Sometimes I forget to spit out the seeds…

Posts tagged ‘hope’

New Year, Same Me

I admit it.  A brand new year gives me all kinds of glorious visions of a better me.  Technically, I don’t partake of the whole “New Year’s resolutions” thing.  I don’t write it down or make dramatic declarations, but if I’m completely honest, it’s there – almost as intoxicating as those rows of empty spiral notebooks, pretty binders, and new pens that make back-to-school time my absolute favorite.

As 2015 came to a close, I thought about how long it had been since I had blogged.  When I finally checked in here, I was surprised to find it had been seven months since I published anything.  My heart panged with guilt as I recalled the stone on a shelf above my desk, with the words “write every day” on it.

I didn’t keep that commitment, and I missed a lot of writing potential in the second half of the year.  Mundane summer “adventures.” A new doctor who offered hope and ultimately had some success in treating my whacked-out self. Home school struggles.  My grandma passing away.  A busy soccer season with three of my kids playing for a local Christian school.  The kitten who showed up at my house, wouldn’t leave, and adopted himself into my family.  My baby sister’s  whirlwind engagement, bridal shower, and wedding.

Opportunities missed, though  not lost, since there are no rules about blog posts having to be current events.  I mentally added my dry spell to the running list of failures I had going in my head.

Like a flashing neon sign, the word “failure” was plaguing my subconsciousness, and I had been vaguely aware of it for months.  It was clouding my days and giving me sleepless nights. I’m not normally a sarcastic person, but my brain was giving me a very bitter lashing on a daily basis.

Every mommy blog and meme on the internet:  “I know it feels like you’re not appreciated and that you’re not doing life well, but you’re doing great, Mama!  Go motherhood!  You are succeeding!”

My bitter brain:  “Uh, yeah.  No. You don’t just feel like you’re failing.  You actually ARE.  You suck at everything.”

My middle and high school students are behind in their school work, and they don’t seem to care.  FAIL.

I haven’t worked on painting the interior of our home in over a year.  FAIL.

I frequently lack in patience with my little ones, and probably don’t read to them enough.  FAIL.

My teenager doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life.  FAIL.

According to a spiritual gifts test, mine is hospitality, and I never invite anyone over.  FAIL.

My bathrooms are never quite clean; my laundry is never caught up; our sheets don’t get washed nearly often enough.  FAIL.

I’ve lost count of how many years behind I am on scrapbooking.  Ok, no I haven’t – it’s 10.  Ten years behind.  TRIPLE FAIL.

Now I’ve cataloged a portion of my transgressions, and I’ve sat on it for a few days.  Stuck.  Unable to tie this thing up as something other than a keeping-it-real, honest motherhood kind of post.  God knows, I could write a truck load of those.  Having eight kids has given me plenty of material for that kind of thing.

I went to church yesterday asking God for direction.  Not just in my writing, but it was definitely on the list.  We sang the song, “Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration)” by Rend Collective.

When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally

I know that most of the “sins” listed above aren’t really sins.  Laziness or procrastination may have played a minor role in some of them, but mostly they are simply life happening.  But does that matter to Satan?  He will tempt me to despair over anything he can get his hands on.

The truth is I am NOT enough.  But my God always is.  Sometimes that means  He equips me to do things better, and beyond my natural ability.  But sometimes that means that His grace covers my deficiencies.  And I am grateful; for even when I suck at everything, God is somehow glorified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Hope Sinks

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I envisioned it being many things.  I had just begun to experience some health problems, for the first time in my life.  One of my purposes in writing was to both vent my frustration at not being “well,” and catalog my journey to wholeness. Because I was sure that “wholeness” was where I was headed.  I had confidence in the wisdom of doctors and the power of God to heal.

I haven’t published nearly as many posts as I’ve written, in my head, or uncompleted in my drafts folder.  I became weary of chronicling every dead end I encountered.  Trying to escape my tunnel vision, I wrote about other things that God laid on my heart.

Sometimes my brain is screaming with all the things I want to write about what I am going through, but I silence it.  Because it is redundant.  Because it is whiny.  Because the world doesn’t need one more pity-party.

