Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Last year...

The great journey towards freedom in our mindset towards having children has brought me to a place of quiet acceptance, but it is still continuing. Before the end of my pregnancy with our fourth child in five years, I knew I had to be done, there was absolutely nothing left to give in any way- physically, emotionally, mentally. The sleepless years, the continual physical drain of being pregnant, or nursing, or both, for about 7 years had depleted beyond measure all of my resources. In fact, it had gone beyond that. It had not only deprived me of having anything further to give, but I had let it reduce what should have been precious times with young children, to a daily struggle for survival, getting to the next nursing, the next nap, hoping for a few hours of sleep before someone woke up to nurse, or need a diaper change, or had a nightmare, or needed their sheets changed, and then do it all over again the next day.The time was a gift from God, as the four precious children were, and yet, at the time, I barely had the strength to recognize the time as precious, and to remember how great a gift it all was.

Not that there weren’t happy times, there were. I have hundreds of pictures of cooing babies, smiling infants, laughing toddlers. Little blue eyed gap-toothed grins that I reveled in, that I treasured. George’s shy, precocious twinkle, stacking blocks 20 high, speaking in full sentences when he was 1, wondering if his shoes would need a snack soon; Ian’s luminous smile that lit up his whole face, alternating with a fiercely serious concentration and curling tongue while he did puzzles one after another; Grace’s galloping crawl, scaling every obstacle to get into the sink and play in the water; Claire’s complacent, slow, satisfied smile, taking in all the adoration, all the attention of three others who shared her smiles and thought her, most of the time, a wonderful toy to watch.  I can look back at pictures and remember the sweet times, the joy, appreciate the time as precious. There were a thousand blessings a day, shining up at me in my children’s eyes.

But while I was in it, the overarching feeling was exhaustion, trying to get it all done; shopping with a baby seat in the back of the cart, piled high with groceries, a toddler in the front, constantly struggling, Houdini-like, out of any restraining contrivance, and wiggly boys on each side. It was aching to sleep yet knowing I would never get more than a few broken hours at a time. It was tearfully watching the spring time come, knowing I would be doing it all alone for the long hot months that stretched before me. It was battling, meal after meal, to get children to eat; to get beyond their survival and try to instill character; it was every Sunday morning, struggling to get everyone dressed and ready, struggling to find something I fit into, and then never making it through a church service remembering one thing the Pastor said. It was years of working with a child who didn’t like to be touched, whose senses screamed at him from being overstimulated; with a child who was almost  2 years behind developmentally and had no short term memory; with a strong willed child who would fight and fight and fight, slapping parents in the face, screaming that she WAS in charge; it was the guilt over dealing with it all and trying to pay enough attention to a baby who was constantly getting short shrift.

And unfortunately, I let all these things overwhelm me. I was lost in the battle for my own endurance, and much too infrequently remembered to do anything to take care of the one who had to take care of all of them, or to ask help from the One source of strength that could help me. It was days of drudgery, blessed with moments of sweetness that I failed to savor fully, or to remember when the moment was gone. And somewhere along the line, I equated the exhaustion, the fight to do it all, (knowing even at the height of my strength, it wasn’t enough), with having another child. I knew in my core that it would mean more shameful neglect of the children I had already been blessed with. 

And so, we were done, and I felt this was from the Lord. Despite my weakness being the basis for the decision, I felt an overwhelming peace that our family was complete, that I was not to be pregnant again, that I could concentrate fully on doing what the Lord had already given me to do- be a mother to my four young children. (It never occurred to me that this completeness might be temporary) And if I could have stayed in this place of rest and peace, of leaning on the Lord instead of my own understanding, then I think this journey wouldn’t have become the tortuous tangle it has been. But, you see, I couldn’t leave it at that. I couldn’t just trust that the Lord would bring about His perfect will, I had to jump in with my efforts, my fears, my anxieties. If, (I wrongly reasoned), it were right for us to have only these children right now, then it would be “wrong” for me to become pregnant again. And that is what I fixated upon. It became a nagging worry, then a continual fear then an irrational anxiety. I couldn’t make love to my husband without it clouding our time together. I couldn’t bring on fast enough the onset of each period, which signaled we were “safe” for at least another month. Another month I could focus on the care, the nourishment, the character building, and the development of the children I spent every day with. For I came to see pregnancy not as a bringer of joy, but as something that would steal me away from my responsibilities, and make my daily struggle to keep my head above water a futile attempt.

