Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Mommy Test

Last night I was out with some friends eating onion rings and chasing them down with an entire bottle of Tums. Someone mentioned they heard a study that you actually lose 8 percent of your brain cells during pregnancy. Being the math genius that I am, I quickly calculated 8 times 5 is 40! I am only operating at 60 percent! That explains a lot. One of the girls wondered if we might be able to qualify for disability pay?

But then I got this information, I hope it adds a smile to your day! (Then be sure to go on and read My Storm Rages On - it's much more important than this!)

The Mommy Test
I was out walking with my 4 year old daughter. She picked up
something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I
took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that. "Why?"
my daughter asked. "Because it's been on the ground, you don't
know where its been, it's dirty and probably has germs" I
replied. At this point, my daughter looked at me with total
admiration and asked, "Mommy, how do you know all this stuff? You
are so smart." I was thinking quickly. "All moms know this stuff.
It's on the Mommy Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you
be a Mommy."

We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but
she was evidently pondering this new information.
"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you
have to be the daddy." "Exactly" I replied back with a big smile
on my face.

My Storm Rages On

Yesterday at Bible Study we were talking about the book of Job. It seems that it is so easy to love and praise God when things are good, but what happens when things don't go according to plan? This story is from Jenn Johnson, one of my college roommates. It's an honest and emotional account of dealing with their son and his special needs. I'm in awe at how they are dealing with all the difficulties his situation has brought into their family - I think you will be too. So here it is:

My storm rages on.

My eight year old son has uncontrolled seizures. He’s been medicated for six years and still has a few break through seizures every month.

My son has pervasive developmental disorder which is their way of saying he has autistic tendencies, but not quite enough to be diagnosed.

My son struggles to express his thoughts, which makes it hard to have a conversation with him.

My son processes the world differently than most people. I struggle to connect with him or communicate the complicated and subtle social world we live in.

My son feels the world around him is out of control and he fights for control. He has anxiety about new situations. He fights change.

My son is envious of his younger siblings and the privileges they receive because they are able to cope and handle situations that he isn’t able to handle.

My son lashes out and hurts others physically and verbally. He is irrational and unreasonable at times.

My heart breaks.

My heart battles feelings of guilt. Guilt for how I treated my son before I understood his disability. Guilt for wishing some days I didn’t have to deal with him. Guilt for feeling like I neglect my other children. Guilt for feeling selfish because my dream or longing for how my family would function and experience life is not being met. Guilt for thinking I have it hard when I know kids with much worse disabilities. Guilt because sometimes I think, “We could have bought a big screen HDTV with all that money we just spent on therapy.” Guilt for terrible thoughts I’ve had about how life would be easier without him, but then he’ll have a sweet, innocent moment or he’ll come and give me a hug without me asking for one which is so special because there has been a time when due to his sensory defensiveness he pushed our hugs away.

My heart battles feelings of envy. I envy typical families. I envy being able to go on vacations or attend functions with out the stress I feel about my son’s behavior. I envy other eight year old kids who can cope, be more mature, or have typical interests. I envy kids who participate in organized activities: sports, cub scouts, clubs, etc. I am envious of eight year old kids who have friends.

My heart battles feelings of grief. I grieve for my son and for how complicated and confusing life seems to him. I grieve for my dreams for my son. I grieve the typical family that I thought I would raise.

My heart battles feelings of loneliness. No one but my husband knows exactly how I feel.

My heart battles feelings of disappointment. As a parent there is that little part of you that enjoys hearing how your child is like you, I am disappointed because my son is not like me. I liked being involved in things, school was easy for me, I am friendly, etc. He is not like me.

My heart battles feelings of frustration. Even though I do everything I can to be a “good” caregiver and nurturing mom, it is still not working. He is still defiant, legalistic, rude, obsessive, etc. Sometimes I feel others are judging me for how I parent my children.

My heart battles feelings of exhaustion. My son requires a lot of energy.

