Saturday, January 12, 2013

Death, Loss, and Spiritual Temper Tantrums

I have been a Christian for a long time...most of my life. I have been through many ups and downs, struggles and triumphs. I firmly believe that God is sovereign and in complete control. I believe He is good and that all good things come from Him. I believe that He is the Giver of all good gifts. I believe that we should praise Him in the good and the bad. Through the deaths, losses, and tragedies I have praised Him.

Today? I want to praise Him. I do. I REALLY want to. And if I am honest, part of me does. But my soul is at battle with itself. There is a part of me that is screaming, kicking its feet, and pounding its fists. Through gritted teeth my heart cries, yes, I love you, yes I praise you, but right now It hurts. And I am angry. I know You have a plan, but it is hard to see it through the tears.

Today, Jesus took my great nephew, our precious little fighter, home to be with Him. Four months is such a short life and he fought so hard. He brought so much joy from the beginning. And now, only four months later, such grief at his passing.

I remember taking a Death, Loss, and Grief class in seminary, learning about the stages of grief, about how to comfort by just being there, assure them that no matter what they were "feeling" it was ok. Anger, doubt, denial. Whatever. It is normal. Well, it may be "normal" but it stinks.

More than anything I want God to be glorified. In death, in life, I want Him to receive the honor and the glory, but sometimes, giving Him the glory hurts. Sometimes it doesn't make sense. I want to see what He plans to do through this. But He doesn't promise that. Today I heard that still small voice ask, "will you trust me even if you never fully see my plan in this?" My head says yes. My heart wants to. Deep down under the tantrum erupting in my soul I cling to the truth. Yes, I WILL trust You. I don't get it. I don't know why. I don't question Him or His goodness. I just hurt. But that's ok, because I know He hurts too.

I am ever so grateful for my Heavenly Father that has not chastised me in my tantrum, but stood there beside me with His arms open wide. His tears joining mine as we mourn together. I may not be able to see His plan through the tears, but I can feel His love. I am clinging to truth today...the truth I know, even though I may not feel it. I am so glad He clings to me even when I push away.

 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gymnastics Bedroom

When I was searching the internet for ideas for my girls gymnastic themed room, there was not a whole lot to be found.  I thought I would share the final project: E & J's gymnastics bedroom! (This was one of E's Christmas presents). We didn't "redo" her room as in paint and bedding, but we did get new dressers and "dress up" the room a little.

The panoramic view: 
(The room looks bigger than it really is here...)

My talented husband built a swinging trapeze bar from a dowel and the rope from an old swing we had hanging around. I picked up a trampoline at a yard sale and painted on it "I <3 gymnastics!" and "Ready to Fly" (the phrase from the McKenna American Girl movie). I bought the girl on the beam decal here, and the peace sign decals here. The beam we had from a Craigslist purchase, we just moved it into her room. 


Christmas morning! 

Gymnast decal from Amazon and new dressers from American Signature Furniture. 

Gymnast decals from here and picked up those two hot pink chairs from a garage sale, 
still in the plastic. Score! 








The kids love it! I moved most of the toy bins to their closet which has cut down on the cluttered look (and my stress level!)  E has spent an enormous amount of time on that bar! I wanted to get her a Jr Kip Bar but they were so very expensive. I was relieved when E told me her bar was way more fun! :) 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

With Man it is impossible...

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? The task of educating your children too daunting a thought? Concerned about teaching character more than academics, yet somehow trying not to sacrifice said academics? Questioning curriculum choices, methodologies, and educational philosophies? Feel like you are on a tight rope, never sure if you are doing the right thing?


I have realized lately that I am impossible to please. Over Christmas break I began to question if I was doing "enough" in our homeschool. Sometimes those sparkly catalogs, websites, and forums get me thinking just a little too much.

The day after thinking I might not be doing enough I read a few threads on a forum I frequent about being relaxed in the early homeschool years, and visions of cuddling with my precious cuties on the couch reading read alouds for hours danced in my head.

Then Monday came. Our first day back to school after Christmas break. We started school at 9:30 and ended at 4:00 just in time to get E to the gym. I began to question my approach. 6.5 hours of school is absurd for a seven year old. (So much for my fears of not being rigorous enough!)

