Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Pursuit of Normal

Most of my adult life has been spent in pursuit of one thing--normal.

When I started blogging I noticed that I was drawn to blogs with ideal families who seemed
to live picture perfect lives.  The families were so "normal".  I've been trying so hard to figure out what normal is because so many things in my life have not been normal.

Today I decided that I needed to get some things off my chest.  Things that I've always hesitated to go into great detail about before--my family. 

My family is something that's been on my mind lately and I can't seem to shake it.  The death of my grandfather has brought back so many things that I try not to think about each day.  Mixed in with the emotions I feel about his passing are feelings I have concerning my family. 

If we've been blog friends for a while, then you may have noticed that I talk about my grandparents a great deal.  You may have noticed that I don't really mention "my Mom" or "my Dad", and I don't talk about my siblings very much.  There are reasons why I've never talked about those people.  I've never given very many details about my family because it's so personal and it's complicated.  In an effort to find some resolution and process these feelings and emotions, I'm just going to write about it. 

Here's more information than you probably ever wanted to know about my family. 

I was raised by my paternal grandparents, as most of you know.

Their son, my biological father, was in the military and stationed in the Philippines.  He met and married a native Filipino, my biological mother, and they had me and my older brother.  When I was 10 weeks old, my biological father took me and my older brother from the Philippines and brought us to the United States.  From my understanding, there were issues with both of my biological parents, which made them incapable to raise us at the time. 

My brother and I lived with my grandparents until I was about 2 1/2 and my brother was about 4 (I think, I was so young and all of these details are fuzzy).  By this time, my biological father had divorced my biological mother and married another Filipino woman.  He and his new wife came to the United States.  I believe their intentions were to take my brother and I and begin again as a family.  Somehow the decision was made that I would not go and live with them but stay with my grandparents instead.  My older brother ended up going with my biological father and stepmother. 

My grandparents made the decision to legally adopt me and raise me as their own.  Because of this they have always been my parents, even though they are my grandparents.

Here's where it gets even more complicated...

I didn't call my grandparents "Mom" or "Dad".  I referred to them as Mama Winnie and Papa Ralph, which you've read about them numerous times on the blog.  I also didn't consider my uncles (their other sons) as brothers; they were my uncles.  I didn't consider my cousins to be nieces and nephews; they were just my cousins.  I never really considered my biological parents to be parents; they were just people in my life like any other relatives I had very little contact with.  Are you confused?  Don't worry, it is confusing.

So, where does this leave me now.

Well, I have three siblings.  I have my older brother who I mentioned earlier.  I also have a younger brother and sister from my biological father and stepmother.  I still consider them to be my brothers and sister even though I did not grow up with them, and when it comes to "being a part of their family" I'm not technically a part of their nuclear family.  I'm pretty close to my older brother and my younger brother and his wife.  My younger sister is still in high school so she is all about high school stuff.  She and I text and communicate through facebook ever once in awhile.

I have no other siblings from my biological mother.  I know this because her relatives found me and my older brother about 4 years ago.  We had not had contact with her and her family, other than an occasional letter or card we would receive every 5 years or so.  Since our contact and with her was so limited, we were beyond shocked when her sisters tracked us down.  I never ever expected to have contact with her and to get a phone call from her was very unsettling.  It took me a while to work through all of those feelings and emotions.  Through it all, I have no issues with my biological mother, and I don't hold any resentment towards her.  I know there were things that have happened over the last 30 years that have been out of her control.  I have accepted a friend request from her on facebook and she can now view photos and current information about my family, which I think makes her happy.  It's interesting interacting with her on facebook.    It's been interesting interacting with her over the last 4 years since she reconnected with us.

I am very guarded with my emotions and cautious with my relationship concerning both of my biological parents.  I have boundaries in place to protect myself.  It took many years of soul searching and questioning before I could have peace with my life.

In my pursuit of normal, I've realized that my family situation is complicated.  Accepting these complications has brought peace.

I have peace knowing  that many of the events that led me to where I am at in my life are results of decisions that were made over 30 years ago, and many of those events were out of my control. 

I am at peace knowing that the ones who made the decision for me to live with my grandparents made that decision trying to do the best they knew how.

I am at peace with my childhood.  Even though it was unusual, I felt very loved and secure. All credit goes to my amazing grandparents, a loving extended family and wonderful church family.

Despite my unusual family situation, my husband likes to say that I'm normal surrounded with some abnormal circumstances.

Whew, that was a lot to get off my chest.

