Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Not Awesome

There are days I appreciate people who notice the struggle and encourage me,
but then there are days...


I'd like...
to go unnoticed
to hop in the car without restraints
browse around the flowers without struggling to maneuver a wheelchair
constantly distracting a resistant child, and
not be like google maps to "recalculate" a less populated path.

Don't get me wrong, most days I fully appreciate those who...

ask questions and wait for an answer
allow me to arrive late or leave early without offense
come back after being on the receiving end of an emotional vomit
are present with a hug and a prayer because sometimes there are no answers

After sixteen years most days I don't mind being the ambassador for special needs. I can paste on a grin when I'm stared at from afar and be content to be present. But on other days, I beat myself up over the desperate longing to fade into the crowd, or even just stroll around without so many eyes.

Most days I don't even notice the incessant music from the same toys that have been playing for over a decade, yet others I'm cringing at the simple screeching and clicking noises wishing they'd go unnoticed. Those are the days where the pinching, hair pulling and digging get under my skin and I need to walk away.

Maybe its the anxiousness in my soul that needs to settle before I can engage on those days? Maybe the emotions of the moment need to be worked out in my own head before they can be released in an intelligible string of words? Maybe those are the days where there are too many words and they're all too clouded in the struggle? Or maybe I'm just human and some days I'm just weary. Maybe it's okay to not be awesome.

I know I'm not afraid of communicating the hard, but I think I need to work through to the hope before I can be honest with the pain.

I've been battling the reality of walking out hard places lately. I decided to take a trip to MN with all four girls by myself. I felt confident when I purchased the tickets, but packing bags and the reality of the five hour car ride before the plane ride was making me sick to my stomach. All the "what ifs" of caring for Abby without Andy or a caregiver started to seem more crazy than challenging the night before.

Abby hasn't exactly been herself after the hospital stay over a year ago. I had to get over the fact she didn't seem to recognized me when she woke up. Those weeks in the hospital had taken away our relationship in some form or fashion. I had to become her mom again and I think I've done that. I was oddly looking forward to solidifying "us" during this time. It was a really nice thought, but the reality of her care giving needs is definitely overwhelming.

Knowing I need the Lord desperately every single day doesn't mean I've figured out how to practically do it without angst. There seems to be a gap between the knowing and the doing. Being aware of my need just isn't enough. How can I keep moving forward when the blanket of fear starts to suffocate my courage? What does walking in faith look like? I think it should feel less frightening. I didn't think the pit in my stomach would be there if I fully trusted. Being a work in progress is often more humbling than I'd like. I want to measure success in concrete terms with definable edges, but that's not exactly how it goes.

I want a magic revelation of some undiscovered biblical truth to hit me over the head and take away the anxiousness creeping in my stomach, but ironically in the midst of a walk last week the truth settled in with a lot less fanfare then I had hoped for. Life is far more simple than I make it out to be.

Keep walking...

The choice is laid before us each day... hide in the closet or keep walking. I've tried the closet gig... not so great. Choosing to move forward can be hard but its definitely empowering when our faithful God carries us across the raging rivers unharmed to remind us who HE is.  Refusing to be stalled because we trust the hand leading us gives us the courage to get out and do hard things again each day.

We keep living and answering the call on our lives makes the faith we read about come off the pages and live in the space between theory and reality. Trusting "He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6)."

I make the choose to keep walking. Today it isn't easy. Tomorrow will be a new day...

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Monday, May 1, 2017

Doing one thing will radically change your life

Arriving in a new place with four kids, two with significant special needs (at that time) was like having the floor come out beneath me. It didn't take long to realize I couldn't physically, mentally or emotionally handle all I needed to do each day. I had two kids that required one-on-one care, two others who were mourning the loss of everything they've ever known (Belle was 6mo old when we moved to MN) and trying to figure out their place in this new world.

It was just too much.

I started by creeping in and out of despair. I fought it in the beginning with hope God's plan would magically appear and turn this impossible life into something possible. It didn't. I spent most days just surviving, going from one emergency task to another. There are some things that can be shelved for later, but eating, hygiene, clothing, clean-up and sleep ruled my days.