Tuesday. hmmm today was too easy. Perhaps we should do more...

Sound familiar? Ok, I will be honest. Usually the pendulum swings of emotions and self doubt don't swing so closely together, but I do feel like a yo-yo sometimes. Are we doing too much? Are we not doing enough? Should we be doing more writing? Adding in Latin? Not do writing or grammar formally? You get the idea. I could mentally decimate myself daily over stressing about my children's education.  The responsibility weighs so heavy sometimes...

The pressures of life expand to so many other areas-- friendships, family, ministry. What to do, when to help, when not to. Facing life threatening illnesses and life changing decisions of those you love. Challenges like these and the salvation of those you love-- way beyond the scope of our control. Sometimes the weight  can just seem impossible.

Reading in my devotional today, I had one of those moments. You know the ones where you have read that verse over and over but all of a sudden you see something you have never seen before?


Mark 10:27 "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." 

"It is impossible" Not it may be impossible or it may seem impossible. No. It IS impossible. In a strange but comforting way, I take heart. I can't do it...no matter how hard I try. My strength is not enough. My abilities and efforts will not turn my children into mighty servants and warriors for Christ. My pleadings and less than eloquent attempts of sharing the Gospel will save not even one. My heartfelt help to others does nothing.

Despairing news? Not at all! "But not with God. For all things are possible with God." Apart from the sovereign grace and work of Christ, ALL is futile. But with it? ALL is possible.

What a great reminder to spend less time fretting and more time praying. As I have been studying the book of James in the last few weeks, I am constantly aware of my need for faith and works to go hand in hand. However, stressing over those works will get me nowhere. However, resting in His grace as the faith He has implanted in my heart blooms into works around me-- in my marriage, my children, my family, friends and the world-- that allows me to breathe.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Dose of Reality in a Pinterest World

We live in a world of make believe. No not fairies and unicorns, but the false realities of blogs and Pinterest. In the last few weeks I have read several blogs and articles on the "dangers" of Pinterest, and how people are in essence breaking free of the Pinterest trap where they feel guilty over buying store bought cookies.

Part of me says good for you, and part of me wants to laugh uncontrollably. Blogs and Pinterest are not always reality, or at least a full picture of reality. Wait, am I saying that I and other bloggers are lying and not representing reality? No, however, no one can share the whole story, even if they try.

Yes, we may have done some very cool projects or organizing that might help someone else, but did anyone ask what DIDN'T get done that day? My dear husband can attest to the many loads of laundry he folds because I would often be content to just pick clothes right out of the basket. Or the other numerous household chores he does so that I am free to do "other" things like invest in our children's education, blog, or just collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day.

This is reality:

Of course my school room is nice and organized. I cleaned it to take the picture! ;) How about the months of November and December where we schooled at the kitchen table because my school room was such a mess we couldn't find the table to school on... (I did finally clean it btw!) ;)

Pinterest and blogs are just part of the picture. Notice most blogs focus on one thing: homeschooling, cooking, organic or clean eating, fashion, etc. No one has it all together. We are all humans with a plethora of faults and failures, and we all get it right sometimes. Pinterest and blogs are the snapshots of those we did it moments. (Although, I do try to share our fair share of we missed it moments because I think those often inspire just as much!) 

It saddens me when I hear people saying that a blog, particularly mine, has made them feel guilty as a parent or a homeschool mom. That isn't the point. The idea behind Pinterest and blogs is to inspire and show what things look like for them. For every positive thing that get posted or pinned, 400 negative ones happened in our home. My kids watch too much tv, eat too much fast food, and I spend way to much time on the computer... but hey, we do projects and read books! ;)

I am going to be honest, I think Pinterest has made me a better mom. Those ideas I always wanted to do, but had no idea how? I  now have easy access and quick instructions. We all have gifts, and Pinterest and blogs allow us to share them. I don't feel a guilt in the world if that mom came up with the idea and I just did it with my kids. I did it and that is all that matters. And all the ideas I don't get to? Who cares? If I pin 20 recipes and only use three, did my family and I not benefit?

