Friday, April 29, 2011

The Isle of ADHD

I've been sitting here for the better part of an hour, and I can't think of a single thing to write about.  Well, that's not exactly true, as I've had thousands of thoughts running through my head.  I just haven't been able to grab ahold of any one of them long enough to actually write something about it!  Mmmm....strawberries sound good.

Welcome to the world of ADHD.

If you don't have ADD or ADHD, and if there isn't someone close to you that has it, there's a good chance you have misconceptions of what it is.  The picture most people get when thinking of ADHD is of a little kid running around a classroom instead of sitting quietly in his chair like he's been asked to.  Could be a symptom, true.  Could also be a symptom of too little sleep, poor classroom management, or bad parenting.  I don't have a PhD on ADHD, so I'm not going to T-R-Y to iden-ti-fy (Oh my goodness, I make myself laugh!) the symptoms or treatments associated with it.  I am going to share with you my own elementary explanation of what goes on in my hyperactive brain versus the "normal" brain of someone like...let's sister Wendy.  But first, I need you to take a moment to clear your mind of all preconceived ideas of ADHD and what you think it looks like. 

Ready?  Brain clear?  (If you have ADHD, you won't be able to clear your brain.  You are forgiven.)

The first thing I want you to put in your brain is this: (ADHDers, try to focus.  It's a stick man.  Stick man!)

Next, I want you to imagine a tiny tropical island with a single palm tree (If you have ADHD, you have probably moved on to designing your entire island, but I assure you, it is NOT important, and you will have plenty of time to design it later when you're trying to focus on something else.)

Now, I want you to put your stick man on your island, as pictured.  Oh look, a puppy! imagine that all your thoughts are individually written on really long fortune cookie papers and are swirling in a massive tangled cloud that's hovering over your stick man's head.  I know it's a stretch.  Humor me. (Normal people:  this may not seem very forboding when you have like two thoughts at a time, but for the sake of my example, you should imagine at least twenty-five or thirty fortune cookie papers).

Pretend that your stick man is reaching up, trying to grab ahold of a single one of those pieces of paper so that he can read it.

Now imagine a hurricane. 

Your stick man is frantically jumping, grasping at any thought he can reach.  Every time he grabs hold of one for a second, the hurricane winds tear it violently from his little stick fingers.  Yet he doesn't give up.  He is a valliant stick man, persevering despite being bombarded endlessly by a tropical storm of wayward thoughts.  This is what it's like to live inside my brain.

Poor stick man.  (As a side note: medication, when I'm on it, does NOT change the number of thoughts I have wreaking havoc in my brain.  It only slows down the winds so that I can hold onto one for longer.  It is NOT a cure-all...more like a band-aid.)

Okay, let's take a look at Wendy's stick man (I like to imagine him with glasses).  He has a filing cabinet.  He can choose which alphabetized thought he wants to focus on first, accomplish it, and efficiently move on to the next. 

Stupid organized stick man. 

18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.  1 Corinthians 12:18-20 (emphasis mine)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


*I didn't have time to write today, so this is from my "personal archives" (revised).  Hope you enjoy it!*

            When I was a little girl, I loved to play with toads.  Or rather, I loved to possess toads.  You see, as the baby of my family, I was always being possessed.  I was told what to do or what not to do, was often excluded from playing with my older brother and sister, depending on their whims, and was forced to play specific roles when I was allowed to play (sometimes the baby, but never the mother).  I often played the part of “go-getter”, as in “Hey Lisa, go get ________(insert whatever it was my sister wanted but didn’t feel like getting herself)”.  I hate to say it, but my personality then and now lends itself much better to being the possessor and not the possessee.

Toads, I discovered, were much better than siblings (besides the fact that they frequently tinkled on me).  They were meek, obedient, and never tried to get away from me.  Okay, so they weren’t exactly obedient…. but at least they didn’t tell me what to do.  And as for getting away, it’s probably not truthful to say that they didn’t try.  I am, and always have been, an incredibly gifted possessor.  I possessed some of those toads right into the little toad paradise in the sky.  My parents, being slightly concerned about the number of toad casualties, graciously purchased me a turtle in exchange for a cease-fire on all innocent amphibians.  The turtle, Chip, stayed in his aquarium with his friend Dale and refused to come out of his shell when possessed.  My need still unfulfilled, I eventually resorted to putting pajamas on the dog.

