Monday, November 10, 2014

Overwhelmed


The enormity of parenting isn’t something to be minimized.  We shouldn’t even try…even if it makes us feel less anxious for a little while.  It just is what it is.  Daunting and challenging and well…overwhelming…only I can’t really use that word anymore because my husband and I had a discussion the other day in which he asserted that being overwhelmed is an emotional response and probably means we are trying to rely on our own strength and not the Lord’s.  Yes, these are the discussions we sometimes get to have over a rare quiet lunch together.   These are also the discussions that make me give him the side eye while I finish up my cobb salad, mentally pulling my mind off the crazy train that thinks my husband is calling me an emotional woman who has no substance.   

Here’s the thing about that.  I know I have spent a lot of time over the years describing myself as overwhelmed.  Because I am.  A lot.  And there isn’t any mother on the planet that would deny me that adjective.  We mothers are good at letting each other feel what we feel. But my husband isn’t another mother.  He is a sensitive, strong, analytical man.  All things I appreciate in different ways. The fact is, I need his critical thinking skills sometimes, in the moments when I am all emotion. (I have those thinking skills too, but I am generally more of a Big Feelings kind of gal...which HE tends to need in the moments when his brain can't process the emotion coming out of the three little girls in our house.)  Sometimes I need him to challenge what has sometimes become second nature to me.   It doesn’t mean that I am not secretly annoyed by that about half of the time…at least at first. At first, my thinking is always, “Why can’t my husband just think I am perfect and not ask deeper questions?”  I’m not alone here, am I?  Don’t most of us think that at first?  But, it isn’t long (Well, it’s not long anymore.  It used to be long.  Really long.  Kind of ridiculously long, in fact.) before I unclench and start to listen to this man, who I know loves me.  Who wants me to know Jesus more deeply.  He doesn't deserve the side eye...most of the time. 


So, I decided to examine my words a little more closely.  To look at what is behind those feelings and how it lines up with scripture.  And I think he was right. Overwhelmed IS an emotional response.  It feels like fear and inadequacy and burden all rolled up into one. And it IS a response to my trying to handle everything on my own.  Or feeling responsible for every choice my kids make.  Or believing that it is totally up to ME to make sure their lives turn out well.  It may be a fact that I am busy. It may be a fact that I am responsible for a lot.  It may be a fact that the job of parenting is a difficult one full of complexities.  But I do not have to be overwhelmed.  Even as I write that, I am not entirely sure that I can believe it. It feels like it's just a part of mothering.

And therein lies the challenge.  Because as mothers, I think we are sold a lie.  We are told in various subtle and not so subtle ways that we SHOULD be overwhelmed and anxious.  That it is a mother’s instinct.  That it is, in fact, almost necessary in order to be a good mother.  And we applaud and agree and welcome each other to the club when we worry and fret over our kids. 


But we can do better for each other.  We can do better for our kids. 

I’m still not exactly sure what it looks like to let go of those feelings.  Obviously, more prayer, more scripture, more open hands and believing that God is working all things for good…those things help.  But exploring this feeling of being overwhelmed also forces me to admit some lack of trust.  It’s why I hold on so tightly…why I feel the need to control as much as I can.  And, it’s why I feel overwhelmed.  And so I know that a big part of what I need is to confess.  To ask forgiveness.  To repent.  And I need to do this in my community of mothers.  We need to do this together. We need to learn together how to respond to each other in this place.  I’m not exactly sure what it looks like to gently call each other up from the muck and mire of distrust.  But I think it’s important.  I think we need it.  Because how would my life look different, and the lives of my kids, if I approached the chaos and heart ache and busy never ending to-do's from a place of rest and trust?  From a soul that knows she is only called to do what the Lord asks and that he is responsible for the rest. 

Look, I’m no poster child for the Relaxed Mother’s of America.  Is that a thing?  Maybe we should make it a thing!  But I want to learn to let God be God in my children’s lives.  To do what he has called me to do in the lives of my children, (which, by the way, isn’t to be perfect) and then to trust him with what he does.  I mean really trust Him.  Not just say I do. Even if things are not how I had hoped or planned.

Oh dear…just admitting that things might not be how I hope or plan is making me feel overwhelmed again.  Lord, help me.  Help us all. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Adoption is a beautiful thing.


