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My Own Little World

Just me, sharing my journey through life…

Before and After

I was reading a book by John Ortberg called “Who is This Man”” for a class I’m taking, the premise of the book being all the ways that Jesus has impacted our world.  For a man who lived a very simple life over 2,000 years ago, His impact on our world is staggering.  One of the things mentioned was how “powerful regimes have often tried to establish their importance by dating the calendar around their existence…..The idea of Jesus trying to impose a calendar on anyone was laughable….From complete obscurity, Jesus came to public attention for the blink of an eye…Yet today, every time we glance at a calendar or date a check, we are reminded that chronologically at least, this incredibly brief life has become somehow the dividing line of history.”  (p.13).

I would recommend the entire book – I loved it – but this point got me thinking.  History has been divided – BC & AD – at the arrival of Christ.  We do that in our own lives as well, don’t we?  Mark time around significant events?

I have a digital photo frame in our living room, and even though I know which pictures are all on there, sometimes I will stop, and just watch what scrolls through.  There’s a whole variety of things, from baby pictures to wedding pictures to recent family pictures, and everything in between.  But I find myself mentally dating them – before the divorce, after the divorce.  Before the wedding, after the wedding.  Before anorexia, after anorexia.

So many milestones have marked our little family over the past few years, and they have changed us.

281989_10150334928455185_574021_nThis is a before picture – this picture was taken just a few short weeks before I packed up the kids and moved out.

325302_10150554758265185_1671485205_oThis one was taken just a couple of months later – same group of people, yet everything had changed.  Before and after.

And then came the day that our family picture grew – from this:

View More: http://racheljoycephotography.pass.us/loewen

to this:

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Another major change.

These days, though, I find myself tracking most days by before Katie got sick, and after.

Moedt-010 This picture was taken in August 2015 – we’d taken advantage of a sale that our talented friend Mark Orenstein of deJourdans Photographics was having and had family pictures done in Waterton.  It was a great day, and we ended up with stunning pictures of our little family.

This was before.  Still the same people as in the previous before/after – older, hopefully a little wiser, but the same people.  Still our little family.

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These are some of the after – same people, same little family.  But yet so different.   Having a child who is sick changes you, changes your family.  Some of the best advice I’ve received on this journey came from the mother of a friend, whose daughter had struggled on this same journey.  She reminded me that I have 3 kids, and while it was going to be hard, to watch out for the boys as we journeyed through Katie’s illness.

It’s been 3 years since we first began to be concerned for Katie’s health.  3 years – wow, seems like a lifetime. Maybe that’s why the pictures – looking at the before and the after – are so poignant, because I can’t really remember the before very well.

That last picture was just in September – Katie’s 19th birthday.  She’s in college now – first year nursing – and I couldn’t be prouder.  John is in grade 12, driving his own car, dating and looking to the future.  Nathan is in grade 11, and is making plans already for a career in accounting.

It’s been quite the journey, these last few years.  Some of it’s been hard – really, really hard.  Some of it’s been good – really, really good.  But through it all, there is one constant – God has been faithful through all of it.  As I’m typing, I’m realizing that I’m rambling, and none of this really seems to make sense, and I don’t really know where I’m going.  But maybe that’s where – through all of it, God has been there.

I remember very clearly a couple of years ago, the night before Katie was hospitalized the first time, being at Church at 6 because the Centre had a booth there, and one of the songs was “Cornerstone”.  As I cried through the lyrics “When Darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.  In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil”, Pastor Ian walked up beside me, put his hand on my shoulder and said “These words are for you, Monica.  These are your truth.”

And they have been.

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Good Enough

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A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with one of my sisters about her kids’ report cards, and how while the actual letter grades are valuable, the comments are by far more important.  Grades are a tough thing – you look and compare, seeing where you’ve failed.  But those comments show a whole different story – they talk about respect, about effort.  You know – the things that matter.

I was told growing up, and have raised my kids the same, to just to do my best.  That’s all.   If that means a C- in math, but a A for effort, good work.  I mean, really, you can only do your best, right?  How do you do better?  Besides, that’s all God is asking for – my best, so who am I to ask my kids for more?

But, now I’m wondering, how does this translate into adult life?  How do I do my best at everything, when there’s just so many things?  When do I get to just say “good enough” and leave it at that?

