When you check every box

Massie Family-Massie Family-0018

This morning we had our first OT ( Occupational Therapy) appointment for our youngest daughter. Of course with a first appointment comes with it a file of papers to complete. Asking questions such as what her birthdate and insurance coverage was. It then turned to more pressing questions such as what was my diet like while I was pregnant. Did she lift her head at the appropriate developmental stage? What prenatal testing did I go through? What was her weight, her Apgar score and other things this mommy brain could hardly remember? By the fourth child I am lucky I remember her name much less to actually keep track of anything in a baby book.

Towards the end of the questions they asked if there was any additional information about “the mother” that they needed to know. I sat staring at the question. Wrestling with my thoughts whether the truth at this moment was something I could look over. Whether or not I could suggest something but not quite say it. After what seemed endless I wrote these words- “ After Emerson was born I suffered from postpartum depression and did not attach to her for quite a long time” I wanted to add…”I’m sorry, I blame myself for all of this”. Instead I signed at the bottom and left it at that.

This morning at the office I was handed more questionnaires, specifically about where she is right now. Asking questions about her social skills, her auditory and sensory processing and other issues that interfere with her learning and being six. As I read and began to answer the questions I realized how many boxes I had checked “frequently”. For a brief moment it was a sigh of relief that perhaps someone understood the issues that had never been given a name. That she finally would be given a language we could all understand. Yet as I sat there with tears streaming down my face another voice was going through my head…” This is your fault”;” You should have gotten her help years ago”. “It is your depression that did this”.” She doesn’t deserve this.”

Believe me I have enough guilt in my heart I didn’t need to carry anymore.

I sit now with Truth in front of me. Trying to remind myself that the words are not good, and pure and holy do not come from God. And all I can utter is “Jesus please.”

I fully comprehend that this is only the beginning of our journey with her. And to many of you this seems so minuscule. But for today. For where we are. I ask for grace.

Infomercials and other things I believe.

My nine year old likes to announce to us the latest infomercial that he has seen. He gives us all the reasons why we should invest “three easy payments” for the newest gadget. As his skeptical older sisters like to point out to him that just because it’s on TV or even the internet does not mean that it is real. His sweet tender heart cannot fathom that. That someone would try and sell us or tell us something that wasn’t real. He wants to believe.

I too within the last year have wanted to believe that everything that others were telling me or selling me was real. My husband likes to point out that my naivety about the world around me is one reason that he loves me. That I truly believe that people were good, and true, and that a plate of cookies on their doorstep would make anyone be my friend. I just wanted to believe.

But when it comes to my relationship with God is where I stop believing. At least that is what you would think if you heard my prayers or saw my anxiety level at times. That I really don’t believe. I want to believe but my actions and conversations at times play out differently. I am human. With a human heart. And my human heart although born solely to worship my Savior is swayed to believe others.

Believing that I am still the girl with a scandalous past. That it will always define me. I believe the voice that tells me I am always on the brink of another panic attack. I believe the voice that tell me to make idols out of people around me. And when they disappoint me I am easily frustrated. I am drawn to believe that I will never be pretty enough to keep my husband around. I listen to the voice that tells me that I am not smart enough to write the book that needs to be written. I fall asleep to the voice that tells me that the darkness will win and people are better off if it does. I believe the scale when it says that I am not and never will be the size I was in college. That I cannot be healthy and strong. I believe people when they tell me I am not who they need me to be. I believe the magazines and blogs I read that tell me that my kids need to be in better schools and that it is all my fault that I can’t give that to them.

Last Sunday in church though as I sat there listening to a song during communion I heard truth. I heard the voice of God so clearly whisper to me “ live in freedom”. I sat there with tears streaming down my face in awe of how perfect God is to me. He knew that my past had been on my heart for the entire service. That I sat through a sermon on Lust thinking that this was a sin that I did not struggle with so really it was a ”free pass Sunday” . I could just pray for those around me who struggled with it. Instead images of my past kept coming back to me and I found myself heaving tears. I couldn’t catch my breath. The vivid the images of myself in past situations from over 15 years ago still haunt me. As I sat there I knew that I still carried it. Carry it. Everyday it still defines me. I am still listening to it. Listening to the past that wants to clutch me there and never understand forgiveness. To experience freedom. And to hear truth.

Truth is….God. He alone can heal me. He alone is my comforter. He alone will protect me. His will alone will be done. He is my freedom. He is my love. He is my beauty. He is my father. He is my all in all. He is the beginning and the end. He has control. He is the only voice I need to hear. He is my truth.

faithful.

Today was the National Day of Prayer. I didn’t stand by the flag pole or go to any ceremony of special significance. I instead went to be with some of those that have been instrumental in these past few years. Women who prayed fervently for me when I didn’t know what to pray. Women who prayed for our sweet youngest before we even saw his face. Women who get all the “adoption issues” and laugh when there is nothing left to do. On this day of prayer though I am reminded while scooping out buttered noodles for all of our little ones to eat, that our God is so faithful. Nothing like buttered noodles and a house full of little children from all over the world to bring the National Day of Prayer to another level.

