Looking After Yourself

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I am very blessed with the people in my life.  People who remind me to check in with myself, to be real with myself, to stop acting like life isn’t hard.  Life is hard; it is demanding of all my being, to remain calm and aware of my own state of mind at any given time of any given day.

A few years ago I learned a lesson, a very important lesson; I’m not super woman.  I acted like it, somehow I pretended that life with 5 kids wasn’t demanding, that I could be everything to everyone in my family.  Mom’s often do have that complex, and often times life does revolve around mom. I’m going to talk about this aspect because it’s my experience, realizing that my experience is just that, mine.

I struggled many years after the realization that I wasn’t super-woman, to balance the idea of self-care and how that would look with young children. Taking time for oneself can many times seem selfish…and I suppose it is but there is a miscommunication, self care may be selfish but its a difficult practice.

I’ve heard the phrase, “if it’s easy, it’s not the right choice.” The right things in life are often the most difficult. Making changes in ones life, whether to be healthier, nicer, friendlier maybe less friendly. Change is against the norm, the norm means comfort, it means easy…but the norm for me was killing me, from the inside out.

I had to make a change. I had to look after myself. Self care remains, to this day, a difficult practice for me, in fact many times I have had to leave the province to somehow make this happen.  At this time in our life, I realize that I’ve fallen off the self care wagon. I’m trying to be all to everyone and I’m just not equipped this way.

Thank you to my friends and family who have reminded me directly and indirectly the need for this important practice.  That I’m a better mom, a better wife and a better person when I do the self-care dance.  Finances aren’t there to leave the province, although there is a cute little baby boy in Vancouver who I’d love to have the chance to meet, I’m trying to find new ways to practice this fine art of self care.

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What ways do you look after yourself?

Mustard Seed of Faith

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There have been many times in my life where this little verse has come to mind. I have come to know and experience its truth and the wonder of its reality in my life circumstances.  There are many things I do not understand about faith or what exactly it is because I’ve come to realize that faith is not a feeling, it is beyond that. You see there are times when I look at life, at what we’re experiencing that I feel no faith, in fact what I feel is doubt.  But faith is deeper than feeling,  It is knowledge, it is truth, it just is. And it is present within my doubt and is not changed by my doubt.

This week has rivaled many of the other difficult times in my life.  The loss of our first child, the diagnosis of autism in two of our children, the subsequent years of learning, fearing, crying, praying about what life may hold for them. Their departure from our home.  The early months of our younger children; watching their struggle, learning about what may come and realizing that some of those “what may” have come to pass.  Coming to the knowledge that mental health issues know no age limit and that life is fragile.

Faith in my life cannot be a feeling; feelings are fleeting and untrustworthy. I cannot trust that which is fleeting but I can and will trust in knowing that faith is for me, an act of breathing. It is something that has formed in the fabric of my being, I cannot think about it otherwise I may lose focus but if I trust that it can be, that it will be in place despite my lack of understanding, it frees to me process life away from feelings.

This week has been a week of breath prayers, of silent sighs and tears, of fear and trembling. It has been a week of not understanding life, how sin can be so destructive in our lives, even at such a young age. I have learned that my faith is an act of breathing because my mind has betrayed me. My mind serves to try and tear down that fabric and yet my faith remains.

I cannot make a mustard seed, my feeling do not change the fact that a mustard seed is a mustard seed. I believe that seed of faith is given to each of us.  I am thankful that no matter how I feel, my faith is secure. I breathe it, I live it, it encompasses me and holds me and carries me through life’s most challenging moments, the moments that we as a family are now living.

Titles and Labels

I’ve been open enough on my blog and in my everyday conversations that people know that we have two children with autism.  Our eldest Logan comes home for visits every Saturday, I go and pick him up.  Today there was a miscommunication and so I went and met him at the library.  Instead of making him miss one of his favourite places, we stayed at the library for a bit and I watched as our non verbal son, diagnosed with autism and global development delay conduct a search on google that would blow most people’s mind.

Logan started at the Google website.  He searched out Legends of the Guardians of the Ga’Hoole.  From there Logan proceeded very quickly through numerous pages of findings to find one specific video, only he wasn’t done there.  He scrolled to the end of that video where the video that he was searching for was.  He then fast forwarded that video to a specific spot, to the second, he watched 30 seconds of that video, and went back to the search page and scrolled through to page 25 of the google results to find the next video that he wanted to watch.  Which was highlighted at the end of another specific video.  This was literally done within one minute and a half, including the log on, the watching of the first video.