That doesn’t work in my marriage.  This is an area where when the effort isn’t being put in, when I’m not bringing my best, it shows very, very quickly.  And it shows in unpleasant ways – disconnection, sharp comments, lack of patience.

Parenting – wow, definitely can’t go halfway on that.  Being a good mom means being on my A-game all the time!  Being a mom of teenagers, I feel that’s ramped up even more.  Where do you get to give a little?  I have one finding her way through what life looks like after school, one who has decided he’s old enough to date, and one who flies under the radar so quietly, it’s easy to forget he’s there.

Work?  Don’t think so.  First of all, I am definitely not getting paid to only put in half-effort.  And while I’m very aware that everyone is replaceable, there is a lot depending on me, so I need to bring it all.  Besides, let’s think about what I do for a minute – our clients deserve my best, don’t they?  They come to us, looking for help during a time of crisis – that deserves 100%.

My work at home has definitely been getting some “good enough” treatment lately, and it shows.  The kids have been cleaning, which is so appreciated, but it could use some TLC.  Making meals?  Ugh, don’t get me started.  Unfortunately, when you’re feeding someone with an eating disorder, just “good enough” doesn’t cut it.  She needs 100% effort.

What about with other people?  In addition to being a wife and mother, I’m also a daughter, sister, friend…that means that I have a responsibility to these people too.  To be there for them, to be interested and involved.

Taking care of myself?  Yeah, that is definitely not getting 100%.  And anyone who’s seen me knows that’s not working out too well for me.

I can’t even bring 100% to God, the one who truly deserves it.  Prayers are dashed off on the go, time in the Word is an audio Bible while I’m getting ready in the morning.

All of this to say that I’m not doing my best at anything.  And I don’t like it.  It’s not how I like to operate, giving a half-hearted effort at everything.  I’ve given stuff up in an effort to clear up some time – hobbies don’t exist anymore, my piano is dusty and out of tune, I even withdrew from my classes this semester because I just couldn’t do it.  This is my first blog post since last fall, so apparently I’ve given this up too.

Where do I get to say “good enough”?  There’s so many things, so many different places I need to be giving 100%….and I’m just tired.  I can’t.

So, does it mean that this is my “new best”?  I’m giving everything I have, so that must be my best?

I don’t know. Doesn’t feel like it.  And I don’t really like it.

 

 

 

 

Alone in a Crowd

So recently I had the opportunity to sit and have some conversation with a dear friend.  As it does with really good friends, the conversation moved quickly from “how’s it going?  What did you do this week?” to more serious topics.

Don’t you love those friends?  You know, the ones that you can just cut through all the small talk, straight through to the stuff that really matters?  Not because you don’t care about what happened in her week or how her kids are, but having people that you can talk to about the real stuff is such a gift that you just don’t want to spend time on the mundane.  You just want to talk about the good stuff.

Now we are both busy women, involved in numerous things, connected to a multitude of people, which makes the direction that our conversation took all the more interesting.  We talked about how loneliness creeps into our lives and hearts, even when we do have a million things on the go, even when we see more people everyday than maybe we actually want to.

Loneliness is a weird thing, isn’t it?  I mean, really, how can you be surrounded by people and still be lonely?  How can you be out for lunch with friends and feel alone?  How can you be lying in bed beside your spouse and feel completely and desperately alone?

 Yet it happens. Every.  Single.  Day.  And I dare say that if we’re honest, to every single one of us.

I think it’s easy to pick out people in your life who everyone can agree are obviously lonely.  I think of my younger sister who lost her husband this summer – that’s an awful kind of loneliness that no one ever wants to experience.  Or my daughter, sitting on her hospital bed, away from family and friends – again, all kinds of lonely.

Dictionary.com defines lonely in a few different ways – “lone; solitary; without company; companionless…standing apart; isolated.”

Ouch.  That hurts just even reading it.  I think we can all think of a time can be described by those words pretty well.  I remember years ago, in junior high, being part of our church’s girls’ group.  We would meet every other Wednesday night at the church, which was pretty much the extent of my social life outside of school.  We would do Bible study, make crafts, stuff like that.  But what stands out to me was always the break.  In the middle of the evening we would have some free time, and the girls my age would often go outside.  So, naturally, I would go with them, right?  Well, unfortunately I didn’t fit in too well back in junior high, and what I remember so clearly is running behind other girls in my group, trying to catch up with them.  I just wanted to be with them, but they would run away, because they didn’t want me there.  Yup.  Pretty darn lonely.

