Grant me patience
to deal with my

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Make it perfect.

Tonight, I sat in the silence after all the kids were in bed and inspected my home. It's decorated for Autumn and Halloween, my most favorite time of the year. I have scarecrows and pumpkins, earthy pinecones on the end table and kitchen table and tree branches in a vase on the piano. I wrapped each branch with wire that has little red berries attached. It's my most favorite thing in the living room. I have owls in colors of browns, rusty yellows, burnt orange, and tan placed here and there, a leaf garland wrapped around the stair railing, and a fabric fall banner hung across the large mirror above the couch. In a small frame I made a scrapbook paper spooky tree that says "Boo!" and next to it in a larger frame are the words "Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace." 

Since we moved into this house, my goal was to fill every space with color and art and words that portray what is most important to me. Almost every picture on the wall I used my hands and paint and heart to create. I want everything to have meaning. The Mary Engelbright pictures in the frames in my kitchen are a daily reminder of a sweet church leader who became my adopted "mom" during my teenage years. She was one of a small crew who pulled me through some very turbulent times. I always want to have reminders of her and all the good she embodies, in my home. It makes it better. I love having my children's art work on display as well. It's probably just a mom thing, but I swear every piece of art they create I find something beautiful in it. It is just so sweet and pure and full of innocence and imagination. It brings a good spirit into my home. 

As this house slowly starts to become mine, I grow to love it more and more. Every night as I lock doors and turn off lights, I can't help but linger for a few seconds and take everything in again. This house isn't spectacular. It has flaws and quirks. It isn't huge or fancy. It's old, the outside is outdated, there's still plenty of work to do and projects to complete. But I LOVE this house. It is warm and lived in, sunshine spills into the kitchen and living room, we can see the sunset every evening, and have a beautiful view of the big tree in the backyard that is currently covered in yellow leaves that are falling everywhere and covering everything. This house is my safe haven and sanctuary. 

As I sat in the silence I started thinking about things. About me. Who I am. Who I used to be ten years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. Everything that has happened, everything that has come together up until that very moment. 

I used to have this weird quirk in junior high and high school. I counted things. I would tap each finger, back and forth, on the tip of my thumbs, counting until I came to the perfect number. I had rules made up that I had to follow like no stopping on odd numbers, and certain even numbers would be more preferable than others. I would count my steps, beads on the back of the Greyhound bus seats we rode to cross country or track meets, tiles on the floor, patterns on fabrics, books on shelves, lights, sometimes I would even count how many times I would chew my food. Always there were rules. I would change things up a bit every now and again and use words instead of numbers, even count rhythms from songs, count the ticking sound of car blinkers, and even the sound of the dryer. I'd say this weird obsession began when I was 12 years old. It developed during the climax of my parents drug addiction. I'm not a psychologist but I figure it was a coping mechanism I used to deal with the trauma. Counting was something I could control in a home that was very unstable. As I grew older, the counting became something I did often when I was stressed, anxious, nervous, or in a position that was out of my comfort zone or control. Very few people were aware that I did it. 

As I slowly learned to adjust and heal from the horribleness I experienced living with my parents as meth addicts, the counting obsession stopped. But I do suffer from perfectionism still. I lived in a drug house that was filthy and was always lacking in food, toilet paper, and all the basic necessities, including power and water, where every window was covered with sheets and blankets, with trash and junk piled everywhere inside and outside, weeds waist high, broken windows, holes in doors and walls, even gunshot holes in my parent's bedroom that resulted from a fight between them one day behind locked doors. We heard the screams and the gunshots and I was terrified that my dad had killed my mom. Somehow, the terror at home drove me to be an over-achiever in school and sports. I managed to be a straight A student, attended seminary, played in the school orchestra, was a member of art club, German club, and NHS as well as a successful athlete, doing cheerleading for two years, and cross country and track from 7th grade until 12th grade. I don't remember ever vocally telling my friends outright, "My parents are drug addicts." In junior high I did everything I could to keep it a secret. Even though we had no phone, I would pretend to use the payphone outside the gym after cheering at a game, so others would believe I was calling home to get a ride. In all reality, my worst nightmare was to have anyone give me a ride home and find out where I lived and discover my secret. So I waited until most everyone had left and cleared out, and then I would walk home in the dark. Only a few friends actually knew where I lived, and even with them was I very hesitant to share many details with about my home and parents and life. 