His labels or diagnosis, suggest that there isn’t much to his intelligence but watching him on the computer lends me to believe the exact opposite.  He’s quite intelligent and his memory is remarkable.  I’m always amazed by thing things that Logan can do. It’s made me look at labels as a means to get funding and help, but never as a way to explain WHO a person is.

I Am Not Alone

So if you have been following Steve or I over the past week or so on Facebook you know that life is up in the air for us. On Tuesday Steve was let go from his job at EFC and life both froze and sped up all at the same time.  Being a family that relies on one income, this is one of the worst things possible to happen.  We have to feed our kids, keep the mortgage up to date, and the list goes on.  It really is everyone’s worst nightmare I think.

Strange things happen to Steve and I when storms blow into our life, much like the one that is going crazy in our life right now. We tend to hunker down and get things done. We rarely panic anymore (although we both have our moments which thankfully is usually at different times).  Of course there is some anxiousness but an eerie calm tends to wash over us.

We had been talking prior Tuesday about the possibility of moving to Brantford to be closer to our church family at Queensway Baptist Church. We love being a part of the church there, but with the distance it’s hard for us to really get involved in the weekly activities.  So we’d been toying with the idea that perhaps a move might be beneficial for us and our kids.  With the events of this week, moving has become a priority. We are busy getting our house together and ready to sell.

Through these events, and even in the months leading up to this week I’d been listening to a song on Youtube by Kari Jobe entitled “I Am Not Alone”.  They speak to where I’m at , that I know that no matter what’s going on, I’ve got someone at my back. No matter how alone I may feel, I’m not. There is comfort in that.  Even in my moments of doubt and disbelief, when I think, “why on earth do I believe this” deep in my soul that I’m not ever alone. Too many moments in my life have been too coincidental for me not to believe in God and God is watching over me.

Today in the mail I received a copy of Kari CD, autographed no less.  She was at my brothers church out in Vancouver and he asked her for this. My brother had no idea that I would need that CD this week, that this song which was on the cd he sent me, had spoken to me over and over, that truth rang out whenever I listened to it. He didn’t know the events of Tuesday before he mailed it off to me. But today as I listened, I knew yet again, in a seemingly little but in fact big way, God had my back and used my brother to show it to me once again.

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“I Am Not Alone”

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

A Message to a Mom

Walking the play ground I hear parents whisper to each other or their children, “well that was awkward”, “I bet she’s embarrassed” “can you believe that kid?”.  I look ahead to where they were walking from.  A mom, struggling with her son. It very easily could have been me, a few days earlier. I smiled at her, tried to communicate with my eyes that I’d been there, I was sorry, you are not alone. But the fierceness in her eyes told me otherwise, maybe she thought I was judging her too.

Stubborn. Defiant. Trouble. Spoiled. Brat. Pain in the ass. All words that we may have used or thought when looking at this scene or one like it. Just because it didn’t come out of your mouth, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook here.

“I wouldn’t let MY kid do that.”  :Oh my gosh…why can’t she control her kid?” “She needs parenting classes.” “If my kid ever said that to me, xyz.”  Judgements that do more than judge. They pierce the soul.  They breakdown. They cause defeat, destruction to a mother or father who has said more of that to themselves at this point. They don’t need any more discouragement, they feed on it daily. it is what they are used to.

She was desperate.  At her wits end.  I don’t know who she was.  But I want to say one thing, you are not alone.  There are others out there who struggle as you are.  Our hearts ache too, desperate for understanding and change. For the road to somehow even out because when you woke up, you felt like today could be a good day and for having those hopes dashed. I judge you too but in a different way.

Hey Mom, Yes you, the one holding on by your fingernails. You are strong, you are doing a great job.  Hang in there, there is hope, grasp hard to it. Ask for help, talk about it. Don’t hide, you do not need to be ashamed. You are mom and you are good enough, you fight because you love him. You persevere because you love him.  You’re winning. Keep going. Don’t give up.  You’ve got this.