Soon those first few weeks turned into months and months into years, and despair set in. All I could say to the Lord each day was, "This is too much." The worst part of that constant plea for help was the answer I kept getting. I assumed it was satan tormenting me or just the craziness in my head. The response was, "I know".

What the crap did He want me to do with that? I was drowning! It took me some time to realized it was HIS voice reassuring me I was being heard and HE was near.

Small moments of light broke through with the words I heard in CBS (Community Bible Study) and church. I needed someone  to lift the spoon and put them in my heart because I lacked the strength to do it alone. Being on empty each day and living in despair zapped my ability to take in what I needed. The tyranny of the urgent screamed at me constantly and blindly functioning became my new normal.

"Trust the process," She said (lecture from Stewart our CBS leader). God has a plan. It may be dark today but He hasn't forgotten you.

This truth worked in me to keep me moving forward to hear God's word and choose to believe the best was yet to come. Nothing practically really changed in my life. Some days were less hard, but I continued to remain behind in everything I needed to do.

  • My house was never completely scrubbed or straightened, 
  • The doctor's appointments were never caught up. 
  • There was always school projects we worked on from behind. 
  • Time spent with my kids was lacking. 
  • Our marriage was taking a backseat because for the first time in our lives we couldn't physically go out.
  • I had few budding friendships in the fragile (needs tending) stage, but the best I had to offer was some moments of prayer and a short text every now and again. 
  • I wasn't keeping up or doing anything in my life well. Mediocre or bad was the best I was giving my priorities. etc... etc... etc.
My attitude was unstable and volatile. I was unhappy most of the time, and doing my best to fake it around my kids so they didn't feel responsible for my grief.

One day that small voice turned from "I know" to "Get Healthy".

I initially thought that assignment was more ridiculous than the first.  But after I chewed on it for a few months, I realized no one was going to rescue me. Feeling sorry for myself hand't gotten me anywhere. Despair was not my friend. Getting healthy actually started to make more sense because I needed to make some changes to my life. I needed to figure out what kind of life I wanted to live and go after it.

The next three words changed my life and I promise will change yours dramatically and permanently if you start to do it as well. They are a game changer...


I needed to ask the Lord what needed to be on the top of my list each day instead of a "willy-nilly" or "tyranny of the urgent" approach. It may seem insignificant because it's simple, but it actually has taken some time to figure out how to do it right. It's not physically hard or necessarily taxing, but there are three main components to do it right.
  1. First, I have to quiet my soul. This quest always starts with my head. I have to carve out the minutes at the start of my day and learn to hear the voice of the Lord. I set my timer to concentrate that period of time just on listening. I hate to admit I initially spent most of that time clearing my mind of all I need to do in order to make space to hear. I then put all the "necessaries" on the back burner and place quieting my soul front and center. I know for me it will always be a challenge to set aside the chaos that screams for my attention and choose to  listen, but the benefits outweigh the struggle. 
  2. Secondly, I have to listen to the right voices. The voice of being overwhelmed and living in despair  is never of God. Hope, love and encouragement is. This includes an increase in quiet listening before I ever open my devotions or make requests. The "Martha" in me finds "doing" much easier than listening, but taking in the word of God and doing nothing with it does not reflect God's intention for HIS word. His application in my life happens in the quiet when the words come alive to produce the fruit HE intends and I so desire. 
  3. Thirdly, being content doing the small things. I have the choice each day to act on what I hear or not. I have to choose not to worry about all that goes beyond my call for that day. Some days I'm called to do laundry. Other days I'm called to enjoy coffee with a friend. I not only need to hear the right voice, but act and live contentedly with it. It frees me up to be present for the tasks I have that day, and not to worry about the laundry list of those that must wait. I think I know what is best for me, but I'm often wrong (Proverbs 16:25). I may opt for "good" if left to my own priorities, but why not trade up for "His best"?
The only non-negotiable of my day is spending time with the Lord

My days are not less full than they were a year ago, but my contentment in where I am is growing. He has refocused my eyes on what I am called to. My priorities are clearer. I'm okay with some days being called to tackle the fourteen loads of laundry; whereas, it would've seemed like a waste of a day before. I can be fully present while sitting on the couch and reading books to Millie, coloring with MaryAlice, watching a show with Belle, or letting Abby cuddle on my lap until I can't feel my legs. Because I have kids, I am called to be a mom. I can freely be who I am called to be in each moment without any guilt because I am hearing and answering HIS call on my life.

