Thursday, July 17, 2014

One day, I'll get around to catching up on this blog.  At least I kept Ladybug's story updated on her CaringBridge site, although there's a lot more "mommy perspective" I'd like to record here.  Someday...

But for today, I need to get something off my heart and into words.

There's not enough time.

Seems ironic that I am taking the time to type that.

But it's clogging up my brain till I need to get my thoughts out, and then maybe I can come up with some solutions.

I'm not talking about just having time to do the dishes and laundry and sweep.  I struggle with that.  But there's so much more I want to do, and I feel like time is slipping through my fingers like sand.

My two girls are primed for learning.  They are absorbing everything.  Repeating everything I say.  Picking up on things we say often without even realizing it.  Learning songs. Memorizing.  And I want to capture this time and sink truth deep into them so that it's always there.  Verses, songs, principles of life.  And I want them surrounded by beauty and order.  And I want them to start making memories.

But at the end of the day, I look back and wonder, what did I do today?  I survived.  Barely. Three meals on the table, or at least on the high chair trays, a few tablespoons of pee in the toddler potty, a few more in the floor, a few books read, a few blocks stacked, many many many many many many many "stop, no, don't, be nice, be loving, leave your sister alone, let your brother sleep, gentle, don't pull hair, share" over and over...

And this is where I start wondering why I thought 3 children in less than 3 years was a good idea. Because this is it.  This is the only chance I get.  I don't get a do-over.  I don't get to realize any mistakes and fix them for the next kid.  I don't get to savor these little years.  (Well, it just seems a lot harder.)  They are flying by, and I'm going to blink and I'm going to have three elementary schoolers.  And then heaven help me three teenagers.  And then they'll be gone.

I'm doggy paddling.  Holding my head above water, occasionally sinking under but then fighting my way back up for air.  But that's not a fun way to swim. Just listen to Ladybug's screams from the community pool every night for the last two weeks during "Aquatots."  But then there's Turkey's new found style of swimming: drifting.  She floats with her little behind up in the air and has no control over her direction.  She floats whichever way the current takes her.  And I don't want to parent like that either, aimlessly being carried towards whichever focus is being talked about on the radio today.

What's the verse, something about redeeming the time?  And then I read horrible news stories about children, sexting and being preyed upon by sick people, and I watch poorly behaved children and adults, and I wonder how in the world I'm supposed to train them right.  I need 40 years, not 18.  Holy cow.

I guess that's why we're commanded to teach when we lie down and rise up and walk along the road.  That's the only way you have a hope of teaching them all they need to know.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

3AM Catch Up

I'm beginning to think the odds are that I'm not going to sit down and actually get to type on a keyboard anytime soon.  As is, I'm on my Kindle wondering if CJ will go back to sleep on his own. And the answer is quickly becoming no. He was asleep till I had to put him down because his oldest sister was crying. =/

To sum up recent events and the reason I can't manage to sit down with a keyboard,, here's a run down of the last few months.  I was put on restricted activity to try to prevent preterm labor, told to sit down if I had contractions which meant I was basically couch-bound from 31 weeks.  Plumbing problems caused me to call my landlord at 35 weeks, who pitched a fit over the state of the house.  8am, two toddlers with lots of toys, a mom who can't be on her feet more than 2 minutes at a time, sorry that you have to step over some toys.  And a basement is meant for storage.  After being verbally threatened and intimidated, I chose to not follow doctors orders as closely as I should in the interest of keeping a roof over my family's head.

I needn't have bothered, because there was no satisfying this man, as proved by his refusal to even answer questions as to how we could get things to his satisfaction, instead storming out the door while harshly telling us to get out despite our efforts to meet his unclear demands. So in the midst of preparing for Ladybug's surgery, making travel plans and planning for expenses, petitioning insurance for better coverage, and preparing for the arrival of my son, I was given an eviction notice.  The day we received the official notice, the stress proved to be too much and I went into labor at 37 weeks.  Attempts to stop it were unsuccessful and CJ came bursting into the world at 1937 on April 21st, weighing in at a healthy 7 pounds 11 ounces and 21 inches.

Unfortunately, despite his weight he was not ready to be born.  With multiple problems going on, he was airlifted to the nearest NICU just a couple hours after birth, without being held by me.  The Mechanic made the 5 hour drive to be with him, church friends took care of the girls, and I sat in a hospital bed with empty arms.  Thankfully, he got his act together quickly and I was able to hold him for the first time at around 50 hours old.

We were released from the hospital and I survived the first week home alone with all three children, despite Ladybug being in a complete meltdown over the chaos.  The Mechanic's mom came for CJ's scheduled birth and mercifully helped pack, calm many tantrums, and kept me from completely bleeding out.  We were kicked out wrongfully on May 18th, spent the night homeless in a motel with a basically autistic 2 year old one month away from major skull surgery, a one year old, and a barely 4 week old, in addition to a 4 week post-op mom.

