how to slowly emerge from the fog

Friday, May 30, 2014

DSCF3572Tonight, on my walk to escape the terrors of the end-of-school-year, adjustment-to-summertime life with the littles, I was thinking over and over about shalom and the Kingdom of God here on earth – how we live in the chaos, just longing for the peace that passes all understanding. Eager to really and truly walk in the unforced rhythms of grace because let’s be honest, virtually all of my life feels forced right now. Maybe for you too?

While I am thankful beyond measure to have answers for my health issues, the medicines have not been magically effective so far. I still struggle through virtually every day. I am behind on all of my regular duties like cleaning and laundry and parenting and all of the things. I feel like a failure every single day that I have to lie down in the afternoon to take a nap. I haven’t even been able to train the baby to sleep in her own crib for naptime yet. I force myself to do almost everything that I would normally have no trouble accomplishing. It’s better, sure, but nowhere near the level of functioning that I feel like I need to be at to maintain a household of 5 children in a very small space. Forced.

The children are, like most of America’s kids I assume, in crazy mode right now as we transition into summer. My parenting skills have been, well, less than stellar. Everything about it feels forced. My marriage skills have too often for my comfort been suffering from the same malaise. I attempt to force myself to be kind and nice and patient, and when that fails, my attitude is anything but easygoing and restful. Forced. Forced.

In other areas of our lives, we are dealing with some difficult, complicated, and painful conversations. Just thinking about them tends to sap the joy and freedom that I feel in those situations. It weighs on me way more than I’d like it to. Forced. Forced. Forced.

But Jesus’ promise to me is not one of force. It’s one of rest. He’s promised to not lay anything on me that is ill-fitting. When I think about how much in my life feels ill-fitting right now, it brings me straight to my knees. That stuff is not of my Savior. I don’t have to remain tired, worn out, burnt out on religion. Jesus has promised rest, real rest, the kind that overwhelms with peace. When I walk through my daily life, it’s not trudging through and plodding along – it’s walking in the unforced rhythms of grace. That’s the promise I cling to. My only requirement: come to Him. Learn from Him. Stop taking my cues from this busy, chaotic world around me. Breathe deep. He is all I need.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Here are some things helping me to breathe deep and walk in the unforced rhythms of grace right now:

Joyce Meyer. I know that she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes you just need a woman of God to speak God’s promises over you. To encourage you to think positively, to change your life, to do the things that make for health. I love her.

Friends. The friends who call because they remembered that you told them a month ago when your doctor appointment was, and they wanted to see how it went. The friends who sit with you every Wednesday morning and talk about Jesus and challenge you to live your life following Him everyday. The friends who pray for you and your babies and walk the same roads you walk. The friends who continually call you into a deeper walk with your Savior and who challenge you to live fearlessly.

Poetry. I never considered myself a lover of poetry until fairly recently, but there is no better way for me to breathe deep than to read really good poetry. Some favorites: Mary Oliver, Langston Hughes, Wendell Berry, and of course I do love me some Yeats and e.e. cummings.

Reading. Just taking in a book gives me fresh air. I’ve turned into the sort of person that’s reading several books at a time, which is the kind of person, if I’m honest, I never thought I’d be. I just find such freedom and refreshment in reading other people’s words that I never want to limit myself.

I’ve shared a few of mine – so what are some things saving your life right now? Share below!

 

[image: death to the stock photo]

rachel weeping

Thursday, May 8, 2014

rachelThis week finds me once again in the bittersweet portion of my year. I’m a birthday week celebrator, and the fact that my birthday falls so close to Mother’s Day just doubles the fun. Plus, gifts! But five years ago, the week I turned thirty, we welcomed two little hurt and scared children into our home for the first time. Every night for a full week, it would take us three full hours to put them to bed, most of it spent sitting on the floor beside that sweet little girl’s side of the bed because she was too scared of me to be comforted and too traumatized by her situation to be touched. Once we crawled with exhaustion out of the rooms, then I would weep until I could fall asleep. I stopped eating, started praying during every moment of the day, and wondered if we had made the right choice. My birthday and the accompanying Mother’s Day celebrations haven’t been the same since.

