Take My Yoke Upon You

In the two weeks since my last blog, it’s like I was going through some sort of test to make sure I really meant all the things I wrote.  It was fun, let me tell you.

Everybody had a thing.  Everybody.  Michael lost it due to excitement stress, full moon, and who knows what else.  Gabriel uttered the magic words “my tummy hurts” (he just finished a round of treatment for Bartonella which among other things had inflamed his stomach), William suddenly lapsed into major abdominal pain like he hadn’t experienced for over a year (as in waking up in the middle of the night screaming hysterically for long periods of time), and Caleb grew two teeth.  Oh and don’t forget we had Thanksgiving and two birthdays.

I wanted to slip back into my old ways and figure everything out, and I did  do a bit of work helping my people.  I’m Mommy, it’s what I have to do.  But it was different this time.  Even if I could do nothing else but deal with crises while chanting “God, I’m putting You first” under my breath, I tried to keep my focus on Him.  I told Him I was going to trust Him and stay in His peace whether or not my kids got better.

It was blessedly different.  Usually I get angry and frustrated because I feel like I’m losing control of everything.  By telling God it was all in His hands and relinquishing control up front, I didn’t have anything to get mad over.  And He took care of stuff.  Not everything got better, but some things did.  Miracles happened, like same-day and next-day visits were available at our doctors so we could take care of William’s pain.  Gabriel’s hurting stomach was just his way of telling me he was hungry (that kid must be in a growth spurt or something, I hear “Mommy, my tummy’s hungry” about every 20 minutes), and Michael’s unwinding slowly.  Stuff’s not great, but I’m OK, and I’m trying to keep my focus where it belongs.  Every day’s different right now, some are hard, some are a little easier, and I’m still practicing my walk, but I’m starting to understand when Jesus said,

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

It’s true.  While all the drama around me is mostly the same, it’s just a little bit easier to carry.  There’s rest and peace for the soul.

It’s just what this mama needed. 🙂

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Moving From Fear to Faith

I’d been living in so much fear the last few months, it really wasn’t pretty.  I knew it was the wrong way to approach life, but I just wasn’t sure how to change.

The inadequacies of Michael’s and my situation just seemed to face me everywhere I turned around.  He wasn’t doing well in school, and I was afraid that the school district would start to harass us as a homeschooling family.  His physiological situation wasn’t improving, which meant he wasn’t getting physical control of himself and moving through his remediation program, and I was afraid that he was just never going to improve (it hasn’t been our greatest year for that).  I had been so awfully bogged down with my first trimester in the fatigue and nausea, I was afraid Michael was losing critical time with homeschooling and therapy.  I was just so afraid that this year was setting us back in so many ways.  Everything I could see going on around me didn’t promise much hope for the future.

It’s a terrible way to approach your kids, doing things only out of fear.  Expecting the worst of the future every time you think of it.  I wanted to stop, and yet I couldn’t pull myself out of it.

A few weeks ago, God sent me a pretty strong and encouraging message to get me looking at Him again.  Our pastor preached from 2 Kings 6, the story of when an enemy king was coming to get Elisha and surrounded the city with his army.  Elisha’s servant saw the siege and was afraid of what was coming next.  Elisha prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes, and the servant then saw the heavenly army there too, just waiting to protect them.  Pastor called it facts versus truth.  Yes, there are some pretty serious facts about our situation.  Maybe there’s an earthly army surrounding us, maybe we’re sick, or our kid’s situation isn’t improving.  We’re not making stuff up, and it’s a reality we have to live in.  But it’s not the truth of our situation.  The truth is, no matter what we’re facing, God is not only greater than it, but present in it as well, working His miracles and purpose through it, if only we could see with eyes of faith.

I think I cried through the whole sermon.  I’d stopped looking to God to speak His truth into my circumstances and was paying attention only to what I could see with my human eyes.  I was literally clinging to worst case scenarios in my mind on a daily basis, and it was time to let that go and remember all the things that God has promised me about my family and all the things He has done for us in the past.

Our situation’s not vastly different, but there have been rays of hope throughout.  Michael’s still not doing well right now, but the calmer, more attentive him did break through for a few days and prove that he has been learning some of the things he’s been taught in homeschool and is making some good, slow progress.  He was able to relate in a few therapy programs, even if only for minutes at a time.  A meeting that I had been dreading with the school district actually went well and ended positively.  While a nasty sinus infection followed on the heels of my morning sickness, I had a couple of days where I managed the household and started to catch up on things and actually parent from my feet again and not from the sofa.

It all culminated this weekend.  Nate had an accident with a power tool that injured his hand and rendered it pretty useless for the next few days.  A few hours later, William fell from a chair and couldn’t walk.  As I was driving him to the ER, my brain was starting to spin down that worst case scenario road again.  Here we were, entering the holiday season, which I love but always brings lots of extra work and effort, and I was going to be pregnant, tired, and carrying around a baby with a casted, broken foot until January.  I could feel myself tensing up, blaming myself for the accident, and playing the if-only game, when I could feel God just stop me.  He reminded me that nothing that had happened this day had caught Him by surprise, that He had provided and cared for us in difficult times before and was certainly capable of doing so again.  Knowing that, and knowing that friends and family were praying for us and already offering help and support brought me peace, and as usual, God provided.