The other day I was feeling so stuck, and stifled, and wondering why blogging about my “journey to wholeness” had become so stale.  I thought about my previous posts, and I suddenly saw a pattern.  They were all about hope, followed by hopes dashed.

I put hope in everything…..

Hope in a “miracle” supplement, supported by hope in a TV doctor.

Hope in a nutritionist-to-the-stars and her metabolism-healing plan.

Hope in coffee, which I had never drank before, to combat fatigue.

Hope in a new doctor, and then another new doctor, to not give up on me.

Hope in WebMD, or an online survey, or some other method of self-diagnosis.

Hope in natural remedies to treat my self-diagnosed conditions.

Hope in another blood test that will surely reveal the elusive cause of my misery.

So many times, I was sure that wholeness was just around the corner.  But it wasn’t.  It still isn’t.

As I thought about this pattern of hope, I heard in my head, softly and slowly:

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Through every instance of building up my hope, putting it all on that one thing, I was still praying….still trusting God.  But He wasn’t my focus.  He wasn’t my source.  And when that one thing turned out to not be the thing, my hopes were shattered.  By losing focus on my Savior, I set myself up for devastation, again and again.

This realization comes on the cusp of new hope.  A new doctor.  A fresh view.  A different approach.  But I am very consciously fixing my hope on Jesus.  And turning it back to Him as often as I need to.

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.                     I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.                     On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.                               When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.                       In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

Rotten Day

During my lunch “break” yesterday (in other words, while I picked the meat off a leftover chicken carcass, dipped it in buffalo sauce before eating it, then worked on school corrections) I watched an episode of the show “Revolution,” which I love, and has also just been cancelled (not sure if I have any friends to commiserate with me on the injustice of that decision).  The show takes place 15 years after a worldwide apocalyptic blackout.  Life is primitive, and brutal.

In one scene of this episode, our hero, Miles Matheson, is racing in his horse-drawn wagon to evade a band of bad  guys trying to kill him, as usual.  The wagon overturns.  He is a sharp-shooter, so as soon as the bad guys catch up to him, he has no trouble doing away with most of them.  With one guy left standing, Miles is out of bullets, darn it!  They reach for their swords, and Miles eventually kills his opponent, but only after sustaining a severe stab wound to the gut.  Ouch!  He wanders off in search of his friends.

Coming to the ruins of a house, Miles stops to look around, and falls through the rotten floor boards into the basement. Obviously injured further, and wincing in pain, he looks over to see a First Aid kit on the floor next to him.  He can barely reach it, but when he does, he finds that it is empty.  “This is a really bad day,” he says.  Just then, a teetering brick wall of the ruins falls over, crashing over the opening to the basement, where he is now trapped.

I’m not sure if the writers of this intense sci-fi drama intended for that scene to have a touch of humor, but I laughed out loud.  One life-threatening situation after another, and he says it’s a “really bad day”?  It was the ultimate understatement, and it was also a statement I could relate to.  I was having a really, really bad day.  Here’s why:

1) The health issues I have blogged about have impacted my sleep pattern in a big way.  I used to wake up early enough to work out, eat breakfast alone, shower and dress, and do some light yard work before my kids woke up.  It was glorious!  I felt relaxed, put-together, and ready to face a day of parenting and home school.

Now I can barely drag myself out of bed, usually after a few of my kiddos are already up.  After 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I still feel like I could sleep for hours, and each step of getting up takes a concerted effort (open eyes, remove covers, swing legs to floor, sit up, etc.). I have no alone time, and I’m rushing to get ready for the day when my kids are already asking for help with their school work.  I have neither the energy nor the time for working out.  As a result, I’m grumpy.  A lot.

2)  Also due to the changes in my health, I have a negative, self-depreciating narrative on a loop in my brain, which I fight against constantly.  I pray it away, but it just comes back.  I feel like crap most of the time, both mentally and physically.

3)  On this particular morning, my three younger daughters, who are required to amuse themselves while the big kids do school (that’s why God gave you siblings!), could not seem to get along.  First the middle one came crying that the other two won’t be her “best buddies” anymore.  Then the older one complained that the little girls won’t play with her, or that what they’re playing is stupid, or that they’re stupid, or that I’m stupid because I look unimpressed with her tragic dilemma.

