girl was born to Irene and Lee Stapp this beautiful fall morning, October 8, 1939. Bette Lee is welcomed by her grandparents, Edward and Francis Curtis and Guy and Josephine Stapp, Aunt Nelda and Uncle Albert Stapp, and Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ken Dale. She will be the first-born in a close-knit extended family. She will come to have two sisters, Janice Irene and Arvada Carol (Dee), and many cousins including Sharon, Sandra and Shirlee Stapp and Keith Dale.

Bette Lee will take her first steps on the hills of Petrolia and later move to the families ranch in Hetten Valley. The ranch house is one that was built by her great grandparents and will stand as a reminder of years gone by, some good and some good and hard.

Bette Lee will attend a one room school-house in Hetten Valley. Her first teacher will be Hazel Willburn. Hazel will greatly impact Bette’s love of learning and will make a way for her to pursue her education even into her adult years. She will introduce her to literature and with a turn of the page, the world will be hers.

Bette Lee will leave home at age thirteen to attend high school in Red Bluff. Her home only offered school through the eighth grade. She will complete her high school education at Fortuna High School and graduate with a full scholarship to Humboldt State University.

She will meet her husband, John L Elgin at a Ruth dance in the summer of…oh I don’t know the year, but they loved to dance. They will build a home together and make many memories with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to come. Bette Lee and John L will have four children, Tracy Lee, Maxine Renee, Monica Norene and John Charles. They will share their home with many other children throughout the years. Those children will be “children of the heart” and will love her as a mother and she will tend to them as her own.

Bette Lee will have many talents as she will determine at an early age to be “more than just a pretty face.” She will teach herself to play the piano, she will enjoy drawing and painting. Her early years she will make paper dolls and dress them out of the Sears catalogue. This will lead to her interest in sewing clothes and will later serve as a gift to her children. When times are hard she will dig deep and let her imagination guide her. Shopping at the local thrift store for large clothing made of good cloth, she will make her daughters matching dresses and they will never know they were poor. Her sons will have western shirts made just right to fit and they will become a time-honored tradition.

There will be as many good times as bad time and Bette Lee will instill the love of life to her children. She will take an ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary adventure. One such day will be in Trinidad on a foggy winter afternoon. She will long for her mountain home and the fun of playing in snow.  On such a day, she will let her imagination play and soon she and her children will be crumpling paper and having an all out “snowball fight” laughter and giggling and papers tossed about. Her imagination and mindset will serve her well in raising her flock. There will be giant spider webs taking up the entire living room using a ball of yarn, there will be adventures of camping and swimming and road trips accross country. She will teach them how to live and let live, she will teach them how to go and to let go. But most of all she will teach them that they are valued and a part of something greater in this world.

Bette Lee will struggle and she will find her way. She will seek and she will find her feet on a solid foundation of Christ the redeemer. She will go back to school as an adult and get a doctorates degree in theology.  She will establish Solid Rock Foundation Ministry, Hetten Valley Church, Bethany Garden Home and The Olive Branch Thrift Store. These ministries will fulfill her call to tend the sheep, to make a place in the wilderness for the lost and the abandoned. She will be adored by many and rejected by some. She will love them anyway.

She will live her life by design of The Creator and on November 26, 2017, He will take her home. She will leave, just as she has lived, in her own way and without hesitation.

(My Mom; this is the eulogy I could not write. May I now, once again, find my voice.) 

Traditions of Deception

To the receiving hands of the ripped and torn children of the system, foster care and adoption. I have some advice. It is only my opinion so take it or return it. I write this with full knowledge that many won’t agree and I’m fine with that. These are just my thoughts followed by a powerfully written piece from my daughter when she was only five.

Be careful with the traditions of deception. I am not a Scrooge nor am I a religious one who hates costumes and candy. But I have some thoughts on Santa. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too for that matter.

In the past 15 years, children have come to my home with broken foundations of trust. They have been lied to, traumatized and played. Physical and emotionally scared in ways that cause me to evaluate the traditions of deception. Ba-Humbug. I know, It all in fun.

