Posted by: soulshinemoments | October 8, 2013

God Doesn’t Live in a Box

I have so much gratitude in my heart lately. The way things have progressed in my life is miraculous, to say the least. I sat down to meditate last night for 20 minutes, and had trouble focusing on my breath because I was feeling so thankful for all the goodness in my life as of late. If I must be distracted while meditating, I’d rather it be for that reason than for anxiety, depression, fear, or any other ugliness that has the potential to pop up in my mind.

After Ariel’s dance on Saturday, Jack was feeling all sappy (hehe) and sentimental. He is realizing his little girl, who he has practically raised on his own, is on the fast-track to womanhood and independence. The next day, Sunday, was also another monumental day because Ariel decided–on her own accord–that she wanted to be baptized at the local church she has been attending with a group of her friends for the last month. The dance coupled with her baptism, I guess, put Jack over the edge of seeing his little girl becoming her own little person. These gigantic milestones made for a really beautiful weekend and, I feel, bonded our family on a whole different level.

Initially, I really didn’t think the dance was a big deal, as I mentioned in the last entry. I realized by Saturday that my feelings were very kill-joyish and eventually changed my attitude. But, initially, I saw the dance as another financial burden that we had to try to swing that wasn’t necessary. I saw it as an opportunity for Ariel to be older than she actually is (which she jumps at the opportunity to do on her own as it is!). I also saw it as another milestone that was occurring in Ariel’s life for which her mother wouldn’t be apart of and where I would attempt, clumsily so, to try to fill the gap (all the while, knowing Ariel would rather her mom to be the one to curl her hair, take her to get her nails done, help her with her makeup). So on Jack’s part, my part, and Ariel’s part, there were a lot of complex emotions going in to a simple, school-sponsored middle school dance.

Seeing Jack being so protective, proud, and sentimental helped my perspective a lot, though. I tried to be more empathetic and view the dance through his eyes. I look back on the experience and think that by the time Ariel’s next dance comes around, I will be more excited and ready for it. I won’t be hurt by her long, solemn silences when I’m curling or hair or taking her to get her nails done. (I just know it’s because she wishes it were her own mother doing it.) I will have a thicker skin and a more celebratory nature.

I have heard numerous people say to me, “You are Ariel’s mom. You are the one that is physically and financially and emotionally there for her!”

And I have hesitated. I told my friend, Rinny, the other day, “I don’t know. I think Ariel deserves someone who is more domesticated. Who can cook and clean… or someone other than me! Or her own mother! I just…don’t know what I’m doing. I’m flying by the seat of my pants.”

“No,” Rinny corrected me. “That’s not what Ariel needs. Ariel need someone who loves her father and her brother–and HER–more than anything else. Lots of women can cook and clean but are horrible people. My step-mom wasn’t domestic, but she loved my father and me and I love her!”

They were some of the kindest words anyone could have spoken to me. Love that girl!

Sunday was the day Ariel chose to be Baptized. Now this Baptism and church thing really amazes me in such a way that I, myself, feel closer to God. We never push any sort of religion or spirituality upon Ariel. Her friend and our neighbor invited her to church a few weeks ago. Ariel took to it right away. Teens and tweens her age were in abundance (and Ariel is a social butterfly). I am very open to the idea of church. When I was Ariel’s age, I started going to church, too. I feel like attending church my middle school and highschool years saved me in so many ways. I met so many kind, beautiful souls. I found a safe place to go when things were tough at home or at school.

As Ariel has been coming home the past few weeks expounding on her church experience, I have been very curious. I ask her a lot of questions and try to get her to speak about her experience. I have told her, too, that I would like to know whenever there is any women’s group that meets because I would be interested in attending. While I have been curious and open to Ariel’s new interest in church, Jack has remained silent during her explanations of her church experience.

One day while Ariel was at school, I mentioned to Jack how proud I was of Ariel for exploring her faith and spiritual side.

Jack’s response was pretty ambiguous to my comment, if not cynical.

Again, I tried, “Maybe we could all go as a family someday and see what it’s like. I wouldn’t mind finding a church for all of us to go to together.”

“Not me. No, thanks. That’s not my thing,” he replied, rather shortly.

“Really?” I was a little shocked. “You can just easily close yourself off like that without even trying it out? You could meet some good connections, some nice people. Plus, we would be supporting Ariel as she does something positive. Plus, now that I am working with dying people, I see how important it is for everyone to explore their spiritual side. And, you know, when I was Ariel’s age, I found a church I loved with so many good people. Honestly, I feel like going to that church saved my life.”