Adoption is a beautiful thing.  The stories we tell are happy ones.  Stories of loving children we couldn’t make ourselves.  Stories of giving a child a home they wouldn’t have otherwise.  But there are other stories, too.  Stories that our children have to work to reconcile in their minds.  Stories of inexplicably missing a person they never really knew.  Stories of feeling abandoned, even though they have been in our home from the very beginning.  And in the midst of their grief, I must decide how to manage my own.

This week, grief came knocking at the door.  As is nearly always the case, my first instinct is to lock the door tight.  To be quiet and withdrawn so that she will go away.  Or to be loud and excited in order to scare her away.  Because she is an exhausting companion, leaving me weary and anxious and wrung out. And she gets in my head, making me think that she will always feel big and scary and louder than anything else.   

She was insistent this week, though, and so I opened the door.  And as I sat with her, weeping for all that is broken in our beautiful  stories, I began to feel the familiar feelings of despair.  How will I ever fix this brokenness? How will I manage it so that it doesn’t hurt so badly?  So that my child doesn’t hurt so badly?  And, at once, I knew that I couldn’t be alone with her.

So I invited my people over.  My tribe, as my friend would say.  “Please pray,” I texted.  Again and again they responded, “we are praying.”   Grief didn’t leave, but she got quiet.  She gave me some space to breathe, to remember in the dark what I have learned in the light.  That Jesus Christ is our only answer.  That my own capacity to fix brokenness is so small, so short-sighted.  But He is bigger and he sees the big picture. That his strength is perfected in my weakness.   That brokenness can lead me to him. Can lead my child to him.

It looks like grief may be here to stay for a while.  But I’m not scared of her today.  Instead, we have decided to welcome her in.  To embrace her ability to bring us to the feet of Jesus.    To thank her for the reminder that this world is not our home.

Some days are harder than others.  And grief can feel like an unwanted guest that we need to shut  out. She is insistent, though, and I’m convinced these days that her presence is for our good.  She doesn’t have to be the loudest voice at the table, though.  It turns out, if you welcome her, and if you introduce her to your tribe, she gets quieter.  She takes her rightful place as a bit player in this drama.  And her presence beckons you to look center stage, as the King of All Joy takes his place in your story.

Adoption is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Favorites

These are some of my favorite pictures so far this spring:

 This is just a small taste of how BIG her personality is.  :)


Our doggies.  They love each other and this is how they sleep these days.   

 GOOOOOOOAL!!!!!! If only I'd have gotten a picture of her face afterwards.  Priceless...


Leadership Day at school.  Bella and 2 of her friends after giving us a very informative presentation on the endangered Gray Wolf.  Don't they look grown up?  And...ahem...doesn't someone look a little...TALL. 

 Hopie on Leadership Day after giving a very informative presentation on Figurative Language.  I learned a lot.  She's also looking very grown up these days.  We're wearing the same shoes and rapidly approaching the same height.  Any tips on slowing this train down??? 

Ava and Noah...her bestie.  They matched on Easter and it was too cute! These two are gonna take the world by storm! 


What a gift to be at the adoption finalization hearing for these dear friends!  I balled my eyes out, of course...cause that's what you do at an adoption finalization. Welcome to your forever family, Ariana!  

We are enjoying the warmer weather, fun family time, and time with good friends.  Next up...a trip to Texas for Ava and I and the count down to the last days of schools.  Yipee! I LOVE this time of year!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lose Your Bacon

Don't worry this isn't a post about dieting! Frankly, even if I was dieting, I would never lose my bacon. It's delicious.  ...Now all I can think of is bacon.  Where was I?...oh yes...

A few weeks ago, we had our 10th annual YoungLife Women's Retreat at Trail West in Buena Vista, CO.  It is one of my favorite times of year.  Time to laugh and worship and be with friends, old and new.  And time for silence.  Oh the blessed silence!  The two and half hours of complete silence is one of my favorite part of the weekend.

During the weekend, my friend Ginger had a little part for those of us on the planning team to play. She wanted us to sing a song at the end of the weekend to wrap things up.  And she wanted us to sing it loud and proud and with abandon.  She kept saying, "I want you to lose your bacon."...which you can only really appreciate when you say it in kind of a southern accent. "Lose yer bacon, yall!"

Later, as she and I were talking, I confessed a weird little problem.  I love to sing.  Singing in a casual way with friends...I could lose my bacon.  At home or in the car, by myself (a rare thing to be sure)...I am guaranteed to lose my bacon.  But, anytime I sing in a way that is "performing", my chest gets a bit tight and I can't breathe properly...which makes it really hard to lose my bacon or anything else for that matter. And I can't sing they way I'm supposed to, with the kind of support my body needs to do what it's been gifted to do. That makes my dream of performing in musicals really difficult. Seriously...it's on the bucket list.

