Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Glimpse into Our Marriage #2

Dearest Neglectful Suitor and Love of My Life,

Two long days have passed, and not a written word have I received. I have seen you, tis true, I have felt your embrace, and have even had chance to hear of your love via the telephone. But alas, no pen and ink declaration of love have I encountered in nearly two days' time (Or was it yesterday? Of this I cannot be sure.) I am left wondering what evils of your vocation have been keeping you. What pressing matters are you encountering that are, my darling, of greater significance and importance than expressing your affections by way of email?

Even now, oh Great Love, as I laboriously care for and educate the four youngest heirs to your dynasty, I have found a fraction of a moment to write to you. (just sayin')

I shall be anxiously awaiting, Love, your timely reply. (Either that, or I'll see you at 4:20...whatever works)

Yours Most Unsarcastically,
Lady Lisa J. of Christie
(love you, Babe) dearest mistaken woman. Kindly check the date of this previously sent email and find that it was sent yesterday morning.

Your Loving Suitor

Hello, Sweetheart

I love you more than I can express. You are so very much appreciated and adored. I will talk to you soon.


Dear Smart-Alecy Husband,

You're a putz. But at least you're hot, so you're forgiven. Can't wait to see you. ;)

Love, Me
and love me

Lady Lisa J. of Christie....I hereby declare my undying love for you. You are a precious flower awaiting my gentle caress.

Luv ya,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Doorway of Anger

I never used to be an angry person. 

Don't get me wrong.  I've never had trouble expressing anger when I actually felt it, but for the most part, I've always been a happy-to-live-each-moment kind of person.  Opinionated, true.  Willing to argue a valid point, yes.  But not angry.

Not until I started mothering my traumatized children.

I know perfectly well that all children are frustrating, that they all disobey and manipulate and argue from time to time, and that even the nicest, most compliant kids are prone to the occasional tantrum.  I have normal kids, have seen normal kids in action, and am perfectly aware of what they're capable of.

But I'm not talking about normal kids.

If you've never raised a traumatized or mentally ill child, a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder like mine, or Autism or FAS or a handful of other problems, I really don't feel like explaining what it's like right now.  I've tried to explain it, I've tried to get people to understand, but no one does unless they've experienced it themselves.  We've gotten a lot of "advice" from well-meaning parents that are doing a great job with their normal, healthy children (like "try counting to works every time" and "all children need is love and consistency" and "just find their currency" and "maybe it's just food allergies").  But at this point, we just smile and say thanks and choose to forgive because we know they just don't get it. 

We didn't either, until we got our kids.  And then we understood what it really meant for someone to do absolutely whatever it takes to make you angry.  To try to force you to hate them.  To try to make you lose control, because all they want is to feel more powerful than you.  The ability to control your emotions is cocaine to them, and RAD kids are addicts.

There I was at the beginning, having never heard of RAD, letting these sick children play with my anger and feed it and nurture it like a pet, all the while making them sicker.  And then we have a diagnoses, and the pieces start to fit together, and I learn that I'm not supposed to let them make me angry.

And yet I can't stop being angry. 

When we were in therapy for Miss M, I learned that a huge number of mothers of RAD kids are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), having endured trauma themselves by simply raising their traumatized children.  We discussed it, filled out evaluations for it, and the therapist felt certain that I suffer from PTSD.

But so what?  It doesn't change anything, does it?  Just because anger has a reason, it doesn't make angry words any less detrimental, and it doesn't mean you can pretend the problem is not there.  It still has to be dealt with, and in many ways, especially as my kids' behaviors are falling more frequently into the "normal" category, God has been doing great things in His quest to eradicate impulsive anger from my life.

But just when I think I've got it under control, a week comes along like this one and I'm reminded how close my anger is to the surface.  And I see how much I need God.

As only God could arrange it, the topic of our sermon this past Sunday was anger.  It was a great sermon, full of wisdom, but the one point that was engraved on my heart went something like this:  Anger itself is not a sin, it's a doorway.  When you're angry, the door is opened, and someone IS going to walk through it.  Will it be Satan?  Will you allow him to control your anger?  Or will you give it to God, so He can show His power in the midst of your weakness?