That was the first year I parented children who were not my own on Mother’s Day. The first year that I was the one who accepted their handmade cards and gifts because their own mama couldn’t receive them herself. There’s only been one year since when I called all the children in my home my own on Mother’s Day, and even then, they are someone else’s children still even as sure as they are mine.

Last week, we learned that the county will be filing for permanent custody of Sweet M. A nice sounding phrase that denies the truth of a child being ripped from their birth parents forever. A permanent severing of a relationship. I am relieved the case is moving forward because children, even babies, deserve answers and permanency for their lives. I am devastated for this mama and her broken family. This year, for the first time since her oldest child was born, she will be spending Mother’s Day completely alone. This sweet baby will spend her Mother’s Day with me. I’m the one who will wake up to her smiles and snuggle her to sleep.

This week, as I packaged up the handmade cards and gifts to send to Brenden and Raniah’s first mama, the grief settled in my stomach again. She knows them in a way that I never will, and I know them in a way that she never will again. We are both the mamas of the same children, and it bonds us irrevocably to one another for the rest of our lives. Loving another woman’s children is a strange and heavy burden to bear in the middle of the joyful delight of seeing them grow up in my own family.

We often hear on Mother’s Day about children who did not get to be with their mamas, but fewer people want to talk about the mamas who do not get to be with their children. So this week, as children all over celebrate their mamas, I will be grieving with the mamas who do not get that pleasure. The ones separated by death, by illness, by prison, by addictions, by poverty and difficult choices. Those forgotten women are never far from my heart this week. I grieve with and for them, and I celebrate every one for being the bearers of life. I pray they are surrounded by support, even knowing that most of them aren’t. I pray they are forgiven, even knowing that most can’t begin to forgive themselves. I pray they are comforted, even knowing that comfort is often too far away to comprehend.

This is what the LORD says: “A cry is heard in Ramah—deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for her children are gone.”
Jeremiah 31:15

 

what I’m into: the basically-the-whole-first-third-of-2014 edition

Thursday, May 1, 2014

'wall 'o' books' photo (c) 2008, Sarah J. - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

what I read:
These past few months I read almost every single one of Sophie Hannah’s books – some are better than others, but I enjoy a good psychological mystery, and these helped pass some lengthy baby-holding hours

I heard Beth Guckenberger speak at the adoption conference I went to in March, and her book Reckless Faith is just like her speaking – full of stories and bible teaching, and I loved every minute of it.

Anne Lamott is my favorite, and I’m predisposed to like every single word she publishes. Stitches was no exception.

Other things I read: I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai, The Hypnotist’s Love Story – Liane Moriarty, Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter – Jennifer Grant, Unglued – Lysa Terkeurst, The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution – Trudy Scott, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe – Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, The Epic of Eden – Sandra Richter

 

what I listened to:
the new All Sons and Daughters is streaming on The Drop at Relevant Magazine. It’s phenomenal, as is all their work.

Borderland by John Mark McMillan. His best yet, and I do not say that lightly. Amazing.

Rivers in the Wasteland by Needtobreathe. I think this is their best yet. I listen to it nearly daily.

 

what I watched:
You know, the standards: Brooklyn 99, Parks and Rec, Community, The Vampire Diaries (boring right now, amirite?), Reign (it’s “history”, so it’s excusable), The Blacklist, Arrow

Parenthood has redeemed itself a bit. Mostly because of Lauren Graham and Ray Romano. Their scenes together are the most human, tender, honest things I’ve seen on TV for a very long time. They’re just really great actors.

The husband and I obliterated the first season of Orphan Black last week. As we are not wealthy cable subscribers, we are left hanging while the second season just started on BBCAmerica. I highly recommend it. Not to give too much away, but one actress plays the majority of the characters and it is breathtaking how they do some of the filming. It reminds me, quite fondly, of Buffy.

The Veronica Mars movie did not disappoint. We rented it the weekend it came out, and it was everything I wanted it to be. Boy, do I miss that show.

 

So there you have it. The broad strokes of the past three months. For the first time in awhile, I’m linking up with Leigh. Hop over there to get some more recommendations for your reading/listening/viewing pleasure.

What have you been into lately? Hit me up with some recommendations!

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