Whatever all the crazy complicated reasons were for my actions, I carry with me a very strong desire for perfectionism. These days it manifests in mild OCD issues. When my house gets cluttered or disorderly, if pillows aren't straight, bed covers are lumpy, toys disorganized, the floor not swept, counters not clean and such, it makes me feel out of control, I can't focus like I'd like to and it affects my ability to be productive. Not that my house is spotless, because it is usually mainly just mediocre, but I attribute my sometimes inability to "let the housework go" and enjoy the little moments to the post traumatic stress I suffered from some very horrible experiences. Of course I do believe that "cleanliness is next to Godliness" and that having a home that is in order is more conducive to the Spirit dwelling there more consistently. I believe that children are less over whelmed in more organized homes and play better and for longer with less toys. Having a home that is clean and tidy really does bring me great satisfaction and cleaning is actually very therapeutic for me, but I definitely can feel the inward struggle I have to maintain balance between my often unrealistic expectations and the reality of living with four children and a husband. 

But all of this history made me think about how so often we build on the outside what appears to be "perfect" when there is so much more to the story on the inside. For me, I work hard everyday, to make sure my family stays on top of all the housework. It's important. I'm motivated by many factors. But don't think for one minute that just because my house is always clean that it means I'm perfect and that I will judge you if your house looks differently. There's always going to be a part of me that maintains a clean home because I'm broken inside. We are all broken in some way, and it manifests itself in different ways. And tonight I was thinking how beautiful that concept really is. The broken parts of us. We shouldn't hide the brokenness. Let it come out and tell your story. I'm finding more and more that the broken me is so much better than the perfect me. 

Just don't be afraid to be real, and to to be authentic, and to let everyone see all the places where you have been put back together. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

WHAT just Happened???

Recently, we have been witnessing first-hand how BAD Kya's allergies really are! We discovered that she can break out in hives after sitting in the same place where someone ate tree nuts, in this case, cashews. One night, I ate a couple handfuls of cashews while sitting in my bed. The next morning, Kya sat on my side to watch a cartoon on my TV and she broke out in hives. And it's not like when I eat cashews, I get them all over. But there must have been enough of the oils that got on the blankets that it affected her.

We also learned that we cannot have tree nuts in our house at all! Only a few weeks ago, while we were at the store, we passed the nuts, and the cashews just looked SO good! I suggested to Russ that maybe we could buy some, since Kya is older and knows she cannot have them. He was wary, but I insisted, so we bought a can. We made sure to keep the can up high, and we only ate them after the kids were in bed.


One day, Russ took a handful, put the can back on a shelf in our room below the TV, and one tiny piece fell onto my desk below. Just one. It wasn't even a whole cashew! And guess who found it? Kya. And she ate it, ironically, as I was standing right next to her and talking to her about her tree nut allergy.

The second she put it in her mouth, she started reacting. She then took it out, handed it to me, and asked "Mommy, is this a tree nut?" You can imagine how I reacted! Actually, I think I was pretty calm. The inside of her mouth started swelling, then the coughing started, the gagging, then the throwing up, and there were hives around the one corner of her mouth and down that side of her neck, and all over her tummy and back! During all of that, we administered Benadryl and got to use the epi-pen for the first time!

She was really brave, cried a lot, but handled it very well. Luckily, the epi-pen did its job, and she didn't have to take a trip to the ER!

We learned our lesson. We will not be buying any tree nuts again! Because this is Kya here....she will find them!

