Thursday, May 28, 2015

What I Should Be Praying

Once again, my child is challenging and growing my faith.

My mind is spinning, I'm researching symptoms and conditions and treatments.  And my gut is once again telling me there's a problem.  It hasn't been too far off base yet... and this time, the treatment scares me. 

I don't know what to pray for.  I don't know if I should pray that this is just a mysterious pain that goes away and we have a completely normal MRI.  Or if I should pray that there is a tethered cord that explains everything and can be surgically corrected.  Or if I should pray for something more typical like a syringomyelia that can also be surgically corrected. 

I found myself frustrated, stressing out because I can't decide what's the best option.  And then I realized... I love the songs "Bring the Rain" and "Praise You In This Storm."  But when the opportunity presents itself, when the rain comes, and I'm facing a storm... I start stressing, and worrying, and getting upset because I don't know what to pray for.  

What exactly I pray for shouldn't matter.  Because what I should be praying is "Thy will be done."  For strength, peace, patience, wisdom.  

For when we pray, God answers.  And sometimes, we don't like how He answers. 

A Glimpse

I think I received a glimpse into my child's world today.

It wasn't pretty.  It was uncomfortable.  I described it as "my senses have been raped.  Violently assaulted."  

Since the birth of my third child, my womanly hormones have turned vicious. Once a month I turn evil.  I feel insane.  I over-react.  I can't focus.  I don't remember anything I'm supposed to do.  I literally walk in circles like a crazy person.  It's rather scary, especially since I'm the sole care-taker for three rather helpless children.  

So combine that point in my hormonal calendar with the dog not having been let out after he ate dinner the night before, and the fact the dog got into the baby prunes that were set out as a reminder to take them to the food bank, and you have disaster.  I, of course, had forgotten to set up the coffee maker on auto the previous night, so when I went into the kitchen to start the coffee, I had quite the rude awakening.  Thankfully, I saw it before I stepped in it.  

The combination of the foul smell of dog urine and feces, plus the aroma of baby food prunes, combined with the 409 w/bleach that I coated the majority of the floor with, was enough to strip the membranes of my nasal passages.  It was awful.  And to do all that before I had coffee?  After cleaning and fixing my coffee, I tried reading my Bible and calming down.  But I immediately riled back up when I got irritated by something minor.  The springs in the door were squeaking and making a racket.  The kids started screaming.  The dog started barking.  Car doors were slamming.  My shirt was sitting on my shoulders wrong and irritating me.  And I realized I had clinched my fists.  I wanted nothing more than to go into the bedroom, spray lavender scent, and hide.  

Instead, I put on a calming DVD for the kids (thank God for Praise Baby!), poured myself a 2nd cup of coffee, closed my eyes, and put my nose directly over the coffee.  I did some deep breathing, prayed for the Holy Spirit to take over the hormonal rampage on my mind, and after a few minutes of staring at the pretty brown of the coffee and bathing my senses in beauty, I felt much better.

And it was then that it occurred to me... I had been acting like my Ladybug acts.  She doesn't have the hormonal issues that apparently make me extra irritable and sensitive, but that feeling of constant assault, overwhelming smells and sounds... is that what her life is like?  Because if that's how the world seems to her... no wonder she acts the way she does!  No wonder the least thing can trigger a meltdown.  The thought of having to interact with people, of keeping our appointments for that day, had been overwhelming prior to my few moments of beauty.  I have control over what I do; I had the option of cancelling, the option of just not going anywhere.  She doesn't have that option.  She is at the whim of my desires, essentially.  So when she attempts to exert control over any small thing, like buckling herself, and it doesn't cooperate... meltdown city. 

Perhaps, I need to closely consider the effect her environment has on her.  While I have put off any decorating in her room because of the mess that she makes in there, perhaps she needs that room to be calming and beautiful.  Maybe we shouldn't have gotten rid of the Ladybug-cave.  Maybe she needs an area in the house that is all her own, that is calming and soothing and full of beauty, where her senses and nerves can be calmed, rubbed the right way, and she can just chill and relax.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

What happened to self-discipline?

I am concerned.