My heart cries out for answers, for a cure, and for help.

My heavenly Father loves my son more than I can imagine or understand. He has a plan for my son’s life. He chose me to be his mother.

My heavenly Father supports me with loving family and friends who listen, cry, pray, and do everything they can to support us and help us. Even though I feel alone at times… I am not.

My heavenly Father wants me to be more like Him. The lightning in this storm reveals much about my pride, my desires, my sin, and my weaknesses and ultimately draws me closer to Him.

My heavenly Father longs for me to sit on his lap and bring my broken heart to Him.

My heavenly Father never promised me happiness. He promises joy even amidst my storms. I feel hope in knowing that He is in control and promises to work all things for good.

My heavenly Father’s plan may not be the same as mine. Do I trust Him with my storm? YES. I can’t imagine weathering a storm without Him.

Isaiah 25:4
"You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Discipline - It's Not Just For Kids

Just before Christmas we were at an event where Grant and I overheard a frazzled mother trying to get her boys to stop running around and acting crazy. She finally resorted to "Am I going to have to call Santa?" Even Grant thought that was really funny. I just saw her again the other day and the boys were again acting wild. I wonder what she will use to threaten them now that Christmas is 11 months away?

Discipline is something that we think about a lot as parents. We know how important it is for our kids. There are a million and one experts out there with all kinds of opinions, books and advice on what's best - and I doubt that threatening to call Santa is at the top of anyone's list!

Well, I'm no expert on discipline but I think some expert needs to remind me how important it is to be disciplined as an adult, parent and Christian. I was reading 1 Corinthians 9:27 and then I heard it in the the New Living Translation. It says,
"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise I feel that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."

There are a lot of days that I don't feel like getting out of bed, making breakfast, making school lunches, doing laundry or getting dressed. I don't want to get up and help Annie put her snow boots on for the 15th time for no apparent reason. I thought I was just tired (and I probably am!)

I don't want to get up early in order to get my devotions in. In fact, I don't want to do them at all. What do I want to do? Take a nap, sleep in, eat some ice cream and watch TV. So life quickly becomes a mess! Nothing gets done, everything and everyone in disarray and I am frustrated.

So I've been thinking about that verse a lot. Have you ever seen someone train for a marathon? I think they are kind of crazy but I bet they have to keep on running even when they are out of breath and their legs feel like rubber. I have to force my body into doing what I have to in order to serve God and my family. It's easy to let feelings of stress and tiredness turn into laziness.

I seriously thought about not having any Bible Studies this spring because it is A LOT of work and I don't feel like doing it. I realized that is the one place outside my family that I really feel like God wants to use me. And it is something I can do at this stage of my life - it's at my house and the kids can be here. But I do have to clean up and make coffee and I'd rather not most mornings!

I know rest is important too. I've been doing some studying on rest and I haven't quite figured it out yet. Maybe I'll have more to write on that in a few days. There are certainly times we must say no. But a lot of times rest seems to be resting in God to meet our needs. Often when I go out on a limb to serve Him, he provides the strength and energy that is needed. And often I end up feeling refreshed from my service. There are also times when God provides extra rest through Mike or a friend helping me out with the kids and giving me a break especially after some service that has been an extra drain on me.

Rest is a part of discipline. When I stay up too late because I want to "relax" I'm not being disciplined. The truth is there are times that I could use for physical rest that I foolishly waste! So obviously there needs to be a balance. But I need to be disciplined in my spiritual life so I don't fall apart and I need to discipline myself to meet the needs of my family even when I don't want to. And if I would be more disciplined, those needs wouldn't pile up and become such a burden to meet (like 10 loads of laundry)!

I'm pretty sure I won't ever become a marathon runner, but with God's help I can keep on doing the things he has called me to. I don't want to try to teach my kids discipline without doing it myself - I think that might disqualify me.

1 Corinthians 9:27
"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Proverbs 23:23
"Buy the truth and do not sell it;
get wisdom, discipline and understanding."