4)  We were having a rough school day.  Warm, breezy weather distracted us.  A dead mouse on the porch was uber fascinating.  The work was too hard.  The teacher was unfair.  The teacher hates the students.  By lunch time, I had spent all my time breaking up arguments and fielding complaints, while the correction pile had grown to a leaning tower of workbooks (how they actually got any work done is still a mystery).

So my lunch “break” arrived and I endured a few interruptions (no, you may not have Pepsi.  yes, please eat the leftovers.  do whatever you want, but for the love of God, please let me eat!).  I chuckled at Miles Matheson’s “really bad day.”  I smiled.  Ok, so maybe my morning wasn’t so bad.  Deep breath and move on.

Only…..my day didn’t get the memo that we were moving on from rotten.  Ready for act two?  (If you are still reading, I promise there’s a point to all this…..I hope…..still waiting for that part to download.)

5)  Bad school attitude continued until it was time for chores to begin.  Most of the children complied, but two little ones laid on their bedroom floor and refused to clean up the ankle-deep dress-ups and dolls.  Stern discipline was employed, followed by wailing.  I had a hard time drumming up tenderness for the follow-up hug.

6)  After a relatively smooth preparation for a family outing to my husband and son’s church league softball game, I realized on the way there that I forgot to take my vitamin D supplement, which affects both my energy level and my mood stability.  Great.

7)  We arrived at the ball field to find gusting winds.  It cut the humidity, which was nice, but posed a problem for our dinner plans.  We rarely try to eat at ball games, but this night we had take out Haitian food from a fundraiser.  Strong winds do not mix well with serving rice, beans, and chicken on paper plates to small children.  Food went flying, and my church friends got to hear the opposite of my “super-patient-in-public-you’d-never-guess-I-have-a-temper” voice.  I was so irritated that I was only slightly embarrassed at my tone.

8)  Haitian food got mixed reviews.  Some children started asking for snacks.  I had brought none, of course, because we were having dinner.  Here’s a Dum Dum, kid.

9)  It was dry.  Like, desert dry.  And you remember I said it was windy, right?  It was an action-packed game.  With every mad dash to steal a base, or slide, or really, even a batter getting walked to first base, an immense cloud of dirt wooshed over us.  Only on our side of the field.  The wind never changed direction, the whole time.  I could taste it, gritty on my teeth.  My hair went stiff with a coating of dirt on it.  It’s in my eyes.  I had to close them for 5 minutes when dirt got stuck under my contacts.  I almost ripped them out of my eyes to throw them away, but my tears finally did their job.

10) When we left the game, it was almost 8pm on a school night, and every one of us needed a bath or shower when we got home.  It started to rain, and then we were driving in a torrential downpour while I clenched my armrests and prayed.  We made it home alive.

And that’s it.  The rest was cake.  I filed the kids and adults through the shower, one after the other.  Here, eat a banana.  Night-night.  As I walked through the final, and peaceful by comparison, hours of my day, I began writing this post in my head. It seemed too ridiculously frustrating and real not to share.   But I kept coming to a dead end.  What was the point?  Where is the lesson?  What grand conclusion will I wrap up with a pretty bow to give this rather long-winded list of bad-day events some meaning?

Well, folks, it’s nothing profound or new or insightful.  This is real life.  Whether you have 2 kids or 20, there are bound to be days when everything goes wrong.  Some people assume that because I have a large family, life must be chaotic.  (On a side note, be careful what you say in front of your kids.  I once had a young child say to me, “You must be SO stressed out with SO many kids.”  Gee, I wonder where she heard that?)  The truth is that my life is no more chaotic than it was when I had a smaller family.  Really.  On most days, there may be a squabble or two, or one kid is a little grumpy.  Days like yesterday, when everyone seems to be in a foul mood, and things go wrong the entire day, and my body and brain can’t keep up with it all…..those are few and far between.

At the end of every day, including the rotten ones, I can rest in the arms of my Savior and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He has my back.  When I fail, He covers my mistakes with grace and love.  He shows me how to love my children when the you’re-so-mean’s make it so, so hard.  It’s in His power that I mother, on good days and bad days.   Period.  On my own, I’m weak.  The inevitable failures destroy me and leave me without hope.  But with HIM, there is always hope.  Sweet, life-saving hope.

