Thursday, February 4, 2016

on martyrdom dreams and praying in the bathroom

Three or four nights ago I had a dream that I was a martyr. Normally that sort of dream would terrify me, but this time it didn't. It was a very vivid dream. My family and I were with other people in what appeared to be a high school or college classroom.  Terrorists had come in, and we were forced to lie beneath the desks with our hands behind our heads. I remember looking at Bubby and telling him it would be okay because we were going to heaven, where nothing bad would ever happen again. I remember saying to myself that this would only hurt for a second. I felt complete calm in the dream even though the situation was intense and extreme.  There were shots all around me, one by one, and then I was shot. I woke up, not in a panic, but with peace.  Even if something horrible like this should ever happen to me, I will be okay. This is not my home.

It is strange that I have peace about such a possibility, but yet today I felt weary and worn out just by the day-to-day stresses of life. A child who wanted to sass and argue and the other child who was having a hard time with activities and choices. We have seen many gains in Bugaboo lately, but it is still the two steps forward, one step back dance. I love homeschooling, but there was a moment today when I felt like driving to our neighborhood school and saying, "Have fun doing worksheets and common core, Bubby!" I doubted almost every decision of the last six and half years within a sixty minute span of time this afternoon. I hid in the bathroom for two minutes and cried.

It was there I found myself repeating one of Bubby's review verses for this week: "Casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you."

Do You care, Lord? I know that Your Word says You do, but I don't feel it here and now. I feel sad because Groundhog Day was this week and that is a weird day for me. I don't understand why I lost that baby, and I'm angry that I can't have any more babies, yet I am so incredibly grateful for the two You have given me. (Even if motherhood is stressing me out right at this particular moment.) I feel worried that I am not doing enough therapies with Bug, and I simultaneously feel worried that we are doing too many.  I love our curriculum, but I feel anxious that Bubby hasn't done enough cutesy first grade things and he will one day resent me for not having him make more cotton all snowmen. The Hubs' graduation from his nurse practitioner program is in December, but it feels so far away. I feel like we have been here in this place forever.  I want Your caring to look different. I miss being a charismatic. I miss an altar to pray at with someone else and for a chance to sing with hands raised without looking like a crazy-woman. I need more outlets to cast my anxieties on You, Lord, because my bathroom can be an altar on a Thursday afternoon, but I might need more than that.

I felt a little better after telling God all of that. Little changed, but I wasn't hanging onto my angst any more at that moment, and that is a start. I'm not sure why it is easy for me to trust God with the big things, but not the little things. I guess it is because I think I need to handle the little things all on my own. I don't. I can't. So the grace I am given today is the realization that I am not supposed to handle any of this on my own. And today there was the grace that He cares enough to come alongside me and take my cares as I fling them over to Him from my little altar call in the bathroom on a Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What eleven years looks like

Our power went out this morning, right when I was considering doing my hair for church. I found the huge flashlight and you called the utility company, and somehow we still managed to get to Sunday school on time. The power was still out this afternoon for awhile, so you went to the library to work on your paper.  I entertained the kids at the piano, and I don't remember what else we did to keep busy. I forgot to buy you an anniversary card.
This is what eleven years looks like for us.

We are tired most of the time. Not the kids, but you and me. We put one foot in front of the other and then crash into bed late at night most days. You listen to my concerns about which therapies to utiltize, and I do my best to understand the stress of your semester. We see the light at the end of the nurse practitioner tunnel, but December feels far away still.
This is what eleven years looks like for us.

You picked up carry-out from a little Italian place in town while I purchased Sonic for the kids. I put out candles for the four of us at our table, but I didn't manage to light them. You were still in your church clothes, but I was in my sweats. We let Bubby attempt to take our picture, and I said I looked frumpy, but you liked the pictures anyway. I tried to shoo the kids to bed, but you had already promised Bug a game of Trouble, and it was lovely.
This is what eleven years looks like for us.

A few years ago I would have been disappointed by today, the lack of pomp and circumstance. But today it was beautifully imperfect. We are praying for people we know - a baby needs miraculous healing, a friend needs wisdom, a husband needs a job, a missionary needs provision. Our problems, our tiredness, and our questions look smaller this year. We keep putting one foot in front of the other, tripping and crashing sometimes, but still walking together.
This is what eleven years looks like for us. To God be the glory.



(My letter to Mike on ten years of marriage can be found here.)