Hopefully by me sharing all of this someone who is facing difficult family circumstances might find encouragement.

Also be encouraged to know that despite what life hands you, you can make your family what you want it to be. 

I believe we have that power to be who we want to be and ultimately who God wants us to be.
Philippians 4: 13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I believe in the power of the gospel to changes lives.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I believe God gave us everything we need to accomplish this.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I believe we have the ultimate example as a parent in our Heavenly Father, and more than anything else His love makes me the person I am today.  I'm forever grateful for the redeeming love of Christ. 
Romans 8:15
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

Galatians 4: 4-7
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Sharing what's On My Heart at Casey's.



  1. Thanks for having the courage to share your story. I come from a messy family too. I guess we all do to some degree or another. It's such a comfort to me to rest in the knowledge that I AM part of a perfect family, God's. He is perfect and, in his amazing grace, allows me to be his daughter...the perfect Daddy, the perfect parent. It's such a beautiful thing - that he would take the messy and broken and imperfect and transform it into something breathtaking for His glory.
    Thanks again.

  2. I'm glad you shared this. I think you will be a huge encouragement to others.

  3. Thank you for sharing this even though it was not easy. It's such an encouraging story of the Light that shines through even when it's hard to see.

    Your grandparents sound like remarkable people and you were obviously meant to be with them. God's sovereignty is amazing!

    I just kept thinking of Ephesians 1:5-6 while reading this post:
    In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

    As all our families here on Earth have their issues, it is so comforting to know that our adoption in Christ guarantees a beautiful inheritance in the Lord.

  4. Wow, Michele, that was very brave! You are a very strong woman, thanks for sharing your story with us! I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather's passing. I know he meant the world to you.

  5. Family is complicated. Thank you for sharing your story. It can be so difficult to tell your story even to strangers in blogland. I'm so happy your grandparents were able to raise you with love and community.
    And grief is so complicated. I lost my mom 10 years ago when I was in college. I'm so sorry for your loss. Those verses are great ones to focus on in difficult moments.

  6. That is a very encouraging and inspiring story. I think most of us come from the "non-normal" families. I'm not sure what normal even is. I like your husbands comment that you are a normal surrounded by abnormal circumstances. Home is where the heart is and that was with your grandparents. They were your love, your guidance, and everything that a parent/grandparent should be. I am sure your story has touched many of your readers.

  7. This post has me asking the question "What is normal?" My answer may be wrong, but it makes perfect sense to me. Normal is: living the life that God has given us with the intention of being the best we can be, seeking Him, loving others, and forgiving(even when it hurts). Normal is knowing and accepting that where we are in life is where we should be. Normal doesn't always mean the "cookie-cutter" life....I hope! Your family situation is not like anyone else's, but I don't know two families that are the same. At the risk of sounding like a reality show, your journey has made you who you are...a loving mother and wife! A woman who strives to make the lives of her husband and children the best that it can be. So if you aren't "normal," then I don't want to be "normal" either!

    I sure hope this made sense! Thank you for sharing your story. I know you blessed the lives of your grandparents beyond measure!

  8. I'm humbled by your comments, each one made me cry. Thank you for understanding me and understanding my need to share. I appreciate your kind and encouraging comments.

  9. Hi Michele,
    I am just reading this post for this first time and wanted to first say thank you for sharing this with us. I do hope that it helped you to feel better about some things after getting it all out.
    Your Mama Winnie and Papa Ralph really sound like amazing people. I can see why it took you a long time to work out how you felt about your situation, but just remember that there really is no such thing as "normal". We are all different. We are all unique, and we are all just as God intended us to be.
    I used to really struggle with comparing myself to other moms when I first became a mother, but it was actually through blogging that I discovered that it doesn't matter if I don't do things exactly the way this mom does, or that mom does. What matters is that we try our best everyday. And be proud of who we are.
    You are such a brave woman Michele. And kind and courageous. I wish I could do something to help you with your grief of Papa Ralph's passing. I'm glad that you have a man as great as Mark by your side.
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend and relaxing a bit.
    Hugs to you Michele. xo

  10. Wow...I am new to your blog today and this touching post definitely made me want to read more. You have such a unique past and God has given you such a positive outlook because of that. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Your husband's comment made me giggle...

  11. Courageous, beautiful, authentic, and so, so honoring to Jesus!! Thank you for sharing your story and using it to point to Jesus' work in your life!

  12. Beautiful, the way you shared here.

    Different...but perfect. :)


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