I was reminded so clearly this past Sunday about how far He has brought me. It was four months ago that I was dreading going to a large gathering at church. I didn’t want to go; I was afraid to go. The people. The questions. The answers I couldn’t give. The eye contact . I would have rather just hidden in the ladies’ room all night and hand out towels than have an adult conversation. I dreaded anyone asking about adoption. Uganda. My life. My heart. All of it made me want to wear a sign on my forehead that said “now an introvert” or “too damaged; stay away”. But I went and made it through and begged God to start healing me.

And then He healed.

Last Sunday as we gathered for our church’s corporate prayer and worship services I stood with arms open wide ready to receive what that Spirit has in store for me. I was no longer crying the whole way there trying to conjure up a story as to why I couldn’t speak with anyone. I still didn’t talk to as many people. And I am ok with that. I know what healing feels like. I don’t know the exact moment it happened. It took weeks, months, and long nights. I do know what it is like to not be afraid to wake up in the morning. I do know what it is like to have God so intimately speak to me and show Himself to me that I only I could see it. I do know that it is like to lay everything down at His feet. I do know what it is like to speak the darkness out loud and it lose its power over me. I do know what it is like to bathe myself in Scripture day after day just to be able to breathe. I do know what it is like to ask for help. I do know what it is like to feel the hand of Jesus lift me from the pit. I do know what it is like to have people I have never met in person before reach out to me and just encourage at just the right time.

I do believe in a healing God. I believe that HE heals. I do also believe that we need to participate in the healing. That we need to be honest with ourselves and others; that we need to die to ourselves every day. I believe that part of healing is realizing that I needed to take better care of myself. I had been separated from my kids for so long and then came back in a depression that I no longer wanted to miss out on life. Part of that is knowing that God gave me this body and mind and I need to take care of it. It honors God when we take care of what He has given us. I do know that He heals. I have felt it. I have seen it. I am a product of it.


 

This song has been my anthem.

circles.

Keep your circle small. Words a once die hard extrovert had ignored for years. I thought well they must be talking to my introvert friends when they say this. I thought I needed my friends all the time and the more the merrier. But that came with my people pleasing attitude. I wanted others to be happy. I wanted to be happy. All the time. I wanted to talk to strangers in lines and know their stories. I wanted to be available to anyone anytime to meet for coffee, play date, lunch, pick up their kids, watch their pets all the time I wanted to be available. You could call me day or night and I would probably pick up the phone. Or text and I will surely get right back to you. Can you say codependent much?

Before I even left to go to Africa this past fall there were signs that life had gotten out of control my circle had gotten so big that it was more like a circus ring. I wasn’t present anymore. I wasn’t a good friend. I sucked as a mom. And don’t’ even get me started on what kind of wife I was being. But so many people had supported us through this adoption and I wanted to make sure that I please them. I wanted to make sure that I had said goodbye to everyone. That I had taken every chance I could get to meet with my sweet friends and even people I barely new. Because if I was being an example for my church and faith community than I had better run myself ragged and burn out right? That is what being a “good Christian” is all about. Seven days before I got on the plane to Uganda I experienced my first full blown panic attack. I lay on my couch as my friend talked me off the ledge and told me what was going on with my body and spirit. I continued to have panic attacks until I boarded the plane. If that wasn’t’ a sign that I needed some space than I am not sure what it. In order to give myself space and room to actually think on my own God had me fly thousands of miles away and look myself in the mirror. In Africa I never experienced another attack. I was limited as to who I had contact with and the only communication I had with people back home was all dependent on if we had power that day. Yet they came back again before I even got on the plane to come back to the states this past November I knew my circle needed to be smaller. God had so clearly shown me that things needed to change. I was bringing home the sweetest little boy who was dealing with horrendous fears of his own. He needed space to grieve and this mama did too. Even the thought of walking in to the airport with all my family and friends there to welcome us home sent me into a panic attack. They continued throughout the next few months. Some days were better than others. Then there were days when I needed someone physically to remind me that I was ok. That I was safe. That God is faithful and He alone can save me. I asked for help. I actually participated in the help process. Many times we ask for help because we feel like it is the right thing to do but we fail to actually “do” the healing process. So I took meds, I changed the way I ate, I showed up for therapy, I stopped any alcohol consumption, I exercised my tail off trying to raise my serotonin levels, I said no, I stopped watching 99% of what I used to watch on TV. I am sensitive to what I see and hear. I choose to leave conversations. I choose to not be around those who make me anxious. I am not ready to have a house full of people yet. I made my circle much smaller. Although some are are upset with me that I cannot be who I used to be I need to be ok with that. I cannot meet up with them when they ask. I cancel when I feel that my anxiety is coming to the surface. I am not volunteering for anything without running it by my husband and family first. I try and avoid being away from my family especially during the week. I confide in only a couple of people. I need to feel safe . I want to feel safe. I am healing. And in healing my circle is small.