The next week, she had another allergic reaction. (this one is of the pictures posted) We are not sure what exactly she reacted to. The only logical thing I can think of is we had fresh lemons that night with salmon that I baked for dinner. Right before dinner, Kya took a bite of lemon, then complained a minute later that her mouth felt funny. At dinnertime, she wouldn't eat, and kept saying her tummy felt funny. So I put her in the bath instead. As I rinsed her head with water, she rubbed her eyes, and that's when she started reacting to the unknown allergen.

Minutes after she rubbed her eye, I noticed two little hives under her right eye. So I got her out of the bath immediately, and then she started coughing non-stop, and started gagging and telling me she was going to throw-up. Her eye just kept swelling bigger and bigger. We gave her Benadryl, which seemed to help the coughing a bit, but her poor eye just got worse!

Her eye stayed swollen all night long, and when she got up the next morning, both eyes were swollen. I took her to the Children's Clinic, and we got an oral steroid prescribed to help the swelling, though it took 48hrs before she was looking like herself again, and only had a "black eye" remaining.

I love this last picture! Even though she had been through a lot, she was still very happy and didn't act too bothered by it all. We realized we need to educate her more about her food allergies, as well as the rest of the kids, because a little tree nut to her is life-threatening.

She gets to visit our local immunologist in a few weeks and get tested for further food allergies, so I am anxious to find out the results. It could be lemons, or maybe it was something the lemons came in contact with, or maybe it was the fish, or something totally unrelated! Either way, we are learning quite a bit, and hoping we don't have to use another epi-pen for a long while!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tender Mercies

* Russ has been encouraging me to blog more like I used to. It's a lot harder these days. Our days are full of everything they should be, from the mundane chores to the crazy hyper kids bouncing their faces off the furniture! So, it is easy to see how writing got lost down in the cushions. But in my earnest effort to bring it back, here is a post:

So...I am attempting to write something that has kinda remained a bit jumbled in my head. It is more than likely it will come out just as jumbled. But for posterity's sake, it's gonna be written none the less!

Okay, so, first off I think of myself as a pretty average, normal person. I am happy most days. I work hard for what I have and what I want and need. I know I have some weird quirks and I for sure make mistakes. Sorry guys. Yeah, raising my hand to the "Who is not perfect?" question. Clutter still drives me crazy. Also, crumbs on the kitchen floor. And I get so annoyed when I step on a wet spot with socks on! Nothing is ever as clean as I want it to be, and I always think I need to be doing so much more.

But there is this little shadowy thought that tries to work its way into my average, normal, mostly happy and imperfect life, and it sounds a lot like this:

"You are invisible."

Ok. So bear with me here. I am going to be a bit vulnerable and honest for a minute. I know, you are probably like, "What? You are SO not invisible!" I know! I really do. But that doesn't stop thoughts from trying to tell us so. Let me ramble: so, as a mom, I do a lot of things each day. I wake school-aged kids up, usually later than I should, for school, make sure they are fed, clothed, and off to school on-time....sometimes tardy....but mostly on-time except that one time I was really sick and I slept right through my alarm and they were an hour late! oops! Then I feed the two littles at home, clothe them, and monitor screen time while trying to endorse other healthy and creative activities. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! But I do it anyways, because I have always liked a good challenge. I think I clean a LOT. Pretty much I end up cleaning something, or cleaning UP something just about every hour of the day. But hey, I am a mom, it is just part of the deal. I am actually getting really good at cleaning, and fast too. Thank you offspring. I try to feed my kids healthier snacks and stay away from foods packed with preservatives, but don't judge me when you run into my cart at Wal-Mart and I have a package of Oreos or a box of Captain Crunch in it. Honestly, the Captain Crunch is more for Russ anyways. And we all know Oreos are one of my weaknesses. I have to pack into one afternoon with four kids lunch, naps, one on one time, snack time, reading time, chore charts, outside play, homework, and dinner prep. We also encounter the usual play dates with friends, babysitting, responsibilities with the PTO and church callings, as well as the unexpected that knocks at the door here and there too. And then there's laundry. It deserves its own sentence. Can't forget FHE. Visiting Teaching...that gets missed more than it gets done. Also, those random acts of service. And evenings packed with urging kids to eat "five more bites", surviving the bewitching hour that turns kids into little monsters, trying to remind monsters to brush teeth and get on pajamas and to stop playing around, and for crying out loud, stop putting the Hungry Hippo balls in the heater! Then we have drinks for dry little throats, and breathing treatments upside-down on the couch, that trip to the bathroom that was supposed to be done and finished a looooong time ago, scripture reading with most likely crying in the background, prayers that usually have an accompaniment of crying as well because it is too hard to take turns, then hugs, kisses, bonks, lights out and the final "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" finale.