Fast forward to today.  I’m no longer having to chase people around the back of the church in order to have someone to talk with.  I have people – I have some pretty amazing people, actually.  But yet there’s still Sunday mornings, standing in the foyer amongst 800 other people, that I’m lonely.  Why?

Because we need more than people in the room.  We need more than someone to nod and say “good morning”.  We need relationship, we need connection.  And that connection can look like many different things to many different people.

Right now I’m reading “Love Warrior”, by Glennon Doyle Melton – and it’s fantastic, by the way.  Anyhow, in her book, Glennon Doyle Melton describes how she felt so lonely in her marriage, how she wasn’t connecting with her husband.  She also describes the process in which she builds relationships and feels connected with friends, and I think this is just brilliant – take a look:

“In all my close friendships, words are the bricks I use to build bridges.  To know someone I need to hear her, and to feel known, I need to be heard by her. The process of knowing and loving another person happens for me through conversation.  I reveal something to help my friend understand me, she responds in a way that assures me she values my revelations, and then she adds something to help me understand her.  This back-and-forth is repeated again and again as we go deeper into each other’s hearts, minds, pasts, and dreams.   Eventually , a friendship is built – a solid, sheltering structure that exists in the space between us – a space outside of ourselves that we can climb deep into.  There is her, there is me, and then there is our friendship – this bridge we’ve built together.”

Isn’t that fantastic??  Ahhh.  I read this, and it makes my heart sing.  And the best part? I have friendships like this.  And they’re wonderful.

Anyways, Glennon Doyle Melton goes on in her book to talk about how while this is her way to feel connected, it was not her husband’s.  His standard mode of operating was sex.  How many times have you heard this?  She just wants to talk, and he just wants to have sex.  Nothing you haven’t heard before.

But the loneliness it can lead to is devastating.  When two people are yearning for the same connection, but are looking for very different ways of getting there, it often ends with both feeling extremely lonely.

So what are we supposed to do with this?  What do you do when you and your spouse just don’t connect on the same level?  Where do you find friends to have that deep connection with?  What if they’re just not there?

I type these words, and answers pop into my head instantly – well, obviously we’re never going to feel completely connected here, because we all have a God-sized hole in our hearts, right?  We can’t have perfect relationships here on earth, because we’re broken.  We’re lonely because we live in a sinful, broken world.

But then I heard this interesting statement by Tim Keller – “Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. Adam was lonely because he was perfect. Adam was lonely because he was like God, and therefore, since he was like God, he had to have someone to love, someone to work with, someone to talk to, someone to share with.  All of our other problems—our anger, our anxiety, our fear, our cowardice—arise out of sin and our imperfections. Loneliness is the one problem you have because you’re made in the image of God.”

Read Genesis 2.  God realized that Adam was alone and needed a partner before the fall, not after.  Our desire for relationship and to not be alone is not a result of sin – it’s hardwired into who we are, how God created us.

So what are we supposed to do?  I’ve had many tell me about how God fills that lonely spot in their lives, and that’s wonderful.  But what does that look like?  Because I dare say that I have a pretty good relationship with my Father, but I still find myself lonely.  Does that mean I’m not a good Christian?  Am I doing it wrong?

I think when we give pat answers like “Oh, just give it to God.  He’ll fill you up”, we run the risk of doing serious damage, because now I’m not only lonely, I’m also doubting my relationship with God.  I’m not saying those aren’t the answers – but it’s just not that simple.  It looks different for everyone.

I don’t know what the answer is – I think loneliness is honestly part of the human condition.  It comes and goes, it’s worse in some seasons than in others.  I guess I’d lean back towards what we tell our kids – “If you want to have a friend, be a friend.”

If you’re blessed enough to be in a season that you are feeling filled up, if you have people in your life, then remember how it felt when that was missing.  Be intentional – ask good questions.  Those people in your life who may have a smile on their face, but that smile doesn’t quite reach their eyes – invest in them.  Let them tell you their story.  And then maybe become part of the next chapter of their story.

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Mercies in Disguise

I did something very dangerous the other day.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to go to Long & McQuade to pick up saxophone reeds for my youngest son.  I needed to wait for help, so instead of standing there patiently waiting, I made the mistake of wandering over to the piano sheet music.

