The work of healing. What happens when you want to give up……

Earlier this week I was in full melt down mode. Like if my mom were here she would have put me in time out or sat me on the stairs for a “come to Jesus” moment. As a child I am sure that I through monumental tantrums. I was what some may call a spirited child, so it is no surprise that as an adult I continue to feel emotions big.

I texted my husband that morning by 9am and said I was done. I was winning the award for the worst homeschool mom ever. If there was an award for failure, I was the Michael Phelps of that Olympics. I said that I could no longer do this. Everyone was in tears and I was a person I never wanted to be. I was anxious and overwhelmed. No one was learning anything except that mommy may have fallen off the crazy wagon again and they all had front row seats to the show.

And because my husband is who he is, and because we are sitting our butts on a therapists couch every week, he texts back, “where is your list?”

You see he didn’t give me advice or agree with me. Or better yet bring a medal home.

He just heard me.

As women, as humans, we need to hear each other more. To ask before we give our opinion. To lead towards the answer, not give it.

My list. The list.

This summer I made a long list of what healing looks like.

What my heart ached and prayed for over my family. What would come alongside Jesus and help the healing process of our family that evil has torn apart. Because we know that Jesus can heal. He will heal. But we also know that we actually have to do the work. The work of healing. The work of believing. The work of inhaling and exhaling. The work of showing up and feeling.

So I put the phone down and went to look for the list.

I went to my room, sat on my bed and let the tears come as I read aloud…..

Water

Woods

Sunshine

Yoga

Reading

Writing

Exercise

Safe people

Music

Breathing

Crying

Therapy

Whole foods

Sleep

Exhaling

Quiet

Listening

Laughter

Space

Medication

Jesus…..

And most of all Jesus.

Nowhere on the list did it say Math. Or lesson plans. Or science experiments. Or Common Core. Nowhere did it say that my children needed to sit in a classroom and have seven hours of education to be healed. Or at the dining room table being drilled about the industrial revolution.

So why was I trying to push in that which was aching to be freed?

Please hear me. I believe in education. The husband is a public school teacher. I adore teachers. I love our elementary school we came from. I miss it every day.

But this year. Our now. Our reality is that healing and connection are far more important than anything they will gain being away from each other in school.

The condition of their heart and souls is of more importance to me than any grade they could ever bring home. More than any championship they could win. Or worth they gain from win on the court.

Present and healed are more important than schedules and rules.

I want my children to move forth from this year knowing that they were heard and understood.

That to heal you need to do the work.

And the work of healing cannot be found in a classroom right now.

And yet somehow by the first week in October I had already forgotten.

I forget all the time.

Just yesterday I was on my way to my therapist and I could feel the tears already making their way down my cheeks as I drove. I was miles away and already I was crying.

My body knew.

Knew where I was going and was preparing me to release it all.

My therapist tells me that this in itself is growth. That when we acknowledge the truth of what is going on, that this is a sign of courage.

So I go back to the list. One time this morning. Four times this afternoon. I go back and I read and pray through the list.

Remembering what my heart already knows.

Inhaling the truth of brokenness is painful.

Yet exhaling is the healing.

assessments.

This past week Ephraim’s teacher came for a home visit. The program that he is in for early intervention has it as one of their requirements that they visit the homes of their students. There is a higher risk of child abuse and neglect when the child has special needs or is labeled “at risk”. I was looking forward to her seeing how well he has integrated into the home environment. What I wasn’t looking forward to was the acting out that occurred the entire time she was here. He kept covering my mouth telling me to be quiet. He wanted her all to himself. He asked her to move in. It really was a highlight of my mothering career. My two other children home at the time then proceeded to answer the phone and play the bongo drums at the feet of the teacher. It felt like I was being taped for my own reality TV show on a network that no one would watch.