I desperately want to let God control my anger.  I want Him to use it to make me more like Christ.  Yet my daughter is refusing to respect my authority, her healing is backsliding, and she's provoking me every chance she gets.  I've completely lost it with her twice in the last six days, allowing Satan to take my anger and run away with it, blinding me.  And even when I haven't blown up, I can still feel the anger eating at me, feeding my resentment towards her and crippling our ability to bond.  It's been a bad week, and something has got to change.

And so I ask for your help.  Would you consider praying for me?  When my door of anger is opened in the coming days, as it undoubtedly will be, please pray that I'll be able to let God in first so He can work His wonders in my heart.  And when Satan comes barging through the door, pray that I can kick his sorry butt from here to kingdom come. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Call Me Crazy

My husband and I have been thinking a lot about children lately.  And how could we not, when our lives are overrun with so many of the cute little beasts?  When we got married, we never dreamed that our family would look like it does now.  Four kids in two years:  two babies born to us and two kids adopted along with their trauma, and then a surprise "birth-control baby" three years later.  From zero to five in five years. 


Or at least that's what I've been told.  I don't feel crazy.  Not exactly, anyway.  Is life hectic?  Yes.  Is there always something going on?  Yes.  Does someone always need something at any given time of the day and (often) night?  Yes.  Do I feel like I can't catch up on laundry or sleep or cleaning or shopping or organizing or scheduling?  Yes.  And have I had to give up an awful lot of myself to pour into my family?  Yes.

Does that make me crazy? 

And what would you say if I told you that we'll probably end up with more kids?  Would you tell me that I'm crazy?  Probably.  And maybe you would be right.  Maybe I am crazy.

But here's the deal:  we believe that children are blessings.  (Of course, we also believe that children are pains in the heiney, but for the sake of argument, we'll stick with "blessings").  The world would agree that children are blessings, but only up to a certain point.  When a young married couple is expecting their first baby, everyone considers the child a blessing.  When they're expecting their second, the baby is still a blessing.  When they're pregnant with their third child, it's unofficially expected that this will be their last child, especially if the family has children of both genders, and if they announce they're expecting a fourth, the couple is deemed to be a bit eccentric. 

But when do they become crazy, I want to know?  When they have five children?  Eight?  Ten?  And what number of children can a family have before their next baby ceases to be a blessing? 

Is the unexpected birth-control baby still a blessing?  I know mine is.  What about the child with special needs?  I know mine is.  What about the one with a birth defect?  Is he still a blessing?  I know mine is.  What about the child that makes your house feel too small?  Or your finances seem too stretched?  Whose pregnancy weight you just can't lose?  What about the child that makes you give up your career?  Forces you to buy a van?  Causes you to give up designer clothes and shoes and bags...or even just daily showers?

What about the one that finally makes you so busy that you don't have time to be selfish anymore?  What a blessing that child would be to me!

I absolutely believe that God's perfect will is different for each of His children, and I strongly doubt that He expects every family to have as many children as they possibly can.  He did give us free will, after all, as well as other ministries outside of child-rearing.  Having said that, I also believe that many Christian couples attempt to plan their families without ever consulting God; without praying and asking for His direction.  They factor in everything else:  jobs, income, housing, college, personal freedom and ambition and more, and they make their decisions based solely on their own desires and ideas, never wondering if God might have something different for them.

And all I'm saying is that my husband and I don't have peace about declaring our family complete.  We both feel certain that He has plans for us, but He has yet to reveal them:  maybe more babies, maybe more adoption, maybe more foster care, and maybe all three.  Possibly He's just waiting for the right time to tell us we're done.  But until we hear definitively from Him, we're trusting that He'll lead us where He wants us to go.

And if that makes me crazy, then I wear the title with pride.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15th

My eyes were opened.
                                                          His eyes were opened.


January 15th, long past.

The day our marriage fell apart, when the sun refused to shine.

                               The day our marriage began, when the Son began to shine.

The night that light and snow claimed darkness
                                                   and shone beams up to heaven.

                 The night that Light and blood claimed Darkness and shone
        Love into heaven,
                                a place prepared.

January 15th, when the rebuilding began.

First, the Father. And the Spirit. And the Son.
Then the two that are one.
Not just me. Or him. Not just him and me.
But Him in me, and Him in him.
And then the two are three,
And the three are one.

Walking together, living life full and not empty.

Life with meaning, life with purpose.

Days past and days to come.

Until death.

Walking with God.
                                                           Walking with God.

           Hopelessly in love.