Looking back upon it now, I cringe with regret, seeing how little I relied on the God who would have gladly taken my burdens, and helped me with the precious task He had set before me. I was focusing on my own strength, instead of realizing that if God decided we should have another child, He would give the resources to get done all He had called me to along the way. I was afflicted with the shortsightedness of the self-sufficient.

And the years went by. Gradually, it got easier, only two in diapers, then only one, a few less screams of sensory integration overload, a few more lessons remembered the next day, a few less battles for supremacy, and a few more moments to treasure the littlest one. The hours of sleep got longer, the days of struggle seemed shorter, and the lessons started sticking. I allowed some time to care of me, not just those around me, and I learned better to ask for help (although this is still hard for me). And as I learned to let God in a little more, I began to see more of His heart towards me, that He didn’t intend for me to do it all on my own, that He would help, that He would guide. All the lessons I had learned and lived by for so long before having children gradually started to come to the surface again. How foolish I had been, thinking God could only help in my little struggles, not the constant day-to-day ones, or the really insurmountable goals. How truly foolish. For, as the psalm says, “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God’.” And that is what I was saying on the inside when I acted as if I were the end of my resources. I would have told you, I would have thought, I would have outwardly acted as if I believed fully in a God who would really supply all your needs, but letting my fears dominate my outlook and letting my circumstances dictate my mindset was betraying what my heart really felt- that there was no God to help.

 The realization of this colossal failure of faith was a bitter pill to swallow, but the medicine was exactly what my weary soul needed. How could I have gotten better, if I didn’t realize I was ever sick? And it was a sickness, the self-sufficiency, the focusing on the exhaustion, on the fear of failure, on the hardship, instead of opening my eyes to the blessings, focusing on how miraculously the Lord was already providing for me, for all of us. It was the sickness of dread, the foolishness of fearing whatever the Lord might have for me, and the utter evil of saying that I knew better than God what that should be. And so, slowly, I began to open my heart and mind to receive whatever the Lord might want for me, instead of confining that to the narrow parameters of my own making. There was no desire for another child, but there began to grow in me an acceptance that if that were His will, that was the road I would take, and willingly.

And here is where the happy ending would fit in quite nicely. I wish I could end this with details of how we joyfully welcomed another child, that expanded all our hearts and our home with blessings unthought of. Or, that the peace I had felt from the beginning in the surety of our family being now complete had returned. But, that is not what the Lord had in mind.

My fears had subsided, I was living in faith, in acceptance of what He chose, not me, and then last spring, I got pregnant. It was a surprise, and at first, I struggled again with what my mind had been ingrained over the years to feel- fear, doubt, worry, etc. But I reaffirmed in my mind and emotions that I was never in control anyway, and that I was glad to give the reins to the One who knew the path. For seven weeks, this feeling grew within me, as the baby grew within me, and then, I started bleeding. I started to miscarry our child on a day in June that was otherwise filled with celebration over a dear friend’s wedding.

To say that I was baffled at the Lord’s plan was an understatement. It was a fiery trial testing the faith that so recently I had strongly reaffirmed. Did I really trust the Lord to give me the children He wanted us to have, to allow me to care for the ones He had already given me? There is never a reason, never a good explanation for a baby dying, no matter how small, no matter how short a time you have known them, or even only known of them. Before I carried my oldest son, I had miscarried twice. Once at 8 weeks, once at 5. And while at that time, it was the lowest depths of mourning I had experienced, it was nothing to what I felt now. Then it had been the death of a dream, the falling away of an unclear future. Now, it was the full realization of all the preciousness I had lost. Experience is a great teacher, and experiencing all the stages of pregnancy and baby love for my four children had taught my heart new boundaries of love that now reflected empty as dark glass. I knew what I had lost. I never understood the reason why then, and I understood still less now, yet I felt that previous loss to be only a pale reflection of the dark shattering of shining brightness that I had held only for a few short weeks now.