The report from the visit wasn’t what I was expecting. She mentioned several times how she was concerned how far behind he was. His language fluency as well as his social skills in comparison to his age was not measuring up. At first I was a little disturbed by her assessment of our sweet boy. And I wanted to say yes I know he is not at the correct developmental age. However, he is not even close to where he was a year ago. In this mama’s eyes he has come leaps and bounds from where he started from. And to compare him to a child the same age that was born and raised from birth with two parents in a first world country is just unfair.

Yet, this is how I compare myself. Daily I compare myself.

I love reading blogs. I am a bit of a blogaholic . There are blogs that I run across that I make a note to read later and then there are blogs that my smarty pants friends post and write that I learn so much from. But then there are the blogs that I follow religiously .They make me laugh and contemplate life and faith. For a long time though I only read adoption and mom blogs. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. But you know what I kept feeling? I am not good enough. I don’t homeschool my kids anymore. I am homeschool dropout. I must not love my kids enough then. I don’t make my own detergent. Therefore I must not care about the environment or the stench of store bought detergent on my children. My children also do not match. Like ever. I shop at thrift stores and clearance racks. That is it. So I must not care if my kids never make the GAP adds. I also am not a size 4. I think I was a size 4 in elementary school for a month or so but I will never be small. So that means I must not care about my health or how attractive I am to my husband anymore. I know this is not true. I do.

But this is what I do, I compare myself to standards that don’t make sense. They are not even in the same ballpark. Making assessments with women I don’t know. Trying to assess where I am today with women that I discovered are at least ten years younger than me. Here I am sitting in my self- examination pity party trying to mirror the lives of people that I have no business holding my worth up against .

I am basically telling God that where I am today is not good enough. That how far He has carried me . Emptied me. Healed me. Transformed me is not enough. And that is just not acceptable. Where I am is not where I’d like to be. But from where I was a year ago is only by His grace. And His grace is enough.

When my teenager teaches me.

I’m a complainer. I can be. I can be a whiner and child not getting her own way. If I feel discomfort or see a social situation that I think needs “changing” it is my first sinful instinct to complain. I have my mini temper tantrums and excuse them as “stress” or say “someone needs to deal with that”. If I have issues with my marriage I can complain to my girlfriends. If I have issues with my kids I check out every book in the library about the particular setback. I roll my eyes at the mom in Target not controlling her selfish children, ignoring the fact that last week that was me in the same situation. I see someone being treated unfairly and I can feel the righteous rage build up inside of me. I hear a mom screaming and cussing at her kids across the street and I call my husband at work telling him we are putting the house up for sale. Letting him know that I am sick and tired of having to tell the kids to come back inside to play because I just can’t stand the language being used any longer.

This past month though I have been convicted on so many levels about my pride and self- righteous attitude. I can go around complaining or signing the next petition for an action to be taken place but until I walk across the street I am nothing but words. This morning I got to witness high school students “do something”. As I was a part of “See You At The Pole “day. Where students, teachers, pastors, community members and parents are invited to come and pray for the school and students. I was humbled when I saw how many students came to be a part of the solution.

I have been adamant with my husband that sending my daughters to this particular high school sends a fear in me that has never settled. I cry and beg him to think about moving to a “better” school district every August. A school district where there is more parental involvement with higher test scores . Where our kids will have more opportunities with a better chance of good influence. So basically I have been asking to move to a “socially acceptable, suburban, no diversity, uppity school district where people can buy there problems away and this mom can feel like everything is ok.” Which is in fact everything we wanted to avoid when we moved here.

And then this morning happened. I stood back and watched high school students bow there heads and beg God. Beg God to be so present in their school that teachers would not understand what was going on. That the sadness that has plagued the school would be overcome by the Holy Spirit. I watched as one of my daughters mentors showed up at 6:30am to hold her hand and let her know that she was not alone in this battle. As I walked away to get in my car I turned back and took this picture. clip_image001

I literally was crying. God was so present. He always has been . It was just me that was unwilling to walk across the street. To ask Him to be present. His Holy Spirit and Light are there. They are here. They are with every student.