Beautiful, horrible, wonderful January 15th.

I will be forever grateful for you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beginning Stages

We're beginning the long process of getting our house ready to sell. 

And by beginning, I mean in thinking a lot about getting started, searching for a storage unit for all our junk, freaking out about it, and praying that all the clutter will somehow magically disappear. 

So far, no luck.

I'm not good at cleaning.  I'm not good at organizing.  I'm not good at accomplishing anything in a timely manner, or without becoming completely overwhelmed and crazy.  In fact, I'm not good at the whole motivation-thing in general.

What I am good at is singing, song-writing, decorating, writing, getting lost in books, loving on my kids, laughing, mooing at cows, making other people laugh, not worrying about anything, poetry, scrapbooking, being spontaneous, loving Jesus like crazy and having fun. 

None of which will help me sell a house.

I'm basically just a great big, hands-waving-in-the-air ADHD ball of creativity and silliness.

And you know how God often seems to match up crazy, unorganized, spontaneous people with spouses that are normal, organized and predictable?  Well, unfortunately for our home-selling endeavor, my husband is basically just like me, minus the ADHD and scrapbooking.  But man, do we have fun.  I've even got him mooing at cows now.

So what do I do when I look at my horribly cluttered home and want to cry because I have no idea how I will ever get started or even where I should begin?  When I know I have to start somewhere but am so overwhelmed I can't possibly even function?  Know what I do then?

I get distracted, I snuggle my kids, I bake cookies, and I don't worry about it, even though I should.

And then I sit down and write about it.

On a completely unrelated matter:  is anyone looking to buy a really really messy house?  I know where you can find one.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Past Eighteen Hours

In the past eighteen hours, I've bathed a child by moonlight whose feet and face were covered in vomit, I've mopped half-digested lasagna from my bathroom floor as my husband sponged the hallway carpet, and I've rescued sweaty strands of hair from being drowned in the contents of a blue tupperware bowl, affectionately known as the puke bucket. 

I've also massaged swollen gums where tiny teeth refuse to break through, and I've administered pain medication and soothing whispers and kisses and cuddles.  I've slept fitfully side-by-side with a little patient who has no comprehension of why his mouth hurts whenever he nurses...or sucks on his binky...or rolls over in his sleep.

In the past eighteen hours, I have taught math and writing and phonics to a handful of children, answered several ridiculous questions with obvious answers, and laughed at, joked with, reprimanded and redirected various small people in their tasks for the day.  I've analyzed behaviors of Attachment Disordered kids, tried to heighten and not hinder the bonding process, and both marveled and lamented the progress we're making.  I've also checked over assignments done with half-effort, dealt with less-than-savory attitudes from pre-adolescents that know mostly everything there is to know, and spent a good deal of time teaching a three-year-old to distinguish a "D" from an "E" and a "G". 

I've laughed a lot, gotten frustrated a little, and lost my temper for at least a few moments.  I've sung no less than fifty stupid little songs about cute babies and arguing and being patient and going poo on the potty and getting out of bed and having a good attitude, and spent the better part of an hour online trying to figure out how to download treats for my son's virtual pet.

In the past eighteen hours, I've made a pot of coffee and three square meals, doled out snacks of gingerbread marshmallows and oreos and milk, and bathed another child who lost a battle with a milk jug.  I've changed a half-dozen diapers, wiped little backsides, and constantly reminded a toddler to use the potty, handing out high-fives, gummy bears and stickers when he's been successful.  I've loaded four kids into the hugest van ever to retrieve the aforementioned pre-adolescent from school.  I've put kids down for a combined total of five naps, and never did manage to take one myself, even though (with all the puking and the teething) I've been running on only a few hours of sleep.

And now, all but the baby are in bed.  Sleeping, I hope, but at the very least tucked away for the day.  Unless someone gets sick, that is. 

I'm really, really tired.  And I have a confession.

This Mommy-thing doesn't come easy for me. 

I'm a selfish person.  I love to spend time on myself, doing what I want, not being forced to do anything else.  Anything icky.  Anything out of my comfort zone.  Anything that makes me work harder or give more or be more Christlike than I ever thought I would have to be.  I rather enjoy thinking about me.

But the strange thing is this:  the more children our home is blessed with...the more I am forced to give of myself...the less selfish I become...and the happier my life is turning out to be.

Kinda opposite from what the world tells us, don't you think?