There is this terrific sounding app coming out by Proverbs 31 ministries (a great organization, imo).  It's called First 5.  And in the promotional e-mail, they had this to say:

I'm all for getting women to read their Bibles.  I'm a better mom, I think a better wife, and simply more attentive to the Holy Spirit's guidance when I read my Bible regularly.  I have a horrible memory, so I need that daily reminder despite being raised on the Bible stories.

But every choice has a consequence.  And there is one statement in that flyer that really bothers me.  "It will ALLOW you to put God first."  (Emphasis mine.)  Allow?!  I wasn't allowed to do that before?  I'm not allowed to do it without the app?  I did a quick definition search, and I believe this is the intended meaning in this context: "give the necessary time or opportunity for"

There's another thing that "allows" me to put God first.  Self-discipline.  I'm learning that discipline is a bad word for many people, but I expected better from the Christian community.  This group is pro-submitting to your husband, so I wouldn't think that's a no-no word here.

I went years without regular Bible reading.  I just didn't make time for it.  I'd start, last a week or two, if that, and then give up again.  But for the past several months, I've done better.  I've made a point of reading Scripture BEFORE Facebook or e-mail.  It really wasn't that hard.  I simply told myself not to push the Facebook bookmark until after I'd read my chapters.

Now detoxing from Facebook throughout the day has been a lot harder.  But those first few minutes of my day?  I'm filling them with something.  I'm finding that easier than choosing what to do instead of Facebook.  It's simply reading God's word instead of other people's opinions.

If we as women don't have enough self-discipline to put off social media for five minutes, or however long it takes you to read whatever system  you've chosen... it's as if we're conditioning ourselves to have no self-discipline for anything!  There are apps to tell you to workout.  Apps to tell you to drink water.  Apps to tell you to read your Bible.  Do I need an app to tell me to wash the dishes?  An app to tell me to fix dinner?  An app to tell me to mop the floor?  I shouldn't.  If I'm honestly forgetting to do something, setting an alarm isn't a bad thing.  But what it comes down to is self-discipline.

I just don't want my children to rely on apps to run their lives... I want them to know what needs to be done, and have the self-control to prioritize.  And if they really have a hard time resisting social media before Bible... how about just putting their hard copy Bible (do those even exist anymore? :) ) on TOP of their smart phone on the nightstand?

Monday, May 18, 2015

One Year...

One year... 
All our earthly belongings spread between friends' garages and horse trailers and a motel room.
Struggling between anger, despair, excitement, and confidence. 

 I thought I was moving toward forgiveness.  It's a process.  Amazingly in a town this small, I had not seen the cause of all this chaos in these pictures since he stormed out the door yelling.  When I saw him this weekend at a book sale, my heart rate skyrocketed and my chest tightened in a way I've not felt since leaving that house.   Fear was illogical, yet it wasn't really anger I felt.  Was it because of a lack of forgiveness?  Was it essentially PTSD taking over? Will I ever be able to see him and not have a fight or flight response?

What I do know for sure is that God provides, as the pictures for tomorrow remind me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Making the cut...

You wouldn't think hospital employee's take business trips, but occasionally they do.  So while the Mechanic is in Chicago training on a likely multi-million dollar piece of lab equipment, the kids and I get to relive memories of our single-parent time in Tennessee.  Then, I single parented for two weeks at a time, so this less-than-a-week doesn't seem bad.  Of course I have more children now, and they are bigger handfuls, but we'll see how it goes.  I'm actually looking forward to seeing how disciplined I can be and how much I can get done as the only adult in the house!  