I need to be bolder. I need to be on my knees for the girl in Target, for the teachers in the schools, for the students walking the hallways, for the woman across the street who is just needing some relief. I need to stop being a complainer. To set down my pride. To lay it all at the cross. To follow the example of the high school students this morning.

sweet ones.–dreams for my daughters.

Dear sweet ones,

I watch you growing into the girls I always wished I could be and it makes me pause for a moment and think. I wish someone would have told me so many things when I was your age. Although maybe someone did and I was already so far gone that I just closed my ears to what was being laid out before me. So this is my advice to you now. Feel free to Tweet or Instagram it, whatever you need to do to remember it.

– Never color your hair. Seriously don’t start. You have gorgeous hair and once you start you end up spending hundreds of dollars to keep it up. You have your aunt’s gorgeous hair and I am a bit jealous. But if you do color your hair don’t do it yourself. I beg of you it will cost a lot of money to correct. And it hurts and is painful. Make sure you want photos of yourself taken with that color. Don’t try to convince me that purple will still look classy in 15 years.

-Don’t ever date anyone that is not as amazing as your dad. You both adore your dad so much and he feels the same about you. Don’t forget that. When that boy or man child starts paying attention to you talk to your dad about him and listen. If you can’t or if he doesn’t even have the courage to talk face to face with your dad then walk away. Better yet run. Because sweet girls you think your daddy hung the moon and the man you marry needs to hold it in place.

-Don’t go to college. Ok. Hear me out. Don’t go to college if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Just because you have a college degree does not make you any better than anyone else. Believe me some of the people I love and respect the most are changing the world more by never stepping in a college classroom. You don’t have to spend $30,000 a year to figure that out. And debt sucks. Travel the world. Go on a mission trip go on many! Ask tough questions. Follow your passion not the crowd. And if the crowd is your passion than we have another problem. I want you to see and know other countries and other cultures. I want you touch the oceans with your toes and see the evidence of God in the face of devastation.

– Open your heart to the possibility that God has something more than just high school drama for you He will meet you there.

-Throw away the credit card applications before you even walk in the door. They are liars. They do not want the best for you. They want the best for the world. And you are not of the world.

-Don’t fight with your sister. Love each other well. Learn her love language and speak it to her. Don’t wait until it is too late to make amends. Your siblings are your blood and they deserve all of you. I messed up in this area and I don’t want you to have the same hole in your heart like I do.

-Say no. Say no before you say yes. I want you to know how to balance your life. And just because it is good does not mean that it is always a yes. Good things deserve a no too.

-Know God. Explore Him. Claim Him as your own. Read His word. Soak in His Presence. Sit silently and hear His voice. Know that He is pursuing you so stop running and let Him catch you, hold you , and love you.

-Learn to change a tire. Grocery shop. Know how to cook all of your favorite meals and your siblings meals too. Give money away to complete strangers. Write thank you notes. Always have stamps on you. Know your family’s history. Ask questions. Tell your story. You never know how your story will heal another’s.

-Come home. You will leave at some point and I will sob. It will probably be an ugly cry and very embarrassing. But after you leave and start your own life. Come home. Visit. Call. Write letters. Skype. Facetime. Whatever you need to do to stay connected. If you need gas money I will send it. I will eat cereal all week if it means that I get to see your sweet face. Home is where we are. Home is where you began and the two should always matter to you. And if you don’t call. Don’t worry I will.

I love you to the moon and back,

mom.

In denial

It’s August. Or as I like to call it, denial month. I am running the other way from this month. When I was younger in Michigan I had no anxiety about it. Because they actually do summer the right way and don’t start school till after Labor Day. Like it should be. Instead I live in a state that has decided to send kids back to school the hottest month of the year. And we go to schools that lack central air or air conditioning. I know “first world problems” but I would not enjoy being a teacher with smelly fourth graders who don’t realize they need to use deodorant or brush their teeth more than once a day. Forgive me I digress.