And I wasn’t the only one that felt the loss this time. Years before, Nate was even more distanced from the loss than I had been. Not only was it just the loss of an unrealized dream, but also there was no physical reminder of that loss, no pain or weakness to deal with for him. This time, he knew from experience what we had lost, and the Lord brought it into focus for him even clearer. In church on Father’s Day, about 2 weeks after I had miscarried, a man stood up in church to say how thankful he was for the gift of being able to be a father. He was surrounded by several of his seven children and recounted that there had been a time when they had had two boys and two girls, and been tempted to believe that their family was then complete. Obviously, the Lord had changed their minds and this devoted father now looked around him to his younger three children seated in church and choked up when he said “I just can’t believe what I would have missed out on, had we stopped with our first four.” He was so thankful for the other three the Lord had blessed them with. Sitting directly across the aisle from this man was Nathan, and he started sobbing when he heard this testimony. He told me later that it just made real to him the loss.

When you carry a child inside you, and nourish it with your own body, you know the tenuousness of each movement, each breath, praying for the baby’s growth and health. And with the falling away of my previous fears over pregnancy had come the full realization of all the incredible blessings of its supernatural glory. And because of that, now I felt the loss of it all more keenly. Of course, the grief soon gave way to guilt- was I being punished by God for the years of not wanting another child? Had my attitude of non-acceptance doomed my baby before he was even visible by any means? Was this just the natural consequence of not treasuring my children enough? I don’t know. But, I believe in a God of mercy, not only of judgment, and if He had been punishing me by taking this child, He did allow me a measure of grace along with the grief.

A few weeks after I miscarried, I had a dream. Now, I have always remembered my dreams starkly. In fact, I have many times only been able to distinguish a dream from a memory by careful study of the details. And now, this quirk of my consciousness was to serve as an unexpected blessing. In my dream, I was pregnant, big pregnant, sitting beside my husband on a bed (with a blue afghan on it), and I was just starting to feel the pangs of labor. It was flashes of time passing until the vividness of pushing became crystal clear. If you have ever given birth, you know there is no feeling like physically pushing a baby out into the world. I have four distinct memories of this, and now, in my dream, I had another. I remember every sensation of the sweat on my brow, my shaking arms, as I rose up to give one last push that would bring this little baby boy into the midwife’s hands. And then, there he was. Nathan laughed for joy as the baby was placed on my chest, and we smiled together at the rooting little miracle we now held. “His name is Alec.” I don’t know if I said it or if Nate did. And then he was nursing, the sweet tug of hungry innocence, and then another flash of time, and we were standing next to each other (I was wearing a dress my mother had 30 years ago) and I was holding my little urchin, marveling at the delicious sweep of blond curls atop his head. He turned and grinned at me, and I was surprised to see tiny milk teeth already. And then another flash of time, and he was standing between his father’s hands, taking his first wobbly steps. And then I awoke, and tears came to my eyes immediately as I reviewed the gift I had just been given. There was no touch of sadness, of loss, only of unexpected joy over the “memories” of my child that I never would have had otherwise.

This might fit into the happy ending category; certainly it was a moment of happiness, distilled among the sourness of the grief of the preceding time. I am so incredibly thankful for that dream that borrowed memory from another universe, from Heaven, from the gracious God who works all things for my good. But it did awaken in my soul the realization that beyond a quiet acceptance, we could gladly welcome another child. Again, there was no great desire, as I know so many women have, no yearning for an unknown baby to hold in my arms again. My arms are full with children now- I feel no lack. It was another step in the journey, though. I’ve been called to balance the thankfulness and contentment for the circumstances I am in, with openness to a future that might alter those circumstances. I think we are all called to that balance.

And then, a few short months later, I became pregnant again. This time, there was no quavering acceptance; it was an instant release to the path, to the Lord’s plan. There was a hidden joy that suffused my days as this new child grew within me. Nate couldn’t keep the grin off his face as we discussed names, as he caressed my already growing stomach. We forgot the fear, not only the long gone, irrational fear of pregnancy being a burden, but the too soon forgotten fear that pregnancy certainly does not always result in holding a living baby in your arms.