One thing I'm excited about doing this week is continuing work on something that definitely made the cut even though it isn't specifically in my lifetime goals.  There is a wonderful organization started by two cranio moms called Cranio Care Bears.  They send care packages, free of charge, to any family with a child undergoing a surgery for craniosynostosis.  Completely volunteer and donation driven, the most important part of their care packages is the prayer ribbon chain.  Each link has an encouraging verse or saying on it, usually written by someone who has been touched by cranio in some way... some parents make them while their child is in surgery, others do ribbon drives for birthdays or class parties. 
Ladybug with her prayer ribbon chain just before leaving for surgery

Care package goodies and BooBooBear (from their store)

With the handmade blankie from her care package, post-op
 In honor of Ladybug's first "cranioversary," coming up in June, I set a goal for a certain number of ribbons I wanted to send.  I'm about half way to my goal and have till June 18th to meet it!  I stocked up on books on CD and Waltons DVDs from the library that can play in the background while I write on ribbons this week! 
I might be slightly addicted. 
If anyone wants to contribute to this organization, their website has instructions for how to donate , through money for shipping, ordering from their Amazon wish list and shipping it directly to them, collecting needed items yourself, or making prayer ribbons.  You can also shop for cranio awareness items in their store; all proceeds go to the care packages!  

Friday, May 15, 2015

On Social Media and Goals...

Pondering my goals and priorities... 

Time is in short supply.  There are many things that are okay, aren't sin, aren't harmful.  There are things that can be used for good.  But are they worthwhile?  (And yes, I'm spending time on this... because writing out my thoughts helps me think)

I'm stuck on Facebook.  I've taken a break from it twice this year already.  And it just keeps coming to mind.  I have excuse after excuse for why I don't delete it completely.  There are good things that come from Facebook.  I share pictures with family and friends far away.  I claim I get to know people better through Facebook.  I say I get to encourage and educate other moms of cranio kids.  I say I get to find out prayer requests.  

But what is Facebook causing me to miss out on?  Because everything I chose to do means I'm choosing not to do something else.  

So when I log on, what am I saying "no" to?  Cleaning.  I don't have a dishwasher, and saying I'm "waiting on the washer and dryer" is a joke, because in this house there is ALWAYS laundry to be put away.  Reading, either quality books for myself or reading to my children.  Playing with my children, or paying attention to them at all.  Praying.  Studying Scripture.  Meditating on a hymn.  Giving serious thought to anything.  Cooking.  Exercising.  Managing money. 

What am I saying "yes" to?  I can encourage people on Facebook.  I can see prayer requests and say a short (distracted) prayer.  I can gossip.  I can come across harsh and judgmental.  I can get irritated, or stressed, or worried about the way other people live and raise their children, or the viewpoints of others, or their opinions of me.  I can be encouraged and held accountable for healthy living. 

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Does Facebook fit this definition?  Does what I read, and what I post, follow the command of this verse?  If I'm honest... no.  I can pretty much count on one hand the people on my "friends" list who spurn me on to a better life, whose posts, shares, and comments fit the qualifications of that verse.

It's pretty clear to me that I need to make changes.  Intentional, flexible, focused... 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Progressing or Drifting?

As part of a healthy living and exercise group I'm a part of on Facebook, I have been giving thought to my goals, my values, and my passions.  I'm a relatively analytical, unemotional person, at least compared to most women, so I've had a hard time getting in touch with any emotions regarding my lifestyle.  I'm okay with that though, and am focusing on the benefits that being unemotional can have.

This morning, I took the time to put that anaylytical side to use in evaluating my life.  I thought about what I had stated as my overall goals, thought back to what I remember writing as my goals and purpose for my life back in high school/college, and then thought about my typical day.  I asked myself a hard hitting question: is the way I live each day pushing me towards my goals, or am I simply drifting?

Then I thought about the things I complain about, the excuses I use, the things in my life that drive me nuts.

The one big thing, the common link that stood out, was time.  I always claim I don't have enough of it.  I've said this week I needed to freeze time till I could figure out what I'm supposed to do.

Every human is allotted 24 hours in a day.  Some people accomplish a lot in their 24 hours.  Some accomplish pretty much nothing.  So the question isn't how much time I have, but rather, how I'm using it.  Am I being a good steward of my time?  Or am I wasting it?  Am I spending my time on things that have nothing to do with my goals, my purpose?

And I feel like I'm on repeat... which means this is a chronic problem for me.  Maybe I'm feeling time slipping by and that's why these same thoughts are occurring so often.  I'll have two children in preschool next fall, my baby is on the verge of walking, and I feel like they were just born.
So if I drop off the face of social media, nothing's wrong.  I'm just streamlining and focusing. =)