I promise I am NOT complaining. I actually get a weird amount of satisfaction from somewhat accomplishing a percentage of that ramble. I CHOSE this life. It is nothing and yet everything I expected it to be. Each day I have to choose what kind of mom I want to be. I can be distracted by Facebook and Pinterest or I can be distracted by my kids. I can be patient or impatient. I can make everything a battle or only the important things a battle. But at the end of the day, I made choices. And each choice does have an effect on the lives of my little ones.

But as a mom, sometimes I get lost in the ramble.

And that is where that sneaky little voice tries to creep in and say things like "You aren't important", "No one cares about you", "You are not good enough", "You need to do more", "No one appreciates or notices what you do" and that little bugger of a one that says "You are invisible."

The thing is, none of that is true. But there are times I feel pretty inclined to believe it all. Why? I don't know! But I have a feeling I am not the only woman who feels this way. And all of us need to STOP feeling invisible! Except for ghosts. You are. My apologies.

Anyways. One particular day, after weeks and weeks of me feeling like I was just giving, and giving, and working hard to be helpful and kind, patient, non-judgmental (working on that one still), optimistic and thankful, just giving and giving and giving....well, that shadow was making me believe that none of the favors were being returned. I am not nice because I want others to be nice back. I am nice, or at least give it a good try to be mostly nice, because I know it is the right thing to do. And one of the blessings is that usually good things come back to you. And good things have ALWAYS come back to me, tenfold! But this day I couldn't see it or feel it. I felt crummy and defeated. And as I went about my day CHOOSING to feel that way, I sent a little thought Heavenward that sounded a little like this: "Heavenly Father? Are you really there today? Can you really hear my prayer? Do I really matter?" And, me, knowing of course HE was hearing me, then put it out there, "Please, if you are aware of me, please just let me know today. I need to know."

And my day continued, full of the ramble.

This is where the "tender mercies" part comes in. For those of you who made it this far, congratulations. You are one of a kind! Anyway, that day a pretty special friend of mine, a friend who has lived far enough away that we have not even been able to see each other for years and years, but this friend, know who you are, the one who I just want to put in my pocket and carry around forever because of sheer awesomeness....well, she sent me a text message that day. And her simple words were exactly what I needed to hear. An answer to my prayer. And in that moment I knew I was loved. Loved by my God and Savior, loved by my friend, and loved by my family. I surely am not invisible. And though some might take advantage of me, expect much but return little of the favor, not notice or appreciate all that I do, there are so many, many more who love and NEED me for who I am and for what I can give.

So, I am going to keep on giving, keep on keepin on. And as for that little creepy shadow, well, it might try to hang around, and I might still try to feel inclined to believe it, but I know that when I pray, He is there, and when I speak, He is listening. I am HIS child and His love surrounds me. And I have a text to prove it. And a lifetime to write about so many more experiences that prove it too.

If you feel invisible, if you are wondering if God is aware of you, I urge you to pray and ask Him. He will answer, I promise you that.

And I promise you are awesome!

Every Woman MUST Hear This! from untilweflyaway on GodTube.