At 10 weeks, I went to the doctor. She said all looked good, my uterus was tilted back, which made it harder to feel, but that wasn’t abnormal. We scheduled an ultrasound for the following week. Nate was able to go with me to the initial appointment, but I had to go to the ultrasound alone, and all that day, I had been fighting feelings of anxiety, feeling something wasn’t quite right. I wish those had been baseless fears. Finally, my turn for the ultrasound came. I changed and got on the waiting table while a brisk technician tried in vain to get a picture from the outside. The frown never left her face as she said she was going to try an internal ultrasound. And then, I saw it, -the clear outline of a gestational sac, empty like a black hole, now devoid of any life. She said maybe I wasn’t as far along as I thought, but I knew they were empty words. The gestational sac measured just under 11 weeks, it just no longer held a baby. As she left, and I changed, drowning in the realization of my fears, I heard from the next room the only sound that would have brought any hope to my heart, had it been for me- the fuzzy galloping of a fetal heartbeat. I had never thought it to be a cruel sound before, only ever totally joyful, but right then, it was the harshest thing I had ever heard.

Following this were day after day of blood draws, testing levels, phone calls with nurses, until finally on Thanksgiving day, I started bleeding, making official what I knew already to be true, that I was never going to hold this baby either. And it surprised me that I felt even a new loss, I hadn’t even realized I was harboring any small hope still, and yet I felt it die as I sank into the interminable bleeding that was to be my reality the next few weeks. Beyond the renewed grief, which only gets sharper with repetition, not easier, the physical side of this miscarriage was worse than any I had ever dealt with before. I ended up in the ER, but thankfully, not the hospital. In some ways, the timing of the miscarriage was the worse ever, but in another sense, I know God arranged it so. We had been planning on making the announcement to the children after the ultrasound, and then sharing with all Nate’s family (who were visiting from Minnesota) on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, we quietly made his parents aware of what was happening two days after the ultrasound, and spent the next week and a half surrounded by family, trying to forget the reality and make the holiday time festive for the kids. I never would have chosen to be around anyone during this time, but it served as a blessed distraction, and a time of joy for the children, when otherwise, we would have been scrambling to find care for them.

            I don’t have a happy ending to go to from here, except to say that I believe, through absolutely no strength or effort of my own, I have learned to be content. I would never have walked this path willingly, but my faith in a God that I have seen no sense in has only been renewed. I can’t make sense of this, I can’t see a reason, I can’t begin to try to get to the other side of the reasoning God may have had in allowing these things to happen. But, I don’t have to know. I don’t have to make sense of it. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it, and it would be futile to try. I am content to let God be God, and to continue to stay open to whatever He may place before us. I am done speculating on the future, I am done bemoaning the past. All I can do is be content, whatever state I am in, and leave it to the Lord to determine the best state to put me in.

I have gone back and forth on whether or not to share this, as it is such an intensely personal experience, and I am a very private person, but I kept feeling a bent towards getting it all out. Perhaps this is only as a cathartic experience for myself, but I can’t help but feel that while the loss was deeply personal, the lives of my children, however short a time they were here on earth, are a thing to be recognized, and even to be celebrated. There will never be a marker in any graveyard as a remembrance of the short lives of my babies. I can never put flowers under a tiny likeness of an angel, or go to a physical place to remember their lives. They exist only in my memory, and now only in the arms of Jesus. So, I feel it only right to commemorate their existence, in the only way that I can, by telling the story.

Friday, November 04, 2011

November 4th, 2011

The fact that is has been 13 months since last I even checked here, let alone posted anything, lets me know that the need for this in my life has passed. This blog was a mainstay of my routine for years, and then a haven for an occasional diatribe, lesson from God expounded upon, or just an update on children and life in general. As I write this now, with a cup of steaming decaf beside me, I can honestly say that the last year has been a blessing. Not that everything in it was a blessing, in fact some things were incredibly hard, but reflection causes me to give glory to God, Who has worked all things together for good. I came back here today to try to find my birth stories, and reliving that amazing time in my life has been cathartic. What a miracle, to have been blessed with four healthy, funny, individual, amazing children. I am beyond thankful. And beyond that, to have a devoted man walk beside me in loving them daily, is a divine benediction. And while I could write a long list of things that have happened in the last year, that, essentially is still where I am at. Loving my husband, loving my children, loving my God, and striving and learning all the time to do it better.