Monday, January 18, 2016

birthdays

1.
"Mom...where are you? Does your nose hurt?"
This was the start of my birthday - me blowing my nose and Bugaboo concerned and trying to find me. He had been up for a couple of hours reading his books in his room, and he padded into my room in his footie pajamas, leaving a mess of books behind him.

2.
There are a few days each year that have some tough moments. I never fail to wonder if my father thinks about me on this day. Does he feel bad about what he has missed out on? Does he even think for a moment on this day of doing the right thing? I know on my kids' birthdays I remember so many beautiful things about the day they were born. Does my father remember anything beautiful about me?

3.
Sometimes, especially on birthdays, I can think of what I should have accomplished or acquired by now. I make checklists in my head, and very few of the items are marked off. But having a bigger house in a better neighborhood with more money in the bank would not guarantee more happiness. Doing something notable does not equate to doing something valuable.

4.
Birthdays in the 21st century are wonderful and strange. Thanks to Facebook I received birthday messages from friends from every stage of life - it is like having one's life flash before her own eyes via newsfeed. Beautiful memories of birthdays past celebrated with slumber parties in my basement or Cheddar's on South Glenstone. In every season of my life I have been given the gift of amazing and true friends. This year is no exception.

5.
My morning started with my three guys bringing me birthday cards. "MOME" was written on one of the envelopes.  Bubby also made a to-do list for the day: "CADS. BLOONC. MAC HOUS LUOK PRID. LOUC. HPENI. PDE HATS." He handed it to me and said, "I messed up on the word lunch." My life is not much like I thought it would be at thirty-five. Yet when I stop and think about it, it is everything I hoped it would be. I lack no good thing. I can say that with confidence. I lack no good thing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What I read in December

Here's a summary of what I read in December:

My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody
Not Without My Daughter was the first grown-up book I read as a kid, so when I saw that the library had a copy of the daughter sharing her story, I knew I needed to read it. Part of the book is about their time in Iran and the escape, but the rest of the book was about what has happened since. Mahtob writes about her childhood, her college years, and wrestling with forgiving her father while still wanting nothing to do with him. So much of this portion was relatable because although my dad never was physically abusive or held me in a foreign country, the heart of who Moody was to Mahtob in his unrepentence and unwillingness to do the right thing is exactly like my dad. The writing in this book was not outstanding, but the story Mahtob shares from her experiences is well worth the read.

Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines
Although I haven't read Amber's blog in a long time, I used to.  She is a fabulous writer, and I knew I wanted to read her memoir. Her writing is poetic and she holds nothing back about the details of her past and her faith struggle. There were some theological things that I didn't agree with, but I am thankful Amber shared her story. I do wish I understood more of the why's in her struggles as a youth- as I am someone who ran toward faith as a teenager instead of away from it. The section where she writes about her child's medical issues resonated with me, as well as some other things about community. (Technically I finished this in January - but most of it was read in December.)

Felicity by Mary Oliver
I picked up a book of poetry this month. It was lovely. I need to do this more.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
So many people recommended this book, and I ended up loving it.  I don't even know how to write a review of this book. It is more than just a World War II novel. The characters seem real, and most of them I wanted to befriend.

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman
I would like to reread this one when I have time. It is about contendness and smallness and simplicity, but it is written in a way that doesn't feel preachy. Emily writes beautifully, and this book was an easy read, but also an encouraging read.

Books I tried and didn't finish:

Sarah Bessey's Out of Sorts - Love her writing on her blog, and I loved Jesus Feminist, but I couldn't get into this book. I will try again another time, but it went back to the library.

Jefferson Bethke's It's Not What You Think - Many people I like recommended this book, but I found it just so-so and couldn't finish.

We have also been listening to audiobooks in the car. It makes all the driving to Bug's appointments go a little better.

In Novemeber I introduced the boys to Anne of Green Gables - and it was delightful. There were tears as we listened.

In December we got through: Charlotte's Web (I read this to the boys earlier, but hearing EB White read it was such fun!), George's Marvelous Medicine, Matilda, and Pippi Longstocking.




Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 word of the year

I had a list narrowed down to three words.

Peace.
Grace.
Write.

Peace had been in my head because of advent and because it felt similar to hope. It's a good word, but it didn't feel like my word.

Grace jumped out at me on a page of a book I was reading the last couple of days. And then it jumped into my head yesterday and today in the kitchen when I felt that I needed to extend myself some grace. But taking on grace to focus on this year is not what I really want to do. Grace is hard.