We thankfully closed on a house on the 19th and moved in that afternoon.  Within 5 days we became official home owners when suds started seeping from pipes in the basement while doing laundry.  Over a week later, we are throwing up our hands in surrender and calling a plumber, while carefully restricting how much water goes down the pipes at a time.  The plague of 50 year old iron pipes in this neighborhood just happened to hit us in the first week; gotta love our luck, when even an inspection wouldn't have caught this.  Oh yeah, and California's emission laws have meant we've been down to one vehicle for over a month and a half now, since there's only one mechanic in town who'll work on foreign cars.

But through all this, the Lord has provided.  It's been incredible.  I really want to record in detail what's happened, because in future years I want to remember just how faithful He has proven Himself.  I just have 3 inches of bills to take care of, three suitcases to pack, an entire house to unpack and prepare for helpful guests, in addition to keeping my girls from yanking out each other's hair or smothering their brother with kisses.  And several trips to the laundromat to make while we wait on the plumber.  =)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Battles

As I submitted my complaint to Amazon, I couldn't help but think... "not another one."  Another battle.  Another thing I'm arguing over.  The stakes vary drastically. This one was minor, $15 and a teddy bear's missing pajamas.  Another battle I'm in is a $15,000 insurance appeal.  We're in the midst of a lawsuit over a wreck that has drug out over a year, all because someone in a position of authority can't admit they ran a red light. Then there's the battle for the roof over our heads and my ability to feel secure in the house I pay for.

It's draining. All this tension. All this strife.  And I wonder, am I doing the right thing?  Just because you have the right to something doesn't mean you should claim that right.  But should you let someone threaten you in front of your children?  Should you allow them to say unfounded things that cause you to cry for an hour?  Or should you stand your ground and insist on the law being followed to the letter, decreasing the chances of there being anything to set him off?  Do you notify Amazon of a seller's false advertising, or do you just swallow the loss?  Which then risks someone else being ripped off.

And it's easy to think "what would Jesus do?" and only think of his mild side, led as a lamb to the slaughter.  Yet that's not the full picture of Jesus.  He also drove people with a whip and flipped their tables, and verbally assaulted the Pharisees, calling them names a lot worse than what comes across in our translations.  There's a time for each reaction.  But wisdom to know when each is appropriate is what I'm lacking.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Desperate: Chapter 2, Part 2 - Charity


Continued from previous post.

...Charity.

As we face a major surgery on our child multiple states away, right around the same time that we have another baby, charity is something that we're having to face.  And I say that like it's a bad thing.  It's not.  But it's hard.  Another friend, whom I know only through a mutual friend and her CaringBridge website for her son Malachi, wrote about how difficult it was for her to accept staying at a Ronald McDonald house and to accept the various gifts of time, basic essentials, prayers, money, and many other things that they were given.  She put it so well, that charity is something they were used to giving to other people, not something they should be receiving themselves.

We've been on the receiving end already in the last year.  And it's something I've struggled with.  I don't know how to respond.  When asked how they can help, I often draw a blank.  I'm so in the mindset of handling things myself just the way they are that I can't even begin to think of what someone else could possibly do for me.

But Leah (Malachi's mom) put it so well.  I believe this will link to her post, but if not, it's the one from Dec 22, 2013 titled "All I Got For Christmas Was My Two Front Teeth."  She said that there are seasons.  And yes, right now is a season of receiving.  I have to be realistic about what I can handle.  There are areas I'd like to participate in, people I'd like to serve in a tangible way, but I also have to realize that at this point in time... I'm swamped.  I could definitely manage my time better, but even with perfect time management I think at this juncture of my life I have my plate as full as it needs to be.  Just like there are organizations I'd love to be giving money to, but I have to be realistic as to what my bank account will support.  But eventually, there will come another season.  As the sermon today talked about, our circumstances are temporary.  This too shall pass.  And one day, maybe later this year, maybe next year, maybe 5 or 10 years from now, things will have changed.  And I will be the one able to give and serve.  I look forward to that day.

And ultimately... we're all on the receiving end of charity.  That's what grace is.  We didn't earn it.  We didn't even ask for it.  Yet it's given to us.  And when we tighten that upper lip and resist, and say we can handle it on our own... we're being prideful.  As humans, we can't do this on our own.  We need other people.  And we need God.  And when we shut ourselves up in our little "I can do it myself" boxes, we're just like that toddler that I'm seeing some glimpses of in Turkey.  Getting red in the face and frustrated but smacking away the hand that offers to help.

Perhaps I have found yet another reason that we were moved to the middle of nowhere Montana.  In the journey here, I've been forced to admit that I need other people.  I tried to do all the packing myself for our first move.  And my church family bailed me out at the last minute.  I felt horrible... I was ashamed... but they dug in, got dirty, and it was an incredible picture of the body of Christ.