Dangerous move on my part.

I don’t even want to think about all the money I have spent on sheet music through the years – so many books, so many songs.  But it’s been awhile now, so when I flipped through the Sacred Piano Solo section and saw a new book by one of my favorite arrangers, Phillip Keveren, I had to.  I just had to.

It was a book of arrangements of worship songs – I couldn’t leave it there!  It’s now sitting on my piano, I’ve played through the entire thing, and it’s just brought me joy.

One of the songs in there is “Blessings”, by Laura Story.  It’s a song I’ve  heard before, but really didn’t know the lyrics, so I went and found it on iTunes.

It’s been running through my head these last few days, and it really is quite profound.  It talks about the things we ask God for – health, happiness, things like that.  But, we don’t always get those things.  Read these lyrics:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Ouch.  Such truth…such painful truth.

I know that my God is so loving, so compassionate, so merciful.  Because He’s all of these things, I know He has a good plan for me.  But sometimes it’s so hard to see it in the hard things.

To feel God’s provision when there’s just always so much month left at the end of the money.

To remember that marriage is a gift from God when the strain of life starts to fray its edges.

To see God’s goodness as you walk through illness with a child that just goes on and on.

We’re not promised an easy life – the exact opposite, actually.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NLT).

“…when troubles of any kind come your way….”

When.  Not if.  Not maybe.  When.

I know all the proper answers – lean into God, leave it all with God, trust Him, He’s in control – I know. I’ve said these things so many times.

But how?  What do these things even mean?  What does “leaning into God” even look like?  Because I’m leaning – I can’t stand up anymore, so believe you me, I’m leaning.  And still it’s so, so hard.

So what are we supposed to do?  I also know the answer to that too – keep leaning.  Keep trusting.  God is in control and He has a plan.  And sometimes it’s through these hard things that He makes that plan clear.  Other times not – other times we just need to keep trusting blindly, knowing that He loves us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NLT)

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

We have the victory.  We know how this story of life ends, we know who wins!

But it’s still just so hard some days…

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Unspoken Words

Everyone knows the positive power that words can have.  A friendly “I’m so glad you came!” can completely turn a day around.  One person saying “hey, I really like that shirt” can save said shirt from a one-way trip to the Bibles for Missions Thrift Store.

We teach our kids to say kind things – to build each other up, to encourage each other.  When my kids went to elementary school, there were these signs all over the school like this one:

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Unfortunately, negative words are often more powerful than positive words.  I think we can all agree that the old ditty “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is honestly just a pile of crap.

Words can hurt.  They can hurt badly.  Whether it is a mean comment, a disparaging remark, or a careless “whatever”, our words have enormous power to hurt people.

Unfortunately, it is also the negative comments that are remembered.  As a mom, I can compliment one of my kids for the same thing 20 times, but it’s that day that I lose my temper and come down hard about something that will be recalled and remembered for long after the compliments are forgotten.

Some research shows that 5 positive statements are needed to counter-balance every one negative.  5 to 1.  That’s a lot!

Dr. John Gottman states that the “magic ratio is 5:1. In other words, as long as there are five times as many positive interactions between partners as there are negative, the relationship is likely to be stable.”(1)

So, the power of both positive and negative words are solidly documented.

But what about the words that remain unsaid?  How much damage is done, how much hurt is caused when we don’t say something?

Sometimes I think that’s worse, because it leaves room for me to fill in the blanks, and generally speaking what I come up with is usually worse than what would have been said.

Brene Brown, a shame researcher and one of my favorite authors, talks about the power of story in her book “Rising Strong“, and specifically about the stories we tell ourselves.  That’s what happens for me when words are not said – I’m making up the story in my head.

So many times when unsaid words are painful.

…when a favorite meal is made, but not acknowledged.

…when extra effort is made to get dressed up, and your significant other doesn’t say anything.

…a simple acknowledgement of the loss after a death.

…the “I love you” that isn’t answered.

All those holes were the words aren’t filled in leave us to fill in the blanks, and what do we fill them with?  What’s in our heads, in our hearts.

Which, I’m realizing then, is just one more reason we’re supposed to fill our minds and our hearts with God’s word, with His truths.  If that’s what we’re filled with, then that’s what we’ll fill those holes with too.