Compassion

In a world of technology and social media, we as human beings are losing our humanity.  In recent weeks I’ve read many stories from around the world where this is becoming more and more true.  We are cruel, intentionally.  I ache when I read these stories, cringe at the vileness of the words and actions.

Social media and technology has given us a facade, that somehow our actions won’t have repercussions.  We can video tape atrocities because it will go viral before your slow working conscious can kick in.  We find it humerus to hurt others, shun them, treat the inhumanely simply because we can and from behind the lens nobody will know its us.

We read stories and point fingers in judgement at those who are failing under the weight of their burden, who are making poor choices and who are suffering from addiction.  We fail to realize behind that persons seemingly heinous actions, is a person, who is in need of compassion and love.  So do we let them go without consequences? No but it is not right for us treat this person in the same manner they may have treated someone else, you become no better when you partake in their actions. There is no room for growth if a person is not believed in.

 

I tell my children often “you are not your behaviour, you are not your emotions.  You are a human being, and all human beings deserve respect and should have the opportunity to be loved.”  How can I teach this to them if I do not hold true to those same values and life my life accordingly? 

I have had many wrongdoings done against me.  Things that never should have happened but we live in a sinful world with fallen people.  Yet, God didn’t just come for the loveable, God came for us all.  If God who is perfect can love someone who commits the vilest of acts, ultimately against something created by God, then how can I say that I cannot try to do the same.  We fail and struggle daily with this, and I appreciate the struggle.  The struggle keeps me honest, the struggle keeps me real, the struggle makes me human.

When we are down in the pit of despair the last thing anyone needs, is to be spat upon and reminded of their wrongdoings. We need compassion, empathy and the reminder that we ourselves are human.  The act of gossip or teasing can sometimes be as lethal as pulling a trigger.  There are many ways in which we can injure another person.

Lets step out from behind our technology and our social media, lets get back to face to face conversations.  Lets remind ourselves that we are human beings, not some robotic machine.  We are no better than the person beside us, no matter the actions of that person. 

 

Inspiration

Often when I share on my blog about our circumstances I hear words like inspiring, refreshing, honest, real…and to be honest, while I love to know that I’m helping others by sharing my story, I’m also a bit baffled. I truly didn’t understand why this isn’t fishing for compliments. It has made me reflect on why we respond this way to others stories, myself included.  I have many friends  whose lives I find inspiring and helps me to push forward.

When we listen to each others life story, we try and put ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses, into the story tellers life.  We try to imagine what we would do in certain circumstances.  But here’s the thing, I can’t live my friend’s life story as much as she can’t live mine. She does an amazing job, let me tell you about her and her husband.

I have a couple of good friends who are married with children. Their family decided to open their home and foster children. Babies! Babies who have needs and demands. They were comfortably out of the baby stage, out of diapers and midnight wake up calls. They knew it wasn’t easy looking after and caring for babies but they opened their home none the less.  It’s inspiring to watch as both her and her husband love these boys like their own. I smile when I think about them and the advocates they are for fostering and the need for more families to step up.  They are ambassadors in their community; helping to bridge the gap between faith community and the fostering community.

When I look at their life I’m very quick to stay, I could NEVER do that.  But the truth is, when it’s your calling, if even you imagine it to be too difficult. Somewhere from deep with in you, the inspiration rises.  You learn and grow and its often painful but one day you wake up to realize, you’re there and living the dream.  I know for a fact that these friends of mine struggled for awhile to make this decision but watching them now, its an old comfortable sweater that is your go to when you need comfort, its something natural, something they were born to do.

The same can be said of many of us.  I have many friends who are inspiring in their every days lives, struggles that they deal with daily: single parenting, special needs parents, foster parents, adoptive partents, advocates, teachers.  My list can go on and on.  I find these stories inspiring because in all of them, there is strength, love, friendship, authenticity.

I asked a friend once, if I died what do you think you’d say about me.  What would be the quality that would stick out. He said something along the lines of you don’t bullshit..you are who you are and you tell it like it is.  My tendency to overshare my life comes from this point.  I’m the person you never want to ask “how are you?” socially because you might as well pull up a chair because you’re going to get told. I don’t ask the question unless I really want to know the answers.

Truth is freedom, it frees us to be who we are and it shows others that its ok to be authentic.  Life is too short to be fake. Be honest and be an inspiration to those around you as you share your story.

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