I can wholeheartedly promise the simple step of seeking the Lord to order your day will change your life because it is HIS promise, not mine...

Jeremiah 29:13
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."(NIV)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Haircut

My vanity took a hit this week. I knew Abby's hair needed to be cut off, but my "Beautiful Blondie" (Uncle Ben's term of endearment for his girl) had the most beautiful locks I'd ever seen. It had become a total mess most days because she was literally pulling it out of her head. We tried to trim it up in case she was pulling because it was heavy, but it seems that she may simply like the feel of pulling it.

I've seriously been disturbed all week. I couldn't even post a single picture of it on Facebook. I was a little embarrassed because it seems trivial in the scheme of life because in and of itself, it totally is. With all the major life things that she deals with, it's really no big deal. Besides, she could care less. She was even a rock star getting it cut!

Abby and her sweet stylist 

Sometimes we need to refrain from making a big deal out of everything.
Sometimes it's okay to realize the little things are bigger and more important than we think. 

Don't get me wrong, a haircut isn't a big thing.

Abby's hair represented more to me than just her lovely locks. It was one of the only things about her that was "normal". It wasn't just typical but it was enviable. Her thick, naturally perfect shade of blonde, hair was lovely.

Still girly... not a fella :)

I like to fix hair. Some of you may doubt this if you haven't been aboard our ship for very long, but before she pulled everything out it was often braided with cute hair clips and fun bows. 

I also have convinced myself  her well kept hair reflected a well cared for child. I used to be so critical of parents whose kids were a mess.
I'm not anymore. ( If I could go back and apologize to all the parents I judged so harshly when I was a teacher... UGH!)
I too am just glad when we all make it to church without a complete breakdown from anyone (especially me). I choose to let the "cool points" drip off when my kids hair is a mess, completely undone or they made a last minute shoe change to rain boots and sneak out of the house before I intervene. I'm still pretty adept at convincing myself I have points to spare. 

Abby doesn't feel if her clothes are twisted or her pants have fallen to her knees (it seriously happens). She doesn't care if she's dropped food or if she's drooling down her front. She will walk around in a wet or even a dirty diaper without skipping a beat. She thinks nothing of smearing diaper contents and smelling like a trash can no matter how long I soak her in the bath to remove the odor. She eats trash if it's left out or rocks if they're within reach.
It's Abby... It's okay

Dad declared she has the best hair ever!

I adore this crazy girl. From the way she looks at me to the way she pulls me to her room to cuddle. She lights up my world!

I walked through the mall with her yesterday in an attempt to buy her new clothes because she's grown out of hers and she's so hard to dress these days. I bought her some new jeans a couple weeks ago, but after three separate trips to the mall for exchanges I knew she needed to start trying things on before I purchased... YIKES! 

It wasn't easy, but a good reminder how much Abby affects people. No one really would've noticed me if she had not been there. She's like a neon sign blinking "LOOK AT ME" wherever we go. It doesn't bother me as much as it used to because I see the good stares along with the odd ones.

When we go out with her, we always have to factor in the time we will spend with at least one random person who will come up to Abby and interact with our family because of her. Which is a GREAT thing!

She can change someone's day or life in those moments. 

Abby's hair, all nice and cute, represented a child well cared for to me. My pride took the hit because now she looks a bit more like the high maintenance special needs child who requires easy to deal with hair.

She's seriously this sweet these days... kissing Sissy!

It felt like a loss. 
A loss of something that I had defined her by, and a loss for me... points docked on my motherhood. I felt I had let her down or that I was a loser mom because her hair wasn't the way I envisioned it. 

...once again, it's not about me. 
Today, I let go of the pressure to care if  people judge me based on how my special needs daughter dresses (a constant battle) or how her hair is styled.

Like most battles... It is probably between my ears rather than a fact living in reality. It's also likely low on the totem pole of things anyone else thinks about, especially those whose opinions matter most to me.

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