 My family bailed us out during the second move. We hooked Patty the Pilot up to that overloaded UBox and watched her sink and sink and sink until we realized there was no way we could haul that trailer an hour away.  And my brother-in-law brought his truck and got us out of our mess.  He and my sister-in-law came in and cleaned up the disaster we left behind, and my mother-in-law sold and donated and just in general dealt with all the stuff we left behind. And once again, I felt horrible about it, I was ashamed that I hadn't been the perfect housekeeper and stayed on top of things and been some kind of super-woman mover.

We came to this tiny town, and the receiving continued.  People from our new church moved new-to-us furniture into our house, while we were gone for Christmas.  Our landlords helped my husband gut and dispose of a deer.  We've been given food. We've had cash given to us right when we had to purchase must-be-made-of-gold ear drops for Ladybug.  We were gifted plane tickets for Christmas travel.  We've even received Ham radio equipment at great discount, just because that's how people around here are.  And who knows how many prayers have been given for us.  Random people come walking up to me in stores and at church and ask how I'm doing... and I have no idea how they know me.  But I'm guessing that my updates on Ladybug that go to the prayer group aren't falling on deaf ears.  And I must admit, when they ask "now who is this?" our family is pretty easy to identify!

I grew up in a family that gave.  It was sort of big deal, not to announce it to other people, but to make sure I knew that they were giving.  And that's a good thing for a child to learn.  But... I needed to learn to receive.  Really needed to learn it, apparently.  Because receiving teaching humility.  It teaches that sometimes, you're not good enough.  And that's okay.  Because that's where grace and mercy come in.  If you can't accept help from other people, how can you really accept help from God?  How can you grasp it?  Because there's always that thing in the back of my mind that wants to say "I'm a good person, I can earn grace."  But when people just give you things, help you out, when you really haven't had or taken the opportunity to help them first?  It takes you down a notch.  And that RUF saying, where you're never so bad you're beyond the reach of God's grace, and you're never so good you're beyond the need of God's grace, finally hits home.

Desperate: Chapter 2, Part 1

The Go-It-Alone Culture (On Needing People)

I haven't been as regular on recording my thoughts brought about by this book as I'd hoped to be, but that's nothing new.  I either haven't had time to write or I've had other things to write about... life has been a little crazy!

What's funny is I had planned on writing about this chapter this evening, but before I got started my home phone rang.  We only got that phone when we realized the landlords weren't calling us because our cell phones were long distance for them, so it doesn't ring very often except for salesmen and debt collectors for people we've never heard of.  So it was a pleasant surprise to hear a voice from someone I actually know.  Our conversation included her telling me there were some people that wanted to do something to help us out, something that would make my life as a mom easier.

I was floored.  And I honestly wasn't sure what to say. I'm finding myself in that situation a lot recently.

This chapter talks about how we as moms can isolate ourselves.  We don't want to inconvenience anyone.  We certainly don't want to admit that we're struggling in areas we think everyone else has under control.  We just try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and figure out our own problems. We don't make the effort to build relationships with other women.  That takes time and emotional energy and sometimes it feels like more than we're capable of handling with all our other responsibilities.

This was a hard chapter for me, because it speaks to an area that I really struggle with.  I am very much an isolationist.  I am getting out more here in MT than I ever did in TN, and it's stretching me.  But I have seen what happens when women isolate themselves and I don't want that to happen to me and my family.  So I'm making the effort, but it's not an easy thing.  A friend of mine from college who moved even further than I have wrote a beautiful post about what it's like to be the new girl, especially as an introvert.

Sally sets a wonderful example of how to make friends in a new town.  And I read that and think, this is great!  But it's simply not in my comfort zone.  I have to ask myself why?  Why don't I invite people over?  Why am I hesitant to join others in their homes or set up a meet & greet with other moms?  This is my second time through this book, and the first time this chapter left me feeling inadequate, like I clearly wasn't doing as much as I should be to reach out into my new community.  But as I read the rest of the book, I realized that I can't conquer every area of my life at once.  You can have too many good things.

I hate my house.  I am a horrible housekeeper on top of that.  Put the two together and you have a place you're ashamed for anyone to see.  I am an introvert, so I need to be comfortable in my surroundings before I bring other people into them.  One of the things the Mechanic and I wanted when we first got married was to be hospitable, but that just has never really happened.  But I want to get to the point that it does.  So I need to get my cart and horse in the right order.  Work on my housekeeping, work on adding beauty to my home so that I am comfortable in it, work on meal planning and improving my ability to keep a grocery budget... and then, work on expanding my social circle through my home.

However, that doesn't mean I can ignore the need for other people while I work on improving these areas of my life.  And that brings me to a subject that this chapter doesn't directly speak to, but it came to my mind anyway.

Charity.  To be continued...