George will be 10 in a few months. Ian turned 8 in July. Grace will be 7, Claire will be 5, and of course Nathan and I exist in a timeless vacuum, where we do not age. :) School consists of 5th grade, mostly 3rd, 1st, and K4. I am doing some things the same, some things entirely new and differently. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach them right now. I know that this time in our lives will pass all too quickly, and I am so glad that I do not have to miss their days of learning.

I won't give a full update, I feel released from that responsibility here, it was never one I consistently achieved anyway. I will just end by saying, the Lord is good, and He is constantly opening up my eyes to the full measure of what that means. If I lived a thousand years as an ardent disciple, still I could not fathom all that belongs to that statement, the Lord is good. Our pastor said not long ago, "Aggressively trust in the sufficiency of the Lord." That is a high thing to live by, but I am grateful to be given the chance to try.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I'm just sitting here finishing up my lunch of sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes and kale. I love how the tomatoes become all juicy and the flavors of the mushrooms deepen and mix in bubbly wonderfulness with the tomatoes. The kale is just a green, crunchy undertone added in the last 10 seconds. Wonderful!!! Okay, we knew I was weird, and it doesn't bother me a bit if everyone else thinks this is a peculiar combination. It tastes great to me. The kids had wraps filled with mayo, mustard, broccoli slaw and radish sprouts. They love those. I usually put spinach in, too, but used up all my spinach over the weekend. Since I just had a "spare" moment (meaning I'm blocking out of my mind the forty eleven things I should be doing right now) I thought I'd blog. To catch up on what's been going on, here are some helpful bullets.
  • I put 5000 miles on my van in the last month, and enjoyed every minute of it.
  • We went to NH, Maine and Minnesota, which sadly did nothing for my state of contentment with my present location.
  • The boys and I climbed Borestone Mountain with my brother, nephew and his friend.
  • We swam (swum?) and fished in Greenwood Pond.
  • We had fun with cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends.
  • We saw several deer, a family of wild turkeys, a fox, a rabbit, an otter, lots of squirrels and birds, including the loon family that lives on Greenwood Pond that we could hear calling to each other every day. Grace said they sounded like zebras.
  • We wore sweatshirts and jackets and shivered.....and I greatly enjoyed it.
  • We went to Storyland, kids amusement park with my brother and family, it was wonderful! I especially liked hearing George and Ian's conversation "Ian, wasn't the Polar Coaster fun?" "No, it's the PolAH coaster, George, I heard Uncle Dan call it that."
  • We went to a mineral and rock mine with my parents. Before we left, my dad put on his tool belt full of rock tools and his backpack, and held his hand carved walking stick, while my mom said "Looks like you're all ready to go Kerplunking!"
  • We went to a train station and listened for the whistle and roar that would portend the coming of my other half and cheered when the train appeared, then hugged the head of our family too tightly. :)
  • We went to Queechee Gorge, which was beautiful and Sugarbush Farms, which was quaint and lovely.
  • We went to Niagara Falls, which I found incredibly underwhelming and just don't really see the attraction. Perhaps if it weren't surrounded my ugly, grimy tourist traps in an ugly, grimy city. I hear the Canadian side is better.
  • We stayed in Bemidji, MN, one of my favorite towns on earth, even without the wonderful family that lives there.
  • We loved on nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.
  • We boated down the headwaters of the Mississippi.
  • Some of us went geo-caching, some walking downtown, some fishing, some running, some biking, some boating, some Nintendo wii-ing, some cooking, some baking, some grilling, some frying, all loving doing things together.
  • We took Grandma Marilyn out to Perkins and loved the evening we spent with her.
  • We fit 3 adults and 4 kids into a hotel room, and most everyone slept most all of the night
  • We got to stay at a huge, beautiful "hunting lodge" in deer country in Illinois. I can't wait to go back to that green, peaceful spot.
  • And we pulled into our driveway just as Dorothy said "There's no place like home" at the end of The Wizard of Oz
So, that, boiled down to a nutshell (as one of my favorite college profs used to say) was my last 6 weeks. Now I am home, started school up again, excited about fall cooking, trying new recipes, contemplating joining a gym, and rather impatiently waiting for the weather outside to match the calendar.