William got a clean bill of health, and with the aid of some painkillers started running around like nothing happened.  While Nate’s hand has been very sore, it seems to be on the mend as well.  My family came together yesterday at a birthday party in our home and helped us through all the household chores that Nate and I just couldn’t do between all the injuries and sickness.  I felt so blessed.  God keeps reminding me over and over again that He knows my situation and can handle it.

It’s a good reminder to have at this time.  As those of you with special needs kids know, this time of year is never easy.  All the breaks from routine and excitement from the holidays can be disorienting and overstimulating, bringing everything from meltdowns to regression.  I hated that I was starting to dread my favorite time of year.  But armed with some great tips from Michael’s therapist, and the proof that God indeed is getting us through all our things, big and small, I’m able to let go of a lot of the fear and try to let Him work through us and our situation.

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Surviving Boot Camp

It’s been a rough couple of months on this end.  Right now, we’re all just trying to survive.  I hope it turns around soon because I’d really like to just enjoy Christmas instead of being super stressed about life, but we’ll see how things play out.

In a nutshell, Nate and I have both gotten sick and gotten better from colds, plus we both have several projects for our side business we’re trying to finish before Christmas comes.  Nate is also taking an online course this week that runs from 8AM to 8PM all five working days, so that’s turning out to be not so fun.  It’s been rough for the kids because they know he’s home and in his office and they really want to see him, but he can’t come out all that often, and it makes them sad and upset.  Michael got WAY too overstimulated between Thanksgiving and his birthday and really slipped away from us.  He’s going through some crazy emotional cycles, stimming lots more, craving loads of sensory input, and wandering around the house listlessly and moaning.  He doesn’t want to do anything but watch TV, and he falls apart at the drop of a hat.  He screamed for 20 minutes last night because we couldn’t find his flashlight (don’t mess with the bed time routine, am I right, folks?).  William’s so cranky from teething that he can’t be set down for more than a few minutes at a time and he cries almost constantly.  Gabriel’s really feeling like the middle child from all this and has been acting out for his share of attention, and to top it all off, Michael’s insomnia came back, and he’s been sure to wake up Gabriel in the middle of the night when he feels like playing.

So everyone’s got a thing right now.  I’m really trying hard not to complain and just plow through, but it’s getting hard.  It’s mostly the sleep deprivation that I can’t handle.  I am at such a crazy level of exhaustion that I slept in the car in the school parking lot yesterday while waiting for Michael to have his therapy session.  I’m really trying hard to remember all these things God has been teaching me lately.  I’m trying hard to pray and not fall apart.  It’s a rough patch, and I get that we all go through them and it can’t last forever.  I know this is my boot camp for practicing peace and patience, but lately my stomach starts to hurt every time I hear one of my kids cry.  If God’s using this time to prepare me for something in my future, that something is going to be a doozy! 🙂

Right now, it’s all about prayer and survival.  I’m sure later on, I’ll be able to look back and figure out how we made it through and see the hand of God providing what we need, but as for this moment it’s all hands on deck while we weather the storm.  If you think of us, please pray for us, and if I miss a post here or there, I probably fell asleep holding a baby somewhere.

Not Again

I’m becoming that person that I don’t like again.  It happens every year around this time, and every year I vow to do better, and every year, I have to confess I blew it.  I love how the Eldredges translate in the book Captivating the 1 Peter 3 woman of a gentle and quiet spirit.  They say it means that a woman has a heart that is at rest, that is at peace in the Lord, and that is a place that brings refreshment and healing to those around her.  Thank goodness it has nothing to do with how loud her personality is!!

I’m like the opposite right now.  In addition to preparing for the holidays and the long list of birthdays that happen this month, I also have a couple of jobs I have to complete for our little side home business.  The kids don’t let me work during the day, and I’m too exhausted to work at night after they’ve gone to sleep (it’s like they know I want them to fall asleep and they just stay awake demanding attention).  It usually means I worry about it for a long time, and then panic and have to finish everything in a ridiculously short amount of time in a flurry of stress.  I’m not a kind person then, certainly not someone whose soul gives others room to breathe and be at peace.  I hate it, because that’s not the kind of wife and mom that I want to be for my family, and yet my own feeble attempts at being loving and patient are pretty much non-existent.

I can feel it starting to happen again, and I want to nip it in the bud.  I’m praying that God continues to show me how to live in His presence, how His joy can be my strength, and how He can be my peace that passes all understanding.  I’ve prayed that God would show me how to be loving and patient, and the last few weeks have been crazy.  Now I’m asking God to also show me how to be at peace, so I must just be a glutton for punishment, but it’s truly the desire of my heart to be the kind of person that nurtures a peaceful and patient atmosphere in my home instead of being a source of stress and tension.

I feel like I’m not getting any better at this yet, but I guess just being aware of what’s happening now instead of in hindsight is a first step in the right direction in the journey of a lifetime.  I’ve tried to cover my day in prayer now, at the beginning, as I’m slowly watching the laundry list of the day grow to an impossibly large size.  I know and trust that God is good and able to handle this for me, and I want to surrender this all now before I have a chance to mess it up myself.  I’m also going to have to give myself grace because I will fail at some point, but if God can forgive me, why shouldn’t I, right?

I would be grateful if you remember us in your prayers today.  We have planned to take Gabriel back to the Urgent Care to have his staples removed.  Putting them in was pretty traumatizing, and I know he’s not going to want to get back on the table again.  I’m praying that God would grant us both peace and help Gabriel (and me!) through this experience with a special touch of His presence and healing.

May your day be full of God’s love and peace in your own lives.