Do you remember the age of discovery, the feeling in your belly when you realized there is no Santa. I do not. My family told the history and story of St Nicolaus and played the role of giving in the tradition of old. We hunted eggs and received gifts for our teeth all in the knowing that someone loved us and was delighted to gift us with surprises.

The Holiday tradition of casting a magical character that knows everything and will judge you naughty or nice and give you gifts based on merit, upsets my humanitarian mind. These children have no self-worth, often do not know that they are deserving of any good thing and furthermore, love people who have wronged them and society. It’s a heavy burden to carry. How many crying babies have to endure the traditional Santa pictures when they know full well this isn’t right. They are coaxed and encouraged and expected to put aside the naturally inherited protective fact, all for the traditional photo. You set them on a strangers lap and ask them to tell him what they want. He is a stranger, in a red costume! Freaky

I have been asked so many time as to when is it the right time to tell children that they were adopted? Let that sink in…it is their story. Tell the truth from day one. Do you question as to when to tell your biological children about their truth?

My girl told me this christmas story when she was five. She was secure in her attachment and belonging.

“On a dark winter night a man named Santa Clause came down our chimney. He snatched up Traven and Lillie when our parents were sleeping. He took them to make them work as elves. But one night we snuck out and borrowed his reign deer. Traven rode Rudolph and I rode the crazy one, I can’t remember his name…nope, can’t remember his name, but he was craaaazy. We got on in the night and flew home. I held on tight and said hyah-hyah. It was a crazy ride but we got home safe. We let the reign deer go back home but then Santa noticed that we were gone. He came back to get us and I wacked him with a stick when he came down the chimney. Then he went back to his home and left us alone.” Lillian Sayad

I love her courage I love her wit.

Give your children a foundation of wonder and imagination with a strong identity of truth.

 

via Daily Prompt: Torn

The House

The House on Wood Street is tall and imposing. I remember when I first saw her. I was driving a side street and I noticed behind the tall redwood tree’s there was a large bird of paradise plant with dramatic flowers. I didn’t really notice the structure itself. I remember the flower speaking, telling me to take notice.

I have lived in this house now over thirteen years. We were quiet content in our first home. It fit us wonderfully, on a hill with views and lots of natural light. When we opened our hearts to fostering we were quickly told it was not big enough for what our hearts and hands would welcome, so we moved to The House. She was built in 1904 and has withstood the hands of time with very few alterations. As we moved in on a cold winter day our first young momma came with her baby and her things. It was a house for others from day one.

Fostering has given way to adoption and I have always kept my mind on the original heart beat and vision. Every child deserves a home, a place of belonging and purpose. A place to launch from and a place to return. I know longing, and heart-break from a place of empty heart and womb. Adoption is a beautiful story of family for many individuals and the reasoning is as complex as those who make this choice.  My story was somewhat more happen stance. I saw a need and I said yes and guess what, that does not make me a mom. My love for them does. There is this thing that happens, you wake up and notice you even love their stink. You want whats best for them even more than you want whats best for yourself. Sometimes that doesn’t lead to adoption but loving them from a distance and carrying them always in the place that only they can hold.

I do not require that the children of our family call me mom. I can read their faces and know their ways. I speak brokenness and miss trust fluently.  “Mom” just the very word stirs up vision and expectation and some are not good. There is confusion and strings attached and I am patient. In my mind I am patient. I rationalize the lack of title and have fully convinced myself, I want to be fine with it.

One day I am doing my household chores, tending to the house. I take a break and sit outside and look up and the reflections in the window looks as if she is winking at me. Not teasingly but assuredly. I was fussing over my place and my identity, I will admit. I want to be the mom and I want all due respect. I want to be adored and favored, I want to be their everything…The House spoke to me, it was the oddest thing. She told me they were not ready and it will come, but for now she would stand in proxy. She would hold them in her belly, keeping them safe and warm. Sheltering them and giving them a place to heal. She will raise them up and never ask for anything in return. I was humbled, this is truth. The House on Wood Street stands in proxy for all the mom’s who could not, and I am honored to call her home.

I answer to many names; The sweetest name is the one that comes from them. It sounds like a song that only they can sing.

via Daily Prompt: Proxy