But, it's not just performing.  Last week, we had a training at church for those of us who help lead music from time to time.  The discussion led to closing our eyes during worship and how, though sometimes we close our eyes in authentic praise, part of our job is to interact with the congregation. To invite them along as we worship. How can we do that if we are closing our eyes for an entire song set?   In fact, that can make it seems as if we are alone with the Lord and others aren't invited in (not to mention that it can make you dizzy...I've experienced that first hand.) I shared with the group that I had recently become convicted that most often, I close my eyes in worship because I am uncomfortable with my own expressiveness.  I want to lift my hands, and I know at that moment, with it welling up within me, that I must!  But I am embarrassed of myself, embarrassed and worried about what others might think, so I close my eyes.  It's a bit like a little kid covering their eyes when they get in trouble and thinking they have disappeared. Silly. The problem is, it's not just silly.  I know that I am bound by the fear of man.  And now that I know, I can't just stay there.

As I talked a bit more with Ginger during our weekend, we discussed how much we worry about what other people will think. She asked me what I was hearing in my head when I performed. I knew immediately the voice I hear. It's one that says to me, "You are an impostor and everyone will know it. You are not a performer."  In worship, that voice says "You are NOT free to do what comes naturally. It's embarrassing."

So, I've been sitting with the Lord and asking him about it.  Not because I want everyone to think I am awesome when I can belt out notes in the middle of a performance or because I want to put on a show when we sing at church, but because I want to be free.  I want always to be offering up my chains to the Lord and asking him to set me free, even when those chains are just an inability to be silly. Do I believe that he wants to free me, even from something as small as that? I do, because chains are chains. And I don't think God desires us to be bound by anything.

I'm learning that freedom is the beginning of worship. That the freedom to present our bodies, our gifts, our talents, our hearts as a living sacrifice, without restraint, is rooted in trust and in an understanding of the character of God. And that always leads us to worship. I'm not completely sure how to get there when I'm in a group, though.  So, I keep sitting and I keep asking and I think, in a way, that alone is doing the work of releasing me.  As I sit and learn of him, my heart becomes softer, the fear of man begins to fall away and I become enamored with who he is. I worship, with no one watching but him. I set aside some of my chains and pray that he would help me not to pick them up again. Sometimes undoing takes time.  But I am an eager pupil, and He, the most patient of teachers.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What came first? The chicken or...um...something else...

This conversation with Hope in the kitchen last night had both of us laughing.



A: Hey!  Yesterday I cracked an egg and it was a double yolk!  So cool!

H: (wide-eyed) Mooo-oooom...you should have heated it up in the microwave so it would turn into chicks.

A: Hope!  That's not what turns eggs into chickens.  An actual hen has to sit on them.

H: Well, then you should have sat on it, mom. I think I've just seen people put a warm light on them, though, and it works.

A: Hmmm...I think you're right. But, that wouldn't work for these eggs.  They need to be fertilized first and eggs from the store aren't fertilized.

H: Well, then you should have taken it to the bathroom and put it in the toilet and gone to the bathroom on it.

A: (looking increduously) What?!?

H: Well, like we use cow manure to fertilize stuff in our garden.  Maybe it would work with the eggs.

A: Umm...yeah, it's a different kind of fertilizer.  Fertilized by a rooster. A boy chicken.

H: What does the rooster have to do?

A: (thinking, thinking, thinking)........honestly I have no idea.  I don't really understand eggs.



I should probably go and look that up.

And also, these are the latest photos of my grown up girl.  I think maybe she could win a beauty queen contest...but that's just her mother talking.  Oh...and the 20 people (it seems like) a week that look at her, and then double take and say, "Honey, you are BEAUTIFUL!"  To which she shyly replies, "thank you," and then looks at me as if to say, "how embarrassing..."  Get used to it, sweetie. :)






And maybe I could win some kind of photography award.  Yep, that's all me people.  Well, me and a very fancy camera that basically does all the work for you.  Well, me and a fancy camera, and a beautiful subject, and about 1,000 pictures taken from all different angles so that I can find 3 or 4 that don't have shadows or squinty eyes. (Okay...maybe one random person if you look hard and maybe a little bit of a squinty eye.  Quit being so critical, people!) Yeah...I don't really understand photography either...