I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and left for class. I know I can’t push anything on anyone who isn’t open to the idea in the first place.

Fast forward to a week ago–Ariel came home from her Sunday night church youth group and said to Jack and me: “So, you guys coming with me to Church next week?!”

“Huh? Why? We weren’t planning on it.”

“Well,” she gave a dramatic pause with a big grin on her face. “Because I am getting BAPTIZED!”

Jack and I were both surprised, but supported her. Since getting baptized is a pretty big decision, Jack wanted to be there. I was excited for Ariel. I am really impressed by anyone who is able to make a potential life-changing decision for themselves without being forced into it. She could have told me she wanted to be Buddhist and I would have felt the same way. I feel like she is learning how to look at life in a deeper, less superficial and materialistic manner lately (slightly).

So on Sunday, Jack, Jackson, and I all went to watch Ariel get baptized in front of her youth group. Jack and I sat in the front row while I held Jackson in my arms. When Jackson saw Ariel in the tank, he sang out loudly in the quiet church, “SISSY!” It was the cutest.

Jack was extremely moved by her Baptism–which surprised me. He told me later that the preacher had said, right before Ariel was dunked, “Today there is a party going on in Heaven, celebrating Ariel’s Baptism.” And Jack thought of his mother who passed away (who was a devout Catholic) and his grandpa looking down, celebrating and it choked him up. He then spent a long time in deep conversation with the pastor after service was over. The pastor invited him to a men’s group on Monday. Jack went to it, liked the guys, and now wants to make it his regular Monday thing. He also wants us to go to church as a family on Sunday. What the heck? Didn’t see that one coming, but I think it is a wonderfully positive thing. I’m down.

I had a really great day today, as well. I spoiled myself and got my hair cut AND highlighted. I feel slightly guilty for pampering myself (and for spending the $), but it was really enjoyable. I did it before class and now feel like I have a healthy head of hair again (instead of the former frizzy, dry mess that it was). Everyone at school was so complementary (gotta love being in class with 50 Social Workers).

Anyway, it has been an exceptionally good past couple of days. I am so grateful. Peace & Blessings. ❀





  1. That’s awesome that Ariel decided to be baptized on her own. It’s also amazing how Jack’s perspective of going to church changed after attending church and witnessing her baptismal. I’m sure it is difficult being a step mom. Regardless if you are domesticated or not just always do the best you can. You cannot force yourself to be something you are not but to be your authentic self. Being the example in your relationship with her father. She may have her distance with you, especially as a teenager. My friends who are step moms also struggle with their step children but all you can do is be you, everyone else is taken. Love your new haircut too, looks great.

    • Fancy, I love reading your comments. Thank you so much for your support and positive thoughts. You are a kind and creative soul. Xoxo

  2. 1. Your hair looks fabulous!
    2. I agree with your friend. The most important part of being a parent is unconditional love. Kids will survive dirt and store bought cookies. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    • Thank you so much. I will work on not being so hard on myself–it is incredibly challenging though! Peace and blessings to you!

  3. What a wonderful, beautiful story. I have been getting sappy lately too, so I am with Jack on that one. Saw my 6 yr old boy in a track meet recently and got teary eyed when I saw him crossing the finish line. But this whole thing of not being good enough as a mother is a lot of fear. Take heed what your friends are saying. It sounds like you are supportive, loving, open minded and taking her feelings and wishes into consideration. Who does that? Parents. Moms. I don’t know your whole story, but from what I have read in the past while, you’re doing a great job. Parenting is fraught with pitfalls and traps at the best of times. We adopted a boy about 6 months ago, and we have the same joys and challenges with him as we do our biological son. No difference who his bio parents were – he’s with us. As Ariel is with you. We just do the best with what we know. So keep at it.

    Thank you for sharing this. And yes, great pics πŸ™‚


    • I truly appreciate your wisdom and kind words. You’re right–there is a lot of fear within me when it comes to being a step-mother. I am working on it. πŸ™‚ That is wonderful you have adopted a child. Peace and many blessings to you!

  4. What an amazing time you are in! Your hair and you are beautiful.

    • Thanks for your support, JJM. I have gone through a lot of work and tribulation to reach this point so I am ESPECIALLY grateful to be where I am….whew…. xo

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