Here are some recent funnies from the kids:

I overheard Ian the other day, speaking in a sinister voice, pretending to be a bad guy "I like my evil fish with evil salt and evil lemon on it!!" I guess even bad guys need to eat, huh?

Claire came running to me the other day, yelling "I need a band aid!!" and sporting 2 very red knees. It took me about 10 seconds to realize that it was not, in fact, blood, but self inflicted................red marker "wounds".

Well, supposedly the kids are settled napping now, a rarity in our house these days, but I shall redeem the time and *try* to get some exercise in while watching "You've Got Mail"

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Our Deepest Fears....

A very wise friend shared this today from a book called "Our Deepest Fears" by Marianne Williamson. I have not read this book, but I intend to. This tidbit was too good not to share.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Ac...tually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nate and I had a great talk last night, about life and our vision for our family and our finances and what the Lord would have us do with it all. This digressed into a talk about music (don't ask me how) which led into a talk about what I have been mulling over lately...see last post. And I just told him everything I was thinking about, and as always, it made me feel so much better to share it with him. I don't know why I fret so about talking to the man. I suppose that being in the hot tub with a glass of wine in hand helped us both to talk and to listen. ;) And in talking it out I was reminded of what the Pastor was talking about last Sunday in his discussion of Psalm 27.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart will not fear: though war should rise up against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he will set me up upon a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies who are around me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises unto the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me and answer me. When you said, Seek my face; my heart said to you, Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face far from me; put not your servant away in anger: you have been my help; do not leave me or forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me over unto the will of my enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he will strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

I don't know if all my "issues" are rooted in fear of man, but I suspect a good deal of them are. And the antidote to this is to have a greater fear of God. Not that these are in any way the same kinds of fear. One should not fear a loving father, but you may fear to disappoint him. You would not cower before the One who loved you enough to die for you, but you should fear living in such a way that makes that sacrifice seem unappreciated. Understanding what the Lord has said, how much He truly loves us, and values us, should induce a spirit of glad hope. We should be more focused on what He thinks about us, then what we, or anyone else may think.

Proverbs 14: 26-27 says "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." Just another of the beautiful paradoxes of the Lord...how could there be confidence in fear?!?!? BUT, it is the kind of fear and what you are fearing, that makes the difference. A place of refuge....from whatever it is you are fearing right now. And this beautiful fear of the Lord, this understanding, this reverential respect for His words that leaves no room for doubting them...this is the answer to my struggle, to not liking the person that God made me to be. I just need to know His words, and believe them, knowing that He is above me, beyond me and I can only trust Him and cling to His promises, set upon a rock above all that would threaten to tear me down.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I do this thing, where I just subconsciously start to talk like whomever I am talking with. Nate laughs at me, he can guess who I'm talking to on the phone. I think everyone does this to a certain extent. I find myself mimicking the gestures and sitting/standing positions of whoever I am with. I repeat phrases they say in conversation, only when I am in conversation with them. And when I am by myself, I wonder sometimes what I would talk like if I were talking with *me*. I endeavor to make people comfortable, and I'm probably not alone in just wanting to "fit in." I always assume that if I were to act "like myself" (for lack of a better term) I would offend someone, or they would see the "real me" and not like what they see. I have a hard time making a purchase without a second opinion, I just don't trust my gut enough. I have always been this way. I think that if I allowed myself, I would be better at many things that I falter at now. I always hesitate to say I'm right because well, what if I'm not? Is it a fear of being wrong that prompts me to pretend I don't know?

I think everyone goes through the maturing process differently. Some people "know" themselves when they are only a child. Some people constantly reinvent themselves. Some people never change. I can look back and see the changes in my life, in my perspective, and in my understanding of what it means to live in the grace of God. This is a lesson I am still learning. Every once in a while, on this journey, though, the Lord reaches down and opens my eyes to a bright understanding of some facet of His love or grace.

A big part of this is in accepting myself. *Wow, it's hard just to write that* I think maybe my emulation of others stems more from the fact that I think if I try hard enough, I can just become like them, instead of being like me. I have never accepted the person that I am, never really wanted to be comfortable in who I am because, well, I don't like that person. I'm not talking about my sin nature, no one should like that, and it should be constant struggle to yield to the Spirit in conquering that. I'm talking about my likes and dislikes, the way I talk, the way I walk, the way I look, the way I sleep, the way I laugh, things like this. Things that make me who I am, the things that God did on purpose when He was making me. I think I just have never wanted to face up to the bald fact that I have always believed that God made a mistake when He made me.