Doesn’t mean those unsaid words won’t hurt, they still will.  But when we can live in the comfort of knowing that we are loved perfectly by the creator of the universe, they sting a little less.

(1) https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-positive-perspective-dr-gottmans-magic-ratio/

Longing for home

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Lately, I find the phrase “In my former life, I was a musician” coming out of my mouth more and more often, and unfortunately it’s true.  These days, you’re far more likely to find me at the podium at an event instead of behind the piano.

But even though my life is not filled up with choir rehearsals and piano students anymore, music is still a huge part of my life.  Chances are if you walk into my office at almost any given time, iTunes is working through one of a variety of playlists.  Yesterday found me scrubbing showers and vacuuming with ear buds in, listening to some new downloads.

There’s just something about music.  Something that just connects so deeply with my soul – especially worship music.

I have been blessed to have grown up in the church – I have spent my entire life walking with God.  So, by now I should have a handle on this whole Christian walk thing, right?

Not. Even. Close.

Confession time.  One area that I truly struggle with is spending time in God’s word.  I struggle with making the time, and when I do read, I find myself skimming over the chapters, just because I should.

But God’s words put to music?  Life-breathing.  His truths put to song?  Brings me such joy.

I was recently introduced to a song that has truly touched me.  It’s from a band I’d never heard of, and I don’t think I know any of their other music.  But just take a minute and listen…

Just take a moment and revel in that.

And He came running, opening up His arms, “Welcome home, my child”, I heard Him say –  “Welcome Home”.

Revelations 21:4 tells us  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (NLT)

This verse brings me to tears every time – the thought of it is overwhelming.  No more tears…. no more sorrow.  Oh, Lord – I cannot wait.

I am at a point in life where I am truly just weary.  There is no other word – tired, exhausted, stressed – none of those words fit how I feel.  I am just weary.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually weary.  And I want to go home.

I don’t write this for sympathy or for attention.  I write this because I think there are so many who feel exactly the same way.  None of us have the same journey here on earth, but we are all wired the same way – we’re homesick.  This earth is not our home, we’re just visiting and we want to go home.

God has been so good to me in placing strong, godly women on my path to walk this journey of life with me.  We’re all on the same journey, and it’s so good to have company.

In conversation the other day with one such friend, we were talking about how busy life is, about all the crazy going on, and how really, we’re just here doing time, right?  Doing time while we’re waiting to go home.

But, as our conversation continued, we were able to remind each other that it’s so much more than just doing time – we’re called to live life and live it abundantly!

This week I was able to spend some valuable time with a unique group of women – women who have answered God’s call on their lives to serve in pregnancy care centres.  As we sat around the table, we quickly came to realize a common theme – we are all weary.  Whether it was in our centres or in our personal lives, everyone had felt the attacks of the evil one.

But once again, I walked away encouraged, knowing that even in all of this, there is joy.  Knowing that through everything going on in our world, God is in control – none of this is a surprise to Him.

So we have hope.  We know the ending to the story.  But still life is so heavy.

We live in a world full of evil and hatred, disappointment and devastation.  As I write this, my Facebook feed is full of posts regarding the 50 people that lost their lives in Orlando last night – 50 families will never be the same.

And those are not the only ones who lost their lives last night – families all over the world woke up this morning missing a family member.  It’s that way every morning – every morning people wake up to the reality of death and pain and suffering.

There is so much pain in the world, and it is so easy to be discouraged. But this is where those words from Revelations 21 are such a comfort -there is something better coming!

 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

So we press on, we lean in, and we trust, all the while looking towards home.

Maranatha, Lord – come quickly.

Limping Towards the Finish

Tonight I was at the mall with the kids, and I picked up an anniversary present for Terry – what, an anniversary present?  Yup.  It’s almost been a full year since we got married.  Crazy, isn’t it?

People are still asking how married life is, and my standard answer is now “We’re figuring it out”, and people nod understandingly.  Because, let’s be honest here for a minute.

Marriage is hard.

This is not rocket science.  I’m sure no one who is reading this who has ever been married is questioning my mental stability right now.

Marriage is hard, just like so many other things that are worth it are hard. And if marriage is hard (which it is), a second marriage is….well, I don’t even know.  Harder.

But, in spite of that, here we are – coming to the end of one year.  While I definitely got a gift to celebrate, I kind of feel like we’re just barely limping across the finish line of this inaugural year of our marriage.