So now it’s like twenty-five or so years later, I still feel the need to possess, and I find myself blessed with a house full of toads.  Not counting my husband there are five, ages eleven, eight, five, three, and two months.  Our older two toads are adopted, and have been with us since they were seven and four.  They came with a whole set of pre-learned bad behaviors.  Our younger three toads have been ours since they were…um…tadpoles.  Slimy, warty little toads, each and every one of them.  They are often amusing, jumping around the house, and yes, they have been known to tinkle on me.  My toads are not generally obedient, frequently try to tell me what to do, and are by nature sinful and selfish.  And I love each of them immensely.  My problem is this.  I am terrified that I am going to possess them to death.

My greatest desire for my children is that they come to know Jesus as their Savior.  I pray continually that God will draw their hearts to Him, and I know that their salvation lies in His hands and not my own.  Yet I am deeply troubled when my children’s behavior does not reflect the Christ-like path that I desire for them.  I expect them to be perfect.  I am angry when they aren’t perfect, and furious when they don’t seem to be trying.  I have frustrated them, belittled them, and at times made them feel unloved and unforgiven when they have followed their sinful natures.  I have dealt with so much bad behavior and ugliness in the five years since I became a mother, that I take it all personally, as if their sins reflect all of my failures as a parent.  Of which I have many.

I am a toad.

I am a possession of my Father in heaven, whose greatest desire for His children is that they come to know Jesus as their Savior.  He continually draws my heart to Him, because He knows that my salvation lies in His hands and not my own.  He is deeply troubled when my behavior does not reflect the Christ-like path that He desires for me, yet He does not expect me to be perfect, for all have sinned and fallen short of His glory.  He is patient when I’m not perfect, and mighty and just when I’m really not trying.  He does not frustrate me or belittle me, but is loving and forgiving, providing all the strength I need to cast off my sinful nature.  He has dealt with so much bad behavior and ugliness since the creation of man, and yet He loves me so much that He allowed His only Son Jesus to be tortured and nailed to a cross for my sins.  Of which He has none.

Slowly and painfully, I am learning.  God does not possess His possessions…He loves them and teaches them and sets them free.  He gives them guidelines to live by, punishing as needed and redirecting paths.  He loves unconditionally, forgives immeasurably, and provides for all our needs.  He is a safe haven, a strong tower, a mighty fortress.  I trust Him with my life and with the lives of my five little toads.

I am in the process of declaring a cease-fire.  Would someone please buy me a turtle?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cleanliness is Next to Timeliness

This morning at 8:45, I sent my oldest son out the door on his way to school, shut the door behind me and declared to my little ones, "It's a bath day!"  (As a good rule of thumb, I figure that whenever I can no longer pinpoint the day I last bathed them, it stands to reason that it's time to do it again.)  My announcement was met with shrieks and squeals (probably because it's been a while) as Miss J (5) and Little Mr. C (3) ran to the bathroom, leaving a trail of pajamas in their wake.  I filled the tub, they chose their toys, they climbed in, Miss J climbed back out dripping wet to go potty, and then they played and shriveled like little prunes as I, nursing babe in arms, looked on. 

We began this process at about 8:50.  We had to leave for Miss J's ballet class at 10:15.  No problem, right? 


First of all, you have to realize something.  I have the worst sense of time of anyone that has ever existed.  Ever.  In the whole world.  No matter how much I try to tell myself otherwise, I firmly believe that it takes 15 minutes to get anywhere.  And then I leave 10 minutes to get there.  I'm also fairly certain that I can cram 12 activities into the 10 minutes before I go.  It hasn't been accomplished yet, but one of these days.... 

So, because we had all the time in the world, I leisurely fed the baby, spelled words with foam letters on the shower wall, and periodically checked in with 8 yr-old Miss M, who was unable to handle school today.  I passed out pink washcloths.  I doled out the soap.  I played with my kids.  I sang songs with them.  I convinced Mr. C that boys can use pink washcloths.  I replaced the murky water in the tub with fresh water (suspicious that a diaperless Mr. C had caused the murkiness).  I poured cupfuls of water over them, loving their giggles.  I was just getting ready to wash their hair...and then I looked at the clock.  It was 9:40.