The Courage to Fail

Since the birth of my youngest child, 32 months ago, I have failed.  I have failed to make my body respond to healthy habits.  After repeatedly trying and failing to lose the weight I gained in pregnancy, I realized that I don’t have the power to make my body do anything.  I just don’t.  I can do all the “right” things, and every version of “right” things that is purported by experts, and it doesn’t work.  I not only didn’t lose weight while eating healthy (first cutting out this, then adding that, then eating this way, at that time, etc.)  and working out (at night, in the morning, longer, harder)….I not only didn’t lose weight, but gained it.  Seven pounds in a week, with no changes in my lifestyle to explain it, and they stuck.  What was left of my hope was shattered.

Shortly after that unexpected and shocking weight gain, I stopped trying.  We were busy getting ready to move, so it was easy to drop my workouts from my schedule.  Then the holidays, and the fatigue, and settling in at our new place….I never did add them back in.  I started giving in to my cravings.  Vanilla coke every time I went grocery shopping.  Something chocolate every day to top off my lunch.  Cheetos for the crunchy and salty binge.  My husband has this idea that the holidays are all about pepperoni and cheese, and I gladly joined him in that indulgence.

In the months since then, I’ve been digging for a medical explanation.  Several symptoms were added to my list that for a long time only had “cannot lose weight” on it.  In a recent post, I described my devastation at finding out that nothing was wrong with me except for a vitamin D deficiency.  I told about how I demanded to see my endocrinologist again, when it seemed like she was brushing me off.  (Come back and see me in a year!)

When my furious haze dissipated, I cancelled that appointment.  She’s already done what she knows to do, so it would be irrational to harass her with my desperate cry of, “Help me.  Fix me.  DO SOMETHING.”

The vitamin D supplementation is helping.  My fatigue and brain fog are quite less than they were.  If I miss a dose, the difference is clear.  I thank God for the help it has provided, and I hope that in time those symptoms will disappear altogether.

I’ve been in this uncomfortable body for long enough that my younger children don’t remember me being a healthy size.  They know Mom as chubby, and to them, it’s no big deal.  It’s the norm.

A few weeks ago, I faced the scale for the first time since dropping my efforts.  I hadn’t stepped on it in months, and I was scared.  The result?  No. Change.  Was I relieved?  Yes, of course.  I didn’t want that number to go up.  But at the same time, I was horrified.  It was confirmation that I’m broken.  Who goes from binging on veggies to binging on jalapeno poppers and doesn’t gain an ounce?  Who goes from daily, intense workouts to no exercise at all, and still weighs the same?

Despite all of this evidence of brokenness and failure, I’m considering trying again.  My fatigue is lessened enough that I think I could handle some exercise.  I miss it.  I crave it, even.  I love how it makes me feel.  I could do it just for that benefit, with no expectations.  But is that even really possible?  When I feel my heart rate accelerate, and I get hot and sweaty with my effort, and my muscles get sore and tired….I’m going to expect to see changes in my body.  But I won’t.

I’m not sure I have the courage to face failure again.  But I know The One who does.

Second Verse, Same as the First; A Song of Thanksgiving

After weeks of brooding over my “normal” diagnosis regarding my thyroid function, I called my endocrinologist.  I asked for more tests.  I braved the hospital lab early on a cold Saturday morning.  I met an angel phlebotomist who, when I started to cry, asked me, “Have you been tortured?  I can always tell the ones who’ve been tortured.”  She promised me that she would only stick me if she was 110% sure, and she kept that promise.  I smiled when she assured me that I was, in fact, bleeding freely.

Four pages of tests.  Ten vials of blood.  I don’t even remember all that was on the list.  Celiac, rheumatoid something, hormones galore, adrenal function, vitamin levels.  A week and a half later, I heard from my doctor’s nurse, Frankie.  She went through the list, saying, “That’s good,” every time she said that the result was normal.  My heart sank with each item, and my brain screamed, “This is the opposite of good!”  Being unwell with no explanation is not GOOD.