Saying it like that opens up a world of true cliches that unfortunately most Christians have been desensitized to. God doesn't make mistakes; You are made in God's image; He formed you in your mother's womb, etc. Yes, I know all this is true. Well, more accurately, I believe I suffer from a shocking degree of self aggrandizement that believes this all to be true for everyone but me. *maybe that is the root of all the trouble, I think I'm exempt from it all for some reason* Anyway, I will be the first to tell a person how special they are, how beautiful they are, how wonderful, how their specific personality, looks, temperament, etc was designed by God, and being comfortable in that gives Him glory. Why can't I say this to myself? Why, every time I see a picture of myself in a group of people do I curl up in pain inside and hate what I see? I can see all the beauty on the other people's faces, the twinkles in their eyes, their beautiful personalities shining through, and when I can stand to look at myself in the picture, all I see is my foolishness, my ugliness, my stupidity.

Most of the time, I do not think about this, it never reaches the level of my conscious thought, I am used to avoiding looking in the mirror, used to pretending I am someone else in my mind so I don't have to confront all my shortcomings. But, sometimes, as I said, the Lord holds my head still, my eyes open and filling with tears as He confronts me with the truth. And the truth is, that in not accepting myself, I am calling God a liar. I am saying He isn't good enough, what He did isn't good enough, and He did something wrong. That's all there is to it. I could go into reason after earthly reason why I might be "suffering from low self-esteem" or that I am a victim of being teased and made fun of as a child and never recovered. Blah blah blah....who isn't? I don't think that my hurts run deeper than anyone else who has seen similar circumstances.

So now, being aware of this, well, being confronted with it with no chance to worm my way out with denial (as is my wont) where do I go from here? How do you change something in the very fiber of your being, even knowing full well that continuing in it is not an option any longer. How does that play out practically? For me to all of a sudden act as if I did *like* and accept the person I am, not focusing on my faults, but learning to appreciate my personality, my manner, my looks, my natural inclinations.....what would that look like? What would change? It makes me feel as if a crushing weight were on my chest to glimpse the possible freedom that could come from this very inward shift of thinking, but it makes me scared. It makes me think, as I have so many, many times before "What if I'm wrong?" what if I act as if I am a valuable, special, uniquely created by God on purpose to be the way I am~ person and then I find out that ......I'm really not?? Again this would suppose that God is wrong, and on this one thing I can depend....God is never wrong. For me to really, truly, experientialy believe this, though, means that I can not continue to live as I have been, if only in my own mind.

And what brought this on?? Music in my head. And thinking about music that I like, and thinking about friends I have who either wouldn't approve of or just plain wouldn't like the music that I like, so, I never mention it. And there are so many areas like this. Me, all by myself, might like a style of music, or movie, or schedule or something, but unless someone else says they like or approves of it first, I feel constrained to hide it, and just add it to the list of "things about me I don't like" because, well, no one else likes them so I naturally assume I must be wrong for liking them.

I have times in my life when I decide to ignore this feeling inside, and make an effort to "be myself" or to be comfortable with myself, to like myself. And then, after awhile, I feel guilty, and I feel stupid, and I feel sure that the Lord and everyone else is ashamed of me, if they spare me a thought. And the rest of the time, I work hard at keeping up the facade that I am a laid back person who doesn't struggle with things like this. Most of the time I do a pretty good job of fooling at least myself. ;P

I think women in general struggle with this more than men. Maybe it's the male ego, or what have you, or the fact that a woman can be reading a cookbook, planning a grocery list, doing laundry, correcting homework, plucking her eyebrows and still be thinking about how much she wished that her stomach didn't have quite so many stretch marks. I don't know. I don't think I'm the only one who struggles with this, and if I'm not, and if you read this, (my tongue is in my cheek here at the thought of the millions who read my never updated blog) how then do you proceed? How do you live out practically the belief that God made you the way He did on purpose and that accepting this gives Him glory??