“ It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. There must be times when you keep your bridge drawn and have the opportunity to be alone or with those whom you feel close. Never allow yourself to become public property, where anyone can walk in and out at will. You might think that you are being generous in giving access to anyone who wants to enter and leave, but you will find yourself losing your soul.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

stop trying to be laura ingalls

One of my mentors recently called me out on some things. Okay, perhaps not so much as a mentor but my therapist. Don’t go all “judgy judgy” on me, we should all pay for some sound advice sometimes. She let me know that I was not Laura Ingalls and needed to stop acting like it. Ok. Perhaps she didn’t use those exact words it was more like “why are you acting like you can do everything for everyone all the time?”

I look at Pintrest and see all of these amazing ideas. I scan Facebook to see supermoms making their own detergent, homeschooling, and still taking a shower every day and I wonder where did I go wrong? Ever since I came back from Uganda I have felt this overwhelming need to “make- up” for all the time I was gone. I have been determined to be a better mom. A better wife. A better friend. And apparently the measure all of that was figuring out what everyone else was doing better at. So I had been cooking these amazing meals with all the food groups included. Packing lunches that the kids would love to eat. There would never be the infamous cafeteria trading going on with my kids. I even have been making our own bread. From scratch. Like I forgot they made bread and sold it at the stores already sliced. Telling myself that this is how I was going to show my kids that I loved them. That I was sorry I had left them for so long. That I would never leave them again for so long. I thought that I was speaking their “love language” of non- processed foods. You can imagine how well this all went. It took about one month. One month of non -processed foods, amazing dinners, a prescription of Xanax and too many trips to the therapists office to discover I had hit rock bottom.

Apparently when you have five young children, your hormones are a wreck, you are reintegrating into your family and world, it is not a good time to raise the standards on yourself. And the standards that I had set for myself were beyond unattainable or even acceptable. No one ever told me that I needed to do all of these things. This is just what I had told myself. That in order to obtain my position as a loving mom I needed to at least do as well as all the moms on Facebook and Pintrest. But there I was flat on my face in a pile of flour wondering who I was supposed to be. And then I learned this. Again. I just needed to be present. Just there. I just needed to breathe and be in this moment. Not the moments that I lost. Not in the moments that may or may not happen. Just the moment of now.

So here we are. I bought bread. And they really like it. And I am present. And it is just where I need to be. I don’t need to make my own detergent to be a good mom. I can decide that some of my kids need to go back to public school. I can make macaroni and cheese from a box. And they will be ok. They will thrive. Because I am here.

four weeks in…

i am not a fast learner. as beth moore would say…God needs to keep you in the mouth of the whale a while longer than the rest of us. so lessons i need to learn don’t come to me so quickly. and let me tell you. i have alot of lessons to learn.

but as far as home school goes i am learning a little quicker. maybe.

so i will share with you all of the wisdom i have acquired in the last four weeks.

now don’t write these in pen or even a post-it. they might change by next week.

1. write everything in pencil.- every lesson plan. every thought. every idea. every field trip. write it in pencil- that way i can so change it and not feel bad crossing everything off.

2. its ok that they don’t do their work sitting at the table. or sitting anywhere. in fact i encourage laying on the ground or in their tree fort.

3. read the bible out loud. ( ok this one i so stole from a friend of mine. ) she suggested that when they read the bible out loud it gives them a confidence to speak in front of an audience. i also think that God’s word is so powerful and true that any chance we get to speak the truth out loud we should.

4.it’s ok to say no. and i don’t mean just to my children. i mean to all of the people who know i am home and think that it means i am available all day every day for any need they have. nope. i’m not. i need to say no. i need to say no so i can say yes to my blessings. i have chosen to stay home with them . i have chosen to serve them. i have chosen to learn beside them. so i need to say no.

5. grace should be my middle name. its not. but it should be. because grace is what i need. i need grace for myself. that i am going to mess up. and boy have i. but also grace for the blessings. they need more praise and less correction. more catching butterflies and less studying them. more cuddling and less arguing. more reading and less tv. ( although i so want to throw it out the window once and for all…but then the teacher would be really upset when world cup came on).

6. to laugh more. just laugh. belly laugh. and then take a picture.

so this is the wisdom that i have acquired in four weeks. don’t be blown away. i know its alot.

but do know this. i didn’t initially choose this type of education. God did. He asked me to protect their souls. and this is where He led me to.

and i know. i know that i know that i know that He is working through me. there is no way that i would have ever home schooled a year ago. never. but then He began to work on me. and it is only. only by His strength that i get up every morning. and check off one more week….