Sunday, November 27, 2011
My friend graciously loaned me her copy of the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
I am entranced. I'm also convicted, encouraged, and...well, grateful that God would put this tool in my hand at this moment.
She writes poetically, and it's difficult to read more than a few pages before needing to stop and absorb the content. So much meat in such a small book.
I'm only half way through and my own list of one thousand gifts stands at a paltry forty, buy my eyes are starting to see and my list is growing faster and my heart is growing larger as I develop the discipline and reap the delight of eucharisteo.
I cannot recommend this book more highly. Get a copy for yourself. Might as well get a copy for your friends, as well. Then you won't have to loan them yours and wait...and wait...and wait to get it back. (Sorry, Peg! :)
Monday, November 14, 2011
After a half hour of this, we called the doctor on call and left a message for the nurse. Before she returned our call, he calmed somewhat. Then, while he was laying on our bed, his eyes half-way closed, his eyes started flitting from side to side. I called his name and he didn't respond. When I called him louder, his eyes opened wider and stilled, but didn't focus. Then they half closed and flitted some more. The whole thing probably lasted 30 seconds or so.
When the nurse called and I explained what happened, she sent us to the ER. Eon was completely exhausted by then and didn't even move when Shawn buckled him into the van. Pulling into the ER parking lot, I thought he looked pale and I couldn't get him to wake up. I shook his leg and patted him and called his name loudly. Nothing. Freaked out, I pulled into the nearest parking spot, yanked him from his car seat and took off running.
Halfway to the door he said, "Momma. Down!" After that, he acted totally normal. He was diagnosed with an ear infection. I tried to hold him down for a CT scan. That was fun. They were able to get enough to rule out hydrocephalus and a brain tumor, anyway.
We were instructed to have our pediatrician order an EEG and follow-up with a pediatric neurologist. We have an appointment with our ped tomorrow morning.
Honestly, I'm a little stressed about it all. I was very afraid on the way to the ER.
Also, I'm in a lot of physical pain. I hurt my back dashing into the hospital with a 30 pound bundle of low muscle tone. I just recently recovered from a back injury that happened over 3 months ago. I have some thoughts about this new injury that I haven't sorted out, yet. I'll keep you posted.
For now, please pray for my boy.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
How does one do the "quality time" I've heard so much about? How do you make every moment matter when you really just want a nap?
It takes a courage that I lack. To step outside of myself, to push aside my selfishness, might carry the expectation that I'll do it all the time. It might invite further guilt when I cannot pull it off consistently. Better to let them think it's not a possibility, than to show them what of me they're missing.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
It has been working so well, that we started contemplating if this is something we could actually do for longer than just 3 months. We knew they had permanent positions available and began discussing the possibility of expressing interest in one of them. After stewing for awhile about it, I finally just told God that if He wanted me to do this, they would have to approach me. The very next afternoon, my boss and the rest of the staff decided I should work there full-time and set things in motion to make it happen.
After much, much prayer, we've decided that I'll accept the position.
I'm learning a few things. I think I've been overwhelmed, and slightly depressed, for awhile. Maybe years. I think the fog I've been living with is starting to clear, just enough to realize it's there, but not quite enough to see with any great clarity.
I have things I wonder, too. I wonder if my guilt at loving my job is true or false. I really believe that this is the best thing for our family at this time. Shawn has vision for schooling the kids, developing a relationship with the boys, strengthening his relationship with the girls, and even whipping our home into shape. He is really enjoying the sleep that comes with knowing that paychecks are consistent. I am enjoying not being solely responsible for all of the above. I love feeling like I actually completed something at the end of each day. I love coming home to the kids and enjoying them. I love that my relationship with my teen daughter is so much healthier, now that we aren't fighting about cleaning the house all the time. And I love the new found confidence my 6yo son with a diagnosed anxiety disorder is displaying, now that he has his dad around to pour into him.
And yet, I feel a bit guilty and selfish for loving all those things. It almost feels like the death of a dream. I kept hoping that, one day, I would magically get better at the whole homeschooling/home managing thing. I secretly wonder if God just gave up on me and gave me an out. It's humbling to admit that you can't cut it in your chosen profession, especially if your chosen profession is raising children. But, my husband is so grateful that I'm doing this. Whatever God's motives for working this out, there is grace for this, and I am grateful, too.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
And, I'm still dealing with a back injury from a month ago. I'm in physical therapy (which seems to make it worse) and beginning to think I have a herniated disc. Ugh. But, even with pain, I've managed to be functional. Yay!
