Monday, April 11, 2016

Truths found in the seeking

I've started this post several times but haven't had the time, or the clarity to put it all together til now. I'm so thankful for the way God works - when we can see the puzzle pieces falling into place! Hopefully this comes out as it is in my head and my heart!

The last few months it seems like we've had more and more conversations with the kids, understanding things from their perspective. General stuff - school, growing up, living with each other, friends, their feelings, etc. Also it seems like we've had more doctor appointments that have been straightforward about what the kids are dealing with - not just from a health maintenance standpoint, but giving us a glimpse into their day to day (hearing, vision, pain, stimulation, etc). Often, I think we (and really adults in general) forget how big and how real the challenges kids are facing! I know I do! I'm so glad to get that deeper understanding and to be able to talk about, though it often sparks some pretty interesting discussions. With the kids, depending on the challenge they're facing, it can take us a lot of ways, right?  Sometimes we trivialize the issue or their feelings, sometimes wonder why the situation happened to us/our kids, sometimes we blame whatever caused the issue. I've been really humbled hearing from their perspective, challenges they're facing.

When Landon was in this hospital last month, I read an article in a parenting magazine that asked how do you answer the question, "why me? why my child?". There were a lot of answers in the article from parents (and I think I would've answered this a lot of different ways over the last 6 years!), but the point of the article says our "answers will vary, but the importance is in seeking our own truth."

How true is that! In any change that's done to us, is natural to question why and try to make an understanding of it. Our answers will probably change as we move through - as we process, grieve, reflect, live. The quote says the importance is in seeking our own truth. Not taking someone else's, not happening upon, but is found IN seeking what makes sense, what's true for us. 

I think the process of seeking is just as important as what happened (the event, diagnosis, etc) and the truth that's found. Situations will keep happening and I need to continually seek and know myself and the journey I'm on. This isn't always pretty stuff - I know for me, I've wrestled with guilt, blame, resentment, envy for the life others lived that I wish I had (or I had planned). Working through this stuff has also given me crazy joy, gratefulness, hope too. Not going through life with a rosy sunglasses (!), but working through stuff changes you and can help give you a different perspective, right? I've written about this before if you're eager to read about my journey....and it wasn't a one time aha moment! :) 

Landon's last hospital stay, he ended up struggling to breathe on a ventilator because he aspirated his vomit from a seizure. There's definitely been "why my kid" thoughts, but that's not helpful for me. The overarching TRUTH I was reminded of yesterday at church, we live in a broken world, we're human and God is using us, our situations to show us Himself. God's plan is to bring us closer to him. So there's no room for the "why me, why my family" comments, it's the chance for us to cling to God. When we continue on in the challenge, through the challenge, despite the challenge - It's in those moments that it's obvious it's not us, but God! Use us, do a good work through us, bring Your glory!

In the conversations we've had with the kids about how they tick - they could be different yes, but no worse than anyone else...they're still beautiful creations. We're all jars of clay created not of perfect gold so God can use us and He can been seen. If we were perfect, would we depend on him and would others see Him living in us? 

When we talk about what their friends have said, how they've felt - we're human, but let God help you respond - us respond - and don't find your worth in your friends. Man, it breaks my heart to hear them feel left out, that they're starting to understand how people view others, but continue loving and being you! 

When we understand more from a medical standpoint how their lives are and likely will be impacted, it's frustrating to think of how to adapt, but you do and encourage them to keep striving, learning, enjoying life!

There's many truths and my journey has helped me really start to understand them. God is enough for all the challenges I'll face. Sometimes I need reminders when the the challenge seems bigger and more central. Perspective...Jennie...perspective! I pray I can help my kids turn to Him or start to straight up rely on God. I know they'll find their truths as they grow, and need to seek and find in their own time. I'm thankful for what my journey has taught me so far and the promise of what's ahead!

Chaos and Keeping my Eyes Above the Waves!

I honestly started this post months ago, but can pick up right where I left off because quite often lately I've been at my wits end with the kids and this whole parenting thing..I'm so thankful for a perspective change that has helped me break my cycle - just wish I would've turned to Him sooner! :)  I honestly don't know why, but I didn't think to bring my daily struggles, emptiness, from parenting to Him.  He's proven time and time again to take care of me with the big stuff, why haven't I given Him my daily?

There's been a lot more going on at work and outside of work, (it's IEP season for 3 kids, finishing some home projects, Owen's trying 2's, to name a few...) and it's not uncommon for me to feel behind the ball a bit.  Collectively, it feels like the kids have known the buttons to push and when my stress level are high, so when to strike! I know, they're also triggered by my stress but when I'm feeling like that, logic isn't really top of mind.    

I talked with Brennan, Hailey, and Brooke (to the extent possible) about what I saw as things they could do more of to help out. I feel like I'm repeating myself far too much, giving instructions for what I feel should be expected, really wanting (needing!) them to step up their game to help ME out.

Some of those talks went ok, but the change didn't last long (because they're young!), other times they were filled with emotions.  In one of those emotion-filled conversations with Hailey, she said it's just hard having 5 kids, I didn't see what she needed, etc...and she was right.  She knows she needs to be a team player (and is in so many ways!!), but looking back, she also needs to feel seen and heard.  The stress and emotions are catchy and Landon starts crying, Owen runs and gets into what seems like everything.  So easily, Brennan gets extra upset by all the energy in the house in the moment and has a hard time calming down.  Brooke talks louder to be heard and comes into the room, everyone's tolerance is low - and now we have a chaotic time.  Moments like this I crave the quiet and the still water mentioned in Psalm 23:2.

But today I realized, the rest of the verse - I don't happen upon the still water, the Shepherd leads me beside still water.  I need to be following the Shepherd and be listening for Him.  In church today we sang Oceans, by's the lyrics I really needed -

"I will call upon Your name

Keep my eyes above the waves
When the oceans rise, my soul finds rest

In Your embrace

For I am Yours, and You are mine"    

I was hoping for my eyes to stay above the waves on my own, but I need the Shepherd to lead me to the still water and I need to recognize I can't do it on my own, I need to call upon His name.  I will find my rest in Him.  I've felt pretty drained and let the things I'm doing add stress because I'm not finding daily "fill me up" rest in His embrace.  At church today, I really thought, has it really been a week since we've been to church?!  It has!  I need His embrace to keep me even keel - above the waves.

I wrote an apology letter to Hailey during quiet time and she wrote one back and gave me a deep hug, telling me how much she loved me.  Brooklyn finished up her all about me questionnaire tonight and she was asked who do you admire - and she said mom.  I'm thankful for the fill me up today!  My joy, my rest and my strength comes from You.  Not just in the big, but EVERYday!