Sunday, February 1, 2015

Friends and jealousy



Friends and jealousy. Can you truly be friends with someone when you are jealous of them? At our MOPS group this month, we have been discussing how too often, we compare ourselves to others, especially other moms/parents. It’s so hard to break that habit, to try to measure up to someone or something else. We live in this media-saturated, facebook-filled world where everyone tries to present themselves with their best face, wearing rose-colored glasses. We always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. We are a culture that is rarely satisfied with what we have, constantly wanting the next best thing.

So… what do you do when someone you care about gets something you don’t have, but would like very much? How do you handle it?

Two verses, recited to me tonight by a kid in my Awana group, helped me gain perspective: (Prov 17:17) “a friend loves at all times” and “abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.”

Selfishness is not a virtue, NOT something we should be striving for or cultivating. 
My own selfish ambition and vain conceit should never be allowed to trump someone else’s happiness, accomplishments, or good news. So tonight I found myself pasting on a happy smile, opening my arms, and saying “Congratulations!” The friend doesn’t need to know that I might not mean it in my heart quite yet. 

But one day soon, hopefully I will. 

Today, I thank God for you

Today is the day that I THANK GOD for my second daughter.
Six years ago, she was a one-month-old baby fighting for her life.
Exactly six years ago at this time, she stopped breathing in her daddy's arms, in the middle of an ER triage room. Six years ago she was hospitalized with a near-fatal case of RSV. For seven days she fought as hard as she could.... ripping out IV lines and monitor leads, crying silent screams through her air vent, sucking up nutrients through a tiny... until the infection cleared up and left her little body. We spent 3 additional days in a step-down care unit, and ten days later, we got to come home. Finally!
They were the ten absolute worst days of my life. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it, all of the stress and monitors and sleeping in a hospital chair for a week, sitting in the corner, pumping ever 3 hours...  Initially, it took them about 36 hours to get back test results and figure out what exactly was wrong, why she was so sick. So they immediately pumped her full of (completely unnecessary, ineffective) antibiotics. For the first 3 or 4 days, there were a lot of ups and downs, and we simply weren't sure if she would pull through. And I had never been away from Hannah for more than one night, let alone a week and a half. It was torture for all of us.
It could have been fatal. There could have been quite few other ways that the story ended. By the time we left the hospital, I was 6 weeks post-partum, and feeling more emotional than I had been in the first place! I could have focused on the what-ifs, could have second-guessed our decisions with the medical teams, could have wondered and worried about what would have happened if we had driven to the hospital just a few minutes or an hour later. But I had to put the doubts out of my mind, and we chose not to focus on all of those things - because they didn't really happen. She was ok. She survived.

Today she is a lively, silly, stubborn, healthy six year old,
and she has never had any lasting effects from the RSV.

I am so thankful for you today, my daughter.

We thank God for you.

A friend gave this to me while A. was hospitalized.
I came across it a few weeks ago. It still means a lot to me. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ecclesiastes

This week, I am in a sad place. I spend the hours trying not to cry, holding it in, feeling numb, watching the clock move slowly, slowly, towards bedtime and quietness again. Then the quietness is deafening and lonely, Still, I relish the selfish chance I get during the night hours to be still; I revel in the moments when I have to care for no one but myself. Until the morning comes again, and my little human alarm clocks start the day for me all over.

Lately, I have been feeling like I'm living in the Bible book of Ecclesiastes: "Meaningless! Everything under the sun is useless." Is anything I do WORTH something to anyone else around here? Does it have eternal value, or a fleeting value? I've had quite a few disappointments this week. Sometimes it feels like I should have a nice pity party for myself. But I can't! I don't have the chance to take a shower, or eat food while it's still hot, or sit on the couch without being mobbed, much less process and grieve my losses.

I am in this sad place, but I know that my circumstances are not the end. My circumstances change daily or hourly or weekly. I know that we need to praise in the good times and the bad, not just when we feel like it. So I press on, and I cling to the hope of what is good and pure and right, and I continue to try to do the next thing that God has put before me.

Check back next time for a lesson on Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A series of unfortunate events...

Ok, so I'm being slightly dramatic, but at our house tonight, there was a series of unfortunate events. First, 1 out of 5 kids didn't want to finish eating their dinner. Then, when the other kids wanted dessert after completing their dinner, aforementioned kid threw a fit. It wasn't pretty. Then the kids argued about what movie they would watch, what flavor popcorn they wanted with the movie, and continued to argue over seating arrangements. It was actually quite pathetic. But all in good fun.

And talk about fun... When kids went upstairs to brush their teeth and get ready for bed, someone (not that anyone's confessing!) was a little too enthusiastic about using the toilet paper, or maybe they flushed too many times.... I don't know, they're not saying... but the toilet overflowed. Just at the right moment, as I was putting the baby in bed, there were horrific screams coming from upstairs... "Mom! MOM! HELP! COME QUICK! Oh no, it's going to overflow! IT'S OVERFLOWING! Ahhh...!" and so on.