This past week, the baby slept through the night and that helped tremendously. I'm beginning to have a bit of mental/physical energy left at the end of the work day. I still haven't figured out the best start time. I think it's probably 7:00 am. Seems to work best for my energy level and for the patients. I have some that would prefer to get therapy over before breakfast.
At the end of the week, I felt groggy and disconnected from the family. I'm having trouble remembering to pray for them as much as I used to. Plus, it's hard to engage when I first get home. I just want to escape into facebook. I've allowed myself to do just that, but I don't plan to this week.
The kids don't seem any worse for the wear. They seem happy to see me at the end of the day, but nobody seems distraught if they see me leave, and they're pretty matter of fact about the whole thing.
Here's what I've noticed about the whole thing:
The boys seem to be doing better. I realized that they really benefit from having Dad around more. They were running me ragged and really need a heavier hand than I was giving them. Shawn is much better at consistency than I am.
The house is still a mess with Shawn at the helm, but I have no guilt about it and it's awesome! I realize that I've lived with guilt about everything home-related for years. I have ADD and I struggle with housekeeping, and that is putting it so mildly it's almost laughable. Even when the mess is under control, there is always so much more that can/should be done. I'm pretty good at relaxing anyway, but not without guilt.
That being said, I also realize that I need to contribute when I get home. I plan to do so, I just need to get the exhaustion under control, first.
Without the messy house coming between us, I think I'm getting along better with my type-A teen. I'm able to enjoy her without feeling judged for being a slacker or judging her for being to harsh with her younger sibs about cleaning up. It's a good thing.
On the flip side, I feel completely disconnected from my husband. He seems to be struggling a bit to find his way in this new role. We love our kids, but let's face it. He has the harder of the two jobs. He's not used to all the different personalities and sin natures asserting themselves in his face all. day. long. Just feeding all of them is a major feat! He is worn out at the end of the day, too. I'm also biting my tongue...a lot. He would be amazed at how much, because sometimes I forget, but I'm trying. It's much easier to see what needs to be done when you're not in the trenches.
We'll figure it out. For now, I'm enjoying the swap and continuing to take it one day at a time.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I am a SAHM, but I'm also an occupational therapist. I've been working a day or two per week to supplement our income this summer. It has helped, but we've wiped out our savings and things are tight.
Recently, I was offered a 13-week assignment working very close to home 6-8 hours per day. If we stick to our bare bones budget, we could bank several months worth of expenses by the time it's over. We decided that I would take it and he would stay home with the kids.
This is a big move for our family, even though it's only temporary. Switching roles is challenging. Letting go of our old roles will be challenging, too.
We homeschool and I was really looking forward to teaching our kids this year. It's been a long time since I've looked forward to school. Here's an explanation of that. It's hard for me to give that up, even for a few months. It will be hard not to tell Shawn how to do everything or to express frustration when he doesn't do it my way. Which is actually pretty funny given that I feel like a failure as a home manager much of the time.
I feel like this is a big social experiment happening in my very own home. I intend to blog about it, the practical and the emotional. I start Monday.
One day at a time.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
While they were gone, I was able to relax a bit and spend some extra time with my husband. I was also able to have uninterrupted thoughts, a luxury I forgot existed. While I was thinking, I realized some things. One is that I don't often pray for my kids beyond the customary, "Bless and protect them. Give them a good day," type prayers.
In neglecting that little nugget of necessity, I have let my standards slip and the vision fade. I was accepting mediocrity in my parenting and in their character. After all, they're just normal kids.
- Surely that tween show isn't too bad.
- Hanging out at the mall won't hurt them; all the kids do.
- I know we said no overnights, but we do trust that family.
- It's normal for teens to roll their eyes and slam doors.
- He should be disciplined for calling me names, but he's acting sweet now.
With perspective came the realization about not praying, which led to much praying, which led to more perspective, which led to gratitude.
I am so grateful that, when I venture off course, one prayer for help and I can almost hear God say, "Recalculating," before he helps me back on track. Sometimes, it takes awhile to find my way back, with added u-turns and curves, and sometimes, it's almost like He picks me up and sets me right where I left off.