We’re been working through all the normal things that newly married couples have to figure out – getting used to each others quirks all the time, making everything fit in one closet, sharing a bathroom.  You know – the big stuff.

But we’ve also been figuring out other stuff.  And to make it a little more challenging, we’re having to figure it out with an audience – there’s 3 teenagers in our house, watching our every move.

A suffering economy lead to having to close the doors on a business this year.  That’s hard stuff – emotionally, financially, the whole thing.

Having a sick kid has definitely added a level of difficulty around here.  There is a constant level of stress and concern, and that doesn’t always show up kindly on my part.

But here we are – almost a year in.  And I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned how much baggage I still actually have from the past – and how much it affects my every day.  That being said though, I’ve also realized a lot of mistakes that I’ve made in the past and am determined to not make them again.

I’ve learned some patience – can’t help but learn that when you’re married to a man who very carefully and intentionally thinks through everything he says.  This is a fantastic quality that I really admire, but it’s also time-consuming.

I’m learning trust – trust that I need to give him 100% regardless of what I’m getting back.  The phrase that marriage isn’t 50-50, it’s 100-100 runs through my head often.  I’m so worried about “what about me?  Who’s going to take care of me?”, but that’s not the point.  I need to trust.

I’m learning about what God wants me to be as a wife and a mom, and that’s hard, because it’s not always what I want to be.  I had lunch with a dear friend the other day and told her that I’ve read more drivel on being a Christian wife, on the Proverbs 31 wife, I can’t even stand it anymore.

I really struggle with a lot of it, because I don’t feel like I’m the typical wife, a typical woman.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a loud, opinionated, determined, strong woman – and those are not always good qualities.

How can you be all those things as a Christian woman?  As a godly wife?  I’m working on it.  Still figuring it out, but learning that while there is room for these qualities, being soft and kind also doesn’t make you weak.

I’m learning that Terry cannot be my everything.  As much as I think he’s absolutely amazing, no matter how much I adore him, he can’t be everything.  He’ll always come up short.  And that is where I need to turn to my Father – not turn on my husband.

So, it’s been quite the year.  But even in all of this difficult learning, one thing has been brought to my attention again and again – I love this man.  I love him, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with him, no matter how hard, because we’ll get through it together.

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365 Days

  One year.  365 days.  When you’re little, it seems like an eternity from one birthday to the next, or from Christmas to Chrismas – 365 whole days.  Once you get older, it truly does go faster.  

One year.  That’s how long it’s been since Katie was admitted to Children’s Hospital, when her journey to recovery from anorexia nervosa really started.

It will be a year tomorrow since that awful phone call telling me that Katie had been moved to the ICU and I should get there as soon as I could.

365 days.

How is that even possible?  How has it only been a year? On one hand, this feels like the longest year of my life, yet on the other hand, those first days in the hospital are still so fresh in my mind.

A year full of doctor’s appointments, trips to Calgary, medication changes and food plans.  Host homes, specialists and treatment plans.

A year of tears and prayers.  A year of learning to lean on others, learning to admit that I can’t do it on my own, that I need help.

One year.  365 days.

I wish I could say that this last year is part of the history books now, that anorexia is just part of our past.  But that’s the thing with mental illness – it hangs on.  It lingers.

We’re still driving back and forth to Calgary to see doctors and specialists.  Katie’s meal plan still dictates meals in our home.  We’re still struggling.

But, it is one year later.  Last year this time Katie was in bed rest in Children’a Hospital, on her way to the ICU.  Today she is in Whitefish with friends, enjoying a weekend away.

Thank you, Father – thank you isn’t enough.  A year ago I was on my knees, pleading for my child’s life, and today she is home – driving my vehicle, doing homework, getting ready to graduate in June.  All the things a 17 year old Grade 12 student should be doing.

One year.  This has truly been the year of the Lord’s favor in my house, and I’m so thankful.

Balance – is it even possible?

Balance:  a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.

balance

When I was a kid, my mom signed my sister and I up for gymnastics.  This was huge.  I grew up on the farm, oldest of a large family, and we didn’t get to do a ton of extra-curricular stuff.  We all took piano lessons, but there just wasn’t the opportunity for a lot of extra stuff, so when gymnastics was offered, we jumped at it!  It was pretty basic – rolling, balance beam, stuff like that.