Allow the ideas you see online to inspire you to do more, to enjoy your children and your spouse, but not to place a burden upon you. God has a purpose for each of our lives individually and my call and yours are not going to be the same. We all have different personalities and things that invigorate or exhaust us. We are all different and we all have different gifts.

Don't get overwhelmed or weary at seeing what you think is "good." Remember it may not be "best" or even "good" for your family. Remember, the person who cooked that gourmet meal, cleaned and organized that room, had to sacrifice other things to do it.  And the day that huge project got done? They ate pizza.

Be encouraged. You are the person God has chosen to be married to your spouse, raise your children, manage your home, and for many, homeschool your children. God has you in these roles for a purpose, and you are the best one for the job.

The next time you are tempted to be discouraged or feel inferior due to something you see on Pinterest, remember that behind the pretty picture is the mess of their own reality . . . just slightly outside the border of the image.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Prayer: A Hail Mary Pass?

I have spent the last five days watching my four month old great nephew fight for his life. What happened? He got a cold. A virus. Born at 30 weeks, our premature little fighter's lungs couldn't handle it and soon had pneumonia and a partially collapsed lung.



The doctors became desperate as nothing they were doing was helping. He was moved from one ventilator to another when it became maxed out and too soon it looked inevitable that the second ventilator would do the same.

On my way to NY last Thursday they decided to transfer him to a hospital that had an ECMO machine so that they could run a bypass for his lungs, allowing them to heal. The transfer was scary. To see 5+ doctors, 6+ nurses and a few EMS working on a four month old for hours just trying to get him stable enough to transfer him from his bed to an isolette...it was hard to watch.

Upon his transfer they were hoping he wouldn't need to be put on ECMO. They were hoping the transfer was just a precaution. I left the hospital that night around 10 or so only to get a call around midnight that our little fighter's heart had stopped for 25 minutes. They decided to put him on lung ECMO because they did not think his heart could handle it if it happened again.

Back to the hospital over an hour away.  I sat there in the waiting room with my two sisters, brother in law, and the baby's mom and dad listening to the doctor explain the situation, and that they were struggling to get him on ECMO because of all he had been through. He said there were no guarantees even if they got him on the machine, and even just getting him on it was looking doubtful. The doctor explained to my niece this was a "hail Mary pass."

He was able to get on the ECMO, but not without his heart stopping again. Since then his heart stopped another time and they placed him on heart ECMO as well. A machine is running his heart and lungs, a ventilator breathing for him. This situation is the definition of desperate.

As this situation has unfolded there have been so many people praying for this precious baby and his family. People for whom prayer is part of their daily lives, and others who probably couldn't remember the last time they prayed. All too often we see prayer as a "hail Mary pass" in desperate situations. That thing we do when nothing else has worked. An SOS of sorts. This has been so heavy on my heart this week because as I rejoice with so many that understand our God is the God of miracles, and that God has the power to heal, my heart aches. God is so much greater than a genie in a bottle.

God does not want to be our last resort, He wants to be our first response. It's great to go to God with our struggles, our pain, and our burdens, but He wants more. God wants a personal relationship with us, to walk with us every moment of every day. To rejoice in our triumphs, cry with us over our heartbreaks, carry us when we are too weak to stand, and yes breathe for us when our body is too weak to breathe.

Yes, I pray for a miracle for my sweet little fighter, and I pray for God to breathe life into his little lungs. To heal him like only He can do. I also pray for spiritual healing. In tragedy many go to a God they don't know, but how much better to go to the God you know intimately?

I cannot imagine going through the last few days or the next few without the comfort of Jesus Christ. I have probably prayed more in the last week than last month. Tragedy and desperation often reveal in us a  yearning for our Creator. We are created with a need for Him, a desperation for Him. While tragedy may reveal this truth, I pray that those that seek Him in their times of need, understand their greatest need...salvation. And as Christians, we need to see prayer as more than a laundry list of requests, a direct line to our own personal make a wish foundation. We need to embrace prayer as communication with the Most High God. Go to Him first, not last. Seek Him moment by moment, and not only when tragedy forces us to our knees.


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