I'm not sure what kind of redirection I'm currently experiencing. They've only been home a few hours and I've already veered off course a few times. I'm just trying to keep my eyes on Jesus and trust Him with the journey while committing to pray, daily, for the precious gifts He has given me.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I have friends who have cleaner houses (by far), more patience, stronger faith, "bigger" ministries, holier kids, and infinitely better organizational skills. I keep falling short.
It's not just about comparing myself to others. I compare myself to the me I want to be, as well. I compare my realities to my intentions. I want to be more focused, more caring, more capable, more godly, just...more. I fall short. I don't measure up.
And then He gently reminds me. He doesn't have a measuring stick. Doesn't need one to see that we all fall short of His glory. He doesn't measure the increments to see how short or who's falling shortest. None of us measure up. It's the human condition.
He doesn't view my life with a measuring stick.
Because I've accepted Jesus, He sees me through rose-colored glasses; through the filter of the blood of His Son. I don't have to measure up; He bridged the distance. When I view my life through His lens, I have peace. I experience joy. I can come to Him, I do come to Him, and lay all the failings and unmet expectations at His feet. I find rest for my soul and my strivings cease.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
That's just really not me. I am often selfish and needy, impatient and rude, rough and crass. I feel like a fraud when I accept the humble offerings of my kids on this day.
I am human and imperfect. My children know this about me and I am sure that picking out the perfect Mother's Day card is difficult for them. I imagine them standing in the aisle rejecting card after card, until they finally find a safe, funny one.
I hate that the holiday objectifies motherhood until it is something angelic and saintly like halos and gold dust. I know few women who can live up to that.
It portrays the "good" mothers are those who can read the same favorite bedtime stories for hours on end, instead of hiding the annoying books and leaving out only the short ones....that rhyme. They can create gourmet meals on a shoe string budget, instead of serving frozen pizza for the 3rd time this week. There is no way they have a hidden chocolate stash, but if they did and it was found, they'd be sure to share, instead of lunging for it and yelling, "MINE!"
The truth is I love my kids. I clean up their bodily fluids because it needs to be done, not because I am saint-like. I delight in them because they're, well, delightful. I try to do what's best for them and can agonize for weeks over the simplest decision.
I'm just a mom. I feel like I am failing much more often than succeeding. I notice all the the things I'm not doing, over all I am. I worry that I'm not disciplining enough, enjoying them enough, teaching them enough, loving them enough...that I'm not enough.
Instead of thanking me for what I have done, Mother's Day - with it's sappy cards, commercials, and sermons - just spotlights for me the areas I'm lacking. Next year, I'm going to unplug from all the media pressure and enjoy my family as they celebrate imperfect me.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
When will I know for sure it’s "worked"? When my child can sits still in a church service at the age of 2? When my 1st grader obeys my every wish without explanation? When my teen dresses modestly of her own accord? When my 25 yo shares his very first kiss with his new bride? Are these even the goals?
I suppose none of us will ever know of our parenting "success" until we stand before the Father and hear his assessment.
The problem is that our children are human and subject to the very whims and temptations that we are. And, just like us, many may look good on the outside but only God knows the heart. Any spiritual growth can only come from the work of the Holy Spirit. We can point our children in the right direction, but we can’t mature them. Only God can do that. While this is frightening in some ways (we can’t ensure the outcome) it is also incredibly freeing. We will be held accountable only for our obedience, not for the choices our children make.
Monday, April 11, 2011
That is the crux of my problem, I realized this morning.
It's been winter here, in central Indiana, for far too long. The weeks were cold, the snow was colder, and the days were far too short. I was miserable, and everybody knew it. "I hate winter. Why do we still live in Indiana? Will it ever be spring, again?" was a frequent mantra.
As is typical in Indiana, we had some warm, teaser days, and then temperatures plummeted once again. Yesterday, however was warm. The trees are flowering, the grass is green and will need mowed soon. We opened the windows wide to let in the fresh air.
We walked, played, and laughed in the sun, so excited that spring had arrived, at last.
Then, this morning, right before dawn, I heard them. The birds. They were making a racket with their mating calls and chatter.
"Stupid birds!" I muttered as I rolled over with the pillow over my head to block the noise.