Five minutes, four towels and 1 plunger later: problem solved.

But the fun didn't stop there! As I was helping with bedtime and cleaning up a few last things... a needle, that had somehow been lost and embedded into the carpet, punctured my thumb. It went hard and deep. It hurt. A lot. And it bled. A lot. (But for the record, I didn't cry!) So we talked about first aid while I cleaned up the blood. Someone got me a band-aid, another brought me ice. They were sweet.

All of the above events put together meant that I am getting virtually no down-time tonight. Usually, I crave my regular ME time at the end of every day. I need a little bit of peace and quiet to wind down and process our day, and begin to relax before I am ready to fall asleep. I like to watch a Netflix show, read a book, or spend some time crocheting before bed. But tonight, that isn't going to happen, because my eyelids are about to close, and 4 out of 5 kids are still awake, and they are taking turns coming in and out of my room at random, and it is now 10:30pm.

And you know what? Some days it would really bother me, to not get that alone-time. But today, I don't mind it. I cherish the time I have with the kids (my kids, as well as other people's kids). More and more, I am realizing that my own selfish desires are just that: petty and selfish. Just because *I* want to do something doesn't mean that it's the best thing for me to spend my time doing. Even little things, things that aren't necessarily bad, like playing a game, or finishing that book on my nightstand, are not worth upsetting my kids or losing sleep about. I need to be a good example for these little people.


A friend of mine posted a picture this afternoon that looked something like this: 
Three Stupid Things KDP Select Critics Need To Stop Saying
She make a joke about it, trying to make light of it. 
Then she said something that hit me: "It's not worth yelling about $3."


She is totally right. I do my fair share of yelling most days. I have been trying to think of ways to curb it and stop it. As a family, the kids and I are memorizing an encouraging Bible verse every week. (This week it was 1 Thess. 5:11) We also listen to only uplifting songs and stories while we're in the car. Most of the time that helps to give us a wider perspective.

So, the series of unfortunate events that occurred at my house tonight... weren't necessarily fun; however, I didn't get too bent out of shape, I didn't yell at anyone (although I did say "OWWW!" when my thumb was sliced open), and I didn't have a little pity-party when I couldn't finish whatever it was that I wanted to do all by myself tonight.

Slowly but surely, I am making progress.

I hope you are too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Saying "goodbye" is so hard

This week, I have been an emotional wreck. We were told that the baby won't be staying with us after all. The judge ordered baby to be reunified with family members. We have to give the baby back. It's going to be one of the hardest things I ever have to do. It was hard enough at 4 months old.... But to stay with us another 8-10 months, then do it all over again? It is going to be heartbreaking. It is going to crush the spirit of my oldest child. It might very well put us in counseling. I will question my role as a foster parent. What good have I done? What is the purpose of all this heartache and broken-ness?

Because we don't have an exact timeline, because the transition is supposed to be "gradual", this means it's probably going to be a drawn-out, confusing, emotionally draining process. Not just for me or my family, that goes for everyone involved. The other family will probably be an emotional mess too. Maybe in a good way. Maybe they will feel overwhelmed by their new responsibilities. Maybe they will be overwhelmed with love, and have a little bit of empathy for me, now that the tables are turned. Whenever and however this case ends, it will definitely mean a lot of waiting and wondering and uncertainty in the meantime.

As much as I don't want to say goodbye to this little person that is part of our family, I realize that it is best for the baby to be with relatives, if that is possible. I understand that they need to have a chance at raising the baby, that it is their right to do so. I know they love this baby a whole lot.

Even though I know these things to be true, it is still a crushing blow for our family. Is it fair? Is it really in the best interest of the child to take her away from the only stable home she's ever known?! Who was there for all the sleepless nights? Who was there for all the milestones, first roll over, first foods, first crawl, first word, first birthday, first steps? ME! But who will the baby remember? Not me!! Not us! And that kills me inside. I know that it is our job as foster parent to let them grow and then let them go. I keep telling my kids that fostering means "for a little while". And even if you are lead to believe adoption is the end goal, it doesn't mean that's how it really ends.

However, there is hope. God has promised that his plans are better than ours (think Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 16:9, and Isaiah 55:8). If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it would be that the dreams and plans I have for myself aren't necessarily what God has in mind for me and my life. And sadness aside, I know that there is some good news on the horizon... I'm just not authorized to share it with you quite yet.

In the meantime, if you call or email or leave me a message and I don't answer, it's not because I don't want to talk to you. It's because I can't talk for very long without getting tears in my eyes. Right now it's hard to visualize what our daily lives will be like in a few weeks or a few months. I have to learn how to un-attach myself from this little person who is, for all intents and purposes, my baby! I'm trying to hold it together, moment by moment, and get through the day with all of my children, without upsetting them too much. (Of course the children don't know all the plans, logistics and legal details, and they shouldn't.)

So for now, I am trying to enjoy these days as much as I can, not clutter them too much with commitments, and I am not sharing them very often with others. I hope that makes sense. Maybe next month or next year, my friends will understand and forgive me :)