I also am feeling a whole bucket load of guilt. I have been carrying it with me to the beach and every play date this summer. The mommy guilt rears its ugly head anytime I start paying attention to what others are doing around me. I was homeschooling all of the kids over the past few years. I loved it. I had all my little blessings with me and we had a lot of fun. Then last year happened. And we had to make the decision to place a few of them in school. And now I am officially a homeschool dropout. All of them will be attending school in two weeks. In case you’ve lost count that is five kids in four different schools. This thought in itself makes me want to crawl in the corner and rock back in forth. I am not about schedules or waking up early. I am not even about getting dressed before ten. Needless to say public schools frown upon bringing your kids to school after ten every day. Believe me I know. I know that I have failed. I really wanted to do unit studies and go on field trips and do math in our jammies. But my sanity knows that I can’t. My reality is that my mind and body need to heal . I need adult interaction. I need to finish writing projects. I need to shave my legs by myself.

This all may seem selfish. When I read it over, it does. Yet in order for me to be a better mom, a better wife I need to be a bit “selfish” for this season. I am doing a fine job of beating myself up with dropout guilt. I may or may not have even been browsing unit studies and avoiding even looking at that stupid list of school supplies that haunts me at night. I have nightmares about my kids being the only ones without all their pencils sharpened or the wrong shade of markers. I avoid answering questions or even making eye contact with other homeschool moms. I want to just wear a sign that says “ I’m sorry I failed”. Until then I will just be sharpening pencils…

not a winter mom.

I suck as a mom. That is, as a winter mom. I am not ashamed to admit it. I literally know that I am a more loveable and likeable mom in the summer. That is not to say I don’t love winter. I do . I have Michigan blood in me. So of course I love winter . I love to build snowmen, shoveling, skiing, sledding, and snow days. Yet having Michigan blood in me also means that I love the lake, sand dunes, camping, gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking, boating, skiing, swimming, campfires and a great tan. With that said though I have noticed that I do better as a mom in the summer. I think I was supposed to be born in California or somewhere magical where the weather is always warm and the pool is always open.

You see in the summer the kids are all home. I love them home. I love being home with them. I see other moms Facebook status’s that they are dreading having their kids home. While others are signing their kids up for different activities all summer and they end of being a taxi driver instead. Not me. I want them home. They need to be home. Together. Just us as a family.

And this is why I am a better after the last day of school.

-Popsicles.( Who doesn’t smile eating one?)

-Bike rides ( Grateful that they love to be outside and could care less to play any video games)

-Library reading program (ok. Really only 3 of my children fully participate. The other two could care less if they ever read an entire book ever. Proud mama moment)

-Camping ( the best, cheapest vacation we have ever done with our kids, best memories and you constantly smell like campfire which is a plus)

-Michigan (if we could move there for the summer we totally would, so instead we take as many trips as we can to visit family )

-Pool ( We have amazing friends who let us live at their pool and we also get passes to a local swimming hole. We literally will spend hours a day there, every day. I am so lucky my kids love the sun and are little fishes like me.)

-Campfires ( I love the smell of campfires. I know it’s weird. Whatever. I love it.)

-Smore’s( I think smore’s should be a food group. Along with caramel. So we try and have them as much as our bellies can take.)

-Friends ( I love being the house that kids come to for play dates, popsicles, lunch with our door constantly swinging open.)

No schedule( This one is my favorite. We have no schedule. We don’t sign our kids up for camps all summer. They can go to church camp and that is about it. We really want them here with us. Playing. Laughing. Fighting. Learning. Reading.)

And to be honest serotonin. I know you usually don’t see that on your “what I love about summer lists” but it makes mine. In the winter it seems to not even show up in me so by the time that spring rolls around I know my delivery of serotonin is coming soon. I am a happier mom. Full of energy mom. Cannot wait to try out a new park mom. Love to pack a picnic mom. Yes you can have three popsicle’s for lunch mom. Don’t judge. It’s summer.