You know, the Olympic gymnasts make it look so easy – just waltz across that balance beam, and off you go.  You know what?  It’s not that easy.  Doing more than just walking is a little difficult.  Turns out I don’t have that much balance.

Balance is tough. Especially when you’re a tall, definitely awkward elementary girl.

I remember introducing solid foods to Katie when she was a little girl.  She loved peaches, sweet potatoes, carrots – she ate them so well.  I was pretty sure I had this new mom thing down pat.  She didn’t love beans or peas, but, no big deal, right?  She was doing great with other vegetables – like carrots and sweet potatoes.

Did you know if you only feed your child carrots and sweet potatoes, their nose will turn orange?  It’s true.  The tip of her cute little nose started turning orange.

Again, balance.  While carrots and sweet potatoes might be perfectly happy for a child, they also need beans, peas and other-colored vegetables.

Balance.  It’s a hard thing to achieve, you know.  And right now, it’s something I desire more than a lot of other things.

I think most people who work outside of their home understand this – trying to find time to keep up with the never ending list of things to do at home after work is done.

But I dare say that working moms get this even more.  Trying to find a way to balance working outside of the home while still running a household.

I have decided that it’s actually impossible, and that frustrates me immensely.  As the director of a not-for-profit organization, I don’t have a typical 9-5 job.  It’s the kind of job that I could be at 12-14 hours a day, and still have stuff to do.  It sticks with you when you go home.  It involves evenings and weekends.

And I love it.

But after a full day in the Centre, I go home to my other job – my real job, as a wife and a mom.  And that too, is more than a full-time job.  It’s 24/7.

So, how do you do two jobs that require that much focus?  That much time?  And beyond that, how do you do them both well?  I feel like I am constantly doing a half job at everything I do, because I just can’t give anything the focus it needs.

While I’m at work, there’s still appointments that Katie needs to be at, calls from doctors and therapists.  John still needs to get to work and kids need to get home after school.  There’s not freedom to stay for an extra hour after closing to get some stuff done, because there is a family waiting for me to make supper.

But when I’m at home, work is there.  There’s evening meetings that leave my kids at home alone.   There’s calls and texts from work during family movie night. There’s weekend commitments that have taken our family to churches all over Southern Alberta.

So how do you balance it?  How do you do each well?

I think this is a struggle, though, for every mom – if you work outside of the home or not, because there is a constant struggle between being a wife and a mom.  This is something I’ve really been working through lately, especially since it’s gone from just being me and the kids to now being Terry, myself and the kids.

Again, a situation where each need such focus, so much attention.  But how do you balance it?

I love to spend time with my husband, especially when we get to get out of the house for a bit.  But, doing that leaves 3 kids sitting at home.  So, being a good wife = being a bad mom, or at least that’s how it feels.

But it goes the other way too.  Something that’s developed in our home is that I have a Netflix series going with each of my kids – a show that we’re watching together that we only watch together when the others aren’t home.

For Katie, it’s Gilmore Girls – we’re on Season 5.  John and I have started watching Heroes, since the second season of Gotham isn’t on Netflix yet.  Nathan is the child who’s home most on the weekends, and we’ve been binge-watching Merlin.  It’s a fun thing and I love having this.  But, for every time I choose to sit and watch tv with one of the kids, I’m saying no to Terry.

Again.  How do you balance it all?

This happens as soon as you have more than one child.  How do you balance between kids?  This has also been a big thing for me over the past year.  Katie’s health concerns have demanded the bulk of my parenting attention, and I’m so thankful for boys who have gone with the flow.  But I’m constantly trying to be intentional with the boys, making sure that they are getting the time and attention they need as well.

This is the constant tension I live in – feeling pulled in so many directions, feeling like I’m not doing anything well, because I’m trying to do so many things.  And I really hate not doing my best at everything.  I take a lot of pride in any job or task I do, so it’s unsatisfying to me to feel like I’m just barely coasting in everything.    And these are just the big parts of my life – this doesn’t even take into account being a friend or a sister or a student.  All that has to get put in there somewhere too.

imbalancejpg_20140305142524285

So, I’m still tall, thankfully a bit less awkward, but balance is still a struggle.  I don’t know what the answer is – I really don’t.  For now I just keep trying…and running….and just doing the best I can.  I mean, that’s all I ask of my kids – why am I expecting more of myself?

 

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