Wow. My negativity is killing me. Maybe literally, given all my recent health issues, but certainly, it is killing my spirit. Give me any silver lining and I am sure to show you the cloud. Even while noticing the beauty of our flowering trees yesterday, I was quick to point out the stench they put off. Complain, complain, complain.
I can't even stand to be around me, I'm so critical and negative. I'm glad the Holy Spirit pointed this out to me. This is not who I want to be. Mine is not a life that glorifies God if I take everything He's given me and add a negative spin.
Scripture tells me to give thanks in every situation, to be content in whatever state I'm in, and to do all things without complaining. Somewhere, I lost these virtues along the way and allowed the sin of ingratitude to poison my soul. Now it's time to wash myself with the Word and renew my mind...and enjoy the birds.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Grace and works are warring again in my mind. I get that I don't have to "do" anything to earn my salvation and to receive favor from God. And, yet, there is just much that needs doing. I am always behind. It's hard to remember that you are justified in Christ when He's not the one clamoring for dinner, or demanding payment on money owed, or scrutinizing your dirty house.
I've heard many times that "God is the only one you need to please". Except, that's not really true, is it? We all have responsibilities. When I was a child, I needed to please my parents. In college, I needed to please my professors. As a wife, I need to please my husband. As an adult, I need to please the IRS, my employers, the therapists who treat my son, the other moms in my homeschool group, church leadership, and on and on it goes.
So how exactly does this grace thing work in all of this?
The reality is that even if I did none of the things I am responsible for doing, God is pleased with me. I know this because when I was still a sinner, He died for me. Before He was even on my radar, He was wooing me to Himself. All the rest are waiting to judge me when I fall short, and God? Well He comes up beside me and makes up the difference.
I am okay, as is.
There is much about me that needs redemption and yet, He only sees me as already redeemed. That is the mystery of the gospel that Paul referred to. It's a mystery because we cannot fully grasp just how for us God already is. We keep trying to perform, to do, to be good enough to win His approval and we have little concept that we already have it.
The other piece of the mystery is that once I get that He is pleased with me, I want to please Him. Not in a way that is self-serving, like, "Gee, I hope He likes me"; but instead, in a way that wants Him to be blessed.
So I will meet my responsibilities to my husband, the IRS, my employers, early intervention therapists, our homeschool group, our church leadership team, etc, because that's what God, who loves me whether I do or not, has called me to do.
I think He'll be pleased.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I’m beginning to think that legalism is the root of all kinds of evil. We often think we are impervious to it, but clearly we are not. It infiltrates our subconscious and colors the lens through which we view others and ourselves. It causes us to act in ways which are inconsistent with our beliefs and contradictory to our hearts. It places a price tag on that which is free and keeps us from ever walking in victory.
More lethally, it keeps others from having a relationship with Jesus. Other people latch onto our particular brand of legalism, and follow along, looking the part. But, in a moment where true relationship would keep them from disaster, the rules of legalism just force them underground.
Meet Julie, a married mom of a 3 1/2 year-old daughter. She comes from "a religious family" (her words). After struggles with both primary and secondary infertility, she finds herself pregnant with a much wanted little boy. Unfortunately, Julie discovered from amniocentesis that her son is sporting an extra chromosome. Down syndrome was not part of the plan and she is terrified. She also admits that she is very, very angry at God for playing "this cruel joke" on her.
Julie wants an abortion. But, she is struggling with that decision because of her "religious family." The only person that she has shared her son’s diagnosis with is her sister, who is championing that Julie and her husband will do a great job raising a child with Ds. Julie has not shared with her the desire/plan to terminate, because she is worried that her sister will "think less of her."
I can’t help but wonder. If Julie’s family were less religion and more relationship, would that make a difference in this situation? If she were not worried about judgment from them for breaking the rules, would she be able to share her heart and be heard? Would the love and support of her family change the outcome for both Julie and her baby? Would she have already come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?
If she had relationship with Jesus, instead of a desire to keep up appearances, she would already be convinced that, because God loves her and her son, He must have a plan for her precious baby’s life that includes his extra genetic material. She would know that he is being knit together in secret for a purpose, and that he is being created in the image of her God. Termination might have been her gut reaction to the mind-numbing fear, but it would have garnered no serious consideration.