Finally, she let me know that my vitamin D was low, and that I should supplement.  And also, did I want to come back to see the doctor in a year?  I nearly threw the phone on the floor at that suggestion.  I was supposed to just live with my growing list of symptoms for twelve months, go back, and what?  Have her tell me that there still was “nothing wrong with me”?  Vitamin D was not going to fix all that ails me.  I insisted that I need to see her soon, and got an appointment for next month.

I won’t give the details of my physical reaction in the aftermath of this conversation, or the plummeting of my hope for healing, or the desperation that was skillfully calmed by the wisest woman I know (a.k.a. Mom, of course).  Instead, I want to share with you the joyful prayer of thanksgiving that escaped my lips, when I decided to focus on all that my body has done and can do, instead of the ways it is deficient now.

1.  My body has grown 8 healthy children within it, through normal, uncomplicated pregnancies.  Though not without their discomforts, I did not spend all those months vomiting, or bed-ridden, or in fear for my or my child’s life

2.  My body has given birth 8 times; again, normally, and without complications.  I was blessed to give birth 6 times in the comfort of my own home, with amazing support and care all around me.  I experienced the beauty of God’s design; although fraught with the pain that came when sin entered the world, I am in awe of what He made my body to do.

3.  My body has nourished 8 children with the milk it produced, on average for about 16 months each.  They all thrived on that perfect food, and the joy that came with warmth and overwhelming love was more than enough to counter the few “issues” I had with breastfeeding.

4.  My body shed the copious pounds put on during pregnancy seven times.  Seven times I gained and lost an average of 50 lbs.   Beginning with my third pregnancy, I had to work for it, but my body always responded to me treating it right.

5.  My body rarely gets sick.  I don’t often get colds, and I’ve never had an illness worse than strep throat.  I get a stomach bug maybe every other year.

6.  My body has never had a broken bone or needed stitches.  That may be more a testimony to my lifestyle and choice of activities, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless.

7.  My body has never needed surgery, aside from dental surgery.  I have never had to be admitted to a hospital, for any reason.

8.  My body is fairly well coordinated, and I have a good sense of rhythm.  I’m pretty sure I would rock at Zumba, if I ever had the chance to try it

As I tearfully thanked God for all of these things, my mind kept trying to interject, “but what about…”  But I shut it down, again and again, and returned to the things that I am thankful for.  As my mom reminded me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  Whatever else may come, that will always be true.

Facebook, You Don’t Even Want to Know

“What’s on your mind?” asks facebook.  Every day.  Or, if I’m being honest, several times a day.  I don’t know, facebook, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t handle the deluge.  I’ve got enough going on in my brain for a dozen blog posts, but it’s all dammed up.  Severe writer’s block.  That dam is built of fear and sealed tight with procrastination.

Fear of writing poorly, of not doing my subject matter justice.

Fear of judgement (a word I hate, and think is so overused and wrongly defined, yet I’m using it anyway).

Fear of not being taken seriously.

But I know that “God has not given me a spirit of fear.”  My passions….the things I care about…..the causes I fight for…..the stands I take…..   they are all from Him.  Sometimes I’m not sure that they’re from Him, when those passions bring on the aforementioned judgement.  So I pray.  I ask God to take it away, to please not ask me to stand for that.  It’s too hard.  People will get angry.  They will say nasty things to me, and call me names, and accuse ME of judgement.  If the passion remains, I press on, placing my trust in Christ alone.

So that’s the deep, profound side of my brain cloud.  Also on tap:

Selling our house – where is my faith?  One day I’m sure it’s all going to fall to pieces, and the next, God pulls everything back into alignment.

Buying our “forever” home – same thing as above, only add in some mold, mice, and dangerous chemicals.  (The inspector called it “Mr. Wizard’s Workshop.”)

Homeschooling – my children can sense my restlessness at wanting to just pack up and get out of here, but not knowing when that will happen, and they are just as unfocused as I am.

Teenager in the house, and 3 tweens – yeah.

Still in a foreign body – working on a new method of eating, and waiting for my appointment with the endocrinologist.  Avoiding mirrors.  Going to invest in some very baggy shirts.

In all of this, one thing is true.  My God is faithful.  When everything seems to be crumbling, and out of my control, He is faithful.  Tonight an old worship song rescued my weary soul.

“In Christ alone, I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the Cross
In every victory, let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope is Christ alone”