Oscar Wilde said "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." I've always loved that, and felt it to be one of those unattainable pieces of wisdom people aspire towards vainly. Maybe it isn't an empty thought, though.....

Monday, March 08, 2010

New love and It Can't Be Monday. :)

Here's what I said to Nathan:

"I love you Dear, BUT, I've found someone new. His name is Art. He's younger than you, he never looks at other women, in fact, I'm the only woman that he lets touch him. He does whatever I ask him to, whether it's choping, mixing, shredding, slicing or pureeing. He's black, deliciously black and beautiful. He might get dirty working hard serving me, but I can just throw him in the dishwasher and he comes out shiny and clean. Last night I said to him "Cuisin, my love, how did I ever get along without you? You've made my life so much easier and more fun. Because of you, I can make soup, hummus, stirfry, lemon slices, focaccia dough, and a multitude of other wonderful things, all with mere seconds spent." No offense, Nate, but you could never be to me what Cuisin Art is. Don't worry, we're very happy to stay here with you. The three of us can be something beautiful."

So, yes, I am in love with my wonderful new food processor, a 14 cup Cuisinart. I got it on Friday. So far I've used it to make garlic and spinach stuffed twice baked potatoes, Jamaican tomato soup, stir fry, and tonight I'm making roasted red pepper hummus (which is fabulous with blue corn chips from Target., by the way). It's black chrome and super heavy. It shreds fresh herbs super fast, purees garlic and shreds beets, carrots, and anything else I want it to. It can also slice potatoes for chips, knead dough and is a snap to put together and clean. And, the best part, I got it on a HUGE sale, combined with a 30% off coupon which made it less than half the original price, and when I called Nate to ask him about it he said "Go for it!" without any equivocation. That was such a blessing! It's my early Mother's Day, Birthday, Anniversary gift. :)

In other news, this morning while Ian was doing his reading lesson, he turned to me and said "You know who I love more than anyone else in the whole entire world?" I was thinking it would be Bandit, or maybe Daddy, or Lily, his cousin. But no, he went on to say "It's you, Mama!" It was so sweet, and totally unprovoked, just a beautiful random Ian-ism. Like last week when I was reviewing his vowels with him and said "a-e-i-o-u" and he said "OOOOH, I-O-U, like 'I owe you a cow!'" Like this a commonly used phrase. Yeah. Most of the time his random wanderings are pretty out there and you don't know what he's talking about, but this time was wonderful. It totally made my day. Other things that made my day, in no particular order:
  • Feeling the sun on my face outside with Claire this morning
  • Having our first picnic of the year on our picnic table by the sandbox
  • Watching the fat brave robins hopping and pecking out on my lawn
  • Seeing the fencing in the back yard that Nate is going to put up so we can do a garden.
  • Happy memories of last night, food and fellowship and fun with friends and family. fffffff
  • Only having to spank Grace once so far today. (Seriously, this is good)
  • Noticing George sign his Science paper "George the Magnificent."
  • Looking forward to reading before bed tonight "On the Way Home", Laura Ingalls Wilder's journal on her trip to Missouri
  • Hearing Ian zip through his reading lesson this morning, then later him telling me that what he learned in Science today was that "There are 12 foot long worms that live in South Dakota, um, I mean Africa."
  • Eating leftover Jamaican Tomato Soup and GSTB potatoes
  • Going over plural and proper nouns with George. English makes me happy.
  • Doing a Hello Kitty puzzle with Grace
  • Sauteed kale and mushrooms with my eggs this morning. It's amazing how much better I feel all throughout the day when I have kale for breakfast.
  • Talking to my brother this morning, sharing jokes only he and I would understand and laughing til we cried
  • Planning a trip to visit said brother and wife and wonderful sweet children, including my precious neph Egan, who called me a few weeks ago and said "Auntie, can you come to my birfday??" Who could say no to that??
  • Seeing my boys make connections from Old Testament prophets to their lives now.
  • Clean, fresh, flannel sheets on my bed
  • Saying "Aahh" when walking into my clean bathroom, instead of my normal "Man, I really need to clean up in here!"
It's just been way too fun of a day to be a Monday, or rather, I suppose opening my eyes to the blessings around me makes me aware of the many gifts the Lord gives me on a continual basis.