Write is the word I wanted because my goal is to write more. Or to write well. I want to become a writer - whatever that really means. However, the word write felt more like a resolution instead of a focus.

Once again, deep in my heart I know what is supposed be my word.

Grace.

I know theologically and intellectually what grace is, but the challenge of focusing on it this year feels exhausting already. Yet I also know I really don't understand grace. I extend it, but not as well or as often as I should. One of my fears is that by picking this word is that when I blow it, someone will say, "I thought your word was grace!?"  But there will be grace for those moments, I am sure.

This word, grace, intimidates me more than I would like to admit, but it is starting to inspire me, too. So here's to the next twelve months of focusing on, wrestling with, extending more, and being amazed by grace.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hope: reflecting on my word for 2015

Hope was a strange word to focus on this year. There was little I could tangibly see or do that made me think, "Ah, I'm really getting this hope thing down now.  Gold star for me." But honestly that is not the point of my word of the year choices. My word doesn't mandate that I make another checklist of things to do or characteristics to be. My word allows me the freedom to simply focus on one thing. No rules. Just freedom to focus and notice and apply.

I don't know if I am more hopeful this year than last. I think I am, but there isn't any data to back it up. I do know that I noticed the word "hope" or themes of hope in books and songs and verses. I know that on really hard days, I could remind myself of the hope I have, hope that is not of myself.

I want to continue resting on hope in the days and weeks ahead. I want to choose hope over despair each time I am sad or overwhelmed. I want to help others experience true hope. I will be choosing a new word tomorrow, but I'm not giving up on hope. I'm clinging to it.



Other reflections on hope from me in 2015 can be found:
 One Word: Hope
An April Update of Sorts
Some Thoughts On My Word for 2015
Hope and Weariness
Advent: hope



Friday, December 18, 2015

Dear autism

Dear autism (and cerebral palsy, too),

I hate that you steal.

Today after The Hubs got off work our little family went to a local theme park because we were given passes this year. It has been a long semester, and this was the first time we were to go during the Christmas season. We rode all the little kid rides that Bug and Bubby wanted to ride. Except the train because we knew Bug wouldn't handle the wait even though he LOVES the train. We had planned to watch the Christmas parade. Bug loves the 4th of July parade we go to each year, and he loved my home town's homecoming parade this fall, so I knew he would love this. But autism, you stole that potential experience from my sweet boy. During the wait he had a mini meltdown, and we had to make the choice to leave before the parade. I watched both my boys miss out, one crying because of something being off in his world and one because he was missing out on something he really wanted to do.

This isn't the first time you have stolen from us. You steal from us on most Sunday mornings still, when either The Hubs or I have to take Bug into the cry room at church. You steal from us when you make it impossible for Bug to join his peers singing on stage, and you steal from us when one parent stays home with Bug while the other goes to watch Bubby in a choir concert or church musical. You steal these big, special moments and the little moments, too. You steal moments which should be used to linger and peruse longer at the library, moments when Bug can't keep up on the playground or on Wednesday night game times, moments when other little kids ask me, "Why are you walking him down the stairs like that?"

But you have given us some gifts, too.

You have given us the gift of celebration. We celebrate every milestone - using the slide, navigating some stairs, saying hello to a peer, decreased echolalia, and maneuvering a spoon. You have given us the gift of perseverance and prayer. You have taught us to pray without ceasing, to wait even when it's hard, and to hope even when the "experts" have not understood.  You have given us the gift of showing us that we have some wonderful true friends - those who still meet us at the park, who understand our crazy schedule, who don't mind talking at length about Veggie Tales, who aren't afraid of drool on the couch or an outburst of tears from a child or his mom.

You have stolen some moments and some abilitilies. You stole the end of our day, but we still look at all the wonderful memories we made today freezing our butts off riding a fake dumbo and eating a funnel cake. You gave me the gift of seeing how much character and maturity my six year old has and the depth of love he has for his little brother, when many other children would have pitched a fit while yelling hurtful things. In a strange way, you have given us the gift of being a strong family, though I know our strength is not of ourselves but because there is one who makes us strong even when we are weak.

Oh Autism and CP, you haven't stolen everything, and you will not steal everything. Not one single ounce of love for my sweet boy will ever be stolen from my heart. Even if you disappeared from his life tomorrow, my love would be the exact same amount. Because there are some things nothing or no one can steal.

Sincerely,
Bugaboo's Mama