What about the rest of us? Are we living according to some moral code that applies to other people’s situations? Do we know that abortion is wrong because it just is…and because we would never find ourselves in a situation where we would be tempted? Or do we know it’s wrong because of a gut-wrenching knowledge of the Father’s heart? Can we be real with the Julies of this world and say, "I know your fear. I’ve had it, too. I, too, just wanted to make it go away," and then encourage them that God knows, and that only He can bring them peace?
Or do we shake our heads and click our tongues and declare, "I could never do that to my baby," knowing that it is unlikely that we would ever find ourselves in that situation.
It is easy for me to sit on this side of it and judge. Today I find myself judging the unknown "you" that are steeped in legalism, reacting only to the intent and not responding to the heart. Tomorrow, in my frustration, I will judge the sinner, too. I will be so frustrated and feel so helpless that I could not make her see the truth, when the truth is not mine to reveal. I will feel holier than thou because I’m living this life, and she chose to throw it away.
How is that different? Unfortunately, it’s not. If I had a living, breathing Julie in my life, I would hold her hand and let her cry. I would listen as she processed. I would validate her feelings and pray with her. I would lovingly share truth with her and pour everything I had into her. And then if, in her fear she chose wrongly, I would walk away in disgust and horror.
When will my eyes be Yours, Lord? When will I hear with Your ears? How long must I live this selfish life? Why does it always come back to my foolish pride? I pray for grace, dear Lord. Grace to love my brand of unlovables. I pray for grace to own the mercy you have so freely given me, so that I can freely give it. Change my heart of stone.
(I wrote this post in October of 2009. I don't know what Julie chose to do, but since she broke contact with me, I think I can safely guess that she chose to abort her precious son. Given the new, non-invasive blood test for Down syndrome diagnosis in pregnancies that will be here in the US within the year, the likelihood of many more stories like Julie's is great. Do we have what it takes to love them all?)
Monday, January 24, 2011
- Everything is not an emergency. There are true emergencies in life. They usually involve blood or fire. So, unless there is blood (must be dripping or spurting) or fire, do not interrupt my phone call, bathroom break, or nap. Really, don't. Because then we might have an emergency.
- There are injustices in the world. Children sent to mental institutions just because they have an extra chromosome is one of them. Getting a smaller piece of cake than your siblings is not.
- Honesty really is the best policy. Why? Because you stink at lying. I will catch you and, even if I can't prove you are lying, we both know you are. My trust in you plummets to zero and neither of us wants that. I allow very few good things to happen to you when I don't trust you. So, just tell the truth.
- I love you. I believe in you. I am behind you. I am your biggest fan, your greatest champion, and your strongest supporter. I am incredibly blessed to be your mom!
- God is real and He is good. Never stop talking to Him, even if you're mad at Him. He's big. He can take it. It is hard for me to believe this, but He loves you even more than I do. He will never leave you. Ever. He will never fail you. I have failed you before and I probably will again, but He won't.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Doomed to fail, anyway, why even bother to try at all?
I also have issues with doing the expected. In some ways, I am such a sheep and I hate that, so I rebel in easier things. EVERYONE does NY's resolutions, therefore I am NOT doing NY's resolutions.
But, just because something has become cliche, doesn't mean it doesn't have some inherent value. There is value in reflection. There is meaning in looking over the past year and lauding what was right and wanting to right what was wrong.
Based solely on facebook statuses (since I don't actually have a memory), the first half of the year I did pretty good. I enjoyed my children (evidenced by all the funny quotes) and was thankful for my large brood and our ability to homeschool (evidenced by Scripture and gratitude statuses). The second half I seemed to become less content with my lot in life (evidenced by snarky and complaining posts).
I still don't know if I can resolve to do anything, but here are my New Year's Intentions:
1.) I intend to pray and seek God on what He wants me to do this year with this passion for orphans that has welled up inside of me.
2.) I intend to hug more, especially my older kids. The littles beg for physical affection, but the olders need it, too.
3.) I intend to start my day in prayer, before my feet hit the floor. Committing my day to Him can only be a good thing.
4.) I intend to pray more for the challenging people in my life, instead of about them.
These are my intentions for 2011. There are only four of them and three of them involve prayer. Shouldn't be too hard, right? :)