Fast forward.  Seriously, if you picture everything that happened after that point and then imagine it at warp speed, that's how it felt from that moment on.  An observer would have heard us all speaking in chipmunk, including the set-down baby's screams.  Shampooscrubscrub rinsescrubscrub "that soap smells girly!" scrubscrub "it's in my eyes!"wipewipe rinserepeatscrubscrub pickuptoweldry*cuddle*diaperdress.  Next child.  Shampooscrubscrub rinsescrubscrub "I can do it myself"scrubscrub "it's in my eyes!"wipewipe rinserepeatscrubscrub pickuptoweldry*cuddle*"go get dressed!"  Grab your shoes! Get your coat! Choose a book!  Can I bring my umbrella? Can you put on my tights? I can't get my shoe on! Where are your glasses? Can I have some raisins? Ahhhhhhh!!!

Amazingly, despite the enormous task set before me, I had three kids completely ready to walk out the door at 10:15.  Unfortunately, it was at that exact moment that I realized I was sweaty, covered in bath water....and still in my pajamas.  And so was the baby.  After cramming 12 more things into the next 10 (okay...more like 17) minutes, all five of us left the house at 10:32....two minutes after Miss J's ballet class started.  It's a good thing it only takes 15 minutes to get there.

My point?  Not sure I really have one, except that my life is crazy and I'm late for everything...but I wouldn't have traded that bath full of giggles for the world.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Raging Battle

I spent two hours of my morning in a raging battle.  Sounds dramatic, I know, but in all actuality my home has been a war zone for the last four and a half years.  Ever since Miss M joined our family. 

When she came, she was four...and brought with her enough baggage to fill a freight train.  She and her brother J (now 11) had an incredibly unstable beginning to life, and it came as no shock that there would be permanent issues to address.  However, I naively thought that a mother's love would cure everything in no time flat.  All you need is love, right?  Besides, we knew without a doubt that God had called us to adopt these children.  And we obeyed.  So, didn't that mean it would all be sunshine and roses?

Hardly.  If there's one thing I've learned about God through all this, it's that His goal is not to make life all comfortable and easy for us.  That's our goal for ourselves.  To sit back all fat and happy and watch the pink bubbles of life float lazily by.  I mean, isn't that really our goal?  Isn't it?  To not have to work hard for anything but to have blessing after blessing heaped upon us?  I can handle a little work.  I can weed a garden like a pro.  But weeding the parasites from my character is another thing entirely, and that's what God is asking me to do.  And He's using my own daughter to do it.

Little Miss M is now eight and a half, and sometimes I think she's on her way to recovery.  That is, if you can ever fully recover from an Attachment Disorder.  But days like today make me wonder, and there have been far too many days like today in the past three weeks.  Horrible disrespect.  Kicking.  Screaming.  Scratching.  Throwing.  Endless tantrums that spew hatred and blasphemy into every crevice of our home.  No, there's no sunshine and roses here today.  Just reality. 

And a ray of hope.

Because even though I lost my temper in a big way for a moment this morning, Jesus helped me weed out the anger.  And when I called my mom in tears yet again, Jesus calmed me and helped me weed out the bitterness.  And when, for the hundredth time, I fell to my knees and begged Him to love her for me, Jesus took away the hate.  And when my own raging battle was finished, I was able to look my daughter in the eyes and say, "Even though you do horrible things sometimes and you say mean things, and even though you don't deserve it right now, I still love you.  I will always love you.  And I will forgive you forever and ever."

This is what my Father says to me, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where is Jesus?

I'm headed out to the store in a few minutes to find something for my kids' Easter baskets, and maybe even some special Easter clothes for them to wear tomorrow.  Yes, I'm a procrastinator, but I'm going to completely set that topic aside until a later date and focus on what really bothers me. 

Every year, more than any other holiday, I struggle with what to do about Easter.  For months beforehand, we see bunnies and chicks, plastic eggs, jellybeans and brightly colored cellophane-wrapped baskets filled with Barbies and Hotwheels and every sort of pastel candy imaginable. The secular presentation of Easter is fabulous to behold.  But no matter how hard I look, something is always missing from those shelves.

Where is Jesus?

I should think it would go without saying that the VIP of Easter would deserve a front-row seat to the celebration of His own holiday.  That He should outrank a teenager in a bunny suit, or at the very least earn a spot on the shelf next to the Cadbury eggs.  But Jesus seems to have been evicted from His own celebration, and that leaves me with a dilemma.

How do we celebrate as a family and still impress upon our children the truth of Easter?  The gravity of their sins?  The reality that if Easter had never happened, they would all be damned to Hell for all eternity?  How do we get them to understand the enormous price that Jesus paid?  The grace they have received?  The vast love of God?  How do we do this without embittering them by depriving them of the fun and tradition of Easter? 

We spent the morning decorating foam Easter eggs with crosses and good wishes, which we will hand-deliver to nursing home residents tomorrow.  We'll hunt for our 'resurrection' eggs tomorrow morning along with our candy, and my three-year-old has been repeating his memory verse all week ('Jesus died and was raised to life again.' 1 Thessalonians 4:14).

But is it enough?

Well, I must be off.  I don't even know what I'm looking for.  A chocolate Jesus?  A stuffed lamb?  Jewelry with a cross on it, maybe...I've done that before.  Anything to remind them of  what Jesus has done for each of them.  And for each of us.

I wish you all a blessed and Christ-filled Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Big Debut

So here it is.  My big blogging debut.  Truth be told, I didn't even know what a blog was until a few months ago.  And now I have one.  Odd.

So where have I been for the last few years?  I realize that blogging, for a while now, has been as much a part of American culture as, let's say, Facebook.  Or shopping malls.  Or satellite TV.  Or cell phone movie players that store all your music and are actually teeny tiny computers that you carry around with you.  And while I have recently discovered the joys of blogs and Facebook, I don't frequent the mall, I still don't have satellite television (or cable...or an antenna...or even rabbit ears), and I don't carry around an atomic do-all phonicular device.....I have a trac-fone.

Why, you may ask?  Why do I try to limit my access to some of these things?  Not because any of them is inherently wrong or evil, but because they are worldly, and any worldly thing can be dangerous if misused.

So...American pop culture.  Shopping malls.  Television.  Advertisements.  Internet.  Fast food.  Movies.  Magazines.  Music.   

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered that all these have in common, it’s this:  they can all lead me to sin.  And I’m not talking about the premeditated and calculated sin that I carry around with me and pamper and feed like a little Hollywood pet.  I’m talking about what I call “spontaneous sin” – the kind that reaches out and grabs me before I even realize what’s happening.  The kind of sin that I don’t choose (or at least don’t mean to choose) in the moment, but end up committing nonetheless.
Spontaneous sin, unfortunately, is part of being who we are - human.  Our flesh is weak, and even without prior intent, it can easily be swayed to take part in sin.  This is the reason I do my best to avoid places and activities that I know (from experience) will tempt me.

Take, for instance, the shopping mall.  My husband is fond of saying that a shopping mall displays everything that’s wrong with our country, and I would have to say that I agree.  Lavish spending.  Materialism.  Greed.  Immodesty.  Jealousy.  Debt.  Discontentment.  Yet there is nothing innately wrong with shopping.  There are a few stores at the mall that I visit regularly (especially those with good clearance racks), but I usually just go in and out.  No mall walking.  If I spend too much time browsing, it’s especially easy for me to fall into the trap.  Suddenly, I’m no longer content with the bedspread we’ve had for years, or my girls need new matching dresses with accessories, or I find myself wishing I could look good in that.  Where I was content before the mall trip, I become discontented. 

We’ve all done it.  We may spend too much money on things we don’t need.  We may fall into self-loathing when we don’t measure up to the models displaying the clothes we try on.  Women may walk past a lingerie store and feel inadequate; men might struggle with lust and impure thoughts.  Spontaneous sin, all of it.

I’m not in any way suggesting that we should never go to the mall or to the movies, read a magazine, watch TV, or do anything else that the world enjoys.  I am simply saying that we need to be careful.  Before we accept something of the world as part of our lives, we should evaluate the risk of spontaneous sin involved.  My husband and I (even before we had kids) picked apart our television habits and decided that for us, the bad outweighed the good.  We were constantly tempted by (and falling to) laziness and lack of communication, and also had little to no control over the violence, language, and immodesty that we viewed.  So we no longer watch TV at all. (And besides the adjustment of the first few months, we haven’t missed it in over six years!)
You see, all worldly things carry with them a risk of spontaneous sin.  The internet brings easy access to pornography.  Movies often glorify violence, immorality and sex.  Magazines can be full of gossip.  The questions we, as followers of Christ, have to ask ourselves are ‘How much risk are we willing to take?’ and ‘How much temptation can I stand up to?’  Maybe you are stronger than I am, but I’ve discovered that the temptation to sin is often greater than I can handle.  I don’t want to spontaneously sin.  And while I know that God will always give me a way to overcome temptation if I seek it, I’m not willing to consistently throw myself into the middle of a jungle (or a shopping mall) and trust that I will choose the right path.